a modal yiqtol in Gen 2:6a?

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Mark Lightman
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a modal yiqtol in Gen 2:6a?

Postby Mark Lightman » Wed May 23, 2018 7:22 pm

Gen 2:6a: וְאֵד יַעֲלֶה מִן-הָאָרֶץ

Most versions render the verb with some sort of past tense. e.g:

LXX: πηγὴ δὲ ἀνέβαινεν ἐκ τῆς γῆς...

Tanakh Ram: וְאֵד עָלָה מִן הָאָרֶץ

But the Graecus Venetus uses an optative: νεφέλη δ' ἀναβαίνοι πρὸς τῆς γῆς... I think the idea is modal: under those ancient circumstances, which no longer exist, a mist would come up.

Is this the best way to understand the yiqtol here?
Mark Lightman

R.J. Furuli
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Re: a modal yiqtol in Gen 2:6a?

Postby R.J. Furuli » Thu May 24, 2018 5:47 am

Dear Mark,

The issue in my view is not modality, but rather semantics versus pragmatics, which is a neglected field in Hebrew studies. When we analyze a clause, and we come up with a certain interpretation of the verb, the question is whether the force of the verb that we see is an intrinsic factor of the verb itselc (=semantic meaning), or whehter the force is based on the context (=conversational pragmaic implicature).

I argue in my doctoral dissertation that Classical Hebrew has just two conjugations: yiqtol, wayyiqtol, and weyiqtol represent the imperfective conjugation, and qatal and weqatal represents the perfective conjugation. If this is correct, it means that וַיִּשְׁבֹּת֙ in Genesis 2:2 and וַיְבָ֤רֶךְ in 2:3 is just as imperfective as יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה in 2:6. However, the pragmatics are different, because the verbs in 2:2 and 2:3 have the prefixed conjunction waw (and). And here is the fallacy, in my view. In narratives, one event follows the other in succession, and to express that in Hebrew, "and" (waw) is used: he ..., and... he... and...he... and... This waw that is a pragmatic signal of consecusion is interpreted semantically, and it is believed that this simple conjunction changes the force of the verb to the very opposite of what it is without the prefixed conjunction. In Phoenician, the narraive verb is infinitive absolute, and the prefixed waw to this form also is a pragmatic sinal of consecution; it does not change the infinitive absolute to something else.

Imperfectivity is a subjective viewpoint, and it makes visible a part of the action with details visible, while perfectivity usually do not make details visible. I will translate 2:2, 3, and 6 in the following ways:

2:2b: "and he continued to rest."

2.3a "and God continued to bless the seventh day."

2:6a "but a mist was ascending from the earth."

Are the actions is the three examples completed and terminated? The verbs do not tell. The writer of Genesis looks back into the past, and the setting is past. But suppose that 2:2b was written down a few hours after God started his rest. Can we then say that his rest did not still continue? What if the account was written down an month after God started to rest? Was it then completed? We do not know. So, my point is that in a past setting imperfective verbs makes visible a small part of the action of the verbs, but the verbs themselves do not tell us whether the actions are completed when they are written down. However, the actionsart of a verb, its lexical meaning, and the context can together show that a past action was terminated at the time of writing. In naratives most actions are terminated at the time of writing.


Best regards,

Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway

kwrandolph
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Re: a modal yiqtol in Gen 2:6a?

Postby kwrandolph » Thu May 24, 2018 10:18 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:
Gen 2:6a: וְאֵד יַעֲלֶה מִן-הָאָרֶץ

Most versions render the verb with some sort of past tense.…


Yes, יעלה is modal, but it has a modality not found in English.

In narrative, of which this is an example, Biblical Hebrew had a modality that indicates a continuation or adding on to what was said before, yet is in the indicative mood. This modality is written with a Yiqtol, usually preceded with an “and” that is prefixed to the verb, though sometimes another word may come between the “and” and the verb, as in this example.

A good example of this modality is found in Proverbs 31:10–31, where most of the verbs are present indicative mood, continuous or repeated aspect. Yet the verbs are a mixture of Qatal and Yiqtol conjugations. Usually the Qatal comes first, then the Yiqtol adds to what was expressed using the Qatal verb.

Biblical Hebrew doesn’t have tense, rather the time when an action takes place is indicated by the context. When translating into a tense-based language, e.g. Greek or English, the translator takes the context, then puts the verb in the target language in the tense as indicated by the context. In this case, the context indicates that this was an event that happened in the past, therefore a translator should render this action using past tense verb in the target language.

Yes, this verb is modal, a modality that indicates an addition or continuation to what was said before.

Karl W. Randolph.

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Re: a modal yiqtol in Gen 2:6a?

Postby SteveMiller » Tue May 29, 2018 9:47 pm

Why is the verb ‎ יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה here imperfect and not perfect?
What is the difference in meaning if the verb were perfect instead of imperfect?
I think the use of the imperfect here means that the mist (or fountain) continued to rise and water the earth long after the actions in the following verses were completed. It probably continued until Noah's flood.
If the verb here had been perfect, then the action would have ended shortly afterward.
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
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Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

kwrandolph
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Re: a modal yiqtol in Gen 2:6a?

Postby kwrandolph » Wed May 30, 2018 6:56 am

SteveMiller wrote:Why is the verb ‎ יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה here imperfect and not perfect?


The question that started this thread, as I understand it, is if the Yiqtol indicates a modality, which modality would it be?

Back when I studied Hebrew in college, the question was; did the different conjugations indicate tense (as in Weingreen’s textbook) or aspect (as in J. Wash Watts’ “A Survey of Syntax …”). Both are measures of time. The use of the word “perfect” was used for tense, as it is used for actions that happened in the past. “Perfective” is used to indicate aspect, that an action is finished, or happens only once. “Imperfect” was less well defined, generally to refer to any time other than the past. Davidson’s analytical lexicon listed that as “future”, the same as modern Israeli Hebrew. “Imperfective” indicates aspect, that an action is continuous, repeated, or otherwise occurs over a span of time.

These were the terms as they were used not only in studying Biblical Hebrew, but also in studying other languages (e.g. Russian I was taught conjugates for both tense and aspect) and in studying linguistics. This is how I understand the descriptions found on the SIL.org glossary of linguistic terms.

But if the conjugations of Qatal and Yiqtol indicate modality, then none of those terms above are accurate for Biblical Hebrew. That’s why in these discussions I never use any of those terms to indicate the conjugations of Hebrew verbs.

SteveMiller wrote:I think the use of the imperfect here means that the mist (or fountain) continued to rise and water the earth long after the actions in the following verses were completed. It probably continued until Noah's flood.
If the verb here had been perfect, then the action would have ended shortly afterward.


You are using those terms to indicate aspect. Is aspect the correct understanding of the Biblical Hebrew Qatal and Yiqtol conjugations?

As for me, after about five times of reading Tanakh through, I came to the conclusion that neither tense nor aspect were accurate understandings for the Qatal and Yiqtol conjugations. That’s why I conclude that the conjugations are modal, but that the moods indicated are not always the same as in English. For example, I have not found the optative mood in Biblical Hebrew whereas it is in English, while the very common secondary or continuation indicative mood is very common in Biblical Hebrew, but not found in English.

TAM (tense, aspect, mood) are listed as the options for verbal conjugations, so if neither T nor A are accurate for Biblical Hebrew, then that leaves us with M - mood. Or is there a fourth option?

Karl W. Randolph.

Mark Lightman
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Re: a modal yiqtol in Gen 2:6a?

Postby Mark Lightman » Wed May 30, 2018 5:30 pm

SteveMiller wrote:Why is the verb ‎ יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה here imperfect and not perfect?
What is the difference in meaning if the verb were perfect instead of imperfect?

Hi, Steve:

I think the difference in meaning would be slight. Note that while the LXX has the imperfect πηγὴ δὲ ἀνέβαινεν ἐκ τῆς γῆς, Aquilla has an aorist καὶ ἐπιβλυσμὸς ἀνέβη ἐκ τῆς γῆς. I don't think the fundamental meaning is different. It's about nuance.

In English you can say:

In the old days, politicians took open bribes. Or:
In the old days, politicians would take open bribes.

I think the later is just slightly more conditional, less actualized, more hypothetical. You could go further and say

If this were the old days, politicians would take open bribes.

I still think the yiqtol here is in fact modal. The author is imagining a situation in which the rain had not yet come down from the firmament.

"If God had not yet caused it to rain, a mist would have to go up."

This is overstating it of course. The force is much more subtle. Nor do I mean to suggest that the author (Moses, according to me) did not view the situation as a historical reality, but he and the readers were never there before rain from heaven existed, so the situation in their minds appears with a dash of conditionality or hypotheticality or modality or whatever you want to call it.
kwrandolph wrote:For example, I have not found the optative mood in Biblical Hebrew...

Again, it was really the optative νεφέλη δ' ἀναβαίνοι of the Graecus Venetus that got me interested in the nuances of this verse. Whether Moses understood the verse as I do or not, I think the author of the GV (I call him the 71st translator) did.
SteveMiller wrote:I think the use of the imperfect here means that the mist (or fountain) continued to rise and water the earth long after the actions in the following verses were completed. It probably continued until Noah's flood.
If the verb here had been perfect, then the action would have ended shortly afterward.

Yes, it is also possible that this is what Moses had in mind.

I have another question. The way English works, you cannot say If this were the old days, politicians took open bribes. You have to use some form of a modal verbal. (If this were the old days, politicians would be taking open bribes) In Hebrew, could you use a perfect here? That is, does a qatal ever occur in an apodosis of condition?
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Re: a modal yiqtol in Gen 2:6a?

Postby SteveMiller » Wed May 30, 2018 9:11 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:In English you can say:

In the old days, politicians took open bribes. Or:
In the old days, politicians would take open bribes.

I think the later is just slightly more conditional, less actualized, more hypothetical. You could go further and say

If this were the old days, politicians would take open bribes.

Hi Mark,
I don't see any difference of conditionality in meaning in English between the 1st 2.
The 2nd one seems to be a tad more continuous. Both are definite, not conditional.
The 3rd one is a logical extension of either of the first 2 and is conditional, of course, because of the "if", and is a different sentence because it is applying the previous statements to today.

Mark Lightman wrote:I still think the yiqtol here is in fact modal. The author is imagining a situation in which the rain had not yet come down from the firmament.

"If God had not yet caused it to rain, a mist would have to go up."

This is overstating it of course. The force is much more subtle. Nor do I mean to suggest that the author (Moses, according to me) did not view the situation as a historical reality, but he and the readers were never there before rain from heaven existed, so the situation in their minds appears with a dash of conditionality or hypotheticality or modality or whatever you want to call it.

I can't see that the meaning here is in any way modal.
There is no reason that a mist would have to go up. Maybe "used to go up". Would that be modal?
The way I read vv5-6, the mist or fountain is going up and watering all the face of the earth simultaneous with there being no herb or shrub of the field. So the mist going up is not a solution to the problem in v5.

Mark Lightman wrote:I have another question. The way English works, you cannot say If this were the old days, politicians took open bribes. You have to use some form of a modal verbal. (If this were the old days, politicians would be taking open bribes) In Hebrew, could you use a perfect here? That is, does a qatal ever occur in an apodosis of condition?

Usually a waw-consecutive follows an if condition, but here are a few examples of qatal in the consequent clause of a conditional:
Genesis 21:7 And she said, Who would have said to Abraham, Sarah will suckle children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.
תֹּ֗אמֶר מִ֤י מִלֵּל֙ לְאַבְרָהָ֔ם

Numbers 22:29 And Balaam said to the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in my hand, for now would I kill thee!
‎ כִּ֥י עַתָּ֖ה הֲרַגְתִּֽיךְ

Judges 8:19 And he said, They were my brethren, the sons of my mother. As Jehovah liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.
‎ ל֚וּ הַחֲיִתֶ֣ם אוֹתָ֔ם לֹ֥א הָרַ֖גְתִּי אֶתְכֶֽם׃

Judges 13:23 But his wife said to him, If Jehovah were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt-offering and an oblation at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would he at this time have told us such things as these.
‎ וַתֹּ֧אמֶר ל֣וֹ אִשְׁתּ֗וֹ לוּ֩ חָפֵ֙ץ יְהוָ֤ה לַהֲמִיתֵ֙נוּ֙ לֹֽא־לָקַ֤ח מִיָּדֵ֙נוּ֙ עֹלָ֣ה וּמִנְחָ֔ה וְלֹ֥א הֶרְאָ֖נוּ אֶת־כָּל־אֵ֑לֶּה וְכָעֵ֕ת לֹ֥א הִשְׁמִיעָ֖נוּ כָּזֹֽאת
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
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Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

kwrandolph
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Re: a modal yiqtol in Gen 2:6a?

Postby kwrandolph » Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:10 am

SteveMiller wrote:
Mark Lightman wrote:I have another question. The way English works, you cannot say If this were the old days, politicians took open bribes. You have to use some form of a modal verbal. (If this were the old days, politicians would be taking open bribes) In Hebrew, could you use a perfect here? That is, does a qatal ever occur in an apodosis of condition?

Usually a waw-consecutive follows an if condition, but here are a few examples of qatal in the consequent clause of a conditional:
Genesis 21:7 And she said, Who would have said to Abraham, Sarah will suckle children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.
תֹּ֗אמֶר מִ֤י מִלֵּל֙ לְאַבְרָהָ֔ם

Numbers 22:29 And Balaam said to the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in my hand, for now would I kill thee!
‎ כִּ֥י עַתָּ֖ה הֲרַגְתִּֽיךְ

Judges 8:19 And he said, They were my brethren, the sons of my mother. As Jehovah liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.
‎ ל֚וּ הַחֲיִתֶ֣ם אוֹתָ֔ם לֹ֥א הָרַ֖גְתִּי אֶתְכֶֽם׃

Judges 13:23 But his wife said to him, If Jehovah were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt-offering and an oblation at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would he at this time have told us such things as these.
‎ וַתֹּ֧אמֶר ל֣וֹ אִשְׁתּ֗וֹ לוּ֩ חָפֵ֙ץ יְהוָ֤ה לַהֲמִיתֵ֙נוּ֙ לֹֽא־לָקַ֤ח מִיָּדֵ֙נוּ֙ עֹלָ֣ה וּמִנְחָ֔ה וְלֹ֥א הֶרְאָ֖נוּ אֶת־כָּל־אֵ֑לֶּה וְכָעֵ֕ת לֹ֥א הִשְׁמִיעָ֖נוּ כָּזֹֽאת


Mark has a point here. Part of the grammaticization of the conditional in English is to make the result into a subjunctive mood. But as I said before, I see no evidence that Biblical Hebrew grammaticized the conditional. Translation ≠ original language.

This is the same that just as Biblical Hebrew didn’t grammaticize tense nor aspect, but English does, therefore the translator must take the contextual clues and add tense and aspect to a translation in order to make it read easily in English, so also he must make the result of a conditional other than indicative mood for the same reason.

(Genesis 21:7 I don’t read as subjunctive mood, rather as “and she said, ‘Who stated to Abraham…’” indicative mood.)

Karl W. Randolph.

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Re: a modal yiqtol in Gen 2:6a?

Postby SteveMiller » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:07 pm

kwrandolph wrote:
SteveMiller wrote:Usually a waw-consecutive follows an if condition, but here are a few examples of qatal in the consequent clause of a conditional:
Genesis 21:7 And she said, Who would have said to Abraham, Sarah will suckle children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.
תֹּ֗אמֶר מִ֤י מִלֵּל֙ לְאַבְרָהָ֔ם



(Genesis 21:7 I don’t read as subjunctive mood, rather as “and she said, ‘Who stated to Abraham…’” indicative mood.)

Karl W. Randolph.

Thanks Karl. In Gen 21:7 Sarah is saying, Nobody would have said that. So she is exclaiming by asking, Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would suckle children? It is a miracle.
It is like saying, Who would have said in 2015 that Trump would be the next President?
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
Detroit
http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)


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