[b-hebrew] DIBBER & ELALESEN in Dt 1:1

George Athas George.Athas at moore.edu.au
Tue Apr 19 06:03:14 EDT 2011

Firstly, Philip, please sign your posts to B-Hebrew with your real full name.

Secondly, I think you may have misunderstood the Piel. It is not 'emphatic'. None of the Hebrew stems (binyanim) are 'emphatic'. Occasionally, the Piel (and Pual) might carry an 'intensive' sense if the root of the word normally occurs in the Qal stem. But this isn't always the case.

The root דבר is actually 'native' to the Piel stem. In other words, the Qal stem is not its native habitat, and as such, there is no real 'intensive' element that can be observed in it. It's just a root that occurs in the Piel stem. Plain and simple. And it happens to mean 'to speak'.

We have the same kind of phenomenon in English, but most native English-speakers are unaware of it. For example, the words 'break' and 'speak' are in the same 'stem' (cf. how they form the past tense: broke, spoke). This is a different stem to, say, that which encompasses the words 'become', 'behave', 'believe' and 'bestow'. These words are just native to particular stems and that's just how it is. It's simply a morphological thing. It's the same with Hebrew.

The difference that Pere has picked up in the Greek words λαλεω and λεγω is not really the difference in 'emphasis' you were asking about. They are just different words with different nuances, much the same as the difference between 'say' and 'speak' in English. One is more casual, and the other more formal. You can't really point to one as emphatic while the other is not. That's simply a product of the semantics, not the verb construction.

Moore Theological College (Sydney, Australia)

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