Isa 44:12-17

Bryan Rocine brocine at
Fri Aug 27 09:39:39 EDT 1999

In his quest to falsify traditional explanation of BH verbal
semantics, Rolf has brought up Isa 44:12-17.  Here's my take
on the passage:

First let me suggest a macro-structure for the passage.  The
passage *describes* the idolotrous labors of the Israeli
workmen for which they will be ashamed.

The variety of verb forms used in the passage, together with
the descriptive (as opposed to narrative) function of the
passage as a whole suggests that the passage is
*expository*.  When we translate BH expository texts into
English, we usually translate them as present tense or
present perfect.

As an expository text, the passage describes the habitual
behavior of the workmen.  *All* the BH verb forms are useful
in a passage that describes habitual behavior.  I suggest
the yiqtols are fientive expressing what the workman *does*;
the qatals and weqatals are attributive expressing what the
workman *is*; and the wayyiqtols fientive and perfective,
similar to the yiqtols but also expressing, by virtue of
their perfectivity, consequentiality.  Here is 12-15 line by
line to illustrate:

O, the artisan of iron, a tool!
And he is a worker (weqatal) in the coals,
And it is with hammers that he forms (yiqtol) it.
And then he (even) works (wayyiqtol) it with his arm of
strength (i.e. he wears himself out working the idol);
He is even hungry and without strength (verbless);
But he is no drinker (qatal) of water, and so he faints

O the artisan of wood!
He is a strecher forth (qatal) of rule;
He sketches (yiqtol) it with the stylus;
He makes (yiqtol) it with chisels;
And it is with the compass that he sketches (yiqtol) it.
And then he makes (wayyiqtol) it after the fashion of a man,
and after the glory of mankind to remain in its place.

O for his pruning of cedars!
And then he takes (wayyiqtol) cypress and oak.
Then he strengthens (wayyiqtol) [them] for himself among the
trees of the forest.
He is a planter (qatal) of fir,
And rain makes (yiqtol) [them] great.
It should be (weqatal) for man to burn (here weqatal of hyh
signals a change in mood as it most often does).
So he would then take (wayyiqtol) from them,
And become warm (wayyiqtol).
Maybe he would kindle a fire (yiqtol),
And then be a baker (weqatal) of bread.
Rather, he makes (yiqtol) a god (we shift here back to the
original mood),
And then he worships (wayyiqtol).
He is a maker (qatal) of it [into] an idol,
And then prostrates (wayyiqtol) to it.

Notice how the qatals/weqatals are used in introductory and
summary statements and wayyiqtol is used in continuative
statements as befits their meanings.


B. M. Rocine
Associate Pastor
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206

(office) 315.437.6744
(home) 315.479.8267

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