Tag Archives: Biblical Hebrew

Update to Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language & Linguistics Post

I’ve been tipped off to some additional PDFs of EHLL articles available online, so I’ve updated my post, which now has links to over 100 PDFs. I’ve also rearranged the authors by their last names. Find it here.


Free PDF from SBL: Rezetko and Young, Historical Linguistics & Biblical Hebrew

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SBL has released another free title in their Ancient Near East Monographs series. Robert Rezetko and Ian Young, Historical Linguistics & Biblical Hebrew: Steps Toward an Integrated Approach. Here’s the TOC:

Table of Contents

Biblical Hebrew “Roots”

This quote from Lambdin struck me years ago when I first read it, and I just came across it again. I thought it was good to remind myself of this:

Note that the root is a grammatical abstraction from the given words and not vice versa; that is, because a root has no existence apart from its incorporation into words, it leads to misunderstanding the nature of language to say that the words are derived from the root.

Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Articles Available Online

Below are links to PDFs of articles in Brill’s new Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics that I have found online or that have been sent to me by the authors. There’s no guarantee these links will remain active, but I have removed dead ones as I have run across them. If you know of any I’ve missed, please let me know. (For a thematic list of the published articles, see here.)

Aharoni, Amir
Vocalization of Modern Hebrew

Amadasi, Maria Giulia
Phoenician and Hebrew

Bat-El, Outi
Denominal Verbs: Modern Hebrew

Beckman, John C.
Concessive Clause: Biblical Hebrew
Conditional Clause: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Biblical Hebrew
Pluralis Majestatis: Biblical Hebrew

Bunis, David
Judeo-Spanish (Judezmo), Hebrew Component in

Callaham, Scott
Mood and Modality (Biblical Hebrew)

Cook, John
Aspect: Pre-Modern Hebrew
Actionality (Aktionsart): Pre-Modern Hebrew

Elan, Dresher, B.
Biblical Accents: Prosody

Engel, Edna
Script, History of Development

Haber, Esther
Coordination: Modern Hebrew

Halevy, Rivka

Holmstedt, Robert
Clitics: Pre-Modern Hebrew
Pro-Drop (Pronoun Dropping)
Relative Clause: Biblical Hebrew

Holtz, Shalom E.
Lexicography: Biblical Hebrew

Huehnergard, John
Relative Particles
Philippi’s Law
Canaanite Shift
Hebrew Loanwords in English
Hebrew as a Semitic Language

Jacobsen, Joshua R.
Biblical Accents: Cantillation
Biblical Accents: System of Combination

Joosten, Jan
Verbel System: Biblical Hebrew

Kawashima, Robert
Stylistics: Biblical Hebrew

Kearney, Jonathan
Grammatical Thought in Medieval Jewish Exegesis in Europe

Khan, Geoffrey
Pronominal Suffixes
Reduction of Vowels
Transcriptions into Arabic Script: Medieval Karaite Sources
Transcriptions into Arabic Script: Medieval Muslim Sources
Masoretic Treatises
Ketiv and Qere
Root: Medieval Karaite Notions
Morphology in the Medieval Karaite Tradition
Grammarians, Karaite
Epenthesis: Biblical Hebrew
Guttural Consonants: Masoretic Hebrew
Biblical Hebrew: Linguistic Background of the Masoretic Text
Biblical Hebrew Pronunciation Traditions
Tiberian Reading Tradition
Resh: Pre-Modern Hebrew
Shewa: Pre-Modern Hebrew
Syllable Structure: Biblical Hebrew
Vowel Length: Biblical Hebrew
Pretonic Lengthening
Compensatory Lengthening
Vocalization: Babylonian

Koller, Aaron

Mendel, Anat
Literacy: Biblical Hebrew

Neuman, Yishai
Comitative: Biblical Hebrew
Graphophonemic Assignment
[Hebrew in] France

Noegel, Scott
Euphemism in Biblical Hebrew

Pat-El, Na’ama
Inalienable Possession
Stative Verbs

Penner, Ken
History of the Research on the Hebrew Verbal System

Petersson, Lina
Priestly Source of the Pentateuch (1st proof)

Rendsburg, Gary
Biblical Hebrew: Dialects and Linguistic Variation
Culture Words: Biblical Hebrew
Diglossia: Biblical Hebrew
Foreigner Speech: Biblical Hebrew
Kinship Terms
Morphology: Biblical Hebrew
Negation: Pre-Modern Hebrew
Pentateuch, Linguistic Layers in the
Phoenician/Punic and Hebrew
Phonology: Biblical Hebrew
Rotwelsch, Hebrew Loanwords in

Reshef, Yael
Modern Hebrew Grammar: History of Scholarship
Revival of Hebrew: Grammatical Structure and Lexicon
Revival of Hebrew: Sociolinguistic Dimension

Rubin, Aaron
Definite Article in Pre-Modern Hebrew
Sumerian Loanwords
Hebrew Loanwords in American Creoles

Sadan, Tsvi (PDFs downloadable through sites.google.com)
Yiddish, Hebrew Component in
Word Formation
Verbal System: Modern Hebrew
Lingua Franca: Jewish Studies
Esperanto and Hebrew

Shoshany, Ronit
Biblical Accents: Babylonian

Siegal, Elitzur A. Bar-Asher
Diglossia: (ii) Rabbinic Hebrew

Stein, Rabbi David E. S.
Gender Representation in Biblical Hebrew

Tsumura, David

Veviurko, Tania Notarius
Multiliteral Roots
Compound Tenses
Aspectual Markers

Zevi, Tamar
Collectives: Modern Hebrew
Directive he
Exceptive Construction
Relative Clause: Modern Hebrew
Nominal Clause
Content Clauses
Syntax: Biblical Hebrew

Ziv, Yael
Discourse Analysis

Infinitive Constructs in Qumran “Rule” Texts

I was talking with Martin Abegg today and I brought up a phenomenon I’ve noticed while syntactically tagging Cairo Damascus. I was having trouble finding verbs for a number of clauses that seemed only to be governed by an infinitive absolute with a lamed prefix. CD 1:14–18 provide some good examples. Here’s the Hebrew (according to the sentence divisions in Accordance):

בעמוד איש הלצון אשר הטיף לישראל
‭מימי כזב ויתעם בתוהו לא דרך להשח גבהות עולם ולסור
‭‬מנתיבות צדק ולסיע גבול אשר גבלו ראשנים בנחלתם למען
‭הדבק בהם את אלות בריתו להסגירם לחרב נקמת נקם

Wise, Abegg, and Cook provide the following translation (I’ve italicized the finite verbs):

When the Man of Mockery appeared, who sprayed on Israel lying waters, he led them to wander in the trackless wasteland. He brought down the lofty heights of old, turned aside from paths of righteousness, and shifted the boundary marks that the forefathers had set up to mark their inheritance, so that the curses of His covenant took hold on them. Because of this they were handed over to the sword that avenges the breach of His covenant.

All the other verbs, except for “avenges” at the end are infinitive constructs (“avenges” is a participle), and all but two have lamed prefixes. That’s quite a few infinitive constructs acting as finite verbs. Martin said he found the same phenomenon in 1QS and in one other text, and if we add CD to the list, it only appears consistently in the “rule” or “manual” documents, and nowhere else. Here are a few lines from 1QS:

ל[‏  ]שים לחיו‏ [ספר סר]כ היחד לדרושל[‏  ]שים לחיו‏ [ספר סר]כ היחד לדרוש
‭‬אל ב[כול לב ובכול נפש‏ ]לעשות הטוב והישר לפניו כאשר
‭‬צוה ביד מושה וביד כול עבדיו הנביאים ולאהוב כול
‭‬אשר בחר ולשנוא את כול אשר מאס לרחוק מכול רע
‬ולדבוק בכול מעשי טוב ולעשות אמת וצדקה ומשפט
‭   צראב

Here is the Wise, Abegg, and Cook translation, with finite verbs italicized:

A text belonging to [the Instructor, who is to teach the Ho]ly Ones how to live according to the book of the Yahad’s Rule. He is to teach them to seek God with all their heart and with all their soul, to do that which is good and upright before Him, just as He commanded through Moses and all His servants the prophets. He is to teach them to love everything He chose and to hate everything He rejected, to distance themselves from all evil and to hold fast to all good deeds; to practice truth, justice, and righteousness in the land.

Everything else is an infinitive construct with a lamed prefix. Is this indicative of some developing use of the infinitive construct within legal material?

Robert Holmstedt on Reviewing Books on Their Own Terms

(HT Charles Halton) Robert Holmstedt has a thoughtful discussion up on Ancient Hebrew Grammar about reviewing books on their own terms. The objects of Robert’s critique are reviews by Korpel and Lim of his recent contribution on Ruth to the Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible series. For those new to book reviews (like me), Robert provides the basic elements of a review, based on the model he was taught by his mentors (the first two are critical, and the third is optional but desirable):

  1. a fair summary of the contents,
  2. an evaluation of the book on its own terms (often with specific examples taken from the book),
  3. some connection to the field in which the book belongs, preferably using a feature that is either present (noted as done well or not so well) or absent (and thus needed) in the book itself.

In his post, Holmstedt takes issue with the fact that both reviewers level criticisms at the text which appear to neglect the stated purposes of the series. Lim criticizes Robert for not interacting with non-English scholarship, and Korpel criticizes him for not going deep enough into principles of Hebrew grammar. The purpose of the Baylor Handbook series, however, is not to provide a comprehensive commentary, but rather a handbook for the intermediate student of Biblical Hebrew. In light of that, Robert argues, Lim and Korpel rather miss the mark, and I have to agree. I read Holmstedt’s book as an intermediate student of Biblical Hebrew at Oxford and I thought it was incredibly helpful. Ruth is one of the most popular books to cover late in beginning Hebrew and in intermediate Hebrew, and I think this volume provides an incredibly valuable resource to that study. The writing is clear and concise, and the discussion engages the principles on what seemed to me to be just the right level. Whether or not I agreed with every reading (or the fundamental S-V order), I knew well the reasons for Robert’s readings. It seems book reviews are becoming increasingly scrutinized of late, and that’s not a bad thing. We should take special care to understand a book’s aims and goals before deciding if it has failed or succeeded. Too many reviews fail in this regard.

Why is Elohim Plural?

‘Elohim (אלהים) is morphologically plural, but as everyone knows, it’s frequently used in reference to singular subjects (primarily the God of Israel). The Bible is not the only place this happens, though. The Akkadian word for “gods,” ilanu, frequently occured in reference to singular subjects in the Amarna Letters (almost always in correspondences written by Syro-Palestinians to Egyptians), in Akkadian texts from Ugarit, and at Taanach and Qatna. The Phoenician ‘lm is used the exact same way. This usage predates the appearance of this phenomenon in Biblical Hebrew and is no doubt at the root of it. The distribution of this kind of usage moves from the coast to the valleys and then to the highlands.

We know from patterns in the languages in which this phenomenon occurs that it most likely derives from the abstract plural. This is the expression of an abstraction through the plural form of the noun or adjective. We see this in Hebrew with ‘abot, “fatherhood,” the plural of ‘ab, “father,” and zequnim, “old age,” the plural of zaqen, “old,” among many others. Some of these terms were used in reference to an individual entity or object that exemplified the quality of the abstraction. For instance, in Dan 9:23 Gabriel tells Daniel that he is a hamudot, which, as an abstract plural, means “desirableness,” or “preciousness.” In this instance, the abstract should be concretized in reference to Daniel. He is not “desirableness,” but one who exemplifies that quality. He is highly esteemed. Joel Burnett suggests “concretized abstract plural” as a designation for this usage. The word ‘elohim still retains its other uses (the simple plural, etc.), but can be used to refer to singular subject. ‘Elohim, then, means “divinity,” or “deity.” The God of Israel exemplifies divinity.

For a more complete discussion, the best treatment is Joel Burnett, A Reassessment of Biblical Elohim (Atlanta, Ga.; Society of Biblical Literature, 2001), 7–24.