[b-hebrew] Zech 6:8

Steve Miller smille10 at sbcglobal.net
Mon Dec 5 23:02:34 EST 2005




From: Herman Meester Sunday, December 04


HM: 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. 

SM: Thanks Herman. In studying the 73 occurrences of Z`Q in the Tanach, the
QAL form always is a cry for help or in anguish. “Utter a cry” does have
that connotation, but not shout.

HM: 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.

SM: I agree that HZ(YQ does not have to mean to cause to cry. Yes, it could
mean to produce a cry for help, to cry out of anguish. But that meaning
could not fit the context.

HM: 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.

SM: Yes, I see that את does not always indicate what in English would be the
direct object, but I thought that was dependent on the verb. That is a very
good point. The Hiphil Z(Q uses את 4 times (Jud. 4:10,13 & 1 Sam 20:4-5),
and these are the very 4 in which the Hiphil means to assemble people or
things for an emergency. That would support the meaning of “he summoned me
[for an emergency]”, but I don’t see how the context could allow that. The
Qal has only one אֶתְכֶם in Judges 12:2, where it also seems to mean to call
an assembly for an emergency, but without the authority to make it happen.

HM: 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.

SM: Is it possible that the sight of the strong horses going over all the
earth caused Zechariah to cry in anguish?

HM: 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.

SM: That is what I do most of the time. I used to use my Wigram’s a lot, but
now I find it much more efficient to use Online Bible to search for the
Strong’s number and print out all the occurrences in English & Hebrew. There
are 7 Hiphil. 4 mean to assemble people or things for an emergency (Jud.
4:10,13; 2 Sam 20:4-5).  Job 35:9 could be translated causatively or the
same as the QAL. Jonah 3:7 seems to be causative. That leaves just Zech 6:8.

HM: 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.

SM: thanks Herman. How do I look something up in a Midrash? 

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