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Old Testament Hebrew Lexical Dictionary
Strong's #3588 - כִּי
1) that, for, because, when, as though, as, because that, but, then, certainly, except, surely, since
1a1) yea, indeed
1b) when (of time)
1b1) when, if, though (with a concessive force)
1c) because, since (causal connection)
1d) but (after negative)
1e) that if, for if, indeed if, for though, but if
1f) but rather, but
1g) except that
1h) only, nevertheless
1j) that is
1k) but if
1l) for though
1m) forasmuch as, for therefore
Jeff Benner, Ancient Hebrew Research Center Used by permission of the author.
(A) prop. relative pron. i.q. אֲשֶׁר, although in the Hebrew, that we have, this primitive use is extremely rare. This very ancient and truly primitive word is widely extended also in the Indo-Germanic languages; compare Sanscr. relat. jas, jâ, jat (softened for qas, etc.); interrog. kas, kâ, kim; Latin qui, quœ, quod; Pers. كى, كه, and even Chinese tshè, he, and tchè, who; the correlatives of these words are the demonstr. הִיא, هى, Gr. ἵ, ἴ=ἵς, ἴς, Latin is, idem; see Buttmann’s larger Gr. Grammar, i. 290; demonstr. and relat. דִּי, ذى (die); interrogatives מִי, τί. From the fuller and ancient form qui, by the rejection of the palatal from the beginning, have arisen also Pers. and Zab. وى, וי, Germ. wie; a trace of the palatal is found in the Anglo-Saxon hwa and hweo, Notk. As I judge, there is a most certain example of the use of this word as a relative in Genesis 3:19, “until thou returnest to the earth כִּי מִמֶּנָּה לֻקַּחְתָּ out of which thou wast taken” (LXX. ἐξ ἧς ἐλήφθης, and so also. Onk., Syr., Saad.), which is expressed in verse 23, אֲשֶׁר לֻקַּח מִשָּׁם. In this sentence it can scarcely be causal, for the cause immediately follows in these words כִּי עָפָר אַתָּה וְאֶל עָפָר תָּשׁוּב. An equally probable instance is Genesis 4:25, כִּי הֲרָנֹו קַיִן, Vulg. quem occidit Kaïn (LXX. ὃν ἀπέκτεινε Καΐν. Onk., Syr.); and in this passage nothing could be more languid than, “for Cain had killed him.” This more ancient usage is again found revived, Isaiah 54:6 “The Lord calleth thee as a wife of youth כִּי תִמָּאֵס who wast rejected” (LXX: μεμισημένην. Vulg. abjectam; Ch. who wast rejected); Isaiah 57:20, “the wicked are like a troubled sea כִּי הַשְׁקֵט לֹא יוּכַל;” Vulg. quod quiescere non potest. Other examples which have been referred to this usage are either uncertain (Deuteronomy 14:29; Psalms 90:4), or unsuitable (see Noldii Concord. Part. p. 372); but the primary pronominal power of this word no one will doubt, who has considered the analogy of other languages, and has compared the double use of the conjunction אֲשֶׁר. Just like אֲשֶׁר, Gr. ὅτι (whence uti, ut); Latin quod, quia; French que; it commonly becomes
(B) A relative conjunction.
(1) that (Germ. daß, sprung from the demonstr. bas changed into a relative), prefixed to sentences depending on an active verb, occupying to it the place of an acc.; as elsewhere אֲשֶׁר, and fully אֵת אֲשֶׁר (see אֲשֶׁר B, No. 1 ); Genesis 1:10, וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים כִּי טוֹב. prop. “and God saw (this) which was good;” Job 9:2, יָדַעְתִּי כִּי כֵן “I know this to be so.” So after verbs of seeing, Genesis 1:4 of hearing, 2 Kings 21:15; Isaiah 37:8 of speaking, Job 36:1-33:l0; demanding, Isaiah 1:12 knowing, Genesis 22:12, 24:14 42:33 Job 10:7 believing, Exodus 4:5; Job 9:16 remembering, Job 7:7, 10:9 forgetting, Job 39:15 rejoicing, Isaiah 14:29 repenting, Genesis 6:6, when in Latin there is used either an accus. with an infinitive, or the particle quod. In other phrases the sentence depending on this particle is to be regarded as the nominative, e.g. טוֹב כִּי it is good that; Job 10:3; 2 Samuel 18:3; Lamentations 3:28, and וַיְהִי כִּי which may be rendered in Latin accidit ut [it happened that], but properly accidit hoc, quod (es trug fich das zu, daß), Job 1:5; 2 Samuel 7:1, so frequently. Here belong
(a) הֲכִי num verum est quod? is (it so) that? (French est-ce-que?) for num? whether? Job 6:22, הֲכִי אָמַרְתִּי “is (it) that I said?” 2 Samuel 9:1 and so when an answer is expected in the affirmative, (compare הֲ No. 1, b), nonne verum est quod, is it not true that (French n’est-ce-pas-que), i.q. nonne? Genesis 27:36, 29:15 2 Samuel 23:19 (compare 1 Chronicles 11:21.
(b) כִּי added to adverbs and interjections, which have the force of a whole sentence, e.g. Job 12:2, אָמְנָם כִּי אַתֶּם הָעָם “(it is) true that you are the people.” So הִנֵּה כִּי behold that, does not differ from the simple הִנֵּה Psalms 128:4 חֲלֹא כִּי id.; 1 Samuel 10:1 אַף כִּי also that (see אַף ); אֶפֶס כִּי only that (see אֶפֶס ). In all these phrases כִּי may in Latin [or English] be omitted; and this is always done
(c) when כִּי is prefixed to oratio directa, like Gr. ὅτι in Plato [and New Test.], and Syr. ܕ (see a number of examples in Agrelli Otiola Syr. p. 19); Genesis 29:33, וַתּאֹמֶר כִּי שָׁמַע יְיָ “and she said, Jehovah has heard,” prop. she said, that Jehovah has heard; for the whole of what is said is regarded as in the accusative, depending on the verb of saying, Ruth 1:10; 1 Samuel 10:19. Often also after expressions of swearing, as חַי יְהֹוָה בִּי “by the life of God (I declare) that,” 1 Samuel 20:3, 25:34 26:16 29:6 חַי הָאֱלֹהִים 2 Samuel 2:27: חַי אֵל Job 27:2 הַי אָנִי Isaiah 49:18 כֹּה יַעֲשֶׂה לִי אֱלֹהִים וְכֹה יוֹסִיף 1 Samuel 14:44; 2 Samuel 3:9, 19:2 1 Kings 2:23 whence it is that by the ellipsis of such an expression it is put affirmatively, even at the beginning of an oracular declaration, Isaiah 15:1.
(2) so that, that, used of consecution and effect (compare Arab. كَىْ in the sense of that final, in order that). Job 6:11, מַה־כֹחִי כִּי אֲיַחֵל “what is my strength that I should hope?” Isaiah 36:5, עַל מִי בָטַחְתָּ כִּי מָרַדְתָּ “upon whom dost thou so trust, that thou shouldest rebel?” Isai. 29:16, “is then the potter as the clay כִּי יֹאמַר מַעֲשֶׂה לְעֹשֵׂהוּ וגו׳ so that the work may say of the workman, he hath not made me.” Exodus 3:11, מִי אָנֹכִי כִּיאֵלֵךְ אֶל פַּרְעֹה “who (am) I that I should go unto Pharaoh?” I am not such a one as can go before him. Hosea 1:6, “I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel כִּי נָשׂא אֶשָּׂא לָהֶם so as to pardon them. Exodus 23:33; Genesis 40:15; Judges 9:28; 2 Kings 8:13, 18:34 Job 3:12, 7:12, 17 Job 7:17, 10:6 15:14 21:15. Sometimes it has an intensitive force, so that, so even, even, compare עַד 2. Isaiah 32:13, “thorns grow up in the fields of my people, כִּי עַל בָּתֵּי מָשׂוֹשׂ even in the houses of joy,” etc. Comp. אֲשֶׁר B, 10. More fully it would be עַד־כִּי.
(3) used of time, i.q. ὅτε, pr. at that time, which, what time, when. Job 7:13, כִּי אָמַרְתִּי וגו׳ “when I say,” etc. Genesis 4:12, “when thou tillest the ground, it shall no more yield to thee its strength.” Hosea 11:1, “when Israel was a child I loved him.” Job 22:2, “can a man profit God, when (or where) he wisely profits himself?” Job 4:5. Leviticus 21:9; Isaiah 8:19. Of frequent use is the phrase וַיְהִי כִּי “and it came to pass when”- Genesis 6:1, 12:12 Exodus 1:10. Sometimes it has almost a conditional power, (compare אֲשֶׁר No. 4, and the German mann, menn, [so sometimes the English when]), as Deuteronomy 14:24, וְכִי יִרְבֶּה מִמְּךָ הַדֶּרֶךְ … וְנָתַתָּ וגו׳ “and when (if) the way be too long for thee … then thou shalt give (i.e. sell) it,” etc. In other places a distinction is carefully made between this particle and אִם conditional. Exodus 21:2, “when (כִּי) thou buyest an Hebrew servant, he shall serve thee six years; in the seventh he shall go out free. Exodus 21:3. If (אִם) he came in alone, alone he shall go out; if (אִם) with a wife, his wife shall go out with him. Exodus 21:4. If (אִם) his master hath given him a wife.… Exodus 21:5. and if וְאִם) the servant shall say,” etc. And thus to the single provisions of the law אִם is prefixed; but before the whole enactment כִּי. Compare in the same chapter, verse Exodus 21:7(כִּי) and verses Exodus 21:8, Exodus 21:9, 10 Exodus 21:10, 11 Exodus 21:11(אִם).-ver. 14 Exodus 21:14, 18 Exodus 21:18(כִּי) and ver. 19 Exodus 21:19(אִם).-ver. 20 Exodus 21:20(כִּי) and ver. 21 Exodus 21:21(אִם).-ver. 22 Exodus 21:22(כִּי) and 23 Exodus 21:23(אִם), and so 26 Exodus 21:26, 27 Exodus 21:27.- 28 Exodus 21:28, compare 29 Exodus 21:29, 30 Exodus 21:30, 32 Exodus 21:32. Also Genesis 24:41. (In Arabic there is a like distinction between إِذَا=כִּי and إِنْ conditional = אִם, although not always accurately observed.)
(4) כִּי is used of time, but in such a sense that (like other relatives) it passes over to a demonstrative power when it begins an apodosis, pr. tum, then, so (as elsewhere אֲזַי at the beginning of an apodosis, Psalms 124:2, seq., and וְ No. 1, e), Germ. dann, fo (which latter is a relat. fem.). Conditional words commence a protasis, as אִם Job 8:6, אִם זַךְ וְיָשָׁר אַתָּה כִּי עַתָּה יָעִיר עָלֶיךָ “if thou art pure and upright, then will he now watch over thee.” Job 37:20; Exodus 22:22 אִם לֹא Isaiah 7:9 לוּ Job 6:2 לוּלֵי Genesis 31:42, 43:10 אוּלַי (unless) Numbers 22:33. More rarely, and in a longer clause is it put after nouns absolute (as elsewhere וְ No. 1, letter e), Genesis 18:20, זַעֲקַת סְדֹם זַעֲמֹרָה כִּי רָ֑בָּה “the cry concerning Sodom and Gomorrah, so is it great.” Isaiah 49:19. Compare as to the same use in Aramaæan, Comment. on Isaiah 8:20.-From its relative use as to time (No. 3) there arises farther its power
(5) as a relative causal particle: because, since, while, Gr. ὅτι, Germ. weil (which also properly relates to time, from Weile for while, when), more fully יַעַן כִּי, עַל כִּי propterea quod, on account that (German dieweil). A causal sentence sometimes precedes, as Genesis 3:14, “because thou hast done this, thou art cursed,” etc. Genesis 3:17, “because thou hast hearkened to thy wife.… cursed be the ground,” etc.;-sometimes it follows; Lamentations 3:28, “he sitteth alone, and is silent כִּי נָטַל עָלָיז because (God) has laid (this) upon him.” When the causal clause follows, in Latin the causal demonstrative nam is commonly used, Gr. γάρ [Engl. for]. Psalms 6:3, “heal me, O Jehovah, כִּי נִבְהֲלוּ עֲצָמַי for my bones are troubled.” Psalms 10:14, 25:16 27:10 Isaiah 2:3,, 22 3:1, 10, 11 6:5 7:22, 24 8:10 9:3 10:22, 23 Isaiah 10:23; Genesis 5:24, 30:13 41:49 as so very frequently. כִּי stands almost always at the beginning of its clause; it is rarely inserted like the Lat. enim. Psalms 118:10, 128:2. If there be many causes of one thing, כִּי is repeated (when in German it would be weil … und weil, or denn … und), [Engl. because … and, or for … and], Isaiah 6:5, “woe is me, for I am undone, כִּי אִישׁ טְמֵא שְׂפָתַיִם אָנֹכִי … כִּי יְיָ רָאוּ עֵינַי because I am of unclean lips … (and) because my eyes (have) seen Jehovah,” i.e. because I, who am of unclean lips, have beheld God. Isaiah 1:29, 30 3:1, -9:35 ; 15:6, seq.; 28:19, 21 Isaiah 28:21; Job 3:24, 25 Job 3:25, 8:9 11:15, 16 Job 11:16; Ecclesiastes 4:14 also כִּי … וְבִי Isaiah 65:16; Job 38:20. Used disjunctively כִּי … וְכִי … וְכִי for … or … or. 1 Kings 18:27.
Sometimes the causal power of this particle is not immediately obvious, but by a careful examination of the connection of the sentences, it is found to exist. Job 5:22, “at destruction and famine thou shalt laugh, and of the beasts of the field thou shalt not be afraid. 23 Job 5:23. For (כִּי) with the stones of the field thou shalt have a covenant, and friendship with the beasts of the field.” Thou shalt have nothing to fear, because thy field shall be fertile, not covered with stones, nor overrun by wild beasts. Isaiah 5:10, “for (כִּי) ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer (ten ephahs) (shall yield) one ephah.” There had preceded, “the houses shall be laid desolate without inhabitants;” because of the great sterility of the fields the land shall be desolated. Isaiah 7:21, “in that day shall a man nourish a heifer and two sheep. 22..… יאֹכֵל כָּל־הַנּוֹתָר וגו׳ כִּי חֶמְאָה וּדְבַשׁ “for butter and honey shall they all eat who shall be left,” etc. In the desolated land for want of fruits and wine they shall live on milk and honey, and therefore they shall all attend to the keeping of cattle. Compare Isai. 17:3, seq.; 30:9. In other places כִּי sometimes does not refer to the words next preceding, but to those a little more remote. Isaiah 7:14, “therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign, behold a virgin shall conceive.… 16. for (כִּי) before the child shall know,” etc. i.e. in this very thing, which is contained in verse 16, was the sign of the prophecy contained (comp. Isaiah 8:4); 10:25, “fear not … 26 Isaiah 10:26. for yet a very little while and the punishment shall cease.” Joshua 5:5. Compare as to a similar use of the particle γὰρ, Herm. ad Viger, p. 846, ed. 3, and as to enim Ramshorn’s Lat. Gram. § 191, i. And כִּי also agrees with these particles, in its being put when any thing is brought forward as a matter of common knowledge, Germ. denn ja, ja (inserted in a sentence). Job 5:6, כִּי לֹא יֵצֵא מֵעָפָר אָוֶן nicht aus dem Boden keiwt ja das Unheil. -Isa. 32:68.-Ironical expressions are these, Proverbs 30:4, “what is his name, and what is his son’s name? כִּי תֵּדַע for thou knowest,” du weibt es ja. Job 38:5. 1 Kings 18:27, כִּי אֱלֹהִים הוּא “for he (Baal) is a god.”
From the causal power there arises
(6) its varied use in adversative sentences. For often
(a) after a negation, it is i.q. sed, but (fondern). Genesis 24:3, “thou shalt not take for my son a wife of the daughters of Canaan … 4. כִּי אֶל אַרְצִי … תֵּלֵךְ but thou shalt go unto my country,” etc. Prop. for thou shalt go unto my country: the former must not be done, because the latter is to be done. (Verse 38 Genesis 24:38, with the same context, there is put כִּי אִם.) Genesis 45:8, “you have not sent me hither, but (כִּי) God,” pr. for God sent me. Genesis 19:2, לֹא כִּי בָרְחוֹב נָלִין “(we will) not (go in); but we will lodge in the street.” Genesis 3:4, 17:15 18:15 42:12 Exodus 1:19, 16:8 Joshua 17:18; 1 Kings 21:15; 2 Chronicles 20:15; Psalms 44:8; Isaiah 7:8, 10:7 28:27 30:16 38:5 65:6, 18 Isaiah 65:18; Daniel 9:18. Compare כִּי אִם B, 1. Once for כִּי אִם B, 2. 1 Samuel 27:1, “nothing is well for me, כִּי אִמָּלֵט unless that I flee.” LXX. ἐὰν μή.
(b) On a similar principle is the use of כִּי in passages where, although an express negative does not precede, there is a negative force in the sentence itself. In Latin it may be more fully rendered (minime vero) sed, and simply enim, as in this example from Cicero (Tusc. ii. 24): “num tum ingemuisse Epaminondam putas, quum una cum sanguine vitam effluere sentiret? Imperantem enim patriam Lacedœmoniis relinquebat, quam acceperat servientem,” for “Minime vero, nam-;” Germ. nein fondern, nein denn; aber nein, denn ja. Job 31:17, “have I then eaten my morsel alone? have I withheld it from the orphan? 18 Job 31:18. nay but (כִּי) from youth he grew up with me as a father.” Micah 6:3, “what harm have I done to thee? Micah 6:4. (none) for I brought thee;” ich führte dich ja, etc. -Psa. 44:2123, “if we have forgotten God … would not God search this out. 24 Psalms 44:24. but on the contrary, (כִּי) for thy sake we are killed.” Job 14:16, “(oh! that thou wouldst hide me for a while in Hades, and afterwards recal me to life, though I know this to be impossible): כִּי עַתָּה צְעָדַי תִּסְפֹּר but no! (on the contrary) thou numberest my steps;” so far from dealing with me kindly, thou even art almost lying in wait against me. Psalms 49:11, 130:2 2 Samuel 19:23; Isaiah 49:24, 25 Isaiah 49:25. It rarely occurs
(c) without any previous negation, like ἀλλὰ γὰρ, enimvero, but truly, yet; aber ja, aber frehlich. (Comp. כִּי אִם letter B, No. 3:) Isaiah 28:28, “wheat is threshed, כִּי לֹא לָנֶצַח אָדוֹשׁ יְדוּשֶׁנּוּ yet it is not threshed hard;” aber man drifcht ihn frehlich nicht ftark. Isa. 8:23, כִּי לֹא מוּעָף לַאֲשֶׁר מוּצָק לָהּ “nevertheless, darkness (shall) not (always be) where (now) distress is;” aber frehlich bleibt’s nicht dunkel; or, aber es bleibt ja nicht dunkel.
(d) It introduces an explanation, like the Lat. atque, Isaiah 5:7; Job 6:21; Isaiah 51:3.-Also
(e) a causal power is also manifest in those examples in which it may be rendered by the Latin quanquam, although. Exodus 13:17, “God led them not by the way through the land of the Philistines, כִּי הוּא קָרוֹב although it was near (prop. for this was near): for (כִּי) he said,” etc. Psalms 116:10; Deuteronomy 29:18; Joshua 17:18.
(7) Prepositions, to which כִּי is joined (the same as אֲשֶׁר No. 11), are turned into conjunctions, as יַעַן כִּי and עַל כִּי on account of, because; עַד כִּי until that, until; עֵקֶב כִּי and תַּחַת כִּי for the reason that, because; see Lehrg. 637.
In the expression כִּי עַל כֵּן the relative conjunction is put before the adverb. For wherever this phrase occurs (Genesis 18:5, 19:8 33:10 38:26 Numbers 10:31, 14:43 2 Samuel 18:20; Jeremiah 29:28, 38:4 ) it is for עַל־כֵּן־כִּי on account that, because, like אֲשֶׁר עַל־כֵּן Job 34:27, for עַל־כֵּן אֲשֶׁר. [Gesenius afterwards entirely rejected the idea of any such transposition in the phrase; he would take כִּי in its own proper causal power, separating it in such cases from the following עַל־כֵּן; in other passages, he would take the compound phrase unitedly, as signifying on this account that.] A similar transposition occurs in לְמִּן for מִן לְ inde (for de-in); מִלְּבַד and לְבַד מִן; מִבַּלְעֲדֵי Syr. ܒܶܠܥܳܕ ܡܶܢ; בִּי אִם for אִם בִּי (see כִּי אִם letter C, No. 2 ), and in Gr. ὅτι τι for τι ὅτι. The opinion of Winer cannot be assented to, who (Simonis Lex. page 474), tries to show, with more toil than success, that with the exception of one example, 2 Samuel 18:20, this phrase is always to be rendered for therefore. See Sal. b. Melech on Genesis 18:5, כי על כן כמו על אשר וכן כל כי על כן שבמקרא.
A remarkable example of the various significations of כִּי is found in Joshua 17:18, “Thou shalt not have one lot only, but (כִּי) thou shalt have the mountain, since (כִּי) it is a forest, thou shalt cut it down, and its whole extent shall be thine; for (כִּי) thou must drive out the Canaanite, because (כִּי) they have chariots of iron, and because (כִּי) they are strong,” i.e. they are so troublesome and injurious to you; comp. Joshua 14:2.
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