(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Bais Medrash (c) Torah.Org

Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 09:11:03 -0400
From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel)
Subject: RE: Reversing Vav in Hebrew

Susan Weintraub [BM V1n14] asks
>  >  Does anyone know the linguistic history of the reversing vav >  >

While I do not know the whole history I know one part of it. Namely, the rule

* Reversing Vav = Past Perfect
* Ordinary Past = Past Absolute

For example:

* Gen 4:1--And Adam "had known" his wife (vs And Adam knew his wife)--This
  incidentally is how Rashi derives that Kayin "had already" been born in Gan

* Gen 25:34--And Jacob "had given" (before Asauv sold his birthright--so he
  didn't blackmail him for food) to Asauv, bread .....

See Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's commentary on Gen 25:34

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d; ASA; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu