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

Vadim Cherny vadimcherny at mail.ru
Fri Apr 13 11:49:25 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 understand that comparing Hebrew text to Russian is anathema to most 
listmembers, but here, as often, the parallel is inescapable. Ruth 4:3 is 
structured exactly as it would be in old Russian, "Here comes Naomi to sell 
the land" or "Here, Naomi from the land of Moab sells the land". It's again 
a matter of deictic center shift - now on Boaz' part. Naomi's sale is to be 
dealt with as he speaks; her sale is integral to his suggestion, current.

>> 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.'

That usage of qatal is similar to the one Peter noted for weqatal 
instructions in Exodus 25. Past tense describes future action which is 
highly assured, considered as done. That again closely parallels Russian 
usage, "have it done!" (ну-ка, сделал быстро!) command.

Vadim Cherny 

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