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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 86

§86. Denominative Nouns.

1. Such are all nouns formed immediately from another noun, whether the latter be primitive or derived from a verb, e.g. קַדְמוֹן‎ eastern, immediately from קֶ֫דֶם‎ the east (verbal stem קָדַם‎ to be in front).

2. Most of the forms which nouns of this class assume have already been given in §§84 and 85, since the denominatives, as secondary (although in some cases very old) forms, invariably follow the analogy of the verbal derivatives. As, for instance, the verbals with a prefixed מ‍‎ (§85e to m) express the place, &c., of an action, so the denominatives with מ‍‎ local represent the place where a thing is found or its neighbourhood (see e).

The most common forms of denominatives are—

1. Those like the participle Qal (§84as), e.g. שֹׁעֵר‎ a porter, from שַׁ֫עַר‎ a gate; בֹּקֵר‎ a herdsman, from בָּקָר‎ a herd; כֹּרֵם‎ a vinedresser, from כֶּ֫רֶם‎ a vineyard.

2. Those like the form qăṭṭāl (§84bb), e.g. קַשָּׁת‎ an archer, from קֶ֫שֶׁת‎ a bow. Both these forms (c and d) indicate customary occupations, inhering in the subject, like Greek nouns in της, τεύς, e.g. πολίτης, γραμματεύς.

3. Nouns with מ‍‎ prefixed, denoting the place where a thing is (cf. §85e), or its neighbourhood, e.g. מַעְיָן‎ a place of fountains, from עַ֫יִן‎; מַרְגְּלוֹת‎ the place about the feet, מְרַֽאֲשׁוֹת‎ the place about the head, from רֶ֫גֶל‎, רֹאשׁ‎; מִקְשָׁה‎ (for מִקְשְׁאָה‎) a cucumber field, from קִשֻּׁא‎ cucumber. Cf. ἀμπελών from ἄμπελος.

4. Nouns with the termination ־ָן‎ or וֹן‎ expressing adjectival ideas: קַדְמוֹן‎ eastern, from קֶ֫דֶם‎; אַֽחֲרוֹן‎ posterior, from אַחַר‎; חִיצוֹן‎ exterior, from חוּץ‎; probably also לִוְיָתָן‎ coiled, hence coiled animal, serpent, from לִוְיָה‎ a winding; נְחֻשְׁתָּן‎ brazen, from נְח֫שֶׁת‎ brass. Also abstracts, e.g. עִוָּרוֹן‎ blindness, from עִוֵּר‎. Cf. §85u.— With a double termination (ôn or ân with î) אַדְמֹנִי‎ reddish, יִדְּעֹנִי‎ a knowing (spirit); צִפְעֹנִי‎ basilisk; רַֽחֲמָֽנִיּוֹת‎ merciful [fem. plur.].

וֹן‎ appears to be used as a diminutive ending (cf. the Syriac וּן‎) in אִישׁוֹן‎ little man (in the eye), apple of the eye, from אִישׁ‎[1]; on the other hand שְׁפִיפֹן‎ adder, which was formerly regarded as a diminutive, is properly an adjectival form from שָׁפַף‎ to rub (hence, as it were, a rubbing creature); in the same way יְשֻׁרוּן‎ is a denominative from יָשָׁוּר‎ (=יָשָׁר‎), properly upright (righteous people), and not a diminutive (pious little people, and the like); finally, שַֽׂהֲרוֹן‎ is not lunula, but an artificial moon (used as an ornament), and צַוְּרֹנִים‎ not little neck, but necklace (from צַוָּאר‎ neck). Cf. Delitzsch on Song of Solomon 4:9.

5. Peculiar to denominatives is the termination ־ִי‎, which converts a substantive into an adjective, and is added especially to numerals and names of persons and countries, in order to form ordinals, patronymics, and tribal names; e.g. רַגְלִי‎ footman, plur. רַגְלִים‎, from רֶ֫גֶל‎ foot; אַכְזָרִי‎ cruel, נָכְרִי‎ strange, from נֹ֫כֶר‎ strangeness, תַּחְתִּי‎ lower, from תַּ֫חַת‎ below, fem. תָּחְתִּית‎ and תַּחְתִּיָּה‎, plur. תַּחְתִּיִּים‎, תַּחְתִּיּוֹת‎; שִׁשִּׁי‎ the sixth, from שֵׁשׁ‎ six; מֽוֹאָבִי‎ Moabite, from מוֹאָב‎, plur. מֹֽאָבִים‎, fem. מֽוֹאֲבִיָּה‎ and מֽוֹאָבִית‎, plur. מֽוֹאֲבִיּוֹת‎; עִבְרִי‎ Hebrew, plur. עִבְרִים‎ and עבְרִיִּים‎, fem. עִבְרִיָּה‎, plur. עִבְרִיּוֹת‎; ישְׂרְאֵלִי‎ Israelite, from יִשְׂרָאֵל‎ When the original substantive is a compound, it is resolved again into two words, e.g. בֶּן־יְמִינִי‎ Benjamite, from בִּנְיָמִין‎ (cf. on the use of the article in such cases, §127d).

Instead of ־ִי‎ we find in a few cases (a) the ending ־ַי‎ (as in Aram.), e.g. כִּילַי‎ (crafty, or, according to others, churlish) if it stands for נְכִילַי‎ and is not rather from a stem כלא‎ or כלה‎; חוֹרָי‎ white cloth, Isaiah 19:9 in pause; perhaps also גֹּבַי‎ a swarm of locusts, Amos 7:1 (גּוֹבָ֑י‎ Nahum 3:17); hardly נְגִֽינוֹתַי‎ Isaiah 38:20, Habakkuk 3:19; but certainly in proper names as בּרְזִלַּי‎ (ferreus) Barzillai;[2] and (b) ־ֶה‎, arising from ăy, in אִשֶּׁה‎ belonging to fire (אֵשׁ‎), i.e. a sacrifice offered by fire; לִבְנֶה‎ (prop. milky) the storax-shrub, Arabic lubnay.

6. Abstract nouns formed from concretes by the addition of וּת‎, ת‎[־ִי‎] (§95t), cf. our terminations -dom, -hood, -ness, e.g. יַלְדוּת‎ youth, מַלְכוּת‎ kingdom (the omission of the Dageš in כ‍‎ shows that the Še is weakened from a full vowel; on malik as underlying the present form מֶ֫לֶךְ‎ cf. §84aa); אַלְמָנוּת‎ widowhood, from אַלְמָן‎ widower, אַלְמָנָה‎ widow. In Aram. this fem. ending וּת‎ (or וּ‎ with rejection of the ת‎) is a common termination of the infinitive in the derived conjugations (cf., as substantival infinitives of this kind, הַשְׁמָעוּת‎ the announcing, Ezekiel 24:26, and הִתְחַבְּרוּת‎ the making of a league, Daniel 11:23); in Hebr. וּת‎ as a termination to express abstract ideas (including some which appear to be directly derived from the verbal stem, as סִכְלוּת‎ folly, רִפְאוּת‎ a heating[3]) becomes more common only in the later books. It is affixed to adjectives ending in î (see above, h) in אַכְזְרִיּוּת‎ cruelty, and קֽוֹמְמִיּוּת‎ upright position (Leviticus 26:13, used adverbially).

The ending ־ִית‎ is found earlier, e.g. in שְׁאֵרִית‎ remainder, רֵאשִׁית‎ principium, from רֵאשׁ‎=רֹאשׁ‎ (head) princeps. The termination ôth seems to occur in הָכְמוֹת‎ wisdom (in Proverbs 1:20, Proverbs 9:1, joined to a singular; so also חַכְמוֹת‎ Proverbs 14:1, where, probably, חָכְמוֹת‎ should likewise be read) and in הֽוֹלֵלוֹת‎ Ecclesiastes 1:17, &c., with the parallel form הֽוֹלֵלוּת‎ Ecclesiastes 10:13.

  1. Cf. Barth, § 212; König, ii. 1, 413. Diminutives in Semitic languages are, however, most commonly formed by inserting a y after the second radical, e.g. Aram. עוּלֵּימָא‎, Syr. ܥܰܠܝܡܳܐ‎, Arab. غُلَيِّمٌa very young man, kulaib, a little dog, &c. Since Olshausen (§ 180), זְעֵיר‎ a little (Isaiah 28:1013, Job 36:2) has commonly been regarded as an example of the same form, to which others have added שְׁבִיסִים‎ Isaiah 3:18 (as though a foreign dialectical form for šumais, little sun), and אֲמִינוֹן‎ 2 Samuel 13:20, as a contemptuous diminutive form of אַמְינוֹן‎; cf. Ewald, § 167, W. Wright, Arab. Gramm.2 i. § 269, De Lagarde, Nominalbildung, pp. 85–87, König. ii. 1, p. 143 f. The existence of the form in Hebrew is disputed by Barth, §192d.]
  2. On ־ַי‎ as an old fem. ending, see above, §80l.
  3. [See a complete list of instances in König, Lehrgebäude, ii. 1, p. 205 f.]
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