Thursday, March 16, 2017

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- Construct State intro

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 was wafting back and forth above the water.
 
Vocabulary in this lesson:
 
הָיְתָה
was (f.s.)
תֹהוּ
empty
בֹהוּ
chaotic
חשֶׁךְ
dark, darkness
עַל
on, over, above
תְהוֹם
depths
רוּחַ
spirit, wind
מְרַחֶפֶת
waft, 3rd f. s., piel form (repetitive)
עַל־פְּנֵי
above
פְּנֵי
face, construct state, masculine plural
 
The next thing to notice in this verse is the phrase tohu va-vohu. You can use “and” here because of the clear conjunctive relationship between the nouns.
 
The only other time this phrase occurs in the Jewish Bible is Jeremiah 4:23. The material in Jeremiah is from just before the Babylonian Captivity of the middle 500s BCE.
 
And the grammar point: p’ney t’hom and p’ney ha-maim.  You have to get this absolutely straight because  you will see it over and over in the  Jewish Bible.  The term for it is “construct phrase”, and the first word is in a form called  “construct state”. 
 
There are three states a noun can be in; memorize this and I’ll wait until the next post to give you a table to memorize.
 
A noun can be termed “indefinite” when it has no definite article and is not in the construct state or in a construct phrase.
 
A noun can be termed in the construct state when it is associated with another noun and the one noun modifies or limits the meaning of the other noun.  More about that next post.  Construct state is by definition definite and both nouns in a construct phrase are definite.
 
A noun that has ha- in front of it, is definite.  There are definite nouns that are not construct that don’t use ha for purposes of “euphony” and I’ll point it out when we get there.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

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