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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 79

§79. General View.

For the literature, see De Lagarde, Uebersicht über die im Aram., Arab. und Hebr. übliche Bildung der Nomina, Göttingen, 1889; Index and Additions, 1891; J. Barth, Die Nominalbildung in den semitischen Sprachen, first half, Simple nouns, Leipzig, 1889; second half, Nouns with external additions, 1891; second edition, with indices of words and subjects, 1894; E. König, Historisch-kritisches Lehrgebäude, &c., ii. 1, Leipzig, 1895, see above, §3f.—Of these three important works the first two especially have given rise to various articles. In support of De Lagarde: Hommel in ZDMG. xliv, p. 535 ff. (against De Lagarde and Hommel: Barth, ibid., p. 679 ff.), and dealing with the Index, ZDMG. xlv, p. 340 ff.—Against Barth (though with many points of agreement): Philippi in the Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie, 1890, p. 344 ff. (answered by Barth in ZDMG. xliv, p. 692 ff.), and ZDMG. xlvi, p. 149 ff. (answered again by Barth, ibid., xlviii, p. 10 ff.), also in the Beiträge zur Assyriologie, ii (1892), p. 359 ff. ‘Die semitische Verbal- und Nominalbildung,’ and lastly, in ZDMG. xlix, p. 187 ff.—Cf. also A. Müller, ‘Semitische Nomina. Bemerkungen zu de Lagarde und Barth,’ ZDMG. xlv, p. 221 ff.—The main points at issue in the works of De Lagarde and Barth are indicated below, §83d.—Brockelmann, Semit. Sprachwiss., p. 104 ff.; Grundriss, p. 329 ff.

1. Since, according to §30a, most word-stems are developed into verbal stems as well as into noun-stems, it has become customary (especially in the Lexicon) to refer the noun to the most simple ground-form of the verbal formation, viz. the 3rd pers. sing. perfect Qal, and, as it were, to derive it from that form. This is usual, not only in those noun-stems which can be directly connected with a corresponding verbal stem (nomina verbalia or derivativa, §83 ff.), but also with nomina primitiva, i.e. those of which no verbal stem is now found in Hebrew (see §82), as well as finally with nomina denominativa, which have evidently been derived from other nouns (§86).

The adjective agrees in form entirely with the substantive. On the formation of adjectival ideas by giving to abstracts a concrete sense, see §83c.

2. A special inflexion of the noun to express the various cases does not exist in Hebrew; only a few ancient and almost extinct traces of case-endings have survived (§90). The syntactical relation of a noun can therefore in general only be inferred from its position in the sentence, or from its being joined to prepositions. In either case, the form of the noun undergoes no change (except for the construct state, §89), and the representation of case-relations belongs therefore almost exclusively to the syntax (§117 ff.). The comparative and superlative of adjectives also can be expressed only by a syntactical combination (§133). On the other hand, several changes in the forms of nouns are occasioned by the additions of the plural, dual, and feminine terminations, as well as of the pronominal suffixes, and also by the close connexion of two nouns, by means of the construct state.[1]

  1. To speak of these changes as a declension of the Hebrew noun, as is usually done, is accordingly incorrect.
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