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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 66

II. The Weak Verb.[1]
§66. Verbs Primae Radicalis Nûn (פ״ן‎), e.g. נָגַשׁ‎ to approach.
Brockelmann, Semit. Sprachwiss., p. 138 ff.; Grundriss, p. 595 ff.

The weakness of initial נ‍‎ consists chiefly in its suffering aphaeresis in the infinitive construct and imperative in some of these verbs (cf. §19h). On the other hand, the assimilation of the נ‍‎ (see below) cannot properly be regarded as weakness, since the triliteral character of the stem is still preserved by the strengthening of the second consonant. The special points to be noticed are—

1. The aphaeresis of the Nûn (a) in the infinitive construct. This occurs only (though not necessarily) in those verbs which have a in the second syllable of the imperfect. Thus from the stem נגשׁ‎, imperfect יִגַּשׁ‎, infinitive properly גַּשׁ‎, but always lengthened by the feminine termination ת‎ to the segholate form גֶּ֫שֶׁת‎[2]; with suffix גִּשְׁתּוֹ‎ Genesis 33:3; with the concurrence of a guttural נָגַע‎ to touch, imperfect יִגַּע‎, infinitive גַּ֫עַת‎[3] (also נְגֹעַ‎, see below); נָטַע‎ to plant, infinitive טַ֫עַת‎ (also נְטֹעַ‎, see below); on the verb נָתַן‎ to give, see especially h and i. On the other hand, aphaeresis does not take place in verbs which have ō in the imperfect, e.g. נָפַל‎ to fall, imperfect יִפֹּל‎, infinitive נְפֹל‎, with suffix נָפְלוֹ‎, also נִפְלוֹ‎; לִנְדֹּר‎ Numbers 6:2, &c.; cf., moreover, לִנְגֹּעַ‎ Genesis 20:6, &c., וּנְגֹעַ‎ Exodus 19:12 (even לִנְגּוֹעַ‎ Job 6:7; cf. Jeremiah 1:10); with suffix בְּנָגְעוֹ‎ Leviticus 15:23. Also לִנְטֹעַ‎ Isaiah 51:16 (but לָטַ֫עַת‎ Ecclesiastes 3:2); נְשׂא‎ Isaiah 1:14, Isaiah 18:3; with suffix בְּנָשְׂאִי‎ Psalms 28:2 (elsewhere שְׂאֵת‎, cf. §74i and §76b), לִנְשָׁק־‎ 2 Samuel 20:9.

(b) In the imperative. Here the Nûn is always dropped in verbs with a in the imperfect, e.g. נגשׁ‎, imperative גַּשׁ‎ (more frequently with paragogic ā, גְּשָׁה‎; before Maqqeph also גֶּשׁ־‎ Genesis 19:9), plur. גְּשׁוּ‎, &c. Parallel with these there are the curious forms with ō, גּ֫שִֽׁי‎ Ruth 2:14 (with retarding Metheg in the second syllable, and also nasog ʾaḥor, according to §29e, before הֲלֹם‎) and גּ֫שׁוּ‎ Joshua 3:9 (before ה֫נָּה‎), 1 Samuel 14:38 (before הֲלֹם‎) and 2 Chronicles 29:31; in all these cases without the pause. With Nûn retained, as if in a strong verb, נְהַג‎ drive, 2 Kings 4:24 (imperfect יִנְהַג‎, without assimilation of the Nûn), וְנִטְעוּ‎ 2 Kings 19:29, Isaiah 37:30, Jeremiah 29:528; cf. also the verbs ל״ה‎, which are at the same time פ״ן‎; נְהֵה‎ Ezekiel 32:18, נְחֵה‎ Exodus 32:34, נְטֵה‎ Exodus 8:1, &c.; the verb ל״א‎, נְשָׂא‎ Psalms 10:12 (usually שָׂא‎); cf. §76b. But, as in the infinitive, the aphaeresis never takes place in verbs which have ō in the imperfect, e.g. נְצֹר‎, נְתֹץ‎, &c. 2. When, through the addition of a preformative, Nûn stands at the end of a syllable, it is readily assimilated to the second radical (§19c); thus in the imperfect Qal,[4] e.g. יִפֹּל‎ for yinpōl, he will fall; יִגַּ֫שׁ‎ for yingaš; יִתֵּן‎ for yintēn, he will give (on this single example of an imperfect with original i in the second syllable, cf. h)[5]; also in the perfect Niphʿal נִגַּשׁ‎ for ningaš; throughout Hiphʿîl (הִגִּישׁ‎, &c.) and Hophʿal (which in these verbs always has Qibbuṣ, in a sharpened syllable, cf. §9n) הֻגַּשׁ‎.

The other forms are all quite regular, e.g. the perfect, infinitive absolute and participle Qal, all Piʿēl, Puʿal, &c.

In Paradigm H, only those conjugations are given which differ from the regular form.

The characteristic of these verbs in all forms with a preformative is Dageš following it in the second radical. Such forms, however, are also found in certain verbs פ״י‎ (§71), and even in verbs ע״ע‎ (§67). The infinitive גֶּ֫שֶׁת‎ and the imperative גַּשׁ‎, also גֶשׁ־‎ (Genesis 19:9) and תֵּן‎, resemble the corresponding forms of verbs פ״ו‎ (§69).—On יִקַּח‎, קַח‎, and קַ֫חַת‎, from לָקַח‎ to take, see g.—In יִקּוֹם‎ (imperfect Niphʿal of קוּם‎), and in similar forms of verbs ע״וּ‎ (§72), the full writing of the ô indicates, as a rule, that they are not to be regarded as imperfects Qal of נָקַם‎, &c.—Also אֶסַּק‎ (Psalms 139:8) is not to be derived from נסק‎, but stands for אֶסְלַק‎ (with a sharpening of the ס‎ as compensation for the loss of the ל‎), from סָלַק‎ to ascend, see §19f, and Kautzsch, Gramm. des Bibl.-Aram., § 44. Similarly the Hiphʿil-forms הִשִּׂיקוּ‎ Ezekiel 39:9, יַשִּׂיק‎ Isaiah 44:15, and the Niphʿal נִשְּׂקָה‎ Psalms 78:21 are most probably from a stem שֹלק‎, not נשֹק‎.

Rem. 1. The instances are comparatively few in which the forms retain their Nûn before a firm consonant, e.g. נָטַר‎, imperfect יִנְטֹר‎ Jeremiah 3:5 (elsewhere יִטֹּר‎); also from נָצַר‎ the pausal form is always יִנְצֹ֫רוּ‎ (without the pause יִצְּרוּ‎ Proverbs 20:28); similarly in Isaiah 29:1, Isaiah 58:3, Psalms 61:8, Psalms 68:3 (where, however, תִּנָּדֵף‎ is intended), Psalms 140:25, Proverbs 2:11, Job 40:24, the retention of the Nûn is always connected with the pause. In Niphʿal this never occurs (except in the irregular inf. כְּהִנְדֹּף‎ Psalms 68:3, cf. §51k), in Hiphʿîl and Hophʿal very seldom; e.g. לְהַנְתִּיךְ‎ Ezekiel 22:20, תָנְתְּקוּ‎ Judges 20:31; for לַנְפִּל‎ Numbers 5:22 read לִנְפֹּל‎, according to §53q. On the other hand, the Nûn is regularly retained in all verbs, of which the second radical is a guttural, e.g. יִנְחַל‎ he will possess, although there are rare cases like יֵחַת‎ (also יִנְחַת‎) he will descend, Jeremiah 21:13 (even תֵּ֫חַת‎ Proverbs 17:10; without apparent reason accented as Milʿēl), plur. יֵחַ֫תּוּ‎ Job 21:13 (cf. §20i; the Masora, however, probably regards יֵחַת‎ and יֵחַ֫תּוּ‎ as imperfect Niphʿal from חָתַת‎); Niphʿal נִחַם‎ for נִנְחַם‎ he has grieved.

2. The ל‎ of לָקַח‎ to take is treated like the Nûn of verbs פ״ן‎ (§19d). Hence imperfect Qal יִקַּח‎, cohortative (§20m) אֶקְחָה‎, imperative קַח‎, in pause and before suffixes קָח‎ (on קָֽחֶם־נָא‎ Genesis 48:9, see §61g), paragogic form קְחָת‎; קְחִי‎, &c. (but cf. also לְקַח‎ Exodus 29:1, Ezekiel 37:16, Proverbs 20:16, לִקְחִי‎ 1 Kings 17:11, perhaps a mistake for לָהּ קְחִי‎, cf. LXX and Lucian); infinitive construct קַ֫חַת‎ (once קְחַת‎ 2 Kings 12:9, cf. §93h); with לְ‎, לָקַ֫חַת‎; with suffix קַחְתִּי‎; Hophʿal (cf., however, §53u) imperfect יֻקַּח‎; Niphʿal, however, is always נִלְקַח‎.—The meaningless form קָח‎ Ezekiel 17:5 is a mistake; for the equally meaningless קָחָם‎ Hosea 11:3 read וָֽאֶקָּחֵם‎.

3. The verb נָתַן‎ to give, mentioned above in d, is the only example of a verb פ״ן‎ with imperfect in ē (יִתֵּן‎ for yintēn; נִתַּן־‎[6] only in Judges 16:5, elsewhere before Maqqeph יִתֶּן־‎, &c.), and a corresponding imperative תֵּן‎ or (very frequently) תְּנָה‎ (but in Psalms 8:2 the very strange reading תְּנָה‎ is no doubt simply meant by the Masora to suggest נָֽתְנָה‎); before Maqqeph תֶּן־‎, fem. תְּנִי‎, &c. Moreover, this very common verb has the peculiarity that its final Nûn, as a weak nasal, is also assimilated; נָתַ֫תִּי‎ for nāthántī, נָתַ֫תָּ‎ or, very frequently, נָתַ֫תָּה‎, with a kind of orthographic compensation for the assimilated Nûn (cf. §44g); Niphʿal perfect נִתַּתֶּם‎ Leviticus 26:25, Ezra 9:7.

In the infinitive construct Qal the ground-form tint is not lengthened to tèneth (as גֶּ֫שֶׁת‎ from נָגַשׁ‎), but contracted to titt, which is then correctly lengthened to תֵּת‎, with the omission of Dageš forte in the final consonant, see §20l; but with suffixes תִּתִּי‎, תִּתּוֹ‎, &c.; before Maqqeph with the prefix לְ‎ = לָֽתֶת־‎, e.g. Exodus 5:21, and even when closely connected by other means, e.g. Genesis 15:7. However, the strong formation of the infinitive construct also occurs in נְתֹן‎ Numbers 20:21 and נְתָן־‎ Genesis 38:9; cf. §69m, note 2. On the other hand, for לְתִתֵּן‎ 1 Kings 6:19 read either לְתִתּוֹ‎ or simply לָתֵת‎, just as the Qe, 1 Kings 17:14, requires תֵּת‎ for תתן‎.

In other stems, the נ‍‎ is retained as the third radical, e.g. שָׁכַ֫נְתָּ‎, זָקַ֫נְתִּי‎ cf. §19c and §44o. On the entirely anomalous aphaeresis of the Nûn with a strong vowel in תַּ֫תָּה‎ (for נָתַ֫תָּ‎) 2 Samuel 22:41, cf. §19i.—On the passive imperfect יֻתַּן‎, cf. §53u.

  1. Cf. the summary, §41.
  2. The law allowing the addition of the feminine termination to the unlengthened form, instead of a lengthening of the vowel, is suitably called by Barth ‘the law of compensation’ (Nominalbildung, p. xiii).
  3. Critical annotation: In the printed book גַּעַ֫ת‎‎, but גַּ֫עַת‎ is definitely correct.—A. E. A.
  4. Cf. Mayer Lambert, ‘Le futur qal des verbes פ״ו‎, פ״ן‎, פ״א‎’, in the REJ. xxvii, 136 ff.
  5. An imperfect in a (יִגַּשׁ‎) is given in the Paradigm, simply because it is the actual form in use in this verb.
  6. P. Haupt on Judges 16:5 in his Bible, compares the form of the Assyrian imperfect iddan or ittan (besides inádin, inámdin) from nadânu = נתן‎. But could this one passage be the only trace left in Hebrew of an imperf. in a from נתן‎?
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