[b-hebrew] verb forms--perfect as future

Peter Kirk peter at qaya.org
Fri Apr 13 06:08:33 EDT 2007

On 13/04/2007 04:47, michaelabernat9001 at sbcglobal.net wrote:
> I know some of the members reject the idea that the perfect is used for the future so I spent a few minutes examining some of the passages used to support this concept.
> While I can understand how some of these passages may be considered a matter of interpretation, there were two that I could not see how the perfect could be translated as a past tense--Ruth 4:3 and 2 Kings 5:20.
> Ruth 4:3 reads
> 3 וַיֹּאמֶר לַגֹּאֵל חֶלְקַת הַשָּׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר לְאָחִינוּ לֶאֱלִימֶלֶךְ מָכְרָה נָעֳמִי הַשָּׁבָה מִ‍שְּׂדֵה מוֹאָב׃
> Rth 4:3  And he said unto the near kinsman: 'Naomi, that is come back out of the field of Moab, SELLETH the parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's;
> I can't see how you could translate sells as a past tense. Verse 4 makes it plain that the property has not been sold yet. I can understand how one could take this as a present tense-- "Naomi is in the process of selling" or as a future "Naomi will sell."  But "Naomi sold" seems to be excluded by context.
I wonder if this is a misunderstanding of the whole scenario of Ruth, 
and the process of redeeming land. I know that many English translations 
interpret this scenario as you did. But it seems to me that a more 
likely scenario is as follows: Naomi has already sold this plot of land, 
perhaps while she was still in Moab to support herself in her widowhood 
there. Presumably she sold it to some unrelated third party. But, 
according to Leviticus 25:25, Elimelech's nearest relative has a duty to 
buy back the property from the third party, to keep it with Elimelech's 
family. As the very nearest relative is unwilling to do this, Boaz as 
the next nearest performs this duty. On this interpretation, no problem 
with the verb tense.

> 2 Kings 5:20 reads
> 20 וַיֹּאמֶר גֵּיחֲזִי נַעַר אֱלִישָׁע אִישׁ־הָאֱלֹהִים הִנֵּה חָשַׂךְ אֲדֹנִי אֶת־נַעֲמָן הָאֲרַמִּי הַזֶּה מִ‍קַּחַת מִ‍יָּדוֹ אֵת אֲשֶׁר־הֵבִיא חַי־יְהוָה כִּי־אִם־רַצְתִּי אַחֲרָיו וְלָקַחְתִּי מֵ‍אִתּוֹ מְאוּמָה׃
> 2Ki 5:20  But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said: 'Behold, my master hath spared this Naaman the Aramean, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought; as the LORD liveth, I will surely RUN after him, and take somewhat of him.' 
> Verse 20 describes what Gehazi plans to do. He does not carry through with this action until the following verse.
Here the QATAL verb is in a subordinate clause after KI 'IM as part of 
an oath formula, which may explain the unusual verb usage. Other 
examples of a QATAL with this formula are noted in GKC 149.

Peter Kirk
E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
Blog:    http://www.qaya.org/blog/
Website: http://www.qaya.org/

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