If I understand the rules of the vav hahipuch properly, which reverses the tense of a word from past to future or vice-versa, where the accent is placed plays a big role.

For example, the word אהבת means "you loved" (with the accent on the penultimate syllable, the letter ה). If you add a vav, and keep the accent where it was, it remains in the same tense. Meaning, ואהבת, with the accent on the ה, means "and you loved". However, if you move the accent to the end, where the accent is on the ת, then it means "and you shall love".

With this premise (please feel free to correct me), I'm finding some curiosities in parshas Terumah. There are a lot of verbs, all starting with a vav hahipuch. As I stated, the accent is all at the end. For example:

Exodus 25:14:

וְהֵֽבֵאתָ֤ אֶת־הַבַּדִּים֙ בַּטַּבָּעֹ֔ת עַ֖ל צַלְעֹ֣ת הָאָרֹ֑ן לָשֵׂ֥את אֶת־הָאָרֹ֖ן בָּהֶֽם׃

Which means, you shall bring.

Exodus 25:16:

וְנָתַתָּ֖ אֶל־הָאָרֹ֑ן אֵ֚ת הָעֵדֻ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֶתֵּ֖ן אֵלֶֽיךָ׃

You shall place.

However, there are a lot of verbs, primarily ועשית, with the accent on the penultimate syllable. If we follow the rules I started with, that means they retain their past tense, even though there's a vav before it.

Some examples:

Exodus 25:11:

וְצִפִּיתָ֤ אֹתוֹ֙ זָהָ֣ב טָה֔וֹר מִבַּ֥יִת וּמִח֖וּץ תְּצַפֶּ֑נּוּ וְעָשִׂ֧יתָ עָלָ֛יו זֵ֥ר זָהָ֖ב סָבִֽיב׃

Notice וצפית has the accent at the end.

Exodus 25:12:

וְיָצַ֣קְתָּ לּ֗וֹ אַרְבַּע֙ טַבְּעֹ֣ת זָהָ֔ב וְנָ֣תַתָּ֔ה עַ֖ל אַרְבַּ֣ע פַּעֲמֹתָ֑יו וּשְׁתֵּ֣י טַבָּעֹ֗ת עַל־צַלְעוֹ֙ הָֽאֶחָ֔ת וּשְׁתֵּי֙ טַבָּעֹ֔ת עַל־צַלְע֖וֹ הַשֵּׁנִֽית׃

Exodus 25:13:

וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ בַדֵּ֖י עֲצֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֑ים וְצִפִּיתָ֥ אֹתָ֖ם זָהָֽב׃

Again, וצפית has the accent at the end.

Exodus 26:6:

וְעָשִׂ֕יתָ חֲמִשִּׁ֖ים קַרְסֵ֣י זָהָ֑ב וְחִבַּרְתָּ֨ אֶת־הַיְרִיעֹ֜ת אִשָּׁ֤ה אֶל־אֲחֹתָהּ֙ בַּקְּרָסִ֔ים וְהָיָ֥ה הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן אֶחָֽד׃

Notice וחברת has the accent at the end.

The examples are too numerous to list. What's the reason for this? Either grammatically, or if there's some deeper message here. I once asked a grammar expert and he wasn't sure, so we'll see what you guys come up with.

  • Someone told me to look into something called נסוג אחור
    – robev
    Jan 31, 2022 at 21:11
  • but that would only apply to וְיָצַ֣קְתָּ לּ֗וֹ, נסוג אחור is very simple concept, you cannot have two טעמים straight after each other, so when it is like in ויצקת, the stress should be מלרע it will be changed to מלעיל, in order to have a syllable without טעם between accented syllables.
    – havarka
    Jul 13, 2022 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


These are still "vav hahipuch". Joüon & Muraoka's Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Section 43b) has the following to say about the accent. (I can't display vowels sitting under hyphen, so I've replaced them with words in brackets.) Notably, there's no unified explanation for these, so it seems to be a phonological issue at play here.

In ל״א and ל״ה verbs the stress often does not advance. In this matter one can hardly formulate hard and fast rules. One can nevertheless note that [א preceded by kamats] and [י preceded by ḥiriq] tend to retain the stress more than [א preceded by tsere] and [י preceded by tsere] respectively. Moreover, it is necessary to distinguish between various conjugations, because the Qal conjugation deserves special treatment. Having said this, we can make the following observations1:

ל״א verbs: In Qal, the vowel [kamats] of action verbs and [tsere] of stative verbs retain the stress: וּבָ֫אתִי,‎ וְיָצָ֫אתָ, ‎ וְיָרֵ֫יתָ. In the other conjugations [tsere] loses its stress: וּמִלֵּיתָ֫, ‎ וְהֵבֵאתִ֫י,‎ וְהוֹצֵאתִ֫י.

ל״ה verbs: In Qal, the vowel [י preceded by ḥiriq] retains its stress, e.g. וְעָשִׂ֫יתָ‎ (89 examples), וְעָשִׂ֫יתִי‎ (20 x); וְהָיִ֫יתָ,‎ וְהָיִ֫יתִי. In the other conjugations, [י preceded by ḥiriq] generally retains the stress, but [י preceded by tsere] loses it; thus one finds וְהַעֲל‬ִ֫יתָ in Dt 27.6; Jdg 6.26; Jer 38.10, but וְהַעֲלֵיתָ֫ in Ex 40.4.

Observation. Before the gutteral א the form tends to be mil'ra (cf. Section 33). Thus instead of וּבָ֫אתָ one finds וּבָאתָ֫ before א, e.g. Zech 6.10; instead of וְהִשְׁקִ֫יתָ Dt 11.10 one finds וְהִשׁקִיתָ֫ את־ Nu 20.8; Jer 35.2.

1 When the penultimate is a closed syllable, the stress shifts to the ultima, and the same tendency exists where both the penultimate and the antepenultimate are naturally long. See C.H. Gordon, "The accentual shift in the perfect with a Waw consecutive," JBL 57 (1938) 319-25, and J. Blau, IOS 1 (1971) 15-18. F.R. Blake justly points to a major category of exceptions to Gordon's rule, namely וְהִקְטִ֫ילוּ and וְהִקְטִ֫ילָה: JBL 63 (1944) 285, n. 29. Cf. also E.J. Revell, "Stress and the 'Waw consecutive' in BH," JAOS 104 (1984) 437-44.
  • Thanks a lot for this insightful answer. You know anything about נסוג אחור and its relevance here?
    – robev
    Feb 1, 2022 at 20:30
  • @robev Nasog aḥor is not relevant here.
    – magicker72
    Feb 1, 2022 at 21:36

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