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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Modern Hebrew Words


By Jeff A. Benner

All languages use “gender” in its grammar. In English, the word “he” is a masculine gender pronoun, the word “she” is a feminine gender pronoun and the word “it” is the neuter gender pronoun.

The Hebrew word for “gender” is מין (miyn, Strong's #4327) and is the word used in the following verse.

And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit-trees bearing fruit after their kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so. (ASV, Genesis 1:11)

In Hebrew, there are only two genders, masculine, זכר (zakar, Strong's #2145), and feminine, נקבה (ne-qey-vah, Strong's #5347). While most nouns in English, such as land and sky, are neuter nouns, in Hebrew all nouns are either masculine or feminine. The Hebrew word ארץ (e-rets, Strong's #776), meaning “land” is feminine and the word שמים (sha-ma-yim, Strong's #8064), meaning “sky” is masculine.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes... (KJV, Genesis 3:6)

In this verse, the English translation uses the neuter pronoun “it” because the word “tree” is a neuter noun. However, in Hebrew, the masculine gender pronoun הוא (hu, Strong's #1931) is used because the Hebrew noun עץ (eyts, Strong's #6086), meaning “tree,” is a masculine gender noun.

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