Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/164. Temporal Clauses

§164. Temporal Clauses.

164a 1. The relations of time existing between two different actions or events are frequently expressed without the aid of a conjunction simply by juxtaposition:—

(a) Actions or events are represented as wholly or in part simultaneous by connecting a noun-clause with another noun-clause or verbal-clause introduced by וְ (or וְהִנֵּה), e.g. Gn 76 and Noah was six hundred years old (prop. a son of six hundred years), וְהַמַּבּוּל הָיָה and (i.e. when) the flood was. This is especially the case when the predicate of the noun-clause (frequently introduced by עוֹד still) is expressed by an active participle, e.g. Jb 116 f. עוֹד זֶה מְדַבֵּר וְזֶה בָא וג׳ he was yet speaking, and there came another, &c.; see the numerous examples in §111g and §116u. Instead of a complete noun-clause there often occurs a simple casus pendens after כָּל־ with a participial attribute in the sense of whenever any one..., e.g. 1 S 213 זׄבֵחַ זֶ֫בַח וּבָא וג׳ כָּל־אִישׁ whenever any man offered sacrifice, then came, &c.; 2 S 223, &c.; see the examples (in which the second member is generally introduced by wāw apodosis) in §116w.

164b (b) Sequence is expressed by the juxtaposition

(1) of two imperfects consecutive, e.g. Gn 2419 וַתְּכַל לְהַשְׁקֹתוֹ וַתֹּאמֶר and when she had done giving him drink, she said, &c.; 28:8 f., 29:31, 30:9, 32:26, &c.; cf. §111d;

(2) of a noun-clause with a passive participle as predicate, and a verbal-clause attached by וְ, e.g. Gn 3825; cf. §116v; in Gn 4929 an imperative follows without וְ;

(3) of two perfects (frequently with the secondary idea of rapid succession[1] of the two actions or events in past time), e.g. Gn 1923 הַשֶּׁ֫מָשׁ יָצָא... וְלוֹט בָּא וג׳ the sun was just risen..., and (=when) Lot came, &c., cf. 1 S 95, 2 S 224; Gn 443 f., Ju 324, 1514, 2039 f.—In all these examples the subject follows immediately after the connective Wāw, and then the (simple) perfect. On the other hand,

(4) a perfect consecutive follows another perfect consecutive to express the contingent succession of future actions, e.g. Gn 444 וְהִשַּׂגְתָּם וְאָֽטַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם and when thou dost overtake them (as soon as thou shalt have overtaken), thou shalt say unto them. Naturally, examples of this kind are very closely related to conditional sentences; see, therefore, the examples in §112kk and §159g. On the connexion of an imperfect consecutive or a perfect with detached expressions of time (as equivalent to complete clauses), cf. §111b; on the imperfect consecutive after וַיְהִי and a statement of time, cf. §111g; on the perfect consecutive following a detached statement of time, as in Ex 166, cf. §112oo.—In 1 S 2910 an imperative with וְ follows the perfect consecutive.

164c (5) The fact that one action or event has not yet taken place on the occurrence of another, is expressed by טֶ֫רֶם (an adverb, not a conjunction) with the imperfect (according to §107c). The apodosis, which may consist of a subject and perfect or even of a noun-clause (Gn 2415),[2] is then connected by וְ (or וְהִנֵּה) as in the examples above, under no. 3, e.g. Gn 194 (cf. Jos 28) טֶ֫רֶם יִשְׁכָּ֫בוּ וְאַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר ... נָסַ֫בּוּ וג׳ they had not yet lain down, and (=when) the men of the city ... compassed, &c.; Gn 2425.

164d 2. Conjunctions used to introduce temporal clauses are כִּי (with perfect, e.g. Gn 61, Ju 128, 1616, 1 S 112; with imperfect, Gn 412, 1212, 2441, Ex 321, Lv 219, Dt 3121, Is 112, 819) and אֲשֶׁר[3] when (כִּי with the imperfect also=as often as, ψ 84; with perfect Jb 15); less frequently אִם[4] (joined with a perfect), e.g. Gn 389, Nu 219, Ju 63, ψ 417, 9418, cf. also Is 2413=quotiescunque; also in the same sense with an imperfect, Nu 364; with a perfect, equivalent to the futurum exactum, Is 44. Other conjunctions of time are the compounds כְּמוֹ when, Gn 1915; כַּֽאֲשֶׁר when, after that; עַד־אֲשֶׁר, עַד־כִּי until (also the simple עַד־, e.g. Gn 3811, Jos 222, 1 S 122 [with the imperfect=only when, as in 2 S 105]); 2:5, &c.; especially in the formula עַד־בִּלְתִּי הִשְׁאִיר לוֹ until there was none left remaining to him (where indeed it would be very natural to read הַשְׁאִיר the infin. constr., as elsewhere after בִּלְתִּי, §114s) Nu 2135, Dt 33, Jos 822, 118 (but 1 S 1419 while, as long as); עַד אֲשֶׁר לֹא before that, Ec 121, 2, 6 with an imperfect, as in Pr 826 עַד with a perfect; עַד־אִם, עַר־אֲשֶׁר אִם until the time when; אַֽחֲרֵֽי־אֲשֶׁר (for which in Ez 401 אַחַר־אֲשֶׁר; Lv 2548, 1 S 59 simply אַֽחֲרֵי; Lv 1443, Jer 4116, Jb 427 simply אַחַר) after that; מֵאָז (prop. since that time; the dependent clause is attached to it in the same way as the attributive clause to the demonstrative אֲשֶׁר §138e) since, Gn 395; בְּטֶ֫רֶם (and simply טֶ֫רֶם §107c) before; קַדְמַת (for קַדְמַת אֲשֶׁר) before, ψ 1296.

164e Rem. 1. With regard to the tenses used with the above conjunctions, the rules are practically the same as those given in §158d for causal clauses. The perfect indicates actions completed in the past or future (in the former case corresponding to the Latin pluperfect, §106f, and in the latter to the Latin futurum exactum, §106o), the imperfect denotes actions occurring contingently in the future. On טֶ֫רֶם, בְּטֶ֫רֶם, and עַד with the imperfect as a tempus historicum, cf. §107c.

164f 2. Clauses introduced by עַד, עַד־כִּי or עַד־אֲשֶׁר, sometimes express a limit which is not absolute (terminating the preceding action), but only relative, beyond which the action or state described in the principal clause still continues; thus, עַד with the imperfect, ψ 1101; עַד־כִּי with the perfect, Gn 2613, with impf. 49:10; עַד־אֲשֶׁר with the perfect, Gn 2815; with the imperfect, ψ 1128.—Like the Arab. حَتَّى, עַד may even introduce a main clause; e.g. Ex 1516 עַד־יַֽעֲבֹר prop. no doubt=thus it came to this—they passed through, i.e. so they passed through.

164g 3. The infinitive construct governed by a preposition (§114d, e) is very frequently used as the equivalent of a temporal clause; the infinitive with בְּ may usually be rendered by when, as, or whilst; the infinitive with כְּ‍ by when, as soon as (in Pr 1025 followed by a noun-clause introduced by wāw apodosis), or, when referring to the future, by if; the infinitive after מִן by since. According to §111g such statements of time are generally preceded by וַיְהִי and the apodosis follows in the imperfect consecutive; hence in 1 S 1755 (cf. Driver on the passage) וְכִרְאוֹת with a simple perfect following, is unusual. On the continuation of these infinitival constructions by means of the perfect consecutive, cf. §112v, and in general, §114r.—With the participle, כְּ‍ appears to be used as the equivalent of a conjunction in כְּמֵשִׁיב as he drew back, Gn 3829 (unless we should read כְּהָשִׁיב [or כְּמוֹ הֵשִׁיב, cf. Gn 1915]), and in כְפֹרַ֫חַת when it budded, 4010.

  1. This secondary idea is implied here by the mere co-ordination of two independent verbal-clauses, just as the idea of simultaneous occurrence (according to §116u, note 1) is implied in the co-ordination of a noun-clause with another clause. In Gn 2730 the immediate succession is especially emphasized by אַךְ and the infinitive absolute, Jacob was yet scarce gone out... then Esau his brother came; in 1 K 924 by אַךְ only in ψ 486 by כֵּן and the addition of two more perfects without וְ.
  2. On the perfect in the protasis, which is critically doubtful, cf. §107c.
  3. On אֲשֶׁר as an original demonstrative, cf. §138a; hence עַד־אֲשֶׁר נָשׁוּב is properly up to that (moment)—we shall return.
  4. Cf. the frequent use of wenn [prop. if] for wann [=when] in German.