[x] Rem. An imperfect consecutive in dependence on a perfect or imperfect, which represents an action occurring only conditionally, is likewise used only in a hypothetical sense, e.g. Jb 916 אִם־קָרָ֫אתִי וַיַּֽעֲנֵ֫נִי if I had called, and he had answered me, yet ...; ψ 13911 וָֽאֹמַר if I should say (previously, in verse 8 f., hypothetical imperfects are used).—In Is 4818f. an imperfect consecutive occurs in dependence on a sentence expressing a wish introduced by לוּא utinam (וַיְהִי and it, or so that it were, equivalent to then should it be). Cf. also the examples mentioned above, under l (Jer 2017) and m (Gn 3127), where the imperfect consecutive expresses facts occurring contingently.
G. R. Berry, ‘Waw consecutive with the perfect in Hebrew,’ in Bibl. Lit., xxii. (1903), pp. 60–69.
[a] 1. The perfect, like the imperfect (§ 111), is used with wāw consecutive (cf. §49a; on the external differentiation of the perfect consecutive by a change in the position of the tone, see §49h) to express actions, events, or states, which are to be attached to what precedes, in a more or less close relation, as its temporal or logical consequence. And as, according to §111a, the narrative which begins with a perfect, or its equivalent, is continued in the imperfect consecutive, so, vice versa, the perfect consecutive forms the regular continuation to a preceding imperfect, or its equivalent.
[b] Rem. 1. This alternation of perfect and imperfect or their equivalents is a striking peculiarity of the consecutio temporum in Hebrew. It not only affords a certain compensation for the lack of forms for tenses and moods, but also gives to Hebrew style the charm of an expressive variety, an action conceived as being still in progress (imperfect, &c.), reaching afterwards in the perfect a calm and settled conclusion, in order to be again exhibited in movement in the imperfect, and vice versa. The strict regularity of this
- Also in Jer 5129 the imperfects consecutive are attached to the threat virtually contained in the preceding imperatives. On the other hand וַיָּחֵ֫לּוּ Ho 810 would be very remarkable as expressing a future; the text is, however, certainly corrupt, and hence the Cod. Babyl. and the Erfurt MS. 3 endeavour to remedy it by וְיח׳, and Ewald reads וְיָחִלוּ—In Ez 2816 (cf. Jer 156f.) וָֽאֲחַלֶּלְךָ appears to announce an action irrevocably determined upon, and therefore represented as already accomplished; cf. the prophetic perfects in verse 17 ff.
- It is difficult to give a proper explanation of this phenomenon (according to §49a, note, to be found only in the Canaanitish group of languages), when we have given up the theory of a special wāw conversivum in the unscientific sense mentioned in §49b, note, at the end, and if we accept the fact that the perfect and imperfect consecutive cannot possibly be used in a way which contradicts their fundamental character as described in §§ 106 and 107. In other words, even the perfect consecutive originally represents a finally completed action, &c., just as the imperfect consecutive represents an action whichis only beginning, becoming or still continuing, and hence in any case incomplete. The simplest view is to suppose, that the use of the perfect consecutive originated from those cases, in which it had to express the conclusion (or final consequence) of an action which was continued (or repeated) in past time (see the examples above), and that this use was afterwards extended to other cases, in which it had to represent the temporal or logical consequence of actions, &c., still in progress, and thus in the end a regular interchange of the two tenses became recognized.