[b-hebrew] participle or qatal?
randallbuth at gmail.com
Fri Aug 19 19:36:55 EDT 2011
Christoph didn't answer today so let me add a note or two.
>*> Dear Karl,**
*>>* if I understand you correctly, you seem to translate Judges 6,29 with
*>*> something like: "Who is a (typical) doer of this thing ?"
*> Not at all. Genesis 19:13 is another example of a participle used to refer
> to a one time event. The use of a participle does not mean an imperfective
> aspect to the action.
Karl, it would help if you give single examples spelled out. Reference-only is
good when there is an appropriate list that is already clarified through
cited examples. However here,
Gen 19.13 is not a very good example for your claims. It would help if you
can separate the "presentation of an event" from the event itself. In this
mashHitim anaHnu et ha-maqom ha-ze
משחיתים אנחנו את המקום הזה
refers to an event that is technically in the future
but is presented as 'connected' or 'immediately contingent'
to the present ('we are destroying this place' => 'we are about to destroy
this place'). That is exactly one of the functions of imperfectivity.
More importantly, it is not the character of the speakers that is in
focus, not that 'they are destroyers', rather it is the warning that they
are about to perform what they do right then and there.
>>* For that type of expression - within the literary genre of colloquial
*>>* conversation - the regular form is qatal, not qotel.
*> That’s where I disagree with you. The participle points to the actor, place
> of action or event, with the action being secondary. The people were looking
> for the who, not about the what happened. Hence the participle, not Qatal.
> The Qatal points to the what happened, which was known.
Yes, participles may sometimes refer to a person (actor) in order to
present the character of the person.
E.g. Gen 4 wayehi Qayin ro`e tson 'and Qayin was a 'shepherding', which
focuses on what Qayin typically did and not to what he was doing at a
particular moment. Participles also refer to what is happening at a particular
moment of time.
Gen 18.2 ve-hinne shlosha anashim nitsabim `alav
and look, three people are standing in front of him"
they are not being described as "standers" but as to what they are doing.
וַיַּ֣רְא דָּוִ֗ד כִּ֤י עֲבָדָיו֙ מִֽתְלַחֲשִׁ֔ים
and David saw that his servants were whispering
the participle does not point to the character of the people but to
something that was going on at that very moment. They were not
"whisperers" but "whispering".
contrary to the above and the many other examples of participles,
Jud 6:29 does not focus on the character of the person, or on
what the person was doing at that moment.
If the writer had written
מי עושה את הדבר הזה ?
'who does such a thing, who is a doer of such a thing?'
then the focus would have been on the character, just like participles
regularly do. But you do not read it that way, and rightly so.
Because the focus was on the identity of 'who did it', as you rightly
agree, the qatal is naturally used.
We have bunches of examples of mi 'who' used to ask the identity of
someone. Gen 3:11 mi higgid lexa 'who told you' was cited in a
previous post and is an excellent example. The Lord wanted to find
out who had been misleading his people so that punishment could be
inflicted, quite similar to human situation of Jud 6.29. The focus
was on "who", and a qatal was used. That is excellent BH.
>* I have been reading Tanakh through using an unpointed text for well over a
*decade, probably more than ten times. >
Karl, this gets old to hear, and is not evidence. It actually impedes
because when someone needs to point out the mistakes the issues become
affront to what shouldn't have been an issue in the first place. Simply for
the sake of discussion, what would it mean if someone were mis-read the tanax
ten times? Maybe we can dispense with this kind of 'claim to
authority'. I don't
parade a 100-times experience or degrees because they are irrelevant. Just go
back to Jud 6:29 and ask:
How would someone in BH days read
mi `asa et ha-davar ha-ze
mi `ose et ha-davr ha-ze ?
They could both be used in that very context but would communicate
The qotel would focus on 'character' ('actor' as you say it) and the
qatal would identify a specific deed in reference,
something that is regularly done in BH
and something naturally read in this verse by people who are accustomed
to reading unpointed Hebrew.
מי הגיד לך כי הכתב כתב עושה
The natural flow in BH is qatal.
In fact, in places like Gen 43.22 שם 'placed' the
Hebrew morphology is ambiguous between qatal and qotel, but I would
imagine that most experienced persons in the BH language community
have always read this as qatal. The LXX people did ενεβαλεν, so did
the targum pael שוי
etc. This is a very long tradition of use and by people who were
more fluent and more surrounded by the BH text itself than anyone
today, so their statement has at least some evidentiary weight.
Randall Buth, PhD
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
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