I want to apologize in advance if this is not the type of question for this forum. I have been searching around and unfortunately there do not seem to be any places specifically for asking questions pertaining to the inner mechanics of Aramaic.

This is from the "Genesis Apocryphon", Column 22.

Col. 22.7: והוא רדף בתרהון עד דבק לדן ואשכח אנון...

I understand there is a vav conjunctive before the word. What puzzles me is why there is an א before the word. This should indicate imperfect 1cs (plus the vav makes it preterite). However, in context, this doesn't make any sense at all. It would be the only 1cs verb used in this entire passage. Everything else in this section is in the 3rd person. Why the random 1cs switch this one time? The translation I have is from Daniel Machiela, who translates it as 3rd person "he found...". So what is it supposed to be?

  • The aleph prefix, in this case, is likely equivalent to the Hebrew על meaning 'by' or 'on'. That "דבק לדן' and "שכח אנון" are place names. You might find The Practical Talmud Dictionary and Grammar for Gemara & Targum Onkelos by Rabbi Yitzchok Frank of great help in your efforts. You can find them on Amazon. They are excellent reference books. May 31, 2019 at 12:31
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    @YaacovDeane א as a prefix is equivalent to Hebrew על only in the Babylonian Talmud. אשכח אנון is a verb and its object (in the Aramaic of the Targumim you are more familiar with it is written as one word אשכחנון). It's not a place name
    – b a
    May 31, 2019 at 12:43
  • Always there is a aleph אשכחיה לפלוני is very frequently used in Gemara, נפק דק ואשכח
    – kouty
    May 31, 2019 at 12:46
  • @ba And the "Genesis Apocryphon" is according to which nusach? If you don't know with certainty, just say, "I'm not sure." May 31, 2019 at 13:29
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    @ba I'm not looking at the actual text, only the few words the OP has provided. It's talking about pursuing after them up to Davek (Devek?) in the territory of Dan and near or by Shachah Anon... If the complete text suggests another meaning, that's also fine. May 31, 2019 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


The CAL dictionary describes the root שכח as:

A highly irregular verb. The initial aleph is prothetic, but the resulting form is treated as a quasi afel, often with a preformative vowel in a instead of original e. Hence the active participle in mem, already in OfA, which even shows the distinctive heh of the early h/afel.

So the word is conjugated with an א prefix like an אפעל verb in the perfect aspect for every person (in this case third person masculine), but otherwise it is conjugated like a normal פְּעַל verb (e.g. infinitive למשכח). The letter ו in ואשכח is only conjunctive and has no effect on the aspect.

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