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

Steve Miller smille10 at sbcglobal.net
Wed Aug 16 21:09:23 EDT 2006

> == It might also be worth researching whether there were any highly
> literal
> translations of the Old Testament in circulation which used this
> construction, which Joseph Smith might have known and copied.
> I had been thinking the same thing. I looked up several translations
> available to Smith like Wycliffe, Geneva, et cetera, but so far no
> examples
> of the if-and clausal.
[Steve Miller]The LXX is the most literal translator of the vav as "and".
In Gen 34:15-17, previously ref'd, LXX translates the vav at the beginning
of v16 as "and", but as nothing in the middle of v17.

Gen 31:15  Only on these terms will we conform to you, and dwell among you,
if ye also will be as we are, in that every male of you be circumcised.

16  And we will give our daughters to you, and we will take of your
daughters for wives to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will be as one

17  But if ye will not hearken to us to be circumcised, we will take our
daughter and depart.

What other examples are there of "if ... and" in the Hebrew Bible? 

I think the meaning of "if ... and" in Hebrew is most literally translated
as "if <you do xxxx> *also* <we will do yyy>". It is tit-for-tat, not as
strong a cause-effect relationship as if-then. 
I would translate Gen 34:17 as:
And if you will not hearken to us to be circumcised, also we will take our
daughter and depart.

English "and" simply won't work here in the middle of verse 17, because
"and" would make the 2nd phrase, "we will take our daughter...", part of the
conditional, which is not the case with the Hebrew vav.

-Steve Miller

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list