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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Words

By Jeff A. Benner


The Hebrew verb נתן (N.T.N, Strong's #5414) is a very common verb and is found over 2,000 times in the Hebrew Bible. This verb means to give and depending on context could be interpreted to mean; make a present; present a gift; grant, allow or bestow by formal action; to place in its proper position. Its first use is in Genesis 1:17 where the verb נתן is translated as “placed.”

and Elohiym placed them in the sheet of the skies to make light upon the land, (Revised Mechanical Translation)

In the above passage the Hebrew word is written as ויתן (vai-yi-teyn). The letter ו (v) is a prefix meaning “and.” The letter י (yi) is another prefix meaning “he” (the subject of the verb, which is Elohiym). What is left is the verb תן (teyn - the last two letters of the verb נתן). Notice something strange? Yep, the first letter of the verb is missing. The letter nun is sometimes called the “disappearing nun” because sometimes it just disappears. When a verb that begins the letter nun is prefixed with another letter when it is conjugated, the nun is dropped from the verb. The same thing happens to a verb that ends with the letter nun, which the verb נתן does also. When a suffix is added to the end of the verb, the nun at the end drops off. In Genesis 1:29, the second occurrence of this verb in the Bible, the verb נתן is written as נתתי (na-ta-tiy). This word includes the suffix תי (tiy) meaning “I” and what is left if the verb נת (nat - the first two letters of the verb נתן). It gets worse. A verb like נתן, which begins and ends with the nun, and includes a prefix and a suffix, then both nuns drop off. In Genesis 15:7 we find the verb לתת (la-tet), which includes the prefix ל (l) meaning “to” and the suffix ת (t), which identifies the verb as an infinitive construct. What is left is the verb ת (t – the middle letter of the verb נתן).

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