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Table of Contents

  Chapter  1
  Chapter  2
  Chapter  3
  Chapter  4
  Chapter  5
  Chapter  6
  Appendix I
  Appendix II
  Appendix III
  Appendix IV
  Appendix V
  Appendix VI
  Appendix VII
  Appendix VIII
  Appendix IX
  Appendix X
  Appendix XI
  Appendix XII
  Appendix XIII
  Appendix XIV
  Appendix XV
  Appendix XVI
  Appendix XVII
  Appendix XVIII
  Appendix XIX
  Appendix XX
  Appendix XXI
  Biblical References
General Bibliography






(Reference: p.45)


The Use of Hayah in Genesis, Joshua, Job,

two Psalms, and Zechariah.


In order to examine the evidence in situ as it were, a study was

made of the context of all occurrences of the verb "to be" which are

to be found in the English of the Authorized Version of the Old Test-

ament in the following books: Genesis, Joshua, Job, two Psalms, and

Zechariah.   Genesis was chosen for obvious reasons; Joshua,

because it represented a historical book of a later period; the book

of Job, because of its rather unique dramatic form; Zechariah, a

minor prophet, because it provided a sample of prophetic literature

towards the end of Old Testament times; and two Psalms because

they were representative of Hebrew poetry.

The information thus derived is set forth in a more or less tabular

form for each book as a separate entity, and is then summarized as

a whole.   What emerges is that a great deal of what has been

commonly assumed regarding the use and the meanings of the Hebrew

verb   has been somewhat imprecise - even when discussed by

the very best authorities, such as S. R. Driver.    This, in turn,

has been repeated by secondary authorities ("quoters" and "quoters

of quotes") with even less precision!   The end result is that the

original authorities have been credited at times with views on the

subject which, though in a sense they could be considered as logical

extensions of their stated views, are now sufficiently inaccurate that

even the originators would probably not have approved of them. It is

hoped that although the kind of information presented in this Appendix

is dry and uninspiring, it will nevertheless contribute something

towards a re-statement of the whole matter so that those who are

concerned with the issue may be better guided by at least a knowledge

of what is clearly not true.

In this study, all occurrences of the verb "to be" in any of its

various forms in English (be, am, are, was, will be, etc.) were

examined, whether represented in the original Hebrew by some form

of the verb (and therefore set in bold type in the Authorized Version),

or merely inserted by the translators to complete the English sent-

ence structure (and therefore set in italics).   Thus bold face type

as well as italics are included in the total count, each sub-total being


pg 1 of 14        

properly identified as to its category.

The following is what was observed. In the whole of Genesis, the

verb "to be" appears 832 times according to my count. Of these, it

is inserted by the translators, where so required in English though

not represented in the original Hebrew, a total of 626 cases. It is

found set in bold type, indicating the presence of    in the original,

in 206 cases.   From this one may see that the simple copulative

sense of am, is, were, shall be, etc., is not in the majority of

cases represented in the Hebrew whether the tense is past, present,

or future. The verb    was felt to be necessary in only 25% of the

contexts (206 out of a total of 832) where English seems to demand

it. This might be presumptive evidence that the verb is as a rule

employed in a Hebrew sentence only when the meaning is something

more than merely copulative.

Most authorities today admit this but assert at the same time that

the general rule applies only in cases where the tense is presents

When the tense is past or future, it is usually held that the verb is

required even where the usage is copulative.   For this reason, it

is agreed that in Gen. 1.2 the verb  had to be employed because

the tense was past, and that the correct rendering is therefore the

simple "was".

The basis of this argument seems logical enough.   Unless the

verb is expressed in Hebrew one cannot distinguish between such

statements as "the man was good", "the man is good", and "the man

will be good", since all three would appear in Hebrew without dis-

tinction simply as "the man - good" (   ) with no further guidance

to the reader as to whether the situation was past, present, or future.

But in point of fact, Hebrew writers do not seem to have felt any

such need to be more explicit since of the total number of cases where

the verb is unexpressed, 626 in all, some 184 cases or 30% clearly

apply to a past or future situation.   Of this number, only 15 are


Consider, then, these 15 future cases in which the verb is un-

expressed. The number is surprisingly small when compared with

the number of references to past situations, but this is really to be

expected. Future events are much more likely to be looked forward

to as involving a change from present circumstance and since Hebrew

writers seem to have consistently employed the verb    whenever

a change of circumstance or of status is involved, it would be a much

less common thing to run across a future that did NOT require the

verb to be expressed. It is obvious that in such as sentence as, "We

are poor but we shall be rich", a change is indicated which would


     pg.2 of 14       

require that the verb normally be expressed: but if the sentence

happened to read, "We are poor and always will be poor", signifying

no change in the present situation, the verb would not normally be

expressed.   Such a situation as this would then perhaps best be

translated by the corn pound phrase, "We shall continue to be poor".

Life being as it is, most future circumstances are hopefully viewed

as a change from the present rather than a continuance of it; and

indeed most future references are to a change. This fact is reflected

in Genesis where, out of a total of 88 references to the future in the

English of the Authorized Version, the original expresses the verb

(to indicate such a change) in 73 or three-quarters of them.   And of

the other quarter, the fifteen already referred to, the majority also

indicate a change, in spite of the omission of the verb. This appears

to be a contradiction of the general rule, but an examination of them

shows that there is another qualifying factor in the application of the

rule which is important and logical. These 15 occurrences are as

follows: Gen. 3.16; 4. 7; 6.15; 16.12; 17.15; 29.15; 43.23; 41.31;

46.6; and 49.8, 10, 12, 13 (twice) and 20.

The passage in Gen. 46.6 is clearly one involving no change - past,

present, and future all being bleakly uniform: "For these two years

the failure has been in the land: and yet there are five years in which

there shall be neither ploughing nor harvest". All the others involve

a prospective change in one form or another in spite of the absence

of the verb. But the reason for the absence of   where it would

otherwise be expected is really clear enough.   Each situation is

self-explanatory because of an associated sentence or clause which

enables one to see unequivocally what the writer has in mind. The

structure of the closely linked sentences is such that one cannot read

the text at all without being made positively aware that a change is

in view. This awareness stems from the existence of either contrast

or repetition in sentence structure.   Contrast is self-evident in

Gen. 17.15 where Abraham is told, "Thou shalt not call her name

Sarai but Sarah shall be her name". Repetition is evident in such

a passage as Gen. 16.12 where the record reads, "He will become a

wild man and his hand shall be against every man". So unnecessary

is the verb in the second clause that the meaning would (even in

English) be perfectly obvious if it were omitted and read merely as,

"He will become a wild man with his hand against every one".   A

change of circumstance or metaphor is involved in most of these 15

passages, but the change is made abundantly clear by the very struct-

ure of the sentence and no special device is needed to insure the

reader's understanding.


     pg.3 of 14       



An excellent example of the presence and absence of the verb

    as appropriate to the requirement of the writer's meaning may

be found in Gen. 34.15: "If ye will become as we are....", which in

the original is:   . The first verb proposes a change

and must therefore be expressed: the second is a static situation

(ie., strictly copulative) and is therefore unexpressed in Hebrew.

The reason for labouring the point is that we so continuously and

so unconsciously employ similar sentence structures with subtle yet

important distinctive meanings that we are not in the habit of analyzing

them. Only by insisting on attention to them can one gain a hearing

at all!   And as soon as one has convinced the reader that there is

a real distinction, one at once has to account for apparent exceptions!

After all, the employment or the omission of the verb    is merely

a literary device to help the reader - not an austere law threatening

the writer with some penalty (other than being misunderstood!) if he

fails to obey it.   If the meaning which is served by the literary

device has been made quite clear in some other way or by something

already said, there is obviously no need to adopt the device and

slavishly insist on expressing the verb. It is in order to bring out

this point that I have entered into this uninspiring but rather necessary

excursus.   I am keenly aware that a critic may otherwise accuse

me of being superficial by the very simple expedient of pointing to

exceptions without telling his readers how they might be more ex-

ceptional in appearance than in fact. So I am anxious to avoid being

superficial " even if my conclusions should ultimately turn out to be

quite wrong.   The prime object is to elucidate the issue, an issue

that is complex and has been confused by inadequate appraisal of

the evidence.

Let me therefore recapitulate by stating the case thus, as I see

the evidence: When there is no change in view the verb is never

required - whether in the past tense, the present tense, or the

future.   Where a change is involved, it is required unless the

fact of the altered circumstance has already been made abund-

antly self-evident by some other means.    Thus: no change no

verb.   Some change - some form of the verb expressed, or the

change is clearly indicated to the reader by some other means.

Where the verb is expressed in the past or future tense, a change

is almost certainly in view.   The absence of the verb may or may

not in itself tell the whole story but the presence of the verb (unless

it has one of its rather special meanings) always indicates that a

change has occurred, or is occurring, or will occur in the situation

in the future. The verb  is, in such a case, best rendered into


     pg.4 of 14       

English by some such word as became or had become (for the past),

becomes or is becoming (for the present), and will become (for the

future).   The word "become" is not always the best English word

to use but the meaning of it seems most closely to represent the

original.   Such a phrase as, "it came to be" (which is, after all,

merely an alternative of "it be-came"), is familiar and acceptable;

as is, "it shall come to pass" (which, again, is merely an alternative

for "it shall come to be" or, more simply, "it shall be-come"). I

believe that the vast majority of occurrences of the verb    when

employed in its more basic meaning can sensibly be rendered by some

equivalent of the English word "become".   In the future tense this

fact can readily be verified by reference to its 73 occurrences, many

of which are listed in Appendix V. In the present tense, there are

but 3 occurrences in Genesis, according to my count, namely, Gen.

32.10, and 42.31, 36. In the first, "became" is quite appropriate:

"Now I am become two bands". In the second, the meaning is less

precise: the Authorized Version reads, "We are no spies", a state-

ment which may mean, "We have not come as spies", since - were it

merely copulative - it would (by almost universal agreement) not

require the expression of the verb, least of all since it is in the

present tense. The third case (verse 36) is clear enough since the

speaker is complaining of a change in his fortunes because, suddenly,

"all things have come to be" against him. The omission of the verb

would have conveyed the meaning that things had always been against


In Genesis, the verb appears 60 times in the past or future tense

in the well known English rendering, "It came to pass" or "it shall

come to pass", both of which clearly describe a new situation or - to

use a modern term, a "happening".   Since both phrases could be

equally well served by substituting the word "be" for "pass", they

would quite appropriately be read as, "it came to be that...." or

"it shall come to be that....", and the word "be-came" or "be-come"

therefore once more appears as a proper rendering of the verb    .

As already noted, in 17 passages in the Authorized Version of Genesis

the verb is in fact translated "become" or "became".

Besides these, there are some 63 passages in Genesis in which

the verb is expressed, appearing in the Authorized Version in the

form "was" or "were".   These occurrences can all be rendered,

and indeed should be rendered (to be more precise), by some English

verbal phrase which is more than a mere copulative. In many cases

it is best rendered "became" or "had become" and such a rendering

does more justice to the sense of the original.   But there are a


     pg.5 of 14      

number of interesting and rather special meanings of the verb    

which are curious in that they are strangely encompassed by some

English phrase employing the word "come". This strikes me as a

noteworthy circumstance.   The following passages include some

chosen quite randomly from Joshua, a book which - as I have stated

previously - was also analyzed for the purposes of this chapter.

In Josh. 15,4,7,11; 16.3,8; and 18.12 (twice), 14, and 19, the

allotted territories of the various tribes are being defined.    The

verb    is used when the boundaries are stated.    The English

renderings are varied but all mean "reached to" or "terminated at".

The verb could have been rendered "came to", just as we may say

"my property comes to here", indicating with a marker where the

line actually falls. In Genesis the phrase, "and it came to pass",

belongs in this class, of course.   It is found throughout Genesis 1

in verses 7, 9, 11, 15, 24, and 30, in all of which the meaning is

clearly "and it became so". A beautiful illustration of this is to be

found in Psa. 33.9 where the Hebrew reads:   which

in the Authorized Version is rendered, "For He spake and it was

done", but actually should read, ""For He spake and it became", ie.,,

"came to be". The word "done" is quite properly printed in italics

in the English translation since it is not represented in the Hebrew,

but it was felt necessary to complete the sense. Such would be the

case if one renders    as "and it was".     But the word "done"

proves unnecessary when the sentence is correctly rendered, a

circumstance which confirms the non-copulative meaning of the verb

    .      Evidently the Septuagint translators did not make the

mistake that the English translators did, for they rendered it thus:

   ie., "For He spoke, and it be-


When Lot's wife became a pillar of salt, we have a third class.

A fourth class includes statements of simple arithmetic, as in Josh.

21.40, "So all the cities.... of the Levites were (ie., came to)....

12 cities".

Thus we have "came to", ie., reached; "came to pass", ie.,

transpired; "be-came", ie., turned into; "came to", ie., added up

to; and "came", ie., arrived (Job 1.13 and 2.1). I am not by these

remarks seeking to prove any point in particular but merely trying

to show how the English word "came" can be played upon so as to

mean some surprisingly different things!   And the fact is that the

Hebrew word    is remarkably similar in many respects to the

extension of the English word "come", as shown in Appendix VI.

In summary, a future situation in which no change is in view, a


     pg.6 of 14       

future which is merely a guarantee of the continuance of the present,

does not require the verb  to be expressed: nor does the simple

English copulative "to be" in any of its present tense forms require

the verb to be expressed either. Similarly, a past which is viewed

as a static situation, a past which "always was" or "was at the time",

a past which is merely referred to by the writer as a point of ref-

erence or as a starting point for his narrative, a past which though

it no longer holds true did not at the time involve some altered

situation, such a past is expressed without the use of any part of the

verb      . A man whose name (was) so-and-so (Gen. 10.25, etc.), a

divinely appointed situation which (was) good (Gen. 1.10, 21, etc.),

one city which (was) greater than another (Josh. 10.2), a place that

(was) wicked, a man who (was) such-and-such an age,.... all these

involve no implied change in circumstance leading up to the situation

described. They are simple statements of fact at the time.  The

verb    is uniformly omitted.

But if the man became of such-and-such an age before God dealt

with him in some special way, then the situation is viewed quite

differently and the verb  must normally be expressed unless the

eventuality can be otherwise indicated to the reader.   Thus, for

example, the verb is required in such a sentence as, "And when

Abram became 90 years old", then the Lord appeared to him and

told him that his name was now to be changed because he was to

become a father of many nations (Gen. 17.1-4).   Or, as another

example, "(Jabal) became the father of such as dwell in tents...

and his brother's name (was) Jubal" (Gen.4.20, 21).   The first

part of the sentence involves a change for he was not a father at all

until he reached maturity, so the verb  being expressed in the

original is more precisely rendered into English as "became"; but

the second part of the sentence does not involve any change, being

merely an observation of a fact - and the verb   is accordingly

unexpressed in the original.

Undoubtedly, it will be possible to find real or apparent exceptions

here and there, but certainly the normal practice is not to express

the verb    at all where the meaning is simply copulative, whether

in the past, present, or future tense. And, equally, the introduction

of the verb    means either that a change has taken place leading

to the then situation, or is taking place, or will take place, or that

the verb is being used by the writer (usually in conjunction with some

qualifying preposition such as in, at, with, within, etc.) to give a

special sense.  In no such case is it merely copulative.    When

expressed, it has such meanings as "became" (Gen. 19.26); "accom-


     pg.7 of 14       

panied" (Josh. 1.5); "added up to (totalled)" (Josh.21.40); "existed"

 (Josh. 17.1,2, etc.); "happened" (for a beautiful illustration, see

Gen.41.13, "And it came to pass as he interpreted to us, so it

happened":   .....   ); "reached to" or "from" (Josh.18.12

has both usages); "went about daily" (ie. , actively, not statically - as

in Gen. 2.25); "belong to" (Josh.14.9; 17.18; and Job 42.12); or

even "lay within" (as in Josh. 19.1).   In Gen. 39.2 three of these

meanings appear in one verse!   Thus the text reads, "It came to

pass..... he became a prosperous man.... he lived daily in his

master's house".   Other special meanings seem often to involve

the English word "fall", as in the phrase, "It befell" or "It fell out

that".    This, too, is striking, for in French also there is some

evidence of the same kind of association of ideas where, for example,

the word devenir may mean both "to befall" or "happen" as well as

"to become", the venir in the word, of course, being the English

"come". As already noted, some scholars believe that the Hebrew

    is related to a more primitive root meaning "to fall".

As a corollary of the statement made earlier to the effect that the

verb    implies really an active situation rather than a static one,

it is also to be observed that the word "became" should not be

substituted for the English "was" where the verb    is unexpressed

in the original. To make this substitution conveys a meaning to the

text which is either clearly not the writer's intention; or it simply

makes nonsense.   Thus where Genesis 1 has the recurrent phrase,

"and it was good", one cannot sensibly substitute became for was and

read it as "and it be came good".    What God creates or what He

instantly commands into being does not as a process "become" good.

It is good.   It may, of course, become something, viewed as an

event in such a recurrent phrase as, "and it was so". But here the

verb is always expressed in the original - and with perfect propriety.

But once in being, the "goodness" of the thing so created is inherent:

it is thereafter copulatively "good". The difference in the original

of these two often repeated phrases in Genesis 1 is brought out by the

Authorized Version practice of using bold face or italics as the

original demands.   And as I have already observed, for this very

reason this Version has much to commend it to the English reader

over other versions.   Only upon one or two occasions does the

Authorized Version seem to make a mistake in its use of type. One

such instance is Gen. 40.16 which should have read, "The interpret-

ation (was) good", rather than, "was good", since the original omits

the verb. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, from these facts,

first of all, that the idea of "becoming" must be expressed - unlike


     pg.8 of 14      

the mere copula which will not be: and secondly, that there is no

other way in which it can be expressed in Hebrew.

Let us consider briefly the evidence on these points to be derived

from a study of the text of Joshua, Job, Psa. 22 and 68, and Zechariah.


A comparison of Joshua with Genesis presents essentially the

same kind of picture in the matter of proportional usage and special-

ized meanings.   Genesis is, of course, longer than Joshua (1445

verses as against 658) and thus the grand totals differ accordingly, but

the frequency is of the same order.

In the English of the Authorized Version, the verb "to be" occurs

269 times in all. Of these, 182 are not represented by any verb in

the original.   In 87 cases, the verb    appears in the Hebrew,

these being of course set in bold type in the English.   Of these,

38 have been or should (in the interests of consistency) have been

rendered, "it came to pass" or "it shall come to pass" (both of which

involve a process of becoming), and 13 might very properly have been

rendered "come to be", "become", "became", "had become", or

"will become" [namely, Josh. 3.4 (come to be); 4.6,7; 9.5 (plu-

perfect); 14.4,9 (future); 15.1; 17.8 (future); 20.3; 23.13; 23.27

(twice); and 24.32]. The balance have specialized meanings, such

as "being with" in the sense of accompanying (Josh. 1.17; 3.7; etc.),

or "added up to" (as in Josh. 21.40), or "were situated in" (as in

Josh. 8.22; 18.14; 19.1,14; etc.), or "reached from" (as in Josh.

13.16) or "reached to" (Josh. 13.23). None of these are copulative

usages.   Nor are the several remaining examples copulative, for

in these a future event is described which differs from the then present

circumstance; as for example in Josh. 20.6: "until he stand before

the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest

that shall be in those days".   To my knowledge, only one possible

exception is observable in which the verb   has the appearance

of having been used unnecessarily in a sense, and this is Josh. 10.14

which reads, "And there was no day like that, before it or after it".

Perhaps even this is not really exceptional since, in a sense„ the

use is existential.

Certainly, whatever else may be said for the text of Joshua, it

does not lend support to the idea that the verb    has normally a

copulative sense of "to be".


The Book of Job is slightly different in an interesting way that I

think must be related to the dramatic form of the narrative.   It is


     pg.9 of 14      

interesting because the historic present is more frequently used and

because in certain circumstances when the verb     would normally

have been employed, it has actually been omitted. The object, by

shortening the sentence, is perhaps to heighten the sense of urgency.

In the Book of Job according to the Authorized Version, a total of

270 occurrences of some part of the verb "to be" will be found, with

only 26 (or 10% of them) set in bold type indicating the verb    in

the original.   The omissions which therefore number 244 are re-

presented in the English text by such words as are, was, will be,

etc.    The overwhelming majority of these are simply copulative.

There are, as already stated, a few special cases where the omission

is probably for dramatic effect.   These are to be found occurring

in such verbal phrases as "(were) eating" (Job 1.13, 18), "(was) yet

speaking (Job 1.16, 17, 18).    This is a not uncommon device in

Hebrew literature, the participle of the verb (here "eating" and

"speaking") being used sometimes with     * and sometimes without

it, instead of the simple imperfect normal to an English sentence.

It is also apparent that the writer has avoided to a large extent the

use of the past tense, for of all the italicized verbal forms of "to be"

which occur in the Authorized Version text of Job, only 8% are past

compared with 27% in the text of Genesis.   It seems as though, in

the mind of the translators at least if not in the mind of the original

writer, the use of the "historic present" was felt to be more approp-

riate to the narrative form employed.

The very first verse is a good illustration of three different mean-

ings attached to the sense of "being". The text reads, "There was

a man.... whose name (was) Job.... and it happens that that man

was perfect...." The first "was" clearly means "lived", the verb

being used in its existential sense; the second is the simple copulative

and is therefore omitted in Hebrew; and the third is used in the

historic sense, "and it came to pass...."    Here, then, we find

a strictly copulative sentence set forth in a way which by the omission

of the verb     makes clear that the writer's meaning is quite dis-

tinct from that of the two other occurrences of the verb in the same


The existential use of     is to be observed in such a passage as

Job 16.12; "I lived at ease", which has been rendered in the Author-



* For example, see: Gen.4.17; 37.2; Jud.16.21; I Sam.

2.11; and many others.    And see further, Appendix II.


     pg.10 of 14       

ized Version as, "I was at ease". The sense of "becoming" is to be

observed in such a passage as Job 17.6 which in the Scofield edition

of the Authorized Version reads: "He hath made me also a by-word

of the people; and I was (    ) as one before whom men spit".

It seems to me that the speaker is trying to indicate that a drastic

change in his situation has now taken place with respect to his previous

status in the community. And therefore, in the interest of greater

precision, I suggest that the verb should be rendered "I am become

as one who.....", though admittedly by making this change I am

robbing my opponents of an example (if they should choose to use it)

of a supposed copulative occurrence of the verb   .   However,

since the writer of Job has not once in the other 240 or so instances

of a purely copulative situation employed any part of the verb   ,

we have good reason to suppose that he employed it here because he

intended the meaning to be something other than a mere copula.

The dramatic style of the writer is revealed by the not infrequent

omission of the verb   in connection with various prepositions

 , etc.) where normally one would expect it.   Such a case is

Job 29.5 where the verb is omitted, though in the English it is

followed by "with": "When the Almighty (was) yet with me".   This

may be contrasted with the more normal (ie. , prosaic) construction

indicated for the same phrase in Josh. 1.5, 17 (twice); 2.19; 3.7

(twice); 6.27; and 7.12. Here, too, we seem to have the shortened

sentence structure.

Besides Job 17.6 already referred to, there are a number of

other occurrences where the text might better have been rendered

using the verbal form "became", "become", etc., though the Author-

ized Version has not done so. In all of these, needless to say, the

verb   appears in the original. I have in mind such passages as

the following, all of which indicate a real change in the situation:

10.19:     "I should have become as though I had not been" (ie.,

never existed).

11.17:     "Thou shalt become as the morning".

12.4:      "I am become as one mocked by his neighbour".

16.8:      "Wrinkles - which become a witness against me".

24.14:     "and in the night becomes a thief.

30.9:      "And now I have become their song, yea, I have be-

come their by-word".

30.29:     "I have become a brother to jackals".

Essentially the same picture emerges from Job as from Joshua


     pg.11 of 14       

and Genesis in the matter of grammar and syntax except for the

already noted much less frequent use of the past tense of the verb

    which is replaced by a historic present for effect. In Genesis

the verb appears 130 times in the past tense, in Job only 17 times: in

Genesis all occurrences of     (regardless of tense) total 206 as

corn pared with only 26 in Job. Thus the style of Job would certainly

seem to have been deliberately compressed - almost staccato at



Two Psalms were chosen, 22 and 68, solely on account of their

convenient length, and for statistical analysis they have been treated

as one. Perhaps in the very nature of the case, the language of the

Psalms seems to be written very much in the present tense and

references to the past are comparatively few. In fact, the Hebrew

verb is not used once in a past or a future reference at all in either

of these Psalms.  In the English there are 27 occurrences where

some part of the verb "to be" is supplied by the translators, of which

22 are in the present tense. Since these are undoubtedly correctly

supplied as to tense, and since the data for all the Psalms combined

indicates the same general pattern (31 in italics in past tense, 524 in

present tense, and 34 in future tense), there is no doubt that this is a

feature of Hebrew psalmody.   Which is to say, that the verb    

is not felt to be necessary in the vast majority of cases, actually

appearing only as one simple case in these two Psalms, and in this

one instance (Psa. 22.19) with what is probably the existential mean-

ing.   Since there are in all some 31 references to the past and 34

to the future which have not demanded the introduction of the verb

    in the original, the Psalms as a whole would appear to confirm

the general rule that     is not required when it functions as a simple

copula, regardless of the tense.


In Zechariah, there is a significant difference from the Psalms,

for the whole bent of the text is towards the future and out of a total

of 42 occurrences of the verb    , 37 or 88% are references to the

future, 4 are references to the past and only 1 is a reference to the

present.   It seems likely that this general pattern is true of most

of the prophetic books or passages of Scripture, in view of the fact

that the words look forward to a situation yet to come which will be

different from things as they now are.   This kind of change in


     pg.12 of 14     

Hebrew literature, where the verb "to be" is involved, appears

regularly to require the use of the verb   , and in a very large

number of cases the English has rendered the sentence, "and it shall

come to pass...." As already indicated, this could quite as proper-

ly be written, "It shall come to be....", ie., "It shall be-come.. ."*

The Table on page 146 is included merely to summarize the data

reported upon in this Section. It should be underscored that these

numbers represent my own counting, a count usually undertaken

during evenings after a full day's work and therefore not pretending

to be infallible though certainly not grossly in error. Where the

totals do not tally (as in the case of Job's Italics total, for example),

the reason is that there were a few occurrences of the verb "to be"

in English which could not be classified among the others, being part

of some verbal clause such as "were eating", etc. The percentage

figures given represent the proportion of the appropriate total which

each category of entries has within each book.    The figures for

Psalm 22 and 68 have been combined.

Percentages are calculated to the nearest whole percent.

In Genesis, Joshua, and Zechariah, the verb is omitted from twice

to three times as frequently as it is employed (206/626: 87/182: and

42/74). In Job the verb is omitted approximately ten times as often

as it is employed, and in the Psalms, twenty-seven times as often.

It is clear that the copulative use in its simple form is exceedingly

rare compared with what the English sentence demands.



*   It is hard to say to what extent the Authorized Ver-

ion has been responsible for determining the sense which we

continue to attach to some words, but it may be worth noting

that according to the Oxford English Dictionary (Vol. 1,

p. 715 b, published in 12 volumes by the Clarendon Press,

1933) under the article on the word BE: "(This verb) was

in Old English a distinct verb.... meaning 'become', 'come

to be', and thus serving as a future tense to am and was,

By the beginning of the 13th c. the Infinitive and Partic-

iple, Imperative and Present Subjunctive of am and was,

became successively obsolete, the corresponding parts of BE

taking their place so that the whole verb am and was and be

is now commonly called from its infinitive the verb 'to be'."

In other words, even the verb "to be" once really meant "to



     pg.13 of 14     





     pg.14 of 14     


  Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved


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