Learning to Read Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar

By Robert Ray Ellis | Go to book overview

Lesson 7
NOUNS

7A NOUNS

1. Absolute and construct states
a. Two (or more) nouns can be linked together in a construct relationship. If two nouns are so linked, the first is in a construct state, and the second is in an absolute state. Words in a construct relationship may or may not have a maqqef.
▸ The phrase (“the people of Israel” [2Sa 18:7]) has two nouns in a construct relationship. The first () is construct, and the second () is absolute.
▸ In the phrase (“all of the women” [Ex 15:20]) a maqqef links the construct noun () to the absolute noun ().
b. The construct relationship serves to indicate a genitival idea in the sense that the absolute noun functions as a genitive (or modifier) for the construct noun. This relationship is indicated in English by the insertion of the word “of” after the construct noun.
▸ In the phrase (“the day of the LORD” [Is 13:6]) the absolute word () functions genitivally by modifying the construct word (). To say it another way, the construct word () is dependent upon and limited by the absolute word (), so that refers not to all days but to a particular day: “the day of the LORD.”
c. As a rule, a construct word cannot take a definite article. However, since definiteness is often implied in a construct relationship, an article may be supplied in translation if the context demands it.1 The absolute word in a construct relationship can have a definite article.

1 In previous lessons when a construct noun had an implied definite article, the translation of the article appeared in parentheses or brackets as (“the”) or [“the”]. Beginning with this lesson the parentheses or brackets will not be used with such implied definite articles, since the student now understands the circumstances in which they may occur.

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