wayyiqtol, Ken (was Re: JEPD Evidence)

Bryan Rocine brocine at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 24 10:44:22 EST 1999

Hi Ken,

wayyiqtol is the generic name for the prefixed verb form
(the shorter of the two when distinguishable or available)
plus cliticized vav and gemination of the prefixed
consonant.  The name of the form comes from the 3ms Qal
wayyiqtol form of the root QTL, spelled in Hebrew
forte)-hireq-kaph-shewa-tet-holem-lamed.  Waltke and
O'Connor include the form under their chapter "Waw + Prefix
Conjugation," and they typically signify the form wayyqtl.

>      I see lots of posts about wayyiqtols (whatever that
is) and lots of linguistic
> theory.  I'm not sure how to apply any of it to actually
translating or doing
> exegesis.  I'd like to see someone offer suggestions for
how to apply these sorts of
> discussions to those of us who've never taken a
linguistics course and don't know what
> a wayyiqtol is from a wayyeqtal in terms of significance.
I suggested this a couple
> of days ago.  Since no one responded, does that mean that
such discussions have no
> practical significance?  I hope not.

We debate quite vigorously on this list about the
reliability of our understanding of the verb forms including
the nature of wayyiqtol.  This may cloud the fact that we
mainly agree about how to read the forms.  Our debate is in
general only over that last few, agonizing percentage points
that come before 100% reliability.

Prof. Niccacci has recently brought up an issue in which the
meaning/function of the forms has great significance.  If we
understand that the wayyiqtol clauses carry the main
plotline of a narrative, and the clauses built with other
forms to convey a variety of elaborative and/or background
information, we may understand some texts such as the flood
narrative to be rather more smooth and seamless than they
appear in translation.  Please read his post because he
gives some important qualifications there that I will not
repeat here.

We often discuss on-list the manner in which different
clause-types do and don't move forward the narrative time of
a story.  Generally, the wayyiqtol and weqatal (suffixed
form with attached vav) forms move forward narrative time in
their respective past and future contexts while other clause
types halt or retard the forward movement of time.  This
becomes very important, for instance, when reading passages
which contain multiple, simultaneous plotlines such as Jdg 3
about Ehud's escape or battle scenes such as Jdg 4 or Jos 8
in which clauses built with a qatal form (a.k.a. perfect or
suffixed form) in the second position in its clause are used
to signal the switch to a different but simultaneous

The challenge for a writer/speaker is that events are often
non-linear, but that narration of events*is* linear.  The
writer/speaker then needs tools to help guide his audience
through a non-linear history using linear language.  Modern
English likes to utilize an impressive lexicon for this
purpose, which includes, among other devices, a long list of
time-related adverbs such as while, when, before, after,
then, etc.  BH, even though it has a fair number of such
adverbs, more often uses strings of verb forms/clause types
to effectively represent a non-linear reality quite
effectively.  It has been said that the Ancient Hebrew was
not so conscious of the passage time as the Modern.  As one
bit of evidence for this notion is simple arsenal of verb
forms and clause types the Ancient writers used to tell
stories set in the past or future.  On the contrary, I do
not think that the Ancient was so much less kean as to the
passage of time or how how events related in time as he
represented time notions differently than we do.

Hoping to help,

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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