As I continue to work through the Vulgate (ridiculously slowly), I'm looking at Gen. 9:13) where Jerome renders the text as

inter me et inter terram.

Is this repetition of the preposition inter common in Latin? In parallel constructions earlier in Gen. 9, Jerome does not use it, e.g., in 9:12 where he has

quod do inter me et vos.

1 Answer 1


Never mind, I checked with the LXX and Hebrew texts. The LXX has μέσον ἐμοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς which is literally “between me and the earth” but Hebrew has בֵּינִי וּבֵין הָאָרֶץ where the preposition בֵּין (”between”) is repeated. Jerome was being word-for-word literal in his translation of the Hebrew here (especially interesting because there are other places where he felt free to vary the wording to fit his Latin style, e.g., sections where the ו-connective gets translated by different words in the same passage (et, atque, ac, -que)).

  • Looks like some English translations have also reproduced this: english.stackexchange.com/questions/428410/…
    – Asteroides
    Jan 21 at 4:19
  • The word "between" is unusual in that it requires two complements. Prepositions in Semitic languages use a construction that is like a compounding between the preposition and its complement. This is slightly awkward when there are two complements and so often the preposition was/is repeated. This was/is the norm with the word meaning "between," despite what seems to be an anomaly in the semantics, which prevents the possibility of this practice in idiomatic English and perhaps in idiomatic Latin. Jan 21 at 15:24
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    2. I don't think prepositions in biblical Hebrew can be used in their independent forms after a preposition. That makes a repetition of the preposition obligatory for prepositions. With nouns, that is not the case. Jerome might have felt that the repetition in 9:13 with בֵּינִ֖י וּבֵ֥ין הָאָֽרֶץ (inter me et inter terram) was grammatically optional and therefore important to translate; whereas he might have felt that בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם (inter me et vos) in 9:12 was merely a quirk of Hebrew syntax and therefore not necessary to reflect in his translation. Jan 21 at 17:23
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    @Vegawatcher : I don't understand your last comment as written, but I think that you're writing ‘prepositions’ when you really mean ‘pronouns’. (That is, the two places in your comment where the words is plural should be ‘pronouns’, while the two places where it's singular are correctly ‘preoposition’.) Have I got that right? (And if so, then that's an insightful comment.) Jan 21 at 19:04
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    Toby, I am embarrassed. Of course you are right. If you don't mind, I will edit my comment accordingly but will leave this comment here as a record so that your correction makes sense. Oops, it appears I can no longer edit my comment, so just want to reaffirm that where I side "prepositions" above in the plural, I meant "pronouns." Jan 21 at 20:10

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