אֵת — the untranslatable word
As you have seen in this course, sometimes a word in one language can be translated to a few different words in English. There are even times when a word simply has no English translation. In Hebrew, this just happens to be true of the most common word in the Bible!
We are speaking of the word אֵת—a particle that appears over 11,000 times in the Hebrew Bible. In fact, we just saw it in the last song we learned where it was translated “—” (which just means we cannot translate it). But while this word cannot be translated into English, this does not mean it is unimportant. For it serves the function of introducing a definite direct object. A direct object, you will recall, is the noun which receives the action of the verb. You will also remember the idea of definiteness
from our study of construct chains
. That is, a noun is definite if it is a proper noun, or if it possesses a pronoun suffix or the definite article. When these two pieces come together (i.e. when there is a direct object which is definite), it is typically introduced by the word אֵת.
You will also find the word אֵת frequently combined with a pronoun suffix as in the phrase “וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים” (“and God blessed them”). In such cases, note that the vowel on אֵת changes to a cholam.