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

Jason Hare jaihare at gmail.com
Tue Apr 21 18:42:40 EDT 2009

How common do you think it is for the understood/translated tense to
correlate with imperfect or perfect aspect? Is the correspondence
truly so trivial that (at the very least, in narrative) we cannot
assume any type of tense indication in the form? In my personal
reading, anyway, I don't see the problem in narrative with viewing
imperfect (and corresponding vav-conversives) and perfect (same)
simply being understood/assumed as future in tense.

In other words, there is nothing necessarily contextual that would
make me choose past tense in my translation of ויאמר VY)MR on its own
in a simple sentence introducing some piece of speech. I mean, it
could just as well be future, telling me what someone WILL say. I know
it's kinda being absurd, but surely there is SOME TENSE FUNCTION
within the narrative flow, something above and beyond "aspect/Aspekt"
or perspective. I cannot help but feel that Hebrew (yes, Biblical
Hebrew) expresses tense quite naturally in most cases. In those which
are less straightforward, the aspectual features of the forms come
into play. For the vast majority of verbs, though, it seems rather
clear (again, in narrative).

I don't mean to argue the position. It just doesn't set well with me
to think that the language had nothing to indicate tense inherently in
the verb, when it is so naturally there in the majority of cases.

Jason Hare
Rehovot, Israel

On Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 1:24 AM, K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com> wrote:
> No. Unlike English and other Indo-European languages, Biblical Hebrew did
> not express tenses through the form of the verb.
> Context is the main and final arbiter.
> Karl W. Randolph.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list