[b-hebrew] when fighting with/against בּ and עם

Chris Watts dekruidnootjes at eircom.net
Sun Jul 14 16:37:02 EDT 2013

Does anyone have suggestions as to why we read sometimes עִם   
before the name of the army or nation that Israel goes into battle  
against and sometimes בּ ?  My understanding of the different uses  
of these two prepositional prefixes before the noun after the verb  
ילחם  is that there must be a  difference, and believe that there  
is a subtle nuance which is lost perhaps?  They can both mean with,  
both mean against, but the  עִם   denotes something more personal  
(although BDB disagrees and claims that את (not the accusative  
marker) is more intimate, though the rabbis disagree with BDB);  
nevertheless I feel that the בּ would carry the straightforwardness  
of a full battle attack, whereas perhaps the עִם  would carry a  
more of a mingled in running around here and there scattered array of  
smaller battles and skirmishes.

Chris Watts

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