Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:20

Genesis 1:20
כ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים יִשְׁרְצ֣וּ הַמַּ֔יִם שֶׁ֖רֶץ נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֑ה וְעוֹף֙ יְעוֹפֵ֣ף עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ עַל־פְּנֵ֖י רְקִ֥יעַ הַשָּׁמָֽיִם:
Transliteration: Va-yomer elohim yishr’tsu ha-maim sherets nefesh chayah v’of yofef al ha-arets al-p’ney r’qia ha-shamaim.
Translation:    Gd said let the waters swarm with swarms of living soul and let fliers fly on the earth against the raqia of the heaven.
Letters in this lesson:
Vocabulary in this lesson:
they shall swarm
wild animal, living thing
flier, bird
fly (v)
We have two more examples here of noun/verb formations from the same root. 
The word for “wild animal” is related to the word for “life”.  I don’t know why.  We’ll see the other generic animal word soon.  The point here is that we’re talking about living things.  These are the first life forms mentioned.  Unless you count Gd himself.
I said “flier” not bird in the translation because everything that flies is meant here, including bats and bugs.
The word for “fly” as a verb has a feature you haven’t seen before.  It repeats one letter.  So is the root ayin peh peh as the verb suggests, or ayin vav peh as the noun for “bird” suggests? 
It’s choice b, ayin vav peh, and there’s no way you could have known that at this point.  This double peh happens to be a sign of the piel binyan which has a frequentative or habitual connotation.  For example, in Hebrew you would say ani m’daber ivrit to say “I speak Hebrew,” meaning any time it’s appropriate, using the piel binyan.  If you wanted to say “I am speaking Hebrew” meaning right now, you would say ani dover/et ivrit (dover if you’re a man, doveret if you’re a woman) using the qal binyan.
So y’ofef means things that habitually fly around.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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