[b-hebrew] Proverbs 13:1 (was Using an unpointed text)

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Sun Aug 26 23:47:08 EDT 2007

Hebrew backwards gapping was also raised by Freedman years ago. I 
haven't checked whether O'Connor makes reference. Isa 1:3 is the verse 

Freedman, David Noel. 1985. “What the Ass and the Ox Know—But the 
Scholars Don’t.” Bible Review 1: 42-44.

David Kummerow.

> M. O'Connor, Hebrew Verse Structure, has this to say on leftward verb gapping:
> "There are only two cases of what appears to be leftward verb gapping.
>  Although the
> lines do not present the structural description of ordinary, rightward
> gappings, there is
> no other way to account for their unusual shape than to suppose that
> leftward gapping
> has occurred." (p. 404) The two examples provided are  Jdg 5:3c-3d,
> and Dt  33:4b-5a.
> The second appears to suggest "The coalition of the tribes of Israel
> [shall live], Reuven
> shall live."  I would rather connect Dt 33:4b to the rest of Dt 33:4
> -- that is, to view
> yxd as a way of describing the leaders of the tribes.  Nevertheless,
> yxd is probably
> more commonly translated as "community" in which case it does fit with Dt 33:5.
> O'Connor also writes, "The two examples of leftward gapping, which are
> both  located
> near the start of the texts they occur in, are the most highly marked
> instances of
> gapping behavior.  Their disposition at poem openings may reveal the use made of
> such highly marked structure in overall verse structure."
> Now, as for Proverbs 13:1, it would appear to be indeed leftward
> gapping, and it
> works along with what O'Connor writes above.  One reason to question this may
> be in that here we seem to have gapping with negation.  In one part of
> the verse,
> we have "did not heed," while the gapped takes only "heed" and not the
> negation.  I am not sure if there are other examples of this.
> If one denies the possibility of leftward verb gapping, one is left
> with a comprehensible
> but ungrammatical sentence.  We all know what it should mean, just not
> sure how the
> grammar makes it all work out.  Since the vocalization does not make sense, we
> might ask whether one word is vocalized improperly.
> HALOT suggests a conjectural reading for BN - as B at N, along the lines
> of the root
> $YR - $@R. (@ = qamats).  Part of the problem with this is that the perfect 3ms
> form is attested in Daniel 10:1 as BIN (with a yodh).  It therefore
> requires us to
> conjecture two forms for this verb.  More problematic is that it destroys a very
> obvious parallel between son-father in the verse.  If we are to try to read the
> verse, even without vocalization, we must pay attention to all parallels.  The
> theme of father-son discipline is significant in Proverbs and so we must assume
> that BN-)B is a parallel and not just an accidental coincidence.
> Another possibility I considered is XKM - where XKM would be to "acknowledge".
> The problem with this is that XKM does not appear to be a transitive verb.
> The most likely possibility, if one ignores leftward gapping, is MWSR.  We might
> suggest that this is a Piel verb meaning "disciplines," and the
> sentence is of the
> form OVS.  (O'Connor gives as an example of this Ps 78:63a, and several others)
> Such a form is rather uncommon in Hebrew verse and this might be a reason that
> the verse was misread.  Furthermore, most Piel's of the verb WSR have a YODH
> instead of the VOV but the root was originally -W-.  Either the word might have
> remained as a sort of poetic form of the verb, or we can suggest that VOV and
> YODH which were very similar in the Aramaic script of the Persian and Greek
> periods, were confused (just like in the Pentateuch, we find HW) for
> "she").  This
> appears to me to be the most reasonable reading if one ignores gapping.  It
> maintains all three important parallels - XKM - LC, )B - BN, MWSR - G(RH, and
> its unique structure provides several mechanisms by which the verse would be
> misinterpreted, even though such a verse is grammatically correct in Biblical
> Hebrew.  I think this is indeed a good example of how one might approach
> reading unvocalized text, but it also shows the pitfalls and the care that must
> be taken in such an approach.
> Yitzhak Sapir

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