The Concept of ‘Grammatical Words’ as Reflected in the Works of Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra

  • Dr. Thaier Kizel Head of the Department of Hebrew Language and Hebrew Literature Arab Academic College of Education, Haifa


The group of grammatical words1 used by Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra in his writings overall2 includes the words ’bl ―but‖,
’wlm ―but, however‖, ’ḥr ―after‖, ’k ―but, only‖, ’kn ―indeed‖, ’l ―to‖, ’ṣl ―at‖, ’šr ―that‖, b ―in‖, byn ―between‖, bšbyl ―for‖, ḥwṣ
―except‖, ṭrm ―not yet‖, k ―as, like‖, kbr ―already‖, kmw ―like‖, kn ―so, thus‖, kpy ―as, like‖, l ―to‖, lbd ―alone‖, lkn ―therefore‖,
lm‛n ―for the sake of/so as to‖, mn ―from‖, ngd ―against‖, nwkḥ ―in the face of‖, ‛bwr ―in order that‖, ‛d ―until, up to‖, ‛l ―on‖, ‛m
―with‖, qwdm ―before, previously‖, rq ―only‖, twk ―within‖, tḥt ―under‖ and tmwr ―in the place of‖.3 Ibn Ezra did not use the
grammatical terms prevailing in modern Hebrew, such as mylym dqdwqywt ‗grammatical words‘, mylwt yḥs ‗prepositions‘,
mylwt ḥybwr or mylwt qyšwr ‗conjunctions‘, etc., but sorted these words into groups that he labelled ‛bdym ‗slaves‘, mlwt
‛nyyn ‗words of matter‘ and ’wtywt ‛nyyn ‗letters of matter‘, mlwt ṭ‛m ‗words of sense‘ and mlwt dbq ‗words of adhesion‘.
These terms appeared in his writings as the topic and context required. Examination of Ibn Ezra‘s works shows that by
these terms he meant the words that constitute a third word class, neither nouns nor verbs. This class includes
prepositions (independent and clitic), conjunctions, adverbs and interjections. The definitions change from one work to
another, as do the groups of words that the labels refer to, so that some grammatical words may belong to more than one
group according to Ibn Ezra‘s definitions.


1. Allony, N. 1984. yswd dqdwq hw’ spt ytr m’t rby ’brhm ’bn ’zr‛ [Yĕsôd diqdûq hû’ sĕpat yeter by Rabbi
Abraham ibn Ezra]. (Jerusalem)
2. Bacher, Wilhelm. 1882. Abraham ibn Esra als Grammatiker: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der hebraischen
Sprachwissenschaft. (Strasbourg)
3. Ben-Hayyim, Z. 1950. Review of L. Prijs, Grammatikalische Terminologie des Abraham ibn Esra (in
Hebrew). Lĕšonénu 17, 241–247
4. Charlap, Luba. 1995. ‗Innovation and Tradition in Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra‘s Grammar according to his
Grammatical Writings and to his Bible Exegesis‘. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Bar-Ilan University
5. Chomsky, William. 1957 [1967]. Hebrew: The Eternal Language. (Philadelphia) [Hebrew translation:
hlšwn h‛bryt bdrky htptḥwth (Jerusalem 1967)]
6. Del Valle Rodriguez, Carlos. 1977a. La obra grammatical de Abraham ibn Ezra. (Madrid)
— 1977b. Sefer Ṣaḥot de Abraham ibn Ezra, I Edición critica y versión castellana (Salamanca)
7. Dukes, Leopold. 1844. Grammatische Werke des R. Jehuda Chajjug, aus Feß. (Stuttgart)
8. Fleischer, J. L. 1929. ‗b’yzw šnh mt rbnw ’brhm ’bn ‛zr’ [In What Year Did Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra
Die?]‘ (in Hebrew), Mizraḥ û-Ma‛ărab 2, 246–265
— 1932, ‗rbnw ’brhm ’bn ‛zr’ w‛bwdtw hsprwtyt b‛yr rwm’ [R. Abraham ibn Ezra and his Literary Work in
Rome]‘ (in Hebrew), ’Ôṣār ha-Ḥayyîm 8, 97–100.
9. Gomez Aranda, M. 1994. El comentario de Abraham ibn Ezra del Eclesiastés. (Madrid)
10. Heidenheim, W. (ed.) 1791. m’zny lšwn hqdš [Mō’znê lĕšôn haqqōdeš]. (Offenbach).
11. Kizel, Thaier. 2013. ‗The Influence of Arabic on the Use of Grammatical Words in the Language of
Abraham ibn Ezra, as Translator and Independent Author‘ (in Hebrew). Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of
12. Kohn (Kahana), David. 1922 [1971]. qbṣ ḥkmt hr’b"‛ — šyryw, mlyṣwtyw, ḥydwtyw wmktmyw [The
Wisdom of Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra — his Poems, Proverbs, Riddles and Epigrams]. (Warsaw 1922; reprinted
Jerusalem 1971)
13. Levin, Israel. 1985. Abraham ibn Ezra Reader: Annotated Texts with Introductions and Commentaries
(in Hebrew). (New York and Tel-Aviv)
14. Lippmann, Gabriel. H. 1827. spr ṣḥwt mhḥkm hgdwl rby ’brhm br m’yr hsprdy hmkwnh bn ’zr‛ mbw’r b’r
hyṭb [Sēper ṣaḥôt of the Great Scholar Rabbi Abraham bar Meir the Sephardi Called ben Ezra, carefully
explained]. (Fürth)
— 1839. Sapha berura oder Die geläuterte Sprache von R. Abraham Ebn Esra. (Fürth)
— 1843. Sephat Jether. Beleuchtung dunkler Bibelstellen … von R. Abraham ibn-Esra. (Frankfurt)
15. Lyons, John. 1968. Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics. (Cambridge)
16. Mondschein, Aharon. 2000. ‗―Only One in a Thousand of his Comments may be Called Peshat‖: Toward
ibn Ezra‘s View of Rashi‘s Commentary to the Torah‘ (in Hebrew), in M. Garsiel et al. (eds), Studies in Bible and
Exegesis 5 (Ramat-Gan). 221–248
— 2004. ‗Abraham ibn Ezra: Man against the Tide‘ (in Hebrew), Beit Mikra 49, 137–155.
17. Netzer, Nissan. 1994. ‗―The Patterns of the Nouns Vary‖ — A Principle and Its Usage in Ibn Ezra‘s
Commentary on the Bible‘, Hebrew Union College Annual 65, 1–22.
18. Nir, Raphael. 1979. Concepts in Applied Linguistics (in Hebrew). (Jerusalem)
19. Pagis, Dan. 1976. Change and Tradition in Secular Poetry: Spain and Italy. (Jerusalem)
20. Prijs, Leo. 1950. Die grammatikalische Terminologie des Abraham ibn Esra. (Basel)
21. Sáenz-Badillos, Angel. 2001. ‛l kmh ‛mdwt dqdwdywt šl ’brhm ’bn ‛zr’ [‗On Some Grammatical Views of
Abraham ibn Ezra‘], in A. Maman and Sh. Fassberg (eds), Language Studies 8, 229–250
22. Sarfatti, Gad B. 1978. Hebrew Semantics (in Hebrew). (Jerusalem)
23. Sela, Sh. 2001. ‗Abraham ibn Ezra‘s Special Approach to Creating a Hebrew Scientific Terminology‘ (in
Hebrew), Zmanim 73, 10–18
24. Shirman, H. 1997. The History of Hebrew Poetry in Christian Spain and Southern France (in Hebrew).
25. Tene, David. 1971. ‗Linguistic Literature, Hebrew‘, in Encyclopaedia Judaica XVI, 1352–1401
26. Weiser, A. 1976. prwš htwrh lrbnw ’brhm ’bn ‛zr’ [Ibn Ezra’s Commentary on the Torah]. 3 vols.
27. Wilensky, Michael. 1928. Sefer Hariqma (Kitāb al-Luma‛) ab Jona ibn Ganāḥ. Lingua Arabica
Conscriptus Hebraice vertit Jehuda ibn Tibbon. (Berlin)
— 1978. Studies in Language and Literature (in Hebrew). (Jerusalem)
How to Cite
KIZEL, Dr. Thaier. The Concept of ‘Grammatical Words’ as Reflected in the Works of Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra. JOURNAL OF ADVANCES IN HUMANITIES, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 6, p. 586-602, feb. 2017. ISSN 2349-4379. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 25 apr. 2017.