Biblical Hebrew: 02. Article, prepositions, conjunction "and"
In this lesson, you will learn how to discern article, preposition, and conjunction in the text. The focus will be given on a change of vocalization (what happens under a consonant with vowels). However, what you need to learn is not a perfect knowledge of the vocalization, but rather the way how the vocalization work.
The function of Hebrew article is to denote already known objects or their concretization. It also functions as an emphasis. It will depend on a context to determine its true function in the text.
There are two categories of articles: indefinite and definite. In Hebrew, there is no particular word for indefinite article. The indefiniteness of the word is thus decided on the basis of a context or the absence of the definite article.
The normal form of the definite article "the" is הַ plus dagesh in the following consonant: הַסּוּס (the horse).
Because gutturals and ר can not accept dagesh, it must be compensated in another way. Patah under ה is lengthened or changed into different vowel depending on the following guttural:
- א ,ע ,ר becomes הָ, e.g. הָאָֽרֶץ (the earth)
- ה ,ח remains unchanged
- הָ becomes הֶ, e.g. הֶהָרִים
- הָ ,עָ accented becomes הָ while unaccented הֶ
When a word is prefixed with preposition or conjunction, the letter ה drops out and patah appears under a preposition followed with dagesh in the next consonant.
Three prepositions are called inseparable prepositions because they can not stand alone without being attached to any word. These prepositions are בְּ "in", לְ "to" and כְּ "like" (this one is actually the particle), and are attached to a word in this manner: בְּיוֹם (in a day). Since these prepositions are prefixed to a word some changes in vocalization might occur:
- before sheva, they take hireq, e.g. בִּדְמ֥וּת (in likeness)
- before יְ, they take hireq and the י loses its sheva (becomes quiescent), e.g. בִּיהוּדָה (in Judah)
- before composite sheva, they take corresponding half-vowel, e.g. בַּחֲמִשָּׁ֖ה (in five)
- before accented syllable, they take qamec
Preposition מִן "from" usually stands as an alone word but it can be also prefixed. When מִן is prefixed to another word, e.g. מִתַּ֣חַת (from below), the letter ן is assimilated (drops out) which must be compensated by dagesh in the following consonant. Vocalization change might appear in the case of א ,ה ,ח ,ע (gutturals) and ר where מִ becomes מֵ, e.g. מֵעַ֣ל (from above). The preposition מִן might appear with the article הַ, e.g. מֵהָֽאָדָם, then nothing will happen to the article הַ but since it is guttural מֵ must be employed.
The word for the conjunction "and" is וְ. It does not stand alone but is prefixed before a word. Because of that, there might be some accommodations in vocalization:
- before consonant with sheva and ב ,מ ,פ it becomes וּ
- before יְ it becomes וִ and the י loses its sheva (becomes quiescent)
- before composite sheva it takes corresponding half-vowel, e.g. וֶאֱכֹל
Be careful not to confuse the conjunction וְ for narrative sign וַ having patah plus in the following consonant is dagesh.
In the text below, find all:
- prepositions (those mentioned in this lesson),
- conjunctions "and"
Try to think about specific usages employed.
4 שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהוָ֥ה׀ אֶחָֽד׃
5 וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֥ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ֖ וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶֽךָ׃
6 וְהָי֞וּ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֨ר אָנֹכִ֧י מְצַוְּךָ֛ הַיּ֖וֹם עַל־לְבָבֶֽךָ׃
7 וְשִׁנַּנְתָּ֣ם לְבָנֶ֔יךָ וְדִבַּרְתָּ֖ בָּ֑ם בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ֤ בְּבֵיתֶ֨ךָ֙ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ֣ בַדֶּ֔רֶךְ וּֽבְשָׁכְבְּךָ֖ וּבְקוּמֶֽךָ׃
8 וּקְשַׁרְתָּ֥ם לְא֖וֹת עַל־יָדֶ֑ךָ וְהָי֥וּ לְטֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֥ין עֵינֶֽיךָ׃
9 וּכְתַבְתָּ֛ם עַל־מְזוּזֹ֥ת בֵּיתֶ֖ךָ וּבִשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ׃ ס
- Definite article "the" is prefix הַ followed with dagesh
- Inseparable prepositions are prefixes בְּ "in", לְ "to" and כְּ "like"
- The word for the conjunction "and" is וְ