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Help with grammar

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posted on Oct, 26 2009 @ 02:10 PM
I'm hoping some Bible scholars, Strong's fans, or even those that paid more attention in English class than I did can shed some light on an issue for me...

I'm reading the following verse...

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Below is the description given by Strong's for the word 'was' in the above sentence:

A primitive root (compare H1933); to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary): - beacon, X altogether, be (-come, accomplished, committed, like), break, cause, come (to pass), continue, do, faint, fall, + follow, happen, X have, last, pertain, quit (one-) self, require, X use.

I have placed the part I'm confused about above in bold. Perhaps if I knew what a Copula and Auxiliary was, then I'd know what they are trying to say.

Can anyone shed some light?

As a side note, I didn't know where to post this, but BTS Religion seemed the best fit.

[edit on 2009.10/26 by the siren]

posted on Nov, 11 2009 @ 04:31 PM
reply to post by the siren

I think that, first, I'll go through the grammar, and then answer the question. I think it would make a little more sense then.


1. In English, there are basically types of sentences; active and passive.

An active sentence puts the emphasis on the thing doing the action rather than the action:

Tom builds a house
Tom built a house

A passive sentence puts the emphasis on the action (what's done) because the "actor" is either unknown, or unimportant:

A house is built
A house was built

In English, passive sentences are always formed using a form of to be.

2. In English, there are two types of verbs; "regular" and "helper".

A regular verb can be used on it's own, because it has a concrete meaning, and they are the vast majority of verbs.

A helper verb can't really be used on it's own because it "has no meaning", for lack of a better phrase. They need to be paired with a more concrete verb (run, write, jump, eat, walk, go, etc.) They, in general, help give a sentence meaning, clarity, emphasis and so forth. As I'm thinking; must, ought to, can, will, must, need, may, shall, be, have, and do are all helper verbs (or in some cases can be).

I must write this paper. → "I must this paper", makes no sense
You may go to the movies. → "You may to the movies", really makes no sense.

This category of verbs can be broken down into two other groups, modal and auxiliary verbs. This isn't too important though because most of these verbs can be put into both groups. The reason that there are two groups is because, depending on how you want to use the verb determines which group, modal or auxiliary, it belongs in. (They each have different functions.)


So, in Strong's definition for "haw-yaw'" when he says that this word, which means "to be" (since it's translated was), isn't used as a copula he's saying this word isn't used to form passive sentences. So, "the darkness was upon the deep" isn't passive; the darkness wasn't put there by someone else, it simply was there. (Some languages don't form passive with "to be" like in English. For example, German forms a passive sentence with the verb that means "to become".)

When Strong says that the verb "haw-yaw'" isn't an auxiliary, he's saying that it isn't a helper verb. Or, in this case, we can assume that the verb has a concrete meaning.

This verb, according to the definition, is always emphatic. That means, that this word is used to provide emphasis. I would think that this has nothing to do with the emphatic voice in English (when we use "do" [I do speak English.]), just simply that it is probably understood to be stressed. Something like, putting italics perhaps?

"...and the darkness was upon the face of the deep."

I hope that that helps you some!

posted on Nov, 12 2009 @ 09:10 AM
reply to post by the siren
haw-yaw' phrases are very common in the Old Testament.
It means, basically, it came to pass. It is the normal way to jump into a story, as a set-up, that there was something important that happened and this is why they are talking about it.
The way to understand the beginning of Genesis is to think of the first three verses as a single sentence with three clauses, the third being the most important, that the spirit of God was moving. Verse 1 is the subordinate clause and the second verse is parenthetical, describing the conditions when creation began.
Mark S. Smith in his new book on Genesis says,

Despite the length of such a sentence, Genesis 1:1-3 falls entirely in line with the openings of creation accounts of Mesopotamia. For example, Emma Elish,. . .begins in this manner. Such introductions start with a clause beginning "when", and often follow with a description of the conditions lacking for life, followed by a "then" statement describing an important initial act of creation.

posted on Dec, 4 2009 @ 03:57 PM
Thanks guys. I've definitely learned a few things from your answers, although the verse is still not crystal to me.

I guess what I'm trying to determine is time-frame.
If the sentence used 'came to be' instead of 'was', it means different things...

If the earth 'came to be' without form, then it sounds as though this took place over an indefinite period of time.
But if the earth 'was' without form, then it sounds like God created it without form.

Do you know what I mean? Any thoughts?

posted on Dec, 6 2009 @ 12:52 AM
reply to post by the siren
The second verse elaborates on the first verse. It does not continue the narrative but describes the initial condition of the earth at the beginning of the story.
There are 98 forms of hayah used in the Bible. You can go to netbible and it breaks it down to each of the different spellings.
Go to the seventh form, which is htyh. That is the transliteration, according to their system, of היתה . If you click on htyh, a page comes up that lists the verses that use that specific spelling. The third one on the list is Psalms 118:22. Click on 118:22 and the verse comes up, and included in the different translations is the Hebrew in the transliterated form. If you hold your cursor over htyh it is highlighted, along with the words in the translations that use it, so you can see where it ends up in the English. In this example, "the stone rejected from being used for construction, htyh the top of the corner". It came to pass that it was this particular thing. Or you could say that it "was" this particular thing, but that is just a way of giving into our own thinking about what language is.
God created the earth, and once it was created, it happened to be this particular thing. Or you cold just say, it was such and such, but if you want to bother seeing what the Hebrew says, it kind of defeats the purpose if you ignore what it actually is saying, in favor of something you can just get by looking at any English Bible.
And the earth, she was an emptiness and a void, is the translation.
The word is the third person feminine qatal forn of HYH and can mean that it is something coming about, opposed to a simple noun sentence that would make it something already in that condition at the time of the narration.

[edit on 6-12-2009 by jmdewey60]

posted on Dec, 8 2009 @ 03:15 PM
reply to post by jmdewey60

Thanks so much for taking the time to help me understand.

That NetBible is pretty cool - I noticed it has some features that e-sword doesn't.

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