[b-hebrew] Qoheleth 7:27

Ken Penner ken.penner at acadiau.ca
Sat Mar 15 16:27:00 EDT 2008

Thank you for asking a grammatical question!

Other grammars might explain it more clearly, but since I have GKC right here, I'll quote §122.o on the substantive use of a feminine adjective where English would use "thing".

4. The following classes of ideas, which are also regarded as feminine in Hebrew (see above, h), are usually indicated by the feminine form, notwithstanding their occasional transference to masculine persons (see r and s):
(a) Abstracts(sometimes along with masculine forms from the same stem, as נְקָמָה vengeance, as well as נָקָם, עֶזְרָה help, as well as עֵ֫זֶר), e.g. אֱמוּנָה firmness, faithfulness, גְּבוּרָה strength, גְּדוּלָה greatness, מְלֵאָה fullness, מֶמְשָׁלָה dominion, &c. Similarly, the feminine (sing. and plur.) of adjectives and participles is used substantivally in the sense of the Latin and Greek neuter, e.g. נְכוֹנָה stedfastness, Ps 5:10, טוֹבָה goodness, רָעָה evil, Gn 50:20, נְקַלָּה a light thing (i.e. a trifling thing), Jer 6:14; so especially in the plural, e.g. גְּדֹלוֹת great things, Ps 12:4; הַנֶּֽהֱרָסוֹת the ruined places, Ez 36:36, along with הַנְּשַׁמָּה that which was desolate, טֹבוֹת kindnesses, 2 K 25:28, נְכֹחוֹת uprightness, honesty, Is 26:10, נְעִימוֹת amoena, Ps 16:11 (but in verse 6 in the same sense נְעִימִים), נִפְלָאוֹת wonderful things, Ex 34:10 and frequently, קָשׁוֹת hard things, roughly Gn 42:7, 30 (but cf. also רֵיקִם vain things, Pr 12:11, 28:19). Cf. moreover, the very frequent use of זֹאת, הִיא (as well as זֶה and הוּא), Ju 14:4, Ps 118:23, &c., in the sense of hoc, illud (also הֵ֫נָּה equivalent to illa, Is 51:19): also the use of the feminine form of the verb in Is 7:7 לֹא תָקוּם וְלֹא תִֽהְיֶה it shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass; cf. Jer 10:7; so too the suffixes Gn 15:6, Ex 10:11, Jb 38:18, referring back to a whole statement.

Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar (ed. E. Kautzsch and Sir Arthur Ernest Cowley; 2d English ed.), 393.


Ken M. Penner, Ph.D. (McMaster)
Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic vocabulary memorization software: 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org 
> [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Ron Snider
> Sent: March 15, 2008 2:39 PM
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: [b-hebrew] Qoheleth 7:27
> I am working on Ecclesiastes 7:27, which uses two feminine 
> adjectives 'echadh (not sure what transliteration scheme to 
> use here).  Is anyone aware of an independant usage of the 
> feminine adjective to refer to something that is 
> grammatically masculine?  In other words, my inclination is 
> to translated this as "I compared one woman to another in 
> order to find an explanation/conclusion.
> If you have some concrete examples that this should be 
> translated as a neuter one thing to another thing, I would be 
> interested in the verses.
> I do not have any theological axe to grind here, but want to 
> reflect what Solomon really meant.
> Thanks in advance,
> Ron Snider,
> Pastor-teacher

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