Syntactical Features of Hebrew Genitive Clauses and Their Implications for Translating Genesis 1:1

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Abstract

In the debate over the proper translation of Genesis 1:1, one of the key issues is whether the first word of the verse, בְּרֵאשִׁית, is in the absolute or construct state. If בְּרֵאשִׁית is in the construct state, then it is in construct with the verb בָּרָָא and the ensuing clause of Genesis 1:1, and the verse should be rendered with a dependent clause. This rendering is known as the dependent-clause translation of Genesis 1:1 found in such versions as the NRSV, NJV, and NAB. If בְּרֵאשִׁית is in the absolute state, then it is not in construct with בָּרָָא and the ensuing clause, and the verse should be rendered with an independent main clause. This rendering is known as the traditional translation of Genesis 1:1 found in such versions as the KJV, NAS, NIV, and ESV. Building off his previous article (Wilson 2018), the author in this article defends the traditional translation of Genesis 1:1 by arguing that at the clause level of investigation, בְּרֵאשִׁית cannot be in construct with the verb בָּרָָא and the ensuing clause of Genesis 1:1. According to the author, such a construction would be a Hebrew genitive clause governed by a nomen regens. According to the author, Hebrew genitive clauses in general have certain syntactical features that delimit how they relate to their main clauses. When such a genitive clause construction for Genesis 1:1 is analyzed in its relation to the main clause—whether that be Genesis 1:2a or 1:3—the data shows that it lacks the syntactical features characteristic of genitive clauses in general. Thus, it is highly improbable that Genesis 1:1 contains a genitive clause, and as a consequence, it is equally improbable that the verse could be rendered with a dependent clause.

Introduction

In the previous article (Wilson 2018), issues related to the translation of Genesis 1:1 were examined at the lexical and grammatical levels.1 That article identified the word רֵאשִׁ֖ית in Genesis 1:1 as a Hebrew relator noun and demonstrated that it could function in the verse as a definite, grammatically absolute noun even though it is both anarthrous and lexically relative.2 Such a grammatical state for the relator noun makes it possible for Genesis 1:1 to be rendered as an independent clause: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This rendering would then support Genesis 1:1 being interpreted as the first act of creation. This interpretation would then also support the longstanding doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.3 Translation affects interpretation, and interpretation affects theology. This translation, called the traditional translation, and its interpretive and theological conclusions, have been held by Jews and Christians for millennia; however, today this translation is not always utilized.

As also explained in the previous article, a growing group of scholars argue that Genesis 1:1 should not be rendered with an independent clause, but rather with a dependent clause. This translation, called the dependent-clause translation, is now even used in updated versions of some translational traditions. Consider the following examples with the traditional independent clause version placed first and its later revision to the dependent clause second:

Protestant Translational Tradition

1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. 3And God said, “Let there be light.” (RSV 1952)
1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light.” (NRSV 1989)

Jewish Translational Tradition

1IN THE beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters. 3And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ (JPS 1917)
1When God began to create heaven and earth—2the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water—3God said, “Let there be light.” (NJV 1985)

Catholic Translational Tradition

1In the beginning God created heaven, and earth. 2And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters. 3And God said: Be light made. (DRA 1899)4
1In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light,” (NAB 1970)

This change in translation clearly causes a change in interpretation: Genesis 1:1 is no longer the first act of creation. This interpretation can then also cause a change in theology making this foundational verse no longer supportive of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Baasten, a proponent of the dependent clause translation states,

Armed with grammatical knowledge [about the dependent-clause translation] we might now be in a position to say that God’s ‘creating the heavens and the earth’ consists of bringing order into an unformed chaos, which was there already, and that the first creational act consists of creating light. That is what is actually described in Gen 1:1–3.

But what about this unformed lump of earth, which apparently was there already when God ‘began to create the heavens and the earth’? Was it created by God? The answer to that question is surprisingly simple: we do not know, since nothing is said about that in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. That may come as a true surprise: Genesis 1 does not explain who created the earth that was still chaos. (Baasten 2007, 181. See also Orlinsky 1966)

Wilson (2018) analyzed evidences at the lexical and grammatical levels in order to demonstrate that the traditional translation is linguistically possible. However, it did not demonstrate whether the traditional translation of Genesis 1:1 is preferable to the dependent-clause translation. This present article will thus analyze evidences at the clausal level5 in order to demonstrate that the traditional translation of Genesis 1:1 is not only more preferable, but also more probable.

Thesis

The focus of the debate between the traditional translation and dependent-clause translation of Genesis 1:1 is on whether the relator noun רֵאשִׁ֖ית is in the absolute state, the position of the traditional translation, or the construct state, the position of the dependent-clause translation. If רֵאשִׁ֖ית is in the absolute state, then the relator noun stands on its own, and the verse is easily rendered as an independent clause. This rendering poses no problems at the clausal level.6 However, if רֵאשִׁ֖ית is not in the absolute state, but rather the construct state, then the relator noun is immediately in construct with the finite verb בָּרָא,creating a dependent clause out of the verse. But how probable is this seemingly uncommon construction?

In order to show that such a construction is possible, proponents of the dependent-clause translation often cite other examples of nouns immediately in construct with finite verbs. One of the most oft cited examples is from Hosea 1:2a, where the noun תְּחִלַּ֥ת is immediately in construct with the verb דִּבֵּר.7

תְּחִלַּ֥ת דִּבֶּר־יְהוהָ בְּהוֹשֵׁ֑עַ ויַּ֨אֹמֶר יְהו֜הָ אֶל־הוֹשֵׁ֗עַ לֵ֣ךְ קַח־לְךָ֞ אֵ֤שֶׁת זְנוּנִים8

When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, get yourself a wife of whoredom, . .” (NJV)

The strength of this example is that the structure of the passage is very similar to Genesis 1:1, and the regens תְּחִלַּ֥ת is nearly identical to רֵאשִׁ֖ית in meaning.9 Furthermore, almost all modern translations render Hosea 1:2a with a dependent clause,10 and some are nearly identical in structure to the dependent-clause translation of Genesis 1:1. For example the NIV renders Hosea 1:2a as “When the Lord began to speak through Hosea;”11 and the NJV renders Genesis 1:1 as “When God began to create heaven and earth.” Thus, if תְּחִלַּ֥ת can be immediately in construct with the finite, perfect verb דִּבֶּר in Hosea 1:2a, then it would seem that it is also possible for בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית to be immediately in construct with the finite, perfect verb בָּרָא in Genesis 1:1.

In addition to the similarly structured passage of Hosea 1:2a, there are several other passages in which a noun is immediately in construct with a finite verb.12 For instance the noun יָד is immediately in construct with a finite verb in Exodus 4:13 and Lamentations 1:14.13 The noun עֵת is immediately in construct with a finite verb in Job 6:17; Jeremiah 6:15; 49:8; and 50:31. Finally, the noun יוֹם is immediately in construct with a finite verb in Exodus 6:28; Leviticus 14:46; Numbers 3:1; Deuteronomy 4:15; 1 Samuel 25:15; Psalms 18:1; 56:10; 138:3; and Jeremiah 36:2. A noun immediately in construct with a finite verb may at first seem out of place, but such a construction is not so rare in biblical Hebrew.14

More recent proponents of the dependent-clause translation have also explained that the possible construction of the dependent-clause translation is not simply the case of a noun being in construct with just a finite verb; rather, it is the case of a noun being in construct with an entire clause (Baasten 2007; Holmstedt 2008).15 Thus, in Genesis 1:1, if בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית is in the construct state, it would not simply govern the verb בָּרָא,even though it would be immediately in construct with the verb, it would govern the clause בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ. In the broadest sense then, the ensuing clause of Genesis 1:1 could be labeled as a substantival clause, or rather a whole clause that is functioning as a single substantive. Concerning such clauses, Joüon and Muraoka state,

A nominal or verbal clause may form a unit which can be considered and treated as a substantive. Thus, “I know that you arrived” is equivalent to “I know (of) your arrival”; the clause that you arrived is a substantival clause equivalent to the substantival phrase your arrival, and just as the phrase is an object, that you arrived may be analysed as an object clause. Like a substantive, a substantival clause can function as the subject or predicate of a sentence, and as the complement of a preposition or genitive, and occur in apposition. But it is mainly as an object that it is commonly used. (Joüon and Muraoka 2008 §157a)16

Thus, if the dependent-clause translation were to be correct, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ would then be labeled as a substantival clause.

There are, however, various types of substantival clauses. The three main types are the subject, object, and genitive clauses. Because בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ would be in construct with the relator noun רֵאשִׁ֖ית, if the dependent-clause translation were correct, it can be labeled as a genitive-type substantival clause. Joüon and Muraoka add,

A clause, whether verbal or nominal forms a block which may, in some cases, be regarded as a substantive; it will therefore be possible to consider it as a genitive in relation to a preceding noun, which will act as its nomen regens. In fact the following are found used as nomen regens in this position: 1) mainly nouns which have become prepositions; 2) some nouns used in an almost prepositional fashion; 3) (rather rarely) pure substantives keeping their full nominal value. (Joüon and Muraoka 2008 §129p)

The previous citations of a noun in construct with a finite verb are actually all examples of this genitive-type substantival clause, which hereinafter is referred to as a genitive clause. Thus, if בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית is in the construct state, then בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ is a genitive clause.17

This article, therefore, grants that it is possible for the word בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית to be in construct with the clause בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ. These kinds of constructions, genitive clauses, are actually not so uncommon in biblical Hebrew.18 However, when such a construction for Genesis 1:1 is analyzed in its relation to Genesis 1:2 and 1:3, then there are serious syntactical complications for the verse being rendered in this way. Thus, this article contends that the dependent-clause translation of Genesis 1:1 is syntactically improbable, nearly impossible, because it lacks the pertinent syntactical features common to genitive clauses in their relation to other clauses.

The Clausal Level

Is Genesis 1:1 Subordinate to Genesis 1:2a or 1:3?

Before exploring the syntactical features of genitive clauses at the clausal level and determining the probability of Genesis 1:1 being this type of dependent clause, one must first determine which dependent-clause translation of Genesis 1:1 to analyze. If Genesis 1:1 truly is a dependent clause, then it is syntactically subordinate to a main clause, but to which main clause? There are two options. Some proponents of the dependent-clause translation argue that Genesis 1:1 is syntactically subordinate to the first clause of Genesis 1:2a. However, most argue that Genesis 1:1 is syntactically subordinate to Genesis 1:3, with Genesis 1:2 being a parenthetical comment.19

Genesis 1:2a as the main clause. Arguing that Genesis 1:1 is subordinate to Genesis 1:2a is the more difficult of the two options, which explains why so few scholars support this translation.20 It has serious syntactical complications. On the one hand, Keil and Delitzsch argue that if Genesis 1:2a is the main clause, then it would have to start with the construction ותַּהְיִ האָרֶָץ (Keil and Delitzsch 1872, 46).21 Waltke argues that 1:2a would have to start with the construction הָיתְָה הָאָרֶץ, like the main clauses in Jeremiah 26:1; 27:1; and 28:1 (Waltke 1975, 222; see also Cassuto 1961, 19). On the other hand, Ross and Wenham argue that the manner in which Genesis 1:2a actually begins, וְהָאָרֶץ הָיתְָה, demonstrates that it is a circumstantial clause, (Ross 1988, 719; Wenham 1987, 12) which would also make Genesis 1:2a a dependent clause and thus not the main clause of Genesis 1:1. These syntactical arguments suggest that the subordination of Genesis 1:1 to 1:2a is unlikely.

Other scholars, however, argue that the subordination of Genesis 1:1 to 1:2a is still possible. Both Skinner and Gross, who are not proponents of this translational option, note that although Genesis 1:2a has the structure of a circumstantial clause, there is no absolute rule against a main clause having a similar structure when it is the apodosis of a temporal clause (Brown 1993, 72; Skinner 1951, 14–15). Skinner cites Genesis 7:10; 22:1 and Leviticus 7:16b as examples of such a construction, and Gross cites Isaiah 6:1. However, at least two of the examples are not precise parallels,22 and the small sampling of evidence suggests that the translation is still unlikely. Nevertheless, the later syntactical conclusions of this article will also be applicable to this difficult translational option.

Genesis 1:3 as the main clause. Scholars who argue that Genesis 1:1 is subordinate to Genesis 1:3 maintain that Genesis 1:2 is a parenthetical comment.23 The main argument is that the word order of Genesis 1:2 is typical of a parenthetical construction (subject-verb-object) (Brown 1993, 73; Lane 1963, 70–71; Orlinsky 1966, xv; Speiser 1964, 12.) Furthermore, Genesis 1:3 begins with the more appropriate waw-consecutive.24 The subordination of a dependent clause, especially a temporal clause, to a main clause that begins with a waw-consecutive is a common feature of biblical Hebrew, thus making the syntactical relationship between Genesis 1:1 and 1:3 entirely probable.

Some scholars challenge the idea that Genesis 1:2 could be a parenthetical construction. Cassuto, a proponent of the traditional translation, argues that if Genesis 1:2 were a parenthetical clause, it would not contain the verb הָיהָ.Thus, since Genesis 1:2a is not parenthetical and since it is not the main clause of Genesis 1:1, the dependent-clause translation of Genesis 1:1 is impossible on syntactical grounds (Cassuto 1961, 19–20).25 However, Waltke, another proponent of the traditional translation argues that the copula הָיהָ is often present in parenthetical clauses that, like Genesis 1:2, have the pattern waw + noun + verb (cf. Jonah 3:3; Zechariah 3:2–3) (Waltke 1975, 225). Thus, even major proponents of the contrary traditional translation, such as Waltke and Westermann, (Westermann 1990, 96) argue that the dependent-clause translation, in which Genesis 1:2 is a parenthetical comment, should not be rejected on syntactical grounds.

With respect to the dependent-clause translation in general, several modern scholars render Genesis 1:1 as a temporal clause and then make syntactical comparisons with other types of temporal clauses. Orlinsky states,

Scholars have long recognized the fact that the first vowel in the first word in Hebrew, be(reshíth), in the place of expected ba(reshíth)—indeed the very word itself (as distinct from barishonáh)—points to the meaning “In the beginning of (God’s creating . . .),” that is, “When God began (to create).” Secondly, when the story of creation is resumed later, in 2.4, it is again the temporal (“when”) construction that is employed: “When the Lord God made earth and heaven.” The best known parallel is the Babylonian account of the rise of Marduk and creation, Enuma Elish, and it likewise begins with the “when” sentence structure. (Orlinsky 1966, xiv)26

Thus, it is not surprising that opponents of the dependent-clause translation, like Waltke and Westermann, would defend its syntactical viability. Since temporal clauses are frequently subordinate to their main clauses by means of a waw-consecutive, and since Genesis 1:2 can function as a parenthetical clause, there seems to be no syntactical issues, at the clausal level, with rendering Genesis 1:1 as a dependent temporal clause. However, the problem with comparing the syntactical relationship between Genesis 1:1 and 1:3 with the syntactical relationship between temporal clauses and waw-consecutive clauses is that if רֵאשִׁ֖ית is in construct with בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ, then the construction does not create a simple temporal clause, but rather a genitive clause. Thus, from a methodological perspective, any syntactical comparisons should be made with genitive clauses, not with syntactically unrelated temporal clauses.

A Syntactical Analysis of the Genitive Clause

In order to best determine the syntactical viability of the dependent-clause translation, with its particular genitive clause construction, one must analyze the syntactical features of genitive clauses in general. Fortunately, the Hebrew Old Testament has a large pool of evidence in which genitive clauses occur in both prose and poetry. Using this author’s own searches in BibleWorks 6 and the examples in Joüon and Muraoka (2008) and Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley (1909), this author has pooled together a total 209 examples of genitive clauses (see appendix).27 However, unlike Genesis 1:1, some of these examples do not have the noun immediately in construct with the finite verb, and some do not have a noun as the governing element, the regens, —some are governed by a pronoun, preposition, or an implied regens. Nevertheless, since these clauses as a whole are all in construct with some type of regens, they are all genitive clauses, and a simple analysis of all of them demonstrates that they have two main syntactical features.

First syntactical feature. In nearly every one of the 209 examples, the genitive clause is not separated from the main clause by either a clause-level waw28 or a verse-ending soph passuq. Since the genitive clause functions as the rectum of a governing element, the regens, it is actually an embedded participant in the main clause. For instance, in 1 Samuel 25:15b the genitive clause הִתְהַלַּכְנוּ אִתָּם בִּהְיוֹתֵנוּ בַּשָּדֶה is an embedded participant in the main clause וְלאֹ־פָקַדְנוּ מְאוּמָה כָּל־יְמֵי. It functions as the rectum of the governing noun ימְֵי. Thus, genitive clauses are not separated from the main clause by either a clause-level waw or a verse-ending soph passuq because they are embedded participants in it. A clause-level waw or verse-ending soph passuq would signal separation, not participation. If בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ in Genesis 1:1 is a genitive clause, then it is separated from its main clause—whether that be Genesis 1:2a or 1:3—by both a clause-level waw and a verse-ending soph passuq. Such significant separation of the genitive clause from its main clause would antithetical to this syntactical feature of genitive clauses.

Second syntactical feature. In nearly every one of the 209 examples, the regens that governs the genitive clause is also not separated from the main clause by either a clause-level waw or a verse-ending soph passuq. The regens actually has a dual function. It is both the governing element of the genitive clause and a grammatical participant in the main clause (hereinafter referred to as the participatory clause). For instance, in Exodus 18:20b the noun דּרֶֶךְ, the regens, governs the genitive clause ילְֵכוּ בָהּ. Yet, the governing noun דּרֶֶךְ also functions as the direct object of the participatory clause וְהוֹדַעְתָּ לָהֶם אֶת־הַדֶּרֶךְ. Thus, the regentes of genitive clauses are not separated from the participatory clause by either a clause-level waw or verse-ending soph passuq because they are grammatical participants in it. Again, a clause-level waw or verse-ending soph passuq would signal separation, not participation. If בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית in Genesis 1:1 is the regens of the genitive clause בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ, then it is separated from the participatory clause—whether that be Genesis 1:2a or 1:3—by both a clause-level waw and a verse-ending soph passuq. Such a separation of the regens from its participatory clause would be antithetical to this syntactical feature of genitive clauses. There are, however, a small number of exceptions to these syntactical features that require examination.

Exceptions to the Syntactical Characteristics

Even though the genitive clause בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ in Genesis 1:1 and its regens בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית lack these two syntactical features, there are a few other genitive clauses and their regentes that also lack them. Of all the 209 examples of genitive clauses, there are a total of nine in which the genitive clause and its regens seem to be separated from the participatory clause by either a clause-level waw or verse-ending soph passuq, though none of them by both. These nine exceptions, cited in Joüon and Muraoka 2008 and Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909 as genitive-type clauses, are found in Numbers 23:3; 2 Chronicles 30:19; Job 3:15; 7:2 (2×); Psalms 83:15 (2×); 138:3; and Hosea 1:2.29

Genitive clauses separated by a verse-ending soph passuq. The genitive clauses in 2 Chronicles 30:19 (Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909 §155n; Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §129q); Job 3:15 (Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley, 1909 §155e (Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §158b); Job 7:2 (2×) (Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155g); and Psalm 83:15 (2×) (Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155g) are all examples in which the soph passuq separates the genitive clause and its regens from the participatory clause. One may argue that in each case the genitive clause and the regens are outside the bounds of the soph passuq because the sentence as a whole is too long. Genesis 1:1–3 would then be a perfectly matching example. However, the genitive clause and its regens can just as well be found at the end of long sentences in which the limits of the soph passuq stretch quite far (cf. 2 Kings 8:6; 1 Chronicles 15:12; 2 Chronicles 31:19; Jeremiah 2:6; 17:4; 52:12), and the verses of Job 3:15; 7:2 and Psalm 83:15 are short. Thus, sentence length may not be an adequate explanation for these exceptions, since as a general rule, they did not usually allow the soph passuq to separate the elements of a clause from the clause itself.

With respect to the poetic verses of Job 3:17; 7:2 and Psalm 83:15, the soph passuq seems to separate the genitive clauses and their regentes from the participatory clause because they are part of a different poetic colon, not because the sentence is too long.30 Thus, they cannot be syntactical parallels to the prose verses of Genesis 1:1–3. With respect to 2 Chronicles 30:19, sentence length does seem to be the only explanation for why the soph passuq separates the genitive clause and its regens from the participatory clause in 2 Chronicles 30:18.31 However, 2 Chronicles 30:19 would then be the only true syntactical parallel to Genesis 1:1–3. Only one parallel example out of 209 strongly suggests that Genesis 1:1 is not a genitive clause.

Genitive clauses separated by a clause-level waw. The genitive clauses in Numbers 23:3 (Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §130d); Psalm 138:3 (Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §130d); and Hosea 1:2 (Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §130d; Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §129p) are all examples in which a clause-level waw separates the genitive clause and its regens from the participatory clause.32 These examples are the closest syntactical parallels to Genesis 1:1, but even they are not without problems. As previously noted, the syntactical structure of Hosea 1:2 is a commonly used parallel to the syntactical structure of Genesis 1:1 and 1:3. First, in Hosea 1:2, the genitive clause and its regens are separated from the participatory clause by a waw-consecutive, just like Genesis 1:1 is separated from 1:3. Second, in both verses the verb of the genitive clause is in the perfect conjugation. Finally, in both verses nouns of nearly identical semantic meaning, רֵאשִׁ֖ית and תְּחִלַּ֥ת, are the regens. However, in ancient translations and older codices the syntactical structure of Hosea 1:2 is much different from the many modern translations.

Current and ancient evidences suggest that in Hosea 1:2, the finite verb of the genitive clause, דִּבֵּרֶ, may actually be a noun. First, Brown, Driver, and Briggs (1907) suggest that הַדִּבֵּר in Jeremiah 5:13 is a noun,33 which would take the form דִּבֵּר in Hosea 1:2, and Collins notes that דִּבֵּר functions as a noun in Rabbinic and Modern Hebrew (Collins 2006, 51). Second, in both the Leningrad and Aleppo codices, a paragraph break separates the alleged genitive clause and its regens, תְּחִלַּת דִּבֶּר־יְהוָה בְּהוֹשֵׁעַ, from the participatory clause, וַיּאֹמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־הוֹשֵׁעַ (Freedman, Beck, and Zuckerman 1998, 619; Goshen-Gottstein, 1976, שׁעט). This break creates such separation that the communities that produced these codices probably did not think that Hosea 1:2 contained a genitive clause, nor did they think that the two clauses were even syntactically related. Finally, both the LXX and the Targumim render the word דִּבֵּר as a regular noun, λόγος and פתגם, and the Vulgate renders it as a gerund, loquendi.34 The evidence from these sources suggests that the phrase תְּחִלַּת דִּבֶּר־יְהוָה בְּהוֹשֵׁעַ could very well have been read by earlier Jews as a simple, clauseless introduction to the book. Thus, Hosea 1:2 may not even contain a genitive clause.

The examples from Psalm 138:3 and Numbers 23:3, however, appear to be true parallels to the syntactical relationship between Genesis 1:1 and 1:3. In Psalm 138:3 the genitive clause קרָָאתיִ and its regens בְּיוֹם are clearly separated from the participatory clause, ותַַּענֲנֵיִ, by a waw-consecutive. However, not only is this example seemingly irregular for genitive clauses, it is irregular for most sentences that begin with the construction בְּיוֹם or בַּיּוֹם. When these words begin a sentence they are rarely separated from their participatory clause, by a waw-consecutive.35 Nevertheless, there is no denying the syntactical structure of Psalm 138:3. It parallels the syntactical structure of Genesis 1:1 and 1:3.

Numbers 23:3 acts the same way. The genitive clause מַה־יַּרְאֵנִי and its regens וּדְברַ are also separated from the participatory clause והְגִּדַתְִּי לךְָ by a waw-consecutive, making the syntactical structure of the verse a close parallel to the syntactical structure of Genesis 1:1 and 1:3. However, even though Psalm 138:3 and Numbers 23:3, and possibly Hosea 1:2, may be close syntactical parallels, the case that Genesis 1:1 is a genitive clause is less convincing when the evidence of these verses is placed in the overall context of the data.

Final Assessment

Substantival clauses in general and genitive clauses in particular are a unique type of clause in that they are embedded participants in the clauses to which they are subordinate. Moreover, with respect to genitive clauses, even their regentes are participants in the subordinating clauses. Thus, it is not surprising that nearly all of the 209 examples of genitive clauses do not have a clause-level waw or a verse-ending soph passuq, markers that usually separate elements of one clause from another, separating the genitive clause and its regens from the participatory clause. Thus, the syntactical evidence as a whole strongly suggests that Genesis 1:1 does not contain a genitive clause. Consider also the following data: More than 97% of genitive clauses and their regentes are not separated from their participatory clauses by a verse-ending soph passuq; Genesis 1:1 is.36 More than 98% of genitive clauses and their regentes are not separated from their participatory clauses by a clauses-level waw; Genesis 1:1 also is.37 In all 209 examples, 100% of them, the genitive clauses and their regentes are not separated from their participatory clauses by both a clause-level waw and a verse-ending soph passuq; Genesis 1:1 is. In all 209 examples, 100% of them, the genitive clauses and their regentes are not even separated from their participatory clauses by any kind of intervening clause; Genesis 1:1 also is with the intervening parenthetical comment of Genesis 1:2.38 If בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ is a genitive clause governed by the regens בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית, then it truly has no syntactical parallel with the other 209 genitive clauses and their regentes because the verse is separated from the participatory clause by not just a clause-level waw, a verse-ending soph passuq, or intervening clause, but by all three.

Conclusion

Having broadly categorized the dependent-clause translation of Genesis 1:1 as a genitive clause, this author has collected a pool of data that can better determine the syntactical viability of the dependent clause translation. This article has shown that when this translation is compared with other genitive clauses, it lacks the pertinent syntactical features common to genitive clauses in their relation to participatory clauses. Though the dependent-clause translation may be possible or even probable at the lexical and grammatical levels, this article has shown that it does not and cannot work at the clausal level. With respect to the traditional translation, however, there is and never has been any debate about its viability at the clausal level, and the analysis of the previous article has already demonstrated its viability at the lexical and grammatical levels (Wilson 2018). Thus, between the traditional translation and the dependent-clause translation of Genesis 1:1, the traditional translation is the only logical and probable rendering of the passage. And if the traditional translation is the only logical rendering of the passage, then the interpretation of it as the first act of creation is still valid. If the interpretation of Genesis 1:1 as the first act of creation is still valid, then this passage still logically and theologically communicates to the reader that God created the heavens and the earth ex nihilo.

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Josephus. F. 1981. Josephus: Complete Works. Translated by William Whiston. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications.

Kahle, Paul E. 1959. The Cairo Geniza. 2nd ed. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell.

Kohler, Kaufman, and Philip Bloch. 1906. “Baḥya (Beḥai) ben Asher ben Halawa.” In The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York, New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2367-bahya-behai-ben-asher-ben-halawa.

König, Eduard. 1919. Die Genesis. Gütersloh, Germany: Druck und Verlag von C. Bertelsmann.

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Reider, Joseph. 1957. The Book of Wisdom: An English Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Jewish Apocryphal Literature. New York: Harper & Brothers for The Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning.

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Rooker, Mark F. 1992. “Genesis 1:1–3: Creation or Re- Creation? Part 2 (of 2 parts).” Bibliotheca Sacra 149 (October–December): 411–427.

Rosenberg, A. J. trans. 1993. The Book of Genesis. Vol. 1 of Mikraoth Gedoloth. Books of the Bible. New York: The Judaica Press.

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Ryan, John K. trans. 1960. Introduction to The Confessions of St. Augustine. New York: Doubleday, Image Books.

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Schmid, H. H. 1997. “אֶרֶץ ’ereṣ earth, land.” In Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament. Edited by Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann. Translated by Mark E. Biddle. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

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Thomas, D. Winton. 1953. “A Consideration of Some Unusual Ways of Expressing the Superlative in Hebrew.” Vetus Testamentum 3, no. 3 (July): 209–224.

Tsumura, David Toshio. 1989. The Earth and the Waters in Genesis 1 and 2: A Linguistic Investigation. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 83. Sheffield, United Kingdom: JSOT Press.

Tsumura, David Toshio. 1994. “Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation: An Introduction.” In I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1–11. Edited by Richard S. Hess, and David Toshio Tsumura, 27–57. Sources for Biblical and Theological Study. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.

Tsumura, David Toshio. 1997. “שָׁמיַםִ.” In New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Edited by Willem A. VanGemeren. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

Tsumura, David Toshio. 2005. Creation and Destruction: A Reappraisal of the Chaoskampf Theory in the Old Testament. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.

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Waltke, Bruce K. 1974. Creation and Chaos: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Biblical Cosmogony. Portland, Oregon: Western Conservative Baptist Seminary.

Waltke, Bruce K. 1975. “The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1– 3, Part I: Introduction to Biblical Cosmogony.” Bibliotheca Sacra 132, no. 525 (January): 25–36.

Waltke, Bruce K. 1975. “The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1– 3, Part II: The Restitution Theory.” Bibliotheca Sacra 132, no. 526 (April): 136–144.

Waltke, Bruce K. 1975. “The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1– 3, Part IV: The Theology of Genesis 1.” Bibliotheca Sacra 132, no. 528 (October): 327–342.

Waltke, Bruce K. 1976. “The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1-3, Part V: The Theology of Genesis 1—Continued.” Bibliotheca Sacra 133, no. 529 (January): 28–41.

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Appendix

Genitive Clauses

The Compilation of the Data

The following is a list of various references that in total contain 209 genitive clauses. This list is compiled from the examples found by this author and from those presented in GKC and Joüon. They are the following: Genesis 15:13; 24:22; 39:4; 43:3; 49:27; Exodus 4:13; 6:28; 9:4; 15:17; 18:20; Leviticus 7:9, 35; 14:16, 46; 25:48; Numbers 3:1; 7:13; 23:3; Deuteronomy 4:15; 32:11 (2×), 17, 35; Joshua 7:21; 14:10; Judges 8:1; 20:15; 1 Samuel 5:9; 6:9; 17:4; 25:15; 26:14; 2 Samuel 12:22; 20:21; 22:1, 44; 1 Kings 13:2, 12; 2 Kings 3:8; 8:6; 1 Chronicles 9:22; 12:23; 15:12; 17:13; 18:8; 29:1, 3; 2 Chronicles 1:4; 15:11; 16:9; 18:23; 20:22; 24:11; 28:9; 29:27; 30:17, 19; 31:19; Ezra 1:5; Nehemiah 8:10; 13:23; Job 1:1; 3:3 (2×), 15; 6:17; 7:2 (2×); 9:26; 11:16; 13:28 (2×); 15:3 (2×); 18:21; 21:27; 24:19; 28:1; 29:2, 12, 16; 30:13; 31:12 (2×); 38:19, 24, 26; Psalms 4:8; 7:16; 11:4; 16:3, 4; 18:1, 3, 44; 25:12; 32:2, 8; 33:12; 34:9; 38:14; 42:2; 49:13, 14, 21; 51:10; 56:4, 10; 58:5, 9; 59:17; 65:5; 68:31; 71:18; 74:3; 78:6; 81:6; 83:15 (2×); 90:5, 15 (2×); 102:3; 104:9; 119:136; 125:1; 138:3; 141:9; Proverbs 8:32; 17:14; 22:11; 26:17; 30:17 (2×); Ecclesiastes 10:5; Isaiah 6:6; 15:1, 7; 28:16; 29:1, 14; 38:5; 40:20 (2×); 41:2, 10, 24; 42:1, 16 (3×); 44:1, 2 (2×); 48:17; 51:1 (2×), 2, 7, 12; 53:7; 54:1 (2×), 5; 55:13; 56:2; 61:10, 11; 62:1; 63:19; 64:2; 65:1; 66:1; Jeremiah 2:6, 8, 11; 5:21; 6:15; 13:20; 14:18; 15:14; 17:4; 20:8; 23:9, 29; 32:18; 36:2; 48:36; 49:8; 50:31, 46; 52:12; Lamentations 1:10, 14, 21; 3:1; Ezekiel 13:3; 22:24; 25:7; Hosea 1:2; 4:14; 6:3; Micah 5:2; Habakkuk 1:6; 2:14; Zephaniah 2:1, 12; Zechariah 6:12; Malachi 2:16.

The Sources of the Data

The data has been compiled from this author’s own research and the grammars of Gesenius, Kautzsch, Cowley 1909 and Joüon and Muraoka 2008.39 The following information displays the source locations from which the data has been collected.

Personal Research

These examples were found using the search features of BibleWorks 6.40 Leviticus 7:9; Job 24:19; Psalms 32:2; 38:14; 58:9; 74:3; 104:9; Proverbs 17:14; Isaiah 15:1; 41:10; 44:1, 2; 51:2;41 Jeremiah 5:21; 17:4; 20:8; 32:18; Lamentations 3:1; Ezekiel 22:24; Zephaniah 2:1, 12.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley (1909)

These examples are divided according to the sections in which they are cited. Some examples are cited more than once in Gesenius, Kautsch, and Cowley (1909), but the multiple citations are only counted once in the total list of genitive clauses cited at the beginning of this appendix.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §130d. Genesis 39:4; Exodus 4:13; 6:28; 9:4; Leviticus 14:46; 25:48; Numbers 3:1; 23:3; Deuteronomy 4:15; 1 Samuel 5:9; 25:15; 2 Samuel 22:1; Job 6:17; 18:21; 29:2, 16; Psalms 16:3; 18:1; 56:9; 59:16; 65:4; 81:5; 90:15; 102:2; 138:3; Proverbs 8:32; Isaiah 29:1; Jeremiah 6:15; 36:2; 48:36; 49:8; 50:31; Lamentations 1:14; Hosea 1:2.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155d. Genesis 39:4; Judges 8:1; 20:15; 1 Samuel 6:9; 1 Kings 13:12; 2 Kings 3:8; 1 Chronicles 9:22; 12:22; 29:1, 3; 2 Chronicles 15:11; 18:23; 30:17; 31:19; Ezra 1:5; Nehemiah 13:23; Jeremiah 52:12.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155e. Genesis 15:13; Deuteronomy 32:17; 2 Samuel 20:21; Job 1:1; 3:15; 38:26; Psalm 11:4; 49:13; Proverbs 22:11; 26:17; Habakkuk 1:6; Zechariah 6:12.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155f. Genesis 49:27; Deuteronomy 32:17; 1 Samuel 6:9; 2 Chronicles 28:9; Job 3:3; 31:12; Psalm 16:4; 34:8; 68:30; 71:18; 78:6; Proverbs 30:17; Isaiah 28:16; 29:14; 38:5; 40:20; 51:12; 54:1; 55:13; 56:2; Lamentations 1:10; Ezekiel 25:7; Hosea 4:14.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155g. Deuteronomy 32:11; Job 7:2; 9:26; 11:16; Psalms 42:1; 49:12, 20; 58:4; 83:14; 90:5; 125:1; Isaiah 53:7; 61:10, 11; 62:1; Jeremiah 23:29; Hosea 6:3; Habakkuk 2:14.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155h. Exodus 15:17; Deuteronomy 32:17; Judges 8:1; Job 13:28; 28:1; Psalms 7:15; 25:12; 32:8; 33:12; 51:8; Ecclesiastes 10:5; Isaiah 6:6; 15:7; 42:16; 48:17; 64:3; Jeremiah 14:18; 23:9; 48:36; Lamentations 1:21.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155i. Exodus 18:20; Job 3:3; Psalms 18:2; 32:2; Isaiah 42:1; Jeremiah 2:6.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155k. Job 21:17; 38:19, 24; Isaiah 51:1.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155l. Leviticus 7:35; Deuteronomy 32:35; 2 Chronicles 20:22; 24:11; 29:27; Job 6:17; Psalms 4:8; 56:4, 10; Jeremiah 36:2; Micah 5:2.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155m. 1 Samuel 26:14; Isaiah 63:19.

Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909 §155n. Genesis 39:4; Exodus 4:13; 9:4; 1 Chronicles 15:12; 29:3; 2 Chronicles 1:4; 16:9; 30:19; 31:19; Ezra 1:5; Nehemiah 8:10; Job 29:12, 16; 30:13; Psalms 65:5; 81:6; 119:136; 141:9; Proverbs 8:32; Isaiah 41:2, 24; 65:1; Jeremiah 2:8, 11; Lamentations 1:14; Ezekiel 13:3; Malachi 2:16.

Joüon and Muraoka (2008)

These examples are divided according to the sections in which they are cited. There is considerable overlap between the examples of this grammar and those of Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley (1909), but the overlapping examples are only counted once in the total list of genitive clauses cited at the beginning of this appendix.

Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §129p. Genesis 1:1;42 43:3; Exodus 6:28; Leviticus 14:16; 25:48; Joshua 14:10; 1 Samuel 25:15; 2 Samuel 12:22; 2 Kings 8:6; Job 29:2; Psalms 56:4; 102:3; Isaiah 29:1; Jeremiah 6:15; 50:46; Hosea 1:2.

Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §129q. Genesis 39:4; Exodus 4:13; 9:4; 2 Chronicles 30:19; Job 18:21; 29:16; Psalms 81:6; Jeremiah 2:8.

Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §158a. Genesis 49:27; Deuteronomy 32:17; 1 Samuel 6:9; Job 3:3; 31:12; Psalms 16:4; 34:9; 71:18; 78:6; Proverbs 30:17; Isaiah 51:12; 55:13; 56:2; Jeremiah 13:20; 15:14; Lamentations 1:10.

Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §158b. Genesis 24:22; Numbers 7:13; Joshua 7:21; 1 Samuel 17:4; 2 Samuel 20:21; 1 Kings 13:2; Job 1:1; 3:15; Isaiah 51:7; 54:5; 66:1; Zechariah 6:12.

Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §158c. Exodus 15:17; Judges 8:1; 2 Samuel 22:44; Psalms 18:44; 33:12; 90:15; Isaiah 42:16; 51:1.

Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §158d. Genesis 39:4; 1 Chronicles 15:12; 17:13; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Nehemiah 8:10; Job 18:21; Proverbs 8:32; Isaiah 41:24; 54:1; 63:19; 65:1; Jeremiah 2:8, 11.

Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §158db. 1 Chronicles 18:8; Job 3:3; 15:3; Jeremiah 2:6; 23:9.

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Footnotes

  1. In Wilson (2018), the lexical level focused on evidences pertaining to word meanings. For example, does בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית have a relative meaning? The grammatical level focused on evidences pertaining to how words function in a sentence. For example, can בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית function in the absolute state in Genesis 1:1? This present article will focus on evidences at the clausal level by determining how clauses and their elements relate to one another.
  2. The term “grammar” can have varying meanings that are both narrow and broad. This article and the previous one uses the term “grammar” in its narrow sense according to following definition given by Merriam Webster’s online dictionary: “The study of classes of words, their inflections, and their functions and relations in the sentence.”
  3. Since Genesis 1:1, being the first act of creation, does not describe anything as being in existence before the initial creation other than God, interpreters have logically and theologically concluded that God created ex nihilo.
  4. This is the Douay-Rheims American Edition (DRA). Unlike the later NAB, the DRA is translated mostly from the Vulgate rather than Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. See Bruce 1970, 113.
  5. Regarding the term “clausal level” see fn. 1.
  6. Opponents of the traditional translation only challenge its viability at the lexical and grammatical levels. These challenges were addressed and answered in the previous article. See Wilson 2018.
  7. N.b. the construct form of the noun תְּחִלָּה in this passage.
  8. All biblical citations from the original languages are provided by BibleWorks 6.0. [CD ROM] (2003).
  9. Both words seem to have considerable semantic overlap. Cf. Proverbs 4:7 with 9:10; Jeremiah 26:1 with Ezra 4:6; Isaiah 46:10 with Ecclesiastes 10:13.
  10. Cf. ESV, JPS, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, et al., but n.b. NAB, which seems to follow the rendering of the Vulgate.
  11. In Genesis 1:1 the NIV follows the traditional translation.
  12. The following examples are all taken from the Hebrew grammars of Waltke and O’Connor (1990) and Joüon and Muraoka (2008). As will be explained later, these are all examples of genitive clauses.
  13. There are two occurrences of the word יָד in Lamentations 1:14. The first occurrence is in construct with a pronominal suffix and the second is in construct with a finite verb.
  14. See appendix for many more examples.
  15. Baasten labels the construction in Genesis 1:1 as an asyndetic nominalised clause, and Holmstedt labels it as an unmarked, restrictive relative clause.
  16. An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Waltke and O’Connor 1990) also states, “It is common for a clause to stand in a case frame usually occupied by a noun; such a dependent clause is called a noun clause or a constituent noun clause” (see Waltke and O’Connor 1990, §38.8a). Instead of the terms noun clause or constituent noun clause, this article follows the taxonomy of Joüon and Muraoka and uses the term substantival clause.
  17. In most grammars, one can find many examples of genitive clauses in sections dealing with the relative clause (see Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §155c-n; Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §158 a-dc; Waltke and O’Connor, 1990 §19.6a-b), sections dealing with the genitive case or construct state (see Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1909, §130d; Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §129p-q; Waltke and O’Connor 1990, §9.6a-e), and sections dealing with substantival clauses (see Joüon and Muraoka 2008, §157a; Waltke and O’Connor 1990, §38.8c). All of these examples and more (see appendix) can be and will be compared with the possible genitive clause of Genesis 1:1 in order to determine the viability of the dependent-clause translation.
  18. See appendix.
  19. Westermann only cites Hugo Grotius as a proponent of the former dependent-clause translation, but cites many others as proponents of the latter. See Westermann 1990, 95.
  20. The Medieval Jewish scholar Ibn Ezra was the first to suggest that Genesis 1:1 is subordinate to Genesis 1:2a.
  21. Many later commentators argue this same point. See Cassuto 1961, 19; Heidel 1951, 94; Leupold 1950, 45; Mathews 1996, 137 n. 98; Young 1958, 133 n. 1.
  22. In Skinner’s example of Leviticus 7:16b, the syntactical relationship between the clauses is much more different than that of Genesis 1:1–2. Genesis 1:1–2 has a waw separating the two clauses; whereas, there is no waw separating the clauses in Leviticus 7:16b בְּי֛וֹם הַקְרִיב֥וֹ אֶת־זִבְחוֹ יֵאָכֵ֑ל. The reason there is no waw separating the clauses in Leviticus 7:16b is that the clause הַקְרִיבוֹ אֶת־זִבְח is an embedded genitive clause that is the rectum of the governing noun בְּיוֹם, which itself is part of the main clause. A waw would separate the main clause element בְּיוֹם from the main clause verb יאֵָכלֵ. Concerning Gross’s example of Isaiah 6:1, Brown states, “However, the example drawn from Isaiah does not resolve the issue, since the verb is “pronounless” (bišnat môt hammelek vuzziyyāhû wā’er’eh ‘et ‘ădonāy . . .), in contrast to the clause beginning with the subject in [Genesis] 1:2” Brown 1993, 72. Isaiah 6:1 is actually a better example of the syntactical relationship between Genesis 1:1 and 1:3.
  23. The Medieval Jewish scholar Rashi was the first to argue this position. According to Westermann, Heinrich Ewald is one of the first modern commentators to make this argument. See Westermann 1990, 95.
  24. Brown stresses that parenthetical constructions are syntactically dependent and are usually introduced by an explanatory or parenthetical disjunctive waw (i.e., Genesis 13:7; 29:16; Ruth 4:6–7; 1 Samuel 1:9). See Brown 1993, 72–73.
  25. Cassuto’s argument is used by later scholars to argue against the dependent-clause translation. See Hamilton 1990, 117; Hasel 1971, 160; Young 1991, 134 n. 2.
  26. The comparisons made in this citation attempt to demonstrate that the evidence from the parallel literature supports the dependent-clause translation. However, it is plain that Orlinsky treats a dependent Genesis 1:1 as a temporal clause.
  27. Although the list of these examples is not exhaustive, the pool of evidence is large enough to draw sound syntactical conclusions. Some of the examples from the grammars may be disputable (e.g., 1 Chronicles 17:13; 2 Chronicles 31:19; Nehemiah 8:10), but most are not.
  28. Even though the clause-level waw acts as a conjunction, one of its main syntactical functions is to distinguish one clause and its elements from that of another.
  29. Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley (1909) cite Jeremiah 14:18 (see § 155h) as an example of a genitive clause. This example from Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley (1909) seems to show a clause-level waw that separates the genitive clause from both its regens and the participatory clause. However, this example from Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley (1909) will not be treated in the following list of exceptions to the syntactical features of the genitive clause because it is doubtful that it actually is a genitive clause. The sentence of Jeremiah 14:18b, כִּי־גַם־נָבִיא גַם־כֹּהֵן סָחֲרוּ אֶל־אֶרֶץ וְלאֹ יָדָעוּ, can be rendered in two ways, as either “For both prophet and priest peddle in the land which they do not know,” or “For both prophet and priest peddle in the land, but they do not know.” The intervention of the clause-level waw between the alleged genitive clause and its regens suggests that the latter rendering is more appropriate, which would mean that there is no genitive clause in Jeremiah 14:18b. The NASB, NIV, NKJV, LXX, and Vulgate render the supposed genitive clause with a relative clause modifying the regens אֶרֶץ. However, the ESV, NLT, NRSV, and the Targumim render the sentence of 14:18b with two separate independent clauses. The most likely explanation for this difference is that the former group of translations treats the last clause of 14:18b as a circumstantial clause rather than as a genitive clause, which is also grammatically and syntactically possible. (Cf. Genesis 16:1; 22:24; 24:29; Esther 2:21 where the translators of the LXX and Vulgate render the circumstantial clauses with a relative construction, but the Targumim render it with a similar circumstantial clause. This is probably what each translation is doing with the last clause of Jeremiah 14:18b.) If the construction is a genitive clause, it is without parallel, and even Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley (1909), which treat it as a genitive, suggest that there should be no intervening waw. Nevertheless, whether or not the last clause of Jeremiah 14:18b is a genitive clause, instead of a separate independent clause or a circumstantial clause, there is no syntactical parallel between it and Genesis 1:1 because a clause-level waw does not separate the genitive clause בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ from its regens בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית.
  30. Even the preceding verse of Job 3:14 is not the main clause but is rather an extended phrase, like Job 3:15, of the main clause that starts in Job 3:13.
  31. Even the ESV, NIV, and NRSV have difficulty with this irregularity in that they move the regens, the direct object of the main clause, to the preceding verse of 31:18 even though in the Hebrew the regens is in 31:19.
  32. One could argue that the genitive clauses in Exodus 6:28; 1 Samuel 5:9; and 2 Chronicles 24:11 belong to this list of exceptions. The genitive clauses in these verses seem to show a genitive clause and its regens separated from the main clause by a waw. They even seem to show that the genitive clause rather than being embedded in the main clause can be an external dependent clause along with its regens. In fact, some English translations render the verses in either way. (In Exodus 6:28, the ESV and NRSV render the regens as a participant in the succeeding waw-consecutive clause, and the NIV renders the genitive clause as if it were an unembedded dependent clause. In 1 Samuel 5:9, the ESV, NASB, NIV, and NRSV render the genitive clause as if it were an unembedded dependent clause. Finally, in 2 Chronicles 24:11, the ESV and NRSV render the genitive clause as if it were an unembedded dependent clause. In these verses the meaning in the differing translations is the same as that of the Hebrew text, but the grammar is vastly different.) However, each regens in these clauses is preceded by the common verbal phrase ויַהְִי. The ויַהְִי sverbal phrase is actually a clause in and of itself, even when only a single determinate noun is its object. (Cf. Genesis 1:5; 26:32; Genesis 39:11; Judges 6:25; 7:9; 2 Samuel 7:4; 2 Kings 19:35; 1 Chronicles 17:3. Cf. also the use of וְהיָהָ in Isaiah 22:20; 23:15; Hosea 1:5; Amos 8:9; Micah 5:9.) Thus, in Exodus 6:28; 1 Samuel 5:9; and 2 Chronicles 24:11, the regens in each verse יוֹם, עֵת, and אַחרֲֵי, participates in the ויַהְִי clause, and the genitive clause is also embedded in it. The functions of the embedded genitive clauses are not to be subordinate to the succeeding waw-consecutive clauses, but are to be more descriptive of their regens. (Cf. Genesis 31:10; Exodus 12:29, 41; 14:24; Numbers 7:1; Deuteronomy 27:2; Ruth 1:1; 1 Samuel 3:2; 30:25.) The ויַהְִי clause is a complete clause in and of itself and is the participatory clause of the regens, not the succeeding waw-consecutive clause. Thus, Exodus 6:28; 1 Samuel 5:9; and 2 Chronicles 24:11 are not exceptions to the syntactical features of the genitive clause and are not true parallels to the syntactical relationship between Genesis 1:1 and 1:3. Even if, however, the waw-consecutive clauses of Exodus 6:28; 1 Samuel 5:9; and 2 Chronicles 24:11 were the participatory clause of the preceding regens, Genesis 1:1 would still not be a viable syntactical parallel since it does not begin with the verbal phrase ויַהְִי.
  33. Brown, Driver, and Briggs 1907 s.v. “דִּבֵּר”.
  34. The presence of the gerund, loquendi, suggests that the word in the Hebrew text used by the translator was an infinitive rather than a finite verb. Of course it is entirely possible that the text did have a finite verb and that the translator, because of the genitive clause, rendered it as a gerund. However, the Vulgate almost always renders genitive clauses with a participle or relative clause, not a gerund.
  35. Interestingly the only other example this author could find in which the word בְּיוֹם or בַּיּוֹם begins a sentence and is separated from its participatory clause by a waw-consecutive is in Genesis 22:4. The Vulgate does not translate the waw-consecutive of this sentence, but the LXX and the Targumim do.
  36. The prose example from 2 Chronicles 30:19 and the poetic examples from Job 3:15; 7:2 (2×); and Psalm 83:15 (2×) were not included in this percentage even though the poetic examples are probably only separated from the participatory clause for poetic purposes. If, however, the poetic examples had been included in this percentage, then 2 Chronicles 30:19 would be the only example (less than 1%) that would be syntactically comparable to Genesis 1:1.
  37. The examples from Numbers 23:3; Psalm 138:3; and Hosea 1:2 were not included in this percentage.
  38. This is of course treating Genesis 1:3 as the participatory clause. This statistic does not apply if Genesis 1:2 is the participatory clause. However, as was discussed earlier in the article, treating Genesis 1:2 as the participatory clause comes with its own set of syntactical problems.
  39. The examples from Waltke and O’Connor (1990) are not cited because they are all referenced in Gesenius, Kautsch, and Cowley (1909).
  40. To get these findings, I simply searched for all examples in the Hebrew Bible in which a noun was in construct with a finite verb. Many examples overlap with the examples from the grammars; thus, these are the leftovers that were not cited. The complications of this type of search are that not all nouns that may be in construct with a verb are necessarily tagged in the software as being a grammatical construct. Thus, this search was by no means exhaustive of the Hebrew text.
  41. No search criteria were used to find Isaiah 51:2; it was an unintended discovery.
  42. Joüon and Muraoka (2008) assume that Genesis 1:1 is a genitive clause. However, since the verse is the focus of this investigation as to whether or not it contains a genitive clause, it is not included in the final list of genitive clauses cited at the beginning of this appendix.

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