Have Digged or Dug

How excellent is the Bible! For review:


Past Simple Tense – an action that started and finished in the past.


"God... spake in time past …" (Hebrews 1:1).


Present Perfect Tense – an action started in the past and continues at the time time of writing.


"…Hath [has,third person] in these last days spoken by his Son…”

Now check out how this understanding of grammar illuminates a text:

“…that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well” (Gen. 21:30).


Abraham, in a dispute with Abimelech over the ownership of this well, makes it clear where he stands.


He does not say, ‘I have dug this well’– for “dug” is the past simple tense. It would have told Abimelech he started and finished this action, in the past. It leaves the door open for another to take control. Maybe he dug it (finished in the past), but he then left it. In the interim, another could legitimately claim it.


He said “have digged” – an action started in the past and continues to this point. With grammar we see Abraham has not finished the action, the dirt is still fresh and the sweat is still on the his men’s hands. It was not finished in the past, it continues; therefore, another has no right to claim it.


So in reproving Abimelech with this type of speech, he leaves him no room for rebuttal. Phicol couldn’t step in and say, ‘yeah, maybe you dug it, but our guys found it, cleaned it, and revived it.’ Abraham made it clear – have digged– he started it before; and the work, his attention to it, continues even until now. The well, without a doubt, is his.


It’s a small and precise thing.

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