Learning to Read Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar

By Robert Ray Ellis | Go to book overview

Lesson 4
MAQQEF, DAGESH, VOWEL ALTERATIONS

4A MAQQEF
1. When two or more words are closely linked together in meaning, they may be joined together by the symbol which is called a maqqef ( = “binder”).
In (“king of Israel” [1Sa 29:3]) a maqqef links two nouns, forming a genitival phrase.1
In (“upon the earth” [Ge 1:11]) a maqqef links a preposition ( = “upon”) and a noun ( = “the earth”), forming a prepositional phrase.
In (“and it was morning” [Ge 1:5]) a maqqef links a verb ( = “and it was”) and a predicate noun = “morning”), forming a verb clause.
2. When words are linked by a maqqef they are considered to be one word for the purposes of pronunciation and accenting. Thus a word group which is linked by a maqqef has a major accent only on the last or next to last syllable of the whole word group, rather than having major accents on each of the words linked by the maqqef. This shift of accent to the end of a word group may cause an alteration of vowels in the words that the maqqef links together.
= bēn (“son”) and = ʾaḇ/rā/hām (“Abraham”) each have a major accent when they stand alone. However, when linked by a maqqef in the phrase = Ben-ʾaḇ/rā/hām2 (“son of Abraham” [Ge 25:12]), they are treated as if they are one word. Consequently, only the last syllable of receives a major accent, and loses its accent. Since has become a closed, unaccented syllable, its vowel shortens from the long vowel sere () to the short vowel segol ().
When the words = k014D;l (“all”) and = hā/ʿām (“the people”) are linked by a maqqef in the phrase = kol-hā/ʿām (“all of the people”

1 See Lesson 7A.1b.

2 A hyphen in transliteration represents a maqqef.

-32-

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