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The word אַף is often used as a noun meaning "nose", "nostril", or "anger", but here it is used in a different way. The Scholars Gateway parses it as a conjunction, and my iPhone app parses it as a particle. Both the website and my app list "also" and "yea" as definitions, but neither seems to fit the bill. Here is a comparison of translations which offers a couple interpretations.

וְהַנָּחָשׁ֙ הָיָ֣ה עָר֔וּם מִכֹּל֙ חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָׂ֖ה יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֑ים וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֶל־הָ֣אִשָּׁ֔ה אַ֚ף כִּֽי־אָמַ֣ר אֱלֹהִ֔ים לֹ֣א תֹֽאכְל֔וּ מִכֹּ֖ל עֵ֥ץ הַגָּֽן׃

LXX - ὁ δὲ ὄφις ἦν φρονιμώτατος πάντων τῶν θηρίων τῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ὧν ἐποίησεν κύριος ὁ θεός καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ὄφις τῇ γυναικί τί ὅτι εἶπεν ὁ θεός οὐ μὴ φάγητε ἀπὸ παντὸς ξύλου τοῦ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ

Vulgate - sed et serpens erat callidior cunctis animantibus terrae quae fecerat Dominus Deus qui dixit ad mulierem cur praecepit vobis Deus ut non comederetis de omni ligno paradisi

YLT - And the serpent hath been subtile above every beast of the field which Jehovah God hath made, and he saith unto the woman, `Is it true that God hath said, Ye do not eat of every tree of the garden'

Gn 3:1

The LXX and Vulgate translate אַ֚ף as "why" (using the interrogatives τί and cur respectively). The YLT uses אַ֚ף to form a yes-no question ("is it true that..."). Which interpretation is correct, if any? How would you define אַ֚ף in this context? And what is that punctuation mark beside the patach?

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The word אף appears not infrequently with the word כי like this. Essentially, אף is acting as an ״emphatic״ (whatever that means1 ) word, and כי is introducing a content clause describing that which is to be "emphasized". Here is the relevant entry from HALOT:

yea, that…! i.e. how much more (or less)! † Pr. 11:31 lo, the righteous is recompensed in the earth אַ֝֗ף כִּי רָשָׁע וְחוֹטֵא ’tis indeed that (= how much more) the wicked and the sinner! 15:11, 17:7, 19:7, 19:10, Jb 9:14, 15:16, 25:6, 1 S 14:30, 1 K 8:27 (= 2 Ch 6:18)...

The twist in Genesis 3:1 is that the context indicates (arguably, see Muraoka) that we are dealing with a question. Although BDB's "yea" is not common in modern English, the words "really" or "indeed" can be used similarly. You can think about the translation of אף כי as:

[Is it] really that...?

Just as in many other questions (rhetorical or not) in Biblical Hebrew, it is primarily the context that leads translators to render this as a question. BDB has given this usage in Gen 3:1 its very own sub-entry under אף כי to point out that it may introduce a question; Muraoka points out that this is an unprecedented usage in Biblical Hebrew.

As for the part of speech, I think it's reasonable to conclude that it is a (coordinating) conjunction, though the lexicons disagree about this. Clearly there is a coordinating use of אף, and this "emphatic" use is often lumped together with it (see BDB, DCH, and HALOT -- though the last terms it a particle). Muraoka's discussion argues that the latter usage is actually an extension of the former, which would justify this approach.

On your final question: that's not a punctuation mark but a prepositive disjunctive accent known as ytiv.


1. On the nature of the emphasis (or lack thereof, as he, unconventionally, concludes) and a quite thorough discussion of אף כי including its unique use in Genesis 3:1, see T. Muraoka, Emphatic Words and Structures in Biblical Hebrew (Brill, 1985) p. 141f.

1

Instead of imagining a link between AP and the 'nose' > 'anger' would be better to consider the root PLK (as in 2 Sam 3:29) as the derivative source of this term, with the meaning 'to sustain', 'to maintain'. So the correct translation would be: "Do you maintain that God really say that [...]?"

0
  1. Don't know why Scholar's Gateway uses Strong's #638 (Aramaic) instead of #637 in this instance (and others).

Blue-Letter Bible site give Gesenius entry (which includes #637-639 info.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H637&t=KJV

Scripture4all - Interlinear Scripture Analyer (ISA2) - separates them as:

H637 - conj./primitive particle

H638 - Aramaic (4x; Ezek. and Dan.) - all corresponding to H637 meaning.

H639 - nose and anger meanings, etc.

Hebrew Dictionary (Lexicon-Concordance) may be helpful:

http://lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/0637.html

  1. Cantillation character - yetiv

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yetiv

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