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

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Mon Aug 15 20:17:00 EDT 2005

On Monday 15 August 2005 10:37, you wrote:
> On 15/08/2005 16:48, Dave Washburn wrote:
> > ...
> >
> >>Surely I don't.  Even before I understood the concepts of the various
> >>grammatical
> >>meanings, the word "wayye$eb" intrinsically conveyed to me, as a kid
> >>reading the Bible in Hebrew, an *act* of sitting and not some stative
> >> verb form.
> >
> >So what? As a kid, you might have misunderstood it.  I don't see the point
> >here.
> >
> >>This is
> >>conveyed solely by the verb form.
> >
> >Hardly.  In nearly all places where it carries that connotation, it's
> > conveyed mainly by context.
> Dave, are you denying that WAYYE$EB (at least in most cases) means
> "(and) he sat down", an action, and that W:HU' YO$EB (what we have in
> Gen 18:1) means "(and) he was sitting", a state? Or are you claiming
> that there is no semantic difference and that we can only tell from the
> context which was meant?

I'm saying it's an open question at this point, but as a general rule, context 
is the ultimate determiner.

> > ...
> >
> >>I think some of the discussions here should separate
> >>between personal theories that may be advanced by individual members on
> >> the list, and which those same members may discuss, and the standard
> >> accepted understanding which is what someone new to Biblical linguistics
> >> is interested in knowing.
> >
> >Excuse me?  Are you trying to declare personal theories, which
> > incidentally have been published in refereed journals and elsewhere, out
> > of bounds?  I guess you want to silence Rolf too, then, because he
> > definitely has a personal theory that he presents often and politely
> > here.  My theory is another one. ...
> Dave, no one wants to silence anyone. But what Yitzhak is doing to you
> is what you and I have often done to Rolf, he is objecting when a
> speculative theory not (yet) accepted by the scholarly consensus
> (whatever that may be) is presented as if it is accepted fact. And he is
> presenting an alternative view which is far more widely accepted,
> although of course that does not imply that it is correct or even
> coherent. I don't think appeals to one's personal authority carry more
> weight on this list than appeals to the authority of a scholarly
> consensus. What we are all looking for is evidence.

That's not what he said.

> >...
> >
> >>>YHWH appearing.  That's an awfully short line!  And the business about
> >>> "a new line of events" ignores the fact that the next verb, "he
> >>> lifted," is another wayyiqtol.  What's it sequential to?  Abraham
> >>> sitting?
> >>
> >>Yes.  Abraham was sitting, and then he looked up.  What's the problem?
> >>
> >>>Hardly.  To get that
> >>>you'd have to assume that Abraham stood up and then lifted his eyes,
> >>
> >>Huh?  Why? How?  Why does "lifting one's eyes" require Abraham to
> >>stand up?
> >
> >Because it's a wayyiqtol, and according to your presentation, the action
> > of a wayyiqtol presents the next item in a sequence taking place after
> > the previous action is completed.  That's what you said, go back and
> > reread your post.  So the wayyiqtol "he lifted up his eyes" according to
> > your own theory means that the action of being seated had to have been
> > completed first, i.e. he stood up.
> No, Yitzhak's interpretation does not require this, even if perhaps his
> wording was not clear. The rule of sequentiality applies only between
> two WAYYIQTOLs. A stative clause followed by a WAYYIQTOL does not, on
> anyone's interpretation, require that the state was terminated before
> the action of the WAYYIQTOL. Indeed I would suggest the opposite, that
> it implies at least in most cases that the state is still continuing at
> the time of the action.

Once again, that's not what he said.  I have to go by what he actually writes, 
and that's what I did.

> >>>In addition, what's the first wayyiqtol in verse 1
> >>>sequential to?  Ishmael's circumcision?  I think not.  It begins a new
> >>>pericope, and isn't sequential to anything.
> >>
> >>It is sequential to anything that happened previously.  Being sequential
> >>doesn't mean you have to know what the previous episode in the story
> >>was.  What you do assume is that anything that happened previously
> >>is over.  And that is the basic assumption of a new pericope.
> >
> >Oh, nice cop-out!  The fact is, it begins a new pericope, and in that
> >position, sequentiality has nothing to do with it. ...
> Yes, it does. There is at least a presumption within the editorial
> framework of the book that successive pericopes are presented in
> chronological order. That means that the start of one pericope is
> sequential to the preceding one - and that is why a large proportion of
> new pericopes start with WAYYIQTOLs. Of course there are cases of whole
> Bible books starting with WAYYIQTOL, but that may imply that, within an
> editorial framework, they were intended to be sequential to the previous
> book, as is surely intended with Leviticus (WAYYIQRA'...) and Numbers

Nice try, but even the grammars that present this "standard" view don't reach 
that far.  As for books starting with one, I have yet to see an adequate 
explanation of Jonah 1:1.

> >...
> >
> >>Hinneh is not a verb.  Look at my other message.  "wa" or "w:" will
> >> always be there.  But generally in conjuction with a verb it suggests
> >> serial, sequential action.  As a reprecussion of this, when it does not
> >> appear in conjuction with a verb, it suggests non-sequential action.
> >
> >I have no idea what you just said.  First, I never said HINNEH was a verb.
> >  If you hadn't snipped the rest of my comment, that would have been
> > clear. Second, I have no idea what you just said.
> Well, it is very clear to me. Yitzhak holds that clauses starting with
> W- and a verb are sequential to what precedes, whereas when W- is
> attached to another element, and either the verb follows or the clause
> is verbless, the action or state is non-sequential. This is probably an
> over-simplification, but is not far from the truth.

It's not far from the truth unless, of course, this "standard" view isn't the 
truth ;-)  In any case, thanks for clarifying that for me.

> > ...
> >
> >>>Okay, you still haven't explained how a form that is always sequential
> >>> to something else can begin a new line of events.  You also haven't
> >>> explained why, if it's true that "by the time he looked up and sighted
> >>> them, they were already standing before him," he had to run to them.
> >>> Running to them suggests that they were  still a ways away.
> >>
> >>"Standing before him" doesn't mean they were an inch away.  They could
> >> have been a yard or two away.
> >
> >So he ran a yard or two?  I hope he didn't wear himself out too badly.  It
> >still doesn't make sense.  And I notice you conveniently skipped over the
> >first part of that paragraph.
> So what is your alternative, Dave? That he ran towards them before he
> saw them, while still looking down? The sequence of events given by the
> WAYYIQTOLs is in fact the only pragmatically possible one, that he
> looked up, he saw the three, and then he ran towards them. Of course
> there is a slight problem about how far away they were when he saw them,
> but that doesn't go away if you make this non-sequential.

Peter, you seem to be grabbing random bits of comments out of my post and 
doing some rather odd things with them.  Where did I say anything about the 
sequence of events?  The question has to do with distance, not sequence.  But 
the fact remains that if he saw these characters standing "before" him, by 
Yitzhak's statement only a yard or two away, why did he run?  By the time he 
got up a good head of steam, enough to be called running, he would have 
plowed right into them.  Yitzhak was the one who said "by the time he looked 
up and sighted them, they were already standing before him."  I asked why, if 
that was the case, he had to run to get to them.  I have no idea how on earth 
you managed to twist that into whatever you just made of it.  And I never 
said the problem goes away if you make it non-sequential.  But it certainly 
doesn't go away if you make it sequential, either.

> > ...
> >
> >>Huh? You don't like the theory because you have your own theory. 
> >> However, until your theory is accepted by most linguists, you should
> >> discuss your theory amongst linguists.  But if a new person comes and
> >> tries to understand the passage, it is only reasonable to say, "Look,
> >> this is what most linguists and almost everybody thinks it means.  But I
> >> think something else, based on various exceptions."  And only then
> >> discuss your ideas.
> >
> >Once again, I'd like to know what qualifies you to try and suppress
> > someone else's theory on this list.  If we're going to limit ourselves to
> > supposedly standard theories and only stick alternate theories off in
> > their own little ghetto, we're going to have a problem because there are
> > about half a dozen such alternate theories running around here. ...
> Yitzhak is not in any way trying to suppress your theory. He is
> explictly stating that you are welcome to present your theory, but
> should add a disclaimed that this is your own opinion and not what is
> accepted by most scholars. And I agree. So you are making a false
> accusation for which you should apologise.

Peter, this is getting tedious.  I haven't even presented a theory of my own 
yet.  In actual fact, I have been doing exactly what he said: the so-called 
standard view was presented, and I have been interacting with it, showing 
where its weaknesses are.  He says, don't do that because it might confuse a 
new person.  I have nothing to apologize for, and if Yitzhak thinks I do, I 
tend to suspect he's perfectly capable of speaking for himself.

Dave Washburn
"Well, if I'd wanted a safe life, I guess I wouldn't have 
married a man who studies rocks." - Betty Armstrong (Fay Masterson)

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