qumran (was ruth)

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sat May 8 14:58:16 EDT 1999

Randall Buth wrote:

>rolf commented:
>>  "The Rule of
>> Discipline" from Qumran, this semester, and the impression I get from
>> and other documents, is that even at this late time, the old verbal
>> was intact.
>More or less, yes. agreed. (even the poetic 'tense' shifting in hodayot).
>> However, a study of the Isaiah "a" scoll and the Habbaquq
>> commentary reveal that wayyiqtols and yiqtols could also be used
>> interchangeable, as we also find in non-narrative texts in the OT.
>I am nervous about the word "interchangeably".
>In communication there are many contexts in which a person can use one
>syntactic structure or another. One might say that such structures were
>"interchangeable". But the different structures still do different things
>with the communication.
>vayyiqtol and yiqtol are different structures. also morphologically
>distinct (vayyax is not veyakke.) there are contexts where either might
>have been chosen, but that does not make them the same.
>but more importantly, given the above,
>the LXX, from a time earlier than our qumran texts above, did not treat
>vayyiqtol and yiqtol the same.
>(but yiqtol and veqatal would be treated the same in same contexts.)
>i would submit that the LXX translators actually understood the hebrew that
>they were translating!
>They occasionally 'improved' the Greek style of their translation but
>usually produced a product that fairly transparently shows their own
>understanding of the hebrew verbs.
>for those who followed the hebrew list discussions:
>the LXX does NOT use a historic present for vayyiqtol, even though greek
>itself allows 'historic presents'. likewise, the LXX generally uses aorists
>for vayyiqtol and
>LXX is able to use imperfects frequently where the hebrew has either a
>yiqtol or veQATAL in a historical narrative.
>ki yad`u et ha-safa.
>braxot (
>randall buth

Dear Randall,

I agree that "interchangeably" is not a good term without being defined.
Emanuel Tov was in Oslo last week, and we had two days with him. He argued
that the LXX in many respects is better than the MT. However, the quality
of the different books are varying, and we must study the Hebrew text in
its own right.  Remember that two recent theses on Greek verbs claim that
the aorist does not code for tense, only for aspect, and if my view of the
Hebrew conjugations as subjective aspects is correct, there is no problem
in using both aspects for most situations.

Tov discussed Habbaquq 1 with us, and compared MT with the pesher from
Qumran, but he could not solve the problems with the verbs. I would like to
point to some "problems" in this chapter.

Hab. 1:2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help (QATAL, LXX: future), but
you do not listen? Or cry out to you,  "Violence!" but you do not save?

Hab. 1:3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me; there is (wayyiqtol) strife, and
conflict abounds.

Hab. 1:9 they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert
wind and gather (WAYYIQTOL, LXX: future) prisoners like sand.
Hab. 1:10 They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all
fortified cities; they build (WAYYIQTOL, LXX:future) earthen ramps and
capture (WAYYIQTOL, LXX: future) them.
The pesher has YIQTOLS and one WEQATAL, something indicating present or future.

Hab. 1:11 Then they sweep (QATAL, LXX: future)  past like the wind and go
on (WAYYIQTOL, LXX: future) - guilty men, whose own strength is their god."
The pesher has the YIQTOL  form of (BR  and BO) instead of the WAYYIQTOL
form of (BR  and XLP, something indicating present or future.

Hab. 1:12 O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we
will not die. O LORD, you have appointed (QATAL, LXX aorist sub.) them to
execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained (QATAL, LXX: aorist) them to
The pesher uses only YIQTOLS taking both qatals to refer to the future.

1:6-11 contains a prophecy about the Caldeans. The whole prophecy must of
course refer to the future, and is taken as future  both in the LXX and in
the pesher. We find, however, the following finite forms: YIQTOL: 5,
WAYYIQTOL: 4, QATAL : 1, and WEQATAL: 4, and all these should be taken as
future. How can we explain that?


Rolf Furuli
Lecturer in Semitic languages
University of Oslo

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