A jussive is a third person verb. It expresses volition such as command (“let there be light”), benediction (“may he bless you”), or wish (“may the king live”). It’s form is nearly identical to the Imperfect. How can we distinguish an Imperfect (usually future) verb from a Jussive?

(1) The accent on a Jussive verb shifts one syllable toward the beginning of the word.

(2) The Jussive is at the beginning of its clause whereas an Imperfect does not come first in a clause (except a vac-conversive Imperfect).

(3) III-ה verbs with a II-י such as יהיה cut off the ה in the Jussive form, as in יהי.

(4) II-ו and II-י verbs are often spelled defectively in the Jussive form (they lose the vav or yod).

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Ruth 3:1-5

Translation helps for the second part of the course (Ruth 3-4) will only include information on less common words, tricky forms, and many of the verbs unless they are easy. For a refresher on special vocabulary useful to memorize for Ruth, see “Special Vocabulary in Ruth.”

Ruth 3:1

Question for class discussion: Why the unusual order after the opening verb, in which a pronoun referring to Ruth comes prior to the mention of Naomi, the speaker?

The ה in הֲלֹא is the interrogative. See Holladay, 75. Continue reading

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Ruth, Part 2, Class Schedule

The outline is from the JPS Commentary. The number of verses to be translated for each class is not even. On “heavy” weeks we will discuss meaning of the book a bit less and on “light” weeks we will spend more time on interpretation and discussion of relevance to theology and practice.

July 22 . . . Ruth 3:1-5 Naomi’s Daring Plan for Desperate Times
July 29 . . . Ruth 3:6-15 Ruth and Boaz on the Threshing Floor
August 5 . . . Ruth 3:16-18 Homecoming with Good News and Grain
August 12 . . . Ruth 4:1-12 Negotiations at the Gate: Redeeming Ruth
August 19 . . . Ruth 4:13-17 Betrothal, Birth, and More Blessings
August 26 . . . Ruth 4:18-22 Epilogue: Reweaving the Web of Life — The Concluding Genealogy

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Ruth 2:17-23 Translation Notes

VERSE 17: אֲשֶׁר־לִקֵּטָה uses אֲשֶׁר in the sense of “that which ___.” לִקֵּטָה is Piel Imperfect 3fs. כְּאֵיפָה is the preposition כ in front of the noun אֵיפָה, with the כ in this case meaning “approximately” (its general meaning is “like” and context gives us the sense). Continue reading

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Translation Notes, Ruth 2:4-16

This week is week 5 from the syllabus: Ruth 2:4-16. Wordplay in the Tanakh, Hebrew grammar (Hophal verbs, jussive forms of the verb). Reading: Esekenazi lii-lv, 31-42.

VERSE 4: יהוה עִמָּכֶם is a verbless clause (so the verb “is” is understood) and could be rendered “the Lord is with you.” Since the context is a blessing, it is reasonable to understand it as: “May the Lord be with you.” יְבָרֶכְךָ is the Imperfect (in a Jussive or “may he” sense) 3ms of ברך with the 2ms suffix and “the Lord” is the subject (with Boaz as the implied object). Continue reading

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Translation Notes, Ruth 2:1-3

It would be a good idea also to get a head start on next week’s passage (2:4-16) which will be much longer.


  • וַתֹּאמֶר vav-conversive 2fs אמר
  • רוּת הַמּוֹאֲבִיָּה Ruth the Moabitess.
  • אֶל–נָעֳמִי Is the preposition אֶל making Naomi the indirect object.
  • אֵלְכָה–נָּה Imperfect 1cs הלך with cohortative ה ending and particle of entreaty or courtesy נָּה attached. See article on “Cohortatives and the Particle of Entreaty.”
  • הַשָּׂדֶה noun with definite article.
  • וַאֲלַקֳטָה This is not a vav-conversive because the verb form is cohortative (asking permission). The vav here simply means “and.” Imperfect 1cs לקט with cohortative ה ending. Note the vowel under the ל, that it is pronounced “o” as in “low”.
  • בַשִּׁבֳּלִים The preposition ב prefixed to the masculine plural form of the noun שִׁבֹּלֶת
  • אַחַר has several meanings but is used here in the sense of “after” or “behind.”
  • אֲשֶׁר is the relative particle which can mean “that” or “which” or “who” to begin a clause. Ruth is asking permission to glean after “[one} who . . .” or “whomever . . .”
  • אֶמְצָא–חֵן Imperfect 1cs מצא with חֵן noun ms as the direct object of the verb.
  • בְּעֵינָיו The preposition ב is prefixed, followed by עֵינֵי (the plural construct (word pair form, genitive) of עַיִן), with the 3ms suffix ו attached.
  • וַתֹּאמֶר vav-conversive 2fs אמר
  • לָהּ The preposition ל with the 3fs suffix.
  • לְכִי Imperative (command verb) fs הלך
  • בִתִּי The noun בַּת with the 1cs suffix.

TRANSLATION COMMENTS, 2:1, 3-7. Continue reading

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Translation Notes, 1:19-22

For this week’s class: Ruth 1:19-22. Reading: Esekenazi xxxix-xlviii, 23-26. We will also talk about Shaddai, Hiphil and Niphal verbs, and more..


  • וַתֵּלַכְנָה is the vav-conversive 3fp of הלך.
  • שְׁתֵּיהֶם is the number two in construct (word pair, genitive) form with the 3mp suffix attached (“[the] two of them”). How can the suffix be masculine when the referents are female and the verb is feminine (we should expect שְׁתֵּיהֶן)? This may possibly be another example of words deliberately “mispronounced” to give an archaic effect to the story (although this example does not occur in the speech of Naomi, where most similar examples do). Continue reading

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