"If" and "If not"

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Kenneth Greifer
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"If" and "If not"

Postby Kenneth Greifer » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:19 am

Genesis 28:20-22 basically says a vow "if this and that, then (and) this will happen." In this quote, the word "then" is actually "and." I am curious if Biblical Hebrew always uses "and" or some word for "then", when it has a quote that says "if this, then that." Could it say"If this and this, this will happen", without the word "and" or "then"? In English, you can say, "If this and this happen, I'll do that", without saying "then."

Also, I am curious about "is it not if" which I could only find used in Isaiah 28:25, Genesis 4:7, and 1 Samuel 15:17. If it says "is it not if this and this, then this will happen", would it also need "then" (and) written out?
Kenneth Greifer

kwrandolph
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Re: "If" and "If not"

Postby kwrandolph » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:20 am

Kenneth Greifer wrote:Genesis 28:20-22 basically says a vow "if this and that, then (and) this will happen." In this quote, the word "then" is actually "and." I am curious if Biblical Hebrew always uses "and" or some word for "then", when it has a quote that says "if this, then that." Could it say"If this and this, this will happen", without the word "and" or "then"? In English, you can say, "If this and this happen, I'll do that", without saying "then."


As far as I know, in Biblical Hebrew “and” is always used for “then” in optative sentences, unlike English where the “then” is optional.

Kenneth Greifer wrote:Also, I am curious about "is it not if" which I could only find used in Isaiah 28:25, Genesis 4:7, and 1 Samuel 15:17. If it says "is it not if this and this, then this will happen", would it also need "then" (and) written out?


“Is it not …” הלוא is an interrogative opening, similar to the use of “not” in English in an interrogative. It is so used over 100 times in Tanakh, almost all times without אם. Where אם is used, it follows the rule above, that “then” is written as “and” and it is written out.

Hope this helps.

Karl W. Randolph.

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SteveMiller
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Re: "If" and "If not"

Postby SteveMiller » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:11 am

Kenneth and Karl,
The "and" following "if" in BH seems to be optional.
Gen 13:16 has no "and", but it does have "also".
Gen 18:3, 21; 20:7; 23:8,13 have no "and".
I looked as far as Gen 24.

Also, when the order is inverted as in Gen 18:28,30 there is no "and" as in English.

None of the usages of ‎ הֲל֤וֹא אִם are followed by "and". Besides the 3 Kenneth mentioned, there is also 2Ki 20:15.
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Steve Miller
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http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

Kenneth Greifer
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Re: "If" and "If not"

Postby Kenneth Greifer » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:04 am

Steve,

I am not sure if this matters, but maybe I was looking at quotes that had lists of things after "if", like "if this and this and this, then (and) this would happen." The quotes you mentioned seemed to be "if this, then this." I am just guessing about why this might be true.
Also, the "is it not if" quote you listed 2 Kings 20:15 is really 2 Kings 20:19.
Kenneth Greifer

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SteveMiller
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Re: "If" and "If not"

Postby SteveMiller » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:45 pm

Thanks Kenneth. Yes, I meant 2Kings 20:19. (I should have gotten my reading glasses.)

Here are some compound if's, some with "and" as "then" and some not:
Gen 31:50; Exo 9:2-3; 15:26 compound if, no "and" as "then"
Gen 43:9; Exo 4:8-9 compound if with "and" as "then"

I looked as far as Exo 15
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
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http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

Kenneth Greifer
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Re: "If" and "If not"

Postby Kenneth Greifer » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:11 pm

Steve,

I don't think the Genesis 31:50 example is good because the "then" part of the quote is not really a result of the "if" part of the quote. I don't know how they would say that grammatically, but I hope you understand what I mean.

Exodus 9:2-3 and Exodus 15:26 are really good examples of a few "ifs" without "and" as "then." I am really surprised by those two quotes.

Thank you for taking the time to look them up.
Kenneth Greifer

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SteveMiller
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Re: "If" and "If not"

Postby SteveMiller » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:11 pm

You're very welcome, Kenneth. Yeah, I agree with you about Gen 31:50.
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Steve Miller
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Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

kwrandolph
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Re: "If" and "If not"

Postby kwrandolph » Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:18 pm

From the original question, I understood it as:

If A, then B


Where B is the logical and necessary result of A.

In that construction, the Hebrew אם is followed by a waw followed by the conclusion.

However, in Biblical Hebrew, אם is used in constructs other than the above.

It is used in a compound lexeme:

The compound lexeme כי אם found in over 150 verses, has the meaning of “except” or “unless”, though it has no exact equivalent in English.

The compound lexeme עד אם found in four verses, meaning “until”.

It’s also used in ways not strictly as “if”:

Genesis 4:7 “Should not you do well? Bear up. And should you not do well, …”
Genesis 13:16 “…should a person be able to number … even …”
Genesis 20:7 “…and should you not be causing to return…”

Used in incomplete sentences:

Genesis 18:21 “…and if not…? I intend to know.”

This question is a perfect example of how one cannot say that each word has one word translation in English—the closest word in English to אם is “if”, but אם has a broader range of semantic meaning than does “if” and a translator should take that into account.

My original answer dealt with the “if A then B” question, but I see that other responses brought in these other considerations as well.

Karl W. Randolph.

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SteveMiller
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Re: "If" and "If not"

Postby SteveMiller » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:25 pm

Karl,
Aren't Gen 18:3 & 23:8 "if A then B" cases without the waw conjunction?
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Steve Miller
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Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

kwrandolph
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Re: "If" and "If not"

Postby kwrandolph » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:01 am

SteveMiller wrote:Karl,
Aren't Gen 18:3 & 23:8 "if A then B" cases without the waw conjunction?


I put these as examples of used in ways not strictly as “if”.

One of the signs of a “if A then B” sentence is that B is a logical result of A. In the many examples of used in ways not strictly as “if”, the B is one of many options open to the speaker. Another sign is that these verses can be translated without using “if” without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Karl W. Randolph.


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