[b-hebrew] Plural Verbs/Adjectives Modifying Elohim
yossiyeshua at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 4 20:36:27 EST 2007
Could you explain the rationale behind this statement...
" I would also hesitate to call using a plural verb or adjective in reference to a plural noun a case of attraction".
2Samual 7:23 provides an interesting example because it appears in two versions in the Hebrew Bible (also in 1 Chronicles 17:21)
In Samuel, the text reads...
"And who is like Your (sg) people (cheamcha כְעַמְּךָ) Israel, even one nation in the earth, whom Elohim (they) went (halchu הָלְכוּ) to redeem for Himself (lo לוֹ) as a people"
where halchu (went) is plural.
Note though that the word for "your" in that verse is singular, so David refers in that same verse to Elohim in the singular.
When the Chronicler repeats David's prayer, the text reads...
"And who is like Your people Israel, even one nation in the earth, whom Elohim (he) went (halach הָלַךְ) to redeem for Himself a people"
The verb is now recorded as singular.
>From this, it's clear that David does not betray an understanding of plural divine persons.
But why is a plural verb employed in the Samuel passage?
Attraction makes a lot of sense. The plural form of elohim attracted the verb to it, which happens all the time in english.
An obvious example would be the english translation ...
"The wages of sin is death."
Clearly, the plural "wages" would demand a plural "are." But because preceding the verb is a singular noun "sin", it attracts the verb to it in a singular form.
Please explain the rationale for your statement I quoted above.
Kevin Riley <klriley at alphalink.com.au> wrote: I think the conclusion of there being or not being a Trinity from the Hebrew
linguistic evidence is not possible solely on linguistic grounds. To
acknowledge that attraction occurs in all languages is not the same as
proving it occurs in any particular instance. I would also hesitate to call
using a plural verb or adjective in reference to a plural noun a case of
attraction". What is a linguistic question is whether the ancient Hebrew
writers did or did not consider 'Elohim to be a plural form. Assuming they
did [and the evidence is not clear], it still would not prove anything in
regards to the Trinity.
Part of explaining the English examples may be to see that there is/can be a
repetition of "there is/are" when two singular subjects are joined by "and",
and this second "there is" is subsequently deleted. In that case, no rule
You will find most theological arguments appear "cheezy" when you personally
accept a different conclusion. Saying so on a list containing different
varieties of more than one faith is a sure way of offending people and
approaches closely to bad manners.
From: Yosef Shalom
Date: 5/12/2007 8:17:00 AM
I don't really want to get into an evaluation of the merits of The American
Heritage Book of English Usage per se, but here is the full context of what
Gordon quoted from...
"There once was a man from
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
Lovers of limericks and nursery rhymes are familiar with the anticipatory
there that functions as a dummy subject, delaying the real subject until
the end of the clause. In this use there is usually classified as a pronoun
and is distinguished from its use as an adverb indicating location, as in
Theres the glove Ive been looking for. 5
According to the standard rule, when the pronoun there precedes a verb such
as be, seem, or appear, the verb agrees in number with the following
grammatical subject: There is a great Italian deli across the street. There
are fabulous wildflowers in the hills. There seems to be a blueberry pie
cooking in the kitchen. There seem to be a few trees between the green and
me. But people often disregard this rule and use a singular verb with a
plural subject, especially when speaking or when using the contraction
theres. The Usage Panel dislikes this construction, however. Seventy-nine
percent reject the sentence Theres only three things you need to know about
this book. But when theres is followed by a compound subject whose first
element is singular, the panel feels differently. Fifty-six percent of the
Usage Panel accepts the sentence In each of us theres a dreamer and a
realist, and 32 percent more accept it in informal usage. The panel is even
more accepting of the
Sentence When you get to the stop light, theres a gas station on the left
and a grocery store on the right; 58 percent accept it in formal usage,
while 37 percent more accept it in informal usage. Although this usage would
seem to violate the rules of subject and verb agreement, the attraction of
the verb to the singular noun phrase following it is so strong that it is
hard to avoid the construction entirely."
My question is whether this can serve as a good rational hypothesis of how
sometimes in speech the ancient Hebrew when speaking of Elohim might have
not resisted the temptation to modify it with a plural adjective, especially
when that was the normal way to speak of the "elohim" in the surrounding
paganisms that they interacted with on a daily basis.
If this is a rational and convincing possibility, the attempts to derive
some Trinitarian significance from the appearance of the plurals is a bit
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