[b-hebrew] Qal Passives vs. Pual suffix & Hophal prefix forms

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Wed Apr 28 11:26:47 EDT 2004

>===== Original Message From "A. Philip Brown II" <pbrown at GBS.EDU> =====
>Are there other more objective grounds for rejecting the Massoretic pointing
>of such Pual suffix / Hophal prefix forms?

For whatever it's worth, Jouon thinks that the forms actually are pointed 
correctly, but that it happened that the Qal passive forms actually resembled 
the Pual/Hofal mix. I don't think this is a very strong position, but it 
should be noted that it's out there. I'm not going to try to address the 
question of which grounds are objective and which aren't (or varying degrees 
thereof). Some other factors to consider:

1) The Nifal is not universal among Semitic languages, and its role in BH is a 
bit muddled. It is not strictly the passive of the Qal, although this is one 
of its more common functions. This suggests that it is a secondary passive 

2) The Qal passive exists in other cognate languages, notably Aramaic, where 
it drifted out of use along with the other internal passive forms. The 
internal passive participles held on longer than other forms, which would 
correspond well with the survival of the Qal passive participle in Hebrew.

3) On a similar note, the Qal passive participle itself suggests an internal 
passive used more broadly at one time or another.

4) There seems to have been a general increase in Piel-Pual forms in Rabbinic 
Hebrew. As I recall, Steve Fassberg has documented this development. This 
trend may have helped to obscure the former identity of the Qal passives.

Combined with the arguments you noted from IBHS, I think there's a good basis 
for it. The other factor to keep in mind is that internal passives as a whole 
group are generally quite rare. I think it's easy to get the impression that 
there are a few vestigial Qal passives hanging around with incorrect pointing, 
making them relatively insignificant. But when you really look at the 
evidence, the numbers of Qal passives are generally comparable to those of 
other internal passive forms.

Trevor Peterson

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