Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bit at a time Hebrew -- Genesis 1:2

Genesis 1:2.

ב וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחשֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל־פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם:

Transliteration: V’ha-arets haitah tohu va-vohu v’choshekh al-p’nei t’hom v’ruach elohim m’rachefet al-p’nei ha-maim.
Translation:    The earth was empty and chaotic and dark above the depths and a spirit of Gd wafted back and forth above the water.
Letters in this lesson: (“oo”) ח, ך, ע, פּ, נ, וּ
Vocabulary in this lesson:

was (f.s.)
dark, darkness
on, over, above
spirit, wind
waft, 3rd f. s., piel form (repetitive)
face, construct state, masculine plural

Lots of stuff here.  We have our first occurrence of “be” and it is in the past tense.  I know that it’s feminine gender because of the tav in it.  One thing to remember about Hebrew is that it’s one of those languages which can leave “be” out of a present-tense sentence.  If you find a verse that looks as if it doesn’t have a verb in it, try sticking “is” in.  If it doesn’t make sense, that verse is not a complete sentence.  That’s important for interpreting scripture.  See the Fact-Checking discussion on battery.

Notice that ha once again uses the qamats, the little hat symbol, for the “a” sound.  It has to because there’s an alef after it.  But it once again uses the little dash before the mem in the last word, and once again the mem has a dagesh in it.  I am going to just point these things out.  When we get a lot of samples under our belts, then I can show you what they have in common.

“Be”.  The root letters of “be” are heh yod heh.  In most languages that conjugate their verbs, “be” is an irregular verb.  Not in Hebrew.  How you spell a verb in Hebrew, when it’s conjugated, depends on its root letters.  Some letters are called “weak” but that’s just terminology.  What it means is that their version of regular is different from words that don’t have those letters in it.  Heh and alef are “weak” letters.  Yod is a different kettle of fish; it can disappear completely and so can nun.  But that’s their way of being regular; it’s not right to call these irregular verbs.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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