[b-hebrew] -HM vs -MW suffix

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Feb 15 17:43:44 EST 2012


Joel:

I did a study on this question some years ago and wrote up some
notes—unfortunately they are on an older computer to which I will not have
access until next month. That is, if they still exist.

However, there are a couple things I can say from memory:

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.

The use of the מו-  -MW suffix sometimes seems the same as an emphatic with
a different meaning than הם-  -HM suffix, e.g. Exodus 15:5, Isaiah 44:16,
19.

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 as
“their” when used as a possessive, or as “them” when used as an object.

Karl W. Randolph.

On Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 2:16 PM, Joel C. Salomon <joelcsalomon at gmail.com>wrote:

> I've been off-list a while, but I just came across this question
> <http://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/14259> and figured folks
> here might have some approach.
>
> In short:  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?
>
> —Joel


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