Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

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Chris Watts
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Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

Post by Chris Watts »

Genesis 31:35
וַתֹּ֣אמֶר אֶל־אָבִ֗יהָ אַל־יִ֙חַר֙ בְּעֵינֵ֣י אֲדֹנִ֔י כִּ֣י ל֤וֹא אוּכַל֙ לָק֣וּם
Verb is in the Perfect

Psalm 29:10
יְ֭הוָה לַמַּבּ֣וּל יָשָׁ֑ב וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב יְ֝הוָ֗ה מֶ֣לֶךְ לְעוֹלָֽם
First verb Perfect, second verb imperfect

Psalm 40:13
כִּי אָפְפוּ־עָלַי רָעוֹת עַד־אֵין מִסְפָּר הִשִּׂיגוּנִי עֲוֺנֹתַי וְלֹא־יָכֹלְתִּי לִרְאוֹת
Verb in the imperfect

1.) Genesis 31 : This is narration in the past - understood, but the reported speech of Rachel is current, in the present. The comparison between the Genesis and Psalm 40 verses makes it obvious that the Psalmist in psalm 40 is experiencing a currently ongoing crisis so imperfect is expected. Should not Rachel's speech have been in the imperfect?

2.) I noticed in Psalm 29 therfore that the perfect has to be translated as a past event but then the following verb is an ongoing event with no end. In other words God sat once upon the flood, but He reigns contnuously now and forever. However, did He sit once and then remove Himself? Or, is it more likely that He sat upon the flood and then reigns continuously from the flood? I know this sounds ridiculous but I am trying to get the nuance correct.

3.) So when only seeing these perfects and imperfects independently, when not used in conjunction with other verbs or when not dependent upon other verbs in the same sentence for correct translation, are they then flexible? I do not have enough knowledge of the scriptures in the Hebrew to know how common this situation is.

Chris watts
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Jason Hare
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Re: Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

Post by Jason Hare »

You have it backwards. אוכל is imperfect; ישב is perfect; וישב is vav-consecutive imperfect; יכלתי is imperfect.
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kwrandolph
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Re: Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

Post by kwrandolph »

First of all, you should stop using the terms “perfect” and “imperfect” because they are incorrect. They do NOT describe accurately the functions that the grammatical forms indicate. Therefore, it would be best just to call them Qatal and Yiqtol.
Chris Watts wrote: Fri Aug 27, 2021 7:36 am Genesis 31:35
וַתֹּ֣אמֶר אֶל־אָבִ֗יהָ אַל־יִ֙חַר֙ בְּעֵינֵ֣י אֲדֹנִ֔י כִּ֣י ל֤וֹא אוּכַל֙ לָק֣וּם
Verb is in the Perfect
The bolded verb is Yiqtol form of יכל.
Chris Watts wrote: Fri Aug 27, 2021 7:36 am Psalm 29:10
יְ֭הוָה לַמַּבּ֣וּל יָשָׁ֑ב וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב יְ֝הוָ֗ה מֶ֣לֶךְ לְעוֹלָֽם
First verb Perfect, second verb imperfect
The second bolded verb is Qatal. The first one could either be Qatal of ישב or Yiqtol of שוב depending on our understanding of the action connected with למבול.
Chris Watts wrote: Fri Aug 27, 2021 7:36 am Psalm 40:13
כִּי אָפְפוּ־עָלַי רָעוֹת עַד־אֵין מִסְפָּר הִשִּׂיגוּנִי עֲוֺנֹתַי וְלֹא־יָכֹלְתִּי לִרְאוֹת
Verb in the imperfect
The verb is clearly Qatal from יכל.
Chris Watts wrote: Fri Aug 27, 2021 7:36 am 3.) So when only seeing these perfects and imperfects independently, when not used in conjunction with other verbs or when not dependent upon other verbs in the same sentence for correct translation, are they then flexible? I do not have enough knowledge of the scriptures in the Hebrew to know how common this situation is.

Chris watts
Some years back, due to a challenge from Randall Buth, the next time I read Tanakh through, I made a note of all the quoted speech in the narrative parts of Tanakh that I found that refer clearly to present action and which could be recognized from the consonantal text whether the form is Qatal, Yiqtol or participle. What I found is that the majority of such sentences consist of subject, usually a pronoun sometimes indicated by a suffix, verb in Qatal and sometimes object. Yet there is a sizable minority of such sentences where there is a subject connected with a participle.

Even there I noticed a pattern: where the action is the main focus, then there’s a participle. Where the subject is the main focus, then the verb is in Qatal.

Another example, Proverbs 31:11–31, there is a mixture of Qatal, Yiqtol, Weqatal, Wayyiqtol verbs, all of which refer to present continuous or repeated action.

From these and more examples, it should be clear that the terms “perfect” and “imperfect” are inaccurate and will only cause confusion. That’s why those terms shouldn’t be used in connection to Biblical Hebrew. I use the terms “Qatal” and “Yiqtol” instead.

Karl W. Randolph.
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Jason Hare
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Re: Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

Post by Jason Hare »

"Perfect" and "imperfect" is standard terminology. You're not committing some kind of error by using it.
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Chris Watts
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Re: Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

Post by Chris Watts »

I want to answer more fully later on - busy momenteel - Embarrassing mistake on psalm 40 and Genesis. However Psalm 29 I did get correct, I am reading right to left and so naturally referred to the verbs as i was automatically thinking right to left when I used the terms first and second verb. Thanks. Just trying to redeem a little dignity that I have left from this.

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Jason Hare
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Re: Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

Post by Jason Hare »

Don't forget, though, that vayyiqtol (vav-consecutive imperfect) is not the same as yiqtol (imperfect). It functions like a qatal (perfect), if anything. It's generally narrative past.

Gnomic statements in Hebrew tend to appear in the qatal (perfect), as well as many hypothetical conditionals. So, יהוה לבמול ישב is basically read as a gnomic statement, a timeless truth.

Not only that, but it could be understood that since God has sat down (perfect), he is currently sitting. I wouldn't read it this way, though. I'd just understand it gnomically.
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יוֹדֵ֣עַ צַ֭דִּיק נֶ֣פֶשׁ בְּהֶמְתּ֑וֹ וְֽרַחֲמֵ֥י רְ֝שָׁעִ֗ים אַכְזָרִֽי׃
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Chris Watts
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Re: Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

Post by Chris Watts »

Hallo Karl,
They do NOT describe accurately the functions that the grammatical forms indicate.
I agree, but for the purposes of BH I simply conceptualize the terms Perfect and Imperfect as it aids my ability in declension and recognition. I simply could refer to them as Pronoun-prefixed and Pronoun-suffixed forms. I understand your perspective I do not see the terms as having strict grammatical boundaries but rather as a concept for viualisation and dictionary puproses.

As for what you said regarding Narrative Speech I found extremely helpful. Thankyou Karl.


Jason, Hallo,
Gnomic statements in Hebrew tend to appear in the qatal (perfect), as well as many hypothetical conditionals.
Thankyou. You asked me once to define one of my words, may I now ask you for an example of this 'Hypothetical Conditional'? Scanning my head for examples of this in scripture turns up Error 601 in my brain.

Chris watts
kwrandolph
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Re: Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

Post by kwrandolph »

Jason Hare wrote: Fri Aug 27, 2021 5:20 pm "Perfect" and "imperfect" is standard terminology. You're not committing some kind of error by using it.
Yes, I know they are standard terminology, and I have no problem recognizing what is meant. But those terms come from other languages with specific meanings referring to functions in those other languages, functions that are not shared by Biblical Hebrew conjugations. Because the meanings those foreign terms have from their uses in their foreign languages, their uses to signify Biblical Hebrew conjugations can lead to misunderstanding and confusion, especially among beginning students. It is for that reason (misunderstanding and confusion) that I recommend against using those foreign terms when discussing Biblical Hebrew conjugations, and I refuse to use them myself. I don’t get tied in a knot when I see those foreign terms used, I just recommend against their use.

Does a person commit an error using those terms? Well, yes and no. No because the practice has become so common that people know to what conjugations are referred. Yes because those terms refer to functions that Biblical Hebrew conjugations don’t have. In fact, those who started using those terms for Biblical Hebrew conjugations did so because they thought the Biblical Hebrew conjugations had those functions.

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Re: Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

Post by kwrandolph »

Jason Hare wrote: Sat Aug 28, 2021 3:28 am Don't forget, though, that vayyiqtol (vav-consecutive imperfect) is not the same as yiqtol (imperfect). It functions like a qatal (perfect), if anything. It's generally narrative past.
Actually the uses of the Yiqtol and Wayyiqtol are the same, as most clearly seen in their uses in Proverbs 31:11–31.

One of the uses of both Qatal and Yiqtol is for the indicative mood. But there’s a difference in how they refer to the indicative use—the Qatal refers to “primary indicative” or “result indicative” (if A happens, then B result will happen), while the Yiqtol (and Wayyiqtol) refers to “secondary indicative” giving more details to the main action, or referring to the next event in the narrative. The second use of the “secondary indicative” is why it is so often used in past narrative. There seems to be a fuzzy line as to when to use a “primary indicative” or a “secondary indicative” as the next verb when relating past narrative. (The Yiqtol is used for a few other moods, such as subjunctive, intent, expectation, etc. that are not part of this discussion.)
Jason Hare wrote: Sat Aug 28, 2021 3:28 am Gnomic statements in Hebrew tend to appear in the qatal (perfect), as well as many hypothetical conditionals. So, יהוה לבמול ישב is basically read as a gnomic statement, a timeless truth.
I have two questions concerning this phrase:

How do you understand למבול? I know in Genesis it refers to the world-wide flood, does it have the same meaning here? Or does the psalmist refer to another action?

To what action do you think ישב refers, and why?

Because of the grammar of this phrase, I haven’t come to a conclusion as to its meaning. So I wouldn’t mind your input. Oh yes, give reasons for your answer.
Jason Hare wrote: Sat Aug 28, 2021 3:28 am Not only that, but it could be understood that since God has sat down (perfect), he is currently sitting. I wouldn't read it this way, though. I'd just understand it gnomically.
It looks like you too have been misled by the use of foreign terminology.

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Re: Stand-Alone Perfect and Imperfect examples with identical 'time' meanings

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Chris Watts wrote: Sat Aug 28, 2021 7:30 am Thankyou. You asked me once to define one of my words, may I now ask you for an example of this 'Hypothetical Conditional'?
A conditional is generally expressed as an if-then statement.

> If you sleep well, (then) you will have energy for your exam tomorrow.

There are several kinds of conditionals. Some of them are hypothetical (contrary-to-fact or counterfactual), while others are possible in the real world.

In Greek, we talk about conditionals that are "future less vivid," "future more vivid," "past counterfactual," "present counterfactual," etc.

A counterfactual (hypothetical) conditional says something that isn't true but supposes what consequences it would have if it were true.

> If I had a billion dollars (and I don't), I would buy a mansion to house my entire extended family (which I can't).

If we change something that happened in the past hypothetically, we use the past perfect tense.

> If I had gone to the party (and I didn't), I would have met several celebrities (which I also didn't).

Does that make sense?
Chris Watts wrote: Sat Aug 28, 2021 7:30 am Scanning my head for examples of this in scripture turns up Error 601 in my brain.
לוּ חָֽכְמוּ יַשְׂכִּ֫ילוּ זֹאת (Deut 32:29)
If they were wise (and they are not), they would understand this (but they don't).

This is a hypothetical conditional.

לוּ֩ חָפֵ֨ץ יְהוָ֤ה לַהֲמִיתֵ֙נוּ֙ לֹֽא־לָקַ֤ח מִיָּדֵ֙נוּ֙ עֹלָ֣ה וּמִנְחָ֔ה (Judges 13:23)
If God had wanted to kill us (and he didn't), he would not have accepted the burnt offering and sacrifice from our hands (but he did).

Can you see that these are hypothetical conditionals?

I say "hypothetical" because it is offering something that isn't true and talking about it as if it were. It is a "what if this were different" kind of conditional - whether in the present or in the past.
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