Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:10

Genesis 1:10
י וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים ׀ לַיַּבָּשָׁה אֶרֶץ וּלְמִקְוֵה הַמַּיִם קָרָא יַמִּים וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים כִּי־טוֹב:
Transliteration: Va-yiqra elohim la-yabashah erets ul’miqveh ha-mayim qara yamim vayar elohim ki-tov.
Translation:     Gd called the dry land earth and he called the gathering of waters seas and Gd saw that it was good.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
gathering, collection
If the first word of the vocabulary looks familiar, you have a good eye.  It’s a noun form of the verb you saw in the last verse.  Yes, it’s true, Hebrew builds nouns and adjectives out of three letter roots as well as verbs.
See if you can tell me the difference between the following words.
I think I said that once somebody challenged me that without the vowels, Hebrew was a free-form language.  So if the plurals above were used without the vowels, you wouldn’t be able to tell whether the text mean “seas” or “days”. 
That’s not true.  I challenge you to come up with a context in all of literature in which you could read “seas” where you should read “days,” and not get confused.  I will be very interested to see what you come up with, but right now, without going through all of literature that has ever existed in the world, I have a lot of trouble believing that you would be able to make sense out of a book that discussed ships sailing the days of the ocean, or setting a record by making a trip in two seas instead of three.
A written language is a recording of how people express themselves in their language, and with exceptions such as dadaism, the written language will use the same concepts and idioms as when people speak out loud.  Writing is not at all free-form.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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