Niphal (Niph˓al)

1. The essential characteristic of this conjugation consists in a prefix to the stem. This exists in two forms:
(a) the (probably original) prepositive nă, as in the Hebrew perfect and participle, although in the strong verb the ă is always attenuated to ĭ: נִקְטַל‎ for original nă-qăṭăl, participle נִקְטָל‎, infinitive absolute sometimes נִקְטוֹל‎;
(b) the (later) proclitic in (as in all the forms of the corresponding Arabic conjugation vii. ˒inqătălă), found in the imperfect יִקָּטֵל‎ for yinqāṭēl, in the imperative and infinitive construct, with a secondary ה‎ added, הִקָּטֵל‎ (for hinqāṭēl), and in the infinitive absolute הִקָּטֹל‎ The inflexion of Niph˓al is perfectly analogous to that of Qal.

The features of Niph˓al are accordingly in the perfect and participle the prefixed Nûn, in the imperative, infinitive, and imperfect, the Dageš in the first radical. These characteristics hold good also for the weak verb. In the case of an initial guttural, which cannot take Dageš forte, the emission of the strengthening invariably causes the lengthening of the preceding vowel.

2. As regards its meaning, Niph˓al bears some resemblance to the Greek middle voice, in being—
(a) primarily reflexive of Qal, e.g. נִלְחַץ‎ to thrust oneself (against), נִשְׁמַר‎ to take heed to oneself, φυλάσσεσθαι, נִסְתַּר‎ to hide oneself, נִגְאַל‎ to redeem oneself; cf. also נַֽעֲנֶה‎ to answer for oneself. Equally characteristic of Niph˓al is its frequent use to express emotions which react upon the mind; נִחַם‎ to trouble oneself, נֶֽאֱנַח‎ to sigh (to bemoan oneself, cf. ὀδύρεσθαι, lamentari, contristari); as well as to express actions which the subject allows to happen to himself, or to have an effect upon himself (Niph˓al tolerativum), e.g. דָּרַשׁ‎ to search, to inquire, Niph. to allow oneself to be inquired of, Is 65:1, Ez 14:3, &c.; so the Niph. of מָצָא‎ to find, יָסַר‎ to warn, to correct, Jer 6:8, 31:18, etc

(b) It expresses reciprocal or mutual action, e.g. דִּבֶּר‎ to speak, Niph. to speak to one another; שָׁפַט‎ to judge, Niph. to go to law with one another; יָעַץ‎ to counsel, Niph. to take counsel, cf. the middle and deponent verbs βουλεύεσθαι (נוֹעַץ‎), μάξεσθαι (נְלְחַם‎), altercari, luctari (נִצָּה‎ to strive with one another) proeliari.

(c) It has also, like Hithpa˓ēl and the Greek middle, the meaning of the active, with the addition of to oneself (sibi), for oneself, e.g. נִשְׁאַל‎ to ask (something) for oneself (1 S 20:6,20:28, Neh 13:6), cf. αἰτοῦμαί σε τοῦτο, ἐδύσασθαι χιτωσνα to put out on (oneself) a tunic.

(d) In consequence of a looseness of thought at an early period of the language, Niph˓al comes finally in many cases to represent the passive of Qal, e.g. יָלַד‎ to bear, Niph. to be born; קָכַר‎ to bury, Niph. to be buried. In cases where Qal is intransitive in meaning, or is not used, Niph˓al appears also as the passive of Pi˓ēl and Hiph˓îl, e.g. כָּבֵד‎ to be in honour, Pi˓ēl to honour, Niph. to be honoured (as well as Pu˓al כֻּבַּד‎); כָּחַד‎ Pi˓ēl to conceal, Hiph. to destroy, Niph. passive of either. In such cases Niph˓al may again coincide in meaning with Qal (הָלָה‎ Qal and Niph. to be ill) and even take an accusative

Examples of denominatives are, נִזְכַּר‎ to be born a male, Ex 34:19 (from זָכָד‎; but probably הַזָּכָר‎ should here be read); נִלְבַּב‎ cordatum fieri, Jb 11:12 (from לֵבָב‎ cor); doubtless also נִבְנָה‎ to obtain children, Gn 16:2, 30:3.

The older grammarians were decidedly wrong in representing Niph˓al simply as the passive of Qal; for Niph˓al has (as the frequent use of its imperat. shows), in no respect the character of the other passives, and in Arabic a special conjugation (˒inqătălă) corresponds to it with a passive of its own. Moreover, the forms point to a differently formed passive of Qal.—The form נְגֹֽאֲלוּ‎ Is 59:3, La 4:14, is not to be regarded as a passive of Niph˓al, but with König and Cheyne as a forma mixta, in the sense that the punctuators intended to combine two optional readings, נִגְאֲלוּ‎, perf. Niph., and גֹּֽאֲלוּ‎, perf. Pu˓al. Although the passive use of Niph˓al was introduced at an early period, and became tolerably common, it is nevertheless quite secondary to the reflexive use.

Rem. 1 The infin. absol. נִקְטוֹל‎ is connected in form with the perfect, to which it bears the same relation as קָטוֹל‎ to קָטַל‎ in Qal, the ô in the second syllable being obscured from an original â. Examples are, נִכְסֹף‎ Gn 31:30; נִלְחֹם‎ Ju 11:25; נִשְׁאֹל‎ 1 S 20:6,20:28, all in connexion with the perfect.

Examples of the form הִקָּטֹל‎ (in connexion with imperfects) are, הִנָּתֹן‎ Jer 32:4; הֵֽאָכֹל‎ Lv 7:18; once אִדָּרשׁ‎ Ez 14:3, where, perhaps, the subsequent אִדָּרֵשׁ‎ has led to the substitution of א‎ for ה‎.—Moreover, the form הִקָּטֵל‎ is not infrequently used also for the infin. absol.,[4] e.g. Ex 22:3, Nu 15:31, Dt 4:26, 1 K 20:39.

On the other hand, כְּהִנָּדֵף‎ should simply be read for the wholly abnormal כְּהִנְדֹּף‎, ψ 68:3 (commonly explained as being intended to correspond in sound with the subsequent תִּנְדֹּף‎ but probably a ‘forma mixta’, combining the readings כְּהִנָּדֵף‎ and כִּנְדֹף‎). Elision of the ה‎ after prepositions is required by the Masora in בִּכָּֽ֫שְׁלוֹ‎ Pr. 24:17 (for בְּהִכָּ׳‎), בֵּֽהָרֵג‎ Ez 26:15 and בֵּֽעָטֵף‎ La 2:11; also in verbs ל״ה‎ Ex 10:3 (לֵֽעָנוֹת‎); 34:24, Dt 31:11, Is 1:12 (לֵֽרָאוֹת‎); in verbs ע״וּ‎ Jb 33:30 (לֵאוֹר‎). It is, however, extremely doubtful whether the infin. Qal of the Kethîbh is not rather intended in all these examples; it certainly is so in La 2:11, cf. ψ 61:3.

2. Instead of the Ṣere in the ultima of the imperfect, Pathaḥ often occurs in pause, e.g. וַיִּגָּמַֽל‎ Gn 21:8; cf. Ex 31:17, 2 S 12:15 (with final שׁ‎); 17:23 (with ק‎); Jon 1:5 (with מ‍‎). In the 2nd and 3rd plur. fem. Pathaḥ predominates, e.g. תִּזָּכַ֫רְנָה‎ Is 65:17; Ṣere occurs only in תֵּֽעָגֵ֫נָה‎ Ru 1:13, from עגן‎, and hence, with loss of the doubling, for תֵּֽעָגֵ֫נָּה‎; cf. even תֵּֽאָמַֽנָה‎ Is 60:4.—With Nûn paragogicum in the 2nd and 3rd plur. masc. are found, יִלָּֽכְדוּן‎, תִּלָּֽהֲמוּן‎, &c., in pause יִבָּֽהֵלוּן‎, תִּשָּֽׁמֵדוּן‎, &c.; but Jb 19:24 (cf. 24:24) יֵהָֽצְבֽוּן‎.

51n 3. When the imperfect, the infinitive (in ē), or the imperative is followed in close connexion by a monosyllable, or by a word with the gone on the first syllable, the tone is, as a rule (but cf. וַיֵּאָֽבֵק אִישׁ‎ Gn 32:25), shifted back from the ultima to the penultima, while the ultima, which thus loses the tone, takes Seghôl instead of Ṣere; e.g. יִכָּ֫שֶׁל בָּהּ‎ Ez 33:12; וַיֵּעָ֫חֶר לוֹ‎ Gn 25:21; in the imperative, 139.—So always הִשָּׁ֫מֶר לְךָ‎ (since לְךָ‎ counts as one syllable) Gn 24:6, &c., cf. 1 S 19:2; and even with Pathaḥ in the ultima, תֵּעָ֫זַב אָ֑רֶץ‎ Jb 18:4 (but cf. וַיֵּעָֽתֵ֫ר אֱלֹהִים‎ 2 S 21:14). Although in isolated cases (e.g. Gn 32:25, Ezr 8:23) the tone is not thrown back, in spite of a tone-syllable following, the retraction has become usual in certain forms, even when the next word begins with a toneless syllable; especially after {{GHGheb|text=ו consec., e.g. וַיִּשָּׁ֫אֶר‎ Gn 7:23; וַיִּלָּ֫חֶם‎ Nu 21:1 and frequently, וַיִּצָּ֫מֶד‎ 25:3; and always so in the imperative הִשָּׁמֶר‎ Ex 23:21, Jb 36:21, and (before Metheg of the counter-tone) Dt 24:8, 2 K 6:9. On the avoidance of pausal-forms in the imperative (Am 2:12 with Silluq, Zc 2:11 with Athnaḥ), and imperfect (Pr 24:4, &c.) ; on the other hand, always הִמָּלֵט‎, יִמָּלֵט‎, &c.

In the imperative, נִקְבְּצוּ‎, for הִקָּֽבְצוּ‎, with the rejection of the initial ה‎, occurs in Is 43:9, and in Joel 4:11 in pause נִקְבָּ֑צוּ‎ (cf. נִלְווּ‎ Jer 50:5); but in these examples either the reading or the explanation is doubtful. The 2nd sing. imperat. of נִשְׁבַּע‎ is always (with ־ָה‎ paragogicum) הִשָּׁ֫בְעָה לִּי‎ swear to me, Gn 21:23, &c. (also הִשָּֽׁבְעָה לִי‎ Gn 47:31, 1 S 30:15).

4. For the 1st sing. of the imperfect, the form אִקָּטֵל‎ is as frequent as אֶקָּטֵל‎, e.g. אִדָּרֵשׁ‎ I shall be inquired of, Ez 14:3; אִשָּׁבֵעַ‎ I will swear, Gn 21:24; cf. 16:2, Nu 23:15, Ez 20:36, and so always in the cohortative, e.g. אִנָּֽקְמָה‎ I will avenge me, Is 1:24; cf. 1 S 12:7, Ez 26:2, and in the impf. Niph. of פ״ו‎. The Babylonian punctuation admits only ĭ under the preformative of the 1st person.

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