<wayyiqtol> again

Galia Hatav ghatav at aall.ufl.edu
Thu Dec 30 11:07:35 EST 1999

Dear Bryan,

You wrote:

>Dear Galia,
>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).  You ask on the grounds that the Gen-Ki
>material is First Temple text, but the Pro (and most or all
>of Psa?) is Second Temple material.

	According to Hurvitz (1972), Psalms is definitely a late text, but
for Proverbs (as well as Song of Songs and Job) he claims their language
still needs to be examined.

The arguement is not
>entirely fair.  If I go to a few poems in Gen-Ki such as
>Deborah's Song, Moses' Song, Hannah's Song, David's Song,
>will my examples of modal wayyiqtol then be disqualified for
>being Old (as in *real* old) Hebrew?  But the same "anomoly"
>is found in so-called "late" Hebrew.  Are we to think that
>modal wayyiqtol was present real early, dropped out during
>the writing of standard Gen-Ki prose, and then came back in
>the Second Temple time?  I gues stranger things have
>happened, but it seems a bit of a force fit.

	I do only synchronic linguistics (mainly on BH, but also on Modern
Israeli Hebrew and on English). I cannot do diachronic linguistics for a
lack of knowledge in Ancient Semitic languages. In any case, what I am
suggesting is to examine the temporal system in each period, see what rules
apply in each, and if it is the case that the same rules apply then you
don't have to treat them seperately. If, on the other hand, as it seems to
be the case with Early vs. Late BH, the systems are not the same, you can
now try to establish the rules of the changes, whether they happen in the
course of time or whether we are faced with two different dialects, etc.

>The Proverbs and Psalms use what I call a gnomic (or
>proverb-like) present that I think you would classify as
>modal.  Gen-Ki simply does not contain anything but the
>slightest examples of the gnome.  So are we to conclude that
>the difference in use of verb forms between the poetry and
>the Gen-Ki prose is a function of language evolution or
>genre effect?  The answer is not entirely clear to me, but I
>confess to leaning toward the latter.

	Good question! I wonder how one can tackle it! Realy interesting point!

>As for your request, I have not catalogued all the
>(alledgedly) modal wayyiqtols as Rolf Furuli may have, but a
>few come to mind (a couple of which are *not* in poetry):
>Gen 49:17 wayyiqtol used in series with modal yehi

	This passage, known in the Jewish tradition as "Jacob Blessing", is
beyond me, not only concerning the verbal system.  For some reason I read
it last Saturday, but I could not make much sense out of it.  But again, I
don't know anything about poetry in BH. Actually, being a linguis rather
than a literature critic I don't know much about poetry at all. One thing I
know, which is relevant to our discussion, is that Modern Hebrew and Modern
English poetry tend to violate grammar rules in order to elicit poetic
effects. (Another reason why I chose to work on the narrative and the law
texts in BH, exculding the poetry material.)
	Prophecy would be a better place to start working on poetry, I
think. It seems to me that it would be easier to understand, since the
prophets wanted not only to be poetic in order to capture their audience
attention, but also well understood in order to make their audience behave
the way they believe is the right way.  As with the prose, I would study
first only the prophets from the First Temple (Isiah the first and

>Deu 32:22 not a simple matter to chose what tense in an Eng
>translation is best.

	Poetry again; See comment above.

>1 Sam 1:7 wayyiqtol in a series with a yiqtol refering to
>past habitual action in prose!

	The whole chapter is problematic. Most of the difficult cases in
this chapter have to do rather with verbs in the form of <wqatal>, which
are understood to be non-modal.  In my statistic counting I included these
verbs in the unexplained counter-examples.

>1 Sam 2:6 gnomic present in series with participles

	Poetry again.

>1 Sam 17:35 vayyaqam is an interesting one.  It is in a
>series of weqatals that is traditionally thought of as
>habitual past, but that puts vayyaqam out of place in a
>habitual past context (and thereby turning it into a
>counter-example for you).

	Yes. Another counter-example I could not explain.

Personally, I don't think the
>weqatals do refer to a habitual past.  I think they refer to
>a one-time, over-and-done-with past in an attributive
>pragmatic, rather than a narrative pragmatic, something like
>we might do in a resume.  I think your theory is safe from
>this vayyaqam!  ;-)

	I don't understand, if the wqatals are not modals then I have more
counter-examples to account for. But maybe "attributive" is also a modal
property. In that case, <vayyaqom> is still a counter-example. I probably
missed something here; sorry.

>2 Sam 22: 33-34 actually, I would prefer a present tense
>translation for much of the poem.

	I told you how bad I am with poems!


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