See also: של־



Etymology 1Edit

The possessed forms of של were a common Canaanite construction seen also, for example, in Punic 𐤔𐤋𐤉(šly /sillī/, my) and Phoenician 𐤀𐤔 𐤋𐤉(ʾš ly /ʔas lī/, my). These were derived from the relative pronoun *ʔas or prefix *-ʔas in combination with the dative prefix *-l, hence the Hebrew is equivalent to ש־(she, which) +‎ ל־(l, to), thus “which [belongs] to”.

The first use of של as a possessive marker in Hebrew is attested in late parts of the Hebrew Bible, but then still preceded by, and in addition to, a possessive suffix (cf. Canticles 1:6; 3:7). In Mishnaic Hebrew, של־(shel'-) becomes a true preposition by back-formation. The standalone spelling is a more recent innovation, but the pronoun-including forms are unchanged (which may be seen both in their gemination of the ל, and in the unusual forms of the second- and third-person masculine and feminine plural pronominal suffixes, otherwise found only in the inflections of ל־(l'-) and ב־(b'-)).


שֶׁל (shel)

  1. Of, belonging to, owned by, pertaining to.
Usage notesEdit
  • Phrases headed by של are mostly analogous to English attributive noun phrases and noun phrases plus the clitic ’s. In particular, while של often means “of”, phrases headed by של can only modify noun phrases and similar syntactic entities; adverbial uses of English of must be translated with a different preposition, usually מ־(mi-).
  • Words identical to pronoun-including forms of של often result from the straightforward composition of ש־(she-, that, which) and ל־(l'-, to).
  • In formal or archaic Hebrew, attributive uses of של are often replaced with noun compounds (in which one noun is in the construct state), and predicative uses are often replaced with simply ל־(l'-).
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit


שַׁל (shal)

  1. masculine singular imperative of נָשַׁל(nashál)
    • Exodus 3:5, with translation of the King James Version:
      שַׁל נְעָלֶיךָ מֵעַל רַגְלֶיךָ
      shal n'aléch meál raglécha
      put off thy shoes from off thy feet