The beginning of Breishit 31:6 uses the word ואתנה for the 2nd person Hebrew plural pronoun instead of the more common form אתן. This is the only time I have seen this form used in the Torah (I haven't checked the rest of Tanac"h for a similar occurrence.)

Is there a specific reason for using the extra ה at the end of this word, in this place?

  • "more common form אתן" Where do you see that form is more common? – Double AA Dec 8 '16 at 20:28

אַתֵּנָה is the standard form of the second-person feminine personal pronoun. אַתֶּן is a later form. The only place in Tanakh it is found is Ezekiel 34:31. See Blau's Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew, pg. 166.

It is used in modern Hebrew due to influence of rabbinic Hebrew. For a comparison between biblical and rabbinic pronouns, see M. Perez Fernandez, "An Introductory Grammar of Rabbinic Hebrew", pg. 18.

A similar phenomenon is seen with the pairs הֵמָּה/הֵם and הֵנָּה/הֵן, where the longer forms are the older ones. On this, see M. Morgenstern's "Pronouns, Personal Independent" from the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics.

  • Actually Baal Haturim to bereishis 31:6 lists 3 occurences of ואתנה in Tanach. – Renato Grun Dec 9 '16 at 14:23
  • @RenatoGrun Actually אתנה shows up 4 times, while אתן shows up only once in Ezek 34:31. – Double AA Dec 9 '16 at 15:03
  • I see that. There are 3 occurences of ואתנה (with vav) plus the one without vav in Ezek 13:20 totaling 4 times. – Renato Grun Dec 11 '16 at 14:03

אתנה is an alternative (and most ancient) form of saying אתן. This primary and long form contains originally the feminine plural ending as well its akkadian and Geez correspondences, until the hebrew form, on the other hand, elided to אתן.

Curiously, Rashi, Malbim, Radak and Metzudos Tzion seems to allude this in their commentary to Yehezkel 13:11 by presenting its later form (אתן).

R. Dovid Tzvi Hoffmann to bereishis 31:6 explain its use in bereishis 31:6 in another way by saying that ואתנה denotes emphasis, meaning something like: "and you yourselves know..."

  • 1
    "ואתנה. כמו ואתן." does not imply which is the alternative form of which. (Or did you not mean to imply that one form is primary? Then what's the point of your sources, as the OP already knew what the word means?) – Double AA Dec 9 '16 at 15:08
  • @DoubleAA Between you and the answers, my assumption has been proven to be incorrect. I wanted to say "thanks". I enjoy being proven wrong in this fashion, while learning something. Excellent point made in the above comment, also! – DanF Dec 11 '16 at 1:36
  • @DoubleAA I think it does imply. I edited the answer to clarify that. – Renato Grun Dec 11 '16 at 13:44

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