[b-hebrew] help with Ezekiel 32:21

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Sep 27 15:38:07 EDT 2006

On 9/27/06, kgraham0938 at comcast.net wrote:
> @Yitzhak:
> Thanks alot I appreciate it, the only problem I have is that the apparatus
> of BHS says many manuscripts have 'ayil' here as opposed to 'el.  And it
> seems to me that 'el going into 'eley is not impossible but pretty rare if
> in the Hebrew bible.  I have not found one other example of 'el going into
> plural construct, but that is not to say it is impossible and I have not
> checked other outside sources but it seems that 'ayil would be the better
> rendering.

You are right, it doesn't occur anywhere else.

However, there are various reasons to think that it is the plural of 'el and not

Joshua Fox, a linguist, reconstructs the word )ayil from PS *)ayyal, "ibex,
mountain goat."  I guess )ayil derives *)ayyal > *)ayyl > *)ayil, where the last
vowel first drops and the geminated yy takes it place first as )ay-yl and later
it degrades into a vowel.  The significance of all this is that the -y- in )ayil
is a geminated root letter in its origin.  I doubt it would be lost.

It's true that )eley never appears as a construct of )el.  But neither does it
appear as the plural of )ayil.  The plural of )ayil is generally (this example
excluded) )eyley.  Take for example Ex 15:15.  Here )eyley is parallel with
)aluwfey, which is very fitting.  Both )ayil and )alp refer to strong beasts
that in turn are used to denote the leaders of a community.  In this text,
the -y- of )eyley appears, even though this text generally uses spellings
that are defective such as )elim in Ex 15:10.   This underscores the
point about the -y- being a consonantal root letter made earlier.

The word )el is a very unique word. It is the only two-root letter PS word that
Fox reconstructs as a masculine and yet its vowel is not reconstructed
as dropped in construct cases (compare ben "son", bni "my son", $em
"name", $mi "my name").  It is also used, besides for "god" as a general
term for "power" or "strength" as in Genesis 31:29.  Furthermore, this is
a special case, speaking of the ")el"s that will speak out from Sheol.  It is
by its very nature a supernatural scenario.  This would suggest that the
word with a more supernatural meaning - )el - may be the one intended

More interesting than that comment in the apparatus of BHS is the
comment I see in the HUB that in the Greek, verse 19 is displaced and
placed immediately after Sheol in this verse.  The HUB refers to two
Medieval manuscripts (of the five it normally examines for possible
differences) that have )yly, one of them as an initial spelling that was
later corrected (to ")ly" I suppose).  I don't think that is sufficient
reason to correct the MT's spelling.  The Septuagint, apparently reads
")lh" and not ")ly".  But it doesn't read a middle -y-:

Yitzhak Sapir

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