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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 132

§132. Connexion of the Substantive with the Adjective.[1]

1. The adjective (like the participle used adjectivally), which serves as an attribute of a substantive, stands after the substantive, and agrees with it in gender and number, e.g. אִישׁ גָּדוֹל‎ a great man, אִשָּׁה יָפָה‎ a beautiful woman. If the substantive is immediately connected with a genitive, the attribute follows the latter, since, according to § 89 and §128a, the construct state and the genitive belonging to it are inseparably united, e.g. Esther 8:15 עֲטֶ֫רֶת זָהָב גְּדוֹלָה‎ a great crown of gold.— On the attribute when attached to a determinate substantive, see above, §126u. Rem. 1. Where an adjectival attribute appears to stand before its substantive (according to the usual explanation, for the sake of special emphasis) the relation is really appositional in character; thus, Isaiah 10:30 עֲנִיָּה עֲנָתוֹת‎ O thou poor one, Anathoth! (but probably עֲנִ֫יהָ‎ answer her, is to be read); cf. 23:12, 53:11 (a righteous man, my servant; but in 28:21 זָר‎ and נָכְרִיּ‎ are predicates preceding the substantives); Jeremiah 3:6, 10 f., Psalms 18:4 him who is worthy to be praised will I call upon the Lord; 92:12 (apposition after participles).—But רַבִּים‎ and רַבּוֹת‎ many, are sometimes placed, like numerals, before the substantive, Jeremiah 16:16, Nehemiah 9:28 (in Psalms 145:7 רַב‎ is a subst. regens, in 89:51 the text is corrupt); an appositional relation can scarcely be intended in these instances.

2. In a few expressions (mostly poetic) the adjective appears not as an attribute after the substantive, but in the construct state governing it; so in the singular, Exodus 15:16 (unless גֹּדֶל‎ should be read); 1 Samuel 16:7 (the height of his stature); in the plural, 1 Samuel 17:40 חַלֻּקֵי אֲבָנִים‎ smooth ones of (among) stones, i.e. smooth stones; Isaiah 35:9, Ezekiel 7:24, Psalms 46:5, and with a following collective instead of a plural, e.g. Isaiah 29:19 אֶבְיוֹנֵי אָדָם‎ the poor among men, i.e. poor men; Jeremiah 49:20, Zechariah 11:7; cf. in Latin canum degeneres. However, in almost all these cases the adjective which is made into a regens is strongly emphatic, and is frequently equivalent to a superlative (see below, §133g).

3. When two adjectives follow a feminine, sometimes only that standing next to the noun takes the feminine termination, e.g. 1 Kings 19:11 רוּחַ גְּדֹלָה וְחָזָק וגו׳‎ (but read גָּדוֹל‎); 1 Samuel 15:9 (but cf. §75y); Jeremiah 20:9, Psalms 63:2. A similar dislike of the feminine form may also be observed in the case of verbal predicates referring to feminine subjects, cf. §145p and t.

When an attribute qualifies several substantives of different genders, it agrees with the masculine, as being the prior gender (cf. §146d), e.g. Nehemiah 9:13 חֻקִּים וּמִצְוֹת טוֹבִים‎; Jeremiah 34:9, Zechariah 8:5.

When three attributes follow a substantive, the first two may stand without a conjunction, and the last be attached by wāw copulative, cf. Zechariah 1:8.

4. After feminines plural ending in ־ִים‎ (§87p) the adjectival attribute (in accordance with the fundamental rule stated above, under a) takes the ending וֹת‎, e.g. Isaiah 10:14 בֵּיצִים עֲזֻבוֹת‎ forsaken eggs; Genesis 32:16. For a strange exception see Jeremiah 29:17 (differently in 24:2).

5. With regard to number it is to be remarked that—

(a) Substantives in the dual are followed by adjectives (or participles) in the plural, e.g. Psalms 18:28 (Proverbs 6:17) עֵינַ֫יִם רָמוֹת‎ haughty eyes; Isaiah 35:3, Job 4:3 f., cf. §88a.

(b) Collective ideas are not infrequently joined with the plural of the adjective or participle (constructio ad sensum); thus, e.g. צֹאן‎ sheep [with fem. plur.], Genesis 30:43, 1 Samuel 25:18; עַם‎=men, 1 Samuel 13:15, Isaiah 9:1; כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל‎=all the Israelites, 1 Samuel 2:14; גָּלוּת‎=the exiles, Jeremiah 28:4; cf. also נֶ֫פֶשׁ שְׁנָ֫יִם‎ two souls, Genesis 46:27.[2] Cf. similar phenomena in the connexion of collectives with plural predicates in §145c.

(c) The pluralis excellentiae or pluralis maiestatis is joined, as a rule, to the singular of the attribute, e.g. Psalms 7:10 אֱלֹהִים צַדִּיק‎; 2 Kings 19:4, 16 (=Isaiah 37:4, 17); Isaiah 19:4; but cf. אֱלֹחִים חֶיִּים‎[3] Deuteronomy 5:23, 1 Samuel 17:26, 36, Jeremiah 10:10, Jeremiah 23:36, perhaps also Exodus 20:3 אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים‎= another god, and Joshua 24:19 אֱלֹהִים קְדשִׁים‎ (but cf. above, §124gk). On the other hand, 1 Samuel 4:8 is to be explained as having been said by the Philistines, who supposed that the Israelites had several gods. On the connexion of אֱלֹהִים‎ with a plural predicate, see §145i.

2. On the adjective (in the construct state) governing a following genitive, see §128x; for the participle in the same construction, see §116f–l.

  1. On the expression of attributive ideas by substantives, cf. above, §127h, and §128o, with the note; §135n and §141c (substantives for adjectives as predicates of noun-clauses) and §152u (periphrases for negative qualities). On the use of the feminine of adjectives (and participles) to express abstract ideas, see §122q. It remains to mention further the employment (mostly only in poetry) of certain epithets in place of the substantives to which the quality in question belongs; e.g. אָבִיר‎ the strong one, i.e. God; אַבִּיר‎ the strong one, i.e. the bull (in Jeremiah 8:16, &c., the horse); קַל‎ swift=the runner (of the horse, Isaiah 30:16); לְבָנָה‎ alba, i.e, luna; פֹּֽרִיָּה‎ (fructifera) a fruitful tree, Isaiah 17:6 (so פֹּרָת‎ Genesis 49:22); רֹבֵץ‎ a croucher, i.e. a crouching beast of prey, Genesis 4:7. Cf. also רֹזֵן‎ (gravis, augustus) and נָשִׂיא‎ (elatus ?), i.e. a prince. The use of adjectives and participles for substantives is much more extensive in Arabic. In Greek and Latin poetical language cf. such examples as ὑγρή = the sea; merum for vinum, &c.
  2. But it is impossible to take תְּמִימִם‎ in Ezekiel 46:6 as an attribute of בָּקָר‎; probably it is a correction intended to harmonize the passage with Numbers 28:11 where two young bullocks are required.
  3. Cf. 1 Samuel 28:13, where אֱלֹהִים‎ (in the sense of a spirit) is followed by עֹלִים‎ as a second accusative; conversely in 1 Samuel 19:13, 16, a singular suffix refers back to תְּרָפִים‎ household god (but not so in Genesis 31:34), as in Psalms 46:4 to the plural of amplification יַמִּים‎ sea. On the other hand, it is very doubtful whether רַבָּה‎ Psalms 78:15 is to be regarded as an attribute of תְּהֹמוֹת‎ and not rather as the adverb, abundantly.
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