[b-hebrew] Genesis 1:2 - And the earth was without form, and void

Steve Miller smille10 at sbcglobal.net
Mon Apr 17 13:32:28 EDT 2006

> Dear Steve, Schmuel, et. al.
> I haven't been following this thread, so I apologize if this has already
> been said. These verses have been explained by Rashi, and for all his
> faults, he was a wonderful grammarian. The significance of the "and" which
> begins verse 2 is not important of itself. What is important is that the
> "and" is connected not to a verb, but to a noun, vha'aretz haita tohu
> vbohu.
> "Now the earth was at that time astonishingly empty..." (Rashi's
> translation.)Rashi states we do not have a description of creation here,
> the
> earth, the water all existed prior to the events described in Gen. 1:1.]
> When the biblical text writes a sentence SVO (subject verb object), then
> that verb must be translated into the pluperfect. It is the biblical
> text's
> way of conveying this tense (which is now lost to modern Hebrew). Thus,
> sentences which begin "and SVO" do not move the narrative forward at all.
> These sentences describe conditions which exist at the same time or which
> precede the previous sentence.
> You can see this construction many places. Gen. 3:1, "Now the snake was
> (at
> that time)sneakier than all other animals."

[Steve Miller] Thanks Lizbeth. And thanks for giving examples. I am not
saying that the "and" in Gen 1:2 requires that Gen 1:2 happened sequentially
after Gen 1:1. I believe the "and" disallows making Gen 1:1 a modifying
clause to Gen 1:2, and it disallows making Gen 1:1 a title with Gen 1:2 as
it's subpoint. This holds true for the 2 examples you cite.

To me, it makes more sense for Gen 3:1 to be sequentially after Gen 2. After
God finished His work of creation in Gen 2, the snake became sneakier than
all the other animals. It learned this by observing, etc.

Is Rashi saying that "and" preceding SVO _requires_ that the 2 sentences
connected by the "and" happened simultaneously? I find that hard to believe,
and would need more than just these 2 weak examples.

> Or "Now Adam had known his wife Hava, and she had conceived and had borne
> Cain." Rashi states that Adam and Eve had been having intercourse in the
> garden, and that she had conceived and had borne Cain before the
> expulsion.
> Thus, "and" + VSO moves the narrative. "and" + SVO does not move the
> narrative forward and should be translated by the pluperfect.
> That is the strict grammar according to Rashi, and I think he's right. Not
> all the rabbis agree with him, however, but I think it's theology that
> makes
> them and us want to deviate.
 [Steve Miller] Again, I think it makes at least as much sense for Gen 4:1
to be sequentially after Gen 3. It took time for them to court. But there is
no way to know because life was probably very different back then. Does
Rashi have any better examples?

I am quite sure, however, that Rashi is wrong in saying that Cain was born
before Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden. That should be quite
clear to any reader. But that is not relevant to the discussion since only
the 1st phrase, "Now Adam had known his wife Hava" is vav-SVO.

> Best,
> Liz Fried
> Ann Arbor
> >
If you run into a "Ruth Miller", Math major at UM, that is my daughter.
Beware of Triangle Towing.
- Steve Miller,

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