Hebrew grammar lesson

It occurs to me that you could use classic Final Fantasy character classes to illustrate Biblical Hebrew’s verbal stems.

What is a stem? A stem is a modification that a verbal root undergoes in order to add nuance to the action of the verb. The names for these Hebrew stems, incidentally, are onomatopoeic, giving you an idea of what they often sound like.







Qal Stem

This is the basic stem used to express simple actions: he goes, you serve, I drink, etc. It’s also the simplest in terms of spelling; indeed, all the other stems are derived from the qal stem. In that respect, it’s much like the Freelancer class which Final Fantasy V starts you off with – a default class with can perform any basic action and use any sort of equipment, but which lacks any unique abilities of its own.

white mage





Niphal Stem

This one is usually used to describe passive action, but can also be used for the middle voice (nonexistent in english), reflexive action and the like. But usually it’s passive stuff like, “she was found” or, “they were called.” Similarly, the White Mage typically does stuff to your party rather than your enemies – usually healing your wounds, but also will have a couple of other tricks in their ability list.






Piel Stem

The piel is sometimes described as expressing an intensive action (“he destroyed”), sometimes as bringing about a state of affairs (uh, “he destroyed”). It can also be factitive, which is a fancy way of saying that it can turn nouns into verbs. In any event, if you’re using the piel stem, you’re probably getting stuff done. Similarly, the Knight class is the bread and butter of offense, clearing the way for the rest of your party.

blue mage





Pual Stem

In short: similar to the piel stem, but passive in nature. “She is blessed” for instance. Kinda like how Blue Mages grow by having stuff happen to them; take a flamethrower to the face and live, and now you can do the same (real life doesn’t work like this).

time mage





Hiphil/Hophal Stems

Typically used to express causal action, with hiphil being active, and hophal being passive. “They made him king” versus, “he was made king.” Closely bound up with causality is our understanding of temporality, so no doubt these stems can be represented by the Time Mage, who effects both your party and your enemies. They can cause someone to move faster, cause someone to stop entirely, cause your party to warp out of a dungeon. All sorts of causal stuff happening here.







This last major stem is often reserved for expressing reflexive or reciprocal action. “He girded himself”, “they walked together.” Now, teaming up to do an action together is sort of like the Summoner and their Eidolon/Esper, working together to win the battle.

There are also more obscure and rare stems like polel or hishtaphel, and these are sort of like those weird classes like cannoneer or mime which are often hidden within the game.

Wasn’t that educational?

About Josh W

Scribbler and doodler
This entry was posted in fragments of culture, Our Allies in Nippon, pop culture and its discontents, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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