Preface Introduction Chapters Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Appendices 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 Indexes References Names Biblical References General Bibliography
Meanings of Hayah Followed by Lamedh.
While it is not true that the verb  must be followed by  in
order to establish the meaning "become", "became", etc., it is
true that when the preposition  does accompany the verb it cannot
mean anything else. But in the latter circumstance it has the sense
of becoming in a rather special way.
If there is a general principle, it would seem to be this. When
something becomes something else, there may be two kinds of con-
version involved. (1) A thing may be so completely changed and
become something so entirely different that it is no longer what it
was before, a situation which would not normally require the lamedh.
(2) A thing can be merely viewed as having become something different
only in a manner of speaking as (a) when one individual becomes a
multitude, (b) when there is a change in status, or (c) when a thing
becomes something else analogously.
We have already dealt at some length with (1): namely, the use of
hayah without lamedh following. On the other hand, in (2) the situ-
ation is rather different because the change, though real enough, in a
sense involves no change at all. Thus one individual becomes many
individuals, a worn an becomes a wife, and a man becomes a stone of
stumbling. In these examples each object remains fundamentally
what it was before and yet each is changed. The individual remains
even while he multiplies, the woman achieves a new status, and the
man take son a new significance. It is my contention that, although
there are some exceptions undoubtedly, these last three kinds of
becoming require that the preposition  follow the verb  . In
a very great number of cases the sense is brought out rather nicely
by rendering the lamedh by the words "as it were", though the English
does not demand these words, the reader being left to surmise what
is intended. For example, Abraham becomes a nation; or in the
matter of a change of status, one of the commonest illustrations is
in connection with marriage, a woman becomes a wife wherein al-
though she is the same woman, her status has been changed. Or
again, when a man becomes a stone which the builders reject, he does
not strictly become a stone at ail-but only analogously, as it were,
a stone which the builders cannot, or will not, use.
As illustrations of (2) (a), we have:
Gen. 18.18 Abraham becoming a great nation.
Gen. 32.10 Jacob becoming two bands.
Isa. 60.22 A little one shall become a thousand.
As illustration of (2) (b), we have:
I Sam. 25.42
II Sam. 11.27
(most of the above verses have reference to becoming a wife.)
Deut. 27.9 a people who are not the Lord's becoming the
II Sam. 7.24 the Lord to become Israel's God.
As illustration of (2) (c), we have;
Gen. 2.10 a single watershed out of Eden becomes four
Gen. 2.24 a man and a woman are to become one flesh.
Deut. 28.37 a people becomes an astonishment.
II Ki. 21.14 a people becomes a prey and a spoil.
II Ki. 22.19 the inhabitants of a place become a desolation.
Psa. 69.22 a table becomes a snare.
Isa. 8.14 he shall become a stone of stumbling and a
rock of offense.
Jer. 5.13 prophets shall become wind.
Jer. 50.37 men shall become as women.
. . . . . all of which involve the sense of "as it were".
In the Hebrew Version of the New Testament, Jonah becomes a
sign and accordingly here, too,  is followed by   (Lu.11.30).
It will be understood that in all the above references  is
followed by   . As already stated, there appear to be a few ex-
ceptions, but by and large the "rule" is a useful one and the majority
of passages in which   is employed can be subsumed under one of
these headings. In a few cases the rule seems to involve implications
which might require some careful re-thinking. The rod becoming
a serpent (Exod. 7.10), and the water becoming blood (Exod. 7.19),
are cases in point, for according to my "rule" since the lamedh
appears in the original the rod didn't really become a serpent, but
the water really did become blood! Regarding the water, there is
a wide consensus of agreement today that it became infested with
micro-organisms which give it a thick red soupy appearance, making
it look very much like blood. This still happens occasionally in
different parts of the world with the consequent destruction of fishes
in it. It can hardly be better described in a popular way than as
"blood". If this is what actually happened, then we ought to find the
appropriate  following. But such is not the case in Exod. 7.19
(twice) and 21, which would therefore be an exception challenging
the proposed rule.
As to the rod becoming a serpent, it will be difficult for many
people to surrender the conviction that it really did become a serpent,
and not merely an appearance only; yet the magicians were able to
do the same thing - perhaps by some process of suggestion. Never-
theless, Exod. 7.12 goes on to say that Aaron's "rod" ate up the
"rods" of the Egyptians. This seems almost certainly to indicate
that in both cases we are dealing with real serpents because if one
assumes that Aaron's rod became a real serpent - with an appetite -
it seems unlikely that he would be fool enough to eat up a bunch of
rods which merely looked like serpents. One must therefore
assume here that the rods did become real and not merely as-it-were
serpents. In which case, we have another clear exception to the rule.
Nevertheless, in such matters, rules are established by general
usage rather than by particular usage, and the great majority of cases
fit nicely into the framework suggested. As already observed,
Hebraists, like Driver, have underscored the great importance of
not confusing the sense of becoming with the sense of being. Yet it
is so easy to substitute the one for the other in English that we have
difficulty in being persuaded that such a distinction can really exist
or that it has any fundamental importance even if it does.
The translators of the Revised Standard Version of the Old Test-
ament appear to have followed a rule that when   is accompanied
by  the verb is to be rendered "became", etc. According to the
Concordance of that Version, there are approximately 450 listed
occurrences of the English word "become" or "became" in the Old
Testament. Examination of these shows that about 80% of them
include the associated  . To some, this will perhaps be powerful
evidence that  is required in order to give the meaning of "become"
to the verb   . Yet from all that has been said, it is clear that
this is not the case, nor is the Revised Standard Version consistent,
as such verses as Gen. 37.20; 39.2; Deut.33.5; Josh.9.21; I Sam.
14.15; 16.21; etc. etc., show.
What is argued here is that this is only one class of occurrences
in which the sense of becoming is intended, not a real conversion but
conversion only in a manner of speaking, and that the verb
standing alone without   bears the fundamental meaning of becoming
in the simplest and most complete sense of the word as indicated
in Appendix XVIII (page 171 f.).
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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved