Diethelm Michel – Section 5: Summary and Clarification

Sorry for the delay in this post…I’ve been on vacation.

Through the first four sections of his work, Tempora und Satzstellung in den Psalmen [Tenses and Clause Position in the Psalms], Diethelm Michel has discussed the use of the imperfect consecutive (wayyiqtol) in the Psalter. In section 5, he summarizes what has been found and gives a provisional solution to the (non-)distinction between the imperfect consecutive and the imperfect (yiqtol).


  1. The wayyiqtol gives a result, either stemming from a perfect (qatal), imperfect, participle, infinitive, or nominal clause.
  2. The wayyiqtol is used without consideration of the time element.
  3. The majority of passages were translated in the past, but others fit in to no time element.
  4. The distinction between the perfect and imperfect consecutive was always clear.
  5. The yiqtol, on the other hand, at times appears to be used as a wayyiqtol.

Differentiation of Wayyiqtol and Yiqtol

In order to clarify the use of yiqtol in the Psalter, Michel spends a considerable amount of space working through the text of Psalm 18. I intend to do this as well in the next post or two, but I wanted to post here his conclusions regarding these things. So I quote him in translation from a couple places:

Imperfect and imperfect consecutive are not distinguished with regard to stage or time and character of action. The difference between the two verb forms lies merely in the fact that the imperfect consecutive is connected more strongly with the previous portrayal through a demonstrative prefix *ון.

For the relationship of imperfect and imperfect consecutive has arisen that between both “tenses” no difference exists with regard to their meaning as verb forms. The imperfect consecutive simply expresses a closer connection with the preceding.

At the same time, he states that the wayyiqtol is regard as a typical historical tense, not in the sense that the meaning of the verb form carries a historicizing element, but only in that the verb portrays events in their temporal order as arising from one another and one after the other.

The details of how he came to these conclusions will be discussed in the next post.


Author: Randy McKinion

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

4 thoughts on “Diethelm Michel – Section 5: Summary and Clarification”

  1. Randy,
    I just received my desk copy of Brian Webster’s Hebrew grammar. I found that in his final chapter (only focus on poetry) he made the comment, “be alert to the possibility of the yiqtol as a preterite without the vav and be prepared for the intransitive fientives to work like statives.” So, here is an example of a more modern Hebraist holding to #5 above. I am still not convinced at this point. But, for argument sake, if the yiqtol could function as a wayyiqtol without the vav, how or when would that work if the clause is x-yiqtol (no matter if x is the subject or some other constituent), considering that wayyiqtol is syntactically obligatory. Do you think you could argue the case that a yiqtol functions as a wayyiqtol only when it is the clause leading constituent and functions as a normal (if there is a such thing) yiqtol when the clause is x-yiqtol? Just letting you know the direction of my thoughts.

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