This week in Reading Joshua in Hebrew we covered Joshua 5.1–7. The recorded stream can be viewed here on the Hebrew Café’s YouTube channel.
After this long time marker (setting us up at the point where these kings heard something), we have the object of their hearing expressed in an אֲשֶׁר clause—which answers the question “What did these kings hear?”. They heard אֵת אֲשֶׁר־הוֹבִישׁ יְהוָה אֶת־מֵי הַיַּרְדֵּן for the people of Israel to cross over on dry ground. Although it is far more common for כִּי to be used to express the object of thinking/believing or hearing/seeing, we do find it with אֲשֶׁר also.
The last phrase in this setup includes an instance of ktiv–kri in which the consonantal text has עברנו (that is, עָבְרֵנוּ ʿoḇrḗnû “our crossing over”) that should be written as עברם (that is, עָבְרָם ʿoḇrām “their crossing over”).
The next part of the verse tells what happened when these kings heard about the Israel’s supernatural crossing of the Jordan river. The vav on the verb וַיִּמַּס forming the vayyiqṭōl form should not be translated in English. It is simply marking the beginning of a new clause (a “clause marker”): “When all the kings... heard that Yhwh had dried up the waters of the Jordan..., their heart(s) melted....” This happens a lot in Hebrew and sometimes causes problems for beginning students who are trying to get to the heart of the syntax of more complex Hebrew sentences.
The phrase “from before the children of Israel” appears twice in the verse. In the first, we see that the proposition bears the accent mercha, which is a conjunctive accent. For this reason, the dagesh kal is missing from the bet (מִפְּנֵ֥י בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל). In the second, we see the accent tipcha, which is disjunctive. This is why the bet there has the dagesh kal (מִפְּנֵ֖י בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל).
This is basically what we covered in verse 1 of this chapter. Check out the video to see what all we went through in the seven verses that we covered. We’d really love if you could join us during our live streaming sessions! It’s free and so much fun!!