Verb Cohortative


The cohortative form is used to express indirect commands and other similar actions with varying degrees of desirability as determined by the context.


The Cohortative form looks very similar to the Imperfect but functions in a sentence more like an Imperative. Cohortative verbs appear only in first person forms. (Similarly, imperatives appear only in second person forms, and Jussive usually appear in third person forms.) A Cohortative verb does not carry the full force of a command (“We must do this!”), but it conveys a stronger meaning than a simple suggestion or statement of possibilty (“We could do this.”). The meaning is somewhere in the middle. In English, a Cohortative is often translated with a helping verb such as “let” or “want” or “will,” depending on the context (“Let us do this!” or “I want to do this!”). Thus, the Cohortative verb functions as an indirect command; the reader must examine the context to determine the strength of desirability being expressed in each specific instance.


Cohortative Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
Qal singular אֶקְטֹלָה ‘eqtolah let me kill
Qal plural נִקְטֹהלָה niqtohlah let us kill
Niphal singular אֶקָּטֵלָה ‘eqqatelah let me be killed
Niphal plural נִקָּטֵלָה niqqatelah let us be killed
Hiphil singular אַקְטִילָה ‘aqtilah let me cause to kill
Hiphil plural נַקְטִילָה naqtilah let us cause to kill
Piel singular אֲקַטֵּלָה ‘eqattelah let me slaughter
Piel plural נְקַטֵּלָה niqattelah let us slaughter
Hithpael singular אֶתְקַטֵּלָה ‘ethqattelah let me kill myself
Hithpael plural נִתְקַטֵּלָה nithqattelah let us kill ourselves


The Cohortative form can indicate any of the following kinds of actions:

Indirect commands

Example: ISA 2:5
בֵּ֖ית יַעֲקֹ֑ב לְכ֥וּ וְנֵלְכָ֖ה בְּא֥וֹר יְהוָֽה
beth ya’aqov lekhu wenelekhah be’or yehwah
House-of Jacob come and-let-us-walk in-light-of Yahweh.
House of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of Yahweh.

Actions of greater or lesser desirability

These may include instructions, requests, permissions, invitations, assurances, wishes, etc.

Example: JER 40:15
אֵ֤לְכָה נָּא֙ וְאַכֶּה֙ אֶת־יִשְׁמָעֵ֣אל בֶּן־נְתַנְיָ֔ה
‘elekhah na’ we’akkeh ‘eth-yishma’el ben-nethanyah
Let-me-go oh and-I-will-kill [dir.obj]_Ishmael son-of_Nethaniah
Allow me to go kill Ishmael son of Nethaniah.
Example: EXO 3:3
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֔ה אָסֻֽרָה־נָּ֣א וְאֶרְאֶ֔ה
wayyomer mosheh ‘asurah-nna we’er’eh
And-he-said Moses let-me-turn-aside_oh and-let-me-see
Moses said, “I will turn aside and see
Example: PSA 25:2
אֱלֹהַ֗י בְּךָ֣ בָ֭טַחְתִּי אַל־אֵב֑וֹשָׁה
‘elohay bekha vatahti ‘al-‘evoshah
My-God in-you I-trust not_let-me-be-ashamed
My God, I trust in you. Do not let me be humiliated