The Double Use of the Locution ועתה as a Rhetorical Device in the Discourses of the Old Testament

Barbara Rzepka

Monastero della SS. Trinità, Poppi , Italy


In biblical texts, repetition is very often seen by scholars as an indication of an addition or of different sources. In the Old Testament we find a group of speeches characterized by the double or triple use of the adverbial phrase ועתה within the same speech. The phenomenon of double ועתה appears in seventeen texts: Gen 44:18–34; 45:4b-13; Exod 3:7–10; Josh 22:2–5; Ruth 3:10–13; 1 Sam 24:18–22; 26:18–20; 2 Sam 2:5–7; 19:10–11; 1 Kgs 5:17–20 (cf. 2 Chr 2:2–9); 8:23–53 (cf. 2 Chr 6:14–42); 18:9–14; 1 Chr 29:10–19; 2 Chr 2:11–15; 28:9–11; Ezra 10:2–4; Dan 9:4–19. In four cases it has to do with a triple use of ועתה , namely in Josh 14:6–12; 1 Sam 25:24–31; 2 Sam 7:18–29 (cf. 1 Chr 17:16–27) and Ezra 9:6–15. This study analyses these texts and tries to answer the questions raised by the repetition of the particle ועתה : Why use the same locution twice? What are the common characteristics of these discourses? And what is the origin of this phenomenon? The first part of the research is dedicated to the presentation of the general characteristics of ועתה , while the second part concerns the persuasive character of these discourses. The third part consists in the analysis of the function of the double ועתה in the structure of the discourses, as compared with classical rhetoric. The fourth part identifies the context of the speeches with the double/triple ועתה . Finally, the fifth part is dedicated (1) to the importance of the argumentation introduced by the first ועתה in a specific discourse, as it is related to a request for forgiveness (deprecatio), and (2) to the origins of the use of the double ועתה as a rhetorical device.


we‘attâ, double ועתה, Hebrew rhetoric, persuasive speech, argumentation, request discourse, discourse structure, dispositio, deprecatio

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Rzepka, B. (2022). The Double Use of the Locution ועתה as a Rhetorical Device in the Discourses of the Old Testament. Verbum Vitae, 40(2), 467–500.

Barbara Rzepka
Monastero della SS. Trinità, Poppi


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