A passive participle is a non-finite verbal form with passive or reflexive voice that can function as a verb (or verbal complement), an adjective, or a noun. Passive participles most often function as either an attributive adjective or a predicative adjective.
Participles are non-finite verbal forms that can change their form based on stem formation (like verbs) as well as person, gender, state, and definiteness (like both adjectives and nouns). Participles are very flexible in their grammatical use and can function as a verbal complement, a finite main verb, an adjective, or a noun. In most cases, the context will clearly show how the participle is being used in the sentence. The meaning of a participle is usually clear, even in cases where its specific grammatical function cannot be determined precisely.
Passive participles express verbal action in either passive voice or reflexive voice. Passive voice means that the person/thing described by the participle receives the action expressed by the participle itself. Reflexive voice means that the person/thing described by the participle both performs and receives the action expressed by the participle itself.
Only the Qal stem has a distinct passive form for the participle; in all other cases, the passive (or sometimes reflexive) meaning is determined by the stem formation and the specific verb.
|masculine singular Absolute||קָטוּל||qatul||killer / killed|
|feminine singular Absolute||קְטוּלָה||qetulah||killer / killed|
|masculine plural Absolute||קְטוּלִים||qetulim||killers / killed|
|feminine plural Absolute||קְטוּלוֹת||qetuloth||killers / killed|
|masculine singular Absolute||נִקְטָל||niqtal||being killed|
|feminine singular Absolute||נִקְטָלָה||niqtalah||being killed|
|masculine plural Absolute||נִקְטָלִים||niqtalim||being killed|
|feminine plural Absolute||נִקְטָלוֹת||niqtaloth||being killed|
|masculine singular Absolute||מָקְטָל||moqtal||being caused to kill|
|feminine singular Absolute||מָקְטֶלֶת||moqteleth||being caused to kill|
|masculine plural Absolute||מָקְטָלִים||moqtalim||being caused to kill|
|feminine plural Absolute||מָקְטָלוֹת||moqtaloth||being caused to kill|
|masculine singular Absolute||מְקֻטַּל||mequttal||being slaughtered|
|feminine singular Absolute||מְקֻטֶּלֶת||mequtteleth||being slaughtered|
|masculine plural Absolute||מְקֻטְּלִים||mequttelim||being slaughtered|
|feminine plural Absolute||מְקֻטְּלוֹת||mequtteloth||being slaughtered|
|masculine singular Absolute||מִתְקַטֵּל||mithqattel||killing oneself|
|feminine singular Absolute||מִתְקַטֶּלֶת||mithqatteleth||killing oneself|
|masculine plural Absolute||מִתְקַטְּלִים||mithqattelim||killing oneself|
|feminine plural Absolute||מִתְקַטְּלוֹת||mithqatteloth||killing oneself|
A passive/reflexive participle is often used as an independent grammatical entity, although it can introduce entire clauses similar to the active participle. Passive participles are generally more limited in meaning than active participles. Passive participles are governed either by the main verb of a sentence or by the context. They can express action in past time, present time, future time, or without any specified timeframe.
Functions as an adjective¶
adjectival participle immediately follows the noun it describes, and matches that noun in gender, number, and definiteness.
An adjectival participle can either function as an adjective by itself or introduce an entire clause
that functions as an adjective (either attributive or predicative).
This is the most common use of the passive participle in Biblical Hebrew. An adjectival passive participle can function as either an attributive adjective or a predicative adjective. The context must determine whether a passive participle is functioning as a predicative adjective or as a main verb, because both appear the same in many instances.
The following example shows a passive participle functioning as an attributive adjective.
|לַעֲשׂ֤וֹת בָּהֶ֨ם׀ מִשְׁפָּ֬ט כָּת֗וּב|
|la’asoth bahem mishpat kathuv|
|to-do to-them judgment written|
|They will execute the judgment that is written|
The following example shows a passive participle functioning as a predicative adjective.
|וְהִנֵּ֧ה עֲבָדֶ֛יךָ מֻכִּ֖ים|
|wehinneh ‘avadeykha mukkim|
|and-behold your-servants beaten|
|We, your servants, are even beaten now|
The following example shows passive participles introducing an entire clause that functions as a predicative adjective.
|וְאָנֹכִ֣י תוֹלַ֣עַת וְלֹא־אִ֑ישׁ חֶרְפַּ֥ת אָ֝דָ֗ם וּבְז֥וּי עָֽם׃|
|we’anokhi thola’ath welo-‘ish herpath ‘adam uvezuy ‘am|
The subject of a verbal participle usually precedes the participle, in contrast to the normal conventions of Hebrew word order.
Functions as a finite main verb¶
When functioning as a main verb, the participle is governed by the context and has the potential to be translated as past time, present time, future time, or even without a specified timeframe. A verbal participle can express continuous, imminent, habitual, or even stative action as determined by the context.
The context must determine whether a passive participle is functioning as a main verb or as a predicative adjective, because both appear the same in many instances.
In the following example, the participle is in the first position, which is the normal Hebrew word order for finite verbs but not for participles.
|עֲזֻב֖וֹת עָרֵ֣י עֲרֹעֵ֑ר|
|‘azuvoth ‘are ‘aro’er|
|being-forsaken cities-of Aroer|
|The cities of Aroer will be abandoned|
|מָחָ֖ר אַתָּ֥ה מוּמָֽת|
|mahar ‘attah mumath|
|tomorrow you being-made-dead|
|tomorrow you will be killed|
Functions as a non-finite verbal complement¶
When functioning as a verbal complement, the participle is governed by the main verb of the sentence and has potential to be translated as past time, present time, or future time. A verbal participle can express continuous, imminent, habitual, or even stative action as determined by the context.
|הִ֣וא מוּצֵ֗את וְהִ֨יא שָׁלְחָ֤ה אֶל־חָמִ֙יהָ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר|
|hiw mutseth wehi sholhah ‘el-hamiha lemor|
|she being-brought-out and-she sent to_her-father-in-law saying|
|When she was brought out, she sent to her father-in-law a message|
Functions as a noun¶
nominal participle often takes the definite article (but not always),
and can either function as a noun by itself or introduce an entire clause that functions as a noun.
A nominal participle will appear in the construct state either when it takes a pronominal suffix
or when it is in a construct relationship with another noun in the absolute state.
|כְּכָל־הַכָּת֖וּב בְּסֵ֥פֶר הַתּוֹרָֽה׃|
|kekhol-hakkathuv besefer hattowrah|
|like-all_the-written in-book-of the-law|
|just as had been written in the book of the law|