Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ruth 1:15-18

וַתֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה שָׁבָה יְבִמְתֵּךְ אֶל-עַמָּהּ וְאֶל-אֱלֹהֶיהָ שׁוּבִי אַחֲרֵי יְבִמְתֵּךְ
vat'omer hinneh shava yevimtek el-`amah ve'eloheiah shuvi 'axarei yevimtek
and she said, behold your sister-in-law returns to her people and to her God. You return also after your sister-in-law
It is difficult to see this as a brusque order. Perhaps she speaks out of bitterness and pity. Ten years of exile and no children. Hope but perhaps only for food for herself and an old age of solitude on a property that some distant family member must inherit. Go - you are better off without me. The colours show the division of the letters into two groups of 11 - the grammatical and those that do not take part in grammatical forms. Green and brown are the letters of the grammatical group of 11. If green they are acting as affix or in a preposition or pronoun. Only 4 letters in 42 in this verse are from the second 11, those letters that never act as prefix or suffix.

וַתֹּאמֶר רוּת אַל-תִּפְגְּעִי-בִי לְעָזְבֵךְ לָשׁוּב מֵאַחֲרָיִך
כִּי אֶל-אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכִי אֵלֵךְ
וּבַאֲשֶׁר תָּלִינִי אָלִין
עַמֵּךְ עַמִּי
וֵאלֹהַיִךְ אֱלֹהָי
va to'amr rut 'al-tifg`i-vi le`azvek lashuv me'xareik
ki 'el-'asher telki 'elek
veba'asher talini 'alin
`amka `ami
ve'eloheik 'elohi 

and Ruth said, do not force me to leave you to turn back from following you
for wherever you go I go
and in whatever you stop over I stop over
your people my people
your God my God

Ruth shows determination, love and faithfulness to one whom she will not abandon. Two words yelek and halek that look different and in earlier dictionaries were treated as different really seem the same word. Here my Hebrew-Latin concordance comes into its own with a full list of every form clearly showing they are, in Hebrew eyes, the same word. I wonder what will happen when I look at them grammatically in more detail. What weak consonants will disappear in the patterns?
בַּאֲשֶׁר תָּמוּתִי אָמוּת וְשָׁם אֶקָּבֵר
כֹּה יַעֲשֶׂה יְהוָה לִי וְכֹה יוֹסִיף
כִּי הַמָּוֶת יַפְרִיד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵךְ
ba'asher tamuti 'amut vesham 'eqver
koh ya`aset יְהוָה li vekoh yusif
ki hamavet yafrid beini ubeinek

and where you die I die
and there I am buried
this יְהוָה do to me and more
for only death will separate me and you

One grammar book online makes the distinction between grammatical and semantic words. I personally find this unhelpful. Grammar does inform semantics. But it seems there are grammatical letters that make up entire strings of prepositions and pronouns.

וַתֵּרֶא כִּי-מִתְאַמֶּצֶת הִיא לָלֶכֶת אִתָּהּ וַתֶּחְדַּל לְדַבֵּר אֵלֶיהָ
vatere' ki-mit'amtset hie laleket 'attah vatexedal ledaver 'eleiah
and she saw that she was determined to go with her and she ceased speaking to her

Do you think that faith must be as determined as Ruth's? Is this not a bit like the parable of the importunate widow (Luke 18:1-9)? [verse 18 adjusted - interesting 'sounds alike' problem with דָּבָר as 'speak' and 'thing' here and in 3:18.]

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