Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Help on constructing a search

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,218

    Default Help on constructing a search

    How would you search the Hebrew Bible to see if there are ever any instances of a Hebrew construct chain consisting of a noun in construct state and a finite verb? For some context, you may know that there are some interpreters who take the first word of the Hebrew Bible - ראשִׁת - as a construct, and usually translate the verse (Gen 1:1) with something akin to "When God began to create the heavens and the earth ..." But this would mean that they are supposing ראשִׁת to be in construct with a finite verb (bara'). I intend no aspersions on those who hold such a view. But I would like to search to see if there is any precedence or any occurrences of such an animal. So any help at constructing such a search - a Hebrew construct noun adjacent too a finite verb with no intervening words - would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    276

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ISalzman View Post
    How would you search the Hebrew Bible to see if there are ever any instances of a Hebrew construct chain consisting of a noun in construct state and a finite verb? For some context, you may know that there are some interpreters who take the first word of the Hebrew Bible - ראשִׁת - as a construct, and usually translate the verse (Gen 1:1) with something akin to "When God began to create the heavens and the earth ..." But this would mean that they are supposing ראשִׁת to be in construct with a finite verb (bara'). I intend no aspersions on those who hold such a view. But I would like to search to see if there is any precedence or any occurrences of such an animal. So any help at constructing such a search - a Hebrew construct noun adjacent too a finite verb with no intervening words - would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
    Hello Irving,

    Others who are better specialized in OT may want to chime in on this, but if my memory serves me right (and I don't really have the tools with me at this time to verify), the argument you are quoting supposes a vowel modification, taking ברא, not as a finite verb (i.e., בָּרָא ) but as an infinite construct verb ( בְּרֹא ): "In the beginning of God's creating".

    So to take the argument at face value, you would want to construct a chain that has a noun in the construct state + an infinite construct verb. To narrow things down a bit, you could add the preposition be before the noun. For that, you would want to do this, using WTM:

    '*@v?[ca]* *@n???c* b (this last "b" is for the preposition בּ)

    Just to clarify, I put the option for construct or absolute state for the verb, just to keep more possibilities open (in the revocalized text, it would be an infinitive construct, with אֱלֹהִים as the subject). That gives me 69 hits, with constructions such as these:

    Gn 2.4: בְּיוֹם עֲשׂוֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶרֶץ וְשָׁמָיִם ...

    2 K 17.5: וַיְהִי בִּתְחִלַּת שִׁבְתָּם שָׁם ...

    Going further would obviously entail questions touching on the trustworthiness of the Massoretic reading of the vowels, the status of the opening verse of a narrative text, as well as other, more hermeneutically oriented questions.

    Regards,

    Don Cobb
    Aix-en-Provence, France

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    276

    Default A quick follow-up

    Hello again Irving,

    Just to be complete, I tried to see what results the query you actually asked for would give. So I tried looking for a construct verb preceded by the preposition be, followed by any perfect verb. It looks like this (in WTM):

    '*@v?p?* *@n???c* b

    (BTW, to any non-initiated who are reading this, the above could seem like gibberish; with the command line help, it's actually very, very simple). There is a lot of results (151 hits), almost none of which are relevant, because the construct nouns practically all have personal or possessive suffixes (i.e. בְּיֶדְכֶם נִתָּנוּ , "into your hand they have been given", Gn 9.2). There are, however, two hits that are interesting:

    2 Sm 22.1: בְּיוֹם הִצִּיל יְהוָה אֹתוֹ ...

    Isa 15.1: כִּי בְּלֵיל שֻׁדַּד עָר מוֹאָב נִדְמָה כִּי בְּלֵיל שֻׁדַּד קִיר־מוֹאָב נִדְמָה ׃

    I think these should probably be taken as supposing an אֲשֶׁר (i.e., "the day in which" or "the night in which"), which doesn't quite seem to be the same sense construction as Gn 1.1, on any reading. But the grammatical construction you're looking for is not impossible.

    I've also come across a glitch while doing this search that causes BW to crash, but I'll put that in a separate post.

    Regards,

    Don Cobb

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    780

    Default

    Interesting stuff, Don. WRT Isa 15:1, however, though WTM parses בְּלֵיל as construct, a quick survey did not find any contemporary English version that rendered it so. They all take it as "in a night," "in one night." Koehler-Baumgartner (HALOT) s.v. does parse לֵיל as construct--but then it parses שֻׁדַּד as an infinitive!
    David Rensberger
    Atlanta, Georgia

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    276

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidR View Post
    Interesting stuff, Don. WRT Isa 15:1, however, though WTM parses בְּלֵיל as construct, a quick survey did not find any contemporary English version that rendered it so. They all take it as "in a night," "in one night." Koehler-Baumgartner (HALOT) s.v. does parse לֵיל as construct--but then it parses שֻׁדַּד as an infinitive!
    Thanks for your comments, Dave. I see what you mean by the English translations. Perhaps, though, the old adage is true here: traduttore, tradittore, "translator, traitor" (or, traduire, c'est trahir). I think the Traduction oecuménique de la Bible (TOB) got it right: "Dans la nuit où elle a été ravagée, Ar-Moab a été anéantie. Dans la nuit où elle a été ravagée, Qir-Moab a été anéantie".

    I'm not so sure about שֻׁדַּד being a pual infinitive. Wouldn't that be šud̄od? The only pual infinitives I can find in WTM are גֻנֹּב (Gn 40.15) and עֻנּוֹתוֹ (Ps 132.1). At least as it's vocalized, I would say it sure looks like a perfect.

    Again, however, I don't think this construction can help out in understanding Gn 1.1. I would see in the passages I mentioned, as is fairly often the case en poetic passages at least, an implied אֲשֶׁר. I think that even if one could see that kind of construction in Gn 1, the idea wouldn't be that of an implied אֲשֶׁר.

    Regards,

    Don Cobb

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    780

    Default

    Pual infinitives are extremely rare, but you're right, if HALOT is understanding this as infinitive, they must be repointing it שֻׁדֹּד. This would be the same type of construction as is posited by repointing Gen 1:1 from בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים to בְּרֵאשִׁית בְּרֹא אֱלֹהִים.

    An implied אֲשֶׁר would seem necessary before a finite verb (שֻׁדַּד or בָּרָא, or הִצִּיל in 2 Sam 22:1). But then you would not want a construct to precede the (implied) אֲשֶׁר. You'd kind of like a noun in the absolute state with a definite article (which none of these has); but in poetic texts (which these all could be argued to be) the article is not completely mandatory.
    David Rensberger
    Atlanta, Georgia

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    276

    Default

    David,

    This is a very interesting discussion for me, especially as I am generally much more focused on NT than OT! Looking at Gesenius' and Joüon-Muruoka's grammars, I see 1) that--differently from BW's parsings--several passages with בְּיוֹם consider יוֹם in this kind of construction to be in a construct state, which of course makes perfect sense (e.g. Ex 6,28; Lv 7,35; Nb 3,1; Dt 4,15), and 2) several grammarians consider הִצִּיל in 1Sm 22.1 to be an irregular infinitive (although both these grammars seem to prefer considering the verb here as a perfect). The passages in both these grammars that come up under this verse are worth looking at.

    Joüon-Muruoka say this (p. 150): "Some grammarians erroneously see in these forms perfects in the third person. Cf. König, I. 212, 276; Syntax, §§ 385 l, 401 v; Driver, ad Dt 3.3, 7.24 (ICC). However, the pf. is rather plausible in 2Sm 22.1 (|| Ps 18.1) בְּיוֹם הִצִּיל יְהוָה on the day when Y. rescued with an asyndetic relative clause (§ 158 a)."

    Gesenius says this about the construct state (p. 422, sorry that the hebrew got lost in the copying): "(4) When it governs independent sentences (cf. § 155), which virtually stand to the construct state (as nomen regens) in a sort of genitive relation, e. g. Ex 4:13 xl'v.Ti-dy:B. prop. by the hand of him whom thou wilt send; […] Very often a time-determination governs the following sentence in this way; thus yrEx]a;( followed by a perfect, Lv 25:48, 1 S 5:9; ~AyB. y Ps 102:3 (before a nounclause), Ex 6:28, Nu 3:1, Dt 4:15, 2 S 22:1, y Ps 18:1, 59:17, 138:3 (in every case before a following perfect), y Ps 56:10 (before an imperfect); ~AYmi followed by the perfect, Jer 36:2; ymey>-lK' Lv 14:46, 1 S 25:15, Jb 29:2 (ymeyKi as in the days when6; cf. tAmyKi and tAnv.) before a perfect, y Ps 90:15); t[eB. before a perfect, Jer 6:15 (cf. 49:8, 50:31); before an imperfect, Jb 6:17; tL;xiT. before a perfect, Ho 1:2."

    I won't connect this back to Gn 1.1--Irving's original question. If one wants to see בְּרֵאשִׁית
    there as a construct state (I won't comment on that either way--this isn't the place to venture into interpretation), it would be preferable to revocalize the verb as an infinitive, as many commentators do, and as you suggest for the Isaiah passage. That would also bring that passage into line with others such as Gn 2.4, and others.

    Thanks for the discussion up to this point!

    Don Cobb

    P.S.: Sorry for the irregularity in the type face. I'm having trouble finding consistency here!

    Last edited by Donald Cobb; 01-19-2016 at 06:57 PM. Reason: a couple of corrections

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,218

    Default

    Donald and David,

    Thanks so much to both of you for chiming in on this thread. I have been so busy since I submitted the original post that I have not had the chance to digest your responses yet. Hope to do so in the next day or two. I just want you to know how much I appreciate your responses and feedback and wanted to acknowledge it. It's been a crazy couple of days.

    Irving

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    780

    Default

    Hey, I understand crazy-busy days! Glad it was helpful. It was certainly fun for me!
    David Rensberger
    Atlanta, Georgia

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    276

    Default A post-script?

    Irving,

    Glad you found the discussion helpful! I really appreciated it as well. One or two add-ons to the post:

    I was a little hampered in my searches by not knowing how to remove personal suffixes from the nouns in the construct state and so I had to manually weed out constructions like ‎ בְיָדוֹ מוֹת יוּמָת ("by his hand he will certainly be put to death"). Working on that a little, I finally figured out how to look for construct state nouns without suffixes (the morphology assistant was most useful! I know there was talk about maybe removing this feature in BW9 already, but it isn't quite replaced by the morphology assistant in the search pane). This would be the query you need:

    '*@v?[ca]* *@n???c+Sx* b

    The +S is for suffixes; the x is a "placeholder code" that excludes anything in the "suffix category." That brings the number of hits down to 60, which is very manageable. Again, this query searches for infinite verbs. But you can do it by looking for a verb in the perfect tense:

    '*@v?p* *@n???c+Sx* b

    This will give you the same two hits as in the previous posts (2 Sam. 22.1; Isa. 15.1). If you try removing the ‎ בְֵּ, that will open up possibilities a little, and give you some potentially helpful results (18 hits), several of which are discussed in the grammars.

    Just as an aside, and once again not commenting on the interpretation, I also came across the following in Joüon-Muruoka, in the same section talking about this kind of construction in the hebrew (p. 443-444):

    "3) With pure substantives (rare): Ho 1.2 ‎תְּחִלַּת דִּבֶּר־יְהוָה בְּהוֹשֵׁעַ. Principium loquendi Domino in Osee (Vulg.); literally: beginning of (that which) Y. spoke ..; Is 29.1 ‎ קִרְיַת חָנָה דָוִד city where D. encamped; Jr 50.46 ‎מִקּוֹל נִתְפְּשָׂה בָבֶל at the news (of) that B. had been captured. Possibly also

    Gn 1.1 ‎ בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃. At the beginning of God's creation of the heaven and the earth(32).
    ____________
    32 So already Rashi, who, as supporting evidence, mentions e.g. Ho 1.2."


    Interestingly, that interpretation doesn't entail a modification of the vocalization. So there you have a couple more elements to add to your research!

    Regards,

    Don Cobb
    Aix-en-Provence, France
    Last edited by Donald Cobb; 01-25-2016 at 09:19 AM. Reason: a couple more additions

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •