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I'm learning Modern Hebrew (I am a complete novice) and I was trying to wrap my head around the structure of the common phrase for "Welcome" ("ברוך הבא").

The etymology of "הבא" is pretty much clear as I'm introduced to the verb "בא" (which is backed up in wiktionary). I assumed that this word is a noun for "smb/smth that is coming" (which is once again backed up in wiktionary).

Whereupon I checked "ברוך" in wiktionary. There are 3 options for the word "ברוך" stated:

  1. An adjective for "Blessed" (etymology 1).
  2. A proper noun (etymology 1).
  3. A noun for "Trouble" (etymology 2).

Therefore, I reckon the first option to be the only fitting one. Thus, in case my perception of the part of speech for "הבא" is correct, the phrase turns out to be a nominative sentence (at least in case it is used as a separate sentence).

But the word order does not seem to add up to me, as an adjective precedes the noun. My first guess was that the phrase itself was derived from the Biblical Hebrew, which is, to my knowledge, characterized by a different word order in some cases. Yet, checking Wikipedia for the Biblical Hebrew word order revealed the following:

Attributive adjectives normally follow the noun they modify[Waltke & O'Connor (1990:258)].

Thus, the only other assumption I managed to come up with implies that the phrase literally means "Blessed be the comer" instead of "The comer is blessed", but I'm not introduced to such a construction in Modern Hebrew yet.

Thus, my questions are:

  1. Where am I wrong?
  2. What is the correct approach towards comprehending the phrase?
  3. Could the "Blessed be the comer" construction be implemented this way?
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    It is a nominative sentence, but Hebrew word order is flexible and it's not uncommon for a subject to follow the verb, especially when it indicates a referent that's new to the discourse. – TKR May 31 at 18:16
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    "הבא הברוך" (with the adjective following the nominal, and repeating the definite prefix) would mean "The blessed comer". ברוך הבא is a copular sentence, meaning "blessed is the comer": ברוך is predicative, not attributive. – Colin Fine May 31 at 18:19
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    @ZhiltsoffIgor: No, a nominative sentence certanly does not require the agreement of definiteness. A Noun phrase (with the adjective attributive) does require it, but isn't a sentence. "בא" is not strictly a noun: participles can head NPs in Hebrew, and whether you translate them as nouns (the comer), participles (the coming one) or relative clauses (the one who comes) is a stylistic choice. As for the indicative vs. hortative: I think that's a translator's choice too. My Hebrew isn't good enough to know how to express them distinctly in Hebrew. – Colin Fine Jun 1 at 9:24
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    @ZhiltsoffIgor "Nominal sentence" is the standard term for a sentence consisting of subject and nominal predicate without an expressed copula, like this example. (My comment above was misleading -- I should have said "it's not uncommon for a subject to follow the predicate", rather than "the verb".) As a native Hebrew speaker I tend to interpret ברוך הבא as declarative ("Blessed is") rather than jussive ("Blessed be"), but I don't think that has to do with word order -- omitting the copula in a jussive sentence doesn't feel possible. – TKR Jun 1 at 16:54
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    I believe ברוך הבא is a set phrase that derives from Biblical Hebrew, which would explain why the anarthous predicate adjective precedes the subject. MH does have some flexibility in word order, but parallel constructions with other adjectives all sound archaic or poetic to me [native MH speaker] – Uri Granta Jun 2 at 5:43
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An interesting discussion took place in the comments under the original post, and I would like to make a summary here (as it was overburdened by a couple of discrepancies in terminology):

Colin Fine brought up some important points:

  1. ברוך is predicative, not attribution.
  2. "בא" is not strictly a noun: participles can head NPs in Hebrew, and whether you translate them as nouns (the comer), participles (the coming one) or relative clauses (the one who comes) is a stylistic choice. As for the indicative vs. hortative: I think that's a translator's choice too.

TKR pointed out:

As a native Hebrew speaker I tend to interpret ברוך הבא as declarative ("Blessed is") rather than jussive ("Blessed be"), but I don't think that has to do with word order -- omitting the copula in a jussive sentence doesn't feel possible.

Uri Granta backed up my assumptions about the derivation from the Biblical Hebrew:

I believe ברוך הבא is a set phrase that derives from Biblical Hebrew, which would explain why the anarthous predicate adjective precedes the subject. MH does have some flexibility in word order, but parallel constructions with other adjectives all sound archaic or poetic to me [native MH speaker]

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