This study offers a synchronic and diachronic account of the Biblical Hebrew verbal tense system during the Second Temple period, based on the books of Esther, Daniel, and Ezra and Nehemiah, along with the non-synoptic parts of Chronicles. In analyzing the development of this system, Cohen discerns the changes that mark the transition from the classical era to the Second Temple period.
The book is divided into two main parts: a survey of previous research along with the methodology of the present study; and a descriptive analysis of the verbal system in late biblical prose literature. In the first section, the author discusses the eclectic nature of the biblical corpus, including the ramifications of this heterogeneity on linguistic efforts to formulate a synchronic structural account of its texts. Moreover, he surveys the principal linguistic concepts of tense, aspect, and mood, and the verbal paradigm’s complex nature. The second part of the book offers a synchronic account of the Second Temple period verbal system. It features a categorical breakdown and analysis of all the verb forms in the corpus’s prose texts. The author examines the reasons behind these changes by dint of a diachronic comparison with other strata of the Hebrew language—namely, biblical texts of the First Temple period, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the language of the Sages.