Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/156. Circumstantial Clauses

§156. Circumstantial Clauses.

156a 1. The statement of the particular circumstances under which a subject appears as performing some action, or under which an action (or an occurrence) is accomplished, is made especially (apart from relative clauses, see § 155) by means of noun-clauses connected by Wāw with a following subject (see further on this kind of circumstantial clause in §141e), and by verbal-clauses (see §142d). Very frequently, however, such statements of the particular circumstances are subordinated to the main clause by being simply attached, without Wāw, either as noun-clauses, sometimes extremely short (see c), or as verbal-clauses (see d–g).

156b Rem. Among relative clauses of this kind the commonest are the various noun-clauses, which are most closely subordinated to a preceding substantive without אֲשֶׁר, e.g. Gn 1612; also statements of weight, Gn 2422; of name, Jb 11 (also introduced by וּשְׁמוֹ Gn 2429, 1 S 11, &c., or וּשְׁמָהּ Gn 161, 2224, &c.); of a condition of body, Ju 17, and others.—Noun-clauses which begin with wāw and the predicate have a somewhat more independent character than those introduced by wāw and the subject[1] (Gn 191, &c.). The former, however, are also to be regarded as circumstantial clauses, in so far as they describe a state which is simultaneous with the principal action; thus Is 37 I will not be an healer, וּבְבֵיתִי אֵין לֶ֫חֶם while in my house is neither bread nor clothing; Is 66 (Am 77); 2 S 1318, 161. Cf. also the instances in §152l of וְאֵין followed by a participle, as וְאֵין מַצִּיל, &c.

156c 2. Characteristic examples of circumstantial noun-clauses are Gn 128 and pitched his tent בֵּֽית־אֵל מִיָם וְהָעַי מִקֶּ֫דֶם with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; Nu 2224, 2 S 1814 through the heart of Absalom, עוֹדֶנּ֫וּ חַי while he was yet alive; Jer 306, Ez 92 (cf. Ct 38), Na 38, Zc 145, 2 Ch 2310; with the predicate preceding, e.g. 1 S 2613, ψ 328.—In Gn 4129 a noun-clause serves to announce a state in the future.—We may also include here certain set phrases, as פָּנִים אֶל־פָּנִים face to face (prop. while face was turned towards face), Gn 3231, Ex 3311, Dt 3410, &c.;[2] so also to cast oneself down, אַפַּ֫יִם אָֽרְצָה the face being turned to the earth, Gn 191, &c. (for אָֽרְצָה we find אֶ֫רֶץ in 1 K 131, Is 4923).[3]—Cf. finally the formula אֵם עַל־בָּנִים mother with children, Gn 3212; cf. Ho 1014 and §119aa note 2.

Rem. On circumlocutions of this kind to express negative attributes by means of short noun-clauses (complete or incomplete), cf. §152u.

156d 3. As circumstantial verbal-clauses,[4] we find (1) sometimes affirmative clauses (see below), but far more frequently (2) negative clauses (see f), and among these (3) a certain number of expressions which may be regarded simply as equivalent to negative adverbial ideas (see g).

Examples of (1) Is 511 b woe unto them, that tarry late in the evening, יַ֫יִן יַדְלִיקֵם while wine inflames them; Is 15, 1024, 3031, Jer 726, 2015, ψ 43, 512, 2113, 625. The circumstantial verbal-clause is used to particularize an action which has before been expressed generally, in Gn 4412, 4814=crossing his hands; Dt 227, Ju 619; antithetically, 1 K 1318 כִּחֵשׁ לוֹ wherewith however he lied unto him. The verbal-clause seems to assign a reason in ψ 77 מִשְׁפָּט צִוִּ֫יתָ since thou hast commanded judgement; a consequence in ψ 1035.[5]

156e Rem. On the cases in which an imperfect in the sense of a final clause is subordinated to a verb of motion (generally קוּם), see §120c.

156f Of (2), subordinate verbal-clauses with לֹא (in English usually rendered by without and the gerund, if the subject be the same as in the principal clause), e.g. Lv 117 לֹא יַבְדִּיל without dividing it asunder; Jb 3134; לֹא with the perfect is so used in Gn 444, Ex 3428, 1 S 302, Jb 2026 (without its being blown upon it). With a different subject, equivalent to a consecutive clause in English, Is 279 לֹֽא־יָקֻ֫מוּ so that they shall rise up no more.—Moreover, verbal-clauses in the same sense (without doing, &c.) are frequently connected by וְלֹא; cf. 1 S 202, Jb 2422, 423; in a concessive sense, Is 331, ψ 4418.

156g Of (3), cf. לֹא יֵדַע (prop. he knows it not) unawares, ψ 358, Pr 56 לֹא יַחְמֹל unsparingly, Is 3014 (after an infinitive absolute); Hb 117, Jb 610 (but וְלֹא יַחְמֹל Jb 1613, 2722; see f at the end); לֹא כִחֵ֑דוּ (prop. they hide not) openly, Is 39 (but Jb 1518 וְלֹא כִחֲדוּ); בְּלִי חָשָׂ֑ךְ (prop. he restrains not) unceasingly, Is 146; בַּל־יִמּוֹט Jb 4115 (ψ 931 בַּל־תִּמִּוֹט) and לֹא יִמּוֹט Is 4020 (without tottering) immovably; cf. also לֹא אֶמְעָ֑ד without wavering, ψ 261.

  1. In Dt 3231 this form of sequence appears to be selected for another purpose, and indeed our enemies are judges thereof, with wāw emphatic; to take it as a circumstantial clause is too artificial.
  2. The expression הִתְרָאָה פָנִים to look one another in the face (i.e. to contend in combat) 2 K 148, 11, 2 Ch 2517, 21, is probably only a shortened form for הִתְרָאָה פָנִים אֶל־פָּנִים.
  3. That (אֶ֫רֶץ) אָֽרְצָה is really to be regarded as a virtual predicate to אַפַּ֫יִם, and not אַפַּ֫יִם as a casus instrumenti, is seen from Is 4923, where אַפַּ֫יִם אֶ֫רֶץ precedes the verb.
  4. Some examples of these have been already discussed in another connexion above, §120a–c.
  5. In Gn 2114 the circumstantial verbal-clause שָׂם עַל־שִׁכְמָהּ is only due to a harmonizing transposition; read וְאֶת־הַיֶּ֫לֶד שׂ׳ ע׳ שׁ׳. According to the source used in cap. 21 Ishmael was still a young child; according to 17:25 he was about 16 or 17 years old.