[b-hebrew] -HM vs -MW suffix
kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Feb 16 03:49:31 EST 2012
On Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 4:11 PM, Joel C. Salomon <joelcsalomon at gmail.com>wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 5:43 PM, Karl W. Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
> > On Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 2:16 PM, Joel C. Salomon <joelcsalomon at gmail.com
> > wrote, forwarding from <http://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/14259
> >> Usually the suffix “הם” HM is used to indicate “them” or “their”, as in
> “אליהם” )LYHM
> >> or “כליהם” KLYHM. Sometimes, though, the suffix used is “מו” MW, e.g.,
> Deut 33:2
> >> “וזרח משעיר למו”.
> >> Is there any known grammatical difference between the two forms, or is
> >> the -MW form usually taken to be simply a poetic style?
> > The suffix הם- -HM always refers to the plural third person, however the
> > מו- -MW suffix, while usually used as a plural, sometimes refers to the
> > singular subject, e.g. Genesis 9:26–27, Isaiah 44:15.
> I’m not sure which is the possibly-singular subject & which the
> object; do you mean it can mean “his” as well as “their”, or that it
> can apply to “their” object (s.) as well as “their” objects (pl.)?
These were referenced individually, hence singular.
> (E.g., does ידיו = ידימו, both meaning “his hands” or do you mean ארצם
> = *ארצמו, both meaning “their land” rather than ארצותיהם = *ארצותימו
> “their lands”?)
As far as I remember, the מו- -MW suffix is never used in the possessive
sense, as you speculate here. While the most common use is as a suffix
following a -ל L- prefix, it is found in other contexts as well, as you
> In Genesis 9:26–27, Noah blesses Shem & Japheth individually, each
> time adding “ויהי כנען עבד למו”; “let Canaan be a servant to them” —
> would you translate these as “to him”?
> > The use of the מו- -MW suffix sometimes seems the same as an emphatic
> > a different meaning than הם- -HM suffix, e.g. Exodus 15:5, Isaiah 44:16,
> > 19.
> “למו” as in Deut 33:2 or Isaiah 44:15 is the most familiar occurrence
> of the -MW suffix. And although I say it every day, I never noticed
> that form in Exodus 15:5 “יכסימו”; thanks for pointing it out!
I had a list once of all the times I found the מו- -MW suffix used, but
that’s on that older computer as well.
Apparently the most controversial occurrence is found in Isaiah 53:8—if the
מו- -MW suffix can be used for the singular, then “God’s slave” can be a
single individual, not necessarily a group. That the מו- -MW suffix is
used sometimes for a single individual leaves the single individual option
for this verse open.
> > What makes it difficult for us English speakers is that there is no
> > equivalent to the מו- -MW suffix in English, therefore we struggle to
> > understand it, the הם- -HM suffix is almost always understood the same
> > “their” when used as a possessive, or as “them” when used as an object.
> Hence the question.
> I look forward to reading your notes on the subject, if & when they turn
Karl W. Randolph.
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