The prefix שֶׁ is very common in Mishnaic and Modern Hebrew, but in Tanakh appear rarely, except in Tehillim, Shir Hashirim, and Koheles, where it is all over the place. Why are these books the only ones where this prefix is common?

  • 8
    It also shows up in Eicha Yonah Ezra and Divrei Hayamim. Probably a later Hebrew thing. Note all the instances in Tehillim are in the last 30 chapters.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 19:10
  • 3
    It also appears in B'reshis 6:3. But that's a hapax legomenon for Chumash, I think.
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 19:17
  • @msh210 It's certainly a hapax, but not neccesarily the case that the ש is a prefix. Consider the root שגג.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 19:30
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    @DoubleAA, "necessarily"? Perhaps not. But Rashi and ibn Ezra call it a prefix. (And I meant that the prefix is a hapax (I think), not that the word is.)
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 19:53
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    @MichaBerger Why is it pretty clear just because there is one possible instance of a slight variant in a highly poetic passage in Shoftim? That's basically the weakest possible support for its usage.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 20:22

1 Answer 1


The relative pronoun -שֶׁ occurs in Deborah’s Song, in the story of Gideon, and in the Israelite sections of the Book of Kings. Consequently, the form -שֶׁ probably replaced אֲשֶׁר in Hebrew dialects of North Israel. The form became standard in Late Biblical Hebrew and Rabbinic Hebrew.

See Blau's Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew, pg. 183.

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