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Every resource I've come accross that coments on the gender of the Hebrew word for Spirit mentions that it is generally female in gender. For example 'The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament' (HALOT) states:

"Generally רוּח‎ is f(em).; only seldom is it masc., as in Ex 10:13,19 Nu 11:31 Is 57:16 Jr 4:12 Ezk 27:26 Ps 51:12 78:39 Jb 4:15 8:2 20:3 41:8 Qoh 1:6 3:19;"

However, in the various interlinears for which I've spot checked the word Spirit, they do not identify any specific gender for the word for Spirit. For example for the interlinear entry at the biblehub.com for Gen 1:2, the word for Spirit is parsed as such:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here Notice that there is identified no associated gender for the noun Spirit, but there is for God, waters, darkness, earth, and the formless void.

So my questin is if the Hebrew word for Spirit is female why wouldn't an interlinear describe it as such? Why is it that even in some of the examples that HALOT mentions as being masculine the interlinears such as the one available at Bible Hub do not indicate whether the word is masculine or feminine (e.g. Exod 10:13,19)?

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    Notice that the verb, "hovering" is feminine and its subject is "Spirit".
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 15 at 9:44
  • @Dottard, ah... good catch.
    – Austin
    Commented Mar 15 at 19:25

1 Answer 1

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The Hebrew "construct" state occurs when there are two nouns in succession: the first noun is in the construct state and the second noun in the absolute state with an "of" between them. This occurs three times in Gen 1:2 as follows:

  • פְּנֵ֣י תְהֹ֑ום = face of the deep ["face" is construct and "deep" is absolute"]
  • וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים = and Spirit of God ["Spirit" is construct and "God" is absolute]
  • פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם = face of waters ["face" is construct and "waters" is absolute]

Note further that in that same interlinear:

  • "face" is normally masculine but here it is construct
  • "Spirit" is normally feminine but here it is construct

Such grammatical structures of noun chains are called "construct chains". Here is a much longer and more detailed explanation >> https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_Four/The_Construct_Relation/the_construct_relation.html

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  • This is very helpful but doesn't seem to explain the lack of gender indicated. Based on the explanation in your resource, you can have masculine construct forms and feminine construct forms. If the construct form for spirit is feminine then why don't any of the interlinears indicate the feminine gender even in construct form?
    – Austin
    Commented Mar 16 at 7:56
  • @Austin - the construct form does not alter the basic word - it remains the same so it is still feminine. That is, if the word "God" did not follow it, then it would simply be feminine.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 16 at 8:38
  • That makes it even more confusing why the feminine gender is not communicated in interlinears. According to your resource, it seems that even if the word God follows the construct form, it is still feminine in gender.
    – Austin
    Commented Mar 16 at 19:51
  • @Austin - you may have just found a problem with the presentation of the interlinears, but not with the grammar of the Hebrew.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 16 at 21:03
  • and you may have just uncovered the nature of my question... which regards the parsing presentation decisions of interlinears and not whether there's a problem with the grammar of the Hebrew. Though your answer did not provide a full explanation it is still very helpful. I thank you and have +1'd your response.
    – Austin
    Commented Mar 17 at 0:24

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