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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 68

The Weakest Verbs (Verba Quiescentia).
§68. Verbs פ״א‎ e.g. אָכַל‎ to eat.
Brockelmann, Semit. Sprachwiss., p. 140 ff.; Grundriss, p. 589 ff.

So far as א‎ retains its full consonantal value as a guttural, these verbs share all the peculiarities of verbs primae gutturalis, mentioned in § 63. They are, however, to be treated as weak verbs, when the א‎ loses its value as a consonant, and coalesces with the preceding vowel (originally short) to form one long syllable. This takes place only in the following very common verbs and forms, as if through phonetic decay:—

1. In the imperfect Qal, five verbs (viz. אָבַד‎ to perish, אָבָה‎ to be willing, אָכַל‎ to eat, אָמַד‎ to say, אָפָה‎ to bake) regularly make the א‎ quiesce in a long ô, e.g. יֹאכַל‎.[1] In a few others the ordinary (strong) form is also in use, as יֹאחֵז‎ (18 times) and יֶֽאֱחֹז‎ (3 times) he takes hold; יׄסֵף‎ (see h), also יֶֽאֱסֹף‎, he collects. This ô has primarily arisen from an obscuring of ô (§9q), and the â from ־ַאְ‎, the weak consonant א‎ coalescing with ă to â; cf. §23a.

In the second syllable ō (for original ŭ) never appears, but either ē[2] or ă; and in pause almost always ē, even before the tone-bearing heavy afformative וּן‎, e.g. יֽאֹכֵלוּן‎ Deuteronomy 18:1, without the pause יֹֽאכְלוּן‎ Deuteronomy 4:28. In the 3rd sing. masc. and 1st sing. of אָמַר‎, however, ă is always retained in pause, יֹאמַ֫ר‎ and אֹמַ֫ר‎; but in the 2nd masc. תֹּאמֵ֑ר‎ 1 Kings 5:20, in the 3rd fem. תֹּאמַֽר‎ Proverbs 1:21; in the plural יֹאמֵ֑רוּ‎ Jeremiah 5:2, Psalms 145:611, תֹּאמֵ֫רוּ‎ Jeremiah 23:38, with Segolta; cf. also תּאֹכַֽל‎ 1 Samuel 1:7, &c. But with conjunctive accents in the body of the sentence, ă (as being a lighter vowel) is used, e.g. תֹּאבַ֖ד לָעַֽד‎ Psalms 9:19, but in pause תּאֹבֵֽד‎ Psalms 1:6; cf. a similar interchange of ē and ă in §65c. The 3rd fem. plur. impf. always has the form תֹּאכַ֫לְנָה‎ Zechariah 11:9.

When the tone moves back, the final syllable of the imperfects of אָבַד‎ and אָכַל‎, with a conjunctive accent, also always takes Pathaḥ, e.g. יֹ֣אבַד יוֹם‎ Job 3:3, וַיּ֫אֹכַל‎ and he did eat; in אָמַר‎ the loss of the tone from the final syllable only occurs in the form with wāw consecutive (but never in the 1st sing. וָֽאֹמַר‎; cf. וָֽאֹכַל‎), and then the final syllable, if without the pause, always takes Seghôl, וַ֫יֹּאמֶר‎ and he said (except וַתֹּ֫אמַר לוֹ‎ Proverbs 7:13).

In pause, however, the imperfect consecutive (except the 1st pers. of אָכַל‎, see below) always has the form וַיֹּאכַ֫ל‎ (but plur. always יֹאכֵ֫לוּ‎, וַיֹּאכֵ֫לוּ‎), וַיֹּאמַ֫ר‎; except וַיֹּ֫אמַר‎ in the poetic portion of the book of Job, as 3:2, 4:1, &c., but not in 32:6, in the middle of the verse. The weak imperfect of אָחַז‎ is always יֹאחֵז‎ and וַיֹּאחֶז‎, but in the 1st sing., according to §49e, וָֽאֹחֵ֫ז‎ Judges 20:6; cf. וָֽאֹכֵ֫ל‎ Genesis 3:1213 in pause.—אָבָה‎ and אָפָה‎ are, at the same time, verbs ל״ה‎, hence imperfect יֹּאבֶה‎ (§75c).

Before light suffixes the vowel of the second syllable becomes vocal Šewâ, as יֹֽאכְלֵם‎, תֹּֽאכְלֶ֫נּוּ‎ but תֹּֽאכַלְכֶם‎.—In a few cases, instead of the ô in the first syllable an ê is found, which is due to contraction from the group ־ֶֽ ־ֱ‎ (or ־ֶ ־ְ‎) in place of ־ַ ־ְ‎; e.g. תֵּאתֶה‎ it shall come, Micah 4:8, from תֶּֽאֱתֶה‎ (from אָתָה‎); אֵהָ֑ב‎ (for אֵהַב‎) I love, Proverbs 8:17, also (four times) אֹהַב‎ Malachi 1:2, &c., with suffixes אֹֽהֲבֵ֫הוּ‎ Hosea 11:1, Hosea 14:5, &c. (but only in 1st sing., otherwise יֶֽאֱהַב‎, &c., from אָהֵב‎, אָהַב‎); וָֽאֵחַ֫ר‎ and I stayed, Genesis 32:5. The infinitive construct of אָמַר‎ with לְ‎ is always לֵאמֹר‎ dicendo, for לֶֽאֱמֹר‎.—According to Barth (ZDMG. 1889, p. 179) וַיָּ֫אצֶל‎ Numbers 11:25 is to be regarded as an imperfect Qal, without the obscuring of ־ָא‎ to ô, not as imperfect Hiphʿîl, since אצל‎ elsewhere occurs only in the perfect Qal and Niphʿal; on the original i in the second syllable, see above, §67p. For תְּאָכְ֫לֵהוּ‎ Job 20:26 we should simply emend תֹּֽאכְל׳‎; the view that it is imperfect Pôʿēl (which nowhere else occurs) can, as regards the change of ô to ŏ, be supported only by the very doubtful analogies of Psalms 62:4 (see §52q) and Psalms 101:5 Qe (see §55b), while the view that it is Piʿēl (תְּאָכְ׳‎=תְּאָֽכְ׳‎=תְּאַכְּ׳‎) rests on no analogy whatever. It would be more admissible to suppose that תְּאָכְ׳‎ stands for תְּאֻכְּ׳‎, Puʿal (cf. אֲכֶלְךָ‎ for אֲכַלְּךָ‎, §27q); but no reason has been discovered for this departure from the natural punctuation תֹּאכְ׳‎.

2. In the 1st pers. sing. imperfect, where two א‎’s would ordinarily come together, the second (which is radical) is regularly dropped (§23f), as אֹמַר‎[3] (for אֹאמַר‎), &c., and even plene וָֽאוֹמַר‎ Nehemiah 2:7, &c., אֽוֹמְרָה‎ Psalms 42:10. In the other cases, also, where the א‎ is ordinarily regarded as quiescing in ô or ê, it is only retained orthographically, and on etymological grounds. Hence the possibility of its being dropped in the following cases:—

Always in the contracted forms of אָסַף‎, as תֹּסֵף‎ for תֹּאסֵף‎ Psalms 104:29; וַיֹּ֫סֶף‎ 2 Samuel 6:1 (but for יֵאָֽסֵף‎Job 27:19 read יֹאסִף‎=יוֹסִף‎ with the LXX); cf. also in the 1st pers. Micah 4:6 and אֹסִֽפְךָ‎ 1 Samuel 15:6, which is apparently (from the Metheg with the i), intended for an imperfect Hiphʿîl: instead of it, however, read, with the Mantua edition, אֹֽסִפְךָ‎ (with ĭ, according to §60f). But תֹּֽאסִפוּן‎ Exodus 5:7 (for תּֽוֹס׳‎), וַיֹּ֫אסֶף‎ 1 Samuel 18:29 (for וַיּ֫וֹסֶף‎), and יאסף‎ Job 27:19 (see above) are due to a mistake, since all three forms must be derived from the stem יָסַף‎. Furthermore, יֽׄמְר֫וּךָ‎ Psalms 139:20 (where certainly יַמְר׳‎ is to be read); תֹּבֵא‎ Proverbs 1:10 (cf. §75hh); וַתֹּפֵ֫הוּ‎ 1 Samuel 28:24; יוֹכְלוּ‎ Ezekiel 42:5; תֹּֽמְרוּ‎ 2 Samuel 19:14; וַתֹּ֫חֶז‎ 2 Samuel 20:9; תֵּֽוְלִי‎ thou gaddest about (from אָזַל‎), Jeremiah 2:36; וַיֵּ֫תֵא‎ Deuteronomy 33:21 (for יֶֽאֱתֶה‎), according to other readings (on the analogy of the cases mentioned in §75p) וַיֵתֵ֫א‎, וַיֵּ֫תֶא‎ or וַיֶּ֫תֶא‎.

Paradigm I shows the weak forms of the imperfect Qal, and merely indicates the other conjugations, which are regular.

Rem. 1. In the derived conjugations only isolated weak forms occur: Perfect Niphal נֹֽאחֲזוּ‎ Numbers 32:30, Joshua 22:9; Hiph. וַיָּ֫אצֶל‎ Numbers 11:25 (but the statement in verse 17 is וְאָֽצַלְתִּי‎, therefore Qal); equally doubtful is the punctuation of וַיָּ֫רֶב‎ (for וַיַּֽאֲרֵב‎?) and he laid wait, 1 Samuel 15:5, and אָזִין‎ I listen, Job 32:11 (on the analogy of verbs ע״וּ‎); cf. also אוֹכִיל‎ (ô from â) I give to eat, Hosea 11:4; אֹבִ֫ידָה‎ (ô from â) I will destroy, Jeremiah 46:8; וַיּוֹחֶר‎ 2 Samuel 20:5 Qe (for וַיָּאח׳‎); the Kethîbh appears to require the Piʿēl וַיְיַחֵר‎, from יחר‎ as a secondary form of אחר‎; but וַיֵּיחַר‎=וַיֵּאחַר‎ for וַיֶּֽאֱחַר‎ as imperfect Qal is not impossible. On וָאֽוֹצְרָה‎ Nehemiah 13:13, cf. §53n.—Infinitive לְהָכִיל‎ Ezekiel 21:33 (=לְהַֽאֲכ׳‎ unless it is rather infin. Hiph. from כּוּל‎); Participle מֵזִין‎ giveth ear, Proverbs 17:4 (clearly by false analogy of verbs ע״וּ‎, for מַֽאֲזִין‎); Imperative הֵתָ֫יוּ‎ bring (from אָתָה‎) Jeremiah 12:9. (On the same form used for the perfect in Isaiah 21:14, cf. §76d.)

2. In the Piʿēl the א‎ is sometimes elided (like ה‎ in יְהַקְטִיל‎, יַקְטִיל‎), thus מַלֵּף‎ (as in Aramaic and Samaritan) teaching, for מְאַלֵּף‎ Job 35:11; יַהֵל‎ (if not a mere scribal error) for יְאַהֵל‎ Isaiah 13:20; וַתַּזְרֵ֫נִי‎ thou hast girded me, 2 Samuel 22:40, for וַתְּאַזְּרֵ֫נִי‎ as Psalms 18:40; וָֽאַבֶּדְּךָ‎ Ezekiel 28:16; cf. §23c.

  1. So in the modern vulgar Arabic of South Palestine, yaʾkul (he eats) becomes yôkul.
  2. On this ē (originally ĭ) as a dissimilation from ō (originally ŭ), cf. §27w, and F. Philippi, in the Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft, xiv. 178. The latter rightly observes that the existence of an original u in the imperfect of אָכַל‎ is indicated by the form of the imperative אֱכֹל‎, the Arabic yaʾkul and the Aramaic יֵאכֻל‎, as well as by the fact that יֶֽאֱחֹז‎ and יֶֽאֱסֹף‎ are found along with יֹאחֵז‎ and יֹאסֵף‎.
  3. The regularity of this orthography indicates that the contraction of אַאְ‎ to â in this 1st pers. occurred at a time when in the 3rd and 2nd persons the א‎ was still audible as a consonant (which accordingly was almost always retained in writing). Nöldeke (ZDMG. xxxii. 593) infers this from the fact that also in Arabic the 3rd and 2nd persons are still written yăʾkŭlŭ, tăʾkŭlŭ, but the 1st pers. ʾâkūlŭ, not ʾăʾkŭlŭ.
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