[b-hebrew] Judges 16:30 - Verb with no use, MY PROBLEM!

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Tue Oct 3 19:52:59 EDT 2006

On 10/3/06, Chris and Nel wrote:

> Sorry Folks, but for those who are bemused at my 'daft'? question please
> allow me to indulge.  For someone who is still young at the art of trying
> to understand the hundreds of ways to translate without looking at the
> english,  YES, Judges 16:30, does present a minor confusion for me.  The
> context and the word RaBaH (many) seem to me to translate just as well
> without the verb "to be"?  Now it is obvious that I am utterly wrong -  that
> I
> know! There are myriads of sentences where the verb "to be" is not used and
> yet 'known and correctly assumed' from the translation.  My problem is that
> beginning this particular sentence with that verb actually threw me off
> course, when I continued to translate it as if the verb was not there then
> to my shock I actually translated it correctly (Mmmm, now that's a miracle).
> This shows that I am doing something wrong (even though I got the answer
> correct).  I am so used to
> reading sentences without "to be " in them that I still can not fathom its
> purpose here, considering that without it I actually arrived at the correct
> translation without looking at the English.
> Now can someone be kind enough pleeeease..... to relieve me of my making a
> fool of
> myself on this board?


I think that your question is really a very very good question.  In
fact, it is so
good that as you can see, people here are discussing now whether the verb
vayihyu is a simple "were" or a more elaborate "became."  However, there is
more to this (and I'm not entirely sure of the following, but I'm
pretty certain):
The use of the verb h-y-h in the sense of "were" is not so much part of
"Standard Biblical Hebrew" or Classical Hebrew as it is identified with
"Late Biblical Hebrew" (LBH).  Scholars who accept these definitions of
division of strata between Hebrew generally associate LBH with postexilic
times, later than the 6th or 5th century BCE.  Before this time, in Classical
Hebrew, the verb h-y-h is used mostly for the sense of "become."  In other
words, if the word is not "become" but "were", you have identified a LBH
usage in the book of Judges.  In fact, I think that it's possible to show that
the story of Samson, on literary grounds, incorporates cultural elements
that were unknown after the 9th century BCE.  But I also think the story
itself is situated in a later framework (though I don't know how much later),
and what you have found is what, at least on the face of it, appears to be a
very late linguistic usage.

You might want to read the following article, specifically page 17:

Yitzhak Sapir

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