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Table of Contents



  Chapter  1
  Chapter  2
  Chapter  3
  Chapter  4
  Chapter  5
  Chapter  6

  Appendix I
  Appendix II
  Appendix III
  Appendix IV
  Appendix V
  Appendix VI
  Appendix VII
  Appendix VIII
  Appendix IX
  Appendix X
  Appendix XI
  Appendix XII
  Appendix XIII
  Appendix XIV
  Appendix XV
  Appendix XVI
  Appendix XVII
  Appendix XVIII
  Appendix XIX
  Appendix XX
  Appendix XXI

  Biblical References

General Bibliography






(Reference: p.53)


Meanings of Hayah Followed by Lamedh.


While it is not true that the verb  must be followed by   in

order to establish the meaning "become", "became", etc., it is

true that when the preposition   does accompany the verb it cannot

mean anything else. But in the latter circumstance it has the sense

of becoming in a rather special way.

If there is a general principle, it would seem to be this. When

something becomes something else, there may be two kinds of con-

version involved.   (1) A thing may be so completely changed and

become something so entirely different that it is no longer what it

was before, a situation which would not normally require the lamedh.

(2) A thing can be merely viewed as having become something different

only in a manner of speaking as (a) when one individual becomes a

multitude, (b) when there is a change in status, or (c) when a thing

becomes something else analogously.

We have already dealt at some length with (1): namely, the use of

hayah without lamedh following. On the other hand, in (2) the situ-

ation is rather different because the change, though real enough, in a

sense involves no change at all. Thus one individual becomes many

individuals, a worn an becomes a wife, and a man becomes a stone of

stumbling.   In these examples each object remains fundamentally

what it was before and yet each is changed. The individual remains

even while he multiplies, the woman achieves a new status, and the

man take son a new significance. It is my contention that, although

there are some exceptions undoubtedly, these last three kinds of

becoming require that the preposition  follow the verb   .   In

a very great number of cases the sense is brought out rather nicely

by rendering the lamedh by the words "as it were", though the English

does not demand these words, the reader being left to surmise what

is intended.   For example, Abraham becomes a nation; or in the

matter of a change of status, one of the commonest illustrations is

in connection with marriage, a woman becomes a wife wherein al-

though she is the same woman, her status has been changed.   Or

again, when a man becomes a stone which the builders reject, he does

not strictly become a stone at ail-but only analogously, as it were,


pg 1 of 4      

a stone which the builders cannot, or will not, use.

As illustrations of (2) (a), we have:

Gen. 18.18    Abraham becoming a great nation.

Gen. 32.10    Jacob becoming two bands.

Isa. 60.22     A little one shall become a thousand.

As illustration of (2) (b), we have:

Gen. 20.12

Gen. 24.67

Ruth 2.13         

I Sam. 25.42

II Sam. 11.27

(most of the above verses have reference to becoming a wife.)

Deut. 27.9    a people who are not the Lord's becoming the

                   Lord's people.

II Sam. 7.24 the Lord to become Israel's God.


As illustration of (2) (c), we have;

Gen. 2.10     a single watershed out of Eden becomes four


Gen. 2.24     a man and a woman are to become one flesh.

Deut. 28.37   a people becomes an astonishment.

II Ki. 21.14   a people becomes a prey and a spoil.

II Ki. 22.19   the inhabitants of a place become a desolation.

Psa. 69.22    a table becomes a snare.

Isa. 8.14     he shall become a stone of stumbling and a

                  rock of offense.

Jer. 5.13     prophets shall become wind.

Jer. 50.37    men shall become as women.

. . . . . all of which involve the sense of "as it were".

In the Hebrew Version of the New Testament, Jonah becomes a

sign and accordingly here, too,  is followed by    (Lu.11.30).

It will be understood that in all the above references  is

followed by    .   As already stated, there appear to be a few ex-

ceptions, but by and large the "rule" is a useful one and the majority

of passages in which    is employed can be subsumed under one of

these headings. In a few cases the rule seems to involve implications

which might require some careful re-thinking. The rod becoming

a serpent (Exod. 7.10), and the water becoming blood (Exod. 7.19),


     pg.2 of 4     

are cases in point, for according to my "rule" since the lamedh

appears in the original the rod didn't really become a serpent, but

the water really did become blood! Regarding the water, there is

a wide consensus of agreement today that it became infested with

micro-organisms which give it a thick red soupy appearance, making

it look very much like blood.    This still happens occasionally in

different parts of the world with the consequent destruction of fishes

in it.   It can hardly be better described in a popular way than as

"blood". If this is what actually happened, then we ought to find the

appropriate   following.   But such is not the case in Exod. 7.19

(twice) and 21, which would therefore be an exception challenging

the proposed rule.

As to the rod becoming a serpent, it will be difficult for many

people to surrender the conviction that it really did become a serpent,

and not merely an appearance only; yet the magicians were able to

do the same thing - perhaps by some process of suggestion. Never-

theless, Exod. 7.12 goes on to say that Aaron's "rod" ate up the

"rods" of the Egyptians.   This seems almost certainly to indicate

that in both cases we are dealing with real serpents because if one

assumes that Aaron's rod became a real serpent - with an appetite -

it seems unlikely that he would be fool enough to eat up a bunch of

rods which merely looked like serpents.    One must therefore

assume here that the rods did become real and not merely as-it-were

serpents. In which case, we have another clear exception to the rule.

Nevertheless, in such matters, rules are established by general

usage rather than by particular usage, and the great majority of cases

fit nicely into the framework suggested.   As already observed,

Hebraists, like Driver, have underscored the great importance of

not confusing the sense of becoming with the sense of being.  Yet it

is so easy to substitute the one for the other in English that we have

difficulty in being persuaded that such a distinction can really exist

or that it has any fundamental importance even if it does.

The translators of the Revised Standard Version of the Old Test-

ament appear to have followed a rule that when   is accompanied

by   the verb is to be rendered "became", etc.   According to the

Concordance of that Version, there are approximately 450 listed

occurrences of the English word "become" or "became" in the Old

Testament.   Examination of these shows that about 80% of them

include the associated   . To some, this will perhaps be powerful

evidence that   is required in order to give the meaning of "become"

to the verb    .   Yet from all that has been said, it is clear that

this is not the case, nor is the Revised Standard Version consistent,


     pg.3 of 4     


as such verses as Gen. 37.20; 39.2; Deut.33.5; Josh.9.21; I Sam.

14.15; 16.21; etc. etc., show.

What is argued here is that this is only one class of occurrences

in which the sense of becoming is intended, not a real conversion but

conversion only in a manner of speaking, and that the verb  

standing alone without   bears the fundamental meaning of becoming

in the simplest and most complete sense of the word as indicated

in Appendix XVIII (page 171 f.).






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     pg.4 of 4     


  Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved


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