Diethelm Michel – Section 4: Imperfect Consecutive after a Nominal Clause, Participle or Infinitive

This post is a continuation of a series that is working through Diethelm Michel’s Tempora und Satzstellung in den Psalmen [Tenses and Clause Position in the Psalms]. Section 4 of this work continues an investigation of the imperfect consecutive (wayyiqtol) in the Psalter, specifically providing examples in which an imperfect consecutive follows nominal clauses, participles, or infinitives.

As discussed in earlier posts regarding the imperfect consecutive following either a perfect or an imperfect, the conclusion was that the qatal-wayyiqtol and yiqtol-wayyiqtol relationship is one of cause-effect or reason-result. Actions portrayed through the perfect or imperfect are the cause of the action portrayed in the imperfect consecutive.

Following a Nominal Clause[1]

In a way similar to those that follow the perfect and imperfect, wayyiqtols that follow a nominal clause also have the basic meaning of a result, only slightly nuanced. Psalms 118:27 provides a fitting example:

אֵ֤ל׀ יְהוָה֘
וַיָּ֪אֶר לָ֥נוּ

The Lord is God [NC],
and he has made his light shine [wayyiqtol] upon us. (NIV)

Michel says of this verse (my translation, emphasis added): “It belongs to the nature of the Godhead that he gives light. The imperfect consecutive thus gives a consequence of the preceding statement of character.” In light of this conclusion, a more fitting translation may be the following:

Yhwh is God,
and thus he shines upon us.

As such, a definite time period does not exist. Consider also Psalm 37:39–40a:

וּתְשׁוּעַ֣ת צַ֭דִּיקִים מֵיְהוָ֑ה
מָֽ֜עוּזָּ֗ם בְּעֵ֣ת צָרָֽה
׃
וַֽיַּעְזְרֵ֥ם יְהוָ֗ה וַֽיְפַ֫לְּטֵ֥ם
יְפַלְּטֵ֣ם מֵ֭רְשָׁעִים וְיוֹשִׁיעֵ֑ם

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord [NC];
he is their refuge in the time of trouble [NC].
The Lord
helps them [wayyiqtol] and rescues them [wayyiqtol];
he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them. (NRSV)

Yhwh’s helping and rescuing are results of his character as the one who is the origin of salvation and refuge for the righteous. Thus, v. 40 could be translated, “Therefore, Yhwh helps them and rescues them.”

Following a Participle

הָ֭אֵל הַמְאַזְּרֵ֣נִי חָ֑יִל
וַיִּתֵּ֖ן תָּמִ֣ים דַּרְכִּֽי׃

the God who girded me [participle] with strength,
and made [wayyiqtol] my way safe. (NRSV)

This passage (Ps 18:33 [English 32]) follows the question, “Who is God but Yhwh? Who is a rock, except our God?” The answer consists first of a nominal clause containing a participle (“the God who girds me with strength”) and second of a verbal clause begun with an imperfect consecutive (“he made my way safe”). As such, the making safe is depicted as a result of the girding with strength attributed (characteristically) to the God, Yhwh.

Following an Infinitive

Wayyiqtols following infinitives are understood the same way. As an example, consider Ps 50:16.

וְלָ֤רָשָׁ֙ע׀ אָ֨מַ֤ר אֱלֹהִ֗ים
מַה־לְּ֭ךָ לְסַפֵּ֣ר חֻקָּ֑י
וַתִּשָּׂ֖א בְרִיתִ֣י עֲלֵי־פִֽיךָ׃

But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes
or take my covenant on your lips? (ESV)

The ESV presents the infinitive and the imperfect consecutive with no distinction. Its reading presents basically two options for the wicked: either reciting or taking. In this way, the ESV represents the general understanding of the meaning of the infinitive-imperfect consecutive structure. Yet, if Michel is correct, then a better translation that highlights the relationship would be, “What right have you to recite my statutes and thustake my covenant on your lips?”


[1] Section 28 deals specifically with nominal and verbal clauses, so there will be a more detailed discussion of this at a later point. However, it is helpful to know that Michel delineates between a simple nominal clause (NC) and a compound nominal clause (CNC). The CNC is distinguished by the presence of a full clause in its predicate, and this clause may be either a NC or a verbal clause (VC). In this section, Michel does not speak of those whose predicate contains a VC. It should also be noted that the predicate of a NC may be a participle.

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Author: Randy McKinion

Besides being a husband and father, I teach at Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH.

5 thoughts on “Diethelm Michel – Section 4: Imperfect Consecutive after a Nominal Clause, Participle or Infinitive”

  1. So for Michel, a CNC is not determined by the position of the verb? Niccacci uses CNC only if a verb is in the second position. How do you define a CNC? In my dissertation I am using CNC to refer to any clause where the finite verb is not in the first position of the clause (so x-qatal and x-yiqtol are both CNC). What language do you prefer?

    1. My footnote about this is not as clear. I guess I assumed common knowledge of this. Michel does indeed distinguish these clauses in a way similar to Schneider, i.e., by what occurs in initial position. The distinction between the NC and CNC is then whether there is a finite verb in the predicate. I think the language you are using is what he (and I) would suggest.

  2. Sorry one other question….Does Michel’s view of the participle functioning as the predicate correspond to Joosten’s understanding of the predicative participle? (cf. Jan Joosten “The Predicative Participle in Biblical Hebrew” ZAH 2 (1989) 128–59. I have a digital copy of the article if you would like to read it.

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