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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 125

§125. Determination of Nouns in general. Determination of Proper Names.
Brockelmann, Grundriss, i. 466 ff.

1. A noun may either be determinate in itself, as a proper name or pronoun (see below, d and i), or be made so by its context. In the latter case, the determination may be effected either by prefixing the article (see § 126), or by the connexion of the noun (in the construct state) with a following determinate genitive, and consequently also (according to §33c) by its union with a pronominal suffix (§127a). It is to be taken as a fundamental rule, that the determination can only be effected in one of the ways here mentioned; the article cannot be prefixed to a proper name, nor to a noun followed by the genitive, nor can a proper name be used in the construct state. Deviations from this rule are either only apparent or have arisen from a corruption of the text.

Rem. Only in a few passages is a noun made expressly indeterminate by the addition of אֶחָד‎ in the sense of our indefinite article; cf. Exodus 16:33, Judges 9:53, Judges 13:2, 1 Samuel 1:1, 1 Samuel 7:9, 12, 1 Kings 13:11, 1 Kings 19:4, 1 Kings 20:13, 1 Kings 22:9, 2 Kings 4:1, 2 Kings 8:6, 2 Kings 12:10, Ezekiel 8:8, Daniel 8:3, Daniel 10:5 (in 8:13 אֶחָד קָרוֹשׁ‎ i.e. one, viz. a holy one, is opposed to another).

It is further to be noticed, that in Hebrew the phenomenon sometimes occurs, which the Arab grammarians call indeterminateness for the sake of amplification; e.g. Isaiah 31:8 and he shall flee מִפְּנֵי־חֶ֫רֶב‎ from a sword, i.e. from an irresistible sword (God’s sword); cf. Isaiah 28:2 בְּיָד‎; 2 Samuel 6:2 שֵׁם‎; Hosea 3:1 אִשָּׁה‎ such a woman, without doubt to be referred to the Gomer mentioned in cap. 1; Amos 6:14 גּוֹי‎; Psalms 77:16 בִּזְרֹעַ‎; Proverbs 21:12 צַדִּיק‎, if with Delitzsch it is to be referred to God; Job 8:10 מִלִּים‎ meaning important words, but in 15:13 מִלִּין‎ reproachful words. Cf. on this point, §117q, note 3, and Delitzsch, Psalmen, ed. 4, p. 79.

2. Real proper nouns, as being the names of things (or persons) only once met with, are sufficiently determinate in themselves. Such names, therefore, as יהוה‎, דָּוִד‎, יַֽעֲקֹב‎, כְּנַ֫עַן‎, סְדֹם‎ do not admit of the article,[1] nor can they be in the construct state. On the other hand, not only gentilic names (as denoting the various individuals belonging to the same class), but also all those proper names, of which the appellative sense is still sufficiently evident to the mind, or at least has been handed down from an earlier period of the language, frequently (often even as a rule) take the article (according to §126e), and may even be followed by a genitive.

Examples. Like the above-mentioned proper names of individuals, countries, and cities, so also national names, which are identical in form with the name of the founder of the race (e.g. יִשְׂרָאֵל‎, אֱדֹם‎, מוֹאָב‎), are always determinate in themselves. Of gentilic names (e.g. הָֽעִבְרִי‎ the Hebrew, הָֽעִבְרִים‎ the Hebrews, Genesis 40:15; הַכְּנַֽעֲנִי‎ the Canaanite) the plural פְּלִשְׁתִּים‎, even when meaning the Philistines, is generally used without the article (but in 1 Samuel 4:7, &c., הַפְּ׳‎); so always כַּפְתֹּרִים‎.—Evident appellatives (like such modern names as the Hague, le Havre) are הַגִּבְעָה‎ the hill, in the construct state גִּבְעַת שָׁאוּל‎, i.e. the Gibeah named after Saul to distinguish it from others; הָֽרָמָה‎ the height; הָעַי‎ the heap; הַלְּבָנוֹן‎ (prop. the white mountain) the Lebanon; הַיְאֹר‎ (prop. the river) the Nile, cf. Amos 8:8 כִּיאוֹר מִצְרָֽיִם‎ like the river of Egypt; הַיַּרְדֵּן‎ the Jordan (according to Seybold, Mittheil. und Nachr. des DPV., 1896, p. 11, probably the drinking-place [ירד‎, Arab. warada, meaning orig. to go down to drink]).

Rem. 1. In a few instances original appellatives have completely assumed the character of real proper names, and are therefore used without the article; thus אֱלֹהִים‎ God, to denote the one true God (as elsewhere יהוה‎) Genesis 1:1 and so generally in this document of the Pentateuch up to Ex 6, elsewhere sometimes הָֽאֱלֹהִים‎ ὁ θεός (cf. §126e); also the sing. אֱלוֹהַּ‎ God, עֶלְיוֹן‎ the Most High, and שַׁדַּי‎ the Almighty never take the article.—Moreover, אָדָם‎ Adam from Genesis 5:1 onwards (previously in 2:7, &c., הָֽאָדָם‎ the first man); שָׁטָן‎ Satan, 1 Chronicles 21:1 (but Zechariah 3:1, Job 1:6, &c., הַשָּׂטָן‎ the adversary); cf. אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד‎ the tent of revelation (i.e. the tabernacle), always without the article.

To the class of nouns originally appellative, which the language regards as proper names, and which consequently never take the article, belong also certain archaic words mostly used only by poets, such as שְׁאוֹל‎ Hades, תֵּבֵל‎ world, תְּהוֹם‎ ocean, of the body of water which encircles the earth, Genesis 1:2, &c.; but Isaiah 63:13, Psalms 106:9 בַּתְּהֹמוֹת‎ through the depths, viz. of the Red Sea.[2]

2. When nouns which the usage of the language always treats as proper names occasionally appear to be connected with a following genitive, this is really owing to an ellipse whereby the noun which really governs the genitive, i.e. the appellative idea contained in the proper name, is suppressed. So evidently in the case of יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת‎ Yahweh (the God) of hosts; the fuller form יהוה אֱלֹהֵי צְבָאוֹת‎ 2 Samuel 5:10, &c., or יהוה אֱלֹהֵי הַצְּבָאוֹת‎ Amos 3:13, &c., is a secondary expansion of the original יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת‎; אֱלֹהִים צְבָאוֹת‎ in Psalms 59:6, Psalms 80:15, 20, 84:9 is due to the mechanical substitution of אֱלֹהִים‎ for יהוה‎ affected in the 2nd and part of the 3rd book of the Psalms. So also in geographical names such as אוּר כַּשְׂדִּים‎ Ur (the city) of the Chaldees, Genesis 11:28; אֲרַם נַֽהֲרַ֫יִם‎ Aram (the region) of the two rivers; בֵּית לֶ֫חֶם יְהוּדָה‎ Bethlehem (the city) of Judah; אָבֵל בֵּית מַֽעֲכָה‎ 2 Samuel 20:14, &c., to distinguish it from אָבֵל מַ֫יִם‎ Abel by the water, 2 Chronicles 16:4; יָבֵישׁ גִּלְעָד‎ 1 Samuel 11:1, &c.; יַרְדֵּן יְרֵחוֹ‎ Numbers 22:1, Numbers 26:3, 63, &c.; on Judges 8:32 cf. §128c; צִיּוֹן קְדֹוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל‎ the Zion of the Holy One of Israel, Isaiah 60:14; but in 1 Samuel 1:1 for צוֹפִים‎ read צוּפִי‎ a Zuphite. Some of these examples (cf. also Amos 6:2) come very near to the actual construct state (cf. above, גִּבְעַת שָׁאוּל‎), since e.g. the addition of the genitive serves to distinguish the place from four others called Aram (see the Lexicon), or from another Bethlehem. Aram, Bethlehem, &c., are accordingly no longer names found only in one special sense, and therefore also are no longer proper names in the strictest sense.

3. Of the pronouns, the personal pronouns proper (the separate pronouns, § 32) are always determinate in themselves, since they can denote only definite individuals (the 3rd person, also definite things). For the same reason the demonstrative pronouns (§ 34) are also determinate in themselves, when they stand alone (as equivalent to substantives), either as subject (Genesis 5:29) or as predicate (e.g. זֶה הַיּוֹם‎ this is the day, Judges 4:14; אֵ֫לֶּה חַדְּבָרִים‎ these are the words, Deuteronomy 1:1), or as object (e.g. אֶת־זֹאת‎ 2 Samuel 13:17), or as genitive (מְחִיר זֶה‎ 1 Kings 21:2), or finally when joined to a preposition (לְזֹאת‎ Genesis 2:23; בָּזֶה‎ 1 Samuel 16:8, see §102g).

So also the personal pronouns הוּא‎, הִיא‎, הֵם‎, הֵ֫מָּה‎, הֵ֫נָּה‎ when they are used as demonstratives (=is, ea, id, ille, &c.) are always determinate in themselves, e.g. הוּא הַדָּבָר‎ that is the thing, Genesis 41:28. They are made determinate by the article, when they are joined like adjectives (see §126u) with a determinate substantive, e.g. חָאִישׁ חַזֶּה‎ this man; הָֽאֲנָשִּׁים הָאֵ֫לֶּה‎ these men; בַּיָּמִים הָהֵ֫מָּה וּבָעֵת הַהִיא‎ in those days, and in that time, Joel 4:1. The demonstrative, however, even in this case, is frequently used without the article, as being sufficiently determinate in itself (cf. §126y).

  1. Consequently, הַֽמְנַשֶּׁח‎ Deuteronomy 3:13, Joshua 1:12, &c. (in the Deuteronomist) in the combination שֵׁבֶט הַֽמְנַשֶּׁה‎ (for which elsewhere שֵׁבֶט מְנַשֶּׁה‎) is to be regarded not as a proper name but as a gentilic name (= the tribe of the Manassites), for which in Deuteronomy 29:7 שׁ׳ הַֽמְנַשִּׁי‎ is used, as in 10:8 שׁ׳ הַלֵּוִי‎ the tribe of the Levites, and in Judges 18:1 שּׁ׳ הַדָּנִי‎ the tribe of the Danites.—In Joshua 13:7 הַֽמְנַשֶּׁה‎ (like gentilic names in ־ִי‎) is even used adjectivally.
  2. That various other words, such as אֱנוֹשׁ‎ man, צַלְמָ֫וֶת‎ deep darkness, רֹזֵן‎ prince, שָׁדַי‎ field, תּֽוּשִׁיָּה‎ effectual working, are always found without the article is not to be attributed to any special archaism, but is to be explained from the fact that they belong solely to poetic language, which avoids the article; in other cases, such as תַּרְדֵּמָה‎ deep sleep, there is no occasion for the article in the passages we possess.
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