Wednesday, August 03, 2005

And These Are The Names

Exodus 1:1 -- "ואלה שמות בני ישראל הבאים מצרימה And these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt"

I've seen some modern commentaries (e.g. Hertz, Sarna) who make a big deal about how the book of Exodus begins with the letter "vav" that serves as a conjunction. They claim that this connects the story of Exodus with that of Genesis. I don't get it.

Aside from this phrase being (intentionally) repeated from Genesis 46:8, there are plenty of books in the Bible that begin with the letter "vav". Exodus is not unique at all in this respect, and many of these other books could not be a continuation of anything.

Here are the books that begin with a "vav":

Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Ezekiel, Jonah, Ruth, Esther, Ezra
Jonah is certainly not a continuation of any previous book. Neither are Ruth or Esther.

Clearly, the "vav" is just one of the oddities of Biblical Hebrew.

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