I know that in Biblical Hebrew (and presumably other varieties), we see the construct "noun adjective", with the noun unodified, such as "parah adamah" (red heifer). We also see the noun-chain construct, "noun noun", which usually means "noun (of) noun", and in that case the first noun is modified: "eish*et* chayil" (woman of valor), "birk*at* kohanim" (priestly blessing, but literally blessing of priests).

During yesterday's torah reading (Rosh Chodesh) I noticed both olah tamid and olat tamid, but I don't see why the grammar would be different between the uses. The former is what I'm used to seeing, for example in Bamidbar 28:3:

וְאָמַרְתָּ לָהֶם--זֶה הָאִשֶּׁה, אֲשֶׁר תַּקְרִיבוּ לַיהוָה: כְּבָשִׂים בְּנֵי-שָׁנָה תְמִימִם שְׁנַיִם לַיּוֹם, עֹלָה תָמִיד.‏

But a little later we see (in 28:6):

עֹלַת, תָּמִיד--הָעֲשֻׂיָה, בְּהַר סִינַי, לְרֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ, אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה.‏

I see the comma there (which was not in the siddur I was following along in yesterday). Punctuation, of course, is editorial. In both cases the text seems to be describing a continual olah (burnt-offering). And later, in 28:10, we see another olat formation without any complicating punctuation:

עֹלַת שַׁבַּת, בְּשַׁבַּתּוֹ, עַל-עֹלַת הַתָּמִיד, וְנִסְכָּהּ‏

What distinguishes the cases that use the olah formation from the ones that use the olat formation? They all look the same to me, semantically; does the syntactic difference mean something?

  • The punctuation in this case is trop based. Olah has a mercha (conjunctive) and olat has a tipcha (disjunctive)
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 15:50
  • @DoubleAA true, but weren't the trop and the punctuation arrived at by the same people/process? So there must be an underlying reason, right? Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 16:11
  • If we accept that "תָּמִיד" usually serves as an adverb (which I suspect it does (hat-tip to @DoubleAA)), then all the examples you cite make good sense except "עֹלַת תָּמִיד" and "עֹלַת הַתָּמִיד", which treat "תָּמִיד" as if it were a noun. And even those those don't look so bad: "an ola of always" makes sense in English, for example. ("An ola of continually" does not, of course.)
    – msh210
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 16:15
  • 2
    This is a great question, but to my mind the best part of it is the subsidiary question: why does Num 28:6 place a disjunctive accent under the nismakh?? I've never seen such a thing before. As for the rest, I think it's just a question of style. Adjectives can be formed with the genitive construct, but do not need to be. Sometimes it says הר הקודש, for example, and sometimes it says הר קודשי.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Apr 13, 2013 at 6:11

2 Answers 2


We call this offering the תמיד offering (noun), but it seems to me that the first posuk (28,3) is telling how it got this name - because it is an עלה תמיד - an everlasting (adverb) offering. Only subsequently it is called the תמיד (noun), and thus it is now logical to refer to the עולה as the עלת תמיד - the olah of the (well known) tamid.


If I am not mistaken, the עלת form is the סמיכות form, the possesive, as if it were "עלה של", "the olah of". עלה itself is just the noun. As for the trop, there are times, לתפארת הקריאה that the בעלי מסורה put a מפסיק in even if not logically called for. The first half of that pasuk is two words, and often an esnachta demands its tipcha even if logically the two should be connected. That is why there is that comma in Mechon Mamre, because of the tipcha even though the two words should be considered one phrase.

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