[b-hebrew] Object of "lamo" in Isaiah 53

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Jul 2 13:23:57 EDT 2007

> -----Original Message-----

> From: K Randolph [mailto:kwrandolph at gmail.com]
> Sent: Friday, June 29, 2007 1:41 PM
> To: Steve Miller
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Object of "lamo" in Isaiah 53
> Steve:
> I see you took this off line.

[Steve Miller] it was a mistake. After sending just to you, I
forwarded it to the list.

> Even with the L- prefix the -MW suffix does not always take the
> plural. I have heard this argument before, and it is simply not
> factual.
> There are a couple of times in Genesis 9 where it is forced to make it
> plural, the normal reading is singular, also at least once in Job and
> at least one other time in Isaiah where there is no other reading
> other than to have it refer to a singular subject.

[Steve Miller] The Gen 9 verses refer to Seth's and Japheth's
descendants. I don't think these are questionable at all.

Genesis 9:26  And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan
shall be his servant.

Genesis 9:26  wml dbe Nenk yhyw Ms yhla hwhy Kwrb rmayw (9:26)

 [Karl] Look at the context. It mentions only that Canaan will be a
slave, not his descendants, verse 25. ויאמר ארור כנען עבד עבדים יהיה

Then in verse 26 it mentions only Japheth, not his descendants. You
are adding to the text. The same with verse 27. As far as I can tell,
this adding is for philosophical reasons, not linguistic reasons,
therefore not to be disputed on this list.

Genesis 9:27  God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the
tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Genesis 9:27  wml dbe Nenk yhyw Ms ylhab Nksyw tpyl Myhla tpy (9:27)

In Job, I think you are referring to:

Job 40:4  Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine
hand upon my mouth.

Job 40:4  yp wml ytmv ydy Kbysa hm ytlq Nh (40:4)

I cannot tell what the antecedent of lamo is here. Neither "him" nor
"them" make sense. We should not use a verse in the dark to explain a
verse in the light.

[Karl] Where do you get your translations? Within its context, this
verse is very simple and easy to understand.

הן קלתי מה אשׁיבך ידי שׂמתי למו פי׃

הן simple, "behold"

קלתי from the verb קלל to treat lightly (unimportant), also to move
lightly, quickly, to become light, in other words, Job, when faced
with the living God, recognizes his own insignificance.

מה אשׁיבך "what shall I cause to return to you" a poetic way of saying
"how shall I answer you?" Here is an example of an ancient Hebrew
usage that has no exact equivalent in modern English.

ידי שׂמתי למו פי "My hand I place on my own mouth" showing both the
emphatic and reflexive uses of the מו suffix. This is a poetic way of
saying "I don't have anything to say."

In Isa, I think you are referring to:

Isaiah 44:15  And it hath been for man to burn, And he taketh of them,
and becometh warm, Yea, he kindleth it, and hath baked bread, Yea, he
maketh a god, and boweth himself, He hath made it a graven image, And
he falleth down to it.

Isaiah 44:15  wml dgoyw lop whve wxtsyw la lepy Pa Mxl hpaw qyvy Pa
Mxyw Mhm xqyw rebl Mdal hyhw (44:15)

I think it should be translated, He falls down to them, to more that
just the idol he just made.

[Karl] Again you are adding to the text. Look at the context, in
particular verse 19. The context makes clear that what's being bowed
down to is a hunk of wood, i.e. the idol.


> It is true that a majority of the times it refers to plural subjects,
> but not always.
> As I mentioned before, the context of the verse is in a section that
> refers to a "slave" who is distinct from "my people", especially taken
> in context of the preceding and following chapters, that distinction
> made explicit in 52:14. Within the context, this verse also refers to
> that "slave".

[Steve Miller] I agree with the above

[Karl] Look below, you disagree with yourself.

> Then to take one portion of the verse and have it refer
> to "my people" as the subject makes no contextual nor grammatical
> sense.

[Steve Miller] lamo following "my people" cannot refer back to "my
people"?? Sorry, I cannot agree.

[Karl] You have to give me reasons, linguistic reasons, before I can
even consider this.

From what I have told before, the -MW suffix has an emphatic and/or
reflexive meaning, referring to the subject of the sentence. In this
verse, "my people" is neither subject nor object, rather it is an
adjective modifying "rebellion". Within the context, the subject of
the sentence is the "slave" who is distinct from "my people".
Therefore, "my people" linguistically cannot be the subject of LMW in
Isaiah 53:8.


> Karl W. Randolph.

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