Anterior Weqatal In The Hebrew Bible And The Qumran Documents


The first part of this article discusses the phenomenon of anterior weqatal in the Hebrew Bible, a verbal usage that seems to be oddly out of place in the Classical Hebrew system of verbal forms. Various approaches to such occurrences of presumed anterior weqatal are considered, and while some of the explanations offered by different scholars seem to be able to account for some cases, no single approach is found adequate to deal with all of them. Some kind of interference from a non-classical variety of language must be assumed as a factor in many cases. In the second part, the occurrences of anterior weqatal in Qumran are examined. In the larger, relatively non-fragmentary texts, scholars examining the verbal system of Qumran Hebrew have noticed an almost complete absence of this form. This contribution draws the attention to the use of anterior weqatal in other, more fragmentary texts, evaluating the extent to which the anterior interpretations given in various translations are justified. As it turns out, most of the supposed instances can be interpreted in other ways (as future tense, iterativity in the past, etc.). Possible implications of the infrequent use of the form for the characterization of Qumran Hebrew as a deliberately archaizing literary language are tentatively proposed.