[b-hebrew] The use of the Yiqtol in Isaiah 1:21

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Tue Apr 21 06:08:42 EDT 2009

There are several different views regarding the 
meaning of the Classical Hebrew conjugations. The 
basic methodological problem that we find in 
grammars and textbooks, is that no attempts are 
made to distinguish between the semantic meaning 
(grammaticalized meaning) of the verb forms and 
conversational pragmatic implicature (meaning 
that is derived from the context). I am not aware 
of any study of Hebrew verbs apart from my own 
doctoral dissertation (which is based on an 
analysis all the 80.000 finite and infinite verbs 
of Classical Hebrew) where this difference is 
systematically pursued. The same is true 
regarding Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Aramaic“ no 
such studies do exist.

I agree that the YIQTOL in Isaiah 1:21 has past 
reference. But I disagree with George that the 
YIQTOL  form indicate indefinite action and does 
not express one specific concrete action. For 
example, do not the YIQTOLs and WEYIQTOLs with 
past reference in  Nehemiah 3:14, 15 express 
concrete specific actions just as do the QATALs? 
I would also say that to ascribe tense to the 
conjugations (past tense to WAYYIQTOL and 
present/future tense to YIQTOL) is misleading; it 
fails to distinguish between semantics and 
pragmatics. The same is true with the claim that 
a YIQTOL with past reference must have a 
different procedural trait, i.e., being 
progressive, iterative, or habitual ("durative 
past" is a misnomer, because durativity is an 
Aktionsart term, and a verb in QATAL is just as 
durative as the same verb in YIQTOL) than a 
WAYYYIQTOL. Joüon/Muraoka (113 h) lists several 
YIQTOLs with past reference having no durative 
(sic) or iterative force. And there are many, 
many more such verbs.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

>In addition to Karl's response, the context is 
>helped along by the first clause of the verse, 
>which talks about what the steadfast citadel has 
>become. A change has evidently occurred, so it 
>makes sense that what is on view is the 
>transition from a positive status to a negative 
>status. So the markers around the Yiqtol suggest 
>a past reference. A Yiqtol indicates an 
>indefinite action - that is, not one specific 
>concrete action (that's Qatal). So, a habitual 
>action in the past fits the criterion of an 
>indefinite past action.
>Moore Theological College (Sydney, Australia)
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

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