[b-hebrew] HITPAEL as mutual action

Richard Benton rcbenton at wisc.edu
Wed Apr 1 14:38:05 EDT 2009

Not all can be interpreted as reflexive.  One clear passive is Qoh 8:10 
$kx.  A common use of the Hitpael is "act like" something, such as xlh 
in 2 Sam 13:5-6.  I wouldn't say that this would be a reflexive, but 
maybe more of a middle sense.

I believe Russian has some -sya verbs that could not be translated as 

For a definition of "middle" I refer to Suzanne Kemmer's (1993), "The 
middle voice."

Richard Benton

Vadim Cherny wrote:
> IMO, all instances of hitpael in Hebrew are reflexive: doing something 
> to someone or, more specifically, to cause someone to cause something. 
> That is the only plausible interpretation of the suffix ht = hh, two 
> casuatives (double hiphil, so to say).
> That sense of reflective action is obfuscated in translation because 
> equivalent English words lack the sense of reflexion, but I venture that 
> careful examination shows such sense for every hitpael.
> Vadim Cherny
> Isaac Fried wrote:
>> In present day Hebrew the BINYAN of HITPAEL is often used for mutual 
>> action, for example, HIT-XABQ-U, 'they embraced, XBQ,  each other'. Is 
>> there an instance of similar usage in the Hebrew bible?
>> Isaac Fried, Boston University
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