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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 35

§35. The Article.

J. Barth, ‘Der heb. u. der aram. Artikel,’ in Sprachwiss. Untersuch. zum Semit., Lpz. 1907, p. 47 ff.

1. The article, which is by nature a kind of demonstrative pronoun, never appears in Hebrew as an independent word, but always in closest connexion with the word which is defined by it. It usually takes the form הַ‌ּ‎, with ă and a strengthening of the next consonant, e.g. הַשֶּׁ֫מֶשׁ‎ the sun, הַיְאֹר‎ the river, הַֽלְוִיִּם‎ the Levites (according to §20m for הַיְּאֹר‎, הַלְּוִיִּם‎).

Rem. With regard to the Dageš in יְ‎ after the article, the rule is, that it is inserted when a ה‎ or ע‎ follows the יְ‎ e.g. הַיְּהוּדִים‎ the Jews, הַיְּעֵפִים‎ the weary (כַּיְעֵנִים‎ Lamentations 4:3 Qe is an exception), but הַיְאוֹר‎, הַיְלָדִים‎, הַיְסוֹד‎, &c. Dageš forte also stands after the article in the prefix מְ‍‎ in certain nouns and in the participles Piʿēl and Puʿal (see §52c) before ה‎, ע‎ and ר‎, except when the guttural (or ר‎) has under it a short vowel in a sharpened syllable; thus הַמְּהוּמָה‎ Ezekiel 22:5, הַמְּעָרָה‎ the cave, בַּמְּרֵעִים‎ Psalms 37:1 (cf. Job 38:40, 1 Chronicles 4:41); but הַֽמְהַלֵּךְ‎ Psalms 104:3 (Ecclesiastes 4:15, 2 Chronicles 23:12; before עַ‎ Psalms 103:4); הַֽמְעֻשָּׁקָה‎ Isaiah 23:12; הַֽמְרַגְּלִים‎ Joshua 6:22. Before letters other than gutturals this מְ‎ remains without Dageš, according to §20m.

2. When the article stands before a guttural, which (according to §22b) cannot properly be strengthened, the following cases arise, according to the character of the guttural (cf. §27q).

(1) In the case of the weakest guttural, א‎, and also with ר‎ (§22c and q), the strengthening is altogether omitted. Consequently, the Pathaḥ of the article (since it stands in an open syllable) is always lengthened to Qameṣ; e.g. הָאָב‎ the father, הָֽאַחֵר‎ the other, הָאֵם‎ the mother, הָאִישׁ‎ the man, הָאוֹר‎ the light, הָֽאֱלֹהִים‎ ὁ θεός, הָרֶ֫גֶל‎ the foot, הָרֹאשׁ‎ the head, הָֽרָשָׁע‎ the wicked.

So also הָֽשְׁפוֹת‎ Nehemiah 3:13, because syncopated from הָֽאַשְׁפּוֹת‎ (cf. verse 14 and Baer on the passage); הָֽאזִקִּים‎ (as in Numbers 11:4, Judges 9:41, 2 Samuel 23:33, with the א‎ orthographically retained), for הָֽאֲז׳‎ Jeremiah 40:4 (cf. בַּֽאז׳‎ verse 1); הָֽסוּרִים‎ Ecclesiastes 4:14 for הָֽאֲס׳‎; הָֽרַמִּים‎ 2 Chronicles 22:5 for הָֽאֲר׳‎(cf. 2 Kings 8:28).

(2) In the case of the other gutturals either the virtual strengthening takes place (§22c)—especially with the stronger sounds ח‎ and ה‎, less often with ע‎—or the strengthening is wholly omitted. In the former case, the Pathaḥ of the article remains, because the syllable is still regarded as closed; in the second case, the Pathaḥ is either modified to Seghôl or fully lengthened to Qameṣ. That is to say:—

A. When the guttural has any other vowel than ā (־ָ‎) or ŏ (־ֳ‎), then

(1) before the stronger sounds ה‎ and ה‎ the article regularly remains הַ‎; e.g. הַהוּא‎ that, הַחֹ֫דֶשׁ‎ the month, הַחַ֫יִל‎ the force, הַחָכְמָה‎ the wisdom. Before ח‎, ā occurs only in הָחַי‎ Genesis 6:19 [not elsewhere], הָֽחֲרִיטִים‎ Isaiah 3:22, הָֽחַמָּנִים‎ Isaiah 17:8 [not elsewhere]; before ה‎, always in הָהֵ֫מָּה‎, הָהֵם‎.

(2) before ע‎ the Pathaḥ is generally lengthened to Qameṣ, e.g. הָעַ֫יִן‎ the eye, הָעִיר‎ the city, הָעֶ֫בֶד‎ the servant, plur. הָֽעֲבָדִים‎; לָֽעֲגָלִים‎ 1 Kings 12:32; also in Genesis 10:17 הָֽעַרְקִי‎ is the better reading. Exceptions are כַּֽעוֹפֶ֫רֶת‎ Exodus 15:10, הַֽעִוְרִים‎ 2 Samuel 5:68, Isaiah 42:18, כַּעֶ֫בֶד‎ Isaiah 24:2, הַעֹֽרְכִים‎ Isaiah 65:11, בַּע֫שֶׁק‎ Ezekiel 22:7, הַעֹֽזְבִים‎ Proverbs 2:13 and הַעֹזֶ֫בֶת‎ Proverbs 2:17, לַֽעֵינַיִם‎ 1 Samuel 16:7, Ecclesiastes 11:7; but לָֽעֵינ׳‎ Genesis 3:6, Proverbs 10:26. Cf. Baer on Isaiah 42:18.

B. When the guttural has ā (־ָ‎) then

(1) immediately before a tone-bearing הָ‎ or עָ‎ the article is always הָ‎, otherwise it is הֶ‎; e.g. הָעָם‎ the people, הָהָר‎ the mountain, הָעָ֑יִן‎ (in pause) the eye, הָהָ֫רָה‎ towards the mountain; but (according to §22c) הֶֽהָרִ֫ים‎ the mountains, הֶֽעָוֹן‎ the iniquity.

(2) before חָ‎ the article is invariably הֶ‎ without regard to the tone; e.g. הֶֽחָכָם‎ the wise man, הֶחָ֫ג‎ the festival.

C. When the guttural has הֳ‎ the article is הֶ‎ before חֳ‎ e.g. הֶֽחֳדָשִׁים‎ the months; בֶּֽחֳרָבוֹת‎ in the waste places (without the article בָּֽחֳ׳‎ bŏḥorābhôth) Ezekiel 33:27, הֶֽחֳרֵבוֹת‎ Ezekiel 36:3538, cf. 2 Chronicles 27:4; but הָ‎ before עֳ‎, as הָֽעֳמָרִים‎ the sheaves Ruth 2:15.

The gender and number of the noun have no influence on the form of the article.

Rem. 1. The original form of the Hebrew (and the Phoenician) article הַ‎ is generally considered to have been הַל‎, the ל‎ of which (owing to the proclitic nature of the article) has been invariably assimilated to the following consonant, as in יִקַּח‎ from yilqaḥ, §19d. This view was supported by the form of the Arabic article אַל‎ (pronounced hal by some modern Beduin), the ל‎ of which is also assimilated at least before all letters like s and t and before l, n, and r, e.g. ʾal-Qurʾân but ʾas-sá̆nă (Beduin has-sana)=Hebr. הַשָּׁנָה‎ the year. But Barth (Amer. Journ. of Sem. Laug., 1896, p. 7 ff.), following Hupfeld and Stade, has shown that the Hebrew article is to be connected rather with the original Semitic demonstrative ,[1] cf. Arab. hāḏa, Aram. hādēn, &c. The sharpening of the following consonant is to be explained exactly like the sharpening after וַ‎ consecutive (§49f; cf. also cases like בַּמָּה‎, כַּמָּה‎, &c., §102k), from the close connexion of the ha with the following word, and the sharpening necessarily involved the shortening of the vowel.[2]

The Arabic article is supposed to occur in the Old Testament in אַלְמֻגִּים‎ 1 Kings 10:1112 (also אַלְגּוּמִּים‎ 2 Chronicles 2:7, 2 Chronicles 9:1011), sandal-wood (?), and in אֶלְגָּבִישׁ‎ hail, ice=גָבִישׁ‎ (Arab. ǵibs) Ezekiel 13:1113, Ezekiel 38:22, but this explanation can hardly be correct. On the other hand, in the proper name אַלְמוֹדָד‎ Genesis 10:26 the first syllable is probably אֵל‎ God, as suggested by D. H. Müller (see Lexicon, s. v.) and Nöldeke, Sitzungsber. der Berl. Akad., 1882, p. 1186. אַלְקוּם‎ Proverbs 30:31, commonly explained as=Arab. al-qaum, the militia, is also quite uncertain.

2. When the prefixes בְּ‎, לְ‎, כְּ‍‎ (§ 102) come before the article, the ה‎ is elided, and its vowel is thrown back to the prefix, in the place of the Šewâ (§19k, and §23k), e.g. בָּשָּׁמַ֫יִם‎ in the heaven for בְּהַשָּׁמַ֫יִם‎ (so Psalms 36:6); לָעָם‎ for לְהָעָם‎ to the people, בֶּֽהָרִים‎ on the mountains, בֶּֽחֳדָשִׁים‎ in the months; also in Isaiah 41:2, read כֶּֽעָפָר‎ instead of the impossible כֵּֽעָפָר‎. Exceptions to this rule occur almost exclusively in the later Books: Ezekiel 40:25, Ezekiel 47:22, Ecclesiastes 8:1, Daniel 8:16, Nehemiah 9:19, Nehemiah 12:33, 2 Chronicles 10:7, 2 Chronicles 25:10, 2 Chronicles 29:27; cf., however, 1 Samuel 13:21, 2 Samuel 21:20. Elsewhere, e.g. 2 Kings 7:12, the Masora requires the elision in the Qe. A distinction in meaning is observed between כְּהַיּוֹם‎ about this time (Genesis 39:11, 1 Samuel 9:13, &c.) and כַּיּוֹם‎ first of all (Genesis 25:31, &c.). After the copula וְ‎ (and) elision of the ה‎ does not take place, e.g. וְהָעָם‎.

3. The words אֶ֫רֶץ‎ earth, הַר‎ mountain, חַג‎ feast, עַם‎ people, פַּר‎ bull, always appear after the article with a long vowel (as in pause); הָאָ֫רֶץ‎, הָהָר‎, הֶחָג‎, הָעָם‎, הַפָּר‎; cf. also אֲרוֹן‎ ark (so in the absol. st. in 2 Kings 12:10, 2 Chronicles 24:8, but to be read אָרוֹן‎), with the article always הָֽאָרוֹן‎.

Footnotes:
  1. An original form han, proposed by Ungnad, ‘Der hebr. Art.,’ in OLZ. x (1907), col. 210 f., and ZDMG. 1908, p. 80 ff., is open to grave objections.
  2. In the Liḥyanitic inscriptions collected by Euting (ed. by D. H. Müller in Epigraphische Denkmäler aus Arabien, Wien, 1889) the article is ה‎, and also in a North Arabian dialect, according to E. Littmann, Safa-inschriften, p. 2, Rem., and p. 34.
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