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A reassessment of the Hebrew negative interrogative particle hl'.


The Hebrew language employs the combination of two separate particles in order to express a negative rhetorical question (cf. Latin none?). (1) According to the vowel pointing of the MT, the negative rhetorical particle consists of the interrogative {h} + the negative particle lo' > halo'. (2) Scholars have long observed that in certain contexts, the Hebrew negative interrogative seems to warrant an asseverative meaning. (3) For example, in H. A. Brongers' study of this particle, he provides the following assessment of its meaning in light of an ancient Near Eastern cultural context:
   In the oriental way of thinking in colloquial speech one must avoid
   any statement that may possibly offend the partner. Hence the
   remarkable phenomenon that in cases where the partner is supposed
   to be fully aware of the positive content of the statement this is
   nevertheless preceded by the interrogative particle. This is
   nothing but courteousness, comparable with our introducing of a
   statement by the friendly "As everyone knows" or "As generally
   acknowledged." (4)

Essentially, Brongers operates under the assumption that the asseverative meaning stems from the nature of the negative interrogative rhetorical question, which usually expects a positive response. (5) For the most part, Bronger's analysis falls in line with the traditional view, exemplified in GKC's remark on the positive force of the negative interrogative particle: "It serves merely to express the conviction that the contents of the statement are well known to the hearer, and are unconditionally admitted by him." (6)

Another approach has been offered by some Northwest Semitic grammarians, namely one which posits a new etymology for the asseverative meaning, separate and therefore distinct from the negative interrogative particle. (7) One of the more prominent studies on this topic is that of Michael L. Brown, who promotes the new asseverative etymology on the following grounds: 1) many examples throughout the Hebrew Bible are better suited to a meaning roughly equivalent to hinneh 'Look!, Behold!' and 2) comparative evidence attests the existence of an affirmative particle hlw 'Look!, Behold!' (8)

Much of the discussion has focused on the existence of presentative/asseverative particles in other Northwest Semitic languages as proof that a similar particle must have existed in Classical Hebrew as well. Perhaps Ugaritic has provided the most fodder for the debate with its presentative particle hl 'Look!, Behold!' allegedly providing the comparitive evidence for a counterpart in Hebrew, though now lost as a result of the MT's conflating it with halo' The El Amama (EA) particle allu has had a similar effect, leading some scholars to posit yet another etymological relative of the newly proposed Hebrew asseverative. (9) Finally, Aramaic has made its own contribution to this newly proposed etymology, offering the particles hlw (Imperial Aramaic) and 'aluw (Biblical Aramaic) for consideration in the conversation about Hebrew hl'. (10)

The following essay, then, will attempt to evaluate the legitimacy of this alternative etymological proposal for Hebrew halo'. Does the comparative evidence indeed make it necessary to reconstruct a now lost asseverative particle for Classical Hebrew? Furthermore, does the earlier approach, which makes an allowance for the gradual development of the original rhetorical negative question to a positive assertion in function, fail to account for those instances in the Hebrew Bible where the negative interrogative seems forced? Toward the end of this discussion, the syntax of Hebrew halo' will be considered briefly as another source of evidence in evaluating this new hypothesis, asking the question: does this particle correspond syntactically to other Hebrew particles? These questions will be entertained in what follows in an attempt to assess the available evidence for or against the newly reconstructed Hebrew asseverative.


The natural place to begin in dealing with the evidence from Ugaritic would be the particle hl/hln/hlny. However, due to the importance of its relationship with hn (and more specifically hnn and hnny) in Ugaritic epistolography, the following discussion will start off with a brief etymological overview of hn/hnn/hnny before treating hl/hln/hlny. Furthermore, their overlap in usage throughout the epistolary materials makes Ugaritic hl an unlikely parallel for the so-called Hebrew asseverative *halluw.

Ugaritic hn

Morphologically, the Ugaritic particle hnny amounts to an expansion of the presentative particle hn: hn + -n + -y. Scholars have noted this capacity of the particle, as for example C. H. Gordon, who interprets hn- as the equivalent of the Hebrew particle hinneh, 'behold', but does not comment specifically on the expanded form hnny. (11) Similarly, Stanislav Segert translates hn as 'behold, lo', but also notes that hn "and its derivatives hnn, hnny, and hi (and perhaps him) usually occur at the beginning of a clause," categorizing hn- and hl- together at least on the syntactical level. (12) Daniel Sivan also glosses hn (hinni?) as 'behold' on analogy to Hebrew hinneh, (13) but elsewhere categorizes hnny and hlny as locative adverbs meaning 'here, hither'. (14) Joseph Tropper identifies hn as both a "Lokaladverb" meaning 'hier', citing Hebrew hennah, Arabic huna, ha/inna, and Akkadian anna/i- for his categorization, (15) as well as the demonstrative pronoun hnd (hanna + di/a) 'dieser' and adverb hn (ha/innV) 'siehe!' (16) In an extensive review of Tropper's landmark grammar, Dennis Pardee suggests that the entire category for his locative hn depends upon a single example (RS 16.402:31), and that in this case it should be etymologically related to Arabic huna rather than Hebrew hinneh. (17) Bordreuil and Pardee define hn as a deictic particle (related to the Hebrew definite article /han-/ and the presentative particle hen/hinneh) which can be expanded with suffixed elements (in this case -n + -y). (18)

Ugaritic hl

The particle hl has garnered a number of interpretations, but it appears as though most scholars have viewed it primarily as a deictic particle. Gordon explains that functionally, hl may "emphasize the sentence it introduces" and simply translates 'lo'. (19) The deictic nature of hi is without dispute, (20) but the expanded forms (i.e., hln, hlny) also demonstrate an additional locative sense in Ugaritic letters. For Tropper, hl serves primarily as a deictic particle in both its initial and expanded forms: hl, hln, hlny = 'siehe!', (21) though he briefly notes a possible connection with Hebrew halo' 'nicht?', implying that the Ugaritic hl and the Hebrew form traditionally understood as the negative interrogative (interrogative ha + negative lo' = negative rhetorical question expecting affirmative answer) are etymologically related. (22) Brown has attempted to make the same etymological connection, suggesting that the "emphatic" force of the Ugaritic form compels a reanalysis of Hebrew halo' in certain cases, which would reduce it to the status of being a synonym of hinneh. (23) For Brown at least, this etymological connection is primarily grounded on those usages of hnny and hlny in the formulaic greeting under the assumption that in those cases they simply mean 'behold', (24) without any consideration of the independent examples of hlny at the beginning of letters. If one can demonstrate that hlny functions as a locative in those settings, this connection would be weakened, since the contexts of Hebrew halo' would not readily lend themselves to a locative interpretation. It seems that Pardee is right in suggesting that hlny is the particle that takes on "locative nuance"; (25) though hi can function deictically, the locative sense is well attested in Ugaritic letters. (26)

Epistolary Usage of hnny/hlny

The expanded particles hnny/hlny occur almost exclusively in the greeting formula of Ugaritic letters. (27) This greeting formula consists of a general statement of well-being, in which the writer acknowledges his own state of affairs, which may be followed by a request for the addressee to return word to him concerning his own state of well-being. A typical formula might look something like the following: hlny/hnny 'mn slm.... tinny 'mk mnm slm rgm ttb ly "Here with me all is well ... there with you, whatever is well return word to me." (28) As to the initial elements of the formula in question, it has often been noted that both hlny and hnny are utilized in the "here-there" formulation. However, some scholars move one step further in arguing that this interchange may indicate that the particles hlny and hnny were synonymous in their meaning and function. (29) One cannot deny that these two particles are interchangeable in this type of formula, (30) but as Pardee has already noted, their distribution does not warrant their being interpreted as complete synonyms, at least without qualification. He observes that in spite of the fact that hlny and hnny both occur in what he calls the "double well-being formula," hlny often occurs at the beginning of the main body of the letter, whereas hnny does not:
   Certains textes permettent d'etablir une distinction semantique
   entre hn- et hi-: il s'agit de l'usage du seul hl- pour introduire
   le corps de la lettre lorsqu'il ne s'agit pas de la formule de
   bien-etre, toujours en rapport avec la situation de l'expediteur.
   En plus du sens presentatif, "void," ce mot comporte done la nuance
   locale d'"ici." (31)

This observation in essence attempts to show that outside of the formulaic expression of well-being, hlny is the particle of choice to denote the writer's distance from the respective addressee. This situation contrasts with that of hnn(y) in its restriction to the formulaic well-being address, casting doubt on the innate ability of this particle to denote a locative nuance. (32) By way of example, RS 94.2479 exhibits such a distinction between the two: (5) hlny . hnn . b . (6) bt. mlk . kll (7) slm . tmny (8) 'm . 'adty . mnm < slm > (9) w . rgm tttb (10) 'm . 'bdh "Here, behold, in the house of the king, all is well; there with my lady, whatever < is well > may she return word to her servant." (33)

Morphology of hlny

The vocalization of the expanded form hlny is all but certain thanks to its appearance in a polyglot vocabulary with the syllabic spelling al-li-ni-ya, (34) presumably representing a normalized form halliniya. Earlier treatments of this expanded particle proposed that the final -ny must represent the 1 c. pl. pronominal suffix, i.e., utilizing a matres lectionis "Behold, we ..." (35) From a strictly syntactical point of view, this analysis would not work in the well-being formula where the pronominal element is already attached to the following preposition 'm- (e.g., hlny 'mny slm "Here, with me it is well"). In terms of morphology, it is difficult to maintain that the Ugaritic language possessed matres lectionis at all, (36) and so it is no doubt better to interpret the -n and -y of hlny as expansion particles, or enclitics: demonstrative particle ha(n) + enclitic li + enclitic -ni + enclitic -ya. (37) Taking the two enclitics together, Kjell Aartun identifies the final -ny of both hlny and hnny as "die Derivations-endung -ny" functioning adverbially. (38) In short, the demonstrative han- provides the base form, to which these various enclitic elements are added: han + ni +ya> hannaniya; han + li + ni + ya > halliniya. (39)

The morphosyntax of Ugaritic hl/hln/hlny poses serious problems for the attempted etymological connection with Hebrew halo'. From a strictly morphological viewpoint, if one takes the only vocalized attestation of this particle seriously, the doubled l is not reflected in the Masoretic pointing halo'. (40) Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible can one find evidence of a doubled lamed; so it must be acknowledged from the start that any etymological connection resorts to emending the Hebrew text, as Brown suggests. (41) The difficulty of this connection, however, does not end here, since it is assumed that the underlying proto-Semitic particle of the various reflexes evident in the Semitic languages is the asseverative lu. For example, Brown sets out to argue in his discussion that along with Biblical Hebrew ha + lo', there also existed an interjection *halu' which he declares "is an exact cognate of Ugaritic hl, Old Aramaic hlw (= Biblical Aramaic 'aluw ...), and EA allu." (42) Setting aside for the moment the latter two proposed etymologies, the syllabic rendering of Ugaritic hlny attests an /i/ vowel following the l, and not the asseverative /u/ vowel. (43) As argued above, the etymology of hlny most likely involves an expansion of the demonstrative hn: han + li + ni + ya > halliniya, and thus would not be related to the Semitic asseverative at all. The presentative nature of the shortened form hi (< *han + li), as well as hn (< *han), would then arise from its demonstrative origin instead of from an etymological connection with the asseverative particle. Furthermore, the specific locative usage of hlny and hnny evident in Ugaritic letters with the meaning "here" seems more appropriate for a demonstrative etymology than would be the case for the asseverative connection. Even before one considers an alternative asseverative etymology for Hebrew halo', it seems likely that the Ugaritic hi may be the wrong particle for comparison, both on morphological and syntactic grounds. (44)


El Amarna allu

Leaving Ugaritic hl aside, the question remains concerning the etymological connection, if any, between Hebrew halo' and the Canaanite presentative particle attested from EA as al-lu. (45) Early on, it was believed that EA allu was an earlier equivalent to Hebrew halo', thus a negative rhetorical particle meaning 'Is it not?' (46) For example, the CAD identifies this particle as an interrogative particle, and glosses accordingly, 'Is it not?', 'Is it not that?' (47) A. F. Rainey, on the other hand, has rejected any relationship whatsover between the two, and instead proposes the following two possibilities, apparently favoring the first: 1) EA allu might be a cognate of the far demonstrative ullu, or 2) EA allu, as a cognate of ullu, the far demonstrative "that," is analogical to the near demonstrative annu, "this." (48) As in the case of Ugaritic hlny, the doubled l of allu again poses problems for a supposed relationship with the Hebrew particle halo' in its lack of such a feature. (49) Scholars have also noted that the EA allu variants al-le and al-la pose additional phonological problems for a comparison with Hebrew halo'. It should be reasonable to conclude, then, that the evidence from EA does not favor any relationship with the Hebrew negative interrogative particle.

Ugaritic 'al

On the other hand, Ugaritic might possess a more likely relative to the EA presentative particle allu, though with reference to Ugaritic one must exercise caution in drawing definite conclusions in light of unvocalized texts. That being said, the particle 'al ('allu) is well attested in several Ugaritic texts with an assevertive function, (50) e.g., KTU 1.4 VII 45:

dll. 'al. 'il'ak . l bn 'ilm . mt Indeed, I will send a messenger to Motu, son of 'Ilu. (51)

The existence of the Ugaritic asseverative 'al offers a more appropriate etymological parallel to EA al-lu, and furthermore, it maintains a functional distinction from the local adverbial usage of hl (along with its permutations hln, hlny) evident throughout Ugaritic epistlography. (52)


A number of scholarly voices have also made appeals to the Aramaic asseverative particles hlw (Old Aramaic, Jewish Aramaic [Tg Neof]) and >aluw (Biblical Aramaic) as further evidence against the traditional etymology of the Hebrew particle halo'. Sivan and Schniedewind observe that the plene spelling hlw\ which shares a 71 to 29 ratio of distribution with the non-plene spelling throughout the Hebrew Bible, may result from a proto-Semitic *halu, possibly the equivalent to Aramaic hlw. (53) Similarly, Brown cites the existence of the affirmative particle hlw "Look!" of Imperial Aramaic, and 'aluw 'Lo! Look!' of Biblical Aramaic, each of which he identifies as one of a "wide variety of by-forms related to [Ugaritic] hl." (54) Though the problems facing a connection between Hebrew halo' and Ugaritic hl have already been noted above, the feasibility of an etymological relationship with Aramaic hlwl 'aluw remains on the table for discussion here. If one were to follow the line of thought that the Hebrew plene spelling evinces just such a connection, the final aleph would require some sort of reanalysis in Aramaic. Also, it is worth noting at this juncture that in Biblical Aramaic both hala' (< interrogative {h} + negative la') and 'aluw are attested in the book of Daniel, the former functioning as a negative interrogative and the latter as an asseverative. (55)

The only form for which a vocalization exists for this asseverative occurs in Biblical Aramaic as 'aluw, most likely cognate with the Imperial Aramaic particle hlw. The particle hlw is well attested throughout Imperial Aramaic as an interjection meaning 'behold' with one of the following narrower usages: 1) introducing a letter, with or without a greeting formula; 2) introducing a new subject or new aspect of a subject already under discussion. (56) In both of these usages, hlw functions as a presentative particle resembling Hebrew hinneh. According to the vocalization of the Biblical Aramaic counterpart 'aluw, the reduced initial vowel naturally distinguishes this particle from EA allu, since historical doubling would have prevented vowel reduction. The association of Aramaic hlw with Ugaritic hi is equally problematic, since the expanded form hlny, vocalized al-li-ni-ya, exhibits a geminated l, which is noticably absent from the Biblical Aramaic form 'aluw. (51)

At this point in the discussion one might be led to question the validity of the comparative Aramaic data, especially as it relates to those dialects in close proximity to the biblical tradition. In suggesting the development *ha (inter.) + *la (neg.) > *hala "Is it not?," is the presence of the interrogative {h} in Biblical Aramaic hala' largely the result of Hebrew influence, or can this feature be inherently Aramaic? If the interrogative {h} only occurs in Jewish dialects of Aramaic, one might have to admit its Hebrew origin. Indeed, there is evidence outside of the Jewish Aramaic dialects for the existence of an interrogative {h}. In the Ashur ostracon, one finds a clear example of the interrogative {h}:

plsr [ys]'l hsd' hny mly' 'lh PN asks: "Are these words true?" (KAI 233:12)

There seems to be agreement among commentators that the initial {h} of hsd' should be interpreted as the interrogative, and one would be hard-pressed to find a better suggestion contextually. (58) It is therefore unnecessary to assume automatically that the negative interrogative particle of Biblical Aramaic must be due to Hebrew influence since the interrogative {h} does appear outside the direct influence of Biblical Hebrew. Consequently, Aramaic has the same potential that is inherent within the Hebrew language to form a negative interrogative consisting of the negative particle + interrogative {h}.


The situation in Targumic Aramaic mirrors that of Biblical Aramaic in that both of these particles are extant, namely hl' and hlw. Moreover, the Targums provide three additional features that have been largely overlooked in discussions relating to the negative interrogative particle: 1) the fact that these are Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text yields important data concerning how the interpreters understood the Hebrew particle halo', 2) the occurrence of hlw in the Targums along with their Hebrew Vorlage serve to elucidate its usage in Aramaic (at least in translation), and 3) the existence of hl' in Targumic expansions enables one to ascertain its Aramaic function outside the context of translation. (59) The following section will examine the occurrences of hl' in Targum Onqelos (hlw does not occur in Onqelos) and hl' and hlw in Targum Neofiti in light of these unique features, in hopes that they might lend additional clarity to the debate about Hebrew hl'.

hl' in Targum Onqelos

In every instance of Hebrew halo' throughout the Pentateuch (30x), Targum Onqelos translates this particle as hala'/hela'. (60) There are, however, three additional instances where Onqelos utilizes hala'/hela' to translate something other than Hebrew halo', all of which can be read naturally as negative rhetorical questions:

* Gen. 4:24: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Since for seven generations it was suspended for Cain, will it not be (suspended) for Lamek his son seventy-seven?" The Hebrew utilizes a conditional construction here: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Since Cain is avenged seven-fold, then Lamek seventy-seven."

* Gen. 30:2: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Are you asking of me? Is it not from before the Lord that you should ask, who has withheld from you the offspring of the womb?" In this case, Aramaic hala' adds a second-person comment before the relative clause which immediately follows the initial question in the Hebrew: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Am I in the place of God who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"

* Exod. 8:22: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Behold, we would be sacrificing the cattle which the Egyptians worship, and they would see us; would they not stone us?" Of interest here is the sense of the Hebrew text, where this final clause is construed as a negative, necessitating one to read an unmarked negative question, since a negative declarative would not make sense contextually: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Behold, we would sacrifice the abomination of Egypt before them; and would they not stone us?" Utilizing hela' as a negative interrogative would allow the Targumist to preserve the negative sense of the Hebrew, while at the same time attempting to make sense of the text by utilizing a negative rhetorical question.

hl' and hlw in Targum Neofiti

The situation in Targum Neofiti exhibits a bit more variety than does Onqelos, though for the most part it maintains consistency in its rendering of Hebrew helo' as Aramaic hl' (28 of 30x). (61) One should note the following two exceptions:

* Gen. 27:36: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Behold, you have not left a single blessing for me!" Unlike Onqelos, Neofiti chooses to emphasize the negative aspect of Esau's desperation in realizing that there remains no further blessing for him. The Hebrew text reads: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Did you not reserve a blessing for me?" The affirmative interpretation of the Hebrew particle does not make sense contextually, since Esau has just stated that Jacob had stolen both his birthright and his blessing, expressing here what seems to expect a negative response, rather than a positive one. (62)

* Num. 12:14: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "She must humble herself before him for seven days." The Hebrew text: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Would she not be humbled for seven days?" Here, Neofiti leaves this Hebrew particle untranslated.

Neofiti provides a number of expansions in which hl' occurs independent of Hebrew translation.

* Gen. 6:3: In response to the sons of God taking the daughters of men for wives, the Lord states that none of the generations to come will be judged according to the judgment of the flood-generation, and then retorts: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Is not the order of the judgment of the flood-generation sealed before him?" Immediately following are two assertions introduced with h' 'Behold!' According to such an interpretation, this expansion would then begin with a negative statement, "No one else will be judged like the flood-generation," followed by a negative rhetorical question "Is their judgment not sealed?," and then two exclamatory remarks introduced by h':... [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Behold, I have set my spirit within the sons of man ...";.. . [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Behold, I have set for you the span of one hundred and twenty years ..."

* Gen. 44:18: This lengthy expansion manifests hl' as well as the presentative particle h' + negative l'. The context is that of Judah pleading before governor Joseph upon finding the royal cup in Benjamin's bag, where the tone of Judah's pleading is certainly deferential in the Hebrew text, but inflamatory here as Neofiti presents a threatening Judah: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "From the former time that we came to you, were you not saying to us, 'From before the Lord I fear'? ... Look, it must not have been heard by you, and it must not have been related to you what my two brothers, Simeon and Levi, did to the city of Shechem!"

* Num. 34:21: Moses exclaims fearfully at the sight of Og, king of Butnin: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Is this not Og, who was cursing against Abraham and Sarah?"

* Deut. 1:1: The rhetorical force of this expression cannot be overstated, as Neofiti heralds the first words out of the mouth of Moses in his Deuteronomistic address: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Was it not in the desert and at Mount Sinai that Torah was given to you, O sons of Israel, and in the plain of Moab?" This introductory comment is directly followed by another question signaled by kmh.

* Deut. 33:2: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Is it not revealed and known before me?"

One further example from Neofiti should be mentioned where the particle hlw shows up with an affirmative sense:

* Num. 12:1: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Miram and Aaron spoke against Moses concerning the Cushite woman whom he had taken; and behold, the Cushite woman was Zipporah, the wife of Moses!" The sense of hlw is undoubtably presentative and more likely relates etymologically and semantically to Biblical Aramaic's 'lw, contrary to its more popular association with hl'. (63)

As the above examples from Targums Onqelos and Neofiti show, hl' serves as the default interpretative particle for Hebrew halo'. Furthermore, none of the examples examined, whether translation or expansion, necessitates a departure from the negative rhetorical question interpretation, a fact that might lend support for the traditional etymology--interrogative {h} + the negative particle for Hebrew halo' (i.e., as a negative rhetorical question)--being operative for Aramaic hl' as well. In every case except two, Onqelos and Neofiti translate Hebrew halo} with hl'; in the one case in which Neofiti utilizes something different, it highlights the negative rather than the affirmative aspect of the Hebrew expression, making an asseverative meaning unlikely. On the other hand, the sole example of hlw in Neofiti exemplifies the asseverative particle more common in earlier Aramaic, which seems to have undergone a development separate from that of hl' (interrogative {h} + negative la'). (64) The fact that both Biblical and Targumic Aramaic continue to utilize these two particles in discernably distinct ways makes it difficult to maintain that hl' is a conflation of the two; one of the them would have to fall out of use and thus be replaced by the other. This does not appear to be the case for Aramaic.


Brief mention should be made of two important attestations of hl' throughout the known corpus of Hebrew inscriptions, which have not figured at all in discussions about Biblical Hebrew halo' One comes from the Lachish collection, while the other appears in a recently published ostracon from the Shephelah:

Lach. 6.8: 'dny hl' tktb 'lhm "My lord, will you not write to them [...]?" (65)

Sheph. 1.2: hl' tsbny dbr 't kym "Will you not send me a report this very day?" (66)

The final {'} in these two attestations indicates that this compound particle (interrogative {h} + negative particle lo') had a life all its own outside of Biblical Hebrew. Orthography aside, in the case of the Lachish ostracon, if one were to argue for the possibility of an asseverative force here, it would be awkward in this context, since in all likelihood the letter records the appeal of an inferior to his superior. (67) The most natural explanation of hl' in this instance would be an urgent, yet courteous question with the intent of invoking a positive reponse, namely, a rhetorical question. On the other hand, the situation evinced in the ostracon from Shephelah suggests hostility rather than politeness as the writer castigates his servant for apparent disobedience. (68) The thrust of this rhetorical question is reinforced by the mere fact that he specifically states "I sent you," followed by the interrogation "Will you not return to me a report?" (69) The negative rhetorical question serves to press upon the recipient of the letter the urgency of the matter, compelling him to fulfill his obligation.

It is also worth pointing out that thus far only hl' occurs throughout the Hebrew inscriptions without any trace of the hypothetical *halu recently posited for Hebrew. Of course, one cannot build an argument against its existence from silence alone, but in light of the difficulties inherent in the recently proposed etymologies outlined above, its absence here only serves up another strike against the proposal that Hebrew hi' represents the conflation of halo' and halu'.


Distribution of hl'/hlw'

By way of summary, it might be useful to address those matters of concern from the Hebrew Bible that have motivated scholars to look beyond its confines for evidence of a second etymology imbedded in halo'.

First, what can be said of the plene spelling hlw'? Does the appearance of an additional waw in the consonantal text provide evidence for an earlier asseverative particle, later confused at the Masoretic level? From a merely hypothetical standpoint such a confusion is entirely plausible. In terms of what actually appears in the consonantal text, however, this seems less likely. The plene spelling is the more common of the two, occurring 294 times (71%) as opposed to the 120 instances (29%) of the non-plene form. (70) Do the plene forms then represent the asseverative particle and the non-plene forms the negative interrogative? (71) Such a distinction in meaning is not reflected in this orthographic distinction. This observation is notably illustrated by those cases in which both forms occur within close proximity of each other, exhibiting no discernable distinction in meaning. For example, both spellings appear within the Balaam story, just a few verses apart:


Am I not your donkey which you have ridden still to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to acting this way toward you?

In this context, hlw' naturally marks a negative rhetorical question parallel to the following question marked with the interrogative {h}. (72) A few verses later, the non-plene form appears:


Did I not certainly send for you to call to you?

From these two examples, it is difficult to argue contextually that the former is better suited for an asseverative particle while the latter better fits the negative interrogative. The same might be said of two further examples:


Have you not heard that Adonijah, son of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David does not know (of it)?


Have not you, my lord the king, sworn to your maidservant?

Setting aside for the moment the lack of a discernable distinction in usage between the two, what can be made of the overall distribution of the plene versus the non-plene forms throughout the Hebrew Bible? If two separate historical forms underlay these two spellings, one might expect them to share a fairly even distribution. On the contrary, one finds more evidence for a stylistic variation from one book to another. The most drastic examples of this tendency can be found in Samuel, Chronicles, and Job. Without exception, Samuel utilizes exclusively the plene form, (73) while in the cases of Chronicles and Job, only the non-plene spelling appears. (74) Or what might be said of the Kings narrative, where the two are evenly distributed (non-plene spelling 24x, plene spelling 20x)? (75) Such a discrepancy in the distribution of plene versus non -plene spellings would be better accounted for on stylistic grounds rather than as a hypothetical confusion of two historically distinct particles. Nonetheless, the distribution of the two Biblical Hebrew orthographies and the consistent vocalization require that, if two etymologies lie behind the forms, the two had fallen together into a single form by the time that Biblical Hebrew as we know it came to be. (76)

The Syntax of hl'

Recently, Adina Moshavi has devoted considerable attention to the syntactic distribution of Biblical Hebrew halo', arguing for the existence of a "clausal adverb" hl' based on her proposed syntactic evidence. She points out that although the negative interrogative hl' and the hypothetical clausal adverb hl' are indistinguishable in many syntactical contexts, there are a number of cases where such a distinction is justifiable. (77)

Moshavi builds her case upon a number of instances where the so-called negative interrogative particle does not conform to the rules of normal word order for Hebrew finite clauses, but instead resembles the syntactic behavior of other presentative particles (i.e., clausal adverbs). For example, she argues that the interrogative {h} normally occurs at the head of the clause, while negative lo' immediately precedes the verb in sub-clausal negation as opposed to clausal negation where the entire clause is treated as negative. (78) Based upon these strictures, it is argued that when interrogative {h} and negative lo' occur in a "preposed finite clause," the two should be separated by the preposed noun clause, as noted in the following example:


Will the judge of all the earth not practice justice?

However, she argues, there are a number of instances where the interrogative {h} is not separated from the negative particle and fronted according to the example cited above, but halo'} in its entirety is fronted, reflecting the syntax of clausal adverbs (e.g., hnh, hn, 'l kn, etc.). She cites the following example from Judges:


Do you not hate me?

For Moshavi, this syntactic distinction offers additional evidence for the existence of a Hebrew particle hl' that is something other than the negative interrogative. She calls this theoretical form a clausal adverb that in essence functions as a presentative particle resembling hnh. (79)

The theory espoused by Moshavi is certainly appealing on the syntactic level, since it attempts to explain what looks like an anomaly for typical Hebrew clausal syntax. On the other hand, this proposal does not take into consideration the etymological merits of positing two separate forms underlying halo'/halow', now confused in the Masoretic tradition, but simply relies upon the earlier studies on the problem already cited in this study. The appeal to syntax does not remove the etymological problems for proposing two separate Hebrew forms as I have outlined them above, and therefore cannot provide the final word of the matter. On the contrary, Moshavi's syntactic evidence could point us in an entirely different direction, namely, that halo'/halow' is undergoing reanalysis as a single particle, irrespective of its separate parts (i.e., interrogative {h} + negative lo').


Etymology of hl'

In terms of etymology, the theories offered by grammarians thus far are not without difficulty. Though the presentative nature of Ugaritic hi is all but certain, the vocalized form al-li-ni-ya is difficult to reconcile with either hl' or hlw' in Hebrew for the following reasons: 1) the absence of geminated lamed, (80) and 2) the quandary of resolving the /i/ vowel of halliniya with the final /u/ vowel of the propounded *halu. (81) Clearly, the attempt to relate this particle to EA allu cannot be maintained phonologically, as other scholars have already aptly noted, and therefore must be abandoned. (82) Additionally, the attestations of hl' from inscriptional Hebrew and the current absence of anything resembling an asseverative *halu throughout casts yet another shadow of doubt on its very existence.

Semantics of hl'

Perhaps the evidence as it currently stands on this matter should lead one to revisit earlier formulations on the semantics of this form, namely that negative rhetorical questions lead naturally to positive assertions. Practically speaking, one can reasonably argue for later developments wherein this negative interrogative acquires an affirmative sense, since more often than not its rhetorical effect assumes an affirmative answer. (83) One might compare the English expression "Isn't it?," which has for the most part become the equivalent of "It is" in popular usage. Such a development might explain those difficult cases in the Hebrew Bible for which a negative rhetorical question feels awkward. (84) As far as Targums Onqelos and Neofiti are concerned, none of the examples cited in this study bars a negative rhetorical question interpretation, and neither do the Hebrew Vorlage they represent. So in the end, it might be more prudent for Hebrew grammarians to return to where they left off from the earlier explanations proposing a probable development from negative rhetorical question to affirmation, since the more recently proposed etymologies create more questions than they do answers.



I would like to thank Dennis Pardee and Rebecca Hasselbach of the University of Chicago and Aaron Butts of Catholic University of America for insightful critiques of earlier versions of this essay. This study has benefited greatly from their interaction. Any persistent deficiencies, however, are my own.

(1.) Cf. also the alternative negated rhetorical question construction, as in the following example: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Is there no balm in Gilead, nor physician there?" (Jer. 8:22). On the rhetorical question in both Hebrew and Ugaritic, see Moshe Held, "Rhetorical Questions in Ugaritic and Biblical Hebrew," ErIsr 9 (1969): 71-79.

(2.) Written defectively halo' (120x): Gen. 13:9; 19:20; 20:5; 27:36; 29:25; Exod. 4:11; 4:14; 14:12; Num. 12:2; 12:14; 22:37; 23:12; 23:26; 24:12; Deut. 11:30; 31:17; 32:34; Josh. 10:13; Judg. 4:6; 4:14; 5:30; 6:13; 6:14; 9:28; 9:38; 10:11; 11:7; 11:24; 14:15; 15:2; 15:11; Ruth 3:1; 3:2; 1 Kings 1:13; 14:29; 15:23; 15:31; 16:5; 16:20; 16:27; 18:13; 22:46; 2 Kings 4:28; 5:12; 14:15; 14:18; 14:28; 15:6; 15:36; 16:19; 18:27; 19:25; 20:20; 21:17; 21:25; 23:28; 24:5; 1 Chr. 19:3; 21:3; 21:17; 22:18; 2 Chr. 9:29; 12:15; 13:5; 13:9; 16:8; 18:17; 20:6; 20:7; 20:12; 25:26; 28:10; 32:11; 32:12; 32;13; Job 1:10; 4:6; 4:21; 7:1; 8:10; 10:10; 10:20; 12:11; 13:11; 21:29; 22:5; 31:3; 32:4; Ps. 14:4; 44:22; 53:5; 54:2; 56:9; 56:9; 56:14; 60:12; 85:7; 94:9; 94:10; 108:12; Prov. 8:1; 22:20; Eccles. 6:6; Isa. 10:8; 10:9; 10:11; 36:12; 44:8; 57:11; Jer. 26:19; Ezek. 12:9; 17:12; 18:25; 18:29; 21:5; 24:19; 26:15; Amos 5:20; or plene halow' (294x): Gen. 4:7; 31:15; 34:23; 37:13; 40:8; 42:22; 44:5; 44:15; Exod. 33:16; Num. 14:3; 22:30; Deut. 32:6; Josh. 1:9; 22:20; Judg. 8:2; Ruth 2:8; 2:9; 1 Sam. 1:8; 6:6; 9:20; 9:21; 10:1; 12:17; 15:17; 17:8; 17:29; 20:30; 20:37; 21:12; 23:19; 26:1; 26:14; 26:15; 29:3; 29:4; 29:5; 2 Sam. 2:26; 3:38; 4:11; 10:3; 11:3; 11:10; 11:20; 11:21; 13:4; 13:28; 16:19; 19:14; 19:23; 1 Kings 1:11; 2:42; 11:41; 15:7; 16:14; 22:18; 22:39; 2 Kings 1:18; 2:18; 5:13; 6:11; 6:32; 8:23; 10:34; 12:20; 13:8; 13:12; 15:21; 18:22; 20:19; Ezra 9:14; Neh. 5:9; 13:18; 13:26; Esther 10:2; Ps. 139:2; Prov. 14:22; Isa 8:19; 28:25; 29:17; 36:7; 37:26; 40:21; 40:28; 42:24; 43:19; 44:20; 45:21; 48:6; 51:9; 51:10; 57:4; 58:6; 58:7; Jer. 2:17; 3:1; 3:4; 5:3; 7:19; 13:21; 22:15; 22:16; 23:24; 23:29; 33:24; 35:13; 38:15; 44:21; Ezek. 13:7; 13:12; 17:9; 17:10; 18:23; 24:25; 34:2; 37:18; 38:14; Joel 1:16; Amos 6:13; 9:7; Obad. 5, 8; Jonah 4:2; Mic. 1:5; 2:7; 3:1; 3:11; Hab. 1:12; 2:6; 2:7; 2:13; Hag. 2:3; Zech. 1:6; 3:2; 4:5; 4:13; 7:6; 7:7; Mai. 1:2; 2:10.

(3.) E.g., Ezekiel 38:14: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Surely on that day, when my people Israel dwell securely, you will know."

(4.) H. A. Brongers, "Some Remarks on the Biblical Particle halo'," OtSt 21 (1981): 178.

(5.) Ibid., further states: "Actually, 'questions' of this kind are best translated in an affirmative way by inferring 'as you know' or 'as everyone knows.'"

(6.) GKC, [section] 150e.

(7.) Perhaps alluded to in Jouon, [section] 161c.

(8.) Michael L. Brown, "'Is it not?' or 'Indeed': HL in Northwest Semitic," Maarav 4/2 (1987): 201-19. Consequently, Brown argues that Hebrew halo' needs to be re-analyzed as the conflation of two distinct Semitic particles: the affirmative *haluw' and the negative interrogative halo', outlining the following conclusions as a result of his study: 1) improvements in translation, especially where verses were forced to accommodate a presupposed interrogative negative sense; 2) changes in lexical organization, now listing hl' under *haluw', and not under low', subdivision ha + low'; 3) clarification of etymology: BH *haluw' = Ugar. hl, EA/Akk. allu, Aram, hlw, 'rh, 'aluw, 'aruw (which he equates with 'aruwm and 'arey), MH harey, whereas BH ha + lo' = Arab, 'ala, Tg. Aram. halah, both in form and function; and 4) probable revocalization of *haluw' or halluw'. In a similar fashion, though slightly nuanced from the presentation of Brown, Daniel Sivan and William Schniedewind ("Letting Your 'Yes' Be 'No' in Ancient Israel: A Study of Asseverative [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]," JSS 38 [1993]: 226) argue for a bipartite etymology, stating that "[alongside asseverative lu there existed another etymologically unrelated form, namely *halu (II [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])."

(9.) E.g., Brown, "HL in Northwest Semitic," 207-11, contra Sivan and Schniedewind, "Letting Your 'Yes' Be 'No'," 211, who wisely question the validity of this connection due to the phonological matters discussed below.

(10.) It should be noted here that little attention has been devoted to the evidence from Targumic Aramaic, where both asseverative and negative interrogative particles co-exist. See the discussion of the evidence from Aramaic below.

(11.) C. H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965), 109.

(12.) S. Segert, A Basic Grammar of the Ugaritic Language: With Selected Texts and Glossary (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1984), 81.

(13.) Daniel Sivan, A Grammar of the Ugaritic Language (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 2001), 185.

(14.) Ibid., 180.

(15.) Joseph Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik (Munster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2000), 737.

(16.) Ibid., 229, 794-850.

(17.) Dennis Pardee, Review of J. Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik, AfO 50 (online version only, 2004): 116, 197, 365; < 234a3eb0dd4908605f4b5a5a98ec18#pardee>. Concerning the Hebrew particles h + n, he argues from comparative evidence for three historical forms: deictic particle /han-/, local particle /hun-/, and conditional particle /hin-/. According to this proposal, /han-/ and /hun-/ collapsed to the form /hinn-/, save the definite article realized as /han-/ (n. 1294).

(18.) Pierre Bordreuil and Dennis Pardee, Manuel d'ougaritique (Paris: Paul Geuthner, 2004), 55-56, 77.

(19.) Gordon, 109. He also discusses the ability of hi to take suffixes, most notably -n (110).

(20.) See DUL, 336-37.

(21.) Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik, 750-51.

(22.) Ibid., 750. See also John Huehnergard, "Asseverative *la and Hypothetical *lu/law in Semitic," JAOS 103 (1983): 571 n. 23, where he posits "[Aramaic] hlw is to be compared with Ugaritic hi, Arabic hala/'ala, and possibly Hebrew halo' or hala'ah."

(23.) Brown, "HL in Northwest Semitic," 202-7. Brown suggests that "hlny is an exact parallel to hnny in the letters" (p. 204), but as will be set out below, this is an oversimplification of the data. On Hebrew halo', see also Sivan and Schneidewind, "Letting Your 'Yes' Be 'No'," 209-26; Brongers, "Some Remarks," 177-89.

(24.) E.g., hlny/hnny 'mn slm ... tmny 'mk mnm slm rgm ttb ly "Here with me all is well ... there with you, whatever is well return word to me."

(25.) Pardee, review of J. Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik, 365.

(26.) E.g., note the expanded form of hl-: hlny 'mny kll slm "Here with me all is well" (RS 11.872:9-10). Note that all occurrences of hlny cited in this study occur within epistolary contexts. Perhaps the nature of direct speech makes this nuance more feasible, especially in letter writing, where the need for correspondence arises from the fact that two parties are separated geographically.

(27.) Cf. hnny: RS 8.315/KTU 2.11:10; RS 18.031/KTU 2.38:6; RS 18.147/KTU 2.46:6; RS 29.095/KTU 2.71:5; RS 34.124/KTU 2.72:7; and hlny: RS 3.427/KTU 2.1:3; RS 11.872/KTU 2.13:9; RS 15.174/KTU 2.21:7; RS 16.379/KTU 2.30:8, 12; RS 29.093/KTU 2.70:11; RS 17.434/KTU 2.73:8; RS 94.2406:3; RIH 77/01/KTU 2.77:8; R1H 77/21A/KTU 2.78:4; RIH 77/21A/KTU 2.78; RIH 77/25/KTU 2.79:2.

(28.) For an analysis of this formula, see Pardee, "Une formule epistolaire en ougaritique et accadien," in Semitic and Assyriological Studies Presented to Pelio Fronzaroli by Pupils and Colleagues (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2003), 446-75.

(29.) Daniel Sivan, A Grammar of the Ugaritic Language, 180, glosses hlny 'here, hither' and hnny 'here'. More emphatically, Brown, "HL in Northwest Semitic," 204.

(30.) On hlny and hnny, see Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik: hnny 'hier' [section]81.1 lc; hlny 'siehe' [section]81.4e.

(31.) Pardee, "Une formule epistolaire," 451 n. 13. See also the comments in his review of J. Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik, 116, 197, 365-66.

(32.) RS 8.315:10 (KTU 2.11:10); RS 18.031:6 (KTU 2.38:6); RS 18.147:6 (KTU 2.46:6); RS 29.095:5 (KTU 2.71:5); RS 34.124:7 (KTU 2.72:7).

(33.) Bordreuil and Pardee, Manuel d'ougaritique, 94-95.

(34.) J. Nougayrol, Ugaritica 5: Nouveaux textes accadiens, hourrites et ugaritiques des archives et bibliotheques privees d'Ugarit (Mission de Ras Shamra 16; Paris: Geuthner, 1968), 138; see also J. Huehnergard, Ugaritic Vocabulary in Syllabic Transcription (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2008), 121, though Huehnergard normalizes the form as halliniya.

(35.) See Ch. Virolleaud, "Fragments alphabetiques divers de Ras Shamra," Syria 19 (1938): 343, noted by H. L. Ginsberg, "Baal's Two Messengers," BASOR 95 (1944): 29.

(36.) See Bordreuil and Pardee, Manuel d'ougaritique, 74, where they highlight the typical features of languages that employ matres, features that are noticeably lacking for Ugaritic.

(37.) Huehnergard, Ugaritic Vocabulary in Syllabic Transcription, 121, believes the final -y is not a mater lectionis, followed by R. Hawley, "Studies in Ugaritic Epistolography" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 2003), 712 n. 89. See also Pardee, review of J. Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik, 369, where he proposes the etymology /han-/ + /l/ > /hall-/ as more likely than Tropper's reconstruction of a distinct locative particle /hal-/ + /1/ (Ugaritische Grammatik, 750). It should be noted here that the precise function of the enclitics -n and -y is not entirely certain. I have adopted the terminology of Pardee in simply calling those particles with enclitic(s) expansion forms (see his remarks on hlny and hnny in his review of J. Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik, 116, 197, 365-66).

(38.) Kjell Aartun, Die Partikeln des Ugaritischen (Kevelaer: Butzon & Berker, 1978), 57 n. 550. In this note, Aartun also references the ability of these particles to function as "Lokaladverbs," though not mentioned by Brown, "HL in Northwest Semitic," 203 n. 4.

(39.) See also Rebecca Hasselbach, "Demonstratives in Semitic," JAOS 127 (2007): 21-22, where she notes that in Semitic the element -n is often associated with near deixis while the element -l most likely indicated far deixis. As it relates to Ugaritic hnny and hlny, it is difficult to identify real world, areal distinction in their usage in the letters, i.e., hlny = far versus hnny = near. (The problem for the Ugaritic situation is that the opposite appears to be the case, since hlny expresses the writer's situation, as opposed to the addressee's.) On the other hand, one can readily acknowledge that the demonstrative element *han of both hlny and hnny distinguishes these particles from the Semitic far demonstrative Hasselbach reconstructs as 'VI. For Ugaritic, hnny and hlny denote the close proximity of the speaker in contradistinction to the distance of the addressee, demarcated with tmny.

(40.) Also noted by Sivan and Schniedewind, "Letting Your 'Yes' Be 'No' in Ancient Israel," 211.

(41.) At no point in Brown's discussion of Ugaritic hi does he cite the attested vocalized form al-li-ni-ya first published by Nougayrol in 1968 (see Brown, "HL in Northwest Semitic," 202-7); nor does he account for the evidence of a doubled / in the El Amarna asseverative al-lu, which would also create problems for a connection with Hebrew halo' (ibid., 207-11; see also the discussion on EA allu below).

(42.) Brown, "HL in Northwest Semitic," 202.

(43.) On the asseverative, see Huehnergard, "Asseverative *la," 570-76.

(44.) The argument of Sivan and Schniedewind, "Letting Your 'Yes' Be 'No'," 210-11, that "it is impossible to understand II [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as a rhetorical question with the interrogative [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] since Ugaritic does not possess an interrogative h," therefore cannot be sustained, since these authors are operating under the assumption that Ugaritic hl and Hebrew halow' are cognates.

(45.) See A. F. Rainey, "Some Presentative Particles in the Amarna Letters," UF 20 (1988): 214-20; ibid., Canaanite in the Amarna Tablets 3 (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 159-67; and Daniel Sivan, Grammatical Analysis and Glossary of Northwest Semitic Vocables in Akkadian Texts of the 15th-13th C.B.C. from Canaan and Syria (Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker, 1984), 129-30. Note also the secondary forms al-le (EA 94:163), al-le-mi (EA 83:53), al-le-e (EA 122:41), al-la (EA 101:14), and al-la-mi (EA 83:38), which Rainey ("Some Presentation Particles," 214) suggests might represent a type of delineation.

(46.) See the discussion on the history of the interpretation of allu in Rainey, "Some Presentation Particles," 214-18.

(47.) CAD 1:358. Note also Sivan, Grammatical Analysis and Glossary, 129-30, where he lists this particle under the heading "Interrogatives." Sivan and Schniedewind ("Letting Your 'Yes' Be 'No'," 211), however, appear more hesitant about this connection.

(48.) Rainey, "Some Presentative Particles," 214. See also Hasselbach, "Demonstratives in Semitic," 23, where she reconstructs the plural base for the PWS far demonstrative 'ul ([+ or -].

(49.) Sivan, Grammatical Analysis and Glossary, 130; Rainey, "Some Presentative Particles," 214; and Sivan and Schniedewind, "Letting Your 'Yes' Be 'No'," 211, all note this problem.

(50.) Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik, 805-6; Bordreuil and Pardee, Manuel d'ougaritique, 74.

(51.) For additional references, see Tropper, Ugaritische Grammatik, 805-6; DUL, 47.

(52.) Note also that 'al would then be distinguished from the proclitic asseverative l- in Ugaritic. On this particle, see Huehnergard, "Asseverative *la," 583-84.

(53.) Sivan and Schniedewind, "Letting Your 'Yes' Be 'No'," 210, especially n. 3. They also point out that since the Hebrew negative xV is almost never spelled plene (35x of approximately 5200 occurrences), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] must evince an earlier asseverative particle. For more on the significance of the plene spelling, see discussion below.

(54.) Brown, "HL in Northwest Semitic," 211.

(55.) hl': Dan. 3:24; 4:27; 6:13; 'lw: Dan. 2:31; 4:7; 4:10; 7:8. For a discussion of hl' from the perspective of Aramaic, see B. A. Mastin, "The Meaning of hala' at Daniel IV 27," VT 42 (1992): 234-47. Brown ("HL in Northwest Semitic," 214 n. 70) does acknowledge that the situation in Aramaic is distinct from that of Biblical Hebrew. Additionally, both hl' and hlw are attested in Targumic Aramaic (see discussion to follow).

(56.) E.g., introducing a letter: k'n hlw hlm hzyt "Now look, I saw a dream" (KAI 270:1-2); introducing a new aspect of a subject: hlw bbyt 'wkn "Look, with regard to BT 'WKN" (KAI 233:9) (see DAWSI, 1:280).

(57.) It should be noted here that although Biblical Aramaic 'aruw is often cited as a by-form of 'aluw (e.g., HALOT, 1824, following Bauer and Leander. Grammatik des Biblisch-Aramaischen [Halle, 1927], [section] 266a, b), one should be cautious on this connection, especially in light of the qetib-qere within the MT where one is to read final -h instead of final -w (see Dan. 7:2; 7:5-7; 7:13). The Imperial Aramaic form apparently underlying the Biblical Aramaic form is 'rh (much less common than hlw), attested two times in a Hermopolis papyrus with the presentative meaning 'behold': wk't 'rh spr lh slhty bsmh (TAD A2.4:5, 8). The form in Biblical Aramaic may have arisen out of a confusion with the more prominent hlw, realized as ,aluw therein. At any rate, the simple fact that Imperial Aramaic attests both hlw and 'rh in Egyptian Aramaic contexts makes it less likely that the latter should be derived from the former. Also, one should not confuse this form with the later Jewish Aramaic conjunction 'rwm (= Tg Onq 'ry) 'because, since' (see Michael Sokolofif, A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the Byzantine Period, 2d ed. [Ramat-Gan, Israel: Bar Ilan University Press, 2002], 73b).

(58.) E.g., KAI 2, 285, and John C. L. Gibson, Textbook of Syrian Inscriptions 2 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971), 108.

(59.) It should be noted, however, that Hebrew influence likely extends to the expansions as well.

(60.) Gen. 4:7; 13:9; 19:20; 20:5; 27:36; 29:25; 31:15; 34:23; 37:13; 40:8; 42:22; 44:5; 44:15; Exod. 4:11; 4:14; 14:12; 33:16; Num. 12:2; 12:14; 14:3; 22:30; 22:37; 23:12; 23:26; 24:12; Deut. 3:11 (Heb. haloh!); 11:30; 31:17; 32:6; 32:34.

(61.) Gen. 4:7; 13:9; 19:20; 20:5; 29:25; 31:15; 34:23; 37:13; 40:8; 42:22; 44:5; Exod. 4:11 (variant); 4:14; 14:12; 33:16; Num. 12:2; 14:3; 22:37; 23:12; 23:26; 24:12; Deut. 3:1; 11:30; 31:17; 32:34.

(62.) It is important to note that this is not a rhetorical question in the Hebrew text, but a real question expecting a response.

(63.) See Sokoloff, A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, 165, where he briefly remarks: "Note the unique spelling of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Num 12:1," assuming that hl' is a variant of hlw. One might also compare this particle with Onqelos's conditional asserverative pariticle 'illuw, which also evinces a lu asseverative element: conditional 'i(y)n + asserverative luw > 'illuw. This particle occurs seven times throughout Onqelos, and translates a number of Hebrew constructions: Gen. 46:30 (1cs cohorative); Lev. 10:19; Num. 12:14 (infinitive absolute); 22:29 (Heb. luw); Deut. 32:27a (Onq 'iylluw la' = Heb. luwley); 32:27b (Heb. luw).

(64.) Cf. El Amarna allu (see CAD, 1:358), Ugaritic 'al (RS 3.367iv/KTU 1.2i:13, 14, 15), and also Imperial Aramaic hlw (DNWSI, 1:280), Biblical Aramaic 'Iw (BDB, 1080: Dan. 3:31; 4:7; 4:10; 7:8).

(65.) On this ostracon, see F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp et al., Hebrew Inscriptions: Texts from the Biblical Period of the Monarchy with Concordance (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2005), 322-24.

(66.) On the Shephelah ostracon, see Andre Lemaire and Ada Yardeni, "New Hebrew Ostraca from the Shephelah," in Biblical Hebrew in Its Northwest Semitic Setting: Typological and Historical Perspectives, ed. Steven Fassberg and Avi Hurvitz (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2006), 197-223.

(67.) The opening address 'l 'dny y' ws "To my lord Ya'us" (Lach. 6.1) unquestionably indicates an inferior-superior situation.

(68.) Brongers ("Some Remarks," 179) cites the following examples from the Hebrew Bible where hl' appears with an "undertone of some reproach": Abimelech in his defense to God (Gen. 20:5), Jacob to Laban (Gen. 29:25), Reuben rebuking his brothers (Gen. 42:22); Miriam and Aaron in their dispute with Moses (Num. 12:2), Ahab to Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:18), and Yahweh addressing his people Israel (Isa. 44:8).

(69.) Lemaire and Yardeni ("New Hebrew Ostraca," 198) comment: "As is well known from Biblical Hebrew, the interrogative negative HL' probably has here an assertive meaning," though they translate the statement as a rhetorical question.

(70.) For references, see n. 1.

(71.) To my knowledge, no one seems to address this question in the literature on Hebrew hl'.

(72.) Note also that the initial negative question should be of rhetorical force, strengthened by the fact that only the second question solicits a response from Balaam.

(73.) 1 Sam. 1:8; 6:6; 9:20; 9:21; 10:1; 12:17; 15:17; 17:8; 17:29; 20:30; 20:37; 21:12; 23:19; 26:1; 26:14; 26:15; 29:3; 29:4; 29:5; 2 Sam. 2:26; 3:38; 4:11; 10:3; 11:3; 11:10; 11:20; 11:21; 13:4; 13:28; 16:19; 19:14; 19:23.

(74.) 1 Chr. 19:3; 21:3; 21:17; 22:18; 2 Chr. 9:29; 12:15; 13:5; 13:9; 16:8; 18:17; 20:6; 20:7; 20:12; 25:26; 28:10; 32:11; 32:12; 32;13; Job 1:10; 4:6; 4:21; 7:1; 8:10; 10:10; 10:20; 12:11; 13:11; 21:29; 22:5; 31:3; 32:4.

(75.) hl': 1 Kings 1:13; 14:29; 15:23; 15:31; 16:5; 16:20; 16:27; 18:13; 22:46; 2 Kings 4:28; 5:12; 14:15; 14:18; 14:28; 15:6; 15:36; 16:19; 18:27; 19:25; 20:20; 21:17; 21:25; 23:28; 24:5; hlw1 Kings 1:11; 2:42; 11:41; 15:7; 16:14; 22:18; 22:39; 2 Kings 1:18; 2:18; 5:13; 6:11; 6:32; 8:23; 10:34; 12:20; 13:8; 13:12; 15:21; 18:22; 20:19.

(76.) Rebecca Hasselbach (private communication) has also pointed out to me this well-known tendency for the negative particle in general, which attests the plene spelling by itself (low') and with an attached b- preposition (below') (see BDB, 518).

(77.) Adina Moshavi, "Syntactic Evidence for a Clausal Adverb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Biblical Hebrew," JNWSL 33 (2007): 51-63. See also ead., "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as Discourse Marker," HS 48 (2007): 171-86; ead., "Can a Positive Rhetorical Question Have a Positive Answer in the Bible?" JSS 56 (2011): 253-73.

(78.) Moshavi, "Syntactic Evidence," 55, citing R. D. Huddleson and G. K. Pullman, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002), 789.

(79.) Ibid., 61.

(80.) Brown ("HL in Northwest Semitic," 219) apparently skirts the problem by reconstructing either *haluw' or *halluw', despite the fact that the evidence for the latter is entirely lacking in Hebrew, and thus highly speculative.

(81.) It does not appear as though any consideration has been given to the attested vocalization of hlny by those who affirm an etymological relationship between Ugaritic hl and Hebrew hl'.

(82.) Rainey, "Some Presentation Particles," 214; Sivan and Schniedewind, "Letting Your 'Yes' Be 'No'," 211; contra Brown, UHL in Northwest Semitic," 207-11.

(83.) A similar conclusion is reached by Mastin, "The Meaning of hala' at Daniel IV 27," 238, where he notes, concerning the affirmatory use of halo', "This is a natural development from halo' = 'nonne?,' and Aramaic hala' could either have come to signifiy 'surely' in the same way or have acquired this sense under the influence of Hebrew halo'." Note, however, that the affirmative sense does not always hold, as in the case of Targum Neofiti Gen. 23:36, where translators emphasize the negative sense of the expression, rendering Hebrew hl' with Aramaic h' l'.

(84.) Note the examples listed by Brongers, "Some Remarks," 180-88.
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Author:McAffee, Matthew
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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