[b-hebrew] Tenses - Deut 6:4

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Mon Feb 26 07:58:48 EST 2007

Until an informed, grammar-versed, member comes up with an  
authoritative textbook answer to your question, I will tell you how  
I, naively, yet effectively, look at these grammatical matters. Keep  
in mind that language is technically a primitive device. We  
understand what is being said partly by dint of grammar, but mostly  
by dint of intelligence and circumstantial understanding.

Take (KJV) Exodus 21:5: "And if the servant shall plainly say, I love  
my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free". The  
Hebrew word is AHABTI, which in my opinion is AHAB-TI (- is a hyphen  
in place of a +), with TI being the obsolete stand-alone personal  
pronoun ATI=ANI, the English 'I'. Thus the servant is plainly saying  
"love-I (love-servant) master-I, wife-I, and children-I".

If you look up AHABTI in a table of Hebrew verbs you will be informed  
that it means ‘I loved’ (once upon a time), from the root AHB. But  
this is certainly not what the servant is saying. How do we know  
that? By dint of intelligence and understanding. We know (?) the  
infinite nature of love, and we are aware of the emotional ties that  
bond a family together (if not, there are hundreds of books written  
to sharpen our understanding). What we hear is not "I loved" but  
rather "I loved, I am loving, I will love forever". This is the  
difference between local (isolated word) grammar and global  
(contextual) grammar. Indeed, the KJV translation of ‘I love’ is  
correct in the contextual sense, but not in the narrow tabular  
grammatical sense.

In Genesis 22:2 we read: "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac,  
whom thou lovest". The Hebrew word is AHABTA=AHAB-ATA=AHAB-ATAH,  

In Proverbs 8:36 we read: "all they that hate me love death". The  
Hebrew word is AHABU=AHAB-U=AHAB-HU, 'love-they'. But not  

In Deuteronomy 10:19 we read: "Love ye therefore the stranger". The  
Hebrew word is VA-AHABTEM=VA-AHAB-ATEM. 'and-love-you (plural)'.

In Isaiah 43:4 we read: "and I have loved thee". The Hebrew word is  
AHABTIKA=AHAB-ATI-AKA, 'love-I-you', where AKA is an obsolete  
equivalent to ATA. It is used here to avoid the clumsy *AHABTITA=AHAB- 
ANI, 'love-I-I', not to be confused with AHABTANI=AHAB-ATA-ANI, ‘love- 

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Feb 24, 2007, at 4:10 PM, Bob MacDonald wrote:

> The Blue Letter Bible http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/c.pl? 
> book=Deu
> <http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/c.pl? 
> book=Deu&chapter=6&verse=5&vers
> ion=KJV#5> &chapter=6&verse=5&version=KJV#5 shows the tense of  
> Deuteronomy
> 6:4 'ahavta as Qal perfect
> Other online resources confirm that a general present might be a  
> suitable
> literal translation
> Any thoughts - 1. why is it always future, implying imperative and  
> 2. what
> is the ta suffix - I have a new Hebrew book of verbs but it is all  
> in Hebrew
> so its rather tough slogging at the moment but I can't find the ta  
> suffix as
> a verb part
> Thanks for your patience with the questions
> Bob MacDonald
> Victoria BC
> http://gx.ca
> http://bmd.gx.ca
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list