[b-hebrew] question from parshat ha'azinu

Trevor Peterson 06peterson at cua.edu
Sat Oct 4 06:57:35 EDT 2003

Karl wrote:

> • the meaning of the suffix could either be plural or 
> singular, though usually plural • it occurs more often in 
> poetry than prose, Deuteronomy 32 is poetry

The frequency in poetry may not have much to do with semantics. Since it
is poetry, we should consider the possibility that it was added for
sound--to lengthen a form (and thus lengthen a line), perhaps. It could
also be an archaic or dialectal feature, which tend to hold on in poetry
longer than in prose.

> • it is more 
> often attached to a single letter prefix than to a noun or 
> verb e.g. KMW or LMW

There could also be a connection with the longer forms from these
single-letter prepositions (particularly K), where the -mo- appears
before the usual suffix. If this is basically the same thing, it's one
of the most common appearances in prose.

> • where it is plural, it usually refers 
> to a natural group or assemblage, such as a people, tribe • 
> it seems to emphasize the subject of the -MW more so than the 
> noun or prefix it’s appended to • it seems to indicate that 
> very subject, possibly a reflexive emphasis, not a general subject 

I'm not sure what you mean by this last part. A possessive or object
suffix is intended to refer to something else, rather than the word to
which it is attached. Could you give some examples of this emphasis you
see (and how it differs from other suffixes)?

Trevor Peterson

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