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ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year of 1861, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
THIS work was begun at the instance of my friend, preceptor, and colleague, DR. J. ADDISON ALEXANDER. The aid of his counsels and suggestions was freely promised in the undertaking; and he was to give to it the sanction of his name before the public. It appears shorn of these advantages. A few consultations respecting the general plan of the book and the method to be observed in its preparation, were all that could be had before this greatest of American orientalists and scholars was taken from us. Deprived thus early of his invaluable assistance, I have yet found a melancholy satisfaction in the prosecution of a task begun under such auspices, and which seemed still to link me to one with whom I count it one of the greatest blessings of my life to have been associated.
The grammatical system of Gesenius has, from causes which can readily be explained, had a predominance in this country to which it is not justly entitled. The grammar of Prof. Stuart, for a long time the text-book in most common use, was substantially a reproduction of that of Gesenius. Nordheimer was an adherent of the same system in its essential features, though he illustrated it with wonderful clearness and philosophical tact. And finally, the smaller grammar of Gesenius became current in the excellent translation of Prof. Conant. Now, while Gesenius is unquestionably the prince of Hebrew lexicographers, Ewald is as certainly entitled to
the precedence among grammarians; and the latter cannot be ignored by him who would appreciate correctly the existing state of oriental learning.
The present work is mainly based upon the three leading grammars of Gesenius, Ewald, and Nordheimer, and the attempt has been made to combine whatever is valuable in each. For the sake of a more complete survey of the history of opinion, the grammars of R. Chayug, R. Kimchi, Reuchlin, Buxtorf, Schultens, Simonis, Robertson, Lee, Stier, Hupfeld, Freytag, Nägelsbach, and Stuart, besides others of less consequence from Jewish or Christian sources, have also been consulted to a greater or less extent. The author has not, however, contented himself with an indolent compilation; but, while availing himself freely of the labours of his predecessors, he has sought to maintain an independent position by investigating the whole subject freshly and thoroughly for himself. His design in the following pages has been to reflect the phenomena of the language precisely as they are exhibited in the Hebrew Bible; and it is believed that this is more exactly accomplished than it has been in any preceding grammar. The rule was adopted at the outset, and rigorously adhered to, that no supposititious forms should be admitted, that no example should be alleged which is not found in actual use, that no statement should be made and no rule given the evidence of which had not personally been subjected to careful scrutiny. Thus, for example, before treating of any class of verbs, perfect or imperfect, every verb of that description in the language was separately traced through all its forms as shown by a concordance; the facts were thus absolutely ascertained in the first instance before a single paradigm was prepared or a word of explanation written.
Some may be disposed, at first, to look suspiciously upon the triple division of the Hebrew vowels, adopted
from Ewald, as an innovation: further reflection, however, will show that it is the only division consistent with accuracy, and it is really more ancient than the one which commonly prevails.
The importance of the accent, especially to the proper understanding of the vowels of a word and the laws of vowel-changes, is such that the example of Ewald has been followed in constantly marking its position by an appropriate sign. He uses a Methegh for this purpose, which is objectionable on account of the liability to error and confusion when the same sign is used for distinct purposes. The use of any one of the many Hebrew accents would also be liable to objection, since they not only indicate the tone syllable, but have besides a conjunctive or disjunctive force, which it would be out of place to suggest. Accordingly, a special symbol has been employed, analogous to that which is in use in our own and other languages, thus kātal'.
The remarks upon the consecution of poetic accents were in type before the appearance of the able discussion of that subject by Baer, in an appendix to the Commentary of Delitzsch upon the Psalms. The rules of Bacr, however, depend for their justification upon the assumption of the accurate accentuation of his own recent edition of the Hebrew Psalter, which departs in numerous instances from the current editions as they do in fact from one another. Inasmuch as this is a question which can only be settled by manuscripts that are not accessible in this country, it seems best to wait until it has been tested and pronounced upon by those who are capable of doing so. What has here been written on that subject, has accordingly been suffered to remain, imperfect and unsatisfactory as it is.
The laws which regulate the formation of nouns have been derived from Ewald, with a few modifications chiefly tending to simplify them.
The declensions of nouns, as made out by Gesenius, have the merit of affording a convenient and tolerably complete classification of their forms and of the changes to which each is liable. Nordheimer abandoned them for a method of his own, in which he aimed at greater simplicity, but in reality rendered the subject more per plexed. The system of Ewald is complicated with the derivation and formation of nouns, from which their subsequent modifications are quite distinct. The fact is, however, that there are no declensions, properly speaking, in Hebrew; and the attempt to foist upon the language what is alien to its nature, embarrasses the subject instead of relieving it. A few general rules respecting the vowel-changes, which are liable to occur in different kinds of syllables, solve the whole mystery, and are all that the case requires or even admits.
In the syntax the aim has been to develop not so much what is common to the Hebrew with other languages, as what is characteristic and distinctive of the former, those points being particularly dwelt upon which are of chief importance to the interpreter.
In the entire work special reference has been had to the wants of theological students. The author has endeavoured to make it at once elementary and thorough, so that it might both serve as a manual for beginners and yet possess all that completeness which is demanded by riper scholars. The parts of most immediate importance to those commencing the study of the language are distinguished by being printed in large type.
PRINCETON, August 22d, 1861.