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    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 6
    #1

    Is it possible to read it like...

    Hello,

    My question revolves around a Bible verse. This *IS* an English question :), so bear with me.

    The verse comes from Jeremiah 25:11. I have been debating a topic revolving around this verse for quite a while. The other party seems to be reading it in an unnatural way. It could be the case that I'm not reading it right. Therefore, I thought I would post here to find out from more experienced readers.

    Here is the verse:

    "And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years."

    The debate centers around the modifier at the end of the sentence ("seventy years"). I am arguing that it is a compound sentence with two subjects and two predicates and the "seventy years" should attach itself to the verb "serve", referring to the servitude of "these nations".

    The opposing party maintains that the "seventy years" can attached to both sides of the compound sentence.

    The question is: Is this possible? Can this be read as seventy years of devastation AND seventy years of servitude?

    What if the comma were dropped? Would that make a difference?

    Thanks!


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434
    #2

    Re: Is it possible to read it like...

    Welcome to the forums.

    Dropping the commas will not help.

    The content of the sentence [and indeed of this whole passage] indicates that the countries will serve [be in servitude to] the King of Babylon for seventy years - ie a long time.

    The following sentence seems to me to confirm this:

    And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled I shall call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation,


    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 6
    #3

    Re: Is it possible to read it like...

    Thank you for such a quick response!

    Can I ask one more thing?

    The other party isn't denying that it would be servitude for "these nations", but rather that the seventy years attaches to the first part of the compound sentence as well.

    Grammatically speaking, is this even possible?

    I've been trying to verbalize my viewpoint grammatically, but I am unsure how to do it. Would I say that the modifier "seventy years" can only attach to one verb (servitude)? Or am I off base here?


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434
    #4

    Re: Is it possible to read it like...

    I don't see that it is in this case. Looking at all the available alternative translations, the seventy years is firmly attached to the servitude.


    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 6
    #5

    Re: Is it possible to read it like...

    That's what I was thinking.

    If I wanted to write the sentence as having the seventy years apply to both subjects, would I have to include the seventy years on both sides... like this:


    "And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, for seventy years, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years."


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434
    #6

    Re: Is it possible to read it like...

    We are dealing with translations and I don't have access to the original, but if you wanted to express that, then I think it would have to be phrased:

    And all this land will become become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, for seventy years,


    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 6
    #7

    Re: Is it possible to read it like...

    Right, I'm not worried about the original language at this point. My reason for that is because you can look at EVERY Bible and they all render it this way - most with a semicolon separating the two sides of the compound sentence. So I'm not worried about Hebrew to English here. I am focusing on the English.

    Some translations do put "will become"... KJV puts "shall become". But I noticed you left the bold "seventy years"

    So you agree that if I wanted to say both the devastation and the servitude were to last seventy years, IN ENGLISH, I would have to put that modifier on both sides of the "and"?

    Thanks-a-bunch for your input! Very valuable!


    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 6
    #8

    Re: Is it possible to read it like...

    Actually, here is a better way of wording my question:

    If you take this sentence:

    John looked out the window, and Cindy peaked out the door for three hours.

    Grammatically speaking, if I meant the "three hours" to be attached to both John and Cindy "looking" and "peaking"... would you call the "three hours" a misplaced modifier?

    How would you correct it?

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    #9

    Re: Is it possible to read it like...

    For three hours, John looked out the window and Cindy peaked throught the door.

    For 70 years, all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations must serve the king of Babylon.


    • Join Date: Apr 2008
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    #10

    Re: Is it possible to read it like...

    Thanks!

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