[b-hebrew] 998 non-past wyyqtl's

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Mon Nov 29 18:15:05 EST 2004

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your good question.  I am always pleased when we discuss specific 
texts on this forum.  You wrote:

> On Sunday 28 November 2004 06:57, B. M. Rocine wrote:
> [snip]
>> Take your example of two wayyiqtols in Jer 51:29.  The consensus among 
>> the
>> five or six modern translators I checked is that the wayyiqtols are
>> non-past; they differ on whether to translate them as present or future. 
>> I
>> quickly vote future with you.  I do not, however, think the text is
>> evidence that the wayyiqtols are not perfective.  The perfectivity of the
>> forms is utilized to explicitly embed sequentiality into the text.  I 
>> think
>> translations should use the word *then* or *so*:  "Then the land will
>> quake, then it will writhe for the thoughts of YHWH stand against Babel."
> Bryan,
> Would you insist that they use the word "then" or "so" in Judges 12:9-14 
> as
> well?
> -- 
> Dave Washburn

I suppose we might use "then," but I surely wouldn't insist on it or even 
recommend it in all cases in the passage.

I think you may be asking whether I think wyyqtl always represents a 
sequence.  I do not, but I still the best explanation of the form is that it 
*means* sequence.  I do *not* think the meaning of a form is only that which 
is uncancelable.  Such a standard does not allow for the chaos which is 
bound to be evident in language use.  So I can tolerate a fair handful of 
exceptions to a verb form's meaning, especially if they are distributed in a 
regular manner (patterned chaos?  oy vey, have patience with me!).

Take for instance Jdg 12:11 vayyishpot 'axarav 'et yisra'el 'eylon 
hazzebuloni vayyishpot 'et yisra'el `eser shanim

The same story time is covered twice by two successive wayyiqtol clauses. 
In other words, stroy time does not move forward as we expect from a series 
of wayyiqtols.  It's easily negotiable for the reader though because both 
clauses have the same kernel witht he same subject.  If we have this series 
in English:

Sam hit a homer.
Bill hit one out of the park.

we understand that first Sam hit a homer, and then Bill hit one.  If we have 
this series:

Sam hit a homer.
Sam hit one out of the park.

we understand that the second clause is elaborating on the first, even 
though in English story telling, a second clause with a simple past verb 
usually moves forward story time.  (I am only speaking of English simple 
past as an analogy.  I am not equating the English simple past with the 
wayyiqtol, even though both are used as the mainlines of narrative in their 
respective languages.)

I think the majority of the wayyiqtols that do not advance story time may be 
found in one of the following three categories:

1.  wayyiqtol of 'mr after a wayyiqtol expressing a verbal event, like 
vayyiqr'a 'el YHVH vayyo'mer...
2.  a second wayyiqtol paraphrases the first, like many times in the flood 
3.  an identicle wayyiqtol covers the same story time as a previous 

Such cases do not negate the basic meaning of the wayyiqtol as a sequencer.


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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