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Short vowels in our own language are frequently almost lost in speaking; and there are many words, which, if written without them, would become, by a little experience, as intelligible, and be as easily read by us, as those Hebrew words and syllables, which are destitute, of vowels, were by ancient Jewish readers.
It is probable, that diphthongs, though discovered by no character, were nevertheless made in the original pronunciation of the language; but as uniformity in reading will be greatly promoted, if all will agree to omit them, as it is at best a work of mere conjecture, and as the radical letters will be more discernible without such combinations, the reader is advised to pronounce the vowels also distinctly.
The Hebrew language was anciently written without spaces between the words, each sentence was therefore free from every stop, unless we except that with which it terminated, the soph passyc. But the reader must have been much aided in dividing the words, if we can suppose any one who knew the language, to have stood in need of such help, by the use of the five final letters, J, A, and
, which almost never fail to indicate the end of the word, to which they respectively belong. The custom also of always terminating the line with an unbroken word, was another help; and lest the sentence should seem divided too much by a space at the end of the line, not large enough for the next word, they extended to a greater width ,,,,, and, as often as either of those letters terminated the preceding word, under such circumstances.
# uat ēshemim
! בראשית 1 ברא 2 אלהים 3 את 4 השמים 5 ואת 6
2 הארץ: 7 והארץ 8 היתה 9 תהו 10 ובהו 11 וחשך 12
In the beginning. I in, is a particle, vide rule 148.* hollow. nw the beginning, is a noun feminine, vide rule 16, from the noun the head, beginning, principal, &c. This word, being restricted by no adjunct, can only mean the beginning of time, or of the creation.
created. It is in the third person singular, masculine, preter tense in Kal. Vide rule 66. This word expresses the production of substances, not a change of form, in this place; for it appears afterwards that the matter thus created was without form.
3. God. That this noun, which is not unintentionally here joined with the singular verb No (vide rules 127, 133) is nevertheless really plural, appears not merely from its termination (vide rule 19) but by its being frequently joined with adjectives, pronouns, and verbs in the plural; as, “Let us make ny man, in our image ," &c. Gen. i. 26. It seems probable that it comes from the Arabic words to reverence. Some think from s to swear. Others from and the mighty God. Vid. num. 154, post.
4. N. This particle following an active verb, and going before a noun which has the servile emphatic (vid. rule 151) prefixed, admits of no translation, unless we render it the substance of. Here the sense will allow it, which is rarely the case. This idea perhaps originated from the circumstance, that л is composed of the first and last letters of the alphabet. It sometimes may be rendered to, towards or with, and comes from to approach. Vide rule 200. Vid. num. 85. 382. It was by the Masoretic grammarians termed the sign of the Accusative case.
* See the grammar at the end of the book.
1 IN the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon
5. the heavens. ♬ the, is emphatic. Vide rule 151. D is a noun mascul. found only in the plural. Vid. rule 19. Perhaps the root is D, vid. rule 199, to put or place; or from the particle Dw there, and D'D waters; or from 1 to remit, and D'D the waters.
6. And. 1 and, is
vid. num. 4.
a conjunctive particle. Vide rule 157. For n
7. the earth. the. Vide rule 151. pounded of formative, rule 147, and
8. and the earth. and. Rule earth. Vid. num. 7.
earth, is a noun com
a verb, to break in pieces. 157. n the. Rule 151. w
9. ' was. It is the third pers. fem. sing. preter. Kal of the verb 'n to be. Rule 103. It would be, if regular, n', but it
changes its or last radical letter into before the servile of the fem. Vid. rule 102. It agrees with x in gender, number, and person. Vid. rule 127.
10. nn void. This word often occurs in the Scriptures, sometimes as an adjective, in other instances as a substantive, but in the same form, except the usual prefixes. Perhaps the root is n waste, with the formative 1. Rule 162.
and without shape. I and. Rule 157. 1 occurs only here and in Isa. xxxiv. 11. and Jer. iv. 23. It is of a hollow, and formative. Vide rule 162.
12. Jum and darkness. 1 and. Rule 157. n as a verb signifies, to tremble or hide, as a noun, darkness. Jurihi, i and, ↳ the.
darkness. Pule 150.
על 13 פני 14 תהום 15 ורוח 16 אלהים 3 מרחפת 17
.ēmim peni ol
3 על 13 פני 14 המים: 18 ויאמר 19 אלהים 3 יהי 20 אור 21
13. by upon, is a particle from ny to ascend. by is also above, concerning, besides, to, near, with, &c. and sometimes for the sake of. 14. the face of. It is a noun mascul. found in the plural only. It is here in construction, vide rule 24, for D' faces or face, and derived from 1 to behold. Vid. rule 200.
15. Dn the deep. ʼn is formative of the noun. Vide rule 189. The formative is also to be rejected. Vide rule 195. The fem. noun DIAN comes from Я to tumultuate, vid. R. 200 and num. 18.
16. and the Spirit. and. Rule 157. n as a verb, to inhale, as a noun, air in motion, the soul of man, the Holy Spirit, whose existence like the air is certain, though he be invisible.
17. non causing a motion, is the participle Benoni fem. in Hiphil, vid. rule 75, of to shake, the as frequently, is here omitted. Vid. rul. 81. It agrees in gender and number with . Vid. rul. 115. 113. For the omission of 'n was, vid. rule 144.
18. D'on the waters. the. R. 151. D'D waters is by contraction for " the plural of the mascul. noun water. This word and D` the sea, in the plur. D'D' seas, and also by a day, in the plural D'D' days, are all derived from D to make a noise.
19. "D" and God said. 1 and, is in this case conversive. Vide rules 57. 136. and the note infra.* * said, is the third person masc. sing. fut. Kal of to speak. Vid. rule 194. Postea ¬ saying, has been called a gerund, the infinitive of Kal, and by others the participle Benoni Kal, the being dropped, as is very usual. Vid. rule 78. The is a prefix. Rules 175. 142.
there shall be. It is the third pers. m. sing. fut. Kal, for dropping final in the future, being a verb defective in Lamed He. See rule 102. From 'n to exist.
21. light. A noun, by rule 195, from 8 to flow. For 1 inserted, emphatic in the next verse. Rule 150.
see rule 158. It is used with
Vide num. 23, 398.
* ↑ is termed merely conjunctive, when it connects similar tenses
the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
in the same sense; or when it supplies the place of signs of persons, moods, tenses, and numbers. Vide rule 139. It is said to be conversive, when it changes the signification of a future, into that of a preter tense; or the sense of a preter into that of a future.
The five following rules are taken from Granville Sharp, and supported by numerous examples. Their accuracy is submitted to the critical reader.
"I prefixed to future tenses converts them to perfect tenses; and when prefixed to verbs in the perfect tense, it regularly converts them to the future tense. This is the necessary construction for both cases (not only "interdum," sometimes, as the grammarians tell us, but) always, constantly and regularly, in every sentence, that is independent of the three particular circumstances described in the subsequent three rules, or general exception.
"The only instance of irregularity or particular exception, respecting, that I have been able to find, is in that portion of the 119th Psalm, wherein is the leading letter of each sentence, as an acrostic or alphabetical psalm; which probably ought to be considered merely as a poetical license for that kind of composition.
"When is prefixed to a verb, which immediately follows another verb of the same tense, without a prefixed 1, and in the same sentence, the in that case is merely conjunctive, and the second verb to which it is prefixed (and even a third or fourth, if they are of the same tense, and follow in the same sentence with a prefixed to each,) must be construed according to its proper tense, whether future or imperative, and often also the perfect tense; but not always; as there are a few instances of exception.
"A prefixed does not affect, or convert any verb, in the imperative mood, nor any verb, or verbs in the future tense, which follow an imperative mood in the same sentence. But to perfect tenses the