Friday, February 2, 2024

The Hebrew verb אמר (ʾāmar) means "to say" and is used for the act of speaking. For instance, Leviticus 1:2 says: "Speak to the people of Israel and sayאמרת) to them: I am the LORD your God." The verb אמר (ʾāmar) is also used in a standard Biblical Hebrew formula to introduce direct speech, where it appears as the word לאמר (leʾmōr, pronounced ley-MŌR). This usage is very common throughout the Bible, as demonstrated in Genesis 31:1: "Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying (לאמר), 'Jacob has taken all that was our father’s'." Many times in direct quotes, translators simply leave the word לאמר (leʾmōr) untranslated, instead substituting quotation marks indicating the direct quote, as in Exodus 5:10: "So the taskmasters and the supervisors of the people went out and said (ויאמרו) to the people (לאמר), 'Thus says (אמר) Pharaoh, "I will not give you straw"'," or as in Exodus 1:22: "Then Pharaoh commanded all his people (לאמר), 'Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live'." Note how in each case, the word לאמר (leʾmōr) is not translated, but instead indicates the introduction of a direct quote.