[b-hebrew] Waw Consecutive in Narrative Hebrew Narrative

George Athas gathas at hotkey.net.au
Wed Oct 15 20:08:02 EDT 2003

Two things to mention in this debate.

Firstly, the root HYH is often used as a macro-syntactic marker to give
structure to a narrative. It does not necessarily imply continuation, but rather
is a recognised 'form' (in the technical sense of the word) for delineating the
beginning of a unit (or sub-unit) within a narrative.

Secondly, the waw-consecutive form is not so much "continuation" as it is
"narrative momentum". The way I often teach it to students is to use two

1. Waw-Consecutive forms are like a green light. When you see them, the
narrative is moving along. When you encounter Perfect forms, you have a red
light; you're meant to stop and look around (usually behind you) and take in the
'road conditions' of the narrative; it supplies you with extra info.

2. Verbs are like camera angles and movements in a movie. A Waw-consecutive form
means the camera is moving along with the characters; the background is
unimportant. A Perfect form, however, sees the camera stationary, giving you
time to take in some of the background.

Most biblical books begin with a "red light" or a "stationary camera" -- ie, not
a waw-consecutive -- allowing you to get your bearings in the narrative.
However, Joshua simply gets off to a flying start. There is no direct
"continuation", though in terms of canonical story, yes it does come after the
Torah. However, the waw-consecutive at the start of Joshua is not a deliberate
"continuation" of the Torah, but rather a narrative that has momentum right from
the start. The vehicle is already moving, so to speak; there is no need to start
the engine or even let it idle for a while. We simply hop onto a moving

Best regards,

Lecturer of Biblical Languages
Southern Cross College
Sydney, Australia

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