JER 27:18

Rolf Furuli furuli at
Wed Sep 22 17:21:33 EDT 1999

Galia Hatav wrote:

>Dear Rolf and Dave,
>Why do you think that the verb 'come' appearing after L:BIL:TIY is in
>qatal? Morphologically speaking it has the form of the imperative (second
>person masculine plural), which, of course, is odd.  (But not that odd
>since you would expect here a modal form.) I have not checked other
>versions, but the pointing in our version suggests that it is not a qatal.
>>> Dear list-members,
>>> The RSV rendering of the verse is: "If they are prophets, and if the word
>>> of the LORD is with them, then let them intercede (YIQTOL jussive) with the
>>> LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, in
>>> the house of the king of Judah, and in Jerusalem may not go (QATAL) to
>>> Babylon."
>>> Is the reference time of the QATAL after speech time (=future), and is the
>>> verb modal? Or is it past indicative, as those sticking to traditional
>>> grammar would expect of a QATAL?
>>In my approach, which is an amalgam of my own ideas and Galia
>>Hatav's, qatal is indicative with a syntactic connection to what
>>precedes.  In this case it looks like result:  "Let them
>> that the vessels will not depart..." The problem is the
>>preceding word, L:BIL:TIY, "lest."  This word with an indicative is an
>>oddity that even the manuscripts noticed, since BHS suggests
>>following the minority mss and reading YFBOW)U.  How many
>>other examples of a qatal after L:BIL:TIY do you know of?  I lean
>>toward the yiqtol reading, though I wouldn't go to the stake for it.

Dear Galia,

We can look at the Hebrew text from at least three angles; one is dangerous
and should consciously be avoided, the two others may be very helpful.  The
dangerous angle is to look at the text in the light of one's understanding
of grammar. The helpful angles are either to look at the text from the
viewpoint of orthography (=consonants) or from the view of the Masoretic

If we start with orthography, the word B)W may either be a plural
imperative or the 3rd person plural of the QATAL conjugation.  In such
cases, when the orthography is ambiguous, we have to rely on the context.
As far as I can see, to analyze the form as an imperative is impossible.
Even though an imperative has a modal force which in principle is not
different from the force of a jussive or a cohortative, the syntactical
role of an imperative is different. If B)W were and imperative we would
need a personal subject, but such is lacking. The subject of B)W evidently
is HAKKELIM, and therefore B)W must be a finite verb form ("the vessels may
(not) go").

I agree that the Masoretic pointing suggests that B)W is a plural
imperative, but because this is excluded by the context, we have to accept
that the form is a variant to BF)W (perhaps as an analogy with 	BW$W); we
find such variants with several verbs, so I see no real problem with such a
suggestion. That the form is a QATAL is admitted by several commentators,
from B. Davidson in the last century to the Gramcord text at present. In MT
there are 155 examples of  L:BIL:TIY with a following infinitive construct,
including 20 in the book of Jeremiah, 1 example with a following participle
(Jer 17:23), 2 with a following YIQTOL (Ex 20:20; 2 Sam 14:14), and 3
examples (in addition to our example) with following QATALs (Is 44:10; Jer
23:14; Ezek 13:3). There are no examples of a following imperative. Some
QATALs with future meaning nearby are JER 20:11 (BW$); 22:23 (XNN) 25:14,
((BD) 31 (NTN).

So the problem remains: We have to account for a QATAL with future/modal


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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