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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 139

§139. Expression of Pronominal Ideas by means of Substantives.

Analogous to the periphrases for expressing materials and attributes by means of substantives (§128o and p), is the use of substantives to represent certain kinds of pronominal ideas, for which no special expressions exist. Thus—

1. אִישׁ‎, אִשָּׁה‎ man, woman, are used to express—

(a) The idea of each, every (in the sense of each severally) with reference to persons,[1] and even animals (Genesis 15:10), e.g. Genesis 10:5, feminine Exodus 3:22; אִישׁ‎ is the object, e.g. in Jeremiah 12:15. On אִישׁ‎אִישׁ‎ cf. §123c.

In a few passages אִישׁ‎ in the above sense is placed for the sake of emphasis before the governing noun (always a substantive with a suffix), thus מִיַּד אִישׁ אָחִיו‎ Genesis 9:5, according to the usual explanation, stands for מִיַּד אֲחִי אִישׁ‎ at the hand of the brother of every man. But although the explanation seems to be supported by Genesis 42:25 and Numbers 17:17, it is inconceivable that such an inversion of nomen regens and rectum should occur. It is more likely, either that the second substantive is in apposition to אִישׁ‎ (thus Genesis 9:5 at the hand of every man, his brother, [unless it is a combination of the two readings מִיַּד אִישׁ‎ and מִיַּד הָֽאָדָם‎]; similarly 15:10 and he laid each or, more exactly, one piece of it, &c., and so probably also Numbers 17:17 every one, sc. his name), or אִישׁ‎ precedes as a kind of casus pendens, and only receives its nearer definition from the following substantive with suffix; thus Genesis 41:12, Genesis 42:25 (according to the context = to every one in his sack); 42:35, where צְרוֹר־כַּסְפּוֹ בְּשַׂקּוֹ‎ is virtually the predicate of אִישׁ‎; Exodus 12:4, Exodus 28:21, Numbers 5:10, Numbers 26:54, 2 Kings 23:35, and especially Zechariah 7:10.[2]

(b) Any one, some one, e.g. Genesis 13:16, Song of Solomon 8:7, with a negative no one;[3] so after אַל־‎ Exodus 16:19, 29; before לֹא‎ Genesis 23:6 and frequently.—Instead of אִישׁ‎ we sometimes find in a similar sense אָדָם‎ man, homo, e.g. Leviticus 1:2 (cf. כְּאַחַד הָֽאָדָם‎ as any one else, Judges 16:7, 11), נֶ֫פֶשׁ‎ (soul) person, Leviticus 2:1, Leviticus 5:1, &c., and in a neuter sense דָּבָר‎ (prop. word, thing) for anything, Genesis 18:14, or כָּל־דָּבָר‎ Leviticus 5:2, Numbers 31:23. With a negative דָּבָר‎ means nothing; thus after אַל־‎ Genesis 19:8; after לֹא‎ Ecclesiastes 8:5.—Cf. finally, מֵֽאַחַד‎ any one, Deuteronomy 15:7; anything, Ezekiel 18:10 (but in Leviticus 4:2, Leviticus 5:13 מֵֽאַחַת‎) and the expressions noticed in §144e. The latter include also instances like Ezekiel 18:32 I have no pleasure בְּמֹוֹת הַמֵּת‎ in the death of him that dieth, i.e. of any man.

(c) In connexion with אָחִיו‎ his brother or רֵעֵ֫הוּ‎ his neighbour, אִישׁ‎ one, masc. (as אִשָּׁה‎ one, fem., in connexion with אֲחוֹתָהּ‎ her sister or רְעוּתָהּ‎ her neighbour) is used to represent the ideas of alter—alter, the one—the other[4] (in reference to persons, animals, or things without life; see the Lexicon) or the idea of one another, e.g. Genesis 13:11 and they separated them selves אִישׁ מֵעַל אָחִיו‎ the one from the other; Exodus 26:3 five curtains (יְרִיעֹת‎ fem.) shall be coupled together אִשָּׁה אֶל־אֲחֹתָהּ‎ one to another.

2. נֶ֫פֶשׁ‎ soul, person expresses the idea of self,[5] both in the singular, Proverbs 19:8, 16, 29:24, Job 18:4 (in all cases נַפְשׁוֹ‎ equivalent to himself) and in the plural, Jeremiah 37:9, &c. Similar to this is the use of בְּקִרְבָּךְ‎ Genesis 18:12 (prop. in her inward part) in the sense of within herself.[6] 3. עֶ֫צֶם‎ bone (then metaphorically for substance) expresses the idea of self, selfsame, very same, in reference to things (as נֶ֫פֶשׁ‎ to persons, e.g. בְּעֶ֫צֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה‎ in the selfsame day, Genesis 7:13, cf. Joshua 10:27, Ezekiel 24:2; כְּעֶ֫צֶם הַשָּׁמַ֫יִם לָטֹהַר‎ as it were the very heaven for clearness, Exodus 24:10; בְּעֶ֫צֶם תֻּמּוֹ‎ in the very fullness of his strength (= in the midst of his full strength), Job 21:23.

4. The simple plural of words denoting time sometimes includes also the idea of a few, some;[7] thus יָמִים‎ a few days, Genesis 24:55, Genesis 40:4 (here even of a longer period, = for some time); Isaiah 65:20, Daniel 8:27 (on the other hand, Genesis 27:44, Genesis 29:20 יָמִים אֲחָדִים‎; see § 96 under אֶחָד‎); שָׁנִים‎ some years, Daniel 11:6, 8.

  1. As a rule אִישׁ‎ is used in the particularizing sense of each man, with the plural of the verb, e.g. Genesis 44:11; sometimes, however, as subject to a verb in the singular, e.g. Genesis 44:13.
  2. Cf. on the whole question the thorough discussion by Budde, Die bibl. Urgeschichte, p. 283 ff.: according to him, the words in Genesis 9:5 are to be rendered at the hand of one another (from men mutually) will I require it. [In support of this view, Budde points to Zechariah 7:10 בִּלְבַבְכֶם וְרָעַת אִישׁ אָהִיו אַל־תַּהְשְׁבוּ‎, which in the light of 8:17, וְאִישׁ אֶת־רָעַת רֵעֵהוּ אַל־תַּחְשְׁבוּ בִּלְבַבְכֶם‎, can only, he observes, be rendered ‘and devise not the hurt of one another in your heart’. So also König, Syntax, § 33.]
  3. Cf. also אֵין־אִישׁ‎ Genesis 39:11. On the expression of the idea of no one by means of אֵין‎ with a following participle, see the Negative Sentences, §152l.
  4. Elsewhere זֶה... זֶה‎ are used in a similar sense, Exodus 14:20, Isaiah 6:3; also הָֽאֶחָד... הָֽאֶחָד‎ 2 Samuel 14:6, or the substantive is repeated, e.g. Genesis 47:21 (from one end... to the other end).
  5. On the representation of this idea by pronouns, separate and suffixed, see §135a, i and k.
  6. In a similar way the idea of self in Arabic, as in Sanskrit (âtman), is paraphrased by soul, spirit; in Arabic also by eye; in Rabbinic by גּוּף‎ body, גֶּ֫רֶם‎ or עֶ֫צֶם‎ bone, in Ethiopic and Amharic by head, in Egyptian by mouth, hand, &c.; cf. also the Middle High German mîn lîp, dîn lîp, for ich, du. However, נֶ֫פֶשׁ‎ in such cases is never (not even in Isaiah 46:2 נַפְשָׁם‎ they themselves) a merely otiose periphrasis for the personal pronoun, but always involves a reference to the mental personality, as affected by the senses, desires, &c.
  7. Some in reference to persons in Exodus 16:20 is expressed by אֲנָשִׁים‎, and in Nehemiah 5:2–4 by יֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר‎ sunt qui, with a participle following.
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