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For example:

You rule the raging sea; you still its swelling waves.

You crush Rahab with a mortal blow; with your strong arm you scatter your foes.

Yours are the heavens, yours the earth; you founded the world and everything in it.

Zaphon and Amanus you created; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your name.

Psalm 89 10:13 NABRE

I know from reading the notes that Rahab is a sea beast and that Zaphon, Amanus, Tabor and Hermon are mountains. But they could just have easily have been people or places.

Is there something in the Hebrew or Greek that signifies to an audience when a proper noun represents a person or a tribe or a thing?

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1 Answer

When proper names stand alone, you can't tell. However, especially when the name is a reference to some(thing,place,one), as in this psalm, the odds are very good that the word is used elsewhere with more context.

For "Tabor", for example, a search turns up "Mount Tabor" in Judges 4:6. (The Hebrew for "mountain" is הַר (har).) For peoples/nations, you may find "am". For individual people, you'll usually find them as subjects or objects of verbs that make it clear.

Hebrew does not have upper and lower case the way English does, so you can't necessarily tell that a word is even a proper name. (I don't know about Greek.) JPS translates the last verse quoted in the question as "north and south you created...", for example.


Please note: This answer was written for a neutral, academic audience and is not intended to be interpreted in the context of a religious belief or doctrine.

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