[b-hebrew] translation of ehyeh

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Aug 4 00:38:50 EDT 2005


Hi there.  Shoshanna has been the clearest representative of
traditional Jewish views
but I am not sure that she always represents them accurately or if sometimes she
is simply mistaken.  However, I find your reference to Cassuto somewhat odd 
because I don't think he would be accepted as authoritative and
traditional by any
traditional Jewish authority today.  

Rather, because grammatical analysis has never been considered problematic, I
doubt that a modern analysis of grammar that views initial-prefix verb forms as 
"imperfect" rather than "future" would be viewed negatively by
traditional Jewish
authorities.  I would also think that those authorities who lived in
Arabic-speaking
areas, and I suppose that includes the Ramban, but I was also thinking of 
Maimonidies, Radaq, or Saadia Gaon, might have already suggested reading the 
prefix-initial  verb forms as imperfect similar to Arabic.

Bearing on this question is the following passage from the Talmud,
Bavli Berkhot 9b:
VII.4 A. "I am that I am" (Ex. 3:14):
B. Said the Holy One, blessed be he, to Moses, "Go, say to the
Israelites: 'I was with you
in this subjugation, and I shall be with you when you are subjugated
to the [pagan]
kingdoms.'"
C. He said to him, "Lord of the world, sufficient for the hour is the
trouble [in its own time.
Why mention other troubles that are coming?]"
D. Said the Holy One, blessed be he, to him, "Go, say to them, '"I am"
has sent me to
you' (Ex. 3:14)."
(link: http://www.geocities.com/itzik18/Berachoth-Eng.txt )

This is apparently from Neusner's translation and Neusner wouldn't count as an
authentic Jewish traditional source.  The actual Aramaic and Hebrew simply uses 
")HYH" for all but "this subjugation" where "HYYTY" is used.  However,
it is clear
from the above that 3:14a is translated in terms of "present
subjugation" and "future
subjugation" (see B above) and 3:14b is translated in terms of ongoing
or perhaps just
current subjugation without specification as to future or present. 
This suggests some
Talmudic recognition of the fact that, at least in 3:14, refers to
both "present" and
"future."

Yitzhak Sapir



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