[b-hebrew] More on Piel etc.

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sun May 15 22:47:37 EDT 2005

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman wrote:
> HIGDIL (from G.D.L) has a sense of "do great things," 
> not "make big." ("Higdil Adonai la'asot....")

While I agree that noun forms (binyanim) do not follow
the semantic pattern strictly, and that assuming they do
and then forcing verbs to fit such semantic patterns is
bad methodology, I think that the above is a bad

The form of an Hiphil applied to an Infinitive is used to
create some adverbial structures in Biblical Hebrew.
For example:

1) myt.yb lngn - 1 Sam 16:17 "play well"
2) myt.yb r)wt - Jer 1:12 "see well"
3) myt.yb l(&wt - 2 Kings 10:30 "do well"
4) ywsyp &n) - Gen 37:5,8 "hate more"
5) ywsyp l(&wt - Jud 3:!2 "did (evil) more"
6) ywsyp lgwr - Lam 4:15 "dwell more"
7) ywsyp lhbyt. - Lam 4:16 "watch more"
8) hygdyl l(&wt - Joel 2:20, 21 "did much/great"

Without this form of adverbial construction, it may
very well mean, "make (something) great/big" as in
Amos 8:5, lhgdyl $ql - make much money.

Furthermore, it seems that the very essence of the
adverbial construction is based on the hiphil's
causative meaning;
1) yt.b - to be good.  myt.b lngn - makes the "playing" 
2) ysp - to continue.  ywsyp lgwr - make the "dwelling"
3) gdl - to grow/become big. hgdyl l(&wt - make the
"doing" big.

A more interesting example using the hiphil is perhaps
the hiphil of nkr.  nkr means strange as in nokri "stranger"
or elohei nekar "strange gods."  Yet, the hiphil of nkr is
to become familiar with.  It literally means "make X
familiar."  And yet, if we applied strict semantic sense
to the word we would have "make X unfamiliar/strange."

As for dbr, it seems to be represented in certain
instances in the Qal (mainly present participles).

Yitzhak Sapir

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