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

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Wed Oct 14 09:36:47 EDT 2009


Dear James,

See page 402, para. 2. and 125f, Rem. I. 

    2. REal proper nouns, as being the names of things (or persons) onle once met with, are sufficiently determinate in themselves. Such names, therefore, YHWH, David, Yaacob, Cenaan, Selom do not admit of the article, nor can they be in the construct state,...

    In a few instances original appellatives have completely assumed the character of real proper names, and are therefore used without the article: thus "elohim God:, to denoted the one true God (as elsewhere YHWH) Gn 1:1, and so generally in this document of the Pentateuch up to Ex 6, ...." Gesenius gives further examples.

I would recommend reading the entire section on the article.

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: James Christian 
  To: Bryant J. Williams III 
  Cc: Joel C. Salomon ; Biblical Hebrew list 
  Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 4:28 PM
  Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Definite articles and proper names in B-Hebrew


  Thanks for that. I'm missing the bit where it explains the lack of the article in conjuction with elohim in the creation account. None of the points he makes seem relevant.

  James Christian


  2009/10/13 Bryant J. Williams III <bjwvmw at com-pair.net>

    Dear James,

    Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, p. 404, para. 126, 2.
       "The article is, generally speaking, employed to determine a substantive
    wherever it is required by Greek and English; thus:
           (a) When a person or thing already spoken of is mentioned again, and is
    consequently more definite to the mind of the hearer or reader; e.g. Gn 1:3 and
    God said, Let there be light; verse 4 and God saw the light ('et-ha'or).

    Probably more to the point is pages 410ff.
       When a genitive, deteremined in any way, followsa nomen regens, it also
    determines the nomen regens, which, according to para. 89 a, is always in the
    construct state. Moreover, every pronominal suffix attached to a substantive is,
    according to para. 33 c, to be considered a genitive determinate by nature. An
    independent genitve may be determinate -
       (a) By its character as a proper name (according to 125 a), e.g. debar YHWH,
    the word of the LORD.

    Of course, Gesenius gives several examples of instances where the article is
    omitted due to rhythm or rhetoric.

    Rev. Bryant J. Williams

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "James Christian" <jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com>
    To: "Joel C. Salomon" <joelcsalomon at gmail.com>
    Cc: "Biblical Hebrew list" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
    Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 2:22 PM
    Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Definite articles and proper names in B-Hebrew


    > I hate to bring this up again but after so long a discussion we don't seem
    > to have reached any kind of grammatically plausible explanation of why the
    > article is consistently missing in the style of the creation account.
    > Is there anybody in favour of this being explained in the same way as the
    > absence in construct forms is explained? i.e. that phrases don't need
    > definite articles if there are other indicators which make the phrase
    > definite? If so, what are those indicators?
    >
    > Could it be that implicit definiteness is what explains that lack of
    > definite articles in most languages? Native speakers of Slavonic languages
    > like Polish, Ukrainian and Russian - what difference do you perceive between
    > names and titles in your native languages? (NB there is no definite article
    > in Slavonic languages)
    >
    > James Christian
    >
    >
    > 2009/10/6 Joel C. Salomon <joelcsalomon at gmail.com>
    >
    > > James Christian wrote:
    > > > I think you are referring to ויהי איש אחד מן הרמתים צופים which is
    > > commonly
    > > > translates as 'And there was a certain man from Ramathaim-Zophim'. I'm
    > > > guessing that you are trying to point out that Ramathaim-Zophim is a
    > > proper
    > > > name and yet is used with a definite article?
    > >
    > > I have seen this explained (by Malbim, IIRC) that "the Ramathaim" were
    > > twin towns named Ramath.
    > >
    > > —Joel Salomon
    > >  _______________________________________________
    > > b-hebrew mailing list
    > > b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
    > > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
    > >
    > _______________________________________________
    > b-hebrew mailing list
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    > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
    >



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