[b-hebrew] The mystery of vav-consecutive

Steve Miller smille10 at sbcglobal.net
Sun May 22 23:23:45 EDT 2005

> On Sunday 22 May 2005 16:15, Steve Miller wrote:
> > Can anyone give me 5 examples from the Pentateuch where the
> > is clearly NOT a tense reversal?
From: "Dave Washburn" <dwashbur at nyx.net> Sunday, May 22, 2005 7:55 PM
> Reversal of what?  You're assuming an awful lot: that we know the tense of
> other forms, that the intention of the waw-forms was to "reverse" one of
> other forms, that the tenses resulting from a particular structure are
> deliberate and not incidental to some other factor in the verb form -
> briefly, taking this approach ends up in massive circular reasoning and
> nowhere.

I mean reversal from imperfect to perfect and vice versa. I don't see how I
am assuming all these things. As a boy in Hebrew school, I learned that the
vav-consecutive reversed tense, but I have no vested interest either way. I
just want to find out the truth from the usage in the Bible. And I won't be
convinced unless I see it in the Bible.

If I look at the Bible starting from Gen 1:1 and read far enough to cover 10
vav-consecutives, that will take me to verse 7 and includes 11
vav-consecutive-imperfects . In these verses, 11 out of 11 vav-consecutives
reverse the imperfect to perfect,
while none of the non-vav-consecutives reverse.

However, in Gen 1:6, the only thing that makes וִיהִי not vav-consecutive is
the vowels.

So that is why I ask, can anyone give me 5 counter examples from the
Pentateuch, where the vav-consecutive does not reverse the imperfect to

Below I have copied Gen. 1:1-7 with Darby translation.
* indicates a vav-consecutive imperfect verb.  11 out of 11 are reversed to
translate as past
** is a non-vav-consecutive imperfect verb. 3 out of  3 translated as
present or future
*** is a non-vav consecutive perfect verb. 3 out of 3 translated as past
(Hebrew is copied from www.crosswire.org. Please let me know if this doesn't
go thru to anyone.)

Gen 1:1  בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
In the beginning God ***created the heavens and the earth.

Gen 1:2  וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחֹשֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵי תְהֹום וְרוּחַ
אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל־פְּנֵי הַמָּֽיִם׃
And the earth ***was waste and empty, and darkness was on the face of the
deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Gen 1:3 וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אֹור וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור׃
And God *said, Let there **be light. And there *was light.

Gen 1:4 וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאֹור כִּי־טֹוב וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים בֵּין
הָאֹור וּבֵין הַחֹֽשֶׁךְ׃
And God *saw the light that it was good; and God *divided  between the light
and the darkness.

Gen 1:5 וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים ׀ לָאֹור יֹום וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה
וַֽיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹקֶר יֹום אֶחָֽד׃
And God *called  the light Day, and the darkness he ***called Night. And
there *was  evening, and there *was  morning--the first day.

Gen 1:6 וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתֹוךְ הַמָּיִם וִיהִי מַבְדִּיל
בֵּין מַיִם לָמָֽיִם׃
And God *said, Let there **be  an expanse in the midst of the waters, and
let it **be  a division between waters and waters.

Gen 1:7 וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָרָקִיעַ וַיַּבְדֵּל בֵּין הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר
מִתַּחַת לָרָקִיעַ וּבֵין הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר מֵעַל לָרָקִיעַ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃
And God *made the expanse, and *divided between the waters that are under
the expanse and the waters that are above the expanse; and it *was so.

-Steve Miller

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