[b-hebrew] THW WBHW was Question about Gen 1:1-2

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Jul 24 04:04:56 EDT 2009


On Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 3:36 PM, James Read <J.Read-2 at sms.ed.ac.uk> wrote:

> Hi Karl,
> interesting stuff Karl.
>> THW does not mean “formless”, as it is used describe carved idols which
>> are
>> anything but formless Isaiah 44:9. That and a few other places where
>> people
>> put their trust on that which is THW with the context implying that they
>> are
>> idols indicates that what is meant is lifeless (idols are lifeless, unable
>> to act) and not “formless”. In contrast, YHWH is the living God, who acts
>> into history.
> Interesting. I wonder if in Hebrew the semantic domains of lifeless and
> formless have some kind of overlap.

I don’t think so.

> We could compare how man was made in God's image.

I think this is a different question. For one, my understanding of “man was
made in God’s image” refers to a functional image, not a physical image. A
physical image is usually referenced by words like DMWT or TBNYT

>  As far as I can tell, BHW refers to stillness, contrasted with the hubbub
>> of
>> a crowd.
> What makes you think that? Have you come across any contexts which use such
> a contrastive sense?

This meaning is clearly not set in stone. As it is used only three times,
and each time the contexts appear to refer to the quietness of where there
is no life. Twice it refers to abandoned lands where there were no more
inhabitants, and once before there was life to fill the land.

> What do you think about the value of the LXX and the vulgate translations?:
> inanis et vacua
> ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος
> I suppose we could argue that LXX is a bad translation and that Jerome was
> just copying it, not being as familiar with Hebrew as he claimed. But still,
> it's evidence we can't ignore completely.

What I have claimed appears to be the case in other words is that some of
the Biblical Hebrew terms were forgotten even before the LXX was translated,
hence mistakes were made. In my dictionary, I admit that some terms are only
apparently known, and several where I simply throw up my hands and admit I
have no idea what the words mean. Oh, for native speakers to interview!

One such term appears to be THW. One way to recognize whether or not it was
remembered is to compare each time it is translated into Greek LXX. THW is
translated as aoratos, kenos, outhen, ouden, and mataios; enough different
ways to show that the translators were basically guessing, guided by the

BHW is translated only once.

This is not to knock Jerome, it is just to recognize the limits under which
he was working. The same with the translators of the LXX. That is not to say
that these translations are useless, rather recognize their limits and use

> Does anybody know how the Peshitta translates this?
> James Christian
> Karl W. Randolph.

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