Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/102. Prefixed Prepositions

§102. Prefixed Prepositions.

a 1. Of the words mentioned in § 101, מִן־ from, out of, frequently occurs as a prefix (§99c), with its Nûn assimilated to the following consonant (by means of Dageš forte), e.g. מִיַּ֫עַר out of a forest.

b Rem. The separate מִן־ (always with a following Maqqeph) is usual (but not necessary, cf. Ju 2014 with verse 15, Ez 436, &c.) only before the article, e.g. מִן־הָאָ֫רֶץ, and sometimes occurs before the softer consonants, e.g. מִן־אָז Jer 4418, מִן־בְּנֵי Jo 112, 1 Ch 518; cf. Ex 1814, Lv 114, 1430, Ju 723, 1011, 1916, ψ 1047 (2 K 2336 before ר; also before ק in ψ 1849), and elsewhere in the later books (as in Aramaic)[1]; there is besides a poetic by-form מִנִּי (cf. §90m) and מִנֵּי Is 3011. Its form is most commonly מִ‍· with a following Dageš, which may, however, be omitted in letters which have Še (cf. §20m). With a following י the מִ‍ is, as a rule, contracted to מִי, e.g. מִידֵי=מִיְּדֵי or מִֽיְדֵי (but cf. מִיְּשֵׁנֵי Dn 122; מִיְּרֻשָּֽׁתְךָ 2 Ch 2011); before gutturals it becomes מֵ‍ (according to §22c), e.g. מֵֽאָדָם, מֵעָם; before ח the מִ‍ occurs with the guttural virtually sharpened in מִחוּץ on the outside, and in מִחוּט Gn 1423; before ה in מִֽהְיוֹת (cf. §28b and §63q. The closed syllable here is inconsistent with the required virtual sharpening of the ה; probably מִֽהְיוֹת is merely due to the analogy of לִֽהְיוֹת); similarly Is 143 before ר; but in 1 S 2328, 2 S 1816 מִרְּדֹף is to be read, according to §22s.

c 2. There are also three other particles, the most commonly used prepositions and the particle of comparison, which have been reduced by abbreviation (§99c) to a single prefixed consonant with Še (but see below, and §103e), viz.:

בְּ [poet. בְּמוֹ] in, at, with.

לְ [poet. לְמוֹ] towards, (belonging) to, for, Lat. ad.

כְּ‍ [poet. כְּמוֹ] like, as, according to (no doubt the remnant of a substantive with the meaning of matter, kind, instar).

d With regard to the pointing it is to be observed that—

(a) The Šewâ mobile, with which the above prefixes are usually pronounced, has resulted from the weakening of a short vowel (an original ă, according to f)[2]; the short vowel is regularly retained before Še: before Šewâ simplex in the form of an ĭ, attenuated from ă: before a Ḥaṭeph the prefix takes the vowel of the Ḥaṭeph, e.g. לִפְרִי for fruit, כַּֽאֲרִי as a lion, בָּֽעֳנִי bŏʿo, in affliction (sometimes with the syllable subsequently closed, cf. §28b, and the infinitives with לַ §63i): before weak consonants it follows the rule given in §24c, e.g. לִֽיהוּדָה for לִיְ׳. When the prefixes בְ, וְ, כְ‍, לְ, precede אֱלֹהִים God, the Še and Ḥaṭeph Seghôl regularly coalesce in Ṣērê, e.g. בֵּֽאלֹהִים, &c., for בֶּֽאֱל׳; so with suffixes וֵאֽלֹהָיו, &c. (once also in the sing. לֵֽאלֹהוֹ Hb 111); also regularly לֵאמֹר to say, for לֶֽאֱמֹר, see §23d.

e (b) When the prefixes precede the article, the ה is almost always dropped, and they take its vowel. See further in §35n.

f (c) Immediately before the tone-syllable, i.e. before monosyllables and dissyllables with the tone on the penultima (in the fore-tone), they take Qameṣ (undoubtedly a lengthening of an original ă, cf. §26e, §28a), but only in the following cases:

(aa) לָ before infinitives of the above-mentioned forms, as לָתֵת to give, לָדִין to judge, לָבֹז to plunder, לָגֹז to shear, לָחֹג to keep a festival, לָלֶ֫דֶת to bring forth, לָלֶ֫כֶת to go, לָקַ֫חַת to take, except when the infinitive (as a nomen regens) is closely connected with another word (especially its subject, §115e), and consequently, as being in a sort of constr. state, loses the principal tone, e.g. לְצֵאת Ex 191, לְשֶׁ֫בֶת Gn 163, and so always לְבֹא חֲמָת Nu 1321, &c. (in such cases as לָֽתֶת־חֶ֫רֶב Ex 521 the ā is protected by the secondary tone; before infinitives of verbs ע״וּ, the לָ is retained even in close connexion; cf. Ez 2120.25, 223);

f (bb) before many pronominal forms, e.g. בָּזֶה (so also in 1 S 2110; not בַּזֶּה), לָזֶה, כָּזֶה, לָזֹאת (in close connexion, however, לְזֹאת Gn 223; כְּזֹאת Gn 4523); כָּאֵ֫לֶּה as these; an especially בָּכֶם, לָכֶם, כָּכֶם (כָּכֵם) and בָּהֶם, לָהֶם, כָּהֵם (כָּהֶם), see §103e;

h (cc) לָ before monosyllables or fore-toned nouns in such combinations as פֶּה לָפֶה mouth to month, 2 K 1021, בֵּין מַ֫יִם לָמָ֫יִם between waters and waters, Gn 16; לָטֹ֫רַח for a trouble, Is 114, but always before the principal pause. The instructive example in Dt 178 also shows that the punctuation לָ is only possible with at least the lesser pause after it; in Is 2810.13 the לָ is twice repeated, even before the small and smallest disjunctives;

i (dd) in certain standing expressions, which have become stereotyped almost as adverbs, e.g. לָעַד to eternity, לָרֹב in multitude, לָבֶ֫טַח in security, לָנֶ֫צַח to eternity, but לְנֵ֫צַח נְצָחִים to all eternity, Is 3410. Cf. also לָנֶ֫פֶשׁ for the dead, Lv 1928, Nu 52, 910.

k (d) With the interrogative מָה they are pointed as in בַּמֶּה; in pause and before א as in בַּמָּה by what? (before a following relative clause, as in Ec 322, בְּמֶה; cf. Delitzsch, Jesaia, 4th ed., on Is 222); כַּמָּה how much? but also כַּמֶּה 1 K 2216, in close connexion, and at a greater distance from the pause. The Seghôl in these forms arises from a modification of the original ă, while the מ‍ is sharpened in order to maintain the original ǎ of the prefixes.

l When לְ (prop. la) is united to מָה, it takes, according to §49f, g, the form לָ֫מָּה (Jb 720 לָ֫מָה, 1 S 18 לָ֫מֶה, all Milʿêl, and hence the ă in the tone is lengthened to ā) for what? why? Before the gutturals א, ה, ע, לָמָ֫ה is used for euphonic reasons (exceptions 1 S 2815, 2 S 1431, Jer 1518, before ה; 2 S 222, ψ 496, before א); לָ֫מָּה, however, remains before ח. Before letters which are not gutturals, לָמָ֫ה is found in ψ 4210, 432 (immediately after a tone-syllable).

m Rem. The divine name יְהֹוָה, which has not its original vowels (יַהְוֶה) but those of אֲדֹנָי (see §17c), except that the י has simple not compound Še, takes the prefixes also, after the manner of אֲדֹנָי, thus וַֽיהוָֹה, לַֽיהוָֹה, בַּֽיהוָֹה, מֵֽיְהֹוָה (since they are to be read וַֽאדֹנָי, לַֽאדֹנָי, בַּֽאדֹנָי, מֵֽאֲדֹנָי); for the א of אֲדֹנָי, as of אֲדֹנִי, אֲדֹנִים, &c. (see below), quiesces after the prefixes בַּ, כַּ‍, לַ, וַ, but is audible after מֵ‍ (for מִן), שֶׁ (no instance in the O.T.), and הָ (in הָֽאֲדֹנִים Dt 1017, ψ 1363, the article, not הַ interrog., is intended; the only example with ה intertog., Jer 819, is to be pointed הַֽיהוָֹה, i.e. הַֽאדֹנָי, not הַיְהֹוָה). Hence the rule, משֶׁה מוֹצִיא Moses brought out (i.e. מ‍, שׁ, ה make the א audible), וְכָלֵב מַכְנִיס and Caleb brought in, (i.e. ו, כ‍, ל, ב allow it to quiesce).[3]—As regards the other plural forms of אָדוֹן, elision of the א always takes place after בַּ, וַ, כַּ‍, לַ, except in the form אֲדֹנֵי, thus לַֽאדֹנָיו, לַֽאדֹנֶ֫יךָ, &c.; but לַֽאֲדֹנֵי, &c., לַֽאֲדֹנֵ֫ינוּ, &c., לַֽאֲדֹֽנֵיהֶם.

  1. König, Einleitung ins A.T., p. 393 (cf. also the almost exhaustive statistics in his Lehrgebäude, ii. 292 ff.), enumerates eight instances of מִן before a word without the article in 2 Samuel and Kings, and forty-five in Chronicles.
  2. Jerome (see Siegfried, ZAW. iv. 79) almost always represents בְּ by ba.
  3. Another vox memor. is כָּל־בּוֹ נֶֽעֶלָם all is hidden in him.