The Qal Passive form and Isaiah 9:5

In the video for Isaiah 9:5b I noted that the verb יֻלַּד could be taken as a Pu”al Perfect of ילד or a Qal Passive Perfect of ילד.  In the video I stated that I believe the form is a Qal Passive Perfect, but then I proceeded to explain how it could be parsed as a Pu”al Perfect.  In this post I will briefly explain why I take the form יֻלַּד as a Qal Passive Perfect.

For my explanation I am leaning on Gesenius-Kautzsch (who in turn leans on the grammarian Friedrich Böttcher).

If a form resembles a Pu”al Perfect:

  • AND the verbal root does not occur in the Pi”el Perfect (which is the active form of the Pu”al)
    • OR the the verbal root does occur in the Pi”el Perfect, only with a different meaning
  • THEN, the form is a Qal Passive Perfect.

This is where a good lexicon comes in handy.  In the lexicon (I’m looking at the Brown-Driver-Briggs) you’ll notice that the verbal root ילד does not occur in the Pi”el Perfect, but it does occur in the Qal Perfect.  So it is more likely that the verb יֻלַּד is a remnant of the Qal Passive Perfect.

This is not some newfangled idea.  Early Jewish grammarians like Samuel ha-Nagid and ibn Ǵanâḥ argued for Qal Passive Perfects.  In all fairness, other Jewish grammarians, like David Ḳimḥi, would agree with BDB and label יֻלַּד a Pu”al Perfect.

Why does this even matter?  Generally, if the action of the Qal is going to be put in the passive, the Niphal or the rare Qal Passive forms will be used.  Likewise the active action of the Pi”el will be put in the Pu”al for the passive.  See my friendly reminder on the Derived Stems in the Hebrew 101 link.


  1. Gesenius-Kautzsch, §52e.
  2. Joshua Blau, Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew, p. 217.
  3. Fuller and Choi, Biblical Hebrew Syntax (forthcoming), §7a.
  4. Joüon-Muraoka, §58a.
  5. William Chomsky, David Ḳimḥi’s Hebrew Grammar (Mikhlol), 88-89.


Published by Richard C. McDonald

I am married to Nancy McDonald and we have two boys, Noah and Stephen. I am a high school history teacher at Whitefield Academy in Louisville, KY. I am also an adjunct instructor of Old Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College. I am a fan of LSU, and college football in general. My family and I are members at Sojourn Church-JTown in Louisville, KY.

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