[b-hebrew] Psa 1,1f

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Mar 12 20:04:11 EDT 2012


On Sun, Mar 11, 2012 at 5:09 PM, George Athas <George.Athas at moore.edu.au>wrote:

> Hi Karl!
> Sorry if I misread you there — my apologies for that.

I am not always the clearest writer, so that could have led you astray.

> I disagree that all the verbal conjugations state simple fact, though I
> know what it is you're getting at.

There are other passages that are clearer on that than Psalm 1.

> Using an aspectual approach, I'd argue Qatal presents an action as an
> accomplished fact, and view it simply and concretely.

This is what I was taught concerning aspect and the Qatal. But I found that
untenable when reading the whole text of Tanakh.

> This is quite different to Yiqtol, which has a more complex view and,
> therefore, a wider range of possible translations into English. The Yiqtol
> has no specific occurrence of an action in view. It either looks at things
> generally (e.g. gnomic present), as occurring many times (e.g. habitual
> past), or as not having occurred yet (e.g. future, subjunctive). The
> distinction I'm drawing here is not just that the verbs state something (of
> course they do!), but how they present the action (an aspectual question).
> Yiqtol verbs do not present an action as simple, concrete fact.
> Furthermore, Wayyiqtol is aspectually different to Qatal, in presenting an
> action as though it were happening 'live', thus producing a sense of
> momentum.

I, too, find the Yiqtol being more complex than the Qatal, The most common
use seems to be in narrative to indicate continuation of the story. The
Yiqtol is also used to indicate subjunctive (e.g. Exodus 20 “You should not
commit adultery.” ”You should not steal.” etc.), volition (Exodus 5:2 “…
and even Israel I have no intention of sending out.”), optative (Genesis
4:7 “If you do what is pleasing …”), and in Psalm 1:2 the possibility that
it indicates desire, that the blessed person wants to read God’s Word day
and night.

> The continuation idea you raise is interesting. My instinct is to say that
> Weqatal should be used, since it's the continuation verb in Hebrew.
> However, how would we achieve that in this case without a wholesale
> rearrangement of the syntax and, therefore, a very different poetic
> structure? Yiqtol can often be used to indicate potential result or
> purpose, so that could provide some sense of logical continuation. But I
> don't think that makes much sense here in Ps 1.1. So how exactly are you
> seeing continuation with the Yiqtol happening in 1.2?

Psalm 1:2 is providing a contrast, indicated by the כי אם KY )M of the
positive things that a blessed person does, not just the negatives
mentioned in the first verse.

What I have seen in other passages is the Qatal used for the primary verb
in a declarative sentence, with secondary and further declarative verbs
often being Yiqtols, often wayiqtols, to indicate continuation of the idea,
and most often, the continuation of narrative in narrative sections.

Where I find the Qatal as a secondary verb is in subjunctive or optative
sentences (if … then (Qatal) …). Other than that, I find the Qatal used for
simple declarative sentences with the Yiqtol used in secondary or
continuation clauses.

An example of Qatal used for the primary verb while Yiqtols for
continuation of the idea is the next verse, Psalm 1:3. The primary verb is
Qatal, “is (like a tree)” with the following verbs building on that idea,
i.e. continuing what it means to be like a tree.

> Director of Postgraduate Studies,
> Moore Theological College (moore.edu.au)
> Sydney, Australia
> Karl W. Randolph.

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