(IMPORTANT: if you are not yet familiar with how we transcribe Hebrew sounds and words, you can download (or read online) the reference guide.)
This lesson assumes you know about prepositions and how they are used in English. If you do not, conduct a google for “English Prepositions” and select a few articles to read. When I did this search I found that this web page provided a nice, straight forward review.
The Hebrew prepositions used in the Bible are different only in their semantic rangewords with many different meanings are said to have a wide semantic range. This is characteristic of much of biblical Hebrew because the language has far, far fewer words than a semantically rich language like English. Thus, many individual Hebrew words perform double duty and carry multiple meanings. For example, the Hebrew preposition corresponding to English preposition ‘in’ also can be translated to ‘at‘, ‘with‘, ‘by‘, ‘when‘, ‘among‘, and ‘over‘‘in’ is far and away the most common, however..
Hebrew prepositions occur in three different forms:
- Inseparable Prepositions: these occur as prefixes. There are only three (meaning ‘in’, ‘at’, and ‘like’) and they are very, very common.
- Independent Prepositions: these prepositions are written as individual words (e.g., ‘between’).
- Maqqef Prepositions: the maqqef, meaning binder in English, is identical to the English hyphen. Its use does not change the meaning of the preposition, or its object. However, the pronunciation will change. Since the meaning does not change AND this course is about learning to read, not speak, biblical Hebrew, you can ignore this effect.