[b-hebrew] Qatal following Vayiqtol

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Wed Nov 18 19:44:01 EST 2009

vayyixtov Yoel

>Rabbi S. R. Hirsch on Genesis 25:34 says (roughly) that a Qatal form
following a Vayiqtol form¹ is a past perfect, i.e., the translation
should be
>	And Jacob _had given_ Esau bread and pottage of lentils…
with a fairly different view of what transpired than traditional
translations suggest.
>Is this grammatical feature otherwise attested to?  Is it widely accepted?
>1. I’m using terminology I picked up from this list; if there’s a more
standard naming scheme would someone please correct me?
>—Joel C. Salomon

shalom Yoel,

qatal and vayyiqtol work fine as names. Traditional Hebrew calls them
`avar and vav hahippux (le`avar).

On your question, it relates to something already discussed by Rash"i almost
a millenium ago. Rashi was aware that [noun]+qatal structures often
reset a unit in a different time frame. See his commentary at Gen 4:1 where
he argues that the Man knew Havva his wife 'in the garden'. This was
based on this same structure. Some moderns refer to this as X-qatal structure.

However, it is probably better to see the structure as more generically
"breaking the narrative continuity". this might be for something that had
already happened, or for something the was simultaneous, or for
marking the beginning or end of a narrative unit (paragraph), or simply a
break for rhetorical effect. the last two functions would not pause or
back-reference the real time reference,
they would continue the forward progress of the time. that is how
I read Gen 4:1, too. the structure begins a new unit, but does not reset the
time frame in the garden.

Here Gen 25:34, I would read this verse as a separate little
unit from verses 31-33, and marked as 'separate' by the "[something]+qatal
structure". Yaacov gave the bread and lentils "after" the sale and oath.

Randall Buth

Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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