[b-hebrew] Definite articles and proper names in B-Hebrew

James Christian jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com
Thu Oct 1 15:12:09 EDT 2009

yeah. My understanding of construct forms like King of Isreal is that they
don't take a definite article and are understand as definite in sense
because it is clear there is only one King of Isreal. But, then again, I
suppose you could argue that proper names (in many languages) don't take
definite articles because they are understood to be definite. e.g. when we
talk about London or New York or Paris it is generally understood that we
are not talking about one of many possible London. When we talk about YHWH
it is clear that there is only one YHWH and so understanding is definitive.
Of course, we reuse names and many people have the same name but we
generally use names in a context in which it is clear who we are talking
about. e.g. there are many Karls but I'm sure nobody on this list has any
trouble guessing which Karl in the context of our discussions. 'Karl' is
therefore used with a definite sense as many other names in our discussions.

So construct forms aside could it be that the general rule in Biblical
Hebrew is that authors don't use the article when context makes the
name/title definite? When call our parents 'Mum' or 'Dad' is that a name or
a title? When I say to a friend 'Hello mate' is 'mate' a name or a title? Is
there a big black and white difference between names and titles? Or are
there many shades of grey in between pure titles and pure names? Could it be
that in the creation account Elohim is not so much the strict (black) title
but the (so light grey it is almost white) title which has been used so much
it has almost become a name? e.g. Do people who talk about 'God' with a
capital G in English consider 'God' to be a name or a title?

Again, I repeat and restress my original question. If Elohim in the creation
account is to be understood as a strict title what are the contextual clues
that make it understood as such? There is no construct form in berewith bara
Elohim ...

James Christian

2009/9/30 <dwashbur at nyx.net>

> Karl,
> While I tend to agree with you about Genesis, wouldn't most of the examples
> you're talking
> about be construct forms?  Those can't take the article.  It seems to me
> that might skew the
> results of your search somewhat.
> On 30 Sep 2009 at 8:16, K Randolph wrote:
> > To answer this question, I just did a quick electronic search for
> >  MLK
> > and found many examples where it is used without a definite article
> > yet as a
> > title, not a name. A common contextual clue is "king of ..."
> > with the name of
> > the place over which he is the king. Often it is preceded by the
> > king´s
> > name, followed by the title "king of" then the name of the
> > place. We have
> > the example of Exodus 1:8 and Deuteronomy 17:14-15 where the
> > definite
> > article does not fit the context. From this example, we see that a
> > title
> > does not change to a name in the absence of a definite article in
> > Biblical
> > Hebrew.
> Dave Washburn
> http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
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