Journal of Semitic Studies XXXIV/2 Autumn

'DETERMINATION' AND THE DEFINITE ARTICLE IN BIBLICAL HEBREW
JAMES BARR
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD Downloaded from jss.oxfordjournals.org at catholic university of america on February 15, 2011

The definite article in the Semitic languages formed the subject of one of Edward UllendorfPs early contributions to linguistics.1 In it he pursued the elusive theme of the earliest form of the article, and in so doing he reached far out into comparative Semitics, with a special emphasis on the Arabic evidence. He expressly left aside, however, the question of 'the various means of rendering a noun definite'. This present contribution in his honour will follow his lead in entering into the apparently simple, but in fact very tricky, territory of the definite article. But it will approach the subject from a quite different point of view. It will confine itself almost entirely to Biblical Hebrew and will for the most part leave other Semitic languages alone; and it will have nothing to say about the form of the article, whether its original form or the form that it has in historical times, and will concern itself entirely with Mat function of the article. Some might say that this is perfectly plain and that no fresh discussion is needed. But, as Ullendorff found with the form of the article, so with its function there is a great deal that requires to be reconsidered and clarified. It seems to be usually supposed that the central function of the Hebrew definite article is fairly plain and easy to understand. 'The definite article of Hebrew corresponds closely to the definite article of English in usage and meaning', we are told in the modern and widely-used grammar of Lambdin (p. 5). Similarly the more advanced and detailed grammar of Gesenius-Kautzsch: 'the article is, generally speaking, emE. Ullendorff, 'The form of the Definite Article in Arabic and other Semitic languages', published in the Gibb Festschrift (1965) and also in E. Ullendorff, Is Biblical Hebrew a Language? (Wiesbaden 1977), 165-71. His note 1 (p. 165 of the latter) makes it clear that the principal arguments of the paper had been advanced by him much earlier, no doubt around the early forties.
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DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW

ployed to determine a substantive wherever it is required by Greek and English' (Gesenius-Kautzsch § 126d, p. 440). 'Determination' or 'making definite' is the standard foundation for accounts of the matter. Thus melek is 'king', a king, any king, but ha-melek is the king, the one already definitely identified and known about (following a common modern transliteration style, the gemination of consonants after the article is ignored in these pages). The 'determined' status that attaches to hamelek belongs also to nouns with a pronoun suffix [malko 'his king', which therefore does not have the article), and to those in typical construct chains {melek ha-'ares 'the king of the country', where the article is attached to the last member of the phrase but not to the word 'king' itself). These principles are very essential for the initial learning of Hebrew but fortunately they are easily learned and they work well enough in thousands of cases, indeed no doubt in all that the beginner is likely to have to cope with. A modern grammar like that of J. F. A.
Sawyer, A Modern Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (London

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1976), pp. iyf., continues the accepted tradition: 'The prefix [= article] makes the noun definite: it is not dabar "a word", "any word you like" (indefinite), but ha-dabar "the word, the one we have been thinking about, the one just mentioned" (definite)'. As a strategy of approach to the language this works excellently. The trouble begins when we seek to make more detailed and exhaustive statements, including different types of nouns, texts of different sorts and periods, marginal cases and apparent exceptions. Grammars for beginners can hardly be expected to go into these difficult areas. Among the more exhaustive reference grammars the two important German works of Bergstrasser and of Bauer and Leander were never completed and thus failed to handle, the topic: for grammars, which normally handle the form of the article at an early stage, customarily consider its function to come under 'Syntax', which is relegated to a later section. Among the treatises which consider our subject in some detail we may mention: GK § 126, pp. 404-10; Joiion §137, pp. 420-8; Brockelmann, Hebrdische Syntax § 20-21, pp. 17-19; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax § 82-93,
pp. 19-21; Lettinga, Grammatica van het bijbels Hebreeuws §68, pp. 157-9; a ^ s o n * s corresponding French edition Grammaire de Ihe'breu biblique §68, pp. 158-60. Of these the most detailed seems to be Joiion. J. Blau, A Grammar oj Biblical Hebrew', has
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and the presence of the Hebrew article. the section should have either the article as its theme or determination as its theme. even from the most traditional of treatments.org at catholic university of america on February 15. it is cut across by a number of quite other considerations and factors. B. but only loosely and generally. Expressions like rvird determiniert are actually used to state the fact that a noun of such and such a kind has the article. Edinburgh 1896). entitling his section simply 'the Article' (Het ~Lidwoord).oxfordjournals. The attempt to account for the many different usages in terms of determination as the sole guiding principle can therefore only lead to confusions of statement. coincide exactly. Lettinga. pp. What kind of criteria can there be for assessing such statements. whole sections of the grammar may be found to have the title 'Determination by means of the Article' (so GK and Brockelmann. Bepaaldheid) a linguistic cate- gory or a logical? The article. But when we ask 'What is determination anyway?' we all too often seem to receive the circular answer: when a noun has the article. and this well symbolizes the problem: unless the logical feature of determination. p. § 84. historical. Thus Brockelmann tells us (his § 21c a. a logical feature which can be explained in logical terms. that determination and the use of the Hebrew article do not coincide. This present study will argue that the Hebrew definite article is not strictly. Lettinga here does better. 158). whichever of them may be right? And what value can there be in establishing a principle such as Downloaded from jss.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW only a very brief allusion. Similarly. and in part also Joiion). Determination must therefore be a sort of meaning. then it is determined. we are told. Ir 'determination' {determination. as follows: 1.. syntactic and (probably) lexical. Davidson. p. marks or indicates determination. For it must be obvious. and therefore do not take the article (his §68c. stylistic. 'which are already determined in themselves'. Although determination is extremely important and highly characteristic as a function. 18) that words like 'sun' or 'earth' are in their nature unique and thus are 'in themselves determined' {an sich determiniert) and therefore have the article. 2011 309 . tells us that words like tebel 'universe' or t'hom 'ocean' count as proper names. Hebrew Syntax (2nd edn. An older work is A. The classic treatments of our subject contain various difficulties and unclarities. by contrast. related to determination. 93f.

though the word is not determined. This is no mere 'omission': on the contrary.'sun' is particularly often without the article anyway? Problems of this kind recur again and again in the classic treatments. Yet 'silver' without article is very common. Non-use of the article in poetry is doubtless recognized by all writers. In these sections nouns are determined. As will be shown below. the Hebrews thought of it as based on determination. the effect is to break any rigid link between the article and determination. perhaps they can equally have the article without being determined? Or. 2. Dutch. if the article can be simply 'omitted' in large sections of the Bible. if nouns can be determined without having the article. that an entirely different system is operative from that which we know on the basis of the 'normal' usage centred on determination. For example. On the one hand there is a haphazard mingling of logical and linguistic arguments and categories. Dependence on logical notions can be seen in GK § i26m. perhaps indeed it must mean. But none of the standard treatments seem to notice the obvious and necessary consequences. The classic works tend to select and interpret the evidence in such a way as to make it appear to point towards determination as the governing principle. 2011 . without article. still more seriously: if there were texts in which nouns were determined (in meaning) without having the article. They handle the phenomenon as if the article had the function of determination but that in poetry it was frequently omitted. where it is explained that abstract nouns and the names of materials like 'silver' have the article because they represent whole classes of attributes or states. at other points one has to fall back on the vague assurance that it is all much the same as having the article in English (Greek. where it is recognized that the article is often omitted: which brings us to our next main point. in poetry. and probably all would agree with Blau that poetic usage represents an older stage of the language.as he well knew .). many of the examples traditionally cited are actually cases of minority usage and are thus contrary to the main linguistic pattern of the Bible. it seems.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW Brockelmann's when . though some say little about it.n.org at catholic university of america on February 15. French etc. and when they come to evidence that points in another direction they sometimes try to interpret it as if. But. and not only in poetry.oxfordjournals. it may mean. what is the function of the article 310 Downloaded from jss.

a task of this kind does not depend purely on philological reconstruction. to the east'. There must have been some feature or features. for instance in 'earth and heaven' (both without article. 47. it would be agreed that the poetic usage comes from an earlier stage of the language. when in fact poetry might provide for us the keys to peculiarities of the prose usage. means that the article calls for a historical account of itself. 4:41. room for something like a history of the article that would start from poetic usage and move downwards to the position found in classical times. how did one get from this to the stage familiar in classical Hebrew where determination is (shall we say?) normal with the article? One can hardly suppose that someone decreed that all determined nouns were to have the article. producing at times these strings of three or four articles that we now see. Poetic usage is treated as if it constituted no more than a series of omissions of the article that in prose is normal.e. 21:19. As already stated. But this. if we may accept that there was at some time a Hebrew in which determination was not marked by the article. a study of the article in poetic texts quickly reveals a high degree of difference in the degree to which the article is used.org at catholic university of america on February 15. And it would probably be agreed that this older usage has left its traces in classical prose in various particular words and phrases. and that this was to be extended to all adjectives accompanying these nouns. 43. 13:5. article is optional. Some Psalms have far more articles 3" Downloaded from jss. at least in principle. where we can find femes 'sun' without article at Deut. 2011 . such questions are normally not even raised. Moreover. 11:18. etc. 12:1. 1:15. Judg.oxfordjournals. Gen. We have talked as if the classical usage was the point of origin. Poetic usage is not an unmarked chaos in which the rules of classical prose are neglected: on the contrary. The older usage crops up within the newer: both forms are possible. when what we have been offering has been the reverse of historical. There is thus. but with article in similar texts at Josh. For. and determination plays no part in the choice between its presence and its absence.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW when it does appear in such a text? Remarkably. 2:4) or 'to the rising of the sun. Judg. which developed into this primary role of marking determination. in the forms which later came to be our article. 20. from which poetry diverged by its 'omissions'. i. for it seems that the Bible itself contains valuable material for such work. if true.

is 'determined' in the sense that the storyteller or prophet knows that it is going to appear in his story or comparison. comme dans nos contes populaires "la bete". 203-9.org at catholic university of america on February 15. and even in prose. 'L'article dans la poesie hebrai'que'. animal or thing. and this dog jumped out at me.' 'What do you mean by "this dog"? You haven't mentioned any dog. 70m. uses the article in just the same way as the prose books do. obviously. quotation from p. "le loup". the dog in my story. write GK § i26q.2 Before we can embark on a census of the number of articles in poetic texts.' And Amos 5:19 is the first example given. especially perhaps among children. Another is Amos 3:12: 'as the shepherd saves from the mouth of the lion (fragments of a sheep)'. 'Peculiar to Hebrew'. etc. and went into the house and leant his hand on the wall and the (?) snake bit him. 3. and therefore not capable of being defined) as being present to the mind under given circumstances. which may well be latish. 3 It is interesting that E. 2011 The central case is the well-known Amos 5:19: 'It is as if a man fled before ha-'ari (the? lion) and was met by ha-dob (the? bear). or an analysis of the sorts to which they belong.' Enormous explanatory ingenuity is required in order to make this into a case of determination. sometimes to go with clear non-determination. commenting on 'the' lion of 1 Kgs. For the present we simply reiterate the historical role of the older and poetic stratum in generating the practices of classical prose. 20:36 (his p. Revue des Etudes Juives (1898). 203. 407. The person. 'is the employment of the article to denote a single person or thing (primarily one which is as yet unknown. Something similar may be found in very colloquial usage in English. Lambert. and that this is true also of certain Psalms.' 2 M.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW than others do. with the demonstrative this:1 'I was just walking through the woods. Osty in his French translation of the Bible. As far back as 1898. the dog-I'm going to tell you about. Downloaded from jss.' 'Well. by any sensible evaluation. though unquestionably a poetic book. p. we have to consider certain other matters which will be mentioned shortly. and some have articles of one type much more than others (more on this below). The article seems.'. Mayer Lambert noted that the Song of Songs. 312 .oxfordjournals.). as yet unknown. says: '"le lion".

Certain cases can be explained through assumption of the existence of something: thus 'words that are presupposed as given by the situation' (Brockelmann. 17:34. receiving his angelic visitors. and though there has been no previous mention of a book or document which would 'determine' the noun. and never as b'-seper without article: so for instance Exod. will it explain why Noah sent out from the ark 'the' raven and 'the' dove (Gen. 2011 . where someone saddles an ass for a journey and the article is used although the animal has not been mentioned before. in modern English 'he got the children into the car and went off: even if the person has not been mentioned as having a car. runs and takes a calf and gives it to 'the' servant (ha-na'ar). 405). One can accept it as obvious that Abraham would have a servant. at 1 Sam. the bear and the snake were unexpected to the hearer and not to be assumed on the basis of the circumstances. p. 36. 4:20 of Moses and his family. Exod. 8)? Will it explain why 'the' survivor escaped to tell Abraham of the battle of the kings (Gen. 18:7 Abraham. as part of a Downloaded from jss. in a book or document'. But this explanation will not work for the instances we have just been discussing. again. in addition. Num. 18) or 'to specify persons or things. which are so far definite as to be naturally thought of in connexion with a given case. 8:7. Similarly. 5:23. telling a man that a lion would kill him. how many of these cases concern sudden interventions of animals in human affairs. gives this lion an article (1 Kgs. Another case to consider under the idea of cultural assumption is ba-seper 'in writing. 1 Sam. The servant and the ass can certainly be presumed. 10:25. 37? Before we go further a distinction must be made. though no such servant has been mentioned.oxfordjournals. The nouns with article designate elements that are characteristically novel in the situation: certainly so the survivor who arrived at Abraham's camp. car ownership is a cultural presupposition.g. 20:36). certainly. again with lion or bear. 17:14. Job 19:23.org at catholic university of america on February 15. if so. Similarly. 14:13)? Will it explain why a prophet. § 21b. When someone writes something down. at Amos 5:19 the lion. we nevertheless find that it is written with article. or the man who was told he was going to be killed by a lion. Thus in Gen. and must be assumed accordingly to be there' (GK §i26g (g). p. similarly. e.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW Will this sort of 'story-telling intention' account for the Hebrew article in the cases cited above? And. We cannot help noting. (The element b'-seper does of course occur.

'a bear' and 'a snake': theories that tried to explain this as some kind of 'determination' have been sophistries. any bear and any snake will have the same effect. Possibly so. Nor can we seriously follow the story-telling explanation that argues: 'He wrote it in the book. the bear and the snake deserve an article because they have a place in the simile and in that sense are (even if only in the writer's mind) 'determined'. but that does not count for our purposes).oxfordjournals. Another possible approach might be to explain the terms like 'lion' as essentially collectivities. the book I'm just going to tell you about. which would then have the article on the analogy of names of plagues and illnesses. the lion. the meaning is 'in a writing'. the one that was in my mind when I made up my simile? Hardly. It was never anything other than 'a lion'. if the lion.' Still more.org at catholic university of america on February 15. i. like the other elements in the sentence? It is really far easier to say that the article here accompanies non-determination. Why the article? Did the writer mean: like the scroll. the bear and the snake are still really undetermined. Any lion.'Why. They are not particular animals about which we are soon to hear more: rather. as in 'in the book of the law of Moses'. why is the man himself. It is much easier to go in the opposite direction. But that comes to the same result: the article does not indicate a known book.'is 'the man'. but is unrelated to determination.e. It therefore becomes easier to accept that a case like Amos 5:19 is indeed an example where the article is used.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW construct chain. 34:4: the heavens are to be rolled up like 'the' seper. not himself equally 'determined' by the presence of an article? He remains just V/'a man'. who is equally part of the simile and who is about to suffer from all these beasts. 'in a book'. Some interpreters have taken David's 314 Downloaded from jss. not 'on a phone'. 2011 . as in English with familiar terms ('he's got the mumps'. why not ha. 'he died of the German measles'). One may say: it is like English 'he spoke to me on the phone'. and agree that the article with seper in these cases does not mark determination at all. We cannot suppose that it was culturally assumed that all these people would have a book or a writing document with them.' . or a particular book: in spite of the article. Even if the prophet has them in his mind as the matter of his simile.'What book?' . which normally have the article in Hebrew (see further below). they are animals momentarily conceived for the sake of a comparison. The traditional explanations fail to provide a proper account of the passage. add Isa. Moreover.

17:34). or 'And there came one that had escaped' (Gen. the refugee of Gen. 13:24 'a lion' (without article. a definite article was placed here in Hebrew. Lions. not to the specific lion or bear.org at catholic university of america on February 15. It leads to the genus of lion or of bear. Naturally. In any case. Unsophisticated in modern terminologies as they may have been. But they do indicate something. does not do so. or 'As soon as thou art departed from me. which one might have expected to use the English definite article to represent the Hebrew definite article.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW speech in i Sam. and slew him' (1 Kgs. and a bear' (1 Sam. David having quelled successive attacks by the lion family and the bear family.g. which is the common meaning of 3M Downloaded from jss. whatever applies to animals.oxfordjournals. 20:36). in this sense. in 1 Kgs. are subject to normal determination. Thus even a rather literal English version like KJV. animals and things were unspecified. which we may not yet understand. but determination. and leaned his hand on the wall. unlike diseases. since not yet known of) meets and kills the old prophet. but there are cases where the article does not imply determination. It is not insignificant that translations into other languages which have an article of some kind have generally used an indefinite article in such cases. the translators could see that the persons. as GK put it). correctly obeying the traditional rules. but thereafter it (this individual lion) is with article throughout. or went into the house. Maybe: though I doubt it. But in any case. 14:13 is in a different category. for a word like 'lion' is well enough evidenced in prose texts and is manifestly subject to the usual 'determination' by article: e. and all the more so with the rather literal style of KJV. The translators have seen that . translations in themselves do not prove anything. a lion shall slay thee. and a serpent bit him' (Amos 5:19). And as soon as he was departed from him. 17:34ff. 2011 . 14:13). and a bear met him. For some reason. Moreover. which would have been at pains to follow any indications of the text if it perceived them. even if this is a possible explanation. or 'Thy servant kept his father's sheep. it does not lead to determination in the usual sense. such as Amos 5:19 and others. a lion found him. and there came a lion. Thus it has: 'As if a man did flee from a lion. this interpretation introduces an element that is ill supported from usage elsewhere.to use a modern terminology unknown to them .the 'definite' article here belongs to the surface structure of Hebrew (and hence is 'peculiar to Hebrew'.

4. There are a goodly number of cases in important places. in classical Hebrew. I think. not all translations agree at each point. tells us that Noah 'sent out the raven' and 'sent out the dove'. the Hebrew article is used and yet the natural meaning must be non-determination. in French. The question could be pursued through a variety of versions. makes it clear. giving determination in English to fit the Hebrew article. Even if we cannot offer a clear reason for it.oxfordjournals. that this was Moses' own personal ass? Of course it was. in which. ill-defined no doubt. and consider that. An ass? Just any ass? Should we not assume. with nouns which in meaning are not at all 'definite' or 'determined'. in other words abandoning determination at a point where it could easily be well justified. did not belong to the deep structure of meaning. And so likewise in KJV Noah sent out 'a raven' and 'a dove'. and Greek as well as English: but enough has been said to give foundation to our remarks: although at one point or another interpretative wiles may support a different interpretation. as distinct from literalist grammatical rigidity. The Torah (Philadelphia. The use of the article with abstract nouns is another area that is misrepresented in many textbook accounts: on the whole. based on no thorough philological or logical analysis but on the normalities and common-sense suggestions of the context. Naturally. there must be an article or other sign of determination in English or whatever other language it may be. Common sense. 1962). was often rather sound. and went back to the land of Egypt'. Some may be literalist. these exaggerate the extent to which the article is 316 Downloaded from jss. as seen above: and similarly at Exod.org at catholic university of america on February 15. translations in general have accepted that in certain cases. the fact is so. the presence of the article in Hebrew was no certain indicator of determination in the customary sense. in a smallish but irreducible and significant number of cases. for reasons still undetermined. mounted them on an ass. And in this. 2011 . on the grounds of the Hebrew article. But at Gen.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW that article. Thus the fine modern version of the Jewish Publication Society of America. 4:20. where it tells us that 'Moses took his wife and sons. The article is used. Abstract nouns. At each point there may be differences of interpretation. Spanish. if there is an article in Hebrew. their judgement. 19:7 we read in the same version that Abraham 'gave it to a serving-boy'.

while b'-sedeq without article occurs thirteen times and sedeq without preposition is massively without article. p. p. For instance. It is difficult to know how this very theoretical distinction can be upheld. since classes. t'buna and da'at) at i Kgs. a case very commonly quoted is Gen. understanding and knowledge (hokma. But this heavily-worked example is probably not in this category: for samverim cannot plausibly be counted as an abstract noun at all. 25:5 ba-sedeq 'in righteousness'. is filled with exactly the same qualities. a case cited by Brockelmann. Similarly. Lettinga p. Hiram from Tyre was full of wisdom. appears to lie in theoretical. are 'closely circumscribed. since they are likewise used to represent whole classes of attributes or states. 18. It does not mean 'blindness' but must 317 Downloaded from jss. p.e. in favour of the use of the article with abstract terms. in the same order of words. and therefore well defined'. once again. and all of these without article. an equally prominent craftsman doing exactly the same sort of work. The reason for this. 35:31. cite Prov. Some other traditional examples may well not belong to the category that they are used to exemplify. but fail to remark that this is an exceptional use for this noun: it is in fact the only instance of this phrase with the article. plus two of the same three at Exod. 159 (French). &c'. 7:14. in Exod. pseudo-logical. i. physical or moral defects. Consider a few examples. while abstracts 'which are designated according to their individual manifestations' {die nach ihren einyelnen Erscheinungen be^eichnet werderi) remain 'undetermined'. Brockelmann under his § n c y. 158 (Dutch) and p. they think. This is part of their endeavour to classify all possible usages as a kind of determination. The dominant usage is without article. 18 under y.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW used with abstracts.org at catholic university of america on February 15. do not have the article. and each word with article. 18. notions. Brockelmann. 36:1. says that the abstracts of properties and activities take the article.oxfordjournals. p. 31:3. while concealing the fact that with the same words the article is much more often omitted. §2ic y. 19:11 'and they smote the men with blindness (ba-saniverim)': this is supposed to be a prime case of the article with an abstract noun. or even be understood. Thus GK §i26n (c) tell us that the article is used 'for the expression of abstract ideas of every kind. 2011 . GK § 1260 (n). It is little short of extraordinary to perceive how the classic accounts cite and emphasize the cases where abstracts have the article. But the value of this is much reduced when we note that Bezaleel. See GK § 126n (c). 407.

and apart from these the exceptional Prov. 1 Kgs. 26:16. with article. Lettinga. the entire phrase being determined but the article being attached as is normal to the last noun. It is difficult to generalize without a large and detailed 318 Downloaded from jss.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW be the name for a defect or pathological state. 32:17 ma'ase ha-s'daqa is 'the work of righteousness'. It is remarkable that scholars who. 21:21 God through the prophet announces 'I will bring evil [without article] upon you'. Thus the familiar somer ha-b'rit w'-ha-hesed at Deut. But even here Joiion does not perceive the real connection. has three cases of a phrase with determination as in 'the city of righteousness' at Isa. because Ahab has humbled himself. plus a handful of other cases. and this is notably the case with abstract expressions. the only case of s'daqa with article is at Dan. The masculine sedeq. 25:5 is the only case with article as against a large number without. 21:29 is often quoted: 'in his son's days I will bring evil upon his house': cf. 1 Kgs. i. At 1 Kgs. §68e. the evil already mentioned. 9:7.org at catholic university of america on February 15. like glaucoma or cataract. in general exaggerated the centrality of determination in their account of the article. Of course the effect was blindness but the word itself cannot be treated as a real abstract. The noun is with article not because it is an abstract but because it. and points to the case just above. just mentioned above. and less good. parfois. Joiion is more correct in perceiving the limits of this (his § 137J.e. Apart from a double case of determined phrase in this verse.2.. hesed is overwhelmingly without article except where determination is probable. §2ic Y > p-18. as has been suggested here. p. Deut. like any other noun. 424 where he says that the article is used 'sometimes'. but later on. have the article. 1:26. Another type often cited is the phrase to 'bring evil upon someone' etc.e. 7:9 may be understood as 'keeping the covenant and the (i. account of it when determination would have worked very well. nevertheless at times tended to offer a different. may be in a determined expression where the article is required by the common prose rules. 2011 . the consequent) faithfulness'. and for all such words the article is common: thus all the defects and plagues listed in Lev.oxfordjournals. he postpones 'the evil'. 21:21. At Isa. where the same expression is used without the article). It is a straight case of determination. or just dazzlement or spots before the eyes. Brockelmann. 28:22.

and one that sets it at the other extreme from English. the same argument should logically have led in the opposite direction: it should have meant that the article. so Brockelmann. 2011 . usually had nothing to do with determination. p. Williams. The most eloquent. 159). far from confirming the approach of the standard textbooks. since the use without article is greatly dominant. In general. 20f. or through other factors some of which will be mentioned shortly. 5. encourages us to look in some different direction altogether. and also the most revealing. though contrary examples are given. at least with many relevant words. the matter of abstract nouns. which may well be right for all I know.oxfordjournals. the use without article is greatly dominant. 89 (pp.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW survey. R. Vocative functions. 423).. biblical Hebrew is in this respect considerably closer to English than to French. Where abstract nouns do have the article. 'meist durch den Artikel determiniert'.) says it is 'regularly' with the article. The use of the article in vocative expressions is much mentioned in the standard works. but. p. Hebrew Syntax §§ 34. in the case of abstracts. who gives far more examples and a more detailed theoretical discussion (his §i37g.2. Lettinga has a brief note under § 2jd. As our argument has shown. he says. Grammars tend. 11. say that it is so used 'very often'. 51. it is probable that the article makes no material difference: an abstract with the article is just the same as the same word without it. innocently. unless it can be explained as normal determination. A person or thing addressed in the vocative. then. registers this as 'afwijkend van het Nederlands'. §68e. But the paradox in it is richly illustrated by the French edition of the same work. GK § i26d (e). 158. J. to emphasize the use of article with abstract nouns as an aspect of difference from 'our languages'. is always 319 Downloaded from jss.org at catholic university of america on February 15. § io. which mentions this tendency as something that is 'a la difference de ce qui est le cas dans nos langues' {ibid. p. But. p. in which it is used very little in this context. In fact the normal use of the article with abstract nouns is a very conspicuous feature of French. p. there is no sense in connecting abstracts with determination through the argument that abstracts denote classes and classes are by their own nature in themselves determined. Thus Lettinga. except under rules that apply to other nouns as well. 7. 405. is Joiion. p. Since abstracts are dominantly without article.

And these are not poetic texts in which 'omission' of the article was always accepted. determined by the pronoun suffix. when the persons are not present. or are more or less imaginary. but many more examples can be added. Surely it was absurd to set up the principle that the vocative usage should have the article. The evidence makes very feeble the connection between vocative. 13:2. there can be great freedom in the inclusion or absence of the article. it is difficult to be sure until one has made a survey of all vocative expressions in the Bible. The loss of this prime example series greatly weakens the traditional explanation.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW determined and therefore ought always to have the article. and listen. and if this is so the truly vocative element is the ''doni. especially in poetry or in lofty prose. to which ha-melek is in apposition. But in poetry too we have so many cases where the same vocative expressions exist both with and without the article: 'give ear. the article is not used: Joiion does something to make this clear. 2 Kgs. 9:5) would be the same as with 'king'. and then have to go on to recognize that the actual grammar does not work this way at all. And there are just so many cases where. even by the traditional logic which Joiion and other authorities use. in 1 Kgs. Common vocatives like 'Father!' or 'Son!' are done in the same way. For one thing. 2011 . The article is generally present when it is a matter of persons who are present.oxfordjournals. In fact. O heavens. 32:1. 2:23. and the bad boys similarly call twice upon Elijah as qereah without article. 17:55. but I suspect that the dominant use. twice without article. The old prophet addresses the altar as mi^beah mi^beah. therefore. O earth'.org at catholic university of america on February 15. but it does not appear.. is that without the article. in prose as well as in poetry. b'ni etc. 1:2. determination and article. ha-ben or the like. In both cases one might have expected the article to fit quite well. In fact however the article is fairly often omitted. Joiion admits. with double article at Deut. 'abi. as Joiion himself sees. it must be evident that ambiguity is 320 Downloaded from jss. Moreover. Ha-sar 'commander!' (2 Kgs. As a whole. 14:4 are usually quoted) should be understood as an abbreviated form of the fuller phrase '"doni ha-melek 'my lord the King!' which seems to be much commoner. and with no article at Isa. not with ha-'ab. some of the most quoted cases may very likely be explained in another way. the article is often lacking. in vocative expressions. 2 Sam. The commonly-cited hamelek 'O King!' (i Sam.

establishing either that the article is in principle required or in principle avoided.40. used no article with them. 83. or introduction. they may be very significant for our subject. however. as this realm is now called. The presence or absence of the article in vocative functions has little or nothing to do with determination. and therefore do not need the article. a particle of recognition.1. 43. the article had some sort of relationship with demonstrative elements.oxfordjournals. The dilemma is similar to that already touched upon above. 42f. One can say: vocative expressions are by nature determined.. the best conclusion is that the principle of determination has no part in the matter at all. then. 309^ concerning lexemes that are supposed to be 'naturally' determined. In fact. p.org at catholic university of america on February 15. p. 21a. perhaps. rather than one of determination ? Thus even if the vocative uses are separate from any basis in the principle of determination. as everyone knows. in this respect they are very similar to personal names which. 404.g. and therefore have the article (though it is frequently omitted. Modern linguistics have made much more sophisticated studies of deixis. Brockelmann. 93). ha-yom 'today'). §§iyf. but they make little use of it except to illuminate some limited and special cases (e. the vocative uses suggest that there is no connection with it at all.1 with note. a language with express vocative forms. Lettinga. p. and 84. pp. it ought to be there). p. have probably exaggerated the extent of use of the article in vocative functions. address. John 321 Downloaded from jss. 2011 . as in many languages. far from supporting a connection with determination. Might the ha.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW present and the same argument can go in two different and opposite directions. The traditional works. never have the article. It is precisely those usages which are not founded upon determination that may offer traces of earlier functions of the article out of which the dominant determinative usage of classical times arose. presents an undistinguishable and irremediable mixture of both. p. 17. Blau. Joiion §35. §§ 16. Scholars have been agreed that in Hebrew. go either way. and an explanation has to be looked for in some quite other direction. Most standard works mention this (GK §i26a. p. With the same logic one can. §2ia.in vocative functions be more a particle of deictic character. and they have done this in part because they thought that it supported a connection with determination. But one can also say: vocative expressions are by nature determined. When the actual language. by implication. Greek. Of one stage in the development of the deictic elements.

And. 5-14.5 He stated that 'In Aramaic determination and vocative go hand in hand'. quotations from pp. p. 19. it would not be out of the way to mention the similarity to the Hebrew ha. Joiion. The relative article. 90. I do not feel able to comment on the likelihood of these suggestions for Aramaic. Semantics (Cambridge 1977). then. the vocative functions fit badly with the treatment proposed in the standard works. 648. Lyons. As will be shown. and of the last element in the vocative form 'ayyuhd. What is meant is the article with participle. I build no conclusions upon these points but consider them to be suggestive for our discussion as a whole. Aartun discussed the origins of the 'emphatic state' forms in Aramaic. p. 68. familiar in the classical period. 6. hd'uld'i. This term. malkd which is both 'the king' and 'O King!' He suggested that the original Aramaic termination had the form *-jd. is used by R. of course. Aartun. cf. p. one facet of it will be touched on here. and § 73b.'el ha-m''as^'reni 'the God who girds me'. In an article of 1959 K. 2011 322 . and an illustration of. even if it still remains obscure what that direction is. concentrating on the J. K.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW Lyons writes: 'We can think of this deictic as meaning something like "Look!" or "There!"'. cf. the type like Ps. the sort of thinking which has been developed above.and that it was 'not impossible' that this was the same element as the Arabic vocative prefix yd. 'Zur Frage des bestimmten Artikels im Aramaischen'. but they are interesting simply as a contact with. Williams and perhaps others and seems to be a very good designation. this type has several special features about it and is of considerable importance.oxfordjournals. Most traditional grammars have some mention of it but it is not well integrated with the other remarks about the article and it is not clear how the two are related. Cf. pp.of the first element in the Arabic demonstratives hddhd. 2of. 13f. Ada Orientalia 24 (1959). In spite of our earlier statement that matters of comparative philology would be largely left aside. 4 The vocative usages of the Hebrew article could thus lead back to an older stage anterior to the dominance of determination.org at catholic university of america on February 15. J. and must point in another direction. 5 4 Downloaded from jss. §§ 82. 425. though not widely used. 126k have an obscure discussion. 18:33 ha. GK §§ u6q. p. To sum up. Brockelmann § 2id. § 137I. Williams.

with art. Davidson. 14:22. Ez. not 'the' children. but this does not alter the situation: it was children. who were the subject.oxfordjournals. The relative article is important for our subject in several ways. B. p. None of the textbooks seem to cite the sort of examples that are most important. In later style exceptions occur: Jer. that the article has a function other than that of determination. words as pron. a question that probably interests them because it may affect the question whether this sort of article can be subsumed under determination or not. Many cases with the relative article may be in fact determined. 46:16. clause after an indef.. is not to be used as an ordinary rel. 119:21. True. 9:26. Hebrew Syntax (2nd edn. the article has a role more like that of a relative pronoun or relative particle: its function is to take up a word that is a constituent of an existing sentence and make it into the subject of a subordinate clause or phrase. though in most of these cases the preceding word is really def. Collocated as it is with a word that is not a normal noun but a partially verbal (participial) form. or other defined word. here again it seems possible. Yes.. A good biblical case is Jer. who were then indeterminate. We would surely have to recognize that in biblical Hebrew one could say: wayyar*yladim ha-m'sahaqim ba-gan 'and he saw children who were playing in the garden' — the children being 'undetermined' in the conventional terminology of Hebrew grammar. First of all. but it is not quite the same thing. but it is not the relative article itself that makes them determined. noun. Edinburgh 1896). Of course the ptcp. 133.org at catholic university of america on February 15. 2011 A. in a certain sense one may say that 'children'.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW question whether the relevant elements are subjects or predicates. B. 6 Downloaded from jss. who wrote: 6 Rem. though formally undetermined. 2:3. One can see that this may often come close to determination. who become 'the' (determined) children for the following clause. Dan. especially in the poetic literature. becomes in the further mention determinate: it is 'children' whom he saw. 1. This phenomenon was seen as a possible difficulty by the Scottish Hebraist A. proper name. 3*3 . 27:3. though originally undetermined. only after def. or indeed probable. Davidson. Ps. 27:3: b'-yad mal'akim haba'im 'in the hand of messengers who came'.

though a poem which uses a much larger number of articles than many others. 2 'ote. The suggestion that the preceding word is 'really definite'. 2 Sam. ba-m'hallek. Psalm 136. The usage of Jeremiah or even Ezekiel is not to be depreciated as 'later style'. Relative articles.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW All these arguments are special pleading. v. 2011 two and the last are without article. but they are interspersed with purely verbal forms like perfects and imperfects. and in prose. But that is just the point. ha-sam. With this type of article it is simply not so. 4 'ose. Ps. We are interested in usages that began outside the dominance of determination and yet may in some respect have led towards it. In the relative article. among other things. literally 'he that speaks to you'. based on the strong insistence that the article must go with determination. 103 has only a handful of other articles in the entire poem of twenty-two verses. but it does not define any more than the other participles define. The second reason why the relative article is important is that it forms an important group numerically within the poetic literature. The article reminds of the antecedent subject and brings it to expression. It is very likely that these marked differences in proportion betoken some kind of diachronic shifts in the language. but it begins with a series of five relative articles in vv. and also with other verb forms like imperfects. and yet not one of these has the article. can have a kind of conditional element in their meaning. is an evasion of the problem. means 'if anyone says anything . gives us a long string of participles all referring to God. note. then.org at catholic university of america on February 15. that instances of the relative article must be noted and counted separately from other uses of the article. we have a usage that is not primarily concerned with determination: it is not like the difference between 'king' and 'the king'. the middle three have the article. On the other hand the relative article can easily alternate with participles without article. 14:10 ha-m'dabber 'elayik. For instance. by contrast. starting with ha-soleah 'he that forgives'. The first Downloaded from jss. v. 3-5.oxfordjournals. 104 the verses 2-4 have a series of participles all referring to God: v. though not marked as such. and notably within those (probably earlier?) poems in which the article is quite rare (on the degree of rarity see further below). As a matter of research strategy. It may well indeed have a certain consequent determining effect. Thus in Ps. It may certainly be attached to undetermined nouns. 3 ha-m'qare. it means.

7. 5) and going on to Job. in which determination by the article was unusual. we are not surprised to find many nouns without article: mayim v. ba-koah 'in strength'. ka-'operet 'like lead'. k and /. the article occurs in one-word prepositional phrases with the 'prefixed' or 'inseparable' prepositions h. Thus in the Song of the Sea. namely the high proportion of cases in which. ba-'elim 'among the gods'. similar cases in 325 . vv. 8. 'eres v. v. %\yam vv. as in 'the enemy said' or 'the waters were piled up'.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW to you' (RSV). preposition form k'mo. but because it is syntactically necessary at this point in the construction. The writer has for a time Downloaded from jss. however. Judg. 33. v. 2011 been making a survey of the use of the article in the poetic literature. v.is not followed by the article. And this is particularly noticeable in poems which appear to be of earlier date. 9. 5. the relative article has a main function other than that of normal determination. In fact. ka-'eben 'like a (the?) stone'. 16.org at catholic university of america on February 15. 1 Sam. v. The article in prepositional phrases. Lamentations etc. in the position that has been specified: where the noun in question is collocated with one of the three prepositions b. and it may possibly suggest a path which leads from an older state of the language. quite clearly. vv. 6. the letter h of the definite article is nowhere to be seen. 10. k and /. 'qyeb v. In this type of phrase the article is almost as regularly present as in other types it is absent. where it is the subject of a sentence. So bayam 'in the sea'. 9:6. 12. to put it into graphic terms. non-prefixed. including the poems embedded in the historical works (e. Exod. 5. and all occur. in which such determination was central. The article is not here because of definiteness. 11.oxfordjournals. ba-qodes 'in holiness'. 4. Deut. v. then. 11. ka-qas'iX\Ye straw'. Song of Songs. Exod. it appears that in this poem the article is not used at all. 15. it is frequent in some poetic texts in which the usual article is rare. 49. or hardly so: or. Gen. taking the Psalms as a basis. One thing was immediately and overwhelmingly evident. 15. nor does it appear after the phrase b'-leb 'in the middle of. 2:13). To sum up. 10. But this is not the end of the story: there are a number of articles in the poem. v. There are. 7. cases without the article: b'-m'solot 'in the depths'. 8.g. to the classical state. 8 (and cf. The longer. 1. v. v. 32. In respect of definiteness the meaning is very much the same as is to be found in participles which have no article (Gen. in the Masoretic text.

without article. 23:34. Where the noun has an adjective with it. there is a goodly crop of mi/samayim without article though some cases with min plus article do occur. 'eres 'land. Another common word is samayim 'heaven'. in Isaiah and Psalms. But this pattern in the Psalms and other old poetic texts is very marked. has three cases of the relative article as defined above. 2011 . and within the same strata (e. to the west') is found more often without article. on the other hand. Prov. In spite of the frequency of yam without article meaning 'the sea'. does not occur: all cases are ba-Iamayim with article. and a series of six in Ezek. But with the prepositions b. 68. and similarly four of ka-yam and five of la-yam. Not all poems have this sort of pattern: we have already suggested that there was a development within poetry. all with article. in other words where it is not a oneword prepositional phrase but a longer one. but seven in one-word prepositional phrases. though present in a very marked form in Exod.'el 'God' plus one of ha. we have many cases without article. yam.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW Ps. 27-28). For instance. absolute without article. k or /.'ares 'the earth'. Use without the article is common. is quite common. twelve in the Psalms. Psalm 18. geographical lists in Joshua). With the prepositions min 'from' and 'ad 'as far as'. eleven in all. 30:19. Similarly. with something approaching sixty in the Psalms in this sense. When we take cases with 'from'. With the local suffix -a {he locale). but also with.g. world' is common without article. k and / there are simply no cases without article: there are about twenty-two of ba-yam with article. e. But the locution b'-hmayim 'in heaven'.org at catholic university of america on February 15. 15. With the other preposition / there are five. on the other hand. Ps. reappear in a number of Psalms and other old poems.g.oxfordjournals. but it has seven of one-word prepositional phrases with b. With the local suffix -a all cases seem to be ha-famayma with article. not the number of articles in each poem. 10. and we also have the articled form ha-yam. seems to have two articles only in which the consonant h is written and no preposition is prefixed. for instance. also surely an ancient text. has three cases of ha. But 'in 326 Downloaded from jss. seven in the Prophets. a longish poem of fifty-one verses. but the distribution of articles and article-less forms word by word in representative lexemes as used especially in the Psalms. 46:3. And these tendencies. there are no cases at all of b'-yam.yamma ('towards the sea. no article is found: b'-mayim 'addirim v. The importance of the pattern is even more clearly seen if we note.

cf. k and / they are found to be very largely with article. but it was classified in an incorrect way. p. however. 158 ey. in ka-seleg or ba-samayim or other like expressions. They tended to classify it as something that happened in comparisons. p. saying that the article is much used in comparisons. 2011 . This fact in itself at once makes it very unlikely that determination is the basis for the presence of such articles. But comparison essentially had nothing to do with the matter: the same happened with any of the three inseparable prepositions. of these four in Psalms. but not when an adjective is added to the noun.org at catholic university of america on February 15. article used in comparisons.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW the land. 407. What if many of these articles. but k'-'es satul 'like a tree planted'. Let it be stated as a useful generalization that a number of fairly common nouns appear in poetry without article. Thus GK §1260. I have collected data for many other relevant nouns but it would be tedious to present more of it here. a point further exemplified by Joiion. and thus ka-seleg 'like snow' with article. 424. depending on collocation with this or that particular preposition. Lettinga. Unlike the case of samayim. but when combined with the prepositions b. p.'ares. All this. it appears. Undoubtedly the stressing of comparisons was once again motivated by what were thought to be logical considerations. which sometimes point out that. where a noun has the article but in collocation with the 327 Downloaded from jss. a syntactical matter. had nothing to do with comparisons. similarly Joiion § 1371. 'arsa with local suffix is always without article. give the reason 'since the object compared is treated not (as usually in English) individually but as a general term'. without article. simply were not there at all in the Hebrew of biblical times but were created later by the reading tradition? A trace of this problem is visible in the textbooks. And it is true that comparisons do form part of this evidence: mayim is mostly without article except where a particular body of water was meant.oxfordjournals. as has been stated. for the same happened with the other inseparable prepositions: it was. and similarly la. but in the expression 'like water' there are only three cases without article in the Bible but nineteen are ka-mayim with article. Now part of this evidence was taken into account in the traditional accounts. Or was it? For this brings us to one of the central questions of all attempts to cope with the article. four in Job and one in Lamentations. and in many words it is most conspicuous with b 'in'. in the world' is always with article.

Ley. they could not do this. The existence of an article. 144. and explained this as the result of a change in the traditional pronunciation. in Neue Jahrbiicher fur Philologie und Paedagogik (also known as jahrbiicber fiir classische Philologie). no article could be introduced without the insertion of an h. an alteration which had introduced the vocalization of prose into poetry in so far as the consonantal text permitted it. producing many contradictions. by contrast. But the article of M. the reading tradition later inserted 'articles' (in effect. 2te Abteilung. out of which the facts forced the problem upon his attention. he could quickly assert that 44 of the 150 Psalms had not a single article in them. cannot be considered certain unless it is attested by the consonantal text. According to a possible hypothesis. vol. with other prepositions such as min or k'mo. Lambert in 1898 had already expressed amazement (p. These ideas are not new by any means. k and / could be taken seriously.oxfordjournals. 208 f. which Lambert himself had not seen (his note 1 on p. 2011 328 . Where the noun has no preposition. or ces satul. But this revocalization of the poetic texts was done in a very inconsistent manner. no cases of 'articles' created through the vocalization of b. the h of the article is visible in the consonantal text. Working in this way. Most of the poems embedded in 7 J.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW preposition b. noted all too faithfully by the Masora. and so the phrases with these prepositions remain without article for the most part. the vowel adjustments which produced articles) into many of these short phrases beginning with the preposition b. like mayim rabbim. some of which are listed on Lambert's pp. because it would have required an h for the article element on the adjective. Only those marked with h could be relied upon. k and /. (1891). the presence of the article is made visible only by the Masoretic pointing. 'Ober den Gebrauch des Artikels in der rhythmischen Poesie der Hebraer'. 203).7 Ley from the beginning confidently asserted that the later punctuators had made no distinction between poetry and prose and that. mayim 'addirim. 541-51. With phrases where the noun had a following adjective. k or /. A similar position was taken by Julius Ley in a slightly earlier article. The writer had taken little account of them until he had already done a great deal of study of the article. Lambert concludes. Downloaded from jss. and the insertion of new consonants in this way was beyond their power. 208) at the 'prodigious' use of the article in poetry when with the prepositions b.org at catholic university of america on February 15. Similarly. k and /. as a result.

differs from prose not only in that it 'omits' articles that by customary rules ought to be there. A goodly number of the examples customarily cited may become uncertain. moreover. Ley's argument is. if taken seriously. possibly hundreds. For it may mean. when these same words are commonly without article in the same texts when not attached to these prepositions. But both articles indicate something that is of central importance for any serious study of the Hebrew article. or next to none. and description of the functions of the latter cannot proceed until some account is taken of the questions then raised. will become necessary. 2011 . Standard expressions like bayom. Another large group of poems have no more than a single article in them. Many chapters of Job had none. such as the plentiful attachment of the article to words with the prepositions b.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW the prose texts have none either. if right. even Lamentations had extremely few. kol-ha-yom are special cases and do not count either. is that one of the most fundamental grammatical mechanisms of Hebrew cannot be correctly described on the basis of the signs devoted to the marking of it. Poetry. Can an account of them be given other than one depending on the sheer vagaries and chaotic inconsistencies of the reading tradition and of the punctuators? 329 Downloaded from jss. should be capable of explanation in terms of historical linguistics. covering a series of different levels. These articles have not remained unknown: GK mentions them in a footnote. In it there may be many. Or is there an alternative? The alternative is this: that the peculiar configurations. it seems. put forward as part of the demonstration of his metrical theories.org at catholic university of america on February 15. k and /.oxfordjournals. but that it also may contain in the text hundreds of articles that were never part of this same poetry. Perhaps they were counted as somewhat marginal. some of which we have described. and grammarians may have refrained from citing his work because they did not wish to suggest acceptance of these ideas. Some sort of diachronic spectrum. But the standard works on syntax seem not to have drawn from them the consequences which they imply. What it means. of 'articles' which were never there in ancient times and to which therefore we cannot ascribe meaning or function of the same kind as was possessed by those articles that were present and functioned within the Hebrew of biblical times. that the article cannot be properly described on the basis of the Masoretic text.

then they could have had others.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW An answer to this question will certainly not be given. this is not an adequate reason for supposing that in this respect it was always wrong. for instance. The use of the article was in a process of change during . k and / in poetic texts. This could mean that some of the reconstitution of patterns in the later reading tradition was in continuity with processes that were taking place during biblical times. the reading tradition and the Masora should not be treated as a sack of unintelligibility into which we thrust things that we cannot explain. although we cannot assume that every 'article' marked upon a preposition b. for example. as Ley maintains. lead to the numerous inconsistencies some of which are listed. were more fluid. First of all. and I have said nothing of the post-biblical usage.org at catholic university of america on February 15. within the limits of this article. it could even mean that some of this reconstitution was already under way within the formation of the Bible. If. by Lambert? Thirdly. however. is that of the article with nouns with the prepositions b. why did they not do this more consistently? How did a process of revision.could indeed have developed the use of the article earlier than the 33° Downloaded from jss. But one or two points may usefully be made.or some of them . Though the reading tradition was not always 'right'. which are not marked with h. points that might suggest an approach through historical linguistics as an answer to these questions. marked with h: if they had some.the biblical period. even in the central biblical period. 2011 . Central to the questions of this order. part of our argument has been to show that the rules and practices of use of the article. or is there something in the configuration of the evidence that may suggest that such phrases . varied and illogical than traditional explanation has suggested. they treated the poetical literature by the rules applicable for prose. An account of them has to be given.perhaps one should even say 'throughout' . Secondly.oxfordjournals. even an unconscious one. or even attempted. which certainly deserves to be taken into consideration here as well. k or / in early poetry was 'really' there. it is unwise scepticism to suppose that none of them were really there or that only those marked with the consonantal h can be taken as actual. Many early poems show evidence of some articles. Is this purely a creation of the later reading tradition.

And. of samayim or of mayim. tob. as GK and other authorities rightly notice. 2:3. This again looks very similar to our problem with the article in other words.and now see noticed by Lambert long ago .that many such cases involve short words: jaw. etc. k or /. for instance. but where it was not present the article could not be inserted without the addition of the necessary h to the consonantal text. It is well known that this word is overwhelmingly used without article: but.oxfordjournals. There are. and therefore the modification was not made. It would be reasonable to suppose that the usage with article on the adjective only is the older. it remains somewhat difficult to believe that the reading tradition simply insisted on imposing the article upon so many phrases with the prepositions b. 25:5) but Downloaded from jss. Exod. but in other cases were prevented because they could not do so without inserting the characteristic consonant h of the article.g. Gen. Where the preposition b was present it was revocalized to include the article element. In spite of these parallels.org at catholic university of america on February 15. and was eventually replaced by the classical pattern where both noun and adjective have the article. 1:31. where some passages have the diction yom ba-Iilsi or yom ha-s'bi'i. But the same argument works also in the opposite direction. however. even in classical prose. when the preposition b is present all cases have article on both the noun and the numeral adjective (e. Another example which will occur to the reader is the ethnic term 'Philistines'. From the many cases without the preposition. 12:15 (twice)) but. k and /. which ought to be mentioned. a number of possibly relevant analogies in Hebrew usage. 2011 . where prefixed by the prepositions b. Gen.? Is there any path from the deictic foundation of the article towards an explanation? For the moment I am content to leave it here.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW same nouns did when in another context? Is there a clue in the fact I have noticed . 2:2). One can of course say that they would have done the same to an even larger range of examples. if the reading tradition inserted articles. the reading tradition must have known that these same words were very frequently used without article. it is in all cases (nearly twenty) provided with the article. with article on the adjective but not on the noun 'day' (e. why did it not do so more consistently? Why did it insert it once in ba-sedeq (Prov. The first and most obvious is the case of 'the sixth day' or 'the seventh day'. They knew it very clearly.g.

and the existence of the article in that ancient stage is plentifully attested by the universal use of article with the singular 'the Philistine'. and the light just mentioned. it remains a question just when these chapters were edited into their final form. 2011 . triple and multiple articles are notably lacking in poetry). five times in i Samuel). and of the small handful with article some can be explained as normal determination. the darkness just mentioned. but it is difficult to explain the articles with prepositions exclusively as the consequence of a language change. sixteen or so in number. Exact figures are of little use.g. i. k and /. 32. With the preposition 'in'. apart from the cases prefixed with the prepositions b. 50-52. 37. but. Here we have practically no cases with b.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW leave it out in thirteen other cases of b'-sedeq? Why did it not vocalize for an article in be-'emet 'in truth'? Hosek 'darkness'. 38-41. as when God divides between 'the' darkness. when it itself ex bypothesi knew of the massive representation of the same word without article? The case of 'the sixth day' or 'the seventh day' seems to me to be valid: most probably the older Hebrew applied one article to a phrase of this kind. Naturally. The application of vocalization for article to jom after b was an assimilation to normal classical usage.e. however. but in a different way. while the form without article is well represented in chs. and in the same ancient texts (e. k and /. and it is represented especially in chs. Certainly the dominant usage is without article. since some examples may be counted as a geographical name rather than the name of persons. when without preposition. but we do have good evidence about the article. since the article written with h does also occur. But Jeremiah seems to use the form with article more commonly. as if an article was necessary at these points. in so far as these gentilics are 332 Downloaded from jss. and not two (double. all cases have the article. But how can the reading tradition be supposed to have imposed these sixteen articles. The case of 'Philistines' is less clear and more peculiar. who was speaking about his contemporaries. but it seems also to be a very anomalous case which may not be typical of all developments. and especially so from Jeremiah.org at catholic university of america on February 15. massively prefers to be without article (over forty cases). Kasdim 'Chaldaeans' is informative.oxfordjournals. The case of 'the Philistines' is indeed very likely to be suggestive for the problem of the article. though much less commonly.

and depending on the phonetic shape of the relevant noun. in vocative functions. k and /. 8. The definite article in Hebrew. of which the most conspicuous is 'olam 'remotest time. 10:24 and the he-'aleba 'that which was upon it' of 1 Sam. The following remarks are not intended to prove anything about the languages concerned: they are made simply because they appear to be factually true. with abstract nouns. may well be unusual through its being a mark of considerable importance and highly pervasive throughout the language. These facts may be relevant for the history of the matter. As one who has written so much about the relations between language and thought. there may often have been rather little phonetic difference between the form with the article and the form without it. When one measures against the scale of a variety of the 333 Downloaded from jss. 9. Finally. and been much stimulated in so doing by my long friendship with Edward Ullendorff and the great widening of my linguistic knowledge that I gained from him. depending on the exact pronunciation of Hebrew being used. and in the 'relative article' with participles. when combined with one of the prepositions b. Its dominant role as a marker of determination has still not become universally established. 9:24. eternity'. Some very unusual cases may be evidence of experimentation with the article in directions that were not followed up: thus the he-hal'ku 'who went' of Josh.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW significant for the history of the article. in others. Uses with the introduction of novel narrative elements. the article had never become established at all. it is used but its presence seems to make no difference ('ad ha-'olam means nothing different from 'ad 'olam). Linguistic summary. and lies alongside a variety of other usages and functions. Moreover. The Hebrew Bible displays the article in the course of a process of change.oxfordjournals. if these are textually sound. In some words. which nevertheless has no indication of any kind in the unpointed or consonantal text.org at catholic university of america on February 15. 2011 . as is well known. the data of Jeremiah on this word is certain to be of importance. one remark of a general nature may be useful. Hebrew and Greek. all show aspects that differ from the traditional notion of determination but may go back to features that helped to establish it. I cannot leave the subject without a note of more general and philosophical character.

as in Hebrew. I was from the beginning of my career a determined critic of ideas of such parallelism. a difference to which much ideological importance was attached. and to Hamitic languages (pp. And both Hebrew and Greek developed their characteristic definite article patterns within roughly the same historical epoch. so far as concerns the definite article. But. If the be-'aleha of i Sam.) but its account of ancient Semitic is really negligible. no such misgivings were required. Of course there may be good reason for continuing to affirm the contrast between Hebrew thought and Greek thought. In both the article has morphological relations with demonstratives and relatives. Greek was enormously closer to Hebrew in respect of its article than it was to its sister language Latin. Both languages have a definite but not. But. Downloaded from jss. some retained misgivings because they felt that the same arguments diminished the difference between Hebrew thought and Greek thought. 158 ff. For noun plus adjective. It has slight reference to biblical Aramaic. Both belonged to language families which provided no explicit article type.7)Xa etc.8 nothing is more striking or more evident than the close similarity between Hebrew and Greek in their patterns of definite article. On the scale of typological possibilities. say the first millennium BC. having the priority. The Hague 1972). the contrast 8 For a typological survey of the various article patterns in languages.oxfordjournals.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW world's languages. as in Hebrew. and determination did not require the article. it is very similar to a construction common in Greek. is not meant to prove anything: except perhaps that it contributes something to that old question about the parallelism of language and thought. All this proves nothing and. an indefinite one. as has been shown. Though these criticisms were largely successful. to modern Hebrew. the definite article was a relative newcomer on the scene. Series Minor. 125.org at catholic university of america on February 15. see J. and the force of the argument presses in the other direction. one might guess. in effect. A usage similar to the Hebrew relative article was common in Greek and characteristic of it: 6 TCOUOV etc. both languages could repeat the article on both elements: rot opT] rot u(j. 2011 334 . In Greek. 9:24 is genuine Hebrew. as has been said. The Article and the Concept of Definiteness in language (Janua Linguarum. Kramsky. the older and poetic usage employed the article rather little. This work unfortunately has no material comment on biblical Hebrew. In Greek. with Hebrew. since the pattern of the definite article is remarkably similar as between the two languages.

the definite article is only one thing out of many. 2011 9 The definite article was one of the linguistic phenomena mentioned as important elements in any discussion of the relation between language and thought by Basson and O'Connor in 1947.org at catholic university of america on February 15. p. That same similarity may have also had some historical effect in facilitating the task of translating the Bible into Greek.9 The striking similarity of its patterns. as between two languages which produced such great cultural differences. Downloaded from jss. must count as important evidence. 335 .oxfordjournals. Naturally. 26.DETERMINATION IN BIBLICAL HEBREW between Hebrew thought and Greek thought can be maintained only by negating the parallelism between language and thought. and I do not for a moment suggest that a multitude of other such similarities can be found. But the article has often been considered as a key example for exactly these problems. my own remarks in The Semantics of Biblical Language (1961). cf.

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