Verb trial thesis

David Stabnow dstabno at
Tue Apr 9 12:29:06 EDT 2002

Randall Buth wrote:
>> On 1 Sam 17.34-35. The verbs are talking about open-ended,
>> multiple actions, i.e. the veqatal verbs. The vayyiqtol pulls out one
>> incidence and uses it as an example of what would happen in a
>> particular case. You may translate with "if a lion would stand up
>> against me", though the structure is not a standard conditional
>> clause, it is an exemplary clause within a string of habituals.

David Taylor responded (in part):
> I would like to differ with your proposed translation, since
> the setting of the story clearly indicates that the incident
> did occur....
> The interchange between the the veqatal verbs and vayyiqtol
> verbs in 1 Saul 17:34-35, I believe, is to indicate that the
> action represented by the veqatal verb is immediately followed
> by the action represented by the vayyiqtol.

DKS: I, in turn, would like to differ with your interpretation of the verb
forms.  To say that it means the action immediately follows, does not pan
out in other cases.  Perhaps the interchange between the veqatal and the
vayyiqtol verbs is to indicate, as you implied in your first sentence,
things that typically happened versus specific events that in fact happened
one time.  This would not only account for those verbs in 1 Sam 17:34-35,
but also in 1 Sam 1:3-8 and 2:12-17.

In 1:3-8 veqatals and v-x-yiqtols explain the typical procedures for
Elkanah's annual pilgrimages.  In vv. 7b and 8 a specific situation is
introduced, where Hannah refused to eat and Elkanah asked why.  The
vayyiqtols that follow continue that story.

On the other hand, the vayyiqtol in 1 Sam 2:16, which is surrounded by
veqatals in vv. 12-17 (and 18-20), does appear to be a conditional clause
(as the NRSV translated it).  It is a bit of a stretch to our modern
understanding of the flow of conversation to interpret it as a one-time
fact.  Briefly, the plot goes: the priest's servant would typically say
(veqatal), "Give him meat to roast, not boiled."  But once a man said
(vayyiqtol; or, But if a man ever said), "No, the fat must be burned off
first."  The servant would typically say (veqatal), "Give it, or I will
take it by force."  It would be easier to interpret the middle utterance as
a one-time fact if the response were also a one-time fact (vayyiqtol).

1 Sam 17 gives a clue to 1 Sam 2.  The vayyiqtol cites a specific example,
and the veqatal gives the typical response to examples of that sort.  In 1
Sam 17 David said, "I used to snatch livestock from the jaws or predators.
Then once, for example, it turned against me.  As was typical in that
situation, I killed it."  So, too, in 1 Sam 2 -- The servant would insist
on meat for roasting.  Then once, for example, a man resisted.   But, as
was typical in that situation, the servant responded with a threat.

Likewise in 1 Sam 1 -- 3. Elkanah would typically go annually.  4. Once,
for example he went, and as was typical in that situation, he would give
portions, 5. but to Hannah he would give a double portion.  6. Penninah
would torment Hannah.  7b. Finally, once, Hannah wept and did not eat. ...
Again, alternating between typical and one-time in v. 4 is a stretch for
our modern understanding of the flow of a story line.  But, I contend, it
was acceptable in Biblical Hebrew.

Dave Stabnow
Bible Translation Editor
Broadman & Holman Publishers
Nashville, Tennessee
david.stabnow at

    Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do everything for God's glory.  (1 Cor 10:31, HCSB)

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