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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sun Jul 31 13:18:07 EDT 2005

On 31/07/2005 15:31, Rolf Furuli wrote:

>I will concentrate on Psalm 107: 17-20.
>NIV has the following translation:
>17. Some became fools (nominal cl. ) through their rebellious ways
>and suffered affliction (YIQTOL) because of their iniquities.
>18. They loathed (YIQTOL) all food and drew near (WAYYIQTOL) the
>gates of death.
>19. Then they cried (WAYYIQTOL) to the LORD on their trouble,
>and he saved (YIQTOL) them from their distress.
>20. He sent forth (YIQTOL) his word and healed them (WEYIQTOL), he
>rescued (WEYIQTOL) them from the grave (YIQTOL)
>It seems that the NIV translators viewed these verses as historical
>narrative. They are expressed by 5 YIQTOLs, 2 WEYIQTOLs, and 2 WAYYIQTOLs. ...

There is actually some evidence that the WAYYIQTOLs here have in fact 
been wrongly pointed, and should be WEYIQTOLs. In v.18 the consonantal 
form is WYGY(W. But the WAYYIQTOL of the hiphil of NG( is usually WYG( 
without a second yod, i.e. the similar to the shortened or apocopated 
form of YIQTOL according to the normal rule. The yod here implies a 
long, non-apocopated YIQTOL, and when a vav is prefixed to this the 
result is usually a WEYIQTOL. Of course for many verbs, including the 
following WYZ(QW, the two forms are identical. So, this suggests a case 
where either these two successive verbs had been misinterpreted in the 
pronunciation tradition as narrative WAYYIQTOL (because the original 
semantic or pragmatic distinctions were no longer fully understood) or 
where the Masoretes misheard the verbs. But the Masoretes had got back 
on track by v.20 and correctly wrote WEYIQTOL.

I accept that WAYYIQTOL and WEYIQTOL often sounded very similar to the 
Masoretes, and so were sometimes confused in transcription. But there 
remains good evidence that they were originally distinct verb forms.

It would be instructive to do a survey of the rather few apparent 
WAYYIQTOLs which are not apocopated when they could be, and of any 
WEYIQTOLs which are apocopated, to see if these tend to occur in places 
where the context suggests that the two forms could have been exchanged. 
For the semantic distinction may be not so much in the distinct prefixes 
as in the apocopation, which strongly tends to indicate modality when 
there is no prefixed vav.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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