Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tet - don't leave me out


Why a second 't' in the middle of the letters? This I do not know. Why are there three s's and ts to boot? If there were not then the division into two groups of 11 would not work! There would be fewer letters to form the second team. Samech, Tet, Tsade sidelined! How unfair. This turned out to be a much longer post than I anticipated. The highlighted word is significant in Biblical teaching.

In Ruth there are almost more ט letters in the numbering system (9, 15, 16, 19 all have tet as part of the symbol)  than there are in the text! But there are a few words - two stand out in particular: טוֹב + יָטַב five times and לָקַט to glean - which gets 10 hits in chapter 2 of Ruth out of of 37 in the Bible. Gleaning and harvest must be a theme of chapter 2 in this book. It sounds as if the story-teller is stressing the gleaning.

So here is the grammar of ט in Ruth. From it we see several forms of the verb, לָקַט. Let us first green the letters that form the affixes.

אֵלְכָה-נָּא הַשָּׂדֶה וַאֲלַקֳּטָה בַשִּׁבֳּלִים
)élkah-na) hàsadeh  và)alàqa+ah bàshibalym
let me go please to the field and glean grain
Here we have a subordinate use of the imperfect - וַאֲלַקֳּטָה In English this might be rendered with "in order that I may glean" or "and glean" or "so I can glean" or "to glean" and probably even the literal "and I will glean" though this one depends on recognizing and as a conditional pronoun (which it can be in some languages). Is it frequent that the imperfect is used in this way?
וַתֵּלֶךְ וַתָּבוֹא וַתְּלַקֵּט
)élkah-na) hàsadeh  và)alàqa+ah bàshibalym
and she went and she came and she gleaned
This reminds me of Caesar's veni, vidi, vinci - we have three first person imperfect verbs in a row connected by vav - each one preterite or 'converted' to the perfect. Each one is a completed part of the story.
וַתֹּאמֶר אֲלַקֳּטָה-נָּא וְאָסַפְתִּי בָעֳמָרִים אַחֲרֵי הַקּוֹצְרִים
vàto)mer )alàqa+ah-na) v)asàpty ba`amarym )àxaréy hàqvocrym
and she said, please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers
Now we have the same word as in the first example this time in reported rather than direct speech. The reporting has a feel of accuracy to it because of the repetition of 'please' and the following usage of vav introducing a subordinate clause. In my reading, she is already gleaning from permission granted by the lad. Boaz will confirm his decision and the implied delegated authority within the social reality of the time. (That reality is noted in the blessing and response - if the Lord is with them, surely they too can make good decisions.)
אַל-תֵּלְכִי לִלְקֹט בְּשָׂדֶה אַחֵר
 )àl-télky lilqo+ bsadeh )àxér
do not go to glean in the field of another
Here again two consecutive verbs, the second as infinitive with a preceding preposition. The nature of this commandment is to confirm security. This will take some more pondering. The opening אַל-תֵּלְכִי is not an imperative but has the force of a strong invitation. Its context is elaborated on in the next verse - which we must leave until it is time for the story. (Aren't you impressed? I am actually reading this letter by letter before telling the story! Usually I act first and think later.)
וְטָבַלְתְּ פִּתֵּךְ בַּחֹמֶץ
 v+abàlt piték bàxomec
and dip your piece in the vinegar
I mustn't leave this one out - what will be the significance of the shared meal. This is a good restaurant. Hot bread and dip at the meal. A second person feminine ending of the qal perfect - but preceded by the vav, a subordinate aspect yielding a present or future continuing action rather than a past event.
וַתָּקָם לְלַקֵּט וַיְצַו בֹּעַז אֶת-נְעָרָיו לֵאמֹר גַּם בֵּין הָעֳמָרִים תְּלַקֵּט
vàtaqam llàqé+ vàycàv bo`àz )et-n`arayv lé)mor  gàm béyn ha`amarym tlàqé+
and she arose to glean and Boaz commanded his lads even between the sheaves let her glean
Back to gleaning - she arose - 3rd person feminine singular imperfect - preterite - the story continues. The glean following לְלַקֵּט is again infinitive with the preposition (though prepositions are not always used with the infinitive as they are in English). And Boaz commands his lads to make her job easy. The final glean in this phrase is taken as jussive - third person 'imperative'.
תָּשֹׁלּוּ לָהּ מִן-הַצְּבָתִים וַעֲזַבְתֶּם וְלִקְּטָה
tasholvu lah min-hàcbatym và`azàbtem vliq+ah
draw out for her from the bundles and leave and she will glean
Again we have two consecutive verbs at the end of the sentence, the second of which is the desired subordinate consequence of the action commanded by the first. It would be rendered "in order that she may glean".
וַתְּלַקֵּט בַּשָּׂדֶה עַד-הָעָרֶב וַתַּחְבֹּט אֵת אֲשֶׁר-לִקֵּטָה
vàtlàqé+ bàsadeh `àd-ha`areb vàtàxbo+ )ét )asher-liqé+ah
and she gleaned in the field till evening and she beat out what she gleaned
The story continues - third person feminine preterite at the beginning of the sentence and third person feminine perfect at the end. (OK it's piel - but I can't tell the difference between piel and qal.)
וַתֵּרֶא חֲמוֹתָהּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר-לִקֵּטָה
 vàtére) xamvotah )ét )asher-liqé+ah
and her mother-in-law saw what she gleaned
The piel is repeated for her mother in law.
 אֵיפֹה לִקַּטְתְּ הַיּוֹם וְאָנָה עָשִׂית
)éypoh liqà+t hàyvom v)anah `asyt
where did you glean today and where work
 Two instances of the second person singular qal - the taf suffix form without the following 'a' vowel.
וַתִּדְבַּק בְּנַעֲרוֹת בֹּעַז לְלַקֵּט עַד-כְּלוֹת קְצִיר-הַשְּׂעֹרִים וּקְצִיר הַחִטִּים
vàto)mer na`amy )el-rvut kàlatah +vob bity ky téc)y `im-nà`arvotayv  vlo) yipg`vu-bak bsadeh )àxér
so she stayed close with the lasses of Boaz to glean to the completion of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest
There a ט in the wheat too. And here are the uses of good. I will leave these for exercises in colouring and analysis. Copy the Hebrew by hand on paper and colour the letters of the grammar team. Which are verbs, which implied verbless single word clauses, which just an adverb.

טוֹב בִּתִּי כִּי תֵצְאִי עִם-נַעֲרוֹתָיו
+vob bity ky téc)y `im-nà`arvotayv
good my daughter to go out with his lasses

בִּתִּי הֲלֹא אֲבַקֶּשׁ-לָךְ מָנוֹחַ אֲשֶׁר יִיטַב-לָךְ
bity halo) )abàqesh-lak manvoàx )asher yy+àb-lak
my daughter do I not seek for you rest that it may be good for you

וַיֹּאמֶר בְּרוּכָה אַתְּ לַיהוָה בִּתִּי הֵיטַבְתְּ חַסְדֵּךְ
vàyo)mer brvukah )àt là-yy bity héy+àbt xàsdék
and he said you are blessed of יהוָה my daughter you have made good your mercy

אִם-יִגְאָלֵךְ טוֹב יִגְאָל
 )im-yig)alék +vob yig)al
if he will redeem, good, let him redeem

 כִּי כַלָּתֵךְ אֲשֶׁר-אֲהֵבַתֶךְ יְלָדַתּוּ אֲשֶׁר-הִיא טוֹבָה לָךְ מִשִּׁבְעָה בָּנִים
for your daughter-in-law who loves you and bore him is better to you than seven sons
Are those transcriptions useful? I am almost getting to the point where I can read them, but I hate reading transcriptions because I am never quite sure what they are putting in or leaving out in terms of sound. Besides you have to read forwards and backwards at the same time to understand them in relation to the Hebrew letters!

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