[b-hebrew] b-hebrew] Tense

Dr. Frank Matheus post at matheus.de
Tue Dec 18 05:48:09 EST 2012

Dear Dave,


I wrote: But  anyway, perceiving a single wayyiqtol-form lets us think of the past. 

> This is not the case with a single qatal-form like אָמַ֣ר  , which can 

> be found in a narrative mode (cf. Gen 13:14 וַֽיהוָ֞ה אָמַ֣ר 

> אֶל־אַבְרָ֗ם  ), but might also express anteriority (cf. Gen 22:3 

> וַיֵּ֔לֶךְ אֶל־הַמָּק֖וֹם אֲשֶׁר־אָֽמַר־ל֥וֹ הָאֱלֹהִֽים ) which the wayyiqtol usually does not.



you wrote: The latter clause only expresses anteriority because it's an אֲשֶׁר clause. It has nothing to do with the form of the verb, except for the fact that wayyiqtols can only appear in clause-initial position. So I'm not sure these examples actually show what you're trying to demonstrate.


My answer: The qatal can express anteriority in all three time stages; this is an aspectual function (perfectivity regarding the main clause). And so you are right: we cannot descry the function by the form – we need the periphrastics. Just two examples:


1)      anteriority in the past without asher: 1 Sam 1:5 כִּ֤י אֶת־חַנָּה֙ אָהֵ֔ב וַֽיהוָ֖ה סָגַ֥ר רַחְמָֽהּ 

2)      anteriority in the future: Gen 28:15 כִּ֚י לֹ֣א אֶֽעֱזָבְךָ֔ עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִם־עָשִׂ֔יתִי אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־דִּבַּ֖רְתִּי לָֽךְ׃ 


Frank Matheus,  Münster


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