[b-hebrew] Hebrew "If-and" construction and the Book of Mormon

Yonah Mishael yonahmishael at gmail.com
Wed Aug 16 00:58:47 EDT 2006

Kevin, I think you're confused. The examples given would *not* be normal

--> "If you want to come with me, then you have to speak with your mother."

--> "If you want to come with me, *and* you have to speak with your mother."

The second does not indicate that the if-clause is dependent on it. Rather,
it continues the thought of the if-clause.

--> "If you want to come with me, and you have to speak with your mother,
then you need to speak with her immediately."

In modern Hebrew, the apodosis is introduced most normally with the particle
)Z [אז] (= English "if").

Waltke & O'Connor give the example of Genesis 34:15-17 in their discussion
of conditional clauses in section 38.2 of their /Biblical Hebrew Syntax/ (p.

...אם תהיו כמנו
ונתנו את בנתינו לכם


"If you will become like us...
*and* {= then} we will give our daughters to you"

There is no real discussion of the introductory particle for an apodosis,
but in the examples given, it is regularly introduced with either Vav (ו) or
by no particle at all.

How this justifies the Book of Mormon, which was -- according to Joseph
Smith anyway -- translated from a version of what he termed "Reformed
Egyptian" (a hypothetical pigdin of Egyptian and Hebrew) from a type of
pictograph (or hieroglyph), does not quite make sense to me. There would
surely not be in the conciseness of pictographic writing detail sufficient
to make a quibble over a syntactic particle, AFAIK.


On 8/15/06, Kevin Riley <klriley at alphalink.com.au> wrote:
> But in the examples you gave the "if ... and" translation *is* good
> English
> >if he sayeth unto the earth move and it is moved
> > if he sayeth unto the earth thou shalt go back that it lengthen out the
> day
> for many hours and it is done .
> > if he sayeth unto the waters of the great deep be thou dried up and it
> is
> done.
> How else would you phrase these sentences in English?  You certainly can't
> use "if ... then".  The "then" needs to follow what you have written.
> Perhaps you need to give some examples where "if ... then" would be the
> normal English translation.
> Kevin riley
> -------Original Message-------
> From: Kevin Graham
> Date: 08/16/06 13:10:08
> > If ... and seems to be a common English idiom, so I don't see that it
> can
> >be exclusive to Hebrew. To use "if ... then" in any of the passages below
> >would lead to odd English. Are you sure it never occurs in the KJV?
> Well the argument goes like this. The normal usage of "if-then" (i.e. if
> she
> calls, then I will go) was found in the Book of Mormon manuscript to be
> "if-and" (i.e. if she calls and I will go). This makes for poor English,
> but
> if being translated from Hebrew, we are told that it makes perfect sense.
> There is no other way to explain this phenomenon unless of course the
> person
> from which this BoM text was translated, was an ancient Hebrew speaking
> Jew.
> We are told that there are no examples of this phenomenon in any English
> translation in any English text available to the translator in 1830. The
> doesn't have any if-and constructions because it is poor English, and was
> changed to read if-then.
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Yonah Mishael ben Avraham
Joplin, MO
yonahmishael at gmail.com

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