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The Verbal Tense System in Late Biblical Hebrew Prose
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The Verbal Tense System in Late Biblical Hebrew Prose

by Ohad Cohen

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This study offers a synchronic and diachronic account of the Biblical Hebrew verbal tense system during the Second Temple period, based on the books of Esther, Daniel, and Ezra and Nehemiah, along with the non-synoptic parts of Chronicles. In analyzing the development of this system, Cohen discerns the changes that mark the transition from the classical era to the Second Temple period.

The book is divided into two main parts: a survey of previous research along with the methodology of the present study; and a descriptive analysis of the verbal system in late biblical prose literature. In the first section, the author discusses the eclectic nature of the biblical corpus, including the ramifications of this heterogeneity on linguistic efforts to for­mulate a synchronic structural account of its texts. Moreover, he surveys the principal linguistic concepts of tense, aspect, and mood, and the ver­bal paradigm’s complex nature. The second part of the book offers a synchronic account of the Second Temple period verbal system. It features a categorical breakdown and analysis of all the verb forms in the corpus’s prose texts. The author examines the reasons behind these changes by dint of a diachronic comparison with other strata of the Hebrew language—namely, biblical texts of the First Temple period, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the language of the Sages.

This book will be widely welcomed by students and scholars of Biblical Hebrew, Comparative Semitics, and linguistics.

Product Details

Publisher: Eisenbrauns
Publication date: 2013
Bibliographic info: xiv + 314 pages
Language(s): English


Cover: Cloth
Trim Size: 6 x 9 inches



Cohen's monograph should be consulted in depth before any serious study is carried out on the books of Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, the nonsynoptic parts of Chronicles and when writing sections concerned with the syntax of Biblical Hebrew. — Bálint Károly Zabán, RBL 2015

Ohad Cohen’s monograph exhibits this kind of awareness [of the need for a nuanced understanding of the Hebrew verbal system] throughout, as he endeavors methodically to describe and, where possible, to explain the forms and functions of Biblical Hebrew in its historically later permutations. … In the end, Ohad Cohen has produced an astute and rigorous investigation into an important scriptural subcorpus, and his book deserves an attentive hearing by all who find themselves invested in the ongoing quest to “solve” the verbal system(s) of Biblical Hebrew.—Paul Korchin (author of Markedness in Canaanite and Hebrew Verbs [HSS 58]) in Hebrew Studies 56 (2015)

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