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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 164

§164. Temporal Clauses.

1. The relations of time existing between two different actions or events are frequently expressed without the aid of a conjunction simply by juxtaposition:—

(a) Actions or events are represented as wholly or in part simultaneous by connecting a noun-clause with another noun-clause or verbal-clause introduced by וְ‎ (or וְהִנֵּה‎), e.g. Genesis 7:6 and Noah was six hundred years old (prop. a son of six hundred years), וְהַמַּבּוּל הָיָה‎ and (i.e. when) the flood was. This is especially the case when the predicate of the noun-clause (frequently introduced by עוֹד‎ still) is expressed by an active participle, e.g. Job 1:16 f. עוֹד זֶה מְדַבֵּר וְזֶה בָא וג׳‎ he was yet speaking, and there came another, &c.; see the numerous examples in §111g and §116u. Instead of a complete noun-clause there often occurs a simple casus pendens after כָּל־‎ with a participial attribute in the sense of whenever any one..., e.g. 1 Samuel 2:13 זׄבֵחַ זֶ֫בַח וּבָא וג׳ כָּל־אִישׁ‎ whenever any man offered sacrifice, then came, &c.; 2 Samuel 2:23, &c.; see the examples (in which the second member is generally introduced by wāw apodosis) in §116w.

(b) Sequence is expressed by the juxtaposition

(1) of two imperfects consecutive, e.g. Genesis 24:19 וַתְּכַל לְהַשְׁקֹתוֹ וַתֹּאמֶר‎ and when she had done giving him drink, she said, &c.; 28:8 f., 29:31, 30:9, 32:26, &c.; cf. §111d;

(2) of a noun-clause with a passive participle as predicate, and a verbal-clause attached by וְ‎, e.g. Genesis 38:25; cf. §116v; in Genesis 49:29 an imperative follows without וְ‎;

(3) of two perfects (frequently with the secondary idea of rapid succession[1] of the two actions or events in past time), e.g. Genesis 19:23 הַשֶּׁ֫מָשׁ יָצָא... וְלוֹט בָּא וג׳‎ the sun was just risen..., and (=when) Lot came, &c., cf. 1 Samuel 9:5, 2 Samuel 2:24; Genesis 44:3 f., Judges 3:24, Judges 15:14, Judges 20:39 f.—In all these examples the subject follows immediately after the connective Wāw, and then the (simple) perfect. On the other hand,

(4) a perfect consecutive follows another perfect consecutive to express the contingent succession of future actions, e.g. Genesis 44:4 וְהִשַּׂגְתָּם וְאָֽטַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם‎ and when thou dost overtake them (as soon as thou shalt have overtaken), thou shalt say unto them. Naturally, examples of this kind are very closely related to conditional sentences; see, therefore, the examples in §112kk and §159g. On the connexion of an imperfect consecutive or a perfect with detached expressions of time (as equivalent to complete clauses), cf. §111b; on the imperfect consecutive after וַיְהִי‎ and a statement of time, cf. §111g; on the perfect consecutive following a detached statement of time, as in Exodus 16:6, cf. §112oo.—In 1 Samuel 29:10 an imperative with וְ‎ follows the perfect consecutive.

(5) The fact that one action or event has not yet taken place on the occurrence of another, is expressed by טֶ֫רֶם‎ (an adverb, not a conjunction) with the imperfect (according to §107c). The apodosis, which may consist of a subject and perfect or even of a noun-clause (Genesis 24:15),[2] is then connected by וְ‎ (or וְהִנֵּה‎) as in the examples above, under no. 3, e.g. Genesis 19:4 (cf. Joshua 2:8) טֶ֫רֶם יִשְׁכָּ֫בוּ וְאַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר ... נָסַ֫בּוּ וג׳‎ they had not yet lain down, and (=when) the men of the city ... compassed, &c.; Genesis 24:25.

2. Conjunctions used to introduce temporal clauses are כִּי‎ (with perfect, e.g. Genesis 6:1, Judges 1:28, Judges 16:16, 1 Samuel 1:12; with imperfect, Genesis 4:12, Genesis 12:12, Genesis 24:41, Exodus 3:21, Leviticus 21:9, Deuteronomy 31:21, Isaiah 1:12, Isaiah 8:19) and אֲשֶׁר‎[3] when (כִּי‎ with the imperfect also=as often as, Psalms 8:4; with perfect Job 1:5); less frequently אִם‎[4] (joined with a perfect), e.g. Genesis 38:9, Numbers 21:9, Judges 6:3, Psalms 41:7, Psalms 94:18, cf. also Isaiah 24:13=quotiescunque; also in the same sense with an imperfect, Numbers 36:4; with a perfect, equivalent to the futurum exactum, Isaiah 4:4. Other conjunctions of time are the compounds כְּמוֹ‎ when, Genesis 19:15; כַּֽאֲשֶׁר‎ when, after that; עַד־אֲשֶׁר‎, עַד־כִּי‎ until (also the simple עַד־‎, e.g. Genesis 38:11, Joshua 2:22, 1 Samuel 1:22 [with the imperfect=only when, as in 2 Samuel 10:5]); 2:5, &c.; especially in the formula עַד־בִּלְתִּי הִשְׁאִיר לוֹ‎ until there was none left remaining to him (where indeed it would be very natural to read הַשְׁאִיר‎ the infin. constr., as elsewhere after בִּלְתִּי‎, §114s) Numbers 21:35, Deuteronomy 3:3, Joshua 8:22, Joshua 11:8 (but 1 Samuel 14:19 while, as long as); עַד אֲשֶׁר לֹא‎ before that, Ecclesiastes 12:1, 2, 6 with an imperfect, as in Proverbs 8:26 עַד‎ with a perfect; עַד־אִם‎, עַר־אֲשֶׁר אִם‎ until the time when; אַֽחֲרֵֽי־אֲשֶׁר‎ (for which in Ezekiel 40:1 אַחַר־אֲשֶׁר‎; Leviticus 25:48, 1 Samuel 5:9 simply אַֽחֲרֵי‎; Leviticus 14:43, Jeremiah 41:16, Job 42:7 simply אַחַר‎) after that; מֵאָז‎ (prop. since that time; the dependent clause is attached to it in the same way as the attributive clause to the demonstrative אֲשֶׁר‎ §138e) since, Genesis 39:5; בְּטֶ֫רֶם‎ (and simply טֶ֫רֶם‎ §107c) before; קַדְמַת‎ (for קַדְמַת אֲשֶׁר‎) before, Psalms 129:6.

Rem. 1. With regard to the tenses used with the above conjunctions, the rules are practically the same as those given in §158d for causal clauses. The perfect indicates actions completed in the past or future (in the former case corresponding to the Latin pluperfect, §106f, and in the latter to the Latin futurum exactum, §106o), the imperfect denotes actions occurring contingently in the future. On טֶ֫רֶם‎, בְּטֶ֫רֶם‎, and עַד‎ with the imperfect as a tempus historicum, cf. §107c.

2. Clauses introduced by עַד‎, עַד־כִּי‎ or עַד־אֲשֶׁר‎, sometimes express a limit which is not absolute (terminating the preceding action), but only relative, beyond which the action or state described in the principal clause still continues; thus, עַד‎ with the imperfect, Psalms 110:1; עַד־כִּי‎ with the perfect, Genesis 26:13, with impf. 49:10; עַד־אֲשֶׁר‎ with the perfect, Genesis 28:15; with the imperfect, Psalms 112:8.—Like the Arab. حَتَّى‎, עַד‎ may even introduce a main clause; e.g. Exodus 15:16 עַד־יַֽעֲבֹר‎ prop. no doubt=thus it came to this—they passed through, i.e. so they passed through.

3. The infinitive construct governed by a preposition (§114d, e) is very frequently used as the equivalent of a temporal clause; the infinitive with בְּ‎ may usually be rendered by when, as, or whilst; the infinitive with כְּ‍‎ by when, as soon as (in Proverbs 10:25 followed by a noun-clause introduced by wāw apodosis), or, when referring to the future, by if; the infinitive after מִן‎ by since. According to §111g such statements of time are generally preceded by וַיְהִי‎ and the apodosis follows in the imperfect consecutive; hence in 1 Samuel 17:55 (cf. Driver on the passage) וְכִרְאוֹת‎ with a simple perfect following, is unusual. On the continuation of these infinitival constructions by means of the perfect consecutive, cf. §112v, and in general, §114r.—With the participle, כְּ‍‎ appears to be used as the equivalent of a conjunction in כְּמֵשִׁיב‎ as he drew back, Genesis 38:29 (unless we should read כְּהָשִׁיב‎ [or כְּמוֹ הֵשִׁיב‎, cf. Genesis 19:15]), and in כְפֹרַ֫חַת‎ when it budded, Genesis 40:10.

  1. This secondary idea is implied here by the mere co-ordination of two independent verbal-clauses, just as the idea of simultaneous occurrence (according to §116u, note 1) is implied in the co-ordination of a noun-clause with another clause. In Genesis 27:30 the immediate succession is especially emphasized by אַךְ‎ and the infinitive absolute, Jacob was yet scarce gone out... then Esau his brother came; in 1 Kings 9:24 by אַךְ‎ only in Psalms 48:6 by כֵּן‎ and the addition of two more perfects without וְ‎.
  2. On the perfect in the protasis, which is critically doubtful, cf. §107c.
  3. On אֲשֶׁר‎ as an original demonstrative, cf. §138a; hence עַד־אֲשֶׁר נָשׁוּב‎ is properly up to that (moment)—we shall return.
  4. Cf. the frequent use of wenn [prop. if] for wann [=when] in German.
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