Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Syntax of 2 Ki 23:3?
This post belongs in the category "pernickety Hebrew grammar questions."
In 2 Ki 23:3 we have a verb (כָּרַת, in green) and a string of three infinitive constructs with ל (in red below):
וַיִּכְרֹ֥ת אֶֽת־הַבְּרִ֣ית׀ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֗ה לָלֶ֜כֶת אַחַ֤ר יְהוָה֙ וְלִשְׁמֹ֨ר מִצְוֹתָ֜יו ... בְּכָל־לֵ֣ב
...לְהָקִ֗ים אֶת־דִּבְרֵי֙ הַבְּרִ֣ית הַזֹּ֔את
Most of the translations I'm aware of translate each infinitive construct as expressing the purpose of the making of the covenant. Thus, the ESV reads:
"and [he] made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments ... with all his heart ... , to perform the words of this covenant."
A distinction, however, is made between the last infinitive ("to perform") and the previous two by the insertion of a comma. The NIV goes its own way by translating it as "thus confirming." The NRSV translates the second infinitive as a gerund "keeping," again introducing a distinction for the last infinitive.
When I first read this sentence, I thought that all three infinitives equally expressed the purpose of the forming of the covenant. However, the Andersen-Forbes Phrase Marker analysis tags the first two infinitives as "object complements" (i.e. they "complete" the object of the verb "covenant") whereas the final infinitive is set apart as expressing the "aim" of the verb. To me, this would mean that walking after the Lord and keeping his commandments represent the content of the covenant whereas performing the the words represents goal of the covenant. It would also mean that "the words of the covenant" does not refer to words in addition to the commandments, witnesses etc., but is rather a summary of such things (which is typically Deuteronomistic, by the way).
If that is right, it would seem that the NIV's translation, unique as it is, is better than the others (though I would translate "thus performing" rather than "thus confirming"). The Elberfelder also makes the distinction by inserting the word "um": "und schloß den Bund ... dem HERRN nachzufolgen und seine Gebote ... zu bewahren ... , um die Worte dieses Bundes zu erfüllen."
1) how would you translate it?
2) how is לְהָקִ֗ים set apart from the other infinitives? Is it just the semantics of the clause, or are there syntactic indications (e.g. there is no waw beforehand)?