[b-hebrew] 1 Kings 8:27 - how much less this house that I have builded (interrogative)

schmuel schmuel at nyc.rr.com
Sat Dec 25 02:39:06 EST 2010

Hi Folks,

>>Thanks, Harold.
>>1 Kings 8:27 (KJB)
>>But will God indeed dwell on the earth?
>>behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee;
>>how much less this house that I have builded?
>>We have a double interrogative in the AV.
>>There is a parallel verse in 2 Chronicles where this is exclamatory 
>>in the AV.
>>2 Chronicles 6:18 (KJB)
>>But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?
>>behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee;
>>how much less this house which I have built!

 > Also in the Emphasized by Joseph Bryan Rotherdam, exceedingly 
literal and quite independent of the AV.

>HH: There are no significant differences to alter the translation. 
>The difference between AV Kings and Chronicles was probably a 
>translator's choice, since there can be questions in Hebrew without 
>a specific grammatical marker. There is the phrase "with men" in 2 
>Chronicles 6:18 that 1 Kings 8:27 does not have, but interestingly, 
>the LXX of 1 KIngs 8:27 adds the phrase there. The Chronicles text 
>is missing a definite article before the first "heavens," but the 
>BHS editors think that it has simply dropped out of the text due to 
>haplography, since the same letter "H" ends the previous word. That 
>seems likely, since otherwise there is grammatical inconsistency.

And I tend to be a smidgen skeptical of claiming grammatical 
inconsistency in idiomatic phrases :).

>HH: Some modern translations have a double interrogative in 1 Kings 
>8:27, suggesting, again, that it is merely a translator's choice:
>...  The issue seems more a question of what the tone might have 
>been when Solomon gave the remark. A number of translations have a 
>double interrogative at 2 Chronicles 6:18:...

In the examples you gave, Imo, the one that is most relevant is 
Douay, and that is translated, I believe, from the Latin Vulgate, 
which opens up Latin questions. Secondly Brenton, with the same 
language caveat, this time Greek.  I'm not sure what Luther is 
thought to have used as his sources in the OT.

 From the Hebrew. I considered Rotherdam as quite relevant because he 
is purposefully literal.  I cannot get excited about, eg. the CJB, 
since David Stern has minimal Hebrew background and simply modified JPS-1917.

Thanks for your help on this.  I still do wonder if there are any 
Ginsburg-Ben Hayim differences.  It is very possible that the AV and 
Rotherdam translated differently in the two verses simply to show in 
English translation two aspects of the sense.   I appreciate what you 
contributed to this question.


>Why look at translations?

When learned men do superb translations, they may be using a 
different text or seeing the text differently.   Then the question is 
.. what text did they use ?  And did they notice something different 
in the translation ?. That applies here to both the AV 50 learned men 
who translated using Kimchi, Rashi, Tremellius, Junius, Ben Hayim and 
other resources.  And the modern literalist, Rotherdam.  Both show a 
distinction between the two verses.

Research is done from many varying perspectives.  Personally, my 
Hebrew is simply Hebrew school as a child and a little follow-up, 
however I do know a bit as to how to find and follow interesting questions.

>1 Kings 8:27 (KJB)
>But will God indeed dwell on the earth?
>behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee;
>how much less this house that I have builded?
>We have a double interrogative in the AV.
>I don't see the double interrogative in Hebrew. This is a phrase 
>that has no exact equivalent in English, which the translators of 
>the AV decided would make best sense if translated as an 
>interrogative. As far as I can tell, it is not an interrogative in Hebrew.

Karl, thanks.
"it is not an interrogative " - it is unclear if you are talking 
about the second interrogative above only, or both.  Most everybody 
translates the first phrase as an interrogative.

I wonder if anybody was able to check the Ginsburg or Ben Hayim 
texts, or only the post-Kittel 3rd edition text ?


 > You can change "how much less" to "furthermore;" and avoid double negative.
 > You can also make a new sentence to avoid the double negative. The 
hebrew originally contained sentence punctuation, not.

Yes, NETBible discusses this some, and tries to avoid any 
interrogative, and they come up with a rather dubious decision. 
However, as another post pointed out, "double negative" is not really 
the issue and I did not use the phrase, only double interrogative.

Steven Avery
Queens, NY 

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