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Isaiah 5:8–9 בתים “housing”?

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:21 am
by kwrandolph
I wonder if there are other examples that can back up this understanding of this passage, in particular the understanding that בתים is a gerund from a verb meaning “to house”? Is there any examples of a verb “to house” found as a verb?

8 הוי מגיעי בית בבית—שדה בשדה יקריבו  עד אפס מקום והושבתם לבדכם בקרב הארץ
9 באזני יהוה צבאות  אם לא בתים רבים לשמה יהיו—גדלים וטובים מאין יושב

8 Woe to those who touch house to house, who cause field to approach field until a space comes to an end you cause yourselves to dwell alone in the middle of the land
9 It is in the ears of the YHWH of armies—if not housing many, the great and pleasing will become desolation without inhabitant.

Quick and dirty, terrible translation, just to give my thoughts and initial question.

Any thoughts?

Karl W. Randolph.

Re: Isaiah 5:8–9 בתים “housing”?

Posted: Wed May 01, 2019 5:11 pm
by Saro Fedele
I see no problem in the term you cited. BTIM is a normal Hebrew word to indicate 'houses'. Moreover, I don't see there any gerundive form.

The same prophet Isaiah utilized BTIM other times, for example, in 65:21. There, the expression ובנו בתים (UBNU BTIM) cannot indicate "and they build housing", but, "and they build houses". The same line of argument we may apply analyzing Isa 6:11 and 22:10.

See, please, also the usage of BTIM made in Exo 1:21 and Jer 29:5.

Saro Fedele.

Re: Isaiah 5:8–9 בתים “housing”?

Posted: Wed May 01, 2019 5:40 pm
by Jason Hare
(1) I don't see where you've touched on the meaning of לשמה at all there.

(2) רבים seems more likely to be modifying בתים ("many houses").

(3) We would expect the pattern to be piel or hiphil on the root בי״ת (if we were trying to come up with something like this). That is, biyut or havatah (nouns) derived from biyet or hevit (similar to hevin).

(4) The mem is not part of the root. It makes no sense for it to be used as a verbal noun on this root.

I don't see how this verse could be read as you're suggesting.

Re: Isaiah 5:8–9 בתים “housing”?

Posted: Wed May 01, 2019 11:38 pm
by kwrandolph
Saro Fedele wrote:I see no problem in the term you cited. BTIM is a normal Hebrew word to indicate 'houses'. Moreover, I don't see there any gerundive form.


Just as in English the gerund is a noun made from a participle that at times refers to an action, so the same form appears in Hebrew. So בתים in this verse is a noun, but is it merely a simple plural noun referring to “houses”, or is it a gerund referring to the action of “housing” people? To me, from the context, it looks as if this is a gerund referring to the action of “housing”.

In English we have “housing” referring to an object that “houses” something else, such as Exodus 25:27, 26:29, 30:4, 36:34 and other verses.

Jason Hare wrote:I don't see where you've touched on the meaning of לשמה at all there.


This particular form is used about 30 times, mostly in Isaiah and Jeremiah, referring to a place whose end condition is desolation.

Jason Hare wrote:רבים seems more likely to be modifying בתים ("many houses").


Yes, the two are connected, “Housing of many”. In which case both would be in plural.

This verse doesn’t make sense of באזני יהוה צבאות at least not to me, without having באזני יהוה צבאות being the lead in to אם לא בתים רבים in which case בתים makes most sense as a gerund. At least that’s how I read it.

Karl W. Randolph.

Re: Isaiah 5:8–9 בתים “housing”?

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 8:51 pm
by Isaac Fried
Jason is right, biyut בּיוּת (from בית, 'house, home') is indeed used now for 'homing' or 'domestication'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

Re: Isaiah 5:8–9 בתים “housing”?

Posted: Thu May 09, 2019 2:46 am
by Jason Hare
Isaac Fried wrote:Jason is right, biyut בּיוּת (from בית, 'house, home') is indeed used now for 'homing' or 'domestication'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

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