[51a] 1. The essential characteristic of this conjugation consists in a prefix to the stem. This exists in two forms: (a) the (probably original) prepositive nă, as in the Hebrew perfect and participle, although in the strong verb the ă is always attenuated to ĭ: נִקְטַל for original nă-qăṭăl, participle נִקְטָל, infinitive absolute sometimes נִקְטוֹל; (b) the (later) proclitic in (as in all the forms of the corresponding Arabic conjugation vii. ʾinqătălă), found in the imperfect יִקָּטֵל for yinqāṭēl, in the imperative and infinitive construct, with a secondary ה added, הִקָּטֵל (for hinqāṭēl), and in the infinitive absolute הִקָּטֹל The inflexion of Niphʿal is perfectly analogous to that of Qal.
[51b] The features of Niphʿal are accordingly in the perfect and participle the prefixed Nûn, in the imperative, infinitive, and imperfect, the Dageš in the first radical. These characteristics hold good also for the weak verb. In the case of an initial guttural, which, according to §22b, cannot take Dageš forte, the emission of the strengthening invariably causes the lengthening of the preceding vowel (see §63h).
[51c] 2. As regards its meaning, Niphʿal bears some resemblance to the Greek middle voice, in being—(a) primarily reflexive of Qal, e.g. נִלְחַץ to thrust oneself (against), נִשְׁמַר to take heed to oneself, φυλάσσεσθαι, נִסְתַּר to hide oneself, נִגְאַל to redeem oneself; cf. also נַֽעֲנֶה to answer for oneself. Equally characteristic of Niphʿal is its frequent use to express emotions which react upon the mind; נִחַם to trouble oneself, נֶֽאֱנַח to sigh (to bemoan oneself, cf. ὀδύρεσθαι, lamentari, contristari); as well as to express actions which the subject allows to happen to himself, or to have an effect upon himself (Niphʿal tolerativum), e.g. דָּרַשׁ to search, to inquire, Niph. to allow oneself to be inquired of, Is 651, Ez 143, &c.; so the Niph. of מָצָא to find, יָסַר to warn, to correct, Jer 68, 3118, &c.
[51d] (b) It expresses reciprocal or mutual action, e.g. דִּבֶּר to speak, Niph. to speak to one another; שָׁפַט to judge, Niph. to go to law with one another; יָעַץ to counsel, Niph. to take counsel, cf. the middle and deponent verbs βουλεύεσθαι (נוֹעַץ), μάξεσθαι (נְלְחַם), altercari, luctari (נִצָּה to strive with one another) proeliari.
[51e] (c) It has also, like Hithpaʿēl (§54f) and the Greek middle, the meaning of the active, with the addition of to oneself (sibi), for one-
- Cf. A. Rieder, De linguae Hebr. verbis, quae vocantur derivata nifal et hitpael, Gumbinnen (Progr. des Gymn.), 1884, a list of all the strong Niphʿal forms (81) and Hithpaʿēl forms (36) in the Old Testament; and especially M. Lambert, ‘L’emploi du Nifal en Hébreu,’ REJ. 41, 196 ff.
- See Philippi in ZDMG. 1886, p. 650, and Barth, ibid. 1894, p. 8 f.