[b-hebrew] Isaiah 64:4

George F. Somsel gfsomsel at juno.com
Tue Aug 31 13:02:09 EDT 2004


On Tue, 31 Aug 2004 08:53:02 -0700 (PDT) Sujata <shevaroys at yahoo.com>
writes:
> Dear Harold and George,
> 
> I did mean Is 64:4 in the English Bible and my
> question particularly is about the phrase "O God". In
> KJV I have "O God" in NKJV and others I have "A God",
> in JPS (Is 64:3) "A God" and in the Qumran scroll
> translation "O God". So I am wondering what is the
> exact translation from Hebrew, is it "a God" or "O
> God". 
> 
> I truely appreciate your help.
> 
> God Bless,
> Sujata
> 
___________

This specific question is difficult, if not impossible to answer
definitively.  Van der Merwe in _A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar_
notes

3. Syntactic functions of the article??
(i) The article is sometimes used in the construction of the vocative to
designate a specific addressee. (Cf. §34.4.)
X"Y_NaP:$:Kf HaM.eLeK: As your soul lives, O king (1 Sam. 17.55).

It may be omitted. 
L"K_)eL_N:MfLfH (fC:L Go to the ant, O sluggard (Prov. 6.6).

In your passage )e:LoHiYM (God) has no article, but according to Van der
Merwe's example this does not preclude it's being a vocative.  It is the
context which must determine its usage.  This is why you have a
discrepancy between the KJV together with the translations which stand in
its tradition and the JPS Tanach -- they understand the text differently.
 In other words, it's not simply a grammatical decision.

george
gfsomsel


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