[b-hebrew] Gen 2.18

A Becker ABecker at nerdshack.com
Mon Oct 29 14:01:18 EDT 2007


K Randolph wrote:

> That's where we disagree. While it is usual in narrative that what is

> related later happened later, that is not always the case?sometimes

> that which is related later happened earlier but was not mentioned

> until later, at the point at which it becomes important to the story

> line.

> 

> In English, we usually indicate the prior action through verbal tenses.

> Prior action may be referenced by the context, but that is not common.

> 

> In Biblical Hebrew, which lacked the verbal tenses to indicate the fact

> that the action was prior to the point of reference in the narration,

> depends usually on the context to indicate the sequence of action. In

> this case, the context of chapter one indicates that the forming of the

> animals occurred prior to the creation of mankind, but in chapter two

> their forming was not mentioned until where their existence became

> important to the story line.

> 

> The waw here as in most narration, merely indicates a continuation of

> the narration. In *English* we sometimes use "then" to indicate a

> continuation of action, but when it is utilized to reference prior

> action, the priority of that action is indicated by verbal tense and

> usually other markers as well. That is different from Biblical Hebrew.

> Here "then" is a mistranslation. It is an addition not conveyed by the

> Hebrew text.

 

You are right that Hebrew does not have tense. However, let us note what
Waltke and O'Connor's "An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax" says
concerning the wayyiqtol:

"Situations described with wayyqtl are mostly temporally or logically
succeeding. 'The most obvious and frequent relation is,' as S. R. Driver
notes, 'that of simple chronological succession...but of this there is no
need to give...examples, as they abound throughout the historical portions
of the Old Testament.' Wayyqtl signifies logical succession where a logical
entailment from (a) preceding situation(s) is expressed...One may question
whether the notion of succession is signified by the grammatical form or by
the associations of the words. That the form and not the words signifies
succession becomes clearer in those instances where a chain is broken and
where several perfectives are followed by wayyqtl."

Thus, as I said, the wayyiqtol form here is most straight forwardly
understood to denote that the act of forming the animals in vs. 19
temporally or logically follows God's concern for Adam's being alone in vs.
18. Hebrew does lack tense, but its verb forms express relationships to what
occurs previously in the narrative. Since "[s]ituations described with
wayyqtl are mostly temporally or logically succeeding," then "then...formed"
or "so...formed" are not "mistranslations"; they are attempts to bring out
the temporal or logical relation of the wayyiqtol (WYCR) to what precedes.

Hebrew does have ways to refer to situations or conditions that occurred or
holds prior to the time in the narration which are matters of syntax, not
merely context. This is seen in 2:5 which tells us that during the time in
narration there was no "shrub of the field" [&YX HD&H] or "plant of the
field" [(&B HD&H] because up until that time God had not caused it to rain.
Thus, Genesis 2:19 could have started off as KY YCR YHWH )LHYM... and made
it clear that the act of bringing the animals, Adam's naming them, but not
his finding a helper all occurred previously, but Genesis does not do so.
Genesis 2:19 could have started off WYHWH )LHYM YCR... to make this clearly
understood, but again Genesis does not do so. Instead, we find the wayyiqtol
here which, as I have shown, usually expresses temporal or logical
succession.

I note also that the Samaritan Pentateuch has the variant here WYCR YHWH
)LHYM *(WD*... "And YHWH God formed again..." which no doubt arose to try to
bring harmony with Genesis 1 by making a second creation of animals in
addition to the first. The LXX also has this variant which probably comes
from it's Hebrew vorlage. Such a variant would not have arisen had WYCR been
easy to understand as some kind of backdrop to the story or parenthetical
remark as you are trying to argue.

You are right we will just have to disagree. I know the wayyitol does have
other uses, but the majority of use for the wayyiqotl is for temporal or
logical succession. For me, the burden of proof is on those who argue that
some other relationship for the wayyiqtol is intended here. It is not enough
to merely say "sometimes, etc." and then run with that.

 

A Becker




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