In English, we use the preposition of to show a modifying relationship between two nouns. For example, when we say “the son of the man,” we modify the noun son with the noun man. In Hebrew, the same meaning is created by placing two nouns next to each other. When two nouns are placed together, they create a construct chain. The pattern of a construct chain will always be “a (noun) of a (noun)” if the absolute noun is not definite. A construct chain has two types of nouns. The final noun in the chain is the absolute noun. Nouns preceding the absolute or final noun are construct nouns. For example: בֵּ ית ִאיׁשa house (construct) of a man (absolute) While there can be multiple construct nouns, there is only one absolute noun (always the final noun) in a construct chain. Note the following: Only the absolute or final noun in a construct chain can have the definite article. If the absolute noun has the definite article, all preceding nouns in the chain are also made definite even though they do not have the definite article. The pattern of a construct chain will always be “the (noun) of the (noun)” if the absolute noun is definite. Construct chains will never combine definite and indefinite nouns, such as “a (noun) of the (noun)” or “the (noun) of a (noun).” In these cases, the preposition לis used sometimes with אֲ ֶׁׁשר, and all nouns have the absolute noun form. For example: הַ ּקוֹל (אֲ ׁשר) לְ נָבִ יא מֶׁ לְֶׁך הָ עַ ם קול מ ֶׁשה בֶׁ ן־הָ ִאיׁש (the voice of a prophet). the king (construct) of the people (absolute) the voice (construct) of Moses (absolute) the son (construct) of the man (absolute) Note the following: Construct nouns may have a different form from absolute nouns. The change that occurs is primarily due to a reduction or loss of stress in a noun when placed in a construct chain. Sometimes a maqqēp is used between a construct noun and an absolute noun. The appearance of a maqqēp indicates a complete loss of stress in the construct noun. Note the following: Adjectives that modify either the absolute noun or one of the construct nouns will always follow the construct chain. For example: בֵּ ית נ ִָׁשים י ִָפים בֵּ ית נ ִָׁשים יָפֶׁ ה a house of beautiful women a beautiful house of women Because the adjective is not adjacent to the noun it modifies, some ambiguity can arise in translation. ֲׁשה הַ מֶׁ לְֶׁך הָ ַרע ֵּ מַ ע the deed of the evil king (or) the evil deed of the king An adjective will always match the noun it modifies in both number and gender. Sometimes this guideline helps resolve which noun should receive the adjective. Sometimes you must rely on context when deciding which noun should receive the adjective. Either noun in a construct chain can be plural. Generally, two adjectives will not modify separate nouns; however, two adjectives can modify the same noun. For example: ְדבַ ר הַ נָבִ יא הַ ּטוב הַ צַ ִדיק the word of the good and righteous prophet (or) the good and righteous word of the prophet Construct chains can have a series of nouns; however, construct chains exceeding four nouns are rare. For example: בֵּ ית בֶׁ ן־הַ נָבִ יא יהּודה ָ ִָש ֵּרי י ְִׁש ָראֵּ ל ו אֵּ ֶׁׁשת ּובֶׁ ן־הַ מֶׁ לְֶׁך the house of the son of the prophet the rulers of Israel and Judah the wife and son of the king The translation of a construct chain can vary from a simple of meaning, such as “the daughter of a king,” to “the king’s daughter.” Some instances are better translated as prepositional or adjectival phrases. Avoid strict adherence to one translation pattern. For example: בֶׁ ן־ּכהֵּ ן אֵּ ֶׁׁשת הַ מֶׁ לְֶׁך a son of a priest (or) a priest’s son the wife of the king (or) the king’s wife Adjectives (as adjectival nouns) and participles (as verbal nouns) can appear in a construct chain. For example: ֹבנֵּי הָ הֵּ יכָ ל the builders (verbal noun) of the temple יְפֵּ ה מַ ְראֶׁ ה beautiful (adjectival noun) of appearance (or) beautiful in appearance Singular Nouns in a Construct Chain The spelling of singular nouns in the construct chain will generally vary from the lexical form. Of the two states, absolute and construct, the absolute does not change and the construct does change. The changes that occur in construct nouns are due to the change in primary stress as the nouns are chained together. A few rules apply to the changes of nouns as they take the construct form. In construct nouns, a tsere or qamets in an unaccented or open syllable will change to a shewa. For example: Absolute Construct מָ קוֹם place ְמקום place of נָבִ יא prophet נְבִ יא prophet of ֵּׁשמוֹת names ְׁשמוֹת names of לֵּבָ ב heart לְ בַ ב heart of In construct nouns, a qamets in a final closed syllable will change to a patakh. For example: Absolute Construct hand יָד יַד hand of thief גַ נָב גַ נַב thief of הֵּ יכָ ל הֵּ יכַ ל palace palace of In construct nouns, a tsere in a final closed syllable generally remains, but sometimes can be replaced by a patakh. For example: Absolute Construct altar ִַמזְבַ ח ִמזְבֵּ ח alter of Further examples of the above rules can be found on page 70 of your textbook.