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Exod 12:40-41


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#1 Robert Holmstedt

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 06:50 AM

Harold wrote: 

 

 


I am working on a commentary for Exodus—been at it off and on—but now hope to finish it. In working with Exodus 12:40–41. I notice that the second clause is marked as "unknown syntax" in the Syntax Module. It looks to me as if verse 41 is a parallelism with the two weyahi clauses in parallel relationship, and the third line completing the two previous clauses. In this case the second clause would be the emphatic clause: clause 1: based on verse 40 focusing on the 340 years of verse 40; clause 2: highlighting "this very day" as the Passover day (the key event in this context); clause 3: the hosts of Israel exiting Egypt on the Passover Day. It would seem then that the parallelism would identify the second clause as the main clause, and clause 1 as a supporting clause, thus secondary to clause 2. (I wrote an article in "Hebrews Studies" XXIV 1983 entitled "Exodus 12:41 A Translational Problem," but there I treated the possible problem differently than I do today.

 


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#2 Robert Holmstedt

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 07:54 AM

You've asked a good and interesting question of an extremely rare phenomenon and so a very difficult verse.

Overwhelmingly (and I mean, extremely) when a ויהי stands before a prepositional phrase, the ויהי is what we call a "discourse" ויהי and the prepositional phrase is actually part of the following clause, as a fronted scene-setting Topic. The main verb to which the fronted PP is an adjunct is typically another wayiqtol (e.g., Gen 4:3 with ויבא) or sometimes a Qatal or Yiqtol (e.g., Gen 7:10 with היו).

Here in Exod 12:41 is an almost unique example (the only somewhat similar example in the entire Hebrew Bible is an "extra" והיו in Exod 4:9, though I didn't tag that one as "unknown"). In this case there is no finite verbal clause / main verb coming after the PP. Rather, the PP is followed by a second ויהי, after which a second PP and then (!) the finite verb יצאו appears. That is why I have *for now* marked the second ויהי as "unknown". Hopefully I will sort out a grammatical solution.

Unfortunately, I do not think parallelism contributes to a grammatical solution. First, "parallelism" is not a grammatical concept. It is a literary notion that I don't actually consider all that useful (I have a forthcoming article on this in Vetus Testamentum; I've posted the draft on my Academia.edu site for anyone who is interested). Whatever one's view of parallelism, what you're suggesting would only fit one of two grammatical phenomena: 1) anacoluthon or right-node raising.

The former would mean a complete interruption of the syntax in the first line, whereas the second line is complete. I would like to see examples of this from poetry, because I am suspicious about its existence (not anacoluthon in general, but its use like this in poetry).

The right-node raising option would mean that the complement ("object") of the first verb is moved rightward out of the clause to a position attached to the second clause from which it satisfies the valency of both verbs (an example in English is "Jack saw and Jill heard the burglar downstairs"). The problem with the RNR analysis is the complexity of the verse. If we take the ויהי verbs as discourse, as we have done, then the second ויהי makes too many clausal structures for RNR to work. If we don't take the ויהי as discourse level but as the main verbs in each clause, then there are three distinct clauses, unless we downgrade the Qatal יצאו to an unmarked subordinate clause, which seems arbitrary and doesn't really make any sense in the context.

And if there are three main clauses, we must ask: what are the complements of each and what is "missing"? The verb היה can take a PP complement, which means that the natural interpretation of the first clause would be "And it was at the end of 430 years". Ok, that's grammatical, though actually not very common. The second clause becomes "And it was on that very day". Same thing. Now, interestingly, this could be a case of clausal apposition, by which the second clause reformulates the first clause for clarity. But then notice that the third clause begins with the Qatal verb, which is highly unusual syntax, though grammatical and when it occurs is almost always the irrealis use of the Qatal, often as a future potential "should/shall," but that certainly doesn't fit the context here: "all the hosts of the Lord went out [past time reference] from the land of Egypt".

So, I can get you to your "parallelism" with a grammatical analysis, but I am left with a use of the Qatal verb in the third clause, which, when I look through the rest of Exodus for realis past time uses of a Qatal in the first position of the clause (i.e., before the subject), becomes clearly anomalous. I found 11 occurrences in Exodus: Ex 14:3; 15:8, 9, 10, 14, 15; 22:23; 27:7 (2x); 35:30; 37:9. Of these, 22:23, 27:7 (2x), 37:9 are clearly irrealis Qatal ("X shall ...") and arguably this is also the case fo 14:3 and 35:30 (the latter being the performative use of an irrealis Qatal). It is fascinating that the other five are in the poetry of Exod 15 (which contrary to some I still take to be very old poetry and the VS order would support this, since I have argued that Hebrew began shifting from VS to SV during the monarchic period, much earlier than Late BH).

I hope this at least explains why I used the "unknown" tag temporarily at this particular point. Normally I can at least see a grammatical solution; I can't see one here yet and remain open to a textual corruption.

Edited by Robert Holmstedt, 30 April 2018 - 09:18 AM.

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Professor, Hebrew and Northwest Semitic Languages
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#3 Harold Hosch

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 10:05 AM

Thanks so much for your detailed response. As you say it is a very difficult passage. I realize this is not poetry, but there does seem some parallelisms that appear in prose. The one difficulty in my thinking is the placing emphasis on the exactness of 430 years when the emphasis is on the extension of the unleavened bread ceremony tied to the Passover itself. Since the Passover stands at the center of textual unit it would seem to me that it should be the major time factor and the 430 years (not exactly 430 years, but somewhere within that time frame) would stand as playing a secondary role in this text. Perhaps I am looking through the haze of my 89 years, but it just some how seems that the focus in the difficult passage should be seen in the light of Passover Day specifically. I don't really like leaving a corruption of the text, but I certainly might need todo just that. Thank you very much for your explanation. Harold



#4 Robert Holmstedt

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 10:26 AM

I agree with you in that. The repetition of 430 years between v 40 and v 41, followed by the possibility of a clausal appositive specifying the 430 year resulting in "that very day" supports your analysis.
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#5 Fabian

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 10:48 AM

Maybe the video is not "der Weisheit letzter Schluss", but very interesting about the 430 years. Sorry this one https://www.youtube....h?v=FF0F8YjT1og

 

 

Greetings

 

Fabian

 

Ps. it is also interesting about the divided sea where they go through 


Edited by Fabian, 30 April 2018 - 11:33 AM.

Greetings

Fabian

ATTENTION: My bug reports are all with the GERMAN INTERFACE and with the EUROPEAN NOTATION! It can be the English interface has no bug, which I describe.

#6 Michel Gilbert

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 02:43 PM

Hi Robert,

 

I was thinking about Ruth 1:1, then I checked Gen 4:3; 12; 22:1, and I see you consistently treat the prep phrase as fronted. I checked ETCBC, and in all cases it reads ויהי + pp as a clause. Could you explain the linguistic theory behind your reading/tagging?

 

I still plan to pursue this when I have time. In the meantime, I love reading these kinds of posts.

 

Thanks, and regards,

 

Michel



#7 Robert Holmstedt

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Posted 01 May 2018 - 07:18 AM

Michel,

 

Sorry to do this, but it'll save me time to simply attach an excerpt from an article in which I discussed this issue in an excursus.

 

*2014. “Constituents at the Edge in Biblical Hebrew.” KUSATU: Kleine Untersuchungen zur Sprache des Alten Testaments und seiner Umwelt 17:110- 58.

 

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#8 Michel Gilbert

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Posted 01 May 2018 - 09:39 AM

No apology required. Thanks.






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