Thijs Booij, «A Circumstantial Clause in Psalm 99,4», Vol. 94 (2013) 100-106
In Psalm 99,4 the first stich is a circumstantial clause expressing causality relative to the clause following it. Verse 4 means to say that YHWH's royal power is exercised in establishing justice, as is shown by his acts in Israel. A syntax identical with that of the first line in Ps 99,4 can be found in Gen 50,20; Ezek 2,4a; Hab 1,10; Ps 40,18a.
See more by the same author
A CIRCUMSTANTIAL CLAUSE IN PSALM 99,4
2. Syntactical approach
Clauses opening preferably 16 with the subject and frequently introduced
by w 17 may present a fact as subordinate to the main course of a narrative or to
the main point of a statement 18. In this case they are called â€œcircumstantialâ€.
Circumstantial clauses can sometimes be taken as independent state-
ments. Introductory w may be rendered then by â€œnowâ€ or â€œforâ€. Gen 16,1:
wl hdly al [â€¦] yrfw â€œNow Sarai [â€¦] bore him no childrenâ€. Gen 14,12:
~dsb bvy awhw â€œFor he lived in Sodomâ€. 1 Kgs 11,28: rwbg ~[bry vyahw
lyx â€œNow that man Jerobeam was very ableâ€.
By its content a circumstantial clause is often clearly related to the preceding
clause. It is generally rendered then by a subordinate clause, the nature of which
is to be deduced from the context. Gen 18,1: lhah-xtp bvy awhw â€œas he sat at
the entrance of his tentâ€. Ps 28,3: ~bblb h[rw â€œthough mischief is in their
heartsâ€. In a clause added in this way, introductory w is sometimes left out. Deut
5,5: [â€¦] dm[ ykna â€œwhile I was standing between YHWH and youâ€. 2 Sam
18,14: hlah blb yx wndw[ â€œwhile he was still alive in the terebinthâ€.
A short circumstantial clause may be inserted in a sentence. 2 Sam 13,20:
~wlvba tyb hmmvw rmt bvtw â€œAnd Tamar, being desolate, remained in
Absalomâ€™s houseâ€. Ps 68,10b: htnnwk hta halnw $tlxn â€œyour heritage,
when it was weary, you restored itâ€ (insertion after casus pendens).
Finally, circumstantial clauses may be put before the clause to which
they relate. 1 Kgs 14,17: tm r[nhw [â€¦] hab ayh [â€¦] â€œAs she came [â€¦],
the child diedâ€. 2 Kgs 2,11: va-bkr hnhw [â€¦] ~yklh hmh yhyw â€œAnd it
happened as they went on, walking and talking, that a chariot of fire was
seen [â€¦]â€19. If a prefixed circumstantial clause has introductory w, that
element is coloured semantically by the function of the clause in its con-
text 20. Clauses following a question may demonstrate this. In Gen 50,19
However, cf. S.R. DRIVER, A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Heb-
rew and Some Other Syntactical Questions (Oxford 31892) 198-199; A.B.
DAVIDSON, Hebrew Syntax (Edinburgh 31901) Â§139.
F.I. ANDERSEN, The Sentence in Biblical Hebrew (The Hague 1974) 77-
78, considers introductory w essential.
Depending on the context, however, clauses of this type may also ex-
press emphasis (e.g. Gen 33,3; Ps 13,6), contrast (Gen 4,2; 6,8), or anteriority
(Gen 31,19.34). In some texts they could reflect official style (see e.g. Gen
4,18; 10,24). Cf. DRIVER, Tenses, 200-202.
See also e.g. Gen 44,3.4; Judg 15,14a; 18,3a.
DRIVER, Tenses, 210-211, mentions texts in which the circumstantial
clause introduced by w precedes the â€œmainâ€ clause (Judg 3,24; 20,39-40;
1 Sam 17,23; 2 Sam 2,24; 2 Kgs 2,23). However, even Driver, in his elaborate
discussion of the circumstantial clause, does not treat this type separately; he
probably took w simply as a copula.
Â© Gregorian Biblical Press 2012 - Tutti i diritti riservati