[b-hebrew] Light be made versus Let there be light.

Joel C. Salomon joelcsalomon at gmail.com
Thu Oct 15 21:28:59 EDT 2009

James Christian wrote:
> Hi Karl,
> 2009/10/15 K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
>> James and Steve:
>> I can see the question as far as how best to render these ideas into
>> English.
>> But for the Hebrew, I can’t recognize your questions. Grammatically it is
>> simple, common Hebrew, other than the subject matter. God commands the
>> light
>> to come into existence, and it does.
> Are you suggesting a vocative understanding here? i.e. That God is talking
> to the light? If so, this a very different understanding to the one
> presented by a translation of 'Let there be...'. If so, what linguistic
> criteria do you use for extracting a vocative sense? Just common sense?
> There is no vocative case in Hebrew so we can't be absolutely sure unless we
> have some other form of linguistic apparatus to judge this by. What
> understanding does orthodox Jewish tradition hold. Is God speaking to the
> universe in general? To a co-worker of some kind? Or to light itself?

In general, who is being directed to do something when yehiy (יהי) is
used?  E.g., Ruth 2:19:
	let your recognizer be blessed = יהי מכירך ברוך
I’m not sure that’s a meaningful question.

I’d suggest looking at the other tenses of the word, especially the past
tense vayehiy (ויהי) = (and) it was.  By that token, יהי would mean “it
will be” or “it shall be”; accordingly we would have
	there shall be light = יהי אור
or something like that.

Wrt. your last question, Orthodox Jewish tradition does not consider God
to have had any partners in creation.

—Joel Salomon

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