אֶ֥ת without a maqqef in Psalm 47.5(4)

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Andrew Chapman
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אֶ֥ת without a maqqef in Psalm 47.5(4)

Postby Andrew Chapman » Thu May 18, 2017 6:21 am

Psalm 47.5(4):

יִבְחַר־לָ֥נוּ אֶת־נַחֲלָתֵ֑נוּ אֶ֥ת גְּאֹ֨ון יַעֲקֹ֖ב אֲשֶׁר־אָהֵ֣ב סֶֽלָה׃

He chooses (/will choose etc) our inheritance - אֶ֥ת - the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.

According to Delitzsch here, אֶ֥ת with a segol and without a maqqef only appears three times in the scriptures. He says that the accent is 'conjunctive', which I think may mean that אֶ֥ת is serving to connect one thing with another.

I can't find אֶת in either Holladay or BDB (which is not to say of course that it is not there).

Holladay, אֵת, II: preposition meaning 'with' etc. 'With' connects one thing with another, so is this the type of meaning that אֶת has here? BDB at II similarly, also denoting proximity.

The other cases are Psalm 60.2(1):

בְּהַצֹּותֹ֨ו׀ אֶ֥ת אֲרַ֣ם נַהֲרַיִם֮ וְאֶת־אֲרַ֪ם צֹ֫ובָ֥ה וַיָּ֤שָׁב יֹואָ֗ב וַיַּ֣ךְ אֶת־אֱדֹ֣ום

when he fought with Aram etc.

and Proverbs 3.12:

כִּ֤י אֶ֥ת אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֶאֱהַ֣ב יְהוָ֣ה יֹוכִ֑יחַ וּ֝כְאָ֗ב אֶת־בֵּ֥ן יִרְצֶֽה׃

For whom the LORD loves etc

where אֶ֥ת doesn't have an obvious English equivalent. Does it perhaps serve to connect the LORD with the one whom He loves?

Coming back to Psalm 47.5, might אֶ֥ת be serving as a sort of marker of apposition - connecting נַחֲלָה with גָּאוֹן?

Thanks very much for your help with this,

Andrew Chapman
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Re: אֶ֥ת without a maqqef in Psalm 47.5(4)

Postby Kirk Lowery » Thu May 18, 2017 8:13 am

Welcome to the Forum, Andrew!

אֵת is -- in this case -- the "official" dictionary entry for the definite direct object (accusative case) marker. It has a "I" in the dictionaries, to indicate there is a second lemma. אֵת II, which is the preposition with. So we have to look at the syntax of the sentence to determine which it is.

So I would agree with your translation and understanding: "...our inheritance, (that is,) the glory of Jacob".

Now. Why is it pointed seghol and why is maqqef missing? This is textual archaeology. We don't have the original manuscripts, so we're forced to make assumptions. We assume that the Hebrew Bible was written without vowels, accents or other diacritic marks. This would follow the contemporary scribal practices of the Phoenicians and at Ugarit in the second millennium B.C. In fact, evidence from Qumran suggests the early texts were probably written using the Phoenician alphabet and that the Aramaic square script we usually associate with Hebrew didn't occur until during or after the exile.

During and after the exile, the influence of Mesopotamian language and culture and the loss of the Temple meant that Jews became less and less fluent in Hebrew, especially reading it. The response was the development of educational centers, the rise of the synagogue and rabbis to promote continuation of Jewish religion and culture. By the time the Dead Sea Scrolls were written, "helps" for the reading of the text were added: a shift to the Aramaic script, the addition of using letters to indicate vowels, especially where there was ambiguity.

Fast forward several hundred years. With the radical dispersal of Jews across the Mediterranean basin, the rabbis realized that their people no longer really understood Hebrew, except those educated in it. And there was a desire to preserve the pronunciation of the text, since the reading (chanting) of the text was now part of the liturgy of Sabbath worship. So the system of diacritics was invented -- vowel points, maqqef, etc. What this does is preserve the interpretation/reading/understanding of the text according to Jewish tradition.

There's one more piece to this puzzle. The passage you cite is poetry. That means the form of the language is important: syllables, assonance, rhyme, meter, etc. The system of accents is sometimes called "cantillation", and are used by Jewish cantors to identify melodies and intonation for the chanting of the text. Each Hebrew word gets an accent. When a maqqef is used to bridge one or more words, the entire unit is treated as one intonational unit: so the word group gets only one accent, as happens with אֶת־נַחֲלָתֵ֑נוּ, unlike the phrase אֶ֥ת גְּאֹ֨ון, where each word has an accent. Accents are either "conjunctive" or "disjunctive", meaning they indicate whether the next word is part of the same phrase (conjunctive) or are two separate phrases (disjunctive). In this case אֶ֥ת has a conjunctive accent, meaning the Masoretes thought this word belongs with the next word. When conjunctive accents are used, vowels often get shortened, e.g., tsere to seghol. That's why the most frequent vocalization of אֵת I is with seghol, with or without the maqqef.

The lack of a maqqef suggests that the scansion of the line required another accent, so the normal maqqef was omitted and the conjunctive accent added to indicate the syntactic relationship (direct object marker + object).

Whew! I hope this is helpful. I've glossed over a lot of technical stuff and more detailed history. Sorry if I covered things you already know, but this is the Beginners' Forum, after all. ;)
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Re: אֶ֥ת without a maqqef in Psalm 47.5(4)

Postby Andrew Chapman » Thu May 18, 2017 12:22 pm

Thanks very much indeed, Kirk, that's most helpful. I am afraid I have been rather filtering out the accents while trying to learn other things. Shades of Wenham (NT Greek), perhaps, but also Page Kelley's Grammar, which I have made a start with. I have now looked up his table of accents at the back of the Handbook.

I did wonder if it was just "I", but then thought that was too simple.. Thanks again,
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Re: אֶ֥ת without a maqqef in Psalm 47.5(4)

Postby Jemoh66 » Fri May 19, 2017 12:07 am

Andrew Chapman wrote:Psalm 47.5(4):

and Proverbs 3.12:

כִּ֤י אֶ֥ת אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֶאֱהַ֣ב יְהוָ֣ה יֹוכִ֑יחַ וּ֝כְאָ֗ב אֶת־בֵּ֥ן יִרְצֶֽה׃

For whom the LORD loves etc

where אֶ֥ת doesn't have an obvious English equivalent. Does it perhaps serve to connect the LORD with the one whom He loves?

Thanks very much for your help with this,

Andrew Chapman


No, the אֶ֥ת here is serving the same purpose as before a noun phrase, it is an accusative marker for the relative pronoun אֲשֶׁ֣ר. "the Lord loves et asher.
Jonathan E Mohler
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Baptist Bible Theological Seminary

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Re: אֶ֥ת without a maqqef in Psalm 47.5(4)

Postby Andrew Chapman » Fri May 19, 2017 5:43 am

Thanks, Jonathan, that makes sense now I realise that this is meaning 'I', and that the merkha is, as I understand it, effectively substituting for the maqqef as in Psalm 47.5.
Andrew Chapman


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