<wayyiqtol> again

Alviero Niccacci sbfnet at netvision.net.il
Mon Dec 27 13:46:57 EST 1999

On  23/12/99 (<wayyiqtol> again) Galia Hatav wrote:

	< ... >

> I think Dave got acurate intuition, that <wayyiqtol> is independent, as
>opposed to <qatal>. However, I think that this independence is not
>syntactic (see the first clause in Gen 1:1 and clauses in direct speech).
>Dave, I thought you "bought" the idea that this independence has to do with
>Reference-Time-Building, where <wayyiqtol> builds its own R-time but
><qatal> does not. Let us call <wayyiqtol> and <wqatal> R-builders, as
>opposed to <qatal> and <yiqtol> (and <qotel>, too). This will get rid of
>the notion of "sequentiality," which I consider to be a derived property
>from R-building.

	< ... >

Dear Galia Hatav,

How would you explain the fact that in the examples below the same 
event is expressed with wayyiqtol in one case, and with first-place 
qatal or second-place x-qatal in the other?

- 2 Sam 12:26	wayyillaHem yô'ab berabbat benê `amôn -- wayyilkod 
'et-`îr hammelukâ
  versus 12:27  (Joab sent messengers to David and said )
	        nilHamtî berabbâ -- gam-lakadtî 'et-`îr hammayim.
- Gen 40:2      wayyiqtzop par`oh `al $enê sarisayw ...
  versus 41:10  (The chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh)
	        par`oh qatsap `al-`abadayw ...

	In my _Syntax_ pages 41-43 I have listed about 20 such cases, 
and the list is far for being complete.

	From these examples I deduced that verbforms are used 
differently in historical narrative and in direct speech. In 
historical narrative wayyiqtol is used while in direct speech qatal 
or x-qatal (with no visible difference in this particular case). 
Specifically, wayyiqtol is used to narrate historically (*erzählen* 
in German) while (x-) qatal is used to *report* an event orally 
(*berichten* in German). This distinction is clearcut in the examples 
above because the same verbal roots are used for the same event, 
which is first narrated by the historian, then reported in direct 

	I further deduced that wayyiqtol is at home in historical 
narrative while qatal is at home in direct speech with a past 
reference. They are at home in their respective genres because in 
them they indicate the mainline of communication.

	This is in line with the fact that no direct speech is found 
to begin with wayyiqtol; e.g. Deut 1:6 and 5:2 are both the beginning 
of an oral speech related to the past and start with x-qatal--not 
with wayyiqtol. This x-qatal starts the mainline of an oral narrative 
exactly as wayyiqtol starts the mainline of an historica narrative.

	On the other hand, in historical narrative wayyiqtol and 
x-qatal play different functions. The events they describe do not 
stand on the same line, otherwise the author would have used 
wayyiqtol instead of shifting to x-qatal. Particularly telling are 
case where the same verbform is used as, e.g., in Gen 1:5; 1:10; 
1:27. Consult Joüon-Muraoka #118 d-g, where different cases are 
examined where *biblical writers deliberately avoid wayyiqtol and 
replace it with w- ... qatal.*

	Gen 1:5 *WAYYIQRA' 'elohîm la'ôr yôm -- welaHo$ek QARA' 
laylâ* can be rendered: *God called the light Day -- WHILE the 
darkness He called Night.* The tense shift from wayyiqtol to x-qatal 
intends to convey the naming of the night as related, or coincidental 
to the naming of the day, rather than as parallel, or sequential to 
it. Had the writer used twice *wayyiqra'* the effect would be 
different: THEN God called the light Day, THEN he called the darkness 

	It seems evident that wayyiqtol is the past tense in 
historical narrative--indeed the only past tense expressing mainline. 
Wayyiqtol has a fix past reference time in historical narrative. 
Despite the unending discussions on the matter, we can avoid 
confusion and make progressively more light on the BH verb system by 
studying prose apart from poetry and further by distinguishing 
historical narrative from direct speech.

	In my view, our task is to carefully collect every piece of 
evidence and try to put everything together in a coherent way. It is 
reasonable that we start from clear, simple cases from prose texts 
until we get a fairly complete picture of the situation; afterwards 
we shall be able to address more difficult cases and poetry.

	Thus, the fundamental function of wayyiqtol is to express 
mainline in historical narrative; it is the narrative past tense. 
Sequentiality is also a major function of it; however explaining 
wayyiqtols ('In fact he did') and conclusive wayyiqtols ('And thus he 
did'), which do not advance sequentiality, are also well attested. 
This fact presents no problem for the theory outlined above. In fact 
sequentiality, explaining and conclusive functions, etc., are 
semantic categories. They are suggested by the context rather than by 
the grammatical form wayyiqtol; or maybe, they are context-bound 
specifications of the basic syntactic function, which is being the 
narrative past tense.  The latter, on the contrary, is tied to the 
grammatical form.

Peace and all good.

Alviero Niccacci

Studium Biblicum Franciscanum      Tel. +972 - 2 - 6282 936
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