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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 156

§156. Circumstantial Clauses.

1. The statement of the particular circumstances under which a subject appears as performing some action, or under which an action (or an occurrence) is accomplished, is made especially (apart from relative clauses, see § 155) by means of noun-clauses connected by Wāw with a following subject (see further on this kind of circumstantial clause in §141e), and by verbal-clauses (see §142d). Very frequently, however, such statements of the particular circumstances are subordinated to the main clause by being simply attached, without Wāw, either as noun-clauses, sometimes extremely short (see c), or as verbal-clauses (see d–g).

Rem. Among relative clauses of this kind the commonest are the various noun-clauses, which are most closely subordinated to a preceding substantive without אֲשֶׁר‎, e.g. Genesis 16:12; also statements of weight, Genesis 24:22; of name, Job 1:1 (also introduced by וּשְׁמוֹ‎ Genesis 24:29, 1 Samuel 1:1, &c., or וּשְׁמָהּ‎ Genesis 16:1, Genesis 22:24, &c.); of a condition of body, Judges 1:7, and others.—Noun-clauses which begin with wāw and the predicate have a somewhat more independent character than those introduced by wāw and the subject[1] (Genesis 19:1, &c.). The former, however, are also to be regarded as circumstantial clauses, in so far as they describe a state which is simultaneous with the principal action; thus Isaiah 3:7 I will not be an healer, וּבְבֵיתִי אֵין לֶ֫חֶם‎ while in my house is neither bread nor clothing; Isaiah 6:6 (Amos 7:7); 2 Samuel 13:18, 2 Samuel 16:1. Cf. also the instances in §152l of וְאֵין‎ followed by a participle, as וְאֵין מַצִּיל‎, &c.

2. Characteristic examples of circumstantial noun-clauses are Genesis 12:8 and pitched his tent בֵּֽית־אֵל מִיָם וְהָעַי מִקֶּ֫דֶם‎ with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; Numbers 22:24, 2 Samuel 18:14 through the heart of Absalom, עוֹדֶנּ֫וּ חַי‎ while he was yet alive; Jeremiah 30:6, Ezekiel 9:2 (cf. Song of Solomon 3:8), Nahum 3:8, Zechariah 14:5, 2 Chronicles 23:10; with the predicate preceding, e.g. 1 Samuel 26:13, Psalms 32:8.—In Genesis 41:29 a noun-clause serves to announce a state in the future.—We may also include here certain set phrases, as פָּנִים אֶל־פָּנִים‎ face to face (prop. while face was turned towards face), Genesis 32:31, Exodus 33:11, Deuteronomy 34:10, &c.;[2] so also to cast oneself down, אַפַּ֫יִם אָֽרְצָה‎ the face being turned to the earth, Genesis 19:1, &c. (for אָֽרְצָה‎ we find אֶ֫רֶץ‎ in 1 Kings 1:31, Isaiah 49:23).[3]—Cf. finally the formula אֵם עַל־בָּנִים‎ mother with children, Genesis 32:12; cf. Hosea 10:14 and §119aa note 2.

Rem. On circumlocutions of this kind to express negative attributes by means of short noun-clauses (complete or incomplete), cf. §152u.

3. As circumstantial verbal-clauses,[4] we find (1) sometimes affirmative clauses (see below), but far more frequently (2) negative clauses (see f), and among these (3) a certain number of expressions which may be regarded simply as equivalent to negative adverbial ideas (see g).

Examples of (1) Isaiah 5:11 b woe unto them, that tarry late in the evening, יַ֫יִן יַדְלִיקֵם‎ while wine inflames them; Isaiah 1:5, Isaiah 10:24, Isaiah 30:31, Jeremiah 7:26, Jeremiah 20:15, Psalms 4:3, Psalms 5:12, Psalms 21:13, Psalms 62:5. The circumstantial verbal-clause is used to particularize an action which has before been expressed generally, in Genesis 44:12, Genesis 48:14=crossing his hands; Deuteronomy 2:27, Judges 6:19; antithetically, 1 Kings 13:18 כִּחֵשׁ לוֹ‎ wherewith however he lied unto him. The verbal-clause seems to assign a reason in Psalms 7:7 מִשְׁפָּט צִוִּ֫יתָ‎ since thou hast commanded judgement; a consequence in Psalms 103:5.[5]

Rem. On the cases in which an imperfect in the sense of a final clause is subordinated to a verb of motion (generally קוּם‎), see §120c.

Of (2), subordinate verbal-clauses with לֹא‎ (in English usually rendered by without and the gerund, if the subject be the same as in the principal clause), e.g. Leviticus 1:17 לֹא יַבְדִּיל‎ without dividing it asunder; Job 31:34; לֹא‎ with the perfect is so used in Genesis 44:4, Exodus 34:28, 1 Samuel 30:2, Job 20:26 (without its being blown upon it). With a different subject, equivalent to a consecutive clause in English, Isaiah 27:9 לֹֽא־יָקֻ֫מוּ‎ so that they shall rise up no more.—Moreover, verbal-clauses in the same sense (without doing, &c.) are frequently connected by וְלֹא‎; cf. 1 Samuel 20:2, Job 24:22, Job 42:3; in a concessive sense, Isaiah 33:1, Psalms 44:18.

Of (3), cf. לֹא יֵדַע‎ (prop. he knows it not) unawares, Psalms 35:8, Proverbs 5:6 לֹא יַחְמֹל‎ unsparingly, Isaiah 30:14 (after an infinitive absolute); Habakkuk 1:17, Job 6:10 (but וְלֹא יַחְמֹל‎ Job 16:13, Job 27:22; see f at the end); לֹא כִחֵ֑דוּ‎ (prop. they hide not) openly, Isaiah 3:9 (but Job 15:18 וְלֹא כִחֲדוּ‎); בְּלִי חָשָׂ֑ךְ‎ (prop. he restrains not) unceasingly, Isaiah 14:6; בַּל־יִמּוֹט‎ Job 41:15 (Psalms 93:1 בַּל־תִּמִּוֹט‎) and לֹא יִמּוֹט‎ Isaiah 40:20 (without tottering) immovably; cf. also לֹא אֶמְעָ֑ד‎ without wavering, Psalms 26:1.

Footnotes:
  1. In Deuteronomy 32:31 this form of sequence appears to be selected for another purpose, and indeed our enemies are judges thereof, with wāw emphatic; to take it as a circumstantial clause is too artificial.
  2. The expression הִתְרָאָה פָנִים‎ to look one another in the face (i.e. to contend in combat) 2 Kings 14:8, 11, 2 Chronicles 25:17, 21, is probably only a shortened form for הִתְרָאָה פָנִים אֶל־פָּנִים‎.
  3. That (אֶ֫רֶץ) אָֽרְצָה‎ is really to be regarded as a virtual predicate to אַפַּ֫יִם‎, and not אַפַּ֫יִם‎ as a casus instrumenti, is seen from Isaiah 49:23, where אַפַּ֫יִם אֶ֫רֶץ‎ precedes the verb.
  4. Some examples of these have been already discussed in another connexion above, §120a–c.
  5. In Genesis 21:14 the circumstantial verbal-clause שָׂם עַל־שִׁכְמָהּ‎ is only due to a harmonizing transposition; read וְאֶת־הַיֶּ֫לֶד שׂ׳ ע׳ שׁ׳‎. According to the source used in cap. 21 Ishmael was still a young child; according to 17:25 he was about 16 or 17 years old.
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