[b-hebrew] The word A$ER [was Ecclesiastes 3:11]

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Sat Nov 17 22:13:48 EST 2007


The word A$ER = A$-E-R consists of the existence marker A$, of the  
family, D, Z, T [Tet], Y, S, C, S, T [Tav], the personal pronoun E =  
HI), and the plurality marker R. Hence A$ER is essentially 'it exists  
in variaty'.
The existence marker A$ appears otherwise as AD, AZ [V-HA-KNAANI AZ  
BA-)AREC, Genesis 12:6], AT, AC, then as ZEH = Z-HI), ZO = ZU = Z- 
HU), $E-, and YE$, 'there is'. The Hebrew existence marker A$  
corresponds to the English 'is, as, so, it, at, to, do'.
The root )$R is a member of the root family )DR, )ZR, )SR, )CR, )$R, ) 
TR; (DR, (ZR, (TR, (CR, ($R, (TR; $)R, T)R, Z(R, S(R, C(R, $(R, DR),  

אדר, אזר, אטר, אסר, אצר, אשׁר, אתר
עדר, עזר, עטר, עצר, עשׁר, עתר
שׁאר, תאר
זער, יער, סער, צער, שׁער
דרא, זרא, ירא
זרה, ירה, סרה, צרה, שׁרה
זרע, ירע, צרע, שׂרע
דרר, זרר, סרר, צרר, שׁרר

Thus the English equivalent to the Hebrew A$ER is the compound 'is- 
are' or 'are-is'. It is inherently plural but is used also in the  
singular in the sense of 'he-is, it-is' or 'is-he, is-it'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Nov 17, 2007, at 3:01 PM, Bryant J. Williams III wrote:

> Dear Yitzhak,
> Reference Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, page 483, Para. 152y, #2. It  
> states the
> following:
> "2.    Two negatives in the same sentence do not neutralize each  
> other (as in
> 'nonulli, non nemo'), but make the negation more emphatic (like  
> OUDAMWS, 'NULLI-NON, NEMO NON'); E.G. Zp 2:2 (if the text is  
> correct) This
> especially applies to the compounds formed by the union of )ayN,  
> BeLI with MiN-,
> without (para. 119y), e.g. Is 5:9; (6:11 ) (Jer. 2:15,) prop.  
> without no
> inhabitant, i.e. so that no inhabitant is left there. On the other  
> hand, in Is
> 50:2 is causative; as also Ex 14:11; 2 K 1:2, 6, 16. ***In Ec 3:11  
> except that
> (yet so that man cannot, &c.)."*** (Emphasis mine)
> Now, regarding )asher, see Gesenius, paragraph 138, The Relative  
> Pronoun
> especially sub-section "a." I would suggest that we all review what  
> he says
> regarding 'asher.
> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Yitzhak Sapir" <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>
> To: "b-hebrew Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Saturday, November 17, 2007 8:37 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Ecclesiastes 3:11
>> On Nov 16, 2007 9:52 PM, Martin Shields wrote:
>>> Yitzhak,
>>>> Is it possible that the author of Qohelet is here trying to  
>>>> write in
>>>> Hebrew
>>>> a phrase using a specific word structure that is more natural in an
>>>> Indo-
>>>> European language, such as Greek (the phrase being something of the
>>>> sort of "without which a man will not find")?
>>> I think this is what the text means (see my other posts), but I  
>>> don't
>>> think understanding it this way is necessarily dependent upon Indo-
>>> European influence. I think it is probably the simplest  
>>> understanding
>>> of the Hebrew anyway. OTOH, there's a long tradition of seeing Greek
>>> influence in Qohelet, and if that's to be seen in any way in this
>>> verse I suspect it is more likely related to העלם (αιων in  
>>> the
>>> LXX which is a term loaded with rather more baggage than עולם in
>>> biblical Hebrew).
>> Hello,
>> Part of the reason I suggested IE influence is the unnatural word  
>> order
>> as far as Biblical syntax is concerned.  You can try to interpret  
>> the final
>> meaning any way you want, but the fact remains that "without which"
>> translates almost precisely the meaning of the words mbly and ?$r  
>> in that
>> order, and also does make sense of the sentence.  But ?$r doesn't  
>> work
>> in Biblical syntax in this way.  ?$r generally stands between the
>> subordinate clause and the main sentence, as a connection between
>> the two.  If the subordinate clause needs to refer to the  
>> antecedent it uses
>> the 3s pronoun. HALOT provides (in the entry on ?$r) Is 5:28 and  
>> Ps 95:5
>> as examples of this.  As far as "without", the general word is bl(dy,
>> possibly prefixed with m-.  A nice similar example is Gen 41:44.   
>> Thus, to
>> say "without which" in normative Biblical Hebrew, one should write  
>> "?$r
>> bl(dyw" instead.  Indeed, if one replaces "mbly ?$r" with these  
>> words, the
>> sentence sounds a lot more "normal."  The use of "mbly ?$r" therefore
>> rings of the sound of some foreign influence, as if a speaker of a  
>> foreign
>> language, very possibly some IE language, tried to say "without  
>> which"
>> but did not use the appropriate Hebrew syntax, and used instead his
>> own native language syntax.  I'm not saying a non-Hebrew speaker
>> wrote this, but I think it does suggest that some foreign linguistic
>> influence is in place here.
>> Yitzhak Sapir
>> _______________________________________________
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