[b-hebrew] questions, reliable evidence, 'stand' and 'said'

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Thu Jul 9 01:14:52 EDT 2009

Dear Randall,

Please tell us your definition of perfective and imperfective. What 
are the characteristics of a perfective and an imperfective verb 
respectively, and by which criteria can the two verbs (actions) be 

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

>  >Even if one
>would say that the writer meant to make visible
>that the cows came up out of the Nile and began
>to stand beside those on the riverbank, the end
>of the state is still not reached. So, both in
>both the state expressed by the participle and by
>the WAYYIQTOL R intersects E after the beginning
>and before the end. So how can this WAYYIQTOL be
>The above is a snippet from a very long thread. There are
>a couple of disturbing points that might prove fruitful
>for a thread that can reach some resolution.
>The quoted discussion above on Gen 41 ends in an
>apparent rhetorical question, that is, the question
>expects a negative answer "it can't be perfective".
>This question raises two questions of its own:
>if it turns out that the phrase 'and they stood beside the
>cows" can indeed be viewed perfectively in the context,
>1) was the rhetorical question "how can this be
>perfective?" intended to hide other possibilities?
>If so, it would be unreliable scholarship.
>or 2) was the rhetorical question "how can this be
>perfective?" expressing that the person writing was
>incapable of finding an answer? If so, it is equally
>disturbing as unreliable scholarship.
>So can 'stand' be viewed perfectively in such a context?
>Of course.
>Though I won't drag the list thru the 434 xx of la`amod.
>The basic sense of the perfective here is 'to take a stand'.
>This is similar to the statement made by Rolf in the long thread
>>  "In order to find examples where the perfective aspect portrays
>actions that are ongoing, and where the end is not reached,
>you can only use the perfect participle - he has stood.">
>In other words, with some verbs it is not necessary that every
>bit of 'stative time' be included if the stable state itself has been
>reached. In the case of the cows above, this makes a
>compelling, common sense solution. The cows went up and
>then perfectively entered a state of standing.
>2Chr 20:20 uve-tset-am `amad Yhoshafat vayyomer . . .
>and while they were going out (to the wilderness) Yoshafat
>took a stand and said . . .
>2 Samuel 20:11 and 12 is a similar use of `amad, and Rolf will
>be happy that these are a 'suffix-TAM' verb.
>2 Ki 2:7 fifty prophets halxu vayya`amdu went and stood from
>afar and the two of them `amdu stood/stopped at the Jordan.
>One would have to acknowledge that vatta`amodna in Gen 41
>is at least as perfective as `amad in the above contexts.
>And if this is acknowledged, then the two disturbing questions
>One gets another glimpse of this whole phenomenon in the
>'unanswered' question about Genesis 12 vayyomer 'and he
>David rightly pointed out that the words quoted were finished,
>that the end point of the speaking was included in the context.
>However, in Rolf's favor he could have pointed out that
>languages and authors may chose to 'finesse' a quotation
>frame, even if the context is a simple, completed event.
>For example, in Greek (NB: I am not claiming that Greek equals
>Hebrew, only that it is an example of a mixed aspectual approach)
>it is common to use EIPEN 'he said (perfective)' for introducing
>quoted speech. However, Greek authors would also vary their
>introductions and could say ELEGEN 'he was saying
>(imperfective)' for various reasons, like providing background
>for a more decisive event/speech that was to follow, or for a
>repeated speech, or for a long complicated speech, etc.
>So the event itself, the quotation, may be present in whole,
>but the introductory verb need not be perfective. However, since
>the event is presented in whole, the natural reading is perfective
>and the burden of proof would be on anyone claiming that the
>default speech frame was imperfective. One can certainly
>cite both the LXX translators and the targum translators
>as supporting David's reading at Gen 12:1. The LXX chose
>EIPEN (perfective) and the targum chose ve-amar (perfective).
>And the 2000 occurrences of vayyomer/etc./ line up with
>perfective patterns. (Even if we don't list and discuss them
>all here.) So David's position stands, even if it is not an
>This brings us back to the trustworthiness of the analyst.
>If someone says that Gen 41 vata`amodna cannot possibly
>be perfective, and they use similar analysis to dismiss the
>concerted weight of the Aramaic targum, Syriac, Arabic,
>and LXX, not to mention the internal Hebrew tradition of
>complementary patterns of vayyiqtol // qatal in extended
>contexts, they will find few takers of their position.
>Randall Buth, PhD
>randallbuth at gmail.com
>Biblical Language Center
>Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

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