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Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/101. Prepositions

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§101. Prepositions.

Brockelmann, Grundriss, i. 494 ff.

101a 1. All words, which by usage serve as prepositions, were originally substantives, viz.:

(a) Substantives in the accusative and in the construct state, so that the noun governed by them is to be considered as in the genitive, and in Arabic actually has the genitive ending, cf. in German statt dessen, kraft dessen, in Greek τούτου χάριν, in Latin huius rei causa, or gratia, montis instar.[1] Cf. אַחַ֫ר (hinder part*) behind, after (Milʿêl in אַ֫חַר כֵּן Lv 1436, Dt 2113, 1 S 105; אַ֫חַר זֶה 2 Ch 329); אֵ֫צֶל (side) close by; בֵּין (intermediate space*) between; בְּעַד, בַּ֫עַד (distance[2]) behind, around; זוּלַת, or with Ḥireq compaginis זֽוּלָתִי (removal, want) except; יַ֫עַן (purpose) on account of; מוּל (מוֹל only in Dt 11) before, over against; מִן־ (separation; cf. §119v) from, out of; נֶ֫גֶד (coming in front, that which is over against) before, over against; עַד־ (progress, duration*) during, until; עַל־ (height, upper part*) upon, over; עִם־ (connexion?) with; it is doubtful whether this is to be derived from the same stem as עֻמַּת, לְעֻמַּת near, beside, like; תַּ֫חַת (under part*) under, instead of.

101b (b) Substantives in the construct state, but to be regarded as in the genitive, since they depend on prepositions (especially the inseparable), e.g. לִפְנֵי (in the face of*) before; כְּפִי, לְפִי (according to the mouth, i.e. the command of*) according to; בִּגְלַל (in the concern of) on account of; לְמַ֫עַן (for the purpose of) on account of.

101c 2. Substantives used adverbially very frequently become prepositions in this way, e.g. בְּלִי, בִּבְלִי, מִבְּלִי, בִּלְתִּי, בְּאֵין, בְּאֶ֫פֶס (with cessation) without, בְּעוֹד (in the duration of) during; בְּדֵי, כְּדֵי (according to the requirement of) for, according to.

  1. In the examples which follow, the meaning of the noun is added in parentheses, and, when it is actually in use [though it is mostly in such cases very rare], is marked with an asterisk.—On a similar use in other languages, see W. von Humboldt, Über die Kawisprache, iii, p. 621.
  2. So also J. Hoch de Long, Die hebr. Präpos. בְּעַד, Lpz. 1905.