[b-hebrew] Psa 107:19-21 (was WAYYIQTOL)

Charles David Isbell cisbell at cox.net
Sun Mar 14 15:25:22 EST 2004

Rolf asserts that "In principle a single contra-example is enough to falsify
a claim."

Which "claim" are you trying to falisfy, Rolf? All the standard BH textbooks
carefully limit claims for the Imperfect with "Waw Consecutive" [Gesenius'
terminology, for example] using such phrases as "most frequently," "as a
rule," "some," "sometimes," etc. I don't understand what you are trying to
accomplish in denying that in the majority of cases a vayyiqtol is indeed a
sequential marker of a past or perfected action in a narrative. Finding a
few non-sequential examples does little to shake the standard understanding
of vayyiqtol as a narrative sequencer, essentially offering a green light to
the reader, i.e., telling us not to switch sequences in mid sentence or

Nor do I understand the beating you and Karl give the poor Massoretes.

[a] Karl, in ignoring the Massoretic "points," do you imply that you also
refuse to read all other commentaries on the text? No one claims that the
Massoretes are the final word in every single case, and they themselves
append countless notes to explain why they put in a form which they believe
they have inherited from tradition but with which they disagree. But they
are surely one credible source of comment on the text, non! And even in
reading a consonantal text only, if you use a single final HE or internal
YOD or VAV to mark a vowel, you are reading some of the results of
Massoretic involvement with the text.

This leads to [b], Rolf. Since the Massoretes were not shy about sharing
their disagreement with a spelling that they nonetheless continued in the
body of the text, why do you think they so doggedly made a pointing
distinction between vayyiqtol and veyiqtol? Does not the evidence of [a]
indicate that they would NOT feel free to introduce a new concept willy
nilly? And does it not follow that the disctinction between vayyiqtol and
veyiqtol predates the earliest MT copies we have? Maybe I should ask this:
What do you GAIN in terms of exegetical knowledge with your understanding of
vayyiqtol? I don't think you have accomplished a great deal by attacking a
theory as if it is taught as an absolute when it is not, at least in my
experience. Nor do I see the benefit in replacing one nuanced definition
with your rather absolute sounding one using only a small percentage of the
available data. If I have missed the point of all these exchanges between
Peter and you, I apologize. But I fail to see how your theory either
accounts for the data [i.e., WHY the Massoretic pointing disctinction?] or
advances the ball closer to the goal of our understanding of a classical

[c] Again, Rolf, of the examples you cite, many are simple idioms that need
not be carved up in any sequential fashion. Biblical characters always
"lifted up their eyes" before they "saw," "lifted their voice" before they
"wept," and so on.  Jacob even "lifted up his feet and went" in Gen 29.1,
and one is hard pressed to imagine him walking without ever lifting up his


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