7.3 Hebrew Verb Tenses
Some have suggested that the Hebrew verb tense used when referring to instances where God is said to be responsible for sickness is permissive rather than causative. They argue that this means God is not directly responsible for the sickness inflicted but is allowing other events and beings to cause the sickness.
It is said that Dr Robert Young, author of Young’s Analytical Concordance and Hints To Bible Interpretation, points out that in the original Hebrew (the Old Testament was written in Hebrew), the verb is in the permissive rather than causative sense. (I have spent some time trying to identify the source of this statement but have been unable to do so. If you know where it comes from please let me know in a comment below.)
According to those who hold this view, Deuteronomy 28:27 should have been translated something like, “The Lord will allow/permit these plagues to be brought upon you…” The original Hebrew of these scriptures was in the permissive tense, but because the English language has no corresponding permissive tense, the verbs were translated in the causative tense (http://www.blueletterbible.org/help/verbtense.html)
The reference made to the Hebrew tenses seems to be incorrect. This can be determined fairly easily through the use of the online Bible tool http://www.blueletterbible.org/help/verbtense.html
It is true that there is an Active and Passive (not really permissive I dont think) tense to the Hebrew verbs. But in all instances I have checked the active form of the verb is used. This is the reason the translators have unanimously translated the verses as ‘he struck’ rather than ‘he allowed to be struck’.
The ‘Causative’ form of the verb has both active and passive tenses. The active form can be rendered “he caused to kill”. The passive form can be rendered “he was caused to kill”. All the references in De 28.22-35 use the active/causative form of the verb. Thus, the translation “God caused to strike you with boils” is essentially the same as the NKJV rendering of “the Lord will strike you”.
But even if we were to eliminate the causative (Hiphil) verses, there are still many verses in both the Simple and the Intensive form that can be used to demonstrate that God directly inflicts sickness upon people.
The following verses use an active verb (he killed / he caused to kill) and so attribute the sickness directly to the action of God.
Exo 9:14 NKJV for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.
Deu 24:9 NKJV Remember what the LORD your God did to Miriam on the way when you came out of Egypt!
2Ch 21:14 NKJV behold, the LORD will strike your people with a serious affliction–your children, your wives, and all your possessions;
2Ch 21:18 NKJV After all this the LORD struck him in his intestines with an incurable disease.
Lev 26:16 NKJV I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
Deu 28:27 NKJV The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed.
Verb Tense Usage:
|Passive (Niphal, Pual, Hophal)Niphal: He was killed
Pual: He was killed indeed!
Hophal: he was caused to kill
|Active (Qal, Piel, Hiphil, Reflexive)Qal: he killed
Piel: he killed indeed!
Hiphil: he caused to kill
|Ex 9.14: “send” – Qal
Ex 12.23: “to smite” – Qal
Lev 14.34: “and I put” – Qal
2 Ch 21.14: “smite” – Qal
2 Sam 12.15: “struck” – Qal
2 Sam 24.15: “sent” – Qal
Zec 14.12: “will smite” – Qal
Lev 26.16: “I will appoint over you” – Hiphil
Lev 26.25: “I will send” – Piel
De 24.9: “did” unto Miriam – Qal
De 28.1: “will set” – Qal
De 28.7: “shall cause” – Qal
De 28.8 “shall command” – Piel
De 28.9: “shall establish” – Hiphil
De 28.11: “shall make thee plenteous” – Hiphil
De 28.12: “shall open” – Qal
De 28.13: “shall make” – Qal
De 28.20: “shall send on you” curses – Piel
De 28.21: “cleave” – Hiphil
De 28.22: “shall smite” – Hiphil
De 28.27: “will smite” – Hiphil
De 28.28: “shall smite” – Hiphil
De 28.35: “shall smite” – Hiphil
Jer 29.17: “”I will send” – Piel
- Qal (active) – he killed
- Niphal (passive) – he was killed
Intensive – giving force or emphasis; emphasizing
[very in the very same man is an intensive adverb]
- Piel (active) – he killed indeed! / he slaughtered
- Pual (passive) – he was killed indeed! / he was slaughtered
- Hithpael (reflexive) – he killed himself
Causative – expressing causation, as certain verbs
[fell is a causative verb meaning to cause to fall]
- Hiphil (active) – he caused to kill
- Hophal (passive) – he was caused to kill
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Tags: Hebrew, Tenses