[b-hebrew] The translation of ehyeh

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Aug 5 07:39:24 EDT 2005

On 05/08/2005 11:12, B. M. Rocine wrote:

>I am not sure what you mean by "sequential yiqtols."  In my posts about 
>Isaiah 52-53 and Psa 107, I tried to maintain a consistent 
>interpretation of clause-initial yiqtols as volitive.  I think there 
>were a couple of exceptions.
> ...
>This model has import for the study of syntax and verbal semantics.  An 
>interesting pattern emerges of we study the distribution of clause types 
>in BH.  Most of the BH genres have a mainline of communication that 
>utilizes a verb-first clause type.  Historical narrative discourse uses 
>the wayyiqtol; Predictive narrative uses the weqatal; Hortatory 
>discourse uses clause-initial forms based on the yiqtol like the 
>imperative, jussive, and cohortative, to name a few.

Bryan, are you effectively saying that the volitive clause-initial 
YIQTOLs you refer to are jussives and cohortatives? In that case, they 
will typically be based on an apocopated or shortened form of YIQTOL 
which, at least according to one widespread theory, has a quite 
different origin form regular YIQTOL. And so that would explain why the 
same surface form has two different meanings - the forms were originally 
different but have come together because of phonological change.

In fact the situation is a little more complex for the first EHYEH, if 
this is in fact to be understood as cohortative, for this is a 
"lamed-he" verb which has a distinct apocopated form. The cohortative is 
generally formed from the (rare) 1st person of the jussive with a 
suffixed he. The 3rd person jussive of HYH is Y:HIY (Genesis 1:3 etc). 
No cohortative version is attested, but one would expect the consonants 
)HYH, as in Ehyeh, and probably in fact the same form Ehyeh. So the 
first Ehyeh could be cohortative, and the sentence could be translated 
"Let me be what I am", which might well mean something like "Don't try 
to control me!"

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

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