The Weakest Verbs (Verba Quiescentia).
[68a] So far as א retains its full consonantal value as a guttural, these verbs share all the peculiarities of verbs primae gutturalis, mentioned in § 63. They are, however, to be treated as weak verbs, when the א loses its value as a consonant, and coalesces with the preceding vowel (originally short) to form one long syllable. This takes place only in the following very common verbs and forms, as if through phonetic decay:—
[68b] 1. In the imperfect Qal, five verbs (viz. אָבַד to perish, אָבָה to be willing, אָכַל to eat, אָמַר to say, אָפָה to bake) regularly make the א quiesce in a long ô, e.g. יֹאכַל. In a few others the ordinary (strong) form is also in use, as יֹאחֵז (18 times) and יֶֽאֱחֹז (3 times) he takes hold; יׄסֵף (see h), also יֶֽאֱסֹף, he collects. This ô has primarily arisen from an obscuring of ô (§9q), and the â from ־ַאְ, the weak consonant א coalescing with ă to â; cf. §23a.
[68c] In the second syllable ō (for original ŭ) never appears, but either ē or ă; and in pause almost always ē, even before the tone-bearing heavy afformative וּן, e.g. יֽאֹכֵלוּן Dt 181, without the pause יֹֽאכְלוּן Dt 428. In the 3rd sing. masc. and 1st sing. of אָמַר, however, ă is always retained in pause, יֹאמַ֫ר and אֹמַ֫ר; but in the 2nd masc. תֹּאמֵ֑ר 1 K 520, in the 3rd fem. תֹּאמַֽר Pr 121; in the plural יֹאמֵ֑רוּ Jer 52, ψ 1456.11, תֹּאמֵ֫רוּ Jer 2338, with Segolta; cf. also תּאֹכַֽל 1 S 17, &c. But with conjunctive accents in the body of the sentence, ă (as being a lighter vowel) is used, e.g. תֹּאבַ֖ד לָעַֽד ψ 919, but in pause תּאֹבֵֽד ψ 16; cf. a similar interchange of ē and ă in §65c. The 3rd fem. plur. impf. always has the form תֹּאכַ֫לְנָה Zc 119.
[68d] When the tone moves back, the final syllable of the imperfects of אָבַד and אָכַל, with a conjunctive accent, also always takes Pathaḥ, e.g. יֹ֣אבַד יוֹם Jb 33, וַיּ֫אֹכַל and he did eat; in אָמַר the loss of the tone from the final syllable only occurs in the form with wāw consecutive
- So in the modern vulgar Arabic of South Palestine, yaʾkul (he eats) becomes yôkul.
- On this ē (originally ĭ) as a dissimilation from ō (originally ŭ), cf. §27w, and F. Philippi, in the Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft, xiv. 178. The latter rightly observes that the existence of an original u in the imperfect of אָכַל is indicated by the form of the imperative אֱכֹל, the Arabic yaʾkul and the Aramaic יֵאכֻל, as well as by the fact that יֶֽאֱחֹז and יֶֽאֱסֹף are found along with יֹאחֵז and יֹאסֵף.