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Hebrew - Verb forms - the stems

There are 7 stems of Hebrew verbs:
  1. Qal - Simple Active
  2. Niph‘al - Simple Passive (sometimes reflexive)
  3. Pi‘êl - Intensive Active (sometimes causative)
  4. Pu‘al - Intensive Passive
  5. Hithpa‘êl - Reflexive (also an intensive stem)
  6. Hiph‘îyl - Causative Active
  7. Hoph‘al - Causative Passive
These are now explained more fully.


This most commonly functions as the simple active stem of the word. It is the standard form under which (most) verbs are listed in a lexicon.


This most commonly serves as simple passive:
  1. In contrast to Qal as simple active
    lâkhad (he captured) --> nilekad (he was captured)
  2. sometimes reflexive:
    çâthar (he hid [a thing]) --> niçetar (he hid himself)
  3. Where there is no Qal root, can function in its place:
    nisheba‘ (he swore)


This most commonly functions as the intensive active stem of the word, exhibited by daghesh forte in the middle consonant (or vowel lengthening). It functions:
  1. As an intensification of Qal:
    nâshaq (he kissed) --> nishsheq (he kissed repeatedly)
  2. In a number of cases, as a causative much like the Hiphîyl. in most cases these are stative or weak verbs:
    ’âbad (he perished) --> ’ibbad (he destroyed)
    qâdash (he was holy) --> qiddash (he consecrated)
  3. Where there is no Qal root, sometimes used as simpole active, often with weak verbs:
    biqqêsh (he sought)


This is the passive of the Pi‘êl and is more uniform and predictable. It again doubles the middle consonant or shows vowel lengthening.
hillêl (he praised) --> hullal (he was praised)


Normally a reflexive action, with variations:
  1. Regular:
    ’âmêts (he was strong) --> hith’amêts (he strengthened himself)
  2. Sometimes similar to Qal:
    hithpallêl (he prayed/interceded)
  3. Before sibilants ç, s or sh, interchange the prefix th and the sibilant to ease pronunciation:
    "hithçattêr" (he hid himself) --> hiçtattêr
  4. before sibilant ts, there is an additional change:
    "hithtsqddê" (he justified himself) --> hitstaddêq --> hitstaddêq
  5. Before d, t or t, assimilate the prefix to form daghesh forte:
    "hithtahêr" (he purified himself) --> hittahêr


Normally the passive form of Qal, but with some variations. Often found with weak verbs.
  1. Normal use:
    yâda‘ (he knew) --> hôdîya‘ (he caused to know)
    shâkhan (he dwelled) --> hishkîyn (he caused to dwell)
  2. In a declaratory sense, that someone is in a certain state of being:
    tsâdêq (he was righteous/just) --> hitsdîyq (he declared righteous/he justified)
  3. Sometime more like Qal, especially if there is no Qal root:
    kârath (he cut off) --> hikrîyth (he cut off/he destroyed)
  4. Sometimes none of the above: must be understood from context


The passive form of Hiphîyl, mostly found with weak verbs:
hêbîy’ (he brought, from bôw’) --> hûbâ’ (he was brought)
hikâh (he smote, root nkh) --> hukâh (he was smitten)
himlîykh (he made [someone] king) --> hâmlakh [=homlakh] (he was made king)
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