Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/148. Exclamations

II. Special Kinds of Sentences.

§148. Exclamations.

148a The originally interrogative מָה is used to introduce exclamations of wonder or indignation = O how! or ridicule, why! how! sometimes strengthened by זֶה or זֹאת according to §136c.—Astonishment or indignation at something which has happened is introduced by אֵיךְ how (likewise originally interrogative) with the perfect; the indignant refusal of a demand by אֵיךְ (but also by מָה Jb 311) with the imperfect; an exclamation of lamentation by אֵיכָה, less frequently אֵיךְ how!; in Jo 118 by מָה.


148b מָה (or מַה־ with a following Dagĕš, see § 37) expressing admiration (or astonishment) before verbal-clauses, e.g. Gn 2720 (מַה־זֶּה); 38:29, Nu 245 (how goodly are...!); ψ 212, Ct 72; before the predicate of noun-clauses, e.g. Gn 2817, ψ 82; mockingly before the verb, 2 S 620 (how glorious was...!); Jer 2223, Jb 262 f.; indignantly, Gn 313 מַה־וֹּאת; 4:10, 20:9, 31:26 what hast thou done!

אֵיךְ with the perfect, e.g. Gn 269, ψ 7319; in scornful exclamation, Is 144, 12; in a lament (usually אֵיכָה), 2 S 125, 27; with the imperfect, in a reproachful question, Gn 399, 448, ψ 111, 1374; in a mocking imitation of lament, Mi 24.

אֵיכָה with the perfect, Is 121, La 11; with the imperfect, La 21, 41.

148c Rem. 1. The close relation between a question and an exclamation appears also in the interrogative personal pronoun מִי in such cases as Mi 718 מִי־אֵל כָּמ֫וֹךָ who is a God like unto thee? and so in general in rhetorical questions as the expression of a forcible denial; similarly in the use of an interrogative sentence to express a wish, see §150d, 151 a.

148d 2. A weaker form of exclamation is sometimes produced by the insertion of a corroborative כִּי verily, surely, before the predicate, Gn 1820; cf. 33:11, Is 79, and the analogous cases in the apodoses of conditional sentences, § 159 ee.