[b-hebrew] Verbs, text-segmenting and clause-types

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Thu Jul 28 22:39:57 EDT 2005

Dear B-Haveray,

We have seen that Rolf has translated Isaiah 52:13-53:12 as mostly 
future tense in English.  As a result, we see a readable English 
translation that is disinterested in the Hebrew verb forms at least as 
touching tense.

I think we can salvage our interest in the Hebrew verb forms with a more 
careful examination of text segmenting and by recognizing clause types 
rather than merely verb forms.

First text segmenting:
52:13-15 are the words of YHWH that are +projection, expressing YHWH's 
desire and predictions concerning His servant.  Accordingly, the yiqtol 
verb form in both the clause-intial and clause-medial positions plays 
heavily, particularly in main clauses.

53:1-6 Here Isaiah is addressing his audience intimately and 1st plural 
forms run throughout.  The section is to answer the questions that it 
starts with.  It is neither telling a story nor making a prediction.  It 
is establishing the identity of the special man.  It is a type of text 
that I refer to as expository discourse.  It defaults for the present in 
tranlsation.  As is characteristic of expository discourse, this section 
uses heavily noun sentences as well as qatal verbs that come in the 
second position of their clauses (some grammarians consider a sentence 
with a verb in the second positon to be be a noun sentence of a sort). 
Even the yiqtol forms in v. 2 fit in this context.  They express the 
modal concept of what "we could" or "we might" do.

53:7-11a  This is also Isaiah, but he has stepped back from his 
audience.  There are no more references to "we."  He is taking the role 
in this passage of commentator.  Again we have a lot of expository 
material communicated, as is typical, with noun sentences, irrealis 
clauses, and x-qatal clauses.  These all default for present tense in 
expository discourse.  The yiqtols of vv. 10-11a finish the commentary 
with predictive material.

53:11b-12  Here YHWH speaks again.  The x-yiqtol clauses are predictive. 
  The qatal clauses are dependent clauses, which give relative past 

You will notice my designations of the verb forms are somewhat different 
than Rolf's.  While he counts qatals and yiqtols, I count sub-categories 
of qatal and yiqtol according to their positions in their clauses.  For 
instance, I will usually consider yiqtols which come first in their 
clause to be expressing the speaker's desire, whereas yiqtol's that come 
  elsewhere than first are ambiguous.  X-yiqtols *may* express the 
speaker's desire.  However, unlike the clause initial yiqtol, they may 
express a one-off event in the past.  X-yiqtols usually express a 
prediction, a habit, or gnomic truth.

So here is my translation, with special attention to the translation of 
the verb forms (the vocabulary is mostly borrowed from the JPS Tanakh). 
Y = yiqtol verb
Q = qatal verb
X = any element in a clause that preceded the yiqtol or qatal verb
DC = dependent clause (a relative is usually present
NS = noun sentence
? = interrogative clause
WQ = weqatal
W = wayyiqtol
Ir = Irrealis (usually a negatory woird is present)

52:13  Behold!

May My servant prosper (Y), be exalted (Y), and raised (WQ), and highly 
exalted (WQ)!  14 Just as many are appalled at him (DCQ)--so marred is 
his appearance, unlike that of a man, his form, beyond human 
semblance--15  Just so shall he startle (XY) many nations.  Kings shall 
be silenced (XY) because of him, for they see (XQ) what has not been 
told them (DCQ); behold (XQ) what they have never heard (DCQ).

53:1  Who can believe (Q?) what we have heard?  Upon whom has the arm of 
the Lord been revealed (Q?)?  2  So he grows (W), by his favor, like a 
tree crown, like a tree trunk out of arid ground.  He has no form or 
beauty (NS), that we might look at him (Y); no charm that we might find 
him well-pleasing (Y).  3 He is despised (Q), shunned by men, a man of 
suffering, familiar with disease.  Like one whose face is hid from us 
(NS).  He is despised (Q).  We hold him of no account (IrQ).  4  Yet it 
is our sickness he is bearing (XQ), our suffering that he endures (XQ). 
  We account (XQ) him plagued, smitten and afflicted by God.  5  He is 
wounded (NS) because of our sins, crushed because of our iniquities.  He 
bears (NS) the chastisement that makes us whole, and by his bruises we 
are healed (XQ).  6  We all have gone astray (XQ) like sheep, each one 
going (XQ) to his own way.  And YHWH visits (XQ) upon him the guilt of 
all of us.

  53:7  He has been maltreated (Q), yet he is submissive (XQ).  He does 
not open his mouth (IrY).  Like sheep that might be led (XY) to the 
slaughter, like a ewe, dumb before those who have sheared her (XQ), he 
does not open his mouth (IrY).  8  By oppressive judgment he is taken 
away (XQ).  Who could describe his abode (XY?)?  For he is cut off (XQ) 
from the land of the living through the sin of my people who deserve the 
punishment (NS).  9  So his grave is then made (W) among the wicked, and 
with the rich in his death though he has done (IrXQ) no injustice and no 
falshood is in his mouth(NS).  10  But the Lord chooses (XQ) to crush 
him by disease that, if he might make himself an offering (DCY) for 
guilt, he might see (Y) offspring and prolong (Y) life, and that through 
him the Lord's purpose might prosper (XY).  11  Out of anguish he will 
see it (XY).  May he enjoy it to the full (Y) through his devotion.

May my righteous servant make many righteous (Y).  It is their 
punishment that he will bear (XY).  Assuredly, I will give (XY) him the 
many as his portion.  He shall recieve (XY) the multitude as his spoil. 
  For he has exposed himself to death (DCQ) and was numbered (DCQ) among 
the sinners.  Whereas he bore the guilt of many (DCQ), he will make 
intercesiion (XY) for sinners.

Bryan Rocine

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