Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sin /Shin

In contrast to samech, shin and sin are very common, but the grammatical use of shin is comparatively rare. Do we perceive its grammatical usage in Ruth? It is the weakest player on the first 11. It's curious that S in English is a common indicator of possessive and plural, but shin in Hebrew plays only one role as prefix though with several glosses - also, and 'that' which seems at first to be an abbreviation of the relative pronoun asher (very common in later Rabbinic writings - note the frequency here). BDB (p 979) thinks is is an original demonstrative particle. It qualifies for the first team - and it's a better fit than tet as the candidate to fill out the split of the alefbet in two equal halves that Saadya suggested.

Shin as a relative particle does not occur in Ruth but does in several Psalms and other parts of the wisdom literature. E.g. Psalm 122:3-4

יְרוּשָׁלִַם הַבְּנוּיָה כְּעִיר שֶׁחֻבְּרָה־לָּהּ יַחְדָּו
שֶׁשָּׁם עָלוּ שְׁבָטִים שִׁבְטֵי־יָהּ עֵדוּת לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לְהֹדֹות לְשֵׁם יְהוָה
Jerusalem is built as a city which is coupled - belonging to her of his unity
that there the tribes go up, testimony to Israel to give thanks to the name of  יְהוָה

I don't know what to make of the pronouns in that verse. How would you translate it? My Hebrew Latin concordance treats the word at the end of verse 3 almost as a synonym of יחד. For יחד yachad it gives: unitio, coniunctio, unitim, coniunctim (strange endings!). For יַחְדָּו  yachadav it gives: coniunctim, una; simul, eodem tempore; pariter, pari modo; cuncti.

No one seems to translate the pronoun following the pual verb חבר which may be glossed among these: to unite, join, bind together, be joined, be coupled, be in league, heap up, have fellowship with, be compact, be a charmer - or your preference.

There is also a short word yod-shin comprised of the first team letters that might qualify as a grammatical use pointer. Yesh יֵשׁ - 'there is' is the opposite of 'ain אֵין - 'there is not'. I think I would include both as grammatical particles. Ruth 1:12, and 3:12 gives us instances of the former:
יֶשׁ־לִי תִקְוָה
there is to me hope
וְגַם יֵשׁ גֹּאֵל קָרֹוב מִמֶּנִּי
but surely there is a redeemer closer than I

One more post to go on Taf - itself a grammatical letter of considerable interest and importance.

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