JER 27:18

Rolf Furuli furuli at
Thu Sep 23 16:30:19 EDT 1999

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

>	I agree. I wish we could rely only on orthography, since we know
>that the Masoretic pointing is not necessarily accurate, and many times it
>even changes the pointing deliberately to match their understanding of the
>text. However, with respect to the verbal system we cannot ignore the
>vowels pointing since many times it distinguishes between verb forms. E.g.,
>the orthography of <wyiqtol> and <wayyiqtol> is identical. In our example
>the imperative and the <qatal> are identical with respect to spelling.  My
>policy is to accept the pointing generally speaking, and question it only
>when it raises problems of the kind we are talking about here. In such
>cases other versions might support not accepting the Masoretic pointing,
>but I still consider them as counter-examples.


I view the Masoretic pointing as very reliable; they pointed exactly as
they heard the text recited in the synagogue. However, they may have laid
the foundation for the four-component model without having any intention to
do that. You note correctly that there is no difference between WEYIQTOL
and WAYYIQTOL in unpointed texts. Origen, writing his Hexapla in the 3rd
century CE, did not distinguish between the two and even in manuscripts
with Palestinian pointing there is much confusion.

Paul Kahle discusses manuscripts with Palestinian pointing in his book
"Masoreten ded Westens, Texte und Untersuchungen zur Vormasoretischen
Grammatik des Hebraischen", 1930.  Manuscript J has the text of Daniel
9:24-12:13, but only a few words are pointed. There are three examples of
WEYIQTOLs both in J and in MT and one example of a WAYYIQTOL in both.
However, in J we find 6 verbs with future meaning which are pointed as
WAYYIQTOLs in J but as WEYIQTOLs in MT.  So there is little *direct*
evidence of a difference between WEYIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL before the last
part of the first millennium CE. If we look at the use of vowels in Greek
and Latin transliterations (Josephus, Origen, Jerome) we see that all the
vowels are very stable except patah and shewa mobile. Therefore, the worst
possible choice to mark an important semantic distinction would be patah
versus shewa (Henry is an expert on this topic and I am ready to be
corrected if data can be produced  against my opinion).

There is much evidence against the view that the Masoretic distinction
between WEYIQTOL  and WAYYIQTOL distinguish two different conjugations, let
alone QATAL versus WEQATAL (no grammarian or list-member has for instance
given a definition of the difference between WEQATAL and WE+QATAL). If we
review *all* the Masoretic text and take the orthography and pointing at
face value, we find so many exceptions to the traditional four-component
view that it cannot be upheld.

>>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.
>	This is dangerous as it might result in a circular argumentation.

>But see what I said above.
>>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").

>	Yes; it is a problem. I was thinking, is it possible that the
>ORTHOGRAPHC text has a typo and what we have here is actually a <yiqtol>
>verb *YABO'U*?

This is possible, but I am not aware of any evidence of this from old
manuscripts. I am the happy owner of a faximile of both the Aleppo Codex
and the Babylonian Codex of Petrograd. Both read the same as L. We cannot
accept typos without evidence. If we do that, we may emend the text on the
basis of our own grammar. However, we must learn grammar *from* the text
and not read grammar *into* it.

>>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);

>	I am sorry, but I am not familiar with this transcription. Is the
>*F* in BF)W the vowel *a*? And what the $ sign in BW$W) means? I have
>noticed other people on the list using this transcription; is it now the
>convention for computer chatting? Sorry for the digresssion from our

The "$" is a symbol for "SH", so BW$W is the verb bosh ("feel shame") in 3.
p.plur. See Jer 20:11.

>>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).

>	I believe in Is 44:10 the verb following LEBILTI is in infinitive,
>not qatal. In the other two cases (Jer 23:14 and Ezek 13:3) the verbs are
>in qatal.

You may be right that the verb in Is 44:10 is an infinitive construct; the
form is similar with the QATAL form.

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

>	This is not the only enviroment where we find qatal verbs in modal
>clauses.  I discuss the phenomenon briefly in my book (section 5.2.4).

Thank you for the reference. I will take a look at your thesis again.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list