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The Verb in Archaic Biblical Poetry
 900425336X, 9789004253360, 9789004253353

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The Verb in Archaic Biblical Poetry

Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics Editorial board

A.D. Rubin and C.H.M. Versteegh

VOLUME 68

The titles published in this series are listed at brill.com/ssl

The Verb in Archaic Biblical Poetry A Discursive, Typological, and Historical Investigation of the Tense System By

Tania Notarius

Leiden • boston 2013

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Notarius, Tania, 1967– author.  The verb in archaic Biblical poetry : a discursive, typological, and historical investigation of the tense system / by Tania Notarius.   pages cm. — (Studies in Semitic languages and linguistics ; Volume 68)  Includes bibliographical references.  ISBN 978-90-04-25336-0 (hardback : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-90-04-25335-3 (e-book) 1. Hebrew language—Tense. 2. Hebrew poetry, Biblical—History and criticism I. Title.  PJ4659.N68 2013  492.4’562—dc23

2013016316

This publication has been typeset in the multilingual “Brill” typeface. With over 5,100 characters covering Latin, IPA, Greek, and Cyrillic, this typeface is especially suitable for use in the humanities. For more information, please see www.brill.com/brill-typeface. ISSN 0081-8461 ISBN 978-90-04-25336-0 (hardback) ISBN 978-90-04-25335-3 (e-book) Copyright 2013 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Global Oriental, Hotei Publishing, IDC Publishers and Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. This book is printed on acid-free paper.

Dedicated to my mother Irina Veviurko and to the memory of my father Iliah Veviurko ‫ז”ל‬ ’‫כי ‘גרסא דינקותא לא משתכחא‬

contents List of Tables ..................................................................................................... xxi Acknowledgements ......................................................................................... xxiii Preliminary Notes ............................................................................................

1

PART one

INTRODUCTION: THE LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS OF VERBAL TENSES IN BIBLICAL POETIC TEXTS 1 Verbal Tenses in Classical Biblical Prose: A Selected Bibliographical review ........................................................ 1.1 Approaches and Terminology ......................................................... 1.1.1 Discourse Analysis and the Hebrew Verb ...................... 1.1.1.1 Various Tendencies in Discourse Analysis ....... 1.1.1.2 Discourse Modes: Definition and Typology....... 1.1.2 Structural Analysis ................................................................. 1.1.3 Generative Syntax and Functional Analysis .................. 1.1.4 Speech Act Theory ................................................................. 1.1.5 Formal Semantics and Tense-Aspect Research ............ 1.1.6 Theoretical Frameworks in BH Modality Studies ........ 1.2 The Morphosyntax of BH Verbal Forms ..................................... 1.2.1 Nominal Forms in Predicate Position: Participles and Infinitives  ........................................................................ 1.2.2 Volitive Modal Forms: The Cohortative, Imperative, and Jussive ................................................................................ 1.2.3 Indicative finite verbal forms: ‫קטל‬, ‫ויקטל‬, ‫יקטל‬, ‫  וקטל‬ 1.2.3.1 The Morphosyntactic Status of the Indicative Forms ...................................................... 1.2.3.2 The Semantic Constituents of the Categories . 1.2.3.3 The Sequential Tenses ............................................ 1.3 Diachronic and Dialectal Research on the BH Verb ...............

7 8 8 9 10 11 12 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 19 20 21 22

viii

contents

2 The Problem of Verbal Tenses in Biblical Poetry: Review of Research ................................................................................... 2.1 Word Order in the Verbal Clause in Poetry .............................. 2.2 Verbal Semantics in Poetry ............................................................. 2.3 The Verb in Poetry: Different Theoretical Standpoints ......... 2.4 The Diachronic Study of the Verb in Poetry: A Glance at ‘Archaic’ Poetry ................................................................................... 3 Verbal Tenses in Poetry: The Methodological Standpoint ........... 3.1 Towards a Method: Preliminary Insights ................................... 3.2 Discourse Analysis of Biblical Poetry: Basic Criteria .............. 3.2.1 Linear vs Pragmatic Standpoints in the Discursive Analysis of Biblical Poetry ................................................... 3.2.2 Investigating Biblical Poetic Discourse: Five Principle Criteria ........................................................... 3.2.2.1 The Communicative Situation and the Problem of Subjectivity .......................................... 3.2.2.1.1 The Conversational Framework and Quoted Speech ................................ 3.2.2.1.2 Monologue-Blocks .................................. 3.2.2.1.3 Subjectivity in Poetic Speech: Levels of Personal Presentation ......... 3.2.2.2 Pragmatic Information in Poetry: Direct and Indirect Speech Acts ......................... 3.2.2.2.1 Illocutionary Intentions in the Conversational Framework ................. 3.2.2.2.2 Illocutionary Intentions in Monologue-Blocks and the Principle of Pragmatic Attraction ...... 3.2.2.3 Temporal Patterns ................................................... 3.2.2.3.1 Deictic Time and its Textual Marking ...................................................... 3.2.2.3.1.1 Deictic Time in Conversational Framework ............................ 3.2.2.3.1.2 Deictic Time in Quoted Speech .................................... 3.2.2.3.1.3 Deictic Time in Monologue-Blocks ..............

25 25 26 26 27 28 28 29 29 31 31 32 34 35 36 37 38 40 42 42 43 44



contents

3.2.2.3.2 Anaphoric Time ...................................... 3.2.2.3.3 Sequential Time ...................................... 3.2.2.4 Aspectual Entities .................................................... 3.2.2.5 Principles of Text-Progression ............................. 3.3 Discourse Modes in Biblical Poetry: A Working Typology ... 3.3.1 From Discursive Analysis to Discourse Classification: An Overview ............................................................................ 3.3.2 Defining Poetic Discourse Modes ..................................... 3.3.3 Introducing the Discursive Heterogeneity of Poetic Composition ............................................................................. 3.4 TAM and Discourse Modes in Poetic Speech ........................... 3.4.1 The Contribution of Discourse Modes to Semantic Analysis ...................................................................................... 3.4.1.1 From Discourse Modes to Tenses and Back .... 3.4.1.2 Discourse Mode and Volitive Forms: An Illustration ........................................................... 3.4.2 TAM Semantics and Pragmatic Constraints .................. 3.4.3 The Problem of Ambiguity in Poetic Language ............ 3.4.3.1 Atemporal Perspective ........................................... 3.4.3.2 The Dynamic Interchange between Aspectual Viewpoints and Types of Modality  3.4.3.3 Episodic vs. Generic Interpretation ................... 3.5 Linguistic Diversity in ‘Archaic’ Biblical Poetry: A Multifaceted Interpretative Framework .................................

ix 45 46 47 49 51 51 53 58 58 58 58 59 60 62 62 64 65 66

PART TWO

CORPUS ANALYSES 4 The Song of Moses (Deut 32:1–43) ....................................................... 4.1 Introduction: Discourse Structure ................................................ 4.2 Verbal Forms ....................................................................................... 4.2.1 Nominal Verbal Forms .......................................................... 4.2.2 Preterite ‫* ‫יכם ִּכי ֵאל ֵּדעֹות ה' וְ לֹא חתה] וְ נִ ְכ ָׁש ִלים אָ זְ ר ּו ָחיִ ל‬c. ‫ד־ע ָק ָרה י ְָל ָדה ִׁש ְב ָעה וְ ַר ַּבת ָּבנִ ים אֻ ְמלָ לָ ה‬ ֲ ‫חָ ֵדלּ ּו ַע‬ The bow of the mighty is broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry need not be so forever.21 The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn (4–5).

In ex. 3a the static perfect forms express the situation simultaneous with the moment of speech, shaping a short description within the conversational framework. In exs. 3bc the perfect of dynamic or passive verbs is used in generalizing sentences: the bounded events are kind-characterizations, expressed by the gnomic perfect.22 11.2.3. ‫ויקטל‬ There are two ‫ ויקטל‬forms, both in the second part of the composition, marked as ‘short’ forms of the prefix conjugation:

subject). The suggestion of Dahood 1965: 15, i.e., to read here the rare masculine plural qāšōt instead of the Masoretic ‫ק ֶׁשת‬,ֶ adopted also in McCarter 1980: 69, is not accepted here. 20 The ketiv reading ‘(his) deeds are immeasurable’ is possible; see Tsumura 2007: 138, n. 19, and cf. Sigal 2002. 21 The translation of v. 5a follows Tsumura 2007: 138; see his n. 23 and cf. Lewis 1985: 105–6 for different emendations. 22 For Tsumura 2007: 145 these are the perfects of ‘confidence’; this interpretation makes sense, if one admits that the verbs express situations immediately experienced and acknowledged by the personal speaker of the conversational opening. However, I believe that this chain of statements with perfect ‫ קטל‬elucidates the ‫לֹות—ּדעֹות‬ ֵ ‫ ֲע ִל‬merism and therefore has world-knowledge gnomic status.



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259

4. ‫מֹוריד ְׁשאֹול וַ ּי ַָעל‬ ִ ‫ּומ ַחּיֶ ה‬ ְ ‫ ה' ֵמ ִמית‬a. The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up (6). ‫יבים וְ ִכ ֵּסא ָכבֹוד יַ נְ ִח ֵלם ִּכי‬ ִ ‫הֹוׁשיב ִעם־נְ ִד‬ ִ ‫ ֵמ ִקים ֵמ ָע ָפר ָּדל ֵמ ַא ְׁשּפֹת יָ ִרים ֶא ְביֹון ְל‬b. ‫יהם ֵּת ֵבל‬ ֶ ‫ָשת ֲע ֵל‬ ֶ ׁ ‫לה' ְמ ֻצ ֵקי ֶא ֶרץ וַ ּי‬ He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap; he makes them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and on them he has set the world (8).

Both sayings are included within the information discourse mode, but their syntactic conditions and semantic interpretation differ. In ex. 4b ‫ וַ ּיָ ֶׁשת‬seems to suggest a standard interpretation as the past sequential tense. Its reading partly depends on the interpretation of ‫ִּכי‬ in the preceding clause: if ‫ ִּכי‬is the explicative ‘since’, the passage gets a backgrounded position and can be characterized as a short report. Also the semantic interpretation of the verbal clause ‫יהם ֵּת ֵבל‬ ֶ ‫וַ ּיָ ֶׁשת ֲע ֵל‬, sequential to the situation expressed by ‫לה' ְמ ֻצ ֵקי ֶא ֶרץ‬, does not allow a present habitual interpretation, but suggests a bounded event that is better interpreted in the past.23 In ex. 4a the ‫ ויקטל‬form ‫ וַ ּיָ ַעל‬has clear sequential and contrastive meaning in correlation to the predicative participle ‫מֹוריד ְׁשאֹול‬ ִ in a generalizing sentence and is used in the same syntactic slot as the participle with waw ‫ּומ ַחּיֶ ה‬ ְ in the same verse, namely without any past-time reference.24 This is a rare example in the present corpus of ‫ ויקטל‬used in the sequential meaning in habitual present;25 the sequential meaning is necessitated by the temporal sequence of the life stages (although miraculously reversed). The sequential non-past usage of ‫ ויקטל‬is a relatively innovative phenomenon.26 23 Cf. the similar interpretation in H. Smith 1899:16; McCarter 1980: 65. 24 See Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1910:§111u; Joüon and Muraoka 2006: §118r; Tsumura 2007: 146 calls this contrastive clause a ‘merism’. This form is interpreted as present habitual in most commentaries; see H. Smith 1899:16; Seybold 2010:199. Tsumura 2007: 139, n. 27, points to two possible morphosyntactic solutions to the problem of ‫ ויקטל‬form in this verse: “there are a number of cases where wayqtl follows the preceding participle in poetic texts. . . . Moreover this wayqtl seemingly is sequential to the perf. of the preceding verse. Hence, there is no need to reconstruct *wa-yaˁl[eh] with Lewis;” cf. Lewis 1994: 36, who argues that this form should be ‘another participle or a durative (yaqtulu)’. In my view, Tsumura’s solution is irrelevant and there is no way to interpret ‫ וַ ּיָ ַעל‬as a sequential form to the perfect form in v. 5 (‫)א ְמ ָל ָלה‬. ֻ 25 Cf. also the saying of Dan (Gen 49:17) in the Blessing of Jacob, §8.2.3.2 above. 26 See the discussion in §§13.1.7 and 13.3.2 in the concluding part.

260

chapter eleven 11.2.4. Imperfect ‫יקטל‬

Most ‫ יקטל‬forms in the composition are concentrated in the second part, namely in vv. 8–10. One can easily recognize the characteristic morphosyntactic marking of the imperfect ‫ יקטל‬forms: they all stand in non-initial position in the clause and are ‘full’ prefix conjugation forms (‫ יָ ִרים‬v. 8, ‫יָ ִדין‬ v. 10). The clause-initial ‫ יקטל‬forms in this text are short forms of the prefix conjugation, seemingly associated with volitive modality (‫ וְ יָ ֵרם‬v. 10; see §11.2.5. below). There are no semantic grounds to associate the ‫ יקטל‬forms with the genuine imperfective aspect. The following example includes all the imperfect ‫ יקטל‬forms: 5. ‫יבים וְ ִכ ֵּסא ָכבֹוד יַנְ ִחלֵ ם ִּכי‬ ִ ‫הֹוׁשיב ִעם־נְ ִד‬ ִ ‫ֵמ ִקים ֵמ ָע ָפר ָּדל ֵמ ַא ְׁשּפֹת י ִָרים ֶא ְביֹון ְל‬ ‫ ַרגְ ֵלי ֲח ִס ָידו יִ ְׁשמֹר ְּור ָׁש ִעים ַּבח ֶֹׁשְך יִ דָּ ּמ ּו ִּכי־לֹא‬.‫יהם ֵּת ֵבל‬ ֶ ‫לה' ְמ ֻצ ֵקי ֶא ֶרץ וַ ּיָ ֶׁשת ֲע ֵל‬ ‫(ע ָליו) ַּב ָּׁש ַמיִ ם י ְַר ֵעם ה' י ִָדין ַא ְפ ֵסי־‬ ָ ‫יביו) ָע ָלו‬ ָ ‫(מ ִר‬ ְ ‫יבו‬ ָ ‫ ה' יֵחַ ּת ּו ְמ ִר‬.‫ר־איׁש‬ ִ ‫ְבכ ַֹח יִ גְ ַּב‬ ֹ‫ָא ֶרץ וְ יִ ֶּתן־עֹז ְל ַמ ְלּכֹו וְ יָ ֵרם ֶק ֶרן ְמ ִׁשיחו‬ He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap; he makes them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and on them he has set the world. He guards the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. The LORD! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed (8–10).

The imperfect forms are used in three main functions. Several cases are seemingly habitual present (‫ יָ ִרים‬v. 8, ‫יִ ְׁשמֹר‬, ‫יִ ָּדּמּו‬, ‫ יִ גְ ַּבר‬v. 9), perhaps with some nuance of epistemic modality, used in the same function as the predicative participles.27 In v. 8b the imperfect is used in a purpose clause, corresponding to the ‫ל‬-prefixed infinitive (‫)יַ נְ ִח ֵלם‬.28 In v. 10 the function of the ‫ יקטל‬forms (‫יַ ְר ֵעם יָ ִדין‬29 ,‫ ) יֵ ַחּתּו‬is less clear, due to the 27 As habitual presents the ‫ יקטל‬forms in vv. 8–10a are rendered by McCarter 1980:67– 68 and by Klein 2008:13; both these scholars make a clear distinction between the noninitial imperfect ‫ יקטל‬forms and the clause-initial jussives in v. 10. Some scholars attempt to distinguish between the semantic nuances of the participles in vv. 7–8a and those of the imperfects in vv. 8b–10a; Tsumura 2007: 139, n. 29, claims that ‫ יָ ִרים‬in v. 8 “is a simple impf. verb after five consecutive participles in vv. 7–8a; cf. v. 6 above. Such an impf. might be taken as having a modal sense (hence, ‘able to lift’).” 28 Cf. §11.2.1.2 above; thus McCarter 1980: 67; Klein 2008: 12. 29 Interestingly, the form ‫ יַ ְר ֵעם‬is formally a ‘short’ form of prefix conjugation, but it is regularly used for imperfect since the vocalization *‫ יַ ְר ִעים‬is not attested; see Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1910: §109k; Bergsträsser 1918–29: vol. II §10 l.



the song hannah (i sam 2:1–10)

261

impersonal character of speech: they are interpreted in terms of habitual aspect, epistemic modality, or future; however, the clear complementary syntactic distribution between these forms and the clause-initial, apparently jussive short forms in approximately the same function (‫)וְ יִ ֶּתן וְ יָ ֵרם‬ might associate them with the volitive meaning in the context of blessing or prayer.30 11.2.5. Volitive Forms: The Jussive The volitive mood is represented by several jussive forms; there are no examples of the imperative or cohortative in the text. All the jussive forms are clause-initial, negated by ‫אל‬,ַ and marked by short ‫ יקטל‬forms in the relevant case (‫ וְ יָ ֵרם‬v. 10) In the first part of the composition the negative jussive forms are used in the direct discourse addressed to the enemies (ex. 6a); in the second part the jussive forms are used in the last verse of the poem closing the chain of generalizing sentences in the information discourse mode (ex. 6b): 6. ‫ ִּכי ֵאל ֵּדעֹות ה' וְ לו‬31‫יכם‬ ֶ ‫ל־ת ְרבּ ּו ְת ַד ְּבר ּו ּגְ ב ָֹהה גְ ב ָֹהה יֵצֵ א ָע ָתק ִמ ִּפ‬ ַ ּ ‫ ַא‬a. ‫נִ ְת ְּכנּו ֲע ִללֹות‬ Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed (3). ‫י־א ֶרץ וְ יִ ּ ֶתן‬ ָ ‫(ע ָליו) ַּב ָּׁש ַמיִ ם יַ ְר ֵעם ה' יָ ִדין ַא ְפ ֵס‬ ָ ‫יביו) ָע ָלו‬ ָ ‫(מ ִר‬ ְ ‫יבו‬ ָ ‫ ה' יֵ ַחּתּו ְמ ִר‬b. ֹ‫ע ֹז ְל ַמ ְלּכֹו וְ י ֵָרם ֶק ֶרן ְמ ִׁשיחו‬ The LORD! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed (10).

30 On the impersonal character of speech in the second part of the composition see the introduction to this chapter, §11.1. V. 10 is translated as present habitual, without any differentiation between the clause-initial imperfect and the non-initial jussive forms, by Tsumura 2007: 140. However he is equally sensitive to the ‘actual’ prayer in v. 10 and adds that “the two imperfect verbs with a modal sense could have been used even by the author of this song, without a specific king in mind” (see Tsumura 2007: 150). As future almost all the ‫ יקטל‬forms in vv. 8–10 are rendered by H. Smith 1899:16. Cf. Seybold 2010: 199, who argues that all the ‫ יקטל‬forms in v.10 are “futurisch-jussivische Imperfect (fünf Formen, unterschiedlich platziert). Es ist das Tempus für Wunsch und Erwartung.” 31 On the ellipsis of the negative particle in this verse see Gesenius, Kautzsch, and Cowley 1910:§152z; the negative particle is rendered in the LXX; cf. McCarter 1980:69. On the patterns of negation elision in BH see Miller 2005; on ellipsis more generally see Miller 2003.

262

chapter eleven

In ex. 6a the jussive expresses a request. In ex. 6b, as claimed above, the clause-initial jussive forms stand in syntactic opposition to the non-initial forms of imperfect (‫ ;)יָ ִדין‬cf. ex. 5 above. The function of jussive forms in this context is not quite clear, since the discourse conditions of the passage are obscure: there are no deictic or performative elements that permit identification of the temporal pattern and the pragmatic intentions of the speech; the chain of the generalizing sentences that precede the apparent jussive forms may force their present habitual interpretation. Volitive modality is marked only by the forms themselves,32 but in the given discourse conditions the semantic interpretation of the forms remains obscure. Even without clear discourse marking v. 10b seems to be an impersonal king’s blessing or a prayer for the king.33 The signs of the complementary syntactic distribution may imply that the jussive forms are used in the same function as the imperfect ‫ יקטל‬forms: either both categories are modal volitives, or, alternatively, they are present habitual, modal epistemic, or future. The former interpretation seems preferable. The complementary syntactic distribution of clause-initial jussives and non-initial imperfect ‫ יקטל‬forms, especially if characterized by the loss of semantic distinction between these two categories, is a relatively innovative phenomenon.34 11.3. The System of Verbal Tenses in the Song of Hannah: Conclusion For many scholars the Song of Hannah is an example of archaic poetry,35 but this view is commonly challenged.36 The results of the present research unambiguously point to the non-archaic language type in the composition. Moreover, there are certain typological differences between the first 32 Cf. Joüon and Muraoka 2006: §177l, who claim that in addition to the ‘short’ form morphology and initial position in the clause, the conjunctive waw is an additional morphosyntactic marker of volitive mood in this case. 33 The jussives in verse 10b are rendered by means of volitive modality in the translations of McCarter 1980: 68 and Klein 2008: 13. 34 Cf. §§13.1.10 and 13.3.2 in the concluding part. 35 Cf. Albright 1968: 20–22; Willis 1973; Freedman 1978; Tsumura 2007: 150: “the text must be very early, even pre-Davidic”; the early dating is basically supported by McCarter 1980: 75–76, but he points to the early ninth or late tenth century as a possible chronological framework for the composition; cf. Klein 2008: 15, 19. 36 Cf. Marttila 2006, especially his bibliographic reviews on p. 500. Dietrich 2003: 76–78 points to many late theological notions, but suggests as a solution two layers, one preexilic and one post-exilic.



the song hannah (i sam 2:1–10)

263

and the second part of the composition. The first part (vv. 1–5) attests to the existence of two verbal categories (perfect ‫ קטל‬and jussive) and their usage does not contradict the archaic language type, but could be equally expected in non-archaic language: perfect ‫ קטל‬is used as (a) static perfect in the conversation to describe a situation simultaneous with ST, and (b) gnomic perfect in proverbial generalizing sentences; the jussive is used in volitive sayings to express a request. The second part (vv. 6–10) suggests a typologically different picture; many phenomena of verbal syntax are typologically non-archaic: (1) In the generalizing sentences one finds the active predicative participle. The predicative use of the active participle is not attested in texts that represent the archaic language type; moreover the use of the active predicative participle as a habitual present is not typical of CBH and is consistent with the LBH verb system.37 (2) The complementary syntactic distribution of clause-initial jussives and non-initial imperfect ‫ יקטל‬forms is by no means characteristic of the archaic language type, but is typical of CBH. Again and again, certain signs of the semantic neutralization between these two sets of prefix forms are typical of the LBH usage.38 (3) Another strikingly late phenomenon of verbal syntax attested in the Song is the non-past sequential use of ‫ ויקטל‬in habitual sayings. (4) One may also suggest that there are some indications of the process of the grammaticalization of the infinitive construct in predicative use.

Altogether these phenomena indicate that the second part of the Song of Hannah does not testify the archaic type of verb system in BH.

37 Cf. Notarius 2010a and see the discussion in §§13.1.3 and 13.3.2 below. 38 See the discussion in §§13.3.2 and 13.3.3 in the concluding part below.

Part three

The verb tenses in archaic Hebrew: a Typological and historical evaluation

Chapter twelve

The historical-linguistic study of the Hebrew archaic verb: Methodological observations 12.1. Signs of Linguistic Diversity in the Corpus: Preliminary Remarks The semantic analysis of verbal tenses in Part II constitutes evidence of a considerable difference between most of the material under examination and the language of classical biblical prose, on the one hand, and to a certain degree of linguistic diversity within the selected corpus itself, on the other. In the introduction (§3.5) I suggested four main factors that may have impact on the language of biblical poetry and dictate the evaluation of a particular phenomenon: (1) discursive, (2) chronological, (3) dialectal, and (4) literary-conventional. Although each of these factors suggests a specific framework for interpreting the data, they are not mutually exclusive and can be combined in the interpretation. 12.1.1. Verbal Tenses and Discourse Modes in Poetic Texts The discursive factor involves several types of input. First of all, it involves parallelism, a specific linear arrangement of poetic text. The present analysis did not uncover any diagnostic context in which parallelism would decisively contribute to the analysis of verbal semantics.1 Next, the discursive factor presupposes specific communicative and pragmatic features of the poetic text, which, as has been claimed in this research, can have an effect on the semantic analysis. Certain salient characteristics of poetic discourse were established: (1) the anonymity or impersonality of addresser or addressee; (2) atemporal perspective in the discourse, associated with ambiguity concerning the temporal location of events and situations; (3) the dynamic and formally inexplicit shift of different aspectual entities, aspectual viewpoints, or types of modality, which can increase the effect of ambiguity in semantic interpretation; (4) textprogression through specific ‘poetic’ topics and symbols.2 It is claimed in 1 On parallelism and tense in poetry cf. §3.2.1 above. 2 Although these specific discursive and pragmatic features of the poetic text were abundantly mapped out in the present research (cf. §§3.2.2. and 3.4.4. above and the

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the present research that these characteristics clearly distinguish certain modes of BH poetic discourse from the canonical communication situation represented, e.g., in direct discourse in the biblical prose corpus.3 For the most part, the discursive factor involved the poetic discourse mode typology elaborated in the present research.4 Many phenomena of verbal semantics are associated with specific discourse modes; the presence of absense of these phenomena in the corpus illustrates discourse mode statistics rather than language typology. Thus, e.g., the gnomic perfect is to be found in poetic argument (ex. 1a),5 and the prophetic perfect is associated with the prospective report within the prophetic poetic speech (ex. 1b).6 1. ‫ֹלהים ִע ָּמ ִדי ֲאנִ י ָא ִמית וַ ֲא ַחּיֶ ה ָמחַ ְצ ִּתי וַ ֲאנִ י‬ ִ ‫ ְראּו ַע ָּתה ִּכי ֲאנִ י ֲאנִ י הּוא וְ ֵאין ֱא‬a. ‫ֶא ְר ָּפא וְ ֵאין ִמּיָ ִדי ַמ ִּציל‬ See now that I, even I, am he; there is no god beside me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and no one can deliver from my hand (Deut 32:39). ‫מֹוס ֵדי‬ ְ ‫יב ָלּה וַ ְּת ַל ֵהט‬ ֻ ִ‫ֹאכל ֶא ֶרץ ו‬ ַ ‫ד־ׁשאֹול ַּת ְח ִּתית וַ ּת‬ ְ ‫י־אׁש קָ ְדחָ ה ְב ַא ִּפי וַ ִּת ַיקד ַע‬ ֵ ‫ ִּכ‬b. ‫ָה ִרים‬ For a fire will kindle by my anger, and it will burn to the depths of Sheol; it will devour the earth and its increase, and will set on fire the foundations of the mountains (Deut 32:22).

The ‫יקטל‬/‫ קטל‬interchange in adjacent half-verses without clear temporal opposition between the two forms is another example of a phenomenon that is discursively conditioned. This famous problem was by no means at the center of the present research; however, it was claimed that the distinctive examples of this variation in the corpus originate in two types of discourse conditions: in storytelling passages, namely in narrative and report, and in generic sayings, namely in information and argument. The semantic analysis of this variation in different discourse modes points to

analysis of discourse structure in different chapters in Part II), their systematic treatment is not intended here. 3 On biblical poetry as a conversational mode and criticism of this approach see §3.2.1 in the introduction. 4 For the discourse mode typology see §3.3 in the introduction. 5 The gnomic perfect is attested in Deut 32:32 (cf. §4.2.3.2.1), perhaps in Jdg 5:17 (cf. §6.2.1.2.4), and cf. also Gen 49:11 (§8.2.2.2.2), Deut 33:20 (§10.2.2.2.2), and I Sam 2:3–5 (§11.2.2). 6 The prophetic perfect is attested in Deut 32:22 (§4.2.3.2.1.) and cf. also the Oracles of Balaam Num 24:17 (§9.2.2.2.2).

the historical-linguistic study of the hebrew archaic verb 269 two different phenomena.7 In the storytelling fragments ‫ קטל‬and ‫ יקטל‬are used in reference to the past and the choice between them is realized on the level of aspectual viewpoint with specific pragmatic implications: ‫קטל‬ expresses the perfective viewpoint and marks the mainline of the report, while ‫ יקטל‬has imperfective circumstantial function and represents the background; see ex. 2a. In generic sayings the difference between ‫ קטל‬and ‫ יקטל‬is realized on the level of different situation types and embodies two types of general statives: ‫ יקטל‬is used for iterative and habitual events and represents an event-level predicate, while gnomic ‫ קטל‬introduces an event as a typical behavior pattern and represents an individual-level predicate; see ex. 2b. 2. ‫מֹו־א ֶבן‬ ָ ‫ ְּתהֹמֹת יְ כַ ְסיֻמוּ י ְָרד ּו ִב ְמצֹוֹלת ְּכ‬a. The floods were covering them; they went down into the depths like a stone (Exod 15:5). ‫ּובין ְּכ ֵת ָפיו ׁ ָשכֵ ן‬ . . .  ֵ ‫ יְ ִדיד ה' יִ ְׁשכּ ֹן ָל ֶב ַטח ָע ָליו‬b. The beloved of the LORD rests in safety upon him . . . he rests between his shoulders (Deut 33:12; cf. also Jdg 5:17).

Although the phenomena illustrated in exs. 1–2 are not routine for prose language, they cannot be characterized as typologically archaic, since they are prescribed by specific conditions of the poetic discourse.8 The poetic discourse modes dictate the general guidelines of semantic interpretation. The discourse mode typology applied in the present research suggests that if texts are not structured by the same discourse modes, the comparison between them is impossible. This situation determines an important methodological assumption, undertaken for the following comparative analysis of verbal tenses in various parts of the ‘archaic’ corpus: one has to compare verbal usages attested in similar discourse conditions.

7 See the analysis of ‫קטל‬/‫ יקטל‬variations in §§5.2.2.2.2, 5.2.4.2.3, 6.2.1.2.4, and 6.2.2.2.3 above. For an alternative semantic analysis of clauses with such tense shifting see Tatu 2008, who employs the terms of Systemic Functional Grammar, namely information structure and argument structure. 8 Actually, the ‫קטל‬/‫ יקטל‬variation in a storytelling passage (ex. 2a) bears a certain archaic shade, but only in correlation with other typologically archaic data; see §§13.1.2 and 13.3.2 below.

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chapter twelve 12.1.2. Beyond the Discourse Mode Typology

The discursive factor cannot account for all the diverse linguistic phenomena in the corpus, and further interpretative factors turn out to be relevant. This work highlights the chronological factor and aims at describing the verb in the corpus of ‘archaic’ poetry in terms of historical-linguistics, namely through identifying the relatively archaic phenomena of verbal syntax characteristic of the typologically archaic system of verbal tenses contrasted with other language types which deviate from the archaic type and represent typologically later stages with relatively innovative phenomena of verbal syntax.9 The high degree of linguistic diversity attested in the corpus unambiguously excludes the possibility of considering the language of ‘archaic’ biblical poetry a single and cohesive type, i.e., a kind of ‘poetic dialect’.10 Moreover, when the archaic language type associated with certain parts of the corpus receives comprehensive description, additional signs of linguistic diversity within this limited corpus appear to be motivated by dialectal or literary-conventional factors. The dialectal factor aims at putting the data in correlation with local vernaculars; the literary-conventional factors aim at establishing the correlation with sub-vernacular and transdialectal conventions. These two factors work in correlation with ancient NWS dialectology and areal linguistics; a full investigation of this matter remains beyond the scope of the present research, but some preliminary results will be formulated below. These considerations lay down the structure of the concluding Part III of this monograph: the present chapter 12 will review some problems of historical-linguistics in application to archaic BH and specify the method of analysis of the relatively archaic phenomena in the corpus. Chapter 13 suggests the data examination that proceeds through meticulous examination of each phenomenon and presents the mapping out of the archaic verb strings within the given corpus. Since the present corpus provides certain, albeit very fragmentary, data for other, relatively late language types, chapter 13 will close with a brief discussion of this non-archaic material. Chapter 14 will offer a general description of the archaic verb system reconstructed for the limited corpus and summarize the data of linguistic diversity in it, suggesting some preliminary observations in

9 On the chronological criterion see below §12.2.1. 10 On the problems of ‘poetic dialect’ in biblical material cf. §2.3 above.

the historical-linguistic study of the hebrew archaic verb

271

terms of a dialectal and literary-conventional analysis. Some perspectives for future research will be outlined. 12.2.  Pinpointing a Relatively Archaic Phenomenon 12.2.1. The Chronological Factor: Methodological Problems Determining the relative chronology of linguistic phenomena is not an easy task in Biblical Hebrew linguistics, which works with a corpus of vague chronological frames.11 In order to locate each phenomenon on the axis of language change I propose a three-part examination: discursive, typological, and systemic. 12.2.1.1. The Discursive Test The basic insight of the present research dictates that if a certain nonroutine phenomenon in poetic language cannot be explained as purely discourse-conditioned after all the appropriate tools of discursive analysis have been applied (cf. examples in §12.1.1 above), there are grounds to locate this phenomenon on the historical-linguistic axis, in our case to examine its contribution to the archaic language type. The present research, and the linguistic study of biblical poetry in general, indicate that poetic and prose texts written at the same historical-linguistic stage will basically demonstrate the same type of verb system, again if the discourse properties of prose and poetry are treated appropriately.12

11 Although historical linguists of BH may believe that their situation is particularly miserable in view of the highly debated historical status of the material (see the bibliographic review in §§1.3 and 2.4), the field is not so idiosyncratic as one may think. The comparison by Labov 1994: 11 of the field of historical-linguistics in general to ‘the art of making the best use of bad data’ fits perfectly the situation in BH. For fuller discussion of the imperfect data as an intrinsic part of historical-linguistic work see Crisma and Longobardi 2009: 11–14. Many theoretical aspects of BH historical-linguistics are now widely treated in Miller and Zevit (eds.) 2012; the author did not have a chance to incorporate the results of this fruitful discussion into the present research. 12 This conclusion is based on the lack of the poetic dialect in the biblical poetic corpus, established in the present and some other studies. In Notarius 2007 I have demonstrated that the poetic language in the book of Amos reflects the CBH verb system. Already decades ago Hurvitz 1967 demonstrated that only part of the Psalms is consistent with the LBH lexicon and phraseology; Cook 2013 shows that the respective verb systems in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes reveal two typologically different stages. There seems to be a solid basis for the claim that variety in BH poetic language is due to historical change no less than variety in BH prose language, and within the same historical context.

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However, discursive analysis does not end where historical-linguistic analysis starts. As was claimed above, the comparative linguistic analysis is reliable for discursively compatible data. It will be demonstrated that certain particularly archaic phenomena are associated with precise discourse conditions; a historical change can be rooted in a particular discourse mode and further proceed by extension to other types of discourse. In practice, in the present analysis, discourse factors are always considered together with other linguistic data. 12.2.1.2. The Historical Linguistic Test The location of a phenomenon, group of phenomena, or language type on the axis of linguistic change must be fixed in correlation with a variety of relevant historical-linguistic data. Historical-linguistics enters the picture from different angles.13 First, one has to bring the data from a limited corpus (in our case the corpus of ‘archaic’ biblical poetry) in correlation with data from better studied biblical corpora, namely different corpora of prose language or other poetic corpora. The comparative study of the archaic verb system and the CBH syntax makes possible the tracking of particular cases of linguistic change; moreover, the placement of some non-archaic, innovative phenomena within the span of LBH verbal syntax illuminates a wider scope of apparent linguistic change. However, the present research does not aim at a comprehensive analysis of each postulated linguistic change, limiting itself to the reconstruction of the archaic stage and to the most general outline of subsequent development. Second, a presumable archaic phenomenon, or the archaic language type in general, has to be placed in its wider historical context, namely in correlation with other ancient NWS, and occasionally Central Semitic languages, which provide external comparative data for typological description and chronological verification of a given phenomenon. The establishment of a clear historical link between a presumably archaic phenomenon and its wider historical context and the postulating of certain shared isogloss is an important part of the argumentation within the present work. Nevertheless, the present work does not undertake a self-

13 Cf. §2.4 above. For some general problems in the methodology of historical-linguistics see Janda and Joseph 2003 and cf. also to n. 11 above.

the historical-linguistic study of the hebrew archaic verb 273 standing study of the corresponding NWS material, and is mostly based on scholarly consensus in the current research.14 Last, but not least, the phenomena under discussion have to be examined according to the tools of general linguistic theory of linguistic change.15 Again, the present research cannot propose a comprehensive typological analysis of the identified phenomena, but will occasionally look for additional support for its conclusions in the field of linguistic typology.16 Thus, for example, the use of the prefix form for imperfective aspect, parallel to the absence of the active predicative participle, is a relatively archaic phenomenon in light of the three-fold historical-linguistic test mapped up here:17 (1) CBH demonstrates the predicative participle for most imperfective uses and LBH even enlarges this tendency; (2) Ancient Northwest and Central Semitic languages demonstrate prefix forms for all the imperfective uses, while the active predicative participle is consistently absent from the systems of tenses; (3) the ‘old’ synthetic form of the imperfective is typologically substituted by a ‘new’ analytic form resulting from reanalysis of the embedded non-finite verb.18 12.2.1.3. The Systemic Test Particular language usages, even the most archaic among them, do not stand in isolation, and cannot by themselves indicate the archaic language type. They have to be part of the system, contributing together to a salient, cohesive language type. The systemic approach allows for the identification of texts characterized by a language that mixes typologically archaic phenomena with more innovative ones. Such material can be the result 14 For some methodological problems in the comparative study in the present research cf. the review (§12.2.2) below. 15 Historical syntax and the theory of syntactic change have been intensively discussed in recent scholarship and are influenced by different theoretical frameworks; see Harris and Campbell 2000, who provide a research review and comprehensive theory of syntactic change; cf. also Pat-El 2008: 1–17 for a review of the application of these approaches to the Semitic languages. Different approaches to the general theory of linguistic change can be found in Traugott and Dasher 2002; Crisma and Longobardi 2009; Traugott and Trousdale 2010. The research that still suggests the richest material about the development of TAM systems is Bybee, Perkins, and Pagliuca 1994. 16 The relevance of linguistic typology for the study of linguistic change is emphasized in Janda and Joseph 2003: 21–26. 17 For a more detailed review of the imperfective prefix conjugation form see in §13.1.2 below and the examples there. 18 For the typical paths of innovating the forms of imperfective aspect and present tense cf. Bybee, Perkins, and Pagliuca 1994: 127–33. For reanalysis as a path for the grammaticalization of the predicative participle see Dyk 1994.

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of anachronistic archaizing, partially applied literary convention, or later editing. The source of the language type mixing is not always detectable. However, texts characterized by a consistent absence of innovative phenomena can be taken as material for the study of the archaic verb. Basically, a coherent, non-contradictory, archaic system is not proof of a genuine archaic text. Theoretically, a later writer could stylize the archaic linguistic type without any slips. In this respect a methodological note is in order. The historical study of BH does not always distinguish between literary convention and self-standing archaisms.19 One can postulate a literary convention only in a situation of diglossia, namely when the language of literature is consistently different from the vernacular. Self-standing archaisms can exist in isolation from diglossia, simply as stylistic devices that afford the use of certain archaic features in literary production. Self-standing archaisms are non-systematic and can be combined with a language close to the vernacular. Occasionally, even a stable literary convention can allow for the penetration of vernacular elements, which would thus entail the convention’s disputed status. For the present research this distinction implies that if a given literary composition reveals archaic features in a consistent, non-contradictory manner, it should be treated as evidence of the archaic language type. If there are no signs of language type mixing or of any other anachronistic slips, there is almost no way to distinguish between a solid literary convention, on the one hand, and a genuine archaic usage, on the other. In the situation of the unfailing archaic literary convention, the language would attest a literary norm, once existed, fixed, and ever used due to its authority. But when archaisms are combined with innovative phenomena, a text can be said to have failed the systemic test and the corresponding data cannot be utilized to illustrate the archaic type of verb system. However the results of this research point to a somewhat different reality: the very fact that the poetic texts in the corpus exhibit varying degrees of ‘loyalty’ to the hypothesized literary norm and that many of them display usages that resemble later phenomena creates a chance to take the archaic language type seriously. This is a historical-linguistic study, which tracks linguistic change as it is attested in the corpus, and lays the foundation for further study of the underlying linguistic history.

19 Cf., as an example, Young 2005: 242–243.

the historical-linguistic study of the hebrew archaic verb 275 12.2.2. In Search of the Historical-Linguistic Context The demand of studying the archaic verb system in its historical-linguistic context necessitates a definition of terms. The field of the contextual linguistic study of BH has developed intensively during the last few decades and has been recently enriched by several significant contributions.20 The research has generally established the scope of the comparative data: the scholarship processes the comparison involving the data from Semitic (and occasionally non-Semitic) languages that are chronologically, genetically, and locally proximate to BH and concentrates on the nature of shared isoglosses. Typically, the research concentrates on the position of Hebrew within the genetic classification of Semitic languages. Moreover, it has been emphasized in the recent research that the isoglosses shared by BH and other ancient NWS languages are not necessarily due to genetic proximity, but can represent areal linguistic phenomena. 12.2.2.1. Genetic Classification: The Scope of Central Semitic Huehnergard has suggested the following genetic classification of the West Semitic languages (as opposed to East Semitic, represented by Akkadian and Eblaite), applying the criterion of shared innovation, particularly the use of the new perfective suffix form in West Semitic, in contrast to the old perfective prefix form in East Semitic:21 “The West Semitic group in turn is comprised of three branches: (1) Central Semitic: includes (i) the Northwest Semitic languages Ugaritic; Hebrew, Phoenician, and other Canaanite dialects; and Aramaic; (ii) the Ṡayhadic (Old or Epigraphic South Arabian) languages; and (iii) the various forms of Arabic. (2) Ethiopian Semitic: attested in the ancient period in classical Ethiopic, or Gəəz. (3) Mahrian Semitic or Modern South Arabian: not attested until the modern period (unless the Old South Arabian language Hadramitic reflects an ancient member of this group).”

This classification expresses the newly shaped consensus that includes the Old South Arabian languages (at least Sabaic, Minaic, and Qatabanic)

20 For the classical linguistic contextual study of BH see Moran 1961; for more recent contributions see the volumes of Woodard 2008 and Gzella 2009, and the corresponding chapters in Weninger 2011. 21 See Huehnergard 2008: 228; cf. Rubin 2010: 4–5.

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within the Central Semitic group, along with NWS and Arabic,22 and not within the South Semitic group, represented by the Modern South Arabian languages.23 This classification is based on the main shared innovation that separates the Central Semitic from the rest of Semitic languages—the lack of doubling of the second radical in the imperfective aspect/present tense form (yVqtVl and not yVqVttVl).24 12.2.2.2. Genetic Classification: The Position of Hebrew Huehnergard’s classification divides NWS into three main branches: Ugaritic, Canaanite (including Phoenician, Hebrew, and other Canaanite dialects, presumably the Old Canaanite of El-Amarna, Moabite, Edomite, and Ammonite), and Aramaic. Although this general outline of the NWS languages is found in most of the literature, there are different opinions as to the concrete subdivision of languages and dialects within this group. The status of Ugaritic has been discussed intensively: most scholars argue for its exclusion from the category of Canaanite languages within NWS,25 but some scholars insist on its status as a Canaanite language, which preserves some archaic and peripheral features.26 The unity of the Canaanite language group itself has become less obvious in recent research. The strong genetic link between Phoenician, on the one hand, and Hebrew and the Transjordanian dialects (Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite), on the other, has been challenged from different perspectives. Tropper distinguishes between two branches of South Canaanite (in his terms): Costal dialects (Phoenician and Punic) and Inland dialects (Hebrew, Moabite, Edomite, and Ammonite),27 and claims: “the linguis-

22 This view is upheld in Voigt 1987; Nebes 1994a; Porkhomovsky 1997: 222; cf. Appleyard 2002. 23 For this standpoint cf. Faber 1997: 6; Huehnergard 2005: 158. 24 Cf. particularly Nebes 1994a. 25 See Sivan 2001: 3; Huehnergard 2008. 26 See Ginsberg 1970; Tropper 1994b; the genetic proximity of Ugaritic to the Canaanite languages was reinforced in the study of Kogan 2010, but from the lexicological perspective. Kaye 1991 moved Ugaritic up in the Central Semitic group classificatory chart and positioned it as a separate Central Semitic language because of its closeness to Arabic, but this view is not generally accepted. Moreover, in recent research Ugaritic is sometimes viewed as the continuation of Amorite in second half of the second millennium; see Israel 2003. On different theories regarding the classification of Ugaritic see the review in Israel 2006. 27 Tropper 1994b; this division goes back to Harris 1937, but was revised in Garr 1985, who argued for two major linguistic centers of Syro-Palestinian NWS—Phoenician and Old Aramaic, while Hebrew and the Transjordanian dialects appear on the dialect continuum closer to the Phoenician center.

the historical-linguistic study of the hebrew archaic verb 277 tic correspondences between Ugaritic and the coastal dialects of South Canaanite are closer than the correspondences between Ugaritic and the inland dialects of South Canaanite.”28 A similar line of thinking can be found in the late Anson Rainey’s hypothesis about Hebrew as a ‘Transjordanian language’.29 Avoiding a serious challenge to the existing genetic classifications of the NWS languages, Rainey coined the term ‘Transjordanian languages’, which includes Hebrew, Moabite, and even Aramaic, as opposed to Phoenician and Ugaritic as Canaanite languages, due to the following shared isoglosses: (1) a more conservative stock of consonants; (2) the verb ‫‘ הי"י‬be’; (3) the verb ‫עש"י‬ ‘do’; (4) the noun ‫‘ זהב‬gold’; (5) the relative particle ‫( ;אשר‬6) the phrase ‫( אשר על הבית‬and not ‫‘ )סוכן‬master’; and (7) narrative preterite < *yaqtul. Interestingly, Rainey did not turn to Old South Arabian (OSA), especially to Sabaic, in his search for the ‘Transjordanian’ languages, although OSA apparently shares some of these isoglosses: the use of narrative preterite < *yaqtul30 and the root ‫‘ עש"י‬do’.31 Some isoglosses shared by Hebrew and Sabaic were outlined decades ago by Rendsburg, but this direction of research did not have significant continuation.32 The newly established position of Old South Arabian within Central Semitic reinforces the basis for the comparison between Hebrew and Sabaic, which is certainly no less appropriate than the comparison between Hebrew and Arabic.33 28 Tropper 1994b: 352. 29 See Rainey 2007a; 2007b; 2008. His theory was severely criticized in Hackett and PatEl 2010 for an improper use of the terms of genetic classification. 30 However, the status of the narrative preterite < *yaqtul in OSA is debated; see Gruntfest 1965; 1999; Nebes 1994b; Tropper 1997c; Hasselbach 2009. 31 The Sabaic verb ˁs1y ‘make, acquire’ has been regarded as an etymological parallel to Hebrew ˁśy ‘to do, make’, but the meaning ‘to make’ of the Sabaic verb is not really established (against what Beeston 1982: 20 suggests) and all instances of the verb could be understood as ‘to acquire’ (Peter Stein, personal communication). Another Sabaic verb, ˁs1ˀ ‘to do, make; construct, work’ (Beeston 1982: 20), could be considered a better parallel to Hebrew ˁśy. In both cases, the sibilant s1 does not correspond to the respective sound in Hebrew: Sabaic s1 is cognate of Hebrew š and not ś; see Stein 2011: 1047–48. In view of a number of other exceptions to the established rule of sibilant correspondences (but see Sima 2001; 2004) and the semantic parallels, the link between the Sabaic roots, at least the latter, and the Hebrew root seems convincing. I thank Peter Stein for discussing this matter with me. 32 Rendsburg 1989 noticed the following isoglosses, shared by Hebrew and Sabaic: (1) the rules for the assimilation of nun; (2) prepositions with auslaut in -y; (3) the preposition bn ‘in’; (4) prepositions with auslaut in -mw; (5) the negative particle biltî; (6) explicative w; (7) the broken plural; (8) the imperfect in -n; (9) the pronoun hw’ for the feminine. This list should be revised in light of more current research. 33 The relevance of Central Semitic languages such as Arabic and Old South Arabian for the genetic and areal study of archaic Hebrew is hard to overestimate, but these questions are generally beyond the scope of this research.

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12.2.2.3. Genetic Groups and Linguistic Areas The discussion of the inventory of NWS languages and of the position of Hebrew among them points to some basic problems in the field of comparative Semitics. The results of classification commonly depend on what shared isoglosses are taken into focus and how their status is represented.34 Some recent studies of the Central and Northwest Semitic languages point to the fact that the terms of areal linguistics allow for an explanation of the facts no less convincing than that based on the methods of genetic classification.35 The rigorous demand for shared innovations required for the genetic classification is not always realistic in the case of studies of dialect geography or for the linguistic study of heterogeneous literary corpora. As Izre’el points it out: “any linguistic feature, including lexical ones, may help in establishing dialectal relationships and differences.”36 He emphasized that shared isoglosses commonly result not from the genetic affiliation of the dialects involved, but merely from their geographic proximity.37 34 The problem of interpreting isoglosses has been tackled in many theoretical studies. According to the classical approach of Hetzron 1974 and 1976, only shared innovations are valuable for genetic classification (compare Garr 1985), but decisions as to the status of an isogloss is not always clear-cut; cf. Porkhomovsky 1997: 220: “The many contradictory isoglosses produce different classificatory models depending on which isoglosses are given priority. The main problem arises from the fact that similarities or differences in Semitic languages may be interpreted in three distinct ways: (i) as preserved archaisms; (ii) as areal developments; (iii) as shared innovations. According to the standard comparative technique only the last must be taken into consideration for genetic subgrouping, but the attribution of particular isoglosses to one of these three possibilities can be a very difficult problem (. . .).” If one adds the possibility of independent development as a fourth factor that can cause similarity between languages (cf. Huehnergard 2005), the picture of the existing complexity will be complete. Cf. also Faber 1997: 3: “genetic models of linguistic relatedness and areal models of mutual linguistic influence are complementary rather than competitive.” See also Rabin 1999 with a lot of relevant data. 35 See the review in Huehnergard and Rubin 2011 and Gzella 2011, especially pp. 446–47; an attempt to see NWS as a linguistic area rather than a classificatory group was undertaken in Israel 2006. Moreover, if the Rainey’s (2007a; 2007b; 2008) hypothesis of Hebrew as a Transjordanian language deserves any attention, it is only in the terms of areal linguistics. For the general theoretical problems of boundaries between areal features, simple borrowings, and other contact phenomena see Campbell 1999; Myers-Scotton 2002. 36 See Izre’el 1988: 95, a review of Garr’s 1985 monograph on dialectal geography in Syro-Palestine, which remains a milestone book in the field. 37 Cf. Izre’el 1988: 96: “There are indeed linguistic features that may be transferred and spread within contiguous dialects and languages without any reference to their genetic affiliation.” Altogether, Izre’el insists on the relevance of the two most important models of the areal linguistics: (1) establishment of the innovative center(s) should be done in correlation with research on the archaizing periphery; (2) the genetic relationship between languages should be combined with the geographic proximity in order to produce a sat-

the historical-linguistic study of the hebrew archaic verb 279 All these methodological reflections represent a challenge for the goals of the present research, i.e., to posit the relatively archaic phenomena of verbal syntax within the corresponding historical-linguistic context. The scope of the present research, as well as the state-of-art in the field, does not allow for serious speculation about the hypothetical nature of each and every isogloss shared by the archaic BH verb system with other linguistic entities in its ancient NWS context. The present research aims at establishing these isoglosses and reconstructing the most detectable morphosyntactic and semantic features of the Hebrew archaic verb; a deeper investigation into the status of these isoglosses within the ancient NWS languages and dialects remains a topic for further research.

isfactory sketch of languages. Strikingly, he does not disqualify reserved archaism (retention) from the study of dialectal geography, within both the genetic and areal frameworks (cf. ‘Sprachbund’ in Strazny 2005: 1029–30), and reminds the reader not to forget the possibility of influence of strong literary cultural norms on the written materials as part of the general process of areal borrowing.

Chapter Thirteen

The archaic phenomena of verbal morphosyntax 13.1. Examination of the Data The corpus analysis allows for the identification of a whole string of relatively archaic phenomena related to the verb system. Each phenomenon will be examined in terms of its discursive, historical-linguistic, and systemic statuses. 13.1.1. Preterite ‫יקטל‬ Some texts reveal an independent (waw-less) use of the perfective past prefix form, namely preterite ‫* ‫