[b-hebrew] Re: agent or patient in Psa. 33:12?

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu May 13 14:24:16 EDT 2004

On 13/05/2004 10:20, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:

> ...
> HH: You seem to be assuming that everything is pretty much equal, so 
> it is just a matter of seeing which subject and object is most 
> appropriate. But the grammar works differently in each case.
> HH: If God is the subject of the second clause, everything goes smoothly:
> Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (which the Lord is its God),
> The people He chose as an inheritance for Himself.
> HH: If the people is the subject, things do not proceed well.
> Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord
> The people which chose as an inheritance for itself.
> HH: The verb "chose" is missing an object. How would you alter the 
> preceding statement?
>                 Yours,
>                 Harold Holmyard
Harold, you seem to be arguing here from English syntax. The two 
alternatives can be rendered in English:

(1) ... the people which he chose as an inheritance for himself.

(2) ... whom the people chose as an inheritance for itself.

In English syntax, the relative pronoun "which" in (1) can be omitted, 
but the relative pronoun "whom" in (2) cannot be omitted, and so such a 
sentence without a relative pronoun has to be a shortened form of (1). 
But the same rule for omission of relative pronouns does not necessarily 
apply in Hebrew - at least unless you can demonstrate that it does. So I 
don't think your argument holds up.

But there are other arguments. I would expect something like BOW if the 
line were to be understood as (2). And another point which no one has 
mentioned is the rather rare and strongly disjunctive accent, shalshelet 
gedola (found only 38 times in the Hebrew Bible), on H(M. This strongly 
suggests that, at least in the pronunciation which the Masoretes heard, 
a strong break is to be understood after H(M, probably a clause break as 
in interpretation (1). This kind of disjunctive accent would not be 
expected if H(M is the subject of BXR.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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