הוֹיָה vs הוֹוָה

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nili95

Member
English
In his commentary to Ex 9:3, Rashi writes:

behold, the hand of the Lord will be: Heb. הוֹיָה. This is the present tense, for so it is said in the feminine gender: in the past הָיְתָה, in the future ךְתִּהְיֶה, and in the present הוֹיָה, like עוֹשָֹה (does), רוֹצָה (wants), רוֹעָה (pastures).​

Referring to this verse, Robert Alter notes:

The verb "to be" in Hebrew is not suppose to have a participial, or present, tense. At this ominous and supernatural juncture, however, that verbal stem h-y-h yields an anomalous hoyah, rendered in this translation as "about to be." This strange usage involves a kind of fearsome pun on the divine name YHWH that was mysteriously highlighted in the Burning Bush episode.​

The NET Bible adds:

The form used here is הוֹיָה (hoyah), the Qal active participle, feminine singular, from the verb “to be.” This is the only place in the OT that this form occurs. Ogden shows that this form is appropriate with the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) to stress impending divine action, and that it conforms to the pattern in these narratives where five times the participle is used in the threat to Pharaoh (7:17; 8:2; 9:3, 14; 10:4). See G. S. Ogden, “Notes on the Use of הויה in Exodus IX. 3,” VT 17 (1967): 483-84.​

Given the above, I'm left with two questions.

First and foremost, why הוֹיָה (as per Rashi) instead of הוֹוָה (as shown in my Tarmon-Uval Hebrew Verb Tables and 501 Hebrew Verbs)?

Second, how would you translate the phrase following הִנֵּה? I've seen a few translations render it in the present tense while others cast it in the future.

For what it's worth ...
  • The Tyndale House SP shows היה.
  • I׳ve been told that Ex 9:3 "is not attested in any of the Qumran manuscripts of Exodus."
 
  • Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Why הוֹיָה and not הוֹוָה - maybe a stylistic preference, maybe an archaic form, maybe because this verb is rare in present tense (participle) so alternative forms are not unexpected. I couldn't find any compelling explanation. The verb table of the אקדמיה lists both variants.

    I see that many translations take הויה as "will be". But this is an interpretation rather than translation. רש"י, הרמב"ן among the Jewish commentators insist it's present tense.
     

    nili95

    Member
    English
    (deleted)
    Why הוֹיָה and not הוֹוָה - maybe a stylistic preference, maybe an archaic form, maybe because this verb is rare in present tense (participle) so alternative forms are not unexpected. I couldn't find any compelling explanation. The verb table of the אקדמיה lists both variants.

    I see that many translations take הויה as "will be". But this is an interpretation rather than translation. רש"י, הרמב"ן among the Jewish commentators insist it's present tense.
    Thank you.
     
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