Edition 1.

20 September 2011


Observations on Tenses in Psalms

by David Steinberg


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See Tenses or Aspects in Biblical Hebrew

Note that in most instances, in the following examples, the general context of meaning, together with the preceeding or succeeding PCpretWC[1](sometimes also SCpast) in the same verse make identification of verb as PCpret_sim  probable.  


Table C

PCpret_sim  and PCpretWC in the Same Verse Referring to the Past

Chapt./Vs. of Hebrew Text

PC and SC Verbs Indicating Time Reference

(Reconstructed JEH Style Spelling; */EBHP/+; n.b. EBHP PCpret and PCjus were identical.)

English Translation(s)[2]

Masoretic Text[3]

A) At Least One Form of Preterite was Distinguished from the PCimp in */EBHP/+ by the Placement of Stress.


SCpast - past - כרה  - kaˈrβ

PCpretWC - past

- ויחפרהו - wayyiḥpˈrihu(ː). Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

- ויפל - wayˈyippul (:wyipˈpul PCimp :wˈyippul PCjus)

PCpret_sim - past - יפעל - ˈyipcal (:yipˈcal PCimp)

He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made.

בֹּ֣ור כָּ֭רָֽה וַֽיַּחְפְּרֵ֑הוּ וַ֝יִּפֹּ֗ל בְּשַׁ֣חַת יִפְעָֽל


PCpretWC - past –

- ותגעש - watˈtigcaš (:wtigˈcaš PCimp  :wˈtigcaš PCjus)

- ותרעש - watˈtircaš (:wtirˈcaš PCimp  :wˈtircaš PCjus)

- ויתגעשו - wayyitgaˈcšū. (:wyitgaˈcšū PCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past - יפעל - ˈyipcal (:yipˈcal PCimp)

SCpast - past - חָ֥רָה - aˈrβ

Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry.

וַתִּגְעַ֬שׁ וַתִּרְעַ֨שׁ ׀ הָאָ֗רֶץ וּמֹוסְדֵ֣י הָרִ֣ים יִרְגָּ֑זוּ וַ֝יִּתְגָּֽעֲשׁ֗וּ כִּי־חָ֥רָה לֹֽו


PCpretWC - past – וירעם - wayˈyarcim (:wyarˈciːm PCimp/PCjus)

PCpret_sim - past – יתנ - ˈyittin (:yitˈtin PCimp)

The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice.

וַיַּרְעֵ֬ם בַּשָּׁמַ֨יִם ׀ יְֽהוָ֗ה וְ֭עֶלְיֹון יִתֵּ֣ן קֹלֹ֑ו בָּ֝רָ֗ד וְגַֽחֲלֵי־אֵֽשׁ


PCpret_sim - past - יקדמוני - yạqaddịˈmūn. Identical form in PCjus and PCimp

PCpretWC - past - ויהי - wayˈyihy (:wyihˈyκ PCimp).

They confronted me in the day of my calamity; but the LORD was my support.

יְקַדְּמ֥וּנִי בְיֹום־אֵידִ֑י וַֽיְהִי־יְהוָ֖ה לְמִשְׁעָ֣ן לִֽי


PCpretWC - past – ותתנ - watˈtittin (:wtitˈtin PCimp :wˈtittin PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past (Identical form in PCjus and PCimp).

תסעדני - tiscaˈdinῑ;

תרבני tarˈbin.

You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand has supported me; your help has made me great.

וַתִּתֶּן־לִי֮ מָגֵ֪ן יִ֫שְׁעֶ֥ךָ וִֽימִינְךָ֥ תִסְעָדֵ֑נִי וְֽעַנְוַתְךָ֥ תַרְבֵּֽנִי


SCpast - past - הורשת - hawˈrašta(ː)

PCpretWC - past (Stress not distinctive in these forms)

- ותטעם  - wattiṭṭaˈcim (:wtiṭṭaˈcim PCimp/PCjus);

- ותשלחם - wattšalliˈim  (:wtšalliˈim PCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past -תרע - ˈtarc (:taˈrːc PCimp).

you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free

אַתָּ֤ה ׀ יָדְךָ֡ גֹּויִ֣ם הֹ֭ורַשְׁתָּ וַתִּטָּעֵ֑ם תָּרַ֥ע לְ֝אֻמִּ֗ים וַֽתְּשַׁלְּחֵֽם


SCpast - past - זנחת  - zaˈnata(ː)

PCpretWC - past -ותכלימנו  - wattakliːˈminū
(:wtakliːˈminū PCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past - תצא  - ˈtiiʾ (:tiˈiʾ PCimp).

Yet you have rejected us and abased us, and have not gone out with our armies.

אַף־זָ֭נַחְתָּ וַתַּכְלִימֵ֑נוּ וְלֹא־תֵ֝צֵ֗א בְּצִבְאֹותֵֽינוּ


PCpret_sim - past - יבקע - ybˈbaqc (:ybbaˈqc PCimp).

PCpretWC - past -  וישק- wayˈyašq (:wyašˈqκ PCimp :wˈyašq PCjus).

He split rocks open in the wilderness, and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.

יְבַקַּ֣ע צֻ֭רִים בַּמִּדְבָּ֑ר וַ֝יַּ֗שְׁקְ כִּתְהֹמֹ֥ות רַבָּֽה


PCpret_sim - past - יסע  - ˈyassc (:yasˈsịːc PCimp).

PCpretWC - past -   וינהג- wayyˈnahig (:wyạnaˈhig PCimp :wyˈnahig PCjus).

He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind

יַסַּ֣ע קָ֭דִים בַּשָּׁמָ֑יִם וַיְנַהֵ֖ג בְּעֻזֹּ֣ו תֵימָֽן


PCpretWC - past (Stress not distinctive in these forms)

- וישבעו - wayyiśˈbcū (:wyiśˈbcū PCimp/PCjus);

- ויאכלו - wayyτˈklū (:wyτˈklū PCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past - יבא - ˈyabiʾ (:yaˈbiːʾ PCimp).

And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved.

וַיֹּאכְל֣וּ וַיִּשְׂבְּע֣וּ מְאֹ֑ד וְ֝תַֽאֲוָתָ֗ם יָבִ֥א לָהֶֽם


PCpretWC - past -ויהפכ  - wayˈyihpuk (:wyihˈpuk PCimp).

PCpret_sim - past - ישתין - yištaˈyūn. Identical form in PCimp.

He turned their rivers to blood, so that they could not drink of their streams.

וַיַּהֲפֹ֣ךְ לְ֭דָם יְאֹרֵיהֶ֑ם וְ֝נֹזְלֵיהֶ֗ם בַּל־יִשְׁתָּיֽוּן


PCpret_sim - past - ישלח - yˈšall (:yšalˈl PCimp).

PCpretWC - past

- ויאכלם - wayyτˈklim (:wyτˈklim PCimp/PCjus);

- ותשחתם - wattašˈḥiːtim (:wtašˈḥiːtim PCimp/PCjus).

He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them, and frogs, which destroyed them.

יְשַׁלַּ֬ח בָּהֶ֣ם עָ֭רֹב וַיֹּאכְלֵ֑ם וּ֝צְפַרְדֵּ֗עַ וַתַּשְׁחִיתֵֽם


PCpret_sim - past

- תסיע- ˈtaśic (:taˈśic PCimp).

- תגרש - tˈgarriš (:tgarˈriš PCimp).

PCpretWC - past - ותטעה - wattiṭṭaˈciha(ː) (:wtiṭṭaˈciha(ː) PCimp/PCjus).

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.

גֶּ֭פֶן מִמִּצְרַ֣יִם תַּסִּ֑יעַ תְּגָרֵ֥שׁ גֹּ֝ויִ֗ם וַתִּטָּעֶֽהָ


PCpretWC - past - ותבט - wayˈyihpuk (:wyihˈpuk PCimp :wˈyihpuk PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past - תשמענה - tišˈmacna(ː). Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies; my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

וַתַּבֵּט עֵינִי בְּשׁוּרָי בַּקָּמִים עָלַי מְרֵעִים תִּשְׁמַעְנָה אָזְנָי


PCpret_sim - past - יקם - ˈyaqim (:yaˈqiːm PCimp).

PCpretWC - past - ויחשו - wayyiˈšū (:wyiˈšū PCimp/PCjus).

he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

יָקֵ֣ם סְ֭עָרָה לִדְמָמָ֑ה וַ֝יֶּחֱשׁ֗וּ גַּלֵּיהֶֽם


SCpast - past - ראה - raˈʾβ.

PCpretWC - past -  וינס - wayˈyanus (:wyanuːs PCimp :wˈyanus PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past – יסב - ˈyissub (:yisˈsub PCimp
wˈyissub PCjus).

The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back

הַיָּם רָאָה וַיָּנֹס הַיַּרְדֵּן יִסֹּב לְאָחֹור

B) Neither form of Preterite Was Distinguished from the PCimp in */EBHP/+ by the Placement of Stress


PCpretWC - past - ויוציאני  - wayyawṣiˈʾin (:wyawṣiˈʾinPCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past - יחלצני - yallˈṣin (:yipˈcal PCimp/PCjus)

SCstate - חפץ – aˈpi (:aˈpiː part.)

He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

וַיֹּוצִיאֵנִי לַמֶּרְחָב יְחַלְּצֵנִי כִּי חָפֵץ בִּי


SCpast - past – הכה - hikˈkβ

PCpretWC - past - ויזובו  - wayyaˈzuːbū (:wyazuːbū PCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past -ישטפו  - yišˈpū. Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

PCjus – jussive

יוכל – ˈyϋkal (:yϋˈkal PCimp)

יכין – ˈyakin (:yaˈkiːn PCimp).

Even though he struck the rock so that water gushed out and torrents overflowed, can he also give bread, or provide meat for his people?"

הֵ֤ן הִכָּה־צ֨וּר ׀ וַיָּז֣וּבוּ מַיִם֮ וּנְחָלִ֪ים יִ֫שְׁטֹ֥פוּ הֲגַם־לֶ֭חֶם י֣וּכַל תֵּ֑ת אִם־יָכִ֖ין שְׁאֵ֣ר לְעַמֹּֽו


PCpretWC - past - ויפתהו - wayyạpatˈtūn (:wyạpatˈtūnPCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past - יכזבו - yạkaˈzibū. Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues.

וַיְפַתּ֥וּהוּ בְּפִיהֶ֑ם וּ֝בִלְשֹׁונָ֗ם יְכַזְּבוּ־לֹֽו


PCpretWC - past - ויכעסהו  - wayyạkciːˈsūhu(ː)
(:wyạkciːˈsūhu(ː) PCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past - יקנאהו - yaqniːˈʾūhu(ː). Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their idols.

וַיַּכְעִיס֥וּהוּ בְּבָמֹותָ֑ם וּ֝בִפְסִילֵיהֶ֗ם יַקְנִיאֽוּהוּ


SCpast - past -נפלו  - naˈpalū

PCpret_sim - past – תבכינה - tibˈkayna(ː).Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

Their priests fell by the sword, and their widows made no lamentation.

כֹּ֭הֲנָיו בַּחֶ֣רֶב נָפָ֑לוּ וְ֝אַלְמְנֹתָ֗יו לֹ֣א תִבְכֶּֽינָה


PCpretWC - past - וירעם  - wayyirˈcim
(:wyirˈcim PCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past - ינחם - yanˈim. Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

With upright heart he tended them, and guided them with skillful hand.

וַ֭יִּרְעֵם כְּתֹ֣ם לְבָבֹ֑ו וּבִתְבוּנֹ֖ות כַּפָּ֣יו יַנְחֵֽם


SCpast - past -קראת  - qaˈraʾta(ː).

PCpretWC - past -ואחלצך  - waʾʾḥallˈṣaka(ː)
(:wʾḥallˈṣaka(ː) PCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past - Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

-אענך  - yanˈim.

- אבחנך - - yanˈim.

In distress you called, and I rescued you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah

בַּצָּרָה קָרָאתָ וָאֲחַלְּצֶךָּ אֶעֶנְךָ בְּסֵתֶר רַעַם אֶבְחָנְךָ עַל־מֵי מְרִיבָה סֶלָה


PCpret_sim - past - Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

- יצילם - yanˈim.

-ימרו  - yanˈim.

PCpretWC - past -  וימכו- wayyaˈmukkū
(:wạyaˈmukkū PCimp/PCjus).

Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes, and were brought low through their iniquity.

פְּעָמִים רַבֹּות יַצִּילֵם וְהֵמָּה יַמְרוּ בַעֲצָתָם וַיָּמֹכּוּ בַּעֲוֹנָם


PCpret_sim - past - Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

- ויצעקו - yanˈim.

PCpretWC - past -  יוציאם- wayyaˈmukkū
(:wạyaˈmukkū PCimp/PCjus).

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress

וַיִּצְעֲקוּ אֶל־יְהוָה בַּצַּר לָהֶם וּמִמְּצוּקֹתֵיהֶם יֹוצִיאֵם


PCpret_sim - past - Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

- וישמחו - yanˈim.

- וינחם - yanˈim.

PCpretWC - past -  ישתקו - wayyaˈmukkū
(:wạyaˈmukkū PCimp/PCjus).

Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

וַיִּשְׂמְחוּ כִי־יִשְׁתֹּקוּ וַיַּנְחֵם אֶל־מְחֹוז חֶפְצָם

138: 3

SCpast - past -קראתי  - qaˈraʾt.

PCpretWC - past - ותענני - wayyaˈmukkū
(:wạyaˈmukkū PCimp/PCjus).

PCpret_sim - past - תרהבני - tarhiːˈbin. Identical form in PCjus and PCimp.

On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.

בְּיֹום קָרָאתִי וַתַּעֲנֵנִי תַּרְהִבֵנִי בְנַפְשִׁי עֹז




[1] IN EBHP and LBHP THE JUSSIVE (PCjus), COHORTATIVE (PCcoh), IMPERFECT (PCimp) AND PRETERITE (PCpret_sim/PCpretWC) are, in some forms, distinguished by the placement of syllabic stress when not carrying object suffixes. See -
-  http://www.adath-shalom.ca/history_of_hebrew3a.htm#indic_jus AND
-  http://www.adath-shalom.ca/history_of_hebrew3a.htm#Prefix_Conjugation

[2] For convenience, I have used NASB or NRSV as the basis of my translation modifying the wording and layout as appropriate.

[3] From The Westminster Leningrad Codex http://www.tanach.us/ .