Hebrew Compound Prepositions
A compound preposition is formed when two or more words are combined and considered a single prepositional unit. In Hebrew, compound prepositions are formed by adding two prepositions together or by adding a preposition and a noun together.
CASE 1: Compounds formed from two prepositions
Two prepositions may be (morphologically) joined to form a distinct preposition. For example:
In the examples above, the preposition min has been added to other prepositions to form compound prepositions (if you do not understand the vowel changes, please review Unit 7.3). (Note that me'at (the third example above) may also indicate the preposition min joined with the direct object marker (and meaning "for the."))
Example 1 (Genesis 1:9)
"Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place" (KJV).
Example 2 (Genesis 4:14)
"Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth" (KJV).
Example 3 (Psalm 108:4[5h])
"For thy mercy is great above the heavens" (KJV).
CASE 2: Compounds formed from a preposition and a noun
A preposition and a noun may be conjoined to form a different preposition. For example:
In the examples above, notice how the preposition is added directly to the noun to form a distinct grammatical construction. In some cases a maqqef is used to join the preposition to the noun; in other cases the preposition is directly prefixed to the noun.
Example 1: (Psalm 79:9)
(Note that the first syllable of the first word uses a Qamets Chatuph since it is a closed, unaccented syllable.) "Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name" (KJV).
Example 2: (Genesis 6:11)
"The earth also was corrupt before God" (KJV).
Example 3: (Exodus 14:23)
This goal of this unit is rather modest: to help you become aware of some additional forms of prepositions you might encounter while studying the Tanakh. However, these forms are quite common in the Scriptures, so it is recommended that you:
- Memorize the section vocabulary (top of the page)
- On your flash cards for these compound prepositions, write out a few examples from the Tanakh of their usage.