Then Sang Moses – A Situation Based Approach to the Understanding of 'ˀaz yiqtol' in Biblical Hebrew

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The paper provides an elaboration on previous situation-based proposals to a puzzle that is widely discussed in various investigations of Biblical Hebrew verbal forms - the juxtaposition of the adverb az and yiqtol forms. The interpretation of the usages of the yiqtol form in Reichenbachian terms of Reference Time and Event Time is shown to be an invaluable tool in accounting for the relative nature of this form. The analyses of examples of az +Verb illustrate the chronological relations in Biblical Hebrew, that are shown to be identical to the temporal functions of the same verb forms when they are not preceded by az. Thus, yiqtol and qatal forms are consistently used to express distinct meanings of posteriority, simultaneity, and anteriority, irrespectively of their syntactic contexts. The meaning of the adverb az is also explored, and is shown to indicate a transition point that summarizes the eventualities in the preceding discourse segment while at the same time providing the situational context (i.e., Reference-time) for the temporal interpretation of the subsequent verbal form. The paper identifies the English translation of yiqtol forms as a major source for the discrepancy found in previous analyses. It concludes by suggesting that the intricate details of the chronological situation encoded by Biblical Hebrew morphology should be the starting point for any attempt at interpretation, particularly when the target language of the translation lacks forms that encode equivalent meanings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-54
Number of pages22
JournalHebrew Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 National Association of Professors of Hebrew. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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