[b-hebrew] sentence construction on Deu 6:4

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sun Jul 26 04:09:57 EDT 2009

Dear Oun,

In "Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar" § 132 we read: "The 
adjective (like the participle used 
adjectivally), which serves as an *attribute* of 
a substantive, stands *after* the substantive, 
and agrees with it in *gender* and *number*." 
(The asterisks are used to indicate italics in 
the text.)

Therefore, the most natural way to translate 
Deuteronomy 6:4 on the basis of the normal 
syntactic use of adjectives would be: "Listen 
Israel: YHWH our God is one YHWH." If we keep in 
mind that there were numerous Baals (Baal Peor, 
Baal Berit...), it may not be strange to stress 
that there is just one YHWH.

One example of a proper name followed by "one" is 
Joshua 7:21 where we read about "one 
Shinar-mantle". We have the proper name Shinar, 
and before that we have the noun )DR (mantle) in 
the construct  (= mantle of Shinar; 
Shinar-mantle). After this expression consisting 
of two words, we find the adjective  "one" which 
modifies "(shinar)-mantle," and we get "one 

Another example is Amos 8:3 where we have the 
words )DNY (lord) YHWH (YHWH) RB (great) - the 
lord YHWH great = the great lord YHWH.

We can also use Psalm 7:18:  $M (name) YHWH 
(YHWH) (LYWN (most high) = "the name of YHWH, the 
most high; the name of the most high YHWH".

An adjective following a substantive will not 
always be used as an attribute. This is the most 
natural interpretation of the nominal clause in 
Deuteronomy 6:4. But in Zechariah 14:9 we find 
YHWH followed by "one" in a different 
construction. A word for word translation is "on 
day that will be YHWH one." = "In that day YHWH 
will be one."  Because of the verb, the adjective 
in this clause is used predicatively and not in 

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

>Dear scholars,
>Deu 6:4 reads in NLT which seems most sensible one among many English
>     "Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone."
>I would naturally take this verse as:
>     "Listen to this (Or, implied as 'to me, Moses'), O Israel!,
>         that the LORD is our God, the LORD alone."
>An extreme translation, which can be seen in ASV, Also in NWT (Listen ~),
>    "Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah."  (This sounds
>nonsensical to me.)
>I would appreciate very much your comment to help me if I propose a
>different understanding of the syntax as:
>    "O Israel! Listen to Yahweh our God, Yawheh alone!"
>This by itself makes a good sense to me, but I'm ignorant of Hebrew
>grammar and construction. I am also not sure whether this verse should
>actually be same as in v. 3 which says something like 'Hear ~ (to
>this) that ~".
>Oun Kwon.
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

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