Zech 8:14-15 (was Judges 13:5 and 13:7)

David Stabnow dstabno at lifeway.com
Thu Mar 7 09:18:05 EST 2002

My reason for using both a past and a future for the interpretation was
that the decision (ZMM) to act was past, but the act (Y+B) is future.  In
both vv. 14 & 15 the act that results from God's decision is expressed as
an infinitive.  The time-reference of the infinitive must be determined
from context.  The time reference of R(( in v. 14 is soon after the
"determination" in the past, and is thus also past -- "I determined, and I
brought calamity."  The time reference of Y+B in v. 15 is soon after the
"determination" in the immediate past, and is thus future -- "I just
determined, and I will bring good."

One reason I chose a past tense translation of ZMM in v. 15 is the logic
inherent in the semantics of ZMM -- how can you say that you are going to
have something in mind tomorrow?  If you know you are going to have
something in mind tomorrow, it's because you already have it in mind today.
If you have it in mind today, it's because it came into your mind -- you
made a decision -- in the past, albeit perhaps the very recent past.  Thus,
paraphrased with time cues, in Zechariah God is saying, "Just as in the
distant past, in the time of your forefathers, I had in mind to bring
disaster upon you ... I have just recently, in these days, decided -- that
is, I had in mind earlier today and still have in mind -- to do you good."

The other reason I chose a past tense translation of ZMM is that there are
many cases -- I would argue it is the norm -- in BH where a future action
based on current events is expressed with X-YIQTOL or WEQATAL.  See 2 Sam
12:7-12.  In 7b-9 Nathan relays God's message explaining all that God did
for David in the past, and what David did in the past -- with X-QATAL's and
WAYYIQTOL's.  Then in vv. 10-12 God predicts what will happen to David in
the future because of David's past actions -- with X-YIQTOL's and

If in Zech 8:15 God wanted to express a future decision, He probably would
have used X-YIQTOL.

The interpretation of $WB as "again," which I accept, only reinforces my
interpretation of ZMM as past.  God says, "I aquired a mind-set, in the
days of your fathers, and did them harm ... I have again aquired a
mind-set, at the current time, and will do you good."

With all this in mind, I might translate as follows: This is what the Lord
of Hosts says: "Just as I resolved to do you harm when your fathers
provoked Me to anger," says the Lord of Hosts, "and I did not relent, in
the same way in these days I have again resolved to treat Jerusalem and the
house of Judah well.  Do not fear."

If I were to translate it more freely, I would make a better parallel:
"Just as I came to a resolution when your fathers provoked Me to anger, and
I did not waver -- in that case it was a resolution to do them harm -- in
the same way, once again in these days, I have come to an unwavering
resolution, and you should be encouraged because this time it is a
resolution to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah."

The implication is if God did not relent in His resolution to do harm, He
will not relent in His resolution to do good.  This is reassuring.

Dave Stabnow

Dear Dave,

Zech 8:15 (ZMM) is not on my list of QATALs with future reference,
although I take it in this sense. The reason why I referred to it,
was that my students discussed it the day I wrote my post, and it
illustrates a particular practice among Bible translators.

I suppose that you take the QATAL $WB in the adverbial sense "again"
and the infinitive Y+B as a verbal complement.In that case I do not
understand how you can use both an English perfect and a future
("have decided..will do good") as a rendering of the one verb ZMM.
Could you please tell me why you choose English perfect and future
rather than a single future for ZMM? Does it rest on a particular
view of QATAL? Would you translate ZMM with English perfect also if
there were not restrictions regarding a future use of QATAL?

I will translate 14 and 15 like this: "Just as I had in mind to bring
disaster upon you, because your forefathers provoked me to anger...so
I will again have in mind in these days to do good to Jerusalem and
to the house of Judah"

The reason for this translation is as follows: There is a contrast
between "these days" (v 10, referring to some time before the
utterance of the prophet) and "these days" (vv 15,23, referring to a
time after the utterance). The preposition B before "these days" in v
15 shows that the action of ZMM and its infinitive complement would
occur "*in* those days". This period of time would either occur
before the time of the utterance or from/after the time of the
utterance. In neither case would an English perfect be appropriate,
but rather simple past (if "these days" were prior to the utterance),
or future (if these days were from/after the utterance. The good that
he has in mind, is described in vv 12 and 13 which is future in
relation to "now" (v 11) and which is a contrast to v 11 with its
reference to the "former days".

Five of the QATALs with future reference in Zechariah that I have on
my list are:

5:3 NQH
8:3 4WB
9:5 BW$
10:3 PQD
13:9 )MR



Rolf Furuli

University of Oslo

>Rolf Furuli wrote:
>>  In 8:14,15 we find the QATAL of ZMM two times (though with a strange
>writing), the first with pre-past reference, but what is the time
>of the other?
>If we take the view of many grammars that QATALs should not refer to the
>future, we take it as a perfect, but the context suggests future
>DKS:  ZMM in 8:15 is not future.  "I have planned (in the past) that I
>(in the future) do good to Jerusalem ..."  If this is an example of the
>analysis you did to support your theory, I'm afraid it undermines it
>Dave Stabnow
>Bible Translation Editor
>Broadman & Holman Publishers
>Nashville, Tennessee
>david.stabnow at lifeway.com
>You are currently subscribed to b-hebrew as: [furuli at online.no]
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