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Iyov 42:9:

וַיֵּלְכוּ אֱלִיפַז הַתֵּימָנִי וּבִלְדַּד הַשּׁוּחִי צֹפַר הַנַּעֲמָתִי וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֲלֵיהֶם ה׳

In the JPS translation:

So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them

But literally (literally) it's "Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite", with the conjunction used before the second name only. (Minchas Shay supports this version.) Why is this strange construction used here? (Or is it not strange? An answer demonstrating widespread use of this construction in Tanach would be super if it explains what determines where the construction is used or what it means.)

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    The Targum does have a vuv there. – Double AA May 20 '13 at 21:58
  • @DoubleAA, good to know; thanks; but see my recent addition re the Minchas Shay. – msh210 May 20 '13 at 22:06
  • Also note that in 2:11 there are conjunctions between each name. – Double AA May 20 '13 at 22:33
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    To answer "is it strange": Daat Miqra says that it seems that "A and B, C" appears nowhere else in Tanakh. – magicker72 Oct 21 '16 at 4:35
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    See the first three words of Ps 45:9. – magicker72 May 8 '17 at 22:31
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Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia notes (in its characteristically cursory way) that some manuscripts ("mlt mss") have "וְצֹפַר". Exactly which manuscripts have this form is unclear; Aleppo codex, Leningrad B19A, Sassoon 1053, Venice Makra'ot Gedolot lack this vav. I found some printed editions online with the vav, but they are of limited critical value since their source manuscripts are unknown. It would be worthwhile to consult the newer Biblia Hebraica Quinta edition, but I do not have access to a copy now.

Many important witnesses have "and" before both Bildad and Ṣofar. For example:


The Targum has:

ואזלו אליפז דמן תימן ובלדד דמן שוח וצפר דמן נעמה


The Syriac (Peshitta) has:

ܘܐܙܠܘ/ܘܐܙܠ ܐܠܝܦܙ ܬܝܡܢܝܐ ܘܒܠܕܕ ܫܘܚܝܐ ܘܨܘܦܪ ܢܥܡܬܝܐ܂


The Seputagint (Rahlfs/Hanhart ed.) has:

ἐπορεύθη δὲ Ελιφας ὁ Θαιμανίτης καὶ Βαλδαδ ὁ Σαυχίτης καὶ Σωφαρ ὁ Μιναῖος


The Vulgate has:

bierunt ergo Eliphaz Themanites et Baldad Suites et Sophar Naamathites


BT Bava Batra 15b (Vilna, Venice, Pizzaro, MS Paris 1337, MS München) and Avoda Zara 3a (Vilna, Venice, Pizzaro, MS Paris 1337, MS JTS 15, MS München, Cambridge MS. +CUL T-S AS 74.183 [Cairo Genizah]) use this form. In fact, I cannot find any editions without the "and". Incidentally, they also consistently write Ṣofar as maleh: וצופר.


Though the best Masoretic mss leave out the "and" before Ṣofar, the best quality ancient translations do have it. As such, the vav is potentially original. Admittedly this suggestion is not entirely certain and therefore is not a complete answer to your question. However, it gives a theory about why this "unnatural" and apparently unique form you note exists here.

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Completely off the top of my head, with no source:

Sometimes the Torah uses a singular verb for 2 people (e.g. וילך משה ואהרן, Shemot 4:29) to indicate that Moshe was primary and Aharon was going along with him.

When there are 3 people, if two of them are primary and one is going along with them, there's no way to indicate that with just the verb. Maybe that's what's happening here: וילכו אליפז ובלדד, and the lack of a vav means that Tzofar was going with them, but not important in his own right.

And we see this borne out in the third round of back and forth with Iyov, when Tzofar didn't say anything. See the Malbim 32:15, where he says that Elihu was making fun of Tzofar for this.

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