[b-hebrew] Re:morpho-syntax, was Proverbs 5:16 a declaration or a question?

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Fri Dec 31 14:53:34 EST 2004

Dear Karl,

>Where in 1 Samuel 11:12 is there an unmarked 
>interrogatory? I translate it as follows:
>And the people said unto Samuel, “Who is the one 
>who said that Saul will be king upon us? Allow 
>us that we may cause them to die.”
>MY - Who...? - is a marked question. Statements make up the rest of the verse.

HH: Karl, your translation makes no sense in the 
context. There were those who challenged the 
right of Saul to rule, and these people deserved 
to die in the thinking of many. But Saul said 
that no one was to die that day, since he had 
just won a great victory with God's help:

12 The people then said to Samuel, "Who was it 
that asked, 'Shall Saul reign over us?' Bring 
these men to us and we will put them to death."
     13 But Saul said, "No one shall be put to 
death today, for this day the LORD has rescued 
Israel." (NIV)

HH: The challenge to Saul's rule came earlier:

1Sam. 10:27 But some troublemakers said,  "How 
can this fellow save us?" They despised him and 
brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

HH: So the people quoted those who questioned 
Saul's rule, not those who approved of Saul's 
rule. Let's look at a few other translations: 
Here is the New American Standard Bible:

12Then the people said to Samuel, "(R)Who is he 
that said, 'Shall Saul reign over us?' (S)Bring 
the men, that we may put them to death."

HH: Here is the Jewish Publication Society translation:

11:12 And the people said unto Samuel: 'Who is he 
that said: Shall Saul reign over us? bring the 
men, that we may put them to death.'

HH:Here is the New American Bible:

2 The people then said to Samuel: "Who questioned 
whether Saul should rule over us? Hand over the 
men and we will put them to death."

HH: Here is the New Revised Standard Bible:

2 The people said to Samuel, "Who is it that 
said, "Shall Saul reign over us?' Give them to us 
so that we may put them to death." 1

HH: All these Bibles takes the words as a 
question, so they agree with Gesenius. And don't 
accuse them all of copying Gesenius, since that 
was also the KJV interpretation. The KJV 
translators preceded Gesenius by a long time:

12 And the people said unto Samuel, Who is he 
that said, Shall Saul reign over us? bring the 
men, that we may put them to death. (King James 

				Harold Holmyard

>As for Gesenius, he had a philosophical ax to 
>grind, and it seems sometimes he departed from 
>strict linguistic practices where they 
>contradicted his ideology. I noticed that in his 
>dictionary, but seeing as I have not cracked 
>open any of his writings for over 20 years, I no 
>longer remember the details.
>How many times are what you call unmarked 
>interrogatories forced on people by incorrect 
>traditions and points? Seeing as the points 
>reflect a tradition separated from the time the 
>words were written by 1,000 years or more, it is 
>almost certain that the pronunciations had 
>changed, but careful copying would minimize 
>changes in the written consonental text.
>Karl W. Randolph.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com>
>>  Dear Bryan,
>>  > "Not only does v. 16 not have any sign of a 
>>question, as George mentioned, it
>>  > also features a clause-initial yiqtol form, 
>>which I think is highly unusual
>>  > in an unmarked question, particularly in a question that is not parallel
>>  > with a question.
>>  HH: There is an unmarked interrogative with a yiqtol form in 1 Sam
>>  11:12. There is a noun subject that precedes it, as it does in some
>>  other cases, but I don't see that that is decisive.  GKC #150a
>>  lists Prov 5:16 as an interrogative sentence.
>>  HH: I accept Gesenius. I cannot search for unmarked questions, but
>>  they occur now and then, based on context for the most part.
>>					Yours,
>>					Harold Holmyard
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