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Oath Formulas in Biblical Hebrew
 9781575066288

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Oath Formulas in Biblical Hebrew

Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic edited by

M. O’Connor † and Cynthia L. Miller The series Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic is devoted to the ancient West Semitic languages, including Hebrew, Aramaic, Ugaritic, and their near congeners. It includes monographs, collections of essays, and text editions informed by the approaches of linguistic science. The material studied will span from the earliest texts to the rise of Islam.  1. The Verbless Clause in Biblical Hebrew: Linguistic Approaches, edited by Cynthia L. Miller  2. Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew: An Introduction, by Joshua Blau  3. A Manual of Ugaritic, by Pierre Bordreuil and Dennis Pardee  4. Word Order in the Biblical Hebrew Finite Clause: A Syntactic and Pragmatic Analysis of Preposing, by Adina Moshavi  5. Oath Formulas in Biblical Hebrew, by Blane Conklin

Oath Formulas in Biblical Hebrew

Blane Conklin

Winona Lake, Indiana Eisenbrauns 2011

Copyright © 2011 Eisenbrauns All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

www.eisenbrauns.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Conklin, Blane. Oath formulas in biblical Hebrew / Blane Conklin.    p.  cm. — (Linguistic studies in ancient West Semitic ; 5) Includes bibliographical references and indexes. ISBN 978-1-57506-203-7 (hardback : alk. paper) 1.  Hebrew language—Syntax.  2.  Hebrew language— Morphology.  3.  Bible. O.T.—Language, style.  4.  Oaths in the Bible.  I. Title. PJ4707.C66 2011 492.4′5­—dc22 2011003082 The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials. ANSI Z39.48-1984.†Ê

Contents List of Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   x 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1 1.1.  The Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2.  Oaths as Speech Acts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.3.  The General Structure of Oaths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.4.  Previous Scholarship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.5.  Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 1  2  4  8 12

2. The Authenticating Element . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13 2.1.  Raising of a Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 2.1.1.  Mention of Hand-Raising as a Reference to OathTaking 15 2.1.2.  Use of Hand-Raising within the Oath Itself  16

2.2.  Invocation of Witness(es) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 2.3. Swearing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 2.3.1.  Mention of the Verb šbʿ in the Narrative Context  19 2.3.2.  Use of the Verb šbʿ within an Oath  19 2.3.3.  Use of the Verb šbʿ within an Adjuration  21

2.4.  “Thus Will X Do to Y” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 2.5.  “(By) the Life of X” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 2.5.1.  Mention of “Life of X” Outside of Oaths  27 2.5.2.  Use of “Life of X” as Part of an Actual Oath  27

2.6. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

3. Conditionally Formulated Oaths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  31 3.1.  Summary of Secondary Literature on Conditional-Clause Syntax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 3.2.  Special Study of Conditional-Clause Syntax in 1 Samuel . . 33 3.2.1.  Nominal Clause  34 3.2.1.1.  Nominal Clause as Initial Constituent  34 3.2.1.2.  Nominal Clause Preceded by Single Constituent 34 3.2.2.  Perfective Verb  34 3.2.2.1.  Perfective Verb as Initial Constituent  35

v

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Contents 3.2.2.2.  Perfective Verb Preceded by Single Constituent 35 3.2.2.3.  Perfective Verb Is Gapped  36 3.2.3.  Imperfective Verb  36 3.2.3.1.  Imperfective Verb as Initial Constituent  36 3.2.3.2.  Imperfective Verb Preceded by Single Constituent 37

3.3.  Oath Content Introduced by ʾm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 3.3.1.  Nominal Clause  38 3.3.2.  Perfective Verb  38 3.3.3.  Imperfective Verb  39 3.3.3.1.  Imperfective Verb as Initial Constituent  39 3.3.3.2.  Imperfective Verb Preceded by Single Constituent 40

3.4.  Oath Content Introduced by ʾm-lʾ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 3.4.1.  Nominal Clause  41 3.4.1.1.  Nominal Clause as Initial Constituent  41 3.4.1.2.  Nominal Clause Preceded by Two or More Constituents 41 3.4.2.  Perfective Verb  42 3.4.2.1.  Perfective Verb as Initial Constituent  42 3.4.2.2.  Perfective Verb Preceded by Single Constituent 42 3.4.3.  Imperfective Verb  43 3.4.3.1.  Imperfective Verb as Initial Constituent  43 3.4.3.2.  Imperfective Verb Preceded by Single Constituent 43 3.4.3.3.  Imperfective Verb Preceded by Two or More Constituents 43

3.5.  Conclusion on Conditionally Framed Oaths . . . . . . . . . 44

4. Oaths Marked with ky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 4.1.  Summary of ky Syntax from Secondary Literature . . . . . . 46 4.2.  Special Study of ky Syntax in 1 Samuel . . . . . . . . . . . 47 4.3.  Oath Content Introduced by ky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 4.3.1.  Ky as the Complementizer to the Explicit Predicate 50 4.3.1.1.  The Verb šbʿ ‘To Swear’  50 4.3.1.2.  Nominal Clause “X Is a Witness”  51 4.3.2.  Ky as the Complementizer to the Elided Predicate šbʿ 51 4.3.3.  Syntactical Complications Common to Both Types (§4.3.1 and §4.3.2)  52 4.3.3.1. Resumptive ky 52

Contents

vii 4.3.3.2.  Full or Partial Conditional Clause within ky Clause 54

4.4. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

5. Exceptions and Objections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 5.1.  Oath Content Formulated in Other Ways . . . . . . . . . . . 60 5.1.1.  Oath Content Marked with Particle ʾšr 60 5.1.2.  Oath Content Marked with Particle mh 61 5.1.3.  Oath Content with No Marker  62 5.1.3.1.  Oath Elements Reversed  62 5.1.3.2.  Morphosyntactical Constraint  62 5.1.3.3.  Poetical Constraint  63 5.1.3.4.  Oath Content as Full Conditional Sentence  63 5.1.3.5.  Contextual Variant  64 5.1.3.6.  No Apparent Explanation  64

5.2.  Relationship of Markers of Oath Content to Authenticating Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 5.3.  The Alleged Function of ky-ʾm as an Oath Marker . . . . . . 66 5.3.1.  Weak Examples  68 5.3.2.  No Oath in Context  69 5.3.3.  Two Particles Function Separately  73

5.4.  Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

6. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76

7. Appendix: Oath Formulas in Other Semitic Languages . . . . . . . 79 7.1.  Northwest Semitic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 7.1.1. Ugaritic  79 7.1.2.  Old Aramaic Dialects  80 7.1.2.1.  Old Aramaic  81 7.1.2.2.  Official Aramaic  81

7.2. Akkadian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 7.2.1.  Mention of Oath Speech Acts  82 7.2.1.1.  Verb of Swearing  82 7.2.1.2.  “Life of X”  83 7.2.1.3.  Touching of Throat  84 7.2.1.4. Curse  84 7.2.2.  Authenticating Formulas  85 7.2.2.1.  Mention of Precious Entity  85 7.2.2.2.  Verb of Swearing  86 7.2.2.3. Witnesses  86 7.2.2.4.  May the Gods Strike Me  87 7.2.3.  Oath Content  87 7.2.3.1.  Formulated as an Asseverative Clause  88 7.2.3.2.  Formulated as an Incomplete Conditional Clause 90

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Contents 7.2.4.  Akkadian Summary  92

7.3.  Classical Arabic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 7.3.1.  Authenticating Formulas  93 7.3.1.1.  Life of X  93 7.3.1.2.  Verb of Swearing  94 7.3.1.3. Particles wa- and ta- 94 7.3.2.  Oath Content  94 7.3.2.1.  Negative Particles lā and mā 94 7.3.2.2.  Asseverative Particle la 95 7.3.2.3.  Asseverative Particle ʾinna 95 7.3.3.  Arabic Summary  95

7.4. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96

Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Indexes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 Index of Authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .103 Index of Scripture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .104

List of Tables Table 1.  Conditional Protases in 1 Samuel . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Table 2.  Conditional Oaths with ʾm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Table 3.  Conditional Oaths with ʾm-lʾ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Table 4.  Summary of Tables 1, 2, and 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Table 5.  Conditional Clauses in Oaths Following ky . . . . . . . . 55 Table 6.  Correlation of Authenticating Elements and Oath Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Table 7.  Hebrew Lexicons Identifying ky-ʾm as Oath Marker . . . . 66 Table 8.  Ky-ʾm in the Major Versions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

ix

Abbreviations General Adv Adverb AO tablets in the collections of the Musée du Louvre BH Biblical Hebrew Coh Cohortative; prefix conjugation verb that by form or by syntax is demonstrably volitive (first person) AT Alalakh tablets Conj Conjunction DN Divine Name Imv Imperative; second-person volitive InfA Infinite absolute InfC Infinitive construct Juss Jussive; prefix conjugation verb that by form or by syntax is demonstrably volitive LB Late Babylonian LXX Septuagint MA Middle Assyrian MB Middle Babylonian MT Masoretic Text NA Neo-Assyrian NB Neo-Babylonian NC nominal/verbless clause Neg Negative particle njpsv Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures; new Jewish Publication Society Version nrsv New Revised Standard Version OB Old Babylonian OAkk Old Akkadian OAss Old Assyrian Obj Object PN Personal Name Pred Predicate PrPh Prepositional Phrase Qatal suffix conjugation verb, perfective in aspect RS registration numbers of Ugaritic texts from Ras Shamra SB Standard Babylonian Subj Subject

x

Abbreviations

xi

Weq Wayy Yiqtol

Weqatal, imperfective in aspect Wayyiqtol, perfective in aspect prefix conjugation verb, imperfective in aspect

AbB

Altbabylonische Briefe in Umschrift und Übersetzung. Edited by F. R. Kraus. Leiden, 1964– Assyrian and Babylonian Letters Belonging to the Kouyunjik Collections of the British Museum. Edited by R. F. Harper. 14 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1892–1914 Alter Orient und Altes Testament Archives royales de Mari Archives royales de Mari (texts in transliteration and translation) F. Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs. Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Oxford, 1907 Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Edited by K. Elliger and W. Rudolph. Stuttgart, 1984 Babylonian Historical Texts Relating to the Capture and Downfall of Babylon. Translated by S. Smith. London, 1924 Babylonian Inscriptions in the Collection of J. B. Nies The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Edited by A. L. Oppenheim et al. Chicago, 1956– Cuneiform Texts from Cappadocian Tablets in the British Museum Corpus des tablettes en cunéiformes alphabétiques. Edited by A. Herdner. Paris, 1963 Dictionary of Classical Hebrew. Edited by D. J. A. Clines. Sheffield, 1993– Die El-Amarna-Tafeln. Edited by J. A. Knudtzon. 2 vols. Leipzig, 1915. Reissued, Aalen, 1964 Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar. Edited by E. Kautsch. Translated by A. E. Cowley. 2nd ed. Oxford, 1910 L. Koehler, W. Baumgartner, and J. J. Stamm. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Translated and edited under supervision of M. E. J. Richardson. 5 vols. Leiden, 1994–2000 Inscriptions cunéiformes du Kultépé Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society H. Donner and W. Röllig. Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften. 3 vols. Wiesbaden, 1962–64 Keilschrifttexte aus Assur verschiedenen Inhalts Mémoires de la Délégation en Perse Mitteilungen der Vorderasiatisch-Aegyptischen Gesellschaft Oriental Institute Publications Le Palais Royal d’Ugarit Revue d’assyriologie et d’archéologie orientale Tablettes cappadociennes Textes cunéiformes du Louvre. Paris, 1910–

Reference Works ABL AOAT ARM ARMT BDB BHS BHT BIN CAD CCT CTA DCH EA GKC HALOT ICK JRAS KAI KAV MDP MVAG OIP PRU RA TC TCL

xii VAB YOS

Abbreviations Vorderasiatische Bibliothek Yale Oriental Series, Babylonian Texts

Chapter 1

Introduction 1.1.  The Problem The eponymous protagonist of the biblical story of Ruth, a Moabite widow, is so desperate to follow her widowed mother-in-law back to Israel that she swears an oath. Regardless of the translation one may choose, the sense is the same: Ruth promises to stick by Naomi’s side for at least as long as they both shall live. Ruth’s intention with respect to the two widows’ proximity once they cross the final river is not unanimous in the translations. According to the Nrsv, Ruth says: (1)  May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well,   if even death parts me from you! The Njpsv is representative of many other translations with its rendering: (2)  Thus and more may the Lord do to me   if anything but death parts me from you. The difference may seem trivial, but the contradiction between the highlighted phrases is total. The author intended for Ruth to say that death was either excluded from or included in the things that would part her from Naomi. Either death will not ultimately separate them, or it will, in Ruth’s view. The issue here is not a theological one. There are many other religious texts devoted to the question of the afterlife. This text does not address this question, nor does it provide an answer (as if any text could). Happily, it does not appear that most scholarly treatments of this text require it to bear this burden. Nor is this an archaeological issue. Commentators who favor the former translation point to burial customs in which families’ bones are kept together and claim that this is what Ruth was referring to (Campbell 1975: 74–75; Hubbard 1988: 118). But Ruth explicitly addresses the issue of burial in the immediately preceding context of her oath. Furthermore, the archaeological evidence of ancient burial customs cannot answer the question of what Ruth was trying to say in this particular passage. 1

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Rather, the issue is of a linguistic nature. What does the Hebrew phrase mean? (3)  koh yaʿaśɛh yhwh lî wəḵoh yosîp   kî hammɔweṯ yaprîḏ bênî ûḇêneḵ Unfortunately, the most readily accessible linguistic answers lead us nowhere. They tend to focus on slippery notions of “emphasis,” such as “the emphatic position of hammāweṯ” (invoked by two commentators, who draw opposite conclusions from it: Hubbard 1988: 114 n. 11, 119; Bush 1996: 70), or the “emphatic” particle ky (Bush 1996: 70). What is perhaps most perplexing is that nearly every translation, whether it shares the first (“death will not”) or second (“death will”) interpretation, constructs the highlighted phrase as a conditional protasis. If ky could be translated ‘if’ in this context, the first interpretation would be required. But there is a specific, clearly identifiable circumstance in which ky can function as a conditional particle, and this is not it. Furthermore, the student of Hebrew should notice that this would be an unusual sequence for the apodosis and the protasis in a conditional clause. Normal Hebrew usage is for the protasis to come first. Likewise, no favors are done for the second interpretation when, under the entry for ky, HALOT claims (under the influence of W. Rudolph) that it means ‘only’ (p. 470b). Such a stab in the dark is, with or without the support of the eminent Hebraist, an ad hoc solution at best. Lest it appear at this point that we may never know for sure what the widowed Moabitess swore, we can be reassured that the solution to our problem is fairly straightforward. The first step is to recognize that Ruth’s statement is an oath. Oaths often employ formulaic, elliptical phrases. Therefore, it is necessary to gather together in one place as many of these formulas as possible so that the patterns, tendencies, and divergences may be seen within a larger matrix. This book is based on this gathering of data. 1.2.  Oaths as Speech Acts It is necessary before embarking on this study to review what an oath is. An oath may involve an assertion (whether an affirmation or a denial) concerning a state of affairs in the past or present. It may also involve a promise of something in the future. But an oath is more than a mere assertion or a mere promise. It also includes a statement of sincerity or earnestness: the person who swears the oath is committed to certain consequences or sanctions. At the very least, an oath (whether assertory or promissory) must satisfy the stakeholders that the person uttering the oath really means what she is asserting or promising. We cannot proceed too much further on the subject of oaths without addressing the linguistic field of pragmatics and, specifically, speech act theory. This study of the way that language is used in communication is embodied in

Oaths as Speech Acts  1.2. 

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the title of one of the pioneering works in the field by J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words. In a basic sense, any utterance that adheres to a grammar and has some meaning is a speech act. Austin used the term locution to refer to utterances on this level (Austin 1962: 94). In addition, every utterance contains within it some force or intention. Austin called this the illocutionary act within an utterance (1962: 99). With this, Austin guarded against the facile distinction that philosophers and linguists often made between descriptive and constative utterances, on the one hand, and performative utterances, on the other. Locutionary and illocutionary acts are only abstractions; “every genuine speech act is both” (1962: 147). Nevertheless, Austin did not abandon the term performative but noted that some utterances are clearly more explicit or transparent than others in highlighting the illocutionary force contained within them (1962: 146, 150). The sentence “You are under arrest,” when spoken by an officer to a suspect, is more explicitly performative than the sentence “The suspect was arrested.” In this study of Biblical Hebrew oaths, it may be necessary to invoke the term performative in a limited context for situations in which a speaker is actually represented in the text as uttering an oath. In BH, the performative is generally expressed with the suffix conjugation of the verb—the perfective (Waltke and O’Connor 1990, §30.5.1d). In my study below, I will indicate this use of the perfective by adding “hereby” to the translation. However, I will endeavor to avoid the gratuitous use of the term performative by employing another distinction invoked by philosophers and linguists, the distinction between use and mention. The most common application of the use-mention distinction is in the employment of conventions such as quotation marks or italics to set apart selected words and phrases. In the previous paragraph, and in this sentence, I mention the phrase “You are under arrest.” I am treating the phrase as a thing, contrasting it to another phrase within quotation marks. However, when the phrase is uttered by an officer in an appropriate setting, the officer is using the phrase. Another example of this distinction is in the following pair of sentences: (4)  Michael was a brilliant scholar. “Michael” is a biblical name. In the first sentence, the proper name is being used to refer to a person. In the second sentence, the name is being mentioned and referred to as an entity in itself. We will employ the use-mention distinction in a slightly different way. I will distinguish between passages that mention an oath speech act, for example, “Moses swore an oath,” and passages in which a character uses an oath, for example, “I hereby swear that I did not do it.”

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1.3.  The General Structure of Oaths In the previous section, I noted that an oath broadly consists of two elements: (1) a statement of sincerity, or, as I shall refer to it throughout my study, an authenticating element; and (2) the actual content of the oath. An oath may elaborate on these elements or add others, but at a minimum, an oath must contain these two elements. Without the first, we are left with only an assertion or a promise. Without the second, we have the stuff of which profane “swearing” is made (see below). In his treatment of illocutionary acts, John Searle provided a linguistic rationale for this binary structure in oaths (Searle 1969: 30–31). He noted that illocutionary acts contain an “indicator of illocutionary force” and an “indicator of propositional content.” The first shows how the proposition is to be taken, and the second is the content itself. Though Searle located these indicators within the same sentence, we can apply the distinction to the larger speech act of the oath. The “indicator of illocutionary force” corresponds to the authenticating element; the “indicator of propositional content” corresponds to the actual content of the oath. In addition to this binary structure, we will observe that oaths partake heavily of ellipsis. The formulaic nature of oaths is one contributing factor to the use of ellipsis. Familiar formulas tend to truncate over time under the pressures of familiarity and convenience. Another factor in oath ellipsis is language taboo. In some cultures, it is risky business to mention explicitly the possible unsavory consequences of bad behavior. These consequences usually have a religious and/or legal dimension to them. This helps explain the connection between formal oaths and profane “oaths” and why a language’s inventory of “swear words” often consists of religious and legal language, as well as language from the copulatory, genital, and excretory realm. These apparently incongruous spheres (sacred and vulgar) have in common the fact that both spheres involve language taboos. Language that is suppressed in certain social contexts, whether because it is extremely sacred or because it is extremely vulgar, will tend to surface in social contexts in which it is safe or in the mouths of those who do not concern themselves with the social context in which it is suppressed. Among Australian Aborigines, the conventional means of swearing in a moment of shock, pain, or surprise consists of invoking the name of a dead relative, a sacred entity whose mention is taboo. Approximately 95% of the oaths in BH that we will examine in this study involve elision. We can now survey the wider cultural and linguistic world of oaths. Since oath content can be as unique as any assertion of promise one can imagine, the sampling of cross-cultural oath formulas that follows will not feature the content element as much as the authenticating element. The examples below are taken from Classical Greek and Latin, two Bantu dialects, older forms of English, contemporary English, and the Hebrew Bible.

The General Structure of Oaths  1.3. 

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The Hippocratic Oath is one of the most famous oaths in history and is still invoked today. Though it does not employ ellipsis, it does elaborate on both of the two required elements of oaths. It begins with one of the most common means of authenticating an oath, by invoking an entity that is sacred or precious to the swearer: (5)  I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and Hygieia, and Panacea, and all the gods and goddesses as my witnesses, that. . . . 1 Modern versions of the Hippocratic Oath substitute “in the presence of the Almighty, and before my family, my teachers, and my peers” for the Greek gods and goddesses of the original oath. Several lengthy clauses stipulate the various terms of the oath and are introduced by what could be called a summary of the oath content: (6)  . . . that, according to my ability and judgement, I will keep this Oath and this contract: . . . The oath closes with another authenticating element, an explication of the consequences for keeping or not keeping the oath: (7)  So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my fate. This expression is a fairly mild form of a self-curse, or self-adjuration. This form of authentication is related to the invocation of an honored entity, since one’s own life is a valued entity. The swearer may put his own life at risk for the sake of the veracity of his words. In other oaths from the classical period, we find other examples of swearing by an honored entity to authenticate an oath. For example, in Ovid’s Amores, we find: (8)  It was, I remember, only the other day that she swore by her own eyes and by mine; it was mine that felt the smart. (Book III, Elegy III) And in Vergil’s Aeneid, we read: (9)  I swear by both our lives. (Book IV, line 357) Among the speakers of Kirundi and Kinyarwanda, mutually intelligible Bantu dialects spoken in Burundi and Rwanda, respectively, the traditional pre-Christian oath authenticator implicated the swearer (and others) in serious 1.  Translated by Michael North 2002.

1.3.  The General Structure of Oaths 

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consequences for failure to uphold the truth of one’s words (Masagara 1997: 387–89): (10)  I would rather kill you [than lie to you]. I would rather be one who killed my child [than lie to you]. The traditional forms were not fixed; they could be created on the spot. Yet because the pattern was familiar and expected, these forms were elliptical, leaving the latter half of the comparative phrase unspoken. Since the advent of Christian proselytizing at the end of the nineteenth century, oath authentication in these cultures has taken on a more ambiguous form (Masagara 2001: 328): (11)  It is God’s truth. It is Jesus’ truth. It is God’s justice. In older forms of English, the language abounded with means of authenticating the truth of one’s oath by appealing to an honored entity. In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, we find: (12)  By my fader soule. . . . By my moodres soule. . . . As helpe me God. . . . For Cristes sweet tree. . . . On my porthors [breviary], here I make an ooth. Romeo tells Juliet: “By yonder blessed moon, I swear.” But Juliet objects, indirectly indicating the qualities desired in an object by which one should swear: “Swear not by . . . the inconstant moon.” In contemporary English, oath-takers may invoke a precious entity: (13)  On the lives of my children/grandchildren. . . . On my mother’s grave. . . . So help me God. . . . As God is my witness. . . . Oaths may also be authenticated with a form of the self-curse: (14)  May God strike me dead. . . . I’ll be damned. . . . This brings us to the oaths in Biblical Hebrew. With our example from Ruth 1:17 as a model, we see that Hebrew oaths consist of two parts. The first part is the authenticating element: (15)  koh yaʿaśɛh yhwh lî wəḵoh yosîp. . . .   Thus will Yahweh do to me, and thus will he add. . . .

The General Structure of Oaths  1.3. 

7

This is a generic self-curse formula. Other authenticators used in Hebrew oaths include the simple swearing formula (1 Sam 3:14): (16)  nišbaʿtî ləḇêṯ ʿelî ʾim-yiṯkapper ʿawon bêṯ-ʿelî . . .   I hereby swear to the house of Eli . . . And a formula referencing a valued entity (Gen 42:15): (17)  ḥê parʿoh   (By) the life of Pharaoh. . . . As for the content of oaths in Biblical Hebrew, there are two distinctive ways of expressing that are most common. One of them is the use of the particle ky and is found in the example from Ruth 1:17: (18)  koh yaʿaśɛh yhwh lî wəḵoh yosîp kî hammɔweṯ yaprîḏ bênî ûḇêneḵ. Thus will Yahweh do to me and thus will he add;   [I swear] that (only) death will separate me from you. As my translation indicates, I agree with interpretations of the passage that represent Ruth as saying that death (and only death) will separate her from her mother-in-law. However, my translation does not contain a conditional clause, as most translations do. In ch. 4, I will address this means of formulating the content of oaths in Hebrew. The second way to express the content of a Hebrew oath is as a conditional protasis (2 Kgs 6:31): (19)  koh-yaʿaśɛh-lî ʾɛlohîm wəḵoh yôsip ʾim-yaʿamoḏ roʾš ʾɛlîšɔʿ ben-šɔpɔṭ ʿɔlɔyw hayyôm. Thus will God do to me, and thus will he add,   if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on him today. It has long been believed that there is a third way to introduce the content of an oath in Hebrew. The compound particle ky-ʾm has been thought to mark positive oaths. However, I will argue in ch. 5 that it is never used in this manner. The primary problems that this book sets out to address are: the functional unity of the various authenticating formulas, the origin and morphosyntactic function of the various means to mark the oath content, and the relationship between these two elements in Biblical Hebrew oaths. In addition to these primary goals, this study will contribute to a better understanding of the Hebrew particles and clauses in general, and it will provide improved interpretations of some difficult passages in the Hebrew Bible.

1.4.  Previous Scholarship 

8

1.4.  Previous Scholarship The grammatical and syntactic study of oath formulas in Biblical Hebrew has been confined to a few paragraphs in grammar textbooks and to articles or treatments of other topics of which oaths are a subset—for example, clauses with the particle ky. No detailed study focused solely on the morphosyntax of oaths has been produced. There have been studies written on the semantics, phenomenology, imagery, literary use, or theology of biblical oaths and curses, 2 but that is not the primary concern of this book. The nineteenth-century grammarians Gesenius, Ewald, and König laid the foundations for all later studies. Gesenius observed that the conditional particle ʾim “steht im Anfange eines Schwurs für nicht, ʾim loʾ für ja! wahrhaftig.” He offered two possible explanations for this counter-intuitive state of affairs. First, he suggested that the particle ʾim in oaths may originate from its use as an interrogative particle when used in conjunction with interrogative h-, so that h- and ʾim both elicit a negative sense, while haloʾ and ʾim loʾ elicit a positive sense, ‘surely’. However, he preferred the second explanation, that the construction involves an ellipsis of an apodosis, and he identified this apodosis as the curse formula “thus will God do to me, and thus will he add,” which appears 12 times in the Hebrew Bible, though Gesenius himself noted, without furthur explanation, that this formula is used with the particle ky as well. He concluded by noting the existence of another oath formula that does not involve a curse, “die keine Verwünschung enthalten,” and this is ḥay X, which he interpreted to mean ‘as X lives’. Ewald did not add anything new to the use of conditional formulations. However, he was the first to posit the asseverative function of the compound particle ky-ʾm to introduce positive oaths. 3 König presented a relatively extensive discussion of oath formulas. He did not delve too deeply into what we are calling the “authenticating formulas,” but with regard to the use of the various indicators of oath content, ʾm, ʾm-lʾ, ky, and ky-ʾm, König exhibited a sensitivity to the various nuances of the formulas, the likes of which are not found in any preceding or subsequent studies of the subject. Though his treatment is still too skeletal to do justice to all the formulas, König made the following distinctions that are rarely if ever present in other studies: (1) oaths delivered in direct speech and those represented by indirect speech (§391d–g); (2) various possible functions of ky in oaths (asseverative, recititative, apodoseos, causal), when most assume a single function (§391g, i, o, p); and (3) conditional oaths that are accompanied by other oath formulas and those that are not (§391 l–m). 2.  See, for example, Ziegler 2008b; Aitken 2007; Blank 1950; Lehmann 1969; Cartledge 1992; and Kalluveettil 1982. 3.  See further discussion in §5.3 below.

9

Previous Scholarship  1.4. 

The state of the art nearly 100 years ago was represented by Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 4 which devotes a little more than one page to the issue. This treatment did not give sufficient attention to the role of ky. It is implied that the particles ʾm and ʾm-lʾ are used almost exclusively, and ky only “rarely.” Only in §163d/p. 501 does GKC indicate that ky-ʾm is used for introducing positive oaths. This grammar also states that “no certain explanation of these particles has yet been given. According to the usual view, phrases expressing an oath depend on the suppression of an imprecation upon oneself” (GKC §149b/p. 472) so that ʾm results in a negative statement, “[May God curse me] if I do this” = “I will not do this”; and ʾm-lʾ results in a positive statement, “[May God curse me] if I do not do this” = “I will do this.” This analysis may account for the conditional particles, but it does not address the usage of the particles ky and (allegedly) ky-ʾm. This illustrates the deficiency of the treatment of this problem by Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar. P. Joüon included a relatively lengthy section on oath and curse clauses, almost three pages. Unlike GKC, he gave ky proper attention, but like GKC, he only mentioned ky-ʾm in the course of citing examples and did not discuss the origin or function of this compound particle as an alleged oath formula. For the other three particles, Joüon proposed a process of cross-contamination from two originally distinct formulas. One is a curse formula, employing the selfcurse (Joüon called this the protasis) with the conditional particle (he called this the apodosis). The other is a swearing formula, “I swear that . . . ,” with ky originally functioning as a complementizer, which in turn developed an asseverative function that could be used even without the swearing formula for a positive assertion, “indeed.” The two formulas underwent “contamination mutuelle,” so that one finds the conditional particles with the swearing formula, and the particle ky with the curse formula, but Joüon did not explain how this happened or why. In An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, B. Waltke and M. O’Connor (1990) succinctly and clearly presented the oath formulas but with no discussion of the origin or function of the particles. In a page and a half, they gave equal treatment to all four possible formulas but with very few examples. Regarding Joüon’s hypothesis of cross-contamination of formulas, they simply state, “it may be better to confess that the calculus of the particles is beyond our specification.” In the principal grammar for inscriptional Classical Hebrew, under the headings “Conjunction Morphology” and “Conditional Sentences,” S. Gogel (1998: 225, 286) discussed the only preserved oath in the epigraphic corpus that uses a conditional particle. She said that “the apodosis is omitted and ʾm 4.  This edition of Gesenius’s grammar is A. Cowley’s English translation of the 28th German edition of 1909, edited and enlarged by E. Kautzsch. This is considered the standard English edition.

1.4.  Previous Scholarship 

10

comes to serve as an emphatic negative.” Additionally, in the section dealing with the morphology of conjunctions, she dealt with the two oaths, each of which has been thought to preserve one of the letters of ky in an oath context; it is this context and the comparison of the two partially preserved forms that render the restoration of ky likely. She called this use of ky “presentative” and translated the particle ‘surely’ in one and ‘indeed’ in the other. In a footnote, Gogel compared the frequency of ky and ʾm in oath contexts in the epigraphic sources and the Bible (1998: 228). She said that in epigraphic Hebrew, ky is more frequent than ʾm, while in Biblical Hebrew the use of ky is rare. This is true for the epigraphic data, but the numbers are so low (three preserved oaths, two of which are marked with ky, one with ʾm) that the significance of this fact is negligible. For the biblical data, she depended on Gesenius’ treatment, which I have shown to be deficient on this question. In fact, the number of negative and positive oaths is almost equal (74 : 83), and for positive oaths, ky is used more frequently than is ʾm-lʾ (46 : 37). The other important studies relating to the morphosyntax of oath formulas are books and articles devoted to the particle ky. Oaths that use ky are then a subset the discussion. A. Schoors’s article (1981) on ky presented the view that this particle is primarily “emphatic” or “asseverative” in function, meaning “indeed, truly, surely.” Schoors relied heavily on translational plausibility as evidence for his claims, attempting to prove the emphatic function by showing that ky can plausibly make sense with the meaning ‘indeed’ or ‘surely’, without offering more substantial syntactical analysis. 5 Subsequent treatments of the particle ky have brought into question this heavy reliance on the emphatic or asseverative function of ky. Schoors listed the use of ky in oaths as one of the “special categories of emphatic kî.” He asserted—in contrast to Joüon—that this asseverative use of the ky in oaths is primary in origin, and its use as a complementizer of the verb šbʿ ‘to swear that’ is secondary. W. T. Claassen (1983) helped move the study of the particle ky further away from the realm of the “emphatic” interpretation. However, he limited his discussion to a particular set of functions of the particle. His discussion of the oaths is limited to a single footnote: “Varying opinions exist as to the origin of kï as used in oaths” (1983: 34 n. 27). After summarizing the views of a handful of other scholars, he stated without elaboration that he would “prefer an explanation [of ky in oaths] on the basis of the motivational use of kî   ” (1983: 34 n. 27). A. Aejmelaeus followed with a syntax-based study of ky in Biblical Hebrew, distinguishing between ky-clauses that precede the main clause and those that 5.  Compare the rather circular argument of Muilenburg (1961: 156): “The oath is not only a formal but also an emphatic way of speaking; it is only to be expected that the contexts in which it is employed should be emphatic and that emphatic particles and phrases should accompany it.”

11

Previous Scholarship  1.4. 

follow, with further subdivisions within these two groups based on syntactical details of the text. Like Claassen, she downplayed the “emphatic” function of the particle but did admit it in the case of oaths. She did not provide a discussion of this phenomenon but simply listed an example. B. Bandstra wrote a dissertation on the syntax of ky. He devoted four pages (1982: 142–46) to the discussion of oaths marked by ky, but since he limited his Hebrew corpus to the Pentateuch and Psalms, in which only two oaths with ky occur, his treatment of the subject is somewhat distorted and incomplete. He misrepresented Joüon’s basic argument by imputing to him the view that ky in oaths derives from a conditional function of the particle. But Joüon’s presentation nowhere suggests this; in fact, his argument was based on the rejection of a common function of the ky and the ʾm/ʾm-lʾ protases. Bandstra’s own analysis distinguished the oaths with ky between oaths that are used with the “as X lives” formula and those that are used with the “thus will God do to me” formula. In the first set of constructions, he said, ky functions either adversatively or consequentially. In the second, ky functions either causally or adversatively. Bandstra offered no real guidance on choosing between these very different alternatives within each set, other than translational plausibility. Furthermore, the two constructions that form the framework for Bandstra’s analysis do not account for all the data. Around one-quarter of oaths using ky use neither the “as X lives” nor the “thus will God do to me” formula. C. Follingstad (2001) produced a linguistically based analysis of the particle ky. He attempted to correlate syntactic distribution with semantic function. His research revealed that there are no specific correlations that can be established— only broad generalizations. Follingstad called ky a “discourse deictic particle” that “involves metalinguistic or metarepresentational mention”; that is, it points not to actual words on a page but to “propositions and linguistic expressions.” He then employed a cognitive linguistic model called “Mental Space Theory” to explain this function of ky. I will not attempt to evaluate the merits of “Mental Space Theory” here. However, his specific conclusions regarding ky in oaths need some comment here. Follingstad analyzed the ky in oaths as asseverative, ‘indeed’, claiming that the alternative suggestions pose too many difficulties. In terms of Mental Space Theory, ky marks “assertive polar focus”; that is, it is used to mark a statement that is intended to counter “contrary presuppositions.” He stated that it is not surprising for ky to occur in oaths, “since oaths occur in a context of contrary presupposition” (2001: 576). This claim is illustrated by only three texts, 1 Sam 14:44, 1 Kgs 2:24, and 1 Kgs 18:15, but only in the last of these is this claim plausible. In the first two, the statement marked by ky could have and should have been expected; there is no “contrary presupposition” that must be assumed. In a survey of the other oaths with ky, my own findings are that a ky clause may be countering contrary presuppositions in some cases (Gen

1.5.  Plan 

12

22:16–17); but in others it is not (1 Sam 29:6); while in yet others, the category of “contrary presuppositions” just does not fit the context (1 Sam 20:12–13). These basic observations indicate that, whatever the merits of his broader work on the particle ky, its application to oaths using ky is in need of refinement. Follingstad’s terminology with regard to oaths requires clarification. He called the clause marked by ky the “apodosis,” while the authenticating elements “as X lives” and “thus will God do to me,” he called the “protasis”; but he gave no rationale for this assignment of terms. His description of these latter two elements is misleading. He called the “thus will God do to me” curse formula “a characteristic formula in the protasis” (2001: 12), though it only occurs 5 times with ky and only 12 times in all of Classical Hebrew; but he called the “as X lives” authenticating element “optional” (2001: 12), though this formula is used in nearly half of all oath formula (some 76 times) and in nearly two-thirds of oaths using ky. It is certainly optional, but it is more common than the element he labeled “characteristic” (2001: 12). The grammars of Hebrew tend to discuss oaths as a special type of clause— and they are—but this approach generally fails to relate the morphosyntax of these clauses to the “regular,” non-oath usages of the formulas. By contrast, discussions of ky clauses tend to stumble over the apparent difficulties of the relatively small percentage of them that are used in oath formulas (less than 1%), and so the oaths are treated as a small class of problematic cases. What is needed in the history of scholarship on the oath formulas in Biblical Hebrew is a systematic analysis of the morphosyntax of the particles in oaths with regard to the larger morphosyntactic context of those particles in the language. This book attempts to meet this need. In Biblical Hebrew, there are some 170 passages that contain oath formulas. In addition to Biblical Hebrew, I am including four texts from the Hebrew inscriptions of the Iron Age from Arad and Lachish. 1.5. Plan In the following chapters, we will examine in detail the individual elements that constitute oath formulas, beginning with the authenticating element (ch. 2), oath content formulated as a conditional clause (ch. 3), and oath content introduced with the particle ky (ch. 4). In ch. 5, we will look at oath content marked with another or no marker, and I will discuss the alleged use of the compound particle ky-ʾm in marking the content of an oath. In ch. 6, I will submit my conclusions. In the appendix, I will address oath formulas in other Semitic languages.

Chapter 2

The Authenticating Element Charles Bradlaugh, elected in 1880 to serve in the British parliament, requested that he be allowed to affirm the oath of allegiance rather than to swear it in its explicitly religious form. His request was denied, so he sought simply to recite the oath of allegiance as it stood. Since Bradlaugh was a well-known atheist, he was not allowed to take the oath at all. He was expelled from and reelected to his seat three times before he was finally allowed to take the oath in 1886. Bradlaugh’s struggle led in 1888 to the passage of a statute allowing members of parliament to affirm an oath of allegiance in nonreligious terms. The irony of Bradlaugh’s story is that it was a consequence of his desire to be as truthful as possible. 1 More recently, Keith Ellison was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to this body, stirred controversy by choosing to place his hand on a Quran instead of a Bible at the swearing-in ceremony. The purpose of an oath is to commit the oath-taker to sanctions. Ideally, the terms of the oath should include authenticating language and imagery that the oath-taker believes to be authoritative and, just as importantly, language and imagery that the witnesses believe the oath-taker believes to be authoritative. In this chapter, I will describe the various authenticating formulas in Biblical Hebrew oaths. I will demonstrate that they share a common function of authenticating the truthfulness of the oath, and I will describe the way in which this authentication is achieved. There are five different authenticating elements attested in about 135 texts: raising of a hand, invocation of one or more witnesses, explicitly using the verb for swearing, the phrase “thus will X do to Y,” and the phrase “(By) the life of X.” The “use-mention” distinction developed in ch. 1 (§1.2) will be deployed throughout this chapter. Three of the five authenticating elements (§§2.1, 2.3, 2.5) are both used and mentioned in biblical texts. The other two authenticators (§§2.2, 2.4) are used in oaths but not mentioned as a reference to oath-taking. The distinction we are working with here can be illustrated in different ways 1. Y. Ziegler speculates (mistakenly, as this chapter will demonstrate) that a biblical oath without reference to God is no oath at all (Ziegler 2008b: 107 n. 79, 270).

13

2.1.  Raising of a Hand 

14

with the help of two linguists we introduced in ch. 1. J. L. Austin used the term “explicit” for speech acts in which the type of speech act is referred to within the statement. Speech acts in which the speech act is not referred to within the statement he called “primary” speech acts (Austin 1962: 56–65). For our purposes, Austin’s “explicit speech act” is equivalent to what I am calling the use of an authenticator within an oath, or, in J. Searle’s terms, the “indicator of illocutionary force” is present within the utterance of the oath (Searle 1969: 30–31, 68). On the other hand, Austin’s “primary speech act” is equivalent, not to the mention of an oath, but to the oath that is mentioned by an authenticating element outside the speech act. It is worth noting that GKC and Joüon do not observe this distinction in their analyses of the verb of swearing. They combine without discrimination the spoken performance of the oath and the mention of the verb of swearing external to the utterance. 2.1.  Raising of a Hand In ancient as in modern times, the raising of a hand was a gesture that could accompany the swearing of an oath, as in Dan 12:7: (20)  wayyɔrɛm yəmînô ûśmoʾlô ʾɛl-haššɔmayim wayyiššɔḇaʿ bəḥê hɔʿôlɔm kî. . . . He raised his right hand and his left hand to the heavens and swore by the life of the Everlasting One that. . . . In addition to the action itself, references to oath-swearing could be made in the Hebrew Bible by simply mentioning the action “he raised his hand.” Examples of this are discussed in the first category below (§2.1.1). However, an oath in the Hebrew Bible could be authenticated by the oath-taker’s using the formula “I hereby raise my hand.” The examples in category §2.1.2 illustrate the use of this authenticating element in Hebrew oaths. The source of this authenticator is not clear. It could come from the legal sphere, much like our practice of raising a hand to swear before testifying. An explicit connection to the legal realm is elusive, however. Another possibility is that the raising of hands in this context is a variety of the same action that regularly accompanies prayer (Ps 63:5). The example from Dan 12:7 quoted above, with both hands being raised, points to this possibility. Perhaps the oath context is a subset of this sort of situation: hands are raised to the deity as a request for the deity to bear witness to the truth of one’s words. The fact that the deity himself is the subject of most of the examples below does not argue against this interpretation (“how can God pray to himself?”). Throughout this chapter, we will see that deities are able to use any of these formulas, no matter what metaphysical dissonance this produces for modern

15

Raising of a Hand  2.1. 

theologians. It seems that, with regard to strategies for authenticating an oath, anything that humans can do deities can also do. 2 The function of this authenticator in any case would be to call on the deity as a witness to the veracity of one’s oath. In Gen 14:22–23 (below), the only text in which a person other than God is said to raise his hand “to” someone else, the object of the preposition ʾel is God, and thus it appears that the authentication lies in appealing to God as witness to the truthfulness of one’s words, with the corresponding consequences for falsehood. The negative consequences are left implicit, so that this authenticator is rather elliptical, as are the others in this chapter: “I hereby raise my hand [and swear that this oath is true, and if it is not, then may God curse me as befits a perjurer].” These and other elided phrases will be represented in an abbreviated form within brackets in the translations below. 2.1.1.  Mention of Hand-Raising as a Reference to Oath-Taking The mention of hand-raising in these passages is often referring to a past event. In Deut 32, it is in the present. The expression can be seen as the equivalent of “I swear/swore.” Indeed, the phrases “I raise(d) my hand” and “I swear/ swore” could be interchanged in these texts with no loss of meaning. The person(s) to or for whom the oath is uttered are usually indicated with the lpreposition, though in Deut 32 the preposition ʾel is employed. With the exception of Deut 32, in each of the texts in this section, the essential content of the oath is spelled out in an infinitival construct phrase, for example, “to give” in Exod 6:8 and “to bring them” in Ezek 20:6 (see also Num 14:30; Ezek 20:15, 23, 28, 42; 47:14; Neh 9:15): (21)  Exod 6:8 wəheḇeʾṯî ʾɛṯḵɛm ʾɛl-hɔʾɔrɛṣ ʾašɛr nɔśɔʾṯî ʾɛṯ-yɔḏî lɔṯeṯ ʾoṯɔh ləʾaḇrɔhɔm ləyiṣḥɔq ûləyaʿaqoḇ. And I will bring you to the land (concerning) which I raised my hand to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (22)  Deut 32:40–41 kî-ʾɛśśɔʾ ʾɛl-šɔmayim yɔḏî wəʾɔmartî ḥay ʾɔnoḵî ləʿolɔm ʾim-šannôṯî bəraq ḥarbî wəṯoʾḥez bəmišpɔṭ yɔḏî . . .ʾɔšîḇ . . . ʾašallem. . . . For I raise my hand to heaven and say, “(By) my life forever, [I swear that,] if I sharpen my sword and my hand seizes justice . . . , (then) I will requite . . . and repay. . . .”

2.  Compare the statement of J. Aitken: “our focus should be less on the speaker and more on the specific meaning of the act” (Aitken 2007: 18).

2.1.  Raising of a Hand 

16

(23)  Ezek 20:5–6 bəyôm bɔḥɔrî ḇəyiśrɔʾel wɔʾɛśśɔʾ yɔḏî ləzɛraʿ bêṯ yaʿaqoḇ wɔʾiwwɔḏaʿ lɔhɛm bəʾɛrɛṣ miṣrɔyim wɔʾɛśśɔʾ yɔḏî lɔhɛm leʾmor ʾanî yhwh ʾɛlohêḵɛm bayyôm hahûʾ nɔśɔʾṯî yɔḏî lɔhɛm ləhôṣîʾɔm meʾɛrɛṣ miṣrɔyim. When I chose Israel, I raised my hand to the seed of the house of Jacob and was made known to them in Egypt; I raised my hand to them, (saying,) “I am Yahweh your God.” At that time, I raised my hand to them to bring them from Egypt. 2.1.2.  Use of Hand-Raising within the Oath Itself Most of the examples of this formula above and below employ the verb nśʾ ‘to raise’. In the examples below, the verb occurs in the perfect, as a performative. In Gen 14, another verb is used, the Hiphil perfect of rwm ‘to be high’. The prepositional phrase expressing ‘to, for, or against’ whom the hand is being raised is optional, occurring once with ʾel (Gen 14:22) and once with ʿal (Ezek 44:12). (24)  Gen 14:22–23 harîmoṯî yɔḏî ʾɛl-yhwh ʾel ʿɛlyôn qoneh šɔmayim wɔʾɔrɛṣ ʾimmiḥûṭ wəʿaḏ śəroḵ-naʿal wəʾim-ʾɛqqaḥ mikkɔl-ʾašɛr-lɔḵ. I hereby raise my hand to Yahweh, most high god, creator of heaven and earth, [and swear that,] if from thread to sandal thong, if I take anything of yours, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will not take anything of yours, from thread to sandal thong). (25)  Ezek 36:7 ʾanî nɔśɔʾṯî ʾɛṯ-yɔḏî ʾim-loʾ haggôyim ʾašɛr lɔḵɛm missɔḇîḇ hemmɔh kəlimmɔṯɔm yiśśɔʾû. I hereby raise my hand [and swear that,] if the nations around you do not bear their shame, [may I be cursed] (i.e., [they] will bear their shame). (26)  Ezek 44:12 ʿal-ken nɔśɔʾṯî yɔḏî ʿalêhɛm nəʾum ʾaḏonɔy yhwh wənɔśəʾû “Therefore, I hereby raise my hand against them,” declares Lord Yahweh, “and [swear that] they will bear their guilt.” Though it is not an immediate issue with this authenticator, I want to introduce a question now that will become more relevant with the “thus will X do to Y” authenticating element (§2.4). It is clear that the “raising of a hand” authenticator cannot be the apodosis to an oath the content of which is expressed in the form of a conditional protasis, as in Gen 14:22–23 and Ezek 36:7 above.

17

Invocation of Witness(es)  2.2. 

This way of formulating oath content will be the subject of ch. 3. The obvious first point is that such an interpretation of the clauses makes no sense in this context. For example, Gen 14:22–23 would then mean, “If I take anything from you, (then) I raise my hand to heaven.” However, with an authenticator in which such a sentence could make sense, as in §2.4 below, additional points must be considered. The most important of these is the consideration of clause order. In Hebrew, conditional clauses are formed with the protasis preceding the apodosis (see further analysis of conditional clauses in ch. 3). However, the authenticating elements of oaths precede the content of the oaths that they accompany in 99% of cases (there are only 2 exceptions: 1 Sam 20:21 and Ruth 3:13; see §5.1.3.1 below). More broadly, it is necessary to keep in mind that each of the authenticating elements functions to authenticate the truthfulness of the oath content that follows. Therefore, both conceptually and clausally, the authenticator precedes the utterance of the oath content. It puts the oath-taker into the state of being liable for the consequences of breaking an oath. The content of the oath, regardless of how it is formulated, is distinct from this authenticating element. We will return to this maxim when it becomes more relevant in §2.4, but keeping it in mind as we review each authenticating element will help diffuse any confusion as the syntactical logic becomes more complicated in §2.4 below. 2.2.  Invocation of Witness(es) The invocation of witnesses is fairly self-evident as a means of authenticating an oath and finds many parallels in the cognate literature, particularly in treaty curses. 3 A third party will bear witness to the actions of the contracting parties, thus motivating them to keep their oath under pains of perjury. The first three texts use the noun ʿed ‘witness’ in the predicate position. In the third (Jer 42:5), the noun is a complement to the imperfect jussive form of hyh ‘to be’. (27)  Gen 31:52 ʿeḏ haggal hazzɛh wəʿeḏɔh hammaṣṣeḇɔh ʾim-ʾɔnî ⟨loʾ  ⟩-ʾɛʿɛḇor ʾelɛyḵɔ . . . wəʾim-ʾattɔh ⟨loʾ⟩-taʿaḇor ʾelay. This pile is a witness, and the maṣebah is a witness, if I cross over to you, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will not cross over) . . . and if you cross over to me, [may you be cursed] (i.e., you will not cross over). The translation here has ignored the two negative particles, loʾ, in the text, the presence of which make the meaning of the text incomprehensible and therefore are considered corruptions. 3.  See, for example, the Old Aramaic inscription of Sefire (Fitzmyer 1995) and NeoAssyrian treaties and loyalty oaths (Parpola and Watanabe 1988).

2.3.  Swearing 

18

(28)  1 Sam 12:5 ʿeḏ yhwh bɔḵɛm wəʿeḏ məšîḥô hayyôm hazzɛh kî loʾ məṣɔʾṯɛm bəyɔḏî məʾûmɔh. Yahweh is a witness against you, and his anointed one is a witness this day that you have not found anything in my hand. (29)  Jer 42:5 yəhî yhwh bɔnû ləʿeḏ ʾɛmɛṯ wənɛʾɛmɔn ʾim-loʾ kəḵɔl-haddɔḇɔr ʾašɛr yišlɔḥaḵɔ yhwh ʾɛlohɛyḵɔ ʾelênû ken naʿaśɛh. May Yahweh be a true and faithful witness for us, if we do not act in accordance with everything Yahweh your God sent you to (tell) us, [may we be cursed] (i.e., we will act). The last two texts use verbs of perception, the subject of which are Yahweh, followed by the preposition bên ‘between’. The first features the jussive form of the verb ṣph ‘to observe’, and the second uses a participle from šmʿ ‘to hear’ as a predicate complementing the main verb, the imperfect indicative form of hyh. (30)  Gen 31:49–50 yiṣɛp yhwh bênî ûḇênɛḵɔ . . . ʾim-təʿannɛh ʾɛt-bənoṯay wəʾimtiqqaḥ nɔšîm ʿal-bənoṯay. May Yahweh keep watch between me and you, if you oppress my daughters and if you take wives in addition to my daughters, [may you be cursed] (i.e., you must not oppress [them] or take wives in addition to [them]). (31)  Judg 11:10 yhwh yihyɛh šomeaʿ bênôṯênû ʾim-loʾ ḵiḏəḇɔrəḵɔ ken naʿaśɛh. Yahweh will be a witness [lit.: one who hears] between us, if we do not act in accordance with your proposal, [may we be cursed] (i.e., we will act). 2.3. Swearing The function of this authenticator is fairly straightforward and does not depend on the etymology of the verb šbʿ ‘to swear’, which is still a matter of uncertainty. 4 The explicit use of a verb of swearing in the appropriate context puts the oath-taker in a legally binding state, subject to the penalties and sanctions for breaking an oath. 4.  Pedersen (1914) disputes the proposed etymology of the verb that relates it to the word for ‘seven’. Lehmann (1969) disputes Pedersen and attempts to demonstrate the derivation of the verb from the number, but his proofs are not convincing.

Swearing  2.3. 

19

There are three categories here: the first involves linguistic mention, and the latter two involve linguistic use. The first category includes the mention of the verb šbʿ ‘to swear’ in the narrative context but not within the utterance of the oath itself (§2.3.1). The second category is the use of the verb šbʿ in the actual performance of an oath (§2.3.2). The third category is the use of šbʿ in spoken adjurations (§2.3.3), which differs from the second category only in that one party is imposing an oath on another rather than taking an oath him/herself. 2.3.1.  Mention of the Verb šbʿ in the Narrative Context In this section, we find examples of oaths introduced by the common verb for swearing in Hebrew. The verb is not part of the performance of the oath itself. In some cases (Gen 24 and Num 32), the oath that follows consists solely of the content of the oath. In the last example sited here (1 Sam 19), the quoted oath includes another authenticating element, the “life of X” formula. (see also Deut 1:34–35; Josh 14:9; 1 Sam 28:10; 2 Sam 3:35; 1 Kgs 1:13, 17, 29–30; 2:8, 23; Isa 14:24; Jer 4:2, 5:2, 12:16; Hos 4:15; Amos 8:14; Ps 132:2–4; Neh 13:25; Dan 12:7). (32)  Gen 24:37–38 wayyašbiʿenî . . . ʾim-loʾ ʾɛl-bêṯ-ʾɔḇî teleḵ wəʾɛl-mišpaḥtî wəlɔqaḥtɔ ʾiššɔh liḇnî. My master made me swear: “. . . if you do not go to the house of my father and to my clan and get a wife for my son, [may you be cursed]” (i.e., you must go). (33)  Num 32:10–11 wayyiḥar-ʾap yhwh bayyôm hahûʾ wayyiššɔḇaʿ leʾmor ʾim-yirʾû hɔʾanɔšîm . . . ʾeṯ hɔʾaḏɔmɔh. At that time, Yahweh became angry and swore: “If (those) men see . . . the land . . . , [may I be cursed]” (i.e., [they] will not see the land). (34)  1 Sam 19:6 wayyiššɔḇaʿ šɔʾûl ḥay-yhwh ʾim-yûmɔṯ. Saul swore: “(By) the life of Yahweh, [I swear that,] if he is killed, [may I be cursed]” (i.e., he will not be killed). 2.3.2.  Use of the Verb šbʿ within an Oath In this section, all forms of the verb are in the Niphal stem. All but one are Perfect (Imperfect in Gen 21:24). They are all either in the first person, or God is referring to himself in the third person (God is the speaker in 13/15 of these texts). In all but two (Gen 21:24, 1 Sam 3:14) the person or thing by whom one swears is preceded by the preposition bə. It is generally accepted that swearing

2.3.  Swearing 

20

‘on’ or ‘by’ X, when the preposition bə is attached to X, signifies that X is being put at risk for the sake of affirming the veracity of the oath. In one text, a human speaker swears by Yahweh (2 Sam 19:8). Among the 12 texts in which God swears by something, in 4 he swears bî ‘by myself’. In others, he swears “by his right hand and his strong arm,” “by my great name,” “by his soul” (2×), “by his/my holy place” (2×), “by the Pride of Jacob,” 5 and “by my anger” 6 (see also Gen 21:24; Isa 45:23; 62:8; Jer 44:26; 49:13; 51:14; Amos 4:2; 6:8; 8:7; Ps 95:11). (35)  Gen 22:16–17 bî nišbaʿtî nəʾum-yhwh kî yaʿan ʾašɛr ʿɔśîṯɔ ʾɛṯ-haddɔḇɔr hazzɛh wəloʾ ḥɔśaḵtɔ ʾɛṯ-binəḵɔ ʾɛṯ-yəḥîḏɛḵɔ kî ḇɔreḵ ʾaḇɔrɛḵəḵɔ wəharbɔh ʾarbɛh ʾɛṯ-zarʿaḵɔ. “I hereby swear by myself,” declares Yahweh, “that, because you have done this thing and have not spared your firstborn son, I will bless you and I will multiply your seed.” (36)  1 Sam 3:14 nišbaʿtî ləḇêṯ ʿelî ʾim-yiṯkapper ʿawon bêṯ-ʿelî. I hereby swear to the house of Eli [that,] if the guilt of the house of Eli will ever be atoned for, [may I be cursed] (i.e., [it] will never be atoned for). (37)  2 Sam 19:8 bayhwh nišbaʿtî kî-ʾênəḵɔ yôṣeʾ ʾim-yɔlîn ʾîš ʾittəḵɔ hallaylɔh. I hereby swear by Yahweh that, (if) you do not go out, (then) if anyone stays the night with you, [may I be cursed] (i.e., no one will stay the night if you do not go out). (38)  Jer 22:5 wəʾim loʾ ṯišməʿû ʾɛṯ-haddəḇɔrîm hɔʾellɛh bî nišbaʿtî nəʾum-yhwh kî-ləḥɔrbɔh yihyɛh habbayiṯ hazzɛh. 5.  There is some debate about the referent of the gəʾôn yaʿ  aqoḇ, the ‘pride of Jacob’. Does it refer to Israel’s actual pride in the negative sense? If so, this is a strange thing for God to swear by in Amos 8:7, unless God is being sarcastic. Pedersen (1914: 157) takes it as a self-reference of the deity. A. Caquot (1959: 319) thought it referred to the capital of Israel, as it does in other places in reference to foreign nations. E. Lipiński (1968: 413 n. 5) prefers to see it as a reference specifically to a central sanctuary. Perhaps it is a term that can have some elasticity, sometimes referring to a city and sometimes to the temple within a city, but given passages such as Amos 6:8 and Ps. 47:5, either of these latter suggestions seems preferable to seeing the “pride of Jacob” either as a divine epithet or as an actual negative emotion that is being sarcastically used as the basis for an oath. 6.  It is possible as well that in Ps 95:11 God is swearing “in” his anger, that is, ‘angrily’, as most translations imply, but the usage and placement of this prepositional element is identical to other elements “by which” one swears.

Swearing  2.3. 

21

“If they do not listen to these words, I hereby swear by myself,” declares Yahweh, “that this house will become a ruin.” (39)  Ps 89:36 ʾaḥaṯ nišbaʿtî ḇəqɔḏšî ʾim-ləḏɔwiḏ ʾaḵazzeḇ. One thing I hereby swear by my holiness [that], if I lie to David, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will not lie). 2.3.3.  Use of the Verb šbʿ within an Adjuration An adjuration is one party soliciting an oath from another party or placing another under oath. Seven of the texts above use the preposition bə to mark the person or thing by whom one swears, and only in two (Song 2:7 and 3:5), is it something other than a deity. It is also of interest to note that in none of these texts is the complementizer ky used; but another substantive marker is used in three texts, ʾšr; and in two of the passages, another particle is used, mh, parallel with the conditional particle ʾm, which results in a negative oath. 7 The four examples where someone solicits an oath from another person employ volitive forms in the Niphal stem followed by lî, the preposition with the first-person pronominal suffix (see also 1 Sam 30:15; 1 Kgs 1:51). (40)  Gen 21:23 wəʿattɔh hiššɔḇəʿɔh lî ḇeʾlohîm hennɔh ʾim-tišqor lî ûlənînî ûlənɛḵdî. So, swear to me here by God [that,] if you break treaty with me or with my descendents or with my progeny, [may you be cursed] (i.e., you will not break treaty). (41)  1 Sam 24:22 hiššɔḇəʿɔh lî bayhwh ʾim-taḵrîṯ ʾɛṯ-zarʿî ʾaḥarɔy wəʾim-tašmîḏ ʾɛṯšəmî mibbêṯ ʾɔḇî. Swear to me by Yahweh [that,] if you cut off my descendants (lit.: my seed after me) or if you exterminate my name from the house of my father, [may you be cursed] (i.e., you will not cut off . . . or exterminate). The remaining seven adjurations involve one person placing another under oath. These are in the Hiphil stem, and they all take an object either as a suffix or using the definite direct-object marker ʾɛṯ. (see also Gen 24:3–4; Song 3:5, 5:8, 8:4; 2 Chr 18:15).

7.  See analysis of these oaths in ch. 5 below (§§5.1.1–5.1.2).

2.4.  “Thus Will X Do to Y” 

22

(42)  1 Kgs 22:16 ʿaḏ-kammɛh pəʿɔmîm ʾanî mašbîʿɛḵɔ ʾašɛr loʾ-ṯəḏabber ʾelay raqʾɛmɛṯ bəšem yhwh? How many times (must) I adjure you that you must tell me only the truth in the name of Yahweh? (43)  Song 2:7 hišbaʿtî ʾɛṯḵɛm bənôṯ yərûšɔlayim biṣəḇɔʾôṯ ʾô bəʾaylôṯ haśśɔḏɛh ʾim-tɔʿîrû wəʾim-təʿôrərû ʾɛṯ-hɔʾahaḇɔh ʿaḏ šɛtɛḥpɔṣ. I hereby adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and the does of the field [that,] if you arouse or if you awaken love until it is willing, [may you be cursed] (i.e., do not arouse or awaken love). 2.4.  “Thus Will X Do to Y” There are 5 possible components of this authenticating element, 2 of which are optional. The first is the phrase koh-yaʿaśɛh ‘thus will he do’. The verb is an explicitly indicative (as opposed to jussive) form; hence, we should not translate ‘thus may he do’. It is singular 10 times, plural twice, and these plural forms have the paragogic-nun. The second component is optional; it occurs in 10 of 12 texts. It is the preposition lə, attached either to a pronominal suffix (7×) or to a PN (3×). Six of these 10 immediately follow the first component, while 4 follow the third component. 8 The third component is a divine name or title. It occurs in all 12 texts, 6 times immediately following the first component (in 4 of these, the second component follows the third), and 6 times it immediately follows the second component. This DN is twice Yahweh, Elohim 8 times with a singular verb referring to a singular deity, and twice it is Elohim with a plural verb referring to other Canaanite gods. The fourth component is wəkoh yôsîp ‘and thus will he add’. Like the first component, this one occurs in all 12 texts and is explicitly indicative in form. It is plural twice, though the paragogic-nun occurs only on 1. The spelling of the verb varies greatly ( ywsyp-ywsp-ysyp), but this has no bearing on the grammar. The fifth component is optional; in fact, it only occurs once (2 Sam 3:9). It is a preposition lə, which in our text occurs with the third masculine-singular pronominal suffix, the antecedent of which is the object of the first component in this text—Abner, who is the speaker. 8.  Ziegler (2007: 68–72) and Merecz (2009: 257–59) make much of the absence of this element in 1 Kgs 19:2 and believe it indicates a moral deficiency in Jezebel. I believe this is a stretch.

23

“Thus Will X Do to Y”  2.4. 

Though this authenticator is nonspecific in its description of what might happen as a consequence of a broken oath, we can assume that it is negative and probably lethal. It has been suggested that the phrase would have been accompanied by a gesture (or two gestures, one for each koh) such as a slash across the throat. We may catch hints of what was implied by this phrase in texts such as 1 Sam 11:7, where Saul cut up an animal and sent its parts throughout Israel, declaring that the same would be done (koh yeʿɔśɛh) to the livestock of any who refused to follow him (ʾašɛr ʾênɛnnû yoṣeʾ ʾaḥarê šɔʾûl) into battle. We find other suggestive passages in Gen 15 and Jer 34:18–20, where the cutting up of animals provides an illustration of the consequences of breaking treaty. Also to be noted here are passages in which conditionally phrased statements are followed by apodoses that spell out adverse consequences if the conditions are met: Job 31 (throughout the chapter), Ps 137:5, and Ps 7:4. This authenticating element occurs 12 times. It may be used in conjunction with a conditional-type oath (see also 1 Sam 25:22; 2 Sam 19:14; 2 Kgs 6:31). The first example from 1 Sam 3 is an adjuration, so it is expressed in the second person. (44)  1 Sam 3:17 koh yaʿaśɛh-ləḵɔ ʾɛlohîm wəḵoh yôsîp ʾim-təḵaḥeḏ mimmɛnnî. . . . Thus will God do to you and thus will he add; if you withhold (anything) from me, . . . [may you be cursed] (i.e., you must not withhold anything from me). (45)  1 Kgs 20:10 koh-yaʿaśûn lî ʾɛlohîm wəḵoh yôsipû ʾim-yiśpoq ʿapar šomərôn lišəʿɔlîm ləḵɔl-hɔʿɔm ʾašɛr bəraḡlɔy. . . . Thus will the gods do to me and thus will they add; if the dirt of Samaria is enough for all the people who are under me (to have) handfuls, [may I be cursed] (i.e., [it] will not be enough). It may also be used in conjunction with an oath using the particle ky (see also 1 Sam 14:44, 20:13; 2 Sam 3:9; 1 Kgs 2:23; Ruth 1:17). (46)  2 Sam 3:35 wayyiššɔḇaʿ dɔwiḏ leʾmor koh yaʿaśɛh-lî ʾɛlohîm wəḵoh yosîp kî ʾimlipnê ḇôʾ-haššɛmɛš ʾɛṭʿam-lɛḥɛm ʾô ḵɔl-məʾûmɔh. . . . David swore: “Thus will God do to me and thus will he add; [I swear] that, if I eat bread or anything else before the sun comes up, [may I be cursed]” (i.e., I will not eat). (47)  1 Kgs 19:2 koh-yaʿaśûn ʾɛlohîm wəḵoh yôsipûn kî-ḵɔʿeṯ mɔḥɔr ʾɔśîm ʾɛṯ-napšəḵɔ kənɛpɛš ʾaḥaḏ mehɛm.

2.5.  “(By) the Life of X” 

24

Thus will the gods do and thus will they add; [I swear] that tomorrow I will make your soul like one of their souls. I have argued that, above all else, this and other formulas in this chapter should be seen as “authenticating formulas.” But how does this particular formula authenticate an oath? It is tempting to think of this authenticating formula as the natural apodosis to the conditionally formulated oath: “Thus will God do to me if I do such and such.” There is no question that the elided apodosis of the conditionally formulated oath would have been imagined as something close to this—something negative. However, as we noted in §2.1 above, there are several reasons to believe that the users of this authenticating formula did not think of it as the apodosis to the conditional-type oath. First, this authenticating formula is more often found in oaths where the content is introduced by ky than it is in conditional oaths. The example sited in 2 Sam 3:35 above does contain a conditional-type oath, but it is separated from the authenticating formula by the complementizer ky (see further discussion of this text in §§4.3.3.2.4 and 5.3.1 below). Second, the authenticating formula always precedes the content of the oath, the reverse sequence of conditional clauses. Regular conditional clauses almost exclusively follow the order protasis-apodosis. Third, the authenticating formula varies minimally across the 12 examples, regardless of the type of oath content that follows. Rather, it is preferable to conceive of this authenticating formula as the apodosis of a conditional clause in which the protasis is elided: “[If this oath is false], thus will God do to me.” 2.5.  “(By) the Life of X” This authenticator consists of the term ḥy, followed by the name or title of a deity, king, or another entity considered precious or honored by the oath-taker. The typical translation of the phrase ḥy X ‘as X lives’ or even ‘as surely as X lives’ implies that the phrase positively affirms the living existence of X, usually God himself, as the basis for the truthfulness of the oath. But this is not what the phrase literally means. It simply means ‘life of X’. This most common formula authenticates by the most common means available in all cultures, by invoking a sacred entity to act as witness to and assistance in the utterance of an oath. 9 9.  I also considered the possibility that “life of X” had a negative implication: “the ‘life of X’ be extinguished if this oath is false.” Notwithstanding the usual objections based on the supposed blasphemy of this interpretation (“The ancient Israelites would never consider the possibility that God could cease to exist!”), the chief objections to this hypothesis are crosslinguistic and cross-cultural in nature. Oaths are generally authenticated either by appealing to a precious entity outside oneself or by calling down a curse on oneself if one’s words prove false. To call down a potential curse on a respected third party to verify the varacity of one’s own words is not attested, as far as we know.

25

“(By) the Life of X”  2.5. 

The term ḥy was vocalized by the Masoretes in two distinct ways, depending on whether what followed was the Israelite god (ḥay) or not (ḥê). On the surface, these two vocalizations suggest two different grammatical parts of speech. The ḥay is the proper form for the adjective, and the ḥê is the plural construct form of the noun. The crucial question here is whether the Masoretic vocalization was a true reflection of the ancient pronunciation (and if so, what did this ancient pronunciation represent?) or whether it was an innovation by the Masoretes (and if so, where did it come from, and what did it signify?) or whether there is a little of both at work here. One datum from Ugaritic helps frame the problem: 10 RS 94.2284 has the phrase ḥnpšk ‘the life of your soul’ with the contraction of ḥay to ḥê with no yod. If this noun was already contracting in the Late Bronze Age, and if Hebrew experienced similar development, whence did the Masoretes recover the vocalization ḥay if indeed it was their own innovation, or is it a true reflection of ḥay as an adjective and not a noun in construct? The position that I have taken, which is reflected in the translations and analysis below, is that ḥy, with either vocalization, is always a noun in construct with the following entity. This does not mean that the Masoretes pulled the ḥay vocalization out of thin air or that the ḥay does not ever reflect the ancient pronunciation. The first point to be made is that the Masoretic vocalization distinction is not simply between deities and non-deities; it is between the Israelite god and all other entities. 11 This is illustrated in Amos 8:14, where the illegitimate “gods of Dan” are preceded by ḥê, not ḥay. Second, the majority of the instances of ḥay are before the divine name Yahweh. In this case, there is no reason to doubt that the vocalization is ancient, because there is a solid phonological explanation for it. Though it is in the construct state, the ḥay is preserved because the juxtaposition of the yods produces a short closed syllable, ḥayyahweh, preventing the contraction to ḥê. We have evidence of the ancient plausibility of this vocalization in the Hebrew ostracon Lachish 3:9 (mid-sixth century b.c.e.), ḥyhwh. This “misspelling” (since we also have phrases from Lachish 6:12 and 12:3 spelled ḥy yhwh) may reflect the fact that in pronunciation the yods formed one sound, ḥayyahweh, just as in the Masoretic vocalization of Biblical Hebrew. However, we know full well that the Masoretes did not vocalize any of these phrases as ḥayyahweh, because they avoided vocalizing the name of God. This brings us to the final point: the rationale for the Masoretic transfer of ḥay in connection with other terms referring to the Israelite god. Since the Masoretes were conscious of and actively preserved alternative vocalizations 10.  For full discussion of this text, see §7.1.1 of the appendix. 11. In Akkadian, particularly in Old Babylonian—which shares many features with West Semitic oath formulas—the cognate formula, nîš X ‘life of X’, is always a noun in construct, regardless of whether X is a deity or not.

2.5.  “(By) the Life of X” 

26

of the divine name, it is plausible that they could have transferred the legitimate, ancient, phonologically conditioned vocalization of ḥay preceding Yahweh to other terms referring to the Israelite god and perhaps, along with the phonetic transfer, a grammatical and syntactic transfer was in mind as well. In order to avoid the delicate nature of references to the ‘life of God’, the ḥay could be reinterpreted as an adjective, unambiguously reinforcing the perspective that ‘God lives’. The most difficult hurdles for this position are several instances in which we find ḥay ʾanî, the first-person independent pronoun (Isa 49:18; Jer 22:24, 46:18; Ezek 5:11; 14:16, 18, 20; 16:48; 17:16, 19; 18:3; 20:3, 31, 33; 33:11, 27; 34:8; 35:6, 11; Zeph 2:9). If my analysis of ḥay as a noun is correct, the syntax of a noun in construct with an independent pronoun is very rare (see below). In isolation, the most natural analysis would be as an adjectival predicate clause, ‘I am alive’. But in the context of the wider usage of ḥay in Hebrew and the considerations outlined above, it is preferable to analyze the phrase as a noun in construct with the pronoun. As Greenberg points out, the phrase is represented as coming exclusively from the mouth of Yahweh and thus is Yahweh’s own equivalent to ḥay Yahweh. Though the syntax is rare and a bit awkward, it is known. In Ugaritic, a noun can be in construct with a pronoun (CTA 19 iii:9 dʾiy hmt ‘their pinions’; 23 dʾiy hwt ‘his pinions’; 31 dʾiy hyt ‘her pinions’). In Nah 2:9 in the Hebrew Bible, we find another possible example (if the text is not corrupt), mîmê hîʾ ‘from the days of her’ (= ‘all of her days’). In two other passages, we have examples of the independent pronoun in the genitive after a preposition: 2 Kgs 9:18, ʿaḏ-hem ‘unto them’ and Isa 18:2, nôrɔʾ min-hûʾ ‘[more] fearful than him’. For the questions that prompted this discussion, I give the following answer by way of summary: the vocalization ḥay is ancient but stems from the proximity of this word to the divine name Yahweh, and originally it was always a noun in construct. It was secondarily transferred to other phrases, where it was in construct with terms referring to Yahweh and, with this transfer, there may also have been a transfer of syntax in the mind of the Masoretes, perhaps reanalyzing the ḥay as an adjective for theological purposes. In the first category below (§2.5.1), I present the mention of the authenticator to refer to the act of oath-taking. This phenomenon occurs exclusively in the latter prophets, mostly in Jeremiah. §2.5.2 covers cases where the formula is used in the actual oath. At 76 occurrences, this is the most common authenticator in the Hebrew Bible. It is concentrated in Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel (78%). Fifty-six % of oaths in these books use this authenticator, while only 27% of the oaths outside this group use it. All 4 of the oaths attested in the Hebrew inscriptions use the “life of X” authenticator.

27

“(By) the Life of X”  2.5. 

2.5.1.  Mention of “Life of X” Outside of Oaths In several passages from the latter prophets, the phrase “life of X” is mentioned in reference to oath situations. These texts criticize individuals who swear falsely or carelessly with this formula (see also Jer 4:2, 16:14–15, 23:7– 8, 44:26; Hos 4:5; Amos 8:14). (48)  Jer 5:2 wəʾim ḥay-yhwh yoʾmerû lɔḵen laššɛqɛr yiššɔḇeʿû If they say, “(By) the life of Yahweh,” then they are swearing for deception. (49)  Jer 12:16 . . . ləhiššɔḇeaʿ bišmî ḥay-yhwh kaʾašɛr limməḏû ʾɛṯ-ʿammî ləhiššɔḇeaʿ babbɔʿal. . . . . . . to swear by my name, “(By) the life of Yahweh,” just as they taught my people to swear by Baal. . . . 2.5.2.  Use of “Life of X” as Part of an Actual Oath This is the largest category of oath authenticators, and there is an abundance of variety within this group. 12 I will discuss the various features that are connected with this authenticating element in the paragraphs that follow, keeping in mind that some texts exhibit more than one of these phenomena. As I mentioned in the introduction to this authenticator, the key term in the formula is sometimes vocalized as ḥê. This is the case when the “X” that follows is not the Israelite god (see also Gen 42:15, 1 Sam 1:26, 2 Sam 14:19). (50)  Gen 42:16 ḥê parʿoh kî məraggəlîm ʾattɛm (By) the life of Pharaoh, [I swear] that you are spies. (51)  1 Sam 17:55 ḥê-napšəḵɔ hammɛlɛḵ ʾim-yɔḏɔʿtî (By) the life of your soul, O king, [I swear that,] if I know, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I do not know). Most oaths in the Hebrew Bible that employ this authenticator swear by the Israelite god Yahweh. Thus they are vocalized as ḥay (see also Num 14:21–23, 28; Deut 32:40–41; Judg 8:19; 1 Sam 14:45, 19:6, 20:21, 25:34, 26:10, 16; 28:10; 29:6; 2 Sam 2:27, 4:9–10, 12:5, 14:11; 1 Kgs 1:29–30; 2:24; 17:1, 12; 18:15; 22:14; 2 Kgs 3:14; 5:16, 20; Isa 49:18; Jer 22:24, 38:16, 46:18; Ezek 12.  Ziegler’s analysis of this formula (2008a; 2008b: ch. 4) is restricted to one variation: the ḥay-yhwh formula. This leaves out more than half of all occurrences of this authenticator.

2.5.  “(By) the Life of X” 

28

5:11; 14:16, 18, 20; 16:48; 17:16, 19; 18:3; 20:3, 31, 33; 33:11, 27; 34:8–10; 35:6, 11; Zeph 2:9; Job 27:2–4; Ruth 3:13; 2 Chr 18:13). (52)  1 Sam 14:39 ḥay-yhwh hammôšîaʿ ʾɛṯ-yiśrɔʾel kî ʾim-yɛšnô bəyônɔṯɔn bənî kî môṯ yɔmûṯ. (By) the life of Yahweh the savior of Israel, [I swear] that, if it is with Jonathan my son, then he will certainly die. (53)  1 Kgs 18:10 ḥay yhwh ʾɛlohɛyḵɔ ʾim-yɛš-gôy ûmamlɔḵɔh ʾašɛr loʾ-šɔlaḥ ʾaḏonî šɔm ləḇaqqɛšḵɔ. (By) the life of Yahweh your God, [I swear that,] if there is any nation or kingdom where my lord has not inquired, searching for you, [may I be cursed] (i.e., there is no nation or kingdom). (54)  Jer 38:16 wayyiššɔḇaʿ hammɛlɛḵ . . . ḥay-yhwh ⟨ʾṯ⟩ 13 ʾašɛr ʿɔśɔh-lɔnû ʾɛṯhannɛpɛš hazzoʾṯ ʾim-ʾamîṯɛḵɔ wəʾim-ʾɛttɛnəḵɔ bəyaḏ hɔʾanɔšîm hɔʾellɛh. The king swore: “(By) the life of Yahweh who has given us this life, [I swear that,] if I kill you or if I give you over to these men, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will not kill you or give you over).” There are eight cases of a double-ḥy formula. Six of the eight have Yahweh after the first ḥay and napšəḵɔ after the second (see also 1 Sam 25:26; 2 Sam 11:11; 2 Kgs 2:2, 4, 6; 4:30). (55)  1 Sam 20:3 wəʾûlɔm ḥay-yhwh wəḥê napšɛḵɔ kî ḵəpɛśaʿ bênî ûḇên hammɔwɛṯ. However, (by) the life of Yahweh and (by) the life of your soul, [I swear] that there is but one step between me and death. (56)  2 Sam 15:21 ḥay-yhwh wəḥê ʾaḏonî hammɛlɛḵ kî ʾim-bimqôm ʾašɛr yihyɛhšɔm ʾaḏonî hammɛlɛḵ ʾim-ləmɔwɛṯ ʾim-ləḥayyîm kî-šɔm yihyɛh ʿaḇdɛḵɔ. (By) the life of Yahweh and (by) the life of my lord the king, [I swear] that, wherever my lord the king is (lit.: if in the place where he is there), whether it results in death or life, your servant will be there. 13.  This definite direct-object marker is one of the “eight words written, not read.”

29

“(By) the Life of X”  2.5. 

In one text, the ḥay is omitted. The name of the Israelite god stands alone as the authenticator to the oath. (57)  1 Sam 20:12 yhwh ʾɛlohê yiśrɔʾel kî-ʾeḥqor ʾɛṯ-ʾɔḇî. (By) Yahweh God of Israel, [I swear] that I will investigate my father. The inscriptional data are unvocalized, but in all four examples the ḥy is followed by “Yahweh.” As I argued above, it would likely have been pronounced ḥay (see also Lachish 12:3; Arad 21:5). (58)  Lach 3:9 ḥyhwh ʾm nsh ʾyš lqrʾ ly spr lnṣḥ. (By) the life of Yahweh, [I swear that,] if anyone has ever tried to read a letter to me, [may I be cursed] (i.e., no one has ever tried.). (59)  Lach 6:12–13 ḥy yhwh ʾlhyk k[y m]ʾz qrʾ ʿbdk ʾt hsprm lʾ hyh lʿb[dk . . .]. (By) the life of Yahweh your God, [I swear] th[at, si]nce your servant read the letter, [your se]rvant has not had. . . . In two of these texts, the authenticating element follows the content of the oath. In fact, these are the only two oaths with this order in the entire Hebrew Bible (see §5.131 below). (60)  1 Sam 20:21 ʾim-ʾɔmor ʾomar lannaʿar hinneh haḥiṣṣîm mimməḵɔ wɔhennɔh qɔḥɛnnû wɔḇoʾɔh kî-šɔlôm ləḵɔ wəʾên dɔḇɔr ḥay-yhwh. If I tell the lad, “Look, the arrows are on this side of you; take them,” then come, for you are safe, and there is no problem—(by) the life of Yahweh [I swear it]. (61)  Ruth 3:13 wəʾim-loʾ yaḥpoṣ ləḡɔʾɔleḵ ûḡəʾaltîḵ ʾɔnoḵî ḥay-yhwh. if he is not willing to redeem you, then I myself will redeem you; (by) the life of Yahweh, [I swear it]. In 23 texts, the X of the “life of X” formula is the independent first-personcommon singular pronoun. In all but one, it is the form ʾanî, and in Deut 32, it is in the long form, ʾɔnoḵî. In all these passages, the speaker is the Israelite god. Of these 23, 16 appear in Ezekiel. Another feature that is prominent in oaths in Ezekiel is the speech formula, nəʾum DN ‘declares DN’. Thirteen of the 18 occurrences of this formula together with the ḥay-ʾɔnî formula are found in Ezekiel (see also Num 14:28; Isa 49:18; Jer 22:24, 46:18; Zeph 2:9).

2.6.  Conclusion 

30

(62)  Ezek 16:48 ḥay-ʾɔnî nəʾum ʾaḏonɔy yhwh ʾim-ʿɔśəṯɔh səḏom ʾaḥôṯeḵ hîʾ ûḇənôṯɛyhɔ kaʾašɛr ʿɔśîṯ ʾatt ûḇənôṯɔyiḵ. . . . “(By) my life,” declares Lord Yahweh, “[I swear that,] if Sodom your sister acted—she and her daughters—like you and your daughters have acted, [may I be cursed]” (i.e., [she] did not act like . . .). 2.6. Conclusion In this chapter, I have identified a diverse collection of formulas that share a common purpose of solemnizing or authenticating the content of an oath. With rare and isolated exceptions, many of these formulas have gone unnoticed in previous discussions of oaths, while the formulas that are well known (§§2.3, 2.4, 2.5) have been segregated and labeled based solely on their particular form and function, resulting in a proliferation of categories and terminology with no unifying principle. The “thus will God do” formula (§2.4) has been labeled variously as “protasis” (Joüon 1993: §165a; Follingstad 2001: 12), “apodosis” (Bandstra 1982: 144), “optative formula” (Joüon 1993: §165a), “imprecatory formula” (DCH 1:304a), “curse/self-curse formula” (Waltke and O’Connor 1990, §40.2.2a n. 18), or simply “oath formula” (Williams 1976: §456; Ziegler 2008b: 60). The “life of X” formula (§2.5) has been called “exclamatory formula” (Joüon 1993: §165e), “exclamatory protasis” (Follingstad 2001: 12), “introductory formula” (Gibson 1994: 187), or simply “oath formula” (Gogel 1998: 284; Ziegler 2008b: 87). The swearing formula (§2.3), meanwhile, has not been recognized as a distinct means of authenticating an oath but is simply recognized as the verb normally used to introduce oaths. However, this atomistic, ad hoc approach cannot do justice to either the range or the unity of the authenticating strategies that are used in Biblical Hebrew oaths. This study has given due attention to the individual forms and functions of the various formulas, but it has also been able to demonstrate that the underlying function that is fundamental and common to all of these formulas is oath authentication. The structure of the components of the oath helps to confirm this common function: With only two exceptions, the authenticating element always precedes the content of the oath. In the following chapters, I will examine the other element of Biblical Hebrew oaths, the content of the oath, in particular the means of introducing this content. Chapter 3 covers the conditionally formulated oath, ch. 4 is about oaths marked by the particle ky, and ch. 5 discusses the exceptions to these and objections to alternative assertions regarding oath content in Hebrew.

Chapter 3

Conditionally Formulated Oaths After listening to a soldier’s incredible story of killing 60,000 flying men, the pimp in Poenulus begins the following exchange: 1 Lycus:

Gad! If that ever took place, may Jupiter take me and make me sacrifice eternally with never one good omen.

Antamonides: You do not believe me? Lycus:

I believe you—just as I should be believed myself.

The pimp had a knack for circumlocution, but at least he swore with a full conditional clause. The oaths under consideration in this chapter are equally circumlocutory. The most common way of presenting the content of an oath in Biblical Hebrew is by formulating it as an incomplete conditional sentence. These oaths appear in the form of a conditional protasis. The consensus of scholars is that an apodosis expressing some negative consequence is understood to be elided. Negative oaths use the conditional particle ʾm, for example, (63)  ʾim-ʾɛʿɛzbɛḵɔ if I forsake you, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will not forsake you), while positive oaths use ʾm-lʾ, for example, (64)  ʾim-loʾ zôʾṯ ʾeʿ  ɛśɛh if I do not do this, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will do this). Analyzing these oaths as elliptical conditional sentences makes intuitive sense, and the result is meaningful. But is there some way to confirm the assumption that is currently the consensus of opinion? My method will be threefold. First, I will summarize the principal Hebrew grammars on conditional-clause syntax using the particle ʾm to see if oaths of this type conform to or diverge from regular conditional-clause syntax. Then I will offer the results of my own study of ʾm-conditional clauses in 1 Samuel as a baseline for what 1.  Plautus, Poenulus (trans. P. Nixon; LCL 260; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932).

31

3.1.  Secondary Literature on Conditional-Clause Syntax

32

follows. 2 Finally, I will examine conditional oaths, first oaths with ʾm, followed by oaths with ʾm-lʾ, to see how the syntax of conditional oaths compares with regular conditional-clause syntax. 3.1.  Summary of Secondary Literature on Conditional-Clause Syntax The early treatments of both Driver and GKC present the most systematic and comprehensive summaries of the morphosyntactic possibilities in the conditional protasis together with the possibilities in the apodosis. Without reproducing the data here, I will say that these presentations demonstrate that the protasis can contain an imperfective, 3 perfective, or nominal clause, and the apodosis can contain an imperfective, perfective, waw-consecutive + perfective, volitive, or nominal clause. Any combination of these in each clause is possible. GKC also notes that the apodosis may rarely precede the protasis, but most of the examples are dubious, for various reasons. Genesis 18:28 and 30 are the only unambiguous examples. In Judg 11:10, the supposed apodosis is actually an oath authenticator and is not the apodosis of the conditional protasis (see this text in §2.2 above). The other two examples cited are from poetic texts, and in poetry, clause order cannot be expected consistently to adhere to the prosaic norms (Ps 63:6ff., 137:6 [chiastic parallelism with v. 5]). Joüon offers a very brief summary that illustrates the variation that conditional clauses can exhibit but adds nothing new to Driver or GKC. He organizes his presentation according to the time of the situation in relation to verbal conjugation in the protasis: Past: Protasis in qatal (perfective) or yiqtol (imperfective) Future: Protasis in yiqtol (imperfective) Present: Protasis in qatal (perfective) or yiqtol (imperfective)

Joüon’s sketch reveals nothing about the frequency of the various options and leaves out nominal clauses altogether. His presentation illustrates the problem with a “tense” theory of the Hebrew verbal system: almost any conjugation can be used to refer to any time situation, so it is problematic to assign tense to Hebrew verbs. Joüon also notes that only rarely does the apodosis precede the protasis: Gen 18:28, 30; 42:37. Waltke and O’Connor do not dedicate an entire section to conditional clauses, but the most in-depth analysis is in ch. 32, on the weqatal verb. Based 2.  I have chosen 1 Samuel as my test sample for the small-scale studies in this chapter and the next primarily because 1 Samuel contains the highest number of oaths of any canonical book in the Bible, and 1 Samuel is among the books of the Bible that exhibit what is considered to be “Standard Biblical Hebrew.” 3.  Only one possible volitive form is suggested with some caution by GKC, a cohortative in Gen 30:31.

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Special Study of Conditional-Clause Syntax in 1 Samuel 3.2.

on Byblian-Canaanite data, they propose an original function of weqatal as the apodosis of a conditional clause, which later became a fully imperfective form. One of the most comprehensive statements that they offer on conditional-clause syntax also happens to be an erroneous statement: “If the protasis of a conditional clause has a non-perfective form with a contingent-future sense . . . the apodosis is introduced by [weqatal].” This statement is contradicted by several texts in my study of 1 Samuel below, for example, 6:9, 12:25, 20:7, and 20:21–22. We may summarize what we know from these secondary treatments: (1) the particle ʾm introduces “real” conditions (as opposed to “irreal”); (2) in the protasis, it is impossible for waw-consecutive forms to come immediately after the conditional particle, but in a compound protasis, waw-consecutive + perfective verbs can occur; besides this, imperfective (indicative), perfective, and nominal clauses are found in the protasis; (3) in the apodosis, waw-consecutive + perfective, imperfective (including volitive forms), perfective, volitive, and nominal clauses are found; (4) with only three certain exceptions in two different contexts, all in Genesis (Gen 18:28, 30; 42:37), the order of clauses is protasis-apodosis. 3.2.  Special Study of Conditional-Clause Syntax in 1 Samuel Before presenting the results of my survey of conditional-clause syntax in 1 Samuel, I consider it helpful to provide a brief sketch of my understanding of the Hebrew prose verbal system. Essentially, I view the system as aspectual. The perfective aspect, signifying complete acts, is indicated with two forms: the qatal (or suffix-conjugation), and the wayyiqtol (or the so-called wawconsecutive + imperfect). The imperfective aspect, signifying incomplete acts, is indicated with two forms: the yiqtol (or prefix-conjugation), and the weqatal (or the so-called waw-consecutive + perfect). Each aspectual group has a foregrounding form and a backgrounding form: Foregrounding Backgrounding

Perfective wayyiqtol qatal

Imperfective weqatal yiqtol

In this system, time or “tense” is indicated by contextual clues. Though certain forms may be used more frequently with certain time frames (e.g., the wayyiqtol with the past), all four forms may be used for multiple temporal situations. I have organized the following summary first according to the type of predicate in the conditional protasis and second according to the position of the predicate within the clause. There are two translations for each text, the first is a literal, word-for-word rendering (A); the second is idiomatic (B). In the

3.2.  Special Study of Conditional-Clause Syntax in 1 Samuel

34

analysis of each text, the syntactical representation begins with the constituent immediately following the conditional particle. 3.2.1.  Nominal Clause There are 34 conditional clauses using the particle ʾm in 1 Samuel. In 8 of these 34, the protasis consists of a nominal clause. In 7 texts, the nominal clause immediately follows the conditional particle (§3.2.1.1). In the 8th text, the nominal clause is preceded by another constituent, a prepositional phrase (§3.2.1.2). 3.2.1.1.  Nominal Clause as Initial Constituent See also 11:3, 14:39, 15:17, 19:11, 20:8, 23:23. (65)  1 Sam 6:3 ʾim-məšalləḥîm ʾɛṯ-ʾarôn . . . ʾal-təšalləḥû ʾoṯô rêqɔm. Translation A: If sending the-ark . . . not you-will-send it empty. Translation B: If (you are going to) send the ark . . . do not send it empty. Analysis: Protasis:  NC (Pred only; Subj lacking) Obj Apodosis:  Neg-Impf (Juss) Obj Adv 3.2.1.2.  Nominal Clause Preceded by Single Constituent (66)  1 Sam 7:3 ʾim-bəḵɔl-ləḇaḇḵɛm ʾattɛm šɔḇîm ʾɛl-yhwh hɔsîrû . . . wəhɔḵînû . . . wəʿiḇḏuhû. Translation A: If in-all-of your-heart you turning to Yahweh, remove . . . andset . . . and-serve-him. Translation B: If you are going to turn to Yahweh with all your heart, (then) remove . . . and set . . . and serve him. Analysis: Protasis:  PrPh NC (pronoun; participle) PrPh Apodosis:  Imv Imv Imv 3.2.2.  Perfective Verb In 5 of these 34 clauses, the first verb of the protasis is perfective. In three texts the verb immediately follows the conditional particle (§3.2.2.1). In one text, the verb is preceded by a single constituent, the subject (§3.2.2.2). In the

35

Special Study of Conditional-Clause Syntax in 1 Samuel 3.2.

final text, the verb is gapped and presumed perfective because it is parallel to a perfective in the preceding clause (§3.2.2.3). 3.2.2.1.  Perfective Verb as Initial Constituent See also 21:5, 27:5. (67)  1 Sam 20:29 ʾim-mɔṣɔʾṯî ḥen bəʿênɛyḵɔ ʾimmɔləṭɔh nɔʾ wəʾɛrʾɛh ʾɛṯ-ʾɛḥɔy. Translation A: If I-found grace in-your-eyes let-me-escape and-I-will-see mybrothers. Translation B: If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away so that I may see my brothers. Analysis: Protasis:  Perf Obj PrPh Apodosis:  Impf (Coh) Conj-Impf Obj In 1 Sam 20:29, the apodosis consists of a volitive construction roughly outlined in Lambdin’s introductory grammar of Hebrew and clarified by Pardee (1994) in a review of another grammar, in which a volitive is followed by an imperfective, preceded by a simple waw. The force of the second element of the construction is that of purpose, ‘so that . . .’. 3.2.2.2.  Perfective Verb Preceded by Single Constituent (68)  1 Sam 26:19a ʾim-yhwh hɛsîṯḵɔ ḇî yɔraḥ minḥɔh wəʾim bənê hɔʾɔḏɔm ʾarûrîm hem lipnê yhwh. Translation A: If Yahweh he-incited-you in-me may-he-accept a-gift and-if thesons-of the-man accursed they before Yahweh. Translation B: If Yahweh incited you against me, (then) he might accept an offering; but if (it was) humans, (then may) they be cursed before Yahweh. Analysis: Protasis:  Subj Perf PrPh Apodosis:  Impf (Juss) Obj

3.2.  Special Study of Conditional-Clause Syntax in 1 Samuel

36

3.2.2.3.  Perfective Verb Is Gapped (69)  1 Sam 26:19b ʾim-yhwh hɛsîṯḵɔ ḇî yɔraḥ minḥɔh wəʾim bənê hɔʾɔḏɔm ʾarûrîm hem lipnê yhwh. Translation A: If Yahweh he-incited-you in-me may-he-accept a-gift and-if thesons-of the-man accursed they before Yahweh. Translation B: If Yahweh incited you against me, (then) he might accept an offering; but if (it was) humans, (then may) they be cursed before Yahweh. Analysis: Protasis:  Subj (verb supplied from preceding clause) Apodosis:  NC (participle; pronoun) PrPh 3.2.3.  Imperfective Verb In the remaining 21 clauses, the first verb following the conditional particle is imperfective. 4 In 13 of these, the verb is the first constituent following the ʾm (§3.2.3.1). In the final 8 clauses, a single constituent precedes the verb (§3.2.3.2). 3.2.3.1.  Imperfective Verb as Initial Constituent   See also 2:16, 25a; 3:9; 6:9b; 12:14, 15; 17:9a; 20:6, 7b, 9, 21. (70)  1 Sam 1:11 ʾim-rɔʾoh ṯirʾɛh . . . ûzəḵartanî wəloʾ-ṯiškaḥ . . . wənɔṯattɔh . . . ûnəṯattîw . . . ûmôrɔh loʾ-yaʿalɛh ʿal-roʾšô. Translation A: If seeing you-see . . . and-you-remember-me and-not youforget . . . and-you-give . . . and-I-will-give-him . . . and-a-razor not it-will-go-up upon-his-head. Translation B: If you do see . . . and remember and don’t forget . . . and give . . . (then) I will give . . . and no razor will touch his head. Analysis: Protasis:  InfA+Impf Weq Conj-Neg-Impf Weq Apodosis:  Weq Conj-Subj Neg-Impf PrPh

4.  In a protasis with multiple verbs, the noninitial verbs are invariably either weqatal or imperfectives following a negative particle.

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Oath Content Introduced by ʾm 3.3. (71)  1 Sam 12:25 wəʾim hɔreaʿ tɔreʿû gam-ʾattɛm gam-malkəḵɛm tissɔpû. Translation A: And-if do-evil you-do-evil [Adv] you [Adv] your-kings you-willbe-swept-away. Translation B: If you do evil, both you and your king, you will be swept away. Analysis: Protasis:  InfA+Impf Subj Apodosis: Impf

3.2.3.2.  Imperfective Verb Preceded by Single Constituent See also 6:9a; 14:9, 10; 17:9b; 20:7a, 22; 21:10. (72)  1 Sam 2:25 ʾim-yɛḥɛṭɔʾ ʾîš ləʾîš ûpiləlô ʾɛlohîm wəʾim layhwh yɛḥɛṭɔʾʾîš mî yiṯpallɛl-lô? Translation A: If he-sins a-man to-a-man and-he-will-be-an-arbitrater-him God and-if to-Yahweh he-sins a-man who will-intercede for-him? Translation B: If one man sins against another, God may arbitrate for him, but if a man sins against Yahweh, who will intercede for him? Analysis: Protasis:  PrPh Impf Subj Apodosis:  my (interrogative particle) Impf PrPh The morphosyntax of the 34 conditional-clause protases in 1 Samuel can be summarized in the following table: Table 1.  Conditional Protases in 1 Samuel

Nominal Clause Perfective Verb Imperfective Verb

As Initial Constituent  7  3 13

Preceded by Single Constituent 1 1 8

Verb Gapped — 1 —

3.3.  Oath Content Introduced by ʾm We turn now to the oaths in the Hebrew Bible that take the form of a conditional protasis. There are 74 oaths introduced by ʾm in 61 texts. Following

3.3.  Oath Content Introduced by ʾm

38

the translation of each text (1 literal, 1 idiomatic), I indicate the verbal syntax following the conditional particle in the analysis. 3.3.1.  Nominal Clause In 3 of these oaths, a nominal clause is used. The clause immediately follows the conditional particle in each case (see also 2 Sam 14:19, 1 Kgs 18:10). (73)  1 Kgs 17:12 ḥay-yhwh ʾɛlohɛyḵɔ ʾim-yɛš-lî mɔʿôḡ. Translation A: The-life-of Yahweh your-God if there-is to-me a-cake. Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh your God, [I swear that,] if I have any cake, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I have no cake). Analysis: ʾm NC ( yš + l-; noun) 3.3.2.  Perfective Verb In 4 of these oaths, a perfective verb is used. In each case, the verb is the initial constituent following the conditional particle (see also 1 Sam 25:34, Ezek 16:48). (74)  1 Sam 17:55 ḥê-napšəḵɔ hammɛlɛḵ ʾim-yɔḏɔʿtî. Translation A: The-life-of your-soul the-king if I-knew. Translation B: (By) the life of your soul, O king, [I swear that,] if I know, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I do not know). Analysis: ʾm Perf (alone) (75)  Lach 3:9 ḥyhwh ʾm nsh ʾyš lqrʾ ly spr lnṣḥ. Translation A: The-life-of-Yahweh, if he-has-tried a-man to-read to-me a-letter for-perpetuity. Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh, [I swear that,] if anyone has ever tried to read a letter to me, [may I be cursed] (i.e., no one has ever tried). Analysis: ʾm Perf Subj InfC PrPh Obj PrPh

39

Oath Content Introduced by ʾm 3.3.

3.3.3.  Imperfective Verb In the remaining 67 of these 74 oaths, an imperfective verb is used. The verb is the first constituent in 60 of these (§3.3.3.1). In the remaining 7, a single constituent precedes the verb (§3.3.3.2). 3.3.3.1.  Imperfective Verb as Initial Constituent See also Gen 21:23, 26:28–29, 31:49–50, 42:15; Num 14:21–23, 32:10–11; Deut 1:34–35; 1 Sam 3:14, 17; 19:6; 24:22; 25:22; 28:10; 30:15; 2 Sam 11:11, 14:11, 19:8; 1 Kgs 1:51, 2:8, 20:10; 2 Kgs 2:2, 4, 6; 3:14; 4:30; 5:16; 6:31; Isa 62:8; Jer 38:16, 44:26; Ezek 18:3; 20:3, 31; 33:11; Amos 8:7; Ps 95:11, 132:2–4; Job 6:28, 27:2–4; Song 2:7, 3:5, 5:8; Neh 13:25. (76)  Judg 5:8 mɔḡen ʾim-yerɔʾɛh wɔromaḥ. Translation A: A-shield if it-is-seen and-a-lance. Translation B: If any shield or lance was seen, [may I be cursed] (i.e., no shield or lance was seen). Analysis: Subj ʾm Impf Subj (77)  1 Sam 14:45 ḥay-yhwh ʾim-yippol miśśaʿaraṯ roʾšô ʾarṣɔh. Translation A: The-life-of Yahweh if it-falls the-hair-of his-head ground-ward. Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh, [I swear that,] if a hair of his head falls to the ground, [may I be cursed] (i.e., not a hair of his head will fall). Analysis: ʾm Impf Subj Adv (78)  1 Kgs 17:1 ḥay-yhwh ʾɛlohê yiśrɔʾel ʾašɛr ʿɔmaḏtî ləpɔnɔyw ʾim-yihyɛh haššɔnîm hɔʾellɛh ṭal ûmɔṭɔr kî ʾim-ləpî ḏəḇɔrî. Translation A: The-life-of Yahweh the-God-of Israel who I-stand before-him if there-will-be the-years the-these dew and-rain except to-themouth-of my-word. Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh God of Israel, before whom I stand, [I

3.3.  Oath Content Introduced by ʾm

40

swear that,] if there is any dew or rain these years except at my word, [may I be cursed] (i.e., there will be no dew or rain). Analysis: ʾm Impf Adv Pred (79)  Isa 22:14 ʾim-yəḵuppar hɛʿɔwôn hazzɛh lɔḵɛm ʿaḏ-təmuṯûn. Translation A: If it-will-be-atoned the-guilt the-this for-you until you-will-die. Translation B: If this guilt is atoned for you until you die, [may I be cursed] (i.e., this guilt will not be atoned for you until you die). Analysis: ʾm Impf Subj PrPh PrPh 3.3.3.2.  Imperfective Verb Preceded by Single Constituent See also Gen 14:22–23, 31:52; Num 14:30; 2 Sam 3:35; Ezek 14:16, 20. (80)  Ps 89:36 ʾaḥaṯ nišbaʿtî ḇəqɔḏšî ʾim-ləḏɔwiḏ ʾaḵazzeḇ. Translation A: One I-swore in-my-holiness, if to-David I-will-lie. Translation B: One thing I swear by my holiness [that,] if I lie to David, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will not lie). Analysis: ʾm PrPh Impf We can summarize these data in table 2, parallel to table 1 above (§3.2). Table 2.  Conditional Oaths with ʾm

Nominal Clause Perfective Verb Imperfective Verb

As Initial Constituent  3  4 60

Preceded by Single Constituent — — 7

A comparison of tables 1 and 2 shows that both regular conditional protases in 1 Samuel and oaths marked by ʾm prefer imperfective verbs, though the percentage of imperfectives is much higher in oaths (90%) than regular conditional protases (62%). We can also see that oaths allow a constituent to inter-

41

Oath Content Introduced by ʾm-lʾ 3.4.

vene between the conditional particle and the predicating constituent(s) much less frequently (9%) than regular conditional protases in 1 Samuel (29%). 3.4.  Oath Content Introduced by ʾm-lʾ There are 37 oath clauses introduced by ʾm-lʾ in 33 passages. The format of the examples follows the formatting used above. 3.4.1.  Nominal Clause Four oaths use a nominal clause. In three of them, the nominal clause is the initial constituent following the conditional particle and the negative particle lʾ (§3.4.1.1) In one text, the nominal clause is preceded by a compound phrase (§3.4.1.2). 3.4.1.1.  Nominal Clause as Initial Constituent See also Isa 10:9 (2×). (81)  Job 17:2 ʾim-loʾ haṯulîm ʿimmɔḏî Translation A: If not the-mockery with-me. Translation B: If mockery is not around me, [may I be cursed] (i.e., mockery is around me). Analysis: ʾm-lʾ NC (noun; PrPh) 3.4.1.2.  Nominal Clause Preceded by Two or More Constituents (82)  Ezek 34:8–10 ḥay-ʾɔnî nəʾum ʾaḏonɔy yhwh ʾim-loʾ yaʿan . . . lɔḵen . . . hinənî ʾɛlhɔroʿîm. . . . Translation A: The-life-of I declaration-of my-lord Yahweh if not because . . .  therefore . . . behold-I to the-shepherds . . . Translation B: “(By) my life,” declares Lord Yahweh, “[I swear that,] because (the case is such), therefore . . . if I am not against the shepherds . . .[may I be cursed]” (i.e., I am against the shepherds). Analysis: ʾm-lʾ yʿn . . . lkn NC (hnny; PrPh) This assertory oath contains the sequence yʿn . . . lkn. The yʿn clause provides the reason for the assertion provided in the lkn clause. This sequence puts a

3.4.  Oath Content Introduced by ʾm-lʾ

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great deal of space between the conditional ʾm-lʾ and the predicate it modifies. In the idiomatic translation, I have brought the two together. 3.4.2.  Perfective Verb In 8 of the 37 oaths, the verb is perfective. This verb is the initial constituent in 4 of these (§3.4.2.1). It is preceded by a single constituent in 4 (§3.4.2.2). 3.4.2.1.  Perfective Verb as Initial Constituent See also Jer 15:11 (2×); Ps 131:2. (83)  Job 22:20 ʾim-loʾ niḵḥaḏ qîmɔnû. Translation A: If not he-is-destroyed our-enemy. Translation B: If our adversary is not destroyed, [may I be cursed] (i.e., our adversary is destroyed). Analysis: ʾm-lʾ Perf Subj 3.4.2.2.  Perfective Verb Preceded by Single Constituent See also Ezek 35:6, 36:5. (84)  Isa 14:24 nišbaʿ yhwh ṣəḇɔʾôṯ leʾmor ʾim-loʾ kaʾašɛr dimmîṯî ken hɔyɔṯɔh. Translation A: He-swore Yahweh-of armies saying, “If not just-as I-intended, thus it-is.” Translation B: Yahweh of Armies swears: “If it is not just as I intended, [may I be cursed]” (i.e., it will be just as I intended). Analysis:   ʾm-lʾ kʾšr Perf kn Perf (85)  2 Kgs 9:26 ʾim-loʾ ʾɛṯ-dəmê nɔḇôṯ wəʾɛṯ-dəmê ḇɔnɔyw rɔʾîṯî ʾɛmɛš. Translation A: If not the-blood-of Naboth and the-blood-of his-sons I-saw yesterday. Translation B: If I did not see the bloodshed of Naboth and his sons yesterday, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I saw the bloodshed . . .). Analysis:  ʾm-lʾ Obj Perf Adv

43

Oath Content Introduced by ʾm-lʾ 3.4.

3.4.3.  Imperfective Verb In the remaining 25 of these oaths, the first verb is an imperfective. The imperfective verb is the initial constituent in 8 of them (3.4.3.1). It is preceded by a single constituent in 11 (3.4.3.2). In the final 6 texts, it is preceded by two or more consituents (3.4.3.3). 3.4.3.1.  Imperfective Verb as Initial Constituent See also 1 Kgs 20:25; Jer 22:6, 49:20 [2×], 50:45 [2×]; Mal 3:10. (86)  1 Kgs 20:23 wəʾûlɔm nillɔḥem ʾittɔm bammîšôr ʾim-loʾ nɛḥɛzaq mehɛm. Translation A: And-rather we-will-fight with-them in-the-plain if not we-willbe-strong from-them. Translation B: Instead, let us fight them in the plain. If we are not stronger than them, [may I be cursed] (i.e., we will be stronger than them). Analysis: ʾm-lʾ Impf PrPh 3.4.3.2.  Imperfective Verb Preceded by Single Constituent See also Gen 24:37–38; Num 14:28; Judg 11:10; 2 Sam 19:14; Jer 42:5; Ezek 5:11, 20:33, 38:19; Job 1:11, 2:5. (87)  Num 14:35 ʾim-loʾ zoʾṯ ʾɛʿɛśɛh ləḵɔl-hɔʿeḏɔh hɔrɔʿɔh hazzoʾt hannôʾɔḏîm ʿɔlɔy. Translation A: If not this I-will-do to-all-of the-congregation the-evil the-this the-joined against-me. Translation B: If I do not do this to this whole evil congregation that has joined against me, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will do this). Analysis: ʾm-lʾ Obj Impf PrPh 3.4.3.3.  Imperfective Verb Preceded by Two or More Constituents See also Isa 5:9; Ezek 17:16, 19; 33:27; 36:6–7. (88)  Josh 14:9 wayyiššɔḇaʿ mošɛh . . . ʾim-loʾ hɔʾɔrɛṣ ʾašɛr dɔrəḵɔh raḡləḵɔ bɔh ləḵɔ ṯ ihyɛh.

3.5.  Conclusion on Conditionally Framed Oaths

44

Translation A: And-he-swore Moses . . . if not the-land which it-treads your-feet in-it to-you it-will-be. Translation B: Moses swore: “If the land on which your foot treads will not be yours, [may I be cursed]” (i.e., the land on which your foot treads will be yours). Analysis: ʾm-lʾ Subj-Clause PrPh Impf Again, we can summarize the data in a table parallel to tables 1 and 2 above: Table 3.  Conditional Oaths with ʾm-lʾ

Nominal Clause Perfective Verb Imperfective Verb

As Initial Constituent 3 4 8

Preceded by Single Constituent —  4 11

Preceded by Two or More Constituents  1 —  6

Regarding table 3, a comparison with regular conditional protases in 1 Samuel (table 1) shows one significant similarity and one significant disparity. Both tables reveal a very closely proportioned distribution among imperfective, nominal, and perfective predicators, 21-8-5 (table 1) and 25-4-8 (table 3), respectively. In both sets of data, imperfective verbs are favored over perfective verbs and nominal clauses combined by a margin of roughly 2–1. In this respect the ʾm-lʾ-oath data mirror the regular conditional data closer than do the ʾm-oath data; the distribution from table 2 is 67-3-4. The major difference between ʾm-lʾ oaths and conditional protases in 1 Samuel is that the former are found with two constituents between the conditional particle and the predicator six times, one-quarter of the total, while regular conditional protases in 1 Samuel are never found with more than one constituent intervening between the particle and the predicator. 3.5.  Conclusion on Conditionally Framed Oaths The oaths introduced by ʾm and ʾm-lʾ fit the descriptions of regular conditional clause protases outlined in §3.1. First, these protases are used for “real” conditions. Examples of “irreal” conditions in oaths following the particle ky are discussed in §4.3.3.2 below. Second, the wide variety of predicates that are possible in regular conditional protases also occur in conditional oaths.

45

Conclusion on Conditionally Framed Oaths  3.5.

The following table is an aggregate of tables 1, 2, and 3, comparing the incidence of Impf, NC, and Perf predicators, respectively, in regular conditional clauses (first three columns), oaths with ʾm (middle three columns), and oaths with ʾm-lʾ (last three columns). The horizontal rows break these numbers down further based on whether the predicator is the initial constituent after the conditional particle or whether it is preceded by a single constituent, two constituents, or a compound sentence. Table 4.  Summary of Tables 1, 2, and 3

Initial Single Double Comp.

Conditional Clause in 1 Sam (Table 1) Impf NC Perf 13  7  3  8  1  1 — — — — — —

Oaths with ʾm (Table 2) Impf NC 60  3  7 — — — — —

Perf  4 — — —

Oaths with ʾm-lʾ (Table 3) Impf NC Perf  8  3  4 11 —  4  6 — — —  1 —

Table 4 reveals, in broad terms, that both types of conditional oaths mirror regular conditional-clause protases in preferring imperfective verbs as predicators. Oaths with ʾm are extreme in this preference, while oaths with ʾm-lʾ are very close in proportion to regular conditional protases. The second significant point is the way in which oaths with ʾm-lʾ tend to depart from regular conditional syntax in allowing two constituents (6 times, and in 1 additional case, a long series of clauses) to intervene between the conditional particle and the predicator. The effect of this in these texts (5 of the 7 are in Ezekiel) is that ʾm-lʾ gets so far separated from the predicate to which it belongs that it is tempting to treat it as simply an independent asseverative expression, ‘surely’. This phenomenon is never encountered in oaths with ʾm, which in fact prefer to keep the predicator immediately following the conditional particle to a greater degree even than regular conditional protases do. These conclusions help confirm the impression long held about conditionally formulated oaths in Biblical Hebrew. They are true conditional protases of conditional sentences in which an apodosis that would have expressed a negative outcome has been elided.

Chapter 4

Oaths Marked with ky Profane and vulgar swearing is often referred to as the use of “four-letter words.” In matters of real legal importance, words of even fewer letters can become the subject of dispute. Perhaps the most infamous recent example was a U.S. President’s attempt to answer a question about his actions, under oath, by stating, “It depends on what the meaning of the word is is.” The meaning of a large class of oaths in Biblical Hebrew hangs on the interpretation of another two-letter word. We have seen that the majority of oaths in Biblical Hebrew are formulated as the protasis of a conditional sentence with an elided apodosis. The other means of marking oaths is through the use of the particle ky. In this chapter, I will begin by summarizing the secondary literature on the function of this particle as it occurs in all contexts in Hebrew—some 4,500 times in Biblical Hebrew alone. Then I will present the results of my own study of 1 Samuel, in which we find the particle ky about 250 times. Based on these semantic and morphosyntactic findings, I will attempt to place the function of this particle as it is used in oaths within the larger context of the particle. 4.1.  Summary of ky Syntax from Secondary Literature Clausal order gives us the first syntactical clue for the interpretation of the particle ky. In a relatively small percentage of cases, the ky clause precedes the main clause and marks a circumstantial clause with a conditional (“if”), temporal (“when”), or causal (“since”) nuance. In casuistic discourse, for example, in the legal material of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, ky may be used to mark a more general condition in a series, with subsequent specific cases beginning with ʾm. More often, however, we find the circumstantial ky clause introduced by one of the waw-consecutive conjugations of the verb hyh, a common circumstantial construction, followed by the main clause. More commonly, the ky clause follows the clause to which it relates. If it follows a negative clause, the context may require the translation as adversative, ‘but, rather’. This usage is plausibly a subset of the causal function (below). If it follows a verb of speech, sense, or one of the various aspects of cognition (e.g., belief, regret, memory), the ky serves as a complementizer to this verb, for example: ‘he knew that . . .’. The particle may also be used to mark the 46

47

  Special Study of ky Syntax in 1 Samuel 4.2.

apodosis of a conditional or other compound clause. The large balance of ky clauses fits roughly into the category normally labeled causal. Claassen makes a good start at unraveling this broad category by showing the various types of causal relations that ky clauses can represent, including evidence, reason, and motivation. Within this latter subcategory of motivation, he includes clauses that exemplify or provide parenthetic information about the preceding clause, and here he also treats the use of ky after questions—for example, in Ps 8:5, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” This use of the particle after questions is sometimes called consecutive. There are 46 oaths that use the particle ky. Most of them do not readily fall into any of these categories. Schoors believes that a large number of ky clauses are emphatic, and under this banner he places oaths, along with ky marking apodoses of conditional sentences, and adversatives. Though these categories are clearly identifiable by the kind of clause that precedes the ky clause (an authenticating formula, a protasis, and a negative clause, respectively), the different meanings or functions of the ky in the subsequent clauses are not successfully elucidated by the single term emphatic. Aejmelaeus recognizes a much smaller number of emphatic uses of ky, and primary among them, in her opinion, are the oaths. Likewise, Follingstad cites the ky in oaths as the primary case in which the emphatic/asseverative function cannot be abandoned. Bandstra does not resort to the asseverative explanation, but his preference for seeing ky in oaths as either causal or adversative is not clearly or convincingly argued. Claassen would place the oaths within the “motivational” subset of the causal functions of ky, but he does not elaborate on how this would work. The only thing that is clear from this summary is that the use of ky in oaths is in need of a fresh look. 4.2.  Special Study of ky Syntax in 1 Samuel There are about 255 instances of ky in 1 Samuel, not including a handful where the text is problematic (2:21, 12:21a, 18:25, 21:6a, 27:1). Eleven are found in compound with another particle (e.g., ʾp ky, ky ʾm). There are 3 that mark the apodosis of a conditional clause (14:30b, 14:39c, 25:34b). There are 8 circumstantial clauses (1:12, 10:7a, 13:11a, 17:48, 22:22a, 24:20, 25:30, 28:22 [?]). There are 6 certain examples in which the clause introduced by ky is adversative to the preceding clause (1:22, 2:16, 6:3, 8:7b, 10:19, 12:12b) and 2 texts where the ky could be translated as either adversative or causal (15:35a, 17:47b). There are 55 texts where ky serves as a complementizer. The verbs used are ngd ‘to declare’ (3:13a; 10:16; 22:21; 23:7a, 13; 27:4), ydʿ ‘to know’ (3:20; 4:6; 6:9; 12:17; 14:3; 17:46, 47a; 18:28; 20:3a, 7, 9b, 30, 33; 22:17c, 22b; 23:9; 24:12b, 21; 26:4; 28:1, 14; 29:9), rʾh ‘to see’ (4:7a; 5:7a; 10:14, 24 [or causal?]; 12:12a, 17; 13:6a, 11b; 14:29a; 17:51; 18:28; 23:15; 24:12b; 26:3;

4.3.  Oath Content Introduced by ky

48

28:21; 31:5, 7a, 7b), šmʿ ‘to hear’ (7:7; 14:22; 22:6; 23:10; 25:4, 7, 39), nḥm ‘to be sorry’ (15:11a, 35b), glh ‘to reveal’ (22:8b), ʾmr ‘to say’ (29:8a), and in 1 text the ky marks the object of a nominal clause, ‘X and Y are witnesses (ʿed) that . . .’ (12:5). There are roughly 158 uses of the particle in one of the “causal” senses (reason, evidence, explanation, or motivation). There is 1 text where the function of the ky simply eludes categorization, in part because the meaning of the text is apparently redundant (20:26b). The remaining 10 occurrences are unassignable as well and will be examined below, because these are all oaths (14:39b, 44; 20:3b, 12, 13; 25:34a; 26:10, 16; 29:6a). 4.3.  Oath Content Introduced by ky There are 46 passages that mark oath content with ky. In all of these, the ky follows the authenticator, which is the clause to which it relates, and therefore, on the basis of clausal order alone, the circumstantial and conditional functions of ky are not likely, and indeed these functions do not make sense in any of the contexts. In only 8 of the texts does the function of the ky clearly fit into one of the functions outlined above. This function is the complementizer of the predicate (§4.3.1). In 7 texts, the predicate is the verb šbʿ ‘to swear’, and in 1, the predicate is a nominal clause (1 Sam 12:5). However, in the majority of texts (38), the function of the particle is not readily apparent. The consensus view is that the particle ky in Biblical Hebrew oaths is asseverative in function, ‘surely, indeed’. Even among the scholars who more recently have argued against the widespread attestation of this function of the particle (see §4.1 above), oaths remain the lone context in which this function is still deemed necessary. Were it not for oaths, there would be no reason to claim this function for the particle at all. Indeed, the asseverative function for a k- particle is not established with certainty in any Northwest Semitic language. 1 The asseverative function is easy to propose because it works semantically. And it works semantically because the meaning ‘surely, indeed’ adds so little to the sentence. But in the absence of corroborating data for this function 1.  A handful of examples of “emphatic” k in Ugaritic are suggested by J. Tropper in his grammar of the language (Tropper 2000: 809–10). In D. Pardee’s review of that grammar, he refutes every prose example and calls into question the remaining examples in poetry (Pardee 2003–4, 383–84). As for the other Northwest Semitic inscriptions, the leading dictionary lists two examples of ky with an asseverative meaning, ‘verily, surely’ (Hoftijzer and Jongeling 1995: 497). The first is in the Phoenician inscription of Eshmunazar (KAI 14), line 13. An asseverative analysis is not necessary here. The particle can just as plausibly function as a clause introducer and be left untranslated. The second is from the Imperial Aramaic poem of Ahiqar, line 122. However, the ky stands at the beginning of this line, and the end of the previous line is broken, which inhibits our ability to analyze the particle ky definitively in this context. In any case, an asseverative interpretation is no more plausible or justified than any other.

49

Oath Content Introduced by ky  4.3.

of the particle, we may be on better footing by looking at the well-established functions of the particle. Claassen has suggested that the function of ky in oaths may be found within the motivational function of the particle, a subset of the causal function. Claassen does not define the motivational function, but the relationship of the clause marked by ky to the preceding clause may be captured by translating the particle with the phrase “the motivation for the previous statement is. . . .” Claassen identifies three variations on this. The first is used with questions; a question is asked, followed by a clause marked by ky, meaning “the motivation for asking this question is. . . .” Another kind of motivation he describes as “unfolding the particulars which exemplify it”; that is, the ky clause provides particular instances of a preceding general statement. The third nuance of motivation focuses on a particular word or phrase and “provides parenthetical information” about that word or phrase. None of these kinds of motivation fits in an oath context, and Claassen’s comment about locating oaths within this function is found in a footnote in another section of the article. It is unclear in what way oaths could function in any of the causal senses. The ky clause that constitutes the content of the oath always follows an authenticating formula. The two primary authenticating formulas used in these oaths are the “thus will God do” formula and the “life of X” formula. Two examples from each category illustrate that the causal function does not yield a satisfactory result. In order to widen the net, I will use the following gloss for ky: ‘the reason/explanation/evidence/ motivation for saying this is . . .’. (89)  1 Kgs 19:2 koh-yaʿaśûn ʾɛlohîm wəḵoh yôsipûn kî-ḵɔʿeṯ mɔḥɔr ʾɔśîm ʾɛṯ-napšəḵɔ kənɛpɛš ʾaḥaḏ mehɛm. Thus will the gods do and thus will they add, [the reason/ explanation/evidence/motivation for saying this is], tomorrow I will make your soul like the soul of one of them. (90)  Ruth 1:17 koh yaʿaśɛh yhwh lî wəḵoh yosîp kî hammɔwɛṯ yaprîḏ bênî ûḇêneḵ Thus will Yahweh do to me and thus will he add, [the reason/ explanation/evidence/motivation for saying this is], (only) death will separate me from you. (91)  1 Sam 29:6 ḥay-yhwh kî-yɔšɔr ʾattɔh. By the life of Yahweh, [the reason/explanation/evidence/motivation for saying this is], you are upright.

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(92)  1 Kgs 22:14 ḥay-yhwh kî ʾɛṯ-ʾašɛr yoʾmar yhwh ʾelay ʾoṯô ʾaḏabber. By the life of Yahweh, [the reason/explanation/evidence/motivation for saying this is], I will speak what Yahweh says to me. It is clear that the ky clause does not logically provide a motive (much less a reason, explanation, or evidence) for the preceding clause. If anything, the preceding clause—the authenticating formula—provides a motivation for the ky clause. Motivation is the very essence of authentication. The logic of the situation renders the motivational function unlikely as well as the other causal subfunctions. The final option that is before us is the function of the particle ky that occurs in 22% of ky clauses we surveyed in 1 Samuel (§4.2). It is the second most-common function behind the broad causal function and the only function of ky identified with certainty in any of the oaths in our corpus: ky as the complementizer of a predicate. We have 7 oaths that use the verb šbʿ ‘to swear’ and 1 nominal clause where ky functions as a complementizer (§4.3.1). Given the elliptical nature of oaths, it is not a stretch to hypothesize that the verb ‘to swear’ is elided in the other 38 texts, leaving the complementizer ky to stand for it (§4.3.2). 2 A phenomenon that seems to confirm this conclusion is that, when the verb šbʿ is present, no other authenticating element is present (§4.3.1); but when the verb is elided, another authenticating formula is always present (§4.3.2). We might say that the swearing verb is not elided without the void’s being filled with another authenticator. The converse is also true: when the swearing verb is present, there is no other authenticator present. 4.3.1.  Ky as the Complementizer to the Explicit Predicate In this section, the predicate to which the particle ky is the complementizer is also the authenticator of the oath. In the first 7 (§4.3.1.1), the authenticator is the verb of swearing (§2.3.2 in ch. 2). In the 8th text (§4.3.1.2), the authenticator is the “X is a witness” authenticator (§2.2). 4.3.1.1.  The Verb šbʿ ‘To Swear’ See also Gen 22:16–17; 2 Sam 19:8; Isa 45:23; Jer 22:5, 49:13, 51:14. (93)  Amos 4:2 nišbaʿ ʾaḏonɔy yhwh bəqɔḏšô kî hinneh yɔmîm bɔʾîm ʿalêḵɛm wəniśśɔʾ ʾɛṯḵem bəṣinnôṯ.

2. Ellipsis of a verb is used to explain unusual uses of prepositions in Waltke and O’Connor 1990, §11.4.3.

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Oath Content Introduced by ky  4.3. Translation A: He-swore Adonai Yahweh in-his-holiness that behold days coming upon-you and-he-will-lift you on-hooks. Translation B: Lord Yahweh hereby swears by his holiness that the days are now coming upon you, when he will lift you up on hooks.

4.3.1.2.  Nominal Clause “X Is a Witness” (94)  1 Sam 12:5 ʿeḏ yhwh bɔḵɛm wəʿeḏ məšîḥô hayyôm hazzɛh kî loʾ məṣɔʾṯɛm bəyɔḏî məʾûmɔh. Translation A: A-witness Yahweh in-you and-a-witness his-anointed-one the- day the-this that not you-have-found in-my-hand something. Translation B: Yahweh is a witness against you, and his anointed one is a witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand. 4.3.2.  Ky as the Complementizer to the Elided Predicate šbʿ The majority of oaths with the particle ky are found with an authenticator that does not require a complementizer. My hypothesis is that the verb of swearing, šbʿ, is implicit and is considered elided (see also Num 14:21–23; 1 Sam 14:39; 20:3, 12, 13; 25:34; 26:10, 16; 29:6; 2 Sam 2:27; 3:9, 35; 4:9–10; 12:5; 15:21; 1 Kgs 1:13, 17, 29, 30; 2:23, 24; 18:15; 22:14; 2 Kgs 3:14, 5:20; Isa 49:18; Jer 22:24, 46:18; Ezek 35:6; Zeph 2:9; Job 27:2–4; Ruth 1:17; 2 Chr 18:13; Lach 12:3). (95)  Gen 42:16 ḥê parʿoh kî məraggəlîm ʾattɛm. Translation A: The-life-of Pharaoh that spies you. Translation B: (By) the life of Pharaoh, [I swear] that you are spies. (96)  1 Sam 14:44 koh-yaʿaśɛh ʾɛlohîm wəḵoh yôsip kî-môṯ tɔmûṯ yônɔṯɔn. Translation A: Thus he-will-do God and-thus he-will-add that dying you-will-die Jonathan.

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Translation B: Thus will God do and thus will he add; [I swear] that you will certainly die, Jonathan. (97)  1 Kgs 19:2 koh-yaʿaśûn ʾɛlohîm wəḵoh yôsipûn kî-ḵɔʿeṯ mɔḥɔr ʾɔśîm ʾɛṯ-napšəḵɔ kənɛpɛš ʾaḥaḏ mehɛm. Translation A: Thus they-will-do gods and-thus they-will-add that as-a-time tomorrow making your-soul like-a-soul one from-them. Translation B: Thus will the gods do and thus will they add; [I swear] that tomorrow I will make your soul like one of their souls. (98)  Lach 6:12–13 ḥy yhwh ʾlhyk k[y m]ʾz qrʾ ʿbdk ʾt hsprm lʾ hyh lʿb[dk . . .]. Translation A: The-life-of Yahweh your-God th[at from-]then he-read your-servant the-letter not there-was for-[your-se]rvant . . . Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh your God, [I swear] th[at, si]nce your servant read the letter, [your se]rvant has not had. . . . 4.3.3.  Syntactical Complications Common to Both Types (§4.3.1 and §4.3.2) Though the description of the use of ky in oaths can be summarized very simply (§4.3.1 and §4.3.2), the ky clauses themselves can display quite complex syntax. It is tempting to stop here and move on to the next chapter. However, the complicated syntax of the ky clause could hide difficulties that might prove detrimental to my hypothesis. In the interest of completing the task, I want to describe the patterns attested in these ky clauses. Over one-third of the oaths with ky, 16 texts, deserve extended comment. In 8 texts, a 2nd ky—what we might call a resumptive ky—introduces another clause in the oath content (§4.3.3.1). In 12 texts, the ky clauses consist of conditional clauses that take a maddening variety of forms (§4.3.3.2). There are 4 texts that appear in both groups. 4.3.3.1. Resumptive ky In 4 of the 8 texts with a resumptive ky, the oath itself consists of a full conditional sentence, and the second ky marks the apodosis of this condition (§4.3.3.1.1). The conditional sentence following the ky in oaths represents one of the more complicated syntactical scenarios in the entire oath corpus. We

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Oath Content Introduced by ky  4.3.

investigate this phenomenon below in §4.3.3.2. These 4 examples are included in that discussion as well. In the other 4 texts, the second ky marks the apodosis of a compound sentence (§4.3.3.1.2). 4.3.3.1.1.  Ky Marks Apodosis of Conditional Sentence Two of these examples are regular conditionals with the particle ʾim (see also Jer 22:24): (99)  1 Sam 14:39 ḥay-yhwh hammôšîaʿ ʾɛṯ-yiśrɔʾel kî ʾim-yɛšnô bəyônɔṯɔn bənî kî môṯ yɔmûṯ. Translation A: The-life-of Yahweh the-one-who-saves Israel that if there-is-it inJonathan my-son ky dying he-will-die. Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh, the savior of Israel, [I swear] that, if it is with Jonathan, my son, then he will certainly die. In the other 2 examples, the conditional clause is contrary to fact, with the particle lûlê (see also 2 Sam 2:27): (100)  1 Sam 25:34 wəʾûlɔm ḥay-yhwh ʾɛlohê yiśrɔʾel ʾašɛr mənɔʿanî mehɔraʿ ʾoṯɔḵ kî lûlê mihart wattɔḇoʾṯ (Q) liqrɔʾṯî kî ʾim-nôṯar lənɔḇɔl ʿaḏ-ʾôr habboqɛr maštîn bəqîr. Translation A: And-rather the-life-of Yahweh God-of Israel who he-prevented-me from-harming you that had-not you-hurried and-you-came to-meet-me ky if there-was-left to-Nabal until the-light-of themorning one-who-pisses on-a-wall. Translation B: Rather, (by) the life of Yahweh, God of Israel, who prevented me from harming you, [I swear] that, had you not hurried and come to meet me, then if there would be any male left belonging to Nabal by daylight, [may I be cursed] (i.e., there would be no male . . .). 4.3.3.1.2.  Ky Marks Apodosis of a Compound Sentence In each case, there is no real translation value in English. The first contains a causal clause: (101)  Gen 22:16–17 bî nišbaʿtî nəʾum-yhwh kî yaʿan ʾašɛr ʿɔśîṯɔ ʾɛṯ-haddɔḇɔr hazzɛh wəloʾ ḥɔśaḵtɔ ʾɛṯ-binəḵɔ ʾɛṯ-yəḥîḏɛḵɔ kî ḇɔreḵ ʾaḇɔrɛḵəḵɔ wəharbɔh ʾarbɛh ʾɛṯ-zarʿaḵɔ.

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Translation A: In-me I-swore declaration-of Yahweh that because-of which you-did the-thing the-this and-not you-spared your-son youronly, ky blessing I-will-bless-you and-multiplying I-will-multiply your-seed. Translation B: “I swear by myself,” declares Yahweh, “that, because you have done this thing and have not spared your firstborn son, I will bless you and I will multiply your seed.” The second and third texts in this category contain a comparative clause (see also 1 Kgs 1:29–30): (102)  2 Sam 3:9 koh-yaʿaśɛh ʾɛlohîm ləʾaḇner wəḵoh yosîp lô kî kaʾašɛr nišbaʿ yhwh ləḏɔwiḏ kî-ḵen ʾɛʿɛśɛh-lô. Translation A: Thus he-will-do God to-Abner and-thus he-will-add to-him that just-as he-swore Yahweh to-David ky thus I-will-do to-him. Translation B: Thus will God do to Abner and thus will he add to him; [I swear] that, just as Yahweh swore to David, thus I will do for him. The fourth contains a clause providing alternatives: (103)  2 Sam 15:21 ḥay-yhwh wəḥê ʾaḏonî hammɛlɛḵ kî ʾim-bimqôm ʾašɛr yihyɛh-šɔm ʾaḏonî hammɛlɛḵ ʾim-ləmɔwɛṯ ʾim-ləḥayyîm kî-šɔm yihyɛh ʿaḇdɛḵɔ. Translation A: The-life-of Yahweh and-the-life-of my-lord the-king that if in-aplace which he-will-be there my-lord the-king if to-death if to-life ky there he-will-be your-servant. Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh and (by) the life of my lord, the king, [I swear] that, wherever my lord the king is, whether it results in death or life, your servant will be there. 4.3.3.2.  Full or Partial Conditional Clause within ky Clause Even in oaths with the content marked by the particle ky, the conditional sentence is not far from consideration. Twelve of these oaths, over 25%, use a full or partial conditional construction to express the content of the oath. Because of the relatively large number of these cases, and because it is easy to misunderstand the complicated syntax involved, it is important to understand

Oath Content Introduced by ky  4.3.

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this subclass of oaths. Furthermore, a grasp of the issues involved here will help us consider the mistaken identification of the compound particle ky-ʾm as an oath formula (§5.3 below). Table 5 summarizes the conditional elements in the ky-type oaths. Table 5.  Conditional Clauses in Oaths Following ky 1 Sam 14:39 Jer 22:24 2 Sam 2:27 2 Kgs 5:20 Jer 51:14 Num 14:21–23 2 Sam 3:35 1 Sam 20:13 2 Sam 19:8 Job 27:2–4 2 Kgs 3:14 1 Sam 25:34

Protasis ʾm ʾm lwly ʾm ʾm ʾm ʾm unmarked unmarked unmarked lwly lwly

Apodosis ky ky ky unmarked (weqatal ) unmarked (weqatal ) [elided] [elided] unmarked (weqatal ) unmarked ⟨ʾm – [elided]⟩ unmarked ⟨ʾm – [elided]⟩ unmarked ⟨ʾm – [elided]⟩ ky ⟨ʾm – [elided]⟩

In these 12 cases, there are 8 different combinations that appear in the protasis and the apodosis. My discussion below will address the 8 combinations attested, beginning with the simpler and moving to the more complex cases. 4.3.3.2.1.  Conditional Particle ʾm in Protasis; Second ky Marks the Apodosis See also 1 Sam 14:39 in §4.3.3.1.1 above. (104)  Jer 22:24 ḥay-ʾɔnî nəʾum-yhwh kî ʾim-yihyɛh kɔnyɔhû ḇɛn-yəhôyɔqîm mɛlɛḵyəhûḏɔh ḥôṯɔm ʿal-yaḏ yəmînî kî miššɔm ʾɛttəqɛnəḵɔ. Translation A: The-life-of I declaration-of Yahweh that if he-will-be Coniah, son-of Jehoiachim, king-of Judah, a-seal upon a-hand my-right ky from-there I-will-rip-you. Translation B: “(By) my life,” declares Yahweh, “[I swear] that, if Coniah, son of Jehoiachim, king of Judah were a seal on my right hand, then I would rip him off from there.”

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4.3.3.2.2.  Conditional Particle lwly in Protasis; Second ky Marks the Apodosis (105)  2 Sam 2:27 ḥay hɔʾɛlohîm kî lûleʾ dibbartɔ kî ʾɔz mehabboqɛr naʿalɔh hɔʿɔm ʾîš meʾaḥarê ʾɔḥîw. Translation A: The-life-of the-God that had-not you-spoke ky then fromthe-morning it-would-keep-itself the-people a-man from-after his-brother. Translation B: (By) the life of God, [I swear] that, had you not spoken, then the people would have given up pursuing their fellows (only) come morning (i.e., they would not have stopped until morning). 4.3.3.2.3.  Conditional Particle ʾm in Protasis; Apodosis Is Unmarked but Begins with Weqatal Verb These two texts are two of the prime suspects for an alleged use of the compound particle ky-ʾm for introducing oath content (see also Jer 51:14). I will address this issue directly in §5.3 below. (106)  2 Kgs 5:20 ḥay-yhwh kî-ʾim-raṣtî ʾaḥarɔyw wəlɔqaḥtî meʾittô məʾûmɔh. Translation A: The-life-of Yahweh that if I-run after-him and-I-will-take fromhim something. Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh, [I swear] that, if I run after him, then I can get something from him. 4.3.3.2.4.  Conditional Particle ʾm in Protasis; Apodosis Is Elided A conditional protasis with the apodosis elided is the classical construction of the conditional oaths as described in ch. 3. The only difference is that in the examples that follow, it is preceded by the complementizer ky (see also Num 14:21–23). The BHS editors note in 2 Sam 3:35 that the Syriac version reads ly ‘to me’ instead of ky. However, the Peshitta translator(s) consistently added this preposition + pronominal suffix element to the end of the “thus will God do” formula. Furthermore, the translation of ky is often omitted in the Peshitta when the particles ky and ʾm are juxtaposed and function as independent particles (see §5.3 below). Thus the ly in Syriac has nothing to do with the Hebrew ky at all.

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Oath Content Introduced by ky  4.3. (107)  2 Sam 3:35 wayyiššɔḇaʿ dɔwiḏ leʾmor koh yaʿaśɛh-lî ʾɛlohîm wəḵoh yosîp kî ʾimlipnê ḇôʾ-haššɛmɛš ʾɛṭʿam-lɛḥɛm ʾô ḵɔl-məʾûmɔh. Translation A: And-he-swore David saying, “Thus he-will-do to-me God and-thus he-will-add that if before it-enters the-sun I-will-eat bread or all-of something.” Translation B: David swore: “Thus will God do to me and thus will he add; [I swear] that, if I eat bread or anything else before the sun comes up, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will not eat . . .).”

4.3.3.2.5.  Protasis Is Unmarked; Apodosis Is Unmarked but Begins with Weqatal Verb Our ability to identify unmarked protases and apodoses in this and the following sections is made much easier when these examples are analyzed in the framework of the oath structure that has been developed above. Because there are 9 oaths marked by ky that have a clearly marked protasis, the texts that are unmarked are possible to identify. (108)  1 Sam 20:13 koh-yaʿaśɛh yhwh lîhônɔṯɔn wəḵoh yosîp kî-yêṭiḇ ʾɛl-ʾɔḇî ʾɛṯ-hɔrɔʿɔh ʿɔlɛyḵɔ wəḡɔlîṯî ʾɛṯ-ʾɔznɛḵɔ. . . . Translation A: Thus he-will-do Yahweh to-Jonathan and-thus he-will-add that it-is-pleasing to my-father the-evil upon-you and-I-will-reveal your-ears. Translation B: Thus will Yahweh do to Jonathan and thus will he add; [I swear] that, (if) the evil thing against you pleases my father, (then) I will reveal (it to) your ears. 4.3.3.2.6.  Protasis Is Unmarked; Apodosis Is Unmarked but Consists of Conditional Protasis with Apodosis Elided As in the preceding examples, it is the broader oath structure that I have identified and elucidated above that allows us to make sense of this otherwise difficult syntax in which the protasis marker ʾm is used in the logical apodosis (see also Job 27:2–4). (109)  2 Sam 19:8 bayhwh nišbaʿtî kî-ʾênəḵɔ yôṣeʾ ʾim-yɔlîn ʾîš ʾittəḵɔ hallaylɔh.

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Translation A: In-Yahweh I-swear that not-you going-out if he-stays-the-night a-man with-you the-night. Translation B: I swear by Yahweh that, (if) you do not go out, (then) if anyone stays the night with you, [may I be cursed] (i.e., no one will stay the night if you do not go out). 4.3.3.2.7.  Conditional Particle lwly in Protasis; Apodosis Is Unmarked but Consists of Conditional Protasis with Apodosis Elided (110)  2 Kgs 3:14 ḥay-yhwh ṣəḇɔʾôṯ ʾašɛr ʿɔmaḏtî ləpɔnɔyw kî lûlê pənê yəhôšɔpɔṭ mɛlɛḵ-yəhûḏɔh ʾanî nośeʾ ʾim-ʾabbîṭ ʾelɛyḵɔ wəʾim-ʾɛrʾɛḵɔ. Translation A: The-life-of Yahweh-of armies whom I-stand before-him that hadnot faces-of Jehosaphat, king-of Judah, I raise if I-will-look to-you and-if I-will-see-you. Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh of Armies before whom I stand, [I swear] that, had I no respect for Jehosaphat, king of Judah, (then) if I would show any regard to you or if I would pay attention to you, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I would show no regard to you or pay attention to you unless I had respect for [him]). 4.3.3.2.8.  Conditional Particle lwly in Protasis; Second ky Marks the Apodosis Consisting of Conditional Protasis with Apodosis Elided (111)  1 Sam 25:34 wəʾûlɔm ḥay-yhwh ʾɛlohê yiśrɔʾel ʾašɛr mənɔʿanî mehɔraʿ ʾoṯɔḵ kî lûlê mihart wattɔḇoʾṯ (Q) liqrɔʾṯî kî ʾim-nôṯar lənɔḇɔl ʿaḏ-ʾôr habboqɛr maštîn bəqîr. Translation A: And-rather the-life-of Yahweh God-of Israel who he-prevented-me from-harming you that had-not you-hurried and-you-came to-meet-me ky if there-was-left to-Nabal until the-light-of themorning one-who-pisses on-a-wall. Translation B: Rather, (by) the life of Yahweh, God of Israel, who prevented me from harming you, [I swear] that, had you not hurried and come

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Conclusion  4.4. to meet me, then if there would be any male left belonging to Nabal by daylight, [may I be cursed] (i.e., there would be no male left . . .).

4.4. Conclusion The elusive function of the particle ky in oaths—in part because of its elusiveness—has come to bear the dubious burden of the so-called emphatic or asseverative function of the particle, meaning ‘surely’ or ‘indeed’. I have shown that there is no need to resort to this all-too-convenient explanation for ky in oaths. The function of ky as a complementizer is amply attested among these oaths: ‘I swear that. . .’. It is reasonable to hypothesize that in other oaths where the function of ky is not so clear, the verb for swearing is elided and left implicit. The content of the oath in many of these oaths marked by ky exhibits complex syntax, including full or partial conditional clauses in which the apodoses are expressed in the form of a conditional protasis with an elided apodosis. I have provided an analysis of the complicated syntax of these difficult ky clauses.

Chapter 5

Exceptions and Objections In the eleventh-century manuscript of Beowulf, the oldest surviving copy of the Old English epic poem, there is an apparent ambiguity in line 1107. Some translators render the Old English adh in line 1107 as ‘funeral pyre’, and some translate it ‘oath’. In the preceding context, there is an oath. The subsequent context describes a funeral pyre. The line itself—“an adh was prepared”—is amenable to either translation. The apparent ambiguity lies in the fact that ‘pyre’ is normally spelled ad in Old English, and ‘oath’ is spelled ath. Is the spelling adh the result of aspiration (/ad/ > /adh/) or voicing (/ath/ > /adh/)? I will leave this problem to the Old English scholars, but the major contribution of this chapter will be to unravel some of the ambiguities regarding the Biblical Hebrew compound particle ky-ʾm and its role in oaths. In this chapter, we examine 14 oaths that use neither a conditional protasis with apodosis elided (ch. 3) nor ky (ch. 4) but use some other means to introduce the content of an oath. I also take a brief look at the correlation of authenticating elements and the ways in which oath content is formulated. Finally, I discuss the alleged use of the compound particle ky-ʾm to introduce oath content. 5.1.  Oath Content Formulated in Other Ways 5.1.1.  Oath Content Marked with Particle ʾšr Oath content in the passages below is marked by ʾšr followed by a negative clause. They are adjurations (compare Gen 21:23 in §2.3.2 above for an adjuration in which the conditional particle ʾm is used, equivalent to ʾšr lʾ here). The particle ʾšr here functions as a complementizer to the verb for swearing, just as ky functions in oaths (ch. 4). 1

1. Robert Holmstedt has undertaken an extensive study of relative clauses in Biblical Hebrew. He has included Gen 24:3 and 1 Kgs 22:16 as examples of ʾšr in the non­relative, noncomplement function of expressing the purpose of a preceding clause as ‘so that’ (Holm­ stedt 2002: 296 n. 27). Instead, as Cynthia Miller points out, these are examples of the particle as an object clause complementizer (Miller 1996: 97–98).

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Oath Content Formulated in Other Ways 5.1. (112)  Gen 24:3–4 wəʾašbîʿaḵɔ bayhwh ʾɛlohê haššɔmayim weʾlohê hɔʾɔrɛṣ ʾašɛr loʾṯiqqaḥ ʾiššɔh liḇnî mibbənôṯ hakkənaʿanî. Translation A: And-I-make-you-swear in-Yahweh, God-of the-heavens andGod-of the-earth, ʾšr not you-will-take a-woman for-my-son fromthe-daughters-of the-Canaanite. Translation B: I adjure you by Yahweh, god of heaven and god of earth, that you must not get a woman (as a wife) for my son from the Canaanite women. (113)  1 Kgs 22:16 ʿaḏ-kammɛh pəʿɔmîm ʾanî mašbiʿɛḵɔ ʾašɛr loʾ-ṯəḏabber ʾelay raq(= 2 Chr 18:15) ʾɛmɛṯ bəšem yhwh. Translation A: Unto-like-what times I one-who-makes-you-swear ʾšr not youspeak to-me only truth in-the-name-of Yahweh. Translation B: How many times (must) I adjure you that you must tell me only the truth in the name of Yahweh?

5.1.2.  Oath Content Marked with Particle mh This text is also an adjuration; the interrogative particle mh is used twice here to mark oath content. It appears to formulate a rhetorical question expecting a negative answer, thus resulting in the enunciation of a negative oath. Compare a nearly identical construction using the conditional protasis in Song 5:8 (§§2.3.2 and 3.3.3.1 above). (114)  Song 8:4 hišbaʿtî ʾɛṯḵɛm bənôṯ yərûšɔlɔim mah- tɔʿîrû ûmah-təʿorərû ʾɛṯhɔʾahaḇɔh ʿaḏ šɛttɛḥpɔṣ. Translation A: I-cause-to-swear you daughters-of Jerusalem, how you-willarouse and-how you-will-awaken the-love until it-desires. Translation B: I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, how [could] you arouse and how [could] you awaken love until it is willing (i.e., do not arouse or awaken . . .)?

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5.1.3.  Oath Content with No Marker Ten of the 14 oaths in §5.1 have no formal marker to introduce the content of the oath. In some cases, we can identify a reason for this omission; in others, we cannot. In many cases, we can compare oaths here with oaths that do employ one of the more common means of expressing the content of an oath. 5.1.3.1.  Oath Elements Reversed Two of these 10 oaths have the authenticating element following the oath content (see also Ruth 3:13 in §5.1.3.4 below). This unusual clausal order may account for the absence of a formal marker of oath content in these cases. (115)  1 Sam 20:21 ʾim-ʾɔmor ʾomar lannaʿar hinneh haḥiṣṣîm mimməḵɔ wɔhennɔh qɔḥɛnnû wɔḇoʾɔh kî-šɔlôm ləḵɔ wəʾên dɔḇɔr ḥay-yhwh. Translation A: If saying I-say to-the-lad, “Behold the-arrows from-you and-here take-it,” and-come for peace to-you and-not a-thing the-life-of Yahweh. Translation B: If I tell the lad, “Look, the arrows are on this side of you; take them,” then come, for you are safe, and there is no problem; (by) the life of Yahweh [I swear it]. 5.1.3.2.  Morphosyntactical Constraint In two of these 10, the content of the oath begins with a weqatal verb. This verbal form cannot be preceded by ky, ʾm, or ʾm-lʾ. (116)  Ezek 35:11 ḥay-ʾɔnî nəʾum ʾaḏonɔy yhwh wəʿɔśîṯî kəʾappəḵɔ ûḵəqinʾɔṯəḵɔ ʾašɛr ʿɔśîṯɔh miśśinʾɔṯɛyḵɔ bɔm wənôḏaʿtî ḇɔm kaʾašɛr ʾɛšpəṭɛḵɔ. Translation A: The-life-of I declaration-of Adonai Yahweh and-I-will-do likeyour-anger and-like-your-zeal which you-did from-your-hating inthem and-I-will-be-known in-them like-which I-will-judge-you. Translation B: “(By) my life,” declares Lord Yahweh, “[I swear that] I will act as (you did in) your anger and your zeal with which you acted in your hatred of them, and I will be known among them when I judge you.”

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Oath Content Formulated in Other Ways 5.1. (117)  Ezek 44:12 ʿal-ken nɔśɔʾṯî yɔḏî ʿalêhɛm nəʾum ʾaḏonɔy yhwh wənɔśəʾû ʿawonɔm. Translation A: Upon-thus I-raised my-hand upon-them declaration-of Adonai Yahweh and-they-will-bear their-guilt. Translation B: “Therefore, I hereby raise my hand against them,” declares Lord Yahweh, “and [swear that] they will bear their guilt.”

5.1.3.3.  Poetical Constraint In general, Hebrew poetry foregoes the use of certain prose particles, including ky. This may account for the absence of a formal marker of oath content in Amos 6:8. (118)  Amos 6:8 nišbaʿ ʾaḏonɔy yhwh bənapšô nəʾum-yhwh ʾɛlohê ṣəḇɔʾôṯ məṯɔʾeḇ ʾɔnoḵî ʾɛṯ-gəʾôn yaʿaqoḇ wəʾarmənoṯɔyw śɔneʾṯî wəhisgartî ʿîr ûməloʾɔh. Translation A: He-swore Adonai Yahweh in-his-soul declaration-of Yahweh God-of armies loathing I the-Pride-of Jacob and-his-citadels I-hate and-I-will-hand-over a-city and-its-fullness. Translation B: “Lord Yahweh hereby swears by his soul,” declares Yahweh, God of Armies, “[that] I loathe the Pride of Jacob; I hate his citadels. I will hand over the city and its inhabitants.” 5.1.3.4.  Oath Content as Full Conditional Sentence Three of these 10 oaths consist of a full conditional sentence. In the previous chapter, we saw several such oaths that are consistently preceded by the particle ky (§4.3.3.2). Two use the conditional particle ʾm, and the apodosis is unmarked (see also Deut 32:40–41; cf. §4.3.3.2.3). (119)  Ruth 3:13 wəʾim-loʾ yaḥpoṣ ləḡɔʾɔleḵ ûḡəʾaltîḵ ʾɔnoḵî ḥay-yhwh. Translation A: And-if not he-desires to-redeem-you and-I-will-redeem-you I the-life-of Yahweh. Translation B: if he is not willing to redeem you, then I myself will redeem you; (by) the life of Yahweh, [I swear it].

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The 3rd text uses the conditional particle lw, and the apodosis is unmarked (cf. §4.3.3.2.2). (120)  Judg 8:19 ḥay-yhwh lû haḥayiṯɛm ʾôṯɔm loʾ hɔraḡtî ʾɛṯḵɛm. Translation A: The-life-of Yahweh had you-let-live them not I-killed you. Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh, [I swear that,] had you let them live, I would not kill you. 5.1.3.5.  Contextual Variant In 1 of these 10, parallel texts show that the lack of any marker for the negative oath is a variant of the other formulaic utterances using ʾm (Ezek 14:16, 20; §3.3.3.2). (121)  Ezek 14:18 ḥay-ʾɔnî nəʾum ʾaḏonɔy yhwh loʾ yaṣṣîlû bɔnîm ûḇɔnôṯ Translation A: The-life-of I declaration-of Adonai Yahweh not they-will-rescue sons and-daughters. Translation B: “(By) my life,” declares Lord Yahweh, “[I swear that] they would rescue neither sons nor daughters.” 5.1.3.6.  No Apparent Explanation In 2 of the 10, there is no apparent explanation for the omission. One might equally have expected either ky or ʾm-lʾ to mark the positive oath. (122)  1 Sam 1:26 bî ʾaḏonî ḥê napšəḵɔ ʾaḏonî ʾanî hɔʾiššɔh. Translation A: In-me my-lord the-life-of your-soul my-lord I the-woman. Translation B: (By) my (life), my lord, (by) the life of your soul, my lord, [I swear that] I am the woman. (123)  1 Sam 25:26 ḥay-yhwh wəḥê-napšəḵɔ ʾašɛr mənɔʿaḵɔ yhwh mibbôʾ ḇəḏɔmîm wəhôšeaʿ yɔḏəḵɔ lɔḵ wəʿattɔh yihyû ḵənɔḇɔl ʾoyəḇɛyḵɔ. Translation A: The-life-of Yahweh and-the-life-of your-soul which he-prevented-

Relationship of Oath Content to Authenticating Elements 5.2.

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you Yahweh from-entering in-blood and-saving your-hand to-you and-now they-will-be like-Nabal your-enemies. Translation B: (By) the life of Yahweh and (by) the life of your soul, [I swear that,—since Yahweh prevented you from entering into bloodshed that your own hand might save you—now then, may your enemies be like Nabal. 5.2.  Relationship of Markers of Oath Content to Authenticating Elements Now that we have covered all the means of introducing the content of oaths in BH, we may ask whether there is any correlation between the type of authenticating element used in an oath and the way the content of the oath is marked. Of all the oaths accompanied by an authenticating formula, 46 introduce the content of the oath with ʾm, 12 with ʾm-lʾ, 43 with ky, and 14 with another or no explicit marker (I am counting as 1 item any oath that uses more than one ʾm or ky following the same authenticating element). In the following table, we see how these elements correlate. Table 6.  Correlation of Authenticating Elements and Oath Content

ʾm ʾm-lʾ ky Other/None

“raise hand” 1 1 — 2

“witnesses” 2 2 1 —

“I swear” 14 —  7  5

“Thus will God do” 4 1 7 —

“Life of X” 25  8 28  7

No meaningful correlations can be established between the type of authenticating formula and the type of oath content. In fact, there is a low percentage of correlation in 2 instances where we might expect more. First, though my analysis in the previous chapter pointed to the conclusion that the ky functions as the complementizer of the (often elided) verb “to swear,” only one-quarter of the “swearing” authenticators are used with the particle ky, and the particle ky uses the “swearing” authenticator less than one-sixth of the time. Second, the one authenticating formula that is plausibly an apodosis to a conditional-type oath, the “thus will God do” formula, occurs in conditional oaths only 5 of 12 times, and only 9% of conditional oaths use this authenticator. As for the oaths that use this apodosis-type authenticator while marking the oath content with ky, it appears plausible to suggest that the two means for marking positive oaths, ʾm-lʾ and ky, became functionally interchangeable, and ky began to push out ʾm-lʾ as the favored formula.

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5.3.  The Alleged Function of ky-ʾm as an Oath Marker The compound particle ky-ʾm has traditionally been included along with ʾm, ʾm-lʾ, and ky as a possible means of introducing the content of an oath. A closer look at the data, however, reveals this not to be the case. Table 7.  Hebrew Lexicons Identifying ky-ʾm as Oath Marker BDB 474b–75a Judg 15:7 1 Sam 21:6 — — — 2 Sam 15:21 1 Kgs 20:6 2 Kgs 5:20 Jer 51:14 Job 42:8 (perhaps) Prov 23:18 Ruth 3:12

DCH 390a Judg 15:7 1 Sam 21:6 1 Sam 25:34 1 Sam 26:10 2 Sam 3:35 2 Sam 15:21 — 2 Kgs 5:20 Jer 51:14 Job 42:8 (?) Prov 23:18 (?) —

HALOT 471b Judg 15:7 (15:17 [sic]) — — 1 Sam 26:10 — 2 Sam 15:21 — 2 Kgs 5:20 Jer 51:14 — — —

The first difficulty is in the meaning that is required of ky-ʾm when used in an oath: an asseverative, ‘surely, indeed’. This, however, is never the meaning of this compound particle in other contexts. Elsewhere it always has either an adversative (‘but, rather’) or exceptive meaning (‘except, only’). There are simply no certain examples of an asseverative ky-ʾm in Biblical Hebrew. As with the supposed “asseverative ky,” most of the alleged examples of asseverative ky-ʾm occur in an oath context. BDB actually connects the two usages under this common function: in the context of oaths, BDB says that ky-ʾm is equivalent to “a strengthened ky” with the meaning ‘surely’. In ch. 4, I contended that the ky in oaths is not asseverative but instead functions as the complementizer to the verb šbʿ ‘to swear’, which is often elided. The very nature of an alleged asseverative meaning ‘indeed’ or ‘surely’ makes it easy to apply in a broad manner, because this meaning adds so little to the sentence. It is therefore hard to disprove an asseverative meaning, because it is so weak and free of content, while the plausibility of any particular particle meaning ‘surely’ is easy to assert if the “proof” is merely translational plausibility. These considerations should make us hesitant to accept alleged asseverative functions too quickly.

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The Alleged Function of ky-ʾm as an Oath Marker 5.3.

I will present a brief survey of what I believe is the modern origin of the asseverative analysis of ky-ʾm, followed by a full discussion of all the texts thought to attest it. But first, a review of the syntax of ky-ʾm is in order. First, the two particles may be merely juxtaposed, retaining their individual function as distinct particles. This syntax accounts for several of the alleged examples below. By simply separating the two particles and analyzing their functions independently, one finds that the meaning of the texts has been elucidated, making any asseverative analysis superfluous. Second, the two particles may function together as a single compound particle (118X in BH). This compound particle often occurs after a negative clause or an interrogative clause, and it limits this clause; translation: ‘except, unless, only, but’. Alternately, it may mark a clause that simply contradicts the preceding clause; translation: ‘but, rather’. Before discussing the specific oaths alleged to demonstrate the asseverative function of ky-ʾm, I present here an outline of what I believe to be the modern origin of the asseverative analysis of this compound particle. There seem to be two different explanations in modern European grammars for the alleged asseverative meaning of the compound particle ky-ʾm. The first is represented in BDB and can be traced back to Driver himself. This explanation is that ky-ʾm in this sense is merely “a strengthened ky.” The second edition of Driver’s Treatise (1881) states, “. . . elsewhere the ʾm belongs to, and slightly strengthens, the ky . . .” (§139 n. 1). Driver cites half a dozen texts there, all of which are found in table 7 above: 1 Sam 26:10, 2 Sam 15:21, 1 Kgs 20:6, 2 Kgs 5:20, Jer 51:14, and Judg 15:7. The second explanation is represented by GKC (§163d) and Joüon (§173c). This explanation ties the asseverative meaning of ky-ʾm to the exceptive function, as GKC translates 2 Kgs 5:20 (with the hypothetical elision in parenthesis): “as the Lord liveth (I can do nothing else) except I run after him, etc.” Other texts listed are 2 Sam 15:21, Jer 51:14, Ruth 3:12, and Judg 15:7 (see table 7). I find no evidence that Gesenius himself propounded this view; it does not enter the grammar named after him until the 28th German edition (1909), which was the basis for GKC. The view appears to go back at least to H. Ewald. Following a discussion of the exceptive/restrictive function of ky-ʾm, we read “daher auch bei starken Versicherungen und Schwüren nur = gewiss,” and he cites 2 Sam 15:21, 1 Kgs 20:6, 2 Kgs 5:20, and Jer 51:14. The Greek, Latin, and Aramaic versions show no hint that an asseverative function was supposed for this compound particle (Conklin 2010). The summary of the five most-cited passages where this function is alleged (table 8) shows that the particle was interpreted in one of the standard ways for ky-ʾm, either as a compound particle or as two separate particles.

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Table 8.  Ky-ʾm in the Major Versions

Judg 15:7 1 Sam 26:10 2 Sam 15:21 2 Kgs 5:20 Jer 51:14

Vulgate tamen quia nisi quoniam quia quoniam

Septuagint ἀλλά ἐὰν μή ὅτι ὅτι εἰ μή διότι

Peshitta not trans. ʾlʾ ʾn ʾlʾ ʾlʾ d-

Targum Jonathan ʾlhyn kd ʾlhyn ʾlhyn ʾlhyn ʾlhyn

This is only a sketch of the most important nineteenth-century grammarians and the early versions of the Old Testament. Though there are many centuries separating them, they are the most important points of evidence on either end of the historical expanse. To these could be added the first English translation of the Bible based on the original languages, the Geneva Bible (1560). In only two of the passages listed above was a clear asseverative translation given: 2 Kgs 5:20, “I will run after him”; and Jer 51:14, “Surely I will fill thee with men.” Whether these translations were based on grammatical reasoning or—as I suspect—on the perceived semantic needs of the context is beyond the scope of my investigation. The semantic difficulty was the initial problem that prompted this investigation, but a detailed analysis of the 12 texts with this putative usage revealed deeper problems with the analysis of ky-ʾm as marking the content of a positive oath. Two of them (1 Sam 25:34, 2 Sam 3:35) are listed by DCH only and are given a rather idiosyncratic explanation there (§5.3.1). The next 6 (Ruth 3:12, Job 42:8, Prov 23:18, 1 Sam 21:6, 1 Kgs 20:5–6, Judg 15:7) simply have no oath in view at all; the only question is whether ky-ʾm is asseverative. Yet even in these 6, an asseverative meaning is dubious (§5.3.2). The final 4 texts (1 Sam 26:10, 2 Sam 15:21, 2 Kgs 5:20, Jer 51:14) are the most substantial of the alleged examples of asseverative ky-ʾm in oaths and are the most widely cited (§5.3.3). 5.3.1.  Weak Examples The first two texts were discussed in ch. 4 above (§4.3.3.2.4, §4.3.3.2.8). They are not strong exemplars of the supposed asseverative function of ky-ʾm, but they are difficult texts, and repeating the analysis here may be helpful. (124)  1 Sam 25:34 wəʾûlɔm ḥay-yhwh ʾɛlohê yiśrɔʾel ʾašɛr mənɔʿanî mehɔraʿ ʾoṯɔḵ kî lûlê mihart wattɔḇoʾṯ (Q) liqrɔʾṯî kî ʾim-nôṯar lənɔḇɔl ʿaḏ-ʾôr habboqɛr maštîn bəqîr.

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The Alleged Function of ky-ʾm as an Oath Marker 5.3. Translation: Rather, (by) the life of Yahweh, God of Israel, who prevented me from harming you, [I swear] that, had you not hurried and come to meet me, then if there were any male left belonging to Nabal by daylight, [may I be cursed] (i.e., there would be no male . . .). (125)  2 Sam 3:35 wayyiššɔḇaʿ dɔwiḏ leʾmor koh yaʿaśɛh-lî ʾɛlohîm wəḵoh yosîp kî ʾimlipnê ḇôʾ-haššɛmɛš ʾɛṭʿam-lɛḥɛm ʾô ḵɔl-məʾûmɔh. Translation: David swore: “Thus will God do to me and thus will he add; [I swear] that, if I eat bread or anything else before the sun comes up, [may I be cursed]” (i.e., I will not eat . . .).

The two texts are simply straightforward cases of the particles ky and ʾm functioning as two separate particles. The confusion lies in the failure to recognize ky as a distinct particle functioning as a complementizer. The DCH lists ky-ʾm in these texts as a compound particle with the meaning “if, surely not,” though this is never the meaning of the compound particle. This is apparently the approach of Gibson/Davidson, who say regarding the example in 2 Sam 3:35: “ky simply strengthens the ʾm.” This explanation only serves to illustrate the ad hoc nature of the treatment of this problem, because BDB explains the uses of ky-ʾm with oaths in the exact opposite manner: “a strengthened ky.” 2 5.3.2.  No Oath in Context In the next 6 texts, there is no reason to posit a use of the compound particle ky-ʾm with an oath, because there are simply no oath elements, particularly not authenticating formulas, in the context. Nevertheless, I will discuss the alleged asseverative meanings of the compound particle in these texts. (126)  Ruth 3:12 wəʿattɔh kî ʾɔmnɔm kî ʾm (K) ḡoʾel ʾɔnoḵî wəḡam yeš goʾel qɔrôḇ mimmɛnnî. Translation A: And-now for truly that if a-redeemer I and-indeed there-is a-redeemer near from-me 2. See Lehmann (1969), for example, who on p. 89 under “negative oaths” lists ky-ʾm, citing 2 Sam 3:35; and on p. 90 under “positive oaths” again lists ky-ʾm but gives no accounting for this apparently contradictory activity of the compound particle. Likewise, Arnold and Choi (2003: 153) cite 1 Sam 25:34 as a text where “ky-ʾm highlights a negative oath,” though they have inserted ellipses that obscure the true nature of the passage. They then proceed to give examples where the compound particle apparently marks positive oaths, with no explanation for this allegedly bipolar behavior.

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Translation B: For (it is) true that if (it is the case that) I am a redeemer, (it is also true that) there is another closer than I. Only BDB lists this text. This is 1 of 2 texts that are putative cases of ky-ʾm marking an oath in which the ʾm is “one of the eight [words] written, not read,” so designated by the Masorah Parvum. The other is 2 Sam 15:21. The Masoretic reading tradition did not include the ʾm, and so it was thought that this particle made its way into the writing tradition at a later date. If the reading tradition is correct, then there is no ky-ʾm and therefore no problem. If the written tradition is retained, then each particle can still retain its own function for the text to make sense. The ky could be the complementizer of ʾmnm ‘[it is] true that’, and the ʾm marks a conditional protasis: ‘For (it is) true that, if (it is the case that) I am a redeemer, (it is also true that) there is another . . .’. 3 But interpreting ky-ʾm as ‘surely’ makes no sense here, because the word ʾmnm which it immediately follows is a true asseverative particle, creating a redundancy. In any case, in this text there are no other elements that would require this to be an oath. (127)  Job 42:8 wəʾiyyôḇ ʿaḇdî yiṯpallel ʿalêḵɛm kî ʾim-pɔnɔyw ʾɛśśɔʾ ləḇiltî ʿaśôṯ ʿimmɔḵɛm nəḇɔlɔh. Translation A: And-Job my-servant he-will-pray for-you only his-face I-willlift-up to-not to-do with-you disgrace. Translation B: Job, my servant, will pray for you—only him will I regard with reference to not dealing with you as a disgrace. BDB lists this text with the qualification “perhaps,” and DCH lists it but offers another interpretation in parentheses. The fact is, there is no oath in view here. The only question is whether the compound particle ky-ʾm has an asseverative function, ‘surely’, which is not the regular meaning of the particle, or whether it has the regular adversative or exceptive. The latter option seems to make better sense, as a contrast between Job and his friends, and BDB actually lists this text without an indication of doubt under the latter category, meaning ‘only’. ⟨author: “Only” is ambiguous here (can mean “solely”). If the meaning is exceptive, “except” would be the better word to use here.⟩ (128)  Prov 23:18 kî ʾim-yeš ʾaḥarîṯ wəṯiqwɔṯəḵɔ loʾ ṯikkɔreṯ.

3.  See GKC §159dd/p. 498 for other examples of elision in conditional clauses.

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The Alleged Function of ky-ʾm as an Oath Marker 5.3. Translation A: For if [you-keep-it], there-will-be a-future, and-your-hope not it-will-be-cut-off Translation B: For if you keep it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

This is usually translated ‘Surely there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off’. Thus the compound particle is seen to function as an asseverative, contrary to its normal adversative function, because the latter does not seem to fit in this context. The Greek version of this text has τηρήσῃς αὐτά after the conditional particle, leading the BHS editors to suggest the restoration of the verb tšmrnh in the MT after ʾm: “For if you keep it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” The nearly identical sentence in Prov 24:14, ʾim-mɔṣɔʾtɔ wəyeš ʾaḥarît wətiqwɔtəkɔ loʾ tikkɔret ‘if you find (it), then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off’ also suggests that Prov 23:18 may be missing a verb after the ʾm. If this is the case, then both particles simply retain independent functions and do not constitute a compound particle. Regardless of the solution chosen for this difficult passage, the main point is that there is no oath in view in the text. (129)  1 Sam 21:6 kî ʾim-ʾiššɔh ʿaṣurɔh-lɔnû. Translation A: But woman kept to-us. Translation B: But women have been kept from us. Several manuscripts omit the ʾm in this text. If the written text is retained, the issue is only whether ky-ʾm is adversative, as we should expect, or whether it has an asseverative meaning, contrary to its regular usage. Most translators opt for the asseverative meaning, ‘surely women have been kept from us!’ But an adversative meaning could be possible here, especially if David was offended by the question posed to him, and his extended answer suggests that this could be the case: ‘but women have been kept from us!’ 4 If the ʾm is not to be read, then the ky can still have an adversative function here. In fact, it is possible to see how a slight misunderstanding of the verbal root ʿṢR could have led a scribe to insert an ʾm. The meaning of the verb ʿṢR is to ‘restrain or hold back’. In later Hebrew, it develops the nuance ‘to retain (e.g., strength)’. If a scribe thought that the text had David saying, “women 4.  The LXX takes this approach, translating ky-ʾm as ἀλλά.

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have been retained for us,” when certainly this was not what was intended, a scribe could have inserted an ʾm after the ky, transforming the statement into a negative oath, “but if women have been retained for us, [may I be cursed],” meaning, “women certainly have not been retained for us.” Once again, regardless of the difficulties involved in this text, there are no other elements in the passage that require it to be seen as an oath context. (130)  1 Kgs 20:5–6 šɔlaḥtî ʾelɛyḵɔ leʾmor kaspəḵɔ ûzəhɔḇəḵɔ wənɔšɛyḵɔ ûḇɔnɛyḵɔ lî ṯitten kî ʾim-kɔʿeṯ mɔḥɔr ʾɛšlaḥ ʾɛṯ-ʿaḇɔḏay ʾelɛyḵɔ wəḥippəśû ʾɛṯ-bêṯəḵɔ. Translation A: I-sent to-you saying your-silver and-your-gold and-your-wives and-your-children to-me you-will-give but as-time tomorrow I-will-send my-servants to-you and-they-will-pillage your-house. Translation B: I sent (word) to you, “You must give me your silver, your gold, your wives, and your children.” But tomorrow I will send my servants to you, and they will rummage through your house. BDB is the only lexicon that lists this text, but there is no oath in view. The ky-ʾm can plausibly be interpreted in two different standard ways. As separate particles, the ky functions with a causal sense, and the ʾm is a conditional particle: I sent (word) to you, “You must give me your silver, your gold, your wives, and your children.” For if I send my servants to you tomorrow, they will rummage through your house.” If it is a single compound particle, however, it is adversative, marking a contrast between the two sendings: I sent (word), . . . but tomorrow I will send my servants. Both of these options are plausible and fit within the standard semantic and syntactic understanding of ky-ʾm. The alleged asseverative meaning is not necessary. (131)  Judg 15:7 ʾim-taʿaśûn kɔzoʾṯ kî ʾim-niqqamtî ḇɔḵɛm wəʾaḥar ʾɛḥdɔl. Translation A: If you-will-do like-this then if I-am-avenged in-you and-after I- will-cease.

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The Alleged Function of ky-ʾm as an Oath Marker 5.3. Translation B: If you do this, I will not cease until I am avenged on you.

There is no oath formula in this text, but the compound particle ky-ʾm is thought to be an asseverative particle in this case, and hence by extension it is frequently listed along with others considered to be an oath: “If you do this, surely I will be avenged over you and then I will cease.” There is a problem with this, because the word translated ‘I will be avenged’ is in the suffix-conjugation, nqmty. The use of the suffix-conjugation, or the perfective, is attested particularly in the prophetic genre with reference to future actions, commonly called the “prophetic perfect”; but in regular prose, the use of the perfect to denote a purely future action is very rare. Is this an instance of this phenomenon? It is certainly the case that the action denoted by this verb must have a future reference, because Samson has not yet avenged what still remains a future act of provocation. But the use of the perfective verb is more intelligible here if the ʾm is understood as the conditional particle marking the protasis of a full conditional clause followed by the apodosis: “If (or when) I have avenged myself over you, (only) then will I cease.” In this text and in 2 Kgs 5:20 and Jer 51:14 below, the alternation between perfective and imperfective verbs is incomprehensible if the ky-ʾm is seen as a compound particle with an asseverative meaning, but as full conditional sentences the texts make better sense. In Judg 15:7, we actually have a conditional sentence within a conditional sentence. The larger sentence is “if you do this, ky X.” In this larger sentence, the ky is functioning to mark the apodosis (X), and this apodosis in turn consists of a full conditional sentence marked by ʾm (see §4.3.3.2 above). 5.3.3.  Two Particles Function Separately The final 4 texts under examination here are the strongest candidates for an alleged asseverative function of ky-ʾm. The most basic fact that commends them is the presence of other oath elements: in each case, an oath-authenticating formula is present. It is to the credit of HALOT that these (plus Judg 15:7) are the only texts cited for the marker of a positive oath. However, difficulties with this analysis remain, and I have discussed all 4 in ch. 4 as examples of oaths using the particle ky. (132)  1 Sam 26:10 ḥay-yhwh kî ʾim-yhwh yiggɔpɛnnû ʾô-yômô yɔḇôʾ wɔmeṯ ʾô ḇammilḥɔmɔh yereḏ wənispɔh. Translation: (By) the life of Yahweh, [I swear] that perhaps Yahweh will strike him, or his day will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and be swept away.

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In 1 Sam 26:10, the predominant understanding of the passage is that David is sure that God will kill Saul somehow—“Surely Yahweh will strike him”— though he refuses to be the instrument to inflict such a sentence on the “Lord’s anointed.” But another understanding of the ky-ʾm in this passage is possible, an understanding that avoids the dubious asseverative function for the compound particle and makes better sense of the options that David outlines. The two particles function independently, the ky is the complementizer of the elided verb šbʿ, and the ʾm here functions as the first term of a list of alternatives, followed by the two occurrences of ʾw ‘or’. This sequence is attested elsewhere (Lev 15:23), and the sense of the passage is much better (as v. 11 helps make clear): ‘(By) the life of Yahweh, [I swear] that perhaps the Lord will strike him, or . . .’ (see §4.3.2). (133)  2 Sam 15:21 ḥay-yhwh wəḥê ʾaḏonî hammɛlɛḵ kî ʾim-bimqôm ʾašɛr yihyɛh- šɔm ʾaḏonî hammɛlɛḵ ʾim-ləmɔwɛṯ ʾim-ləḥayyîm kî-šɔm yihyɛh ʿaḇdɛḵɔ. Translation: (By) the life of Yahweh and (by) the life of my lord the king, [I swear] that, wherever my lord the king is (lit.: if in the place where he is there), whether it results in death or life, your servant will be there. As in Ruth 3:12, the ʾm here is “one of the eight written, not read,” according to the Masorah Parvah. The first ʾm here—if indeed it is legitimate—could be functioning in concert with the two that follow, which express two alternatives. The ky is the complementizer of the elided verb ‘to swear’ (see §4.3.3.1.2). (134)  2 Kgs 5:20 ḥay-yhwh kî-ʾim-raṣtî ʾaḥarɔyw wəlɔqaḥtî meʾittô məʾûmɔh. Translation: (By) the life of Yahweh, [I swear] that, if I run after him, then I can get something from him. (135)  Jer 51:14 nišbaʿ yhwh ṣəḇɔʾôṯ bənapšô kî ʾim-milleʾṯîḵ ʾɔḏɔm kayyɛlɛq wəʿɔnû ʿɔlayiḵ hêḏɔḏ. Translation: Yahweh of Armies swears by his soul that, if I fill you with men like locusts, (then) they will chant a war cry over you.

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Conclusion  5.4.

These final 2 texts, 2 Kgs 5:20 and Jer 51:14, fall into the category of oaths consisting of full conditional sentences following the complementizer ky (see §4.3.3.2.3). The verbal forms mirror the forms in Judg 15:7. The first verb is perfective, and the second is imperfective. This alternation makes sense if we analyze the texts as conditional sentences—not so, however, if we view the ky-ʾm combinations here as an asseverative particle. Here we must also address a text from Qumran listed in DCH as an instance of ky ʾm with an asseverative meaning ‘surely’: kyʾ ʾm lkh hmlḥmh ‘surely the battle is yours!’ (1QM 11:1). There are two parallel phrases in the context that are positive and clearly influence this interpretation: kyʾ lkh hmlḥmh (line 2) and lkh hmlḥmh (line 4). However, the compound particle in line 1 begins the first preserved line on the column. There are at least one or two complete lines missing from the end of col. 10, and the last preserved line of col. 10 is barely restorable. We simply cannot say what preceded the kyʾ ʾm in 11:1. We therefore should not give this compound particle a meaning that it never has with certainty in BH. It is just as plausible to imagine that a negative clause preceded this on the bottom of col. 10, requiring an adversative sense of the compound particle: ‘Rather, the battle is yours, [O Lord]!’ Thus we see that the existence of the compound particle ky-ʾm to introduce the content of a positive oath faces severe difficulties. These difficulties range from textual to morphosyntactic to semantic, and in half of the alleged examples there are no oath elements present in any case. The exposition above should demonstrate that the alleged asseverative function of the compound particle is, at best, only sometimes equally as plausible as the established adversative or exceptive functions of ky-ʾm, and in no case is the asseverative function necessary or certain. 5.4.  Conclusion In this chapter, we have seen some exceptions to the two primary means of marking oath content in Biblical Hebrew. The particle ʾšr functions as a complementizer like the particle ky, the particle mh is used in one context, and several oaths forego any formal indicator of oath content. We also found that there is no consistent or inherent rationale for the choice of the authenticating element that is paired with the content marker. This apparent randomness with regard to the correlation of the two elements of every oath in BH confirms the conclusion in ch. 2 that the authenticating element was perceived by its user as a completely distinct element, with a distinct function, from the oath content. Finally, we have discovered that the dozen or so texts that have been advanced as examples of the functioning of the compound particle ky-ʾm to signal positive oaths do not accomplish this dubious task. In the texts that are truly oaths, my study shows that these texts demand an analysis of the two particles as distinct particles, and thus they fall into the category of oaths marked by ky.

Chapter 6

Conclusions Previous attempts at elucidating the oath formulas in Biblical Hebrew were incomplete and atomistic. A student could come away with a long list of diverse formulas with no convincing rationale for their function or their relationship to one another. This study was based on a comprehensive and exhaustive analysis of all the formulas in question. The first major contribution of this study is on the level of structure and organization: oath formulas in Biblical Hebrew are organized around a bipartite structure—namely, an authenticating element followed by the content of the oath. Second, this authenticating element may assume many linguistic forms. Or to state it conversely, the wide array of oath formulas often identified in the standard works on the subject all have a common underlying function: oath authentication. This element typically precedes the content of the oath, and no two authenticating formulas are used together in the same oath. Previous research on Hebrew oaths consistently identified four possible means of introducing oath content: ʾm, ʾm-lʾ, ky, and ky-ʾm. We have confirmed that the first two in this list do indeed function as protases of incomplete-condition clauses—the former for negative oaths and the latter for positive oaths. What has always challenged scholars is the origin and function of the particle ky in oaths. The third major contribution of this study is in offering a cogent argument that the ky functions as the complementizer of the verb nišbaʿ ‘to swear’, which is often elided. The principal support for this argument is that this combination, nišbaʿ ky ‘to swear that . . .’ actually occurs in several oaths in the Hebrew Bible. The fourth major contribution of this study is in demonstrating that the fourth traditional category of oath content markers, asseverative ky-ʾm clauses, is nonexistent. I have examined all the passages in which this asseverative function for ky-ʾm has been alleged (both oath and non-oath), and I have shown in each case that, either the two particles should be analyzed as independent rather than compound, or the compound particle functions in its adversative or exceptive function, not in an asseverative function. In the appendix, I present the outlines of my study of oath formulas in other Semitic languages. Some conclusions are drawn at the end, but a word should 76

77

Conclusions

be said here regarding the versions of the Hebrew Bible and the way that ancient translators dealt with the oath formulas. My analysis of Biblical Hebrew oaths is supported by the versions in several instances. First, I have analyzed the ḥy X formula in Hebrew as a construct phrase, ‘life of X’, functioning to authenticate an oath by mentioning a precious entity in a positive light. The Aramaic and Ethiopic versions confirm my understanding of this formula as a positive reference to a precious entity. Second, the way in which the Peshitta handles the alleged ky-ʾm constructions in Hebrew supports ch. 5, where I show that the particles in the oath passages should be treated as distinct particles. The Peshitta resolves the difficult juxtaposition of ky and ʾm in 1 Sam 25:34 and 2 Sam 3:35 by treating them as distinct particles functioning independently and simply leaves ky untranslated. Third, the way in which the Peshitta deals with the particle ky confirms my analysis in ch. 4. The Peshitta often translates the particle with d-, the comparable complementizer for a verb of swearing, ‘(I swear) that’. One point on which the Ethiopic version differs from my analysis is in the understanding of the “thus will God do” formula (§2.4 above). The Ethiopic often transforms the conditional oaths into their nonconditional equivalents; the conditional formulation is preserved in the 3 texts in 1 and 2 Samuel where this is combined with the “thus will God do” formula. This suggests that the Ethiopic translator(s) understood this formula as an apodosis to the conditionally formulated oath. In ch. 2, I characterized this as a misunderstanding of the relationship between the authenticating formula and the content of the oath. The Syriac translation of the Hebrew Bible tends to be more idiomatic than the targums, and this is reflected in the oath formulas. Though the Ethiopic version is a translation of the Greek Septuagint, it does not merely imitate the Greek but provides an idiomatic rendering that must have been informed by indigenous cultural precedents. The Aramaic and Ethiopic versions of the Hebrew Bible present an interesting comparison in dealing with the biblical material. However, the versions provide us with no independent positive contribution to the history of Semitic oath formulas. Though this book has addressed a distinct, circumscribed problem from a primarily philological and linguistic point of view, it has opened the door to several avenues of wider and additional research. First, cultural phenomena such as ceremonial meals, curses and curse imagery, and ancient treaty forms were important elements of and contexts within which oaths were used. The study of these phenomena and the spoken utterances of oaths may be mutually enlightening. In fact, the authenticating elements often seem to point to a ritual, gesture, or other nonlinguistic referent. Second, and related to the first point, the psycholinguistic aspect of taking an oath deserves additional attention. Several questions lie outside the bounds of this study that might help illumi-

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nate the mental conception of oath-taking in the ancient world—for example, the etymologies and derived stem formations of the primary verbs of swearing in the various Semitic languages. Finally, this study has been a brief and limited foray into the vast frontier of Semitic linguistic particles. By demonstrating that new contributions can be made to the study of the particle ky, I hope that others can also envision further advancements in this unsung field.

Appendix: Oath Formulas in Other Semitic Languages In this appendix, I will cover three groups of Semitic languages, in decreasing order of linguistic and cultural proximity to the Hebrew Bible. In the Northwest Semitic branch, the biblical material accounts for around 95% of the attested data. As for nonbiblical Northwest Semitic data, four oaths from inscriptional Hebrew were included in the main text (see §2.5.2, §3.3.2, and §4.3.2). Besides this, there is only one oath attested in Ugaritic, and two in inscriptional Aramaic. Second, there are a large number of oaths attested in the various Akkadian dialects of the first two millennia b.c.e. My sample is by no means exhaustive but represents the array of attestations across these dialects. Finally, we will survey the oath formulas attested in Classical Arabic, specifically the formulas found in the Qurʾān. 7.1.  Northwest Semitic 7.1.1. Ugaritic Only one oath represented as a spoken utterance is attested thus far in Ugaritic. It comes from a letter dated to the late thirteenth or early twelfth century. The restoration at the end of line 12 is suggested by Pardee: (136)  RS 94.2284:12–13 12 ḥnpšk. wḥn[pšy?] 13 hm ʾyṯ d ytn l[y] (By) your life and (by) [my li]fe, if there was (anyone) who gave (anything) to [me], (may I be cursed) (i.e., nobody gave me anything). While the combination ḥy npšy (1st-person pronominal suffix) is not attested in any of the biblical oaths, it is difficult to imagine another alternative for the restoration here. The space available on the tablet requires that even this short restoration would have to have been written down the edge of the tablet. A longer restoration is unlikely. 79

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In all other respects, this single oath conforms closely to what we have found in Biblical Hebrew. There are eight double-ḥy constructions in BH. In seven of these, the first ḥy is in construct with Yhwh. In six of these, the second ḥy is in construct with npšk. The particle ḥy in the authenticating element is contracted here and is written as part of the following word, ḥê-. The content of the oath uses the conditional formulation with an elided apodosis. The oath content continues with the existential particle followed by a relative clause. The closest biblical example is 1 Kgs 18:10: (137)  ḥay yhwh ʾɛlohɛyḵɔ ʾim-yɛš-gôy ûmamlɔḵɔh ʾašɛr loʾ-šɔlaḥ ʾaḏonî šɔm. . . . (By) the life of Yahweh, your God, if there is a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent (word). . . . This single oath in Ugaritic, both in its authenticating formula and in its expression of the content, also fits comfortably in the historical and linguistic context provided by the Akkadian evidence below. The mention of a precious entity followed by a conditionally formulated oath is found in OB and MB (Amarna) texts. In addition to one of the spoken oaths attested in the Akkadian of Ugarit (see §7.2.1.4 below), there is a reference to an oath in a letter from the king of Carchemish to the king of Ugarit (Amiṯtamru II) in the mid-thirteenth century that may provide a relevant point of comparison. (138)  (MB-Ugarit) RS 8.333=AO 19.955 (PRU III, p. 8) na-na-a na[p-]ša-ta ša šarri li-it-ma-a-mi Nana should swear (by) the life of the king Note that the word for life used here is not nīš, as in mainstream Akkadian, but napšata, the cognate of the Ugaritic npš. The presence of the verb of swearing, tamû, is natural in a discursive context as we have here. But in a spoken oath, as in our lone Ugaritic example, when another authenticating element is present, the verb of swearing is elided and assumed. This is consistent with my analysis of the authenticating formulas in Classical Hebrew in ch. 2 and with my argument for the function of ky in Hebrew in ch. 4. 7.1.2.  Old Aramaic Dialects Only two examples from epigraphic materials are attested; one is from the Old Aramaic dialect of Zenjirli, the Panamu I stele, also known as Hadad. The other is an Official Aramaic ostracon from Egypt known as the Sabbath Ostracon. Neither text is preserved as completely as we would like, but there is enough to provide us with some data points in the comparative picture.

Akkadian 7.2.

81 7.1.2.1.  Old Aramaic

(139)  Panamu I (Hadad): 29 [. . . y]śʾ ydyh lʾlh ʾbh nśh yʾmr hn ʾm śmt ʾmrt ʾl bpm. . . . [he] will lift his hands to the god of his father; lifting he will say, “If I put these words in the mouth of . . . , [may I be cursed]” (i.e., I did not put these words . . .). This Old Aramaic inscription is dated to the mid-eighth century and is written in the dialect of the Zenjirli area. The text overall is badly broken and contains a number of orthographical peculiarities. What can be said with some certainty is that (1) the oath-taker authenticates his oath by raising his hand to a deity, though the “raising the hand” formula is not represented as being spoken by the oath-taker; and (2) the content of the oath is formulated as a conditional protasis with the apodosis elided. 7.1.2.2.  Official Aramaic (140)  Sabbath Ostracon: 3–4, 7–8 3 ḥy lyhh hn lʾ npšk[y] 4 ʾlqḥ (By) the life of YHH, if I do not take yo[ur] life, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will take your life). (141)  7 ḥy lyhh hn lʾ ʿl 8 npšky. . . . (By) the life of YHH, if (it is) not on your life . . . , [may I be cursed] (i.e., it is on your life . . .). This ostracon written in the Official Aramaic dialect is dated to the fifth century. The person who had this written had a sense of urgency in his instructions to the addressee, and he has expressed this in two forceful oaths that threaten the life of the addressee. The oaths are authenticated by the use of the ḥy X formula, and both oaths are formulated as negative conditional protases with apodoses elided, resulting in positive statements. In these Aramaic examples, the conditional formulation of the oath content and the use of the ḥy X formula to authenticate the oaths in the Sabbath Ostracon are firmly situated in the tradition of Northwest Semitic oaths as attested in both inscriptional and Biblical Hebrew, as well as Ugaritic. This combination, as we shall see below, reaches back to Old Babylonian antecedents. 7.2. Akkadian The oath formulas in Akkadian have received some attention. W. von Soden has a concise two-page presentation that covers the various possibilities in all the dialects (von Soden 1995, §185). Hecker’s grammar expands on this

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for the Old Assyrian dialect, devoting three pages to the topic (Hecker 1968, §§131–32). J. Huehnergard’s teaching grammar succinctly lays out the different possibilities for Old Babylonian in two pages (Huehnergard 1997, §36.3). In Akkadian, as in Classical Hebrew, an oath utterance may consist of two elements: an authenticating element and the actual content of the oath. I will analyze oaths under these two categories below. There are a number of means of mentioning an oath speech act in a narrative or discursive context, and before we discuss the data, we need to distinguish these references to oaths from the use of oaths in a speech act (see discussion in §1.2 above). 7.2.1.  Mention of Oath Speech Acts 7.2.1.1.  Verb of Swearing First, a verb of swearing may be used alone to refer to an oath. In Old Assyrian (OAss), we find zakāru. (142)  (OAss) MVAG 35, no. 325:35 be-el a-wa-tí-a PN i-na 3 a-wa-tim ša ⟨in⟩ na-ru-a-im lá-áp-ta-ni li-iz-ku-ra-ma My adversary, PN, should swear against me with the three words that are inscribed on the stela. In OB, MB texts from Alalakh and Elam, and in Middle Assyrian (MA), we find tamû. (143)  (OB) Code of Hammurapi XLI 9–12 (§206) a-wi-lum šu-ú i-na i-du-ú la am-ḫa-ṣu i-tam-ma That man shall swear: “I did not strike knowingly.” These two Akkadian verbs for swearing, zakāru (or its alternate saqāru) and tamû, require further comment. The first is a verb of speech, and the Š-stem of the verb means to ‘make someone swear’. The latter verb is more enigmatic. The very etymology of tamû is a matter of debate beyond the scope of this study. In the G-stem, the verb most naturally means ‘to swear’. However, adjurations use the D-stem, not the Š-stem. This verb belongs to a group of verbs analyzed by N. Kouwenberg as “transitive verbs whose D-stem is valency-extending,” even though “D-stems of transitive verbs are normally valency-preserving.” That is, these are verbs that may take an object but have a low level of transitivity in the G-stem. Examples include lamādu ‘to know, learn’ in the G-stem, ‘to inform’ in the D-stem; palāḫu ‘to fear’ in the G-stem, ‘to frighten’ in the D-stem. In addition to this, we find that both zakāru and tamû are sometimes used in the stative. The question is how this state of affairs relates to the meaning of tamû in its various stems.

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It appears plausible that oath-taking was partly conceived as not merely an act of speaking but an entry into a sworn state through various means including speaking. Without solving the enigmas of tamû, the function of the D-stem, and the psycholinguistic issues involved in oath-taking in ancient Mesopotamia, I offer the following rationale for my handling of the verbs of swearing in Akkadian. In the G-stem, I translate both zakāru and tamû as ‘to swear’. I maintain a causative sense for the Š-stem of zakāru, while for tamû I suggest that the D-stem indicates a transfer of the (usually human) object into a sworn state. I take the statives at face value and attempt to translate accordingly; for example, ‘to be under oath, to be sworn’. 7.2.1.2.  “Life of X” The second way to refer to an oath in a narrative or discursive context is through the construct phrase nīš X ‘life of X’. This phrase is always the object of either the verb tamû or zakāru. In Old Akkadian (OAkk), the preferred verb is tamû, and X is a human royal figure. (144)  (OAkk) MDP 14 p. 93, no. 44, rev. 4 ni-iš šar-ri-im it-ma-ù they swore (by) the life of the king. In Old Assyrian, the verb tamû is also used, but X may be a mixture of human and divine figures or even inanimate precious entities. (145)  (OAss) ICK 2 113:12–13 ni-iš a-limki nu-ta-me-šu-nu-ma We put them under oath (by) the life of the city. In OB texts, as well as MB texts from Alalakh, and Neo-Babylonian (NB) and Neo-Assyrian (NA) texts, the verb generally used is zakāru, and X can be a deity or, more often, a combination of deities and human figures. (146)  (OB) Code of Hammurapi IX 10–13 (§20) a-na be-el ÌR ni-iš i-lim i-za-kar-ma ú-ta-aš-šar To the owner of the slave, he will swear (by) the life of the god, and he will bereleased. However, in some OB texts from Mari and in an oath attested in the MB dialect of Ugarit, the verb tamû is used. (147)  (OB) ARM 8 17:5′–7′ ni-iš LUGAL ù Ia-ás-ma-a[ḫ]-Addu it-[m]u-ú They swore (by) the life of the king and Yasmaḫ-Addu.

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Both of these first two means of referring to an oath in a narrative or discursive context are also used as authenticating elements (see below). The next two, however, are not attested as part of an actual oath. 7.2.1.3.  Touching of Throat Third, the expression lipit napištim ‘touching of the throat’ is found in OB texts from Mari as well as in the Standard Babylonian (SB) version of Enuma Elish, to refer to an oath. (148)  (SB) Enuma Elish VI 98 ina a.meš ù ì.giš it-mu-ú ú-lap-pi-tu4 nap-šá-a-ti they swore with water and oil; they touched (their) throats In attestations of the expression in OB texts from Mari, it is used parallel to the expression nīš ilī zakāru ‘to swear (by) the life of the gods’, as in the example below: (149)  (OB) ARMT 13 147:5–9 aš-šum dingir.meš ṭà-ra-di-im be-lí iš-pu-ra-am um-ma-a-mi dingir.meš-ka ṭú-ur-dam-ma na-pí-iš-ti lu-ul-pu-ut i-na-an-na a-nuum-ma dingir.meš aṭ-ṭar-dam be-lí ni-îš dingir.meš li-ìz-ku-ur Concerning the sending of the gods, my master wrote: “Send your gods, so that I may touch my throat.” Now herewith I have sent the gods; let my master swear (by) the life of the gods. 7.2.1.4. Curse Fourth, the term māmītu ‘curse’ is used to refer to an oath. In OB, OAss, MB, and NA, it is attested as the object of tamû; in NB, it is attested as the object of zakāru. (150)  (OAss) TCL 20 143:3–4 ma-mì-tám gal ta-am-ú They were under oath (by) a great curse (151)  (MB) Ugarit RS 17.146:22 i-na kur URUu-ga-ri-it i-na nam.erim2 i-tam-mu-ni ma-a šum-ma lú.meš da-i-ku-ti-šu-nu ni-di-mi In Ugarit they shall swear with a curse: “If we know their murderers, [may we be cursed].” (152)  (NB) BHT pl 9 v 26–27 i-paṭ-ṭa-ru sag.du-su-nu i-zak-ka-ru ma-mit ki-i . . . ni-du-u

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they will bare their heads; they will swear (with) a curse: If . . . we knew, [may we be cursed]. 7.2.2.  Authenticating Formulas There are four broad categories of authenticating formulas attested in Akkadian. The first is the mention of a precious entity, with or without a verb of swearing. This includes the phrase nīš X but is not limited to it. This first category is the most widely attested and appears mostly in the older dialects. The second is the use of a verb of swearing alone. The third is the mention of deities as witnesses to what is sworn. The fourth is the wish that the gods would strike the swearer if what is sworn is false. These latter three categories are sparsely attested. All four of these authenticators find counterparts in the oaths in BH. 7.2.2.1.  Mention of Precious Entity The precious entity that is mentioned is usually a deity, often using the nīš X formula but not exclusively. (153)  (OB) VAB V 313:19–20 ni-iš šar-ri-im a-na di.kud.meš ni-il-la-ku-ú-ma (By) the life of the king, we will go to the judges. (154)  (OB) Syria 33 (1956): 63–69, lines 27–28 at-ma-kum dAddu ì-lí a-li-ia ù dSin ì-lí ri-ši-ia šum-ma a-di ma-atka ù ka-ta ú-ḫa-al-la-qú a-pa-aṭ-ṭà-ru-ma I swear to you (by) Addu, the god of my city, and by Sin, god of my head: if I cease before destroying your land and you, [may I be cursed]. (155)  (OB) ARM 5 20:16–17 aš-šum dingir ša a-bi-ia šum-ma-an li-ib-bi im-ra-aṣ For the sake of the god of my father: if my heart is angry, [may I be cursed]. (156)  (OAss) AOAT 2 43:8 mu dA-šur šu-mi ša-aṭ-ra la ta-pa-ši-iṭ (By) the oath of Ashur, do not erase the inscription. (157)  (NA) OIP 2 81:25 ni-iš dAššur dingir-ia . . . šum-ma . . . íd šú-a-tu la ú-šaḫ-ru-u (By) the life of Ashur my god . . . if . . . I did not have this canal dug, [may I be cursed].

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In two oaths attested in the MB texts from Amarna, good wishes for the life of the king are mentioned in a precative clause. It seems most appropriate to include them in this section. 1 (158)  (MB-Amarna) EA 256:10–13 li-ib-lu-uṭ šàr-ru en-ia li-ib-lu-uṭ šàr-ru en-ia šum-ma i15-ba-ši l A-ia-ab i-na URUPí-ḫi-lì May the king my lord live, may the king my lord live; if Ayyab is to be found in Piḥil, [may I be cursed]. (159)  (MB-Amarna) EA 289:37–40 li-ib-lu-uṭ šàr-ru lu-ú ir-pí-šu lPu-ú-ru pa-ṭa-ar i-na maḫ-ri-ia May the king live, his commissioner Puwure has departed from me. This precative clause is common in epistolary texts as part of an opening greeting. Though these texts from Amarna are letters, the clause is used explicitly as part of the oath, not as a formal element of epistolary convention. The clause appears to make explicit what is implicit in the more common oath authenticating element nīš X. 7.2.2.2.  Verb of Swearing In a Neo-Babylonian text, we find the use of a verb of swearing, tamû, to authenticate an oath. (160)  (NB) ABL 287 rev. 8–9 at-te-me ki-i i-du-ú I swear: if I knew, [may I be cursed]. 7.2.2.3. Witnesses In MB and NB texts, we find sparse attestation of the means of authenticating an oath by appealing to the knowledge possessed by deities that qualifies them to bear witness to what is sworn.

1.  The data from the Amarna archive are difficult to categorize. The four letters we cite in this appendix that contain oath formulas come from Canaanite sources ranging from Amurru in southern Syria to Piḫilu and Jerusalem farther south, in Palestine. Though written in cuneiform, the language is neither entirely Akkadian nor entirely Canaanite. The lexical stock is closer to Akkadian, while the syntax and idioms are more western Semitic. Thus, the placement of these data here comes with the caveat that they are not pure Akkadian examples. As we shall see, they share nearly as much in common with the oaths from the West Semitic languages as they do with Akkadian.

87

Akkadian 7.2. (161)  (MB-Amarna) EA 161:32–34 dingir.meš-ka ù dŠamaš lu-ú i-du-ú-nim šum-ma la i-na URU Tu-ni-ip áš-ba-ku Surely, your gods and Šamaš know: if I do not live in Tunip, [may I be cursed]. (162)  (NB) YOS 3 46:34–35 d Nabû lu-ú i-du ki-i lu ma-da la mar-ṣa-ku Surely, Nabu knows: if I am not very sick, [may I be cursed]. (163)  (NB) BIN I 72:6–9 d Belti-šá-Uruk u dNanã lu-ú i-da-aʾ ki-i ul-tu ud.22.kam a-di muḫ-ḫi šá en-na la ka-la-an-ni Surely, the Lady of Uruk and Nanna know: if we have not been held up from the 22nd day until now, [may we be cursed].

7.2.2.4.  May the Gods Strike Me I have found an example from a MB Amarna text of an imprecatory formula that actually constitutes an apodosis to a conditionally formulated oath. This formulation is not found in Akkadian proper but is similar to the “thus will God do” authenticating formula in Biblical Hebrew (ch. 2). (164)  (MB-Amarna) EA 209:13–16 ù «šu»-ma [l]a «na»!-uṣ-ra-ti7 uru.meš-k[a] ù «dingir».«meš»«nu» ša it-⟨ti  ⟩-ka «sag»-«qà»-di li-mu-«ḫu»-ṣ[ú](?) And if I have not protected your cities, then may the gods who are with you strike my head! As with the two texts from Amarna above that made explicit what is implied in the nīš X formula, this oath makes explicit what is always implicit in the conditional formulation of an oath, the threatening apodosis. Note that the position of this authenticator is the position of a conditional apodosis: it follows the protasis. This is contrary to the position of the authenticating element in the other oaths in Akkadian and Northwest Semitic, including BH. 7.2.3.  Oath Content There are two systems for marking the content of an oath in Akkadian. The first is an asseverative system. The second is a conditional system, as found in Northwest Semitic.

7.2.  Akkadian

88

7.2.3.1.  Formulated as an Asseverative Clause In the oldest dialects (OAkk, OB, OAss), it appears that the primary means of marking oath content was to formulate it as an asseverative clause. 2 That is to say, all these oaths were asseverative clauses, though not all asseverative clauses were oaths per se. 7.2.3.1.1. Negative Negative oaths were formulated using the negative particle lā followed by a verbal form ending with the subjunctive marker. (165)  (OAkk) RA 32 190:6 la a-ra-ga-mu I will not contest. (166)  (OB) Code of Hammurapi XLII 52–54 šu.i i-na i-du-ú la ú-gal-li-bu i-tam-ma-ma The barber shall swear: “I did not shave knowingly.” (167)  (OB) Laws of Eshnunna Aii 16–17 ni-iš dingir i-[za-ka]r mi-im-ma e-li-ia la ti-šu-u he [will swea]r (by) the life of the god: “You do not owe me anything.” (168)  (OB) VAB VI 218:12–15 li-iz-ku-ru: la i-du-ú . . . la ú-šá-ḫi-zu . . . la el-qu-ú la al-pu-tu They must swear: “I did not know . . . I did not incite . . . I did not take, I did not touch.” (169)  (OAss) TCL 4 86:7–8 ta-am(!)-a-am kù.babbar la tal-qí-ú Swear to me that you did not take the silver. (170)  (OAss) CCT V 1a:33 mì-ma lá e-pu-šu-šu-ni I did not do anything to him. 7.2.3.1.2. Positive The formation of positive asseverations in these older dialects (OAkk, OB, and OAss) could be achieved in one of three ways. 2.  The only exception to this system was in OB, where a conditionally formulated system was also in use (see below).

Akkadian 7.2.

89

7.2.3.1.2.1.  Asseverative Particle lū First, one could simply use the asseverative particle lū before a verbal form. This is not attested in OAkk but is found in OB and OAss and does survive in at least one text from MB (Amarna). (171)  (OB) Laws of Eshnunna Aiii 20–22 ni-iš dingir i-za-kar-šum it-ti bu-še-e-ka bu-šu-ia lu ḫal-qú i-witam ù sà-ar-tam la e-pu-šu He will swear to him (by) the life of the god: “My property has surely been lost along with your property; I have committed neither fraud nor crime.” (172)  (OAss) TC II 17:30–31 X ma-na urudu a-na qá-tí-šu lu a-dí-in I put X minas of copper into his hand. (173)  (MB-Amarna) EA 289:37–40 li-ib-lu-uṭ šàr-ru lu-ú ir-pí-šu lPu-ú-ru pa-ṭa-ar i-na maḫ-ri-ia May the king live; his commissioner Puwure has departed from me. 7.2.3.1.2.2.  Subjunctive Marker Second, an asseverative clause could be formed by the use of the subjunctive marker in a non-subordinate clause. 3 This means of formulating the content of an oath is attested in all three dialects. In OAkk, OB, and Oass, the subjunctive marker –u is attested in oaths. In Oass, the secondary subjunctive marker –ni is also attested. (174)  (OAkk) JRAS 1932: 296:35 kù.babbar-am a-na-da-nu-kum I will give the silver to you. (OB) VAB V 265:14–15 giš.kiri6 pa-nu-ú bu-ur-ru-ú i-na i-li te-el(!)-qu-ú The former orchard was firm, by the god you took it (175)  (OAss) BIN IV 57: 7–12 X ma-na kù.babbar ší-im anše iš-tù GN šé-bu-lam qá-bi4-a-tí-ni X minas of silver, the price of an ass, you said to send from GN. 3.  The “subjunctive” mood in Akkadian grammar normally refers to any finite verbal form within a subordinate or dependent clause. This verbal form takes the subjunctive marker if it does not already have an ending of some kind.

7.2.  Akkadian

90

The grammatical analysis of this type of statement has often focused on the need to explain the presence of a subjunctive marker in a non-subordinate clause. Hecker (1968: §131b) attempted to explain it as a deletion of some phrase that would have triggered the subjunctive such as ana ša, ištu, or ašar. Buccellati (1996: §89.8) made a similar attempt by proposing that what has been deleted is the phrase tamû kīma ‘to swear that’. The situation was clarified significantly by Edzard (1973) in his discussion of verbal mood in Akkadian. He simply noted that the “subjunctive” as such is not a mood in Akkadian but that the use of the subjunctive marker is found in more than one verbal mood. The subjunctive marker used in a subordinate clause is in fact an indicative mood situation. When the subjunctive marker is used in an apparently nonsubordinate context, it is when the mood is asseverative and is functionally interchangeable with the use of the asseverative particle lū. Edzard (1973) suggests that the formal identity of the subjunctive forms in both indicative and asseverative moods would have been distinguished by accent or intonation. In the end, however, Edzard (1973) contends that the theories of an elided element accounting for the subjunctive marker in asseverative clauses fail to account for the distinction between the indicative and asseverative moods in the respective clauses. I think it is possible to take Edzard’s reminder to heart and yet leave open the possibility that ellipsis is at work in these cases, along the lines suggested by Hecker and Buccellati. 7.2.3.1.2.3.  Asseverative Particle lū + Subjunctive Marker Finally, one could formulate an asseverative clause by combining both elements, the asseverative particle lū and a verbal form, with the subjunctive marker. I have found some examples in Old Assyrian. (176)  (OAss) BIN VI 97:34 [kù].babbar qá-at-kà-ma lu i-ša-qú-lu-šu-ni The silver is your share, and they will weigh it out. (177)  (OAss) CCT V 22c:11–15 ki-ma ša a-na i-a-tí a-[w]a-tí-a li-bi4 ma-ar-ṣú a-n[a] a-[w]a-tí-ka li-bi4 lu ma-ar-ṣú-ú Just as my heart is angry at my own situation, (so) my heart is angry at your situation. 7.2.3.2.  Formulated as an Incomplete Conditional Clause The system of formulating an oath as an asseverative clause was confined to the older dialects (except for the lone example found in MB Amarna). Another system is attested beginning in some OB texts (notably, from Mari) and is the only system used in the subsequent dialects of Akkadian. It is not attested at all in OAkk or OAss. It is the use of a conditional protasis with the apodosis

Akkadian 7.2.

91

elided, where šumma marks a negative oath, and šumma lā marks a positive oath. In the later Babylonian dialects, the conditional particle used is kī instead of šumma, but the syntax of the oaths using this formulation is consistent throughout all the dialects in which it is attested. 7.2.3.2.1. Negative 7.2.3.2.1.1.  šumma (178)  (OB) Syria 33 (1956): 63–69, lines 27–28 at-ma-kum dAddu ì-lí a-li-ia ù dSin ì-lí ri-ši-ia šum-ma a-di ma-atka ù ka-ta ú-ḫa-al-la-qú a-pa-aṭ-ṭà-ru-ma I swear to you (by) Addu, the god of my city, and by Sin, god of my head: if I cease before destroying your land and you, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will not cease . . .). (179)  (MB-Alalakh) AT 456:40–42 a-na ia-ri-im-li-im ni-iš dmeš za-ki-ir u ki-ša-ad 1 sila iṭ-bu-uḫ šum-ma ša ad-di-nu-ku-um-mi e-li-iq-qu-[u] He was under oath (by) the life of the gods before Yarim-Lim, and slaughtered the neck of one lamb: “If I take (back) what I gave you, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will not take back . . .).” (180)  (MA) KAV 1 i 60–61 i-tam-ma ma-a šum-ma u-ša-ḫi-zu-ši-ni He shall swear: “If I incited her, [may I be cursed]” (i.e., I did not incite her). (181)  (NA) ABL 594 rev. 5–6 šum-ma it-tu me-me-ni a-mu-ru-u-ni If I saw any sign, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I saw no sign). 7.2.3.2.1.2.  kī (182)  (NB) BHT pl. 9 v 26–27 i-paṭ-ṭa-ru sag.du-su-nu i-zak-ka-ru ma-mīt ki-i . . . nî-du-u They will bare their heads, they will swear (with) a curse: if . . . we knew, [may we be cursed] (i.e., we do not know).

7.2.  Akkadian

92

7.2.3.2.2. Positive 7.2.3.2.2.1.  šumma lā (183)  (OB) AbB 3 68:16–17 šum-ma . . . la at-ta-al-ka-ki-im-[m]a ù ṣí-bu-ut-ki la e-te-pu-uš If . . . I do not come to you and I do not carry out your wish, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I will come and carry out your wish). (184)  (MB-Alalakh) AT 2:46 i-tam-mu-šu [. . .] šum-ma . . . la aṣ-bat-šu [. . .] He shall swear (concerning) him . . . if . . . I did not seize it, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I did seize it). (185)  (NA) OIP 2 81:25 ni-iš dAššur dingir-ia . . . šum-ma . . . íd šú-a-tu la ú-šaḫ-ru-u (By) the life of Ashur, my god . . . if . . . I did not have this canal dug, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I had this canal dug). 7.2.3.2.2.2.  kī lā (186)  (NB) YOS III 46:34 d Nabû lu-ú i-du ki-i lu ma-da la mar-ṣa-ku May Nabu be witness: If I am not very sick, [may I be cursed] (i.e., I am very sick). (187)  (LB) YOS III 167:15–17 ki-i ṣe-en . . . la ši-be-e-ti ši-na If the sheep . . . are not old, [may I be cursed] (i.e., the sheep are old). 7.2.4.  Akkadian Summary With regard to the authenticating formulas, the method of mentioning a precious entity is by far the best attested. It is the only authenticating element attested in the OB and OAss dialects but is also found in later dialects. Though the “life of X” formula does occur more often than any other single means within the “precious entity” category, it is not the exclusive means of achieving authentication in this way. There are a small number of other means of authenticating an oath. One is by appealing to the gods as witnesses to the sworn statement. It is attested in the MB of Amarna and in NB. I also found an attestation in NB of the verb of swearing alone. Finally, the apodosis “may the gods strike my head” is found in one text in Amarna MB. This last formula is the only attestation I have

Classical Arabic 7.3.

93

found of the fully expressed apodosis in a conditionally formulated oath. It appears that the scribes writing the Amarna letters in Canaan were prone to make explicit the elements of oath formulation that were traditionally left implicit. If this latter formula were compared with the biblical “thus will God do to me” formula, then the generic wording of the biblical formula and its forward placement is even more indicative of a secondary development (see ch. 2). With regard to the content of oaths, we have seen that a system formulated with asseverative clauses was used in the oldest dialects. This system did not survive the later dialects, except for one attestation in Amarna MB. The later dialects instead used a conditionally formulated system first attested in OB but not in OAkk or OAss. 4 This system survives into the latest strata of Akkadian, even when the predominant conditional particle has changed from šumma to kī. 7.3.  Classical Arabic In this section, I limit myself to a survey of oath formulas attested in the Qur’an. As in the other Semitic languages, oaths in Classical Arabic may consist of two elements, an authenticating formula and the specific content of the oath. 7.3.1.  Authenticating Formulas There are three basic types of formulas used to authenticate oaths in the Qur’an. Most reference works for Classical Arabic also refer to a fourth, ʾaymunu llāhi ‘oaths of Allah’, where ʾaymunu is the broken plural of yamīn ‘right hand’. However, this formula does not appear in the Qur’an itself. All of these categories have a basic element in common: the mentioning of a precious entity. However, the separate categories below are justified due to the consistent and distinct ways in which this precious entity is grammatically and syntactically framed. 7.3.1.1.  Life of X (188)  15:72 laʿamruka ʾinnahum lafī sakratihim yaʿmahūna By your life, they wander about in their drunkenness.

4.  The presence of this type of oath formulation in OB texts from Mari and western MB locales (along with the Northwest Semitic languages beginning with Ugaritic—see above) and the corresponding absence of it in OAkk and OAss at least raise the question whether it might be an Amorite phenomenon. We probably do not have sufficient data to answer the “Amorite” question definitively in the affirmative, but it appears to be a plausible hypothesis, and in any case, the predominant distribution of this formulation is in the west.

7.3.  Classical Arabic

94

In this authenticating element, the Arabic noun ʿamr ‘life’ is used. There is no verb of swearing used, but the precious entity by which the following statement is made is marked with the particle la. 7.3.1.2.  Verb of Swearing (189)  56:75 ʾuqsimu bimawāqiʿi ʾannujūmi . . . ʾinnahu laqurʾānu karīmun I swear by the places of the stars . . . it is a noble Qur’an. The verb qsm is used in form IV, ‘to swear’, which in form I means ‘to divide, share’. The entity by which one swears when using this verb is marked with the preposition bi (see also 75:1–2, 81:15, 90:1). 7.3.1.3. Particles wa- and ta(190)  86:1 wa-ssamāʾī wa-ṭṭāriqi. . . . By the sky and the morning star. . . . See also 95:1, 103:1. (191)  12:91 taʾallāhi la-qad ʾāṯaraka ʾallāhu ʿalaynā By Allah, Allah has preferred you over us. See also 12:73, 16:56. No definitive explanation for these particles is known, though it is thought that both the wa- and the ta- are abbreviations of some longer expression. What is clear is that the subsequent element in each example is a precious entity, either Allah or a magnificent entity of his creation, and this element is in the genitive case. 7.3.2.  Oath Content There is one formulation used for oaths with negative content. Oaths with positive content may be formulated in one of two ways. 5 7.3.2.1.  Negative Particles lā and mā (192)  5:106 fayuqsimāni billāhi . . . : lā naštarī bihā ṯamanān. . . . Then they will swear by Allah . . . : “We will not take a bribe in it. . . .” 5.  For a comprehensive treatment of la, ʾinna, and related particles in Arabic and the other Semitic languages, see Testen 1998.

Classical Arabic 7.3.

95

(193)  93:3 wa-ḍḍuḥā(y) . . . mā waddaʿaka rabbuka. By the morning light . . . your Lord has not forsaken you. 7.3.2.2.  Asseverative Particle la (194)  5:107 fayuqsimāni billāhi: la šahādatunā ʾaḥaqqu minu šahādatihimā Then they will swear by Allah: “Surely our testimony is truer than their testimony.” (195)  95:4 wa-ttīni wa-zzaytūni . . . la-qad ḫalaqnā l-insāna fī ʾaḥsani taqwīmin By the figs and the olives . . . We certainly created mankind with good stature. The particle may precede a nominal clause, as in the first example, or it may precede a verbal clause, as in the second example (see also 90:4, 91:7). 7.3.2.3.  Asseverative Particle ʾinna (196)  81:19 ʾuqsimu bilḫunnasi . . . ʾinnahu laqawlu rasūlin karīmin I swear by the planets . . . it is the word of the noble messenger. (197)  103:2 wa-l-ʿaṣri ʾinna l-insāna lafī ḫusrin By the afternoon, mankind is in a state of loss. This particle is followed either by a noun in the accusative or by an attached pronoun, either of which functions as the subject of a nominal clause. The predicate is often preceded by the preposition la (see also 15:72, 56:77, 69:40). 7.3.3.  Arabic Summary The means of authenticating an oath in Arabic are not unlike the means found in Akkadian and Hebrew. The “life of X” formula is attested throughout the Semitic family, and the use of a verb of swearing is a common method as well. The use of the particles wa- and ta- is unique to Arabic, but they are used in conjunction with precious entities, and this is a common method of authentication throughout Semitic. The means of marking oath content actually resemble the oldest Akkadian system. Negative oaths are marked with a negative particle. Positive oaths

7.4.  Conclusion

96

are marked with an asseverative particle. The conditional formulation of oath content as first documented in OB is not attested in Quranic Arabic. 7.4. Conclusion The overview of oath formulas in other Semitic languages provided in this appendix must be evaluated in light of the nature, quality, and quantity of the sources available. The Qur’anic Arabic data provide us with a snapshot of oaths in Central Semitic half a millennium after the turn of the eras. The continuity with oaths in the Semitic of earlier periods lies in the types of authenticating elements used. Discontinuity is seen in the means of marking oath content. The conditional formulation attested in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Hebrew, and Aramaic is not attested in Arabic. Rather, Arabic uses an asseverative formulation for both negative and positive oaths. Despite the apparent similarity of this system with the asseverative system of Old Akkadian, Old Assyrian, and Old Babylonian, the Arabic system is likely not a retention of this ancient system but a secondary development of its own. The Akkadian data come from over half a dozen different dialects spanning two millennia. The oldest dialects authenticated oaths by mentioning an entity considered sacred or precious to the oath-taker. Though other means of authenticating an oath are attested in the later dialects, this first method continues not only in Akkadian but in all the Semitic languages down through Classical Arabic. The marking of oath content by means of an asseverative formulation is confined to the oldest dialects of Akkadian. Beginning in Old Babylonian, we find the incomplete conditional formulation of oath content. This continues to be used as the exclusive means of expressing oath content throughout the subsequent stages of Akkadian as well as in all the Northwest Semitic dialects. The data found in Northwest Semitic inscriptional materials are linguistically, chronologically, and culturally closest to the Classical Hebrew data. Unfortunately, these findings are sparse, and imperfectly preserved. In addition to the four oaths attested in epigraphic Hebrew, only one Ugaritic oath and two inscriptional Aramaic oaths are attested. The scant evidence nevertheless provides us a consistent picture of oaths from Northwest Semitic inscriptions from Late Bronze Age Syria to Iron Age Levant to Persian Era Egypt. The “life of X” authenticating formula is attested throughout these examples, as is the use of the incomplete conditional formulation of oath content. Finally, we should note that all the Semitic languages with native oath formulas that I have analyzed here share the fundamental bipartite structure I have argued for in Classical Hebrew. Though it might appear to be a very basic observation, this paradigm has not previously been recognized as the elemental framework of constructing oaths in the Semitic languages.

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The Study of Semitic Syntax. Pp. 151–66 in Semitic Linguistics: State of the Art at the Turn of the 21st Century, ed. S. Izre'el. Israel Oriental Studies 20. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. Kienast, B. 2001 Historische Semitische Sprachwissenschaft: Mit Beiträgen von E. Graefe (Alt­aegyptisch) und G. Gragg (Kuschitisch). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Koehler, L., and W. Baumgartner 1994–2000  The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, trans. M. E. J. Richardson. 5 vols. Leiden: Brill. König, F. E. 1881–97  Historisch-Kritisches Lehrgebäude der hebräischen Sprache. 3 vols. Leipzig: Hinrichs. Kouwenberg, N. J. C. 1997 Gemination in the Akkadian Verb. Studia Semitica Neerlandica 33. Assen: Van Gorcum. Lambdin, T. O. 1971 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Lehmann, M. R. 1969 Biblical Oaths. Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 81: 74–92. Leslau, W. 1987 Comparative Dictionary of Ge’ez. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Lipiński, E. 1968 La royauté de Yahwé dans la poésie et le culte de l’ancien Israel. 2nd ed. Brussels: Paleis der Academien. 1997 Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 80. Leuven: Peeters. Masagara, N. 1997 Negotiating the Truth through Oath Forms. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 18: 385-401. 2001 Conveying and Evaluating Speakers’ Commitment to Telling the Truth: The Impact of European Christian Missionaries on Language Use. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 22: 325-38. McCarter, P. K. 1980 1  Samuel: A New Translation with Introduction, Notes and Commentary. Anchor Bible 8. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Merecz, R. J. 2009 Jezebel’s Oath (1 Kgs 19,2). Biblica 90: 257-59. Miller, C. L. 1996 The Representation of Speech in Biblical Hebrew Narrative: A Linguistic Analysis, ed. P. Machinist. Harvard Semitic Monograph 55. Atlanta: Scholars Press. [Repr., with afterword, Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003.] Montagu, A. 1967 The Anatomy of Swearing. New York: Macmillan. Muilenburg, J. 1961 The Linguistic and Rhetorical Usages of the Particle ky in the Old Testament. Hebrew Union College Annual 32: 135-60.

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Index of Authors Aejmelaeus, A.  10 Aitken, J. K.  8, 15 Arnold, B.  69 Austin, J. L.  3, 14 Bandstra, B. L.  11, 30, 47 Blank, S. H.  8 Bradlaugh, C.  13 Buccellati, G.  90 Bush, F. W.  2 Campbell, E. F.  1 Caquot, A.  20 Cartledge, T. W.  8 Chaucer 6 Choi, J.  69 Claassen, W. T.  10, 11, 47, 49 Cowley, A.  9 Edzard, D. O.  90 Ellison, K.  13 Ewald, G. H. A.  8 Fitzmyer, J. A.  17 Follingstad, C. M.  11, 12, 30, 47

Gesenius, W.  8, 9 Gibson, J. C. L.  30, 69 Gogel, S. L.  9, 10, 30 Hecker, K.  81, 82, 90 Hoftijzer, J.  48 Holmstedt, R. D.  60 Hubbard, R. L.  1, 2 Huehnergard, J.  82 Jongeling, K.  48 Joüon, P.  9, 10, 11, 14, 30, 32, 67 Kalluveettil, P.  8 Kautzsch, E.  9 König, F. E.  8 Kouwenberg, N. J. C.        82 Lambdin, T. O.  35 Lehmann, M. R.  8, 18, 69 Lipiński, E.  20 Masagara, N.  6 Merecz, R. J.  22 Miller, C. L.  60 Muilenburg, J.  10

103

North, M.  5 O’Connor, M.  3, 9, 30, 32, 50 Ovid 5 Pardee, D.  35, 48, 79 Parpola, S.  17 Pedersen, J.  18, 20 Plautus 31 Rudolph, W.  2 Schoors, A.  10, 47 Searle, J.  4, 14 Soden, W. von  81 Testen, D.  94 Tropper, J.  48 Vergil 5 Waltke, B. K.  3, 9, 30, 32, 50 Watanabe, K.  17 Williams, R. J.  30 Ziegler, Y.  8, 13, 22, 27, 30

Index of Scripture Genesis 14 16 14:22 16 14:22–23  15, 16, 17, 40 15 23 18:28  32, 33 18:30  32, 33 21:23  21, 39, 60 21:24  19, 20 22:16–17  12, 20, 50, 53 24 19 24:3 60 24:3–4  21, 61 24:37–38  19, 43 26:28–29 39 30:31 32 31:49–50  18, 39 31:52  17, 40 42:15  7, 27, 39 42:16  27, 51 42:37  32, 33 Exodus 6:8 15 Leviticus 15:23 74 Numbers 14:21–23  27, 39, 55, 56 14:28  27, 29, 43 14:30  15, 40 14:35 43 32 19 32:10–11  19, 39

Deuteronomy 1:34–35  19, 39 32  15, 29 32:40–41  15, 27, 63 Joshua 14:9  19, 43 Judges 5:8 39 8:19  27, 64 11:10  18, 32, 43 15:7  66, 67, 68, 72, 73, 75 15:17 66 1 Samuel 1:11 36 1:12 47 1:22 47 1:26  27, 64 2:16  36, 47 2:21 47 2:25  36, 37 3 23 3:9 36 3:13 47 3:14  7, 19, 20, 39 3:17  23, 39 3:20 47 4:6 47 4:7 47 5:7 47 6:3  34, 47 6:9  33, 36, 37, 47 7:3 34 7:7 48 8:7 47

104

1 Samuel (cont.) 10:7 47 10:14 47 10:16 47 10:19 47 10:24 47 11:3 34 11:7 23 12:5  18, 48, 51 12:12 47 12:14–15 36 12:17 47 12:21 47 12:25  33, 37 13:6 47 13:11 47 14:3 47 14:9–10 37 14:21 51 14:22 48 14:29 47 14:30 47 14:39  28, 34, 47, 48, 51, 53, 55 14:44  11, 23, 48, 51 14:45  27, 39 15:11 48 15:17 34 15:35  47, 48 17:9  36, 37 17:46–47 47 17:47 47 17:48 47 17:51 47 17:55  27, 38 18:25 47 18:28 47 19 19

105 1 Samuel (cont.) 19:6  19, 27, 39 19:11 34 20:3  28, 47, 48, 51 20:6–7 36 20:7  33, 37, 47 20:8 34 20:9  36, 47 20:12 29 20:12–13  12, 48, 51 20:13  23, 55, 57 20:21  17, 27, 29, 36, 62 20:21–22 33 20:22 37 20:26 48 20:29 35 20:30 47 20:33 47 21:5 35 21:6  47, 66, 68, 71 21:10 37 22:6 48 22:8 48 22:17 47 22:21 47 22:22 47 23:7 47 23:9 47 23:10 48 23:13 47 23:15 47 23:23 34 24:12 47 24:20 47 24:21 47 24:22  21, 39 25:4 48 25:7 48 25:22  23, 39 25:26  28, 64 25:30 47 25:34  27, 38, 47, 48, 51, 53, 55, 58, 66, 68, 69, 77 25:39 48

Index of Scripture  1 Samuel (cont.) 26:3 47 26:4 47 26:10  27, 48, 51, 66, 67, 68, 73, 74 26:16  27, 48, 51 26:19  35, 36 27:1 47 27:4 47 27:5 35 28:1 47 28:10  19, 27, 39 28:14 47 28:21 48 28:22 47 29:6  12, 27, 48, 49, 51 29:8 48 29:9 47 30:15  21, 39 31:5 48 31:7 48 2 Samuel 2:27  27, 51, 53, 55, 56 3:9  22, 23, 51, 54 3:35  19, 23, 24, 40, 51, 55, 56, 57, 66, 68, 69, 77 4:9–10  27, 51 11:11  28, 39 12:5  27, 51 14:11  27, 39 14:19  27, 38 15:21  28, 51, 54, 66, 67, 68, 70, 74 19:8  20, 39, 50, 55, 57 19:14  23, 43 1 Kings 1:13  19, 51 1:17  19, 51 1:29–30  19, 27, 51, 54

1 Kings (cont.) 1:51  21, 39 2:8  19, 39 2:23  19, 23 2:23–24 51 2:24  11, 27 17:1  27, 39 17:12  27, 38 18:10  28, 38, 80 18:15  11, 27, 51 19:2  22, 23, 49, 52 20:5–6  68, 72 20:6  66, 67 20:10  23, 39 20:23 43 20:25 43 22:14  27, 50, 51 22:16  22, 60, 61 2 Kings 2:2  28, 39 2:4  28, 39 2:6  28, 39 3:14  27, 39, 51, 55, 58 4:30  28, 39 5:16  27, 39 5:20  27, 51, 55, 56, 66, 67, 68, 73, 74, 75 6:31  7, 23, 39 9:18 26 9:26 42 Isaiah 5:9 43 10:9 41 14:24  19, 42 18:2 26 22:14 40 45:23  20, 50 49:18  26, 27, 29, 51 62:8  20, 39 Jeremiah 4:2  19, 27

Index of Scripture  Jeremiah (cont.) 5:2  19, 27 12:16  19, 27 15:11 42 16:14–15 27 22:5  20, 50 22:6 43 22:24  26, 27, 29, 51, 53, 55 23:7–8 27 34:18–20 23 38:16  27, 28, 39 42:5  17, 18, 43 44:26  20, 27, 39 46:18  26, 27, 29, 51 49:13  20, 50 49:20 43 50:45 43 51:14  20, 50, 55, 56, 66, 67, 68, 73, 74, 75 Ezekiel 5:11  26, 28, 43 14:16  26, 28, 40, 64 14:18  26, 28, 64 14:20  26, 28, 40 16:48  26, 28, 30, 38 17:16  26, 28, 43 17:19  26, 28, 43 18:3  26, 28, 39 20:3  26, 28, 39 20:5–6 16 20:6 15 20:15 15 20:23 15 20:28 15 20:31  26, 28, 39 20:33  26, 28, 43 20:42 15 33:11  26, 28, 39 33:27  26, 28, 43

106 Ezekiel (cont.) 34:8 26 34:8–10  28, 41 35:6  26, 28, 42, 51 35:11  26, 28, 62 36:5 42 36:6–7 43 36:7 16 38:19 43 44:12  16, 63 47:14 15 Hosea 4:5 27 4:15 19 Amos 4:2  20, 50 6:8  20, 63 8:7  20, 39 8:14  19, 25, 27 Nahum 2:9 26 Zephaniah 2:9  26, 28, 29, 51 Malachi 3:10 43 Psalms 7:4 23 8:5 47 47:5 20 63:5 14 63:6 32 89:36  21, 40 95:11  20, 39 131:2 42 132:2–4  19, 39 137:5  23, 32

Psalms (cont.) 137:6 32 Job 1:11 43 2:5 43 6:28 39 17:2 41 22:20 42 27:2–4  28, 39, 51, 55, 57 31 23 42:8  66, 68, 70 Proverbs 23:18  66, 68, 70, 71 24:14 71 Ruth 1:17  6, 7, 23, 49, 51 3:12  66, 67, 68, 69, 74 3:13  17, 28, 29, 62, 63 Song of Songs 2:7  21, 22, 39 3:5  21, 39 5:8  21, 39, 61 8:4  21, 61 Daniel 12:7  14, 19 Nehemiah 9:15 15 13:25  19, 39 2 Chronicles 18:13  28, 51 18:15  21, 61