Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/152. Negative Sentences

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§152. Negative Sentences.

a 1. Besides the use of rhetorical questions (§§ 150 d, 151a), independent sentences are made negative by the adverbs לֹא (Jb 621, where instead of the Keth. לוֹ we must evidently read לֹא; perhaps preserved as a substantive) = the Greek οὐ, not, אַל־ = μή (Jb 2425 as a substantive), אֵין (it is) not; טֶ֫רֶם not yet, אֶ֫פֶס not, אַפְסִי (cf. § 90 m) not. The forms בַּל, בְּלִי, בִּלְתִּי not belong almost entirely to poetry.—With regard to לֹא and אֵין the main distinction is that verbal-clauses (rarely noun-clauses, see e) are regularly negatived by לֹא (besides its use as negativing single words[1]), while אֵין is used exclusively with noun-clauses (see the examples below).

b The conjunctions פֶּן־ and לְבִלְתִּי that not, serve to negative dependent clauses. The particular uses of these particles are as follows:—

(a) לֹא (less frequently לוֹא), like οὐ, οὐκ, is used regularly for the objective, unconditional negation, and hence is usually connected with the perfect or imperfect (as indicative); on לֹא with the imperfect to express an unconditional prohibition, see § 107 o; on its use with the jussive, see § 109 d.—On לֹא for הֲלֹא nonne, in interrogative sentences, cf. § 150 a. In connexion with כֹּל, כָּל־ (= any), לֹא is used to express an absolute negation, nullus, none whatever (cf. the French ne... personne, ne... rien), usually in the order לֹא... כֹּל, e.g. Gn 31 לֹא תֹֽאכְלוּ מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden; 9:11, Ex 1015, 2010, Lv 723, Dt 89, Jer 137, 3217 (לֹא... כָּל־דָּבָר nothing at all; cf. the same statement in the form of a rhetorical question, Jer 3227); Pr 1221, 3030 לֹא... מִפְּנֵי־כֹל and turneth not away for any; 2 Ch 3215; but cf. also the inverted order, Ex 1216 בָּל־מְלָאכָה לֹא־יֵֽעָשֶׂה no manner of work shall be done; 12:43, 15:26, 22:21, Lv 1617, Jb 3313, Dn 1137. The meaning is different when בֹּל by being determinate is used in the sense of whole, e.g. Nu 2313 כֻּלּוֹ לֹא תִרְאֶה thou shalt not see them all, but only a part.

Analogous to לֹא... כֹּל is the use of אִישׁ... לֹא Gn 236, &c., in verbal-clauses in the sense of no one at all, not a single one. On אֵין־כֹּל nothing at all, see under p.

c Rem. 1. The examples in which לֹא is used absolutely as a negative answer, equivalent to certainly not! no! must be regarded as extremely short verbal-clauses, e.g. Gn 192 (לֹא according to the context for לֹא נָסוּר &c.); 23:11, 42:10, Hag 212, Jb 236, sometimes with a following כִּי but, Gn 192 (see above); Jos 514, 1 K 322.

d 2. The negation of noun-clauses by לֹא (as opposed to the regular negationd by אֵין) always includes a certain emphasis, since the force of the negation falls rather upon a particular word (cf. e.g. Ez 3632), than upon the whole clause. In 2 S 334 יָדֶ֫יךָ לֹֽא־אֲסוּרוֹת thy hands were not bound, a participle is thus specially negatived by לֹא; cf. ψ 749, where, however, לֹא is separated from the participle by אִתָּ֫נוּ, and Jb 123. As a rule, noun-clauses with a pronominal subject are thus negatived by לֹא, Gn 2012, Nu 3523 (Dt 442, 194); 1 S 1529, 2 S 212, Jer 422, ψ 227, Jb 2814, parallel with אֵין; generally with לֹא before a substantival predicate, e.g. Ex 410 לֹא אִישׁ דְּבָרִים אָנֹ֫כִי I am not a man of words; Am 518.—Noun-clauses with a substantival subject, Gn 297, Nu 2319, Is 222, 4419, Hag 12, ψ 223, Jb 932, 1817, 219, 2216, 3626 (with וְ of the apodosis); 41:2; in Jb 933 even לֹא יֵשׁ non est is used instead of אֵין.—In Pr 185 לֹא is used before an adjectival predicate; in 1 S 2026 (where a preceding noun-clause is negatived by בִּלְתִּי) read לֹא טֹהָר with the LXX, for לֹא טָהוֹר. On לֹא for אֵין in circumstantial clauses to express attributive ideas, see u below.

e 3. As a rule לֹא stands immediately before the verb, but sometimes is separated from it (frequently to bring into special prominence another word which follows it); thus Jb 227, Ec 1010 before the object and verb; Nu 1629 before the subject and verb; Dt 89, 2 S 334, ψ 4918, 10310, Jb 1316, 3423 before a complementary adjunct. In Dt 325 לֹא according to the accentuation even stands at the end of the clause (they offend him not); but undoubtedly לֹא בָנָיו are to be taken together.—On the position of לֹא with the infinitive absolute, see § 113 v.

f (b) אַל־ is used like μή and ne to express a subjective and conditional negation, and hence especially in connexion with the jussive (§ 109 c and e) to introduce prohibitions, warnings, negative desires, and requests. On אַל־ with the imperfect, see § 107 p; with the cohortative, see § 108 c; on 2 K 627, see § 109 h.

g Rem. 1. אַל־ (like לֹא, see note on a above) maybe used to form a compound word, as in Pr 1228 אַל־מָוֶת not-death (immortality); though all the early versions read אֶל־מָוֶת. The instances in which אַל appears to stand absolutely, equivalent to no, certainly not (like μή for μὴ γένηται), e.g. Ru 113 אַל בְּנׄתַי nay, my daughters, and Gn 1918, 3310 (אַל־נָא), are also due (see under c) to extreme shortening of a full clause (in 2 S 1325 such a clause is repeated immediately afterwards); thus in 2 S 121, Is 622, ψ 832 יְהִי is evidently to be supplied, and in Jo 213, Am 514, Pr 810 the corresponding jussive from the preceding imperatives, in Pr 1712 from the preceding infinitive absolute.

h 2. אַל־, like לֹא, regularly stands immediately before the verb, but in Is 648, Jer 1024, 1515, ψ 62, 382 before another strongly emphasized member of the sentence.[2]

i (c) אֵין construct state (unless it be sometimes merely a contracted connective form, cf. שְׁנֵים for שְׁנַ֫יִם § 97 d) of אַ֫יִן non-existence (as also the absolute state, see below) is the negative of יֵשׁ existence; cf. e.g. Gn 3129 with Neh 55. As יֵשׁ (he, she, it is, was, &c.) includes the idea of being in all tenses, so אַ֫יִן, אֵין includes the idea of not being in all tenses. Hence—

k (1) The absolute state אַ֫יִן, with an evident transition to the meaning of a verbal predicate, there does not exist, always follows the word negatived, e.g. Is 373 (2 K 193) וְכֹחַ אַ֫יִן לְלֵדָה and strength does not exist to bring forth; Gn 25 אַ֫יִן was not present; Ex 177 אִם־אָֽיִן or is he not? after הֲיֵשׁ is he...? (cf. Nu 1320); Lv 2637, Nu 205, Ju 420 (אָֽיִן no). In 1 S 94 and 10:14 אַ֫יִן is used in reference to a plural; 1 K 1810, Is 4117, 4521, 5911, Mi 72, Pr 134, 2514, Jb 39 וָאַ֫יִן and let there be none, let none come! Ec 319.—Cf. finally אִם־אַ֫יִן if it be not so, Gn 301, Ex 3232, Ju 915, 2 K 210.—Quite anomalous is אַ֫יִן Jb 3515 before a perfect as an emphatic negation; the text, however, can hardly be correct.

l (2) The construct state אֵין stands in its natural position immediately before the substantive whose non-existence it predicates, or before the subject of the sentence which is to be negatived. To the former class belong also the very numerous instances in which אֵין is joined to a participle, e.g. 1 S 2612 וְאֵין רֹאֶה וְאֵין יוֹדֵעַ וְאֵין מֵקִיץ and there was not one seeing, &c., i.e. and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither did any awake; so especially וְאֵין with a participle in subordinate circumstantial or descriptive clauses, such as Is 529 וְיַפְלִיט וְאֵין מַצִּיל and he shall carry it away, while there is none delivering, i.e. without any one’s delivering it; ψ 73, &c.; Lv 266 &c., וְאֵין מַֽחֲרִיד without any one’s making you afraid; cf. § 141 e. אֵין is used as the negation of an entire noun-clause, e.g. in Gn 3923, Nu 1442 אֵין יְהוַֹה בִּקִרְבְּכֶם the Lord is not among you; Gn 3729 אֵֽין־יוֹסֵף בַּבּוֹר Joseph was not in the pit.

m (3) When the subject which is to be negatived is a personal pronoun, it is joined as a suffix to אֵין, according to § 100 o, e.g. אֵינֶ֫נִּי I am not, was not, shall not be; אֵֽינְךָ, fem. אֵינֵךְ, thou art not, &c.; אֵינֶ֫נּוּ, fem. אֵינֶ֫נָּה he, she is not, &c.; also absolutely, Gn 4213 he is (5:24 he was) no longer alive; אֵינָם they are not, &c. When the accompanying predicate is a verb, it follows again (see l) in the form of a participle, since אֵין always introduces a noun-clause, e.g. Ex 510 אֵינֶ֫נִּי נׄתֵן I will not give; 8:17, Dt 132.

n Rem. In Neh 417 אֵין אֲנִי for אֵינֶ֫נִּי is due to its being co-ordinate with three other (substantival) subjects; these are again expressly summed up in אֵֽין־אֲנַחְנוּ.—In Hag 217 אֵין אֶתְכֶם the pronominal complement of אֵין appears to follow with the sign of the accusative;[3] but most probably we should read with the LXX שֻֽׁבְכֶם for אֶתְכֶם.

o (4) The fact that אֵין (like אַ֫יִן) always includes the idea of a verb (is not, was not, &c.) led finally to such a predominance of the verbal element, that the original character of אֵין as a construct state (but cf. i above) was forgotten, and accordingly it is very frequently separated from its noun (substantive or participle); especially so by the insertion of shorter words (of the nature of enclitics), e.g. בּוֹ Is 16, לוֹ Lv 1110, 12, לָהּ Gn 1130, גַּם ψ 143, שָׁם Ju 1810, Ex 1230; but cf. also ψ 510, 66, 322, and אֵין used absolutely in Ex 222, 1 K 89, Ru 44.—Hence, finally, even the transposition of אֵין and its noun became possible, e.g. Gn 408 and 41:15 וּפֹתֵר אֵין אֹתוֹ and an interpreter there is not of it; Gn 4713, Ju 146, 1 S 212, Is 130, Jer 3013, Hb 219, Pr 517 (וְאֵין=neve sint; cf. k above, on Jb 39); 30:27.—In Gn 1931, Ex 516 אֵין is placed between the subject and predicate.

p Rem. 1. Like לֹא... כֹּל or כֹּל... לֹא (see b above) so also אֵין כֹּל expresses an absolute negation, e.g. Ec 19 אֵין כָּל־חָדָשׁ there is no new thing, &c.; 2 S 123, Dn 14 (cf. also אֵין מְא֫וּמָה there is nothing, 1 K 1843, Ec 513); as also כָּל־... אֵין Hb 219; cf. מְא֫וּמָה אֵין Ju 146.

q 2. Undoubtedly akin to אֵין in origin is the negative syllable אִי occurring in the two compounds אִי כָבוֹד (as a proper name, 1 S 421; Baer אִֽי־כָבוֹד) and אִֽי־נָקִי not innocent, Jb 2230; but the proper name אִֽיתָמָר is doubtful, and the fem. אִיזֶ֫בֶל very doubtful. In Ethiopic this אִי is the most common form of negation, prefixed even to verbs.

r (d) טֶ֫רֶם not yet, when referring to past time is used, as a rule (§ 107 c), with the imperfect, Gn 25 כֹּל... טֶ֫רֶם none... yet; see b and p above; Gn 194, 2445, Jos 28, 1 S 33; with the imperfect in the sense of a present, Ex 107 הֲטֶ֫רֶם תֵּדַע knowest thou not yet? Ex 930; but cf. Gn 2415, and בְּטֶ֫רֶם with the perfect in ψ 902 (but see § 107 c), Pr 825.

s (e) אֶ֫פֶס (prop. a substantive, cessation) no longer, including the verbal idea of existing, cf. Dt 3236, Is 456, 14, 46:9; used absolutely, Am 610 in the question הַאֶ֫פֶס עוֹד אִישׁ is there none left? &c., 2 S 93; frequently also in the sense of non nisi; with ־ִי paragogic (§ 90 m) אַפְסִי Is 478, 10, Zp 215 אֲנִי וְאַפְסִי עוֹד I am, and there is none else.

t (f) בַּל,[4] in poetic and prophetic style, and with a certain emphasis,=לֹא, is used with the imperfect, e.g. Is 2614, 3320, 23 (immediately afterwards with a perfect); Ho 72, ψ 4913, Pr 1030 (but Is 1421 before the jussive,=אַל־); before an adjective, Pr 2423; before a preposition, ψ 162, Pr 237.

(g) בְּלִי with a perfect, Gn 3120, Is 146; with an imperfect, Jb 4118; to negative a participle, Ho 78, ψ 194; to negative an adjective, 2 S 121.

(h) בִּלְתִּי to negative an adjective, 1 S 2026; on בִּלְתִּי Ez 133, see x; on לְבִלְתִּי as the regular negative with the infinitive construct, see § 114 s; on לְבִלְתִּי as a conjunction, see x below.

On אִם as a negative particle in oaths (verily not), see § 149 c above.

u Rem. on לֹא, אֵין, בְּלִי. To the category of negative sentences belongs also the expression of negative attributes by means of לֹא, בְּלִי not (both so used almost exclusively in poetic language) or אֵין with a following substantive, mostly in the simplest form of circumstantial clause; e.g. 2 S 234 בּ֫קֶֹר לֹא עָבוֹת a morning when there are not clouds, i.e. a cloudless morning; cf. Jb 1224, 262 b, 38:26 (לֹא־אִישׁ where no man is, i.e. uninhabited); 1 Ch 230, 32 לֹא בָנִים childless; so also בְּלִי e.g. Jb 2410 and אֵין e.g. ψ 885 I am as a man אֵֽין־אֱיָל there is not help, i.e. like a helpless man; Is 96 אֵֽין־קֵץ endless; 47:1, Ho 711; אֵֽין־מִסְפָּר countless, Ct 68, &c., but usually (ψ 10425, &c.) like a proper circumstantial clause (cf. § 141 e) connected by Wāw, וְאֵֽין־מִסְפָּר.—Less frequently such periphrases take the form of relative clauses (cf. § 155 e), e.g. Jb 3013 לֹא עֹזֵר לָ֫מוֹ they for whom there is no helper, i.e. the helpless (but probably עֹזֵר is only an intrusion from 29:12, and we should read עֹצֵר without any one’s restraining them; in 29:12 translate the fatherless and him that had none to help him; in ψ 7212 וְאֵֽין־ע׳ is used in the same sense); Hb 114; with אֵין Is 459 thy work is that of a man who hath no hands; Zc 911 out of the waterless pit.[5]

v How far such compounds finally came to be regarded by the language simply as negative adjectives, may be seen partly from the fact that they (as also relative clauses analogous to the above) are frequently co-ordinated with real adjectives, Jo 16, ψ 7212, Jb 2912; cf. also Is 5910, where כְּאֵֽין־עֵינַ֫יִם is parallel with כַּֽעִוְרִים; partly from their being introduced by the sign of the dative לְ, e.g. Is 4029 (= and to the powerless); Jb 262 a.3, Neh 810.

w (i) פֶּן־ lest, that not, at the beginning of a clause expressing a fear or precaution, hence especially after such ideas as fearing, Gn 3212, &c. (cf. δείδω μή, vereor ne), taking heed, frequently after הִשָּׁ֫מֶר, הִשָּֽׁמְרוּ Gn 246, 3124, &c., taking care, 2 K 1023, &c. Not infrequently the idea on which פֶּן־ depends, is only virtually contained in the main clause, e.g. Gn 1919 I cannot escape to the mountain (because I am afraid), פֶּן־תִּדְבָּקַנִי הָֽרָעָה lest some evil overtake me; Gn 269, 3811; also in Gn 4434 from the rhetorical question how shall I... ? we must understand I cannot, governing פֶּן. This is especially the case after an appeal to do or not to do an action by which something may be prevented (in which case פֶּן־ is simply equivalent to the final ne); cf. e.g. Gn 114, 1915, Nu 2018 (where פֶּן־ lest is separated from the verb by a strongly emphasized substantive); Ju 1512 after swear unto me; Pr 2418.—In Gn 322 and now, lest he put forth his hand, &c., פֶּן־ is to be regarded as virtually dependent on a cohortative, which immediately afterwards (verse 23) is changed into an historic tense; cf. also Gn 267, 3131, 424 Ex 1317, 1 S 1319, 2711, ψ 3817, in every case after כִּי אָמַ֫רְתִּי, כִּי אָמַר, &c.=I thought, &c., I must beware lest, &c.

Rem. According to § 107 q, פֶּן־ is naturally followed by the imperfect; for the exceptions, 2 S 206, 2 K 216, see § 107 q, note 3; cf. moreover, 2 K 1023 רְאוּ פֶּן־יֶשׁ־פֹּה look lest there be here, &c. x (k) לְבִלְתִּי that... not, with the imperfect, Ex 2020, 2 S 1414 (in Jer 2314 read the infinitive שׁוּב for שָׁ֫בוּ, in 27:8 יָבֹ֫אוּ for בֹּ֫אוּ). In Ez 133 בִּלְתִּי ירָאוּ is a relative clause governed by לְ= according to things which they have not seen.

y 2. Two negatives in the same sentence do not neutralize each other (as in nonnulli, non nemo), but make the negation the more emphatic (like οὐκ οὐδείς, οὐκ οὐδαμῶς, nulli—non, nemo non); e.g. Zp 22 (if the text is correct) בְּטֶ֫רֶם לֹֽא־יָבוֹא before there shall (not) come.[6] This especially applies to the compounds formed by the union of אֵין or בְּלִי with מִן־ without (§ 119 y), e.g. Is 59 (6:11) מֵאֵין יוֹשֵׁב (for which in Jer 215 מִבְּלִי ישֵׁב), prop. without no inhabitant, i.e. so that no inhabitant is left there. On the other hand, in Is 502 מֵאֵין מַ֫יִם the מִן־ is causative, because there is no water; as also in Ex 1411 הֲמִבְּלִי אֵין־ is it because there were no...? 2 K 13, 6, 16. In Ec 311 מִבְּלִי אֲשֶׁר לֹא except that (yet so that man cannot, &c.).

z 3. The negative sometimes extends its influence from the first to a second negative sentence parallel with it (which may or may not have Wāw) ; e.g. 1 S 23 talk not so much arrogancy; let (not) boasting come out of your mouth; Ex 2843, Lv 1912, 229, 15 f., Nu 1614, 2319, Dt 725, Is 234, 2827, 3818, 4714, Ez 1647, ψ 919, 135, 3519, 382, 4419, 756, Jb 2817 (so לָ֫מָּה לֹא why... not? in Jb 311 also affects the parallel clause).

  1. Especially in compounds, e.g. לֹא־אֵל lit. a no-God (Germ. Ungott)who is indeed called a god, but is not really a god, Dt 3221; לֹא אֱלֹהַּ verse 17, cf. Jer 57, 2 Ch 139; לֹא־עָם lit. a not-people (Germ. Unvolk), Dt 3221; לֹא דָבָר a nothing, Am 613; לֹא עֵץ lit. not-wood, Is 1015; לֹא־אִישׁ, לֹֽא־אָדָם lit. not-man, superhuman (of God), Is 318; לֹא־עֶ֫דֶק unrighteousness, Jer 2213, cf. Ez 2229; לֹא־סְדָרִים disorder, Jb 1022; לֹֽא־חָמָם not-violence, 16:17; after לְ Jb 262 f. (לֹא־כֹחַ, לֹא־עֹז helplessness, לֹא חָכְמָה insipientia); cf. also Is 552 בְּלוֹא לְשָׂבְעָה for what is unsatisfying; ψ 4413, Jb 811, 1532, 1 Ch 1233.—In Nu 205 a construct state with several genitives is negatived by לֹא.—Also לֹא is used with an infinitive, Nu 3523; with an adjective, לֹא חָכָם unwise, Dt 326, Ho 1313; לֹֽא־חָסִיד impius, ψ 431; לֹא־עָז and לֹֽא־עָצוּם not strong, Pr 3025 f.; לֹא־כֵן unsuitably, 2 K 79; לֹא־טוֹב not-good, Is 652, Ez 2025, &c.; לֹא טָהוֹר not-clean, 2 Ch 3017; with a participle, e.g. Jer 22 (unsown); (6:8, Ez 414, 2224, Zn 2:1, 3:5; the Masora, however, requires נֻחָ֫מָה in Is 5411, נֶֽעֱזָ֫בָה in 62:12, נוֹשָׁ֫בָה in Jer 68, רֻחָ֫מָה in Ho 16, i.e. always 3rd sing. fem. perf. in pause = she was not comforted, &c., and consequently not compounds, but either relative clauses or (Is 5411, Ho 16, and especially 2:25) main clauses instead of proper names.—On the above compounds generally, cf. the dissertation mentioned in § 81 d, note 2; on their use in sentences expressing a state, to convey attributive ideas, see u below.
  2. In Jer 513 the pointing אֶל־ occurs twice instead of אַל־, and is thus, in the opinion of the Masoretes, equivalent to against him that bendeth; but undoubtedly we should read אַל־.
  3. According to De Lagarde, Novae psalterii graeci editionis specimen, p. 26, יְשׁוּעָ֫תָה ψ 33 is also an accusative after אֵין.
  4. Evidently from בָּלָה to waste away, from which stem also בְּלִי and בֶּ֫לֶת (whence בִּלְתִּי § 90 m), originally substantives, are formed.
  5. In Pr 913 (perhaps also Pr 147; but see Delitzsch on the passage) a verbal-clause is used co-ordinately in this way as a periphrasis for an adjective.
  6. In 1 K 1021 אֵין־כֶּ֫סֶף goes with what precedes and must be emended, with the LXX and Lucian, to כִּי הַכֶּ֫סֶף.