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finding all non-Qal verbs with the command line

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

The professors at GCTS often test students in Hebrew exegesis/grammar courses by requiring the students to parse all non-Qal verbs.

As the reference librarian, I’ve been asked a few times how to run a search in BibleWorks for all non-Qal verbs so that the student identify them at a glance and concentrate their study “where it counts”.

One way of doing it would be this:


The letters in between the left and right brackets represent an “or” search of all stems but the Qal.

One student was able to achieve the same search by using the Graphical Search Engine and using an “exclusion” list to exclude any Qal verbs.

I thought that there would be a third way. I tried the following search (with my search limited only to the Book of Jonah):


The first set of parentheses would look for all verbs. The second set of parentheses would then search for all Qal verbs, but the exclamation point set in between the two sets of parentheses would “negate” the second set. Unfortunately, this does not work. When I perform the search given above, I only get 1 hit.

Now that I think of it, I understand why… The search above looks for VERSES not words. It looks for verses that have verbs and then negates all verses that have Qal verbs. This results in a single hit in Jonah 2:2, where there is only a single verb, and that verb is not a Qal, but rather a Hithpael.

So, I posed the question to the BW forums:

Is there a way to negate on a word by word level? So that one could do something like this:

I know that this search does not work, but I was wondering if there’s anything that might work like this.

Boy oh boy, I do love the BW forums! I got an answer from MBushell (a guy who’s pretty familiar with BW ;) ). He noted that the following search would work:


Indeed it does!

13841 verses, 9676 forms, 22560 hits, and only 4.53 seconds later, I was able to do a search on all non-Qal verbs in the entire Old Testament (not just Jonah). I then used the Color Filter to highlight all these verbs, so that I can see them at a glance in the text. I’ve been using BW since 4.0, and I never came across the use of the caret ^ in BW searches, but it sure comes in handy!

Update: I just tried a similar search in the BGM, trying to find non-indicative verbs in James, and I could not get it to work. Back to the forums!