Lesson 2: Prepositions

Abstract

In this lesson you will be introduced to Hebrew prepositions and how they are used and appear in biblical verses. Becoming familiar with Hebrew prepositions in all their forms will make reading enormously easier because they are one of the most common and meaningful class of words in the Bible.

hebrew-bible-wordsIntroduction

A preposition describes a relationship between other words in a sentence. In itself, a word like “in” or “after” is rather meaningless and hard to define in mere words. For instance, when we do try to define a preposition we invariably use our hands to show how something is situated in relationship to something else. Prepositions are nearly always combined with other words in structures called prepositional phrases.

A prepositional phrase is a preposition followed by a pronoun or noun (called the object of the preposition).

Differences Between English and Hebrew

  1. Three of the prepositions are prefixed to nouns (just like the definite article and the conjunction Vav in the previous lessons). Most, however, exist as standalone, independent words just like English.
  2. Hebrew prepositions are encountered with minor spelling variations (usually just the vowels) depending on the noun to which the refer.
  3. Hebrew prepositions can take suffixes (you will learn about Hebrew suffixes when you study pronouns).

So, study the f0llowing lessons carefully and fully. Then return to this page and take the test below:

Review and Practice

This review covers both lessons 1 & 2. Reviews beginning with the next lesson will encompass only one lesson. But because lessons 1 & 2 were short, I’ve combined them.

Here’s a summary of the content to which you’ve been exposed so far:

Hebrew Vowels אְ  אַ  אָ  אוּ  אֶ  א  א  אִ
Hebrew Consonants א ע ו ה בּ ב כ ך ל נ ן מ ם ת
Hebrew for these English Words in, when, like, for, as, above, over, on, between, among, from, with, toward, and the dom

If you are unable to name and pronounce the vowels (row 1), the consonants (row 2), or remember the Hebrew words for each of the prepositions (row 3), go back to the previous lessons and study them further. Also, the final forms of the Mem, Nun, and Kaf consonants can be confusing. Make sure you can recognize them easily.

Exercise: Lessons 1 & 2

Next, read the following text and identify all the definite articles, conjunction Vavs, the direct object markers (DOM), and separable and inseparable prepositions

(HINT: If you would rather work offline, you can download a PDF copy of this text here: Practice Text)

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחֹשֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל־פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי־אוֹר וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאוֹר כִּי־טוֹב וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד

For example, in the first verse the counts are:

  • Definite Articles: 2
  • Conjunction Vav: 1
  • DOM: 2
  • Separable Prepositions: 0
  • Inseparable Prepositions: 1

Extra Credit: Count the number of Chamats, Patach, and Sheva vowel pointings in the first verse:

  • Chamats: 5
  • Patach: 2
  • Sheva: 1
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