[b-hebrew] Passive sentences in Esther?

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Mon Oct 17 14:21:10 EDT 2005

On Monday 17 October 2005 11:38, Luke Buckler wrote:
> Hello,
> Over the weekend I went to a Bible study day, and the talks were on Esther.
> One of my favorite points from the talk was based on the grammar of
> some sentences in Esther, but I'd like to verify what was suggested.
> One of the verses mentioned was Est. 2:22. In context (from the ESV) it
> says: -
> [21] In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate,
> Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the
> threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.
> [22] And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to
> Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. [23]
> When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both
> hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the
> chronicles in the presence of the king.
> The part of the passage picked on was at the of v22, where it says
> 'And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai ... '.
> Here, in English in the ESV (and in other versions like ASV, KJV, YLT,
> NASB) the sentence is passive: Mordecai didn't find the information
> out himself, but the information was made known to Mordecai (like 'The
> ball was kicked to John', which is passive; as opposed to 'Billy
> kicked the ball', which isn't).
> However, is this the case in the Hebrew (or whatever language Esther
> was originally written in)? Is the sentence a passive one (in some
> English versions/paraphrases - like the CEV, GN, NIV - the sentence
> isn't passive)?

Yes, it's passive.  It reads WAY.IW.FDA( HADFBFR L:MOR:DO:KAY "the matter 
was/became known to Mordecai."  It may or may not indicate that someone else 
told Mordecai, as this sort of use of the passive in Hebrew is a stylistic 
thing.  Josephus said that a certain Jewish man named Barnabasus overheard 
the plot, told Mordecai and Mordecai told the king; hence, Mordecai became 
registered as the one who exposed it.  Where Josephus got that part of the 
story is anybody's guess, as far as I can tell.

Dave Washburn
"Maybe I'll trade it for a new hat."

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list