Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/116. The Participles

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§116. The Participles.

Cf. Sellin (see above at the head of § 113), p. 6 ff., and Kahan, p. 11 ff.

a 1. Like the two infinitives, the participles also occupy a middle place between the noun and the verb. In form they are simple nouns, and most nearly related to the adjective; consequently they cannot in themselves be employed to represent definite relations of tense or mood. On the other hand, their verbal character is shown by their not representing, like the adjectives, a fixed and permanent quality (or state), but one which is in some way connected with an action or activity. The participle active indicates a person or thing conceived as being in the continual uninterrupted exercise of an activity. The participle passive, on the other hand, indicates the person or thing in a state which has been brought about by external actions.

b Rem. That the language was fully conscious of the difference between a state implying action (or effected by external action) and mere passivity, is seen from the fact, that participles proper cannot be formed from the purely stative Qal, but only verbal adjectives of the form qāṭēl (מָלֵא, כָּבֵד, &c.) or qāṭōl (גָּבֹהַּ, &c.), whereas the transitive Qal שָׂנֵא to hate, although it coincides in form with the intransitive Qal (as a verb middle e), nevertheless forms a participle active שׂנֵא, and participle passive שָׂנוּא (cf. the feminine שְׂנוּאָה).—In cases where the participle proper and the verbal adjective both occur, they are by no means synonymous. When the Assyrians are called in Is 28 לַֽעֲגֵי שָׂפָה men of stammering lips, a character is ascribed to them which is inseparably connected with their personality. On the other hand כֻּלֹּה לֹעֵג לִי Jer 20, describes those about the prophet as continually engaged in casting ridicule upon him. Cf. also ψ 9 (שְׁכֵחֵי) with 50:22 (שֹֽׁכְחֵי).

c On the difference between the participle as expressing simple duration and the imperfect as expressing progressive duration, cf. what has been stated above in § 107 d. Nevertheless the participle is sometimes used—especially in the later books, cf. e.g. Neh 6, 2 Ch 17—where we should expect the action to be divided up into its several parts, and consequently should expect the finite verb. But the substitution of the participle for the tempus historicum, which becomes customary in Aramaic (cf. Kautzsch, Gramm. des Bibl.-Aram., § 76. 2, d, and e), is nevertheless quite foreign to Hebrew.

d 2. The period of time indicated by (a) a participle active, either as an attribute or predicate, must be inferred from the particular context. Thus מֵת may mean either moriens (Zc 11), or mortuus (so commonly; with the article הַמֵּת regularly = the dead man), or moriturus (Dt 4); בָּא coming, come Gn 18, &c., venturus 1 S 2, &c.; נׄפֵל falling, but also fallen, Ju 3, 1 S 5, and ready to fall (threatening ruin, Is 30, Am 9). For other examples of perfect participles see Gn 27, 43 (הַשָּׁב that was returned; cf. Ezr 6, &c., הַשָּׁבִים which were come again from the captivity); Gn 35, Ex 11, Zc 12, ψ 137, Pr 8, Jb 12 (קֹרֵא), and see m below. For future participles see Gn 41, 1 K 18, Is 5, Jon 1, &c., probably also לֹֽקְחֵי Gn 19. On the futurum instans (esp. after הִנֵּה) see p below.

e (b) Of the passive participles, that of Qal (e.g. כָּתוּב scriptus) always corresponds to a Latin or Greek perfect participle passive, those of the other conjugations, especially Niphʿal, sometimes to a Latin gerundive (or to an adjective in -bilis), e.g. נוֹרָא metuendus, to be feared, ψ 76, &c.; נֶחְמָד desiderandus (desiderabilis) Gn 3, ψ 19, &c.; נִבְרָא creandus ψ 102; נוֹלָד, usually natus, but also (like הַיּוּלָּד Ju 13) procreandus, nasciturus 1 K 13, ψ 22; נַֽעֲרָץ terribilis ψ 89; נִתְעָב abominable Jb 15; נֶחְשָׁב aestimandus Is 2; הַנֶּֽאֱכֶ֫לֶת that may be eaten (an animal) Lv 11. In Puʿal מְהֻלָּל laudandus, worthy to be praised ψ 18. In Hophʿal, 2 S 20 מֻשְׁלָךְ; 2 K 11 הַמּֽוּמָתִים; Is 12 Qe מוּדַ֫עַת.[1]

f 3. The participles active, in virtue of their partly verbal character, possess the power of governing like verbs, and consequently, when used in the absolute state, may take after them an object either in the accusative, or with the preposition with which the verb in question is elsewhere usually construed, e.g. 1 S 18 אֹיֵב אֶת־דָּוִד hating David; Gn 42; with the suffix of the accusative, e.g. עשֵׂ֫נִי that made me Jb 31; מִי רֹאֵ֫נוּ who seeth us? Is 29 (in Is 47 רֹאָ֫נִי is abnormal); רֹדֵם ruling them ψ 68, sometimes also with the article, e.g. ψ 18 הַֽמְאַזְּרֵ֫נִי that girdeth me (LXX ὁ κραταιῶν με); Dt 8–16, 13:6, 11, 20:1, 2 S 1, Is 9 (where, however, Cheyne omits the article), 63:11, ψ 81, 103, Dn 11; followed by a preposition, e.g. 1 K 9 הָֽרֹדִים בָּעָם which bare rule over the people; 2 K 20 הִֽנְנִי רֹפֵא לָךְ behold, I will heat thee. [2]

By an exhaustive examination of the statistics, Sellin (see the title at the head of § 113), p. 40 ff., shows that the participle when construed as a verb expresses a single and comparatively transitory act, or relates to particular cases, historical facts, and the like, while the participle construed as a noun (see g) indicates repeated, enduring, or commonly occurring acts, occupations, and thoughts.

So also the verbal adjectives of the form qāṭēl may take an accusative of the person or thing, if the finite verb from which they are derived governs an accusative, e.g. Dt 34 מָלֵא רוּחַ חָכְמָה full of the spirit of wisdom; ψ 5 חָפֵץ רֶ֫שַׁע that hath pleasure in wickedness.

g As a sort of noun the participle may, however, also exercise the same government as a noun, being in the construct state, and followed by the object of the action in the genitive (see § 89 a; and cf. § 128 x), e.g. ψ 5 אֹֽהֲבֵי שְׁמֶ֫ךָ that love thy name; cf. ψ 19 f.; also when a verbal adjective, e.g. Gn 22 and often יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים one fearing God; Hb 2; with an infinitive, ψ 127; with a noun-suffix (which, according to § 33 c, also represents a genitive), e.g. Gn 4 כָּל־מֹֽצְאִי whosoever findeth me (prop. my finder; cf. עשִֹׁי my maker); 12:3 מְבָֽרֲכֶ֫יךָ that bless thee, מְקַלֶּלְךָ that curseth thee (but read either מְקַלְלֶ֫יךָ, or מְבֽרֶכְךָ in the preceding clause); 27:29, 1 S 2, Is 63, ψ 18. In Jer 33 read מְשָֽׁרְתִים אֹתִי.[3]

h Rem. To the class of objective genitives belong also specifications of place after the participles בָּא iniens and יֹצֵא egrediens, since the verbs בּוֹא and יָצָא, in the sense of ingredi, egredi, can be directly connected with an accusative; e.g. Gn 23, 18 בָּאֵי שַׁ֫עַר עִירוֹ that went in at the gate of his city; La 1; after יֽׄצְאֵי Gn 9, 34, 46, &c.—In poetic language the participle in the construct state may be connected not only with a genitive of the object, but also with any other specifications (especially of space) which otherwise can only be made to depend on the verb in question by means of a preposition; cf. Is 38, and frequently, יֽוֹרְדֵי־בוֹר they that go down into the pit (the grave); ψ 88 שֹֽׁכְבֵי קֶ֫בֶר that lie in the grave; Dt 32 (Mi 7); 1 K 2, 2 K 11, 7, 9 those that came in (or went out) on the sabbath, Pr 2, 1 Ch 5, &c.; instead of the construction with מִן־, e.g. Is 59 (those who turn from transgression), Mi 2 (cf. § 72 p).

i These genitives of nearer definition appear also in the form of a noun-suffix, e.g. ψ 18, 49 קָמַי (for קָמִים עָלַי) that rise up against me; cf. Ex 15, Dt 33, ψ 44, Ex 32, Is 1 שָׁבֶ֫יהָ her converts; ψ 53 (חֹנָךְ); Pr 2 כָּל־בָּאֶ֫יהָ all that go unto her; the construction is especially bold in Is 29 כָּל־צֹבֶ֫יהָ וּמְצֹֽדָתָהּ all that fight against her and her stronghold (for בָּל־הַצֹּֽבְאִים עָלֶ֫יהָ וְעַל־מ׳); ψ 102 even with a participle Poʿal, מְהֽוֹלָלַי they that are mad against me (?), but read perhaps with Olshausen מְחֽוֹלְלַי who pierce me.—In Is 1 as a terebinth נׄבֶ֫לֶּת עָלֶ֫הָ fading as regards its leaf, it remains doubtful whether נׄבֶ֫לֶת is in the absolute state, and consequently עָלֶ֫הָ in the accusative, or whether it is to be regarded as construct state, and עָלֶ֫הָ as the genitive. In the latter case it would be analogous to Pr 14 (see k).

k 4. The passive participles also may either be in the absolute state, and take the determining word in the accusative,[4] or may be connected with it in the construct state, e.g. Ju 18, 1 S 2, Ez 9 לָבוּשׁ בַּדִּים clothed in linen, cf. verse 3 הַלָּבֻשׁ הַבַּדִּים; (even with a suffix קָרוּעַ כֻּתָּנְתּוֹ rent as regards his coat 2 S 15; with the participle following Ju 1); but Ez 9 לְבוּשׁ הַבַּדִּים the one clothed with linen; 2 S 13 קְרֻעֵי בְגָדִים rent in respect of clothes, equivalent to with their clothes rent (cf. Jer 41); Nu 24, Dt 25, Is 3, 33, Jo 1, ψ 32 (נְשׂוּי־פֶּ֫שַׁע forgiven in respect of transgression, כְּסוּי חֲטָאָה covered in respect of sin); with a suffix to the noun, Pr 14 נְלוֹז דְּרָכָיו he that is perverse in his ways.

l Rem. The passive participle occurs in the construct state before a genitive of the cause, e.g. in Is 1 שְׂרֻפוֹת אֵשׁ burnt with fire; cf. Gn 41, Ex 28, Dt 32; before a genitive denoting the author, e.g. Gn 24 בְּרוּךְ יְהֹוָה blessed of the Lord (but ψ 115 בְּרוּכִים לַיהוָֹה, see § 121 f); cf. Is 53, ψ 22, Jb 14 (15:14, 25:4); hence also with noun-suffixes (which are accordingly genitive) Pr 9 קְרֻאֶ֫יהָ her invited ones, i.e. those invited by her; cf. 7:26, ψ 37.

m 5. The use of the participle as predicate is very frequent in noun-clauses (which, according to § 140 e, describe established facts and states), in which the period of time intended by the description must again (see above, d) be inferred from the context. Thus:

n (a) As present, in speaking of truths which hold good at all times, e.g. Ec 1 דּוֹר הֹלֵךְ וְדוֹר בָּא one generation goeth, and another generation cometh; and the earth abideth (עֹמָ֫דֶת) for ever; cf. verse 7; also to represent incidental (continuous) occurrences which are just happening, Gn 3, 16 (I am fleeing); 32:12, Ex 9, 1 S 16, 23, 2 K 7, Is 1; when the subject is introduced by the emphatic demonstrative הִנֵּה behold! (§ 100 o and § 105 b), e.g. Gn 16 הִנָּךְ הָרָה behold, thou art with child, &c.; 27:42; frequently also in circumstantial clauses (connected by Wāw), cf. § 141 e, e.g. Gn 15, &c.

o (b) To represent past actions or states, sometimes in independent noun-clauses, e.g. Ex 20 וְכָל־הָעָם רֹאִים אֶת־הַקּוֹלֹת and all the people saw the thunderings, &c.; 1 K 1; in negative statements, e.g. Gn 39 a; sometimes in relativeclauses, e.g. Gn 39 b, Dt 3 (cf. also the frequent combination of the participle with the article as the equivalent of a relative clause, e.g. Gn 32 הָֽאֹמֵר which saidst; 12:7, 16:13, 35:1, 3, 36:35, 48:16, 2 S 15, &c.); sometimes again (see n) in circumstantial clauses, especially those representing actions or states which occurred simultaneously with other past actions, &c., e.g. Gn 19 and the two angels came to Sodom וְלוֹט ישֵׁב and (i.e. while) Lot sat, &c.; 18:1, 8, 16, 22, 25:26, Ju 13, 2 Ch 22; also with the subject introduced by הִנֵּה 37:7, 41:17. (On הֹלֵךְ with a following adjective or participle to express an action constantly or occasionally recurring, cf. § 113 u.)

p (c) To announce future actions or events, e.g. 1 K 2, 2 K 4 at this season when the time cometh round, אַתְּ חֹבֶ֫קֶת בֵּן thou shalt embrace a son; so after a specification of time, Gn 7, 15, 17, 19, Hag 2 (but in Is 23, where, after וְהָיָה we should rather expect a perfect consecutive, it is better to explain וְנִשְׁכַּ֫חַת, with Qimḥi, as the 3rd sing. fem. of the perfect; on the form, cf. § 44 f); or in relative clauses, Gn 41, Is 5, i.e. am in the act of doing; in a deliberative question, Gn 37; but especially often when the subject is introduced by הִנֵּה (especially also if the subject be attached as a suffix to הִנֵּה as הִנְנִי, הִנְּךָ, &c.), if it is intended to announce the event as imminent, or at least near at hand (and sure to happen), when it is called futurum instans, e.g. Gn 6, 15, 20, 24 f., 48:21, 50:5, Ex 3, 8, 9, 34, Jos 2, Ju 7, 9, 1 S 3, 2 K 7, Is 3, 7, 17, Jer 30, Zc 2, 3; with a participle passive, 2 S 20: cf. also § 112 t.

q Rem. 1. As the above examples show, a noun-clause with a participle as predicate may have for its subject either a substantive or a personal pronoun; in both cases the participle, especially if there be a certain emphasis upon it, may precede the subject. Also in noun-clauses introduced by הִנֵּה the subject may be either a substantive, or (e.g. Gn 37) a separate personal pronoun, or a suffix attached to הִנֵּה. In the same way, the subject may also be introduced by יֵשׁ (est, see the Lexicon) with a suffix, and in negative sentences by אֵין (non est) with a suffix, e.g. Ju 6 אִם־יֶשְׁךָ מוֹשִׁיעַ if thou wilt save; Gn 43 אִם־אֵֽינְךָ מְשַׁלֵּחַ if thou wilt not send; 1 S 19.—In such cases as Is 14 יָדוֹ הַנְּטוּיָה the stretched out hand is his, הַנְּטוּיָה is not, like נְטוּיָה in 9:11, 16, &c., the predicate (in which case the participle could not take the article), but the subject; cf. Gn 2, 45, Is 66, Ez 20, Zc 7 (cf. § 126 k), where the participle with the article likewise refers to the present, also Nu 7, Dt 3, 4, &c., 1 S 4, where it refers to the past. In 1 K 12 and 21:11 even in relative clauses after אֲשֶׁר.

r 2. To give express emphasis to an action continuing in the past, the perfect הָיָה in the corresponding person is sometimes added to the participle, and similarly the imperfect יִֽהְיֶה (or the jussive יְהִי, or the imperfect consecutive) is used to emphasize an action continuing in the future, e.g. Jb 1 הַבָּקָר הָיוּ חֹֽרְשׁוֹת the oxen (cows) were plowing; Gn 37, 39, Ex 3, Dt 9, Ju 1, 1 S 2, 2 S 3; the same occurs with a passive participle, e.g. Jos 5, Zc 3; יִֽהְיֶה with a participle is found e.g. in Is 2; the jussive in Gn 1, ψ 109;[5] and ויהי with a participle in Ju 16, Neh 1.

s 3. The personal pronoun which would be expected as the subject of a participial clause is frequently omitted, or at least (as elsewhere in noun-clauses, cf. Is 26, ψ 16, Jb 9) the pronoun of the 3rd pers. הוּא, e.g. Gn 24, 37, 38, 41, 1 S 10, 15, Is 29 (the participle always after הִנֵּה); cf., moreover, Gn 32, Dt 33, 1 S 17, 20, Is 33, 40, ψ 22, 33, 55, Jb 12, 19 ff., 25:2, 26:7.—הִיא is omitted in Lv 18; הֵ֫מָּה in Is 32, Ez 8, Neh 9; in a relative clause, Gn 39, Is 24.—The personal pronoun of the 2nd pers. masc. (אַתָּה) is omitted in Hb 2; the 2nd fem. (אַתְּ) in Gn 20 (where, however, for the participle וְנׄכַ֫חַת the 2nd fem. perf. וְוֹכַ֫חַתְּ is to be read); the pronoun of the 1st sing. in Hb 1 (?), Zc 9, Mal 2; the 2nd plur. (אַתֶּם) 1 S 2 (if the text be right), 6:3, Ez 13 (?). But these passages are all more or less doubtful.

t Of a different kind are the cases in which some undefined subject is to be supplied with the participle; e.g. Is 21 אֵלַי קֹרֵא there is one calling unto me (= one calleth; § 144 d); cf. Is 30, 33.—So with participles in the plur., e.g. Ex 5 (אֹֽמְרִים sc. the taskmasters); Jer 38 (in 33:5 the text is corrupt), Ez 13 (?), 36:13, 37:11 (equivalent to sunt qui dicant). u 4. We must mention as a special class those noun-clauses which occur at the beginning of a period, and are intended to lay stress upon the fact that the first action still continues on the occurrence of the second (always introduced by וְ); e.g. Jb 1 f. עוֹד זֶה מְדַבֵּר וְזֶה בָא he was yet speaking, and (=when) another came, &c.[6]; cf. Gn 29, 1 S 9, 20, 1 K 14 she was entering the threshold of the house, when the child died; 2 K 2, 4, Dn 9 f.; also in Ju 19, 1 S 9, 17, 1 K 1, Jb 1 f., in all which passages the apodosis is introduced by וְהִנֵּה.—On the other hand, in 1 K 1 the noun-clause itself is introduced by הִנֵּה (as in verse 22 by וְהִנֵּה), and denotes an action only just impending.[7] Finally, when the whole sentence is introduced by means of וַיְהִי (cf. § 111 g), and the apodosis by וְהִנֵּה, Gn 42, 2 K 2, 13; without הִנֵּה in the apodosis, 1 S 7, 2 K 19 (Is 37).

v Participles active, which are used in the sense of the perfect participle, and also participles passive, in accordance with their meaning, express in such noun-clauses a state still continuing on the occurrence of the principal action, e.g. Gn 38 הִוא מוּצֵאת וְהִיא שָֽׁלְחָה she was being brought forth, when she sent, &c.; cf. Gn 50. [See further in Driver, Tenses, §§ 166–169.]

w 5. Different from the examples treated in u and v are the instances in which a participle (either alone or as the attribute of a noun) stands at the beginning of the sentence as a casus pendens (or as the subject of a compound noun-clause, see § 143 c) to indicate a condition, the contingent occurrence of which involves a further consequence; e.g. Gn 9 שֹׁפֵךְ דַּם הָֽאָדָם בָּֽאָדָם דָּמוֹ יִשָּׁפֵךְ shedding man’s blood, i.e. if any one sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; Ex 21, ψ 75, Pr 17, Jb 41; so especially if כָּל־ every precedes the participle, Gn 4, 1 S 3 (2 K 21), 2 S 5 (whosoever smiteth), 1 Ch 11. The apodosis is very often introduced by וְ (wāw apodosis), e.g. Ex 12 (with a following perfect consecutive), Nu 35; 1 S 2 הַכֹּהֵן כָּל־אִישׁ זֹבֵחַ זֶ֫בַה וּבָא נַ֫עַר when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, &c.; 2 S 14 (participle with article); 22:41 (where, however, the text is to be emended in accordance with ψ 18); 2 S 23 f., Pr 23 Keth.; 29:9.—As in the instances discussed under u, such sentences are sometimes preceded by וַיְהִי, cf. 1 S 10, 11, 2 S 2 וַיְהִי כָּל־הַבָּא and it came to pass, that as many as came, &c. [or by וְהָיְה, frequentative, Ju 19].—On the other hand, וְהַנִּשְׁבֶּ֫רֶת Dn 8 is a mere catchword (equivalent to and as for that which was broken) to call to mind the contents of verse 8.

6. On the use of the participle after the infinitive absolute הָלוֹךְ cf. § 113 u.

x 7. Almost as a rule the participial construction beginning a sentence (like the infinitival constructions according to § 114 r) is continued by means of a finite verb with or without וְ, before which the English construction requires us to supply the relative pronoun implied in the participle; thus, continued by means of a perfect, Is 14 שָׂם תֵּבֵל כַּמִּדְבָּר וְעָרָיו הָרָ֑ס that made the world as a wilderness, and overthrew the cities thereof[8]; 43:7, Ez 22, ψ 136 ff., Pr 2; by a perfect without Wāw, Gn 49; by a simple imperfect (as the modus rei repetitae in the present), Is 5, 46, Pr 7, Jb 12, 19 ff., 24:21; by an imperfect without Wāw, e.g. 1 S 2, Is 5, Pr 2, 19; by an imperfect consecutive, Gn 27, 35, 1 S 2, Jer 13 (after several participles), ψ 18, 136f.

  1. Such examples as נוֹרָא, נֶחְמָד, מְהֻלָּל show plainly the origin of this gerundive use of the participle passive. A person or thing feared, desired, or praised at all times is shown thereby to be terrible, desirable, or praiseworthy, and therefore also to be feared, &c.
  2. On the other hand, in Is. 11 as the waters לַיָּם מְכַסִּים covering the sea, the ל serves only to introduce the object preceding the participle [cf. the Arabic parallels cited by Driver, Tenses, § 135, 7 Obs.]. Cf. Hab. 2:14.
  3. When, as in Jb 40, the participle with the noun-suffix הָֽעשֹׁוֹ he that made him, also has the article (cf. § 127 i), the anomaly is difficult to understand, since a word determined by a genitive does not admit of being determined by the article.—No less remarkable is the use of the constr. st. of the participle before the accusative in Jer 33 מְשָֽׁרְתֵי אֹתִי that minister unto me (for which there is מְשָֽׁרְתַי in verse 21). In Am 4 an accusative of the product follows the genitive of the object, עשֵֹׁה שַׁחַר עֵיפָה maker of the morning into darkness. In Jer 2 בְּעֵת מֽוֹלִכֵךְ is supposed to mean at the time when he led thee; perhaps the perfect (הוֹל׳) should be read as in 6:15. In Ez 27, the ancient versions read נִשְׁבַּרְתְּ (ה)עַתָּ now thou art broken, instead of the difficult עֵת נִשְׁבֶּ֫רֶת. In 1 K 20 read עשֶֹׁה before הֵ֫נָּה וָהֵ֫נָּה.
  4. On the proper force of this accusative when retained in the passive construction cf. below, § 117 cc, &c., and § 121 c, d. So also Neh 4 is to be understood, and the builders were אִישׁ חַרְבּוֹ אֲסוּרִים עַל־מָתְנָיו girded every one with his sword on his side, and building.
  5. A jussive is practically to be supplied also in the formulae of blessing and cursing, בָּרוּךְ blessed be ... Gn 9, &c.; אָרוּר cursed art thou ... 3:14, &c.
  6. The independent noun-clause here lays stress upon the simultaneous occurrence (and consequently the overlapping) of the events far more forcibly than could be done by a subordinate expression of time (as e.g. וַיְהִי בְדַבְּרוֹ). In English it may be represented by scarcely had he finished speaking when. ... As the above examples show, the apodosis also frequently consists of a noun-clause.
  7. At the same time the preceding עוֹד still shows that what is announced is not merely a future event, but a future event contemporaneous with something else; the case thus entirely differs from the examples given in § 112 t, where הִנֵּה refers to the following participle, while here it belongs properlyto the apodosis, before which it is therefore generally placed; see the examples.
  8. On the parallelism between the external and internal members, which appears here and in many other examples of this kind, see the note on § 114 r.