[b-hebrew] Psa 1,1f

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Mar 9 17:35:59 EST 2012


On Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 9:26 AM, Chavoux Luyt <chavoux at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Karl
> > From: K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
> > The whole psalm is present tense, imperfective aspect. What we deal with
> > here is different moods.
> >
> > In the first verse, there are three declarative phrases that defines a
> > blessed person. Hence the Qatal in all three phrases.
> >
> > The second verse the Yiqtol indicates the desire, or subjunctive use of
> the
> > verb.
> <snip>
> > The Qatal and Yiqtol conjugations reference neither tense (past, present,
> > future) nor aspect (completed, uncompleted action), and this psalm gives
> > examples that this is the case.
> Why is this so?

I try not to answer the why, just the what. So often human languages are
just the way they are, and the why is not seen.

> From both an aspect and tense perspective the Psalm
> would still make sense.

Look at the context, are we dealing with a dead man? Or one who has died
before the first verse, but resurrected for the second? I see the context
indicating present activities throughout the whole psalm. Therefore, my
understanding of the psalm rules out tense being the message of the

As for aspect, there needs to be a better interpretation of aspect than
completed / uncompleted actions to make that fit.

> "Blessed is the man who did not walk in the counsel of the wicked and
> in the way of the sinners he did not stand and in the gathering of the
> scoffers he did not sit. But his delight (is) in the law of the LORD
> and day and night he will meditate on His law. He will be like a tree
> planted by a stream of water..."
> I can simply not see why this cannot be a valid translation of these
> verses.

Context, see above.

> Shalom
> Chavoux Luyt

In reading Tanakh over and over again, from cover to cover, I found that
neither tense nor aspect made for comprehendible interpretations of
Biblical Hebrew texts as a whole. It is possible to take some passages and
make them understandable reading them as aspect or tense, but not the whole.

>From discussions on this list, apparently Hebrew went through three main
phases: medieval to modern where the verbs are conjugated as tense, DSS
through Mishnaic where the conjugations indicated aspect, and Biblical
 which we are discussing on this list. I personally know only Biblical
Hebrew, where the verbs conjugate for neither aspect nor tense, but is a
different pattern which may be called modal but modes some of which are not
found in standard grammars.

Apparently my understanding is similar to that of the late Dr. Diethelm
Michel of Uni-Mainz, but as I have not had access to his writings, I can
neither confirm nor disprove that.

Having said the above, I am still feeling my way through Hebrew grammar
like a ship in fog. What I was taught in class turned out to be “first year
lies” and I am in unfamiliar territory as I try to explain my observations.
And as one who is exploring unfamiliar territory, I don’t have a full grasp
of all the details that I see.

Karl W. Randolph.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list