Perfect or Participle

I was reading Leviticus 9 this morning in preparation for a teaching series starting at my church soon. The NET pointed out an interesting query in the text at v4.

Is the Hebrew נראה a perfect verb or a participle? The MT pointing has it has a perfect verb (with a qamets under the aleph). However, the BHS footnote and the NET comments point out that the LXX translate it as if it were a participle (ὀφθήσεται which is a 3s future passive indicative). So the LXX doesn’t translate the form into a participle, but does encode into its morphology a future aspect which must be based on a reading of the MT as a participle.

The only difference between the two forms would be a seghol under the aleph (for the participle, נִרְאֶה) instead of a qamets (for the perfect, נִרְאָה).

The root of the verb is ראה. Niphal forms of III-He verbs can be found in BBH §25.4 (or in Van Pelts “Compact Guide” at p121).

The NET footnote is helpful in that it describes specifically the way in which each of those two forms would be functioning. A perfect would be taken as a prophetic perfect (as in IBHS §30.5.1e) and the participle would be a futurum instans (IBHS §37.6f).

Finally, the NET concludes that:

In either case, the point is that Moses was anticipating that the Lord would indeed appear to them on this day.

So the meaning and interpretation of the text is not really disputed, but it is a reminder that pointing is very significant and that the MT pointing is not necessarily inspired and needs to be examined carefully.

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Peal Verbs

Let me give you an example of what I’m thinking regarding Aramaic resources.

There are 1096 Aramaic verbs in the OT (statistics from BW8). 233 of those are Peal perfect verbs. So if you learn the Peal perfect paradigm, you’ve learnt 21% of all the verbs. That, in itself, is good news. 1 paradigm = 21%. (If you learnt the imperfect as well, you’d have 30% under your belt!)

Continue reading “Peal Verbs”

Quick Tip: Identical Forms

The Hithpael conjugation has four identical forms. In one sense, this is good news – a few less things to memorise. In another sense, it makes things a little confusing.

The form in question is: הִתְפַטֵּל.

This could be:

  1. 3ms perfect – this is simply the basic Hithpael form.
  2. 2ms imperative – the Hithpael imperative is formed by taking the imperfect conjugation, removing the prefixed yod/taw and adding a prefixed he. So the form is derived: תִּתְקַטֵּל > תְקַטֵּל > הִתְקַטֵּל.
  3. infinitive construct – as in all conjugations (apart form Hiphil) the infinitive construct is identical to the 2ms imperative.
  4. infinitive absolute – in (only) the Hithpael, it just so happens that the infinitive absolute is also identical to the 2ms imperative

Thus, there are four identical forms in the strong verb.