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

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Fri Dec 31 16:15:10 EST 2004

sorry, I should have said sha'ul was in the first position not shmu'el. 


> Dear Harold,
> You are still missing my point.  I am saying that it is most unusual for a 
> clause with a yiqtol in the first position of the clause to be an unmarked 
> interrogative.  I grant the phenomenon the unmarked interrogative in 
> numerous other cases, but 1 Sam 11:12 does not have yiqtol in the first 
> position of the clause.  It has shmu'el in the first position.
> Quoting Gesenius is not really so helpful.  We can quote some authorities 
> that read the sentence as a question and some that read it another way. 
> Appealing to authorities will leave us with little more alternative in a 
> case like this than counting up votes--x authorities for question and y 
> authorities for statement.  The existence of an unmarked interrogative in 
> BH doesn't prove, of course, that Pro 5:16 is interrogative.  Furthermore, 
> I am trying to point out that a sentence with a yiqtol verb form in the 
> first position decreases the probability that this particular clause is 
> interrogative.  Further-furthermore, I don't see where palgey mayim would 
> be a fitting figure for promiscuity.
> Shalom,
> Bryan
> you wrote:
>> 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.
>>>   Neither does a clause-initial yiqtol favor indicative
>>>mood.  The vast majority of clause-initial yiqtols are volitional,
>>>preferring the "may" or "let" translation like the KJV uses.  I think
>>>context would have to be definite before we would prefer the 
>>>of v. 16 as a question.  I will let you decide if you think it is 
>> HH: Many linguists consider the interrogative to be a mood.
>>>I think the above comment could be the key to understanding the proverb, 
>>>but I understand how such a comment can be overlooked.  The comment just 
>>>does not register sometimes.  Many students of BH have not been trained 
>>>to pay attention to the position of a finite verb within its clause and 
>>>the significance of word order.  However, I believe that the ancients 
>>>were very sensitive to this syntactical feature, and I suspect it is at 
>>>least partly responsible for the likes of Rashi who interpreted Pro 5:16 
>>>as expressing the hope that one's disciples would increase.
>>>(I personally find that the context in Pro 5:15ff. is not sufficient to 
>>>over-ride the syntax in v. 16.  I believe v. 16 expresses hope: "may your 
>>>fountains break forth streetwards, your irrigation canals into the 
>>>plazas." I do not find v. 17 to contradict.  I understand that if the 
>>>addressee is promiscuous, his issue would emerge from sources that are 
>>>not his alone. But v. 16 refers to *his* fountains and *his* canals. 
>>>palgey mayim, in particular, is not an image of unrestrained gushing 
>>>forth such as the profligate man would produce. In particular, palgey 
>>>mayim are irrrigation ditches that are located carefully and through 
>>>which the flow of water is regulated.)
>> 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
> B. M. Rocine
> Living Word Church
> 6101 Court St. Rd.
> Syracuse, NY 13206
> ph: 315.437.6744
> fx: 315.437.6766

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