[b-hebrew] Isaiah 49:4 was (Re: Standard translations appear oddly inaccurate - Help needed please?)

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sat Nov 18 12:38:14 EST 2006

On 11/17/06, Chris and Nel wrote:

> ISAIAH 49:4
> ".....I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in
> vain..... (KJV)
> '.....I have laboured to no purpose I have spent my strength in vain and for
> nothing....(NIV)

I don't see either of these at odds with each other or with the Massoretic
cantillation system.  Both of these see the "and" that separates "in vain"
and "for nothing/nought" as unifying only those two and nothing else.  The
same is said for the cantillation marks under "latohu vɛhɛvɛl".  But this
doesn't mean that the cantillation marks don't bind these to "koxi killeti".
Rather the zaqef before "latohu" and the atnax at "killeti" identify these
as a unit within the verse.  This is probably not completely grammatical:
the words "vɔ)ani )ɔmarti" seem to be bound by this grammatical function
of the cantillation to only "lariq yɔga(ti" and not to the rest of the verse.

> To Summarise, WHY then can we not translate: 'LeToHu VeHeVel' as a
> seperate clause such as being an interpolation by the author in a moment
> of breathing out, sighing out some extra clarifying personal feelings, like a
> pause after the preceding verb, just as if one was to say in English:

Because in Hebrew Biblical poetry, parallelism is key, and here the
parallelism (as Karl noted) is:
1) lariq - latohu vɛhɛvɛl (these are also a short parallelism: latohu
- vɛhɛvɛl )
2) yɔga(ti - koxi killeti

Yitzhak Sapir

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