weqatal in Jdg 3:23

Peter_Kirk at sil.org Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Thu Oct 1 01:24:00 EDT 1998

Interesting question. I wondered if we have been confused by the verse 
break between 3:23 and 24. (Obviously this means the Masoretes were 
confused also, but then clearly the construction is anomalous.) For 
there is something odd about the time ordering. Did the upper room 
have one or two entrances? Was the lock inside or out? Did they have 
locks which could be operated from both sides at that time? Was the 
_mapt."ax_ of verse 25 something stronger than a key? Did Ehud calmly 
walk out and lock the door behind him, in such a way that the servants 
thought it had been locked from inside?

My picture is the following (have I watched James Bond etc too much?): 
The upper room has a main entrance and also a balcony or terrace (very 
suitable for a summer palace). Ehud went in by the main entrance. The 
king's servants left by the main entrance and shut the door behind 
them. Ehud killed the king. He then locked (more likely, bolted or 
barred) the main door (already closed) behind him, went out on to the 
balcony (misd.:rown) and shut the balcony doors behind him. Then he 
made his escape down a drainpipe or something (well, there must have 
been an outlet from the toilet in the inner room).

This makes locking the main door come before shutting the balcony 
door, and the time sequence has been disturbed. So perhaps _w:nf(fl_ 
(two qamets in pause) should go with the following _w:hw.) yfcf) ..._ 
to mean something like "He had locked (the door) as he left, and so 
when the (king's) servants came (they found that) the doors of the 
upper room were locked.". Now this is not, I guess, the normal 
construction for this, we might expect _w:hw.) nf(al wayy"c")_ or 
something. But maybe this is a clue that this "weqatal" form is more 
like the flashback "qatal" than the narrative "wayyiqtol". Just a few 
thoughts from someone trying to learn these issues.

Peter Kirk

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list