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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 90

§90. Real and Supposed Remains of Early Case-endings. ־ָה‎ local, וּ‎ in compound proper names, ־ִי‎ and וֹ‎ in the Construct State.
K. U. Nylander, Om Kasusändelserna i Hebräiskan, Upsala, 1882; J. Barth, ‘Die Casusreste im Hebr.,’ ZDMG. liii. 593 ff.

1. As the Assyrian and old Arabic distinguish three cases by special endings, so also in the Hebrew noun there are three endings which, in the main, correspond to those of the Arabic. It is, however, a question whether they are all to be regarded as real remnants of former case-endings, or are in some instances to be explained otherwise. It can hardly be doubted (but cf. h, Rem.) that the (locative) termination ־ָה‎ is a survival of the old accusative termination a, and that וּ‎ in certain compound proper names is the old sign of the nominative. The explanation of the î as an old genitive sign, which, as being no longer understood in Hebrew, was used for quite different purposes, and the view that וֹ‎ is a form of the nominative termination וּ‎, are open to grave doubts.

In Assyrian the rule is that u marks the nominative, i the genitive, and a the accusative,[1] ‘in spite of the many and various exceptions to this rule which occur’ (Delitzsch, Assyrische Gramm., § 66). Similarly, the Arabic case-endings in the fully declined nouns (Triptotes) are: -u for the nominative, -i for the genitive, and -a for the accusative; in the Diptotes the ending -a represents the genitive also. In modern Arabic these endings have almost entirely disappeared, and if they are now and then used, as among the Beduin, it is done without regularity, and one is interchanged with another (Wallin, in ZDMG. v, p. 9, xii, p. 874; Wetzstein, ibid., xxii, p. 113 f., and especially Spitta, Gramm. des Arab. Vulgärdialekts von Ägypten, Lpz. 1880, p. 147 ff.). Even as early as the Sinaitic inscriptions, their regular use is not maintained (Beer,Studia Asiatica, iii. 1840, p. xviii; Tuch, ZDMG. iii. 139 f.). Ethiopic has preserved only the -a (in proper names -), which is, however, still used for the whole range of the accusative, and also (the distinction of case being lost) as a termination of the constr. st. to connect it with a following genitive.

2. As remarked above, under a, the accusative form is preserved in Hebrew most certainly and clearly in the (usually toneless) ending ־ָה‎, originally ă, as in the old Arabic accusative. This is appended to the substantive:

(a) Most commonly to express direction towards an object, or motion to a placer,[2] e.g. יָ֫מָּה‎ seaward, westward, קֵ֫דְמָה‎ eastward, צָפ֫וֹנָה‎ northward, אַשּׁ֫וּרָה‎ to Assyria, בָּבֶ֫לָה‎ to Babylon, חֶ֫רָה‎ (from הַר‎) to the mountain, Genesis 14:10, אַ֫רְצָה‎ to the earth, בַּ֫יְתָה‎ to the house, תִּרְצָ֫תָה‎ to Tirzah (תִּרְצָה‎) 1 Kings 14:17, &c., עַזָּ֫תָה‎ to Gaza (עַזָּה‎) Judges 16:1; with the article הָהָ֫רָה‎ to the mountain, הַבַּ֫יְתָה‎ into the house, הַחַ֫דְרָה‎ into the chamber, 1 Kings 1:15; הָאֹ֫הֱלָה‎[3] into the tent, Genesis 18:6, &c.; similarly with adverbs, as שָׁ֫מָּה‎ thither, אָ֫נָת‎ whither?; even with the constr. st. before a genitive בֵּ֫יתָה יוֹסֵף‎ into Joseph’s house, Genesis 43:1724; אַ֫רְצָה הַנֶּ֫גֶב‎ toward the land of the south, Genesis 20:1; אַ֫רְצָה מִצְרַ֫יִם‎ to the land of Egypt, Exodus 4:20; מִדְבַּ֫רָה דַמֶּ֫שֶׂק‎ to the wilderness of Damascus, 1 Kings 19:15; מִזְרְחָ֫ה שֶׁ֫מֶשׁ‎ toward the sun-rising, Deuteronomy 4:41; and even with the plural כַּשְׂדִּימָה‎ into Chaldea, Ezekiel 11:24; הָשָּׁמַ֫יִמָה‎ towards the heavens. Rem. The above examples are mostly rendered definite by the article, or by a following genitive of definition, or are proper names. But cases like יָ֫מָּה‎, הֶ֫רָה‎, בַּ֫יְתָה‎ show that the locative form of itself possessed a defining power.

(b) In a somewhat weakened sense, indicating the place where something is or happens (cf. §118d), e.g. מַֽחֲנָ֑יְמָה‎ in Maḥanaim, 1 Kings 4:14; שָׁ֫מָּה‎ there (usually thither, see c), Jeremiah 18:2, cf. 2 Kings 23:8, and the expression to offer a sacrifice הַמִּזְבֵּ֫חָה‎, properly towards the altar for on the altar. On the other hand, בָּבֶ֫לָה‎ Jeremiah 29:15, and זְבֻ֫לָה‎ Habakkuk 3:11, are to be regarded as ordinary accusatives of direction, to Babylon, into the habitation; also expressions like פְּאַת צָפ֫וֹנָה‎ the quarter towards the north, Joshua 15:5 (at the beginning of the verse, גְּבוּל קֵ֫דְמָה‎ the border toward the east), cf. Joshua 18:1520, Exodus 26:18, Jeremiah 23:8.

(c) The original force of the ending ־ָה‎ is also disregarded when it is added to a substantive with a preposition prefixed (cf. also עַד־אָ֫נָה‎ how long?), and this not only after לְ‎, אֶל־‎ or עַד־‎ (which are easily explained), e.g. לְמַ֫עְלָה‎ upwards, לְמַ֫טָּה‎ downwards, לִשְׁא֫וֹלָה‎ to Sheol, Psalms 9:18; עַד־אֲפֵ֫קָה‎ unto Aphek, Joshua 13:4, אֶל־הַצָּפ֫וֹנָה‎ toward the north, Ezekiel 8:14, cf. Judges 20:16; but also after ב‎, and even after מִן‎, e.g. בַּנֶּ֫גְבָּה‎ in the south, Joshua 15:21, cf. Judges 14:2, 1 Samuel 23:1519, 1 Samuel 31:13, 2 Samuel 20:15, Jeremiah 52:10; מִבָּבֶ֫לָה‎ from Babylon, Jeremiah 27:16; cf. Jeremiah 1:13, Joshua 10:36, Joshua 15:10, Judges 21:19, Isaiah 45:6.

Rem. Old locative forms (or original accusatives) are, according to the Masora, still to be found in

(a) לַ֫יְלָה‎, in pause לָ֫יְלָה‎, the usual word in prose for night, which is always construed as masculine. The nominative of this supposed old accusative[4] appeared to be preserved in the form לַ֫יִל‎, only used in poetry, Isaiah 16:3, constr. st. לֵיל‎ (even used for the absol. st. in pause Isaiah 21:11). Most probably, however, לַיְלָה‎ is to be referred, with Nöldeke and others, to a reduplicated form לילי‎; cf. especially the western Aramaic לֵילְיָא‎, Syr. lilya, &c.—Another instance is מְא֫וּמָה‎ something, probably from מְאוּם‎, מוּם‎ spot, point, generally with a negative=nothing. Similarly אַ֫רְצָה‎ Isaiah 8:23 and (in pause) Job 34:13, סוּפָ֫תָה‎ Hosea 8:7, and the place-name יַ֫הְצָה‎ 1 Chronicles 6:63, might be explained as accusatives. Elsewhere, however, the toneless ־ָה‎ can be regarded only as a meaningless appendage, or at the most as expressing poetic emphasis; thus אָ֫רְצָה‎ (in pause) Job 37:12; הַמָּ֫וְתָה‎ death, Psalms 116:15; נֶגְדָּה־נָּא‎ Psalms 116:1418; נַ֫חְלָה‎ stream, Psalms 124:4; הַחַשְׁמַ֫לָה‎ amber, Ezekiel 8:2 [in Ezekiel 1:4 הַחַשְׁמַל‎, cf. §80k], &c. In Joshua 15:12 הַיָּ֫מָּה‎ is probably only a scribal error (dittography). In Judges 14:18 instead of the quite unsuitable poetic word הַחַ֫רְסָה‎ (towards the sun??) read as in Judges 15:1 הַחַ֫דְרָה‎ to the bride-chamber. (b) In the termination ־ָ֫ תָה‎ often used in poetry with feminines, viz. אֵימָ֫תָה‎ terror (=אֵימָה‎), Exodus 15:16; עֶזְרָ֫תָה‎ help (=עֶזְרָה‎), Psalms 44:27, Psalms 63:8, Psalms 94:17; יְשׁוּעָ֫תָה‎ salvation (=יְשׁוּעָה‎), Psalms 3:3, Psalms 80:3, Jonah 2:10; עַוְ֫לָתָה‎ unrighteousness (=עַוְלָה‎), Ezekiel 28:15, Hosea 10:13, Psalms 125:3; עֹלָ֫תָה‎ Psalms 92:16 Keth. Job 5:16; צָרָ֫תָה‎ Psalms 120:1; עֵיפָ֫תָה‎ darkness, Job 10:22; הַמְזִמָּ֫תָה‎ Jeremiah 11:15 is corrupt, see the LXX and Commentaries. These cases are not to be taken as double feminine endings, since the loss of the tone on the final syllable could then hardly be explained, but they are further instances of an old accusative of direction or intention. In examples like עֶזְרָ֫תָה‎ for help (Psalms 44:27) this is still quite apparent, but elsewhere it has become meaningless and is used merely for the sake of poetical emphasis.[5]

This termination ־ָה‎ usually has reference to place (hence called ־ָה‎ locale[6]); sometimes, however, its use is extended to time, as in מִיָּמִים יָמִ֫ימָה‎ from year to year. Its use in חָלִ֫ילָה‎ properly ad profanum!=absit! is peculiar.

As the termination ־ָה‎ is almost always toneless (except in מִזְרְחָה‎ constr. st. Deuteronomy 4:41; גִּתָּה‎ and עִתָּה‎ Joshua 19:13) it generally, as the above examples show, exercises no influence whatever upon the vowels of the word; in the constr. st. מִדְבַּ֫רָה‎ Joshua 18:12, 1 Kings 19:15, and in the proper names גַּ֫תָה‎ 1 Kings 2:40, דַּ֫נָה‎ 2 Samuel 24:6 (so Baer; ed. Mant. and Ginsb. דַּ֫נָה‎), צְפַ֫תָה‎ 2 Chronicles 14:9, צָֽרְפַ֫תָה‎ 1 Kings 17:9, צָֽרְתַ֫נָה‎ 1 Kings 4:12, an ă is retained even in an open tone-syllable (cf., however, הֶ֫רָה‎ Genesis 14:10, פַּדֶּ֫נָה‎ Genesis 28:2 from פַּדַּן‎, with modification of the a to è; also בַּרְמֶ֫לָה‎ 1 Samuel 25:5 from בַּרְמֶל‎). In segholate forms, as a general rule, the ־ָה‎ local is joined to the already developed form of the absol. st., except that the helping-vowel before ־ָה‎ naturally becomes Še, e.g. בַּ֫יְתָה‎, הָאֹ֫הֱלָה‎ Genesis 18:6, &c.; הַיַּֽ֫עֲרָה‎ Joshua 17:15, הַשַֹּֽׁ֫עֲרָה‎[7] Judges 20:16, &c., but also נַ֫חְלָה‎ Numbers 34:5 (constr. st.; likewise to be read in the absolute in Ezekiel 47:19, Ezekiel 48:28) and שָֽׁעְרָה‎ Isaiah 28:6 (with Silluq); cf. נֶ֫גְבָּה‎ Ezekiel 47:19 and גֹּ֫רְנָה‎ (Baer, incorrectly, גֹּֽרְנָ֫ה‎) Micah 4:12 (both in pause).—In the case of feminines ending in ־ָה‎ the ־ָה‎ local is added to the original feminine ending ־ָת‎ (§80b), the ă of which (since it then stands in an open tone-syllable) is lengthened to ā, e.g. תִּרְצָ֫תָה‎.—Moreover the termination ־ָה‎ is even weakened to ־ֶה‎ in נֹ֫בֶה‎ to Nob, 1 Samuel 21:2, 1 Samuel 22:9; אָ֫נֶה‎ whither, 1 Kings 2:3642 and דְּדָ֫נֶה‎ to Dedan, Ezekiel 25:13.

3. Of the three other terminations וּ‎ may still be regarded as a survival of the old nominative ending. It occurs only in the middle of a few (often undoubtedly very old) proper names,[8] viz. אֲחוּמַי‎ (if compounded of אחו‎ and מי‎), חֲמוּטַל‎ (for which in Jeremiah 52:1 Keth. חֲמִיטַל‎), מְתֽוּשָׁאֵל‎ and מְתוּשֶׁ֫לַח‎ (otherwise in Hebrew only in the plur. מְתִים‎ men; to מְתוּ‎ corresponds most probably בְּתוּ‎ in בְּתוּאֵל‎), פְּנוּאֵל‎ Genesis 32:31 (but in ver. 32 פְּנִיאֵל‎) face of God (otherwise only in the plur. פָּנִים‎ constr. st. פְּנֵי‎).[9]גַּשְׁמוּ‎ Nehemiah 6:6 (elsewhere גֶּ֫שֶׁם‎), is the name of an Arab, cf. Nehemiah 6:1. On the other hand the terminations ־ִי‎ and וֹ‎ are most probably to be regarded (with Barth, l. c., p. 597) as having originated on Hebrew soil in order to emphasize the constr. st., on the analogy of the constr. st. of terms expressing relationship.

In view of the analogies in other languages (see b) there is nothing impossible in the view formerly taken here that the litterae compaginis ־ִי‎ and וֹ‎ are obsolete (and hence no longer understood) case-endings, î being the old genitive and ô for the nominative sign u. Barth objects that the î and ô almost invariably have the tone, whereas the accusative ־ָה‎ is toneless, and that they are long, where the Arab. ĭ and ŭ are short. Both these objections, however, lose their force if we consider the special laws of the tone and syllable in Hebrew. The language does not admit a final ĭ or ŭ, and the necessarily lengthened vowel might easily attract the tone to itself. On the other hand a strong argument for Barth’s theory is the fact that these litterae compaginis are almost exclusively used to emphasize the close connexion of one noun with another; hence especially in the constr. st. Consequently it seems in the highest degree probable that all these uses are based upon forms in which the constr. st. is expressly emphasized by a special termination, i.e. the constr. st. of terms of relationship, אֲבִי‎, אֲחִי‎, חֲמִי‎ from אָב‎ father, אָח‎ brother, חָם‎ father-in-law (cf. § 96). The instances given under l and m followed this analogy.

Like î, וֹ‎ is also used only to emphasize the constr. st. (see o), and must therefore have a similar origin, but its exact explanation is difficult. According to Barth, this וֹ‎ corresponds to a primitive Semitic â (cf. §9q) and is traceable to ʾabâ, ʾaḥâ, the accusatives of terms of relationship in the constr. st., which have â only before a genitive. Against this explanation it may be objected that there is no trace of the supposed Hebrew accusatives אֲבוֹ‎, אֲחוֹ‎, חֲמוֹ‎, and only of the analogous בְּנוֹ‎. It is also remarkable that so archaic a form should have been preserved (except in בְּנוֹ‎) only in two words and those in quite late passages. However we have no better explanation to offer in place of Barth’s.

Finally we cannot deny the possibility, in some cases, of Barth’s explanation of the וּ‎ in compound proper names like בְתוּאֵל‎, &c. (see above), as due to the analogy of terms of relationship with nominative in וּ‎. But this in no way militates against the view expressed above, that in some very old names, like פְּנוּאֵל‎, בְּתוּאֵל‎, &c., the original common nominative sign has simply been preserved. The instances found are:

(a) Of the ending ־ִי‎: בְּנִי אֲתֹנוֹ‎ his ass’s colt, Genesis 49:11; עֹֽזְבִי הַצֹּאן‎ that leaveth the flock, Zechariah 11:17 (cf. the preceding רֹעִי הָֽאֱלִיל‎); שֹֽׁכְנִי סְנֶה‎ the dweller in the bush, Deuteronomy 33:16 (on שֹֽׁבְנִי‎ cf. below Jer 4916a, Obadiah 1:3); appended to the feminine גְּנֻבְֽתִי יוֹם וּגְּנֻבְֽתִי לְ֫יְלְה‎ whether stolen by day or stolen by night, Genesis 31:39 (in prose, but in very emphatic speech); מְלֵֽאֲתִי מִשְׁפָּט‎ plena iustitiae, Isaiah 1:21; רַבָּ֫תִי עָם‎ full of people, Lamentations 1:1 (on the retraction of the tone before a following tone-syllable, cf. §29e; in the same verse the second רבתי‎ and שָׂרָ֫תִי‎, see below, follow the example of רַבָּ֫תִי‎, although no tone-syllable follows; cf. also Hosea 10:11 below); עַל־דִּבְרָתִי מַלְכִּי־צֶ֫דֶק‎ after the order of Melchizedek, Psalms 110:4; cf. also Psalms 113:9, Jer 4916b. To the same category belong the rather numerous cases, in which a preposition is inserted between the construct state and its genitive (cf. §130a), without actually abolishing the dependent relation, e.g. רַבָּ֫תִי בַגּוֹיִם‎ she that was great among the nations, שָׂרָ֫תִי בַמְּדִינוֹת‎ princess among the provinces, Lamentations 1:1; אֹהַ֫בְתִּי לָדוּשׁ‎ that loveth to tread, Hosea 10:11; cf. also Jeremiah 49:16a, Obadiah 1:3.—In Exodus 15:6 נֶאְדָּרִי‎ can only be so explained if it is a vocative referring to יהוה‎, but perhaps we should read נֶאְדָּרָה‎ as predicate to יְמִֽינְךָ‎.

Further, the Ḥireq compaginis is found with certain particles which are really also nouns in the constr. st., as זֽוּלָתִי‎ (=זוּלָת‎) except, מִנִּי‎ (poetical for מִן‎) from, בִּלְתִּי‎ not, אַפְסִי‎ not (thrice in the formula אֲנִי וְאַפְסִי עוֹד‎ I am, and there is none else beside me; but many take the ־ִי‎ as a suffix here), Isaiah 47:810, Zephaniah 2:15. [The above are all the cases in which this ־ִי‎ is attached to independent words in the O.T.; it occurs, however, besides] in compound proper names (again attached to the constr. st.), as מַלְכִּי־צֶ֫דֶק‎ (king of righteousness), גַּבְרִיאֵל‎ (man of God), חַנִּיאֵל‎ (favour of God), and others (cf. also the Punic name Hannibal, i.e. חַנִּיבַ֫עַל‎ favour of Baʿal).

Otherwise than in the constr. st. the Ḥireg compaginis is only found in participial forms, evidently with the object of giving them more dignity, just as in the case of the construct forms in î. We must distinguish, however, between passages in which the participle nevertheless does stand in close connexion, as Genesis 49:11, Isaiah 22:16 (חֹֽצְבִי‎ and חֹֽקְקִי‎, also in impassioned speech), Micah 7:14 (probably influenced by Deuteronomy 33:16), Psalms 101:5, Psalms 113:7; and passages in which the î added to the participle with the article merely serves as an ornamental device of poetic style, e.g. in the late Psalms, Psalms 113:5679 (on verse 8 see n), Psalms 114:8, Psalms 123:1.

In Kethibh the termination î also occurs four times in יושבתי‎, i.e. יוֹשַׁבְתִּי‎, Jeremiah 10:17, Jeremiah 22:23 (before בְּ‎), Ezekiel 27:3 (before עַל־‎), Lamentations 4:21 (before בְּ‎). The Qere always requires for it יוֹשֶׁ֫בֶת‎ (or ישׁ׳‎), except in Jeremiah 22:23 ישַׁבְתְּ‎; cf. ibid. מקננתי‎ Keth., מְקֻנַּנְתְּ‎ Qere, and finally Jeremiah 51:13 שׁכנתי‎ Keth., שֹׁכַנְתְּ‎ Qere. Perhaps ישַׁבְתִּי‎ and שֹׁכַנְתִּי‎ are formae mixtae, combining the readings ישֶׁ֫בֶת‎, &c. and יָשַׁבְתְּ‎ (2nd fem. perf.), &c., but מְקֻנַּנְתִּי‎ may be merely assimilated to ישַׁבְתִּי‎ which immediately precedes it.

The following are simply textual errors: 2 Kings 4:23 ההלכתי‎ Keth., due to the preceding אתי‎, and to be read הַֽהֹלֶ֫כֶת‎ as in the Qere; Psalms 30:8 (read הַֽרֲרֵי‎), Psalms 113:8 (read לְהֽוֹשִׁיבוֹ‎), Psalms 116:1 (read קוֹל תח׳‎, as in five other places). On בְּרִיתִי‎, thrice, in Leviticus 26:42, cf. §128d.

(b) Of the ending וֹ‎[10] (always with the tone): in prose only in the Pentateuch, but in elevated style, Genesis 1:24 חַיְתוֹ־אֶרֶץ‎ the beast of the earth (=חַיַּת הָאָרֶץ‎ ver. 25); similarly in Psalms 50:10, Psalms 79:2, Psalms 104:1120, Isaiah 56:9 (twice), Zephaniah 2:14; otherwise only in בְּנוֹ צִפֹּר‎ son of Zippor, Numbers 23:18; בְּנוֹ בְעֹר‎ son of Beor, Numbers 24:315; and מַעְיְנוֹ מַ֫יִם‎ a fountain of waters, Psalms 114:8.

  1. This rule is almost always observed in the Tell-el-Amarna letters (see §2f); cf. the instances cited by Barth, l. c., p. 595, from Winckler’s edition.
  2. On this meaning of the accusative see the Syntax, §118d, and cf. the Latin accusative of motion to a place, as in Romam profectus est, domum reverti, rus ire.
  3. הָאֹֽהֱלָ֫ה‎ in Baer’s text, Genesis 18:6, is an error, according to his preface to Isaiah, p. v.
  4. Brockelmann, Sem. Sprachwiss., p. 113, also takes it as such, láylā being properly at night, then night simply. Barth, however (Sprachwiss. Abhandlungen, p. 16, note 1), refers it to an original לַיְלֶה‎, like אָנָה‎ from אָנֶ֫ה‎.
  5. The form clings also to a few place-names, as גֻּדְגֹּ֫דָה‎ Deuteronomy 10:7; שָׁלִ֫שָׁה‎ 1 Samuel 9:4, 2 Kings 4:42; קְהֵלָ֫תָה‎ Numbers 33:22 f.; יָטְבָּ֫תָה‎ verse 33 f.; תִּמְנָ֫תָה‎ Joshua 19:43, &c.; אֶפְרָ֫תָה‎ Micah 5:1, &c.]
  6. Cf. Sarauw, ‘Der hebr. Lokativ,’ ZA. 1907, p. 183 ff. He derives the ־ָה‎ from the adverbs שָׁ֫מָּה‎, אָ֫נָה‎ and holds that it has nothing whatever to do with the old accusative.
  7. So Qimḥi, and the Mant. ed. (Baer הַשַֹּׁ֫עְרָה‎), i.e. locative from שַׂ֫עַר‎ (Isaiah 7:20). The reading הַשַּֽׂעֲרָה‎ (Opit., Ginsb.) implies a feminine in ־ָה‎.
  8. Cf. the list in L. Kaila, Zur Syntax des in verbaler Abhängigkeit stehenden Nomens im alttest. Hebr., Helsingfors, 1906, p. 54.
  9. The name שְׁמוּאֵל‎ formerly regarded as a compound of שְׁמוּ‎=שֵׁם‎ name and אֵל‎, is better explained with Prätorius, ZDMG. 1903, p. 777, as a name of affection, for שְׁמוּעַ אֵל‎=יִשְׁמָעֵאל‎ [but see Driver on 1 Samuel 1:20]; similarly, according to Prätorius, פְּתוּאֵל‎=פְּתוּחַ אֵל‎ and many others.
  10. Cf. Kaila, l. c., p. 59 ff.
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