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I've noticed that sometimes words are repeated in the hebrew text.

Gen 3:16 אֶֽל־ H413 to הָ·אִשָּׁ֣ה H802 Unto the woman אָמַ֗ר H559 he said הַרְבָּ֤ה H7235 I will greatly אַרְבֶּה֙ H7235 multiply עִצְּבוֹנֵ֣·ךְ H6093 thy sorrow וְ·הֵֽרֹנֵ֔·ךְ H2032 and thy conception בְּ·עֶ֖צֶב H6089 in sorrow תֵּֽלְדִ֣י H3205 thou shalt bring forth בָנִ֑ים H1121 children וְ·אֶל־ H413 will be for אִישֵׁ·ךְ֙ H376 [shall be] to thy husband תְּשׁ֣וּקָתֵ֔·ךְ H8669 and thy desire וְ·ה֖וּא H1931 and he יִמְשָׁל־ H4910 and he shall rule בָּֽ·ךְ׃ H0 ס

Does this mean "Greatly greatly thy sorrow" or "Exceedingly increase more and more thy sorrow"?

Also, the verb "will" does not appear in the Hebrew. Why do the translators -- King James, HISB, and HCSB -- add "I will" when there is duplication of a word like this?

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what is the "HISB"? – warren Apr 3 '13 at 14:52
@warren Hebrew interpolated Study Bible Westminster Leningrad Codex – user2134 Apr 3 '13 at 15:58
thanks - couldn't find the abbreviation handy when I googled :) – warren Apr 3 '13 at 16:13
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The English phrase "I will greatly mutliply" (A.V.) is translated from the Hebrew phrase הַרְבָּה אַרְבֶּה (harbah arbeh). This Hebrew phrase consists of two verbs, both in binyan Hif'il, the former being an infinitive absolute, while the latter is in the imperfect tense. This is a frequent Semiticism in the Hebrew Tanakh, and it should not be translated literally into English.

Regarding this particular construction, Wilhelm Gesenius wrote,1

(a) The infinitive absolute used before the verb to strengthen the verbal idea, i.e. to emphasize in this way either the certainty (especially in the case of threats) or the forcibleness and completeness of an occurrence. In English, such an infinitive is mostly expressed by a corresponding adverb, but sometimes merely by putting greater stress on the verb; e.g. Gn 217 מוֹת תָּמוּת‎ thou shalt surely die, cf. 18:10, 18, 22:17, 28:22, 1 S 96 (cometh surely to pass); 24:21, Am 55, 717, Hb 23, Zc 1117; with the infinitive strengthened by אַךְ‎ Gn 4428 (but 27:30 and Jacob was yet scarce gone out, &c.); Gn 433 הָעֵד הֵעִד בָּ֫נוּ‎ he did solemnly protest unto us; 1 S 206 נִשְׁאֹל נִשְׁאַל‎ David earnestly asked leave of me; Jos 1713, Ju 128 וְהוֹרֵישׁ לֹא הֽוֹרִישׁוֹ‎ and did not utterly drive them out; especially typical instances are Am 98 I will destroy it from off the face of the earth אֶ֫פֶס כִּי לֹא הַשְׁמֵיד אַשְׁמִיד וג׳‎ saving that I will not utterly destroy, &c.; Jer 3011 and will in no wise leave thee unpunished; cf. further Gn 2018, 1 K 326, Jo 17, Jb 135.

Again, it is used "to emphasize...the certainty (especially in the case of threats) or the forcibleness and completeness of an occurrence."

I believe the A.V. translates appropriately as emphasizing the magnitude of multiplying, hence, "I will greatly multiply..."

The English words "I will" are properly translated from the Hebrew verb אַרְבֶּה (arbeh) which is conjugated in 1st person ("I") and imperfect tense ("[I] will"). Think of the imperfect tense as English "future tense" in this case.

1 Wilhelm Gesenius. Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, p. 342, §113n.

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Ok it took me a while to find the person aspect of the word which is indeed 1st? which book can i read about that in? – user2134 Apr 2 '13 at 23:22
Well, Hebrew, just like English, Greek, and pretty much every language, conjugate verbs in 1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person, as well as singular number and plural number. Hebrew also conjugates them according to the gender of the subject. In any case, search "Biblical Hebrew Grammar" on Amazon. There's one by Gary Pratico (?) that's decent. – Simply a Christian Apr 3 '13 at 0:07
Yes but unlike English the verbs do not normally contain the conjugation in themselves. (Admittedly "you" is sometimes implied for commands) I found a section on Jussive Imperitive and Cohortave in my introduction to Bible syntax by Waltke and O'Connor. Thank you again – user2134 Apr 3 '13 at 0:16
Since Biblical Hebrew lacks punctuation it is without a means of emphasis. In other words, there was no exclamation point. So to emphasize things, Hebrew writers would often repeat themselves for emphasis. – James Shewey Nov 6 '15 at 7:11

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