[b-hebrew] Genesis 15:6, isolated weqatal

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Sun Jul 27 15:54:07 EDT 2003

Shalom Waldo, you wrote:

> Abram believed* the LORD.....
> The NET Bible offers this for believed:
> The non-consecutive vav is on a perfect verbal form.
> If the composer of the narrative had wanted to show
> simple sequence, he would have used the vav
> consecutive with the preterite.
> Is one way of understanding this perfect Hiphil verb,
> partly due to its "non-consecutive vav" in narrative,
> as an English PluPerfect, something like:
> Abram HAD BELIEVED the LORD.....

This translation might be misleading because it can mean that the believing
was over with prior to the time the writer was talking about.  The English
simple past, while ignoring a linguistic bump in the Hebrew road, is
probablyt more appropriate in a translation for the masses.

On the use of an an isolated weqatal within a string of wayyiqtols you may
take a look at LOngacre, "Weqatal Forms in Biblical Hebrew Prose," _Biblical
Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics_, ed. Bergen or Rocine, _Learning Biblical
Hebrew: A New Approach Using Discourse Analysis_, pp. 212-214, 321, 349.

The gist in both works is that an isolated weqatal within a wayyiqtol string
linguistically signals a climactic or pivotal event. I would add that the
qatal and weqatal signify aspectually an attributive or adjectival meaning.
In other words, the qatal and weqatal, independently of a sentences diction
or context or construction, pin an attribute on the subject.  For
translation (provided only for the purpose of discussion and not for the
purpose of publishing to the throngs), I can suggest "And he was a believer
in YHWH."  Whether trying or not, the Fox translation seems to capture the
"adjectival" nature of the weqatal here by adding "now" as in "now he
trusted in YHWH..."


> A friend of mine argues that this is the only possible
> passage in all of Scripture (both OT and NT) where
> Abram's initial faith in YHWH is alluded to. He
> contends that no other passage references Abram's
> initial faith that must have occured while Abram was
> in Ur.
> I was at first rather taken back with his comment but
> have found it most thought provoking. All references
> that I can find do seem to reference Abram's (or
> Abraham's) subsequent believer-faith (not his
> "conversion-faith" in Ur (Even Romans 4!). What
> bothers me in this passage in Genesis is that it ALSO
> seems to be a faith in what the LORD had just
> promised, not a past faith (had believed) that reaches
> back to his "conversion-faith."
> I certainly am NOT trying to engage anyone in some
> theological discussion. I provided some additional
> information to let other list participants know what I
> am looking for, if not in this verse. (I assume
> theological discussion is prohibited as in B-Greek.)

B. M. Rocine
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206

ph: 315.437.6744
fx: 315.437.6766

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