[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53: In his death?

unikom at paco.net unikom at paco.net
Sun May 16 01:09:34 EDT 2004

Dear Rolf,

Although the grammar is not a precise science like math, and it is
possible to defend every view with some sort of possibility, your
preference is unlikely for the following reasons:

- wa is a standard grammatical device for the tense reversal, and is
universally used in Hebrew as such. Undoubtedly, there are many examples
to the contrary, but they are explained not by a different role of wa, but
simply by the lax attitude to tenses in Tanakh in general. (I guess
non-standard wa's are mostly used to demonstrate the succession, while
there is no accentuated succession in this verse.) To comply with your
interpretation, it is necessary to presuppose the author's mistake, while
I prefer to translate as close to the actual text, as possible. If it is
past tense in the text, I would stick to it, unless there is grammatical
evidence to the contrary.

- "he will" presupposes antecedent. It is standard in Hebrew to refer only
to explicitly mentioned - and nearby - antecedents. Thus you need to
introduce yet another error in the text. Without different antecedents,
"he" [gave] and "his" [tomb] refers to the same person.

- the verb is "to give;"  "to make" is non-standard translation, employed
to avoid missing yet another pronoun, gave "him."

As you can see, my translation does not require any assumptions
whatsoever, but relies on standard Hebrew grammar. By any standards, we
should prefer a hypothesis explaining facts as they are to the one
explaining them only at the cost of assuming three inaccuracies in the set
of four words.

>I translate Isaiah 53:9 this way: "He will make his grave with the
the wicked ones". It is a misunderstanding that WAYYIQTOL signals
past tense (or the perfective aspect) I have a list of 998 examples
of WAYYIQTOL with non-past reference. Many of these are found in

Best regards,


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