[b-hebrew] Zech 6:8

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Sun Dec 4 10:00:59 EST 2005

Hi Steve,

In the few reactions I sent about the problem with the Z(Q hif'il, I don't
think I said its basic meaning is "utter a cry for help", just something
like "utter a cry", or "shout". English is not my first language, so this
might not be the ideal translation. All I did was venture the possibility
that HZ(YQ as a hif'il of a root Z(Q is not necessarily to be taken as "to
make (s.o.) cry". This translation you propose would usually be taken to be
a little odd in the context of your passage in Zech. Often this is what the
hif'il does, but if we take it here as a verb that derives of the noun Z(QH
"cry, shout", then we can let HZ(YQ mean litt. "to produce a Z(QH", to cry,
shout. This kind of derivation happens elsewhere too in MT.

Why can it take the direct object, then? Technically it is not even the
direct object, which would be a suffixed [-(e)ni or -(a)ni] ויזעקני. We'd
have to check all cases of אתי, אתך, אתם etc. in order to know if this
example in Zech. 6,8 really is ungrammatical. Your question should be
reframed, "is it good Hebrew to use אתי oti with this verb ויזעק?" Frankly I
wouldn't know, we'd have to check the entire MT first. So far, you can just
say "all right, apparently this too is possible in BHebrew." That's usually
the safest strategy. The word את is not always the particle for the direct
object, but any further I feel not qualified to answer.

Your own favourite explanation, however, is not impossible.
It's just not in line with traditional translations, which should never be a
reason not to propose something else. If you take ויזעק אתי as "he made me
shout" then you are assuming that המלאך first made "me" shout, and then
proceeded talking: וידבר אלי and then we read what was said by המלאך. What
the nature of this shout was, and how the מלאך did that, we don't know then.
It is possible, as a lot of things are possible in the prophetic texts.
Apparently, traditionally it was assumed to be odd if this was not specified
by Zechariah, or it was assumed that the hif'il here is no problem at all,
and works similar to the qal verb.
By the way, if you happen to have a concordance to the Hebrew Bible within
reach, you could look up all other cases of Z(Q as hif'il and see what kind
of constructions you find. This is what I sometimes try if I wonder if
something I read is "strange" or not; I usually find out it isn't.
In the Prophets, linguistically a little more is possible than in the
"classical Hebrew prose", like Kings, Judges, Deuteronomy etc., and in
Psalms or Job, for instance, even more is possible, in the sense of
constructions we don't expect.
The Jewish midrash (exegesis) could indeed, by the way, if it suits a
certain explanation, take ויזעק אתי in the very sense you take it. But in
midrash, it would we considered that *both* meanings are inside this one
verb, the traditional translation, and what you prefer. In a midrash, then,
one could fill in what scream was uttered by the prophet, or what the מלאך
really did in order to make "me" shout.
If you're interested, look up a midrash to Zechariah and see what they do.

Best regards,

2005/12/4, Steve Miller <smille10 at sbcglobal.net>:
> Herman,
> Why is the angel uttering a cry for help?
> Why does "to utter a cry" take the direct object אֹתִי?
> Thanks,
> -Steve Miller
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Herman Meester Sunday, November 27, 2005 4:44 AM
> In my opinion all difficulties go away when we take the hif(il of Z(Q
> as a denominative of Z(QH ze`aqa, so litt. "to utter a cry". This
> happens in other hif`ils too.
> Herman

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