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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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54 Orientation in the Meaning Structure of Texts—Macrosyntactical Signals


Macrosyntactical signals are words and expressions with which the large structure of texts is marked.1 Speakers use such signals in order to make the hearer attentive to the beginning, transitions, high points, and end of the speech.

If the spoken language (colloquial language) is actually the sphere of such a macrosyntactical sign as well, its action can still be observed also in the literarily-shaped linguistic form of the Hebrew Bible, above all in discourse contexts.

54.1 Opening Signals and Transition Signals in Dialogue

הֵן, הִנֵּה, וְהִנֵּה, וְעַתָּה


As an opening signal, הֵן or הִנֵּה marks the start of the speech;2 then וְהִנֵּה (a) or וְﬠַתָּה (b, c) soon leads to the main point of the speech. In these cases, the semantic character of a “time-adverb” is hardly still clear with עַתָּה.


וְהִנֵּה (like וְﬠַתָּה) appears as a transition signal after an interruption when the speech heads for its actual goal (d). At the same time, וְﬠַתָּה and וְהִנֵּה also appear together and at the same time, e.g. in 1 Kings 22 (e), serve to apply and to point a just concluded narrative with a particular focus to the situation. Most of the time, a request follows וְﬠַתָּה as an opening signal and transition signal (f, → also above, texts b and c).

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