Weird sentence with passive (and particle choice)

I don’t usually ask random questions on the internet, but sometimes even a short and simple sentence makes me want to question everything I have learned so far about the beautiful Japanese language.

The sentence is from a manga set in medieval England. A young boy asks his father the following question どうして皆王さまの言うことをきくのですか to which he replies: それはね… 神さまが王を選ばれたからさ
The father’s reply is the one I don’t understand. Usually, I would expect him to answer something along the lines of 王は神様に選ばれたからさ - god being the one doing the chosing and the king the one who is chosen and although I don’t really understand the seemingly simple grammar behind the sentence, I think it is what is being expressed.
My question is thus: How am I supposed to interpret the father’s answer in a grammatical sense?
(Who knows, perhaps the explanation is too obvious for me to see it. It isn’t the “suffering passive”, is it?)

2 Likes

This is honorific れる / られる. So it basically means the same as 神さまが王を選んだ, but 選んだ is changed to 選ばれた for respect, not to change to passive or anything.

Definition #4 here

https://jisho.org/word/れる

For another example, here’s the first line of the Book of Genesis (at least one way to translate it)

はじめに神は天と地とを創造された

Again, nothing funky going on with the verb except that God’s actions are referred to respectfully.

This doesn’t have to be limited to gods, of course. It’s something I hear in Japan semi-regularly. For instance どこに行かれましたか for “Where did you go?” It’s a less intense version of keigo than the other special forms or verb types.

16 Likes

And there it is, the solution is as obvious as I anticipated! I appreciate your help, thank you!

While I am taking ages to reply to your answer, you have edited the post and cleared it up for me even further (The father obviously speaks quite informally to his son, so when I thought about my problem, I immediately dismissed the idea that it could be the honorific form. But now that you have pointed me towards the fact that he is referring to god in a honorific way, it makes perfect sense to me)

Thank you again for taking the time to help me!

6 Likes