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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 103

§103. Prepositions with Pronominal Suffixes and in the Plural Form.

1. As all prepositions were originally nouns (§101) in the accusative, they may be united with the noun-suffixes (§91b–l), e.g. אֶצְלִי‎ (prop. at my side) by me, אִתִּי‎ (in my proximity) with me, תַּחְתָּם‎ (in their place) instead of them, like the Latin mea causa, for my sake.

Rem. 1. The preposition אֵת‎ (usually אֶת־‎) near, with, is distinguished from אֵת‎ (see below, and §117a, note 4), the sign of the definite accusative (§117a), in its connexion with suffixes, by a difference of pointing, the former making אִתִּי‎, אִתְּךָ‎, in pause אִתָּךְ‎, 2nd fem. אִתָּךְ‎ (Isaiah 54:10 אִתֵּךְ‎), אִתּוֹ‎, אִתָּהּ‎, אִתָּ֫נוּ‎, אִתְּכֶם‎, אִתָּם‎ (also in the later books, especially in Kings, and always in Jer. and Ezek., incorrectly אוֹתִי‎ with me; מֵֽאוֹתָךְ‎ from thee, 1 Kings 20:25; מֵֽאֹתוֹ‎ from him, 1 Kings 22:7; אֹתָם‎ with them), while the latter retains its ô (obscured from â) before the light suffixes, but before grave suffixes is pointed with Seghôl. This Seghôl is to be explained, with Praetorius, ZDMG. Iv. 369 f., as the modification of an ă which again was shortened from original â (in ʾâthî, ʾaîthô, &c.) in a closed syllable (ʾăth-hem, &c.). The same shortening and modification of the original â takes place before words in close connexion, hence אֶת־כֹּל‎, &c. When not in close connexion, the toneless אֶת‎ becomes tone-long אֵת‎, e.g. אֵת הַשָּׁמַ֫יִם‎ Genesis 1:1. Hence the following forms arise:—

Sing. Plur.
1. אֹתִי‎ me. אֹתָ֫נוּ‎ us.
m. אֹֽתְךָ‎, pause אֹתָךְ‎ אֶתְכֶם‎ you.
2.  thee    
f. אֹתָךְ‎‎ . . . . . . . . . . .
m. אֹתוֹ‎ him. אֹתָם‎, rarely אֶתְהֶם‎ them
f. אֹתָהּ‎ her. אֶתְהֶן‎, rarely אֹתָן‎
Less common are the plene, forms אוֹתִי‎, אֽוֹתְךָ‎ (Numbers 22:33 אֹֽתְכָה‎ before ה‎), אוֹתָךְ‎ (Exodus 29:35, אֹתָ֫כָה‎), אוֹתוֹ‎, אוֹתָהּ‎, אוֹתָ֫נוּ‎, אוֹתָם‎. Moreover, for אֶתְכֶם‎ we find אֽוֹתְכֶם‎ Joshua 23:15; for אֹתָם‎, five times אֶתְהֶם‎ (Genesis 32:1, Exodus 18:20, &c.), and in Ezekiel 23:45 אֽוֹתְהֶם‎; for אֶתְהֶן‎ (Genesis 19:8, &c. [13 times]), אֹתָן‎ (only found in Ezekiel 16:54; Exodus 35:26 אֹתָ֫נָה‎; Ezekiel 34:21 אוֹתָ֫נָח‎), and אֽוֹתְהֶן‎ Ezekiel 23:47.—No instance of the 2nd fem. plur. אֶתְכֶן‎ occurs in the O.T.; in Song of Solomon 2:7, &c., אֶתְכֶם‎ is used instead.

2. The preposition עִם־‎ with (with suffixes on the model of stems ע״ע‎, עִמִּי‎, עִמְּךָ‎ [1 Samuel 1:26 עִמְּכָה‎], in pause עִמָּךְ‎; 2nd fem. עִמּוֹ ;עִמָּךְ‎, עִמָּהּ‎) is united with the suffixes נוּ‎, כֶם‎, and הֶם‎ by a (pretonic) Qameṣ, which causes the sharpening of the Mêm to be distinctly audible: עִמָּ֫נוּ‎, עִמָּכֶם‎, עִמָּהֶם‎ (so in Numbers 22:12, Deuteronomy 29:16, both in principal pause, and often in very late passages, otherwise עִמָּם‎ is generally used). In the first person, besides עִמִּי‎, we also find עִמָּדִי‎ (probably from original ענדי‎; cf. Arab. ʿinda, beside, with).

3. It is but seldom that prepositions occur with verbal suffixes, as תַּחְתֵּ֫נִי‎ 2 Samuel 22:374048 (for which Psalms 18:374048 תַּחְתַּי‎), תַּחְתֶּ֫נָּה‎ Genesis 2:21 and בַּֽעֲדֵ֫נִי‎ Psalms 139:11 (here probably for the sake of the rhyme with יִשׁוּפֵּ֫נִי‎).[1]

2. When pronominal suffixes are added to the prefixes (§ 102), there appears occasionally, especially in the case of the shorter suffixes, an endeavour to lengthen the preposition, so as to give it more strength and body. Hence to בְּ‎ is appended the syllable מוֹ‎ (see below, k), and בְּ‎ and לְ‎ take at least a full vowel, בָּ‎ and לָ‎ (§102d, f).—The following deviations from the analogy of the noun with suffixes are to be noticed (a) in the pausal forms בָּךְ‎, לָךְ‎, אֹתְךְ‎, אִתָּךְ‎, עִמָּךְ‎ (not bèkhā, &c.); (b) in the similar forms with the suffix of the 2nd sing. fem. (not bēkh, &c.) and in בָּ֫נוּ‎, לָ֫נוּ‎, עִמָּ֫נוּ‎, &c. (not bēnû, &c.).

(a) לְ‎ with Pronominal Suffixes.

Sing. Plur.
1. c. to me. לְי‎ to us. לָ֫נוּ‎
2. m. to thee. לְךָ‎ (לְכָה‎), in pause לָךְ‎ to you. לָכֶם‎
f. לָךְ‎......... [לָכֶן‎[2]] לָכֶ֫נָה‎
3. m. to him. לוֹ‎ to them לָהֶם‎, לָהֵ֫מָּה‎ poet. לָ֫מוֹ‎
[53 times][3]
f. to her. לָהּ‎ לָהֶן‎,[4]לָהֵ֫נָּה‎

בְּ‎, takes suffixes in the same manner: בִּי‎, בְּךָ‎ (Exodus 7:29, 2 Samuel 22:30, Psalms 141:8 בְּכָה‎, as in Genesis 27:37, 2 Samuel 18:22, Isaiah 3:6 לְכָה‎ [for 2nd fem. לָךְ‎ the Kethîbh לכי‎ occurs in 2 Kings 4:2, Song of Solomon 2:13, cf. §91e]), בּוֹ‎, &c.; except that for the 3rd plur., besides בָּהֶם‎ (especially in the later books) and בָּהֵ֫מָּה‎ (only in Exodus 30:4, Exodus 36:1, Habakkuk 1:16; לָהֵ֫מָּה‎ only in Jeremiah 14:16), the form בָּם‎ is also used; and for the feminine, besides בָּהֵ֫נָּה‎ (three times), בָּהֵן‎ is found fifteen times, and בָּהֶן‎ only in 1 Samuel 31:7, Isaiah 38:16, Ezekiel 42:14.—According to the Masora, לֹא‎ is found fifteen times for לוֹ‎ (as conversely in 1 Samuel 2:16, 1 Samuel 20:2 לוֹ‎ for לֹא‎), e.g. Exodus 21:8, 1 Samuel 2:3, Isaiah 9:2, Psalms 100:3 (and, as has been conjectured, also Job 41:4); cf. Delitzsch on Psalms 100:3.—In Numbers 32:42, Zechariah 5:11, Ruth 2:14, the Masora requires לָהֿ‎ instead of לָהּ‎ (in all three places before a following tone-syllable; cf. §23k, and the analogous cases of the loss of Mappîq in §58g, §91e).

(b) כְּ‎ with Pronominal Suffixes.

Sing. Plur.
1. c. as I. כָּמ֫וֹני‎[5] as we. כָּמ֫וֹנוּ‎
2. m. as thou. כָּמ֫וֹךָ‎5 as ye. כָּכֶם‎, כָּכֵם‎, rarely כְּמוֹכֶם‎
f. ... .........
3. m. as he. כָּמ֫וֹהוּ‎ as they כָּהֵם‎, [כָּהֶם‎, כָּהֵ֫מָּה‎], כְּמוֹהֶם‎
f. as she. כָּמ֫וֹהָ‎ [כָּהֵן‎], כָּהֵ֫נָּה‎

(c) מִן־‎ with Pronominal Suffixes.

Sing. Plur.
1. c. from me. מִמֶּ֫נִּי‎ poet. מִנִּי‎ [4 times], in pause from us. מִמֶּ֫נּוּ‎
also מֶ֫נִּי‎ [6 times]
2. m. from thee. מִטְּךָ‎, in pause מִמֶּ֫ךָּ‎ from you. מִכֶּם‎
f. מִמּךְ‎ מִכֶּן‎
3. m. from him. מִמֶּ֫נּוּ‎, Job 4:12 in pause מֶ֫נְהוּ‎, [מִנֵּ֫הוּ‎ from them מֵהֶם‎, מֵהֵ֫מָּה‎ [twice],
or מִנֶּ֫הוּ‎: see below] Job 11:20 מִנְּהֶם‎
f. from her. מִמֶּ֫נָּה‎ מֵהֶן‎, מֵהֵ֫נָה‎ [7 times]

The syllable מוֹ‎ (in Arabic מָא‎=Heb. מָה‎ what) in כָּמ֫וֹנִי‎ (probably from כְּמָה אֲנִי‎, prop. according to what I, for as I) is, in poetry, appended to the three simple prefixes בְּ‎, כְּ‍‎, לְ‎, even without suffixes, so that בְּמוֹ‎, כְּמוֹ‎, לְמוֹ‎ appear as independent words, equivalent in meaning to בְּ‎, כְּ‍‎, לְ‎. Poetry is here distinguished from prose by the use of longer forms; in the case of מִן‎, on the other hand, it prefers the shorter, which resemble the Syriac and Arabic.

The form כָּהֶם‎, enclosed in brackets above, occurs only in 2 Kings 17:15 (in pause), כָּהֵ֫מָּה‎ only in Jeremiah 36:32 (in pause); כָּהֵן‎ (Baer following Qimḥi כָּהֶן‎) only in Ezekiel 18:14. Cf. Frensdorff, Massora Magna, p. 234 ff.—For בָּכֶם‎ as ye, Qimḥi requires בָּכֵם‎ (invariably or only in Job 16:4?); in Joshua 1:15, Judges 8:2, Ezra 4:2 Baer gives בָּכֶם‎.

With regard to מִן‎ with suffixes, מִמֶּ֫נִּי‎ from me is usually explained as arising, by a reduplication of מִן‎, from an original מנמני‎, just as מִמֶּ֫נּוּ‎ from him, from מנמנ-הו‎, identical in form with מִמֶּ֫נּוּ‎[6] from us, from מנמנ-נו‎, while מִמֶּ֫נָּה‎ from her, goes back to מנמנה‎. Far simpler, however, is Mayer Lambert’s explanation (REJ. xxiii. 302 ff.), that מִמֶּ֫נִּי‎, &c., have arisen from מִנֶּנִּי‎, &c., and that the forms of the suffixes are to be explained on the analogy of אֵינֶ֫נִּי‎, עוֹדֶ֫נּוּ‎, תַּחְתֶּ֫נָּה‎, §100o.—The bracketed form מִנֵּ֫הוּ‎, for which Baer, following Qimḥi and others, writes מִנֶּ֫הוּ‎, occurs only in Psalms 68:24, and is there regarded by Delitzsch, Hupfeld, and others (following Simonis) as a substantive (מֵן‎=portion). The expression מִן־הוּא‎ (for מִמֶּ֫נּוּ‎?) Isaiah 18:27 is very strange.—מֵהֵ֫מָּה‎ occurs only in Jeremiah 10:2, Ecclesiastes 12:12 (Job 11:20 מִנְּהֶ֑ם‎); מֵהֶן‎ (so Baer and Ginsburg, following the best authorities, instead of the ordinary reading מֵהֵן‎) only in Ezekiel 16:4752. 3. Several prepositions, especially those which express relations of space and time, are (like the German wegen) properly plural nouns (for the reason, see §124a), and are, therefore, joined with the pronominal suffixes in the form of the plural construct state, just like other plural nouns (§91g). On the other hand, the apparent connexion of אֶל־‎, עַד־‎, עַל־‎ with plural suffixes is explained from the ground-forms of those prepositions (from stems ל״ה‎) (אֲלַי) אֱלַי‎, עֲדַי‎, עֲלַי‎(contracted to אֱלֵי‎, אֲלֵי‎, &c.).[7]

Without suffixes these prepositions are—

אַחַר‎, more frequently אַֽחֲרֵי‎ (prop. hinder parts) behind, after.

אֶל־‎,[8] poet. [4 times in Job] also אֱלֵי‎ (region, direction), towards, to, according to.

בֵּין‎ (interval) between; the suffixes indicating the singular are added to the singular בֵּין‎, thus בֵּינִי‎, בֵּינְךָ‎, &c. (Genesis 16:5 בֵּינֶ֫יךָ‎, the second Yôdh is, however, marked with a point as critically doubtful; בֵּינָיו‎, which occurs three times, is only the Masoretic Qe for בֵּינוֹ‎, which is found e.g. in Genesis 30:36). On the other hand, the suffixes indicating a plural are attached to the plural forms בֵּינֵי‎ or בֵּינוֹת‎.

סָבִיב‎ (circuit) around, as a preposition, always has the plural form, sometimes masc. סְבִיבֶ֫יךָ‎, &c. [10 times], but much more frequently in the few. סְבִיבוֹת‎ (surroundings). In Ezekiel 43:17 סָבִיב אוֹתָהּ‎ is a corruption of סְבִיבֹתֶ֫יהָ‎; [in 1 Kings 6:5 סָבִיב אֶת‎ also is so contrary to usage, that it must be due to some textual error].

עַד־‎ (continuation, duration, from עָדָה‎) as far as, unto, poet. עֲדֵי‎ [12 times]. In Job 32:12 עָֽדֵיכֶם‎, with the ā retained in the secondary tone, is abnormal. Also in 2 Kings 9:18 for עַד־הֵם‎ read עָֽדֵיהֶם‎.

עַל־‎ upon, over (cf. the rare subst. עָל‎ height [see Lexicon], from עָלָה‎ to ascend), poet. עֲלֵי‎ [40 times, and 2 Qe].

תַּ֫חַת‎ under (prop. what is beneath). On תַּחְתֵּ֫נִי‎, &c.; cf. above, d. With Suffixes.

1 Sing. אַֽחֲרַי‎

(after me)


(between me)


(around me)


(beneath me)


(to me)


(unto me)


(on me)

2 S. m. אַֽחֲרֶ֫יךָ‎ בֵּֽינְךָ‎ סְבִֽיבוֹתֶ֫יךָ‎

& סְבִיבֶ֫יךָ‎

תַּחְתֶּ֫יךָ‎ אֵלֶ֫יךָ‎ עָדֶ֫יךָ‎ עָלֶ֫יךָ‎
2 S. f. אַֽחֲרַ֫יִךְ‎ סְבִֽיבוֹתַ֫יִךְ‎

& סְבִיבַ֫יִךְ‎

אֵלַ֫יִךְ‎ עָלַ֫יִךְ‎
3 S. m. אַֽחֲרָיו‎ בֵּינוֹ‎ סְבִֽיבוֹתָיו‎

& סְבִיבָיו‎

תַּחְתָּיו‎ אֵלָיו‎ עָדָיו‎ עָלָיו‎
3 S. f. אַֽחֲרֶ֫יהָ‎ סְבִֽיבוֹתֶ֫יהָ‎

& סְבִיבֶ֫יהָ‎

תַּחְתֶּ֫יהָ‎ אֵלֶ֫יהָ‎ עָדֶ֫יהָ‎ עָלֶ֫יהָ‎
1 Plur. אַֽחֲרֵ֫ינוּ‎




סְבִֽיבוֹתֵ֫ינוּ‎ תַּחְתֵּ֫ינוּ‎ אֵלֵ֫ינו‎ עָלֵ֫ינוּ‎
2 Pl. m. אַֽחֲרֵיכֶם‎ בֵּֽינֵיכֶם‎ סְבִיבֽוֹתֵיכֶם‎ תַּחְתֵּיכֶם‎ אֲלֵיכֶם‎ עָֽדֵיכֶם‎ עֲלֵיכֶם‎
3 Pl. m. אַֽחֲרֵיהֶם‎ בֵּֽינֵיחֶם‎

& בֵּֽינוֹתָם‎


& סְבִֽיבוֹתָם‎


usually תַּחְתָּם‎


& אֲלֵהֶם‎


[עָֽדֵיהֶם‎] עֲלֵיהֶם‎


3 Pl. f. אַֽחֲרֵיהֶן‎ תַּחְתֵּיהֶן‎ אֲלֵיהֶן‎

& אֲלֵחֶן‎

  1. Fînî and bînî (in me), in vulgar Arabic for fiyya and , are compared by Socin. Brockelmann, ZA. xiv. 347, note 1, suggests that תחתני‎, תחתנה‎, בעדני‎ are later formations on the model of מִמֶּ֫נִּי‎ when its origin from the reduplication of the preposition had become obscured, but see below, m.
  2. לָכֶן‎ does not occur in the O.T., by a mere accident, no doubt; Ezekiel 13:18 לָכֶ֫נָה‎.
  3. The question whether לָ֫מוֹ‎ can also stand for the sing. לוֹ‎, which Rödiger and recently W. Diehl (Das Pronomen pers. suff.... des Hebr., p. 20 f.) and P. Haupt (SBOT. on Proverbs 23:20, a contraction of la-humû) have altogether denied, must be answered in the affirmative unless we conclude with Diehl and Haupt that all the instances concerned are due to corruptions of the text. It is true that in such places as Genesis 9:2627, Deuteronomy 33:2, Isaiah 30:5, Psalms 73:10 (all in or immediately before the principal pause; in Deuteronomy 33:2 with Zaqeph qaṭon at least) לָ֫מוֹ‎ can be better explained as plural (in reference to collective nouns); and in Isaiah 53:8 for נֶ֫גַע לָ֫מוֹ‎ we should read with the LXX נִגַּע לַמָּ֫וֶת‎. On the other hand, in Isaiah 44:15 its explanation as plural would be extremely forced. Even then there would remain—presuming the traditional text to be correct—פָּנֵ֫ימוֹ‎ Psalms 11:7 and כַּפֵּ֫ימוֹ‎ Job 27:23, as well as עָלֵ֫ימוֹ‎, three times, Job 20:23, Job 27:23 (beside עָלָיו‎), and especially Job 22:2. In all these places the most extreme exegetical artifices can only be avoided by simply admitting a singular suffix (=פָּנָיו‎, כַּפָּיו‎, עָלָיו‎).—On the question of the antiquity of the suffixes in מוֹ‎ see §91l.
  4. The form לָהֵן‎ in Ruth 1:13 is Aramaic (=therefore).
  5. The use of נִי‎ here for ־ִי‎ (cf. above, d) might be due to euphonic reasons.—כָּמֹ֫נִי‎ (defectively) only in the Pentateuch, כָּמֹ֫ךָ‎ Exodus 15:11.
  6. The Babylonian Masora writes מִמֵּ֫נוּ‎ (to distinguish it from the 3rd sing.), which is justly blamed by Ibn Ezra.
  7. The reference of these forms to original plurals has been again expressly supported by De Lagarde, Symmicta, ii. 101 ff.; Nachrichten der G. g. G., 1881, p. 376, cf. Mittheilungen, 1884, p. 63; also GGA. 1884, p. 280 f. According to Barth, ZDMG. xlii. p. 348 ff., and Nominalbildung, p. 375 ff., תַּחְתֶּ֫יךָ‎, &c., was only formed on the analogy of עָלֶ֫יךָ‎, &c., and אַֽחֲרֶ֫יךָ‎ &c., only on the analogy of לִפְנֵי‎, &c., since the real plural forms ought to be תְּחָתֶ֫יךָ‎, אֲחָרֶ֫יךָ‎, &c.; cf., however, König, Lehrgebäude, ii. 305 f.
  8. On the use of this particle see §119g.
  9. As Mayer Lambert observes, usage (cf. esp. Genesis 26:28) distinguishes between the two forms: בינותינו‎, means between us and you, whereas בינינו‎ (Joshua 22:252728 before וביניכם‎) means between us on the one side.
  10. The poetical form אֵלֵ֫ימוֹ‎ only in Psalms 2:5; עָלֵ֫ימוֹ‎, on which see note 3 on f, 12 times [viz. Deuteronomy 32:23, Psalms 5:12, Psalms 55:16, Psalms 64:9, Job 6:16, Job 20:23, Job 21:17, Job 22:2, Job 27:23, Job 29:22, Job 30:25].
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