<wayyiqtol> again (B. Rocine)
sbfnet at netvision.net.il
Thu Dec 30 11:04:20 EST 1999
On 28/12/99 (Re: <wayyiqtol> again) Bryan Rocine wrote:
>Thanks for your answers. Enjoying the discussion!
>You ask for examples of wayyiqtol in modal contexts in
>Gen-Ki of the sort we fairly often find in Proverbs (and
>I'll add Psa).
< ... >
>The Proverbs and Psalms use what I call a gnomic (or
>proverb-like) present that I think you would classify as
modal. < ... >
in recent postings of yours you mentioned a *gnomic wayyiqtol* in
Proverbs-- specifically in Prov 31:10 ff. Are you sure of it? Did you
check other possibilities?
In what follows I will try to apply to the poem of the good
wife the rules of prose. Let us see how it functions and what are the
I need to explain my basic understanding. I think that the use of the
verb system in poetry follows basically that of direct speech.
Specifically, with reference to our passage, we have a central part
that is characterized by QATAL and continuation WAYYIQTOL, and has
therefore a past setting (vv. 11-29). This central part is framed by
a small introduction (v. 10) and a conclusion (vv. 30-31) that are
not set in the past but rather in the present and future.
In the central part (vv. 11-29) the verbforms are used as in
direct speech with a past setting. A narrative unit begins with qatal
(or x-qatal, as in v. 19) and continues with wayyiqtolwith the same
function, i.e. mainline of an oral narrative (e.g. v. 13). The
secondary line is conveyed with x-qatal following wayyiqtol to
express a unique circumstance / background (e.g. v. 16), with
x-yiqtol to express an habitual circumstance / background (e.g. v.
11), also in the negative (e.g. v. 18), or with nonverbal sentence to
express contemporaneity, description (e.g. v. 21).
The following translation and analysis is based on the RSV,
further *revised* as necessary. Each narrative unit is marked with a
' - '. The frame passages are marked with ' ** '.
** A good wife who shall find [x-YIQTOL], Since she is far more
precious than jewels [nonverbal sentence] ?
-  The heart of her husband trusted [QATAL] in her, and he would
have no lack of gain [x-YIQTOL].
-  She did him [QATAL] good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
-  She sought [QATAL] wool and flax, and worked [WAYYIQTOL] with
-  She was [QATAL] like the ships of the merchant, she was
bringing [x-YIQTOL] her food from afar.
 And she rose [WAYYIQTOL] while it is yet night and provided
[WAYYIQTOL] food for her household and tasks for her maidens.
-  She considered [QATAL] a field and bought it [WAYYIQTOL],
while with the fruit of her hands she planted [x-QATAL] a vineyard.
-  She girded [QATAL] her loins with strength and made her arms
-  She perceived [QATAL] that her merchandise was profitable. Her
lamp was not going out [negative YIQTOL] at night.
-  She put [QATAL] her hands to the distaff, while her hands were
holding [x-YIQTOL] the spindle.
-  She opened [x-QATAL] her hand to the poor, while she reached
out [x-QATAL] her hands to the needy.
-  She was not afraid [negative YIQTOL] of snow for her
household, for all her household were clothed [nonverbal sentence] in
-  She made [x-QATAL] herself coverings; her clothing was fine
linen and purple.
-  Her husband was known [nonverbal sentence] in the gates, when
he was sitting among the elders of the land.
-  She made [X-QATAL] linen garments and sold [WAYYIQTOL] them,
while she delivered [X-QATAL] girdles to the merchant.
-  Strength and dignity were her clothing [nonverbal sentence],
and she laughed [WAYYIQTOL] at the time to come.
-  She opened [x-QATAL] her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching
of kindness was on her tongue.
-  She was looking well [nonverbal sentence] to the ways of her
household, and was not eating the bread of idleness [negative
-  Her children rose up [QATAL] and called her blessed
[WAYYIQTOL]; her husband [rose up] also, and praised her [WAYYIQTOL]:
-  "Many women have done [x-QATAL] excellently, but you have
surpassed [x-QATAL] them all."
** Charm is deceitful [nonverbal sentence], and beauty is vain
[nonverbal sentence], but a woman who fears the LORD shall to be
** Give [imperative] her of the fruit of her hands, and let her
works praise her [jussive WeYIQTOL] in the gates.
Analyzed according to the rules of prose, this poem may not
be gnomic at all. It seems rather written from the perspective of the
woman's children and husband at the gate (v. 28), who narrate her
past deeds as a life-long achievement. It appears to be a poem
exalting a specific woman of value. Of course she is a model, still
she remains a person and does not become a type.
I think we can and we should get rid of a *gnomic* wayyiqtol.
Instead we can speak of a *gnomic yiqtol*, e.g. "A wise son will make
glad [x-YIQTOL] his father / while a foolish son is a sorrow for his
mother. Treasures gained by wickedness will not profit [x-YIQTOL],
while righteousness will deliver [x-YIQTOL] from death" (Prov
Peace and all good for the New Year 2000.
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