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Grammar of Biblical Hebrew


Wolfgang Schneider

Although Wolfgang Schneider’s Grammatik des biblischen Hebräisch: Ein Lehrbuch serves primarily as an introductory textbook to biblical Hebrew, it makes an invaluable contribution to the text-linguistic study of Hebrew Bible. Schneider’s understanding of narrative syntax and discourse linguistics continues to influence such grammarians as Niccacci and Talstra, through whom his work is validated. His discussion of clauses and text syntax remains pertinent to Hebrew students and professors alike. With this English translation, Schneider’s work may now make a worldwide contribution to biblical studies by clarifying for the student the contribution of text grammar to the reading of the biblical text.
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16 Forms of the Noun


Substantives, adjectives, and numbers are described as nominals in this grammar. There is fundamentally no distinction in their form and use.1

16.1 State

No Case

There are no case endings in Old Testament Hebrew (→ however below § 16.3). The construct state (status constructus) is not a case form, rather a variation of accent with a syntactical function:

Two or more nominals are moved so closely to one another that they form a linguistic unit and at the same time also express a unit of meaning. This word connection is called a “construct chain.” Only the last nominal has the full tone; it stands in the “status absolutus,”2 i.e. just as it would appear alone. The preceding nominals have a reduced tone; they stand in the “status constructus,”3 i.e. belonging to the last word.


Most of the time we can translate such a construct chain into German by connecting the last nominal in the genitive to what precedes. For more on the function and translation of the construct chain → § 45.

A nominal can therefore appear in every number and every gender in two forms: the fully accented form, which is the status absolutus (st a), and the leaning slightly against a following word, weakly accented form, which is the status constructus (st c). ← 49 | 50 →

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