Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:31

Genesis 1:31
לא וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וְהִנֵּה־טוֹב מְאֹד וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי:
Transliteration: Va-yar elohim et-kal-asher asah v-hineh-tov m’od va-y’hi-erev va-y’hi-voqer yom ha-shishi.
Translation:    Gd saw all that He had made and behold, it was very good and there was evening and there was morning the sixth day.
Vocabulary in this lesson:

Now let me point out something that I brought up in the first lessons where I talked about how the past tense in Hebrew has a connotation of a “perfect” tense in other languages.  That is, it means something was completed in the past.  Not only that but it was so long ago that it has a similar connotation to the famed and cursed “pluperfect” tense.
The word asah in this verse contrasts with the aorist yaas used in the previous verses.  That’s what gives the aorist its connotation of events in rapid succession, and it goes back to my comment about Gd’s time versus human time.  From Gd’s perspective, the six “days” went by rapidly, but Genesis emphasizes the start and end of the process as something long ago with the past tense instead of the aorist. 
This is the last verse of chapter 1 of Genesis.  Here is a website where you can hear somebody read it in Hebrew.
This is not the end of the story, however.  Jewish commentators say creation was not complete without Shabbat, the Sabbath, which has to occur every seven days.  So the Jewish division of Genesis is different from the chapter division.  The chapter divisions are useful when talking to non-Jews and masses of people don’t know there’s any other way to split things up.  That’s OK.  They don’t care either.
Why Jews care is that Shabbat issue. 
 © Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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