Remember my preference


Table of Contents



  Chapter  1
  Chapter  2
  Chapter  3
  Chapter  4
  Chapter  5
  Chapter  6

  Appendix I
  Appendix II
  Appendix III
  Appendix IV
  Appendix V
  Appendix VI
  Appendix VII
  Appendix VIII
  Appendix IX
  Appendix X
  Appendix XI
  Appendix XII
  Appendix XIII
  Appendix XIV
  Appendix XV
  Appendix XVI
  Appendix XVII
  Appendix XVIII
  Appendix XIX
  Appendix XX
  Appendix XXI

  Biblical References

General Bibliography






(Reference: p.51)


The Existential Sense of the Verb Hayah.


The existential sense might be argued here as an explanation for

the introduction of the verb, making the sense to read, "And the

earth existed chaotically".   But the existential use requires not a

simple predicate but a clause such as would be introduced by the

preposition "in" or "as", as when Joseph lived (Authorized Version:

"was") in his master's house (Gen. 39.2) or when we are told "that

there lived (Authorized Version "was") a man in the land of Uz whose

name (was) Job" (Job 1.1). In the purest existential sense the verb

will have no predicate at all nor any other clause following.   The

paramount example is to be found in the title of the Almighty, the

great "I am", the One Who always exists.

It might also be argued that Gen. 2.25 is a parallel of the use of

the verb   in its existential sense ("They lived, naked....") and

that here we do have a predicate in the presence of the word "naked".

But this word is an adjective, not a noun like tohu ) in Gen. 1.2.

The sentence reads "They lived naked" not "were a nakedness".

It is true that a noun can upon occasion be used adverbially so

that the translation of Isa.45.18 has been rendered, "He created it

not in vain", the words "in vain" being for the Hebrew tohu )

which is therefore treated as an adverb just as it seems to be also in

Isa.45.19.    The latter reads (correctly, I feel sure), "I said not

unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me IN VAIN...."    Since tohu is

here rendered as an adverb, why should it not also be read as an

adverb in Gen. 1.2?   Thus verse 2 is taken to read, "And the

earth existed formlessly or chaotically". In which case the render-

ing might justly account for the introduction of   into the sentence

on the grounds that this is a parallel to Gen. 2.25 which could then

be rendered, "And they both existed (lived) nakedly and were not

ashamed, etc.".   In this case a noun (in verse 2) and an adjective

(in verse 25) are similarly treated as adverbs and the verb   is

allowed its existential meaning.   By this method one might justify

the traditional translation of Gen. 1.2.

That an adjective can be treated as an adverb is a well established

fact in Hebrew, though normally only in poetry. Yet it is still to


pg 1 of 2      

be noted that while tohu does appear elsewhere in probably at least

one passage and possibly in two as an adverb, this cannot actually

be said of the second descriptive term in Gen. 1.2, namely, bohu

 ) rendered "void". It is further to be admitted that the copu-

lative sense of the verb "to be" might allow one to interpolate it

before bohu so that the sentence would then read, "And the earth

existed chaotically and (was) a void".   This, however, requires

some rather special manoeuvering.   Yet such an alternative must

be allowed as a possibility pending further investigation and we shall

not progress towards the truth unless we test out all possibilities.

It is not yet time to assert or deny either alternative dogmatically.

Although such a possibility must therefore be admitted, it must

be underscored that the alternative can only be justified by a process

of "special pleading" which is far less substantiated from Hebrew

literature than the alternative we are proposing.   And indeed in

the present state of my knowledge, it cannot actually be substantiated

at all.    Thus if it is once agreed, on the basis of the information

brought to light in this volume, that the verb   is not used copulat-

ively and that therefore the rendering was in Gen.1.2 is not strictly

correct so that it should be revised to read "became", the alternative

requires no special pleading, for there is plenty of substantiating

support from the rest of the Old Testament.

It has been customary to say that those who argue for the trans-

lation, "And the earth became a chaos", can only press their point

by appealing to exceptional Hebrew usage. The fact is really quite

otherwise as the evidence shows.   And the case becomes even

stronger when the unusual word order involved here is given due





*   *   *


     pg.2 of 2     


  Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved


Previous Chapter                                                                      Next Chapter