Biblical Hebrew: קום

Ali Smith

Senior Member
Urdu - Pakistan
שלום

וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל יַעֲקֹב קוּם עֲלֵה בֵית אֵל וְשֶׁב שָׁם וַעֲשֵׂה שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לָאֵל הַנִּרְאֶה אֵלֶיךָ בְּבָרְחֲךָ מִפְּנֵי עֵשָׂו אָחִיךָ.

What does קום עלה בית אל mean? If it means "Stand up and go up to a god's house" shouldn't there have been ל ("to, toward") before בית?

My translation of the entire line:

And then God said to Jacob, "Stand up and go to a god's house and sit there and make an altar for the god who is appearing to you during your fleeing from before Esau, your brother.”

אנכי מודה לכם מאוד
 
  • radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    What does קום עלה בית אל mean? If it means "Stand up and go up to a god's house" shouldn't there have been ל ("to, toward") before בית?

    Verbs of motion are not infrequently constructed with an accusative object rather than with a prepositional complement. Otherwise, אל is probably to be preferred to ל.

    As for בֵית אֵל, that is usually taken to be a proper noun, whence Beth-El.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Thanks! Someone just told me that קוּם עֲלֵה בֵית אֵל actually means "Start to go up to Beth-El.". Is it true that when used as an imperative לקום means not "Stand up!" but "Start!"? However, this meaning seems to require that the following verb be an imperative as well.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    That's certainly the meaning it has in later forms of Aramaic and Syrian Arabic. But I'm not sure whether it had that meaning here in Biblical Hebrew yet or not.
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    Yes, the construction is also used with an inchoative meaning in Biblical Hebrew.

    I don't know what its force is in modern Aramaic or Syrian Arabic, but in Biblical Hebrew, it is very weak. The conventional translation is ‘arise’, and sometimes, it can be taken literally, e.g., when Amnon tells Tamar to קוּמִי לֵֽכִי after having lain with her, but in many cases, this translation is absurd, and the construction is so frequent that it leads one to wonder why the Hebrews were always sitting down, such that, whenever they need to go anywhere, they first had to get up.

    By the same token, the inchoative force of the construction is very weak, so that it is almost always too heavy to translate it as ‘start’ or ‘begin’. In an imperative, a modal interjection like ‘come now’, might be appropriate, e.g., in the OP's original example: “Come, go up to Beth-El and abide [not sit] there, ...”

    Someone just told me that קוּם עֲלֵה בֵית אֵל actually means "Start to go up to Beth-El.". Is it true that when used as an imperative לקום means not "Stand up!" but "Start!"? However, this meaning seems to require that the following verb be an imperative as well.

    This use of קום is not restricted to the imperative, and it is very common in the converted imperfect, e.g., when Jacob flees from Laban with all his possessions, he וַיָּקָם וַיַּעֲבֹר אֶת־הַנָּהָר [Gen 31:21] and headed for the mountain of Gilead. Note also that the two verbs need not come one directly after the other, but may be separated by another element, e.g., as Jacob prepared to flee, we read וַיָּ֖קָם יַעֲקֹב וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת־בָּנָיו וְאֶת־נָשָׁ֖יו עַל־הַגְּמַלִּים, where the subject יַעֲקֹב intervenes between וַיָּ֖קָם and וַיִּשָּׂא.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    but in many cases, this translation is absurd, and the construction is so frequent that it leads one to wonder why the Hebrews were always sitting down, such that, whenever they need to go anywhere, they first had to get up.
    Do you have any examples where this translation is absurd?

    I think this is a rather silly thing to say. Of course, when people aren't occupied with something, they are usually sitting down. People don't usually stand around all day, not now and not then.

    I urge you to look at how common phrases like "get up and go"/"got up and went" are in English. Very, very common, even in cases where the context doesn't require the subject to have been sitting down. Do you think this implies that English speakers do nothing but sit around all day more than any other people?

    But I think sitting is actually not the relevant thing here. Back in those times, when you set out on a journey, you'd set out first thing in the morning (perhaps after breakfast). This is to maximize your distance for the day. I believe this would have been the original intention of this sort of phrase as it relates to journeys. Even if it's not quite always literal, I do not believe the connotation strayed too far from the literal meaning.

    Compare the cases where it's emphasized that someone left early, where the words וישכם בבקר are used exactly parallel to ויקם.

    It's also worth noting the mishnaic phrases that describe types of commands. There is קום עשה (get up and do), and there is שב ואל תעשה (sit and don't do). Thus, it is clear that such constructions are associated with the actual action of getting up and sitting down, even if no such action literally occurs.
     
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    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Drink: What about the following?

    וּכְמוֹ הַשַּׁחַר עָלָה וַיָּאִיצוּ הַמַּלְאָכִים בְּלוֹט לֵאמֹר קוּם קַח אֶת אִשְׁתְּךָ וְאֶת שְׁתֵּי בְנֹתֶיךָ הַנִּמְצָאֹת פֶּן תִּסָּפֶה בַּעֲו‍ֹן הָעִיר.
    (בראשית יט טו)

    And he stood up like the dawn and then the angels insisted on Lot saying, "Get going! Take your wife and your two daughters who exist lest you disappear in the punishment of the city."
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    It's just as I said. It's the beginning of a journey, and people set out on journeys in the morning. And here it's even explicit that it's at daybreak.
     

    JAN SHAR

    Member
    pashto
    Is there a rule for deciding when the verb קום is used literally and when it is not?
    I think in Genesis 35:3 it is being used metaphorically even though it is not an imperative.

    ונקומה ונעלה בית אל ואעשה שם מזבח לאל הענה אתי ביום צרתי ויהי עמדי בדרך אשר הלכתי

    Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    As I said earlier, people set out on journeys like this in the morning after getting out of bed. So it's not clear at all that it is metaphorical.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    וַיְהִי, דְּבַר-יְהוָה, אֶל-יוֹנָה בֶן-אֲמִתַּי, לֵאמֹר.
    קוּם לֵךְ אֶל-נִינְוֵה, הָעִיר הַגְּדוֹלָה--וּקְרָא עָלֶיהָ: כִּי-עָלְתָה רָעָתָם, לְפָנָי.

    I believe here it is being used literally, for the translation is "Rise and go to Nineveh, the big city, and read to them, for their wickedness has risen before me."

    As Drink said, people set out on journeys after waking up in the morning.
     

    JAN SHAR

    Member
    pashto
    What about in Genesis 27:19?

    וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יַעֲקֹ֜ב אֶל־אָבִ֗יו אָנֹכִי֙ עֵשָׂ֣ו בְּכֹרֶ֔ךָ עָשִׂ֕יתִי כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבַּ֖רְתָּ אֵלָ֑י קֽוּם־נָ֣א שְׁבָ֗ה וְאׇכְלָה֙ מִצֵּידִ֔י בַּעֲב֖וּר תְּבָרְכַ֥נִּי נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    That's a great find!

    However it's still up for debate.

    I always pictured this scene happing with Yitzchak sitting down. So it could be that he's saying "get up [from your chair] and sit [at the table] to eat".
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    What about in Genesis 27:19?

    וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יַעֲקֹ֜ב אֶל־אָבִ֗יו אָנֹכִי֙ עֵשָׂ֣ו בְּכֹרֶ֔ךָ עָשִׂ֕יתִי כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבַּ֖רְתָּ אֵלָ֑י קֽוּם־נָ֣א שְׁבָ֗ה וְאׇכְלָה֙ מִצֵּידִ֔י בַּעֲב֖וּר תְּבָרְכַ֥נִּי נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃
    Lambdin translates it as "Come now and sit..." (see attachment).
     

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    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Lambdin is not an all-knowing supernatural being. I understand that that's his opinion, but I'm trying to question precisely those assumptions.
     
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