[b-hebrew] 2Sam24:1 v. Gen18:1-3

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sat Aug 13 19:31:28 EDT 2005

On 13/08/2005 23:43, Read, James C wrote:

>I always thought that adonai meant my lord/master/sir in the singular.

No. It is usually a divine title and as such has a singular referent 
although plural in form, just like Elohim. But when referring to humans, 
adonay is plural "my masters", whereas adoni is singular "my master". 
This is quite regular: -i is the basic 1st person singular possessive 
suffix, but when added to a plural which would otherwise by -im, 
construct -ey, the suffixes contract together resulting in -ay.

>Anyway, the point here is that earlier it was argued that the 'wa' prefix can only be 
>understood as a succession of events. ...

Do you think I argued this? I do not hold that the WAYYIQTOL form is 
strictly sequential, and I have not seen anyone on this list recently 
supporting this position. On the other hand, I do hold that the default 
understanding of an unbroken series of WAYYIQTOL forms is that they are 
sequential, unless this non-sequentiality is marked in some way. But 
this verse is not a counter-example to this position because the series 
of WAYYIQTOLs is broken, see below.

>... However, as is clear from this example, that is not 
>always true. The first clause, 'Yah appears to Abram', is an introduction to the account 
>and the subsequent clauses expand on how that happened by backing up a bit and explaining the
>story. i.e. this is not a strict sequence of events even though the second clause begins
>with the 'wa' prefix.
No, it does not. The second clause is v.1b, W:HW.) YO$"B ... "(and) he 
was sitting...", a verbless clause with a participle. It is a normal 
part of Hebrew discourse that a story starts with verbless clauses 
giving the background situation, which is then followed by a series of 
events which are typically marked with WAYYIQTOL. And this story follows 
that structure, following the initial summary in v.1a.

>In exactly the same way 2Sam24 starts with a scene setting statement that Yah got angry and
>then backs up a little and explains how that happened.
This may be a possible interpretation. But the structure is not the same 
as in Genesis 18, for there is no break in the sequence of WAYYIQTOL 
forms and nothing else (apart from theological presuppositions) to 
indicate non-sequentiality. So, I would like to see a proper linguistic 
argument, rather than the implied theological one, for non-sequentiality 

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

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