Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/35. The Article

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§35. The Article.

J. Barth, ‘Der heb. u. der aram. Artikel,’ in Sprachwiss. Untersuch. zum Semit., Lpz. 1907, p. 47 ff.

35a 1. The article, which is by nature a kind of demonstrative pronoun, never appears in Hebrew as an independent word, but always in closest connexion with the word which is defined by it. It usually takes the form הַ‌ּ, with ă and a strengthening of the next consonant, e.g. הַשֶּׁ֫מֶשׁ the sun, הַיְאֹר the river, הַֽלְוִיִּם the Levites (according to §20m for הַיְּאֹר, הַלְּוִיִּם).

35b Rem. With regard to the Dageš in יְ after the article, the rule is, that it is inserted when a ה or ע follows the יְ e.g. הַיְּהוּדִים the Jews, הַיְּעֵפִים the weary (כַּיְעֵנִים La 43 Qe is an exception), but הַיְאוֹר, הַיְלָדִים, הַיְסוֹד, &c. Dageš forte also stands after the article in the prefix מְ‍ in certain nouns and in the participles Piʿēl and Puʿal (see §52c) before ה, ע and ר, except when the guttural (or ר) has under it a short vowel in a sharpened syllable; thus הַמְּהוּמָה Ez 225, הַמְּעָרָה the cave, בַּמְּרֵעִים ψ371 (cf. Jb 3840, 1 Ch 441); but הַֽמְהַלֵּךְ ψ1043 (Ec 415, 2 Ch 2312; before עַ ψ1034); הַֽמְעֻשָּׁקָה Is 2312; הַֽמְרַגְּלִים Jos 622. Before letters other than gutturals this מְ remains without Dageš, according to §20m.

35c 2. When the article stands before a guttural, which (according to §22b) cannot properly be strengthened, the following cases arise, according to the character of the guttural (cf. §27q).

(1) In the case of the weakest guttural, א, and also with ר (§22c and q), the strengthening is altogether omitted. Consequently, the Pathaḥ of the article (since it stands in an open syllable) is always lengthened to Qameṣ; e.g. הָאָב the father, הָֽאַחֵר the other, הָאֵם the mother, הָאִישׁ the man, הָאוֹר the light, הָֽאֱלֹהִים ὁ θεός, הָרֶ֫גֶל the foot, הָרֹאשׁ the head, הָֽרָשָׁע the wicked.

35d So also הָֽשְׁפוֹת Neh 313, because syncopated from הָֽאַשְׁפּוֹת (cf. verse 14 and Baer on the passage); הָֽאזִקִּים (as in Nu 114, Ju 941, 2 S 2333, with the א orthographically retained), for הָֽאֲז׳ Jer 404 (cf. בַּֽאז׳ verse 1); הָֽסוּרִים Ec 414 for הָֽאֲס׳; הָֽרַמִּים 2 Ch 225 for הָֽאֲר׳(cf. 2 K 828).

35e (2) In the case of the other gutturals either the virtual strengthening takes place (§22c)—especially with the stronger sounds ח and ה, less often with ע—or the strengthening is wholly omitted. In the former case, the Pathaḥ of the article remains, because the syllable is still regarded as closed; in the second case, the Pathaḥ is either modified to Seghôl or fully lengthened to Qameṣ. That is to say:—

35f A. When the guttural has any other vowel than ā (־ָ) or ŏ (־ֳ), then

(1) before the stronger sounds ה and ה the article regularly remains הַ; e.g. הַהוּא that, הַחֹ֫דֶשׁ the month, הַחַ֫יִל the force, הַחָכְמָה the wisdom. Before ח, ā occurs only in הָחַי Gn 619 [not elsewhere], הָֽחֲרִיטִים Is 322, הָֽחַמָּנִים Is 178 [not elsewhere]; before ה, always in הָהֵ֫מָּה, הָהֵם.

35g (2) before ע the Pathaḥ is generally lengthened to Qameṣ, e.g. הָעַ֫יִן the eye, הָעִיר the city, הָעֶ֫בֶד the servant, plur. הָֽעֲבָדִים; לָֽעֲגָלִים 1 K 1232; also in Gn 1017 הָֽעַרְקִי is the better reading. Exceptions are כַּֽעוֹפֶ֫רֶת Ex 1510, הַֽעִוְרִים 2 S 56,8, Is 4218, כַּעֶ֫בֶד Is 242, הַעֹֽרְכִים Is 6511, בַּע֫שֶׁק Ez 227, הַעֹֽזְבִים Pr 213 and הַעֹזֶ֫בֶת Pr 217, לַֽעֵינַיִם 1 S 167, Ec 117; but לָֽעֵינ׳ Gn 36, Pr 1026. Cf. Baer on Is 4218.

35h B. When the guttural has ā (־ָ) then

(1) immediately before a tone-bearing הָ or עָ the article is always הָ, otherwise it is הֶ; e.g. הָעָם the people, הָהָר the mountain, הָעָ֑יִן (in pause) the eye, הָהָ֫רָה towards the mountain; but (according to §22c) הֶֽהָרִ֫ים the mountains, הֶֽעָוֹן the iniquity.

35i (2) before חָ the article is invariably הֶ without regard to the tone; e.g. הֶֽחָכָם the wise man, הֶחָ֫ג the festival.

35k C. When the guttural has הֳ the article is הֶ before חֳ e.g. הֶֽחֳדָשִׁים the months; בֶּֽחֳרָבוֹת in the waste places (without the article בָּֽחֳ׳ bŏḥorābhôth) Ez 3327, הֶֽחֳרֵבוֹת Ez 3635,38, cf. 2 Ch 274; but הָ before עֳ, as הָֽעֳמָרִים the sheaves Ru 215.

The gender and number of the noun have no influence on the form of the article.

35l Rem. 1. The original form of the Hebrew (and the Phoenician) article הַ is generally considered to have been הַל, the ל of which (owing to the proclitic nature of the article) has been invariably assimilated to the following consonant, as in יִקַּח from yilqaḥ, §19d. This view was supported by the form of the Arabic article אַל (pronounced hal by some modern Beduin), the ל of which is also assimilated at least before all letters like s and t and before l, n, and r, e.g. ʾal-Qurʾân but ʾas-sắnă (Beduin has-sana)=Hebr. הַשָּׁנָה the year. But Barth (Amer. Journ. of Sem. Laug., 1896, p. 7 ff.), following Hupfeld and Stade, has shown that the Hebrew article is to be connected rather with the original Semitic demonstrative ,[1] cf. Arab. hāḏa, Aram. hādēn, &c. The sharpening of the following consonant is to be explained exactly like the sharpening after וַ consecutive (§49f; cf. also cases like בַּמָּה, כַּמָּה, &c., §102k), from the close connexion of the ha with the following word, and the sharpening necessarily involved the shortening of the vowel.[2]

35m The Arabic article is supposed to occur in the Old Testament in אַלְמֻגִּים 1 K 1011,12 (also אַלְגּוּמִּים 2 Ch 27, 910,11), sandal-wood (?), and in אֶלְגָּבִישׁ hail, ice=גָבִישׁ (Arab. ǵibs) Ez 1311,13, 3822, but this explanation can hardly be correct. On the other hand, in the proper name אַלְמוֹדָד Gn 1026 the first syllable is probably אֵל God, as suggested by D. H. Müller (see Lexicon, s. v.) and Nöldeke, Sitzungsber. der Berl. Akad., 1882, p. 1186. אַלְקוּם Pr 3031, commonly explained as=Arab. al-qaum, the militia, is also quite uncertain.

35n 2. When the prefixes בְּ, לְ, כְּ‍ (§ 102) come before the article, the ה is elided, and its vowel is thrown back to the prefix, in the place of the Šewâ (§19k, and §23k), e.g. בָּשָּׁמַ֫יִם in the heaven for בְּהַשָּׁמַ֫יִם (so ψ366); לָעָם for לְהָעָם to the people, בֶּֽהָרִים on the mountains, בֶּֽחֳדָשִׁים in the months; also in Is 412, read כֶּֽעָפָר instead of the impossible כֵּֽעָפָר. Exceptions to this rule occur almost exclusively in the later Books: Ez 4025, 4722, Ec 81, Dn 816, Neh 919, 1233, 2 Ch 107, 2510, 2927; cf., however, 1 S 1321, 2 S 2120. Elsewhere, e.g. 2 K 712, the Masora requires the elision in the Qe. A distinction in meaning is observed between כְּהַיּוֹם about this time (Gn 3911, 1 S 913, &c.) and כַּיּוֹם first of all (Gn 2531, &c.). After the copula וְ (and) elision of the ה does not take place, e.g. וְהָעָם.

35o 3. The words אֶ֫רֶץ earth, הַר mountain, חַג feast, עַם people, פַּר bull, always appear after the article with a long vowel (as in pause); הָאָ֫רֶץ, הָהָר, הֶחָג, הָעָם, הַפָּר; cf. also אֲרוֹן ark (so in the absol. st. in 2 K 1210, 2 Ch 248, but to be read אָרוֹן), with the article always הָֽאָרוֹן.

  1. An original form han, proposed by Ungnad, ‘Der hebr. Art.,’ in OLZ. x (1907), col. 210 f., and ZDMG. 1908, p. 80 ff., is open to grave objections.
  2. In the Liḥyanitic inscriptions collected by Euting (ed. by D. H. Müller in Epigraphische Denkmäler aus Arabien, Wien, 1889) the article is ה, and also in a North Arabian dialect, according to E. Littmann, Safa-inschriften, p. 2, Rem., and p. 34.