Different verb forms - same meaning?
zellmer at cag.pworld.net.ph
Sat Jan 30 08:52:29 EST 1999
Rolf Furuli wrote:
> Dear TAM-niks,
> So far I have not seen anybody comment on my Joshua question, so I repeat
> it below:
> The division of the promised land in Joshua 13-19 will, In addition to the
> building of the tabernacle, be a very fine place to compare verb forms.
> Here we find the same static situation of how the borders of the inherited
> lots "go out/went out", "pass/passed", "go up/went up", and "turn/turned".
> I can see no reason why the different verbs describing this static
> situation should have different meaning.
> Look at Joshua 16 and 17.
> 16:1 : One wayyiqtol and one participle
> 16: 2-3: four weqatals
> 16:5: Two wayyiqtols
> 16: 8: One yiqtol and one weqatal
> 17:10: One wayyiqtol and one yiqtol
> Do you see any difference in tense or aspect in these verbs?
To give a "Jim West"-type response, yep. (Actually, Jim, you've been doing much
better in giving more full explanations!)
> Or do they
> portray the same situation in a similar way without making differnt parts
> of the situation visible for the readers?
??? Like Dave, I'm not quite sure what you're suggesting here. If you're asking if
all the verbs are saying the same basic stuff, nope.
Now for a bit fuller response:
What we have in these descriptions of the borders of the tribal inheritances is
imbedding of a genre rarely found in the Tanakh, a purely descriptive text that is
non-sequential, non-agent oriented, and non-future (in fact, non-time oriented). It
is imbedded in a historical narrative, which has almost the exact opposite
characteristics (sequential, agent oriented, and, while non-future, definitely time
In English, if I recall correctly, this type description is given without verbs; land
descriptions use nouns, adjectives, and prepositions only. However we are not talking
about English structure. We are trying to describe the Hebrew.
Because the description is imbedded in historical narrative, it starts off each
section with historical narrative-type features. The difference between this genre
and the other non-historical narrative genres is that this genre is *not* dialogue or
quotation. Therefore it does not use a distinct historical narrative marker, like the
wayyiqtol of )MR. Rather, it uses a distinctly historical narrative form in the first
clause of each section After that, it returns to the form that is characteristic of
its genre, in this case, a weqatal and its companion, X-yiqtol. (Rolf, please note
something that you have not acknowledged in the past. For some reason, BH seems to
make a distinction between the forms of verbs found clause initially and those found
postpositively in clauses. I have noted in many of your posts that you select yiqtols
or qatals and question about their "time" without indicating that you recognize that
they are clausally postpositive.)
So, to go down your list, which I'll repeat:
16:1 : One wayyiqtol and one participle
Wayyiqtol because this is the start of a section, so the broader historical narrative
"overpowers" the descriptive genre.
The participle is describing MDBR.
16: 2-3: four weqatals
Characteristic form for the descriptive genre. I would suggest translating it into
English using the simple present, since time is not of significance in this genre.
16:5: Two wayyiqtols
The first is part of a section clause for historical narrative. It's not even part of
the imbedded description, just like the wayyiqtol which you conveniently did not
mention in verse 4. The second marks the section beginning for an imbedded
description. Also, please note that both of these are not just wayyiqtols, but they
are wayyiqtols of HYH, which is normally used to introduce new sections in historical
16: 8: One yiqtol and one weqatal
Actually an X-yiqtol and a weqatal, which are characteristic forms for the descriptive
17:10: One wayyiqtol and one yiqtol
Again, the section/"paragraph" beginning for an imbedded description. (And again, a
wayyiqtol of HYH.) And the yiqtol is X-yiqtol again.
Bottom line: English may translate all these the same way, but I see the choice of the
verb forms in the Hebrew to be both significant, non-interchangable, and predictable,
given the overall genre and the imbedded genre.
All the above is IMHO.
Paul and Dee Zellmer, Jimmy Guingab, Geoffrey Beltran
Ibanag Translation Project
zellmer at faith.edu.ph
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