1) EXCEPTION: house is masculine







The mood of the verb relates the general meaning, but context, the relationships of words within the literary unit, always determines the final meaning.


The Hebrew perfect may be translated as a simple completed action (he walked to the store). It may also be translated as a past perfect, which is an action completed prior to a point of reference in past time (she gave money as she had promised). The perfect is translated in the present tense when the verb concerns the subject's attitude, experience, perception, or state of being (you are old, or, I love you). It may also represent action that is viewed as completed as soon as it was mentioned (I anoint you as king over Israel, 2 Kings 9:3).

When this tense is used in promises, prophecies, and threats, it commonly means that the action of the verb is certain and imminent A star will come out of Jacob, Numbers 24:17). Since this use is common in the prophetic writings, it is usually called the prophetic perfect. It is usually translated into English as either a present or future tense verb.

Finally, when the perfect occurs with the vav conjunctive prefixed, it is usually translated in the future tense (I will lie down with my fathers, Genesis 47:30).

The Perfect expresses a completed action.

1) In reference to time, such an action may be:

1a) one just completed from the standpoint of the present "I have come" to tell you the news

1b) one completed in the more or less distant past in the beginning God "created" "I was (once) young" and "I have (now) grown old" but "I have not seen" a righteous man forsaken

1c) one already completed from the point of view of another past act God saw everything that "he had made"

1d) one completed from the point of view of another action yet future I will draw for thy camels also until "they have done" drinking

2) The perfect is often used where the present is employed in English.

2a) in the case of general truths or actions of frequent occurrence -- truths or actions which have been often experienced or observed the grass "withereth" the sparrow "findeth" a house

2b) an action or attitude of the past may be continued into the present "I stretch out" my hands to thee "thou never forsakest" those who seek thee

2c) the perfect of intransitive verbs is used where English uses the present; The perfect in Hebrew in such a case emphasises a condition which has come into "complete existence" and realisation "I know" thou wilt be king "I hate" all workers of iniquity

2d) Sometimes in Hebrew, future events are conceived so vividly and so realistically that they are regarded as having virtually taken place and are described by the perfect.

2d 1) in promises, threats and language of contracts the field "give I" thee and if not, "I will take it"

2d 2) prophetic language my people "is gone into captivity" (i.e. shall assuredly go)


The imperfect mood indicates an incomplete action or state. Perhaps the most common use of the imperfect is to describe a simple action in future time (he will reign over you). The imperfect is also used to express habitual or customary actions in the past, present or future (And so he did year by year. 1 Sam 1:7; A son honors his father, Malachi 1:6; The LORD will reign forever and ever, Exodus 15:18). The imperfect frequently expresses contingency, and English modal auxiliaries such as may, can, shall, might, could, should, would and perhaps are used with the verb (Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice?, Exodus 5:2).

It can also serve to express action continued in the past which is equivalent to the English used to, was wont to, would. It is expressed in the past tense plus the present tense of the verb which denotes the continuous action.

The imperfect expresses an action, process or condition which is incomplete, and it has a wide range of meaning:

1a) It is used to describe a single (as opposed to a repeated) action in the past; it differs from the perfect in being more vivid and pictorial. The perfect expresses the "fact," the imperfect adds colour and movement by suggesting the "process" preliminary to its completion. "He put forth his hand to the door it came to a halt I began to hear"

1b) A phrase such as "What seekest thou?" refers not only to the present, but assumes that the search has continued for some time. Why do you weep? Why refuse to eat? Why are you distressed? These relate not so much as to one occasion, as to a continued condition.

2) The kind of progression or imperfection and unfinished condition of the action may consist in its frequent repetition.

2a) In the present: it is "said" today a wise son "maketh glad" his father

2b) In the past: "and so he did" - regularly, year by year a mist "used to go up" the fish which "we used to eat" the manna "came down" - regularly he "spoke" - repeatedly

3) The imperfect is used to express the "future," referring not only to an action which is about to be accomplished but one which has not yet begun:

3a) This may be a future from the point of view of the real present; as: Now "shalt thou see what I will do" "We will burn" thy house

3b) It may be a future from any other point of view assumed; as: he took his son that "was to reign" she stayed to see what "should be done"

4) The usage of 3b may be taken as the transitive to a common use of the imperfect in which it serves for an expression of those shades of relation among acts and thoughts for which English prefers the conditional moods. Such actions are strictly "future" in reference to the assumed point of relation, and the simple imperfect sufficiently expresses them; e.g. of every tree thou "mayest eat" "could we know" he "would" say

5a) The imperfect follows particles expressing "transition," "purpose", "result" and so forth as, "in order that," "lest"; e.g. say thou art my sister, "that it may be well with thee" let us deal wisely with the nation, "lest it multiplies"

5b) When however there is a strong feeling of "purpose," or when it is meant to be strongly marked, then of course the moods are employed; e.g. raise me up "that I may requite them" who will entice Ahab "that he may go up" what shall we do "that the sea may be calm" The moods are also employed to express that class of future actions which we express in the "optative" "may I die" "may" the LORD "establish" his word "may" the child "live

6) Modal use of the imperfect

The imperfect frequently expresses contingency, and English modal auxuiliaries such as may, can, shall, might, could, should, would and perhaps are used with the verb (Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice? (Exodus 5:2).

The modal use of the imperfect is common after the particles [rendered] (how) and (perhaps), and the interrogatives (what) (who) and (why).

7) Jussive = The jussive expresses a desire for action from a third person subject (I pray let the king remember the LORD your God, 2 Samuel 14:11; May the LORD lift up his countenance unto you, Numbers 6:26).

8) Cohortative = The cohortative expresses the speaker's desire or intention to act, so it occurs only in the first person singular and plural (let me pass through the roadblock, let us draw near to God).


This tense occurs only in the second person singular and plural. The main use of the imperative is in direct commands (Separate yourself from me, Genesis 13:9). The imperative can also grant permission (Go up, and bury your father, according as he made you swear, Genesis 50:6). It may also disclose a request (Give the, I pray, a talent of silver, 2 Kings 5:22).

Imperatives may convey a wish (May you be the mother of thousands of millions, Genesis 24:60).

Imperatives are even used sarcastically (Come to Bethel and transgress, Amos 4:4).

Some uses of the imperative, however, do not carry the ordinary force of meaning. Sometimes it emphatically and vividly communicates a promise or prediction (And in the third year sow, and reap, plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof, 2 Kings 19:29.


This tense occurs in either the absolute or the construct state. Infinitives express the idea of a verb, but they are not limited by person, gender, and number. The infinitive absolute is used in several ways. It most often stands before a finite verb of the same root to intensify the certainty or force of the verbal idea (You shall surely die, Genesis 2:17). It also functions as a verbal noun (slaying cattle and killing sheep, Isaiah 22:13; It is not good to eat much honey, Proverbs 25:27). The infinitive absolute sometimes occurs after an imperative (Kill me at once, Numbers 11:15; Listen diligently to me, Isaiah 55:2). It may also occur after a verb to show continuance or repetition (Keep on hearing but do not understand, Isaiah 6:9; and it went here and there, Genesis 8:7). Frequently, it is used in place of an imperative (Remember[ing] the Sabbath day, Exodus 20:8). Sometimes it is used in place of a finite verb (and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt, Genesis 41:43).

The infinitive construct also has several uses. It may function as the object or subject of a sentence (I know not how to go out or come in, 1 Kings 3:7; to obey is better than sacrifice, 1 Samuel 15:22). However, it most often occurs after ... to express purpose (he turned aside to see, Exodus 3:4). The infinitive construct may also occur after ... to express a gerundial meaning (The people sin against the LORD by eating blood, 1 Samual 14:33). Moreover, it is frequently used in temporal clauses (When you eat from it, you shall surely die, Genesis 2:17).


This tense in the Hebrew does not indicate person, but it does indicate gender and number. It may be either masculine or feminine, and either singular or plural. Participles may also occur in either the active or passive voice. However, only the Qal stem has both active and passive participles. Verbal tense is not indicated by the Hebrew participle, so it must be inferred from the context, whether it is past, present, or future tense. Uses of the participle include the following.

Since it is a verbal noun, a participle may indicate a continuous activity or state (I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, Isaiah 6:1). Participles may also be used as attributive or predicative adjectives. As an attributive adjective, it follows the noun it modifies, and it agrees with the noun in gender, nukmber, and definiteness (blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD, Ps 118:26; the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire, Exodus 24:17).

As a predicatiev adjectiev, the participle follows the noun it modifies, and agrees with the noun in gender and number, but it never has the definite article (the man is standing, the women are standing). When the noun ids indefinite, the participle may be attributive or predicative, so context must determine the correct translation. Participles are also used as substantives (one who climbs, climber; one who works, worker; one who loves, lover).

A) The participle represents an action or condition in its unbroken continuity, and corresponds to the English verb, "to be" with the present participle. It may be used of present, past or future time.

1a) present time what are you doing

1b) past time "he was still speaking" when another came

1c) future time we are destroying - e.g. are about to destroy


There are basically seven verb stems in the Hebrew language.

A) Qal

Qal is the most frequently used verb pattern. It expresses the "simple" or "casual" action of the root in the active voice. Examples: he sat, he ate, he went, he said, he rose, he bought.

The Qal is a simple active verb stem. The Qal mood accounts for most of the verbs in the OT. Qal usually indicates an action of the subject (he told). It can also indicate the state of the subject (he was old).

B) Hiphil

1) Hiphil usually expresses the "causative" action of Qal -

a) Qal / Hiphil

he ate he caused to eat, he fed

he came he caused to come, he brought

he reigned he made king, he crowned

2) Hiphil is often used to form verbs from nouns and adjectives. Noun or Adjective Hiphil ear to listen (lend an ear) far to remove oneself, put far away

3) Some "simple" verbs are found in Hiphil. to cast, to destroy, to get up early, to explain, to tell

C) Niphal

1) Niphal is the "passive" of Qal

The simple passive or reflexive counterpart of the Qal stem. Used passively, Niphal means the action of the verb is received by the subject (he was told, or, it was told). Although rare, Niphal is sometimes used reflexively, it means the subject performs the action of the verb upon himself or herself (he realized). The reflexive meaning is usually expressed using the Hithpael.

a) Qal / Niphal:

he saw he was seen, he appeared

he saw the angel the angel was seen

he sent he was sent

he created it was created

2) Niphal sometimes expresses a "reflexive" action:

a) Qal / Niphal:

he guarded he was guarded, also he guarded himself

3) Several verbs use Niphal, although they express simple action and are active in English. Common examples are: he fought, he remained, he swore, he entered.

D) Piel Stem

1) Piel usually expresses an "intensive" or "intentional" action.

The intensive active or causative stem. The most common use of the Piel is as intensivication of the action of the verb (he often told, or, he fully explained). It sometimes, however, is used in a causative sense like the Hiphil (he caused to learn / he taught).

a) Qal / Piel:

he broke / he broke to pieces, he smashed

he sent / he sent away, he expelled

2) Sometimes the Piel introduces a new meaning to the Qal form.

a) Qal / Piel:

he counted / he recounted, he told

he completed / he paid, he compensated

he learned he taught

3) Piel expresses a "repeated" or "extended" action.

a) Qal / Piel:

he jumped / he skipped, he hopped

4) Some intransitive verbs in Qal become transitive in Piel.

a) Qal / Piel:

to be strong / to strengthen, to fortify

to become great / to make great