Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/115. Construction of the Infinitive Construct with Subject and Object

Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar  (1909) 
Wilhelm Gesenius
edited and enlarged by Emil Kautzsch
, translated by Arthur Ernest Cowley
Construction of the Infinitive Construct with Subject and Object

§115. Construction of the Infinitive Construct with Subject and Object.

a 1. Like the infinitive absolute (see §113a), the character of the infinitive construct as a verbal noun is shown by its power of taking the case proper to its verb, and hence in transitive verbs[1] the accusative of the object, e.g. Nu 915 בְּיוֹם הָקִים אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּן on the day the tabernacle was reared up; 1 S 191 לְהָמִית אֶת־דָּוִד that they should slay David; Gn 1417, 1929, Ex 3827, 1 K 1215, 154; with a negative, e.g. Lv 2615 לְבִלְתִּי עֲשׂוֹת אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֹתַי so that ye will not do all my commandments; with the accusative of the personal pronoun, e.g. Dt 2912 לְמַ֫עַן הָקִיס־אֹֽתְךָ that he may establish thee; Gn 2526, Jer 247; with a verbal suffix, e.g. Ex 214 לְהָרְגֵ֫נִי to kill me; Jer 3826 לְבִלְתִּי הֲשִׁיבֵ֫נִי that he would not cause me to return (on the suffix, cf. c). In Is 496 the object even precedes the infinitive with לְ; on this order cf. the note on §114r.—If the verb governs a double accusative, the infinitive may also take the same, e.g. Gn 4139 אַֽחֲרֵי הוֹדִ֫יעַ אֱלֹהִים֖ אֽוֹתְךָ אֶת־כָּל־זֹאת forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this; Dt 2116.

b Rem. 1. The object after the infinitive construct must also always be regarded as in the accusative, even when it is not expressly introduced (as inall the above examples) by the nota accusativi אֶת־, and when therefore the substantive in question might easily be taken as the genitive of the object governed by the infinitive (the usual construction in Arabic), e.g. Pr 2115 עֲשׂוֹת מִשְׁפָּט to do judgement. Against regarding it as a genitive, which is in itself possible (the doing, the executing of judgement), is the fact (a) that elsewhere the nota accusativi is so frequently added; (b) that in such a case the secondary forms of the infinitive, such as רְאֹה for (פָּנֶ֫יךָ) רְאֹת Gn 4811 (cf. ψ 1013, Pr 1616), would be unintelligible; (c) that certain infinitive forms, if they were to be regarded as in the construct state, could hardly retain the pretonic Qameṣ without exception, whereas, when connected with suffixes (i.e. with real genitives; cf. §33c), this Qameṣ necessarily becomes Še; e.g. Gn 1825 לְהָמִית צַדִּיק to slay the righteous (never as לַֽהֲמִית; cf., on the other hand, above, הֲשִׁיבֵ֫נִי); 2 K 218, Ez 4430. Similarly in such cases as Is 313 (ψ 504) instead of לָדִין עַמִּים we should rather expect לְדִין, if the infinitive were regarded as in the construct state, and עַמִּים as the genitive. Hence also in cases like Is 589 (שְׁלַח for שְׁלֹחַ) we must assume, with Sellin, op. cit., p. 78, a merely ‘external phonetic connexion’ and not the genitive construction.

c 2. The verbal suffixes added to the infinitive are (with the exception of לְהֽוֹצִאֵ֫הוּ Jer 3914) only the suffix of the 1st pers. sing. (besides the above examples cf. also 1 S 510, 271, 289, Ru 210, 1 Ch 1217, &c.) and plural; e.g. לְהַשְׁמִידֵ֫נוּ to destroy us, Dt 127 (immediately after לָתֵת אֹתָ֫נוּ, so that ־ֵ֫ נוּ is doubtless a verbal not a noun-suffix, although in form it might be either); לַֽהֲמִיתֵ֫נוּ Nu 1613, Ju 1323 (after חָפֵץ). Elsewhere the pronominal object is appended either by means of the accusative sign (e.g. Gn 2526 בְּלֶ֫דֶת אֹתָם prop. in the bearing them; לָדַ֫עַת אֹתִי to know me, Jer 247) or in the form of a noun-suffix (as genitive of the object). The latter occurs almost always, whenever the context excludes the possibility of a misunderstanding; e.g. 1 S 2033 לְהַכֹּתוֹ (prop. for his smiting) to smite him, not, as the form might also mean, in order that he might smite; cf. 1 K 2035; with the suffix of the 3rd sing. fem. Nu 2225; of the 3rd plur. Jos 1020, 2 S 212, &c. Hence also the suffixes of the 2nd sing. with the infinitive, as לְהַכֹּֽתְךָ Jer 4014, cf. Mi 613, and even גַּדֶּלְךָ to magnify thee, Jos 37, must certainly be regarded as nominal not verbal suffixes. The connexion of the noun-suffix, as genitive of the object, with the infinitive, was so fully established, that it could be used not only in such strange cases, as Gn 374 לֹא יָכְֽלוּ דַבְּרוֹ לְשָׁלֹם they could not speak to him peaceably, cf. Zc 31 לְשִׂטְנוֹ to be an adversary to him, but ultimately even in the 1st sing., as in Nu 2213 לְתִתִּי to give me leave [Dt 257 לֹא אָבָה יַבְּמִי he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother unto me; 1 Ch 410 לְבִלְתִּי עָצְבִּי that it may not grieve me!]

d 3. The power of governing like a verb is also retained in those verbal nouns which, although originally secondary forms of the infinitive, have fully acquired the value of nouns, e.g. Is 119 דֵּעָה אֶת־יְהֹוָה (prop. to know the Lord) the knowledge of the Lord; לְיִרְאָה אֹתִי to fear me, Dt 410, 526, 1012; an accusative follows לְאַֽהֲבָה Dt 1012, 15, Is 566 (cf. also 1 K 109, Ho 31); לַֽהֲנָפָה Is 3028; בְּשִׂנְאַת יְהֹוָה אֹתָ֫נוּ Dt 127; after verbal nouns formed with the prefix מ‍ (cf. §45e), Nu 102, Is 1319, Am 411, Ez 179. The accusative of the object likewise remains after infinitives (or their secondary forms) which have the article, e.g. Gn 29, Jer 2216, or a suffix, e.g. Gn 54, &c., 28:4, 6, 29:19 f., 30:15, 38:5, 2 S 311, Is 2913.

e 2. The subject of the action represented by the infinitive is mostly placed immediately[2] after it, either in the genitive or nominative. The subject is in the genitive (§33c) whenever it has the form of a noun-suffix, and also when the infinitive has the termination of the constr. st. fem. sing. (see f); probably also in many other cases, where the infinitive in form and meaning is used more like a substantive, and accordingly governs like a noun. On the other hand, the subject of the infinitive is certainly to be regarded as a nominative, when it is separated from the infinitive by any insertion, and according to certain indications (see g) very probably in ninny other instances.

f Rem. 1. Examples of genitives of the subject after infinitives in the connective form are Dt 127 בְּשִׂנְאַת יְהֹוָה אֹתָ֫נוּ prop. in the Lord’s hating us; cf. 7:8, Gn 1916, 1 K 109, Is 1319, 479, Ho 31, Am 411. The subject of the infinitive is probably also to be regarded as genitive in such cases as Ex 171 and there was no water לִשְׁתֹּת הָעָם for the people to drink (prop. for the drinking of the people), and in cases like Gn 1616 (בְּלֶ֫דֶת הָגָר); Gn 163, Ex 191, Nu 203, 4, 33:38, 1 K 61, ψ 1331, 2 Ch 73, &c.

g 2. Examples in which the subject is separated from the infinitive by an insertion, and hence must certainly be regarded as a nominative, are Jb 3422 לְהִסָּ֫תֶר שָׁם פֹּֽעֲלֵי אָ֫וֶן that the workers of iniquity may hide themselves there (prop. for the hiding themselves there the workers of iniquity); cf. Gn 3415, Nu 356, Dt 193, Ju 92, 2 S 2413, ψ 7610, and below, i. The subject is likewise to be regarded as a nominative, whenever the Lamedh is prefixed to the infinitive by means of a pretonic Qameṣ (cf. b above), e.g. 2 S 1920 לָשׂוּם הַמֶּ֫לֶךְ אֶל־לְבּוֹ, since, if the infinitive were used as a nomen regens, we should rather expect לְשׂוּם according to §102f. That the subject of the infinitive is regarded elsewhere also as nominative is again (see above, b) probable, since in such forms as הָנִיחַ Dt 2519, Is 143, הָמִיר ψ 463, &c., the pretonic Qameṣ is retained without exception, whereas on the analogy of הֲנִיחִי Ez 2413, הֲקִימוֹ Jer 2320, &c., we should expect הֲנִיחַ, הֲמִיר, &c., if the infinitive were regarded as a nomen regens. Or was the retention of the Qameṣ (assuming the thorough correctness of the Masoretic punctuation) rendered possible even before a following genitive, because that vowel was characteristic of the form? It is at all events certain that owing to the lack of case-endings,[3] a distinction between the genitival and nominatival constructions could not have been consciously made in the case of most infinitives, e.g. in unchangeable forms like קְטֹל, קוּם, &c.

h 3. When both a subject and an object are connected with the infinitive, the rule is, that the subject should immediately follow the infinitive, and then the object. The latter, in such a case, is necessarily in the accusative, but the subject (as in e) may be either in the genitive or in the nominative. The noun-suffixes again are, of course, to be regarded as genitives, e.g. Gn 3918 כַּֽהֲרִימִי קוֹלִי as I lifted up my voice (cf. 1 K 1321, and the examples, Gn 54, &c., enumerated above, under d), and so also substantives which follow a connective form, Dt 127, &c.; see above, d and f.

i On the other hand, the subject appears necessarily to be in the nominative in such cases as Is 1015 כְּהָנִיף שֵׁ֫בֶט אֶת־מְרִימָיו as if a rod should shake them that lift it up (for the plur. מרימיו cf. §124k), not כַּֽהֲנִיף, as would be expected (see g above), if שֵׁ֫בֶט were in the genitive; cf. 2 S 1413, Jb 3317. And so probably also in other cases, as Gn 51, 1310, Jos 147, 1 K 134, 2 K 2310, Is 327. The subject is separated from the infinitive by an insertion (and consequently must necessarily be in the nominative; see g above), e.g. in Jer 211.

k Rem. Less frequently the object is placed immediately after the infinitive, and then the nominative of the subject, as a subsequent complement, e.g. Is 201 בִּשְׁלֹחַ אֹתוֹ סַֽרְגוֹן when Sargon sent him; Gn 415, Jos 1411, 2 S 1829, Is 524, ψ 561, Pr 258. In Nu 2423 the subject follows an infinitive which has a noun-suffix in place of the object.

  1. For examples of the accus. of the object with a pass. infin., see §121c.
  2. In Gn 2430 the subject of כִּרְאֹת is wanting (but כְּשָׁמְעוֹ follows); the original reading was undoubtedly כִּרְאֹתוֹ, and the text is now in a state of confusion; verse 30a should come before verse 29b. In Gn 1929, 2526, Ex 916, 1321, 1 S 1819, Jer 416, ψ 424 the subject, although not indicated, is easily supplied from the context. The infinitive in such cases is best rendered in English by a passive.
  3. In Arabic, where the case-endings leave no doubt as to the construction, it is equally possible to say either qatlu Zaidin (gen. of subj.) ʿAmran (acc.), literally Zaid’s killing ʿAmr, or qatlu ʿAmrin (gen. of obj.) Zaidun (nom. of subj.), or even el-qatlu (with article) Zaidun (nom. of subj.) ʿAmran (acc. of obj.).