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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 121

§121. Construction of Passive Verbs.
Blake, ‘The internal passive in Semitic,’ JAOS xxii.

1. Verbs which in the active take one accusative (either of the proper object, or of the internal object, or of some other nearer definition; cf. §117a, p, u) may in the passive, according to our mode of expression, be construed personally, the object of the active sentence now becoming the subject, e.g. Genesis 35:19 וַתָּ֫מָת רְחֵל וַתִּקָּבֵר‎ and Rachel died, and was buried, &c. The passive, however, is also used impersonally (in the 3rd sing. masc.), either absolutely, as Deuteronomy 21:3f., Isaiah 16:10, Ezekiel 16:34 (with a dative added, 2 Samuel 17:16, Isaiah 53:5, Lamentations 5:5), or, more frequently, with the object of the active construction still subordinated in the accusative,[1] e.g. Genesis 27:42 וַיֻּגַּד לְרִבְקָה אֶת־דִּבְרֵי עֵשָׂו‎ and there were told (i.e. one told) to Rebekah the words of Esau; 2 Samuel 21:11, 1 Kings 18:13. Other examples are: after Niph., Genesis 4:18 וַיִוָּלֵד לַֽחֲנוֹךְ אֶת־עִירָד‎ and unto Enoch was born Irad (cf. Numbers 26:60, and after an infinitive, Genesis 21:5); Genesis 17:5, Genesis 21:8 (after an infinitive); 29:27 (unless וְנִתְּנָה‎ is 1st plur. cohortative); Exodus 21:28, Exodus 25:28, Leviticus 6:13, Numbers 7:10 (after an infinitive); 26:55 (cf. verse 53); Deuteronomy 20:8 (where, however, for יִמַּס‎ the Hiph. יַמֵּס‎ should be read, according to 1:28); Joshua 7:15, Isaiah 16:10; with the object preceding, Exodus 13:7, Leviticus 2:8, Leviticus 19:20, Numbers 16:29, Dan 9:24.[2]— Also after Puʿal, Jeremiah 50:20; before Puʿal, Isaiah 14:3 (אֲשֶׁד‎ equivalent to the internal object עֲבֹדָה‎=which they have caused to be served by thee); Job 22:9; according to the Masoretic text also Genesis 46:22, where, however, the Samaritan and LXX read יָֽלְדָת‎ for יֻלַּד‎; the Samaritan in Genesis 35:26 and 46:27 also reads יָֽלְדוּ‎, and this (or יֻלַּד‎) should certainly be read instead of יֻלְדוּ‎ in 2 Samuel 21:22.—After Hoph., Exodus 10:8, Exodus 27:7, Leviticus 10:18, Leviticus 16:27, Numbers 32:5, 1 Kings 2:21, Proverbs 16:33, Job 30:15; after the infinitive Hoph., Genesis 40:20, Ezekiel 16:4 f., 27:7; before Hoph., Isaiah 17:1, Isaiah 21:2, Hosea 10:6, Zechariah 13:6; after the infinitive Hothpaʿel, Leviticus 13:55 f.

2. Verbs which in the active take two accusatives (§117cc) retain in the passive construction at least one accusative, namely that of the second or remoter object, whilst the nearer object now becomes the subject. Thus, corresponding to אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶ֫ךָּ‎ which I will show thee (Genesis 12:1) the passive is אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה מָרְאֶה‎ (Exodus 25:40) which thou hast been shown, i.e. which has been shown to thee; cf. Exodus 26:30 (but in Leviticus 13:49 with an accusative of the person); Job 7:3. In Psalms 22:16 מֻדְבָּק מַלְקוֹחָ֑י‎ depends on an assumed transitive הִדְבִּיק‎ governing two accusatives (= my tongue is made to cleave to my jaws); also in Isaiah 1:20, חֶ֫רֶב תְּאֻכְּלוּ‎ ye shall be devoured with the sword, חֶרֶב‎ is not an accus. instrumenti, but most probably an accusative of the object retained from the active construction.[3]

Rem. 1. Examples of the retention of the second accusative are—(a) with verba induendi and exuendi (§117cc), Psalms 80:11, כָּסּוּ תָרִים צִלָּתּ‎ the mountains were covered with the shadow of it (the vine); Proverbs 19:23. So also some of the examples in §116k of passive participles of these verbs, Judges 18:11, 1 Samuel 2:18, 1 Samuel 17:5, 1 Kings 22:10, Ezekiel 9:2, 3;[4] with the accusative preceding, Nehemiah 4:12.—(b) with verba copiae and inopiae, Exodus 1:7, Isaiah 38:10 (equivalent to I must forego the residue of my years); Isaiah 40:20.—(c) an accusative of the result (§117ii) with the passive, Isaiah 6:11, Zechariah 14:4, Job 28:2; with the accusative preceding, Isaiah 24:12, Micah 3:12 (Jeremiah 26:18), Job 15:7, Job 22:16.[5] Also in Ezekiel 40:17 and 46:23, the accusative preceding עָשׂוּי‎ (in 41:18 following it) can only be taken as the accusative of the result; some general idea, such as that of place, is to be understood as the subject of עָשׂוּי‎.—(d) an accusative of the member or part specially affected by the action (§117ll), Genesis 17:11, Genesis 14:24, Judges 1:7 (accusative before part. pass.); 2 Samuel 15:32 (accusative with suffix after the part. pass.).

2. Both accusatives are retained in an unusual manner after the passive of a verbum implendi in Numbers 14:21; instead, however, of the Niph. וְיִמָּלֵא‎ the Qal (which is sometimes used transitively elsewhere) should simply be read with the LXX; similarly in Psalms 72:19, although there the LXX also translate the passive.

3. The efficient cause (or personal agent) is, as a rule, attached to the passive by לְ‎ (thus corresponding to the Greek and Latin dative), e.g. Genesis 25:21 וַיֵּעָ֫תֶ֫ר לוֹ יְהֹוָה‎ the Lord let himself be intreated by him; cf. Leviticus 26:23, Psalms 73:10 and the blessing בָּרוּךְ הוּא לַֽיהוָֹה‎ blessed be he of the Lord Ruth 2:20; cf. Genesis 14:19, Judges 17:2b, 1 Samuel 15:13; also in the plural, 1 Samuel 23:21 (2 Samuel 2:5, Psalms 115:15).—Before the verb, Proverbs 14:20 and frequently; less commonly by מִן־‎ (called מִן־‎ of origin=coming from), e.g. Genesis 9:11; before the verb, Psalms 37:23, Job 24:1; by בְּ‎ (instrumenti) [rarely, König § 106], Genesis 9:6 (בָּֽאָדָם‎ by man); Numbers 36:2, Isaiah 14:3 b [but ?=wherewith it was worked (§52e) with thee; cf. Deuteronomy 21:3, König § 106; and see עָבַד בְּ‎ in the Lexicon], Hosea 14:4, always to introduce a personal agent.—On the connexion of the passive participle with a genitive of the agent, cf. §116l.

  1. When this is not recognizable either by the nota accusativi, or by its disagreement with the passive form in gender, number, and person, it naturally cannot be determined whether the construction is really impersonal. The construction itself can only be explained by supposing that while using the passive form the speaker at the same time thinks of some author or authors of the action in question, just as on the theory of the Arab grammarians a concealed agent is included in every passive. This accounts for the possibility (cf. §144g) of using the active without a specified subject as a periphrasis for the passive.
  2. In 2 Kings 18:30 יִנָּתֵן‎ is to be read or אֶת־‎ is to be omitted, as in the parallel passage Isaiah 36:15.
  3. In the active, the sentence would be I will cause the sword to devour you; by the rule stated above, under c, this would become in the passive, the sword (nom.) shall be made to devour you (acc.). Instead of this, the remoter object is here made the subject, and the nearer object is retained in the accusative. Otherwise, the only possible explanation would be, according to the Arabic idiom, to cause one to devour the sword (remoter object), i.e. to give him over to it. It would then be simplest to read תֹּֽאכְלוּ‎.
  4. Analogous to הַלָּבוּשׁ הַבַּדִּים‎ who was clothed in linen, Ezekiel 9:3, would be וְהַנּוֹתָר אֶת־הֶהָמוֹן הַזֶּה‎ 2 Chronicles 31:10; but we must certainly read there וַנּוֹתֵר‎ with the LXX.—Still less can Psalms 87:3 be so explained, נִכְבָּדוֹת‎ being not an accusative, but the subject of a noun-clause. On the other hand, שָׁלוּחַ‎ 1 Kings 14:6 may be explained with Ewald in the sense of being charged with something, so that, like צִוָּח‎, it may be construed with an accusative.
  5. In reality וַיָּרֻם‎ Exodus 16:20, 26 (it became putrid) is equivalent to a passive (it was changed), to which תּֽוֹלָעִים‎ is added as an accusative of the result.
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