An adjective is a word that describes a person(s), place(s), or thing(s). Within a sentence, an adjective usually describes a noun.

However, in Biblical Hebrew an adjective itself can function as a noun or even as an adverb (to describe a verb).


In Bibical Hebrew, adjectives match the noun they describe in gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural). However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If a noun is dual, its accompanying adjective will be plural. Also, the gender of some nouns does not match their apparent form (as in נָשִׁים “women”, which is grammatically-feminine although it appears grammatically-masculine); in these cases, an accompanying adjective will match the gender of the noun itself rather than the apparent form. Similarly, for nouns with either collective singular (as in עַם, meaning “people”) or majestic plural (as in אֱלֹהִים, meaning “God”), the accompanying adjective may match the implied number rather than the apparent form.


The forms of the adjective closely resemble the forms of the common noun.


Adjective Paradigm





masculine singular absolute




masculine singular construct




masculine singular determined



the good

feminine singular absolute




feminine singular construct




feminine singular determined



the good

masculine plural absolute




masculine plural construct




masculine plural determined



the good

feminine plural absolute




feminine plural construct




feminine plural determined



the good


Describes a noun

The most common use of adjectives is to describe a noun directly. There are two kinds of adjectives that function in this way, attributive adjectives and predicative adjectives.

In Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic, an attributive adjective almost always immediately follows the noun that it describes and has the same form in gender, number, and definiteness. Thus, if the noun is masculine, the adjective is also masculine. If the noun is singular, the adjective is also singular. If the noun is definite, the adjective is also definite; and so on.


When a cardinal or an ordinal number functions as an attributive adjective, sometimes it comes before the noun it describes instead of after the noun.

Example: 1SA 18:17

בִתִּ֨י הַגְּדוֹלָ֤ה

vitti haggedolah

my-daughter the-old

my older daughter

Example: JOS 10:2

כִּ֣י עִ֤יר גְּדוֹלָה֙ גִּבְע֔וֹן

ki ‘ir gedolah giv’on

for city great Gibeon

because Gibeon was a large city

Predicative adjectives are adjectives that describe nouns using a linking verb. Often the linking verb is not present in the Hebrew text and must be supplied when translating into English. Like attributive adjectives, a predicative adjective usually has the same form as the noun it describes in both gender and number. Unlike attributive adjectives, however, a predicative adjective can be indefinite even if it describes a definite noun.


Sometimes, predicative adjectives and attributive adjectives look identical and must be distinguished from the context.

Example: 2SA 14:20

וַאדֹנִ֣י חָכָ֗ם

wadoni hakham

And-my-lord wise

My master is wise

Example: 2KI 20:19

טֹ֥וב דְּבַר־יְהוָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר דִּבַּ֑רְתָּ

towv devar-yehwah ‘asher dibbarta

Good word-of_Yahweh that you-spoke.

The word of Yahweh that you have spoken is good.

Functions as a noun

A nominal adjective is an adjective that itself functions as a noun in the sentence rather than describing a noun.

Example: PSA 3:2

רַ֝בִּ֗ים קָמִ֥ים עָלָֽי

rabbim qamim ‘alay

many are-rising-up against-me

many people are rising up against me

Example: ISA 30:12

לָכֵ֗ן כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ קְד֣וֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל

lakhen koh ‘amar qedosh yisra’el

Therefore thus he-says holy-of Israel

Therefore the Holy One of Israel says,

Functions as an adverb

An adverbial adjective is an adjective that functions as an adverb, meaning that it describes a verb instead of a noun.

Example: JOS 21:10

כִּ֥י לָהֶ֛ם הָיָ֥ה הַגּוֹרָ֖ל רִיאשֹׁנָֽה

ki lahem hayah haggoral rishonah

for to-them it-was the-lot first

For the first casting of lots had fallen to them.

Other uses of adjectives

adjectives that compare two or more items

A comparative adjective expresses a comparison between two or more items.

In Biblical Hebrew, comparative adjectives are often used either with the preposition מִן (“from”) or with the phrase מִכֹּל (“from all”).

Example: JDG 14:18

מַה־מָּת֣וֹק מִדְּבַ֔שׁ וּמֶ֥ה עַ֖ז מֵאֲרִ֑י

mah-mmathoq middevash umeh ‘az me’ari

What_sweet than-honey and-what strong from-lion

What is sweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion

Example: GEN 3:1

וְהַנָּחָשׁ֙ הָיָ֣ה עָר֔וּם מִכֹּל֙ חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה

wehannahash hayah ‘arum mikkol hayyath hassadeh

And-the-serpent was shrewd from-all beings-of the-field

Now the serpent was more shrewd than any other beast of the field

adjectives with stronger meaning

An intensive adjective has a stronger degree of meaning than a typical adjective.

In Biblical Hebrew, the meaning of an adjective can be strengthened by pairing it either with the word מְאֹד (“very”) or with the phrase לֵאלֹהִים (“to God”).

Example: GEN 1:31

וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב מְאֹ֑ד

wehinneh-tov me’od

And-behold_good very

Behold, it was very good

Example: JON 3:3

עִיר־גְּדוֹלָה֙ לֵֽאלֹהִ֔ים

‘ir-gedolah lelohim

city_great to-God

a very large city

adjectives with strongest meaning

A superlative adjective has a meaning strengthened to its greatest degree.

Biblical Hebrew can use different ways to make an adjective superlative. Usually, the superlative meaning of an adjective must be determined from the context.

Example: 1SA 16:11 –– adjective with the definite article

עֹ֚וד שָׁאַ֣ר הַקָּטָ֔ן

‘owd sha’ar haqqatan

Still remains the-young

There remains yet the youngest

Example: MIC 7:4 –– adjective with a pronominal suffix

טוֹבָ֣ם כְּחֵ֔דֶק

tovam kehedeq

good-their like-brier

the best of them is like a brier

Example: SNG 1:8 –– adjective with a prepositional phrase

הַיָּפָ֖ה בַּנָּשִׁ֑ים

hayyafah bannashim

the-fair among-women

the fairest among women