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

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Fri Dec 31 16:49:26 EST 2004

Dear Bryan

>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.

HH: Pardon me for being obscure, but you did not understand me. I 
recognized what you observed but said that I did not think it was 

>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.

>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.

HH: I have not heard authorities on the other side except Gill, who 
is often biased. Delitzsch does not go with the interrogative, but 
his interpretation does not really work. The English translation has:

Shall thy streams flow abroad, the water-brooks in the streets!

HH: He means to say a jussive imperative and wants it to refer to 
unrestrained freedom within the marital relationship, but this 
requires putting a specialized, overly limited meaning on "outside" 
and "in the streets/squares," both of which terms imply public places.

HH: Gesenius is a good authority in grammatical matters. And we have 
already seen that a vast number of modern translations are based on 
taking the verse as a rhetorical question.

>   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 

HH: This may be true, but it does not constitute a rule. It seems 
just an observation. It need not preclude the possibility of an 
understood rhetorical question in Prov 5:16. You're claiming that if 
there is an otherwise unmarked interrogative, then the subject and 
verb must switch their normal places in order for an interrogative to 
exist. I don't see that this is necessary. I've seen numerous 
unmarked interrogatives that seem to have normal sentence structure. 
It is the context that drives one to turn them into questions. On the 
word order of subjects and predicates Waltke and O'Connor say that 
"interrogatives tend, on the whole, to follow the same patterns as 
declaratives" (#8.4a).

>   Further-furthermore, I don't see where palgey mayim would be a 
>fitting figure for promiscuity.

HH: Not all uses of palgey imply controlled water:

Is. 30:25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, 
streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty 

Psa. 119:136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.

Job 29:6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out 
for me streams of olive oil.

Lam. 3:48 Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed.

HH: The noun comes from a verb that means to divide, split. Such 
cleavage of channels can be divinely chaotic:

Job 38:25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for 
the thunderstorm,

HH: You seem to say that the word must mean canal, but it obviously 
can mean more than that. "Stream" appears to be a good translation, 
and the stream does not have to be that controlled. So I find this a 
weak reason to overthrow a good interpretation. There are numerous 
synonyms given in the context: MYM , NZLYM, M(YNT, and PLGY-MYM.

HH: I see a contradiction between verses 16 and 17. The streets are 
the public streets. Verse 18 says that the waters are not to be 
shared with strangers, which is what would happen if they flowed in 
the streets. The water is the same water in verse 15-18. It cannot 
change into something else, since it is all one connected passage. 
The metaphorical meaning is gained by a total transfer of the water 
imagery to that of the husband-wife relationship. The whole unit 
transfers as one set of imagery.

HH: So it cannot be broken into two parallel passages as Steven 
suggests. Nor is that really possible grammatically, since the 
unmarked subject of verse 17 goes back to verse 16 for clarification. 
It cannot jump over verse 16 back to 15, as if verse 16 spoke of 
something different than verse 15. The springs (v. 16), fountain (v. 
18), and well (v. 15) all refer to the same source of living water 
belonging to the man.

				Harold Holmyard

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