Something to Brag About: Jeremiah 9:22–23 (Part 1: Conjunctions) – Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields

Lee Fields on 2 weeks ago. Tagged under ,,,.


My daughter shared with me a verse she decided to memorize as she was reading through Jeremiah. It is a great verse for God’s people to know and there are several interesting and instructional features as well.

Hebrew vs. English Versification

The first thing this verse illustrates is that versification sometimes differs between the Hebrew and the English. In this section of Jeremiah, the Hebrew numbering includes the English 9:1 as 8:23, throwing off the numbering one verse. They reunite at 10:1. This post will follow Hebrew numbering with…

Read more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Gen 1:2: A Disjunctive/Offline Clause

Lee Fields on 3 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

In last month’s blog, we looked at different ways Gen 1:1 can be understood with respect to the following verses. In this blog, we want to look at v. 2 and analyze how vv. 1–3 relate.

Of Conjunctions and Clauses

The key to identifying clauses is noting how they are joined together. There are three categories of clause connections: (1) those connected by Waw, (2) those connected by another conjunction or subordinating word, and (3) those without any conjunction whatsoever. For the conjunctions, you may like to read Hebrew for the Rest of Us, 81–85, and especially on Waw, pp. 81–82.

Waw is the king of conjunctions. It is always prefixed to a word; it…

Read more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Is Gen 1:1 a Subordinate Idea or a Main Clause?

Lee Fields on 4 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Dead Sea Scroll - Isaiah ScrollThe creation stories in Genesis are fodder for the arguments of Bible believers and skeptics alike. Even Gen 1:1, one of the Bible’s most familiar verses, is not free from dispute on linguistic grounds. The traditional translation is “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

But alternatives have been offered. Here is a sampling:



At issue structurally is how v. 1 relates to vv. 2…

Read more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Understanding English Ps 37: Part 2

Lee Fields on 8 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Westminster_Psalter_DavidThis post concludes a post begun last month on the verbs from the root חרה. Of interest is Ps 37 where it is translated three times with fret. Since the English word is not used much, it forms an interesting object of study.

Most major versions use the word fret in Ps 37 (NIV, NASB, ESV, NRSV, KJV). Fret means “devour, eat, rub, chafe,” and then…

Read more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Understanding English Ps 37: Part 1

Lee Fields on 9 months ago. Tagged under ,,.


Fret is not a word people use very often, but in Ps 37 it appears three times: vv. 1, 7, 8. Most major versions use the word fret in Ps 37 (NIV, NASB, ESV, NRSV, KJV). Miriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, lists six different entries for fret. The one we are interested in is defined as “devour, eat, rub, chafe,” and then metaphorically “to cause to suffer emotional strain,” or “to become vexed or worried.”

These notions of the meaning of fret all fit the context of Ps 37:1 and 7, but v. 8 seems a little less appropriate. Verse 8 reads (NIV):

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.

Read more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Can a Person Change or Not? Jer 13:23

Lee Fields on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

A friend of mine read Jer 13:23 in the NIV and in the Amplified Bible and wondered about the apparent contradiction. This gives an opportunity to dig into a conjunction. The chart below gives the Hebrew, letters for each line in the verse, and three versions for comparison.


The NIV says that the people cannot change, while the Amplified and ESV seem to say that change is possible.

jeremiahRead more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – The Timing of the Lord’s Return to Jerusalem in Zech 1:16

Lee Fields on 11 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Tissot_Zechariah (1)The Setting

Zechariah and Haggai were prophesying when the Jews had returned from Babylonian exile and were supposed to be rebuilding the temple. However, they had encountered opposition and had become so discouraged that work had stopped. The Lord sends these prophets to encourage the people to resume and complete the work. This opening vision begins a series that continues through ch. 6. It serves in part  to affirm to the Jews that the Lord is with them in spite of the difficulties they are encountering.

Time in the Translations

English translations show an interesting different translation of Zechariah 1:16. Please note the chart…

Read more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Swirling Tenses in Ps 2:1–3

Lee Fields on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,.

Fields 1

The Forms and Translation

The NIV, as do all the most common versions, render all the verbs of Ps 2:1–3 with the English simple present. This English tense refers to action that is portrayed generally or is repeatedly true. It does not usually portray action as currently in progress, for which English uses the progressive present tense: “are conspiring,” etc.

The Hebrew, however, shows variation. The four verbs and their tense-aspects are:

Fields 2

If this were a narrative text instead of poetry, one…

Read more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields — The Tree of the Knowing Good and Evil (Gen 2:9)

Lee Fields on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,,,.


Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 5.28.38 PMThis well-known verse describes the situation in the Garden of Eden before the fall. There is great theological import in all of these chapters on creation, but what concerns us here is an interesting point of grammar, the last clause, וְעֵץ הַדַּעַת טֹוב וָרָע (weʿēṣ haddaʿaṯ ṭôḇ wārāʿ)

What is the Problem?

The usual analysis of the grammar is that הַדַּעַת is a noun with the article in the construct with the next noun meaning “the knowledge of.” The difficulty with this is that if the article is used to mark the determination (or “definiteness”) in a construct chain, only the…

Read more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields — When Does What Happen? Verb Shifts in Ps 24:2–6

Lee Fields on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,.


There is debate about the nature of Hebrew verbs. Are they primarily tenses, moods, or aspects? I follow the view that aspect is not the most prominent notion, but rather that time and mood are dominant (see recommended works at the end of the post).

The significance of seeing aspect as not the most prominent is reflected my choices for the names of the Hebrew tenses. The Perfect (completed action), and Imperfect (incompleted action), are really misnamed with respect to their essential import. Better is to use the form names, Qatal and Yiqtol.

To understand the Hebrew verb routine texts ought to be taken as normative. Routine is best seen in Hebrew prose. Poetry, almost by definition, uses deviations from the norm. Still,…

Read more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields — Standing with the Lord (Ps 24:4)

Lee Fields on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,,.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 9.54.49 PM Psalm 24 is a hymn to the Lord that praises him as owner of all creation because he is the creator and sustainer (vv. 1–2). The next stanza describes the person who has fellowship with the Lord (vv. 3–6). The final stanza is a praise to the Lord (vv. 7–10).

The middle stanza begins with the question of who can stand in the presence of this awesome creator Lord. Read more

Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields — Build or Help Build (Zechariah 6:15)?

Lee Fields on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

Reconstruction_of_the_temple_of_Jerusalem Two of the things to look for in interpreting the biblical text is the roles of God and of people (see Grasping God’s Word, chs. 3–5 for a list and discussion of 23 things to look for, including these two). One of the important features in Zechariah is the role of the Gentiles in the plan of God.

The Construction of the Second Temple

This was a time when the Gentiles were not allowed to participate in the rebuilding of the Temple. At that time, Gentiles, who had been exiled into Judea by the Assyrians, approached Zerubbabel asking to help build the Temple, because “like you, we seek your God and have…

Read more