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HEBREW GRAMMA R.
· INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS. 1. The Hebrew Language forms a part of that important group of kindred idioms, which comprises, besides, Chaldee and Syriac, Phoenician and Samaritan, Arabic and Ethiopic, and, as recent discoveries and researches seem to prove, the Assyrian language also. This family of tongues extended, therefore, from the regions of the Tigris and Euphrates westward to the coast of the Mediterranean, and southward over the districts of Arabia, spreading from Arabia again in a western direction. Thus embracing, on the whole, the tracts which the genealogy of nations contained in the tenth chapter of Genesis assigns to the descendants of Shem, it has been distinguished by the name of Shemitic Languages, and may, according to the simplest geographical distribution, be classified into the following four branches :
1. The Eastern or Assyrian division; 2. The Northern or Aramaic, combining Chaldee and Syriac; 3. The Middle, comprehending Phoenician or Punic, Hebrew and
Samaritan; and 4. The Southern, including Arabic and Ethiopic.
2. By the commerce and the colonies of the Phoenicians, and at a later period, by the conquests of the Arabians, the Shemitic idioms were diffused far beyond their primitive boundaries, over continents and islands-over the northern coast of Africa, and many of the parts of Europe adjacent to the Mediterranean.
3. Only a few portions in the later Books of the Old Testament are written in Chaldee, a while the remainder is composed in Hebrew,
a Viz. Dan. ii. 4 to vii. 28; Ezra iv. 8 to vi. 18; vii. 12 to 26; comp. Gen. xxxi. 47; Jer. x. 11.
which is, therefore, of pre-eminent interest among the cognate dialects, and reflects the spirit and genius of the Shemitic races in the most favourable light.
4. The Grammar of Hebrew, like that of other languages, is naturally divided into three parts:
I. The value and properties of the Letters ;
III. The structure of Periods, or the Syntax. The first part is, in Hebrew, perhaps more important, and capable of more systematic treatment, than in many other languages, for it involves all the leading principles underlying the inflection of. words, and demands, therefore, the most careful attention.
The second part teaches the modifications of the verbs, nouns, and adjectives, the forms of the pronouns and numerals, and the nature of the other parts of speech, which attained but a limited degree of completeness.
The Syntax, lastly, scarcely advanced beyond the first stages of development, and offers difficulties, not on account of a complicated, but of a too simple structure.
THE LETTERS AND THEIR PROPERTIES.
$ 1. THE ALPHABET AND ITS CLASSIFICATION.
1. The Hebrew Alphabet is composed of twenty-two letters. Their names are, for the greatest part, traceable to Hebrew or kindred roots, and their meaning proves that they were originally designed to represent various physical objects, to which some of them still exhibit a certain resemblance.
2. The following list embodies the letters with their probable significations and their sound, and states also the numerical value which was attached to them from a comparatively early date.
1. X (N)
8 8 7 Oo non era co do
a (soft breathing) House
v (bh) and 6 Camel
gh and g (as in go) Door
dh and d
h (rough breathing)
y (as in yes)
ch (hard guttural)
ph (f) or p Fishing-hook ts (as in nets) Poll, back part of k (hard palatal) 100
8 (almost like samech) Sign of the Cross th and t
Head [the head
The five characters 7,0, 1, 5, and y, are employed at the end of words, and are, therefore, called final letters,
Although y (ayin) has properly a sound even stronger and deeper than n (cheth), it is at present always pronounced like & (aleph), simply as a soft breathing.
# Some of the letters differ but slightly in their formation, and the beginner should take care not to confound 3 (beth) and » (caph); · (gimel) and ; (nun); 7 (daleth) and 7 (resh); 7 (daleth) and 7 (final caph); 07 (he) and N (cheth); (cheth) and n (tav); (vav) and (yod); 1 (zayin) and i (final nun); $(tet) and (mem); (final mem) and D (samech); v (ayin) and 3 (tsade); (shin) and in (sin), which two characters are distinguished from each other by the position of the dot, hence called the diacritic point.
3. The letters are naturally classified according to the organs with which they are chiefly uttered, namely: 1. Letters pronounced with the lips, or labials, 2, 1, 2, 3.
teeth, or dentals, 1, 0, 3,,(7), V. tongue, or linguals, 7, 9, 5, 1, n. palate, or palatals, d, ', -, p.
throat, or gutturals,X,7,7, Y,(7). 4. The letters articulated by the same organ are called cognate letters, and are not seldom interchanged; thus X and 17 are cognate, because they are both gutturals, and the one is in some roots used instead of the other. 7 belongs partly to the dentals and partly to the gutturals, and has some of the peculiarities of either class.
5. In Hebrew, as in many other languages, the letters and words proceed from right to left; hence X is av, while X) is va; and as the pages and leaves are written and printed in the same order, Hebrew manuscripts and books begin from the right.
6. No word is ever so written, that one part stands in one, and another in the following line. Nor do we find in the Old Testament any abbreviations, like e.g. or etc. in English, nor any connections between letter and letter, nor contractions like the modern & for et (and), except that in older books # has the form 4. To fill up the blank space which thus occasionally remains in a line, some of the letters are “extended,” namely, N, 7, 2, 3, n.
7. In employing the letters as numbers, the following rules are observed :
(a). The higher value always precedes the smaller one, that is, (according to No. 5) it stands to the right of the latter ; therefore, 11 is X (10+1), 12—5 (10+2), 13—2 (10+3), etc., and so 21 is 4, 35–12, 147–22, 269_CD .
(6). The numbers 15 and 16 are 19 (9+6) and 10 (9+7), and not 17",", because these combinations are forms of the holy name of God (1717'), to be scrupulously protected from profanation.
(c). The numbers 500, 600, 700, 800, and 900, are usually represented by po (400+100), 7 (400+200), n (400+300), no (400+400), and pan (400+400+100).
(d). The thousands are expressed by the letters with two dots above, or, sometimes, a small perpendicular line beneath them; e.g. 1000 is šor &; 2000 is 3 or 3. But the dots and the line may