The verbal forms
Isaac Kalimi’s recent monograph illustrates that the transposition of the same consonants in juxtaposed words can be an intentional literary feature (i.e., metathesis) in the Hebrew Bible.1 One purpose of intentional metathesis is to demonstrate reversal.2 In Isa 61:3, YHWH replaces the ashes on the heads of the mourning exiles with a turban (
A similar example in Isa 40:4 reads:
An additional case of metathesis relating to reversal appears in 2 Kgs 22. Verses 17–19 read:
וְנִצְּתָה חֲמָתִי בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וְלֹא תִכְבֶּה … וְאֶל־מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה … כֹּה תֹאמְרוּ אֵלָיו … יַעַן רַךְ־לְבָבְךָ וַתִּכָּנַע מִפְּנֵי יְהוָה בְּשָׁמְעֲךָ אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי עַל־הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וְעַל־יֹשְׁבָיו לִהְיוֹת לְשַׁמָּה וְלִקְלָלָה וַתִּקְרַע אֶת־בְּגָדֶיךָ וַתִּבְכֶּה לְפָנָי וְגַם אָנֹכִי שָׁמַעְתִּי נְאֻם־יְהוָה
My wrath will burn against this place and not be quenched … and to the king of Judah … thus you will say to him … because your heart was soft and you were humble before YHWH when you heard what I spoke concerning this place and its inhabitants to become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your garments and you wept before me—I, even I, heard—YHWH’s oracle.
In 2 Kgs 22:15–20, Huldah, the prophetess, responds to the messengers sent by King Josiah. She states that YHWH will punish Judah as written in the newly discovered book. YHWH’s wrath burns against Judah to the extent that it will never be quenched (
Despite YHWH’s unquenchable anger his judgment will not come immediately against Judah because of Josiah’s weeping. Huldah says in 2 Kgs 22:19 that Josiah’s repentance orchestrates a moment of peace for Judah. Josiah’s repentance is described by several wayyiqtol second masculine singular forms in 2 Kgs 22:19 (i.e.,
The text highlights Josiah’s weeping (wayyiqtol of
The author of 2 Kgs 22 additionally accentuates the morphological connection between these two verbal forms by using the non-apocopated wayyiqtol form of
The author of 2 Kgs 22 intentionally uses the non-apocopated form
Blenkinsopp, Joseph. Isaiah 56–66: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. AB 19B. New York: Doubleday, 2003.
Robar, Elizabeth. The Verb and The Paragraph in Biblical Hebrew: A Cognitive-Linguistic Approach. SSLL 78. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
See Kalimi, Metathesis in the Hebrew Bible. Cf. idem, “Literary-Stylistic Metathesis in the Hebrew Bible.”
For metathesis portraying reversal, see Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry, 246.
Kalimi, Metathesis in the Hebrew Bible, 72, 132, and 160. Regarding Isa 61:3, Kalimi writes, “Here, the reversal of letters serves to highlight the reversal of sense in the juxtaposed words” (160). For a similar analysis, see Goldingay, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 304, and Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 56–66, 226.
Normally, šewa (realised as a rushed “a” sound similar to pataḥ and especially ḥaṭef pataḥ) and segol (an “e” sound) represent different sounds. When šewa appears before a guttural, however, it represents a short vowel of the same quality as the vowel under the guttural. See Joüon and Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, §8a n. 4, and Khan, “Shewa: Pre-Modern Hebrew,” 3:544. Therefore, the šewa in
The importance of the palindrome
For the gloss “heel depression” for
See Kalimi, Metathesis in the Hebrew Bible, 56–57. Also see, Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry, 240. Watson says, “Here the letters of
See Goldingay and Payne, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 77. For the similarity of sound between
See Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry, 246. Watson says, “Chiasmus also denotes inversion of an existing state.”
The metathesis present between these two verbs is reinforced in the surrounding verses. The consonants
This is a case of “assonantal paronomasia.” See Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry, 243.
See Joüon and Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, §79m. They state that the long form of the yiqtol is frequent in Kings.
Regarding 1 Sam 1:7, see Robar, “Wayyiqṭol,” 37–39. Robar suggests that the long form of the wayyiqtol of