Participle Passive

Summary

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. In Biblical Hebrew, passive participles most often function as either an attributive adjective or a predicative adjective.

Article

In Biblical Hebrew, 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.

Note

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.

Form

Qal Passive Participle Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
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
Niphal (usually passive or reflexive voice) Passive Participle Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
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
Hophal Passive Participle Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
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
Pual Passive Participle Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
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
Hithpael (usually reflexive voice) Passive Participle Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
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

Function

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; thus, they can express action in past time, present time, future time, or without any specified timeframe.

Functions as an adjective

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 (compare EXO 5:16 and 1SA 19:11).

The following example shows a passive participle functioning as an attributive adjective.

Example: PSA 149:9
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.

Example: EXO 5:16
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.

Example: PSA 22:7
וְאָנֹכִ֣י תוֹלַ֣עַת וְלֹא־אִ֑ישׁ חֶרְפַּ֥ת אָ֝דָ֗ם וּבְז֥וּי עָֽם׃
we’anokhi thola’ath welo-‘ish herpath ‘adam uvezuy ‘am
and-I worm and-not_man scorned-of humanity and-despised-of
people
But I am a worm and not a man, a disgrace to humanity
and despised by the people.

Functions as a finite main verb

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 (compare 1SA 19:11 and EXO 5:16). In the following example, the participle is in the first position, which is the normal word order for finite verbs but not for participles.

Example: ISA 17:2
עֲזֻב֖וֹת עָרֵ֣י עֲרֹעֵ֑ר
‘azuvoth ‘are ‘aro’er
being-forsaken cities-of Aroer
The cities of Aroer will be abandoned
Example: 1SA 19:11
מָחָ֖ר אַתָּ֥ה מוּמָֽת
mahar ‘attah mumath
tomorrow you being-made-dead
tomorrow you will be killed

Functions as a non-finite verbal complement

Note

The subject of a verbal participle usually precedes the participle, in contrast to the normal conventions of Hebrew word order.

Example: GEN 38:25
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

Example: JOS 8:34
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