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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 105

בִּי‎ (see the Lexicon) I beseech, hear me! נָא‎ pray![1] used to emphasize a demand, warning, or entreaty, and always placed after the expression to which it belongs.[2]

  1. נָא‎ serves to express the most various shades of expression, which are discussed in the various parts of the syntax. It is used especially (a) after the imperative, either in commands or entreaty, see §110d; (b) with the imperfect, either in the cohortative (§108b) or jussive (§109b); (c) once with perfect, Genesis 40:14; (d) after various particles: הִנֵּה־נָא‎ behold now; particularly after the conjunctions אַל‎ and אִם‎: אַל־נָא‎ ne quaeso and אִס־נָא‎ if now, εἴπερ, εἴποτε if, in a deprecatory sense, expressive of politeness or modesty. In Numbers 12:13 נָא‎ stands after a noun; but we ought certainly to read אַל־נָא‎.—In polite language this particle is used constantly in all these ways, Genesis 18:34, Genesis 19:7819, and Genesis 50:17.
  2. Against the usual view which regards נָא‎ as a hortatory particle (=up! come! analogous to the original imperatives הָ֫בָה‎ and לְכָה‎ and the Ethiopic năʿâ, properly hither, also come!), P. Haupt, in the Johns Hopkins University Circulars, xiii, no. 114, p. 109, justly observes that we should then expect the particle to be prefixed to the imperative, &c. He proposes to describe נָא‎ as an emphatic particle. Haupt’s suggested identification of this נָא‎ with the Assyrian, Arabic, and Ethiopic particle (which is also an enclitic of emphasis), and ultimately with the interrogative , we shall not discuss here.
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