[b-hebrew] The translation of ehyeh

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Fri Aug 5 16:24:03 EDT 2005

Thank you Peter for adding some helpful details to the discussion.

I can also add that in all the uses of ehyeh in the Scriptures only Exo 
3:14 and Hos 14:6 use the word in the clause-initial position.  Most 
especially, I notice in YHWH's speech, ehyeh (when in an independent 
clause) is usually preceded by pleonastic  'ani or 'anokiy.  I take this 
information as a signal to read Exo 3:14's ehyeh as special, suspecting 
that it is an expression of desire (a cohortative) rather than 
knowledge.  I take ehyeh 'asher ehyeh to mean, "I intend to be what I 
always am."  Of course, "be" and "am" are not entirely equivalent to the 
use of the root hyh in Exo 3:14.


Peter Kirk wrote:
> 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!"

B. M. Rocine
Living Word Chruch
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13026
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