[b-hebrew] Definite Article 7:14

Harold Holmyard hholmyard3 at earthlink.net
Sun Jul 8 20:09:14 EDT 2007

Dear Joseph,
> HH: It can serve most of the examples  we've discussed, theoretically all 
> of them, since it is a category of  usage for which these examples are 
> cited. And the thought could be the  same in the reader's mind as in the 
> writer's. It does not have to be, as  you suggest, definite for one and 
> indefinite for the other. It is equally  definite and generic for both. 
> The one who escapes, if we provisionally  accept that idea for Gen 14:13, 
> would be, in both writer and hearer, a  genus: "the one who escaped," 
> used specifically of an otherwise  unidentified person who came to 
> Abraham with news of  Sodom.
> JW:
> This is non-responsive to my question above. If you are willing to try  
> harder I suggest you try to answer my one important question above:
> What examples would you give in the Hebrew Bible of the Author being  
> Definite and the immediate Hebrew hearer taking it as Indefinite?

HH: I should have been clearer. If the context lacked a specific person 
that the hearer could identify, he might have been able to understand 
that the reference was generic and indefinite.
> JW:
> If I understand the category correctly it is something definite to the  
> author that is indefinite to the immediate Hebrew hearer. I don't think there is  
> any such category of Hebrew as the previous sentence has a natural  
> contradiction. If someone did accept such a category than they would have a huge  amount 
> of Uncertainty regarding whether any Author meant the Definite or  Indefinite. 
> An uncertainty I have Faith you do not possess.

HH: Context could give clarification. If no virgin has been mentioned or 
is ever mentioned to the reader, he can gather that some other idea is 
in view than a clearly identified individual.
> JW:
> Well you might want to do a current survey of translations. I believe that  
> now the majority of Christian translations have "the". 

HH: True, but English allows a somewhat similar idea to the Hebrew use 
of the article that I learned. The reader can take "the virgin" as 
generic if he chooses to do so. It is the typical young woman in Israel. 
She gets pregnant, bears a child, and names him "Immanuel" because of 
the hope she has in God and his protection of Israel.

Harold Holmyard

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