Genesis 2:6 and the aspects

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R.J. Furuli
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Genesis 2:6 and the aspects

Postby R.J. Furuli » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:34 am

Dear friends,

Genesis 2:5 was recently discussed. I follow up with the next verse, looking at the aspects.

My translation is: But a mist was ascending (יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה) from the earth, and it watered (וְהִשְׁקָ֖ה) the whole surface of the ground."

The reason for the yiqtol is that a word is preceding. If the verb was sentence initial, it would have been written as wayyiqtol. There are several hundred examples of this system. Both yiqtol and wayyiqtol are imperfective, and the reason for the choice of form is word order—an element preceding the verb or not.

Is the action of the yiqtol completed or uncompleted? In order to answer we need to look at the deictic center (C). The deictic center is the vantage point from which an action is seen. Actions in English before (C) have past tense, actions after (C) has future tense, and actions contemporanous with (C) have present reference (not "present tense" because present can be used for past, present and futture, and therefore is not a tense). In most cases (C) is speech time, or the time of writing. But in the so-called relative tenses (C) can be a point in the past or in the future.

What is (C) in Genesis 2:6? The time of the writing of the account. The situation occurred before man, and therefore the action of the yiqtol was completed. The other verb is a consecutive perfect, and the action expressed by this verb also was completed at (C). This shows that consecutive perfect does not have any intrinsic future force—in this case it refers to the past.

The verse also demonstrate the differences between the Hebrew aspects. The aspects do not give any signal as to the temporal reference (not "tense, because Hebrew does not have tenses), and the aspects do not tell whether an action was completed or not at (C). Both temporal reference and completeness must be construed on the basis of the context. The aspects are subjective viewpoints and not objective expressions, as for example aktionsart. The imperfective aspect expressed by yiqtol, wayyiqtol, and weyiqtol, makes visible a part of progressive action, usually with details visible—here: a "piece" of mist ascended, and then another "piece" of mist followed. The perfective aspect represented by qatal and weqatal makes a part of an action, or the whole action, visibile, as if seen from som distance, and details are not visible—here: the ground was watered, and details are not seen.

NB: the term "durative past" as a definition of yiqtols with past reference is a misnomer, because durativity is an aktionsart property and not an aspectual property. A word that is marked for durativity, such as שׁיר, will always be durative regardless of temporal reference or aspect.


Best regards,

Rolf


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Re: Genesis 2:6 and the aspects

Postby SteveMiller » Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:52 pm

R.J. Furuli wrote:Dear friends,

Genesis 2:5 was recently discussed. I follow up with the next verse, looking at the aspects.

My translation is: But a mist was ascending (יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה) from the earth, and it watered (וְהִשְׁקָ֖ה) the whole surface of the ground."

The reason for the yiqtol is that a word is preceding. If the verb was sentence initial, it would have been written as wayyiqtol. There are several hundred examples of this system. Both yiqtol and wayyiqtol are imperfective, and the reason for the choice of form is word order—an element preceding the verb or not.


What is the difference in meaning if this verse started with a waw-verb instead of a waw-noun?
Sequential actions start with a wayyiqtol. This is the vast majority of actions in a narrative.
When a sentence starts with waw-noun it indicates either a break in the narrative, like a paragraph or chapter break, or it indicates that this sentence is concurrent in time with the previous sentence. The case here is that the action in Gen 2:6 is concurrent with Gen 2:5. That is why a waw-noun sentence start is usually translated with a "but" as it is here. So I understand that the fountain going up and watering the earth was not sufficient for the plants of the field to grow.

If 2:6 had started with a wayyiqtol or weqatal, then I would understand that the fountain went up AFTER the situation in 2:5. 2:6 would not be translated with an initial "but", and I would understand that the action in 2:6 made the plants of the field to grow.

2:6b starts with a weqatal indicating that the watering action came after the fountain rose up.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Is the action of the yiqtol completed or uncompleted? In order to answer we need to look at the deictic center (C). The deictic center is the vantage point from which an action is seen. Actions in English before (C) have past tense, actions after (C) has future tense, and actions contemporanous with (C) have present reference (not "present tense" because present can be used for past, present and futture, and therefore is not a tense). In most cases (C) is speech time, or the time of writing. But in the so-called relative tenses (C) can be a point in the past or in the future.

What is (C) in Genesis 2:6? The time of the writing of the account. The situation occurred before man, and therefore the action of the yiqtol was completed. The other verb is a consecutive perfect, and the action expressed by this verb also was completed at (C). This shows that consecutive perfect does not have any intrinsic future force—in this case it refers to the past.

The verse also demonstrate the differences between the Hebrew aspects. The aspects do not give any signal as to the temporal reference (not "tense, because Hebrew does not have tenses), and the aspects do not tell whether an action was completed or not at (C). Both temporal reference and completeness must be construed on the basis of the context. The aspects are subjective viewpoints and not objective expressions, as for example aktionsart. The imperfective aspect expressed by yiqtol, wayyiqtol, and weyiqtol, makes visible a part of progressive action, usually with details visible—here: a "piece" of mist ascended, and then another "piece" of mist followed. The perfective aspect represented by qatal and weqatal makes a part of an action, or the whole action, visibile, as if seen from som distance, and details are not visible—here: the ground was watered, and details are not seen.

NB: the term "durative past" as a definition of yiqtols with past reference is a misnomer, because durativity is an aktionsart property and not an aspectual property. A word that is marked for durativity, such as שׁיר, will always be durative regardless of temporal reference or aspect.


I would have expected a qatal for the first verb and a weyyiqtol for the 2nd, because, as you said, it took place in the past with respect to the writer, but instead we have a yiqtol and a weqatal, both of which I understand as imperfect, or not completed.
I think the reason both these verbs are imperfect as I understand them is because the action continued past the context of the verse. While it had been completed by the time Moses wrote it, it continued past all the following verses, probably until Noah's flood. Had the verbs in 2:6 been qatal and weyyiqtol, then it would mean that the fountain stopped rising and watering the earth when God caused it to rain and created man.
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
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http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

R.J. Furuli
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

Re: Genesis 2:6 and the aspects

Postby R.J. Furuli » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:51 am

Dear Steve,

You wrote:
What is the difference in meaning if this verse started with a waw-verb instead of a waw-noun?
Sequential actions start with a wayyiqtol. This is the vast majority of actions in a narrative.


In my view, there would be no semantic difference, because a wayyiqtol is just as imperfective as a yiqtol. I would have translated the clause with wayyiqtol like this: "And a mist was descending." No one has ever been able to prove that the way-element in wayyiqtol is something different from the simple conjunction waw (and). The gemination is caused by phonological rules and is not semantic.

In a narrative it is the waw prefixed to the verbs that drives the account forward and not the verb tiself: And he did..., and he did.. and he did. In Phoenician, for example, the narrative form is infinitive absolute with prefixed waw. It is not the infinitive absolute that drives the narrative forward, it is the waw. The conjunction waw can express consecution, but it can also express that different actions occur at the same time (see 1 Samuel 1:17; 2 Kings 18:28, and 1 Chronicles 29:22)
There would be one difference in 2:6, however, if the first clause started with wayyiqtol instead of a substantive. This difference relates the topic and comment (theme and rheme). Because the substantive occured before the verb, the substantive would have been stressed.

You wrote:

I would have expected a qatal for the first verb and a weyyiqtol for the 2nd, because, as you said, it took place in the past with respect to the writer, but instead we have a yiqtol and a weqatal, both of which I understand as imperfect, or not completed.


With all resepct for you as a person with a very good knowledge of Hebrew, and one who takes part in discussions in a civil way, you have the old views of Hebrew aspects, which are very difficult to apply consistently to the Hebrew text.

If the waws before yiqtol and qatal are simple conjunctions, there are only two conjugations in Hebrew and not four. I would also like to stress that the verb forms that express aspects tell us nothing about the time of an action or whether the action is completed or not at the deictic center. Temporal reference and completed and uncompleted actions can solely be construed on the basis of the context (=aksjonsart, lexical meaning, conjunctions, prepositions, adverbials, difiniteness, indefiniteness, as well as a knowledge of the world—the discussion before and after a clause).

Aspects are only subjective viewpoints that make visible a part of an action that is expresed by other means, they do not contribute anything to the very action.


Best regards,

Rolf


rolf J. Furuli
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Jemoh66
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Re: Genesis 2:6 and the aspects

Postby Jemoh66 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:25 pm

I built this chart showing how Moses uses the same macro-structure in both creation accounts.

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 7.19.37 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 7.19.37 PM.png (85.49 KiB) Viewed 105 times
Jonathan E Mohler
Studying for a MA in Intercultural Studies
Baptist Bible Theological Seminary

Isaac Fried
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Re: Genesis 2:6 and the aspects

Postby Isaac Fried » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:46 pm

It appears to me that in Gen. 2:5
וְכֹל שִׂיחַ הַשָּׂדֶה טֶרֶם יִהְיֶה בָאָרֶץ וְכָל עֵשֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶה טֶרֶם יִצְמָח
יִצְמָח = היא-צמח, with the attached personal pronoun היא, 'he', referring to the grass.
Hebrew developed multi-linearly, rather than linearly, and the latter confluent language acquired thereby different equivalent word forms achieved by variously attaching and inserting personal pronouns into the root, with no intention to create modal or temporal indicators.
I can not see in the above verse a difference of meaning arising from the replacement of יִצְמָח by צָמַח or by צימח or by צוּמח or by הצמיח, or by צמוּח.

An effort to create a differential BH grammar, modeled after the English, and drawing upon the different word forms to assign them a variety of keen modal or temporal connotations may be misreckoned.

Isaac Fried, Boston University


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