III. Third Person.
[32k] 6. (a) In הוּא and הִיא (hû and hî) the א (corresponding to the ʾElif of prolongation in Arabic, cf. §23i) might be regarded only as an orthographic addition closing the final long vowel, as in לוּא, נָקִיא, &c. The א is, however, always written in the case of the separate pronouns, and only as a toneless suffix (§33a) does הוּא appear as הוּ, while הִיא becomes הָ. In Arabic (as in Syriac) they are written הו and הי but pronounced húwă and hı́yă, and in Vulgar Arabic even húwwa and hı́yya. This Arabic pronunciation alone would not indeed be decisive, since the vowel complement might have arisen from the more consonantal pronunciation of the ו and י; but the Ethiopic weʾetû (=huʾa-tû) for הוּא, yeʾetî (=hiʾa-tî) for הִיא (cf. also the Assyrian ya-u-a for יֵהוּא) show that the א was original and indicated an original vocalic termination of the two words. According to Philippi (ZDMG. xxviii. 175 and xxix. 371 ff.) הוּא arose from a primitive Semitic ha-va, הִיא from ha-ya.
[32l] (b) The form הוּא also stands in the consonantal text (Kethîbh) of the Pentateuch (with the exception of eleven places) for the fem. הִיא. In all such cases the Masora, by the punctuation הִוא, has indicated the Qerê הִיא (Qerê perpetuum, see § 17). The old explanation regarded this phenomenon as an archaism which was incorrectly removed by the Masoretes. This assumption is, however, clearly untenable, if we consider (1) that no other Semitic language is without the quite indispensable distinction of gender in the separate pronoun of the 3rd pers.; (2) that this distinction does occur eleven times in the Pentateuch, and that in Gn 205, 3825, Nu 513.14 הִוא and הִיא are found close to one another; (3) that outside the Pentateuch the distinction is found in the oldest documents, so that the הִיא cannot be regarded as having been subsequently adopted from the Aramaic; (4) that those parts of the book of Joshua which certainly formed a constituent part of the original sources of the Pentateuch, know nothing of this epicene use of הוּא. Consequently there only remains the hypothesis, that the writing of הוא for היא rests on an orthographical peculiarity which in some recension of the Pentateuch-text was almost consistently followed, but was afterwards very properly rejected by the Masoretes. The orthography was, however, peculiar to the Pentateuch-text alone, since it is unnecessary to follow the Masora in writing חִיא for הוּא in 1 K 1715, Is 3033, Jb 3111, or הוּא for הִיא in ψ 7316, Ec 58, 1 Ch 2916. The Samaritan recension of the Pentateuch has the correct form in the Kethîbh throughout. Levy’s explanation of this strange practice of the Masoretes is evidently right, viz. that originally הא was written for both forms (see k, note), and was almost everywhere, irrespective of gender, expanded into הוא. On the whole question see Driver, Leviticus (in Haupt’s Bible), p. 25 f. In the text Driver always reads הא.
[32m] 7. The plural forms (הֵ֫מָּה) הֵם and הֵ֫נָּה (after prefixes הֵן, הֶן) are of doubtful origin, but הֵם, הֵמָּה have probably been assimilated to הֵ֫נָּה which goes back to a form hı́nnā. In Western Aram. הִמּוֹן, הִמּוֹ (הִנּוּן, אִנּוּן), Syr. henûn
- In the inscription of King Mêšaʿ (see §2d), lines 6 and 27, we find הא for הוּא, and in the inscription of ʾEšmunʿazar, line 22, for הִיא, but in the Zenjirli inscriptions (see §1m) both הא and הו occur (Hadad i, l. 29).
- Also in twelve places in the Babylonian Codex (Prophets) of 916 A.D.; cf. Baer, Ezechiel, p. 108 f.; Buhl, Canon and Text of the O.T. (Edinb. 1892), p. 240.