In Biblical Hebrew, the definite article (the prefix הַ) is added to a term either to make that term definite, or to match that
term to the noun it describes, or both.
The use of the definite article is one of the ways that a word can be made definite in Biblical Hebrew.
The definite article is not an independent word but the prefix הַ (he with pathah), usually accompanied by a daghesh in the
next consonant. The definite article normally takes the pathah vowel, but that vowel can shift (usually either lengthening
to qamets or shortening to seghol) depending on the placement of the accent and/or gutteral consonants within the word.
The definite article serves an additional function to match a noun, adjective or participle the word it describes.
The definite article is usually translated as “the” in English. However, the rules governing the definiteness of words vary
in different languages, so this particle must always be translated according to the conventions of the target language.
The definite article is only rarely found in Hebrew poetry. This
may have been done for the sake of rhythmic meter, since the article
almost always adds a syllable to a word. In Hebrew poetry, words can be
in the determined state even without the definite article. Therefore, in
Hebrew poetry, often the state (construct, absolute, or determined) of a
particular word must be determined by the context.
One way that a term can be made definite in Biblical Hebrew is to add the definite article prefix.
Example: DEU 1:23
|וַיִּיטַ֥ב בְּעֵינַ֖י הַדָּבָ֑ר
|wayyitav be’enay haddavar
|And-it-seemed-good in-my-eyes the-thing
|The advice pleased me well
Example: ISA 5:11
|הֹ֛וי מַשְׁכִּימֵ֥י בַבֹּ֖קֶר
|howy mashkime vabboqer
|Woe who-rise-up in-the-morning
|Woe to those who rise up early in the morning
In Biblical Hebrew, when a definite common noun is followed by a definite
attributive adjective, an adjectival participle,
or a noun in apposition, the definite article on both terms shows that they belong together. In other words,
that particular adjective is describing that particular noun.
Example: JOS 21:45
|מִכֹּל֙ הַדָּבָ֣ר הַטֹּ֔וב
|mikkol haddavar hattowv
|of-all the-word the-good
|among all the good promises
Example: DEU 7:19
|הַמַּסֹּ֨ת הַגְּדֹלֹ֜ת אֲשֶׁר־רָא֣וּ עֵינֶ֗יךָ
|hammassoth haggedoloth ‘asher-ra’u ‘eneykha
|the-sufferings the-great which_saw your-eyes
|the great sufferings that your eyes saw