5

I'm wondering how frequently each of the binyanim (grammatical conjugations) occur in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)?

I would be happy with either quantities or percentages. So either of the following approaches to the list would be fine:

  • Qal appears 123,456 times, Niphal appears 78,901 times, . . .

  • 23% of all verbs appearing in the OT are Qal, 45% are Niphal, . . .

Please include the Qal, Niphal, Piel, Pual, Hiphil, Hophal, and Hithpael in your list.

Ideally I'd like you to cite your source so I have some confidence in the figures.

I would prefer statistics for the Leningrad Codex, but if it's easier to answer using another source, that's fine, just let me know what manuscript(s) you're using.

  • 1
    Having added the answer below (and even encouraged supplementing the data) I'm not at all sure this question should be regarded as "on-topic". We'll see what the community thinks. – Dɑvïd Jan 9 '15 at 8:27
  • As @Davïd has pointed out, this is technically off topic topic since it is not focused on understanding a specific text. However, I'm glad to see you got a good answer (and it will remain for others to find) :) – Dan Jan 9 '15 at 13:47
  • 1
    @Davïd my reading of the meta discussion about this sort of question is that it is on-topic if it's not a language question that could be asked independent of the texts. – Jack Douglas Jan 9 '15 at 14:57
9

From: B. Waltke and M. O'Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Eisenbrauns, 1990), § 21.2.3e, p. 361:

           +-------------+------+------------+------+
           |      Occurrences   |      Roots used*  |
           |         #     %    |        #     %    |
+----------+-------------+------+------------+------+
| Qal      |     49180   | 68.8 |     1115   | 71.2 |
| Niphal   |      4140   |  5.8 |      435   | 27.8 |
| Piel     |      6450   |  9.0 |      415   | 26.5 |
| Pual     |       460   |  0.6 |      190   | 12.1 |
| Hithpael |       830   |  1.2 |      175   | 11.2 |
| Hiphil   |      9370   | 13.1 |      505   | 32.2 |
| Hophal   |       400   |  0.6 |      100   |  6.4 |
| Other    |       680   |  0.9 |      130   |  8.3 |
+----------+-------------+------+------------+------+
| Total    |     71510   |      |     1565   |      |
+----------+-------------+------+------------+------+

*The number 1,565 represents the total number of verbal roots used in Biblical Hebrew; 
since many roots occur in more than one stem...this number is substantially less than 
the sum of the roots used in each stem. The figures in the last column represent the 
percentages of all verbal roots (that is, of 1,565), used in each stem.
  

N.b. Waltke/O'Connor take these numbers from the statistical tables found as appendices to Vol. 3 of E. Jenni & C. Westermann (eds), Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (Hendrickson, 1994).

For comparison, here are the numbers as found by: BibleWorks (v. 7); Accordance (using Groves-Wheeler Westminster Hebrew Morphology v. 4.18); and the SHEBANQ data:

           +---------------+---------------+---------------+
           |   Bibleworks  |   Accordance  |    SHEBANQ    |
           +-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
           |   #   ·   %   |   #   ·   %   |   #   ·   %   |
+----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
| Qal      | 50402 ·  69.1 | 50030 ·  68.9 | 50171 ·  68.1 |
| Niphal   |  4163 ·   5.7 |  4162 ·   5.8 |  4147 ·   5.6 |
| Piel     |  6472 ·   8.9 |  6482 ·   8.9 |  6816 ·   9.3 |
| Pual     |   422 ·   0.6 |   417 ·   0.6 |   495 ·   0.7 |
| Hithpael |   842 ·   1.2 |   840 ·   1.2 |   962 ·   1.3 |
| Hiphil   |  9494 ·  13.0 |  9377 ·  12.9 |  9409 ·  12.8 |
| Hophal   |   396 ·   0.5 |   390 ·   0.5 |   427 ·   0.6 |
| Other    |   771 ·   1.1 |  1017 ·   1.4 |  1252 ·   1.7 |
+----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
| Total    | 72962 · 100.0 | 72715 · 100.0 | 73679 · 100.0 |
+----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+

The three main "lessons" from this data, it seems to me, are:

  • the massive dominance of the Qal;
  • for passive binyanim, the dominance of the Niphal; seen more starkly when disagreggating actives and passives:
+-----------+---------------+---------------+
|           |   Bibleworks  |   Accordance  |
|  Actives  +-------+-------+-------+-------+
|           |   #   |    %  |   #   |   %   |
+-----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
| Qal (all) | 50402 |  75.9 |   -   |   -   |
| Qal (act.)|   -   |   -   | 48975 |  75.5 |  
| Piel      |  6472 |   9.8 |  6482 |  10.0 |
| Hiphil    |  9494 |  14.3 |  9377 |  14.5 |
+-----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|           | 66368 | 100.0 | 64834 | 100.0 |
+-----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+

+-----------+---------------+---------------+
|           |   Bibleworks  |   Accordance  |
| Passives  +-------+-------+-------+-------+
|           |   #   |    %  |   #   |   %   |
+-----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+                       
| Niphal    |  4163 |  83.6 |  4162 |  69.1 |
| Qal pas.  |   -   |   -   |  1055 |  17.5 |
| Pual      |   422 |   8.5 |   417 |   6.9 |
| Hophal    |   396 |   8.0 |   390 |   6.5 |
+-----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|           |  4981 | 100.0 |  6024 | 100.0 |
+-----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  • and the importance of the Qal:Piel:Hiphil network for the "system".

HT: @Susan for contributing Accordance data

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.