Vocabulary (Review)

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Lesson Transcript


Michael: What is prophetic perfect tense?
Lenny: And will I ever need to actively use it?
Michael: At HebrewPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Mark Lee is reading Talmud, but comes across a word he doesn't recognize. He asks his friend, Hagar,
"What does "ve-higadeta" mean?"
Mark Lee: "?מה זה אומר "והגדת (Ma ze omer "ve-higadeta"?)
Mark Lee: "?מה זה אומר "והגדת (Ma ze omer "ve-higadeta"?)
Hagar Horowitz: .זה הציווי "אמור" בעברית תנ"כית (Ze ha'tsivui "emor" be-Ivrit tanakhit.)
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Mark Lee: "?מה זה אומר "והגדת (Ma ze omer "ve-higadeta"?)
Michael: "What does "ve-higadeta" mean?"
Hagar Horowitz: .זה הציווי "אמור" בעברית תנ"כית (Ze ha'tsivui "emor" be-Ivrit tanakhit.)
Michael: "It is the imperative "say" in the prophetic perfect tense. "

Lesson focus

Michael: In this lesson, you'll learn about one feature common in the holy scriptures, the "prophetic perfect tense," or
Lenny: .זמן הנבואי המושלם (zman ha'ne'vu'i ha'mush'lam)
Michael: In biblical Hebrew, when something was going to happen in the future, it was often spoken as if it already happened in the past. This would make the sentence prophetic, meaning that the actions in the sentence were meant to take place in the future for sure, even if expressed with a past form. Let's see an example.
Lenny: .וְאֶשְׁתַּֽעֲשַׁ֥ע בְּמִצְוֹתֶ֗יךָ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָהָֽבְתִּי (va'esh'ta'a'she'a be'mits'vo'te'ikha a'sher aha'vti)
Michael: "And I will enjoy your commandments which I have loved." The verb
Lenny: אהבתי (ahav'ti)
Michael: means "I loved" and is in the perfect tense. Even if the verb is in the past tense, however, it actually refers to something that the speaker would do in the future. In modern Hebrew, the verb would be
Lenny: אוהב (ohav)
Michael: Which means "I will love," Let's go back to our sentence, which starts with the word
Lenny: ואשתעשע (va'esh'ta'a'she'a)
Michael: This is a verb in the future tense, and literally means "and I will have fun." It suggests to us that the actions presented in the rest of the sentence will happen in the future.
Michael: In this lesson, we learned about the biblical Hebrew's prophetic perfect tense. In prophetic Hebrew sentences, actions are sometimes described in the perfect tense, even if they are meant to take place in the future. In modern Hebrew, this never happens, as the past tense refers only to past actions and the future tense to future actions.
Cultural Insight
Michael: Before we end this lesson, did you know that elementary school students in non-religious schools usually begin studying the Bible as a subject from the second grade? They actually learn how to read it, and they learn about words and grammar that only existed in biblical Hebrew. More than religion studies, in the class, it is taught as a part of the history of the Jewish people and Israel.


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Lenny: !להתראות (lehitra'ot!)
Michael: See you soon!