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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 163

§163. Adversative and Exceptive Clauses.

1. After negative sentences (especially after prohibitions) the antithesis (but) is introduced by כִּי אִם‎, e.g. 1 Samuel 8:19 and they said, Nay, but we will have a king over us; Psalms 1:2, &c.; frequently also by כִּי‎ alone, e.g. Genesis 18:15, Genesis 19:2, or even simply connected with וְ‎, Genesis 17:5, וְהָיָה‎ as perfect consecutive; 42:10; cf. Exodus 5:18.

Rem. Sometimes the negation is only virtually contained in the preceding sentence, e.g. in the form of a rhetorical question (Micah 6:3 f.) or of conditions which are to be regarded as not having been fulfilled (Job 31:18); כִּי‎ or כִּי אִם‎ in such cases becomes equivalent to nay, rather.

2. Exceptive clauses, depending on another sentence, are introduced by אֶ֫פֶס כִּי‎ except that, and (again after negative sentences, see a above) כִּי אִם‎[1] unless; especially כִּי אִם‎ with the perfect (equivalent to unless previously) after imperfects which contain a declaration, e.g. Genesis 32:27 I will not let thee go, except thou hast previously blessed me; Leviticus 22:6, Isaiah 55:10, Isaiah 65:6, Amos 3:7, Ruth 3:18. Finally, בִּלְתִּי אִם‎ unless, Amos 3:4 (with perfect after a rhetorical question), or simply בִּלְתִּי‎ Genesis 43:3 with a noun-clause, except your brother be with you; Isaiah 10:4 after a rhetorical question, with a verbal-clause. Rem. The principal statement, to which כִּי אִם‎ appends an exception, must sometimes be supplied from the context; thus, Genesis 40:14 (I desire nothing else) except that thou remember me, equivalent to only do thou remember, &c. (cf. 106 n, note 2; but it is probably better to read אַךְ‎ for כִּי‎). Cf. Micah 6:8, where כִּי אִם‎, equivalent to nothing but, is used before an infinitive, and Job 42:8, equivalent to only, before a noun. Similarly when כִּי אִם‎ after an oath introduces an emphatic assurance, e.g. in 2 Kings 5:20 as the Lord liveth (I can do nothing else) except I run after him, &c.; cf. 2 Samuel 15:21 Keth., Jeremiah 51:14, Ruth 3:12 Keth., and even without the oath, Judges 15:7; cf. the Rem. on c.

  1. Very probably this use of כִּי אִם‎ arises from the original meaning for if, surely if (כִּי‎ in an affirmative sense); so evidently in Exodus 22:22 as a forcible resumption of the preceding אִם‎. Thus, e.g. Judges 15:7 is simply surely when I have been avenged of you, after that I will cease, equivalent to, I will not cease, until I have, &c. When the exception follows, an ellipse must be assumed, e.g. Ruth 3:18 surely (or for) when he has finished it (then the man will rest). It is far less natural to assume such an ellipse with כִּי אִם‎ but (before entire clauses as before single nouns); see a above.
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