I've noticed that possukim will switch back and forth between the vowelizing of the definite article heh, sometimes multiple times within the same possuk. Is there a rule for this or an explanation in Chazal for the switching between kamatz and patach?

  • Can you provide some examples? – Kazi bácsi Oct 9 '17 at 12:08
  • What letter follows the He in which cases? – Double AA Oct 9 '17 at 12:23
  • Indeed, words starting with vowels and gutturals... – Kazi bácsi Oct 9 '17 at 12:26
  • I was debating about providing specific examples but the switching seemed prevalent enough that it felt superfluous. Also, I'm on a phone and don't have nekudos on this keyboard. – Isaac Kotlicky Oct 9 '17 at 12:36
  • If possible, I would like to add to the question, why החג (Divrei hayamim 2 7:8) is written with segol, while החסד (Devarim 7:12) and החשמל (Yechezkel 1:4) with patach? – Kazi bácsi Oct 9 '17 at 13:09

The rule is:

The definite article is הַ (usually) followed by dagesh hazaq (e.g. הַמַּיִם), unless the word starts with אהח"ע or (usually) ר, in which case the default is הָ (e.g. הָאָדָם).

If the word starts with חָ, unstressed עָ or unstressed הָ, the definite article becomes הֶ (e.g. הֶחָד or הֶעָנָן). In other cases of words starting with ח or ה, the definite article takes the usual form הַ (e.g. הַחַשְׁמַל).

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