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A Handbook of Biblical Hebrew Volume 1

A Handbook of Biblical Hebrew Volume 1: Periods, Corpora, and Reading Traditions

edited by

W. Randall Garr and Steven E. Fassberg

Winona Lake, Indiana E isenbrauns 2016

© 2016 by Eisenbrauns Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. www.eisenbrauns.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Garr, W. Randall, editor. | Fassberg, Steven Ellis, editor. Title: A handbook of biblical Hebrew / edited by W. Randall Garr and Steven E. Fassberg. Description: Winona Lake, Indiana : Eisenbrauns, [2016] | This title consists of 2 physical volumes sold only as a set. | Includes bibliographical references. Identifiers: LCCN 2016011709 (print) | LCCN 2016012454 (ebook) | ISBN 9781575064697 (vol. 1, hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781575064703 (vol. 2, hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781575063713 (set, hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781575063720 (pdf) Subjects: LCSH: Hebrew language—Grammar, Comparative. | Bible Old Testament—Language, style. Classification: LCC PJ4567.3 .H36 2016 (print) | LCC PJ4567.3 (ebook) | DDC 492.4/82421—dc23 LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2016011709

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48–1984. ♾™

For Laura and Yaʿala

Contents Preface

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   vii

Part I Phases of Biblical Hebrew 1. Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   1 Joseph Lam and Dennis Pardee 2. Archaic Biblical Hebrew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19 Agustinus Gianto 3. Transitional Biblical Hebrew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  31 Aaron D. Hornkohl 4. Late Biblical Hebrew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  43 Matthew Morgenstern

Part II Contemporary Hebrew Attestations 5. Epigraphic Hebrew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  55 Shmuel Aḥituv, W. Randall Garr, and Steven E. Fassberg 6. Ben Sira . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  69 Wido van Peursen 7. The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  83 Jan Joosten

Part III Ancient and Medieval Reading Traditions 8. Hebrew in Greek and Latin Transcriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . .  99 Alexey Eliyahu Yuditsky vii



9. Samaritan Tradition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 Moshe Florentin 10. Babylonian Tradition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133 Shai Heijmans 11. Karaite Transcriptions of Biblical Hebrew . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 Geoffrey Khan 12. Palestinian Tradition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 Joseph Yahalom 13. Tiberian-Palestinian Tradition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175 Holger Gzella

Part IV Essays 14. The Tiberian Tradition of Reading the Bible and the Masoretic System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 Yosef Ofer 15. The Contribution of Tannaitic Hebrew to Understanding Biblical Hebrew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203 Moshe Bar-Asher 16. Modern Reading Traditions of Biblical Hebrew . . . . . . . . . . 215 Aharon Maman

Preface Biblical Hebrew is studied worldwide by university students, seminarians, and the educated public. It is also studied, almost universally, through a single prism—that of the Tiberian Masoretic tradition, which is the best attested and most widely available tradition of Biblical Hebrew. Thanks in large part to its endorsement by Maimonides, it also became the most prestigious vocalization tradition in the Middle Ages. For most, Biblical Hebrew is synonymous with Tiberian Biblical Hebrew. There are, however, other vocalization traditions. The Babylonian tradition was widespread among Jews around the close of the first millennium CE; the tenth-century Karaite scholar al-Qirqisāni reports that the Babylonian pronunciation was in use in Babylonia, Iran, the Arabian peninsula, and Yemen. And despite the fact that Yemenite Jews continued using Babylonian manuscripts without interruption from generation to generation, European scholars learned of them only toward the middle of the nineteenth century. Decades later, manuscripts pointed with the Palestinian vocalization system were rediscovered in the Cairo Genizah. Thereafter came the discovery of manuscripts written according to the TiberianPalestinian system and, perhaps most importantly, the texts found in caves alongside the Dead Sea. The ingathering of Jewish exiles in Palestine in the last century also initiated intensive investigation into the different oral traditions of Biblical Hebrew. For example, in the 1930s, Zeʾev BenḤayyim began to study the Samaritan oral tradition of Hebrew; and in the 1970s, Shelomo Morag inaugurated the important series Eda ve-Lashon. With the exception of the Dead Sea Scrolls, students are unfamiliar with these other, authentic traditions of Biblical Hebrew. Even though early scholarship quickly noted non-Tiberian traditions—for example, Böttcher, Ausführliches Lehrbuch (1866) §81 n. 2 and, especially, Ewald, Ausführliches Lehrbuch (8th ed., 1870) §20e—it has still been slow to incorporate these traditions in major grammatical works. In the 1910 edition of Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, Babylonian and Palestinian traditions ix



are mentioned in a single long footnote (§8g  n.  3). Bergsträsser, whose Hebräische Grammatik (1918 [vol. 1]) began as an update of the 28th German edition of Gesenius’ grammar, was the first to incorporate in a more extensive manner the non-Tiberian traditions (including Greek and Latin transcriptions and even mention of the Yemenite oral tradition). Thereafter followed Bauer and Leander’s Historische Grammatik der hebräischen Sprache (1922), which contained a lengthy excursus on the Babylonian and Palestinian vocalization systems but only occasionally mentioned the Babylonian tradition in the sections on phonology and morphology. Among grammatical works, Muraoka’s revision of Joüon’s Grammaire de l’hébreu biblique (1991 [1st ed.], 2006–11 [2d ed.]) goes further than previous grammars in referring to non-Tiberian traditions (including Samaritan Hebrew), epigraphic material, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even an occasional reference to Tannaitic Hebrew. Regretfully, the most thorough comparative discussion of the Hebrew vocalization systems today remains a chapter that appeared in Shelomo Morag’s 1962 monograph, The Vocalization Systems of Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic. This gap has been partly filled by three works. Kutscher’s posthumous A History of the Hebrew Language (1982) discusses several Second-Temple varieties of Biblical Hebrew. Sáenz-Badillo’s A History of the Hebrew Language (1993; 2007 [rev. Italian ed.]) goes into greater depth and adds information on Palestinian, Babylonian, and even Tiberian-Palestinian traditions. But the 2007 edition of Sáenz-Badillo’s History indirectly exemplifies another problem surrounding discussions of non-Tiberian traditions: many of the fundamental studies are written in languages inaccessible to most English-speaking students—principally Modern Hebrew and German. The recently published Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (2013) makes significant strides in rectifying that situation by providing readers with English entries on a wide array of subjects, including many related to Biblical Hebrew. What is still lacking, however, is a comprehensive and systematic overview of the different periods, sources, and traditions of Biblical Hebrew. We decided to construct a handbook that would provide students and the public with easily accessible, reliable, and current information in English concerning the multi-faceted nature of Biblical Hebrew. We divided the biblical corpus into its different constituent phases (Archaic, Standard, Transitional, and Late). We isolated contemporary corpora (epigraphic,



Qumran, and Ben Sira). We added a number of ancient and medieval reading traditions (Greek and Latin transcriptions, Samaritan, Babylonian, Karaite, Palestinian, and Tiberian-Palestinian). Finally, we included three topics that are often omitted in discussions of Biblical Hebrew: the Tiberian tradition and Masorah, the light shed by Tannaitic Hebrew on its Biblical Hebrew antecedent, and modern reading traditions of Biblical Hebrew. To accomplish this task, we asked noted scholars in each field to contribute their expertise. The result is the present two-volume work. The first contains in-depth introductions that orient the reader to handling the particular traditions and follow, when the subject matter allowed, a similar template: speakers, sources, editions, orthography, phonological sketch, morphological sketch, syntactic issues, and bibliography. The second volume presents sample accompanying texts that exemplify the descriptions of applicable introductory chapters. In the case of the oral traditions of Biblical Hebrew, we have also included recordings, which may be downloaded from the website associated with this book (http://www.eisenbrauns.com/ item/GARHANDBO/). We thank all of the authors for their participation and forbearance. We also thank Jim Eisenbraun and the staff of Eisenbrauns for their help, kindness, friendship, and skill in dealing with the many technical difficulties that arose while producing this book. Hanukkah, 5775 W. Randall Garr Santa Barbara

Steven E. Fassberg Jerusalem

Chapter 1

Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew J oseph L am


D ennis P ardee

Introduction The division of Biblical Hebrew (BH) into four stages as adopted in this book—Archaic/Old, Standard/Classical, Transitional, and Late—represents a refinement of the traditional tripartite division of Biblical Hebrew into archaic, standard, and late (post-exilic) phases (Kutscher 1982: 12). As a literary language defined by a group of texts rather than a speech community, Biblical Hebrew presents certain difficulties for the task of linguistic description. This essay will first discuss the issues related to the definition of Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew (hereafter, SBH) as a linguistic corpus, then provide a sketch of the grammar of this phase of Hebrew with reference to both earlier and later phases.

The Speech Community Traditional historical-critical scholarship of the Hebrew Bible uses the term SBH to designate the stage of the language spoken in the Iron Age kingdom of Judah in the eighth-sixth centuries BCE. 1 While this is undoubtedly a simplification of a more complex diachronic and dialectal reality, it is useful insofar as the differences between SBH and Archaic Biblical Hebrew (ABH) or Transitional Biblical Hebrew (TrBH)/Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH) are more consistent, significant, and agreed-upon than the linguistic variation discernible within the SBH corpus. Epigraphic Hebrew texts from pre-exilic Judah, nearly all of which are prose, confirm this assessment; Judahite epigraphic Hebrew is essentially identical to SBH 1.  On the possibility of isolating a northern (“Israelite”) dialect within the Biblical Hebrew corpus, see Pardee 1992.



Chapter 1

prose in terms of morphosyntax and lexicon (Pardee 2012: 286 n. 8)—the linguistic facets most directly comparable across the two corpora.

The Corpus The term SBH implies a restriction of the corpus to texts contained in the Hebrew Bible. Most often, the term SBH has been applied to the narrative prose portions of the “primary history” of Genesis-Kings (Kutscher 1982: 12), especially because the books of Kings and Chronicles, by virtue of the purported time-gap between their respective dates of composition and their overlap in content, provide a convenient starting point for diachronic comparison (Polzin 1976). Such a definition also has the advantage of producing a relatively homogeneous corpus for linguistic analysis. The question arises, however, whether it is methodologically justifiable to exclude poetry from a definition of the SBH corpus that is ostensibly diachronic. Since it is generally agreed that ABH is attested only in a limited number of poetic texts containing features that are especially old (e.g., Genesis 49, Exodus 15, Judges 5) (see chapter 2), the remaining nonarchaic poems (including the prophetic texts) of the Hebrew Bible need to be assigned some place in the diachronic continuum, either within broader definitions of SBH/TrBH/LBH or as distinct stages. And since it is clear historical-critically that poetic texts span the entire chronological range of Biblical Hebrew, one is inexorably led to include poetic texts in the definitions of SBH/TrBH/LBH, with SBH poetry encompassing biblical poems that are not overtly archaic or demonstrably late. This is not to deny that even “standard” poetry in the Hebrew Bible reflects aspects of usage— particularly in the verbal system—that appear older than SBH prose. But it might be better to view these as characteristic of poetic style (whether as genuinely archaic or archaizing elements), classifying them with other stylistic features such as the omission of prose particles (the definite article -‫ה‬, the definite direct object marker ‫את‬, and the relative marker ‫)אשר‬. The downside of such a definition, of course, is that it muddies the waters of the description of SBH as a linguistic system. Nothing prevents us, though, from making further linguistic observations specific to SBH prose or poetry, so long as we understand these distinctions not to be primarily or purely diachronic. The tendency for archaic features to persist in poetry may have led to the synchronic simultaneity of different diachronic stages tied to the different linguistic forms.

Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew


Orthography We have no direct access to the orthographic conventions of biblical manuscripts from the pre-exilic period. 2 Instead, we rely primarily on the various Masoretic orthographic traditions (especially the Tiberian), which involved a set of diacritics for recording an oral tradition for synagogue reading superimposed on a received consonantal text. Any claims regarding the artificiality of the Tiberian Masoretic vocalization are greatly exaggerated. This is not to say that the Masoretic tradition is not without errors, but to assert, with James Barr, that “the [Masoretic] vocalization is historical evidence just as other aspects of the text are” (1968: 221), representing the pronunciation of the text as the Tiberian Masoretes heard it. Though it is not artificial, it does, however, represent an oral tradition far removed in time (well over a millennium) from the composition of the biblical texts themselves. 3 The consonantal text of the Masoretic Text (MT) shows a more conservative use of matres lectionis than that of most of the Dead Sea Scrolls or of later Tannaitic Hebrew. For the most part, the MT restricts the use of matres lectionis to vowels that are historically long: e.g., ‫ י‬marks [i:] or [e:] (< contraction of [aɪ] diphthong); ‫ ו‬marks [u:] or [o:] (< contraction of [aʊ] diphthong); and ‫ה‬- marks several word-final long vowels (particularly [a:], [e:], and [ɛ:]). Further comparison with the orthography of the (nonbiblical) epigraphic Hebrew corpus reveals some interesting differences: the inscriptions rarely use ‫ י‬or ‫ ו‬in environments outside of a historical diphthong, and they use ‫ה‬- instead of ‫ו‬- to mark the third-person masc. sing. pronominal suffix (with ‫ה‬- reflecting the consonantal element of the old suffix *-hu). 4 Thus it seems that the consonantal orthography of the MT 2.  The two silver scrolls from Ketef Hinnom, whose inscriptions contain short portions in common with the Pentateuch (including the Priestly blessing of Num 6:24–26), represent, according to the excavator, the earliest attested examples of identifiably “biblical” texts. However, the uncertainty of their archaeological dating (for a brief review of one of the principal problems of these texts, see Pardee 2008: 64, 67), not to mention their fragmentary and terse nature, as well as their function as amulets, limit their usefulness in the reconstruction of pre-exilic orthography. 3.  The oldest attested biblical manuscripts come from the Dead Sea site of Khirbet Qumran, some of which are attributable to as early as the third century BCE. These predate the invention of the Masoretic vocalization system (ca. 600 CE?) by many centuries. 4.  This particular orthographic variation is preserved in a limited fashion in the Masoretic Text, such as in the variant ‫‘ ָא ֳהֹלה‬his tent’ (vs. ‫)א ֳהלֹו‬ ָ for the noun with


Chapter 1

falls typologically between that of epigraphic Hebrew and the Dead Sea Scrolls or Tannaitic Hebrew.

Phonetics No direct evidence exists for how Biblical Hebrew sounded in pre-exilic times. The Tiberian Masoretic orthography merely provides a starting point for reconstructing the pronunciation of Hebrew in the pre-exilic period. Scholars make use of multiple lines of evidence, including comparative Semitics and early transcriptions into Greek, Latin, and other languages, to aid in this task. The Tiberian Masoretes distinguished 23 consonantal phonemes in their orthography; though their received consonantal text was written with an alphabet of 22 letters, they used a diacritical dot to differentiate the letters śin (‫ )ׂש‬and šin (‫)ׁש‬. Six of these consonants, the letters ‫בג״ד כפ״ת‬, participated in an allophonic variation between plosive and fricative (spirantized) pronunciations, one that was marked by the Masoretes by the dageš lene (see pp. 6–7, 9, below). The phonetic values shown in the table on p. 5 are reconstructed based largely on comparative Semitic evidence. Apart from these 23 phonemes, there are indications that additional consonants were distinguished in the spoken language (or at least in some reading traditions) in antiquity. In particular, transcriptional evidence from the Greek Septuagint has been adduced in support of the idea that, in the first millennium BCE, ‫ ע‬represented both the Hebrew outcomes of ProtoSemitic *ʿ (IPA [ʕ]) and *ġ (IPA [ʁ]), and ‫ ח‬represented both *ḥ (IPA [ħ]) and *ḫ (IPA [χ]) (Bergsträsser 1918: §§6d–f; Kutscher 1982: 17–18; Blau 1982). The Tiberian Masoretic vowel symbols were markers only of vowel quality and not of length (GKC §8b n. 4; Chomsky 1952: §3a n. 11), with the latter being a conditioned variable (Khan 1987). Phonetically, the seven basic Tiberian symbols probably represented the following vocalic qualities in a symmetrical distribution (for more on the other vocalization traditions, see chapters 9–13, 16) (see table, p. 6). It is likely, however, that length was phonemic at earlier stages of the language. The account of Joseph Qimḥi (Chomsky 1952: §3a n. 11), which third-person masc. sing. pronominal suffix, the spelling of the name ‘Solomon’ (‫)ׁשֹלמֹה‬, ְ or the one instance of the writing of the place name ‘Jericho’ as ‫( יְ ִריחֹה‬1 Kgs 16:34).


Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew Name ʾaleph bet gimel dalet he waw zayin ḥet ṭet yod kaph lamed mem nun samekh ʿayin pe ṣade qoph reš śin šin taw

Symbol ‫א‬ ‫ּב‬ ‫ב‬ ‫ּג‬ ‫ג‬ ‫ּד‬ ‫ד‬ ‫ה‬ ‫ו‬ ‫ז‬ ‫ח‬ ‫ט‬ ‫י‬ ‫ּכ‬ ‫כ‬ ‫ל‬ ‫מ‬ ‫נ‬ ‫ס‬ ‫ע‬ ‫ּפ‬ ‫פ‬ ‫צ‬ ‫ק‬ ‫ר‬ ‫ׂש‬ ‫ׁש‬ ‫ּת‬ ‫ת‬

Transliteration ˀ b ḇ g  d ḏ h w z ḥ ṭ y k ḵ l m n s ˁ p  ṣ q r ś š t ṯ

IPA [ʔ] [b] [v] [g] [ɣ] [d] [ð] [h] [w] [z] [x] [t’]a [j] [k] [x] [l] [m] [n] [s] [ʕ] [p] [f ] [s’] [k’] [ᴚ] [ɬ] [ʃ] [t] [θ]

a.  For the hypothesis tentatively adopted here, that the so-called “emphatic” consonants (traditionally ṭ, ṣ, and q) were glottalic ejectives in Proto-Semitic and (thus) early Hebrew, see Kogan 2011: 59–61.

arranges the Tiberian symbols into five pairs of long and short vowel sounds (see p. 8, below), should be understood as designating a hypothetical intermediate stage between Proto-Hebrew and the seven-vowel system of


Chapter 1 Symbol


















ֹ ‫ס‬






the Masoretes. This distinction between Masoretic phonetic representation and pre-Masoretic phonological reconstruction is illustrated most clearly in the Qimḥian analysis of the Tiberian symbols qameṣ, šəwa, and dageš. For the Tiberian Masoretes, qameṣ represented [ɔ]. The Qimḥian distinction between qameṣ gadol (/ā/) and qameṣ qaṭan (/o  /, the ‘small’ qameṣ), however, reflects the Sephardic reading tradition (see chapter 16) in which the Tiberian [ɔ] is a reflex of Proto-Hebrew *a in certain environments and of Proto-Hebrew *u in others. Similarly, the distinction between “silent” and “vocal” šəwa often corresponds to the historical distinction between Proto-Hebrew *∅ (i.e., the end of a closed syllable) and a reduced vowel. And, despite the orthographic identity of dageš lene (alt., ‫ דגש קל‬dageš qal) and dageš forte (alt., ‫ דגש חזק‬dageš ḥazaq), these terms help to distinguish between two different historical origins of the plosive pronunciation of the letters ‫( בג״ד כפ״ת‬see pp. 9–10, below). Given the heuristic and descriptive value in this kind of analysis, the following presentation of phonology will be based largely on the Qimḥian interpretation of the Tiberian system. (It should be noted that the Qimḥian vowel system has been widely adopted in Biblical Hebrew grammars, particularly since the Christian Hebraists of the Renaissance.)

Phonology Consonants in SBH can be lengthened—a phenomenon that is called doubling or gemination and is known across the Semitic languages. In Tiberian notation, this was marked by the dageš, a dot placed in the middle of the letter (‫ ;)ּק‬since the dageš can in certain environments have a different

Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew


phonological interpretation (see below), a dageš that indicates consonant length is designated more specifically dageš forte (the ‘strong’ dageš). In transliteration, gemination is represented by repeating the consonant symbol itself (qq for ‫ּק‬, as in ‫ֻּקים‬ ִ ‫ ח‬ḥuqqîm ‘statutes’). As mentioned, in the Qimḥian interpretation of the Tiberian vowel system, there exist five pairs of short and long vowels, another set of historically long vowels (most often marked in the Masoretic Text by matres lectionis), and four ultra-short vowels—the šəwa plus its three qualitative (and conditioned) variants, the ḥateph vowels (tables on pp. 8–9). This analysis of the vowel system arises out of the observation that unstressed closed syllables (consonant-vowel-consonant) in SBH nearly always contain vowels designated as “short” (e.g., the initial syllables in each of the words ‫ ִמ ְׁש ָּפט‬miš/pāṭ ‘judgment, decision’, ‫ ֶמ ְר ָּכ ָבה‬mɛr/kā/ḇâ ‘chariot’, ‫ יַ ְׁש ִמיד‬yaš/mîḏ ‘he will destroy’, ‫ ָמ ְׁש ָחת‬moš/ḥāṯ ‘corrupted, polluted’, ‫ ֻח ִּקים‬ḥuq/qîm ‘statutes’), while unstressed open syllables (consonantvowel), by contrast, contain vowels of the “long” (including “historically long”) or “reduced” type (e.g., the initial syllables in ‫ יִ ָירא‬yî/rāˀ ‘he will be afraid’, ‫ ֵענָ ב‬ˁē/nāḇ ‘grape’, ‫ ָּד ָבר‬dā/ḇār ‘word’, ‫ ׁש ֵֹפט‬šō/ēṭ ‘judge’, ‫יּומת‬ ַ yû/maṯ ‘he will be put to death’, ‫ ְּב ִרית‬bə/rîṯ ‘covenant’, ‫ ֱא ֶמת‬ˀɛ˘/mɛṯ ‘truth’, ‫ ֲחלֹום‬ḥă/lôm ‘dream’, ‫ ֳענִ י‬ˁŏ/nî ‘affliction’). The major exceptions to these rules have historical explanations: (1) “virtual doubling” occurs when an open syllable with a short vowel is known to have once been closed by a historically geminated consonant (‫ ַה ֶה ֶבל‬ha/hɛ́ḇɛl ‘the vanity’ < *hahhabl [V] or ‫ ֶא ָחד‬ˀɛ/ḥāḏ ‘one’ < *ˀaḥḥad [V]), and (2) “secondary opening” occurs when an anaptyctic echo vowel is inserted after a closed syllable ending in a guttural consonant (‫ יַ ֲעמֹד‬ya/ˁă/mōḏ ‘he will stand’ < *yaˁmud [u]). Stressed syllables tend to contain long vowels, with two notable exceptions relating to the reflex of a short *a-vowel (1) in a historically geminated syllable (‫ ַרב‬raḇ ‘much, many’ [adj.] < *rabb) and (2) in a closed syllable in a (usually) finite verbal form (e.g., note the distinction between ‫ נָ ַתן‬nā/ṯan ‘he gave’ and ‫ נָ ָתן‬nā/ṯān ‘Nathan’ [proper name], ‫נִ ְׁש ַּבר‬ niš/bar ‘he/it was broken’ [qatal] and ‫ נִ ְׁש ָּבר‬niš/bār ‘broken’ [participle]; also note the form ‫ ָׁש ַמ ְר ִּתי‬šā/már/tî ‘I kept’). The šəwa, in addition to representing a reduced vowel /ə/, also corresponds in the Tiberian system to phonological zero—that is, at the end of a closed syllable (‫ יִ ְכּתֹב‬yiḵtōḇ ‘he will write’). In the Babylonian vocalization system (see chapter 10), silent and vocal šəwa are distinguished from one


Chapter 1 Vowels Written without Matres Lectionis

Name ḥireq səgol pataḥ qameṣ (qaṭan) qibbuṣ

Symbol Transliteration Name ‫ִס‬ i ḥireq ‫ֶס‬ ɛ a ṣere ‫ַס‬ a qameṣ (gadol) ‫ָס‬ o ḥolem u



Symbol Transliteration ‫ִס‬ ī ‫ֵס‬ ē ‫ָס‬ ā ֹ ‫ס‬




a.  Here we deviate from the traditional system of transliteration due to the unique challenges presented by Tiberian səgol (conventionally transliterated e); not only is it unique in that it can represent the reflex of either Proto-Hebrew *a or *i, but it also was the Tiberian phonetic representation of the result of certain contractions (corresponding to səgol-yod and səgol-he; see also note a to the table below).

Vowels Written with Matres Lectionis Name ḥireq-yod ṣere-yod ṣere-he səgol-yod səgol-he qameṣ-he ḥolem-waw ḥolem-he šureq

Symbol ‫ִסי‬ ‫ֵסי‬ ‫ֵסה‬ ‫ֶסי‬ ‫ֶסה‬ ‫ָסה‬ ‫סֹו‬ ‫סֺה‬ ‫סּו‬

Transliteration î ê ē(h) ɛ̂ ̄ɛ(h) a â or ā(h) ô ō(h) û

a.  Although the Tiberian system presents səgol and səgol-he (and səgol-yod) as phonetically identical, in SBH these may have corresponded to both a “short” variant (i.e., in unstressed closed syllables) and a “long” one (particularly at the end of words and the result of contraction—thus səgol-he and səgol-yod). In the latter position, it would have been as long as Tiberian ṣere, but it must also have represented a distinct phoneme (or a regularly distributed allophone) since its distribution is predictable in final weak forms (absolute vs. construct in substantives, indicative yiqtol vs. imperative in verbs).

Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew


Ultra-Short Vowels Name (vocal) šəwa ḥaṭeph səgol ḥaṭeph pataḥ ḥaṭeph qameṣ



‫ְס‬ ‫ֱח‬ ‫ֲח‬ ‫ֳח‬

ə ̆ɛ ă ŏ

another in most cases; there, the latter is marked with the symbol ‫ס‬, ֿ while the former is usually unmarked (though occasionally it is indicated with ‫ ֿס‬as well). Another important phonological phenomenon concerns the six consonants ‫“( בג״ד כפ״ת‬bəg̱aḏ-kəp ̱ aṯ ” or “bέgεd kέphεt ”) which, at some stage in the language, each exhibited two allophonic variants: one plosive in articulation ([b], [g], [d], [k], [p], [t]) and one fricative ([v], [ɣ], [ð], [x], [f ], [θ]). Conventionally, the fricatives are represented in transliteration with an underline (ḇ, ̱g, ḏ, ḵ, ̱ p, ṯ) and the plosives without (b, g, d, k, p, t). In Tiberian orthography, a dageš is used to mark the plosive pronunciation of these consonants—a symbol traditionally specified as dageš lene (the “weak” dageš) but graphically indistinguishable from the dageš forte (i.e., ‫ ּב‬can be transliterated b or bb depending on the phonological context). In other words, the Tiberian orthographic system did not differentiate between geminated and non-geminated pronunciations of the plosive ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬letters, though the two are to be understood as phonologically distinct. The plosive variant of the ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬letters is the default, appearing in the absence of a preceding vocalic phone—that is, following a closed syllable (‫ ִמ ְׁש ָּפט‬mišpāṭ ‘judgment, decision’) or at the beginning of a word 5 (‫אׁשית‬ ִ ‫ ְּב ֵר‬bərēˀšît ‘in [the] beginning [of ]’ [Gen 1:1]). Conversely, the fricative variant appears when immediately preceded by a vocalic phone, including reduced vowels (‫ ָח ָדׁש‬ḥāḏāš ‘new’, ‫ ְּד ָב ִרים‬dəḇārîm ‘words’). The extent to which this variation between plosive and fricative had become phonemic by the time of the Masoretes remains a matter of debate. 5.  In the Tiberian Masoretic vocalization, this rule did not apply when the previous word ended in a vowel and had a conjunctive accent. See, e.g., ‫‘ ָל ֶ֣מה ִת ְב ִּ֗כי‬why are you crying’ (1 Sam 1:8) vs. ‫(‘ ֵמ ֲע ָׂש ָ ֖רה ָּב ִנֽים‬better) than ten children’ (1 Sam 1:8), which has a disjunctive accent.


Chapter 1

Examples of minimal pairs are quite limited in the MT: e.g., ‫‘ ָל ַק ַח ְת‬you took’ (Ezek 22:12) vs. ‫‘ ָל ַק ַחת‬to take’ (Gen 4:11), and the paucity of examples makes it difficult to assert the existence of a phonemic distinction with certainty. A related issue is the phenomenon of “medial” šəwa—the situation in which a closed syllable (the end of which is marked by medial šəwa, which synchronically is a silent šəwa) is followed by another syllable beginning with a fricative ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬consonant (‫ ַמ ְל ֵכי‬malḵê ‘kings of’ < *malakê). Since medial šəwa, like vocal šəwa, usually corresponds to historical vowel reduction, some explain this as the fricative pronunciation of the consonant having been frozen before the syncopation of the particular vowel preceding the fricative. In the Tiberian system, words were usually stressed on the final syllable, or less frequently, on the penult. In light of the dropping of final short vowels in the historical development of Hebrew, Proto-Hebrew must be reconstructed as having had (mostly) penultimate stress. At the same time, the details of the history of stress in Proto-Hebrew and (S)BH are partially obscured by the Masoretic accentuation. For instance, the vocalization of construct forms of nouns (see p. 11, below) suggests that they were proclitic at some earlier stage of the language, even though they mostly retain primary word accent in the Tiberian system.

Morphology A useful strategy for the grammatical analysis of SBH is to divide lexemes into three categories: nouns, verbs, and particles. The vast majority of these ― particularly nouns and verbs ― can be analyzed as a combination of (1) a root consisting of (usually) three consonants that carries basic semantic information pertaining to the word, and (2) a pattern of vowels with (optionally) prefixed, suffixed, and/or infixed elements. Such patterns are both derivational and inflectional. The usefulness of this abstract notion of root can be illustrated by the following forms of the root ‫( רח״ק‬having to do with ‘being distant’): ‫‘ ָרחֹוק‬distant, far’, ‫‘ ֶמ ְר ָחק‬distant place, distance’, ‫‘ ָר ֲחקּו‬they were/are far’, ‫‘ ִה ְר ַח ְק ָּת‬you caused (someone/something) to be far’. Nouns.  Nouns (substantives and adjectives) are usually marked for grammatical gender (masculine or feminine) and are further inflected for number (singular, plural, or dual for certain substantives), state (absolute, construct, or pronominal), and definiteness (definite or indefinite). The cat-

Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew


egories of gender and number, as a rule, are marked by a series of suffixes: -∅ (masc. sing.), ‫ה‬/‫ת‬- (fem. sing.), ‫ ִ ים‬- (masc. pl.), ‫ֹות‬- (fem. pl.), and, for paired body parts, expressions of time, and some other idiomatic terms, ‫)ת(יִ ם‬ַ (fem./masc. dual). Exceptions to these patterns are not hard to find, however, whether it is feminine nouns without explicit feminine ending (‫‘ ֶא ֶרץ‬land, earth’, ‫‘ יָ ד‬hand’, ‫‘ נֶ ֶפׁש‬person, living being’), masculine plural nouns with ending ‫ֹות‬- (‫‘ ָאבֹות‬fathers’, ‫‘ נְ ָהרֹות‬rivers’), feminine plural nouns with ending ‫ ִ ים‬- (‫‘ נָ ִׁשים‬women, wives’, ‫‘ ָע ִרים‬cities’), or collective nouns without explicit plural ending (‫‘ ַעם‬people’, ‫‘ צֹאן‬sheep, flock’—both attested with plural adjectival and/or verbal agreement). The category of state designates whether a noun is syntactically independent (absolute) or bound to a following noun (construct or annexed) or to a suffixed pronoun (pronominal). Nouns in the construct or pronominal states can show further morphological change from the absolute state: e.g., ‫‘ ֲא ָד ָמה‬ground’ (absolute), but ‫‘ ַא ְד ַמת‬ground of’ (construct) and ‫‘ ַא ְד ָמתֹו‬his ground’ (pronominal); or ‫‘ ְּד ָב ִרים‬words’ (absolute), but ‫‘ ִּד ְב ֵרי‬words of’ (construct) and ‫‘ ְּד ָב ַרי‬my words’ (pronominal). When one or more nouns in the construct state are combined with an absolute or a suffixed noun, the result is a construct phrase, wherein the first (head) noun in the phrase is semantically qualified or restricted by each successive noun: e.g., ‫ָּבנִ ים‬ ‘sons’ vs. ‫‘ ְּבנֵ י יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל‬the sons of Israel’ or ‫‘ ָּב ִּתים‬houses’ vs. ‫ָּב ֵּתי ְבנֵ י־יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל‬ ‘the houses of the sons of Israel’ (Exod 12:27). A noun is grammatically definite: (1) when it has the definite article (normally a prefix ha- plus gemination of first consonant, e.g., ‫ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬ hammɛ́ lɛḵ ‘the king’), permitted in the absolute state; (2) when it is a proper noun; (3) when it has a pronominal suffix; or (4) when it is in construct with another noun that is definite. A corollary to these rules is that a construct phrase is either definite or indefinite in its entirety: e.g., ‫‘ ִּד ְב ֵרי ָׁשלֹום‬words of peace’ (Deut 2:26) or ‫ּתֹורה‬ ָ ‫ת־ּד ְב ֵרי ֵס ֶפר ַה‬ ִ ‫‘ ֶא‬the words of the book of the instruction’ (2 Kgs 22:11). Adjectives, when functioning attributively, follow the substantive they modify and agree in gender, number, and definiteness: e.g., ‫טֹובה‬ ָ ‫‘ ֶא ֶרץ‬a good land’ (Deut 8:7) and ‫‘ וְ ַהּיָ ִמים ָה ִראׁש ֹנִ ים‬and the former days’ (Num 6:12). Attributive adjectives modifying any noun in a construct phrase follow the entire phrase: e.g., ‫‘ וְ יֶ ֶלד זְ ֻקנִ ים ָק ָטן‬and a small child (born) of old age’ (Gen 44:20). Predicative adjectives must be indefinite and show agreement in gender and number, but can precede or follow the subject:


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e.g., ‫‘ ָט ֵמא הּוא‬it is impure’ (Num 19:15) and ‫ַעם ְּבנֵ י יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל ַרב וְ ָעצּום ִמ ֶּמּנּו‬ ‘the nation of the sons of Israel is more numerous and mighty than we’ (Exod 1:9). Adjectives can also be used substantively: e.g., ‫ל־הּגְ ד ֹלֹות‬ ַ ‫‘ ָּכ‬all the great (things)’ (2 Kgs 8:4) or ‫‘ ַה ְּׂש ֵמ ִחים ַל ֲעׂשֹות ָרע‬those who rejoice in doing evil’ (Prov 2:14). Demonstratives, when used as attributive adjectives, usually appear at the end of the noun phrase: ‫ָה ֲאנָ ִׁשים ָה ְר ָׁש ִעים ָה ֵא ֶּלה‬ ‘these wicked men’ (Num 16:26). Pronouns.  Personal pronouns in SBH can appear as words or as suffixed elements depending on their syntactic function. Every declension of pronouns in SBH distinguishes between masculine/feminine and singular/ plural in both the third and second persons, but only singular/plural in the first person. (Such is the case with the finite verbal conjugations as well; see below.) The independent personal pronouns are words that function as the subject of the sentence: e.g., ‫‘ ַא ָּתה ָה ִאיׁש‬you are the man’ (2 Sam 12:7) or ‫‘ ֲא ֵׁש ִמים ֲאנַ ְחנּו‬we are guilty’ (Gen 42:21). Suffixes are used to express pronominal possession on nouns (‫‘ ְּד ָב ְרָך‬your [masc. sing.] word’) as well as pronominal objects on prepositions (‫‘ ְלָך‬to you’ [masc. sing.]) and verbs (‫‘ יִ ְׁש ָל ֲחָך‬He will send you’ [Jer 42:5]). Verbs.  As mentioned, SBH makes use of vowel and affix patterns applied to a root for verbal derivation and inflection. All verbs are formed within a system of stems (‫ בנינים‬binyanim), involving regular patterns for (re-) configuring the semantic relationship between the subject, the verbal core (associated with the root), and objects (if any). There is one basic and unmarked stem, the qal (meaning ‘light’—that is, it is the simplest of the stems). There are also several derived stems which differ from one another in categories such as voice, transitivity, and valency. To take one example, the subject of the qal verb ‫‘ גד״ל‬be big, large’ is in the state expressed by the root: e.g., ‫‘ ַעד־יִ גְ ַּדל‬until he will grow up’ (Gen 38:11). In the hiphil, the second most common stem in Biblical Hebrew, the subject causes or provokes that state in another core argument: e.g., ‫‘ יַ גְ ִּדיל‬He will magnify, make great’ (Isa 42:21). The functions of the seven major stems in SBH—qal, niphal, piel, pual, hitpael, hiphil, and hophal—can be summarized in the chart shown on p. 13 (adapted from Waltke and O’Connor 1990: §§21.2.1c, 21.2.2n), with the caveat that it presents a deliberately simplified picture for descriptive and pedagogical purposes and so should not be taken as having priority over the meanings attested in actual forms.


Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew











(internal hiphil) a

middle/passive reflexive (double-status)


a.  The internal hiphil is attested only with roots that are intransitive or stative in the qal stem. Compare, for example, in ‫ּופ ְרעֹה ִה ְק ִריב‬ ַ ‘and Pharaoh approached’ (Exod 14:10) with ‫‘ ָק ַרב‬he approached, drew near’ (qal) (see also Waltke and O’Connor 1990: §§27.2f–g). Further, an archaic and non-productive hishtaphel stem (causativereflexive) is possibly preserved only for the root ‫חו  ״ה‬, unless the verb is borrowed from another language.

For each derived verbal lexeme, inflectional patterns are employed to specify additional categories of semantic content to produce contextually appropriate forms. These categories include tense-aspect-mood (TAM) characteristics, the finite or non-finite nature of the form, and subject agreement (person, gender, and number) for finite forms. These inflectional patterns can be divided into three groups (cf. Waltke and O’Connor 1990: §29.1): the finite, indicative forms (two of which mark subject agreement via suffix elements, qatal and wəqatal, and two that do so via prefix or circumfix elements, yiqtol and wayyiqtol); the volitive forms (cohortative, imperative, and jussive); and the non-finite forms (infinitive construct, infinitive absolute, and participle). For the finite, indicative forms in particular, a wide range of terminology has been employed to designate them: the most common names for qatal are “suffix conjugation” or “perfect”; likewise, the most common names for yiqtol are “prefix conjugation” or “imperfect.” Wayyiqtol and wəqatal are sometimes called the “wawconsecutive” forms because of (1) the presence of the conjunction waw and (2) their regular appearance after, especially sequential to, qatal (in the case of wayyiqtol ) and yiqtol (in the case of wəqatal ). However, in actual usage, wayyiqtol and wəqatal also express their function independent of the verbal form in the preceding clause (see below). The finite, indicative forms reflect a system that is primarily aspectual and secondarily temporal, whose salient opposition is that of perfectivity


Chapter 1

(viewing an action as a complete whole—that is, perfective viewpoint aspect) vs. imperfectivity (Pardee 2012; on the notion of “non-perfectivity” as potentially a more accurate functional description of the latter, see Pardee 2012: 289 n. 23). Somewhat counterintuitively, and in contrast to later forms of Hebrew, the suffix and prefix conjugations do not express the same aspectual force as their corresponding waw-less counterparts; perfective aspect is expressed by the forms qatal and wayyiqtol, while imperfective aspect is expressed by yiqtol and wəqatal. This situation can be understood as the result of a series of diachronic developments. At an earlier stage of the language, there existed (at least) two distinct prefix conjugation forms, *yaqtul (perfective) and *yaqtulu (imperfective), both of which had indicative and non-indicative uses (cf. Huehnergard 1988). The *yaqtul could either express an indicative act as complete (perfective, indicative) or function as a jussive (perfective, volitive); similarly, the imperfective *yaqtulu would have had both indicative (future, past frequentative) and irrealis uses. At some point, the dropping of certain final short vowels rendered these two forms morphologically indistinguishable in nearly all verbs. Consequently, *yaqtulu survived as SBH yiqtol, indicative *yaqtul was preserved only in the waw-bound narrative form wayyiqtol, while irrealis *yaqtul persisted as the jussive. 6 Similarly, both qatal and wəqatal represent distinct (and divergent) developments from the older West Semitic *qatala. Morphologically, the finite, indicative forms are inflected for person (first, second, third), gender (masculine or feminine, but with no gender distinction in the first person or in the third person plural of the suffix conjugations), and number (singular or plural). While wəqatal consists of the simple form of the conjunction attached to qatal, wayyiqtol involves a special form of the conjunction, wa- plus gemination of the prefix element (-‫י‬, -‫ת‬, -‫נ‬, or -‫[ א‬and since ‫ א‬cannot be geminated, the form is -‫וָ א‬, with compensatory lengthening]). The “waw-consecutive” forms, by virtue of their syntactic inflexibility as necessarily clause-initial (attached to the clause divider waw), came to function in SBH prose as the unmarked verbal forms in certain kinds of literary discourse: wayyiqtol for reported discourse, in 6.  This explains why both the wayyiqtol and the jussive reflect a “short” prefix conjugation form as opposed to the “long” form of the yiqtol when the verb type allows for such a distinction to be observed (e.g., for the qal of the root ‫קו״ם‬: ‫‘ יָ קּום‬he will arise’ [yiqtol ], ‫‘ יָ קֹם‬let him arise’ [jussive], and ‫‘ וַ ּיָ ָקם‬he arose’ [wayyiqtol]).

Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew


which perfective forms naturally dominate; and wəqatal for procedural and predictive types of discourse, where imperfective forms are more common. So, for instance, wayyiqtol forms in a prose narrative are used to mark the basic narrative line (‫ וַ ּיָ ֻׁשבּו וַ ּיָ בֹאּו‬. . . ‫ וַ ּיִ ְׁש ַּת ֲחוּו‬. . . ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ְׁש ִּכמּו‬They got up early . . . and did obeisance . . . and returned and came’ [1 Sam 1:19]), while wəqatal forms serve as the default verbs in a procedural description (‫וְ ָל ַקח‬ ‫ וְ ָר ַחץ‬. . . ‫ וְ ִכ ֶּבס‬. . . ‫ וְ ִה ְׁש ִליְך‬. . . ‘He is to take . . . and throw . . . and wash . . . and bathe’ [Num 19:6–7]). The jussive forms are orthographically identical to yiqtol except in verbs from final weak and middle weak roots, as well as hiphil forms. The imperative is the second-person form used for direct commands; morphologically, it resembles the corresponding second-person yiqtol forms but with the conjugational prefix element removed (compare ‫‘ קּומּו‬arise!’ [masc. pl. imperative] with ‫‘ ָתקּומּו‬you shall arise’ [second-person masc. pl. yiqtol]). Imperatives cannot be negated with the particles ‫ לֹא‬or ‫;אל‬ ַ a direct prohibition is usually expressed by ‫ ַאל‬plus a second-person jussive. The cohortative is the first-person volitive, and its form is ostensibly an expansion of the first-person yiqtol form with the suffix ‫ָה‬- (not to be confused with the marker of the feminine singular noun): ‫‘ ֵא ְל ָכה־ּנָ א ַה ָּׂש ֶדה וַ ֲא ַל ֳק ָטה‬please let me go to the field and glean’ (Ruth 2:2). Historically, it is descended from a third prefix conjugation pattern, *yaqtula. The non-finite forms consist of the two verbal nouns (the infinitives construct and absolute) and a verbal adjective, the participle. The infinitive construct is used in a variety of grammatical contexts, including purpose/ result phrases (‫ ְל ִה ְׁש ַּת ֲחו ֺת וְ ִלזְ ּב ַֹח‬. . . ‫‘ וְ ָע ָלה‬he used to go up . . . to do obeisance and to offer sacrifices’ [1 Sam 1:3]), temporal phrases, and nominal uses (‫‘ ִהּנֵ ה ְׁשמ ַֹע ִמּזֶ ַבח טֹוב‬Surely, obeying is better than sacrifice’ [1 Sam 15:22]); it can be attached to a preposition and/or take a pronominal suffix (functioning as the logical subject or object of the verbal idea). The infinitive absolute is more restricted in its usage; it is employed adverbially in collocation with another finite form of the same stem and root to express emphasis (‫ּובכֹה ִת ְב ֶּכה‬ ָ ‘and she was weeping all the while’ [1 Sam 1:10]—highlighting the intensity and continuousness of the weeping in this instance) or as a replacement for any other finite form (‫ָׁשמֹור ֶאת־יֹום ַה ַשּׁ ָּבת‬ ‘keep the Sabbath day’ [Deut 5:12]—infinitive absolute used in place of an imperative). The participle, as a verbal adjective, is inflected as such and can function attributively (‫‘ ָה ִא ָשה ַהנִ ֶצ ֶבת ִע ְמ ָכה ָבזֶ ה‬the woman standing


Chapter 1

with you here’ [1 Sam 1:26]), predicatively (‫‘ קֹול יְ הוָ ה ש ֵֹבר ֲא ָרזִ ים‬the voice of Yhwh breaks cedars’ [Ps 29:5]), or substantively (‫‘ וְ ַהש ֵֹרף א ָֹתּה‬and the one who burns it’ [Num 19:8]). Particles.  The class of particles encompasses a wide range of lexemes that lack the distinctive inflectional characteristics of nouns or verbs, though in many cases they were probably derived from other parts of speech (e.g., many prepositions are in fact frozen nominal forms). The major categories here are adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections (see GKC §§99–105; Joüon and Muraoka 2011: §§102–5). Adverbs are always separate words in SBH, whatever their origin (‫‘ לֹא‬not’, ‫‘ ָׁשם‬there, in that place’, ‫‘ יַ ְח ָּדו‬together’). Prepositions, by definition, govern a nominal; they are either attached as a prefix (as is always the case with the three “inseparable” prepositions ‫‘ ְּב‬in, on, at, with’, ‫‘ ְל‬to, for’, and ‫‘ ְּכ‬like, as’, and sometimes with ‫‘ ִמן־‬from’), or they appear as a separate word (as is true for all the other prepositions, though some are regularly proclitic [with maqqeph] in the Tiberian Masoretic system—e.g., ‫‘ ֶאל־‬to, toward’, or ‫‘ ַעל־‬upon, over, concerning, against’). Conjunctions, which serve to link sentences and clauses, can also be prefixed or independent and functionally coordinating or subordinating: e.g., ְ‫‘ ו‬and’ (a prefixed coordinating conjunction) and ‫ִּכי‬ ‘for, because, when’ (an independent subordinating conjunction). Interjections are expressions of emotion and include onomatopoeic words (‫הֹוי‬ ‘woe! alas!’, ‫‘ ֲא ָהּה‬ah! alas!’), the “particle of entreaty” ‫( ־נָ א‬which is often enclitic in the Masoretic tradition and usually accompanies volitive verb forms), and the presentative particle ‫‘ ִהּנֵ ה‬look! here is/are’, which can take objective pronominal suffixes (‫‘ ִהּנֵ נִ י‬Here I am!’ [Gen 22:1]).

Lexicon As mentioned, regular patterns of internal vowel change and affixation can be observed in SBH for the derivation of noun lexemes from roots. A large number of nouns are of the historical patterns *qatl/*qitl/*qutl (that is, nouns originally consisting of a single short vowel between the first and second letters of the root: *CVCC), which develop into the so-called segolate group with penultimate stress: e.g., ‫[ ֶמ ֶלְך‬mɛ́ lɛx] ‘king’ (< *malk) or ‫[ ֶע ֶבד‬ʕɛ́vɛð] ‘slave, servant’ (< *ˁabd ). The preformative m- tends to produce deverbal nouns of many types but especially concrete substantives of place and of instrument: e.g., ‫‘ ִמזְ ֵּב ַח‬sacrificial altar’, ‫‘ ָמקֹום‬place’, ‫‘ ִמ ְק ָּדׁש‬sanctuary’, ‫‘ ַמ ְל ָאְך‬messenger’, and ‫מֹוקׁש‬ ֵ ‘snare’. The preformative

Standard/Classical Biblical Hebrew


t-, on the other hand, is associated with abstracts: e.g., ‫‘ ִּת ְפ ָא ָרה‬glory’, ‫ּתֹודה‬ ָ ‘thanks(giving)’, ‫‘ ְּתבּונָ ה‬understanding’, and ‫ׁשּובה‬ ָ ‫‘ ְת‬return, turning back’. The sufformative elements -îṯ and -ûṯ form abstracts, too: e.g., ‫אׁשית‬ ִ ‫‘ ֵר‬beginning’ or ‫‘ זְ נּות‬fornication’. Basic verbs of motion in SBH show affinity with Phoenician (and Ugaritic) over against Aramaic: ‫‘ ָה ַלְך‬to go, walk’, ‫‘ ָע ָלה‬to go up’, ‫‘ יָ ַרד‬to go down’, ‫‘ יָ ָצא‬to go out’, and ‫‘ )ּבֹוא( ָּבא‬to enter, come’. Interestingly, SBH is especially rich in its “expressions of hills and mountains” (Kutscher 1982: 54), arguably owing to the geographical setting of the central Palestinian hill country out of which the majority of the biblical texts arose. Overall, the BH lexicon, with fewer than 9,000 entries (including proper names but not counting verbal lexemes derived from a common root via the different stems), cannot but represent a mere fraction of the total lexical inventory of ancient spoken Hebrew (Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 74–75). Thus, it is possible that lexemes known from later Hebrew (e.g., Tannaitic Hebrew) preserve forms that would have been part of pre-exilic idiom but never appeared in the biblical texts due to historical accident (or reasons of literary style). See chapter 15.

Sentences In terms of word-order typology, SBH is undoubtedly a V-O language, but its status as V-S(-O) or S-V(-O) is more contentious. The assessment of this question depends partly on how one defines the corpus (only prose or both prose and poetry) and partly on whether one relies on statistical factors alone or balances statistics with other criteria of evaluation. Given that wayyiqtol and wəqatal serve as the default verbal forms in narrative and instructional/predictive discourse respectively, and since these forms are necessarily clause-initial, it has seemed self-evident to almost all scholars that V-S(-O) be regarded as the default word order for SBH prose.

Bibliography Barr, James 1968 Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon. Bergsträsser, G. 1918–29  Hebräische Grammatik mit Benutzung der von E. Kautzsch bearbeiteten 28. Auflage von Wilhelm Gesenius’ hebräischer Grammatik. 2 vols. Leipzig: Vogel / Hinrichs.


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Blau, Joshua 1982 On Polyphony in Biblical Hebrew. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities Proceedings 6/2. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Chomsky, William 1952 David Ḳimḥi’s Hebrew Grammar (Mikhlol) Systematically Presented and Critically Annotated. New York: Bloch. GKC Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, ed. E. Kautzsch. 2nd English translation by A. E. Cowley. Oxford: Clarendon, 1910. Huehnergard, John 1988 The Early Hebrew Prefix-Conjugations. Hebrew Studies 29: 19–23. Joüon, P., and Muraoka, T. 2011 A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. 2nd ed. Subsidia Biblica 27. Rome: Gregorian and Biblical Press. Khan, Geoffrey 1987 Vowel Length and Syllable Structure in the Tiberian Tradition of Biblical Hebrew. Journal of Semitic Studies 32: 23–82. Kogan, Leonid 2011 Proto-Semitic Phonetics and Phonology. Pp. 54–151 in The Semitic Languages: An International Handbook, ed. Stefan Weninger. Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 36. Berlin: De Gruyter. Kutscher, Eduard Yechezkel 1982 A History of the Hebrew Language, ed. Raphael Kutscher. Leiden: Brill / Jerusalem: Magnes. Lambdin, Thomas O. 1971 An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew. New York: Scribner’s. Pardee, Dennis 1992 Review of Linguistic Evidence for the Northern Origin of Selected Psalms, by Gary A. Rendsburg. Journal of the American Oriental Society 112: 702–4. 2008 Review of Leaves from an Epigrapher’s Notebook: Collected Papers in Hebrew and West Semitic Palaeography and Epigraphy, by Frank Moore Cross. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 67: 63–67. 2012 The Hebrew Verbal System in a Nutshell. Pp. 285–317 in Language and Nature: Papers Presented to John Huehnergard on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday, ed. Rebecca Hasselbach and Naʿama Pat-El. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 67. Chicago: Oriental Institute. Polzin, Robert 1976 Late Biblical Hebrew: Toward an Historical Typology of Biblical Hebrew Prose. Harvard Semitic Monographs 12. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press. Sáenz-Badillos, Angel 1993 A History of the Hebrew Language, trans. John Elwolde. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Waltke, Bruce K., and O’Connor, M. 1990 An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. Watson, Wilfred G. E. 1984 Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to Its Techniques. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 26. Sheffield: JSOT Press.

Chapter 2

Archaic Biblical Hebrew A gustinus G ianto

Introduction The term “Archaic Biblical Hebrew” (ABH) characterizes a phase of Hebrew that differs from “Standard Biblical Hebrew” (SBH) but is closer to the older Northwest Semitic (NWS) languages (i.e., Ugaritic and Amarna Canaanite) and the early first-millennium cognate languages (i.e., Phoenician, Old Aramaic, and Transjordanian languages). There is no consensus whether its features represent an actual, spoken phase of language. Earlier scholarship tends to proceed on the basis of this view (see especially Cross and Freedman 1975; Freedman 1960, 1972). On the other hand, Robertson (1972) shows that various archaic features also appear in SBH, especially in the poetic texts. This leads to the idea that ABH reflects a stage transitional to the classical language. Several older NWS features in ABH have also been explained as originating in Aramaic, which, in this case, retains the older NWS forms (see Kutscher 1982: 38–42; Hurvitz 1973, 2003). Some features in ABH have been considered as belonging to a northern Hebrew dialect with closer affinities to Phoenician and Aramaic than Judean Hebrew (see Rendsburg 2003). In addition to the historical development from NWS to Hebrew and on-going contacts with adjacent languages, stylistic registers and various sociolinguistic factors may also account for the diversity within Biblical Hebrew (Gianto 1996; Kim 2013).

The Speech Community A precise date cannot be assigned to ABH. It can be assumed that the original speech community of ABH is the early Israelite society. The origins 19


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of this society are closely connected with sociopolitical transformations in Syria–Palestine during the second half of the second millennium BCE. This period witnessed the collapse of the city-state system in the area (with the exception of Phoenicia) and the rise of larger groups such as the Aramean, Moabite, Edomite, Ammonite, and Israelite kingdoms, each having a ruler, an administrative center (e.g., Jerusalem for the Israelites, Damascus for the Arameans, Dibon for the Moabites), a deity (Yhwh, Hadad, Kemosh, respectively), and a language of its own. For the linguistic situation of this area during the first millennium BCE, see Harris (1939) and Garr (1985). This is the setting for the growth of Hebrew as the “national” language of Israel, which reached its peak in the form of SBH during the First Temple period. The speech community was also the one that lay at the base of the first genuinely royal court—that is, that of David. ABH thus represents the earliest stage of the development of Hebrew. This was also the period when Hebrew crystallized into a written literary language. See Sanders (2009) for further ramifications.

The Corpus Early traditions are preserved in a number of poems in the Hebrew Bible; these poems form the corpus of ABH. The Divine Warrior and His acts are exalted in Exod 15:1–18 (the Song of the Sea); Num 23:7–10, 23:18–24, 24:3–9, 24:16–19 (the Oracles of Balaam); Deut 32:1–43 (the Song of Moses); Habakkuk 3; and Psalm 68. The tradition about a common patriarch is reflected in Genesis 49 (the Blessing of Jacob). In the same way, the tradition about Moses as leader is preserved in Deut 33:1–29 (the Blessing of Moses). Judg 5:1–30 (the Song of Deborah) represents collective memories about ancient heroines. 1 Sam 2:1–10 (the Song of Hannah) and 2 Sam 22:2–51 // Psalm 18 (David’s Thanksgiving Psalm) also belong to the corpus of ABH. Early Israelite society cultivated traditions about its Divine Warrior, Yhwh, while distancing itself from its Egyptian overlord and Canaanite society. These traditions reflect Israel’s religious awareness as the people of their national God Yhwh. This religious allegiance provides a strong basis for unity among diverse groups within early Israelite society. Another effort to build unity is reflected in the traditions about a common patriarch, Jacob, as in Genesis 49, or a common leader, Moses, as in Deuteronomy 32–33. Also part of the collective memory in the early Israelite society are

Archaic Biblical Hebrew


traditions about early heroines such as Deborah and Jael uniting the tribes against the Canaanites, as in Judges 5. These traditions are recorded in the poetic compositions that form the corpus of ABH. During the later part of the First Temple period, nearly all poetic texts representing ABH were sutured into a grand narrative that includes stories of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the crossing of the sea on the journey leaving Egypt; the giving of the Law at Sinai; the conquest of the land of Canaan; and finally the establishment of kingship in Israel. These stories form the first five books of the Bible (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and the historical books from Joshua though Kings. This development introduced a reinterpretation of the experience of the early Israelite society mentioned earlier. Adaptations of ABH to the language of the late First Temple period—that is, SBH—also took place. The following sections discuss certain older forms and usages that survive in the present corpus.

Orthography In all likelihood, ABH was first written in a strictly consonantal spelling, as in Phoenician, whose alphabet and orthography were adopted in Hebrew at an early period. A reconstruction of the purely consonantal orthography of this corpus is given by Cross and Freedman (1975) on the basis of their study of the development of Hebrew orthography (1952). Such a purely consonantal writing is reflected in the Gezer calendar (if, indeed, it is written in Hebrew and not in Phoenician), dated to the tenth century BCE or even earlier. During the next four centuries, as documented in Hebrew inscriptions, vowel letters (matres lectionis) were gradually introduced to indicate long vowels—first at the end of the word, and then in the middle. For all practical purposes, in ABH only final he indicating long -ō can be considered evidence for the earlier spelling practice. This is illustrated by the spelling of the third-person masc. sing. pronominal suffix attached to nouns, as in ‫‘ ִעיר ֹה‬his donkey’ and ‫‘ סּותֹה‬his garment’ (Gen 49:11). The same suffix is attached to a perfect verb, as in ‫(‘ ַקּבֹה‬El) has (not) cursed him’ (Num 23:8). The use of he for the third-person masc. sing. is connected with the following historical development: *-Vhu > *-uhu > [-uh], written ‫ה‬-. At a later period, [-uh] was pronounced [-ō] and was written with waw instead. But in a number of cases, the letter he is retained as historical writing, as


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in the examples above (for other examples in archaizing texts, see GKC §91e). In pre-exilic Hebrew inscriptions, the third-person masc. sing. suffix is still written mainly with ‫ה‬- (see Gogel 1998: 156, 159; Renz 2003: 7). The writing of the place name ‫‘ ִׁשיֹלה‬Shiloh’ (Gen 49:10) also reflects the earlier spelling practice.

Phonetics and Phonology In ABH, Proto-Semitic *ā has shifted to [ō]. There is no agreement whether this change, known as the Canaanite shift, occurs in all environments or only in stressed syllables; for an assessment of these positions and further suggestions, see Fassberg 2013. The other two long vowels, *ī and *ū, are generally stable in all phases of Hebrew. There is, however, no conclusive evidence whether conditioned changes of the short vowels, such as vowel raising in open pretonic syllables or the reduction of short vowels to šəwa, also started in ABH. The consonantal phonemic inventory of ABH is the same as SBH. Naturally, familiar changes such as spirantization of post-vocalic stops and segolation of *qVtl-nouns (*malk > ‫ֶמ ֶלְך‬ ‘king’) probably had not yet taken place.

Morphology and Syntax Special features in the morphology and syntax of ABH nouns and verbs that differ from SBH can be described as vestiges of the older NWS system, which was going through a series of changes as a consequence of the disappearance of short vowels in word-final position. In nouns and adjectives, this loss caused the collapse of the morphological marking of the older case system. Thus, the earlier NWS nominative *malk-u ‘king’, genitive *malki, accusative *malk-a all became *malk and finally ‫ ֶמ ֶלְך‬in Hebrew. The loss of the accusative ending may have triggered the development of various forms of the accusative marker in the first-millennium languages—that is, Hebrew ‫את‬, ֵ Phoenician ‫אית‬, ‫את‬, ‫ת‬, and Aramaic ‫אית‬, ‫ית‬. This marker is normally governed by the definite article ha- which began to appear around the same time. In ABH, the object marker and definite article were not yet fully in use. In some places, the vocalic ending on nouns can be considered remnants of the NWS case system (Waltke and O’Connor 1990: §§8.2a–d). In other places, such an ending represents something else (Waltke and O’Connor 1990: §8.2e): e.g., the yod compaginis in ‘(Your right hand, O Yhwh,)

Archaic Biblical Hebrew


‫ נֶ ְא ָּד ִרי ַּבּכ ַֹח‬glorious with strength...’ (Exod 15:6) and twice in ‫א ְֹס ִרי ַלגֶ ֶפן‬ ‫‘ ִעיר ֹה וְ ַלש ֵֹר ָקה ְבנִ י ֲאתֹנֹו‬binding to the vine his foal and to the choice vine the offspring of his donkey’ (Gen 49:11). According to Moran (1961: 60), the yod in these passages is a reflex of the Canaanite infinitive absolute qatāli documented in Amarna Canaanite, which in Hebrew should appear as qātōlî. Accordingly, ‫ נֶ ְא ָּד ִרי‬and ‫ א ְֹס ִרי‬may be revocalized as neʾdōrî and ʾāsōrî. The yod compaginis in Deut 33:16 is different: ‘(the favor of) ‫ש ְֹכנִ י‬ ‫ ְסנֶ ה‬the One dwelling in the bush’. Here it is a kind of linking vowel between two nouns. Likewise, the final waw in ‫‘ ְּבנֹו ִצּפֹר‬O son of Zippor!’ (Num 23:18) has been considered a remnant of a case ending on a noun. Yet, this construction can be better explained as a proleptic pronominal suffix in a genitive construction ‘his son, that is, of Zippor’ (cf. Sivan 1998: 104), known also in Aramaic (in Hebrew and Aramaic, however, there is usually a relative in this construction: e.g., ‫‘ ִמ ָּטתֹו ֶּש ִּל ְׁשֹלמֹה‬Solomon’s bed’ [lit., ‘his bed, that is, of Solomon’] [Song 3:7]). Since Balaam is said to have come from “Aram” (Num 23:7), the author may have deliberately used this construction in order to give local color. The apocope of final short vowels had a greater impact in the verbal system. It can be assumed that the second-millennium NWS languages had three different prefix conjugations morphologically marked by endings: using a template of the third-person masc. sing. qal stem, they are the imperfective *yaqtul-u, preterite *yaqtul (also functioning as jussive), and volitive *yaqtul-a. The loss of short unstressed vowels in word-final position blurred the formal distinctions and their use. Yet, the existence of “short” vs. “long” forms in the Hebrew prefix conjugation of ‫ ל״ה‬verbs (‫‘ וְ ֶיִבן‬and let him build’ [Ezra 1:3] vs. ‫‘ ְיִבנֶ ה‬he will build’) and hollow verbs (‫‘ יָ קּום‬he will arise’ vs. ‫‘ יָ קֹם‬let him arise’) indicates that the older system outlined above had not completely disappeared. ABH represents a stage before the changes were complete. Older and newer forms coexisted. Research into the verbal forms in ABH has a long history. The most recent monograph is Notarius (2013). This work provides a useful synopsis of earlier scholarship and, more importantly, an analysis of the use of verbs in their specific ABH context. The work also describes diversity within ABH itself. The following discussion draws from the findings in that work and adapts them to the present format. In a number of places in the ABH corpus, yiqtol is the reflex of NWS *yaqtul and expresses the narrative past: e.g., ‫(‘ יַ ֵּצב ּגְ ֻבֹלת ַע ִּמים‬the Most


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High) fixed the boundaries of the peoples . . . ‫( יִ ְמ ָצ ֵאהּו ְב ֶא ֶרץ ִמ ְד ָבר‬Yhwh) found him (i.e., Jacob) in the desert’ (Deut 32:8, 10). This usage is documented in the narrative parts in ABH, notably Deut 32:8–20 (see vol. 2). Generally, NWS preterite *yaqtul survives in the form of the clauseinitial narrative form wayyiqtol, which is characteristic of SBH. The form with waw is rarely found in ABH, and most of its occurrences are attested in Genesis 49: e.g., ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ְרא‬he saw’ (v. 15), ‫‘ וַ ּיֵ ט‬he bowed (his shoulder)’ (v. 15), and ‫‘ וַ ּיִ ּפֹל‬he fell’ (v. 17); see the other cases in vv. 23–24. If genuine, these few examples serve as evidence for the early development of wayyiqtol. Alternatively, they may have originally consisted of simple waw and the reflex of NWS narrative *yaqtul but, in the later MT, were vocalized as wayyiqtol in conformity with SBH. NWS imperfective *yaqtulu became Hebrew yiqtol while keeping its present-future temporal reference and its various modal senses. At an early stage, including ABH, Hebrew yiqtol was also used to refer to past situations and thus express a historical present. See examples from Exodus 15 below. The following analysis illustrates the complex use of yiqtol in Exodus 15. In a number of places, yiqtol is clearly associated with past events: e.g., ‫(‘ יְ ַכ ְסיֻ מּו‬the floods) covered them’ (v. 5); ‫(‘ ִּת ְר ַעץ‬Your right hand) crushed’ (v. 6); ‫‘ ַּת ֲהר ֹס‬You overthrew’, ‫‘ ְּת ַׁש ַּלח‬You sent out’, ‫אכ ֵלמֹו‬ ְ ֹ‫י‬ ‘(Yhwh’s fury) consumed them’ (v. 7); ‫(‘ ִּת ְב ָל ֵעמֹו‬the earth) swallowed them’ (v. 12); ‫אחזֵ מֹו‬ ֲ ֹ ‫(‘ י‬fear) seized them’ (v. 15); ‫(‘ ִּתּפֹל‬terror) fell (upon)’, ‫(‘ יִ ְּדמּו‬the inhabitants of Canaan) became still’ (v. 16); and ‫‘ ְּת ִב ֵאמֹו‬You brought them’, ‫‘ וְ ִת ָּט ֵעמֹו‬and You planted them’ (v. 17). Therefore these forms may be interpreted as the reflex of NWS preterite *yaqtul. But it is equally possible to take them as the reflex of NWS imperfective *yaqtulu, which functions as the historical present. This is evident in ‫(‘ יִ ְרּגָ זּון‬the nations) trembled’ (v. 14): the paragogic nun presupposes an underlying imperfective. In either case, the events are presented as the main events. The other occurrences of yiqtol in Exodus 15 are reflexes of NWS imperfective *yaqtulu and express the present-future, mostly with some modal nuance: ‫‘ וְ ַאנְ וֵ הּו‬I will praise Him’, ‫‘ וַ ֲאר ְֹמ ֶמנְ הּו‬I will exalt Him’ (v. 2); ‫‘ ֶא ְרּד ֹף‬I will pursue’, ‫‘ ַא ִּׂשיג‬I will overtake’, ‫‘ ֲא ַח ֵּלק‬I will divide’, ‫ִּת ְמ ָל ֵאמֹו‬ ‘(my desire) will have its fill of them’, ‫‘ ָא ִריק‬I will unsheath’, ‫יׁשמֹו‬ ֵ ‫ּתֹור‬ ִ ‘(my hand) will disinherit them’ (v. 9); ‫(‘ יַ ֲעבֹר‬until Your people) cross over’ (v. 16); and ‫יִמֹלְך‬ ְ ‘(Yhwh) will reign’ (v. 18). The form ‫‘ ָא ִׁש ָירה‬I will sing’ (v. 1) is a normal cohortative.

Archaic Biblical Hebrew


The perfect, as expected, refers to the current relevance of a past event (its translation value is often very close to the English present perfect): ‫ּגָ ָאה‬ ‘(Yhwh) has triumphed’, ‫‘ ָר ָמה‬He has thrown’ (v. 1); ‫‘ יָ ָרה‬He has hurled’, ‫(‘ ֻט ְּבעּו‬Pharaoh’s officers) have been sunk’ (v. 4); ‫‘ יָ ְרדּו‬they have gone down’ (v. 5); ‫(‘ נֶ ֶע ְרמּו‬the waters) stood piled up’, ‫(‘ נִ ְּצבּו‬the floods) stood up erect’, ‫(‘ ָק ְפאּו‬the deeps) have become congealed’ (v. 8); ‫(‘ ָא ַמר‬the enemy) has said’ (v. 9); ‫‘ נָ ַׁש ְפ ָּת‬You have blown’, ‫(‘ ִּכ ָּסמֹו‬the sea) has fully covered them’, ‫‘ ָצ ֲללּו‬they sank’ (v. 10); ‫ית‬ ָ ‫‘ נָ ִט‬You hold (Your right hand) extended’ (v. 12); ‫ית‬ ָ ‫‘ נָ ִח‬You have led’, ‫‘ ּגָ ָא ְל ָּת‬You have redeemed’, ‫‘ נֵ ַה ְל ָּת‬You have guided’ (v. 13); ‫(‘ ָׁש ְמעּו‬the nations) have heard’, ‫(‘ ָא ַחז‬pain) has seized’ (v. 14); ‫(‘ נִ ְב ֲהלּו‬the chiefs of Edom) became dismayed’, ‫(‘ נָ מֹגּו‬the inhabitants of Canaan) melted away’ (v. 15); ‫ית‬ ָ ִ‫‘ ָקנ‬You have acquired’ (v. 16); and ‫‘ ָּפ ַע ְל ָּת‬You have made’ (v. 17). These provide background information to the main events described by yiqtol. NWS volitive *yaqtul-a survives in Hebrew only in the first person, both singular and plural—that is, the forms traditionally called cohortative— ʾeqtəlâ and niqtəlâ. The cohortative, the jussive, and the imperative form the injunctive paradigm in Hebrew: the cohortative for the first person, the imperative for the second, and the jussive for the third and negated second persons. This complementary distribution seems to be operative in ABH. In SBH the imperative is also found in the lengthened form with -â. This ending may be explained as reanalysis of the cohortative as first-person imperfect expressing volition followed by -â. This ending is then also extended by analogy to the imperative producing the long imperative. In ABH, this long imperative occurs only in the Oracles of Balaam. In NWS there were also two sets of energic forms associated with the prefix conjugations: the long *yaqtulanna, and the short *yaqtulan. The long energic was reanalyzed in Hebrew as the short energic followed by an enclitic *-na, written ‫נָ א‬-, which follows the cohortative and the long imperative (as well as the presentative ‫הּנֵ ה‬, ִ the prohibitive ‫אל‬, ַ and conditional ‫‘ ִאם‬if’). The specific function of this enclitic is unclear: some think it marks deference or entreaty, and others think it signals logical consequence. In ABH, the enclitic occurs only in the Oracles of Balaam. The NWS short energic, *yaqtulan, survives in SBH in the imperfect with pronominal suffixes: *yaqtulan-nī, -anka (> -akka), -anhu (> -annu), -anha (> -anna), with the stress on the original energic suffix. With the first-person suffix, for example, *-ánnī shifted to *-ínnī and, finally, ‫אנִ י‬ֶ -énnî. This series of suffixes is labeled in grammars as pronominal


Chapter 2

suffixes with “energic nun,” used exclusively with the imperfect. There are several places in ABH where the he of the third-person masc. sing. has not assimilated to the nun: ‫‘ וַ ֲאר ְֹמ ֶמנְ הּו‬and I shall exalt Him’ (Exod 15:2) and ‫‘ יְ ֽסֹ ְב ֶבנְ הּו יְבֹונְ נֵ הּו יִ ְּצ ֶרנְ הּו‬He shielded him, cared for him, guarded him’ (Deut 32:10). Other anomalous features found in the ABH verbal system can be explained as retentions of an earlier system. The form ‫(‘ יְ ַכ ְסיֻ מּו‬the floods) covered them’ (Exod 15:5) shows the retention of the final yod of the root ‫*כס״י‬. In SBH, the yod has disappeared almost entirely (see GKC §§75u, dd; for the retention of final waw, see GKC §75b). The second-person fem. sing. verbal affix -tî in the perfect—‫בֹורה‬ ָ ‫‘ ַעד ַש ַק ְמ ִתי ְד‬until you stood up, O Deborah’ (Judg 5:7)—contrasts with the normal SBH fem. sing. affix -t (SBH ‫)*ק ְמ ְת‬. ַ Other anomalous examples are: third-person fem. sing. ‫ָאזְ ַלת‬ ‘she is gone’ (Deut 32:36), instead of ‫;*אזְ ָלה‬ ָ or third-person fem. pl. ‫ָבֹנות‬ ‫(‘ ָצ ֲע ָדה‬his) branches run over (the wall)’ (Gen 49:22), rather than ‫*צ ֲעדּו‬. ָ The fact that the NWS second-person fem. sing. *-tî, third-person fem. sing. *-at, and third-person fem. pl. *-ā are retained in Old Aramaic does not necessarily provide evidence that these ABH forms are Aramaisms. In a few cases, pronominal suffixes in ABH are different from the classical form. Thus instead of third-person masc. pl. ‫הם‬ֶ or ‫ם‬-, ABH sometimes uses ‫ֹמו‬-, both with the imperfect—e.g., ‫אכ ֵלמֹו‬ ְ ֹ ‫‘ י‬it consumed them’ (Exod 15:7; see also vv. 5 [vocalized as -mû], 9 [bis], 12, 15, 17 [bis])—and the perfect ‫‘ ִכ ָסמֹו‬it covered them’ (Exod 15:10). Although in Exod 15 this suffix occurs only with verbs, in Deut 32 it is used only with nouns, as in ‫ֹלהימֹו‬ ֵ ‫‘ ֱא‬their gods’ (Deut 32:37; see also vv. 27, 32, 38; Deut 33:29). Whether this distribution is more than a coincidence awaits further scrutiny. The forms might reflect the following development: NWS *-humū became *-himmā by analogy to the fem. pl. *-hinnā and then participated in the Canaanite shift and was replaced by *-himmō; later, this form was shortened into -mō and written ‫ֹמו‬-. The use of this form in later poetic passages reflects an archaizing tendency (with verbs, see GKC §58g; with nouns, GKC §91l[3]; also with prepositions, GKC §103f n. 3; cf. Robertson 1972: 65–69). For the archaic writing of the third-person masc. sing. pronominal suffix as ‫ׂה‬- instead of ‫ֹו‬-, see p. 21, above. ABH also exhibits a long form of the preposition ‫‘ ְּכ‬like’, as in ‫מֹו־א ֶבן‬ ָ ‫ְּכ‬ ‘like stone’ (Exod 15:5) and ‫‘ ְכמֹו־נֵ ד‬like a wall’ (Exod 15:8). The long

Archaic Biblical Hebrew


form is paralleled in Ugaritic. Its ending is not be confused with the thirdperson masc. pl. suffix. Long forms of the preposition ‫‘ ַעל‬upon’, are also found in ABH before nouns, as in ‫ ֲע ֵלי־א ַֹרח‬. . . ‫י־ד ֶרְך‬ ֶ ‫‘ ֲע ֵל‬on the way . . . on the path’ (Gen 49:17; see also v. 22 [bis]; Num 24:6; Deut 32:2 [bis]). SBH normally uses the short form, although the long form is the base to which pronominal suffixes are attached. The use of the masc. sing. demonstratives ‫זֶ ה‬, ‫זֹו‬, and ‫ זּו‬as relatives is another feature of ABH: e.g., ‫‘ יְ הוָ ה זֶ ה ִסינַ י‬Yhwh, the One of Sinai’ (Judg 5:5), ‫ֹלהים זֶ ה ִסינַ י‬ ִ ‫‘ ֱא‬God, the One of Sinai’ (Ps 68:9), and ‫ית‬ ָ ִ‫‘ ַעם־זּו ָקנ‬the people whom You acquired’ (Exod 15:16). A similar use of the cognate demonstrative pronoun is found in Ugaritic and retained in Aramaic throughout its development. This suggests that the usage in ABH represents the stage of the language where the demonstrative had not been completely replaced by ‫( ֲא ֶׁשר‬e.g., Gen 49:1; Num 24:4; Deut 32:38; 33:8). On the other hand, the appearance of the relative -‫ ַש‬in ‫בֹורה‬ ָ ‫‘ ַעד ַש ַק ְמ ִתי ְד‬until you arose, O Deborah’ (Judg 5:7) has been explained as a northern trait, as against SBH ‫א ֶׁשר‬, ֲ which resurfaced in Late Biblical Hebrew. In two Dead Sea Scrolls (Copper Scroll [3Q15] and 4QMMT [4Q394–399]) and in Tannaitic Hebrew, -‫ ש‬is the standard relative (Kutscher 1982: 32, 80).

Lexicon It is not possible to isolate a unique ABH lexicon; all ABH words recur in other parts of the Hebrew Bible. There is, however, some preference for rare words. Sáenz-Badillos (2007: 55–56) gives a list of roots occurring in ABH that seldom appear in other corpora, such as ‫( אז״ן‬hiphil) ‘to hear’ vs. ‫שמ״ע‬, ‫‘ את״ה‬to come’ vs. ‫בו״א‬, ‫‘ די״ן‬to judge’ vs. ‫שפ״ט‬, ‫‘ זע״ם‬to be furious’ vs. ‫כע״ס‬, ‫ ( חו״ה‬piel ) ‘to tell, say’ vs. ‫אמ״ר‬, ‫‘ חז״ה‬to see’ vs. ‫רא״ה‬, ‫‘ נג״ה‬to shine’ vs. ‫או״ר‬, ‫‘ מח״ץ‬to smite’ vs. ‫( נכ״ה‬hiphil), ‫‘ פע״ל‬to do’ vs. ‫עש״ה‬, ‫‘ צע״ד‬to step’ vs. ‫הל״ך‬, ‫‘ שע״ר‬to know’ vs. ‫יד״ע‬, and ‫‘ שת״ל‬to transplant’ vs. ‫נט״ע‬. The list also includes the following nominal forms: ‫‘ א ֶֹמר‬word’ vs. ‫ּד ָבר‬,ָ ‫‘ א ַֹרח‬way’ vs. ‫ּד ֶרְך‬,ֶ ‫ ּגֶ ֶבר‬and ‫‘ ֱאנֹוש‬man’ vs. ‫א ָדם‬, ָ ‫ָחרּוץ‬ and ‫‘ ַּפז‬gold’ vs. ‫זָ ָהב‬, ‫‘ ֶח ֶמר‬wine’ vs. ‫יַ יִ ן‬, ‫‘ ֶט ֶרף‬food’ vs. ‫א ֶֹכל‬, ‫‘ ַּכ ִּביר‬big’ vs. ‫ּגָ דֹול‬, ‫‘ ר ֹזְ נִ ים‬chiefs’ vs. ‫ׂש ִרים‬, ָ ‫‘ סּות‬dress’ vs. ‫לבּוׁש‬,ְ and ‫‘ ָׂש ַדי‬field’ vs. ‫ׂש ֶדה‬. ָ Nevertheless, since the words are also found elsewhere, albeit rarely, they may simply indicate dialectal preference or poetic register.


Chapter 2

Bibliography Cross, Frank Moore, and Freedman, David Noel 1952 Early Hebrew Orthography: A Study of the Epigraphic Evidence. American Oriental Series 36. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society. 1975 Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 21. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press. Fassberg, Steven E. 2013 Two Biblical Hebrew Sound Laws in the Light of Modern Spoken Semitic. Pp. 95–100 in Nicht nur mit Engelzungen: Beiträge zur semitischen Dialek­ tologie. Festschrift für Werner Arnold zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Renaud J. Kuty, Ulrich Seeger, and Shabo Talay. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Freedman, David Noel 1960 Archaic Forms in Early Hebrew Poetry. Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 72: 101–7. 1972 Some Observations on Early Hebrew. Biblica 53: 413–20. Garr, W. Randall 1985 Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1000–586 B.C.E. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Reprinted, Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2004. Gianto, Agustinus 1996 Variations in Biblical Hebrew. Biblica 77: 493–508. GKC Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, ed. E. Kautzsch. 2nd English translation by A. E. Cowley. Oxford: Clarendon, 1910. Gogel, Sarah L. A Grammar of Epigraphic Hebrew. Society of Biblical Literature Resources for Biblical Study 23. Atlanta: Scholars Press. Harris, Zellig S. Development of the Canaanite Dialects: An Investigation in Linguistic History. American Oriental Series 16. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society. Hurvitz, Avi 1973 Linguistic Criteria for Dating Problematic Biblical Texts. Hebrew Abstracts 14: 74–79. 2003 Hebrew and Aramaic in the Biblical Period: The Problem of “Aramaisms” in Linguistic Research on the Hebrew Bible. Pp. 24–37 in Biblical Hebrew: Studies in Chronology and Typology, ed. Ian Young. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 369. New York: T. & T. Clark. Kim, Dong-Hyuk 2013 Early Biblical Hebrew, Late Biblical Hebrew, and Linguistic Variability: A Sociolinguistic Evaluation of the Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 156. Leiden: Brill. Kutscher, Eduard Yechezkel 1982 A History of the Hebrew Language, ed. Raphael Kutscher. Leiden: Brill / Jerusalem: Magnes.

Archaic Biblical Hebrew


Mandel, Alice 2013 Biblical Hebrew, Archaic. Pp. 325–29 in vol. 1 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill. Moran, William L. 1961 The Hebrew Language in Its Northwest Semitic Background. Pp. 54–72 in The Bible and the Ancient Near East: Essays in Honor of William Foxwell Albright, ed. G. Ernest Wright. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Notarius, Tania 2013 The Verb in Archaic Biblical Poetry: A Discursive, Typological, and Historical Investigation of the Tense System. Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 68. Leiden: Brill. Rendsburg, Gary A. 2003 A Comprehensive Guide to Israelian Hebrew: Grammar and Lexicon. Orient 38: 5–35. Renz, Johannes 2003 Materialen zur althebräischen Morphologie. Pp. 3–78 in vol. II/2 of Hand­ buch der althebräischen Epigraphik, by Johannes Renz and Wolfgang Röllig. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. Robertson, David A. 1972 Linguistic Evidence in Dating Early Hebrew Poetry. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 3. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press. Sáenz-Badillos, Ángel 1993 A History of the Hebrew Language, trans. John Elwolde. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2007 Storia della lingua ebraica, trans. Piero Capelli. Introduzione allo studio della Bibbia Supplementi 34. Brescia: Paideia. Sanders, Seth L. 2009 The Invention of Hebrew. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Sivan, Daniel 1998 The Gezer Calendar and Northwest Semitic Linguistics. Israel Exploration Journal 48: 101–5. Waltke, Bruce K., and O’Connor, M. 1990 An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.

Chapter 3

Transitional Biblical Hebrew A aron D. H ornkohl

The Speech Community Transitional Biblical Hebrew (= TrBH), like Biblical Hebrew (= BH) more generally, was not the language of a specific speech community. It was rather a heterogeneous historical layer of the ancient Hebrew literary register as reflected in certain works of the Hebrew Bible, representing various genres (narrative, poetry, prophecy, hortatory rhetoric), writers of diverse vocations (historian, prophet, poet), and several regional contexts (principally Judah and Babylon). TrBH is a term of convenience, since in reality this stage of ancient Hebrew is no more “transitional” than the language’s other historical strata. Each was a phase in the perpetual process of evolution between preceding and successive stages. TrBH’s uniquely transitional label owes to the fact that it would appear to link the two more well-defined historical stages known as Standard (or Classical) Biblical Hebrew (= SBH) and Late Biblical Hebrew (= LBH). The label also reflects the perspective according to which SBH is viewed as the norm. This is justified not only because a majority of the Bible is written in SBH but because later writers evidently considered it a literary standard worthy of emulation. Stated simply, TrBH refers to the historical stratum of BH that links pre-exilic SBH and post-Restoration LBH. Since material written in SBH is generally dated to the period 1000–600 BCE—that is, from the period of the Israelite monarchy to the time of the Babylonian Exile in 586 BCE— and LBH proper is reflected in biblical texts from after 450 BCE, TrBH is defined as the language of biblical material written over the approximately 150 years from the close of the First Temple period through the years of 31


Chapter 3

the Exile and into the Restoration—that is, ca. 600–450 BCE (more generally on BH periodization, see Hornkohl 2013; for a sustained, but highly problematic, critique of BH periodization methods and results, especially as they apply to the dating of biblical texts, see Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008; Rezetko and Young 2014). It is commonly understood that LBH material reveals remarkable concentrations of linguistic affinities with late extra-Biblical Hebrew sources, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ben Sira, Tannaitic literature, and with various Second Temple Aramaic corpora. By way of illustration, whether native to Aramaic or borrowed therein, ‫‘ ִאּגֶ ֶרת‬letter’ (e.g., 2 Chr 30:1, 6), ‫‘ ָא ַחז‬to close, lock’ (Neh 7:3; a calque of Aramaic ‫)א ַחד‬, ֲ and ‫‘ זְ ַמן‬time’ (e.g., Esth 9:27, 31) are clear Aramaisms in Hebrew (in some cases also characteristic of post-Biblical Hebrew); the spellings and pronunciations of proper names like ‫‘ ָּדוִ יד‬David’ (chiefly in Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zechariah) (for ‫)ּדוִ ד‬, ָ ‫רּוׁש ַליִ ם‬ ָ ְ‫‘ י‬Jerusalem’ (Jer 26:18; Esth 2:6; 1 Chr 4:5; 2 Chr 25:1; 32:9) (for ִ‫רּוׁש ַלם‬ ָ ְ‫)י‬, ‫ׁשּוע‬ ַ ֵ‫‘ י‬Yeshua’ (Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles) (for ‫הֹוׁש ַע‬ ֻ ְ‫)י‬, and ‫‘ ַּד ְר ֶמ ֶׂשק‬Damascus’ (2 Chr 16:2; 24:23; 28:5, 23) (for ‫ ַ)ּד ֶּמ ֶׂשק‬connect LBH to later Hebrew (and, often, Aramaic) strata; and elements such as ‫‘ ִמ ְד ָרׁש‬account’ (2 Chr 13:22; 24:27), ‫‘ ַּת ֲענִ ית‬affliction, fast’ (Ezra 9:5), ‫‘ ַה ָּת ִמיד‬the perpetual, daily (sacrifice)’ (Dan 11:31), and ‫ַל ֲעׂשֹות‬ ‫‘ יֹום טֹוב‬celebrate as a holiday’ (Esth 9:19) anticipate Tannaitic Hebrew. These and similar features represent both inner-Hebrew developments and the results of external influence, especially that of Imperial Aramaic, not to mention indirect Akkadian influence via Aramaic: e.g., the Babylonian month names ‫יסן‬ ָ ִ‫‘ נ‬Nisan’ (Esther; Nehemiah), ‫‘ ִסוָ ן‬Sivan’ (Esther), ‫ֱאלּול‬ ‘Elul’ (Nehemiah), ‫‘ ִּכ ְס ֵל(י)ו‬Kislev’ (Zechariah; Nehemiah), ‫‘ ֵט ֵבת‬Tevet’ (Esther), ‫‘ ְׁש ָבט‬Shevat’ (Zechariah), and ‫‘ ֲא ָדר‬Adar’ (Esther; Ezra). Aramaic also mediates Persian loanwords into LBH: e.g., administrative terms such as ‫‘ ּגִ זְ ָּבר‬treasurer’ (Ezra), ‫ּגֶ נֶ ז‬/‫( *ּגְ נַ ז‬Esther) and ‫ ּגַ נְ זַ ְך‬both ‘treasury’ (Chronicles), and ‫‘ ָּדת‬edict’ (Esther; Ezra).

The Corpus In accordance with conventional assessments (see, generally, Driver 1898; Hurvitz 1983), the TrBH corpus is thought to consist of Isaiah 40–66 (Paul 2012), Jeremiah (Smith 2003; Hornkohl 2014a), Ezekiel (Hurvitz 1982; Rooker 1990), Haggai (Shin 2007; Rendsburg 2012), Zechariah (Hill 1982; Shin 2007), Malachi (Hill 1982; Shin 2007), and Lamentations

Transitional Biblical Hebrew


(Dobbs-Allsopp 1998); the language of 2 Kgs 24–25 also bears traits of TrBH, and there is some evidence that the second half of Kings has a later linguistic profile than the first half (see below). The earliest evidence for these books consists of multiple, though often fragmentary, Hebrew manuscripts from the Judean Desert dating to the period of the third century BCE–first century CE. Later, albeit indirect, evidence is offered by the Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Aramaic translations of the following centuries. The description below is based on the Tiberian Masoretic consonantal text and vocalization, here represented by the Leningrad Codex (B19a), dated to 1009 CE. There is much that unifies the corpus. Understandably, TrBH is different from both SBH and LBH. Unlike SBH, there is an accumulation of characteristically late linguistic usages: e.g., an increased use of ‫ְק ָטל‬ nominal forms like ‫‘ יְ ָקר‬glory’, ‫‘ ְּכ ָתב‬writing’, ‫‘ ְמנָ ת‬portion, lot’, and ‫ְק ָרב‬ ‘battle, war’. Unlike LBH, there are only traces of features later to become common in LBH and/or in post-biblical sources. For example, while Jeremiah continues to employ the classical terms ‫‘ ַמ ְמ ָל ָכה‬kingdom, reign’ (20 times) and ‫לּוכה‬ ָ ‫‘ ְמ‬kingdom, reign’ (1 time) as well as the infinitive construct -‫מ ְלכ‬/‫ֹלְך‬ ָ ‫‘ ְמ‬reign, rule’, there are also three occurrences of ‫ַמ ְלכּות‬ ‘kingdom, rule’ in the book (Jer 10:7; 49:34; 52:31); ‫מ ְלכּות‬, ַ of course, is frequent in LBH proper. Some TrBH works also exhibit admixtures of classical and post-classical style not characteristic of LBH proper, like the continued but conditioned use of ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬alongside ‫ ֲאנִ י‬for the first-person sing. pronoun, the former of which is all but absent from LBH and the Mishnah, and the preservation of the preposition ‫‘ ֵאת‬with’, which falls into disuse in the face of increased employment of ‫ ִעם‬in later stages of the language (on both phenomena, see below). Grammatical innovations are common. To a lesser extent than in LBH, lexical neologisms are also found: e.g., ‫ַרב‬ ‘officer, noble’ (for ‫)ׂשר‬, ַ ‫הּודי‬ ִ ְ‫‘ י‬Judahite, Judean, Jew’ (for ‫‘ ִע ְב ִרי‬Hebrew’), and ‫‘ ַמ ֲע ָרב‬west’ (for ‫יָמה‬, ָ lit., ‘seaward’) (see below). Significantly, unlike many LBH works, TrBH compositions do not employ Persian lexemes, despite explicit references to Persian historical figures (e.g., Isa 45; Hag 1; Zech 1).

Orthography The relevance of spelling conventions to the dating of biblical texts is a debated issue. It is widely agreed that ancient Hebrew orthography became


Chapter 3

more plene—that is, fuller—with time, so that later texts exhibit more extensive usage than earlier texts of matres lectionis—that is, consonants used to mark vowel sounds, especially medial long vowels. This trend is clear in extra-biblical material and is generally borne out in recent studies of biblical orthography as well (Andersen and Forbes 1986, 2013; Forbes and Andersen 2012; Hornkohl 2014b). However, no biblical text, no matter how early, exhibits orthography as defective as that found in the pre-exilic Hebrew inscriptional corpus. Accordingly, either the entire biblical text is later than the pre-exilic inscriptional corpus or, more likely, it underwent some form of orthographic revision that has blurred the earlier orthographic picture and has presumably brought spelling into line with later conventions. Despite this state of affairs, striking cases of orthographic development are still discernible. One case involves the name ‘David’. The full spelling ‫ דויד‬appears only five times in SBH texts (1 Kgs 3:14; 11:4, 36; Amos 6:5; 9:11); by contrast, defective ‫ דוד‬is attested 680 times in the books of Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos. The full form dominates in LBH, with 272 cases against 1 occurrence of ‫ דוד‬in Qoh 1:1. For their part, the TrBH books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, in which the ratio of full to defective spellings is 7 : 18, appear to document the advance of the late spelling, with each book exhibiting a ratio that ranges from classical (Jeremiah 0 : 15) through intermediate (Ezekiel 1 : 3) to characteristically late (Zechariah 6 : 0). Still, these books may all be classified as transitional only in light of their overall linguistic profiles. A second case involves numerals. Plene forms of ‘three’—‫( שלוש‬for ‫ )שלש‬and ‫( שלושה‬for ‫—)שלשה‬and ‘thirty’—‫( שלושים‬for ‫—)שלשים‬are found in 46 of 59 cases in LBH or other material characterized by a postclassical linguistic profile. Of the four attestations of these numerals in the narrative framework of Job, two are plene; of a sum total of 16 attestations of these numerals in Esther, 7 are plene; of eight attestations in Daniel, four are plene; and of 117 attestations in Chronicles, 33 are plene. Only seven examples of the same appear in SBH or in material of undetermined date: Num 22:32; Deut 16:16; 19:2; Josh 15:14; 2 Sam 14:27; Prov 30:15, 21; and Job 33:29. The only significant accumulation of plene forms outside of LBH comes, as might be expected, in a TrBH work, specifically Ezekiel, where 5 cases in 15 have full orthography (Ezek 40:11, 21; 41:6,

Transitional Biblical Hebrew


22; 48:31). These and other late plene phenomena begin occurring with relative frequency in TrBH sources (Hornkohl 2014b).

Phonetics Our knowledge of the phonetic realization of TrBH, like that of BH in general, is indirect and based on copies of the relevant texts and reading traditions from much later periods, among which there is some variety. While the pronunciation preserved in such sources may well have its roots in the Second Temple period—that is, the period during which the texts in question were composed—the reconstruction of earlier phonetic inventories remains conjectural. Such developments as the merger of *ḫ (IPA [χ]) and *ḥ (IPA [ħ]) into ‫ח‬, of *ġ (IPA [ʁ]) and *ʿ (IPA [ʕ]) into ‫ע‬, and the post-vocalic fricativization of ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬consonants may or may not have been in progress during the transitional period. The consonantal orthography does not reveal the realization of ‫ ח‬and ‫ע‬, and the Tiberian vocalization presents a virtually uniform realization of ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬throughout the Bible, regardless of the underlying historical stage. In neither case can any trace of historical development be discerned within BH.

Phonology Due to the mainly consonantal nature of ancient Hebrew orthography and to the rather uniform vocalization tradition with which it is overlaid in medieval manuscripts, relatively few instances of clear phonological development can be discerned. One important exception involves the spelling and pronunciation of the place name ‘Jerusalem’. Its consonantal spelling in the Hebrew Bible is at odds with its pronunciation according to the Tiberian reading tradition. The name is nearly always spelled ‫ירושלם‬, in which the last syllable was presumably pronounced [lem] or [lim], but has had the vocalization [yərūšɔ̄layim] superimposed on it; against Hebrew orthographic convention, the lamed of ִ‫רּוׁש ַלם‬ ָ ְ‫ י‬is marked with both a- and i-vowels. The alternate, and orthographically more predictable, spelling suggested by the Tiberian reading tradition has a yod after the lamed; the consonant marks a glide in the triphthong [ayi] (as in ‫רּוׁש ַליִ ם‬ ָ ְ‫[ י‬Jer 26:18; Esth 2:6; 1 Chr 3:5; 2 Chr 25:1; 32:9]) or the diphthong [ay] (as in ‫יְ רּו־‬ ‫‘ ָׁש ַליְ ָמה‬to Jerusalem’ [2 Chr 32:9]). This orthography is thus rare in BH but becomes common in the Dead Sea Scrolls and thereafter. Crucially,


Chapter 3

however, both spellings are historically authentic. Pronunciation according to the consonantal spelling—that is, without the glide—is supported by both biblical evidence (‫‘ ָׁש ֵלם‬Salem’ in Gen 14:18 and Ps 76:3) and extrabiblical evidence (pronunciation of the name in cognate languages and in transcription in non-cognate languages). The corresponding spelling without yod also persists in later sources. Of the five occurrences in the Bible, four appear in LBH (see above), and the sole biblical case of the spelling representing the characteristically late pronunciation outside LBH proper is the TrBH forerunner in Jer 26:18 (Hornkohl 2014a: 91–95). Another case of differential orthography appears in the theophoric suffix of names such as ‘Elijah’, ‘Isaiah’, and ‘Jeremiah’. The short form, ‫יָ ה‬-, occurs sporadically in pre-exilic extra-biblical sources and somewhat more frequently in biblical texts thought to be pre-exilic; the long form, ‫יָ הּו‬-, dominates in both the inscriptions and in pre-exilic biblical texts, e.g., Isa 1–39. In post-exilic biblical and extra-biblical material, the short form is the rule, while the long form is an archaism reserved principally for the names of well-known First Temple personages (Kutscher 1982: 60–62, 94; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 121, 134; Shin 2007: 101–14; Hornkohl 2014a: 83–91). TrBH material reveals mixed tendencies. Unlike the core LBH material, the books of Kings and Jeremiah appear to show similarly strong preferences for the classical long form (which outnumbers the short form by an approximate ratio of 3 : 1). Notably, however, the abbreviated ending is more than twice as common in the second half of Kings as in the first half. Likewise, in the first half of Jeremiah, which contains a great deal of first-person poetic material attributed by many to the prophet himself, names with the long theophoric suffix appear 50 times, whereas the short suffix appears thrice and only in the editorial heading in Jer 21:1. Yet, the short form is much more common in the second, biographical half of the book, especially in chapters 27–29 and 41. Thus, the name of the book’s protagonist, ‘Jeremiah’, is spelled 122 ‫ יִ ְר ְמיָ הּו‬times, while the alternate spelling ‫יִ ְר ְמיָ ה‬, otherwise known only from LBH and late extra-biblical sources, appears only 9 times in Jeremiah. The latter is confined to chapters 27–29, where short names outnumber long names by a ratio of 34 : 8 (over against a ratio of 49 : 232 in the rest of the book). For its part, in the apparently later TrBH book of Zechariah, with its terminus a quo of 520 BCE, short outnumber long forms 12 : 1 (see the relevant names in Jer 26, 27, 41; Zech 1; and Mal 3).

Transitional Biblical Hebrew


Morphology Pronouns.  SBH texts use ‫אנכי‬, ‫אני‬, or a combination of both forms for the first-person independent subject pronoun ‘I’. In LBH proper and postBiblical Hebrew, ‫ אנכי‬has fallen into virtual disuse, probably in line with vernacular speech patterns, as reflected in Tannaitic Hebrew. The influence of Aramaic, which has only a parallel to ‫אני‬, may also have had a hand in this development. This situation is also typical of TrBH material: Kings, Second Isaiah, and Zechariah show strong preferences for ‫ ;אני‬in Ezekiel, Lamentations, and Haggai, use of the short form is exclusive or nearly so. Among TrBH books, only Jeremiah employs the long form with any frequency. But here its use is conditioned and archaistic: of the 37 cases of the long form, 35 are placed in the mouth of God. These are comparable to the three instances of the long form in LBH proper, all of which may be explained as archaisms: Dan 10:11 comes in divine speech; Neh 1:6 is part of a prayer; and 1 Chr 17:1 reflects the form of the source in 2 Sam 7:1–2 (Rooker 1990: 72–74; Shin 2007: 23–26; Hornkohl 2014a: 108–11). There are also unique forms that evidently developed by popular analogy and are never again documented in the language: e.g., the fem. sing. demonstrative ‫‘ זאתה‬this’ (Jer 26:6 [kətiv]) (for ‫)זֹאת‬, with its transparently feminine suffix ‫ה‬-. Whether ‫ת‬- marks feminine gender or deixis, ‫ זאתה‬appears to have developed out of the perceived need for more conspicuous feminine concord (Smith 2003: 79–81; Hornkohl 2014a: 145–47). A different situation applies to forms of the third-person masc. pl. possessive suffix on plural nouns ending in ‫ות‬-. In contrast to ‫ֹותם‬-, ָ the redundantly plural ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ֹות‬ֵ is relatively rare in SBH, common but not dominant in TrBH (e.g., Isa 59:7–8), and dominant in LBH. For example, of its 107 attestations in the Bible, ‫ֹ(ו)תם‬ ָ ‫ ֲאב‬appears 16 times in TrBH and 15 times in LBH proper. ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ֹ(ו)ת‬ ֵ ‫ ֲאב‬appears a total of 33 times, of which 29 are in LBH; the 4 remaining cases are 1 Kgs 14:15 and Jer 19:4, 24:10, and 50:7 (Hurvitz 1982: 24–27; Bar-Asher 2004; Hornkohl 2014a: 135–42). Noun.  Post-classical texts reveal a tendency to pluralize nouns that are commonly used in the singular in classical texts (Polzin 1976: 42–43; Rooker 1990: 75–77; Paul 2012: 298; Hornkohl 2014a: 298–305). For example, ‫(‘ ֲחיָ ִלים‬military) forces’ (e.g., 2 Kgs 25:23, 26; Jer 41:11, 13, 16) and ‫עֹול ִמים‬ ָ ‘eternity’ (e.g., Isa 45:17) are found predominantly in TrBH and LBH contexts, as well as in post-biblical sources.


Chapter 3

Certain nominal patterns especially characteristic of Aramaic also begin occurring with some frequency in TrBH and LBH texts: e.g., the infinitival ‫ ַק ָּט ָלה‬template seen in ‫‘ ַּב ָּק ָרה‬seeking’ (Ezek 34:12). Verb.  An apparent Aramaism occurs in ‫אותינּו ָענְ ָתה ָּבנּו‬ ֵ ֹ ‫‘ וְ ַחּט‬and our sins testify against us’ (Isa 59:12), where a feminine plural noun serves as the subject of what appears to be a third-person fem. sing. verbal form (cf. ‫ ענוא‬in 1QIsaa 48:24, in which the verbal form has been “standardized” to reflect a third-person masc. pl.). This phenomenon occurs sporadically in Archaic and Standard BH, where it is often explained as a genuinely archaic or perhaps just archaistic use of the old Canaanite third-person fem. pl. form (preserved, e.g., in Arabic and some dialects of Aramaic, including qəre forms in Biblical Aramaic), but in late pre-exilic, exilic, and post-exilic texts the usage is better explained as what Kutscher (1982: 38–39) termed a “mirage form” under the influence of Imperial Aramaic. This feature is not common in any stratum of ancient Hebrew, including late texts, where, to be sure, the prevailing tendency was to eliminate fem. pl. verbal forms. Traces of late developments, such as the reanalysis of ‫‘ ָחיָ ה‬to live’ in wəqatal as a final weak (rather than geminate) form (Hurvitz 1982: 46–48; Hornkohl 2014a: 181–86) and the conjugation of piel middle weak verbs after the pattern of strong verbs (Hurvitz 1982: 32–35), occur sporadically in TrBH but are more typical of LBH. The former phenomenon is conveniently exemplified in renditions of the Priestly dictum ‘by doing which (things) a man shall live’: ‫ָּב ֶהם‬ ‫ָּב ֶהם‬ ‫בהם‬ ‫ָּב ֶהם‬ ‫בהם‬

‫וָ ַחי‬ ‫וָ ַחי‬ ‫וחיה‬ ‫וָ ָחיָ ה‬ ‫וחיה‬ ‫וחיה‬

‫ָה ָא ָדם‬ ‫ָה ָא ָדם‬ ‫האדם‬ ‫ָה ָא ָדם‬ ‫האדם‬ ‫אדם‬

‫א ָֹתם‬ ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫אתם‬

‫יַ ֲע ֶׂשה‬ ‫יַ ֲע ֶׂשה‬ ‫יעשה‬ ‫יַ ֲע ֶׂשה‬ ‫יעשה‬ ‫עשה‬֯

‫ֲא ֶׁשר‬ ‫ֲא ֶׁשר‬ ‫אשר‬ ‫ֲא ֶׁשר‬ ‫אשר‬ ‫אשר‬

Lev 18:5, 11, 13, 21 (MT) Ezek 20:11, 13, 21 (MT) Lev 18:5, 11, 13, 21 (SP) Neh 9:29 (MT) CD III 15–16 4QDa (4Q266) 11 12

Significantly, Ezekiel makes use of the classical form when quoting the Priestly tradition, but elsewhere (e.g., Ezek 33:11) shows signs characteristic of LBH and later linguistic strata. The same is true of Jeremiah. Likewise, the piel form ‫קּיֵ ם‬, ִ typical of LBH and post-Biblical Hebrew, appears in Ezek 13:6 in reference to the fulfillment of prophecy (cf. similar usages in Pss 119:28, 106; Ruth 4:7 [see Driver 1898: 454–55, judging this case

Transitional Biblical Hebrew


to be part of a late explanatory gloss]; and Esth 9:21–31), but the classical hiphil form, used of establishing covenants, installing leaders, raising up a shield, and bestowing agricultural land, is more frequent in Ezekiel. Finally, a gradual realignment of the various yiqtol forms is evident throughout BH. Especially notable is the move in the case of first-person wayyiqtol forms from the short yiqtol (e.g., ‫וָ ָ֫א ָקם‬, ‫[ וָ אגדל‬routinely vocalized ‫]וָ ַאגְ ִּדל‬, ‫ )וָ ֶ֫א ֶקן‬to the full (e.g., ‫וָ ֶא ְקטֹל‬, ‫וָ ָאקּום‬, ‫וָ ַאגְ ִּדיל‬, ‫ )וָ ֶא ְקנֶ ה‬and lengthened patterns (e.g., ‫וָ ֶא ְק ְט ָלה‬, ‫קּומה‬ ָ ‫וָ ָא‬, ‫)וָ ָאגְ ִּד ָילה‬, apparently due to analogy to the relevant modal forms. The progression from SBH, especially as represented in the Pentateuch, through TrBH to LBH and post-Biblical Hebrew, is unmistakable (see, e.g., the full forms in Mal 1:3–4) (Talshir 1987; Hornkohl 2014a: 160–62). Particles.  One of the most striking differences separating SBH, TrBH, and LBH involves use of the comitative preposition ‘with’. SBH uses both ‫ ֵאת‬and ‫ ִעם‬in significant proportions, while use of the former is very rare in LBH and in post-biblical sources not dependent on biblical material. For their part, TrBH texts—including Isaiah 40–66, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi—show a strong predilection for classical ‫את‬, ֵ virtually eschewing ‫עם‬. ִ In this way, TrBH differs appreciably from LBH (Hornkohl 2014a: 294–97). Similarly, TrBH sources often replace suffixed forms of the same preposition, -‫אּת‬, ִ with suffixed forms of the definite direct object marker, -‫( אֹות‬e.g., Isa 59:21); by comparison, the two are distinguished in SBH, whereas in LBH, ‫‘ ֵאת‬with’ is infrequent and the number of chances for interchange is reduced (Hornkohl 2014a: 298–300).

Lexicon For the most part, the lexicons of SBH, TrBH, and LBH show a high degree of continuity; that of SBH is augmented through gradual expansion. Also, as stated above, in TrBH morphological and grammatical developments are more common than lexical innovations. Even so, the use of characteristically late lexemes in TrBH works is not unknown. Post-classical items such as ‫‘ ַרב‬officer, noble’ (e.g., Jer 41:1) (for ‫)ׂשר‬ ַ (Hornkohl 2014a: 344–47), ‫הּודי‬ ִ ְ‫‘ י‬Judahite, Judean, Jew’ (for ‫‘ ִע ְב ִרי‬Hebrew’) in the inclusive sense of all Israel and the specifically religio-cultural nuance ‘Jew’ (Hornkohl 2014a: 305–14), ‫‘ ַמ ֲע ָרב‬west’ (e.g., Isa 45:6; 59:19) (for ‫יָמה‬, ָ lit., ‘seaward’) (Paul 2012: 298), and ‫‘ ַמ ְלכּות‬kingdom, rule, reign’ (Jer 52:31) (for ‫מ ְמ ָל ָכה‬, ַ ‫לּוכה‬ ָ ‫מ‬, ְ and the infinitive construct ‫מ ְלכ‬/‫ֹלְך‬ ָ ‫מ‬-) ְ (Polzin 1976: 142; Smith 2003: 137–43; Hornkohl 2014a: 318–25) are all characteristic


Chapter 3

of LBH and/or post-biblical phases of Hebrew; but they also appear in TrBH, albeit often as minority forms relative to more common classical alternatives. As already noted, use of Babylonian month names, as opposed to Canaanite names or the ordinal numeration used earlier, is first attested in the TrBH book of Zechariah, where, however, ordinal numbers are also used, sometimes in conjunction with the new system.

Sentences The most significant shift in the Hebrew TAM (= Tense-Aspect-Mood) system—that is, elimination of the “consecutive” forms—is not documented with any consistency until Tannaitic Hebrew. Thus, though both TrBH and LBH occasionally use qatal and non-“consecutive” wəqatal for sequential past actions, the consecutive system remains productive throughout biblical literature (with the notable exception of Qohelet, where consecutive forms are only rarely employed) (Cohen 2013: 77–94; Hornkohl 2014a: 254–66). Some TrBH material shows relatively frequent use of the infinitive absolute in place of finite verbal forms (e.g., Isa 59:4, 13; Hag 1:6). This feature is uncommon in SBH and post-Biblical Hebrew, but it is relatively frequent in some TrBH and LBH sources (Paul 2012: 294; Rendsburg 2012: 335–36; Cohen 2013: 253–72; Hornkohl 2014a: 266–73). For the most part, however, the TrBH and LBH verb system is basically that of SBH. Beyond the verb system, other syntactic developments in TrBH are especially characteristic of LBH and post-Biblical Hebrew: e.g., direct objects marked with -‫ ל‬instead of ‫( את‬Polzin 1976: 64–66; Hornkohl 2014a: 238– 44); interchange of the prepositions ‫ ֵאל‬and ‫( ַעל‬e.g., Jer 27:19) (Rooker 1990: 127–31; Hornkohl 2014a: 227–38), the latter for the former due to the influence of Aramaic, the former for the latter due to hypercorrection; marking of the goal of motion with -‫ ל‬rather than ‫אל‬, ֵ directional ‫ה‬, or the so-called accusative of place (e.g., Isa 59:20) (Shin 2007: 29–33; Hornkohl 2014a: 218–26); the neutralization and superfluous use of directional ‫ה‬ (e.g., Isa 45:6; Jer 27:16, 22; Ezek 34:21) (Hornkohl 2014a: 203–17); the appositional order ‫‘ ָּדוִ ד ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬David the king’ (e.g., Hag 1:1, 15), for ‫ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬ ‫( ָּדוִ ד‬Rendsburg 2012: 334–35; Hornkohl 2014a: 244–51); and employment of the double-plural construct, as in ‫‘ ָׂש ֵרי ֲחיָ ִלים‬army officers’ (e.g., 2 Kgs 25:23, 26; Jer 41:11, 13, 16) for ‫( ָׂש ֵרי ַחיִ ל‬Smith 2003: 123–30; Hornkohl 2014a: 273–82).

Transitional Biblical Hebrew


Bibliography Andersen, Francis I., and Forbes, A. Dean 1986 Spelling in the Hebrew Bible: Dahood Memorial Lecture. Biblica et Orientalia 41. Rome: Biblical Institute Press. 2013 Matres Lectionis: Biblical Hebrew. Pp. 607–11 in vol. 2 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill. Bendavid, Abba 1967–71  ‫[ לשון מקרא ולשון חכמים‬Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew]. 2 vols. Tel Aviv: Dvir. Bar-Asher, Moshe 2004 )‫[ לשון קומראן בין לשון המקרא ללשון חז״ל (עיון בסעיף במורפולוגיה‬The Language of Qumran: Between Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew (A Study in Morphology)]. Meghillot 2: 137–49. Cohen, Ohad 2013 The Verbal Tense System in Late Biblical Hebrew Prose. Harvard Semitic Studies 63. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. Dobbs-Allsopp, Frederick W. 1998 Linguistic Evidence for the Date of Lamentations. Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society 26: 1–36. Driver, Samuel Rolles 1898 An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament. Rev. edition. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. Forbes, A. Dean, and Andersen, Francis I. 2012 Dwelling on Spelling. Pp. 127–45 in Diachrony in Biblical Hebrew, ed. Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé and Ziony Zevit. Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic 8. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. Hill, Andrew E. 1981 The Book of Malachi: Its Place in Post-Exilic Chronology Linguistically Considered. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Michigan. 1982 Dating Second Zechariah: A Linguistic Reexamination. Hebrew Annual Review 6: 105–34. Hornkohl, Aaron 2013 Biblical Hebrew: Periodization. Pages 315–25 in vol. 1 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill. 2014a Ancient Hebrew Periodization and the Language of the Book of Jeremiah: The Case for a Sixth-Century Date of Composition. Studies in Semitic Language and Linguistics 74. Leiden: Brill. 2014b Characteristically Late Spellings in the Hebrew Bible: With Special Reference to the Plene Spelling of the O Vowel in the Triliteral Qal Infinitive Construct. Journal of the American Oriental Society 134: 643–71. Hurvitz, Avi 1982 A Linguistic Study of the Relationship between the Priestly Source and the Book of Ezekiel: A New Approach to an Old Problem. Cahiers de la Revue Biblique 20. Paris: Gabalda. 1983 ‫הלשון העברית בתקופה הפרסית‬. Pages 210–33, 306–309 in ‫ההיסטוריה של עם‬ ‫ישראל‬, vol. 2: ‫[ שיבת ציון—ימי שלטון פרס‬The Restoration — The Persian Period], ed. Hayim Tadmor. Jerusalem: Pilay / Am Oved.


Chapter 3

Kutscher, Eduard Yechezkel 1982 A History of the Hebrew Language, ed. Raphael Kutscher. Leiden: Brill / Jerusalem: Magnes. Paul, Shalom M. 2012 Signs of Late Biblical Hebrew in Isaiah 40–66. Pp. 293–99 in Diachrony in Biblical Hebrew, ed. Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé and Ziony Zevit. Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic 8. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. Polzin, Robert 1976 Late Biblical Hebrew: Toward an Historical Typology of Biblical Hebrew Prose. Harvard Semitic Monographs 12. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press. Rendsburg, Gary A. 2012 Late Biblical Hebrew in the Book of Haggai. Pp. 329–44 in Language and Nature: Papers Presented to John Huehnergard on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday, ed. Rebecca Hasselbach and Naʿama Pat-El. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 67. Chicago: Oriental Institute. Rezetko, Robert, and Young, Ian 2014 Historical Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew: Steps toward an Integrated Approach. Society of Biblical Literature Ancient Near East Monographs 9. Atlanta: SBL. Rooker, Mark F. 1990 Biblical Hebrew in Transition: The Language of the Book of Ezekiel. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 90. Sheffield: JSOT Press. Sáenz-Badillos, Angel 1993 A History of the Hebrew Language, trans. John Elwolde. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shin, Seoung-Yun 2007 A Lexical Study on the Language of Haggai–Zechariah–Malachi and Its Place in the History of Biblical Hebrew. Ph.D. dissertation. Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Smith, Colin 2003 With an Iron Pen and a Diamond Tip: Linguistic Peculiarities of the Book of Jeremiah. Ph.D. dissertation. Cornell University. Talshir, David 1987 ‫[ התפתחות מערכת העתיד המהופך בזיקה אל המערכת המודאלית‬The Development of the Consecutive Imperfect Forms in Relation to the Modal System]. Tarbiz 56: 585–91. Young, Ian; Rezetko, Robert; and Ehrensvärd, Martin 2008 Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts. 2 vols. London: Equinox.

Chapter 4

Late Biblical Hebrew M atthew M orgenstern

Introduction Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH) is a modern scholarly term applied to the language in the books of the Hebrew Bible that are regarded as composed during the Restoration and Second Temple periods. The stratification of Biblical Hebrew into pre-exilic and post-exilic was already acknowledged in the twelfth century CE by the Jewish exegete and grammarian Abraham ibn Ezra, who, in his comments on Exod 12:1, noted that the names of the months only appear in late books and were brought back from the Babylonian exile. While several biblical books explicitly relate to events that occurred during the Achemenid period (ca. 536–333 BCE), none mentions events from the Hellenistic period by name. Yet the Neoplatonic philosopher Porphory of Tyre (third century CE) correlated the book of Daniel to events from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes; hence, the book, at least in part, was composed no earlier than the second century BCE. The biblical books from the late Hellenistic period are thus roughly contemporaneous with the earliest non-biblical compositions found in the Qumran scrolls. Indeed, these books and scrolls share many linguistic features.

The Speech Community With the exception of Nehemiah’s personal memoirs, which appear as part of the book bearing his name and are narrated in the first person, the biblical text provides no explicit information regarding the identity of the authors of the books in the LBH corpus. The other parts of the corpus— both those that clearly mention events of the Achemenid period and those that have been ascribed to the period of the Second Temple—are narrated 43


Chapter 4

anonymously in the third person. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah (which were probably originally a single work) relate to events surrounding the foundation of the Second Temple. Their two central characters are Judean exiles of high birth serving in the Achemenid court prior to their return to Zion; both were presumably competent speakers of Persian and Aramaic. The book of Chronicles retells the history of the monarchy from a polemical theological standpoint, and its redactor is often assumed to have been a Levite. The author of the book of Esther also appears to be acquainted with the Persian court, though some authorities have cast doubt on the accuracy of the account. Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (both from Qumran and the later texts from other sites in the Judean Desert), it was often claimed that Hebrew in this period was a literary admixture of inherited materials drawn from earlier sources and borrowings from Aramaic. Already, Nehemiah complained of the children who could not speak “Judean” (Neh 13:24), and from the Hellenistic period we have clear evidence of pro-Hebrew linguistic polemics (Rubin 1998), which led some scholars to believe that Hebrew was no longer a spoken language following the Babylonian exile. Other scholars challenged this assumption (Segal 1908), and the epigraphic and documentary evidence now indicates that Hebrew remained a spoken language at least until the second century CE (Mor 2011). Nonetheless, there are usages found in LBH that appear to be unique to this period and may result specifically from the literary influence of Aramaic, since they do not survive into later Hebrew usage (Talshir 1987). This fact implies that the authors of these books were well-versed in Aramaic literature and its linguistic usages. The presence of Aramaic in Daniel and Ezra and the importance of Aramaic in the epigraphic and literary record of the Second Temple period support this assumption. By contrast, there is no compelling evidence for Greek influence in LBH, with the possible exception of ‫ַא ִפ ְריֹון‬ ‘couch (?)’ (Song 3:9), though the Greek origin of this word is debated (Dobbs-Allsopp 2005: 67–68).

The Corpus The LBH corpus usually includes the books of Ezra-Nehemiah, Esther, Chronicles, Daniel, and Qohelet. Many scholars also include Song of Songs (Dobbs-Allsopp 2005), Jonah (Dan 1996), and some psalms

Late Biblical Hebrew


(Hurvitz 1972), despite uncertainties of dating. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls indicates the extent to which literary and linguistic borrowing from earlier Hebrew religious texts was common. As a result, classicisms and neologisms are frequently juxtaposed in Hebrew literary works of the period, including the prophetic books of the transitional period and Late Biblical Hebrew works. The degree to which a LBH text conforms to the norms of monarchic period Hebrew may depend upon the genre or the skill of the writers. When a work does not explicitly relate to the post-exilic period, its ascription to Late Biblical Hebrew is primarily based on linguistic considerations. Thus Qohelet and, according to many scholars, Song of Songs are now included in the Late Biblical Hebrew corpus despite their traditional attribution to King Solomon. In dating such texts, emphasis is placed on the distribution of lexemes and syntactic forms, contrasts between preexilic and later forms, and, where possible, external corroboration of the later usage from other sources (Hurvitz 2006: 194). In recent years, this approach has been subject to attack by the so-called “minimalists” in biblical research (e.g., Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008), but it still enjoys widespread support (see the criticism of this approach in Joosten 2012). When discussing the corpus, we must take into consideration the nature of our textual witnesses. For the most part, we are dependent on textual witnesses of the Masoretic version of the Hebrew Bible for our corpus. Since the Masoretic Text is the outcome of many years of transmission of both the written text and its reading tradition, there is some doubt regarding the extent to which it reflects the Hebrew of the LBH period. In certain cases, copies of books in the LBH corpus found among the Dead Sea Scrolls contain significant variants: e.g., 4QCantb (4Q106) (Young 2001). On historical and literary grounds, most scholarly assessments place the recension of Daniel at around the mid-second century BCE (Collins 1993: 24–30). This dating suggests that the Qumran manuscript 4QDana (4Q112), which probably dates to the late Hasmonean period (ca. 75–50 CE), was copied only a hundred years after the final composition of the book (Ulrich 1987). Similarly, fragments of Ezra (but not Nehemiah), Chronicles, Qohelet, and Song of Songs have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. By contrast, Esther is absent. The Dead Sea Scrolls suggest that in the Second Temple period, the fourth and fifth books of Psalms—chapters 90–106 and


Chapter 4

107–150, respectively—were less stable regarding the inventory of Psalms than the earlier books (Flint 1998). In fact, the many LBH elements identified in the Psalms belong to the fourth and fifth books.

Orthography It is generally agreed that the spellings of Hebrew reflect an increasing use of internal plene orthography over time. It is also commonly accepted that the orthography of pre-exilic works was subject to change during the Second Temple period. The extent of this change is subject to debate, as is its significance for establishing contrastive usage between the earlier and later books of the Bible. Some biblical manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls show a marked tendency to “modernize” spellings of earlier books both by adding waw and yod to represent the vowels and by omitting consonants that were no longer pronounced (Kutscher 1974: 126–60). By contrast, LBH orthography tends to be more conservative. Furthermore, orthographic change may actually reflect historical changes in pronunciation. For example, LBH authors write ‘Jerusalem’ as ‫רּוׁש ַליִ ם‬ ָ ְ‫י‬, in contrast to SBH ִ‫רּוׁש ַלם‬ ָ ְ‫ ;י‬the older consonantal spelling may represent a different pronunciation of the toponym. Nonetheless, several, contrastive orthographic changes have been noted. Among the most striking is ‫‘ דויד‬David’ for SBH ‫דוד‬. In SBH sources, this name is rarely written with yod; in EzraNehemiah and Chronicles, only the spelling with yod is used. This finding accords with the late spellings of 1QIsaa, which similarly employs plene spelling (Rooker 1990: 68–71).

Phonology The later reading traditions probably hide many of the phonological distinctions that existed between the Hebrew of the monarchic period and that of the Second Temple period (Ginsberg 1934). Comparison between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Masoretic vocalization demonstrates the degree to which the later reading traditions have blurred phonological differences that presumably existed between earlier and later forms of Hebrew, just as a modern English reading of Shakespeare does not reveal how Shakespeare’s language originally sounded. However, several important features may be identified. Thus while pre-exilic books tend to preserve the distinction between [ś] (IPA [ɬ]) and [s], this distinction is sometimes lost in LBH sources (Ben-Ḥayyim 2000: 35–36). Transcriptions of Hebrew from the

Late Biblical Hebrew


Second Temple period also suggest that there was a shift from uvulars to pharyngeals: of *ḫ (IPA [χ]) > ḥ (IPA [ħ]) and *ġ (IPA [ʁ]) > ʿ (IPA [ʕ]) (sometimes > ∅ in the Qumran scrolls). The absence of diacritical marks in contemporaneous documents does not allow us to establish how far this phenomenon is attested in the LBH corpus, though Blau (1982) and Steiner (2005) have suggested that /ḫ/ existed and remained an independent phoneme longer than /ġ/ (see chapter 8). Steiner (2005) has also emphasized that the phonemes might have been preserved in formal literary readings longer than in daily speech. There is also some evidence that geminated consonants may have sporadically undergone a dissimilatory process of *CC > [rC]. For example, ‫‘ ְב ַד ֶמ ֶשק‬in Damascus’ (1 Kgs 15:18) is replaced by ‫‘ ְב ַד ְר ֶמ ֶשק‬in Damascus’ in LBH (2 Chr 16:2); the same replacement occurs in 1QIsaa and in the gentilic form ‫‘ דורמסקי‬Damascene’ in Tannaitic Hebrew (Kutscher 1974: 3–4). Similarly, it has been argued that ‫‘ ַש ְר ִביט‬scepter’ (Esth 4:11) may be a dissimilated loan-form of Akkadian šabbīṭu ‘scepter’, though the dissimilation may have taken place in Akkadian or Aramaic prior to its loan into Hebrew (Mankowski 2000: 147–48).

Morphology Pronouns.  In LBH, the first person pronominal form ‫ אנכי‬does not occur. Conversely, ‫זֹו‬/‫‘ זֹה‬this’ (fem.), which appears extensively in Qohelet, is employed sporadically in earlier books alongside SBH ‫‘ זֹאת‬this’; the LBH usage is best regarded as an ancient dialectal form that was later adopted as a literary standard (Sivan and Schniedewind 1997: 327). Nouns.  Salient is the use of the ‫ ַק ָּט ָלה‬pattern to express verbal nouns of the piel stem: e.g., ‫‘ ַּב ָּק ָׁשה‬request’ (e.g., Esth 5:7; Ezra 7:6) and ‫נֶ ָא ָצה‬ ‘provocation’ (Neh 9:18, 26; see already Ezek 35:12). Instead of SBH ‫( ָש ֻבעֹות‬Deut 16:9), the plural form ‫‘ ָש ֻב ִעים‬weeks’ appears in LBH (Dan 9:24), presumably influenced by Aramaic (see Tg. Onq. ‫בּועין‬ ִ ‫[ ָש‬Deut 16:9]). Likewise, the nominal pattern of ‫‘ ַמ ָּדע‬knowledge’ (with gemination) and its distribution (Qoh 10:20; Dan 1:4, 17; 2 Chr 1:10, 11, 12) indicate an Aramaic origin. Verbal Morphology.  In the LBH verbal system (Talshir 1986, 1988: 168–75), the first-person forms with waw-“consecutive” usually align formally with either the imperfect (e.g., ‫‘ וַ נַ ֲע ִמיד‬and we established’ [Neh 4:3]) or, more often, the long imperfect (e.g., ‫‘ וָ ֶא ְק ְב ָצה‬and I gathered’


Chapter 4

[Ezra 7:28]). In contrast, the second- and third-person forms with waw“consecutive” are short (e.g., ‫‘ וַ ֵת ֶרא‬and you saw’ [Neh 9:9] and ‫‘ וַ יַ ַעׂש‬and they did’ [Neh 5:13]). The use of the infinitive absolute in the so-called tautological construction (i.e., followed by a finite verb of the same root) appears to be on the decline in LBH, and Chronicles avoids the use of the infinitive absolute as an imperative. For instance, ‫‘ ָהלֹוְך וְ ִד ַב ְר ָת‬go and say!’ (2 Sam 24:12) is substituted in its parallel in Chronicles by ‫‘ ֵלְך וְ ִד ַב ְר ָת‬go and say!’ (1 Chr 21:10) (Polzin 1976: 43). There is some evidence for the shift of verbs from qal to hiphil: e.g., ‫‘ ְל ַה ְבזֹות‬to despise’ (Esth 1:17) for SBH qal (e.g., Ps 102:18). This phenomenon is characteristic of the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Tannaitic Hebrew (Moreshet 1976: 255–56). Conjunctions.  Several conjunctions are found exclusively in LBH, with neither precedent in SBH nor continuation in Rabbinic Hebrew: e.g., ‫ּוב ֵכן‬ ְ ‘then’ (Qoh 8:10; Esth 4:16) (cf. SBH ‫‘ ָאז‬then’); and ‫‘ ְּב ֶׁשל‬on account of’ (Jonah 1:7, 12), ‫‘ ְב ֶשל ֲא ֶשר‬on account of’ (Qoh 8:17), or ‫‘ ַב ֲא ֶשר ְל‬on account of’ (Jonah 1:8) (cf. SBH ‫‘ ִּבגְ ָלל‬on account of’). ‫‘ ֲא ֶשר ָל ָמה‬lest’ (Dan 1:10) and ‫‘ ַש ָל ָמה‬lest’ (Song 1:7), in contrast to SBH ‫‘ ֶּפן‬lest’, appear to be calques on Aramaic (see ‫י־ל ָמה‬ ְ ‫‘ ִד‬lest’ [Ezra 7:23]).

Syntax Construct State.  There is a growing tendency toward double plurals in the construct state. For example, ‫‘ וְ ָח ָר ֵׁשי ֵעץ‬and carpenters’ (2 Sam 5:11) is replaced by ‫‘ וְ ָח ָר ֵשי ֵע ִצים‬and carpenters’ in LBH (1 Chr 14:1) (Kropat 1909: 8–9). Verbal System.  Several changes in the verbal system may be discerned, especially as the verb forms begin to mark tense. The waw-“consecutive” remains the predominant narrative form but is in decline; it is not entirely extinct as in Tannaitic Hebrew. Substitutions in LBH (and in Qumran Hebrew) provide evidence for its reduced use: e.g., SBH ‫ת־ה ָעם וְ יָ ַד ְע ִתי‬ ָ ‫ּופ ְקדּו ֶא‬ ִ ‫‘ ֵאת ִמ ְס ַפר ָה ָעם‬take account of the people that I may know the number of the people’ (2 Sam 24:2) is recast in LBH as ‫ וְ ָה ִביאּו ֵא ַלי‬. . . ‫ִס ְפרּו ֶאת־יִ ְש ָר ֵאל‬ ‫ת־מ ְס ָפ ָ ֽרם‬ ִ ‫‘ וְ ֵא ְד ָעה ֶא‬count the Israelites . . . and bring me (a report) that I may know their number’ (1 Chr 21:2) (Kropat 1909: 19). A series of events in the past may be presented by employing the perfect with a conjunctive waw (Kropat 1909: 22): e.g., ‫הֹוצאתֹו‬ ֵ ְ‫ֲא ֶשר ָב ַח ְר ָת ְב ַא ְב ָרם ו‬ ‫ת־ל ָבבֹו נֶ ֱא ָמן ְל ָפנֶ יָך‬ ְ ‫את ֶא‬ ָ ‫ּומ ָצ‬ ָ ‫‘ ֵמאּור ַכ ְש ִדים וְ ַש ְמ ָת ְשמֹו ַא ְב ָר ָ ֽהם‬who chose Abram

Late Biblical Hebrew


and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldees and named him Abraham; and found his heart to be faithful to You’ (Neh 9:7–8). In SBH, a suppletive paradigm is employed for the future: at the head of the clause one finds wəqatal, while within the clause one finds yiqtol, as in ‫ת־אּמֹו וְ ָד ַבק ְב ִא ְשּתֹו וְ ָהיּו ְל ָב ָשר ֶא ָחד‬ ִ ‫ת־א ִביו וְ ֶא‬ ָ ‫ב־איׁש ֶא‬ ִ ָ‫‘ ַעל ֵכן יַ ֲעז‬Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be one flesh’ (Gen 2:24). This syntactically dependent use is lost in LBH, wherein jussive forms may be employed with non-volitive use and interchange with wəqatal: ‫‘ וְ יָ ֵשב ָפנָ יו ְל ָמעּוזֵ י ַא ְרצֹו וְ נִ ְכ ַשל וְ נָ ַפל וְ לֹא יִ ָמ ֵצא‬He shall turn his face toward the forts of his own land, but he shall stumble and fall and not be found’ (Dan 11:19) (Joosten 2005: 332–23). Verbal Complementation.  The direct object structures have undergone several changes. When the direct object is pronominal, there is a marked tendency to prefer the suffixed pronoun, as witnessed by the substitution ‫יאּוה‬ ָ ‫הֹוצ‬ ִ ‘bring her out!’ (2 Chr 23:14) for ‫הֹוציאּו א ָֹתּה‬ ִ (2 Kgs 11:15). There appears to be an increased use of the preposition l- to mark direct objects: e.g., ‫ירּוש ָל‍ִם‬ ָ ‫‘ וַ ָיְב ֲרכּו ָה ָעם ְלכֹל ָה ֲאנָ ִשים ַה ִמ ְתנַ ְד ִבים ָל ֶש ֶבת ִב‬and the people blessed all of the men who volunteered to dwell in Jerusalem’ (Neh 11:2) (Polzin 1976: 65–6). Agreement.  Certain collective nouns that are construed as singular in SBH are regarded as plural in LBH. In SBH, ‫ ַעם‬is generally taken as singular, while in Second Temple Hebrew it more often takes plural agreement in reworkings of earlier verses. For example, ‫ל־ה ָעם ִאיׁש ְל ֵביתֹו‬ ָ ‫‘ וַ יֵ ֶלְך ָכ‬and all the people went, each man to his home’ (2 Sam 6:19) becomes ‫ל־ה ָעם‬ ָ ‫וַ יֵ ְלכּו ָכ‬ ‫( ִאיׁש ְל ֵביתֹו‬1 Chr 16:43). Comparatives.  Esther, like Rabbinic Hebrew, employs the unique construction -‫‘ יותר מ‬more than’ in comparative expressions: e.g., ‫ְל ִמי יַ ְחפֹץ‬ ‫יֹותר ִמ ֶמנִ י‬ ֵ ‫‘ ַה ֶמ ֶלְך ַל ֲעׂשֹות יְ ָקר‬To whom would the king delight to do honor more than to myself?’ (Esth 6:6); cf. ‫ת־בנֶ יָך ִמ ֶמנִ י‬ ָ ‫‘ וַ ְת ַכ ֵבד ֶא‬and you honor your sons above Me’ (1 Sam 2:29) (Bergey 1984: 75).

Lexicon LBH shows many lexical innovations compared to SBH (see now Hurvitz et al. 2014). Most derive from language contact with Aramaic. The following are some representative examples: ‫‘ יְ ָקר‬glory’, for SBH ‫;ּכבֹוד‬ ָ the verbal root ‫‘ בה״ל‬hurry’, for SBH ‫‘ ּבּוץ ;מה״ר‬fine linen’, for SBH ‫;ׁשׁש‬ ֵ ‫‘ זְ ָמן‬time’; ‫‘ ְמ ִדינָ ה‬domain’ (see already Ezek 19:8); and the verbal root


Chapter 4

‫‘ תק״ן‬strengthen, set right’ (Qoh 1:15; 7:13; 12:9), for SBH ‫כנ״ן‬. Although the root ‫ קב״ל‬is attested in SBH, the piel stem is used with the Aramaic meaning ‘to receive’ (Esth 4:4; Ezra 8:30; 1 Chr 12:19; 21:11; 2 Chr 29:16, 22); in SBH, the corresponding terms are ‫ נש״א‬or ‫לק״ח‬. The word also appears in the Aramaizing Prov 19:20 and Job 2:10 (the prose framework). In Esther and Qohelet, the irrealis conditional particle ‫‘ ִאּלּו‬if’, an Aramaic borrowing, substitutes for SBH ‫לּו‬: e.g., ‫וְ ִאּלּו ַל ֲע ָב ִדים וְ ִל ְש ָפחֹות נִ ְמ ַכ ְרנּו ֶה ֱח ַר ְש ִתי‬ ‘But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue’ (Esth 7:4) or ‫‘ וְ ִאּלּו ָחיָ ה ֶא ֶלף ָשנִ ים ַפ ֲע ַמיִ ם‬though he live a thousand years twice’ (Qoh 6:6) (Bergey 1984: 163). Aramaic influence is also reflected in phrasal calques. In the expression ‫‘ וְ ָכ ֵשר ַה ָד ָבר ִל ְפנֵ י ַה ֶמ ֶלְך‬and (if) the thing seems right before the king’ (Esth 8:5), there appear both LBH ‫( ָּכ ֵשר‬otherwise attested in Qoh 10:10; 11:6; and in Tannaitic Hebrew) and ‫;ל ְפנֵ י‬ ִ the latter replaces SBH ‫ב ֵעינֵ י‬, ְ as in ‫יטב‬ ַ ִ‫וַ י‬ ‫‘ ַה ָד ָבר ִל ְפנֵ י ָה ָמן‬and the thing pleased Haman’ (Esth 5:14) vs. SBH ‫יטב‬ ַ ִ‫וַ י‬ ‫‘ ְב ֵעינֵ י ַפ ְרעֹה‬and it pleased Pharaoh well’ (Gen 45:16) (Bergey 1983: 165). Similarly, ‫ל־ה ֶמ ֶלְך טֹוב‬ ַ ‫ם־ע‬ ַ ‫‘ ִא‬if it please the king’ (Neh 2:5), for SBH ‫ִאם טֹוב‬ ‫‘ ְב ֵעינֶ יָך‬if it be good in your eyes’ (1 Kgs 21:2). Compare Aramaic ‫ֵהן ַעל־‬ ‫‘ ַמ ְל ָכא ָטב‬if it please the king’ (Ezra 5:17) (Hurvitz 2013). The expression ‫עֹולם‬ ָ ‫‘ ֵּבית‬eternal home’ (i.e., the grave) (Qoh 12:5) appears to be a calque on the cognate expression in Aramaic (Hurvitz 1992). Aramaic also served as a conduit for words from Persian and Akkadian (Mankowski 2000), though Wilson-Wright (2015) has argued that many Persian words may have been transmitted to Hebrew through direct contact. Certain Persian borrowings include: ‫‘ ַא ַפ ְדנֹו‬his palace’ (Dan 11:45), ‫‘ ַהגִ זְ ָבר‬the treasurer’ (Ezra 1:8), ‫‘ ָּדת‬law’, ‫‘ ַהנִ ְש ְתוָ ן‬the letter’ (Ezra 4:7, 7:11), ‫‘ ַּפ ְר ֵדס‬garden, forest’, ‫‘ ַפ ְר ְת ִמים‬nobles’ (Esth 1:3; 6:9; Dan 1:3), ‫ַפת‬ ‫‘ ַבג‬dainties’, and ‫‘ ִּפ ְתגָ ם‬word’ (see also Sir 5:11). Loanwords from Akkadian that are likely to have been borrowed through Aramaic include: ‫ִאּגֶ ֶרת‬ ‘letter’, ‫‘ ִּב ָירה‬fortress’ (see also Aramaic ‫‘ ְב ִב ְיר ָתא‬in the fortress’ [Ezra 6:2]), ‫‘ ּפּור‬lot’, ‫‘ ֶּפ ֶלְך‬district’, ‫תיו‬ ָ ָ‫‘ ְּכנ‬his associates’ (Ezra 4:7 [qəre]; see also Aramaic ‫ּוכנָ וָ ֵתּה‬ ְ ‘his associates’ [Ezra 5:6]), ‫‘ ְצ ִפיר‬he-goat’, and possibly ‫‘ ַׁש ְר ִביט‬scepter’. For some words such as ‫יתן‬ ָ ‫‘ ִּב‬palace’, the Aramaic evidence is less forthcoming, because there is no clear attestation of this word in Aramaic. Finally, the Mesopotamian month names ‫א ָדר‬, ֲ ‫אלּול‬, ֱ ‫ט ֵבת‬, ֵ ‫ּכ ְס ֵלו‬, ִ ‫יסן‬ ָ ִ‫נ‬, ‫סיוָ ן‬, ִ ‫ׁש ָבט‬, ְ and ‫ ַּתּמּוז‬all originate in Akkadian. The toponym ‫ֵע ֶבר‬

Late Biblical Hebrew


‫( ַהנָ ָהר‬e.g., Ezra 8:36) is a calque on Aramaic ‫( ֲע ַבר נַ ֲה ָרה‬e.g., Ezra 4:10), ultimately derived from Akkadian eber nāri (Rosenthal 2006: 62). The book of Chronicles, in comparison to its known sources, removes outdated or old-fashioned terms and replaces them with more contemporary substitutes. For example, there is a noted tendency to substitute other verbs for the verb ‫‘ חפ״ץ‬desire’, as when ‫וַ אד ֹנִ י ַה ֶמ ֶלְך ָל ָמה ָח ֵפץ ַב ָד ָבר ַהזֶ ה‬ ‘but why does my lord the king desire this thing?’ (2 Sam 24:3) appears in LBH as ‫‘ ָל ָמה ַיְב ֵקׁש זֹאת ֲאד ֹנִ י‬why does my lord desire this?’ (1 Chr 21:3). In Tannaitic Hebrew, ‫ כר״ת‬has become restricted to the idiom ‫כרת ברית‬ ‘make a covenant’; already in Chronicles, the non-idiomatic verb in SBH ‫ת־ה ֲא ֵש ָרה‬ ָ ‫‘ וְ ָכ ַרת ֶא‬and he cut down the Asherah’ (2 Kgs 18:4) is replaced by LBH ‫‘ וַ יְ גַ ְדעּו ָה ֲא ֵש ִרים‬and they cut down the Asherahs’ (2 Chr 31:1) (Japhet 1987: 20). There is also the account of Saul’s burial: ‫וַ יִ ְקחּו ֶאת־גְ וִ יַ ת ָשאּול‬ ‫ת־ה ֶא ֶשל‬ ָ ‫יהם וַ יִ ְק ְברּו ַת ַח‬ ֶ ‫ת־ע ְצמ ֵֹת‬ ַ ‫ וַ יִ ְקחּו ֶא‬. . . ‫‘ וְ ֵאת גְ וִ יֹת ָבנָ יו‬and they took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons. . . . And they took their bones, and buried them under the tamarisk’ (1 Sam 31:12–13). In LBH, its equivalent is ‫יהם ַת ַחת ָה ֵא ָלה‬ ֶ ‫מֹות‬ ֵ ‫ת־ע ְצ‬ ַ ‫ וַ יִ ְק ְברּו ֶא‬. . . ‫ת־ּגּופת ָשאּול וְ ֵאת ּגּופֹת ָבנָ יו‬ ַ ‫‘ וַ יִ ְשאּו ֶא‬and they took away the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons . . . and buried their bones under the oak’ (1 Chr 10:12). It has been suggested that the late writer (1) understood the SBH verb ‫ לק״ח‬on the basis of its late meaning ‘buy’ and substituted ‫ וַ יִ ְשאּו‬instead or omitted it altogether, (2) knew ‫ ּגְ וִ ּיָ ה‬to have become old-fashioned, and (3) replaced the rare word ‫‘ ֵא ֶׁשל‬tamarisk’ with the more common term ‫‘ ֵא ָלה‬oak’ (Kutscher 1982: 82–83). In several cases, neologisms found in LBH are harbingers of Tannaitic Hebrew. For example, the particle ‫‘ ִאי‬woe’, which occurs once in LBH ‫ִאי־‬ ‫‘ ָלְך ֶא ֶרץ ֶש ַמ ְל ֵכְך נָ ַער‬Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child’ (Qoh 10:16), substitutes for ‫ אֹוי‬in 1QIsaa 6:5 and is also employed in Tannaitic Hebrew (Kutscher 1963: 266–67). Tannaitic religious terminology is similarly anticipated by LBH: e.g., ‫‘ ַה ָתּ ִמיד‬the perpetual (sacrifice)’ (Dan 11:31), for SBH ‫עוֹלת ַה ָתּ ִמיד‬ ַ (e.g., Num 28:10); and ‫‘ ַתּ ֲענִ ית‬fast’ (Ezra 9:5), for SBH ‫( צוֹם‬e.g., 2 Sam 12:16) (Hurvitz 2013).

Bibliography Ben-Ḥayyim, Zeʾev 2000 A Grammar of Samaritan Hebrew Based on the Recitation of the Law in Comparison with the Tiberian and Other Jewish Traditions. Jerusalem: Magnes / Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.


Chapter 4

Bergey, Ronald 1983 Post-Exilic Hebrew Linguistic Developments in Esther: A Diachronic Approach. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 31: 161–68. 1984 Late Linguistic Features in Esther. Jewish Quarterly Review 75: 66–78. Blau, Joshua 1982 On Polyphony in Biblical Hebrew. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 6/2. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Collins, John J. 1993 Daniel. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress. Dan, Barak 1996 ‫עיון והערכה נוספים—לשון ספר יונה בספרות המחקר‬. Beit Mikra 147: 344–68. Dobbs-Allsopp, F. W. 2005 Late Linguistic Features in the Song of Songs. Pp. 27–77 in Perspectives on the Song of Songs—Perspektiven der Hoheliedauslegung, ed. Anselm C. Hagedorn. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 346. Berlin: De Gruyter.  Flint, Peter 1998 The Book of Psalms in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Vetus Testamentum 48: 453–72. Ginsberg, H. L. 1934 ‫[ מבעד למסורת‬From Behind the Massorah]. Tarbiz 5: 208–23. Hurvitz, Avi 1972 ‫[ בין לשון ללשון‬The Transition Period in Biblical Hebrew: A Study of PostExilic Hebrew and Its Implications for the Dating of Psalms]. Jerusalem: Bialik. 1992 ‫ בית קברות‬and ‫בית עולם‬: Two Funerary Terms in Biblical Literature and Their Linguistic Background. Maarav 9: 59–68. 2006 The Recent Debate on Late Biblical Hebrew: Solid Data, Experts’ Opinions, and Inconclusive Arguments. Hebrew Studies 47: 191–210. 2013 Biblical Hebrew, Late. Pp. 329–38 in vol. 1 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill. Hurvitz, Avi; Gottlieb, Leeor; Hornkohl, Aaron; and Mastéy, Emmanuel 2014 A Concise Lexicon of Late Biblical Hebrew: Linguistic Innovations in the Writings of the Second Temple Period. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 160. Leiden: Brill. Japhet, Sara 1987 Interchanges in Verbal Roots in Parallel Texts in Chronicles. Hebrew Studies 28: 9–50. Joosten, Jan 2005 The Distinction between Classical and Late Biblical Hebrew as Reflected in Syntax. Hebrew Studies 46: 327–39. 2012 Review of Young et al. 2008. Babel und Bibel 6: 535–42. Kropat, Arno 1909 Die Syntax des Autors der Chronik verglichen mit der seiner Quellen: Ein Beitrag zur historischen Syntax des Hebräischen. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 16. Giessen: Töpelmann.

Late Biblical Hebrew


Kutscher, Eduard Yechezkel 1963 ‫לשון חז״ל‬. Pp. 246–80 in ‫[ ספר חנוך ילון׃ קובץ מאמרים‬Henoch Yalon Jubilee Volume on the Occasion of His Seventy-Fifth Birthday], ed. Saul Lieberman et al. Jerusalem: Kiryat Sepher. 1974 The Language and Linguistic Background of the Isaiah Scroll (1 Q Isaa). Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 6. Leiden: Brill. Translation of ‫הלשון והרקע הלשוני של מגילת ישעיהו ממגילות ים המלח‬. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1959. 1982 A History of the Hebrew Language, ed. Raphael Kutscher. Leiden: Brill / Jerusalem: Magnes. Mankowski, Paul V. 2000 Akkadian Loanwords in Biblical Hebrew. Harvard Semitic Studies 47. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. Mor, Uri 2011 Language Contact in Judea: How Much Aramaic is There in the Hebrew Documents from the Judean Desert? Hebrew Studies 52: 1–8. Moreshet, Menahem 1976 ‫הפעיל ללא הבדל מן הקל בלשון חז״ל‬. [The Hifʿil in Mishnaic Hebrew as Equivalent to the Qal]. Bar-Ilan 13: 249–81. Polzin, Robert 1976 Late Biblical Hebrew: Toward an Historical Typology of Biblical Hebrew Prose. Harvard Semitic Monographs 12. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press. Rooker, Mark F. 1990 Biblical Hebrew in Transition: The Language of the Book of Ezekiel. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 90. Sheffield: JSOT Press. Rosenthal, Franz 2006 A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic. 7th ed. Porta Linguarum Orientalium 5. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Rubin, Milka 1998 The Language of Creation or the Primordial Language: A Case of Cultural Polemics in Antiquity. Journal of Jewish Studies 49: 306–33. Segal, Moses H. 1908 Mišnaic Hebrew and Its Relation to Biblical Hebrew and to Aramaic. Jewish Quarterly Review 20: 647–737. Sivan, Daniel, and Schniedewind, William 1997 The Elijah–Elisha Narratives: A Test Case for the Northern Dialect of Hebrew. Jewish Quarterly Review 87: 303–37. Steiner, Richard C. 2005 On the Dating of Hebrew Sound Changes (*ḫ > ḥ and *ġ > ʿ) and Greek Translations (2 Esdras and Judith). Journal of Biblical Literature 124: 229–67. Talshir, David 1986 ‫[ התפתחות מערכת העתיד המהופך בזיקה אל המערכת המודאלית‬The Development of the Imperfect Consecutive Forms in Relation to the Modal System]. Tarbiz 56: 585–91.

54 1987

Chapter 4

‫מעמדה של העברית המקראית המאוחרת בין לשון המקרא לבין לשון חכמים‬. [The Autonomic Status of Late Biblical Hebrew]. ‫ מחקרים בלשון‬2–3: 161–72. 1988 A Reinvestigation of the Linguistic Relationship between Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah. Vetus Testamentum 38: 165–93. Ulrich, Eugene 1987 Daniel Manuscripts from Qumran. Part 1: A Preliminary Edition of 4QDana. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 268: 17–37. Wilson-Wright, Aren Max 2015 From Persepolis to Jerusalem: A Reevaluation of Old-Persian-Hebrew Contact in the Achaemenid Period. Vetus Testamentum 65: 152–67. Young, Ian 2001 Notes on the Language of 4QCantb. Journal of Jewish Studies 52: 122–31. Young, Ian; Rezetko, Robert; and Ehrensvärd, Martin 2008 Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts. 2 vols. London: Equinox.

Chapter 5

Epigraphic Hebrew S hmuel A ḥituv , W. R andall G arr , and S teven E. F assberg

Introduction The term “epigraphic Hebrew” designates the Hebrew language attested in extra-biblical texts, seals, and bullae. For the present purposes, these inscriptions also span a period slightly longer than that of the First Temple (ca. 1000–586 BCE). The oldest known texts tend to be short, fragmentary, and often difficult to decipher; they record the alphabet (e.g., Izbet Ṣarṭah [eleventh century BCE]), personal names (e.g., Tell eṣ-Ṣafi [late eleventh–early tenth century BCE]), or present a mostly unintelligible text with few recognizable words (e.g., Qeiyafa [late eleventh–early tenth century BCE]) (for an extended and controversial discussion, see Becking and Sanders 2011). The seven-line Gezer calendar (tenth century BCE), however, seems to be complete and yields coherent sense. A number of extended texts from the end of this period have been unearthed at sixthcentury outposts such as Arad and Lachish. So, too, epigraphic texts have been discovered throughout the territory of ancient Israel and Judah (see Davies et al. 1991: xxvi). Despite this temporal and geographical expanse, though, epigraphic Hebrew is largely the same language as Biblical Hebrew of the same period. Its importance lies in revealing biblical-period Authors’ Note: Unless otherwise specified, all texts herein are cited by descriptive labels and are available in Renz and Röllig (1995–2003), Davies et al. (1991–2004), or Dobbs-Allsopp et al. (2005). The remaining texts are cited according to Aḥituv (2008) (= EP). Texts from Kuntillet Ajrud are cited by descriptive label, followed by the numeration (in brackets) and lineation presented in Aḥituv et al. 2012.



Chapter 5

Hebrew as written, and sometimes spoken, without the intervention of subsequent editors and copyists.

The Speech Community This is not to say, however, that the language represented in the epigraphic texts is unmediated. Since “the vast majority of the population was not literate[,] . . . most of the extant Old Hebrew inscriptions are the product of trained scribal professionals” (Rollston 2010: 128). Yet, several texts purport to represent a non-professional class of speakers. For example, the document from Yavneh Yam, also known as Meṣad Ḥashavyahu (late seventh century BCE), records a complaint of an agricultural worker; he claims to have fulfilled his work quota and requests the return of his pledged garment being held as collateral. Lachish letter 3 (early sixth century BCE) has engendered debate, especially lines 8–9: ‫לא ידעתה קרא ספר‬. Perhaps its author, a soldier named Hoshayahu, protests the accusation that he is unable to read (‘You don’t know how to read a letter’) (Aḥituv 1992: 40; Schniedewind 2000). Alternatively, Hoshayahu is accused of failing to understand a prior message and is told to get scribal assistance (‘You did not understand it. Call a scribe!’) (Cross 1985). Recently, it has even been claimed that language of the Siloam tunnel inscription (late eighth century BCE) was influenced by that of its workmen (Schniedewind 2013: 90; cf. Naʾaman 2014: 7–8). Literacy, though, need not be restricted to “trained scribal professionals.” The existence of scribes, or scribal training, can be inferred for ancient Israel. The Hebrew Bible recognizes scribes or a scribal class (see Rollston 2010: 88–89). The existence of epigraphic exercise texts, abecedaries, the development of a shared “national script,” relatively strict spelling conventions, and the limited number of spelling errors throughout the entire epigraphic corpus—all these factors suggest a high degree of standardization and formal training. But these features do not demand a closed scribal profession. Writing was used to record administrative documents, commercial texts, legal petitions, military reports and orders, dedicatory inscriptions, and more. According to the archaeological record, writing also enjoyed spreading popularity, especially in Judah, from the eighth century on (Demsky 2012; Golub 2014: 30–31). The evidence therefore suggests that writing was a (spreading) phenomenon among the elite or educated echelons of society, rather than just among scribes. For the representation

Epigraphic Hebrew


of Hebrew, then, the implication is clear: the epigraphic texts probably reflect a higher register and more refined language than was spoken by the majority population of Israel and Judah.

The Corpus The study of epigraphic Hebrew texts began in the late 1800s. In 1870, two funerary inscriptions were discovered in the Silwan section of Jerusalem. In 1880, the Siloam tunnel inscription was discovered and immediately published. In 1881, a third, fragmentary funerary inscription was again found in Silwan. By the turn of the century, the inventory of Hebrew inscriptions was small; the only Hebrew text included in Cooke (1903) is Siloam. Today, the number is much higher. The major collections are indicative of the steady increase: Donner and Röllig (1962–1964, 2002) included 19 inscriptions; Gibson (1971) presented 56; Renz and Röllig (1995–2003) raised the number to 340. The collection of Davies et al. (1991) first increased the inventory to approximately 500 (including one forgery) and then (2004) added some 91 more texts (including two forgeries and several without provenance); these tallies are restricted to legible, First Temple inscriptions. Finally, André Lemaire estimates that, at present, the number of published Hebrew inscriptions from the First Temple period hovers around 700 (p.c.). The most recent compilation is that of Aḥituv (2012a). The corpus of epigraphic Hebrew texts is varied. It varies in genre and includes letters (e.g., Lach 3; Arad 10), receipts (e.g., Sam ost. 10, 18), amulets (Ketef Hinnom 1, 2), writing exercises (e.g., Ajrud Pithos B [3.6]), and perhaps even literary pieces (e.g., Siloam). It varies in its material and technical production, ranging from texts engraved on stone or pottery to texts written in ink on vessels, ostraca, and even plaster and papyri. There are also numerous seals and bullae (Avigad and Sass 1997). The texts vary in geography and dialect. A minority of texts was either found in a northern Israelite context or seems to reflect a northern dialect. The principal northern texts are the Samaria ostraca (early eighth century BCE); some would also include the earlier Gezer calendar, the texts on the pithoi from Kuntillet Ajrud (early eighth century BCE) (e.g., Aḥituv 2008: 252–57, 313), and a few others. The great majority of texts, though, was retrieved from Judah and reflects a southern dialect. One scholar wished to add the ninth-century Mesha inscription to the list of epigraphic Hebrew texts,


Chapter 5

specifically northern Hebrew (Segert 1961); in both corpora, for example, ‘year’ takes the form ‫שת‬. Yet, since the Mesha inscription also reflects features not native to Hebrew (see, e.g., Garr 1985: 209), it is more likely that the language registered in this inscription is written in the language of its royal protagonist: Moabite. It also deserves mention that the epigraphic texts carry great importance for issues other than language. They yield information about administrative matters (e.g., the Samaria ostraca), military affairs and protocol (e.g., Arad letters), civil complaints and legal precedent (e.g., Yavneh Yam 1), literacy (see above), epistolography (Pardee et al. 1982), narratology, and more. Just as importantly, they supply information about Israelite and Judean religion. They attest to divine epithets known from the Hebrew Bible: e.g., ‫‘ [אל] קנארץ‬El, creator of the earth’ (Jerusalem Ophel ost. 5) (late eighth–early seventh century BCE) (see Gen 14:19, 22), ‫יהוה צבאות‬ ‘Yhwh of hosts’ (el-Qom? [seventh century BCE?] [EP 229], and, perhaps, ‫( אל‬Ajrud Plaster Text [4.2] 2, 6 [early eighth century BCE]; see also Jerusalem Ophel ost. 5 [broken]). Some scholars believe that these texts refer to a divine partner of Yhwh: ‫‘ אשרתה‬his Asher ah’ (e.g., Ajrud Pithos A [3.1] 2 [early eighth century BCE]; el-Qom 1:3 [late eighth century BCE]), though the interpretation of the word is contested; many scholars understand ‫ אשרתה‬to refer to a sacred pole or tree. Interestingly, the texts establish the absence of a prohibition against writing the Tetragrammaton (divine name) ‫ ;יהוה‬in fact, it appears widely in the epigraphic corpus (e.g., Ajrud Pithos A [3.1] 2; Arad 16:3 [early sixth century BCE]; el-Qom 1:2; Ketef Hinnom 1:12 [late seventh–early sixth century BCE]; Lach 3:3, 9; see also Mesha 18). Finally, at least one biblical text has now appeared in the amulets found at Ketef Hinnom: the Priestly blessing of Num 6:24–26. It has even been argued that the amulet is contemporary with, or perhaps antecedent to, the Priestly source itself (but see Ahituv 2012b: 230–31). Unprovenanced inscriptions—that is, inscriptions that were not discovered in organized archaeological digs but showed up on the antiquities market—present a challenge, since some are skillful forgeries. The fabrication of an inscription may be revealed by its paleography or language (Golub 2012), as well as by chemical and other technological means. Purported forgeries include a seal belonging to ‫‘ מעדנה בת המלך‬Maʿadanah the king’s daughter’, an ivory pomegranate (‫‘ לבית י[הו]ה קדש כהנים‬of the

Epigraphic Hebrew


house of Yhwh holy to the priests’), and the Jehoash inscription (corresponding to 2 Kgs 12) (Aḥituv 2008: 9–11; Rollston 2013).

Orthography Almost all of the orthographic conventions governing Hebrew inscriptions find their correspondents in the Hebrew Bible. For instance, the alphabet serves a larger phonemic inventory than its 22 letters strictly represent: ‫ ש‬does double duty for /š/ and /ś/ (IPA ɬ); it is also likely that ‫ ח‬represents /ḥ/ (IPA ħ) and /ḫ/ (IPA χ), and ‫ ע‬represents both /ʿ/ (IPA ʕ) and /ġ/ (IPA ʁ). The orthography of texts changes over time, too. The earliest texts seem not to use vowel letters (matres lectionis) at all; later, vowel letters emerge slowly, beginning with the end of words and spreading to word-internal position. The evidence has been rehearsed several times (e.g., Zevit 1980). Scholars have placed a great deal of attention on orthographic variation reflected in the inscriptions. For example, the third-person masc. sing. possessive suffix may have three representations: -∅, as in ‫‘ ירח‬his month’ (e.g., Gezer 3, 4); ‫ה‬-, as in ‫‘ עבדה‬his servant’ (Yavneh Yam 1:2); and ‫ו‬-, as in ‫‘ בו‬in it, through him’ (Ketef Hinnom 1:11). In all likelihood, this varying orthography reflects chronological development. Other variation, however, reflects dialectal distinction. ‘Wine’ is a case in point: in southern texts, the form is ‫( יין‬e.g., Arad 2:2 [early sixth century BCE]; Lach 25 [early sixth century BCE]; “Ration List” 3:6 [late First Temple period] [EP 183]); in the Samaria ostraca, it is ‫( ין‬e.g., 5:3, 10:3 [both early eighth century BCE]). The orthography suggests that *ay was retained in the south (cf. Noqdim ost. 5–6 [late First Temple period] [EP 194–195]), whereas in the north it contracted to [ē] (ê) (see also ‫‘ קץ‬summer fruit’ [Gezer 7] and ‫‘ התמן‬the south’ [Ajrud Pithos B (3.9) 1; see also (3.6) 6 [early eighth century BCE]). The status of *aw is more difficult to determine. There is no indisputable example of *aw > [ō] (ô) in Samaria texts; the name ‘Jonathan’, though, is attested as ‫יונתן‬, with a consonantal waw (Sam ost. 45:3 [early eighth century BCE]). In the south, the name ‫( הושעיהו‬Yavneh Yam 1:7) and common noun ‫‘ מוצא‬source’ (Siloam 5) are good evidence for the preservation of *aw > [aw] (cf. Noqdim ost. 11–12). The epigraphic texts also present a couple of orthographic novelties not (overtly) known from the Hebrew Bible. One is the use of abbreviations for common commodities and measures: ‫‘ ב = בת‬bath’, ‫‘ קמ = קמח‬flour’, and ‫‘ ש = שקל‬sheqel’. The other is more limited; a phrase is occasionally


Chapter 5

written as a single word. Two examples involve enclitics: ‫‘ חי יהוה‬by the life of Yhwh’ (Lach 6:12 [early sixth century BCE]) > ‫( חיהוה‬Lach 3:9; Arad 21:5 [broken] [early sixth century BCE]); and ‫*לא תשלח > לתשלח‬ ‘you shouldn’t send’ (“Silver, Pistachio, and Grain” ost. 1:8 [late First Temple period] [EP 203]). The other example is the epithet > ‫*קנה ארץ‬ ‫ קנארץ‬which, to judge from its appearance in the Phoenician Karatepe text (A III 18) (late eighth century BCE), was probably an old West Semitic divine designation (cf. Bornstein 2013: 33–35).

Phonology The epigraphic Hebrew texts suggest that its phonology is consistent with that of Biblical Hebrew as attested in the Masoretic Text. The Canaanite vowel shift had probably occurred (Gogel 1998: 68–70): see now, perhaps, [‫‘ האו]פם‬the bakers’ (Jerusalem Ophel Pithos [late First Temple period]). He of the third-person masc. sing. appears to have been syncopated in some cases (see p. 62, below). A vowelless nun generally assimilated to a following consonant: e.g., ‫‘ תתן‬you will give’ (Arad 1:10, 18:6 [both early sixth century BCE]). But a familiar alternation occurs as well: ‫‘ מימן ומ[שמ]אל‬right and left’ (Siloam 3) ~ ‫‘ מן המוצא‬from the source’ (line 5). As in Biblical Hebrew poetry, he may or may not assimilate to a preceding energic nun: ‫‘ ושלחנו‬and send it!’ (Arad 4:2 [early sixth century BCE]) ~ ‫‘ אתננהו‬I will give it’ (Lach 3:12). In other ways, however, epigraphic Hebrew is phonologically different from its contemporary, biblical counterpart. Epigraphic Hebrew has two instances of post-vocalic voicing: ‫‘ *הפקיד > והבקידם‬he will hand them over’ (Arad 24:14–15 [early sixth century BCE]) and ‫‘ *נפש > בנבשכם‬by your life’ (line 18; attested also in Phoenician, Samalian, and Old Aramaic). It may participate more fully in the apocope of gentilic *-īy before the masc. pl. ending *īm: ‫‘ כתים‬Cypriotes (?)’ (e.g., Arad 1:2, 4:1, 7:2 [early sixth century BCE]) (note Sarfatti 1982: 66, on the MT). It is also possible that, unlike Standard Biblical Hebrew, identical consonants may merge after the loss of an intervening vowel (cf. Aḥituv et al. 2012: 96 and, differently, 111–12); Standard Biblical Hebrew ‫‘ ָיְב ֶר ְכָך‬may He bless you’ (e.g., Num 6:24; cf. pausal ָ‫‘ ָיְב ֲר ֶכּך‬he will “bless” You’ [Job 1:11, 2:5]) takes the epigraphic form ‫‘ יברך‬may He bless you’ (Ketef Hinnom 1:14–15, 2:5 [late seventh–early sixth century BCE]; Ajrud Pithos B [3.6] 7–8). Finally, there is one alleged instance where syllable-final ʾaleph is lost: the compound

Epigraphic Hebrew


preposition ‫‘ לקרת‬towards’ (Siloam 4). But since ʾaleph is not lost elsewhere in the epigraphic record, ‫ לקרת‬may represent historical orthography (‫ )קר״ה‬whereas the corresponding biblical form ‫ לקראת‬conflates the root with ‫קר״א‬.

Morphology The inscriptions provide little new information on ancient Hebrew morphology. The pronominal inventory, for example, is the same. Among proximal demonstratives, there are the masc. sing. ‫‘ זה‬this’ (e.g., Yavneh Yam 1:9) (Tiberian ‫ )זֶ ה‬and two forms of the fem. sing.: ‫( זה‬Lach 6:2) (Tiberian ‫ה‬) and ‫( זאת‬e.g., Silwan 2:1 [early seventh century BCE]) (Tiberian ‫)זֹאת‬. Among independent personal subject pronouns, the first-person sing. has two forms: ‫( אני‬e.g., Arad 88:1 [early sixth century BCE]) and probably ]‫( אנכ[י‬Lach 6:8). Interestingly, the only attested form of the firstperson pl. pronoun is ‫( נחנו‬Lach 4:10–11 [early sixth century BCE); in the Bible, this form is attested 6 times (Gen 42:11; Exod 16:7, 8; Num 32:32; 2 Sam 17:12; Lam 3:42), in contrast to ‫אנַ ְחנּו‬, ֲ which appears approximately 120 times. The attested third-person pronouns are written defectively as expected: ‫ הא‬for the masc. sing. (e.g., Arad 40:12 [early sixth century BCE?]), presumably [hūʾ]; and ‫ הם‬for the masc. pl. (Horvat Uza Literary Text 5), presumably [hēm] or [hem]. Suffixed and clitic pronouns show some variation. In the first-person sing. and second-person masc. sing. perfect, two forms are attested. The first-person forms are, e.g., ‫‘ מלכתי‬I ruled’ (Arad 88:1) and ‫‘ כתבתי‬I wrote’ (Lach 4:3) ~ ‫‘ ברכת‬I bless’ (Ajrud Pithos A [3.1] 1) and ‫‘ כלת‬I finished’ (Yavneh Yam 1:8). This alternation may also occur on verbs bearing object suffixes: ‫‘ ברכתך‬I bless you’ (e.g., Arad 16:2–3) ~ ‫‘ שלחתיך‬I have sent you’ (Shephelah ost. 1:1–2 [late First Temple period] [EP 205]). The second person follows suit: ‫‘ ונתת‬you should give’ (Arad 2:7–8) and ‫‘ ולקחת‬you should take’ (e.g., Arad 17:3–4) ~ ‫‘ ידעתה‬you did (not) know’ (e.g., Lach 3:8) and ‫‘ והתערערתה‬you have become destitute’ (alt., ‘you will be stripped naked’) (Horvat Uza Literary Text 9). See also the possessive suffixes on, e.g., ‫‘ אחך‬your brother’ (Arad 16:1) and ‫‘ עבדך‬your servant’ (e.g., Lach 2:3–4, 3:5) ~ ‫‘ קברכה‬your grave’ (Horvat Uza Literary Text 13; see also line 12 [broken]). The interpretation of all these long ~ short pronominal forms is disputed, however (compare, e.g., Cross 2000; Aḥituv 2008: 62; Garr f.c.).


Chapter 5

The third-person masc. sing. possessive suffix presents a special problem (see, in detail, Pardee 2011: 115–17). The oldest orthography on sing. nouns appears to be -∅, suggesting a pronunciation [ō]. Forms are subsequently attested in ‫ה‬- and ‫ו‬-. The former, unlike its tenth-century predecessor, suggests it was pronounced [(V)hu, (V)hū]; the latter suggests [ō] (ô). Aḥituv, however, cautions against reading every suffixed waw as [ō]: regarding ‫‘ רעו‬his companion’ in the late eighth-century Siloam inscription (lines 2, 3, 4), he asserts that “it would be an anomaly if final ‫ ו‬represented final ô at this early period. So perhaps the intended pronunciation here was *rēʿēu” (2008: 23; see also Cross and Freedman 1952: 50). The evidence has yet to be interpreted consistently and in a satisfying manner. More consistent is the evidence for the third-person masc. sing. possessive suffix on non-singular nouns and prepositions, in which an original he is syncopated: *-ayhu > Tiberian ‫יו‬. The oldest attestation seems to be attached to a dual noun: ‫‘ ירחו‬his two months’ (Gezer 1, 2, 6). Some later forms agree, too: e.g., ‫‘ אנשו‬his men’ (Lach 3:18) and ‫‘ אלו‬to him’ (Yavneh Yam 1:13). These forms may have been pronounced [ɔw], as in later Tiberian Hebrew. Yet other forms written plene are also attested: ‫‘ פניו‬his face’ (Ketef Hinnom 2:9) and, possibly, the difficult word ‫‘ מצריה‬his enemies’ (el-Qom 3:3 [late eighth century BCE]). In inscriptions from the north, intervocalic he is elided in personal names ending with a form of the divine name Yahu: e.g., ‫( שמריו‬Sam ost. 1:1–2, 13:2, 14:2, 21:1–2 [all early eighth century BCE]; Ajrud Stone Bowl [1.1], Pithos B [3.10] 3 [both early eighth century BCE]) ∼ ‫( שמריהו‬Arad 18:4), ‫( שכניו‬Ajrud Pithos B [3.10] 1) ∼ ‫“( שכניהו‬List of Payments” 10 [late First Temple period] [EP 186]), and ‫( עזיו‬Ajrud Pithos B [3.10] 5) ∼ ‫]ע]ז[י]הו‬ (Arad 20:2 [late First Temple period]) (Golub 2014: 42). The third-person fem. sing. perfect form, ‫‘ הית‬there was’ (Siloam 3; see also Mesha 12), requires discussion. According to the orthography of this inscription, it is unlikely that the form was pronounced like its Tiberian counterpart, with a final vowel. In this text, final [ā] is consistently marked with he, regardless of morphological origin: ‫‘ היה‬it was’ (lines 1, 6), ‫‘ אמה‬cubit’ (lines 5, 6), and ‫‘ ברכה‬pool’ (line 5). ‫ הית‬is closer to forms like Tiberian ‫‘ וְ ָע ָׂשת‬it will yield’ (Lev 25:21) and ‫‘ וְ ִה ְר ָצת‬it will satisfy’ (Lev 26:34). ‫ ל״ה‬forms such as ‫ הית‬occur regularly in reliable manuscripts of Tannaitic Hebrew and can also be found in a few cases in the

Epigraphic Hebrew


Dead Sea Scrolls (Hornkohl 2014: 121, with examples and bibliography). Consonant-final ‫ הית‬is a valid First Temple form.

Syntax and Verbal Semantics Syntactic structures appearing in epigraphic Hebrew texts conform to expectations set by Tiberian Biblical Hebrew (see, overall, Schüle 2000). For example, relative clauses are marked with ‫אשר‬: e.g., ‫כל ספר אשר יבא‬ ‫‘ אלי‬any letter that comes my way’ (Lach 3:11). Nominal determination appears as a prefixed -‫ ה‬at the beginning of a word or after the conjunction; when following a proclitic preposition, -‫ ה‬is syncopated: e.g., ‫‘ האיש‬the man’ (Arad 40:7), ]‫‘ והבטנ[ם‬and the pistachios’ (“Silver, Pistachio, and Grain” ost. 1:7), and ‫‘ בשת העשרת‬in the tenth year’ (e.g., Sam ost. 16A:1 [early eighth century BCE]), respectively. The third example also shows that when a head noun has a definite article, so too does its attributive adjective (see also ‫‘ העת הזה‬this season’ [Lach 6:2]). When the head lacks a definite article, however, the attribute lacks it as well: ‫‘ קצרי זה‬this harvest of mine’ (Yavneh Yam 1:9). Like Standard Biblical Hebrew, the definite direct object is sometimes introduced with ‫את‬: e.g., ‫‘ ברכת אתכם‬I bless you’ (Ajrud Pithos A [3.1] 1), ‫‘ אשר יפתח את זאת‬whoever opens this’ (Silwan 2:2–3), ‫ו[א]ת לא עשת דברי‬ ‘and you did not enact my order’ (Shephelah ost. 1:5–6), and ‫קרא עבדך‬ ‫‘ את הספרם‬your servant read the letters’ (Lach 6:13–14). Object marking, however, is not obligatory: e.g., ‫‘ השב עבדך הספרם‬your servant returned the letters’ (Lach 5:6–7) and ‫‘ ואת הודויהו בן אחיהו ואנשו שלח לקחת מזה‬and he sent word to get Hodawyahu ben Ahiyahu and his men from here’ (Lach 3:16–18). Word order tends to follow the pattern of Standard Biblical Hebrew. The verb usually begins a clause. This is especially true of “consecutive” and modal forms. Other forms are occasionally clause-initial as well: e.g., ‫‘ ברכתך ליהוה‬I bless you by Yhwh’ (e.g., Arad 16:2–3) and, perhaps, ‫‘ ישלח [ע]בד[ך] הספר‬your servant will send the letter’ (Lach 18:1 [early sixth century BCE]). Such instances, however, are rare. Usually, the perfect and imperfect are used in non-initial clausal position: e.g., ‫ובים הנקבה‬ )‫ (וילכו המים‬. . . ‫‘ הכו החצבם‬when the breakthrough occurred, the masons struck. . . , (and the water flowed)’ (Siloam 3–5) and ). . . ‫(והבקידם‬ ‫(‘ פן יקרה את העיר דבר‬He will hand them over . . .) lest something happen to the city’ (Arad 24:14–17). Deviations from this general pattern are


Chapter 5

probably motivated by pragmatic need and thus require context-specific explanation. The final syntactic features revealed by the epigraphic texts pertain to the verb. One feature applies to ‫ ושלחנו‬in Arad 4:2; if the pronominal suffix does not refer to the container jar presumed in the text (‘send it!’), it may have “dative force” (‘send [the jar of oil] to us!’) (Aḥituv 2008: 103). The other features are more secure. In addition to connoting the temporal past and perfect aspect, the perfect form can be interpreted as a performative: e.g., ‫( ברכתך ליהוה‬see above) and, somewhat differently, ‫‘ וצוך‬and he commands you’ (Arad 3:2–3 [early sixth century BCE]) (for the latter, see Gogel 1998: 266–67). Like Standard Biblical Hebrew, epigraphic Hebrew attests to both the perfect and imperfect “consecutive”: e.g., ‫)  ולקחת‬. . . ‫(בא‬ ‘(go . . .) and take!’ (Arad 17:1–4) and ‫) ויעלהו‬. . . ‫(‘ (לקחה‬he took him . . .) and brought him’ (Lach 4:6–7), respectively. In several Arad letters, the infinitive absolute can substitute for the imperative; compare, e.g., Arad 2:1 (‫ )נתן‬and 3:1–2 (‫)תן‬. There may be an example of ‘be’ with a participle to express a progressive event: ‫( עבדך קצר היה עבדך בחצר אסם‬Yavneh Yam 1:2–4). If these words constitute one sentence, the example is valid (‘As for your servant, your servant was harvesting in Ḥaṣar-Asam’) (Aḥituv 2008: 159, 160). If, however, these words constitute two sentences, the example fails (‘Your servant is reaping; your servant was in Ḥaṣar-Asam’) (see Gogel 1998: 107 n. 80).

Lexicon The lexicon of epigraphic Hebrew is well-represented by Gogel (1998: 293–383) and Hoftijzer and Jongeling (1995). Two general items merit special attention: (1) The epigraphic texts often confirm the existence of biblical words and idioms in a contemporary, non-biblical context. For example, a term identical with or similar to biblical ‫ ָא ֵמן‬appears in Yavneh Yam 1:11. The phrasal title ‫‘ ֲא ֶׁשר ַעל ַה ַּביִ ת‬steward, majordomo’ appears in Silwan 2:1. A biblical idiom for obstinacy, ‫( ָּכ ֵבד ֵלב‬e.g., Exod 7:14), now appears in the epigraphic record, too (Shephelah ost. 1:3–4). Further afield, it has been argued that the epigraphic record may suggest that ‫( ֶע ְר ְּכָך‬e.g., Lev 27:3) and especially ‫( ָה ֶע ְר ְּכָך‬vv. 23, 23) are not suffixed nouns (‘your valuation, assessment’) but are, like ‫‘ ַר ֲענָ ן‬verdant, leafy’, absolute forms based on a

Epigraphic Hebrew


partially-reduplicated root (see ‫“[ לערכך‬Assessment” ost. 8] [late seventh century BCE] [EP 190]). (2) The epigraphic record has contributed new words to the lexicon of Hebrew in the First Temple period (see Sarfatti 1982: 73–80). Some come from the south. The Siloam inscription adds one or two: ‫‘ זדה‬crack, fissure (?)’ (line 3) and, perhaps ‫‘ הנקבה‬the tunnel’ (line 1 [bis]) (cf. Tiberian ‫ ְּת ָע ָלה‬or ‫)מ ְח ֶּת ֶרת‬, ַ unless ‫ הנקבה‬is an activity noun (niphal infinitive construct with pronominal suffix) as suggested by lines 3–4. The Lachish letters add another: (‫(‘ )ב)תסבת (הבקר‬when the morning) comes around’ (Lach 4:9) (cf. Tiberian ‫קּופה‬ ָ ‫)ּת‬. ְ It is now attested at Qumran: ‫תסובות כלי‬ ‫(‘ אור‬the) rounds of the (heavenly) luminaries’ (4QpapPrQuot [4Q503] 1–6 III 9). It is also possible that the vocative particle ‫ יה‬appears in Beit Lei 2 (early sixth century BCE). Northern texts have also furnished new lexical items. The Gezer calendar supplies a couple of nouns for agricultural activities: ‫‘ זמר‬vine harvesting’ (line 6) (cf. Tiberian ‫)ּב ִציר‬ ָ and ‫עצד‬ ‘cutting’ (line 3). The Samaria ostraca yield new terms for qualities of oil and wine: e.g., ‫‘ שמן רחץ‬pure oil’ (e.g., Sam ost. 18:2–3 [early eighth century BCE]) (cf. Tiberian ‫[ ֶׁש ֶמן זַ יִ ת זָ ְך‬Exod 27:20; Lev 24:2]). These ostraca also offer an otherwise unattested Hebrew form of ‘year’: ‫( שת‬passim) (cf. Tiberian ‫ = ָׁשנָ ה‬Judean [“Ration List” 1:1] [early sixth century BCE] [EP 180]).

Bibliography Aḥituv, Shmuel 1992 ‫[ אסופת כתובות עבריות מימי בית־ראשון וראשית ימי בית־שני‬Handbook of Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions from the Period of the First Commonwealth and the Beginning of the Second Commonwealth (Hebrew, Philistine, Edomite, Moabite, Ammonite and the Bileam Inscription)]. Biblical Encyclopaedia Library 7. Jerusalem: Bialik / Israel Exploration Society. 2008 Echoes from the Past: Hebrew and Cognate Inscriptions from the Biblical Period, transl. Anson F. Rainey. Jerusalem: Carta. 2012a ‫הכתב והמכתב׃ אסופת כתובות מארץ־ישראל וממלכות עבר הירדן מימי בית־ראשון‬ [HaKetav VeHamiktav: Handbook of Ancient Inscriptions from the Land of Israel and the Trans-Jordanian Kingdoms from the First Commonwealth Period]. 2nd ed. Biblical Encyclopaedia Library 21. Jerusalem: Bialik. 2012b A Rejoinder to Nadav Naʾaman’s “A New Appraisal of the Silver Amulets from Ketef Hinnom.” Israel Exploration Journal 62: 223–32.


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Aḥituv, Shmuel; Eshel, Esther; and Meshel, Zeʾev 2012 The Inscriptions. Pp. 73–142 in Kuntillet ʿAjrud (Ḥorvat Teman): An Iron Age II Religious Site on the Judah-Sinai Border, by Zeʾev Meshel et al. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society. Avigad, Nahman, and Sass, Benjamin 1997 Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities / Israel Exploration Society / Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Becking, Bob, and Sanders, Paul 2011 Plead for the Poor and the Widow: The Ostracon from Khirbet Qeiyafa as Expression of Social Consciousness. Zeitschrift für Altorientalische und Biblische Rechtsgeschichte 17: 133–48. Bornstein, Mitchell 2013 The Jerusalem Ostracon ‫ אלקנארץ‬Reconsidered. Israel Exploration Journal 63: 26–38. Cooke, G. A. 1903 A Text-Book of North-Semitic Inscriptions: Moabite, Hebrew, Phoenician, Aramaic, Nabataean, Palmyrene, Jewish. Oxford: Clarendon. Cross, Frank Moore 1985 A Literate Soldier: Lachish Letter III. Pp. 41–47 in Biblical and Related Studies Presented to Samuel Ivry, ed. Ann Kort and Scott Morschauser. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. 2000 An Ostracon in Literary Hebrew from Ḥorvat ʿUza. Pp. 111–13 in The Archaeology of Jordan and Beyond: Essays in Honor of James A. Sauer, ed. Lawrence E. Stager, Joseph A. Greene, and Michael D. Coogan. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. Cross, Frank Moore, and Freedman, David Noel 1952 Early Hebrew Orthography: A Study of the Epigraphic Evidence. American Oriental Series 36. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society. Davies, G. I.; Bockmuehl, M. N. A; de Lacey, D. R.; and Poulter, A. J. 1991 Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions: Corpus and Concordance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Davies, Graham; Aitken, J. K.; de Lacey, D. R.; Smith, P.A.; and Squirrel, J. 2004 Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions: Corpus and Concordance. Volume 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Demsky, Aaron 2012 ‫[ ידיעת ספר בישראל בעת העתיקה‬Literacy in Ancient Israel]. Biblical Encyclopaedia Library 28. Jerusalem: Bialik. Dobbs-Allsopp, F. W.; Roberts, J. J. M.; Seow, C. L.; and Whitaker, R. E. 2005 Hebrew Inscriptions: Texts from the Biblical Period of the Monarchy with Concordance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Donner, H., and Röllig, W. 1962–1964  Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften. 3 vols. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. 2002 Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften. Volume 1. 5th ed. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Epigraphic Hebrew


EP inscriptional text presented in Aḥituv 2008 Garr, W. Randall 1985 Dialect Geography of Syria–Palestine, 100–586 BCE. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; reprinted, Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2004. f.c. Orthography. In The Textual History of the Bible, vol. 3: A Dictionary of Textual History, ed. Armin Lange and Russell E. Fuller. Leiden: Brill. Gibson, John C. L. 1971 Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions, vol. 1: Hebrew and Moabite Inscriptions. Oxford: Clarendon. Gogel, Sandra Landis 1998 A Grammar of Epigraphic Hebrew. Society of Biblical Literature Resources for Biblical Study 23. Atlanta: Scholars Press. Golub, Mitka Ratzaby 2012 The Distribution of Names on Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah: A Comparative Study. Israel Exploration Journal 62: 206–25. 2014 Personal Names in the Land of Israel During the Iron Age II: Archaeological and Biblical Sources. Ph.D. dissertation. Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Hoftijzer, J., and Jongeling, K. 1995 Dictionary of the North-West Semitic Inscriptions. 2 vols. Handbuch der Orientalistik 1/21. Leiden: Brill. Hornkohl, Aaron D. 2014 Ancient Hebrew Periodization and the Language of the Book of Jeremiah: The Case for a Sixth-Century Date of Composition. Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 74. Leiden: Brill. Naʾaman, Nadav 2014 Dismissing the Myth of a Flood of Israelite Refugees in the Late Eighth Century BCE. Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 126: 1–14. Pardee, Dennis 2011 Vestiges du système casuel entre le nom et le pronom suffixe en hébreu biblique. Pp. 113–21 in Grammatical Case in the Languages of the Middle East and Europe: Acts of the International Colloquium Variations, concurrence et evolution des cas dans divers domains linguistiques, Paris, 2–4 April 2007, ed. Michèle Fruyt, Michel Mazoyer, and Dennis Pardee. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 64. Chicago: Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. Pardee, Dennis; Sperling, S. David; Whitehead, J. David; and Dion, Paul E. 1982 Handbook of Ancient Hebrew Letters: A Study Edition. Society of Biblical Literature Sources for Biblical Study 15. Chico, CA: Scholars Press. Renz, Johannes, and Röllig, Wolfgang 1995–2003  Handbuch der althebräischen Epigraphik. 3 vols. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. Rollston, Christopher A. 2010 Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel: Epigraphic Evidence from the Iron Age. Society of Biblical Literature Archaeology and Biblical Studies 11. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. 2013 Forgeries of Hebrew Texts. Pp. 904–6 in vol. 1 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill.


Chapter 5

Sarfatti, Gad B. 1982 Hebrew Inscriptions of the First Temple Period: A Survey and Some Linguistic Comments. Maarav 3: 55–83. Schniedewind, William M. 2000 Sociological Reflections on the Letter of a “Literate” Soldier (Lachish 3). Zeitschrift für Althebraistik 13: 157–67. 2013 A Social History of Hebrew: Its Origins through the Rabbinic Period. Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Schüle, Andreas 2000 Die Syntax der althebräischen Inschriften: Ein Beitrag zur historischen Grammatik des Hebräischen. Alter Orient und Altes Testament 270. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag. Segert, Stanislav 1961 Die Sprache der moabitischen Königsinschrift. Archiv Orientální   29: 197– 267. Zevit, Ziony 1980 Matres Lectionis in Ancient Hebrew Epigraphs. ASOR Monograph Series 2. Cambridge, MA: American Schools of Oriental Research.

Chapter 6

Ben Sira W ido


P eursen

The Speech Community Unlike many other compositions written in Classical Hebrew, the background and author of the book of Ben Sira are relatively well-known. The book was written in Jerusalem by Yeshua ben Eleazar ben Sira (see Sir 50:27 in Hebrew and Greek) at the beginning of the second century BCE. Ben Sira presents himself as a teacher of wisdom who supported, and perhaps even belonged to, the Jerusalem priesthood. There is also information about the origins of the Greek translation of Ben Sira; the prologue states that it was undertaken by Ben Sira’s grandson, who found a copy of the book when he arrived in Egypt in 132 BCE. This information about the book’s background does not mean, however, that the available sources give direct access to the Hebrew language as spoken and written in the first half of the second century BCE. At times, it seems that the extant Hebrew witnesses reflect the language of later scribes rather than that of the original author. This is evident from a comparison of the known manuscripts, in which some features recur only in the medieval Genizah manuscripts while other orthographic peculiarities appear only in the Qumran scroll 11QPsa (11Q5) (see details below). Later language is also evident from a comparison between the Hebrew manuscripts and the ancient Greek and Syriac translations; for example, though the well-known Rabbinic term ‫‘ בית מדרש‬house of learning’ occurs in Sir 51:28b (MS B), a comparison with the Greek and Syriac texts shows this phrase to be secondary (Van Peursen 2003: 369). Author’s Note: Herein, references to the Dead Sea Scrolls follow standard convention and publication in the series Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (DJD).



Chapter 6

Although various non-biblical linguistic elements such as ‫בית מדרש‬ probably entered the text during its transmission, it should not be assumed that Ben Sira tried to write Standard Biblical Hebrew (SBH) as best he could or that any deviation from this standard should either be ascribed to his failure to achieve his aim or to corruption of the text by later scribes. For a long time, this was, implicitly or explicitly, the prevalent scholarly approach to Ben Sira’s language. Presumably, Ben Sira regarded himself as part of the biblical tradition (see Sir 24:30–34; 33:16–18) and therefore tried to imitate the classical language of the Hebrew Bible. Such a direct connection between the theological content of the book (continuation of the biblical tradition) and its language (imitation of the biblical language) obscured the linguistic and literary skills of Ben Sira. Also, this approach occasionally led to harsh negative judgments about Ben Sira’s linguistic skills and his command of Biblical Hebrew (BH). Because scholars did not recognize biblical parallels to Ben Sira’s use of certain forms and constructions, they tended to view his language use negatively even when his Hebrew conformed to a BH model. Examples include the omission of the pronominal suffix in ‫‘ הכאף ראש‬bow down your head!’ (Sir 4:7 [MS A]), the omission of the generic definite article before ‫‘ שמים‬heavens’ and ‫‘ כוכב‬star(s)’ (43:9 [MS B]), and the absence of explicit marking in conditional sentences (as in ‫[‘ קרב נדיב היה רחוק‬when] a noble draws near, keep your distance!’ [13:9 (A)]) (for full discussion, see Van Peursen 2004: 51–64). A reappraisal of Ben Sira’s literary skills can be found in the work of Chaim Rabin (1958), who showed that the transition from BH to Tannaitic Hebrew took place gradually and that various forms of “BH with a strong M[ishnaic] H[ebrew] admixture” and “MH with a strong BH admixture” attest to this transition. More recently, Menahem Kister (1989–90: 306, 310) has convincingly argued that Ben Sira can be considered a “linguistic virtuoso,” who deliberately chose “a language that was influenced by BH and continued it, but not one that tried to imitate it in the plain sense of the word.” Ben Sira’s perfect command of the language appears, in fact, from his “puns of various types, some very sophisticated,” and from his use of “many rare words which were incomprehensible to readers as early as two or three generations after his time” (including Ben Sira’s grandson). Although it is wrong to explain every biblical element in Ben Sira’s language as an attempt to imitate BH, and wrong to explain every non-biblical

Ben Sira


element as a mistake, Ben Sira’s imitation of the classical language seems to have played a role in his language use. According to Jan Joosten, for instance, the Hebrew text of Ben Sira contains various pseudo-classicisms that are “expressions that purport to be classical but on close inspection are revealed to be essentially different from their classical counterparts” (Joosten 1999: 150). One category is in the arena of pseudo-classicisms where “formally the word is correctly transcribed, but its meaning is interpreted wrongly”: e.g., ‫‘ פי שנים‬twice as much, double’ (Sir 12:4 [MS A]), rather than its standard meaning in BH as ‘a double part of a larger whole’. Ben Sira’s language, then, may be more literary than spoken idiom; his artfulness (Kister) gives way to artificiality (Joosten; see further Hurvitz 1997: 86 n. 34).

The Corpus The corpus consists of one book of 51 chapters for which there are 9 extant Hebrew manuscripts. Some manuscripts, however, are fragmentary, and none contain the whole book. One manuscript (C) is not a continuous text but instead an anthology of verses from Ben Sira (Coarley 2011). Overall, about two-thirds of the book is attested in Hebrew. Therein, approximately three-quarters of the text is attested in only one of the nine extant manuscripts; about one-quarter of the Hebrew text is preserved in two manuscripts; and some lines—less than 2% of the text—are attested in three manuscripts. The manuscripts may be divided into two groups: three manuscripts from Masada and Qumran and six manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah. For an analysis of the language of Ben Sira, the most important manuscript is a scroll from Masada dated to the first half of the first century CE (Yadin 1999). This manuscript (M), however, contains only portions of Sir 39:27–44:17. A fragment found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (2QSir [2Q18]) from the second half of the first century BCE is an important witness to the antiquity of the Hebrew text and its presence in the community to which the Dead Sea Scrolls belonged, but it is too small to have any text-critical or linguistic significance. A larger portion from Ben Sira is found in another Dead Sea Scroll, 11QPsa (11Q5), where the concluding acrostic poem (51:13–30, of which only 51:13–20, 30b is preserved) appears among other, mainly biblical, psalms.


Chapter 6

The first Hebrew text of Ben Sira recovered was a leaf containing Sir 39:15c–40:8 from the Cairo Genizah (Schechter 1896). This discovery aroused great excitement, because, among other things, the original language of Ben Sira had been debated (Reif 1997). This discovery also confirmed the brilliant hypothesis of Gustav Bickell that the final poem of Ben Sira (Sir 51:13–30) was composed as a Hebrew acrostic poem (Bickell 1882); notably, Bickell wrote 17 years prior to the Genizah text’s publication (Schechter and Taylor 1899). More Cairo Genizah fragments belonging to six manuscripts from the eleventh and twelfth centuries (MSS A–F) were identified at the end of the nineteenth and the first decades of the twentieth century, and a few fragments were discovered later (leaves I and VI of MS C were first published in 1959–60, and the single leaf of MS F in 1982). Additional parts of previously known manuscripts were discovered only at the beginning of the twenty-first century: a new leaf from MS C (Elizur 2007, 2010) and one from MS D (Elizur and Rand 2011). Because of these new discoveries, the standard text editions—those by the Academy of the Hebrew Language (Historical Dictionary 1973) and Pancratius Beentjes (1997)—are no longer complete. The debate about the original language of Ben Sira that raged before the discovery of the Hebrew texts continued after the discovery but in a different guise: scholars argued that these texts were not authentic but translations from Syriac, Greek, or even Persian. Nonetheless, after the discovery of the Hebrew witnesses from Masada and Qumran, which definitively established the authenticity of the Hebrew texts, it has been argued that the Genizah manuscripts contain some retranslations (retroversions) (Di Lella 1966; Skehan and Di Lella 1987: 57–59; see also Kister 1989–90: 304 n. 2; Van Peursen 2001, 2004: 21–22).

Orthography The orthography of the Masada scroll is rather defective and remarkably consistent. Even morphological patterns that in the Masoretic Text (MT) vary between plene and defective spelling (e.g., the qal active participle) are often written defectively. The text of Sir 51:13–30 in 11QPsa (11Q5) follows the orthographic practice of the so-called Qumran system (Tov 2004). This is reflected, for example, in the plene spelling of ‫‘ אוזני‬my ear’ (51:16 [XXI 14]), ‫‘ לוא‬not’ (51:18, 19, 20 [XXI 15, 16 (bis)]), and certain

Ben Sira


imperfect forms with an object suffix, such as ‫‘ אדורשנה‬I will look for it’ (51:14 [XXI 12]). Genizah manuscripts A and B show a frequent use of the vowel letters waw and yod even in environments where they are uncommon in the MT. Thus waw represents [ō] that derives from short *u, and yod represents [ē] deriving from short *i: e.g., ‫‘ יושר‬honesty’ (Sir 4:9, 9:17 [A]), ‫‘ חולי‬sickness’ (37:30 [B] in pause) (cf. Tiberian ‫[ ֳח ִלי‬context] and ‫[ ח ִֹלי‬pause]), and ‫‘ העוני‬poverty’ (13:24 [A] in context) (cf. Tiberian ‫[ ָה ֳענִ י‬context] and ‫עֹנִ י‬ [pause]); and ‫‘ חוקיך‬your decree’ (41:3 [B]) and ‫‘ חביר‬comrade’ (37:6 [B]). Yet, the manuscripts also contain some unexpected defective spellings: e.g., ‫‘ וישב‬He enthrones’ (10:14 [A]), ‫‘ רב‬dispute’ (11:9 [A]; cf. ‫[ ריב‬B]), and ‫‘ ועד‬and still’ (36:28 [B]). The manuscripts also display other orthographic peculiarities that are primarily known from Tannaitic Hebrew, such as the double writing of medial consonantal waw (e.g., ‫‘ מוות‬death’ [15:17 (A)]) and the doubling of medial consonantal yod (e.g., ‫‘ חייבים‬guilty’ [8:5 (A)] and ‫‘ תבייש‬you embarrass’ [8:6 (A)]). Manuscripts C and D are more defective than A and B. Where the manuscripts parallel one another, many words written plene in A and B are written defectively in C and D. For example, in Sir 37:6, MS D ‫‘ חבר‬comrade’ corresponds to ‫ חביר‬in MS B. But in C and D, plene spellings occasionally occur where in Tiberian vocalization a ṣere < *i or a ḥolem < *u is expected: e.g., ‫‘ יסביב‬he turns’ (36:26 [C]), ‫‘ ריע‬a friend’ (37:2 [D; cf. B, C: ‫)]רע‬, and ‫‘ אוכל‬food’ (37:30 [D, Bmargin]). In manuscripts A, B, C, and D we also find plene spelling before the suffix of the second-person masc. sing. in pause: e.g., ‫‘ לשוניך‬your tongue’ (4:29 [A]). The orthography of manuscripts E and F is more defective than that of C and D and, in many respects, resembles the orthographic practice of the MT. An exception is the plene spelling of segolate nouns, which is rare in the MT: e.g., ‫‘ חוטר‬branch’ (33:27 [E]) and ‫‘ אופן‬wheel’ (33:5 [E, F]).

Phonology It is difficult to know whether occasional deviations from BH orthographic practice also reflect phonological differences. But three spelling variations likely reflect phonological phenomena. The first is the omission of the guttural in ‫‘ בתרה‬in her form’ (Sir 51:14a [11QPsa (11Q5) XXI 11]) (cf. Tiberian ‫)ּת ַֹאר‬, like the weakening of gutturals known elsewhere from Qumran Hebrew (see chapter 7). The second is the occasional use of


Chapter 6

samekh instead of śin in ‫‘ מחסוף‬exposing’ (42:1 [B]; cf. ‫[ מחשף‬M]). This spelling suggests that the distinction between śin and samekh had disappeared. This view is further supported by the opposite phenomenon (a hypercorrection?), where śin is used instead of samekh: ‫‘ עשק‬companionship’ (11:10 [A, B]) and ‫‘ שמים‬herbs’ (38:4 [B]). The third variation may reflect neutralization of voicing: see ‫‘ פצע‬bruise’ > ‫( בצע‬Sir 7:6 [A]), where the context does not allow the biblical meaning ‘unjust gain’ (Elwolde 1997: 32).

Morphology A description of the morphology of Ben Sira is also dependent upon the analysis of orthography. For example, a detailed orthographic analysis is necessary to understand the different forms of the imperfect of hollow roots (Van Peursen 2004: 27–51). Or some features are typical of a particular textual witness and can be accounted for by the transmission of the text, as in the case of ‫( אדורשנה‬mentioned above). In the Genizah manuscripts, especially A and B, morphological patterns that parallel Tannaitic Hebrew sometimes occur, such as the formation of the piel of hollow roots on the analogy of the strong verb: e.g., ‫‘ תבייש‬you embarrass’ (Sir 8:6 [A]) or ‫‘ תסתייד‬you take counsel’ (9:3 [A]); ‫( תסתיד‬42:12 [Bmargin]; cf. ‫תסתויד‬ [B]). The masc. sing. imperative of final weak verbs sometimes takes a final yod, as in Aramaic: ‫‘ רעי‬befriend!’ (38:1 [B]) and ‫‘ ונהי‬wail!’ (38:16 [Bmargin]). Other typically Tannaitic forms in manuscripts A and B are the demonstrative pronoun ‫‘ אילו‬these’ (51:24 [B]) and the infinitive ‫‘ לירד‬to descend’ (30:17 [B]).

Lexicon A large part of Ben Sira’s vocabulary (93% in the case of verbs according to Dihi [2000: 56]) is also found in Biblical Hebrew. To these belong words that are typical of biblical poetry: e.g., ‫‘ איה‬where?’. Lexical innovations in Ben Sira include words that are also attested in other postbiblical corpora (e.g., ‫‘ אונס‬compulsion’ [unknown in the classical corpus but well-known in Tannaitic Hebrew]) and words unattested in other corpora (e.g., ‫‘ זהירה‬brightness’) (see Elwolde 1997: 22–23). Ben Sira shares with post-Biblical Hebrew some words that are rare in BH or restricted to LBH: e.g., ‫‘ נבואה‬prophecy, prophetic office’ (Neh 6:12; 2 Chr 9:29; 15:29; Sir 44:3; 46:1, 13, 20 [B]) (Hurvitz 1997: 74–79). In the case of verbs, a

Ben Sira


root that is attested in specific verbal stem(s) in BH may appear in another verbal stem in Ben Sira. Sometimes this concerns a formation also found in other post-Biblical Hebrew corpora, such as the hiphil forms ‫‘ תדאיב‬you cause to languish’ (4:1 [A]) and ‫‘ האהב‬endear!’ (4:7 [A]). In other cases, the stem assignment is unique to Ben Sira: e.g., ‫‘ התרטש‬be crushed!’ (8:8 [A]) (Dihi 2000). There is also an increase in noun patterns that are typical of Tannaitic Hebrew, though most occasionally occur in BH, too. To these patterns belong the following categories (Van Peursen 2003: 368–70; 2004: 246–48): 1. Nouns ending in -ūt. Attested in BH, but more common in Tannaitic Hebrew, they include abstract nouns such as ‫‘ דלות‬poverty’ (Sir 10:31 [A]) and ‫‘ נערות‬youth’ (51:16, 28 [B]) and verbal nouns such as ‫‘ רפאות‬healing’ (38:14 [B]), ‫‘ חשבות‬reckoning’ (41:21 [Bmargin]), and ‫‘ מרדות‬instruction’ (42:8 [Bmargin]). The increase of verbal nouns with this ending may be due to Aramaic influence (Van Peursen 2004: 246). 2. Verbal nouns with a preformative mem (whose frequent use may also be due to Aramaic influence): ‫‘ מענה‬answering’ (Sir 4:24 [A]; 20:6 [C]), ‫‘ מרפא‬healing’ (36:23 [B, C]), ‫‘ מקנה‬acquiring’ (42:4 [B, M]), and others. 3. Nouns of the patterns qətīlā, qittūl and haqtālā, which function as verbal nouns of the qal, piel and hiphil, respectively. qətīlā: ‫‘ גויעה‬passing away, death’ (Sir 38:16 [Bmargin]), ‫ שקידה‬   ‘waking, watching’ (38:26 [B]), and ‫‘ ישיבה‬sitting’ (51:29 [B]) qittūl: ‫‘ חמוד‬desire, lust’ (14:14 [A]), ‫‘ עדוי‬delight’ (31:28 [B, F]),   ‫‘ נסוי‬testing’ (33:1 [B, E, F]; 44:20 [B]), ‫‘ יסור‬chastisement’ (40:29  [Bmargin, F]), and ‫‘ עזוז‬strength, fierceness’ (45:18 [B]) haqtālā: ‫‘ השגת‬attaining of’ (35:12 [B]; cf. ‫[ השיגת‬14:13 (A)]), ‫הגשת‬   ‘approaching of’ (35:12 [Bmargin]), and ‫‘ הודאה‬thanksgiving’   (51:17 [B]). In addition to the statistics of the lexical inventory and the occurrences of certain patterns, there are some functional and semantic shifts that mark a departure from BH usage. An interesting example is the use of ‫ עמד‬in the sense of ‘to rise, appear on the scene’. In SBH there is a clear functional distinction between ‫‘ קום‬rise’ (action) and ‫‘ עמד‬stand’ (state), but in LBH and post-Biblical Hebrew ‫ עמד‬takes over the function of ‫קום‬: compare ‫יעמד‬


Chapter 6

‫‘ מלך‬a king will arise’ (Dan 8:23) with ‫‘ ויקם מלך חדש‬a new king arose’ (Exod 1:8). This also happens in Ben Sira: e.g., ‫‘ וגם אחריו עמד נתן‬and, furthermore, after him Nathan stood up’ (47:1 [B]) (Hurvitz 1997). In sum, Ben Sira shares more than 90% of his vocabulary with BH. But, on closer inspection, the innovative use of verbal stems, the frequency of some typically Mishnaic patterns of noun formation, and changes in the meaning of these words show more deviation from the BH lexicon than this high percentage initially suggests.

Morphosyntax In many respects the use of the verbal forms in Ben Sira resembles BH. A first glance at the Hebrew text shows the abundant use of the “consecutive” forms wayyiqtol and wəqatal (Van Peursen 2004: 128). Other usages attested in Ben Sira—common in BH but in decline in the post-biblical period—are the use of the perfect of stative verbs for the present, the gnomic use of the perfect, and the use of the imperfect for the present (also in Qumran Hebrew and, in elevated style, Tannaitic Hebrew). Another point deserves note as well. Both the imperfect and the participle can be used in the sphere of the past: e.g., ‫[‘ [כן] זעמו גוים יוריש‬thus] His wrath expelled nations’ (Sir 39:23 [B]) and ‫‘ לבו אוהב עושהו בכל‬with his whole heart he loved his Maker’ (47:8 [B]), respectively. Despite some linguistic features shared with BH, Ben Sira also departs from BH. The participle is a case in point. Morphologically, qotel replaces BH ‫ק ֵטל‬.ָ Thus we find the participles ‫ אוהב‬and ‫( שונא‬rather than ‫ ָא ֵהב‬and ‫)שׂנֵ א‬ ָ functioning as verbs (‘loving’, ‘hating’), which, unlike the nominalized use (‘friend’, ‘enemy’), is uncommon in the Bible. Syntactically, the participle expresses the general present for situations that are not ongoing or unbroken (for which the imperfect is more common in BH): e.g., ‫וכן רוקח‬ ‫‘ עושה מרקחת‬and similarly the druggist prepares (his) medicines’ (38:8 [B]). Finally, the periphrastic construction of a finite form of ‫ הי״ה‬with an active participle (e.g., ‫‘ אל תהי זורה‬do not winnow!’ [5:9 (C)]) links the language of Ben Sira to LBH, Tannaitic Hebrew, Qumran Hebrew, and even Aramaic. The various forms of the imperfect (regular, short, and long) are used more or less as in Biblical Hebrew. Yet, some forms agree with tendencies known in LBH. For example, forms of the imperfect are distributed according to syntactic position—‫ אקטלה‬clause-initially vs. ‫ אקטל‬in non-initial

Ben Sira


position: e.g., ‫‘ אהללה שמך‬I will praise Your name’ (51:11 [B]) but ‫ולמלמדי‬ ‫‘ אתן הודאה‬and to my teacher(s) I will give thanks’ (51:17 [B]). Or the short form of the imperfect appears after the copulative waw, even when the verb has no jussive sense: e.g., ‫‘ ויצמח כסנה צצים‬and he produces thornlike blossoms’ (43:19 [M]) (the defective spelling of the hiphil requires that the form be interpreted as short). After the negation ‫אל‬, both the short imperfect (as in BH) and the regular imperfect (predominant in Tannaitic Hebrew) are attested (see 5:9, quoted above, where ‫[ תהי‬C] ~ ‫[ תהיה‬A]). The low frequency of the paragogic nun, the long imperative, and the particle ‫ נא‬ties the Hebrew of Ben Sira to LBH and post-Biblical Hebrew. The paragogic nun occurs only three times: twice in passages linked to biblical verses and once in a textually doubtful passage. ‫אשר לא יאכלון‬ ]‫(‘ ולא י֯ ֯ר[יחון‬the idols of the nations) who cannot eat or sm[ell]’ (30:19 [Bmargin]) is an obvious parallel to Deut 4:28, and ‫‘ אשי ייי יאכלון‬the fireofferings of Yhwh they should eat’ (Sir 45:20 [B]) to Deut 18:1. Textually doubtful is the occurrence in the concluding acrostic poem in ‫עד מתי‬ ‫‘ תחסרון מן אילו ואילו‬how long will you be deprived of this and that?’ (51:24 [B]). The long imperative occurs once in ‫‘ דעה רעך כנפשך‬recognize your neighbor is like you!’ (31:15 [B]), but this passage is also textually doubtful (cf. Van Peursen 2004: 184–85). The particle ‫ נא‬occurs only four times in passages couched in biblical style: e.g., ‫(‘ )ו(עתה ברכו נא את ייי‬and) now, bless Yhwh!’ (45:25; 50:22 [B]). Occasionally in BH, and more frequently in Tannaitic Hebrew, the passive participle denotes a perfect state. There are two occurrences with an intransitive verb in Ben Sira: ‫‘ עמודים‬standing fast’ (Sir 16:18 [A]) and ‫‘ אבוד‬lost’ (41:2 [M]; cf. ‫[ אבד‬B]).

Sentences In many respects, the syntax of Ben Sira follows the rules of BH. It was already noted that some constructions formerly interpreted as errors or mistakes, such as the formation of conditional clauses without a conjunction preceding either the protasis or the apodosis, at closer inspection agree with syntactic patterns found in BH. Also, in areas where LBH, Qumran Hebrew, and Tannaitic Hebrew differ significantly from SBH, Ben Sira agrees with the classical language. This applies to many items: the formation of conditional clauses in which the apodosis is introduced by waw (not in Tannaitic Hebrew; but the construction without waw is more


Chapter 6

frequent in Ben Sira); temporal, causal, comparative, and instrumental adverbials composed of a preposition (not only lamed ) and an infinitive (not in Tannaitic Hebrew); the use of the bare infinitive as the subject of a main clause (in Tannaitic Hebrew, only the infinitive with lamed survived in this position); the combination of the infinitive with separative ‫ מקטל( מן‬as in BH) (contrast Tannaitic Hebrew ‫ ;)מלקטל‬the combination of an infinitive with a subject suffix (which also disappeared in Tannaitic Hebrew); and the use of the infinitive absolute as internal object. There are some features in Ben Sira that are rare or poetic in the Bible: asyndetic relative clauses, which occur frequently in Ben Sira, such as ‫‘ דבר תשמע‬a word you hear’ (Sir 41:18 [B, M]); the juxtaposition of two comparative clauses, as in ‫‘ כי מבגד יצא עש ומאשה רעת אשה‬for (as) moths come from garments, (so) from a woman the wickedness of a woman’ (42:13 [B, M]); the extraposition of an element before the interrogative pronoun (possibly under Aramaic influence), as in ‫‘ ובמרום מי יזכרני‬and who will remember me in heaven?’ (16:17 [A]); the use of sentence-initial ‫ פן‬indicating a negative wish, as in ‫‘ פן תאמר‬do not say!’ (15:12 [A, B]); as well as other negative constructions with ‫‘ בלא‬without’, ‫‘ באין‬without’, and ‫‘ בל‬not’ (Van Peursen 1999). The most striking deviation from BH syntax is the construction ‫אל‬ ‫תקטלך‬, in which the object suffix expresses a reflexive pronoun: e.g., ‫אל‬ ‫‘ תרשיעך‬do not declare yourself wicked!’ (Sir 7:7 [A]), ‫‘ אל תפילך‬do not cause yourself to fall!’ (7:7 [A]), and ‫‘ אל תחשיבך‬do not esteem yourself!’ (7:16 [A]). This construction has been advanced as evidence of Ben Sira’s failure to imitate Classical Hebrew, since it has rare and uncertain parallels in the Bible (e.g., Ezek 29:3 and, perhaps, 1 Sam 2:29; for comparable cases involving the object marker ‫את‬, see Exod 5:19; Jer 7:19; Ezek 34:2, 8, 10). The construction is now also attested in the DSS: ‫‘ למה תכבדכה‬lest you honor yourself’ (1QInstruction [1Q26] 1 5 [// 4QInstructiong (4Q423) 4 1]) (cf. Rey 2008: 168–71). Some other phenomena are unique to the language of Ben Sira. Unlike contemporary or earlier Hebrew, but like later paytanic literature, Ben Sira marks a final clause with ‫‘ עבור‬so that’ (3:8 [A]). He uniquely uses ‫כדי כן‬ and ‫ איככה‬in the sense ‘all the more’: ‫(‘ קרב נדיב היה רחוק וכדי כן יגישך‬if) a noble draws near, keep your distance and all the more he will cause you to approach’ (13:9 [A]).

Ben Sira


There are some other features in which Ben Sira’s language deviates from SBH and agrees with LBH and/or post-Biblical Hebrew (Fassberg 1997): the introduction of the direct object by lamed (as in Aramaic and LBH), as in ‫‘ האהב לנפשך‬endear yourself!’ (Sir 4:7 [A]); the absence of the interrogative -‫ ;ה‬the formation of apodosis clauses without waw (see above); the introduction of a complement clause with -‫ ש‬or ‫( אשר‬both twice) alongside SBH ‫( כי‬15 times), as in ‫‘ דע שרעך כמוך‬know that your neighbor is like you!’ (31:16 [B]); the formation of temporal clauses with ‫ עם‬plus infinitive, as in ‫‘ עם צאת נפשו‬when his soul leaves’ (38:23 [B]); the marking of consecutive and final clauses with ‫ אשר‬or -‫ש‬, as in ‫העבד‬ ‫‘ עבדך שלא ימרוד‬make your servant work, that he may not rebel’ (33:28 [E]); object-verb word order, where the verb is an infinitive (also in LBH and Qumran Hebrew), as in ‫‘ לא כל להביא אל בית‬one should not bring everybody into one’s house’ (11:29 [A]); the use of ‫( ללא‬also attested in Qumran Hebrew) in ‫‘ ללא יכרת‬it will not be cut off’ (41:11 [M]; cf. ‫לא‬ [B]); the use of the nominal negation ‫‘ לאין‬without’ (also in LBH), as in ‫לאין‬ ‫‘ פחה‬without a trace’ (51:4 [B]); and the prohibitive construction ‫אין לקטל‬ (also LBH and post-Biblical Hebrew, especially Qumran Hebrew), as in ‫אין‬ ‫‘ לבזות דל משכיל‬it is not proper to despise a poor man’ (10:23 [A, B]). The latter item is paralleled by ‫‘ אל לאמר‬one should not say’ (39:34 [B]; cf. ‫אין‬ [Bmargin]). Most commentators regard this construction as corrupt. But the same construction with ‫ אל‬is attested in Qumran Hebrew (4QCommConf [4Q393] 3 3–4) and has parallels in the construction ‫ לא לקטל‬in LBH and Qumran Hebrew (Van Peursen 1999). In nominal and participial clauses, the subject is often not marked with a personal pronoun but is omitted altogether. The omitted subject may be indefinite, as in ‫‘ לא נאסף‬nothing can be added’ (Sir 42:21 [B, M]). In other cases, a referential third-person pronoun is missing: e.g., ‫‘ ושוחק לך‬and he will smile at you’ (13:6 [A]) and ‫‘ ושנואה‬and (if) she is hated’ (7:26 [A]). Once, a second-person masc. sing. pronoun is missing: ‫‘ ואם נמוט‬and if you shake’ (12:15 [A]) (Van Peursen 2004: 221–23).

Bibliography In addition to the publications listed below, various valuable online resources are available, including a website with the Hebrew text and images of the manuscripts: www.bensira.org.


Chapter 6

Beentjes, Pancratius C. 1997 The Book of Ben Sira in Hebrew: A Text Edition of All Extant Hebrew Manuscripts and a Synopsis of All Parallel Hebrew Ben Sira Texts. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 68. Leiden: Brill. Bickell, Gustav 1882 Ein alphabetisches Lied Jesus Sirach’s. Zeitschrift für Katholische Theologie 6: 319–33. Coarley, Jeremy 2011 An Alternative Hebrew Form of Ben Sira: The Anthological Manuscript C. Pp. 3–22 in The Text and Versions of the Book of Ben Sira: Transmission and Interpretation, ed. Jean-Sébastien Rey and Jan Joosten. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 150. Leiden: Brill. Di Lella, Alexander A. 1966 The Hebrew Text of Sirach: A Text-Critical and Historical Study. Studies in Classical Literature 1. The Hague: Mouton. Dihi, Hayyim 2000 Non-Biblical Verbal Usages in the Book of Ben Sira. Pp. 56–64 in Diggers at the Well: Proceedings of a Third International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira, ed. T. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 36. Leiden: Brill. Elizur, Shulamit 2007 ‫[ קטע חדש מהנוסח העברי של ספר בן סירא‬A New Hebrew Fragment of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus)]. Tarbiz 76: 17–28. 2010 Two New Leaves of the Hebrew Version of Ben Sira. Dead Sea Discoveries 17: 13–29. Elizur, Shulamit, and Rand, Michael 2011 A New Fragment of the Book of Ben Sira. Dead Sea Discoveries 18: 200–205. Elwolde, John F. 1997 Developments in Hebrew Vocabulary between Bible and Mishnah. Pp. 17–55 in The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira: Proceedings of a Symposium Held at Leiden University, 11–14 December 1995, ed. T. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 26. Leiden: Brill. Fassberg, Steven E. 1997 On the Syntax of Dependent Clauses in Ben Sira. Pp. 56–71 in The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira: Proceedings of a Symposium Held at Leiden University, 11–14 December 1995, ed. T. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 26. Leiden: Brill. Historical Dictionary of the Hebrew Language 1973 ‫ונתוח אוצר המלים‬ ‫קונקורדנציה‬ ‚‫ המקור‬:‫[ ספר בן סירא‬The Book of Ben Sira: Text, Concordance, and an Analysis of the Vocabulary]. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language / Shrine of the Book. Hurvitz, Avi 1997 The Linguistic Status of Ben Sira as a Link between Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew: Lexicographical Aspects. Pp. 72–86 in The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira: Proceedings of a Symposium Held at Leiden Univer-

Ben Sira


sity, 11–14 December 1995, ed. T. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 26. Leiden: Brill. Joosten, Jan 1999 Pseudo-Classicisms in Late Biblical Hebrew, in Ben Sira and in Qumran Hebrew. Pp. 146–60 in Sirach, Scrolls and Sages: Proceedings of a Second International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ben Sira, and the Mishnah, Held at Leiden University, 15–17 December 1997, ed. T. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 33. Leiden: Brill. Kister, Menahem 1989–90  ‫[ לפירושו של ספר בן סירא‬A Contribution to the Interpretation of Ben Sira]. Tarbiz 59: 303–78. Peursen, W. T. van 1999 Negation in the Hebrew of Ben Sira. Pp. 223–43 in Sirach, Scrolls and Sages: Proceedings of a Second International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ben Sira, and the Mishnah, Held at Leiden University, 15–17 December 1997, ed. T. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 33. Leiden: Brill. 2001 The Alleged Retroversions from Syriac in the Hebrew Text of Ben Sira Revisited: Linguistic Perspectives. Kleine Untersuchungen zur Sprachen des Alten Testaments und seiner Umwelt 2: 47–95. 2003 Sir 51:13–30 in Hebrew and Syriac. Pp. 357–74 in Hamlet on a Hill: Semitic and Greek Studies Presented to Professor T. Muraoka on the Occasion of His Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. M. F. J. Baasten and W. T. van Peursen. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 118. Leuven: Peeters. 2004 The Verbal System in the Hebrew Text of Ben Sira. Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 41. Leiden: Brill. Rabin Chaim 1958 The Historical Background of Qumran Hebrew. Pp. 144–61 in Aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Chaim Rabin and Yigael Yadin. Scripta Hierosolymitana 4. Jerusalem: Magnes. Reif, Stefan C. 1997 The Discovery of the Cambridge Genizah Fragments of Ben Sira: Scholars and Texts. Pp. 1–22 in The Book of Ben Sira in Modern Research: Proceedings of the First International Ben Sira Conference, 28–31 July 1996, Soesterberg, Netherlands, ed. Pancratius Cornelis Beentjes. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 255. Berlin: De Gruyter. Rey, Jean-Sébastien 2008 Quelques particularités linguistiques communes à 4QInstruction et à Ben Sira. Pp. 155–73 in Conservatism and Innovation in the Hebrew Language of the Hellenistic Period: Proceedings of a Fourth International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira, ed. Jan Joosten and Jean-Sébastien Rey. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 73. Leiden: Brill. Schechter, S. 1896 A Fragment of the Original Text of Ecclesiasticus. Expositor 5/4: 1–15.


Chapter 6

Schechter, S., and Taylor, C. 1899 The Wisdom of Ben Sira: Portions of the Book Ecclesiasticus from Hebrew Manuscripts in the Cairo Geniza Presented to the University of Cambridge by the Editors. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Segal, M. H. 1972 ‫ספר בן סירא השלם‬. 2nd ed. Jerusalem: Bialik. Skehan, Patrick W., and Di Lella, Alexander A. 1987 The Wisdom of Ben Sira. Anchor Bible 39. New York: Doubleday. Tov, Emanuel 2004 Scribal Practices and Approaches Reflected in the Texts Found in the Judean Desert. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 54. Leiden: Brill. Yadin, Yigael 1999 The Ben Sira Scroll from Masada. Repr., with “Notes on the Reading,” by Elisha Qimron and “Ben Sira: A Bibliography of Studies, 1965–1997,” by Florentino García Martínez. Pp. 151–252 in Masada VI: The Yigael Yadin Excavations 1963–1965: Final Report, ed. Joseph Aviram, Gideon Foerster, and Ehud Netzer. Jerusalem: Hebrew University / Israel Exploration Society.

Chapter 7

The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls J an J oosten

Introduction Beginning in 1947 and for a number of years afterward, a large number of Hebrew manuscripts—mostly fragments of parchment or papyrus but also one or two scrolls preserved in their entirety—were discovered in eleven caves situated near Khirbet Qumran, west of the northernmost tip of the Dead Sea. There are Aramaic and Greek writings, but the great majority of texts are written in Hebrew. Alongside copies of almost all of the canonical biblical books, a sizeable part of the Qumran corpus consists of writings from the Second Temple period. Some of the latter, such as Tobit or Jubilees, had been known previously, although from later translations. But, with the notable exception of the Damascus Document, which had been discovered in the Cairo Genizah in 1897, most of the non-biblical writings discovered at Qumran were unknown. More recently, Hebrew texts also have been found in other localities near the Dead Sea. Some of these, notably some fragments discovered at Masada, are comparable to the texts found at Qumran. Some, however, reflect a later period: legal documents from the time of the First and Second Jewish Revolts against the Romans and the Bar Kokhba letters from the Second Revolt (Yardeni 2000). Grammatical analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) began early, with important studies by Hanoch Yalon and others. But it was E. Y. Kutscher who set the study of Qumran Hebrew on a sure footing with his book on the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) (Kutscher 1974). Kutscher showed that many of the divergences between the Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text (MT) of Isaiah reflect the former’s adaptation to the Hebrew of its time. While 83


Chapter 7

the MT is very conservative, 1QIsaa updates the language of the prophetic book—presumably with a view to making it more accessible to readers of the Hellenistic period. The “later Hebrew” that influenced the Scroll is to a large extent identical with the Hebrew of the sectarian scrolls (and indeed most Hebrew documents discovered near Qumran). Kutscher’s study of DSS Hebrew through the prism of 1QIsaa was astute because it allowed for a comparative approach. The proper place, however, to study this later dialect is in the writings that were composed in it from the start (Qimron 1986; see also Reymond 2014).

The Speech Community The relationship between the manuscripts stored in the caves behind Qumran and the inhabitants of Qumran is debated. Most scholars hold that the manuscripts belonged to the group dwelling at the site; others believe that the scrolls were brought to Qumran from Jerusalem. The most widespread hypothesis views the group living at Qumran as Essenes, a sect described by Flavius Josephus and other ancient writers. Some texts describe in detail the elaborate ritual by which members entered the group and might be expelled if they did not measure up to the strict criteria of inclusion (1QS I 16–II 18). Religious groups are notorious for using words and phrases in ways that are uncommon or incomprehensible to non-members and can be fully understood only in terms of the doctrine and practice of the group. This phenomenon certainly applies to the Dead Sea Scrolls, even though the absence of contemporary Hebrew literature makes it hard to estimate its extent. Undoubtedly, words referring to the group itself (‫‘ יחד‬Yachad, community’ and ‫‘ בני אור‬Sons of Light’) and its leader or founder (‫‘ מורה הצדק‬Teacher of Righteousness’) fall into the category of sectarian language. Probably, technical terms pertaining to the group’s doctrine belong to this category, too (e.g., ‫‘ רז נהיה‬the secret of being’). Some scholars have described Qumran Hebrew as an “anti-language” (Schniedewind 1999), giving linguistic expression to the opposition of the sectarians to their contemporaries. Apart from sectarian terminology, however, Qumran Hebrew may well represent language use that was much more widespread and is only by accident unattested outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Phonological and morphological features that are rare or absent in other Hebrew corpora should in most cases be regarded as dialectal (Meyer

The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls


1957; Qimron 1986; Morag 1988). It is hard to attribute such features as the o-vowel in the noun ‫‘ להוב‬blade’ (e.g., 1QHa X 26) or the syllabic structure of imperfect forms of the type ‫‘ אדורשנה‬I will seek her’ (11Psa [11Q5] XXI 12), to sociolinguistic factors. Some lexical peculiarities may be due to the special style of the Scrolls, geared to the imitation of classical models. Variations—such as ‫ אשר ~ ש‬for the relative particle, or ‫ אנחנו ~ אנו‬for the first-person pl. pronoun—have led some scholars to the view that the spoken language underlying the DSS was a form of Tannaitic Hebrew, and that all biblical elements reflect artificial imitation (Rabin 1965). This view, however, is disputable. Such variations could just as well reflect distinct stylistic registers: the first more formal, and the second closer to spontaneous speech. In the “Halakhic Letter” (4QMMT), a member of the Qumran group appears to be addressing an audience of outsiders. This rhetorical stance leads to vocabulary that is otherwise rare in the Scrolls (e.g., ‫‘ פרש‬to separate’ is used in 4QMMT C 7 [4Q397 14–21:7] instead of the usual DSS term, ‫)בדל‬. This phenomenon shows that the use of “sectarian” language reflects a conscious choice on the part of the writer.

The Corpus 1 Not all the texts found in the Qumran caves were composed by the group who hid them there. The books that came to make up the Hebrew Bible are older—some of them much older—than the corpus of sectarian writings. Most of the “biblical” books were already regarded as authoritative by the Qumran group as demonstrated by, among other things, the existence of multiple copies of various books. Several other Hebrew writings, too, seem to predate the sectarian scrolls, notably Ben Sira, Jubilees, Tobit, and some apocryphal Psalms. Finally, a number of scrolls that do not exhibit the special vocabulary and phraseology of the sectarian scrolls may have also come to the group from outside. In light of these diverse origins, it is hardly surprising to observe a certain measure of linguistic diversity among the DSS. Apart from the biblical books, a document that stands out in this regard is the Copper Scroll (3Q15), written in a more evolved and more popular language bordering at times on Tannaitic Hebrew. 1.  All Qumran texts have now been published in the series Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (DJD). For a convenient list and directory of publication information, see DJD 39: 27–114.


Chapter 7

Sectarian writings make up a notable share of the corpus: the Rules Scroll (1QS), the War Scroll (1QM), the Thanksgiving Hymns (e.g., 1QHa and 1QHb), the Damascus Document (CD), Pesher Habakkuk (1QpHab) and other pesharim, the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (e.g., 4Q400– 407), the Temple Scroll (11Q19), 4QMMT, and many fragments of other works. These seem to go back to a single religious movement. Distinctive theological or halakhic nuances may be attributed to inner diversity in the group. Slight linguistic differences, particularly but not exclusively between 4QMMT and the other writings, appear to reflect stylistic preferences of the authors. It has been usual to date the oldest of these writings to the second century BCE, but recent research suggests rather that all were composed around the middle of the first century BCE (Wise 2010). If correct, this would make the sectarian scrolls approximately one century later than the latest books of the biblical corpus. The dependence of the scrolls on books that in time came to be adopted in the Jewish Bible is manifest throughout. Some of the writings, not only the pesharim, extensively comment upon biblical verses. Biblical quotations and allusions are frequent. Over and beyond this, the sectarian authors tend to clothe their thoughts in biblical expressions. Correct understanding of the scrolls often presupposes identifying the biblical source of certain words or idioms and grasping the interpretation the later author gave to the biblical text.

Orthography Different orthographic traditions are represented among the manuscripts (Tov 2004), some of which approximate the conservative spelling of the MT. On the whole, there is a tendency toward more plene spellings (Qimron 1986: 17–24; Reymond 2014: 35–63). More specifically, o- and uphones are almost invariably written with waw, whatever their length or etymology. The tendency is so strong that where the waw is lacking one may sometimes suspect a different morphology. Thus the noun ‫ארך‬, used in the metaphorical expression ‫‘ ארך יד‬capacity’ (4QTobe 4:7 [4Q200 2 6]), is probably to be distinguished from the noun ‫‘ אורך‬length’ (Tiberian ‫)א ֶֹרְך‬: the orthography suggests that ‫ ארך‬was vocalized with a vowel other than [o] (perhaps akin to ‫)א ֶרְך‬. ֶ  2 The use of yod as mater lectionis for i- and 2.  Note also ‫‘ ארך אפים‬patience’ (e.g., CD II 4); in 1QS IV 3, it is corrected to ‫אורך‬ ‫אפים‬. In Tiberian Hebrew, ‫ ֶא ֶרְך‬is often assumed to be the construct state of the nonattested adjective *‫‘ ָא ֵרְך‬long’; ‘patience’ is ‫( א ֶֹרְך ַא ַּפיִ ם‬Prov 25:15; but see Jer 15:15).

The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls


e-vowels is much less systematic and mostly limited to cases where the vowel is long. Final vowels are written with he, ʾaleph, or yod, more or less as in the MT. However, ʾaleph for final [ā] is much more frequent than in the MT, probably due to Aramaic influence (note ‫‘ גבורא‬might’ [1QIsaa 36:5 (XXIX 5)]). A peculiar feature of Qumran orthography, only rarely encountered in other Hebrew traditions, is the presence of digraphs combining ʾaleph, sometimes he, with waw or yod to express a single vowel. Such digraphs are found both in word-internal and word-final positions: e.g., ‫ראוש‬/‫‘ רואש‬head’, ‫‘ לוא‬not’, ‫‘ כיא‬because’, and ‫‘ כוה‬thus’; see also ‫‘ אותוה‬him’ (1QIsaa 36:21 [XXX 1]). Whether these digraphs had a specific phonetic value is debated. The haphazard fashion in which they occur indicates that they probably do not. They are more frequent in some manuscripts than in others, but in no text are they used consistently.

Phonology and Phonetics Because the writing system gives little information on the pronunciation of the texts, the phonology and phonetics of DSS Hebrew remain uncertain on many points. Accordingly, all phonetic representations hereafter are approximate. All one can do is observe tendencies in the spelling that may, in comparative perspective, be significant (Qimron 1986: 25–40; Reymond 2014: 65–140). On the whole, the phonetic system of DSS Hebrew seems to be similar to that of Tiberian Hebrew. A number of differences, however, merit comment. Many orthographic features show that the ʾaleph was no longer realized as a glottal stop: the ʾaleph may be omitted entirely (e.g., ‫‘ תנתו‬his fig-tree’ [1QIsaa 36:16 (XXIX 25)] [Tiberian ‫;)]ּת ֵאנָ תֹו‬ ְ or another vowel letter may be added to it and thus constitute a digraph (e.g., ‫‘ ויואמר‬and he said’ [1QIsaa 36:7 (XXIX 9)] [Tiberian ‫אמר‬ ֶ ֹ ‫)]וַ ּי‬. Spellings such as ‫מאיות‬ ‘hundreds’ or ‫‘ באוו‬they came’ show that the weakening of intervocalic ʾaleph could produce a glide: [meyot] and [bawu], respectively. The general weakening of the ʾaleph does not mean that its pronunciation as a glottal stop had completely disappeared. The spelling ‫‘ אשאול‬Sheol’ (11QPsa 141:7 [11Q5 XXIII 4]) for ‫ שאול‬tends to indicate that the word was pronounced [ešʾol]: if there were no consonantal cluster at the beginning of the word, the addition of the prosthetic ʾaleph would be difficult to explain. The other gutturals, he, ḥet, and ʿayin also present irregularities, showing that they had weakened as well (Qimron 1986: 25–26; Reymond 2014:


Chapter 7

71–114). They may be omitted, as in ‫‘ יבור‬it passes through’ (1QIsaa 28:15 [XXII 19]) (Tiberian ‫)יעבר‬. They may be replaced by another guttural, as in ‫‘ באופיע‬when (they) appeared’ (1QS X 2) < ‫*בהופיע‬. Or they may combine with a mater lectionis in a way that shows they were not pronounced: e.g., ‫‘ להוב‬blade’, probably [loḇ] or the like, for etymological [lohaḇ] (1QHa X 26); contrast Tiberian ‫ל ַהב‬.ַ Finally, reš presents some of the same anomalies as the gutturals, indicating that it too had weakened in some cases (note ‫‘ אבחר‬I shall choose’ [11QTa (11Q19) LII 16]). The similarity of reš to the gutturals is attested in several reading traditions of ancient Hebrew. Several variations indicate that both the guttural-like pronunciation of reš and its occasional weakening may be rather old: e.g., ‫( עשר‬1 Kgs 7:43) vs. its parallel ‫( עשה‬2 Chr 4:14), or MT ‫( תשאה‬Isa 6:1) vs. Septuagint καταλειφθήσεται (‫)תשאר‬. Final mem and nun occasionally interchange (Qimron 1986: 27; Reymond 2014: 66–67). In addition they may occur where they are not expected, as in ‫‘ סבבום‬they surrounded’ (1QHa X 27). Or, they may be absent, as in ‫‘ למע‬so that’ (1QHa XII 12) < ‫למען‬. These phenomena suggest that the two nasal consonants were pronounced similarly in final position and also that their pronunciation was weakened. Perhaps they were nasalized, as in French (e.g., faim, vin) (Ben-Ḥayyim 1958: 210–11). Occasional interchanges between samekh and śin (< *s  l [IPA [ɬ]) suggest that the two letters were pronounced similarly, as in other traditions of Hebrew (Qimron 1986: 28–30; Reymond 2014: 68–70). More intriguing is the interchange between samekh and šin in ‫‘ יכחס‬he will lie’ (1QS VII 3) < ‫*יכחש‬. Perhaps all three sibilants were pronounced similarly in DSS Hebrew. The interchanges among the sibilants cause difficulties for modern scholars. For instance, the analysis of the form ‫ אנוש‬in 1QS VII 12 is debated: some relate it to Tiberian ‫‘ ָאנּוׁש‬gravely ill’, while others analyze it as a passive participle of the LBH and Aramaic root ‫‘ אנס‬to force, to compel’. Many more observations and suggestions have been made regarding the phonology and phonetic structure of DSS Hebrew: on stress, vowel length, and the pronunciation of various combinations of vowel letters (ʾaleph, waw, yod) (for discussion, see Qimron 1986). The written data clearly indicate that DSS Hebrew sounded different from Tiberian Hebrew. Exactly how the data are to be interpreted is not always easy to say, however.

The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls


Morphology In spite of the imprecision of the writing system, it is clear that many morphological differences exist between the language of the DSS and other varieties of ancient Hebrew. As was argued above, morphological peculiarities of DSS Hebrew are for the most part to be explained as reflecting a distinct local dialect of Hebrew. The distinct morphological features of DSS Hebrew are too systematic to attribute to careless scribes. Aramaic influence cannot account for more than a handful of them: e.g., ‫‘ יהכין‬he will prepare’ (1QS III 9) or the personal suffix ‫והי‬- ‘his’ (Qimron 1986: 62). As to the notion of a consciously designed “anti-language,” this could explain a small number of features, particularly features with a “biblical ring” (compare certain religious groups’ use of “thou” instead of “you,” under the influence of the King James Bible). But features characterizing the morphology of DSS Hebrew are legion, and many of them are not “biblical” or archaic in any way. Some of the most striking differences concern individual words or forms, such as have already been noted above: e.g., DSS ‫[ להוב‬loḇ] ( להוב‬was caused by assimilation of the a‑vowel to the labial b (or perhaps to the liquid l?). This change would place the DSS form later than the Tiberian one. In other instances, however, such individual differences may reflect parallel developments or even the preservation of early forms in a later dialect. Thus the absence of a vowel letter in the noun ‫‘ טמאה‬impurity’, attested tens of times in the DSS, suggests that it was pronounced [ṭimʾā] or the like (for parallels in the Babylonian tradition, see Yeivin 1985: 670); in comparison, Tiberian ‫ֻט ְמ ָאה‬ seems to reflect the assimilation of the initial, characteristic vowel to the mem. In this latter case, the typologically earlier form is that of the DSS. Individual differences in the morphology are not limited to nominal forms. Pronouns, verbal forms, and adverbs also turn up with a distinct morphology in the DSS. Perhaps the single most striking feature of DSS Hebrew is the masc. sing. independent personal pronoun ‫‘ הואה‬he’, probably [huwa] (or [huwa]), corresponding to Tiberian ‫הּוא‬. The long form of the DSS is unattested in any other corpus or tradition of Hebrew. Some


Chapter 7

have analyzed it as an artificial creation, designed for use among a sectarian group (Schniedewind 1999). The fact that the long form appears to alternate, although rarely, with the short form in the DSS favors this approach (see ‫‘ אפהו‬also’ [1QHa XVIII 5]). Others have defended ‫ הואה‬as an authentic form—whether an archaic form accidentally preserved in a single dialect or a late analogical creation—of ancient Hebrew (Muraoka 2000: 342). In light of the general picture of DSS morphology, the second approach seems preferable. Long forms are also attested for other personal pronouns: independent forms such as ‫‘ היאה‬she’, ‫‘ אתמה‬you’ (masc. pl.), and ‫‘ המה‬they’ (masc.); pronominal suffixes such as ‫כמה‬- ‘your’ (masc. pl.) and ‫המה‬- ‘their’ (masc. pl.); and verbal endings, as in ‫‘ אכלתמה‬you may eat’ (4QNumb 18:31 [4Q27 XII 8]). Except for ‫ הואה‬and ‫היאה‬, all other long forms find analogies in other varieties of ancient Hebrew, notably in Samaritan Hebrew (Ben-Ḥayyim 1958). Another set of puzzling features pertains to the vocalization of imperfect, imperative, and infinitive forms of strong verbs. Imperfect and imperative forms with vocalic afformatives are generally written with a waw between the second and third radicals: e.g., ‫‘ יעבורו‬they will pass’ (1QS II 19); cf. ‫‘ אמורו‬say!’ (1QIsaa 36:4 [XXIX 2]). Such forms conform to pausal forms in Tiberian Hebrew and may have had comparable pronunciations: [yaʿabóru] and [amóru], respectively. Pausal forms in Tiberian Hebrew are known often to preserve early features. These DSS forms, then, fit our general understanding of Hebrew in comparative-historical perspective. Likewise, suffixed forms such as ‫‘ ויתפושם‬and he seized them’ (1QIsaa 36:1 [XXVIII 29]) (contrast Tiberian ‫ )‏וַ ּיִ ְת ְּפ ֵׂשם‬simply preserve the characteristic vowel of the imperfect which, in Tiberian, has dwindled to šəwa. The matter is different for forms like ‫‘ תשופכנו‬you will pour it out’ (11QTa [11Q19] LII 12) or ‫‘ אדורשנה‬I will seek her’ (11QPsa [11Q5] XXI 12), where the mater lectionis figures between the first and second radicals. As far as we know, there never was a vowel here. Qimron has explained such forms as analogous extensions under the influence of the infinitive construct (Qimron 1986: 52). This appears to be the best explanation. Other differences between DSS Hebrew and its cognates do not concern single words or forms but are systemic. They affect the organization of the language in its paradigmatic dimension. Systemic changes do not necessarily imply the development of new forms. They may in some cases reflect a

The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls


functional realignment of existing forms. Systemic changes happen gradually and can only be observed over a longer period. Those affecting DSS Hebrew are mostly already underway in LBH and continue in Tannaitic Hebrew. They exemplify the development of the language as a whole. The best illustration of systemic change in DSS Hebrew is the evolution of the verbal system. Ostensibly, the DSS preserve the system known from the biblical texts: they use the perfect and the imperfect, their “converted” variants (Smith 1991), a set of modal forms ( jussive, cohortative), and the predicative participle. A closer look will show, however, that the functional load of all these forms is shifting. Although the perfect “consecutive” expressing future or modal processes is still ubiquitous, it freely alternates with w plus imperfect: e.g., ‫‘ ונגש הכוהן וידבר אל העם ואמר אליהמה‬the priest will approach (perfect consecutive) and speak (w plus imperfect) to the people and say (perfect consecutive) to them’ (11QTa [11Q19] LXI 15). This means that the perfect “consecutive” no longer occupies a unique slot in the paradigm, as in classical BH, but functions as mere stylistic variant of the imperfect. 3 Another development, discovered by Qimron, concerns the distinction between the regular imperfect and the volitive forms ( jussive and cohortative). In SBH, the imperfect and the volitives almost always have distinct functions. In DSS Hebrew, their semantics overlap. The only distinction remaining between them is a formal one: the regular imperfect is used in clause-internal position, whereas the jussive and cohortative appear in clause-initial position, notably following the conjunction w-­ (Qimron 1986: 45–46). The imperfect and volitives have turned into positional variants. These characteristics of the verbal system in the DSS are already present in LBH. In a more global view, it is easy to see that the “consecutive” as well as volitive forms are slowly becoming obsolete. In Tannaitic Hebrew, with the possible exception of ‫יהי‬, which might be an Aramaism, these forms are no longer attested. Other systemic differences are lurking in the DSS. The system of derived stem forms is slowly changing. The qal is becoming more unified, with some stative verbs going over to the active (a/o) class: e.g., ‫‘ ישכוב‬he will lie down’ (1QS VII 10) (contrast Tiberian ‫)יִ ְׁש ַּכב‬. Piel and hiphil are 3.  The imperfect “consecutive” may similarly have alternated with w plus perfect (see, e.g., CD XIX 34, XX 23); however, the scarcity of narrative texts makes this conclusion somewhat uncertain.


Chapter 7

replacing some earlier qal verbs: e.g., ‫‘ הגלנה‬rejoice!’ (1QM XII 13), from ‫גיל‬. Internal passives—qal passive, pual, and hophal—are giving ground to the niphal and hithpael. The nominal system, too, gives evidence of a global long-term evolution. Proto-Hebrew must have had an elaborate system of nominal cases, similar to what appears in Ugaritic, Akkadian, and Arabic. Traces of nominal declension are still found in SBH. Some of these traces are no more than stylistic embellishments mostly limited to poetry. But at least two case endings are still somewhat alive: adverbial *-am and locative *-ā. In LBH, both these endings show signs of obsolescence. In DSS Hebrew, *-am is attested a few times, but its adverbial force is no longer understood. For example, the correspondent of MT ‫‘ יֹום‬day’ (Gen 1:5) is ‫‘ יומם‬daytime’ in 4QGeng 1:5 (4Q7 1 4); elsewhere, it even occurs with the article. Or, to cite another example, ‫‘ ריקם‬empty-handed’ is reanalyzed as an adjective. As for “locative” *-ā, its classical function of expressing direction is practically extinct. Instead, the ending is used to mark a number of adverbs, not necessarily adverbs of place. The most widespread example is ‫‘ מאודה‬very’ (e.g., 1QIsaa 36:2 [XXVIII 30], frequently in different spellings). Direction is expressed by means of prepositions.

Lexicon 4 The “biblicizing” style of many DSS leaves the impression that the language of the Scrolls is close to that of the Hebrew Bible. Under the biblical veneer, however, much of the vocabulary of the DSS reflects post-Biblical Hebrew. A comparison of the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) with the MT is enlightening. In over 200 cases, the Scroll has a variant reading implying a different root (Kutscher 1974: 216–314). The Scroll may have preserved the original reading in a few cases. Many of these variants, however, are clearly due to a process of linguistic modernization. The scribes who created the Qumran text replaced old or rare words in the book of Isaiah with more recent words that would be more easily understood by contemporary readers. Thus instead of MT ‫‘ יִ ְׂש ַמח‬He will (not) pardon’ < ‫( ׂשמ״ח‬only here; perhaps to be repointed as ‫( )ׁשמ״ח‬Isa 9:16), the Isaiah Scroll reads the better-known ‫יחמול‬. In this instance, the modernization is faithful to the semantics of the biblical text. But in other passages, it seems the scribe is 4.  In the absence of a dictionary of Qumran Hebrew, see provisionally the glosses in Abegg et al. (2003, 2010, 2016).

The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls


simply guessing. For example, the MT hapax legomenon ‫דּורים‬ ִ ‫( ֲה‬Isa 45:2) is changed to the more common ‫‘ הררים‬mountains’ (1QIsaa XXXVIII 8) (cf. LXX ὄρη ‘mountains’). Whether they are accurate or not, such substitutions illustrate the difficulty the authors of the DSS experienced in trying to make sense of biblical texts. Many words and usages found in the DSS are unattested in biblical books (Qimron 1986: 98–115). Non-biblical elements in DSS vocabulary can be divided into genuine Hebrew words and loanwords. The DSS attest to a number of Hebrew words that may always have been part of the language but only by chance do not occur in the biblical corpus. Representative examples include the nouns ‫‘ בדן‬body’ and ‫‘ תכמים‬innards (?)’. Other words appear to be of more recent origin: one time, for example, classical ‫‘ עתה‬now’ is replaced by a synonym ‫( עכשו‬4QpJuba [4Q225] 2 II 7), which becomes common in Tannaitic Hebrew. One also encounters many usages representing an extension or specialization of an earlier meaning attested in the biblical books. Particularly interesting are some religious usages such as ‫‘ ברך‬to say a blessing’, ‫‘ גער‬to exorcize’, and ‫‘ מעשים‬precepts’. Loanwords from Aramaic are prominent: e.g., ‫‘ כבר‬already’ (4QTobe 10:7 [4Q200 4 3]), ‫‘ מגבל‬formation’ (1QHa XI 24), ‫‘ סומה‬blind’, ‫‘ עלה‬pretext’, ‫‘ פשר‬interpretation’, and many others. There are also some examples of loan translations (calques): in CD V 6, -‫‘ עזב ל‬to leave for’ is used with the meaning ‘to remit, to forgive’, apparently under the influence of Aramaic -‫ ;שבק ל‬in 4QHoroscope (4Q186) 1 III 4, ‫ לאחת‬seems to mean ‘very’, like ‫ לחדא‬in Western Aramaic. Loanwords from Persian may have entered DSS Hebrew through Aramaic: e.g., ‫רס‬, a measure of length, in 11QTa (11Q19) LII 18. There are no Greek loanwords in the DSS, except in the Copper Scroll, where there are many: e.g., ‫‘ אסטאן‬stoa’ < στοά and ‫אכסדרן‬ ‘portico’ < ἐξέδρα (3Q15 XI 2, 3). The disparity between the Copper Scroll and the other DSS in this regard suggests that the sectarian authors avoided Greek loanwords for ideological reasons. A phenomenon that remains to be mentioned is that of the reuse of archaic expressions (Joosten 1999). Words or phrases attested in the Bible are used in a way that tends to show the author knew them only from their occurrence in the earlier texts, not from living usage. A good example is the use of the noun ‫( מדהבה‬1QHa XI 26). The word almost certainly came into being as a scribal mistake in Isa 14:4 (Mizrahi 2013). In the Thanksgiving Hymns, it occurs with a meaning (‘thirst’), based on learned study


Chapter 7

of its etymology and its context in Isaiah. The procedure may appear curious, but it finds many parallels in the history of Hebrew literature, starting with LBH and ending with Modern Hebrew. In the case of the DSS, this type of reuse is pervasive: it not only shows that the sectarian authors had studied the biblical texts intensively; it also shows that they wished to coordinate and assimilate their own writings to that same biblical corpus.

Syntax The syntax of DSS Hebrew is still a developing field. Many keen observations are contained in Qimron’s grammar (1986: 70–86), but much work remains to be done. This section will be limited to pointing out a few typical usages occurring in vol. 2. Some changes in the verbal system have already been signaled in the section on morphology. The gradual loss of the “consecutive” forms and marked volitives results in an impoverishment of the system. But the system is also enriched with new forms and usages. Two of these can be observed in the fragments of Tobit: (1) Alongside the finite tenses, the participle takes on an ever more important role. In narrative, events may be reported with the perfect or the imperfect “consecutive,” but they may also be described as ongoing or durative with a combination of the verb ‘to be’ and the participle: e.g., ‫‘ והיו המה מברכים‬they blessed, were blessing’ (4QTobe 12:22 [4Q200 6 2]); compare the imperfect καὶ ηὐλόγουν in the Septuagint according to the text of the Sinai Codex (Codex Sinaiticus). Similarly, a process that is a perpetual command is expressed with the same type of periphrasis: e.g., ‫וכול ימיכה‬ ‫‘ בני לאלהים היה זכר‬All your days, my son, remember God!’ (4QTobe 4:5 [4Q200 2 3]). The usage is found already in Biblical Hebrew but increases notably in the late books. In Tannaitic Hebrew, it develops even further. (2) The infinitive absolute, too, plays an independent part in the verbal system. The classical construction in which the infinitive absolute cooccurs with a finite verb of the same root recedes, but its use as a kind of “consecutive tense” is enhanced. In Tobit, waw followed by the infinitive absolute is used three times in narrative: ‫‘ בכן דבר טובי וכתוב תהלה‬Then Tobit spoke and wrote down a hymn’ (4QTobe 13:1 [4Q200 6 4]; see also 4QTobe 4:4 [4Q200 2 2] and, in a broken context, 4QTobe 10:7 [4Q200 4 3]; cf. 4‫‏‬QTNaph [4Q215] 1 III 10] and 4QMMT C 25–26 [4Q399 1 I 10]). Such narrative infinitive absolutes are found sporadically in SBH

The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls


(Gen 41:43; Exod 8:11; Jud 7:19; Isa 37:19) and become more numerous in the LBH corpus (Nehemiah, Chronicles, Esther, Qohelet, Daniel). The usage finds no continuation in Tannaitic Hebrew. The examples from the DSS seem to be the last attestations of an experiment that was successful for a while and then fell from use. Both these developments illustrate the place of DSS Hebrew in the continual evolution of the language. Upon studying the DSS one can only be struck by the complex syntactic structure of many texts. In vol. 2, this characteristic leaps to the eye particularly in the extract from the Damascus Document. Arguably, the first five lines of column I make up a single sentence (with indentation showing levels of subordination): Listen now, all you who know righteousness, and consider the deeds of God,    for He has a dispute with all flesh,    and passes judgment on those who spurn Him,      for when they abandoned Him       by being faithless,      He turned away, from both Israel and His sanctuary      and gave them up to the sword,      but when He called to mind the covenant       He made with their forefathers,      He left a remnant for Israel      and did not allow them to be exterminated.

Similar complex sentences are met with also in the Rule Scroll. Even in poetry, there is a tendency toward subordination and complex subordination, as can be observed, for instance, in the selections from the Hodayoth in vol. 2. This kind of syntax is rare in the biblical Psalms, but it does find a forerunner in Proverbs 1–9 (see, e.g., Prov 2:1–22).

Bibliography Abegg, Martin G., Jr.; Bowley, James E.; and Cook, Edward M. 2003 The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, vol. 1: The Non-Biblical Texts from Qumran. Leiden: Brill. 2010 The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, vol. 3: The Biblical Texts from Qumran. Leiden: Brill. 2016 The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, vol. 2: The Non-Qumran Documents and Texts. Leiden: Brill. Ben-Ḥayyim, Zeev 1958 Traditions in the Hebrew Language, with Special Reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Pp. 200–14 in Aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Chaim Rabin and Yigal Yadin. Scripta Hierosolymitana 4. Jerusalem: Magnes.


Chapter 7

DJD Discoveries in the Judaean Desert. 40 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955–2010. Fassberg, Steven E.; Bar-Asher, Moshe; and Clements, Ruth A., eds. 2013 Hebrew in the Second Temple Period: The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and of Other Contemporary Sources; Proceedings of the Twelfth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature and the Fifth International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira, Jointly Sponsored by the Eliezer Ben-Yehuda Center for the Study of the History of the Hebrew Language, 29–31 December, 2008. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 108. Leiden: Brill. Goshen-Gottstein, Moshe H. 1958 Linguistic Structure and Tradition in the Qumran Documents. Pp. 101–37 in Aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Chaim Rabin and Yigal Yadin. Scripta Hierosolymitana 4. Jerusalem: Magnes. Joosten, Jan 1999 Pseudo-Classicisms in Late Biblical Hebrew, in Ben Sira, and in Qumran Hebrew. Pp. 146–59 in Sirach, Scrolls and Sages: Proceedings of a Second International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ben Sira, and the Mishnah, Held at Leiden University, 15–17 December 1997, ed. T. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 33. Leiden: Brill. Kutscher, Eduard Yechezkel 1974 The Language and Linguistic Background of the Isaiah Scroll (1QIs a). Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 6. Leiden: Brill. Translation of ‫הלשון והרקע הלשוני של מגילת ישעיהו ממגילות ים המלח‬. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1959. Meyer, Rudolf 1957 Das Problem der Dialektmischung in den hebräischen Texten von Chirbet Qumran. Vetus Testamentum 7: 139–48. Mizrahi, Noam 2013 The Linguistic History of ‫מדהבה‬: From Textual Corruption to Lexical Innovation. Revue de Qumran 26/101: 93–116. Morag, Shelomo 1988 Qumran Hebrew: Some Typological Observations. Vetus Testamentum 38: 148–64. Muraoka, Takamitsu 2000 Hebrew. Pp. 340–45 in vol. 1 of Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Muraoka, T., and Elwolde, J. F., eds. 1997 The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira: Proceedings of a Symposium Held at Leiden University, 11–14 December 1995. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 26. Leiden: Brill.

The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls


Qimron, Elisha 1986 The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Harvard Semitic Studies 29. Atlanta: Scholars Press. 1994 The Language. Pp. 65–108 in Qumran Cave 4 V: Miqṣat Maʿaśe ha-Torah, ed. Elisha Qimron and John Strugnell. Discoveries in the Judean Desert 10. Oxford: Clarendon. Rabin, Chaim 1958 The Historical Background of Qumran Hebrew. Pp. 144–61 in Aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Chaim Rabin and Yigal Yadin. Scripta Hierosolymitana 4. Jerusalem: Magnes. Reymond, Eric 2014 Qumran Hebrew: An Overview of Orthography, Phonology, and Morphology. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. Schniedewind, William 1999 Qumran Hebrew as an Antilanguage. Journal of Biblical Literature 118: 235–52. Smith, Mark 1991 The Origins and Development of the Waw-Consecutive: Northwest Semitic Evidence from Ugarit to Qumran. Harvard Semitic Studies 39. Atlanta: Scholars Press. Tov, Emanuel 2004 Scribal Practices and Approaches Reflected in the Texts Found in the Judean Desert. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 54. Leiden: Brill. Wise, Michael O. 2010 The Origins and History of the Teacher’s Movement. Pp. 92–122 in The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Timothy H. Lim and John J. Collins. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Yardeni, Ada 2000 ‫ עבריות ונבטיות ממדבר יהודה וחומר קרוב‬,‫[ אוסף תעודות ארמיות‬Textbook of Aramaic, Hebrew and Nabatean Documentary Texts from the Judaean Desert and Related Material]. 2 vols. Jerusalem: Ben-Zion Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History. Yeivin, Israel 1985 ‫[ מסורת הלשון העברית המשתקפת בניקוד הבבלי‬The Hebrew Language Tradition as Reflected in the Babylonian Vocalization]. 2 vols. Academy of the Hebrew Language Texts and Studies 12. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language.

Chapter 8

Hebrew in Greek and Latin Transcriptions A lexey E liyahu Y uditsky

Introduction Origen (184/185–253/254 CE) was one of the most influential Church Fathers. He was born and lived in Alexandria but spent the last 20 years of his life in Palestine, where he compiled his opus, the Hexapla. The second column of the Hexapla contains Greek transcriptions of the Hebrew text of the Bible. To all appearances, however, his knowledge of Hebrew was only fair. It is therefore doubtful that he was able to compose the transcriptions alone (see below). Another Church Father, Saint Jerome (Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, 347–420 CE), was born in Dalmatia and studied in Rome and Alexandria. He wrote that he spent four years learning Hebrew in the Chalcidian desert. In 386, he settled in Bethlehem, where he lived until his death. In his writings, Jerome noted that he studied Hebrew with various Jewish teachers. His knowledge of Hebrew, however, is debated. Some scholars have maintained that Jerome did not know Hebrew well. Others, though, have shown that Jerome’s understanding of the Hebrew text of the Bible was very good, as may be deduced from the accuracy of his Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, and from his discerning commentaries on the Bible (see further Harviainen 1977: 48–51). Author’s Note: All Greek accents that appear in the second column of Origen’s Hexapla from the Ambrosiania palimpsest are presented in the sample texts of vol. 2 but have been omitted from the following grammatical description. This practice follows that of other researchers of the Secunda (e.g., Janssens 1982: 39–40) and recognizes that the accents make little, if any, textual or grammatical sense.



Chapter 8

The Speech Community The source and the purpose of the second column of the Hexapla are disputed. Some maintain that it was written by Origen himself for the use of scholars unfamiliar with Hebrew. Others, in contrast, argue that the transcriptions of Hebrew were created by Jews, perhaps, to facilitate the correct reading of the non-vocalized text of the Bible; in this case, they were included in the Hexapla “as is” from a Jewish source. Since the second column of the Hexapla, known as the Secunda, does not express gutturals explicitly or distinct sibilants, the last suggestion should be preferred (see further Janssens 1982: 13–23).

The Corpus Origen’s Hexapla was presumably composed in the first half of the third century CE. It consists of six columns: the first presents the biblical text in Hebrew; the Secunda contains a transcription using the Greek alphabet; and the other four provide Greek translations of the Bible (Aquila, Symmachus, Septuagint, and Theodotion). The complete version of the Hexapla has been lost; most of the surviving citations of the Hexapla were collected by Field (1875). The citations of the second column are rare, however, and may have been corrupted in their transmission. In 1894, Cardinal Giovanni Mercati discovered a palimpsest of the Hexapla in the Ambrosiana library in Milan, which includes about 1,000 words from 10 chapters of the book of Psalms. The manuscript was cited by Hatch and Redpath (1906: 199–216) and published by Mercati (1958, 1965). The tradition of the Greek transcriptions represented in the second column of the palimpsest seems to be authentic and homogenous. The illustrations in this chapter are therefore taken from this palimpsest. Furthermore, since all the Hexaplaric material in the grammatical discussion belongs to Psalms, the book will not be explicitly indicated in the biblical references herein: e.g., βδαμι ‫‘ ְּב ָד ִמי‬in my death’ (30:10). Illegible or missing letters in the palimpsest are each indicated by a dash: —μαγδιλιμ ‫[ה] ַ ּמגְ ִּד ִילים‬ ַ ‘those who magnify’ (35:26). The studies of the Secunda are mainly based on Mercati’s palimpsest. Various issues, mainly phonetic, are treated by Margolis (1909), Speiser (1934–35), and Sperber (1937–38). The most significant and extensive research of Hexaplaric Hebrew was undertaken by Brønno (1943). He discussed all the forms of the palimpsest and thoroughly described the

Hebrew in Greek and Latin Transcriptions


representation of vowels. Another important study on the Hebrew of the Hexapla is that of Janssens (1982). Yuditsky, too, has recently reexamined the evidence (2005, 2007, 2008, 2013). The Latin transcriptions of Hebrew included in this chapter come from the works of St. Jerome. Interpreting the text of the Bible, Jerome relied on a Hebrew text and occasionally created transcriptions of Hebrew words or, in a rare instance, expressions. In the present discussion, Jerome’s biblical commentaries are the principal source of his Latin transcriptions. In these cases, the name of the book is given in the reference. Other citations are used, too. In the case of references to Gen 14:18–20, they are taken from Jerome’s Epistle 73 addressed to Evangelus. The reference to Epistle 106 will be cited as “Ep 106.” But Jerome also occasionally discussed Hebrew words that did not appear in the biblical text. When such a case is cited, an editorial asterisk is added to the Hebrew parallel, and to the reference the word “on” is added: e.g., pheri ‫*ּפ ִרי‬ ְ ‘fruit’ (on Hos 14:3). A comprehensive but outdated study of the Latin transcriptions of Hebrew is that of Siegfried (1884). Various issues regarding this tradition are treated by Sperber (1937–38), Brønno (1970), Harviainen (1977, 1984– 86), and Penna (1978). Many features of Jerome’s transcriptions are similar to Hexaplaric Hebrew; yet in some points, these traditions are different, as will be demonstrated below. In this chapter, each transcription is accompanied by its Tiberian counterpart. When, however, the Hexapla or Jerome’s version differs significantly from the Tiberian, two Hebrew forms are presented: a vocalized form corresponding to the transcription and the attested Tiberian form: e.g., λοομ ‫‘ ְלחֹם‬fight!’ (35:1) (Tiberian ‫)ל ַחם‬. ְ

Orthography and Phonetics Consonants.  The voiced plosives ‫ב‬, ‫ג‬, ‫[ ד‬b, g, d] are represented by β, γ, δ and b, g, d: e.g., βδαμι ‫‘ ְּב ָד ִמי‬in my death’ (30:10), γωιμ ‫‘ גֹויִ ם‬nations’ (46:7), bamma 1 ‫‘ ַב ֶּמה‬by what?’ (Isa 2:22), and hedalu ‫‘ ִח ְדלּו‬cease!’ (Isa 2:22). The unvoiced plosives ‫כ‬, ‫פ‬, ‫[ ת‬k, p, t] are transcribed by χ, φ, θ and ch, ph, th in all positions: e.g., βααφφω ‫‘ ְּב ַאּפֹו‬in His anger’ (30:6), χι ‫ִּכי‬ 1.  This word appears in Jerome’s transcription of Isa 2:22 as the parallel of Hebrew ‫‘ ַבּמֶה‬by what’ and is cited as such in vol. 2. However, in his commentary on this verse, Jerome explicitly wrote that bamma means ‘by what’, whereas bama means ‘high place’.


Chapter 8

‘because’ (30:2), εσθερθα ‫‘ ִה ְס ַּת ְר ָּת‬You hid’ (30:8), baaphpho ‫‘ ְּב ַאּפֹו‬in his anger’ (Isa 2:22), and chi ‫‘ ִּכי‬because’ (Isa 2:22). As argued by Kutscher (1965: 25–35), however, these transcriptions do not imply that the plosives were articulated as fricatives. Since Greek χ, φ, θ at that time represented aspirated sounds, it should instead be assumed that the Hebrew unvoiced plosives were aspirated. In Greek and Latin transcriptions, ‫ס‬, ‫ׁש‬, ‫[ ׂש‬s, š, ś] are represented by the only letter available in each alphabet to express an unvoiced sibilant, σ/s: e.g., σιρ ‫‘ ִׁשיר‬song of’ (30:1), σεμεθ ‫‘ ִׂש ַּמ ְח ָּת‬You did (not) let rejoice’ (30:2), εσθερθα ‫‘ ִה ְס ַּת ְר ָּת‬You hid’ (30:8), nesama ‫‘ נְ ָׁש ָמה‬soul’ (Isa 2:22), maaser ‫‘ ַמ ֲע ֵׂשר‬tenth’ (Gen 14:20), and sochen ‫[ה]ּס ֵֹכן‬ ַ ‘steward’ (Isa 22:15). ζ and z are used to indicate the voiced sibilant ‫[ ז‬z]: e.g., ωζηρ ‫‘ עֹזֵ ר‬Help’ (30:11) and zera ‫‘ זֶ ַרע‬seed’ (Isa 14:20). The Hebrew liquids ‫ל‬, ‫מ‬, ‫נ‬, ‫[ ר‬l, m, n, r] are usually represented by their Greek and Latin counterparts, λ, μ, ν, ρ and l, m, n, r : e.g., βαρσωναχ ‫ִּב ְרצֹונְ ָך‬ ‘by Your will’ (30:8), λαμανασση ‫‘ ַל ְמנַ ֵּצ ַח‬for the leader’ (46:1), nesama ‫‘ נְ ָׁש ָמה‬soul’ (Isa 2:22), and uaiomer ‫אמר‬ ַ ֹ ‫‘ וַ ּי‬he said’ (Gen 14:19). Transcribing the emphatic consonants ‫ ק‬and ‫[ ט‬q, ṭ] with non-aspirated κ, τ and c, t testifies that they were realized differently from the plosives: e.g., σεκκι ‫‘ ַׂש ִּקי‬my sackcloth’ (30:12), ματου ‫‘ ָמטּו‬they fell’ (46:7), cone ‫‘ קֹנֵ ה‬Maker of’ (Gen 14:19), and mesphat ‫]מ ְׁש ָּפט‬ ִ ‫[ל‬ ְ ‘justice’ (Isa 5:7). Occasionally, however, [q, ṭ] are represented in the Latin by ch and th: e.g., umelchisedech ‫ּומ ְל ִּכי ֶצ ֶדק‬ ַ ‘and Melchizedek’ (Gen 14:18) and muthoth ‫‘ מֹוטֹת‬bars’ (Jer 28:13). These cases seem to be copyist mistakes. The emphatic sibilant ‫[ צ‬ṣ] is represented by σ/s like other sibilants: e.g., βαρσωναχ ‫‘ ִּב ְרצֹונְ ָך‬by Your will’ (30:8) and hosi ‫הֹוציא‬ ִ ‘he brought out’ (Gen 14:18). Since Greek has no native gutturals, Hebrew ‫א‬, ‫ה‬, ‫ח‬, ‫[ ע‬ʾ, h, ḥ, ʿ] are not represented in the Hexapla: e.g., λαμανασση ‫‘ ַל ְמנַ ֵּצ ַח‬for the leader’ (46:1) and ααρς ‫‘ ָה ָא ֶרץ‬the earth’ (46:10). There are, however, many indications of the gutturals’ existence in the Secunda. For example, εελιθ ‫ית‬ ָ ‫‘ ֶה ֱע ִל‬You brought up’ (30:4) contains the sequence εε. Had the guttural disappeared, there would have been no need to resort to an anaptyctic vowel (see also below); the letter η would have expressed a long ē (see, further, Yuditsky 2013: 805). In the Latin transcriptions, h usually represents gutturals: e.g., lehel ‫ְל ֵאל‬ ‘of God’ (Gen 14:18), hedalu ‫‘ ִח ְדלּו‬cease!’ (Isa 2:22), and helion ‫‘ ֶע ְליֹון‬the Most High’ (Gen 14:19) (see also Brønno 1970).


Hebrew in Greek and Latin Transcriptions

‫[ י‬y] is transcribed by ι/i. In most cases, too, it is not distinguished in transcription from [ī]: e.g., ιαλιν ‫‘ יָ ִלין‬he will lie down’ (30:6) and iezbuleni ‫‘ יִ זְ ְּב ֵלנִ י‬he will exalt me’ (Gen 30:20). In the Hexapla, consonantal [y] is commonly represented by the letter ϊ: e.g., οϊεββαϊ ‫‘ א ַֹיְבי‬my enemies’ (30:2). ‫[ ו‬w] is usually represented by υ/u: e.g., φλαγαυ ‫‘ ְּפ ָלגָ יו‬its streams’ (46:5) and uhu ‫‘ וְ הּוא‬and he’ (Gen 14:18). To transcribe -‫ ו‬and a few other cases, the digraph ου is used in the Secunda: e.g., ουανι ‫‘ וַ ֲאנִ י‬and I’ (30:7) and βσαλουι ‫‘ ְּב ַׁש ְלוִ י‬in my quietude’ (30:7). Consonantal gemination is generally represented in the transcriptions: e.g., αββαιθ ‫‘ ַה ַּביִ ת‬the house’ (30:1), εθανναν ‫‘ ֶא ְת ַחּנָ ן‬I will appeal’ (30:9), σεκκι ‫‘ ַׂש ִּקי‬my sackcloth’ (30:12), baaphpho ‫‘ ְּב ַאּפֹו‬in his anger’ (Isa 2:22), and mecchol ‫‘ ִמּכֹל‬of all’ (Gen 14:20). ι, υ, ζ are not geminated since these letters were not doubled in contemporary Greek: e.g., ουεθαζερηνι ‫וַ ְּת ַאּזְ ֵרנִ י‬ ‘You girded me’ (30:12) and χαϊαλωθ ‫‘ ָּכ ַאּיָ לֹות‬like deer’ (18:34). In the Hexapla, the labials appear to be occasionally geminated as well as degeminated: e.g., οϊεββαϊ ‫‘ א ַֹיְבי‬my enemies’ (30:2), σαμμαϊμ ‫‘ ָׁש ָמיִ ם‬heavens’ (89:30), σεμεθ ‫‘ ִׂש ַּמ ְח ָּת‬You did (not) let rejoice’’ (30:2), and ιαμιμ ‫יַ ִּמים‬ ‘seas’ (46:3) (see Yuditsky 2013: 806). A few other transcriptions also do not exhibit gemination: e.g., φεθεθα ‫‘ ִּפ ַּת ְח ָּת‬You opened’ (30:12), uaiethen ‫‘ וַ ּיִ ֶּתן‬he gave’ (Gen 14:20), and adagim ‫‘ ַה ָּדגִ ים‬the fishes’ (Zeph 1:11). See also pp. 107ff. Vowels.  The following table presents an overview of the Tiberian vowels and their Hexaplaric and Latin correspondents. Diphthongs

Long vowels

Short vowels


(*aw >) (*ay >) ē ū ō

(*ā >) ō, ā


Hexapla, stressed

ō ω

ē η

ū ου

ō, (ā) ω, (α)

ī, ē o, ō ι, ει, (η) ο, ω

Hexapla, ō unstressed ω

ē η

ū, (ō) ου, (ω)

ō, (ā) ω, (α)

ī, (ē) ι, (η)

o, ō, (ū) a ο, ω, (ου) α

e, ē, (i) ε, η, (ι)




o (a)


o (u)

e (i)


u, (*u >) o


i, (*i >) e

a α

e, ē ε, η


Tiberian, stressed

(‫א )= ֹו‬ ֹ

(‫ אּו )= ֻא( ֵא)י‬,(‫)= ֹו‬ ‫א‬ ֹ (‫ִא)י‬, (‫)ֵא‬ ‫ָא‬

,(‫א )= ֹו‬ ֹ ‫)ֻא =( אּו‬

Tiberian, unstressed

(‫א )= ֹו‬ ֹ

(‫ אּו )= ֻא( ֵא)י‬,(‫)= ֹו‬ ‫א‬ ֹ (‫ִא)י‬, (‫)ֵא‬ ‫ָא‬

‫ ָא‬,‫ֻא‬

‫ָא‬, ‫ַא‬, ‫ֶא‬, ‫ֵא‬, ‫ִא‬ ‫ֶא‬ ,‫ ָא‬,‫ַא‬ ‫ ִא‬,‫ֶא‬

,‫ ֵא‬,‫ִא‬ ‫ַא‬ ,‫ֶא‬


Chapter 8

[ī] is usually expressed by ι/i: e.g., σιρ ‫‘ ִׁשיר‬song of’ (30:1) and chi ‫ִּכי‬ ‘because’ (Isa 2:22). In the Hexapla, however, this vowel is occasionally transcribed by η or ει: e.g., δελλιθανη ‫יתנִ י‬ ָ ‫‘ ִד ִּל‬You lifted me up’ (30:2) and λδαυειδ ‫‘ ְל ָדוִ ד‬of David’ (30:1). [ē] is represented by η/e: e.g., ωζηρ ‫עֹזֵ ר‬ ‘Help’ (30:11) and salem ‫‘ ָׁש ֵלם‬Salem’ (Gen 14:18). [ā] is reflected by α/a: e.g., νιρα ‫‘ נִ ָירא‬we will fear’ (46:3) and massa ‫‘ ַמ ָּׂשא‬oracle of’ (Isa 19:1). In the transcriptions, however, there is no means to express explicitly the length of [ā]. All examples of [ā], therefore, are suggested, based on comparison with other vowels and considerations of comparative philology. [ō] is usually represented by ω/o: e.g., βαρσωνω ‫‘ ִּב ְרצֹונֹו‬by His will’ (30:6) and helion ‫‘ ֶע ְליֹון‬the Most High’ (Gen 14:19). [ū] is ordinarily indicated in the Hexapla by ου: e.g., ιεεμου ‫‘ יֶ ֱהמּו‬they will rage’ (46:4). Yet, in some cases, ω seems to be utilized for this purpose, too (see below). In the Latin transcriptions, u is used: e.g., hu ‫‘ הּוא‬he’ (Isa 2:22). Short [i] is usually represented by ε/e: e.g., εσθερθα ‫‘ ִה ְס ַּת ְר ָּת‬You hid’ (30:8) and uaiethen ‫‘ וַ ּיִ ֶּתן‬he gave’ (Gen 14:20). Under particular phonetic conditions, however, ι/i is also used (see below). Short [a] is expressed by α/a: e.g., αββαιθ ‫‘ ַה ַּביִ ת‬the house’ (30:1) and aadam ‫‘ ָה ָא ָדם‬the man’ (Isa 2:22). Short [u] is indicated by ο/o: e.g., βοκρ ‫‘ ּב ֶֹקר‬morning’ (46:6) and hores ‫[ה]ח ֶֹרׁש‬ ַ ‘woods’ (Isa 17:9). Anaptyctic vowels facilitate the pronunciation of consonant clusters. As in Tiberian Hebrew, anaptyctic vowels are used in the vicinity of gutturals: e.g., εελιθ ‫ית‬ ָ ‫‘ ֶה ֱע ִל‬You brought up’ (30:4), ιεεμου ‫‘ יֶ ֱהמּו‬they will rage’ (46:4), and eebor ‫‘ ֶא ֱעבֹר‬I will pass’ (Amos 5:17). In the Secunda, they occur within the word only when following [e]. Yet [a] is also employed to split a final consonant cluster involving a guttural (see below): e.g., σααθ ‫‘ ָׁש ַחת‬pit’ (30:10). The furtive pataḥ, however, does not occur in the Hexapla: e.g., λαμανασση ‫‘ ַל ְמנַ ֵּצ ַח‬for the leader’ (46:1). In the Hexapla, anaptyctic vowels occasionally appear in non-guttural environments: e.g., between the two dentals in εεμεδεθ ‫‘ ֶה ֱע ַמ ְד ָּת‬You established’ (30:8) and βρεδεθι ‫‘ ְּב ִר ְד ִּתי‬by my descent’ (30:10). In μσχνη ‫‘ ִמ ְׁש ְּכנֵ י‬dwelling-place of’ (46:5) and λφνωθ ‫‘ ִל ְפנֹות‬at the approach of’ (46:6), the first vowel is missing even though it occurs in a closed syllable in Tiberian Hebrew. It is not indicated in transcription since the vowel, perhaps, was ultra-short and not distinctive. Second-person masc. sing. suffixes usually lack a final vowel (yet see below): e.g., αφαχθ ‫‘ ָה ַפ ְכ ָּת‬You turned’ (30:12), εμεθθαχ ‫‘ ֲא ִמ ֶּתָך‬Your truth’

Hebrew in Greek and Latin Transcriptions


(30:10), ναθαθ ‫‘ נָ ַת ָּתה‬You gave’ (18:41), and carath ‫את‬ ָ ‫]ק ָר‬ ָ ְ‫‘ [ו‬you called’ (Jer 2:2).

Phonology In the Hexapla the assimilation of *sd > [zd] is apparently reflected in βεεζδαχ ‫‘ ְּב ַח ְס ֶּדָך‬in Your mercy’ (31:8). The reverse process, *zt > [st], seems to occur in νεγρεσθι ‫‘ נִ גְ ַרזְ ִּתי‬I am cut off’ (31:23). The devoicing of final *b > [p] is probably attested in netaph ‫‘ נִ ְת ָעב‬abhorred’ (Isa 14:19). In a few cases, one finds a shift of *m > [n] in final position: e.g., θαμμιν ‫‘ ָּת ִמים‬perfect’ (18:31). The semivowels [y, w] may be weakened in intervocalic position: e.g., ωεβη ‫אֹויְבי‬ ֵ ‘enemies’ (35:19) and αων ‫‘ ֲעֹון‬iniquity of’ (49:6); contrast, e.g., οϊεβαϊ ‫אֹויְבי‬ ַ ‘my enemies’ (18:38) and αυωναν ‫‘ ֲעֹונָ ם‬their iniquity’ (89:33). There is a tendency for [ī] and [ū] to be lowered to [ē] and [ō], respectively, in a final, open, unstressed syllable: e.g., δελλιθανη ‫יתנִ י‬ ָ ‫‘ ִד ִּל‬You lifted me up’ (30:2) and ιαμουθω ‫‘ יָמּותּו‬they will die’ (49:11). [e] occasionally shifts to [i] in the vicinity of a sibilant and is reflected by ι/i: e.g., νισβαθ ‫‘ נִ ְׁש ַּב ְע ָּת‬You swore’ (89:50) and issa ‫‘ ִא ָּׁשה‬woman’ (Gen 2:23); contrast, e.g., εσθερθα ‫‘ ִה ְס ַּת ְר ָּת‬You hid’ (30:8) or mebbeth ‫‘ ִמ ֵּבית‬from Beth(-eden)’ (Amos 1:5). In this environment, [a] also tends to change to [e] or [i]: e.g., μισβιθ ‫‘ ַמ ְׁש ִּבית‬He puts a stop’ (46:10) and selua ‫‘ ְׁש ֻל ָחה‬loose’ (Gen 49:21). The same shifts frequently occur following [y]: e.g., βιεδ ‫‘ ְּביַ ד‬into the hand of’ (31:9) and ιγγιου ‫‘ יַ ּגִ יעּו‬they will reach’ (32:6) (see further Yuditsky 2013: 810). Short vowels are relatively stable in the transcriptions; their loss is less common than in other Hebrew traditions. Thus one finds pairs like βανη ‫‘ ְּבנֵ י‬sons of’ (18:46) vs. βνη ‫‘ ְּבנֵ י‬sons of’ (29:1), and οιβαυ ‫אֹויְביו‬ ָ ‘his enemies’ (89:43) vs. οϊεβαϊ ‫אֹויְבי‬ ַ ‘my enemies’ (18:38) (see Yuditsky 2005). In ουεθαζερηνι ‫‘ וַ ְּת ַאּזְ ֵרנִ י‬You girded me’ (30:12), λαμανασση ‫‘ ַל ְמנַ ֵּצ ַח‬for the leader’ (46:1), and σαβαωθ ‫‘ ְצ ָבאֹות‬hosts’ (46:8), short vowels in open syllables may, therefore, be interpreted as original. Jerome’s transcriptions seem to represent a similar situation, usually displaying short vowels in all positions: e.g., labana ‫‘ ְל ָבנָ ה‬moon’ (Isa 24:23) and hedalu ‫‘ ִח ְדלּו‬cease!’ (Isa 2:22) (see Harviainen 1984–86). Apparently, the shift of *i/e > [a] in a stressed syllable, known as “Philippi’s law,” did not take place in either the Secunda or Jerome’s


Chapter 8

transcriptions since short e is uniformly transcribed by ε and e: e.g., σεμεθ ‫‘ ִׂש ַּמ ְח ָּת‬You did (not) let rejoice’ (30:2) and geth ‫[ּב]גַ ת‬ ְ ‘wine-vat’ (Isa 63:2) (see Bronno 1943: 17–18). Nor is the dissimilation of *a-a > [i-a], known as the “law of attenuation,” attested in the Greek and Latin transcriptions: e.g., μαφαλωθ ‫‘ ִמ ְפ ֲעלֹות‬deeds of’ (46:9), μαλαμωθ ‫‘ ִמ ְל ָחמֹות‬wars’ (46:10), and mabsar ‫‘ ִמ ְב ָצר‬fortress’ (Jer 6:27) (see Harviainen 1977: 65, 82–83).

Morphology Personal Pronouns.  In the Greek and Latin transcriptions, one finds the following personal pronouns: first-person sing. ουανι ‫‘ וַ ֲאנִ י‬and I’ (30:7) and ανωχι ‫‘ ָאנ ִֹכי‬I’ (46:11); second-person masc. sing. αθθα ‫‘ ַא ָּתה‬You’ (18:28) and attha ‫‘ ַא ָּתה‬You’ (Ep 106, on Ps 63:2), but also ου αθ (sic) ‫‘ וְ ַא ָּתה‬and You’ (89:39) and ath ‫‘ ַא ָּתה‬You’ (Ep 106, on Ps 90:2); and thirdperson masc. sing. ου ‫‘ הּוא‬He’ (18:31) and hu ‫‘ הּוא‬he’ (Isa 2:22). Pronominal suffixes in the transcriptions are generally similar to Tiberian: e.g., ουεθαζερηνι ‫‘ וַ ְּת ַאּזְ ֵרנִ י‬You girded me’ (30:12) and νεφσι ‫נַ ְפ ִׁשי‬ ‘my soul’ (30:4); gebulaich ‫בּוליִ ְך‬ ָ ְ‫‘ ּג‬your borders’ (Ezek 27:4); uaibarcheu ‫‘ וַ ָיְב ְר ֵכהּו‬and he blessed him’ (Gen 14:19) and βααφφω ‫‘ ְּב ַאּפֹו‬in His anger’ (30:6); βκερβα ‫‘ ְּב ִק ְר ָּבּה‬in its midst’ (46:6); εμμανου ‫‘ ִע ָּמנּו‬with us’ (46:12); and ουεσιγημ ‫‘ וְ ַא ִּׂשיגֵ ם‬I will overtake them’ (18:38) and abotham ‫בֹותם‬ ָ ‫ֲא‬ ‘their fathers’ (Isa 14:21). The first-person sing. suffix occasionally exhibits -η or -ει as the final vowel in the Secunda: e.g., δελλιθανη ‫יתנִ י‬ ָ ‫‘ ִד ִּל‬You lifted me up’ (30:2) and σελει ‫‘ ַס ְל ִעי‬my Rock’ (31:4). See p. 104, above. In the second-person masc. sing. suffixes, the final vowel is usually absent: e.g., ερωμεμεχ ‫רֹומ ְמָך‬ ִ ‫‘ ֲא‬I will extol You’ (30:2). The suffix -αχ/-ak is added to both singular and plural nouns (contrast the object suffix -εχ added to verbs): e.g., βαρσωναχ ‫‘ ִּב ְרצֹונְ ָך‬by Your will’ (30:8), εμεθθαχ ‫ֲא ִמ ֶּתָך‬ ‘Your truth’ (30:10), φαναχ ‫‘ ָּפנֶ יָך‬Your face’ (30:8), and sarach ‫‘ ָצ ֶריָך‬your enemies’ (Gen 14:20). In αϊωδεχχα ָ‫יֹודּך‬ ֶ ‫‘ ֲה‬can it praise You?’ (30:10) (Tiberian ‫יֹודָך‬ ְ ‫)ה‬, ֲ ιεσαχα ‫‘ יִ ְׁש ֶעָך‬Your salvation’ (18:36), and alechcha ‫ֶאל ִח ְּכָך‬ ‘to your mouth’ (Hos 8:1), final [a] is preserved. The vowel ε/e is added before the second-person masc. pl. suffix -kem: λεββαβεχεμ ‫‘ ְל ַב ְב ֶכם‬your heart’ (31:25) and melchechem ‫‘ ַמ ְל ְּכ ֶכם‬your king’ (Amos 5:26). Non-Personal Pronouns.  Other pronouns occurring in the transcriptions are ζωθ ‫‘ זֹאת‬this’ (49:2), μα ‫‘ ָמה‬what?’ (89:47), ma ‫‘ ַמה‬what?’

Hebrew in Greek and Latin Transcriptions


(Amos 4:13), bamma ‫‘ ַב ֶּמה‬by what?’ (Isa 2:22), etc.; contrast μεββεσε ‫ה־ּב ַצע‬ ֶ ‫‘ ַמ‬what profit?’ (30:10). Nouns.  Only salient forms will be noted in this section. qel/qēl (Tiberian ‫)קל‬: ֵ ηλ ‫‘ ֵאל‬God’ (29:3), lehel ‫‘ ְל ֵאל‬to God’ (Gen 14:18), etc. Suffixed and feminine forms occasionally preserve an initial long or short vowel, as in νηρι ‫‘ נֵ ִרי‬my candle’ (18:29) or σεμω ‫‘ ְׁשמֹו‬His name’ (29:2) and εμαθαχ ‫‘ ֲח ָמ ֶתָך‬Your wrath’ (89:47). The noun βγηουαθω ‫‘ ְּבגֵ וָ תֹו‬at its swelling’ (46:4) (Tiberian ‫)ּבגַ ֲאוָ תֹו‬ ְ is apparently the feminine pattern qēlat. Compare Jerome’s forms beth ‫‘ ַּבת‬daughter’ (Isa 10:30) and geth ‫[ּב]גַ ת‬ ְ ‘wine-vat’ (Isa 63:2). qall/qal (Tiberian ‫)קל‬: ַ αμ ‫‘ ַעם‬people’ (18:28), βααφφω ‫‘ ְּב ַאּפֹו‬in His anger’ (30:6), etc. Some plural forms lack gemination (see p. 103): e.g., ιαμιμ ‫יַּמים‬ ִ ‘seas’ (46:3). αϊιμ ‫‘ ַחּיִ ים‬life’ (30:6) belongs here, too. qell/qel (Tiberian ‫)קל‬: ֵ βαες ‫‘ ָּב ֵאׁש‬in the fire’ (46:10), βλεβ ‫‘ ְּב ֵלב‬in the heart of’ (46:3), and perhaps σεκκι ‫‘ ַׂש ִּקי‬my sackcloth’ (30:12). The dual form (with pronominal suffix) is represented by σεννημω ‫‘ ִׁשּנֵ ימֹו‬their teeth’ (35:16). qatl (Tiberian ‫)ק ֶטל‬: ֶ κασθ ‫‘ ֶק ֶׁשת‬bow’ (46:10), αβδω ‫‘ ַע ְבּדֹו‬His servant’ (35:27), etc. A feminine form qatla is attested: αρφαθ ‫‘ ֶח ְר ַּפת‬reproach of’ (89:51). In ‫ ע״י‬construct and suffixed forms, the diphthong *ay contracted to ē: e.g., λβηθ ‫‘ ְל ֵבית‬to the house of’ (31:3), ηνι ‫‘ ֵעינִ י‬my eye’ (31:10), etc. Independent forms are uncontracted: αββαιθ ‫‘ ַה ַּביִ ת‬the house’ (30:1) and uaiain ‫‘ וָ יָ יִ ן‬and wine’ (Gen 14:18). The ‫ ע״ו‬pattern exhibits contracted forms: αϊωμ ‫‘ ַהּיֹום‬the day’ (35:28) and μωθ ‫‘ מֹות‬death’ (49:15) (Tiberian ‫)מוֶ ת‬. ָ qetl (Tiberian ‫ק ֶטל‬/‫ל‬ ֶ ‫)ק ֶט‬: ֵ εζρ ‫‘ ֵעזֶ ר‬help’ (46:2) (Tiberian ‫)עזְ ָרה‬ ֶ and βκερβα ‫‘ ְּב ִק ְר ָּבּה‬in its midst’ (46:6). Feminine qetla: σεμα ‫‘ ִׂש ְמ ָחה‬joy’ (30:12), etc. Final weak forms include βεχι ‫‘ ֶּב ִכי‬weeping’ (30:6) and pheri ‫*ּפ ִרי‬ ְ ‘fruit’ (on Hos 14:3). qotl (Tiberian ‫)ק ֶֹטל‬: βοκρ ‫‘ ּב ֶֹקר‬morning’ (46:6), κοδς ‫‘ ק ֶֹדׁש‬holy’ (46:5) (Tiberian ‫)קד ֹׁש‬, ְ χοφρω ‫‘ ָּכ ְפרֹו‬his ransom’ (49:8), etc. Segolates.  In the Hexapla, singular segolates usually do not have an anaptyctic vowel that dissolves the final consonant cluster, except in the vicinity of gutturals: e.g., σααθ ‫‘ ָׁש ַחת‬pit’ (30:10), ρεγε ‫‘ ֶרגַ ע‬a moment’ (30:6), and μεββεσε ‫ה־ּב ַצע‬ ֶ ‫‘ ַמ‬what profit?’ (30:10). On the other hand, in the Latin transcriptions, an anaptyctic vowel is usually attested: e.g., melech ‫‘ ֶמ ֶלְך‬king of’ (Gen 14:18) and lehem ‫‘ ֶל ֶחם‬bread’ (Gen 14:18); note,


Chapter 8

however, iar ‫‘ יַ ַער‬forest’ (Hos 2:15) (see further Harviainen 1977: 92–94). Plural forms of the segolates have two patterns: q(V)talīm/q(V)talōt, e.g., φλαγαυ ‫‘ ְּפ ָלגָ יו‬its streams’ (46:5) and acchumarim ‫‘ ַה ְּכ ָמ ִרים‬the priests’ (Zeph 1:4); and qVtlīm/qVtlōt, e.g., αλμωθ ‫‘ ַע ְלמֹות‬Alamoth’ (46:1) (Tiberian ‫)ע ָלמֹות‬. ֲ In the transcriptions, qVtlīm/qVtlōt nouns are more common than in Tiberian Hebrew: see εσδαχ ‫‘ ִח ְס ֶּדיָך‬Your mercies’ (89:50) (Τiberian ‫)ח ָס ֶדיָך‬, ֲ αβδαχ ‫‘ ַע ְב ֶּדיָך‬Your servants’ (89:51) (Tiberian ‫)ע ָב ֶדיָך‬, ֲ and arsoth ‫]ח ְרצֹות‬ ַ ‫[ּב‬ ַ ‘sledges’ (Amos 1:3) (Tiberian ‫]ח ֻרצֹות‬ ֲ ‫)[ּב‬ ַ (see Yuditsky 2007: 304–7). qatal (Tiberian ‫)ק ָטל‬: ָ αφαρ ‫‘ ָע ָפר‬dust’ (30:10), νααρ ‫‘ נָ ָהר‬river’ (46:5), and probably λααραρι ‫‘ ַל ֲה ָר ִרי‬my mountain’ (30:8) (Tiberian ‫)ל ַה ְר ִרי‬. ְ Plurals are σαβαωθ ‫‘ ְצ ָבאֹות‬hosts’ (46:8), νακαμωθ ‫‘ נְ ָקמֹות‬vengeance’ (18:48), etc. Jerome has aadam ‫‘ ָה ָא ָדם‬the man’ (Isa 2:22) and feminine nesama ‫נְ ָׁש ָמה‬ ‘breath’ (Isa 2:22). Hexaplaric κασε ‫‘ ְק ֵצה‬end of’ (46:10) is a final weak form; its final short e is puzzling, since a long vowel is expected in the construct state. qetet (Tiberian ‫)ק ֶטת‬: ֱ ημεθ ‫‘ ֱא ֶמת‬truth’ (31:6) and εμεθθαχ ‫‘ ֲא ִמ ֶּתָך‬Your truth’ (30:10). ημεθ presumably developed as follows: *ʾemet > ʾēmet. The absolute form ημεθ has a long ē, whereas in εμεθθαχ its initial vowel is short. qetūl (Tiberian ‫)קטּול‬: ְ γεδουδ ‫‘ ּגְ דּוד‬troop’ (18:30), εμουνιμ ‫‘ ֱאמּונִ ים‬faithful’ (31:24), and gebul ‫‘ *ּגְ בּול‬border’ (on Obad 20). The corresponding feminine form is qetūla (MT ‫עּולה‬ ָ ‫(ּפ‬: ְ βαεμουναθι ‫‘ ֶּב ֱאמּונָ ִתי‬in My faithfulness’ (89:34) and emuna ‫]אמּונָ ה‬ ֱ ‫[ל‬ ֶ ‘faith’ (Jer 5:3). This vowel pattern has, perhaps, developed by dissimilation *u-ū > [i-ū] (see Yuditsky 2005: 130–32). qottela (Tiberian ‫)ק ֻט ָּלה‬: ְ The noun οννεχαθ ‫‘ ָחּנְ ַכת‬dedication of’ (30:1) (Tiberian ‫)חנֻ ַּכת‬ ֲ presumably illustrates a related dissimilation: *u-u > [u-i] (> [o-e]). qolqol (Tiberian ‫ק ְלקֹל‬/‫ל‬ ַ ‫)ק ְל ֻק‬: ַ Jerome has the reduplicated nouns bocboc ‫‘ ַב ְק ֻּבק‬bottle of’ (Jer 19:1) and chodchod ‫‘ ַּכ ְדכֹד‬ruby’ (Isa 54:12, taken from Aquila’s χοδχοδ(. qartol (Tiberian ‫)ק ְר ָטל‬: ִ sarphod ‫‘ ַס ְרּפֹד‬brier’ (Isa 55:13) (Tiberian ‫]ּס ְר ָּפד‬ ִ ‫)[ה‬. ַ qittol (with infixed -t-) (Tiberian ‫)ק ְטּתֹל‬: ַ sinthoroth ‫‘ ַצנְ ְּתרֹות‬spouts of’ (Zech 4:12).


Hebrew in Greek and Latin Transcriptions

maqtal (Tiberian ‫)מ ְק ָטל‬: ִ μαβσαραυ ‫‘ ִמ ְב ָצ ָריו‬his fortresses’ (89:41), μαφαλωθ ‫‘ ִמ ְפ ֲעלֹות‬deeds of’ (46:9), machthab ‫‘ ִמ ְכ ָּתב‬writing’ (Isa 38:9), and probably μσχνη ‫‘ ִמ ְׁש ְּכנֵ י‬dwelling-place of’ (46:5). Since attenuation is not reflected in the transcriptions, the prefix *ma- occurs unchanged. In μισγαβ ‫‘ ִמ ְׁשּגָ ב‬high tower’ (46:8), the shift of *ma- > mi- occurred because of the adjacent sibilant (see p. 105). Among final weak roots, note μασε ‫‘ ַמ ֲח ֶסה‬refuge’ (46:2). meqella (Tiberian ‫)מ ִק ָּלה‬: ְ In μεεθθα ‫‘ ְמ ִח ָּתה‬ruin’ (89:41) and megella ‫‘ ְמגִ ָּלה‬scroll’ (Zech 5:1), the first short vowel has not been reduced. qatlān (Tiberian ‫)ק ְט ָלן‬: ִ anian ‫‘ ִענְ יָ ן‬task’ (Qoh 1:13) exhibits no attenuation. Personal Names.  In addition to the form λδαυειδ ‫‘ ְל ָדוִ ד‬of David’ (30:1) (see above), of interest is ιακωβ ‫‘ יַ ֲעקֹב‬Jacob’ (46:8). The name has a long ō, since it was perceived as a noun, not as a verb.

Verbs Strong Roots.  Verbal affixes in the transcriptions are similar to the corresponding affixes of other traditions. Perfect 1 2 masc. 2 fem. 3 masc. 3 fem.

Singular -θι –thi -θα/-θ -th -thi — -α -a

Plural -νου -nu -them

-ου -u

Imperfect Singular 1 2 masc.

3 masc. 3 fem.





ιε- -ου/ι- -ου ie- -u

θ- -ου tha- -u

In the qal perfect of active verbs, the basic vowel pattern is qatal (Tiberian ‫)ק ַטל‬: ָ e.g., ναθαν ‫‘ נָ ַתן‬He gave’ (46:7), αμαρθι ‫‘ ָא ַמ ְר ִּתי‬I said’ (30:7), and abarthi ‫‘ ָע ַב ְר ִּתי‬I passed over’ (Hos 10:11). Some stative verbs show qatel (Tiberian ‫)ק ֵטל‬: ָ e.g., σανηθι ‫אתי‬ ִ ֵ‫‘ ָׂשנ‬I hated’ (31:7) and chaesu ‫*ּכ ֵחׁשּו‬ ָ ‘they deceived’ (on Zech 13:4).


Chapter 8

The final vowel in the second-person masc. sing. perfect suffix -t is usually missing, as in the case of the corresponding pronominal suffix -k: e.g., ναθαθ ‫‘ נָ ַת ָּתה‬You gave’ (18:41) and αφαχθ ‫‘ ָה ַפ ְכ ָּת‬You turned’ (30:12). In a few cases, though, it has been preserved: e.g., σαφανθα ‫‘ ָצ ַפנְ ָּת‬You hid’ (31:20). In the imperfect, one finds three patterns: yeqtol (Tiberian ‫)יִ ְקטֹל‬, e.g., ερδοφ ‫‘ ֶא ְרּדֹוף‬I will pursue’ (18:38) and eebor ‫‘ ֶא ֱעבֹר‬I will pass’ (Amos 5:17); yeqtal (Tiberian ‫( )יִ ְק ַטל‬in stative verbs or verbs containing a guttural), e.g., εφθα ‫‘ ֶא ְפ ַּתח‬I will open’ (49:6) and iethmau ‫‘ יִ ְת ָמהּו‬they will wonder’ (Jer 4:9); and perhaps yaqtel (Tiberian ‫ )יַ ְק ֵטל‬in ουαϊαλεζ ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ְע ֵלז‬it was exalted’ (28:7) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיַ ֲעֹלז‬. Frequently, the thematic vowel is not reduced in the transcriptions even in open unstressed syllables: e.g., ιερασου ‫‘ יִ ְר ֲעׁשּו‬they will shake’ (46:4) and iezbuleni ‫‘ יִ זְ ְּב ֵלנִ י‬he will exalt me’ (Gen 30:20). Forms with a reduced thematic vowel are, however, also found: e.g., ιεμρου ‫‘ יֶ ְח ְמרּו‬they will foam’ (46:4). The anaptyctic vowel e is apparently inserted in ϊκερσου ‫‘ יִ ְק ְרצּו‬they will wink’ (35:19). Qal imperatives belong to both the qtol (Tiberian ‫)קטֹל‬ ְ and qtal (Tiberian ‫)ק ַטל‬ ְ patterns: e.g., ζχορ ‫‘ זְ ָכר־‬remember!’ (89:48) and σμα ‫‘ ְׁש ַמע‬listen!’ (30:11). In some forms, the first vowel is not reduced: e.g., λοομ ‫ְלחֹם‬ ‘fight!’ (35:1) (Tiberian ‫)ל ַחם‬ ְ and hedalu ‫‘ ִח ְדלּו‬cease!’ (Isa 2:22). These forms suggest that the underlying imperative had the form *qVtVl. Qal active participles of both patterns, qōtēl (Tiberian ‫ )ק ֵֹטל‬and qatēl (Tiberian ‫)ק ֵטל‬, ָ are attested in the Hexapla and Jerome: e.g., ωζηρ ‫עֹזֵ ר‬ ‘Help’ (30:11), λσαχηναυ ‫‘ ִל ְׁש ֵכנָ יו‬for his neighbors’ (89:42), and cohen ‫‘ כ ֵֹהן‬priest of’ (Gen 14:18). The noun ‫אויב‬, originally an active participle, behaves idiosyncratically and retains the second vowel, though it shortens the first: e.g., ωιηβ ‫‘ אֹויֵב‬enemy’ (31:8) and οϊεβαϊ ‫אֹויְבי‬ ַ ‘my enemies’ (18:38); compare also οϊεββαϊ ‫‘ א ַֹיְבי‬my enemies’ (30:2) and οιβαυ ‫אֹויְביו‬ ָ ‘his enemies’ (89:43). Qal passive participles have the pattern qatūl (Tiberian ‫)קטּול‬: ָ e.g., βαρουχ ‫‘ ָּברּוְך‬blessed’ (31:22) and baruch ‫‘ ָּברּוְך‬blessed’)Gen 14:19). The qal infinitive absolute is represented by qatōl (Tiberian ‫)קטֹול‬: ָ e.g., αρωκ ‫‘ ָחר ֹק‬gnashing (35:16). The form of the non-suffixed infinitive construct is laqtōl (Tiberian ‫)ל ְקטֹל‬: ִ e.g., λαβλωμ ‫‘ ִל ְבלֹום‬to curb’ (32:9). The pattern of the suffixed infinitive is apparently identical to that of segolate

Hebrew in Greek and Latin Transcriptions


nouns: e.g., βααφζι ‫‘ ְב ַח ְפזִ י‬in my haste’ (31:23) (Tiberian ‫)ב ָח ְפזִ י‬ ְ and βρεδεθι ‫‘ ְּב ִר ְד ִּתי‬by my descent’ (30:10). The regular pattern of the niphal perfect and participle is neqtal (Tiberian perfect ‫ ;נִ ְק ַטל‬participle ‫)נִ ְק ָטל‬: e.g., νεμσαλ ‫‘ נִ ְמ ַׁשל‬likened’ (49:13), νεβαλ ‫‘ נִ ְב ָהל‬terrified’ (30:8), and nesab ‫‘ נֶ ְח ָׁשב‬accounted’ (Isa 2:22). Jerome also has forms like naalma ‫‘ [וְ ]נֶ ֶע ְל ָמה‬it is hid’ (Job 28:21), with a in the first syllable. Piel perfects regularly take the form qettel (Tiberian ‫ק ַּטל‬/‫ל‬ ִ ‫)ק ֵּט‬: ִ e.g., ελλελθ ‫‘ ִח ַּל ְל ָּת‬You profaned’ (89:40). The vocalization of maggen ‫‘ ִמּגֵ ן‬He delivered’ (Gen 14:20) is, therefore, puzzling. In forms with a second guttural, the first vowel is lengthened: e.g., μνηερθ (sic) ‫‘ נֵ ַא ְר ָּתה‬You abhorred’ (89:40). At times, the second consonant is not represented as geminate (see p. 103, above): e.g., φεθεθα ‫‘ ִּפ ַּת ְח ָּת‬You opened’ (30:12) and σεμεθ ‫ִׂש ַּמ ְח ָּת‬ ‘You did (not) let rejoice’ (30:2). Piel imperfects take the form yeqattel (Tiberian ‫)יְ ַק ֵּטל‬: e.g., εδαλλεγ ‫‘ ֲא ַד ֶּלג‬I can scale’ (18:30). In the third-person masc. sing., the prefix vowel is [i] in the vicinity of the high prefix consonant (Tiberian - ְ‫ )י‬as in the realization of Tiberian Hebrew (but contrast p. 103, above): e.g., ιζαμμερεχ ‫‘ יְ זַ ֶּמ ְרָך‬it will sing for You’ (30:13) and uaibarcheu ‫‘ וַ ָיְב ְר ֵכהּו‬he blessed him’ (Gen 14:19). Occasionally, e has not been reduced in a pretonic syllable: e.g., ουεθαζερηνι ‫‘ וַ ְּת ַאּזְ ֵרנִ י‬You girded me’ (30:12). The piel participle is represented by maqattēl (Tiberian ‫)מ ַק ֵּטל‬: ְ e.g., λαμανασση ‫‘ ַל ְמנַ ֵּצ ַח‬for the leader’ (46:1) and maphate ‫(‘ ְמ ַפ ֵּת ַח‬I am about to) engrave’ (Zech 3:9). The uninflected piel imperative is qettel (Tiberian ‫)ק ֵּטל‬: ַ e.g., φελλετηνι ‫‘ ַּפ ְּל ֵטנִ י‬rescue me!’ (31:2) and heieu ‫‘ ַחּיֵ יהּו‬revive him!’ (Hab 3:2). The first vowel, e, seems to have developed on analogy to the piel perfect. That vowel, however, appears as a preceding a guttural or r: e.g., ουβαρεχ ‫ּוב ֵרְך‬ ָ ‘and bless!’ (28:9); but see also ζαμμερου ‫‘ זַ ְּמרּו‬sing!’ (masc. pl.) (30:5). Hithpael perfects have the pattern hetqattal (Tiberian ‫ה ְת ַק ֵּטל‬, ִ less frequently ‫)ה ְת ַק ַּטל‬: ִ e.g., εθαλλαχθι ‫‘ ִה ְת ַה ָּל ְכ ִּתי‬I walked’ (35:14). In the imperfect, the form is yetqattal: e.g., εθανναν ‫‘ ֶא ְת ַחּנָ ן‬I will appeal’ (30:9). The basic hiphil perfect form is heqtīl (Tiberian ‫)ה ְק ִטיל‬: ִ e.g., εριμ ‫ִה ְר ִעים‬ ‘he thundered’ (29:3). With consonant-initial inflectional suffixes, it is heqtel: e.g., εσθερθα ‫‘ ִה ְס ַּת ְר ָּת‬You hid’ (30:8) and εεμεδεθ ‫‘ ֶה ֱע ַמ ְד ָּת‬You established’ (30:8).


Chapter 8

The hiphil imperfect is yeqtīl (Tiberian ‫)יַ ְק ִטיל‬: e.g., θεριβ ‫‘ ַּת ְר ִחיב‬You will enlarge’ (18:37) and iesphicu ‫‘ יַ ְׂש ִּפיקּו‬they please’ (Isa 2:6). Like the piel imperative, the prefix vowel e may be analogical to the perfect. The vowel a in αρφου ‫‘ ַה ְרּפּו‬desist!’ (masc. pl.) (46:11) seems to have developed under the influence of r. The hiphil active participle is maqtīl (Tiberian ‫)מ ְפ ִעיל‬: ַ e.g., –μαγδιλιμ ‫]ּמגְ ִּד ִילים‬ ַ ‫[ה‬ ַ ‘those who magnify’ (35:26) and masmim ‫‘ ַמ ְש ִמים‬appalled’ (Ezek 3:15). The first vowel of μισβιθ ‫‘ ַמ ְׁש ִּבית‬He puts a stop’ (46:10) may have arisen under the influence of the adjacent sibilant. See p. 105, above. The form of the hiphil imperative and infinitive absolute is heqtel (Tiberian ‫)ה ְפ ֵעל‬: ַ e.g., ουερνινου ‫‘ וְ ַה ְרנִ ינּו‬rejoice!’ (masc. pl.) (32:11) and esne ‫‘ ַה ְצנֵ ַע‬humbly’ (Mic 6:8). Like the imperfect, the prefix vowel may be analogical to the hiphil perfect. Contrary to previous analyses, ιοβαδου ‫‘ יָ ְא ָּבדּו‬they will perish’ (49:11) (Tiberian ‫אבדּו‬ ֵ ֹ ‫ )י‬should not be considered a qal imperfect, but rather a hophal (see Yuditsky 2008: 239). Defective Patterns. In qal imperfect forms of ‫ פ״נ‬roots, *n assimilated to the following consonant. The resulting gemination is usually represented in transcription: e.g., ουθεθθεν ‫‘ וַ ִּת ֶּתן‬You gave’ (18:36) and thephphol ‫]ּתּפֹל‬ ִ ַ‫‘ [ו‬it fell’ (Ezek 8:1); contrast uaiethen ‫‘ וַ ּיִ ֶּתן‬he gave’ (Gen 14:20), etc. In some ‫ פ״א‬qal verbs, the first consonant *ʾ has virtually disappeared. By most accounts, the first syllable of underlying *yaʾtul was replaced by *yā- and later shifted to yō- or yô- (extra-long vowel). In the transcriptions, this pattern can be seen in examples of the verb ‫אמ״ר‬: e.g., ιωμρου ‫אמרּו‬ ְ ֹ‫י‬ ‘they will say’ (35:25) and uaiomer ‫אמר‬ ַ ֹ ‫‘ וַ ּי‬he said’ (Gen 14:19). In ‫ פ״י‬verbs, the qal imperfect has three forms: yītal, e.g., νιρα ‫‘ נִ ָירא‬we will fear’ (46:3); yētēl, e.g., iered ‫‘ [וַ ]ּיֵ ֶרד‬he went down’ (Jonah 1:3); and, for ‫יכ״ל‬, yūtal, e.g., ιουχαλευ ‫‘ יֻ ְכלּו‬they can’ (18:39). In the qal imperative and infinitive, the first consonant is absent: e.g., βρεδεθι ‫‘ ְּב ִר ְד ִּתי‬by my descent’ (30:10), ουαδου ‫‘ ְּודעּו‬know!’ (masc. pl.) (46:11), and dou ‫*ּדעּו‬ ְ ‘know!’ (masc. pl.) (on Isa 8:9). The imperfect and imperative forms of ‫ הל״ך‬are θηληχ ‫‘ ֵת ֵלְך‬you go’ (32:8) and λχου ‫‘ ְלכּו‬go!’ (masc. pl.) (46:9). In the ‫ פ״י‬hiphil, the prefix is ō (or, perhaps, extra-long ô): e.g., αϊωδεχχα ָ‫יֹודּך‬ ֶ ‫‘ ֲה‬can it praise You?’ (30:10) (Tiberian ‫יֹודָך‬ ְ ‫)ה‬, ֲ ουωδου ‫‘ וְ הֹודּו‬and praise!’ (masc. pl.) (30:5), and hosi ‫הֹוציא‬ ִ ‘he brought out’ (Gen 14:18).

Hebrew in Greek and Latin Transcriptions


The transcription θοωσιηνι ‫יאנִ י‬ ֵ ‫ּתֹוצ‬ ִ ‘You will bring me out’ (31:5) may testify to the splitting of ô in the prefix into two syllables. The qal middle weak perfect paradigm is essentially similar to other Hebrew traditions: e.g., σαμ ‫‘ ָׂשם‬He put’ (46:9) and ματου ‫‘ ָמטּו‬they fell’ (46:7). In the imperfect, there are three patterns: yaqūl, e.g., αρουμ ‫‘ ָארּום‬I will be exalted’ (46:11); yaqīl, e.g., ιαλιν ‫‘ יָ ִלין‬he will lie down’ (30:6) and thalinu ‫‘ ָּת ִלינּו‬you will lodge’ (Isa 21:13); and yēqōl, e.g., ηβωσα ‫בֹוׁשה‬ ָ ‫ֵא‬ ‘I will be ashamed’ (31:2). The verb θαμωγ ‫‘ ָּתמּוג‬it will dissolve’ (46:7) seems to be a yaqūl form. Middle weak imperatives have two forms: qūl, e.g., ουκουμ ‫‘ וְ קּום‬stand up!’ (35:2) (Tiberian ‫קּומה‬ ָ ְ‫ ;)ו‬and qīl, e.g., ουγιλου ‫‘ וְ גִ ילּו‬and rejoice!’ (masc. pl.) (32:11). Infinitives exhibit qūl and qōl pat­ terns: e.g., κουμ ‫‘ קּום‬to stand up’ (18:39) and ουβαμωτ ‫ּובמֹוט‬ ְ ‘when (they) fall’ (46:3). There are no examples of ‫ ע״י‬infinitives in the transcriptions. ‫ ע״ו‬niphal imperfect forms have two patterns: yeqqol, e.g., ιεχχον ‫‘ יִ ּכֹון‬it will be established’ (89:38); and yeqqal, e.g., εμματ (sic) ‫‘ ֶא ַּמט‬I will fall’ (30:7) (Tiberian ‫)אּמֹוט‬. ֶ Both patterns apparently have short vowels. The ‫ ע״ו‬piel imperfect is yeqōlel: e.g., ερωμεμεχ ‫רֹומ ְמָך‬ ִ ‫‘ ֲא‬I will extol You’ (30:2). Most ‫ ע״ו‬hiphil forms have a paradigm that is predictable based on other Hebrew traditions: e.g., imperfect θασιβ ‫‘ ָּת ִׁשיב‬You turned back’ (89:44), imperative ασιβα ‫‘ ָה ִׁש ָיבה‬turn back!’ (35:17), and infinitive construct βααμιρ ‫‘ ְּב ָה ִמיר‬when (it) reels’ (46:3). In the suffixed forms of the ‫ ע״ע‬qal perfect, the second consonant is geminated, as expected: e.g., δαμμου ‫‘ ָדּמּו‬they ceased’ (35:15) and calloth ‫ּלֹות‬ ָ ‫‘ ַק‬you became worthless’ (Nah 1:14). In the imperfect, non-suffixed verbs have the form yaqol: e.g., ιαδομ ‫‘ יָ ד ֹם‬it will be silent’ (30:13) (Tiberian ‫)יִ ּד ֹם‬. In suffixed forms, it is yaqoll-: e.g., ιαροννου ‫‘ יָ ר ֹּנּו‬they will sing’ (35:27). The same is true of the participle: qal, e.g., αϊ ‫‘ ַחי‬alive’ (18:47); and qall-, e.g., ραββιμ ‫‘ ַר ִּבים‬many’ (32:10). In βσαρωθ ‫‘ ְב ָצרֹות‬in troubles’ (46:2) and sarach ‫‘ ָצ ֶריָך‬your enemies’ (Gen 14:20), [r] is not geminated. In ‫ ע״ע‬qal imperatives, two patterns occur when affixed: geminated, e.g., ουαννηνι ‫‘ וְ ָחּנֵ נִ י‬have mercy on me!’ (30:11); and non-geminated, e.g., ονηνι ‫‘ ָחּנֵ נִ י‬have mercy on me!’ (31:10). In ‫ ל״א‬forms, syllable-closing *ʾ has quiesced. As a result, the preceding vowel lengthened: e.g., σανηθι ‫אתי‬ ִ ֵ‫‘ ָׂשנ‬I hated’ (31:7). It should be assumed, therefore, that in εκρα ‫‘ ֶא ְק ָרא‬I will call’ (30:9) and νεμσα ‫נִ ְמ ָצא‬ ‘we will find’ (46:2), the final vowel is long.


Chapter 8

Examples of the qal perfect of ‫ ל״ה‬include: αμου ‫‘ ָהמּו‬they raged’ (46:7), anatha ‫‘ ָענְ ָתה‬she responded’ (Hos 2:17), αϊθι ‫יתי‬ ִ ִ‫‘ ָהי‬I was’ (30:8), and canithi ‫יתי‬ ִ ִ‫‘ ָקנ‬I got’ (Gen 4:1). Imperfect qal forms end in short e: e.g., ιειε ‫‘ יִ ְהיֶ ה‬it will be’ (89:37). The imperative has a final long vowel: e.g., αϊη ‫ֱהיֵ ה‬ ‘be!’ (30:11). The first vowel is either a or e: e.g., εζου ‫‘ ֲחזּו‬see!’ (masc. pl.) (46:9) and rau ‫‘ ְראּו‬see!’ (masc. pl.) (Hab 1:5). The infinitive absolute is φαδω ‫‘ ָפד ֹה‬redeeming’ (49:8). The infinitive construct is βααλωθαμ ‫לֹותם‬ ָ ‫ַּב ֲח‬ ‘when they were sick’ (35:13). In the piel and hiphil perfect, ī or ē may precede the inflectional suffix: e.g., εννηθι ‫יתי‬ ִ ֵ‫‘ ִעּנ‬I afflicted’ (35:13), δελλιθανη ‫יתנִ י‬ ָ ‫‘ ִד ִּל‬You lifted me up’ (30:2), εετηθ ‫ית‬ ָ ‫‘ ֶה ֱע ִט‬You covered’ (89:46), and εελιθ ‫ית‬ ָ ‫‘ ֶה ֱע ִל‬You brought up’ (30:4). In ϊθανι ‫יתנִ י‬ ַ ִ‫‘ ִחּי‬You kept me alive’ (30:4), the entire cluster [ḥiyyī-] is represented by ϊ. ‫ ל״ה‬hiphil imperfect forms have a final short e: e.g., αττε ‫‘ ַא ֶּטה‬I will incline’ (49:5); see also αϊωδεχχα ָ‫יֹודּך‬ ֶ ‫‘ ֲה‬can it praise You?’ (30:10) (Tiberian ‫יֹודָך‬ ְ ‫)ה‬. ֲ The ‫ ל״ה‬hiphil imperative is regular. In the Hexapla, the masc. sing. form, εττη ‫‘ ַה ֵּטה‬incline!’ (31:3), has a long final ē. An example of the masc. plural is ουωδου ‫‘ וְ הֹודּו‬and praise!’ (30:5). Relative, Adverbs, and Particles.  Unlike Tiberian Hebrew, the relative in the transcriptions is εσερ ‫‘ ֲא ֶׁשר‬that’ (46:9) and eser ‫‘ ֲא ֶׁשר‬that’ (Isa 2:22). Both vowels are short. χεν ‫‘ ֵּכן‬thus’ (46:3) represents a short [e]. The etymologically obscure word ‫‘ ֶס ָלה‬sela’ is represented in two ways: σελ (46:4, etc.), and σελα (32:7) or sela (Hab 3:3). Like the second-person masc. sing. perfect suffix, the final vowel is usually not represented. Prepositions, the Conjunction, and the Article.  Monoconsonantal prepositions commonly carry no vowel: e.g., βσαλουι ‫‘ ְּב ַׁש ְלוִ י‬in my quietude’ (30:7), χφαρδ ‫‘ ְּכ ֶפ ֶרד‬like a mule’ (32:9), and λμαωλ ‫‘ ְל ָמחֹול‬into dancing’ (30:12), etc. Sometimes, however, a vowel occurs (most commonly a): e.g., βαρσωνω ‫‘ ִּב ְרצֹונֹו‬by His will’ (30:6), λαμαν ‫‘ ְל ַמ ַען‬to’ (30:13), and baaphpho ‫‘ ְּב ַאּפֹו‬in His anger’ (Isa 2:22). Transcriptions without gemination, such as βασωμ ‫‘ ְבצֹום‬by fasting’ (35:13) (Tiberian ‫)בּצֹום‬, ַ are best treated as indefinite, since the gemination of the article -‫ ה‬is regularly expressed in the Hexapla (see below). As an independent preposition, ‫ ִמן‬is transcribed as men ‘from’ (Isa 2:22). When cliticized, it is usually transcribed as με- with following gemi-

Hebrew in Greek and Latin Transcriptions


nation: e.g., μεσσωηεμ ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫‘ ִמּׁש ֵֹא‬from their attacks’ (35:17) and mecchol ‫‘ ִמּכֹל‬of all’ (Gen 14:20). The conjunction -‫ ו‬is normally transcribed as ου and u: e.g., ουλω ‫וְ לֹא‬ ‘and not’ (30:13), ουνεσσημ ‫‘ וְ נַ ְּׂש ֵאם‬and carry them!’ (28:9), and ulo ‫וְ לֹא‬ ‘and not’ (Zech 14:17). In a few cases, however, another vowel follows: e.g., ουεθαζερηνι ‫‘ וַ ְּת ַאּזְ ֵרנִ י‬You girded me’ (30:12), ουαδου ‫‘ ְּודעּו‬and know!’ (masc. pl.) (46:11), uaiain ‫‘ וָ יָ יִ ן‬and wine’ (Gen 14:18), and uaiomer ‫אמר‬ ַ ֹ ‫וַ ּי‬ ‘and he said’ (Gen 14:19). Apparently, as in the oral tradition of Samaritan Hebrew, there is no formal distinction between a simple waw and the “consecutive” waw: see ουϊαρουμ ‫‘ וְ יָ רּום‬He is exalted’ (18:47) and ουϊεθθεν ‫‘ וַ ּיִ ֶּתן‬He gave’ (18:33). The vowel of the definite article and the immediately following gemination are represented in the Hexapla: e.g., αββαιθ ‫‘ ַה ַּביִ ת‬the house’ (30:1) and ασσωμριμ ‫‘ ַהּׁש ְֹמ ִרים‬the guards’ (31:7). In Jerome, this gemination is occasionally not indicated: e.g., adagim ‫‘ ַה ָּדגִ ים‬the fishes’ (Zeph 1:10). See p. 103, above.

Bibliography Brønno, Einar 1943 Studien über hebräische Morphologie und Vokalismus auf Grundlage der mercatischen Fragmente der zweiten Kolumne der Hexapla des Origines. Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 28. Leipzig: Brockhaus. 1970 Die Aussprache der hebräischen Laryngale nach Zeugnissen des Hieronymus. Aarhus: Universitetsvorglet. Emerton, John A. 1971 The Further Consideration of the Purpose of the Second Column of the Hexapla. Journal of Theological Studies 22: 15–28. Field, Frederick 1875 Origenis Hexaplorum quae supersunt. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Harviainen, Tapani 1977 On the Vocalism of the Closed Unstressed Syllables in Hebrew. Studia Orientalia 48. Helsinki: Finnish Oriental Society. 1984–86  On Vowel Reduction in Hebrew. Orientalia Suecana 33–35: 167–74. Hatch, Edwin, and Redpath, Henry A. 1906 A Concordance to the Septuagint and the Other Greek Versions of the Old Testament, vol. 3: Supplement. Oxford: Clarendon. Janssens, Gerard 1982 Studies in Hebrew Historical Linguistics Based on Origen’s Secunda. Orientalia Gandensia 9. Leuven: Peeters. Kutscher, Eduard Yechezkel 1965 Contemporary Studies in North-Western Semitic. Journal of Semitic Studies 10: 21–51.


Chapter 8

Margolis, Max L. 1909 The Pronunciation of the Shewa according to New Hexaplaric Material. American Journal of Semitic Languages 26: 62–70. Mercati, Giovanni 1958 Psalterii Hexapli Reliquiae. Vatican: Biblioteca Vaticana. 1965 Psalterii Hexapli Reliquiae, Osservazioni: Commento critico al testo dei frammenti esaplari. Vatican: Biblioteca Vaticana. Penna, Alessandro 1978 Scrittura e pronunzia dell’ebraico secondo S. Girolamo. Rivista Biblica Ita­ liana 26: 275–99. Siegfried, Carl 1884 Die Aussprache des Hebräischen bei Hieronymus. Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 4: 34–83. Speiser, Ephraim A. 1934–35  The Pronunciation of Hebrew according to the Transliterations of Hexapla. Jewish Quarterly Review 24: 9–46. Sperber, Alexander 1937–38  Hebrew Based upon Greek and Latin Transliterations. Hebrew Union College Annual 12–13: 103–274. Yuditsky, Alexey 2005 ‫[ התנועות החטופות בתעתיקי הטור השני של המשושה‬Reduced Vowels in the Transcriptions from Hebrew in the Hexapla]. Leshonenu 67: 121–41. 2007 ‫[ דקדוק העברית של תעתיקי אוריגנס‬The Grammar of the Hebrew of Origen’s Transliterations]. Ph.D. dissertation. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. 2008 The Weak Consonants in the Language of the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Hexapla Transliterations. Pp. 233–39 in Conservatism and Innovation in the Hebrew Language of the Hellenistic Period: Proceedings of a Fourth International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira, ed. Jan Joosten and Jean-Sébastien Rey. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 73. Leiden: Brill. 2013 Transcription of Biblical Hebrew into Greek and Latin Script in Pre-Masoretic Period. Pp. 803–22 in vol. 3 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill.

Chapter 9

Samaritan Tradition M oshe F lorentin

The Speech Community The Samaritans are an ancient ethno-religious group closely related to Judaism. Yet, they do not regard themselves as a Jewish sect, nor does the Rabbinic establishment regard them as such. Nowadays, the Samaritans number about 800. They live in Israel and Palestine, some in a separate neighborhood in Holon, near Tel-Aviv, and others on Mount Gerizim, near Nablus. Their present-day vernaculars are Hebrew and Arabic, but in their liturgical service they still maintain their ancient recitation of Hebrew and Aramaic. This old tradition of reciting their version of the Pentateuch and their liturgical pieces was never exposed to or influenced by a non-Semitic language. This oral tradition and their unique literature make them important for the research of Hebrew, Aramaic, Bible, Judaism, and the history of Palestine in ancient times. The origin of the Samaritans is disputed. They see themselves as descendants of biblical Israel. They do not regard themselves as “Samaritans”—that is, inhabitants of Samaria, but Shamerim ‘Guardians’ (of the Torah) (Tiberian ‫)ׁש ְֹמ ִרים‬. In a different way, their rivals, the Jews, referred to them as “Cutheans,” a pejorative appellation hinting at their alleged foreign origin reported in 2 Kgs 17. Most scholars, however, believe that the Samaritans split off from Judaism sometime during the Second Temple period (see Crown 1989: 1–18; Crown et al. 1993: 123–28; Kartveit 2009).

The Corpus The earliest evidence for Samaritan Hebrew dates to the Second Temple period. The inscriptions, as well as amulets that come from the Roman and Byzantine periods (Crown 1989: 190–94; Crown et al. 1993: 14, 131–34; 117


Chapter 9

Stern and Eshel 2002: 372–81), enrich our knowledge of Samaritan history and the development of the Samaritan alphabet. But because they are sparse and mainly contain citations from the Pentateuch, they have limited linguistic value. Samaritan Hebrew is based on the Samaritan version of the Pentateuch (Tal and Florentin 2010). This version differs from the Masoretic Text (MT) in several respects (see, e.g., Tov 2012: 80–97). The oldest manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) date to the eleventh century CE, though so-called “proto-Samaritan” fragments found in Qumran demonstrate that the roots of the Samaritan Pentateuch go back at least to the beginning of the Common Era. Unlike the Masoretic version, Samaritan manuscripts do not present a stable, crystallized, and complete system of vowel signs. Few manuscripts actually contain vowel signs; those which do, however, do not exhibit any degree of homogeneity. Despite their importance as evidence for the Samaritan pronunciation during the Middle Ages, these vocalized texts cannot be used for grammatical description. Another essential difference between Samaritan and Masoretic manuscripts is that the Samaritan Pentateuch has no received text. No rigid tradition of spelling exists: the diversity of orthography is reflected in the apparatus of von Gall’s edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch (1918). As a result, manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch differ from each other in the use of matres lectionis. But their orthography frequently reveals the Samaritan reading tradition. Thus, ‘first’ is generally written ‫( ראישון‬Tiberian ‫;)ראׁשֹון‬ ִ the yod is not just a plene spelling but reflects the Samaritan reading [rā̊ʾišon]. Similarly, ‫‘ לשחית‬to destroy’ (Gen 6:17) reflects a hiphil verb [lā̊š ̍  īt] as opposed to the MT piel ‫ל ַׁש ֵחת‬.ְ In 1977, Z. Ben-Ḥayyim published a transcription of the Samaritan reading tradition of the Pentateuch, which he himself had recorded years before. It was accompanied by a comprehensive grammar of Samaritan Hebrew based on this oral tradition. In his grammar, which is essentially synchronic, Ben-Ḥayyim also extensively compared Samaritan Hebrew to Tiberian Hebrew and showed that the Samaritan reading, though contemporary, reflects one of the Hebrew dialects that was used during the end of the Second Temple period. It resembles in several respects Tannaitic Hebrew and the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls (see, especially, chapter 7), though it is identical to neither.

Samaritan Tradition


Samaritan transcriptions from the twelfth century CE and the detailed descriptions of Samaritan grammatical treatises from that time reveal several differences between what is heard today and what was probably recited in Samaritan synagogues during the Middle Ages (see below, on ‫)בג״ד כפ״ת‬. Yet, at the same time, the medieval evidence proves that the pedantic and meticulous tradition of reciting the Pentateuch, which still characterizes the Samaritans, prevented substantial changes in the original recitation. The grammatical sketch below is based on the phonetic transcription of the preserved Samaritan reading of the Pentateuch.

Orthography In the Samaritan text, matres lectionis are more frequent than in the MT: e.g., ‫[ וישובו‬wyēšūbu] ‘they turn back’ (Exod 14:2) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיָ ֻׁשבּו‬, ‫[ ושלישים‬wšēlīšəm] ‘and officers’ (Exod 14:7) (Tiberian ‫)וְ ָׁש ִל ִׁשם‬, ‫יוצאים‬ [yūṣā̊ʾəm] ‘they were going out’ (Exod 14:8) (Tiberian ‫)י ְֹצ ִאים‬, and ‫צפון‬ [ṣā̊fon] ‘Zephon’ (Exod 14:9) (Tiberian ‫)צפֹן‬. ְ This does not mean, however, that in the Samaritan orthography every vowel is marked with ‫ ו‬or ‫ ;י‬on the contrary, defective spellings are quite common, not only in cases such as ‫[ הם‬imma] ‘they’ (Exod 14:3), in which the final vowel of the pronoun is unmarked, but also in the middle of the word, as in ‫[וישגו‬wyaššīgu] ‘and they overtook’ (Exod 14:9) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיַ ִּׂשיגּו‬. Occasionally, ‫ י‬or ‫ ו‬appears in the Samaritan text where it is absent from the Masoretic Bible; however, this is not due to a tendency toward plene spelling but instead reflects the oral reading tradition: e.g., ‫בכבודות‬ [bakkā̊būdot] ‘with glory’ (Exod 14:25) (Tiberian ‫‘ ִּב ְכ ֵב ֻדת‬heavily’) and ‫[ ויושיע‬wyū'šī] ‘he saved’ (Exod 14:30) (Tiberian ‫ּיֹוׁשע‬ ַ ַ‫)ו‬. Samaritan orthography often lacks ‫ י‬or ‫ ו‬where the Masoretic Text supplies one, especially in words in which the Samaritans do not pronounce a long high vowel: e.g., ‫[ ויאמנו‬wyā̊mēnu] ‘and they believed’ (Exod 14:31) (Tiberian ‫ )וַ ּיַ ֲא ִמינּו‬and ‫[ ישר‬yā̊šår] ‘he sang’ (Exod 15:1) (Tiberian ‫)יָ ִׁשיר‬.

Phonetics and Phonology Consonants There are 20 consonants in Samaritan Hebrew as read today. The phonemes /ḥ/, /h/, and /ś/ are lost. Among the series of ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬consonants, only the plosive allophones survive; the sole exception is [f ].


Chapter 9


‫  מ‬m

‫ ב‬b

‫ פ‬f ‫ ד‬d

‫ ת‬t

‫ נ‬n

‫ ל‬l

‫ ר‬r

‫ ז‬z

‫ ט‬ṭ

‫ צ‬ṣ ‫ י‬y

palatal velar

‫ ג‬g


‫ ק‬q

‫ כ‬k ‫ ע‬ʿ

laryngeal glottal

‫ ס‬s ‫ ׁש‬š

alveolar alveolar-velar


‫ ו‬w

labiodental dental

fricative unvoiced

fricative voiced




plosive unvoiced

Place of articulation

plosive voiced

Table of Consonants

‫ א‬ʾ

Gutturals (pharygeals and laryngeals).  [ʿ] is retained only word initially before the vowels [a] and [å]. It is a reflex of historical ‫ ע‬and at times also ‫ח‬: e.g., ‫[ על‬ʿal] ‘by’ (Exod 14:2) (Tiberian ‫)על‬, ַ ‫[ עשינו‬ʿaššīnu] ‘we have done’ (Exod 14:5) (Tiberian ‫)ע ִׂשינּו‬, ָ and ‫[ חללת‬ʿållåltå] ‘you defiled’ (Gen 49:4) (Tiberian ‫)ח ַּל ְל ָּת‬. ִ Both ‫ ע‬and ‫ ח‬are pronounced as [ʾ] before ֲ other vowels: e.g., ‫[ ענבים‬ʾēnā̊bəm] ‘grapes’ (Gen 49:11) (Tiberian ‫)ענָ ִבים‬ and ‫[ חילו‬ʾīlu] ‘his host’ (Exod 14:4) (Tiberian ‫)חילֹו‬. ֵ In other environments, ‫ ע‬and ‫ ח‬have shifted to [ʾ]: e.g., ‫[ נכחו‬nēkāʾu] ‘over against it’ (Exod 14:2) (Tiberian ‫ )נִ ְכחֹו‬and ‫[ וידעו‬wyiddāʾu] ‘and they shall know’ (Exod 14:4) (Tiberian ‫)וְ יָ ְדעּו‬. ‫ ה‬shifts to [ʾ] at the beginning of a syllable, as in [ʾayyåm] ‘the sea’ (Exod 14:2) (Tiberian ‫;)הּיָ ם‬ ַ otherwise it quiesces entirely.1 Between two identical vowels, ʾ quiesces; the syllable in which it occurred merges with the next syllable and yields an extra-long vowel (marked V̄ in closed syllables, but V̄: in open ones): e.g., (*baʿal >) ‫בעל‬ ‫[ צפון‬bāl ṣā̊fon] ‘Baal-Zephon’ (Exod 14:2) (Tiberian ‫)ּב ַעל ְצפֹן‬, ַ (‫*ּבחּור‬ ְ > *bəʾur > *buʾur >) ‫[ בחור‬būr] ‘chosen’ (Exod 14:7) (Tiberian ‫)ּבחּור‬, ָ and 1.  Following Ben-Ḥayyim’s system of transcription, the glottal stop [ʾ] will not be marked when word-initial.

Samaritan Tradition


(*maləʾak > *mā̊laʾak >) ‫[ מלאך‬mā̊'lā̊k] ‘angel of’ (Exod 14:19) (Tiberian ‫)מ ְל ַאְך‬. ַ *ʾ elides in word-final position: e.g., ‫[ ויקח‬wyiqqa] ‘and he took’ (Exod 14:7) (Tiberian ‫ )וַ ּיִ ַּקח‬and ‫[ תשמע‬tišma] ‘you will listen’ (Exod 15:26) (Tiberian ‫)ּת ְׁש ַמע‬. ִ A medial syllable-closing *ʾ, regardless of origin, assimilates to the following consonant: e.g., ‫[ לא תחמד‬lā̊ tēmmåd] ‘you shall not covet’ (Exod 20:14) (Tiberian ‫)לֹא ַת ְחמֹד‬, (‫*ּת ְעׂשּו‬ ַ >) ‫[ לא תעשו‬lā̊ tēššu] ‘you shall not make’ (Exod 20:20) (Tiberian ‫)לא ַת ֲעׂשּו‬, ‫[ לקחתיך‬lēqāttək] ‘I took you’ (Num 23:11) (Tiberian ‫)ל ַק ְח ִּתיָך‬, ְ and (‫*מ ְחזֶ ה שדי יֶ ְחזֶ ה‬ >) ַ ‫מחזה שדי יחזה‬ [mā̊zzi šiddi yā̊zzi] ‘who sees the vision of Shaddai’ (Num 24:4) (Tiberian ‫)מ ֲחזֵ ה ַׁש ַּדי יֶ ֱחזֶ ה‬. ַ *ʾ develops into a geminated [yy] or [ww] when it follows [i] or [u] but is preserved before another vowel: e.g., (‫*מ ֲא ָרם‬ ִ >) ‫[ מארם‬miyyā̊råm] ‘from Aram’ (Num 23:7) (Tiberian ‫)מן ֲא ָרם‬, ִ (‫[ יוציאם )> *יוציאם‬yūṣiyyimma] ‘(who) will bring them out’ (Num 24:23; an addition in SP, which would correspond to Tiberian ‫יאם‬ ֵ ‫)יֹוצ‬, ִ ‫ ותרועת‬. . . ‫[ אלהיו‬ēluwwiyyu . . . wtirruwwåt] ‘his God . . . and the shout of’ (Num 23:21) (Tiberian ‫ֹלהיו‬ ָ ‫ֱא‬ ‫רּועת‬ ַ ‫ּות‬ ְ . . .), and ‫[ כתועפת‬kā̊tuwwēfot] ‘like the horns of’ (Num 24:8) (Tiberian ‫תֹועפֹת‬ ֲ ‫)ּכ‬. ְ Tiberian also shows this development, though on a limited scale, as in ‫יאל > ָּדנִ ּיֵ אל‬ ֵ ִ‫*ּדנ‬ ָ [dāniyyēl] ‘Daniel’. ‫בג״ד כפ״ת‬.  As noted above, with the exception of [f ], only the plosive allophones of the ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬consonants are attested. The following are representative examples that in Tiberian are realized as fricatives but in Samaritan as plosives: ‫[ וידבר‬wyēdabbər] ‘and he spoke’ (Exod 20:1) (Tiberian ‫)וַ יְ ַד ֵּבר‬, ‫[ וגרך‬wgīråk] ‘and your sojourner’ (Exod 20:10) (Tiberian ‫)וְ גֵ ְרָך‬, ‫[ הדברים‬addēbā̊rəm] ‘(these) words’ (Exod 20:1) (Tiberian ‫)ה ְּד ָב ִרים‬, ַ ‫מלאכה‬ [mā̊lā̊ka] ‘work’ (Exod 20:10) (Tiberian ‫אכה‬ ָ ‫)מ ָל‬, ְ and ‫[ ואמתך‬wā̊mā̊tåk] ‘or your female servant’ (Exod 20:10) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ֲא ָמ ְתָך‬. *p disappeared and was replaced by [f ]. When geminated, original *p is realized as [bb] as well as [ff]: e.g., ‫[ תפל‬tibbål] ‘it fell’ (Exod 15:16) (Tiberian ‫)ּתּפֹל‬, ִ ‫[ בתפים‬aftabbəm] ‘with timbrels’ (Exod 15:20) (Tiberian ‫)ּב ֻת ִּפים‬, ְ and ‫[ מפניהם‬miffā̊nīyyimma] ‘from before them’ (Exod 14:19) (Tibe­rian ‫יהם‬ ֶ ֵ‫)מ ְּפנ‬. ִ Based on grammatical treatises of medieval Samaritan grammarians as well as transcriptions into Arabic, it is apparent that Samaritan Hebrew in the past also had fricative allophones of these consonants. Evidence for the


Chapter 9

ancient fricative realization, at least [ḇ], is the pronunciation of words such as ‫[ ובכל‬wafkal] ‘and over all of’ (Exod 14:4) (Tiberian ‫)ּוב ָכל‬. ְ [f ], which is a reflex of the original *b, can be explained only if we assume the following process: *bəkul > *abkul (prosthetic vowel) > *abkul (post-vocalic spirantization) > [afkal]. ‫ו‬.  The original pronunciation of ‫ ו‬as a semi-vowel is preserved in the Samaritan pronunciation of the conjunction ‫ ו‬or when geminated. For examples of geminated ‫ו‬, see p. 121, above. Etymological *ww occurs in forms such as ‫[ צוארו‬ṣuwwā̊ru] ‘his neck’ (Gen 27:16) (Tiberian ‫)צּוָ ארֹו‬. ַ Elsewhere it is realized as [b]: e.g., ‫[ נוה‬nā̊be] ‘abode of’ (Exod 15:13) (Tiberian ‫ )נְ וֵ ה‬and ‫[ עשו‬īšåb] ‘Esau’ (Num 24:18) (Tiberian ‫)ע ָׂשו‬. ֵ Both articulations of ‫ ו‬are attested in ‫[ ואנוהו‬wēnā̊bēʾu] ‘and I will praise him’ (Exod 15:2) (Tiberian ‫)וְ ַאנְ וֵ הּו‬. ‫ׂש‬.  Unlike the other traditions of Hebrew (and Aramaic), ‫ ׂש‬merged with ‫ ׁש‬in Samaritan Hebrew: e.g., ‫[ שרי‬šā̊ri] ‘the princes of’ (Num 23:6) (Tiberian ‫)ׂש ֵרי‬. ָ

Vowels Qualitative Distinctions.  Samaritan Hebrew distinguishes six different vowels, as does the Babylonian tradition (see chapter 10). The vowels are: a (similar to Tiberian pataḥ), å (ɔ, like Tiberian qameṣ), i, e, u, and o. Of these, only the first four are distinct phonemes; u and o are allophones of a single phoneme (see below); i and e are realized as [ə] in closed post-tonic syllables, which is not a distinct phoneme. This [ə] is not related to the Tiberian vocal šəwa. Samaritan has no səgol, which is unique to Tiberian Hebrew. The high back vowels u and o are in complementary distribution. [ū] appears in open syllables, whereas [o] stands in closed syllables: e.g., ‫נורא‬ [nūra] ‘awesome’ (Exod 15:11) (Tiberian ‫)נֹורא‬ ָ vs. ‫[ מדבר שור‬madbår šor] ‘the wilderness of Shur’ (Exod 15:22) (Tiberian ‫;)מ ְד ַּבר ׁשֹור‬ ִ or ‫תוסיפון‬ [tūsīfon] ‘you shall again’ (Exod 14:13) (Tiberian ‫( )ת ִֹספּו‬but see below, on the third-person masc. sing. pronoun). The back vowel å is realized like the Tiberian qameṣ; however, the two vowels are not historically or synchronically related. Samaritan back å and front a (IPA æ) appear in open and closed, stressed and unstressed syllables. Accordingly, their distribution differs from that of Tiberian qameṣ and pataḥ.

Samaritan Tradition


Quantitative Differences.  Phonetically, there are four different vowel lengths: (1) short, only in a closed syllable, as in ‫[ מזבחות‬mazbāʾot] ‘altars of’ (Num 23:1) (Tiberian ‫)מזְ ְּבחֹת‬ ִ and ‫[ מואב‬muwwåb] ‘Moab’ (Num 23:6) (Tiberian ‫;)מֹואב‬ ָ (2) long, only in open syllables (marked V̄), as in ‫[ משלו‬mā̊šā̊lu] ‘his parable’ (Num 23:7) (Tiberian ‫)מ ָׁשלֹו‬ ְ and ‫אראנו‬ [ērēʾinnu] ‘I see him’ (Num 23:9) (Tiberian ‫;)א ְר ֶאּנּו‬ ֶ (3) medium, in open final syllables, as demonstrated above (here transcribed with no special sign); and (4) extra-long, in open and closed syllables (marked V̄ and V̄:, respectively). Extra-long vowels arose from the disappearance of a guttural and the subsequent merger of two syllables (see above). Vowel length is not phonemic in Samaritan Hebrew as evidenced by the complementary distribution of vowels of various lengths. Nonetheless, one finds a few exceptions such as ‫[ רב‬råb] ‘many’ (Exod 1:9) vs. ‫[ רחב‬rā̊b] ‘width’ (Exod 26:16) (Tiberian ‫ ַרב‬and ‫ר ַֹחב‬, respectively). Šəwa.  Where one expects a Tiberian vocal šəwa, Samaritan Hebrew exhibits two different realizations: (1) a full vowel of any quality, which— due to the open syllable—is pronounced long, as in ‫[ לקחתיך‬lēqāttək] ‘I took you’ (Num 23:11) (Tiberian ‫)ל ַק ְח ִּתיָך‬ ְ and ‫[ בפי‬bā̊fiyyi] ‘in my mouth’ (Num 23:12) (Tiberian ‫;)ּב ִפי‬ ְ or (2) a prosthetic vowel before the consonant that originally had a vocal šəwa, as in ‫[ לדבר‬aldabbər] ‘to speak’ (Num 23:12) (Tiberian ‫)ל ַד ֵּבר‬ ְ and ‫[ ביעקב‬abyā̊:qob] ‘in Jacob’ (Num 23:21) (Tiberian ‫)ּביַ ֲעקֹב‬. ְ The absence of the vocal šəwa in Samaritan is secondary and belongs to a stage of the language that postdates Tiberian Hebrew. (Proto-) Samaritan Hebrew has a strong tendency to use anaptyctic vowels in environments where Tiberian has a cluster of consonants. In the following examples from Num 23:4, Proto-Samaritan originally had a reduced vowel (vocal šəwa) and not a zero vowel (silent šəwa): (*malʾak > *mā̊ləʾak > *mā̊laʾak >) ‫[ מלאך‬mā̊ ̍ lā̊:k] ‘angel’ (Tiberian ‫)מ ְל ָאך‬, ַ (*balʿam ̊ ̊ > *bāləʿam > *bā ̍ laʿam >) ‫[ בלעם‬bā̊ ̍ lā:m] ‘Balaam’ (Tiberian ‫)ּב ְל ָעם‬, ִ and (*šā̊bʿat > *šā̊bəʿat > *šā̊ ̍ baʿat >) ‫[ שבעת‬šā̊ ̍ bā:t] ‘the seven of’ (Tiberian ‫)ׁש ְב ַעת‬. ִ Diphthongs.  In Samaritan Hebrew, unlike Tiberian, falling diphthongs have contracted: e.g., *aw > [o] ~ [ū], as in ‫[ עון‬ūn] ‘iniquity’ (Num 23:21) (Tiberian ‫)אוֶ ן‬ ָ and ‫[ פניו‬fā̊no] ‘his face’ (Num 24:1) (Tiberian ‫;)ּפנָ יו‬ ָ *uy > [o], as in ‫[ וגלוי עין‬wgā̊lo] ‘with eye uncovered’ (Num 24:4) (Tiberian ‫ ;)ּוגְ לּוי‬and *ay > [e] ~ [ī], as in ‫[ וגלוי עין‬ʾ īn] ‘with eye uncovered’ (Num 24:4) (Tiberian ‫)עיִ ן‬ ַ and ‫[ מים‬mem] ‘water’ (Num 24:6) (Tiberian ‫)מיִ ם‬. ַ The orthography of


Chapter 9

‫[ ין‬yen] ‘wine’ (Tiberian ‫ )יַ יִ ן‬in the eighth-century Samaria ostraca shows that monophthongization of diphthongs in northern Israel was more widespread than in the Hebrew of the Tiberian Masoretes. When geminated, however, either originally or secondarily, the diphthong is retained: e.g., ‫[ חיה‬ʿayyå] ‘animal’ (Gen 1:24) (Tiberian ‫)חּיָ ה‬ ַ and (*ʾ elohim > *ēluʾəm > *ēluwəm >) ‫[ אלהים‬ēluwwəm] ‘God’ (Num 23:4) (Tiberian ‫ֹלהים‬ ִ ‫)א‬. ֱ Vowel Changes.  Several vowel shifts occur in Samaritan that may be contrasted with Tiberian. (1) The Canaanite vowel shift (*ā >*ō) occurs in Samaritan Hebrew: e.g., (*nātin >) ‫[ נתן‬nūtən] ‘He gives’ (Exod 16:29) (an addition in SP, which would correspond to Tiberian ‫ )נ ֵֹתן‬and (*gabbār >) ‫[ גיבור‬gibbor] ‘mighty’ (Exod 15:3) (an addition in SP, which would correspond to Tiberian ‫)ּגִ ּבֹור‬. There are cases, however, where the shift is attested in Tiberian but not in Samaritan Hebrew: e.g., (*ʾanā̊ku >) ‫[ אנכי‬ā̊nā̊ki] ‘I’ (Gen 3:10) (Tiberian ‫)אנ ִֹכי‬, ָ (*kinnār >) ‫[ כנר‬kinnår] ‘lyre’ (Gen 4:21) (Tiberian ‫)ּכּנֹור‬, ִ and (*lā >) ‫[ לא‬lā̊] ‘not’ (Gen 2:5) (Tiberian ‫)לֹא‬. Since it is implausible to assume that Aramaic (in which the Canaanite shift did not operate) influenced Samaritan Hebrew here, it is likely that Proto-Hebrew was heterogeneous in this respect. Sometimes the difference in the two traditions stems not from the different extent of the Canaanite shift but from different base forms; for example, ‘embroider’ in Tiberian Hebrew is ‫ [i]), which is generally reconstructed for Tiberian Hebrew, is rare in Samaritan. It occurs in several verbal forms where one reconstructs Proto-Hebrew *a: e.g., (*namṣaʾ >) ‫נמצא‬ [nimmā̊ṣå] ‘it has been found’ (Gen 44:16) (Tiberian ‫ )נִ ְמ ָצא‬and (*wyak­ tub >) ‫[ ויכתב‬wyiktåb] ‘he wrote’ (Exod 24:4 ) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיִ ְכּתֹב‬. As in Tiberian, however, this shift is morphophonogical. (3) “Philippi’s law,” according to which *i > [a] in a closed accented syllable (cf. Blau 1986; Qimron 1986), probably operated in Samaritan Hebrew, as shown by pairs such as (* ̍ lib[bu] >) ‫[ לב‬lab] ‘heart of’ (Exod 14:4) (Tiberian ‫)לב‬ ֵ vs. (*lib ̍ bi >) ‫[ מלבי‬millibbi] ‘from my heart’ (Num 24:13) (Tiberian ‫)מ ִּל ִּבי‬. ִ Yet bidirectional analogies blurred the original conditioning factors and yielded, for example, forms like ‫[ שם‬šam] ‘name of’ (Exod 20:7) (Tiberian ‫)ׁשם‬ ֵ < *šimu but ‫[ הכבדתי‬akbidti] ‘I have hardened’ (Exod 10:1) (Tiberian ‫)ה ְכ ַּב ְד ִּתי‬. ִ

Samaritan Tradition


(4) Short *u in Samaritan has almost disappeared, whereas in Tiberian it has been preserved in closed unstressed syllables (alongside [ɔ]) and lowered to [o] in closed stressed syllables. In Samaritan Hebrew, *u generally shifted either to [a] (and its variant [å]) or [i]. This shift neutralized the difference between the patterns yiqtol (< *yiqtul) and yiqtal in the imperfect of the qal stem (see below): e.g., ‫[ יפקד‬yifqåd] ‘he visits, appoints’ (Exod 13:19) (Tiberian ‫ )יִ ְפקֹד‬vs. ‫[ ישכב‬yiškåb] ‘he will (not) lie down’ (Num 23:24) (Tiberian ‫)יִ ְׁש ַּכב‬. In cases like (*gulgult >) ‫[ לגלגלת‬algilgā̊lət] ‘to a person’ (lit., ‘a head’) (Exod 38:26) (Tiberian ‫)ּגֻ ְלּג ֶֹלת‬, *u shifted to [i]. Stress.  Stress is usually penultimate. Unless marked otherwise, all words in this chapter are stressed on the penult: e.g., (*wyu ̍ ši a ʿ >) ‫ויושיע‬ [wyū ̍ šī] ‘he saved’ (Exod 14:30) (Tiberian ‫ֹוׁשע‬ ַ ֨‫ )וַ ּי‬and (*gā̊ ̍ b a ʾat >) ‫גבעת‬ [gā̊ ̍ bāt] ‘hill of’ (Gen 49:26) (Tiberian ‫)ּגִ ְב ֣עֹת‬. Ultimate stress results from the collapse of two syllables following the loss of a guttural. General penultimate stress is a relatively late development, which goes back to the Second Temple period; the earlier Samaritan stress generally fell on the ultima, as in Tiberian Hebrew. Because stress is nearly always penultimate, there is no distinction in Samaritan Hebrew between pausal and non-pausal forms. Moreover, every long vowel in an open syllable is preserved regardless of the position of the word stress: e.g., ‫[ אשורנו‬ā̊šūrinnu] ‘I praise him’ (Num 23:9) (Tiberian ‫ׁשּורּנּו‬ ֑ ֶ ‫)א‬ ֲ and ‫[ אחריתי‬ā̊ʾērīti] ‘my end’ (Num 23:10) (Tiberian ‫יתי‬ ֖ ִ ‫)א ֲח ִר‬. ַ

Morphology Personal Pronouns.  Samaritan Hebrew pronouns have retained their word-final vowels, sometimes in contrast to Tiberian and Tannaitic Hebrew but similar to the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls (see chapter 7, p. 90). Examples include: ‫[ אתה‬åttå] ‘you’ (masc. sing.) (cf. Tannaitic ‫ַא ְּת‬ [ʾat(t)]), ‫[ אתי‬åtti] ‘you’ (fem. sing.) (Tiberian and Tannaitic ‫[ ַא ְּת‬ʾat(t)]), ‫[ אתם‬attimma] ‘you’ (masc. pl.) (Tiberian and Tannaitic ‫)א ֶּתם‬, ַ ‫[ הם‬imma] ‘they’ (masc.), and ‫[ הן‬inna] ‘they’ (fem.). The second-person masc. sing. possessive suffix lacks a final vowel: e.g., ‫[ עלתיך‬ʿālūtək] ‘your burnt offerings’ (Num 23:3) (Tiberian ‫)ע ָֹל ֶתָך‬ and ‫[ לך‬låk] ‘to you’ (Num 23:3) (Tiberian ‫)לְ֑ך‬. ָ The third-person masc. sing. form is [u] when suffixed to a singular noun (e.g., ‫[ משלו‬mā̊šā̊lu] ‘his parable’ [Num 23:7] [Tiberian ‫)]מ ָׁשלֹו‬ ְ but [o] when suffixed to a plural


Chapter 9

noun (e.g., ‫[ עלתיו‬ʿālūto] ‘his burnt offerings’ [Num 23:6] [Tiberian ‫)]ע ָֹלתֹו‬. The second- and third-person masc. pl. suffixes also have final vowels: e.g., ‫[ לכם‬lā̊kimma] ‘for you’ (Exod 14:13, 14) (Tiberian ‫)ל ֶכם‬ ָ and ‫דבריכם‬ [dēbā̊rīkimma] ‘your words’ (Gen 42:16) (Tiberian ‫יכם‬ ֶ ‫;)ּד ְב ֵר‬ ִ and ‫להם‬ [lēmma] ‘to them’ (Exod 20:5) (Tiberian ‫)ל ֶהם‬ ָ and ‫[ תעבדם‬tā̊bbā̊dimma] ‘you will (not) serve them’ (Exod 20:5) (Tiberian ‫)ת ָע ְב ֵדם‬. ָ Nominal Patterns.  Morphological differences between Samaritan and Tiberian Hebrew appear in nominal patterns. Two representative examples will suffice. New noun patterns were created due to the tendency to homogenize the paradigm: e.g., ‫[ דבר‬dēbår] ‘thing’ (Exod 5:11) (Tiberian ‫)ּד ָבר‬, ָ after ‫[ דברים‬dēbā̊rəm] ‘words’ (Exod 4:10) (Tiberian ‫)ּד ָב ִרים‬. ְ Many nouns in Samaritan Hebrew originally belong to a different nominal pattern from that of Tiberian: e.g., ‫[ ימינך‬yammīnåk] ‘Your right hand’ (Exod 15:12) vs. Tiberian ‫;יְמינְ ָך‬ ִ or Samaritan ‫[ אויב‬uyyåb] ‘enemy’ (Exod 15:9) vs. Tiberian ‫אֹויֵב‬. The Verb.  The finite verbal forms of Tiberian Hebrew also occur in Samaritan Hebrew, although some more rarely in the latter. The more notable verbal forms include the following. (1) “Imperfect consecutive”: e.g., ‫[ ויעש‬wyāš] ‘he made’ (Num 23:2) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיַ ַעׂש‬, as opposed to the imperfect ‫[ יעשה‬yēšši] ‘He will (not) do’ (Num 23:19) (Tiberian ‫[ ויען ויאמר ;)יַ ֲע ֶׂשה‬wyān wyā̊ʾūmər] ‘and he answered and said’ (Num 23:12) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיַ ַען‬, as opposed to the imperfect ‫[ יענה‬yānna] ‘He will answer’ (Gen 41:16) (Tiberian ‫ ;)יַ ֲענֶ ה‬and ‫וירא‬ [wyēre] ‘and he saw’ (Num 24:1) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיַ ְרא‬, as opposed to the imperfect ‫[ יראה‬yērēʾi] ‘He will see’ (Gen 22:8) (Tiberian ‫)יִ ְר ֶאה‬. The difference between the imperfect consecutive and the imperfect has become blurred in Samaritan. There is no phonetic distinction between the conjunctive -‫ו‬ and the “consecutive” -‫( ו‬both are realized [w-]). The Greek transcriptions of Hebrew in the Secunda also reflect a single particle -‫( ו‬see chapter 8, p. 115). Because the distinction between [i] and [e] was lost in Samaritan Hebrew (both shifted to [ə] in a closed post-tonic syllable; see above), the formal difference between the imperfect and the imperfect consecutive in the hiphil was lost. For example, Tiberian ‫[ וַ ְּיַב ֵּדל‬wayyaḇdēl] ‘He separated’ (Gen 1:7) and ‫[ ְיַב ִּדיל‬yaḇdīl] ‘he shall (not) divide’ (Lev 5:8) are jointly realized in Samaritan as [(w)yabdəl]. The penultimate stress of Samaritan eliminated any distinction between pairs such as ‫‘ יֵ ֫ ֵלְך‬he will go’ and ‫‘ וַ ֵּ֫י ֶלְך‬and he went’.

Samaritan Tradition


In many cases, the consonantal text of the Samaritan Pentateuch shows a short form while the oral reading tradition has the longer form identical to the corresponding imperfect: e.g., ‫[ ויעל‬wyālli] ‘he offered’ (Num 23:2) (Tiberian ‫ )וַ ּיַ ַעל‬and ‫[ ויבן‬wyibni] ‘he built’ (Num 23:14) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ֶּיִבן‬. Samaritan Hebrew developed a variety of ‫ יקטול‬yiqṭōl patterns preceded by -‫ ו‬to express the past. These patterns are probably derived from the perfect pattern (*qaṭal >) qā̊ṭal (Tiberian ‫)ק ַטל‬. ָ For example, one finds pairs such as ‫[ ילך‬yēlåk] ‘he will go’ (Tiberian ‫ )יֵ ֵלְך‬vs. ‫[ וילך‬wyā̊låk] ‘he went’ (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיֵ ֶלְך‬, ‫[ יקום‬yēqom] ‘he will rise’ (Tiberian ‫ )יָ קּום‬vs. ‫ויקם‬ [wyā̊qåm] ‘he rose’ (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיָ ָקם‬, and ‫[ תלד‬tēlåd] ‘she will give birth’ (Tiberian ‫)ּת ֵלד‬ ֵ vs. ‫[ ותלד‬wtā̊låd] ‘and she gave birth’ (Tiberian ‫)וַ ֵּת ֶלד‬. In ‫פ״י‬ verbs, ‫ יקטול‬formally looks like the perfect form, too, but is not necessarily the same: e.g., ‫[ ירד‬yēråd] ‘he will descend’ (Tiberian ‫ )יֵ ֵרד‬/ ‫[ וירד‬wyā̊råd] ‘and he descended’ (Tiberian ‫ ;)וַ ּיֵ ֶרד‬compare ‫[ ירד‬yā̊råd] (Tiberian ‫)יָ ַרד‬. In Samaritan, the perfect vowel pattern can be superimposed on to the imperfect consecutive. (2) Jussive (short imperfect), as in ‫[ ותהי‬wtā̊ʾi] ‘and let it be’ (Num 23:10) (Tiberian ‫)ּות ִהי‬, ְ as opposed to the imperfect ‫[ תהיה‬tēyyi] ‘it may be’ (Exod 20:16) (Tiberian ‫)ת ְהיֶ ה‬, ִ and ‫[ יחי‬yī] ‘may he live’ (Deut 33:6) (Tiberian ‫)יְ ִחי‬, as opposed to the imperfect ‫[ יחיה‬yiyya] ‘he shall (not) live’ (Exod 19:13) (Tiberian ‫)יִ ְחיֶ ה‬. The jussive is rare and can be identified only in verbs ‫ל״ה‬. Because of sound changes, such as the shift of *ū > ]o[ in closed syllables, other forms have merged; for example, Tiberian ‫יָ מּות‬ ‘he will die’ (imperfect) and ‫‘ יָ מֹת‬may he die’ ( jussive) are the selfsame [yēmot] in Samaritan. (3) Lengthened imperfect (cohortative), expressing deontic modality, as in ‫[ ואכבדה‬wikkā̊bēda] ‘and I will get glory’ (Exod 14:17) (Tiberian ‫ )וְ ִא ָּכ ְב ָדה‬and ‫[ אנוסה‬ā̊nūsa] ‘let us flee’ (Exod 14:25) (Tiberian ‫נּוסה‬ ָ ‫)א‬. ָ Sometimes it occurs when the MT has an imperfect, as in ‫[ אדברה‬ēdabbēra] ‘I will say’ (Num 24:13) (Tiberian ‫)א ַד ֵּבר‬. ֲ As in Late Biblical Hebrew (chapter 4, pp. 47–48), it frequently replaces the “imperfect consecutive” when expressing the past: e.g., ‫[ ואתנפלה‬witnåbbā̊la] ‘I fell prostrate’ (Deut 9:18, 25) (Tiberian ‫ )וָ ֶא ְתנַ ַּפל‬and ‫[ ואדברה‬wēdabbēra] ‘I spoke’ (Deut 1:43) (Tiberian ‫)וָ ֲא ַד ֵּבר‬. (4) Perfect “consecutive,” as in ‫[ ויכלת‬wyā̊kåltå] ‘you will be able’ (Exod 18:23) (Tiberian ‫)וְ יָ ָכ ְל ָּת‬. Because of its penultimate stress pattern, Samaritan erases the difference between ‫‘ ָא ַ֫מ ְר ָּת‬you said’ (perfect) (Gen


Chapter 9

12:19) and ‫‘ וְ ָא ַמ ְר ָּ֫ת‬and you shall say’ (perfect consecutive) (Gen 32:19); in Samaritan, both are [(w)ā̊mårtå]. Occasionally, however, Samaritan Hebrew creates a secondary perfect for expressing the future (preceded by -‫)ו‬: e.g., ‫[ שמעו‬šāmāʾu] ‘they heard’ (Num 14:14) expresses the past, whereas ‫[ ושמעו‬wšēmāʾu] ‘and they will hear’ (Num 14:13) expresses the future. Note the contrasting stem-initial vowels. (5) Infinitive absolute, as in ‫[ ברוך אברכך‬birrok ēbarrēkåk] ‘I will surely bless you’ (Gen 22:17) (Tiberian ‫)ב ֵרְך ֲא ָב ֶר ְכָך‬ ָ and ‫[ שאל שאל‬šā̊ʾål šā̊ʾəl] ‘he questioned carefully’ (Gen 43:7) (Tiberian ‫)ׁשאֹול ָׁש ַאל‬. ָ The form, however, is rare in Samaritan Hebrew. Usually, it is replaced by a finite verb: e.g., ‫ והמים היו הלכו וחסרו‬. . . ‫ הלכו ושבו‬. . . ‫ וישבו המים‬appears instead of Tiberian ‫ וְ ַה ַּ֗מיִ ם ָה ֙יּו ָה ֣לֹוְך וְ ָח ֔סֹור‬. . . ‫‘ וַ ּיָ ֻ ׁ֧שבּו ַה ַ ּ֛מיִ ם ֵמ ַ ֥על ָה ָ ֖א ֶרץ ָה ֣לֹוְך וָ ׁ֑שֹוב‬The waters receded steadily from the earth . . . The waters continued to recede’ (Gen 8:3, 5). Here, Samaritan resembles Tannaitic Hebrew, where the infinitive absolute disappeared. Stems.  The following stems are found in Samaritan Hebrew (some of which are rare or absent in Tiberian Hebrew). (1) Qal.  The main perfect pattern is qā̊ṭal, as in ‫[ ואמר‬wā̊mår] ‘he said’ (Exod 14:3). There are also innovations in Samaritan that do not exist in Tiberian, such as qētəl in ‫[ נמגו‬nēmēgu] ‘they have melted away’ (Exod 15:15) (Tiberian ‫( )נָ מֹגּו‬from the secondary root ‫[ נמ״ג‬Ben-Ḥayyim 2000: §2.5.5]) and qātəl in ‫[ שכב‬šā̊kəb] ‘he has lain’ (Gen 26:10) (Tiberian ‫)ׁש ַכב‬. ָ Since these perfects have merged with the passive and active participles, they are difficult to distinguish. Regarding the imperfect, the shift of *u > a neutralizes the distinction between yiqtol and yiqtal in the imperfect; for example, MT ‫‘ ִּתּפֹל‬it fell’ (Exod 15:16) and ‫‘ יַ ֲעבֹר‬it passes by’ (Exod 15:16) are realized as [tibbål] and [yā̊bbår], respectively, like ‫[ תרצח‬tirṣå] ‘you shall (not) kill’ (Exod 20:13) (Tiberian ‫)ת ְר ָצח‬. ִ The qal participle has six patterns, most of which are innovations of Samaritan. (2) Niphal.  This stem follows two patterns. One has a non-geminated second radical, like Tiberian Hebrew: e.g., ‫[ ואכבדה‬wikkā̊bēda] ‘and I will get glory’ (Exod 14:4, 17) (Tiberian ‫ )וְ ִא ָּכ ְב ָדה‬and ‫[ נפקד‬niffā̊qåd] ‘(no one) is missing’ (Num 31:94) (Tiberian ‫)נִ ְפ ַקד‬. The perfect and participle of this pattern, however, differ from their Tiberian counterparts, for they have a geminated first radical, niqqā̊tål: e.g., ‫[ הנלחם‬annillāʾəm] ‘the one who fights’ (Exod 14:25) (Tiberian ‫)נִ ְל ָחם‬. But the first radical is not geminated in participles that do not serve an active function: e.g., ‫ראש הפעור הנשקף‬

Samaritan Tradition


‫‘ על פני הישמון‬the top of Peor, [annišqåf ] which overlooks the desert’ (Num 23:28) (Tiberian ‫)הּנִ ְׁש ָקף‬. ַ The other pattern has a geminated second radical: e.g., ‫[ הקבצו‬iqqåbbā̊ṣu] ‘assemble!’ (Gen 49:2) (Tiberian ‫)ה ָּק ְבצּו‬. ִ This latter form is paralleled by rare Tiberian verbs such as ‫‘ וְ נִ ּוַ ְּסרּו‬and they will take warning’ (Ezek 23:48). In actuality, however, both the Samaritan and Tiberian forms can be identified as nitpael stems in which the prefix t assimilated to the first radical, as in Tannaitic Hebrew (see chapter 15, pp. 209–10). (3) Piel.  There are two types of piel in Samaritan. One has a geminated second radical, like Tiberian Hebrew: e.g., ‫[ דבר‬dabbər] ‘he said’ (Num 23:2) (Tiberian ‫)ּד ֶּבר‬ ִ and ‫[ נשבת‬naššibtå] ‘You blew’ (Exod 15:10) (Tiberian ‫)נָ ַׁש ְפ ָּת‬. The other lacks gemination in the second radical: e.g., ‫[ וכפר‬wkā̊fər] ‘and he will atone’ (Lev 4:20) (Tiberian ‫ )וְ ִכ ֵּפר‬and ‫ויכפר‬ [wyēkā̊fər] ‘and he atoned’ (Num 8:21) (Tiberian ‫)וַ יְ ַכ ֵּפר‬. The latter may have been derived from the former. The Tiberian text has a few examples of the second, non-geminated form: e.g., ‫‘ ְמ ָא ְס ָפיו‬those who will harvest it’ (Isa 62:9 [with Leningrad Codex]). (4) Hiphil.  The perfect, aqtəl, preserves the original prefix *a: e.g., ‫[ והגדתי‬wā̊ggitti] ‘and I will tell’ (Num 23:3) (Tiberian ‫)וְ ִהּגַ ְד ִּתי‬. (5) Hitpael.  This stem, too, has two patterns. It has a geminated form as in Tiberian: e.g., ‫[ יתחשב‬yētā̊ššåb] ‘it does (not) reckon itself’ (Num 23:9) (Tiberian ‫ )יִ ְת ַח ָּׁשב‬and ‫[ נצטדק‬niṣṭåddåq] ‘we justify ourselves’ (Gen 44:16) (Tiberian ‫)נִ ְצ ַט ָּדק‬. It also has a pattern without gemination: e.g., ‫[ תתגדדו‬titgā̊dēdu] ‘you cut yourselves’ (Deut 14:1) (Tiberian ‫)ּת ְתּג ְֹדדּו‬. ִ Tiberian rarely has verbs of this latter type: e.g., ‫‘ ָה ְת ָּפ ְקדּו‬they were counted’ (Num 1:47) (SP [itfā̊qā̊dū]). (6) Several t-stem forms belong to hittaphal (attested also in Tannaitic Hebrew): e.g., ‫[ התיצבו‬ittīṣā̊bu] ‘stand firm!’ (Exod 14:13) (Tiberian ‫)ה ְתיַ ְצבּו‬. ִ Differential Stem Assignments in Samaritan and Tiberian Hebrew. In Samaritan, the internal passive can be replaced by one of two forms: (1) an external passive registered in both the consonantal text and reading tradition, as in ‫[ נגנבתי‬niggā̊nåbti] ‘I was stolen’ (Gen 40:15) (Tiberian ‫)ּגֻ ּנַ ְב ִּתי‬ or, only in the reading tradition, (‫*ה ְתוַ ֵרד‬ ִ >) ‫[ הורד‬uwwā̊rəd] ‘he was taken down’ (Gen 39:1) (Tiberian ‫;)הּורד‬ ַ or (2) an active stem, as in ‫ולשם ילד‬ ‘and as for Shem, [yalləd] he begot’ (Gen 10:21) (Tiberian ‫‘ יֻ ַּלד‬there was born’). Nonetheless, the internal passive can occasionally be found:


Chapter 9

e.g., ‫[ יומת‬yūmåt] ‘he will be put to death’ (Gen 26:11) (Tiberian ‫)יּומת‬ ָ and ‫[ אמר‬ēmər] ‘it was said’ (Exod 24:1) (Tiberian ‫)א ַמר‬. ָ Like other post-biblical dialects, the stems of some Samaritan verbs shift away from their Tiberian counterparts. For example, qal transitive verbs shift to piel, as in ‫[ קרעו‬qarrāʾu] ‘they tore’ (Num 14:6) (Tiberian ‫)ק ְרעּו‬ ָ and ‫[ וישלח‬wyēšalla] ‘and he extended’ (Gen 8:9) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיִ ְׁש ַלח‬. Qal intransitive verbs change to niphal, as in ‫[ יקרא‬yiqqāri] ‘what will happen’ (Gen 49:1) and ‫[ תכבד‬tikkā̊bəd] ‘it will be heavy’ (Exod 5:9) (Tiberian ‫ יִ ְק ָרא‬and ‫ּת ְכ ַּבד‬, ִ respectively). Or, niphal > nitpaal (with geminated second radical), as in ‫[ יקרע‬yiqqarra] ‘it will (not) be torn’ (Exod 28:32) (Tiberian ‫)יִ ָּק ַרע‬.

Lexicon The Samaritans occasionally interpret the consonantal text differently from that of the MT. For example, in ‫‘ כי לא נחש ביעקב ולא קסם בישראל‬For there is no augury in Jacob, no divination in Israel’ (Num 23:23 [MT]), the Samaritans read ‫ נחש‬as a participle ([nāʾəš] ‘augur’) instead of the nominal MT form ‫נַ ַחׁש‬. They also read ‫ קסם‬as the participle-like professional noun [qåssåm] ‘diviner’ instead, again, of the nominal MT ‫ק ֶסם‬.ֶ

The Typology and Chronology of Samaritan Hebrew Many phonological and morphological phenomena of Samaritan Hebrew represent a stage of Hebrew that postdates Tiberian. This is evident from late features such as general penultimate stress, disappearance of the vocal šəwa, the weakening of the gutturals, the loss of the internal passives, and the shifts in stems. Therefore, Samaritan Hebrew must be viewed as post-biblical. Moreover, it shares features with other post-biblical dialects—namely, the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Tannaitic Hebrew. The difference in extent of certain linguistic processes between the contemporary dialects of Samaritan and Tannaitic Hebrew may in part be due to the length of time the dialects existed: did Samaritans continue to speak Hebrew after Jews no longer did? There is nothing that rules out this possibility. To the contrary, it is certain that, after the failure of the Bar-Kokhba rebellion (132–135 CE), Hebrew-speaking Jews were uprooted from Judea and Samaritans settled there, remaining for generations.

Samaritan Tradition


Bibliography Ben-Ḥayyim, Zeʾev 1957–77  ‫[ עברית וארמית נוסח שומרון על פי תעודות שבכתב ועדות שבעל פה‬The Literary and Oral Tradition of Hebrew and Aramaic amongst the Samaritans]. 5 vols. Jerusalem: Bialik / Academy of the Hebrew Language. 1958 Traditions in the Hebrew Language, with Special Reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Pp. 200–214 in Aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Chaim Rabin and Yigael Yadin. Scripta Hierosolymitana 4. Jerusalem: Magnes. 1968 The Contribution of the Samaritan Inheritance to Research into the History of Hebrew. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 3/6. 2000 A Grammar of Samaritan Hebrew Based on the Recitation of the Law in Comparison with the Tiberian and Other Jewish Traditions. Jerusalem: Magnes / Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. Translation of Ben-Ḥayyim 1977. Blau, Joshua 1986 ‫[ על הכרונולוגיה של חוק פיליפי‬Remarks on the Chronology of Philippi’s Law]. Pp. 1–4 in Proceedings of the Ninth World Congress of Jewish Studies Jerusalem, August 4–12, 1985. Division D, Vol. 1. Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies. Crown, Alan D., ed. 1989 The Samaritans. Tübingen: Mohr (Siebeck). Crown Alan D.; Pummer, Reinhard; and Tal, Abraham, eds. 1993 A Companion to Samaritan Studies. Tübingen: Mohr (Siebeck). Florentin, Moshe 1992 ‫התערערות מערכת הסביל הפנימי ומעמד הנפעל והנתפעל במסורת השומרונים ובלשון‬ ‫[ חכמים‬The Disappearance of the Internal Passive and the Status of ‫נפעל‬ and ‫ נתפעל‬in the Samaritan Tradition and Mishnaic Hebrew]. Leshonenu 56: 201–11. 1996 ‫ בידולים סמנטיים באמצעים מורפולוגיים‬:‫עיונים בתורת הצורות של עברית השומרונים‬ [Studies in the Morphology of Samaritan Hebrew]. Leshonenu 59: 217–41. 1999 ‫[ לדרכי הגיית השווא בעברית השומרונית ובמסורות אחרות‬The Pronunciation of the Shewa in the Samaritan Tradition and Cognate Traditions]. Pp. 259–69 in Studies in Ancient and Modern Hebrew in Honour of M. Z. Kaddari, ed. Shimon Sharvit. Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press. 2005 Late Samaritan Hebrew: A Linguistic Analysis of Its Different Types. Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 43. Leiden: Brill. 2012 Some Thoughts about the Evaluation of the Samaritan Reading of the Pentateuch and the Hebrew Dialect Reflected in This Reading. Pp. 339–53 in Die Samaritaner und die Bibel: Historische und literarische Wechselwirkungen zwischen biblischen und samaritanischen Traditionen, ed. Jörg Frey, Ursula Schattner-Rieser, and Konrad Schmid. Studia Samaritana 7. Studia Judaica 7. Berlin: De Gruyter. 2013 The Hebrew Dictionary of Gesenius and the Study of Samaritan Hebrew in Past and Present. Pp. 56–71 in Hebräische Lexicographie und biblische Exegese: Das Werk von Wilhelm Gesenius, ed. Ernst-Joachim Waschke and Stefan Schorch. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 427. Berlin: De Gruyter.


Chapter 9

Gall, August Freiherrn von 1918 Der hebräische Pentateuch der Samaritaner. 5 vols. Giessen: Töpelmann. Kartveit, Magnar 2009 The Origin of the Samaritans. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 128. Leiden: Brill. Macuch, Rudolf 1969 Grammatik des samaritanischen Hebräisch. Studia Samaritana 1. Berlin: De Gruyter. Qimron, Elisha 1986 ‫ּפתח ּבעברית המקראית‬/‫[ חילּופי צירי‬Interchanges of e and a Vowels in Accented Closed Syllables in Biblical Hebrew]. Leshonenu 50: 77–102. Schorch, Stefan 2000 The Significance of the Samaritan Oral Tradition for the Textual History of the Pentateuch. Pp. 1.03–1.17 in Samaritan Researches, vol. 5: Proceedings of the Congress of the Société d’Études Samaritaines (Milan 1996), ed. Vittorio Morabito, Alan D. Crown, and Lucy Davey. Studies in Judaica 10. [Sydney:] Mandelbaum. 2003 Determination and the Use of the Definite Article in the Samaritan and the Masoretic Text of the Torah. Journal of Semitic Studies 48: 287–320. 2004 Die Vokale des Gesetzes: Die samaritanische Lesetradition als Textzeugin der Tora, vol. 1: Das Buch Genesis. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 339. Berlin: De Gruyter. 2008 Spoken Hebrew of the Late Second Temple Period according to the Oral and the Written Samaritan Tradition. Pp. 175–90 in Conservatism and Innovation in the Hebrew Language of the Hellenistic Period: Proceedings of a Fourth International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira, ed. Jan Joosten and Jean-Sébastien Rey. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 73. Leiden: Brill. Stern, Ephraim, and Eshel, Hanan, eds. 2002 ‫[ ספר השומרונים‬The Samaritans]. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi / Israel Antiquities Authority. Tal, Abraham, and Florentin, Moshe, eds. 2010 ‫ הערות נספחים‬,‫ מבוא‬:‫[ חמישה חומשי תורה נוסח שומרון ונוסח המסורה‬The Pentateuch—the Samaritan Version and the Masoretic Version]. Tel Aviv: Haim Rubin Tel-Aviv University Press. Tov, Emanuel 2012 Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. 3rd ed. Minneapolis: Fortress.

Chapter 10

Babylonian Tradition S hai H eijmans

The Speech Community It is widely accepted that the vocalization discussed in this chapter was invented by Babylonian Jews during the Geonic period (the end of the sixth century through the eleventh century CE). There is no direct evidence, however, that the vocalization is indeed Babylonian; it is an assumption based primarily on statements in medieval sources that Babylonian and Palestinian Jews had different pronunciation traditions of the biblical text. The fact that some Masoretic notes attribute to the “Easterners” (Madneḥaʾe) a pronunciation conforming to the vocalization discussed here strengthens this assumption. The Jewish community in Babylonia has a long history. Jews first came to the region after the destruction of the First Temple (perhaps some years earlier). The evidence suggests that they were well integrated in the cultural and economic life around them. During the Parthian and Sassanian periods, the community established itself as the most influential among Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Its members saw themselves as the true keepers of the Jewish tradition. Jewish settlement in Talmudic Babylonia was concentrated between the Tigris and the Euphrates, in the region where the main canals connected the two rivers. In the Babylonian Talmud we find a statement regarding the area of “pure Jewish lineage” (Qidd. 71b): on the Tigris, this area reached Moshkani in the north and Apamea in the south (approximately 60 km north of Baghdad and 160 km to its southeast, respectively). During Late Antiquity, Babylonian Jewry enjoyed, on the whole, a considerable autonomy in internal matters. At its head stood the Exilarch, the 133


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Rosh ha-Golah, who derived his authority both from his lineage as descendant of the house of David and from the status accorded to him by the government. Spiritual and cultural life was dominated by the Jewish academies, the yeshivot, which functioned with only minor interruptions from the third century CE onward. Two leading academies existed: one in Nehardeʿa, which after the destruction of the city in 259 CE moved to Pumbedita; and the other in Sura. The teachings of these academies were compiled and edited by generations of scholars (Amoraʾim) to form the literary corpus called the Babylonian Talmud. The beginning of the Geonic period, so designated after the title of the head of the academy, the Gaon, corresponds roughly to the conquest of Babylonia by the Arabs. Under Islamic law, Jews had the right to worship and administer their own religious law. The academies therefore continued under Islamic rule and achieved international recognition and moral authority throughout most of the Jewish world. During the Geonic period, the Babylonian Geonim established themselves as the intellectual leaders of the entire diaspora, achieving preeminence over the competing center in Palestine. Apart from legal studies, they also engaged in the fields of biblical exegesis, linguistics, and poetry. The end of the Geonic era is usually associated with the death of Rabbi Hayya Gaon in 1038. In reality, however, the transition from the Geonic period to the Rishonim period, which followed, was an ongoing process of decentralization, as new Jewish centers in North Africa and Europe replaced the Babylonian center during the tenth and eleventh centuries. For additional information about the Geonim and the Jewish communities in Babylonia during the Geonic era, see Oppenheimer (1983), Gafni (2006), and Brody (2013). The Babylonian pronunciation tradition and its vocalization apparently had their heyday during the eighth and ninth centuries and spread to the neighboring Jewish communities in Persia and Yemen. By the end of the Geonic period, however, the Tiberian tradition replaced the Babylonian, and the latter continued to be employed only in a few places, mainly in Yemen, where it survived until the fifteenth century (and, with heavy Tiberian influence, continues to be employed among Yemenite Jews to this day).

The Corpus Our knowledge of the Babylonian vocalization and the pronunciation tradition it represents is based entirely on medieval manuscripts. Almost all

Babylonian Tradition


manuscripts are Genizah fragments, which are scattered in libraries around the world. They represent approximately 500 original codexes, but often no more than a dozen pages survive from any single codex. Notable exceptions are MS Petersburg Firkovich B3 containing the Latter Prophets (see below) and MS Vatican 66 of the Siphra (for a facsimile edition, see Finkelstein 1956). The corpus can be divided into three main groups: biblical texts, rabbinic texts, and ‫ פיוטים‬piyyuṭim (liturgical poems). Of these, the biblical texts form the largest group, with approximately 350 manuscripts. Unfortunately, most manuscripts do not contain colophons, so their date and provenance can only be surmised. Scholarship on Babylonian vocalization is relatively limited. The first manuscripts bearing this vocalization came to the attention of western scholars in 1839 when the Karaite collector Abraham Firkovich brought three codexes to Odessa from the synagogue of Chufut-Kale in the Crimean Peninsula. A few years later, a short study by Samuel David Luzzatto was published concerning one of these manuscripts (1846). In this study, Luzzatto was the first scholar to identify the vocalization as Babylonian. A detailed study of another of these manuscripts, the aforementioned MS Petersburg Firkovich B3, was published by Pinsker (1863), and a complete facsimile of this manuscript was later published by Strack (1876). A major breakthrough in the study of the Babylonian vocalization was made by Kahle in his thorough study of MS Berlin Or. 4° 680 (1902). The original Babylonian vocalization of this manuscript was systematically changed by later scribes where it deviated from the Tiberian pronunciation tradition; Kahle successfully uncovered the original vocalization and managed to describe it accurately. A decade later, he published another book on the subject, based on 60 Genizah fragments with Babylonian vocalization (Kahle 1913). The material in his two books and his conclusions regarding the Babylonian tradition were often cited in the influential grammars of Bergsträsser (1918–29) and Bauer and Leander (1922). Kahle’s work was continued in the following decades by several scholars, most notably Alejandro Díez Macho, who discovered and described many new manuscripts and fragments of biblical texts with Babylonian vocalization (see especially 1971). Mention should also be made of two more works. Ephraim Porath wrote an important but largely overlooked book on the Babylonian vocalization of Rabbinic Hebrew (1938). Israel Yeivin published a large, systematic,


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and thorough linguistic description of the Babylonian pronunciation tradition based on all available manuscripts, with comparisons to other pronunciation traditions of Hebrew (1985). Accordingly, Yeivin’s work has become the standard reference tool in this field and will undoubtedly continue to be so in the foreseeable future. (For an English overview of the main characteristics of Babylonian Hebrew, largely based on Yeivin’s book, see Khan 2013.) Due to the importance of Yeivin’s book, it is appropriate to explain briefly his system of manuscript classification—a system that is based on the one used by Kahle (1928). In Yeivin’s corpus, each manuscript is assigned a designation consisting of one or two Hebrew letters and a number: e.g., “13 ‫מב‬.” The first letter (reading from right to left) denotes the type of vocalization: ʾaleph denotes “simple” vocalization, and mem denotes “complex” vocalization (on these types of vocalization, see below). The second letter represents the contents of the manuscript: ʾaleph designates the Pentateuch; bet, the Prophets; and gimel, the Hagiographa. An ordinal number terminates each designation and follows an ascending order of biblical books. Therefore, “13 ‫ ”מב‬designates a codex containing prophetic section(s) of the Bible (in this case, the Latter Prophets), written in the complex Babylonian vocalization (this designation applies to MS Petersburg Firkovich B3) The Babylonian pronunciation tradition represented by the vocalization in the corpus of manuscripts is not uniform, since Tiberian influence has penetrated the Babylonian pronunciation to various degrees. Yeivin divided the manuscripts into three main groups according to the pronunciation they represent: Old Babylonian (designated ‫)]ּב ְב ִלית ַע ִּת ָיקה =[ בע‬, ָ Middle Babylonian (‫)]ּב ְב ִלית ֵּבינֹונִ ית =[ בב‬, ָ and Late Babylonian (‫)]ּב ְב ִלית ְצ ִע ָירה =[ בצ‬. ָ The first represents the Babylonian tradition with (almost) no Tiberian influence. The last represents a heavily Tiberianized Babylonian tradition. For the entire corpus of Babylonian vocalized manuscripts, their classification, numbering, and description, see Yeivin (1985: 99–240). Unfortunately, a comprehensive edition of Babylonian vocalized biblical texts has not yet been published. Editions of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Minor Prophets, and Proverbs, as well as selections from Psalms, Job, and Proverbs according to MS 508 of the Jewish Theological Seminary have been published in the series Biblia Babilónica by Navarro Peiro (1976), Navarro Peiro and Pérez Castro (1977), Alba Cecilia (1980a, 1980b, 1987), and Díez Macho and Navarro Peiro (1987). A facsimile edition of the more


Babylonian Tradition

important biblical Genizah fragments has been published in five volumes by Yeivin (1973). The following description of the Babylonian reading tradition is based primarily on the Old Babylonian texts, which reflect the tradition in its purest form.

Orthography The Babylonian vocalization system, unlike the Tiberian, never reached uniformity; practically every important manuscript is vocalized according to slightly different principles. Nevertheless, three main sub-systems of Babylonian vocalization can be distinguished: (1) the “simple” system, (2) the “complex” system, (3) and the system of points. (1) The simple system consists of the following signs, presented here with the names of their Tiberian equivalents and their transliteration. Sign ‫סּה‬ ‫ס‬ ‫דּ‬ ‫סגּ‬ ‫ס‬ ‫בּ‬ ‫סוּ‬ ‫סזּ‬ ‫ס‬ ‫טּ‬

Tiberian equivalent


ḥireq ṣere pataḥ/səgol qameṣ ḥolem qibbuṣ/šureq šəwa

i e a ɔ (å) o u ə

Manuscripts are rarely fully vocalized in this system. Some of the vowel signs have developed from small letters: the sign for ḥireq has its origin in the letter yod; the sign for pataḥ, in the letter ʿayin (or also in ʾaleph; see Dotan 2012); qameṣ, in the letter ʾaleph; and the sign for šureq, in the letter waw. The vowel signs are usually written between consonants: e.g., ‫גדּר‬ ‘stranger’ (Tiberian ‫ )ּגֵ ר‬and ‫‘ שבּדגּה‬field’ (Tiberian ‫)ׂש ֶדה‬. ָ When, however, vowels accompany yod or waw as matres lectionis, they usually come directly above these letters: e.g., ‫‘ יבּבוֱ א‬he will come’ (Tiberian ‫ )יָבֹוא‬and ‫יבּשיִב‬ ‘he will bring back’ (Tiberian ‫)יָ ִׁשיב‬. In Old Babylonian vocalization, the šəwa sign denotes both the vocal and silent šəwa: e.g., ‫‘ ּטבציון‬in Zion’ (Joel 4:17) (Tiberian ‫)ּב ִצּיֹון‬ ְ and ֱ‫‘ להּג ּטכעיִ סו‬to provoke Him’ (Deut 9:18) (Tiberian ‫)ל ַה ְכ ִעיסֹו‬. ְ In Middle Babylonian vocalization, however, the šəwa sign denotes only the vocal šəwa.


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Like Tiberian, there are diacritical signs representing the dageš, raphe, and mappiq. For these diacritics, Babylonian vocalization employs miniature gimel, qoph, and he, respectively, written above the letter: e.g., ‫מת‬ ֶ ‫נּבעּג‬ ‘you were pleasant’ (Song 7:7) (Tiberian ‫)נָ ַע ְמ ְּת‬, ֽ‫בתוֱ ך‬ ֽ ‘inside’ (Ezek 26:5) (Tiberian ‫)ּבתֹוְך‬, ְ and ‫רכּף‬ ָ ֻ‫‘ או‬its length’ (Zech 2:6) (Tiberian ‫)א ְר ָּכּה‬. ָ Dageš and raphe also serve to distinguish different meanings of the same word: e.g., ‫‘ עמל‬trouble’ (Job 5:6) is spelled ‫עמל‬, ֶ whereas ‘work’ (Job 5:7) is spelled ‫עמל‬ ֽ (cf. Yeivin 1985: 356). Two other letters, samekh and šin, are used as diacritical signs above the letter ‫ ש‬to denote its two different pronunciations, [s] and [š], respectively: e.g., ִ‫‘ ׂשּבאוֻ ני‬take me up!’ (Jonah 1:12) (Tiberian ‫)ׂשאּונִ י‬ ָ and ִ‫‘ ׁשחּותי‬I am bowed down’ (Ps 38:7) (Tiberian ‫)ׁשח ִֹתי‬. ַ (2) The complex system uses three sets of signs that are distinguished by the nature of the syllable: (a) open or stressed syllables, (b) unstressed syllables closed by a dageš ḥazaq, and (c) unstressed syllables closed by a silent šewa. For the first category, the signs of the simple system are used. For the other two categories, the following signs are used. in unstressed syllables closed by a dageš ḥazaq ‫סּש‬ ‫סּר‬ ‫סּת‬

in unstressed syllables closed by silent šəwa ‫סּצ‬ ‫סּפ‬ ‫סּק‬

Tiberian equivalent


ḥireq pataḥ/səgol qibbuṣ

i a u

The signs of the second column ( ‫סּצ‬, ‫סּפ‬, and ‫)סּק‬, together with ‫ סװ‬and ‫סוּ‬, are also used to designate short vowels, corresponding to the ḥatephim in Tiberian: e.g., ִ‫‘ ּבואּצהי‬and I shall be’ (Neh 1:4) (Tiberian ‫)וָ ֱא ִהי‬. (3) The last Babylonian system of vocalization is composed entirely of points. The signs for ḥireq, ṣere, and ḥolem are the same as in the simple system. Yet the sign for pataḥ/səgol is ‫סּפ‬, the sign for qameṣ is ‫ס‬ ‫ ײ‬, and the sign for šureq is ‫סּק‬. This system is employed consistently only in one manuscript (a collection of fragments from the Genizah) and may have originated in a different region or school.

Phonetics Consonants.  Nothing in the Babylonian vocalization informs us about peculiarities of the pronunciation of the consonants, with one exception.

Babylonian Tradition


In some Old Babylonian sources, dageš qal and raphe are placed not only above ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬but also above reš (according to the same principles that apply to ‫)בג״ד כפ״ת‬: e.g., ‫ּהפרח‬ ‫‘ י ֶ ּב‬it will sprout’ (Ps 92:13) (Tiberian ‫)יִ ְפ ָרח‬. This phenomenon has been interpreted as indicating a double pronunciation of the reš, and this interpretation is supported by an oft-quoted statement on the “seven double letters ‫ ”בג״ד כפר״ת‬from an early Jewish philosophical treatise, Sepher Yeṣira (The Book of Creation) and its commentary by Saadia Gaon. Based on this evidence, it has been suggested that in the Babylonian pronunciation tradition, reš with dageš qal was pronounced with more trill than the reš without dageš qal (Morag 1960: 238). For practical reasons, we may assume that the rest of the consonants were pronounced much like their Tiberian counterparts, including the double pronunciation of the letters ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬and the letter ‫( ש‬i.e., šin and śin). It is worth noting that the phenomenon of a reš receiving a dageš ḥazaq (e.g., in Yemenite and other eastern sources) is not an Old Babylonian characteristic (Yeivin 1985: 284–85). Vowels.  As is the case with the consonants, there is no clear information about the pronunciation of the vowels. The vocalization signs indicate that the Babylonian pronunciation (especially according to Old Babylonian sources) had six full vowels and another short vowel, the šəwa (Yeivin 1985: 364). The signs for the six full vowels represent qualitative, not quantitative, differences; it is unknown whether there were any quantitative differences between vowels at the relevant period. Based on a comparison with the Tiberian tradition, we can assume that the Babylonian vocalization signs represented the following vowels: ḥireq ( ‫[ = )סּה‬i], ṣere ( ‫[ = )סדּ‬e], ḥolem ( ‫[ = )סוּ‬o], and šureq ( ‫[ = )סזּ‬u]. The Babylonian pataḥ ( ‫)סגּ‬, which stands for both Tiberian pataḥ and səgol, seems to have had the phonetic value of the Tiberian pataḥ, that is, [a] (Yeivin 1985: 56, citing Revell 1970: 64 n. 50). As for the Babylonian qameṣ ( ‫)סבּ‬, it is generally accepted that it was pronounced as a back, half-open, rounded [ɔ]. This opinion is based mainly on spellings such as ‫‘ בורוך‬blessed’ (= ‫[ בבּרוך‬Tiberian ‫)]ּברּוְך‬ ָ and ‫‘ הועולם‬the world’ (= ‫[ הבּעולם‬Tiberian ‫עֹולם‬ ָ ‫)]ה‬ ָ in Jewish magical texts from Late Antiquity (Klar 1954: 43; Mishor 2007: 219–20), as well as the name of qameṣ in the Babylonian tradition—‫‘ מקפץ פומא‬closing of the mouth’ (in contrast to the name of pataḥ, ‫‘ מפתח פומא‬opening of the mouth’). This view has been adopted by, among others, Ben-Ḥayyim and Morag (see the references in Yeivin 1985: 56). Others have proposed that


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the Babylonian qameṣ had the value of a long vowel, [ā] (Kahle apud Bauer and Leander 1922: §7p; and Kutscher 1966: 224). In certain manuscripts, the signs for ṣere and ḥolem interchange: e.g., ‫‘ ּטנמּוריִ ם‬leopards’ (Song 4:8) (Tiberian ‫ )נְ ֵמ ִרים‬and ‫‘ ירּגחּוף‬it will hover’ (Deut 32:11) (Tiberian ‫)יְ ַר ֵחף‬. These interchanges are most likely the result of identical pronunciation of the two signs (Yeivin 1985: 369–71). Šəwa.  The Babylonian name for šəwa, ‫‘ חיטפא‬snatching’, indicates a short vowel, but its quality in this pronunciation tradition is unknown. According to Yeivin, interchanges between šəwa and other signs, especially pataḥ, are not indicative, because they reflect Tiberian influence. Yeivin suggested that the pronunciation of the vocal šəwa was very close to, or even identical with, the silent šəwa (Yeivin 1985: 398, 413).

Phonology The Babylonian tradition, as reflected in the vocalization, presents certain phonological characteristics that differ from the Tiberian pronunciation tradition. Most notably, the Babylonian tradition differs in regard to the vocalization of gutturals in places where the Tiberian tradition has a ḥaṭeph. In these cases, the gutturals h and ḥ (IPA ħ) are usually vocalized in the same manner as non-gutturals: e.g., ‫‘ הּט ּבדד‬Hadad’ (1 Kgs 15:18) (Tiberian ‫)ה ָדד‬ ֲ and ‫‘ חּטמּגת־גבר‬the rage of a man’ (Prov 6:34) (Tiberian ‫)ח ַמת־גבר‬. ֲ The gutturals ‫ א‬and ‫ע‬, however, are vocalized differently. (1) In cases where the guttural was originally followed by a short vowel, which in the Tiberian tradition was reduced to an ultra-short vowel (e.g., *ʾanī > ‫)אנִ י‬, ֲ the Babylonian vocalization often has a full vowel: ‫‘ עּגשיִ תּגם‬you have made’ (Deut 9:21) (Tiberian ‫יתם‬ ֶ ‫)ע ִׂש‬, ֲ ִ‫אמּורי‬ ‫‘ הּב ּד‬Amorite’ (Gen 15:16) (Tiberian ‫)ה ֱאמ ִֹרי‬, ָ and ‫‘ אּונּה ּביה‬ship’ (Jonah 1:3) (Tiberian ‫)אנִ ּיָ ה‬. ֳ (2) In cases where the guttural originally closed the syllable, the Babylonian vocalization occasionally transposed the full vowel and the šəwa: e.g., ‫מאּגכּבל‬ ‫‘ ּט‬food’ (Ezek 47:12) (Tiberian ‫)מ ֲא ָכל‬ ַ and verbal forms such as ‫תעּגבּוט‬ ‫‘ ּט‬you shall borrow’ (Deut 15:6) (Tiberian ‫)ת ֲעבֹט‬. ַ For additional details, see Yeivin (1985: 287–326), including some important exceptions. Another salient phonological characteristic of the Babylonian tradition is the insertion of an anaptyctic vowel where the Tiberian tradition has two consecutive šəwaʾim (a silent šəwa followed by a vocal šəwa): e.g., ֻ‫יּהכּהרעו‬ ‘they will bow down’ (Ps 22:30) (Tiberian ‫)יִ ְכ ְרעּו‬, ֻ‫‘ נּהכּהלמו‬they were humiliated’ (Ezek 43:11) (Tiberian ‫)נִ ְכ ְלמּו‬, ֻ‫‘ וּטהּזשּזלכו‬they were thrown’ (Jer 22:28)

Babylonian Tradition


(Tiberian ‫)וְ ֻה ְׁש ְלכּו‬, and ֻ‫‘ יּהרּהמ ּביהו‬Jeremiah’ (Tiberian ‫)יִ ְר ְמיָ הּו‬. This anaptyctic vowel occurs most often when the second consonant is ‫ל‬, ‫מ‬, ‫נ‬, or especially ‫ר‬, and it has the same quality of the preceding vowel. But before a guttural, the anaptyctic vowel is usually a: e.g., ‫‘ אּהבּגחרּבה‬I will choose’ (Job 9:14) (Tiberian ‫)א ְב ֲח ָרה‬. ֶ See Yeivin (1985: 386–97) for further discussion. Other important phonological characteristics of the Babylonian tradition include the following. (1) u appears in closed, unstressed syllables as opposed to qameṣ qaṭan in the Tiberian vocalization (Yeivin 1985: 375): e.g., ‫‘ קּזרבן‬sacrifice’ (Tiberian ‫)ק ְר ָּבן‬, ָ ֱ‫‘ אּזרכו‬its length’ (Ezek 41:2) (Tiberian ‫)א ְרּכֹו‬, ָ and often in hophal forms (e.g., ‫‘ הּזפקּגד‬it was deposited’ [Lev 5:23] [Tiberian ‫)]ה ְפ ַקד‬. ָ (2) In closed unstressed syllables with an initial guttural, i is preserved as opposed to ε in the Tiberian vocalization (Yeivin 1985: 373): e.g., ‫אּהפרים‬ ‘Ephraim’ (2 Chr 25:23) (Tiberian ‫)א ְפ ַריִ ם‬, ֶ ‫‘ עּהליון‬Highest’ (Ps 21:8) (Tiberian ‫)ע ְליֹון‬, ֶ and in forms of the first person qal imperfect (e.g., ‫‘ אּהצ ּבדק‬I shall be in the right’ [Job 9:20] [Tiberian ‫)]א ְצ ָּדק‬. ֶ (3) When a word begins with yə in the Tiberian tradition (i.e., yod followed by šəwa), the Babylonian tradition often has yi (Yeivin 1985: 269– 79): e.g., ֵ‫‘ יּהמי‬the days of’ (1 Sam 14:52) (Tiberian ‫)יְמי‬ ֵ and ‫‘ יּהסוֱ ד‬foundation of’ (Lev 4:25) (Tiberian ‫)יְ סֹוד‬. (4) The phenomenon of attenuation (*a > [i] in closed unstressed syllables) is less widespread in the Babylonian vocalization than in the Tiberian. Consequently, in Babylonian we often find pataḥ in syllables which contain ḥireq in the Tiberian text (Yeivin 1985: 381–82). This is the case especially in the nominal prefix ma-: e.g., ‫‘ מּגדבּבר‬desert’ (Ps 102:7) (Tiberian ‫)מ ְד ָּבר‬ ִ and ‫‘ מּגשמּגרּגת‬safeguard’ (1 Sam 22:23) (Tiberian ‫)מ ְׁש ֶמ ֶרת‬. ִ The same observation holds for the inflection of segolate nouns: e.g., ‫בּגגדו‬ ‘his garment’ (Jer 43:12) (Tiberian ‫)ּבגְ דֹו‬ ִ and ֱ‫‘ קּגברו‬his grave’ (Gen 23:6) (Tiberian ‫)ק ְברֹו‬. ִ (5) A peculiarity of the Babylonian vocalization is the appearance of ṣere in unstressed closed syllables, where the Tiberian tradition has səgol: e.g., ‫א ּדפן‬ ‫‘ ּבו ּד‬and I turned’ (Deut 9:15) (Tiberian ‫)וָ ֵא ֶפן‬. This “short ṣere” appears in the complex vocalization as ‫סװ‬.

Morphology The following are the main morphological differences between the Babylonian and the Tiberian reading traditions.


Chapter 10

(1) The prefix of first-person sing. qal imperfect is -‫( אּה‬as opposed to -‫ֶא‬ in the Tiberian tradition): e.g., ‫‘ אּהשמּגע‬I shall hear’ (2 Sam 19:36) (Tiberian ‫)א ְׁש ַמע‬. ֶ Also characteristic of the qal imperfect is the anaptyctic vowel, discussed in the previous section, in second- and third-person pl. forms: e.g., ֻ‫‘ תּהקּהרבו‬you will approach’ (Lev 18:6) (Tiberian ‫)ּת ְק ְרבּו‬ ִ and ֻ‫‘ יּהקּהראו‬they will call’ (1 Chr 6:50) (Tiberian ‫)יִ ְק ְראּו‬. (2) Qal cohortative forms of o-imperfect verbs often retain the o-vowel both in pause and in context, while in the Tiberian tradition the vowel is preserved only in pause: e.g., ‫‘ אּהזכּו ּברה‬I shall remember’ (Ps 77:4) (Tiberian ‫)אזְ ְּכ ָ ֣רה‬ ֶ and ‫‘ ונּהדרּושּבה‬we shall seek’ (2 Chr 18:6) (Tiberian ‫)וְ נִ ְד ְר ָ ׁ֖שה‬. (3) There are forms of qal imperative with suffixes that have ḥolem after the second radical (as opposed to šəwa in the Tiberian vocalization): e.g., ִ‫‘ שפּוטּדני‬judge me!’ (Ps 43:1) (Tiberian ‫)ׁש ְפ ֵטנִ י‬ ָ and ‫‘ טמּונּדם‬conceal them!’ (Job 40:13) (Tiberian ‫)ט ְמנֵ ם‬. ָ (4) A salient characteristic of Babylonian verbal morphology is a pataḥ after the second radical of third-person masc. sing. forms of the piel perfect, niphal imperfect, and hithpael perfect, imperfect, imperative, and infinitive: e.g., ‫‘ דּהבּגר‬he spoke’ (1 Chr 17:15) (Tiberian ‫)ּד ֵּבר‬, ִ ‫‘ בּהקּגש‬he sought’ (Isa 1:12) (Tiberian ‫)ב ֵּקׁש‬, ִ ‫‘ ישּבמּגד‬it will be destroyed’ (Isa 48:19) (Tiberian ‫)יִ ָּׁש ֵמד‬, and ‫‘ הּהתאּגבּגל‬he mourned’ (1 Sam 15:35) (Tiberian ‫)ה ְת ַא ֵּבל‬. ִ (5) The prefix of first-person sing. piel imperfect is -‫( אּד‬as opposed to -‫ ֲא‬in the Tiberian tradition): e.g., ‫אבּגקּדש‬ ‫‘ ּד‬I shall seek’ (Ezek 34:16) (Tiberian ‫)א ַב ֵּקׁש‬. ֲ In the huphal, the prefix of the stem is almost always vocalized with šureq (‫ )הּזקטּגל‬whereas in Tiberian we find both šureq and qameṣ (‫ ה ְק ַטל‬/ ‫ל‬ ָ ‫)ה ְק ַט‬: ֻ e.g., ִ‫‘ הּז ּטנחּגלתי‬I am allotted’ (Job 7:3) (Tiberian ‫)הנְ ַח ְל ִּתי‬. ָ (6) Nominal morphology is to a large extent identical with the Tiberian tradition. Most differences are the result of phonological phenomena, some of which have been discussed in the previous sections: e.g., ֻ‫‘ אּגבּותיֵ נו‬our ancestors’, with pataḥ instead of a ḥaṭeph vowel (Tiberian ‫)אב ֵֹתינּו‬. ֲ Some nouns have a slightly different form from their Tiberian counterpart: e.g., ‫‘ זּדן‬sort’ (Ps 144:13) (Tiberian ‫)זַ ן‬. Occasionally, a noun might exhibit a morphological peculiarity. For example, the construct form ‫‘ ּדבן־‬son of’ is vocalized like the absolute form, instead of the expected ‫( *בּגן‬Tiberian ‫)ּבן־‬. ֶ (7) Of the personal pronouns, the vocalization of ‫‘ הּגם‬they’ (masc.), ‫‘ הּגמּבה‬they’ (masc.), and ‫‘ הּגנּבה‬they’ (fem.) is noteworthy (Tiberian ‫הם‬, ֵ ‫ה ָּמה‬, ֵ and ‫הּנָ ה‬, ֵ respectively). Likewise, the vocalization of the numerals ‫שּגבעּבה‬

Babylonian Tradition


‘seven’ and ‫‘ שּגבעיִ ם‬seventy’ differs from their Tiberian counterpart (‫ׁש ְב ָעה‬, ִ ‫)ׁש ְב ִעים‬. ִ (8) The vocalization of the definite article is similar in the Babylonian and Tiberian traditions: e.g., ‫‘ ַהגֶ ּהבוֱ ריִ ם‬the warriors’ (1 Chr 11:10) (Tiberian ‫ּבֹורים‬ ִ ִ‫)הּג‬ ַ and ‫‘ הּגחּגלּיש‬the weak’ (Joel 4:10) (Tiberian ‫)ה ַח ָּלׁש‬. ַ Occasionally, however, there are differences: e.g., ‫‘ הּבעוֱ זּגבּגת‬the one who leaves’ (Prov 2:17) (Tiberian ‫)העֹזֶ ֶבת‬ ַ or ‫‘ הּגרּדכּבבים‬the Rechabites’ (Jer 35:18) (Tiberian ‫)ה ֵר ָכ ִבים‬. ָ (9) Finally, a characteristic of the Babylonian tradition is the vocalization of the copulative waw with ḥireq before a consonant with šəwa: e.g., ‫‘ וּהביוֱ ם‬and in a day of’ (Isa 49:8) (Tiberian ‫)ּוביֹום‬ ְ and ‫‘ וּהת ּכל ּדבב‬and she will make cakes’ (2 Sam 13:6) (Tiberian ‫)ּות ַל ֵּבב‬. ְ The regular vocalization of copulative waw is with šewa (also before the letters ‫בומ״ף‬, except when vocalized with šewa).

Bibliography Alba Cecilia, Amparo 1980a Biblia babilónica: Ezequiel. Textos y estudios «Cardenal Cisneros» 27. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. 1980b Biblia babilónica: Isaías. Textos y estudios «Cardenal Cisneros» 28. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. 1987 Biblia babilónica: Jeremías. Textos y estudios «Cardenal Cisneros» 41. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Bauer, Hans, and Leander, Pontus 1922 Historische Grammatik der hebräischen Sprache des Alten Testamentes. Halle: Niemeyer. Bergsträsser, G. 1918–29  Hebräische Grammatik mit Benutzung der von E. Kautzsch bearbeiteten 28. Auflage von Wilhelm Gesenius’ hebräischer Grammatik. 2 vols. Leipzig: Vogel / Hinrichs. Brody, Robert 2013 The Geonim of Babylonia and the Shaping of Medieval Jewish Culture. 2nd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Díez Macho, Alejandro 1971 Manuscritos hebreos y arameos de la Biblia: Contribución al estudio de las diversas tradiciones del texto del Antiguo Testamento. Studia ephemeridis “Augustinianum” 5. Rome: Institutum patristicum Augustinianum. Díez Macho, Alejandro, and Navarro Peiro, Ángeles 1987 Biblia babilónica: Fragmentos de Salmos, Job y Proverbios (ms. 508 A del Seminario Teológico Judío de Nueva York). Textos y estudios «Cardenal Cisneros» 42. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.


Chapter 10

Dotan, Aron 2012 ‫[ להתהוות סימני התנועות בניקוד הבבלי‬The Formation of the Babylonian Vowel Graphemes]. Leshonenu 74: 269–77. Finkelstein, Louis 1956 Sifra or Torat Kohanim: According to Codex Assemani LXVI. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary. Gafni, Isaiah M. 2006 The Political, Social, and Economic History of Babylonian Jewry, 224–638 CE. Pp. 792–820 in The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 4: The Late Roman-Rabbinic Period, ed. Steven T. Katz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kahle, Paul 1902 Der masoretische Text des Alten Testaments nach der Überlieferung der babylonischen Juden. Leipzig: Hinrichs. 1913 Masoreten des Ostens: Die ältesten punktierten Handschriften des Alten Testaments und der Targume. Leipzig: Hinrichs. 1928 Die hebräischen Bibelhandschriften aus Babylonien. Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 46: 113–37. Khan, Geoffrey 2013 Vocalization, Babylonian. Pp. 953–63 in vol. 3 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill. Klar, Benjamin 1954 ‫מחקרים ועיונים בלשון בשירה ובספרות‬. Tel Aviv: Maḥbarot le-Sifrut. Kutscher, Eduard Y. 1966 Yemenite Hebrew and Ancient Pronunciation. Journal of Semitic Studies 11: 217–25. Luzzatto, Samuel David 1846 ‫תשובה מאת הרב שד״ל נ״י‬. Pp. 22–31 in pt. 2 of ‫[ ספר הליכות קדם‬Oostersche Wandelingen], ed. G. I. Polak. Amsterdam: Proops Jacobszoon. Mishor, Mordechay 2007 ‫[ העברית שבקערות ההשבעה מבבל‬Hebrew in the Babylonian Incantation Bowls]. Pp. 204–27 in Shaʿarei Lashon: Studies in Hebrew, Aramaic and Jewish Languages Presented to Moshe Bar-Asher, vol. 2: Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic, ed. A. Maman, S. E. Fassberg, and Y. Breuer. Jerusalem: Bialik. Morag, Shelomo 1960 ‫שבע כפולות בגד כפרת‬. Pp. 207–42 in ‫ספר טור־סיני‬, ed. Menahem Haran and B. Z. Luria. 8 ‫פרסומי החברה לחקר המקרא בישראל‬. Jerusalem: Kiryat Sepher. Navarro Peiro, Ángeles 1976 Biblia babilónica: Proverbios. Textos y estudios «Cardenal Cisneros» 13. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Navarro Peiro, Ángeles, and Pérez Castro, Federico 1977 Biblia babilónica: Profetas Menores. Textos y estudios «Cardenal Cisneros» 16. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Oppenheimer, Aharon 1983 Babylonia Judaica in the Talmudic Period. Beihefte zum Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients B/47. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Babylonian Tradition


Pinsker, S. 1863 ‫[ מבוא אל הנקוד האשורי או הבבלי‬Einleitung in das Babylonisch-Hebräische Punktationssystem, nach Hss. bearbeitet, nebst einer Grammatik der Hebr. Zahlwörter (Jesod Mispar) von Abraham ben Esra, aus Hss. herausgeg. und commentirt]. Vienna: Bendiner. Porath, Ephraim 1938 ‫[ לשון חכמים לפי מסורות בבליות שבכתב־יד ישנים‬Mishnaic Hebrew as Vocalised in the Early Manuscripts of the Babylonian Jews]. Jerusalem: Bialik. Revell, E. J. 1970 Studies in the Palestinian Vocalization of Hebrew. Pp. 51–100 in Essays on the Ancient Semitic World, ed. J. W. Wevers and D. B. Redford. Toronto Semitic Texts and Studies 1. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Strack, Hermann, ed. 1876 Prophetarum Posteriorum Codex Babylonicus Petropolitanus. St. Petersburg: Ricker / Leipzig: Hinrichs. Yeivin, Israel 1973 ‫[ אוסף כתבי יד של המקרא בניקוד ובמסורה בבליים‬Geniza Bible Fragments with Babylonian Massorah and Vocalization]. 5 vols. Jerusalem: Makor. 1985 ‫[ מסורת הלשון העברית המשתקפת בניקוד הבבלי‬The Hebrew Language Tradition as Reflected in the Babylonian Vocalization]. 2 vols. Academy of the Hebrew Language Texts and Studies 12. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language.

Chapter 11

Karaite Transcriptions of Biblical Hebrew G eoffrey K han

The Speech Community The Karaite movement appears to have emerged from diverse origins. The earliest elements that can be identified are the teachings of ʿAnan ben David, a dissident member of the exilarchic family who lived in Babylonia in the eighth century CE. The various components of the movement became more united by the tenth century CE (Gil 2003). This chapter is concerned specifically with

the Karaite Arabic transcriptions and the contribution they make to our knowledge of the Tiberian reading tradition of Biblical Hebrew. Karaism originated as a movement in medieval Judaism that was distinguished doctrinally from the mainstream Rabbinic, also known as “Rabbanite,” Judaism of the period by a particular emphasis on the study of the Bible. For the Karaites, the Bible was the main source of authority. This is reflected by the terms that were used to designate them in the Middle Ages, such as ‫‘ ָק ָר ִאים‬Readers’ (which is the source of the anglicized ‘Karaites’), ‫‘ ַּב ֲע ֵלי ַה ִּמ ְק ָרא‬Masters of the Bible’, and ‫‘ ְּבנֵ י ַה ִּמ ְק ָרא‬Sons of the Bible’. All of these are based on the root ‫קר״א‬, in its post-biblical sense of ‘to study the Bible’. They sought new approaches to biblical research, which were based upon rational, independent investigation rather than upon the traditional Author’s Note: Due to typographical difficulties in printing Hebrew vocalization and accents over Arabic script, examples of transcriptions with vocalization and accents are presented here giving first the Arabic transcription then a letter-by-letter transliteration into Hebrew with an indication of the Hebrew vowels and accents that occur in the manuscript. The transcription is collated with the corresponding form in the Masoretic Leningrad Codex (L), the base manuscript of most modern editions such as BHS.



Chapter 11

rabbinic sources of authority. They denied that the Oral Law had been granted by divine revelation and so did not accept that it had a legal status equal to that of the Bible. The Karaites were closely associated with the Tiberian Masoretes. The tradition of Biblical Hebrew reflected in their texts is not a separate communal tradition comparable, for example, to that of the Samaritans. The colophons of the early Tiberian Masoretic Bible codexes indicate that many of them came into the possession of Karaite communities. Some studies have shown that the Masoretic notes in some Tiberian Bible codexes, including the Aleppo Codex, contain elements that appear to reflect Karaite rather than Rabbanite theology (e.g., the gradual revelation of commandments [‫]מ ְצוֹות‬ ִ to generations before Moses; cf. Zer 2003). It should be noted, moreover, that one of the most important Masoretic treatises on the Tiberian reading tradition, Hidāyat al-Qāri ‘The Guide for the Reader’, was written by the eleventh-century Karaite grammarian ʾAbū al-Faraj Hārūn (Eldar 1994; Khan 2003). In the current state of research, however, it is generally held that the Tiberian Masoretes could not all have been Karaite. Rather, Karaite scholars joined forces with an existing stream of tradition of “Bible scholarship” in Rabbanite Judaism, enhancing it and developing it. In the tenth and eleventh centuries CE, many Karaite scribes in the Middle East used Arabic script not only to write Arabic but also Hebrew. Such Hebrew texts in Arabic transcription were predominantly Hebrew Bible texts. They were sometimes written as separate manuscripts containing continuous Bible texts. Some manuscripts in Arabic script contain collections of biblical verses for liturgical purposes. Arabic transcriptions of verses from the Hebrew Bible or of individual Biblical Hebrew words were in many cases embedded within Karaite Arabic works, mainly of an exegetical nature, but also in works of other intellectual genres. Several Karaite Arabic works also contain Arabic transcriptions of extracts from Rabbinic Hebrew texts (Tirosh-Becker 2011). Sometimes, Hebrew texts were written by Karaites without an oral tradition. These texts—e.g., documents, commentaries, law books—were always written in Hebrew script (Khan 1992a). Texts with an oral tradition, however, were transcribed into Arabic script, as was the case with the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic texts. The transcriptions reflect, in principle, these oral traditions. For this rea-

Karaite Transcriptions of Biblical Hebrew


son, the transcription of the Hebrew Bible represents the orally transmitted reading tradition of the text rather than the written tradition of the consonantal text.

The Corpus Most of the known manuscripts containing Karaite transcriptions of Hebrew into Arabic script are found in the British Library (Khan 1993), the Firkovitch collections of the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg (Harviainen 1993a), and the Cairo Genizah collections (Khan 1990). These manuscripts emanate from Palestinian circles of Karaites or Karaites in Egypt who had migrated to Egypt from Palestine after the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099. Like Karaite grammatical activity itself, the majority of these texts were written in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Therein, most of the transcriptions of Biblical Hebrew reflect the Tiberian reading tradition, which is represented by the Tiberian vocalization signs created by the Tiberian Masoretes. The transcriptions, therefore, are an important source for the reconstruction of this reading tradition of Biblical Hebrew (for a description of our current

knowledge of the Tiberian reading tradition based on the Karaite and other sources, see Khan 2013a, 2013b).

Orthography Consonants.  The Hebrew consonants are transcribed in the Karaite manuscripts by the following Arabic letters (the raphe sign on ‫בג״ד כפ״ת‬ consonants indicates the fricative allophones): ‫ا—א‬


‫ف — ּפ‬

‫ب — ּב‬


‫ف — ֿפ‬

‫( ب — ֿב‬occasionally ‫)و‬



‫( ج — ּג‬occasionally ‫) ك‬

‫ك — ּכ‬


‫غ — ֿג‬

‫خ — ֿכ‬


‫د — ּד‬


‫س — ׂש‬

‫ذ — ֿד‬


‫ش — ׁש‬



‫ت — ּת‬

‫( و — ו‬occasionally ‫)ب‬


‫ث — ֿת‬




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This transcription reflects the realization of the consonants in the Tiberian reading tradition. Since the Arabic script did not have symbols that corresponded to all the consonantal sounds of Tiberian Hebrew, in some cases they were approximations. In the Tiberian reading tradition, for example, ‫ּג‬ was pronounced as a velar plosive [g]. We know from Arabic grammatical texts that the normative pronunciation of Arabic ‫ ج‬jīm in the tenth and eleventh centuries was a voiced affricate [ʤ] further forward than a velar stop (Roman 1983: 101, 243–46). Jīm was used to transcribe [g] on account of its phonetic similarity but not identity with [g]; both were voiced and articulated relatively close to each other. Arabic ‫ ب‬bāʾ was used to transcribe Hebrew fricative bet (‫ )ֿב‬as well as plosive bet (‫)ּב‬, although Arabic bāʾ was always a plosive [b]. This again shows that the Arabic letter only approximates the Hebrew sound. Another factor may have been the influence of the Hebrew orthography, in which they are written by the same letter. Some transcriptions also occasionally employ bāʾ where the Hebrew Masoretic Text has consonantal waw. We may therefore infer that in the pronunciation of the scribes consonantal waw was pronounced in the same way as fricative bet. This is indeed the case in the Tiberian reading tradition, in which both were pronounced as a labio-velar [v] (Khan 2013a, 2013b). The general employment of Arabic ‫ ف‬fāʾ to represent plosive ‫ ּפ‬as well as fricative ‫ ֿפ‬is likely due to the influence of Hebrew orthography. Phonetic Arabic transcriptions of Hebrew independent of the Hebrew written text, such as those made by Muslims, often represented Hebrew plosive ‫ ּפ‬by Arabic ‫ ب‬b or ‫ پ‬p (Khan 2013c). Vowels and Accent.  Most of the transcriptions are vocalized with Tiberian vowel signs, and some also have Tiberian accents. They can be divided into two main groups on the basis of their vocalization: (1) those that have full standard Tiberian vocalization, and (2) those with predominantly standard Tiberian pointing but also a few non-standard Tiberian features. Manuscripts of the first group generally have Tiberian accents, whereas these are sometimes absent in manuscripts of the second group. The major non-standard Tiberian feature of the second group is the use of full vowel signs in place of ḥaṭeph signs: e.g., ‫‘ ַא ֶשר اشـر‬which’ (Num 14:22 [T-S Ar.52.242, 1r, 1]) (L ‫)א ֶׁשר־‬. ֲ In some manuscripts, there is an interchange of səgol and pataḥ (Khan 1990: 109; Harviainen 1993b): e.g., ‫‘ ָל ַכם الخام‬for you’ (Lev 25:10 [BL Or. 2581A, 2v, 8]) (L ‫)ל ֶ֔כם‬. ָ This may be due to the influence of the Babylonian pronunciation tradition, in which

Karaite Transcriptions of Biblical Hebrew


səgol and pataḥ were not distinguished. Many Karaite scholars and scribes must have originated in the East (Iraq and Iran), where the Babylonian pronunciation tradition predominated (Khan 2003). In manuscripts where this interchange is attested, however, other features demonstrate that the reading tradition can only be Tiberian: e.g., the characteristically Tiberian vocalism of šəwa in the environment of the guttural consonants, or the absence of the characteristically Babylonian interchange of ṣere and ḥolem (Khan 1990: 8–9). So, the interchange is best interpreted as the result of occasional interference from the “substrate” Eastern pronunciation of the scribe. A few manuscripts also use Arabic vocalization signs (Khan 1987: 30–31). The majority of Karaite manuscripts transcribe the Hebrew vowels using an orthography based on that of Classical Arabic, in which (1) long vowels are regularly represented by the Arabic matres lectionis ʾalif, yāʾ, and wāw, and (2) short vowels are not represented. The mater lectionis ʾalif represents long qameṣ, pataḥ, or səgol (in some manuscripts also ṣere), yāʾ represents long ḥireq or ṣere, and wāw renders long šureq or ḥolem. Since only three matres lectionis, corresponding to the three long vowels of Arabic, were available to the Karaite scribes to represent the seven Hebrew vowels, the Arabic spelling does not give a precise indication of vowel quality. It is possible, moreover, that the choice of matres lectionis was not based solely on the perceived quality of the vowel. Rather, it was influenced also by contemporary theories of the Hebrew vowel system, which divided the vowels into the three groups: (1) qameṣ, pataḥ, səgol; (2) ṣere, ḥireq; and (3) ḥolem, šureq (Khan 1987: 28–30; 1990: 10–11). This would explain, for example, why qameṣ is represented by mater lectionis ʾalif, although in the Tiberian reading tradition it was pronounced as a rounded back vowel in the region of [ɔ], which could equally well have been represented by mater lectionis wāw. In fact, in a few isolated Karaite manuscripts, the Arabic matres lectionis ʾalif and wāw have a different distribution, with ʾalif sometimes being used to represent ḥolem and wāw sometimes being used to represent qameṣ (Khan 1990: 9; Harviainen 1994). Since the scribes of most manuscripts follow the orthographic conventions of Classical Arabic and regularly represent long vowels by Arabic matres lectionis, the aspect of Hebrew pronunciation upon which the transcriptions cast particular light is the length of vowels. The transcriptions demonstrate that vowel length was conditioned to a large extent by stress and syllable structure. All


Chapter 11

stressed vowels (marked with an accent in the Masoretic Text) were long, and all unstressed vowels in open syllables were long, with the exception of vowels represented by a ḥaṭeph or šəwa sign. The vowels ṣere and ḥolem were long in all contexts.

Phonetics In the following examples, the phonetic representation of the vowel length reflected by the transcription is given in square brackets in Roman script, and the stress is marked by the symbol  ̍  before the stressed syllable. Note that vocal šəwa was pronounced as short [a] in the Tiberian reading tradition in most contexts. Before gutturals, however, it was pronounced with the same quality as the vowel following the gutturals. Before yod, it was pronounced as short [i].

Stressed Vowels Qameṣ:  ‫דבאר وبمذبار‬ ָ ‫ּובמ‬ ִ [ʾuḇammiḏ ̍ bɔ̄r] ‘and in the wilderness’ (Num 14:22 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)ּוב ִּמ ְד ָ ּ֑בר‬ ַ and ‫אמא شاما‬ ָ ‫ ̍ [ ָׁש‬šɔ̄mmɔ̄] ‘to there’ (Num 14:24 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)ׁש ָּמה‬. ָ֔ Pataḥ:  ‫צראים بمصرايم‬ ַ ‫במ‬ ִ [bamiṣ  ̍  rāyim] ‘in Egypt’ (Num 14:22 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)ב ִמ ְצ ַ ֖ריִ ם‬ ְ and ‫אחת تاحث‬ ַ ‫ ̍ [ ַ ּ֣ת‬tāḥaṯ] ‘instead of’ (Ezek 16:32 [Genizah MS 2]) (L ‫)ּת ַחת‬. ַ֣ Səgol:  ‫אשר عاسر‬ ֶ ‫ ̍ [ ֶע‬ʿɛ̄śɛr] ‘ten’ (Num 14:22 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)ע ֶׂ֣שר‬ ֶ and ‫אתאם وقراثام‬ ֥ ֶ ‫ּוק ָר‬ ְ [ʾuqrɔ̄ ̍ ṯɛ̄m] ‘and you (masc. pl.) shall call’ (Lev 25:10 [Genizah MS 5]) (L ‫אתם‬ ֥ ֶ ‫)ּוק ָר‬. ְ Ṣere:  ‫[ ָכאליב خاليب‬ḵɔ̄ ̍ lēḇ] ‘Caleb’ (Num 14:24 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)כ ֗ ֵלב‬ ָ and ‫ ̍ [ ֵע ֶיקב عيقب‬ʿēqɛḇ] ‘because’ (Num 14:24 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)ע ֶ֣קב‬. ֵ Ḥireq:  ‫[ ִׁש ְמ ִ ֖עי شمعى‬šim ̍ ʿī] ‘listen!’ (fem. sing.) (Ezek 16:35 [Genizah MS 2]) (L ‫)ׁש ְמ ִ ֖עי‬ ִ and ‫ ̍ [ אים ايم‬ʾīm] ‘if’ (Num 15:24 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)אם‬. ִ֣ Šureq/qibbuṣ:  ‫[ וַ ינַ סּו وينسو‬waynas ̍ sū] ‘and they tried’ (Num 14:22 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫ )וַ יְ נַ ּ֣סּו‬and ‫[ יָ אמּותּו ياموثو‬yɔ̄ ̍ mūṯū] ‘they (masc.) will die’ (Num 14:35 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)יָ ֻ ֽמתּו‬.

Unstressed Vowels in Open Syllables Qameṣ:  ‫או عاالو‬ ֙ ‫אל‬ ָ ‫[ ָע‬ʿɔ̄ ̍ lɔ̄v] ‘over him’ (Ezek 17:20 [Genizah MS 2]) (L ‫)ע ָל ֙יו‬ ָ and ‫יניכא بعينيخا‬ ָ ‫בע‬ ֵ [beʿē ̍ nēḵɔ̄] ‘in your (masc. sing.) eyes’ (Num

Karaite Transcriptions of Biblical Hebrew


32:5 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)ּב ֵע ֶ֔יניָך‬. ְ Pataḥ: ‫אהּו هاهو‬ ֤ ‫[ ַה‬hā ̍ hū] ‘that’ (1 Sam 1:3 [Genizah MS 3]) (L ‫)ה ֤הּוא‬ ַ and ‫אח ִ ֥צי كاحصى‬ ֲ ‫[ ַּכ‬kāḥa ̍ ṣī] ‘like half of’ (Ezek 16:51 [Genizah MS 2]) (L ‫)ּכ ֲח ִ ֥צי‬. ַ Səgol: ‫ארב باحارب‬ ֶ ‫אח‬ ָ ‫[ ֶב‬bɛ̄ ̍ ḥɔ̄rɛḇ] ‘by the sword’ (Num 14:43 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)ּב ָ ֑ח ֶרב‬ ֶ and ‫ׂשתא ناعسثا‬ ָ ‫אע‬ ֶ ֶ‫[ נ‬nɛ̄ʿɛś ̍ ṯɔ̄] ‘it (fem.) was done’ (Num 15:24 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)נֶ ֶע ְׂש ָ ֣תה‬. Ṣere: ‫אע ָידא العيذا‬ ֵ ‫[ ָל‬lɔ̄ʿē ̍ ḏɔ̄] ‘for the congregation’ (Num 14:27 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)ל ֵע ָ ֤דה‬ ָ and ‫יֿפיר هيفير‬ ֑ ִ ‫[ ֵה‬hē ̍ p̄īr] ‘he broke’ (Ezek 17:19 [Genizah MS 2] (L ‫)ה ִ ֑פיר‬. ֵ Ḥireq: ‫ילֹו بشيلو‬ ֑ ‫[ ְב ִׁש‬bašī ̍ lō] ‘in Shiloh’ (1 Sam 1:3 [Genizah MS 3]) (L ‫)ּב ִׁש ֹ֑לה‬ ְ and ‫יהא خيها‬ ֖ ָ ‫[ ִכ‬ḵī ̍ hɔ̄] ‘he rebuked’ (1 Sam 3:13 [Genizah MS 3]) (L ‫)כ ָ ֖הה‬. ִ Ḥolem: ‫[ בקולי بقولى‬baqō ̍ lī] ‘(listened) to My voice’ (Num 14:22 [Geni­ zah MS 1]) (L ‫קֹולי‬ ֽ ִ ‫)ּב‬ ְ and ‫אמֹוֿתאיִ ְֿך راموثايخ‬ ַ֔ ‫[ ָר‬rɔ̄mō ̍ ṯāyiḵ] ‘your (fem. sing.) lofty places’ (Ezek 16:39 [Genizah MS 2]) (L ‫)רמ ַֹ֔תיִ ְך‬. ָ Šureq/qibbuṣ: ‫תרּומאת كثروماث‬ ַ ‫[ ִּכ‬kiṯrū ̍ māṯ] ‘as an offering of’ (Num 15:20 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫רּומת‬ ֣ ַ ‫)ּכ ְת‬ ִ and ‫[ חּוׁשים حوشيم‬ḥū ̍ šīm] ‘hastening’ (Num 32:17 [Genizah MS 1]) (L ‫)ח ִׁ֗שים‬. ֻ In transcriptions used for liturgical purposes, which can be assumed to represent in principle a faster and often less precise reading, the otherwise long vowel in an unstressed syllable is sometimes not represented by a mater lectionis, especially when the word has a conjunctive accent: e.g., ‫عالو‬ ‫[ עלאו‬ʿɔlɔ̄v] ‘against him’ (Ps 109:6 [Genizah MS 13]) (L ‫)ע ָל֣יו‬ ָ and ‫شالح‬ ‫[ ׁשלאח‬šɔlāḥ] ‘He sent’ (Ps 111:9 [Genizah MS 13]) (L ‫)ׁש ַל֤ח‬. ָ֘ Although the majority of manuscripts represents the Hebrew reading tradition with an Arabic transcription that follows the conventions of Classical Arabic orthography with regard to the distribution of the matres lectionis, some manuscripts exhibit different systems of orthography (see Khan 1993 for details). At least one extant manuscript (BL Or. 2541) is essentially a transliteration of the Biblical Hebrew orthography rather than a phonetic transcription, and the distribution of Arabic matres lectionis corresponds in principle to that of the Hebrew matres lectionis. Long qameṣ in this manuscript, for example, is transcribed without a mater lectionis (e.g., ‫‘ ָה ֔ ָעם هعم‬the people’ [Exod 12:33 (fol. 17r, 9)] [L ‫)]ה ֔ ָעם‬. ָ Final mater lectionis he is transcribed with hāʾ (e.g., ‫‘ ִה ָּכ֣ה هكه‬He smote’ [Exod 12:29 (fol. 16v, 9)] [L ‫)]ה ָּכ֣ה‬. ִ Hebrew silent ʾaleph preceded by ḥolem without Hebrew


Chapter 11

mater lectionis waw is transcribed by ʾalif in the middle of a word (e.g., ‫ال‬ ‫‘ לֹא‬not’ [passim] [L ‫ ]לֹא‬and ‫‘ וְ ֣צאן وصان‬and sheep’ [Exod 12:38 (fol. 17v, 7)] [L ‫)]וְ ֣צ ֹאן‬. The otiose yod in pronominal suffixes attached to plural nouns and prepositions is represented by yāʾ (e.g., ‫ּוב ָפ ָר ָ ֽׁשיו وبفرشيو‬ ְ ‘and by his horsemen’ [Exod 14:17 (fol. 22v, 8)] [L ‫)]ּוב ָפ ָר ָ ֽׁשיו‬. ְ The orthography of the manuscript, however, goes beyond a strict transliteration of the Masoretic Text in one important detail. It generally represents a Hebrew ḥolem and šureq/qibbuṣ with wāw and a long ḥireq with yāʾ even when these vowels are not represented by matres lectionis in the defective orthography of the Masoretic Text: e.g., ‫‘ ֽב ֶֹוקר بوقر‬morning’ (Exod 12:22 [fol. 16r, 9]) (L ‫)ּב ֶֹקר‬, ֽ ‫ח�וקֿת حوقث‬ ֣ ַ ‘ordinance of’ (Exod 12:43 [fol. 19v, 6]) (L ‫)ח ַ ּ֣קת‬, ֻ and ‫وشليسيم‬ ‫יׁשים‬ ֖ ִ ‫‘ וְ ָׁש ִל‬and officers’ (Exod 14:7 [fol. 21v, 5]) (L ‫)וְ ָׁש ִל ִ ׁ֖שם‬. In this respect, the manuscript rewrites and systematizes the Masoretic orthography. It is important to note, moreover, that this manuscript still represents the orally transmitted reading rather than the written tradition when there is a difference between the two. A few manuscripts exhibit a mixed system containing features of Hebrew and Classical Arabic orthography. In such manuscripts, for example, Hebrew silent ʾaleph preceded by ḥolem without Hebrew mater lectionis waw is transcribed by a combination of Arabic ʾalif and wāw in either order (e.g., ‫ושמֹואל وسموال‬ ְ ‘and left’ [Deut 17:11 (BL Or. 2551, fol. 31v, 13)] [L ‫]ּוׂש ֽמ ֹאל‬ ְ and ‫‘ ֽצאֹון صاون‬sheep’ [Ps 78:70 (BL Or. 2551, fol. 36v, 4)] [L ‫)]צ ֹאן‬, ֽ and the pronominal suffixes with otiose yod are sometimes transcribed with both yāʾ and ʾalif (e.g., ‫‘ ַר ֲח ָמאיו راحمايو‬His mercy’ [Lam 3:22 (BL Or. 2551, fol. 45v, 11)] [L ‫)]ר ֲח ָ ֽמיו‬. ַ Some manuscripts are written with a predominantly Classical Arabic orthography with an extended use of mater lectionis ʾalif. This is found in particular in the environment of consonant ʾalif. There, Arabic mater lectionis ʾalif is combined with Arabic consonantal ʾalif, whose result is a series of two or even three ʾalifs, against the conventions of Classical Arabic orthography: e.g., ‫יכא اابيخا‬ ָ ‫אב‬ ִ֔ ‫‘ ָא‬your father’ (Exod 3:6 [BL Or. 2544, fol. 75r, 4]) (L ‫)א ִ֔ביָך‬, ָ ‫אא ֨ ָלא  وشااال‬ ַ ‫‘ וְ ָׁש‬and she will ask’ (Exod 3:22 [BL Or. 2544, fol. 79r, 7]) (L ‫)וְ ָׁש ֲא ֨ ָלה‬, and ‫ארץ هااارص‬ ֶ ‫אא‬ ֣ ָ ‫‘ ָה‬the land’ (Exod 3:8 [BL Or. 2544, fol. 75v, 2]) (L ‫)ה ָ ֣א ֶרץ‬. ָ The manuscripts that exhibit a predominance of Hebrew orthographic elements appear on paleographical grounds to be among the earliest transcriptions. In general, the Karaite transcriptions exhibit a gradual develop-

Karaite Transcriptions of Biblical Hebrew


ment in orthography toward greater consistency in the marking of vowel length, based on an increasing sensitivity toward long vowels. A comparative study of the orthography of the manuscripts can, therefore, elucidate many details of vowel length, especially relative degrees of length, as will be shown below. The transcriptions show that vowels were pronounced long in a number of syllabic contexts in addition to those described above. Most manuscripts represent ḥireq in the closed unstressed syllable of prefixes of the verbs ‫‘ ָהיָ ה‬to be’ and ‫‘ ָחיָ ה‬to live’ with matres lectionis as well as pataḥ in the prefix of the forms ‫ וַ יְ ִהי‬and ‫וַ יְ ִחי‬, reflecting their lengthening: e.g., ‫تـيـهيا‬ ‫יה ֶי֥א‬ ְ ‫[ ִת‬tīhyɛ̄] ‘it will be’ (Jer 7:34 [BL Or. 2549, fol. 58r, 12]) (L ‫)ּת ְה ֶי֥ה‬, ִ ‫יהי֨ ֹות بيهيوث‬ ְ ‫[ ִב‬bīhyōṯōṯ] ‘when it is’ (Prov 3:27 [BL Or. 2553, fol 6r, 12]) (L ‫)ּב ְהי֨ ֹות‬, ִ ‫[ ייחיא ييحيا‬yīḥyɛ̄] ‘let him live’ (Neh 2:3 [BL Or. 2556, fol. 44v, 9]) (L ‫)יִ ְח ֶי֑ה‬, ‫יחיָ א ميحيا‬ ְ ‫[ ִמ‬mīḥyå̄] ‘reviving’ (Ezra 9:8 [BL Or. 2556, fol. 31v, 1]) (L ‫)מ ְח ָי֥ה‬, ֽ ִ ‫[ וַ איְ ִ֗הי وايهى‬wāyhī] ‘and it was’ (Josh 3:14 [BL Or. 2547, fol. 6v, 6]) (L ‫)וַ יְ ִ֗הי‬, and ‫[ ואיחי وايحى‬wāyḥī] ‘and he lived’ (Isa 38:9 [BL Or. 2548, fol. 28r, 9]) (L ‫)וַ יְ ִ ֖חי‬. Some manuscripts, however, represent only the pataḥ of ‫ וַ יְ ִהי‬and ‫ וַ יְ ִחי‬with matres lectionis but not ḥireq in the prefixes of these verbs, reflecting the lengthening only of pataḥ, as in BL Or. 2539 fols. 56–114: ‫[ וַ איְ ִ֗הי وايهى‬wāyhī] ‘and it was’ (Gen 24:22 [fol. 72v, 3]) (L ‫ )וַ יְ ִ֗הי‬but ‫[ ִת ְה ֶי֖א تهيا‬tihyɛ̄] ‘you shall be’ (Deut 7:14 [fol. 91v, 2]) (L ‫)ּת ְה ֶי֖ה‬. ֽ ִ In Tiberian Masoretic codexes, such as Leningrad, the ḥireq and pataḥ vowels that are transcribed in Karaite texts with matres lectionis are sometimes marked with gaʿya, but this is by no means always the case; sometimes gaʿya is marked in the Leningrad Codex where a transcription does not have a mater lectionis, as in the last example. The marking of the gaʿya is not, therefore, directly correlated with the lengthening reflected in the transcriptions. Although some manuscripts transcribe the ḥireq with a mater lectionis, others, such as BL Or. 2539 fols. 56–114, do not represent the ḥireq with a mater lectionis yet mark long ḥireq in other contexts with a mater lectionis (e.g., ‫יחוט ميحوط‬ ֙ ‫[ ִמ‬mīḥūṭ] ‘of a thread’ [Gen 14:23 (fol. 57r, 8)] [L ‫חּוט‬ ֙ ‫;)]מ‬ ִ this evidence, then, suggests that the ḥireq in the prefixes of these verbs was long. Furthermore, these transcriptions lead one to perceive the ḥireq as shorter in duration than the pataḥ in prefixes of these verbs as well as shorter than long ḥireq in other contexts. As mentioned, the manuscripts exhibit different degrees of sensitivity to vowel length, and a comparison of the various orthographic systems reveals relative degrees


Chapter 11

of vowel duration. The purpose of lengthening the vowel in the prefixes of these verbs was to decelerate the reading and avoid the possible elision of weak letters (Khan 1994). The Karaite transcriptions also cast light on the pronunciation of syllables marked by the so-called “minor gaʿya.” This is a gaʿya that is marked on a closed syllable containing what is normally thought to be a short vowel (Yeivin 1980: 244–48; 2003: 212–14), as in the first syllable of ‫‘ ִ ֽנ ְת ַח ְּכ ָ ֖מה‬let us deal wisely’ (Exod 1:10). The transcriptions indicate that the vowels in syllables marked by minor gaʿya were pronounced long, since many manuscripts represent them with Arabic matres lectionis (the minor gaʿya is marked by the symbol ˌ in the phonetic transcription): e.g., ‫هاحمور‬-‫אח ֔מֹור عال‬ ַ ‫אל־ה‬ ַ ‫ˌ[ ַ ֽע‬ʿāl-hāḥa ̍ mōr] ‘on the ass’ (Exod 4:20 [BL Or. 2544–46]) (L ‫מר‬ ֹ ֔ ‫ל־ה ֲח‬ ַ ‫)ע‬, ֽ ַ ‫אחוֽ ו وييشتاحوو‬ ַ ‫יׁש ַת‬ ְ ֽ ִ‫[ וַ י‬wayˌyīštāḥa ̍ vū] ‘and they prostrated themselves’ (Gen 33:7 [BL Or. 2544–46]) (L ‫)וַ ִ ּֽי ְׁש ַּת ֲחוֽ ּו‬, and ‫אע ֑קֹוב وولياعقوب‬ ַ ַ‫ולי‬ ְ ֽ‫ˌ[ ּו‬ʾūlyāʿa ̍ qōḇ] ‘and to Jacob’ (Exod 6:8 [BL Or. 2544– 46]) (L ‫)ּוֽ ְליַ ֲע ֑קֹב‬. In several manuscripts, however, the mater lectionis is omitted in the transcription of a vowel marked by minor gaʿya. There is a greater tendency for this omission when the minor gaʿya is marked on one of the high vowels ḥireq or šureq than when it is marked on the low vowel pataḥ. For instance, in the following two examples the mater lectionis is omitted in BL Or. 2542 fols. 1–249: e.g., ‫ˌ[ ִ ֽנ ְת ַח ְכ ָ ֖מא نثحكما‬niṯḥakka ̍ mɔ̄] ‘let ֘ ‫אע‬ us deal wisely’ (Exod 1:10 [fol. 43r, 9]) (L ‫)נ ְת ַח ְּכ ָ ֖מה‬ ֽ ִ and ‫לֹותֹו ولهاعلوثو‬ ַ ‫וֽ ְל ַה‬ [ˌʾulhāʿalō ̍ ṯō] ‘and to bring them (= My people) up’ (Exod 3:8 [fol. 45v, 1]) (L ‫ֹלתֹו‬ ֮ ‫ ;)ּוֽ ְל ַה ֲע‬contrast ‫עּו وايّـفجعو‬ ֙ ְ‫ˌ[ ַ ֽואיִ פג‬wāyyip̄gu ̍ ʿū] ‘and they (masc.) met’ (Exod 5:20 [fol. 48v, 9]) (L ‫עּו‬ ֙ ְ‫)ו�ּֽיִ ְפּג‬, ַ in which the mater lectionis is written. This distribution of matres lectionis in the manuscripts can likewise be interpreted as reflecting differences in the relative duration of lengthened vowels. It shows that high vowels with minor gaʿya were perceived to be shorter than the low vowel pataḥ with minor gaʿya, as is the case with the prefixes of the verbs ‫ ָהיָ ה‬and ‫( ָחיָ ה‬see Khan 1992b for further details). In the Tiberian Masoretic tradition, gaʿya is sometimes placed next to šəwa or ḥaṭeph signs. This is referred to by the terms gaʿyat šəwa or šəwa gaʿya (Yeivin 1980: 252–54; 2003: 218–20). The second term will be used here. The Karaite transcriptions indicate that šəwa gaʿya was pronounced as a long vowel, since they represent it with a mater lectionis: e.g., ‫باناحال‬ ‫אח ֔ ָלא‬ ְ ַ‫ˌ[ ְ ֽבאנ‬bānāḥa ̍ lɔ̄] ‘as an inheritance’ (Josh 13:6 [BL Or. 2547, fol. 15r, 11]) (L ‫)ּבנַ ֲח ֔ ָלה‬, ֽ ְ ‫אמֹוכאם كاموخام‬ ֶ֗ ‫ˌ[ ְ ֽכ‬kāmō ̍ ḵɛ̄m] ‘as you’ (Job 12:3 [BL

Karaite Transcriptions of Biblical Hebrew


Or. 2552, fol. 16v, 13]) (L ‫מֹוכם‬ ֶ֗ ‫)ּכ‬, ֽ ְ and ‫יׁשֹותאו عاطيشوثاو‬ ָ ‫אט‬ ִ ‫ˌ[ ֲ֭ ֽע‬ʿāṭīšō ̍ ṯɔ̄v] ‘his sneezings’ (Job 41:10 [BL Or. 2552, fol. 87v, 14]) (L ‫)ע ִטיׁש ָֹתיו‬. ֭ ֲ‍ֽ As remarked above, the default pronunciation of vocal šəwa had the quality of pataḥ [a]. This explains why the šəwa gaʿya in the foregoing examples is represented by Arabic mater lectionis ʾalif, which represents long [ā]. A lengthened ḥaṭeph pataḥ is likewise represented by mater lectionis ʾalif. A mater lectionis is sometimes omitted in the transcriptions of šəwa gaʿya. This is regularly the case in many manuscripts in contexts where šəwa has a higher vowel quality than pataḥ. In ‫אד ְע ָתא وياذعتا‬ ַ ָ‫ˌ[ ְֽ ֭וי‬wiyɔ̄ḏaʿ ̍ tɔ̄] ‘and you shall know’ (Job 5:25 [BL Or. 2552, fol. 7r, 9]) (L ‫)וְ ֽ֭יָ ַד ְע ָּת‬, the šəwa before yod is pronounced with the quality of ḥireq; in ‫אּולאם واوالم‬ ָ ֗ ‫ˌ[ ְ ֽו‬wuʾū ̍ lɔ̄m] ‘but’ (Job 12:7 [BL Or. 2552, fol. 18v, 7]) (L ‫אּולם‬ ָ ֗ ‫)ו‬, ֽ ְ the šəwa has the quality of šureq before a guttural followed by šureq; and in ‫צאי לאך صأى الخ‬ [ˌṣiʾī- ̍ lɔ̄ḵ] ‘go out!’ (fem. sing.) (Song 1:8 [BL Or. 2554, fol. 35r, 1]) (L ‫י־לְך‬ ָ ֞ ‫)צ ִא‬, ֽ ְ the šəwa is pronounced with the quality of ḥireq before a guttural followed by ḥireq. The distribution of the matres lectionis in the transcription of šəwa gaʿya is similar to that of vowels with minor gaʿya, indicating differences in degrees of lengthening according to the height of the vowel (for further details, see Khan 2009). When the interrogative ‫‘ ָמה‬what?’ is connected to the following word by maqqeph and the initial consonant of the second word has dageš, the vowel under the ‫ מה‬is pataḥ rather than qameṣ: e.g., ‫ן־לי‬ ִ ֔ ‫ה־ּת ֶּת‬ ִ ‫‘ ַמ‬what will You give me?’ (Gen 15:2). This indicates that at some point in the historical development of the Tiberian pronunciation the vowel before dageš was short, reflecting the close prosodic bond of the interrogative to the following word. The Karaite transcriptions, however, indicate that in the tenth and eleventh centuries a more careful word division had developed in the Tiberian reading tradition, and the vowel was pronounced long. In most of the manuscripts that use an Arabic-based orthography, ‫ ַמה־‬before dageš is transcribed with a final mater lectionis ʾalif: e.g., ‫ַמא ִת ְצ ַ ֖עאק ما تصعاق‬ [mā‑ttiṣ ̍ ʿāq] ‘why do you cry?’ (Exod 14:15 [BL Or. 2542, 62r, 7]) (L ‫ַמה־‬ ‫)ּת ְצ ַ ֖עק‬. ִ In one of the manuscripts that exhibit an Arabic-based orthography with extended use of mater lectionis ʾalif, BL Or. 2544, ‫ ַמה־‬is transcribed ّ -‫ה־ׁש ֔מֹו مه‬ regularly by -‫מה־ مه‬: ַ e.g., ‫شمو‬ ְ ‫[ ַמ‬mah-ššə ̍ mō] ‘what is His name?’ (Exod 3:13 [BL Or. 2544, 76v, 12]) (L ‫ה־ּׁש ֔מֹו‬ ְ ‫)מ‬ ַ (see Khan 1989 for details). The purpose of the reading of ‫ ַמה־‬with a long vowel or a final [h] was to bring about a pause and so clearly separate it from the following word.


Chapter 11

Although the majority of medieval Karaite transcriptions reflect the Tiberian reading tradition, a few of the extant manuscripts exhibit some features of the medieval Palestinian pronunciation, known from the Palestinian vocalization and from the later Sephardic reading traditions. One of the manuscripts of the British Library corpus (Or. 2555), for example, exhibits a frequent interchange of səgol and ṣere both in the orthography of its transcription and in its vocalization (Khan 1990: 17). This suggests that the two vowels were not distinguished in the pronunciation of the scribe, which is a feature of the Palestinian and Sephardic traditions. There is evidence from a few transcriptions that the scribe pronounced taw and dalet as stops in all contexts, as is the case in Sephardic traditions: e.g., the transcription ‫‘ קוהאלת قوهالت‬Qohelet’ (Qoh 1:1 [BL Or. 2552, fol. 90v]) (L ‫)ק ֶ ֹ֣ה ֶלת‬, in which the post-vocalic taw is represented by an Arabic tāʾ. The same manuscript also reflects the occurrence of a secondary stress on the final anaptyctic vowel of segolate constructions, which also is a feature of Sephardic reading traditions: e.g., ‫‘ בבוקאר ببوقار‬in the morning’ (Qoh 11:6 [fol. 116v]) (L ‫)ּב ּ֙ב ֹ ֶק ֙ר‬. ַ The mater lectionis in the final syllable reflects the lengthening caused by secondary stress [ ̍ bōˌqɛ̄ʀ] (see Khan 1997 for further details).

Abbreviations L

Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Masoretic Bible Codex, St. Petersburg I Firkovitch B19a. T-S Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge. BL Or. British Library Oriental collection (manuscripts), London. BHS Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Genizah MS Manuscripts published in Khan (1990).

Bibliography Eldar, Ilan 1994 ‫ ספר הוריית הקורא ומשנתו הלשונית‬:‫[ תורת הקריאה במקרא‬The Study of the Art of Correct Reading as Reflected in the Medieval Treatise Hidāyat al-Qāri]. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language. Gil, Moshe 2003 The Origins of the Karaites. Pp. 73–118 in Karaite Judaism: A Guide to Its History and Literary Sources, ed. Meira Polliack. Handbuch der Orientalistik 1/73. Leiden: Brill.

Karaite Transcriptions of Biblical Hebrew


Harviainen, Tapani 1993a Karaite Arabic Transcriptions of Hebrew in the Saltykov-Shchedrin Public Library in St. Petersburg. Pp. 63–72 in Estudios Masoréticos (X Congreso del IOMS): En memoria de Harry M. Orlinsky, ed. Emilia Fernández Tejero and María Teresa Ortega Monasterio. Textos y estudios «Cardenal Cisneros» 55. Madrid: Instituto de Filología del CSIC. 1993b A Karaite Bible Transcription with Indiscriminate Use of Tiberian Pataḥ and Segol Vowel Signs. Pp. 83–97 in Semitica: Serta Philologica Constantino Tsereteli Dicata, ed. Riccardo Contini, Fabrizio A. Pennachietti, and Mauro Tosco. Pubblicazioni del Gruppo di Ricerca «Lessicografia Semitica e Lessico Ebraico» Finanziato dal C.N.R. 6. Torino: Zamorani. 1994 A Karaite Bible Transcription with Indiscriminate Counterparts of Tiberian Qameṣ and Ḥolam (Ms. Firkovitsh II, Arab.-evr. 1). Pp. 33–40 in Proceedings of the Eleventh Congress of the International Organization of Masoretic Studies (IOMS), Jerusalem, June 21–22, 1993, ed. Aron Dotan. Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies. Khan, Geoffrey 1987 Vowel Length and Syllable Structure in the Tiberian Tradition of Biblical Hebrew. Journal of Semitic Studies 32: 23–82. 1989 The Pronunciation of ‫ ַמה־‬before Dageš in the Medieval Tiberian Hebrew Reading Tradition. Journal of Semitic Studies 34: 433–41. 1990 Karaite Bible Manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah. Cambridge University Library Genizah Series 9. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1992a The Medieval Karaite Transcriptions of Hebrew in Arabic Script. Israel Oriental Studies 12: 157–76. 1992b ‫[ מבטא הגעיה הקטנה המשתקף בכתבי־יד קראיים של המקרא בתעתיק ערבי‬The Pronunciation of Minor Gaʿya as Reflected by Karaite Bible Manuscripts in Arabic Transcription]. ‫ מחקרים בלשון‬5–6: 465–79. 1993 The Orthography of Karaite Hebrew Bible Manuscripts in Arabic Transcription. Journal of Semitic Studies 38: 49–70. 1994 The Pronunciation of the Verbs ‫ היה‬and ‫ חיה‬in the Tiberian Tradition of Biblical Hebrew. Pp. 133–44 in Semitic and Cushitic Studies, ed. Gideon Gol­ denberg and Shlomo Raz. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. 1997 ‫[ העומק ההיסטורי של שתי תכונות של מסורות הקריאה הספרדיות‬The Historical Depth of Two Features of “Sephardi” Reading Traditions]. Massorot 9–11: 91–99. 2003 The Contribution of the Karaites to the Study of the Hebrew Language. Pp. 291–318 in Karaite Judaism: A Guide to Its History and Literary Sources, ed. Meira Polliack. Handbuch der Orientalistik 1/73. Leiden: Brill. 2009 The Pronunciation of Gaʿya with Šewa. Pp. 3*–18* in ‫ מחקרים‬:‫משאת אהרן‬ ‫[ בלשון מוגשים לאהרן דותן‬Mas’at Aharon: Linguistic Studies Presented to Aron Dotan], ed. Moshe Bar-Asher and Chaim E. Cohen. Jerusalem: Bialik. 2013a A Short Introduction to the Masoretic Hebrew Bible and Its Reading Tradition. 2nd ed. Gorgias Handbooks 25. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias. 2013b Tiberian Reading Tradition. Pp. 769–78 in vol. 3 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill.


Chapter 11

2013c Transcriptions into Arabic Script: Medieval Muslim Sources. Pp. 799–801 in vol. 3 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill. Roman, André 1983 Étude de la phonologie et de la morphologie de la koinè arabe. 2 vols. Aixen-Provence: Université de Provence / Marseille: Laffitte. Tirosh-Becker, Ofra 2011 ‫[ גנזי חז״ל בספרות הקראית בימי הביניים‬Rabbinic Excerpts in Medieval Karaite Literature]. 2 vols. Jerusalem: Bialik / Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Yeivin, Israel 1980 Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah, trans. and ed. E. J. Revell. Society of Biblical Literature Masoretic Studies 5. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press. 2003 ‫[ המסורה למקרא‬The Biblical Masorah]. Studies in Language 3. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language. Zer, Rafael 2003 ?‫ההיה מסרן הכתר רבני או קראי‬. Sefunot 8: 573–87.

Chapter 12

Palestinian Tradition J oseph Yahalom

The Speech Community It is assumed that the “Palestinian” vocalization system was used by Jews somewhere in medieval Palestine other than Tiberias. The evidence rests solely on the earliest extant report about a “Palestinian vocalization,” which is contained in a commentary on tractate ʾAbot of the Mishnah in the Vitry Maḥzor, a medieval collection of Jewish law. In his commentary, the twelfth-century scholar Jacob ben Samson discusses the statement “Moses received the Torah from Sinai” (m. ʾAbot 1:1). As part of this discussion, he quotes the opinion that the cantillation of the text (‫ טעמי המקרא‬ṭaʿame ha-miqra) was also received by Moses at Sinai, “but the signs of chanting were established by the scribes. Therefore the Tiberian pointing (‫ניקוד‬ niqqud) is unlike our pointing; nor is it like the Palestinian pointing. They established them because accents and chants tend to be forgotten” (Hurwitz 1923: 462). The exegete clearly refers here to the system of cantillation accents, of which there are indeed three known versions: the Tiberian system, the Palestinian system (Revell 1977), and the Babylonian system (Yeivin 1985: 39, 60). The conclusion follows that Moses could not have received the accents from Sinai, although he did receive the detailed syntactic division of the Torah text, which would subsequently be marked by means of accents created expressly for this purpose. It is somewhat surprising that Jacob ben Samson calls one of the systems “Tiberian” and another “Palestinian,” since Tiberias is in Palestine. Scholars have also wondered about the use of the phrase “our pointing” by a twelfth-century Ashkenazic (European) Jew (Eldar 1978: 174–75). 161


Chapter 12

Elsewhere in the Vitry Maḥzor, however, it is stated that “he [who asks about the reading of the shemaʿ prayer] made the Palestinian Talmud the main one, and our Talmud secondary”; that is, he followed what was written in the Palestinian and not the Babylonian Talmud) (Hurwitz 1923: 77). It would thus appear that “our pointing” (i.e., Babylonian pointing), came to Ashkenaz (Europe) from Babylonia together with “our Talmud” (for a discussion, see Soloveitchik 2008: 321–27). Additional indirect evidence for the Palestinian origin of this vocalization system is provided by early Palestinian liturgical poetry (‫פיוטים‬ piyyûṭîm) (Yahalom 1997) as well as by a vocalized parchment of the Palestinian targum (Klein 1986: 173, 283–97). Some Rabbinic palimpsests— pieces of parchment that had been used but were washed and cleaned in order to make room for a new text—reveal an original text in Palestinian Syriac or Greek, over which a Rabbinic Hebrew text with superlinear Palestinian vocalization has been written. These palimpsests also constitute indirect evidence for a Palestinian origin.

The Corpus Palestinian pointed manuscripts are known only from the Cairo Genizah. Most of the manuscripts contain Palestinian piyyûṭîm, but one also finds biblical manuscripts and one scroll of the Palestinian targum. Chiesa (1978: 70–124) provides a complete list of biblical passages and relevant references; his numbering system—e.g., P300—is also adopted here. There are some isolated Palestinian vocalizations in fragments of the Mishnah, the Talmud, and midrashim (Allony 1973: 2), of which more than half are palimpsests. Vocalization signs are used only sparingly in these fragments in order to prevent mistakes in reading, especially in places that are prone to error. The early biblical manuscript fragments were written as scrolls on one side of the parchment. The best-preserved early copies are of Ezekiel (P190) and Psalms (P300). Later copies of Psalms were preserved on fragments of codexes (P310), and similar codex fragments also exist mainly for Jeremiah (P180) and Daniel (P360). Isolated vocalization signs can be found in a fragment of Masorah to Kings (P160) as well as in a manuscript of Joshua in which Palestinian signs were added by two different hands (P100). The most developed system of Palestinian vocalization is attested in fragments written in shorthand script (‫ סירוגין‬serugin) (P40).


Palestinian Tradition

Orthography All Palestinian pointed manuscripts utilize supralinear signs—that is, the vowel is placed above the letter (see also the Babylonian vocalization system). Palestinian vocalized biblical texts follow the consonantal orthography of the Tiberian system. The non-biblical texts tend toward a more plene spelling as is customary in the Dead Sea Scrolls and postbiblical texts. The serugin system serves as a mnemonic device that helps the reader recite the consonantal text of a parchment scroll correctly in liturgical use. In this script, each word in a verse is usually represented by only one syllable—the one considered most problematic. Rashi even comments on the use of serugin in b. Gittin 60a: “The beginning of the passage was written as a full word and later (only) the beginnings of the words.” Thus, the first word in every verse is written out in full and fully vocalized, while the other words are represented by single letters that stand for syllables that are in some way atypical in vocalization and/or accent.

Phonetics and Phonology Palestinian sign systems are notably sparse (for a partial discussion, see Dotan 2007). Usually there are no more than six signs: a vertical and a horizontal line for qameṣ and pataḥ, a pair of vertical and a pair of horizontal dots for ḥireq and qibbuṣ/šureq, three dots for ḥolem, and two diagonal dots slanting up to the right for ṣerê. Tiberian












‫ֻס‬ (in Psalms Codex, 3 dots— an inverted ḥolem)









Another pair of signs used in Palestinian manuscripts is a small samekh ‫ס‬ ‫ש‬ over the letter ‫ ש‬when it is to be pronounced [s], and a small šin ‫ ש‬when it is to be pronounced [š]. In our transcription, the dageš sign represents [s].


Chapter 12

This is the basic situation in the early Palestinian vocalization used in Eleazar Kalir’s liturgical poetry (seventh century CE). This poetry contains numerous neologisms of uncertain pronunciation; this uncertainty may, in fact, have provided the initial impetus to marking the vowels. The need to vocalize Yannay’s (sixth-century CE) liturgical poetry arose later. By that time, an additional sign had come into use: two dots in a diagonal slanting down to the right, marking the Tiberian vocal šəwa ‫[ ֵס‬ə]. In the six-sign system, there was, so it seems, no need for a special sign to mark this šəwa because it was adequately represented by the sign for pataḥ/qameṣ. When the realization of šəwa, however, shifted from a low short vowel [a] to a short central lowered medial vowel [ə], a new, seventh, sign appears to have become necessary (cf. Morag 1963: 174). Initially, the Palestinian vocalization represented a pronunciation similar to that reflected in the Babylonian vocalization; it has no sign corresponding to the Tiberian səgol and it preserves a high back vowel in a closed unstressed syllable where the Tiberian system has qameṣ. The Palestinian pronunciation of qameṣ as ḥolem in closed unstressed syllables survived in the pre-Ashkenazic pronunciation reflected in the vocalization called Tiberian-Palestinian (see chapter 13). This pronunciation of ḥolem and the lack of distinction between pataḥ/qameṣ and ṣere/səgol distinctions are among the salient features not only of this pronunciation but also of the Sephardic pronunciation in the Middle Ages (Eldar 1978: 42). To judge from its similarity to the standard Tiberian vocalization in marking vocalic distinctions, the vocalization used in the shorthand script is the latest and most advanced of the Palestinian systems. For example, it consistently makes a distinction between the signs that correspond to Tiberian ṣere and səgol, as well as those that correspond to pataḥ and qameṣ, including qameṣ in closed unstressed syllables. Palestinian vocalizations of passages from Psalms make no distinction at all between pataḥ and qameṣ. Also, they regularly mark qameṣ in an unstressed closed syllable with ḥolem: e.g., ‫‘ ֱחכמה‬wisdom’ (Ps 37:30) (Tiberian ‫)ח ְכ ָמה‬, ָ ‫‘ ֱאזנַים‬ears’ (Ps 40:7) (Tiberian ‫)אזְ נַ יִ ם‬, ָ and ‫באמרם‬ ֱ ‘while they say’ (Ps 42:11) (Tiberian ‫)ּב ָא ְמ ָרם‬. ְ Further, ḥolem in these manuscripts appears where the Tiberian vocalization has qibbuṣ: ‫‘ ֱכלו‬everyone’ (Ps 29:9) (Tiberian ‫)ּכּלֹו‬, ֻ ‫בס ָכה‬ ֱ ‘in a shelter’ (Ps 31:21) (Tiberian ‫)ּב ֻס ָּכה‬, ְ ‫ומ ֱקלליו‬ ֶ ‘and those cursed by Him’ (Ps 37:22) (Tiberian ‫)ּומ ֻק ָּל ָליו‬, ְ and ‫‘ ֶב ֱתמי‬in my integrity’ (Ps 41:13) (Tiberian ‫)ּב ֻת ִּמי‬. ְ Compare the Ezekiel manuscript, where

Palestinian Tradition


all the forms appear in a single verse: ‫‘ ֱכ ָרת ֱשררך‬your navel cord was (not) cut’, ‫‘ ֱר ָחצת‬you were (not) bathed’, and ‫חתל לא ֱח ָתלת‬ ֵ ‫וה‬ ֱ   ‫‘ ֱהמלחת‬you were (not) rubbed with salt, and you were not swaddled’ (Ezek 16:4) (Tiberian ‫ ֻה ְמ ַל ַח ְּת וְ ָה ְח ֵּתל לֹא ֻח ָּת ְל ְּת‬. . . ‫ ֻר ַח ְצ ְּת‬. . . ‫)כ ַּרת ָׁש ֵּרְך‬ ָ (Harviainen 1977: 171–72). The Psalms Codex still uses ḥolem where the Tiberian text has qameṣ in an unstressed syllable, as in ‫‘ ֱעשרו‬his wealth’ (Ps 52:9) and ‫שפך‬ ֱ ‘pour out!’ (Ps 69:25) (Tiberian ‫;)ׁש ָפְך־‬ ְ but qameṣ also occurs, as in ‫תניהם‬ ֵ ‫ומ‬ ָ ‘and their loins’ (Ps 69:24) (Tiberian ‫יהם‬ ֶ ֵ‫)ּומ ְתנ‬ ָ and ‫יהם‬ ֵ ‫בָאהל‬ ֶ ‘in their tents’ (Ps 69:26) (Tiberian ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫)ּב ָא ֳה ֵל‬. ְ Moreover, pataḥ alternates with qameṣ: ‫הריִ ם‬ ָ ‫ַצ‬ ַ ‫‘ ו‬and noon’ (Ps 55:18) (Tiberian ‫ ;)וְ ָצ ֳה ַריִ ם‬pataḥ can also correspond to Tiberian vocal šəwa, as in the first letter ‫הריִ ם‬ ָ ‫ַצ‬ ַ ‫ו‬. Nowhere in the codex fragments do we find ḥolem in place of qibbuṣ in a closed unstressed syllable. In the shorthand script, Palestinian qameṣ regularly corresponds to Tiberian qameṣ even in closed unstressed syllables. Regarding the seventh vowel sign, Palestinian vocalizations of biblical and targumic texts use a very different method from the one used in liturgical poetry. Those who vocalized the texts were aware of the shift toward an increasingly centralized realization of the vowel marked by ṣere (cf. the səgol in closed stressed syllables in ‫ד ֶּבר‬,ִ ‫ּגַ ְרזֶ ן‬, etc.), and so thought that the sign for ṣere could be used to mark the centralized realization of the vocal šəwa. They thus began to use two diagonal dots slanting down to the left ‫ ֶס‬for Tiberian vocal šəwa as well as Tiberian səgol. It was still necessary, however, to mark the higher front realization. This system, too, needed another sign: the new sign, consisting of two diagonal dots to the right ‫ס‬, ֵ now came to mark the counterpart of Tiberian ṣere. In this way səgol, despite its low phonemic contrastive value, entered the vowel system. (In the Old Babylonian vocalization, a separate sign for səgol also did not exist, and the vowel it represents lay within the phonetic parameter marked by pataḥ.) The new seven-sign system is shown in the table on the top of p. 166. In the Psalms manuscripts, where pataḥ and qameṣ are used interchangeably, the distribution of the səgol and ṣere signs is regular in a way. The Palestinian səgol corresponds not only to Tiberian səgol and vocal šəwa; it also appears in place of Tiberian ṣere. This was the case in earlier times, when the two diagonal dots slanting down to the left ‫ ֶס‬were part of 1.  The initial vowel is uncertain, but it is not ḥireq (cf. Kahle 1930: 70).

166 Tiberian

Chapter 12 biblical symbol

liturgical symbol














‫ֻס‬ (in Psalms Codex, 3 dots— an inverted ḥolem)













[e] [ɛ]


a six-sign system; therefore, it is not surprising that they continued to fulfill the same function in the seven-sign system. Yet, the new ṣere sign does not correspond to Tiberian səgol, except in a number of well-defined grammatical categories which, in its recent past, had not yet made the transition to a səgol-like realization. This is the case, for example, in closed stressed syllables. In the Ezekiel Scroll we find the verbal form ‫וד ֵבר‬ ִ ‘and he speaks’ (Ezek 14:9) (Tiberian ‫)וְ ִד ֶּבר‬. The same is true of the second-person fem. pl., third-person masc. pl., and third-person fem. pl. possessive pronoun, with ṣere as in Aramaic: ‫לכנה‬ ֵ ‘of yours’ (Ezek 13:18) (Tiberian ‫)ל ֶכנָ ה‬, ָ ‫(‘ ָל ֵהם‬belonged) to them’ (Ezek 1:6) (Tiberian ‫)ל ֶהם‬, ָ and ‫לבהן‬ ֵ ‫‘ ִמ‬from their mind’ (Ezek 13:17) (Tiberian ‫)מ ִּל ְּב ֶהן‬, ִ respectively. Ṣere in this context also appears in the Psalms Codex: ‫ֶיהם‬ ֵ ‫‘ ִלפנ‬before them’, ‫תניהם‬ ֵ ‫ומ‬ ָ ‘and their loins’, and ‫יהם‬ ֵ ‫בָאהל‬ ֶ ‘in their tents’ (Ps 69:23, 24, 26) (Tiberian ‫יהם‬ ֶ ֵ‫ל ְפנ‬,ִ ‫יהם‬ ֶ ֵ‫ּומ ְתנ‬, ָ ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫)ּב ָא ֳה ֵל‬. ְ There are even cases in the shorthand script, which usually distinguishes consistently between səgol and ṣere: ‫( ֵה ֵה‬Isa 56:7) (Tiberian ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫יהם וְ זִ ְב ֵח‬ ֶ ‫ֹֹלת‬ ֵ ‫‘ ע‬their burnt offerings and their sacrifices’). The same phenomenon appears in the vocalization of a Palestinian midrash: ‫בתיהן‬ ֵ ‘their houses’ (Tiberian ‫יהן‬ ֶ ‫)ּב ֵּת‬ ָ and ‫עליהן‬ ֵ ‘on them’ (Tiberian ‫יהן‬ ֵֶ ‫)ע ֵל‬ ֲ (Allony 1973: 195, 197). Ṣere appears to have been retained also in closed syllables before guttural consonants, as in the following niphal form in the Psalms Codex: ‫נֵעזַב‬ ‘abandoned’ (Ps 37:25) (Tiberian ‫)נֶ ֱעזָ ב‬. Traces can also be found in the shorthand script: ‫( ֵנ‬Isa 45:24) (Tiberian ‫‘ ַהּנֶ ֱח ִרים‬the ones angry’; cf. ‫בני אמי‬ ‫‘ נִ ֲחרּו בי‬my mother’s sons were angry at me’ [Song 1:5]) (cf. also Yeivin

Palestinian Tradition


1985: 718), ‫ֵא ָס‬ ֶ ‫( נ‬Isa 57:1) (Tiberian ‫‘ נֶ ֱא ָס ִפים‬removed’) (cf. ‫נִ ְע ָל ִמים‬in Babylonian liturgical poetry [Yeivin 1985: 502]), and also in a fragment of the Jerusalem Talmud: ‫ֵעשה‬ ָ ‫‘ נ‬it was done’ (y. Sanh. 27c) (Allony 1973: 70) (cf. ֻ‫‘ נִ עשׂו‬they became’ in Siphra [Finkelstein 1956: ‫[ ]קפא‬Yeivin 1985: 719]). In liturgical poems lacking the sign for səgol, ṣere too can be found in this position: e.g., ‫ֶעשה‬ ָ ‫‘ נ‬he became’, ‫ֶעשיתה‬ ֶ ‫‘ נ‬you became’, ‫רצתה‬ ָ ‫ֶיע‬ ָ ‫‘ נ‬you were revered’, and ‫‘ נֶענ ֻו‬they were answered’ (Yahalom 1997: 25, 45, 68). The same phenomenon even appears in the hiphil: ‫( ֵהד‬1 Chr 6:16) (Tiberian ‫‘ ֶה ֱע ִמיד‬he appointed’). In the Ezekiel Scroll, too, there are the following qal imperfect forms: ‫עדך‬ ֵ ‫וא‬ ֵ ‘I adorned you’ (Ezek 16:11) (Tiberian ‫)וָ ֶא ְע ֵּדְך‬ and ‫עדי‬ ִ ‫ות‬ ֶ ‘you got adorned’ (Ezek 16:13) (Tiberian ‫ ;)וַ ַּת ְע ִּדי‬the shorthand script has ‫( ַת ְֶד‬Isa 61:10) (Tiberian ‫‘ ַּת ְע ֶּדה‬she gets adorned’). Similarly, an e-vowel is found in the second column of Origen’s Hexapla—ϊεζεβου ‘they abandon’ (Ps 89:31) (Tiberian ‫—)יַ ַעזְ בּו‬and in Samaritan Hebrew yēšši, tēšši (Tiberian ‫יַ ֲע ֶׂשה‬, ‫)ּת ֲע ֶׂשה‬ ַ (cf. ‫‘ וַ ֵּת ֲעלּו‬you were hoisted’ [Ezek 36:3]) (BenḤayyim 2000: 168). Also note the vocalization ‫‘ ֶתחנֶה‬you will encamp’ in liturgical poetry (Yahalom 1978: 177) (Tiberian ‫)ת ֲחנֶ ה‬ ַ and the Hexaplaric transcription ουϊερογου ‘they quake’ (Ps 18:46) (Tiberian ‫)וְ יַ ְח ְרגּו‬. As for the marking of ḥaṭeph, the system does not appear to have settled into any kind of regularity. In the Daniel Scroll, where there is no distinction between pataḥ and qameṣ, we find ‫‘ ָהמוֱן ֶחיָ ִלים‬a multitude of armies’ (Dan 11:10) (Tiberian ‫)המֹון ֲחיָ ִלים‬, ֲ in which the šəwa/səgol of the second word is ostensibly a general pointing that does not indicate its special articulation. In the Psalms Codex, we find ‫ידיך‬ ֵ ‫‘ ַח ִס‬Your faithful ones’ (Ps 52:11) (Tiberian ‫)ח ִס ֶידיָך‬ ֲ alongside ‫‘ ֶח ָל ֵליך‬those slain by You’ (Ps 69:27) (Tiberian ‫;)ח ָל ֶליָך‬ ֲ even in the shorthand script there is ‫ַאפ ֵא‬ ָ (Isa 60:7) (Tiberian ‫‘ ֲא ָפ ֵאר‬I will glorify’) alongside ‫( ֶא ְנ‬Isa 60:22) (Tiberian ‫יׁשּנָ ה‬ ֶ ‫‘ ֲא ִח‬I will do it quickly’). Compare also ‫ללה‬ ַ ‫‘ ֶא ָה‬I will praise’ in the Psalms Codex (Ps 69:31) (Tiberian ‫ ) ֲא ַה ְל ָלה‬and ‫קשהו‬ ֶ ‫וא ַב‬ ֶ ‘I sought him’ in the Psalms Scroll (Ps 37:36) (Tiberian ‫ ;)וָ ֲא ַב ְק ֵׁשהּו‬cf. Origen’s εελλελεχ ‘I will praise You’ (Ps 35:18) (Tiberian ָ‫)א ַה ְל ֶלּך‬ ֲ (Yeivin 1985: 522). See, similarly, the following forms in the Codex: ]‫‘ ֶא[חימלך‬Ahimelech’ (Ps 52:2) (Tiberian ‫ימ ֶלְך‬ ֶ ‫)א ִח‬ ֲ and even ‫‘ ֶהיֵש‬is there?’ (Ps 53:3) (Tiberian ‫)היֵ ׁש‬. ֲ A unique sign ֲ (raphe) is used to mark guttural consonants that begin a syllable with a ḥaṭeph. When the guttural closes a syllable (silent šəwa), the following letter carries a dageš, even if it is not a ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬consonant. In all cases, the articulation of the guttural is consistent with what is known


Chapter 12

of the traditional Tiberian vocalization. Compare ‫( ֶא ֲש‬Isa 62:1) (Tiberian ‫‘ ֶא ֱח ֶׁשה‬I will [not] be silent’) with ‫( ַמ ְֶש‬Isa 57:11) (Tiberian ‫[‘ ַמ ְח ֶׁשה‬I] kept silent’); also ‫( ַת ְֱש‬Isa 58:1) (Tiberian ‫[‘ ַּת ְחׂש ְֹך‬don’t] hold back!’) and ‫( ְֱס‬Isa 54:2) (Tiberian ‫[‘ ַּת ְחׂש ִֹכי‬don’t] hold back!’). This device became widespread in the Palestinian-Tiberian vocalization (cf. Eldar 1978: 125–43). The system, which lacked a specific sign for Tiberian vocal šəwa and which used the Palestinian səgol instead, had to cope with a number of problems due to the inability of səgol to carry out all the tasks demanded of it. For example, it was inappropriate for marking vocal šəwa before high front consonantal yod. In this position, šəwa was marked by Palestinian ḥireq. In the Psalms Scroll we find, alongside ‫‘ ֶת ִהלת‬Your praise’ (Ps 71:14) (Tiberian ‫)ּת ִה ָּל ֶתָך‬ ְ with šəwa and ḥireq, the vocalizations ‫הל ִתי‬ ָ ‫ִת‬ ‘my praise’ (Ps 71:6) (Tiberian ‫)ת ִה ָּל ִתי‬ ְ and ‫הל ֶת‬ ָ ‫‘ ִת‬Your praise’ (Ps 71: 8) (Tiberian ‫)ּת ִה ָּל ֶתָך‬, ְ with a single ḥireq placed over the taw. Such partial vocalizations, however, are not very informative; fortunately, the shorthand script provides some help, for it uses two ḥireqs in ‫נהם‬ ֱ ִ‫‘ וִ י‬it will roar’ (Isa 5:30) (Tiberian ‫)וְ יִ נְ הֹם‬. The author of the shorthand document was so concerned about the correct pronunciation of the conjunction waw that, in some cases, he copied only the conjunction and its vocalization: e.g., ִ‫ו‬ (Isa 9:8 :: Tiberian ‫יֹוׁשב‬ ֵ ְ‫‘ ו‬and residents’, 45:24 :: Tiberian ‫‘ וְ יֵ בֹׁשּו‬and they will be ashamed’, 46:6 :: Tiberian ‫‘ וְ יַ ֲע ֵׂשהּו‬and he makes it’, and 46:7 :: Tiberian ‫‘ וְ יַ ֲעמֹד‬and it stands’); compare also ‫( ִל‬Isa 8:14( (Tiberian ‫יֹוׁשב‬ ֵ ‫ְל‬ ‘for residents’) and ‫( ִמ‬Isa 46:5) (Tiberian ‫‘ ְת ַד ְּמיּונִ י‬you can compare Me’). This vocalization also appears frequently in the Joshua manuscript in the context of the tribes’ boundaries: ‫‘ וִ יצא‬it extends’ (Josh 15:11; 16:6, 7; and in the second scribal hand, 18:15, 17; 19:12, 13, 34) (Tiberian ‫( )וְ יָ ָצא‬for the pre-Ashkenazic reading tradition, cf. Eldar 1978: 78–80). In the shorthand script it happens, although infrequently, that the articulation of the šəwa preceding a guttural is marked by the vowel of the guttural letter itself: e.g., ‫( ָל ָח‬Jer 25:11) (Tiberian ‫‘ ְל ָח ְר ָּבה‬as a ruin’), ‫ֱר‬ ִ ‫( ו‬Isa 10:13) (Tiberian ‫אֹוריד‬ ִ ְ‫ו‬ ‘and I bring down’), and ‫( ַמַא‬Isa 5:11) (Tiberian ‫‘ ְמ ַא ֲח ֵרי‬lingering’). (On the traditional pronunciation of šəwa, see Morag 1963: 160–66.) The Palestinian vocalization system makes a special effort to mark occurrences of the letter waw as a consonant. In the Psalms Scroll, the consonantal nature of waw is marked by a preceding ḥolem. When waw is also followed by ḥolem, the sign appears twice—once before waw, and once af-

Palestinian Tradition


ter. The first registers the letter’s consonantal nature, and the second marks its attendant vowel, as in ‫‘ ֱקוֱה‬hoping’ (Ps 40:2) (Tiberian ‫)קּוֺה‬ ַ and ‫ֱנותי‬ ַ ‫ֱעו‬ ‘my iniquities’ (Ps 40:13) (Tiberian ‫ֹונֹותי‬ ַ ‫;)ע‬ ֲ see also ‫(‘ פיֱו אוֱן‬words of) his mouth are evil’ (Ps 36:4) (Tiberian ‫)ּפיו ָאוֶ ן‬, ִ ‫‘ ִאוֱלתי‬my folly’ (Ps 38:6) (Tiberian ‫)אּוַ ְל ִּתי‬, ִ and ‫‘ ִשוֱעתי‬I cried’ (Ps 30:3) (Tiberian ‫(ׁשּוַ ְע ִּתי‬. ִ In the Psalms Codex, the raphe sign is used to mark a consonantal waw: e.g., ‫‘ ַמ ֲו  ֶת‬death’ (Ps 55:5) (Tiberian ‫)מוֶ ת‬ ָ and ‫‘ ָעוֲן על ֶע ֱונַם‬guilt on their guilt’ (Ps 69:28) (Tiberian ‫)עֹון על ֲעֹונָ ם‬. ָ In the shorthand script, consonantal yod is marked similarly; at times, the letter ‫ י‬itself with the raphe sign is the only part of the word that is represented: ‫( ֲי‬Isa 44:8 :: Tiberian ‫‘ ֲהיֵ ׁש‬is there?’, 45:9 :: Tiberian ‫אמר‬ ַ ֹ ‫‘ ֲהי‬will it say?’) as well as ‫( ִמיֲנ ַה ֲי‬Isa 12:3) (Tiberian ‫ִמ ַּמ ַעיְ נֵ י‬ ‫ׁשּועה‬ ָ ְ‫‘ ַהי‬from the foundations of salvation’). Consonantal ‫א‬, especially in intervocalic position, is marked by ְ (dageš) (on the restricted use of the dageš for the same purpose in Tiberian Hebrew, see Bauer and Leander 1922: §8z; and for the expanded use in the Tiberian-Palestinian system, see chapter 13). This is the case, for example, in verbs from the root ‫בו"א‬: ‫ֱב ְא‬ (Jer 27:18) (Tiberian ‫‘ בֹאּו‬they [do not] go’), ‫( ְא‬Isa 43:6) (Tiberian ‫יאי‬ ִ ‫ָה ִב‬ ‘bring!’ [fem. sing.]), and probably ‫ֻב ֲא‬ ָ ‫( י‬Jer 27:22) (the raphe sign is used here by mistake) (Tiberian ‫יּובאּו‬ ָ ‘they will be brought’). The combination of the two seven-sign Palestinian vocalization systems, the one in which the seventh sign marks vocal šəwa and is used mainly in liturgical poetry, and the one in which the additional sign denotes a new vocalic səgol-like quality and is used mainly in biblical texts, can be considered to have ultimately given rise to the familiar Tiberian vocalization.

Morphology The independent pronoun ‫‘ ֵהם‬they’ (masc.) is vocalized with ṣere in the Tiberian tradition, but in all suffixed forms of the third-person masc. pl. the vowel is səgol. In the Babylonian vocalization, however, pataḥ appears not only in these suffixed forms but also in the corresponding independent pronoun. In the Palestinian system, though, ṣere seems to have been preserved in the suffixed forms as well. The second-person masc. pl. subject suffix of the perfect is another case in which remnants of pronunciation with ṣere have survived: ‫חתם‬ ֵ ‫ָט‬ ‫ליתם‬ ֵ ‫וכ‬ ֶ . . . ‘you coated . . . and you will perish?’ (Ezek 13:14) (Tiberian ‫יתם‬ ֶ ‫ּוכ ִל‬ ְ . . . ‫;)ט ְח ֶּתם‬ ַ see also ‫שבעתם‬ ֵ ‘you are satiated’ in a midrash fragment


Chapter 12

(Allony 1973: 198) (Tiberian ‫;)ׂש ַב ְע ֶּתם‬ ְ cf., in the shorthand script, ‫(   ֵת‬Ezek 36:11) (Tiberian ‫‘ וִ ַיד ְע ֶּתם‬you will know’). In the Psalms Codex, ṣere appears in suffixed second-person masc. sing. and third-person fem. sg. possessive pronouns attached to pl. nouns: e.g., ‫‘ ִח ֵציך‬Your arrows’ (Ps 38:3) (Tiberian ‫)ח ֶּציָך‬, ִ ‫חשבותיך‬ ֵ ‫ומ‬ ַ ‘and Your designs’ (Ps 40:6) (Tiberian ‫)ּומ ְח ְׁשב ֶֹתיָך‬, ַ ‫ידיך‬ ֵ ‫חס‬ ִ ‘Your faithful ones’ (Ps 52:11) (Tiberian ‫)ח ִס ֶידיָך‬, ֲ and ‫‘ ֶח ָל ֵליך‬those slain by You’ (Ps 69:27) (Tiberian ‫;)ח ָל ֶליָך‬ ֲ and ‫שמ ֵריה‬ ַ ‘its dregs’ (Ps 75:9) (Tiberian ‫יה‬ ָ ‫)ׁש ָמ ֶר‬. ְ Compare also forms in a liturgical poem in which ṣere is marked by the additional special sign, as in ‫יביה‬ ֵ ‫‘ ִא‬her flowerings’, ‫וריה‬ ֵ ‫ביכ‬ ֱ ‘her first fruits’, ‫ֱותיה‬ ֵ ‫גרנ‬ ָ ‘her threshing floors’, and ‫‘ ָד ֵריה‬her inhabitants’ (Yahalom 1997: 64); see also another liturgical poem in a manuscript with no special sign for ṣere, as in ‫וחריך‬ ֶ ‫‘ ֱש‬your seekers’ and ‫וח ֶליך‬ ַ ‫‘ ֱת‬those who hope in you’ (Murtonen 1958: xiii). In all these cases, the vowel following the final consonant is not marked, perhaps indicating that the words were pronounced as in Aramaic (Ben-Ḥayyim 1954: 57–58). (Cf. the use of ṣere in this syllable in the Tiberian-Palestinian vocalization in Eldar 1978: 25. There, however, wordfinal ‫ ך‬and ‫ ה‬are regularly vocalized with qameṣ.) The use of vowel signs in the Tiberian-Palestinian system, however, is usually incomplete, so it is difficult to conclude anything certain from a missing sign. Furthermore, one would have expected in Tiberian Hebrew a ṣere in this position; however, one finds səgol, which may have arisen because of the qameṣ in the last syllable. Another group that probably belongs here consists of pausal forms of second-person masc. sing. possessive pronouns in the Psalms scroll, although in this case the final vowel is marked: e.g., ‫ַד‬ ֵ ‫‘ י‬Your hand’ (Pss 32:4; 38:3) (Tiberian ‫י ֶ ֥דָך‬,ָ֫ ‫)יָ ֶ ֽדָך‬, ‫ַ]עמ‬ ֵ ‫‘ [ז‬Your rage’ (Ps 38:4) (Tiberian ‫)זַ ְע ֶ ֑מָך‬, ‫גד‬ ֵ ִ‫‘ נ‬before You’ (Ps 39:6) (Tiberian ‫)נֶ גְ ֶ ּ֑דָך‬, and ‫גע‬ ֵ ִ‫‘ נ‬Your plague’ (Ps 39:11) (Tiberian ‫)נִ גְ ֶעָ֑ך‬. See also in non-pausal position: ‫ואור‬ ֵ ‘and I will teach you’ (Ps 32:8) (Tiberian ‫אֹור ָ֗ך‬ ְ ‫ ְ ֽ)ו‬and ‫סד‬ ֵ ‫‘ ַח‬Your goodness’ (Ps 40:11) (Tiberian ֥‫)ח ְס ְּדָך‬. ַ Another position in which Palestinian ṣere corresponds to Tiberian səgol is the final syllable of final weak verbs. Many such forms appear in the Psalms Scroll, the Psalms Codex, as well as in the vocalization of liturgical poems: e.g., ‫אודה‬ ֵ ‘I will confess’ (Ps 32:5) (Tiberian ‫)אֹודה‬ ֶ and ‫ֶתהגֵה‬ ‘it will recite’ (Ps 71:24) (Tiberian ‫;)ּת ְהּגֶ ה‬ ֶ and ‫‘ יִ שוֵוה‬He will be like’, ‫גאה‬ ֵ ִ‫י‬ ‘He will be exalted’, ‫ותשגֵה‬ ַ ‫רבה‬ ֵ ‫‘ ַת‬You make numerous and increase’, and ‫‘ תלווֵה‬You accompany’, respectively (for the latter, see Yahalom 1997: 64,

Palestinian Tradition


46). The same is true of participial forms: ‫צופה‬ ֵ ‘(he) watches’ (Ps 37:32) (Tiberian ‫)צֹופה‬, ֶ ‫ומלוֵה‬ ַ ‘(he) lends’ (Ps 37:26) (Tiberian ‫)ּומ ְלוֶ ה‬, ַ and ‫תע ֵרה‬ ַ ‫ומ‬ ִ ‘and spreading himself out’ (Ps 37:35) (Tiberian ‫)ּומ ְת ָע ֶרה‬, ִ in the Psalms Scroll; and ‫ֱלה‬ ֵ ‫(‘ עו‬it) ascends’ (Ps 74:23) (Tiberian ‫)ע ֶֹלה‬, in the Psalms Codex. In a Masoretic fragment of Kings that uses vocalization signs only sparingly, forms such as the following are regularly vocalized: ‫‘ ֱש ֵתה‬drinking’ (1 Kgs 20:12) (Tiberian ‫)ׁש ֶֹתה‬, ‫ֱשה‬ ֵ ‫‘ והנ‬and the lender’ (2 Kgs 4:1) (Tiberian ‫)וְ ַהּנ ֶֹׁשה‬, and ‫עשה‬ ֵ ‘(He is about to) make’ (2 Kgs 7:2) (Tiberian ‫)ע ֶֹׂשה‬. These words were vocalized because of their defective spelling, and were all marked with ṣere. This use of Palestinian ṣere commonly occurs in midrash fragments, too: ‫רועה‬ ֵ ‘shepherds’ and ‫מורה‬ ֵ ‘teacher’ (Allony 1973: 134, 205); ‫מבזה‬ ֵ ‘he despises’ and ‫מכבה‬ ֵ ‘he extinguishes’ (Allony 1973: 203, 206), in the piel; and ‫ממרא‬ ֵ ‫‘ זקן‬the disobeying elder’ and ‫תעשה‬ ֵ ‘you will do’ (Allony 1973: 74, 205, 148). Note in this connection the Tiberian vocalization of ‫‘ ַא ְריֵ ה‬lion’ and ‫‘ ֶע ְׂש ֵרה‬ten’, which some have explained as due to Aramaic influence (e.g., Bauer and Leander 1922:§§62g′, 79n). Segolates are of special interest. It appears that the original front vowel was transferred to the second consonant, giving rise to the form ‫ק ֵטל‬, ֶ similar to the Aramaic pattern ‫ק ֵטל‬. ְ (Ben-Ḥayyim [2000: 251] admits the possibility that in Samaritan Hebrew, too, there exist segolate forms derived from something like ‫;*ׁש ֵמׁש‬ ְ cf. also Yeivin [1985: 834] for the Babylonian vocalization.) Such vocalizations are occasionally found in Psalms, both in the Scroll and in the Codex: e.g., ‫‘ ֶצ ֵדק‬righteousness’ (Pss 40:10; 51:21; 52:5) (Tiberian ‫)צ ֶדק‬, ֶ ‫לש ֵטף‬ ֶ ‘for a flood’ (Ps 32:6) (Tiberian ‫)ל ֵׁש ֶטף‬, ְ ‫ֶכ ֶפ ֵרד‬ ‘like a mule’ (Ps 32:9) (Tiberian ‫)ּכ ֶפ ֶרד‬, ְ and ‫‘ ֶה ֵבל‬breath’ (Ps 39:6, 12) (Tiberian ‫)ה ֶבל‬. ֶ The following forms appear only in the Codex: ‫מס ֵפר‬ ֶ ‘from (the) book’ (Ps 69:29) (Tiberian ‫)מ ֵּס ֶפר‬, ִ ‫מב ֵטן‬ ֶ ‘from the womb’ (Ps 71:6) (Tiberian ‫)מ ֶּב ֶטן‬, ִ ‫‘ ֶפ ֵלא‬wonder’ (Ps 77:15) (Tiberian ‫)פ ֶלא‬, ֶ ‫מק ֵדם‬ ֶ ‘from old’ (Ps 74:12) (Tiberian ‫)מ ֶ ּ֣ק ֶדם‬, ִ and ‫קדם‬ ֵ ‫‘ ִמ‬from old’ (Ps 77:12) (Tiberian ‫;)מ ֶ ּ֣ק ֶדם‬ ִ see also the fem. sing. participle ‫מתבוססת‬ ֵ ‘wallowing’ (Ezek 16:6, 22) (Tiberian ‫ּבֹוס ֶסת‬ ֶ ‫)מ ְת‬. ִ Compare, too, the following infinitives in vocalized liturgical poems: ‫‘ ֶר ֵדת‬descending’ and ‫‘ ֶצ ֵקת‬pouring out’ (Yahalom 1997: 64).

Syntax Palestinian-pointed texts exhibit no difference in syntax from their Tiberian counterparts.


Chapter 12

Bibliography Allony, Nehemiah, ed. 1973 ‫ תלמוד ומדרש מנוקדים בניקוד ארץ־ישאלי‬,‫[ קטעי גניזה של משנה‬Geniza Fragments of Rabbinic Literature: Mishna, Talmud, and Midrash with Palestinian Vocalization]. Jerusalem: Makor. Bauer, Hans, and Leander, Pontus 1922 Historische Grammatik der hebräischen Sprache des Alten Testamentes. Halle: Niemeyer. Ben-Ḥayyim, Zeʾev 1954 Studies in the Traditions of the Hebrew Language. Madrid / Barcelona: Instituto «Arias Montano». 2000 A Grammar of Samaritan Hebrew Based on the Recitation of the Law in Comparison with the Tiberian and Other Jewish Traditions. Jerusalem: Magnes / Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns. Chiesa, Bruno 1978 L’Antico Testamento ebraico secondo la tradizione palestinese. Turin: Bottega d’Erasmo. Dietrich Manfried 1968 Neue palästinisch punktierte Bibelfragmente: Veröffentlicht und auf Text und Punktation hin untersucht. Leiden: Brill. Dotan, Aron 2007 ‫[ להתהוות מערכת הסימון בשיטה הארץ־ישראלית‬The Emergence of the Palestinian Graphemic System]. Pp. 128–39 in Shaʿarei Lashon: Studies in Hebrew, Aramaic and Jewish Languages Presented to Moshe Bar-Asher, vol. 2: Biblical Hebrew, Masorah, and Medieval Hebrew, ed. A. Maman, S. E. Fassberg, and Y. Breuer. Jerusalem: Bialik. Eldar, Ilan 1978 ,‫ מהותה והיסודות המשותפים לה ולמסורת ספרד‬:‫אשכנזית‬-‫מסורת הקריאה הקדם‬ ‫ ענייני הגייה וניקוד‬:‫[ כרך א‬The Hebrew Language Tradition in Medieval Ashkenaz (ca. 950–1350 CE), vol. 1: Phonology and Vocalization]. 4 ‫עדה ולשון‬. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem Language Traditions Project. Finkelstein, Louis 1956 Sifra or Torat Kohanim: According to Codex Assemani LXVI. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary. Grossman, Avraham 1995 ‫ יצירתם הרוחנית‬,‫ דרכם בהנהגת הציבור‬,‫[ חכמי צרפת הראשונים׃ קורותיהם‬The Early Sages of France: Their Lives, Leadership and Works]. Jerusalem: Magnes. Harviainen, Tapani 1977 On the Vocalism of the Closed Unstressed Syllables: A Study Based on the Evidence Provided by the Transcriptions of St. Jerome and Palestinian Punctuations. Studia Orientalia 48. Helsinki: Finnish Oriental Society. Hurwitz, S., ed. 1923 ‫[ מחזור ויטרי לרבינו שמחה אחד מתלמידי רש״י‬Machsor Vitry nach der Oxforder Handschrift (Cod. No. 1100)]. Nuremberg: Bulka.

Palestinian Tradition


Kahle, Paul 1927–30  Masoreten des Westens. 2 vols. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Klein, Michael L., ed. 1986 Genizah Manuscripts of Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch. Vol. 1. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press. Morag, Shelomo 1963 ‫[ העברית שבפי יהודי תימן‬The Hebrew Language Tradition of the Yemenite Jews]. Academy of the Hebrew Language Studies 4. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language. Murtonen A., ed. and transl. 1958 Materials for a Non-Masoretic Hebrew Grammar, vol. 1: Liturgical Texts and Psalm Fragments Provided with the So-Called Palestinian Punctuation. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Helsinki. Revell, E. J. 1970 Hebrew Texts with Palestinian Vocalization. Near and Middle East Series 7. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1977 Biblical Texts with Palestinian Pointing and Their Accents. Masoretic Studies 4. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press. Sáenz-Badillos, Ángel 1993 A History of the Hebrew Language, trans. John Elwolde. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2007 Storia della lingua ebraica, trans. Piero Capelli. Introduzione allo studio della Bibbia Supplementi 34. Brescia: Paideia. Soloveitchik, Haym 2008 ‫ פרק בתולדות ההלכה באשכנז‬:‫[ היין בימי הביניים–יין נסך‬Wine in Ashkenaz in the Middle Ages: Yeyn Nesekh—A Study in the History of Halakhah]. Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History. Yahalom, Joseph 1969–70  ‫ישראלי בקדושתות הדותה למשמרות ותופעות הלשון העולות ממנו‬-‫הניקוד הארץ‬ [The Palestinian Vocalization in Hedwata’s Qĕduštot, and the Language Tradition It Reflects]. Leshonenu 34: 25–60. 1987 ‫[ הניקוד הארצישראלי ― המחקר והישגיו‬The Palestinian Vocalization—Its Investigation and Achievements]. Leshonenu 52: 112–43. 1997 Palestinian Vocalised Piyyuṭ Manuscripts in the Cambridge Genizah Collections. Cambridge University Library Genizah Series 7. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2013 ‫ישראלי כמשקף מסורת בין מסורות הלשון העברית‬-‫[ הניקוד הארץ‬The Palestinian Vocalization in Hebrew Language Traditions]. Leshonenu 75: 425–33. Yahalom, Joseph, ed. 1978 ‫[ קטעי הגניזה של פיוטי יניי‬A Collection of Geniza Fragments of Piyyuṭei Yannai]. Jerusalem: Makor. Yeivin, Israel 1985 ‫[ מסורת הלשון העברית המשתקפת בניקוד הבבלי‬The Hebrew Language Tradition as Reflected in the Babylonian Vocalization]. 2 vols. Academy of the Hebrew Language Texts and Studies 12. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language.

Chapter 13

Tiberian-Palestinian Tradition H olger G zella

Introduction The “Tiberian-Palestinian” (or “Palestino-Tiberian”) pointing is a nonstandard Tiberian system of vocalization attested in a few manuscripts, of which the twelfth-century Reuchlin Codex (Codex Reuchlinianus) occupies the most prominent place. As the name suggests, this system combines seven vowel signs of the Tiberian tradition with five vowel qualities underlying Palestinian manuscripts. It thus results in an indiscriminate use of qameṣ and pataḥ, as well as of ṣere and səgol. A second characteristic trait features a more extensive use of dageš and raphe especially for distinguishing the consonantal values of certain graphemes from their function as vowel letters and for highlighting syllable boundaries. Both generally reflect orthographic practices diverging from Tiberian conventions rather than a different pronunciation tradition. Alternative designations such as “Fuller Palestinian” (Morag 1959, 1962) or “Extended Tiberian” (Yeivin 1983), by contrast, emphasize the differences vis-à-vis standard Tiberian or Palestinian pointing. These labels are based on the hypothesis that this system provided a more comprehensive or more strictly disambiguating phonetic notation than either the Tiberian or other Palestinian (i.e., Morag’s “Simple Palestinian”) schools. As a consequence, it is now often considered a later development (Morag 1959: 237; 1962: 39; in principle, similarly Goshen-Gottstein 1963: 112, who understands it as a chronologically later subsystem of a typologically parallel non-received tradition; cf. Meyer 1963: 61). Alexander Sperber, however, considered it, together with a few other codexes, to be an important source 175


Chapter 13

for pre-Masoretic Hebrew (e.g., Sperber 1959; see also Meyer 1961: 482– 86, with a summary of Sperber’s main conclusions; Díez-Macho 1963). Before this, Paul Kahle held views along similar lines, and these underlie his remarks on the Reuchlin Codex in the section on pointing systems in Bauer and Leander 1922: §7.

The Speech Community While some distinctive parallels with indisputably Palestinian witnesses and the absence of exclusively Babylonian core features point to a Palestinian origin of the tradition in question, it is difficult to relate it specifically in time or place to other schools of vocalization and thus to outline its exact historical or social context. Interference between different traditions did occur. For example, Palestinian manuscripts show Tiberian graphic influence by employing marks for more than five vowels (Dietrich 1968: 13–14, 114–15, 118–21), and many medieval manuscripts combine different practices in their application of vowel signs and diacritic marks. The alleged affiliation between the Reuchlin Codex and the biblical text according to the Ben Naftali tradition (Kahle 1930: 55*) rests on a slender foundation and has generally been abandoned (Morag 1959: 234–37; cf. also GoshenGottstein 1963: 108–14). One may thus consider the “Tiberian-Palestinian” vocalization a graphically different and not fully-standardized variant rendering of the Tiberian reading tradition with a tendency toward disambiguation. It is unclear why this system surfaces particularly in a number of Western European manuscripts, including various important ones from Italy, between the eleventh and the fourteenth centuries CE. Likewise, the precise historical origins and extent of its combination of Palestinian and Tiberian practices alongside the presence of some representatives of Palestinian schools among Italian Jews during this period (Milano 1963: 62) and the Palestinian origin of the Hebrew pronunciation traditions in Italy remain unclear (Ryzhik 2013: 362).

The Corpus The Tiberian-Palestinian system occurs in various biblical, Mishnaic, and liturgical manuscripts; as mentioned, several of them clearly come from Western Europe, and a European provenance is at least likely for others. However, they exhibit certain differences in their use of vowel signs and other diacritic marks that point to a general lack of standardization.

Tiberian-Palestinian Tradition


The Reuchlin Codex, named after its most famous proprietor, Johannes Reuchlin (1455–1522; one of the founding fathers of Christian Hebraism), and now in the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe, acts as the chief witness in the discussion. (The official shelf-mark is actually Codex Reuch­lini­anus no. 3, but since this is the only Tiberian-Palestinian manuscript among the various surviving codexes of Reuchlin’s library, most scholars refer to it simply as Codex Reuchlinianus in discussions about pointing systems.) Beautifully written on 382 folio sheets in double columns having 30–32 lines each, it contains the text of the “Eight Prophets” (Joshua, Judges, 1–2 Samuel, 1–2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Minor Prophets) together with the Aramaic targum after every verse. The latter has been published separately, though without pointing (de Lagarde 1872; cf. Bacher 1874: 35–38). According to the colophon, the Codex can be dated to 1105–1106 CE. Earlier grammatical works contain occasional references to the Hebrew text (for a summary, see Kahle 1930: 55*); the complete manuscript has been published in a photostatic edition by Sperber (1956). The same scholar also provided a transcription of the Hebrew parts (1969), though without the dageš and raphe signs, and placed its linguistic peculiarities in a wider context of Hebrew pronunciation traditions (1959). Their supposed affiliation with a “pre-Masoretic” stage of Hebrew (see above) has given way to a more fluid framework of several parallel traditions whose exact chronological relation often cannot be determined. Various other manuscripts and fragments have been thought to betray a varying degree of influence from the Reuchlin Codex, or the text reflected in it, but appear to converge toward the received text (Kahle 1930: 52*–57*, with two additional manuscripts mentioned by Meyer 1963: 53; compare the more nuanced discussion in Goshen-Gottstein 1963: 108–14). Among the most important Rabbinic codexes with Tiberian-Palestinian vocalization is MS Parma A, which contains the entire text of the six Mishnaic orders on 195 sheets, mostly written in double columns. It is usually dated to the late eleventh century CE and agreed to be of Italian provenance. The vocalization covers almost half of the text and has been applied by different hands. A detailed analysis can be found in Haneman (1980). Finally, Tiberian-Palestinian vocalization also appears in several Ashkenazic manuscripts with liturgical texts, such as the former part of the Worms Maḥzor and the Vitry Maḥzor (Eldar 1978). Other poetic manuscripts may


Chapter 13

have been influenced by this tradition in individual respects, such as, for instance, the more extensive use of dageš, but without systematically conforming to Tiberian-Palestinian practice as such. Non-canonical texts in particular occasionally seem to combine features eclectically from different orthographic standards.

Orthography, Phonetics, and Phonology Since the peculiarities of the Tiberian-Palestinian tradition do not obviously render an independent pronunciation of Hebrew, let alone a distinct linguistic variety, they basically affect only the graphic representation of certain phonetic features. Some may also reflect phonetic differences (e.g., as has been suggested for dageš after the end of a closed syllable), but this is hard to prove; hence orthography, phonetics, and phonology are treated together here. The Tiberian-Palestinian vocalization employs the same vowel signs and diacritical marks as Tiberian Hebrew, but their function and, in specific cases, their position in relation to the letter to which a sign refers, differ: dageš can occasionally appear underneath a letter; the two dots of the ḥaṭeph sign and final šəwa inside; and the mark distinguishing šin (‫ )ּש‬from śin (‫)שּׁ‬, which may be historically related to what later became the dageš, also inside, on the right and the left side, respectively. If a dageš is added to šin or śin, it appears on the upper right or left side: e.g., ‫ם‬ ‘there’ (1 Sam 1:22; 1 Kgs 17:4, 9) and ‫ריֿד‬ ִ ‘remnant’ (Judg 5:13). Since traces of ink are not always clear, dageš signs on the upper left or right stroke of ‫ ש‬are sometimes difficult to spot. Less precise than the Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian-Palestinian marks five rather than seven vowel qualities; a and ɔ are merged, as are e and ε, in accordance with Palestinian conventions. But it exhibits greater consistency in marking the consonantal character of letters otherwise also used as matres lectionis. Both features have been conveniently summarized by Morag (1962: 38–41) and now also by Heijmans (2013). Many more examples from the Reuchlin Codex can be found in Morag’s earlier study (1959); those cited here come from vol. 2 according to the same manuscript and have been gleaned from a study of the photograph itself. As a result of the underlying Palestinian vowel marking, qameṣ and pataḥ on the one hand and ṣere and səgol on the other occur in apparently free variation even in the same context. (Sperber 1969 therefore always

Tiberian-Palestinian Tradition


prints both respective signs on top of each other in his transcription, with the upper one reflecting the reading in the Reuchlin manuscript.) One finds, for instance, ‫‘ ַע ַֿמ ְד ִּתי‬I stand’ (1 Kgs 17:1) (Tiberian ‫)ע ַמ ְד ִּתי‬ ָ and ‫‘ ְב ֿ ָנ ָח ֿל‬by the river (Cherith)’ (1 Kgs 17:3) (Tiberian ‫)ּבנַ ַחל‬, ְ or ‫‘ ֶּל ֿא ֿמ ֺר‬saying’ (e.g., Judg 5:1; 1 Kgs 17:2, 8; Ezek 14:2) (Tiberian ‫)לאמֺר‬ ֵ and ‫יה‬ ָ ‫‘ ָּב ֿ ֵנ‬her sons’ (1 Sam 1:4) (Tiberian ‫יה‬ ָ ֶ‫)בנ‬. ָ One gets the impression that some particularly frequent words tend to occur with a fixed vowel sign such as səgol instead of ṣere: after the preformative in “imperfect consecutive” forms of ‫הל״ך‬ ‘to go’ (cf. Judg 5:6; 1 Sam 1:18; 1 Kgs 10:8; 17:5, 11, 15) as well as ‫פ״י‬ roots (e.g., 1 Sam 1:19, 20), in the first syllable of the masc. pl. deictic ‫ֶאּ ֶלֿה‬ ‘these’ (1 Kgs 10:8; 17:1, 17; Ezek 14:3, 14, 16, 18), or in the quotative marker ‫( ֶּל ֿא ֿמ ֺר‬see above). Imitation of a choice made immediately before in a similar pattern may also play a role in some cases (cf. the vocalization of the various perfect verbs in Judg 5:27); both observations, however, would have to be verified on the basis of extensive statistics. Since it is likely that the respective Tiberian signs refer to vowel quality alone—that is, ɔ vs. a and e vs. ε—their indiscriminate use in TiberianPalestinian manuscripts cannot be adduced as evidence for the collapse of phonemic vowel length. In individual cases, the ambiguity of the qameṣ sign is resolved by replacing Tiberian qameṣ qaṭan (i.e., qameṣ for short /o /) either with ḥolem, as in ‫‘ ָּת ֿשּֿׂב‬let it return’ (1 Kgs 17:21) (Tiberian ‫)ת ָשׁב‬, ָ or with ḥaṭeph qameṣ, as in ‫‘ ֳא ְכ ָלֿה‬her eating’ (1 Sam 1:9, infinitive construct with third-person fem. sing. suffix) (Tiberian ‫;)א ְכ ָלה‬ ָ see, similarly, ‫‘ גֳ ְֿמ ֵּל ֿך‬your weaning’ (1 Sam 1: 23) and, later, ‫‘ גֳ ְֿמ ָּל ִה‬her weaning’ (1 Sam 1:23). However, such instances oscillate with the use of qameṣ even in nearly identical forms in the same passage—for example, ‫‘וַ ָת ָּֿשֿב‬and it returned’ (1 Kgs 17:22) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ָּת ָׁשב‬. The corresponding ḥaṭeph signs of pataḥ and səgol, too, can appear as qameṣ or pataḥ and ṣere or səgol, respectively: for example, ‫‘ ָה ָח ָֿי ֿ ִילים‬the troops’ (Jer 43:4, 5, with dittography of yod in order to indicate its consonantal nature) (Tiberian ‫)ה ֲחיָ ִלים‬. ַ This could be related to the Palestinian custom of indicating a non-systemic auxiliary vowel rendered by šəwa or a ḥaṭeph sign in the Tiberian tradition with the symbol for a full vowel (see chapter 12). With ḥet, the two dots of the ḥaṭeph sign are sometimes written inside the letter: for example, ‫ר ֹנָ ֿה‬‫‘ ָּב ָּא‬afterward’ (1 Kgs 17:13) (Tiberian ‫)ּב ַא ֲחר ֹנָ ה‬ ָ (less frequently with he and only very occasionally with ʾaleph) or ‫ט ֿא‬ ָֿ ‫‘ ֶת‬you sin’ (Ezek 14:13) (Tiberian ‫;)ת ֱח ָטא‬ ֶ contrast ‫ֿת‬‫ְל ִה ְּֿש ָּת ֲח‬


Chapter 13

‘to worship’ (1 Sam 1:3) (Tiberian ‫)ל ִה ְׁש ַּת ֲחֹות‬. ְ No particular distributional pattern emerges. Šəwa and the ḥaṭeph signs were phonotactically equivalent as rendering the non-systemic allophones of a zero vowel in some environments and had no influence on the syllable structure (see Bauer and Leander 1922: §§18p–w for many examples). It is perhaps for this reason that ḥaṭeph pataḥ with laryngeals, especially ḥet, and ʿayin, can also occur at the boundary of a closed syllable and thus replace silent šəwa: for example, ‫‘ ַֿי ָד ֲע ִּתי‬I know’ (1 Kgs 17:24) (Tiberian ‫ )יָ ַד ְע ִּתי‬or, vice versa, ‫‘ ִת ְֿמר ֹֿת‬columns of’ (Joel 3:3) (Tiberian ‫ימרֹות‬ ֲ ‫)ת‬. ִ As in the Palestinian pointing tradition, the furtive pataḥ, by contrast, is only partially noted. It appears especially before ḥet and ʿayin after plene spelling of ī (Bauer and Leander 1922: §7q′), thus presumably conforming to the Tiberian-Palestinian tendency of avoiding letters in any position without a proper vowel sign. (See Heijmans 2013: 969 for a similar example after /ē/ from MS Parma A.) Contrary to most Tiberian manuscripts, the furtive pataḥ is written beneath the yod in such cases and not beneath the following laryngeal: for example, ‫‘ ִהנִ ַֿי ְח‬he left behind’ (Jer 43:6). However, it is not written after ū even in plene spelling: for example, ‫ּדּוע‬ ְ ‫‘ ַּמ‬why?’ (Isa 50:2). The widespread absence of furtive pataḥ in other cases (but see ‫‘ ִל ְֿשּמ ַֹע‬to listen’ in Judg 5:16 for one of the rare exceptions) does not necessarily indicate a difference in pronunciation as opposed to the regular Tiberian notation: several features of the Tiberian-Palestinian vocalization seem to react to a pronunciation of the laryngeals that was no longer fully consonantal and so they are specifically highlighted by dageš and šəwa (see below). Their “correct” pronunciation may have rendered the use of a proper sign for a fleeting vowel like the furtive pataḥ superfluous. Forms with šəwa in the vicinity of yod are vocalized somewhat differently than in Tiberian Hebrew. Šəwa with yod is preserved after the proclitic prepositions ‫ב‬, ְ ‫כ‬, ְ ‫ל‬,ְ ‫מ‬, ִ as well as ְ‫‘ ו‬and’: for example, ‫‘ ַליְ הוָ ה‬to Yhwh’ (1 Sam 1:3, 11) (Tiberian ‫)ליהוָ ה‬ ַ and ‫‘ וַ יְ הוָ ה‬and Yhwh’ (1 Sam 1:5) (Tiberian ‫)וַ יהוָ ה‬. As in Tiberian, however, a preceding šəwa shifts to ḥireq: for example, ‫ימי‬ ֵֿ ‫‘ ִב‬in the days of’ (Jdg 5:6). By contrast, word-initial ‫ * ְי‬is replaced by ‫ִי‬, and šəwa before yod with a full vowel is replaced by ḥireq (for examples that do not occur in the accompanying texts, cf. Heijmans 2013: 969). Finally, yod between a vocal šəwa and an i-vowel undergoes monophthongization (i.e., *əyi becomes ī): for example, ‫יש ֶען‬ ָ ִ‫‘ו‬and he trusts’ (Isa 50:10) (Tiberian ‫)וְ יִ ָּׁש ֵען‬.

Tiberian-Palestinian Tradition


The extensive use of dageš and raphe in Tiberian-Palestinian vocalization by and large has disambiguating purposes in that it is employed for a more consistent distinction between the consonantal value(s) of certain ambiguous letters or their use as matres lectionis, on the one hand, and for marking syllable boundaries (see below) on the other. A basic division into a differentiating function and one related to syllabification also underlies other, more complicated functional descriptions (cf. Meyer 1963: 54–60). Sperber excluded both diacritic signs from his transcription of the Reuchlin Codex (Sperber 1969; cf. Sperber 1959: 67–68 for his reasons); it is sometimes difficult to establish the presence or absence of a dageš on the basis of the photograph when the ink is faint. Consonantal ʾaleph and he are normally highlighted by a dageš placed inside the former and below or inside the latter, whereas they receive a raphe when they act as vowel letters. For example, in ‫‘ וַ ּיָ ֿב ֹאּּו‬and they came’ (Jer 43:7) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיָ בֹאּו‬, the ʾaleph with dageš indicates a glottal stop that was meant to be pronounced at the onset of a syllable; likewise, in ‫‘ ַר ֲח ָּמ ִה‬her womb’ (1 Sam 1:5), it marks a final consonant /-h/. Consequently, both receive a dageš. In ‫‘ ֶה ֶב ֿא ִתי‬I have brought about’ (Ezek 14:22) (Tiberian ‫אתי‬ ִ ‫)ה ֵב‬, ֵ by contrast, the ʾaleph is merely a historical spelling for an erstwhile glottal stop in syllable-final position that has already become quiescent a long time ago; it is not supposed to be pronounced and thus does not have a dageš but is marked with a raphe instead. This practice does not seem entirely consistent in the manuscripts, however, especially when the vowel signs were added by several hands. The reading selection in vol. 2 from the Reuchlin Codex illustrates the amount of variation: word-initial ʾaleph is not marked by a dageš in, for example, 1 Kgs 10:1–7 (compare, for instance, the relative particle ‫ ֲא ֶּשר‬there with ‫ֲּא ֶּֿשר‬ elsewhere, although the former does not have a raphe, either) but is used somewhat more frequently from v. 8 onward. Similarly, word-initial consonantal ʾaleph has a dageš in some words in 1 Kings 17 or 1 Samuel 1, but not in others and not always in the same words (e.g., it does appear in ‫ֲּא ֶּֿשר‬ in 1 Kgs 17:17, yet not in many other instances of the relative particle in this passage). Non-geminated consonantal word-medial waw and yod and word-initial yod often occur with a raphe as well, as in ‫‘ ָה ָח ָֿי ֿ ִילים‬the troops’ (Jer 43:4, 5; here also with dittography of the yod; see above); word-final consonantal waw and yod have a dageš; and word-final yod may also have a raphe in addition to the dageš (e.g., ‫‘ ַח ִֿי‬alive’ in 1 Kgs 17:1 in contrast


Chapter 13

to ְ‫‘ ֶא ָליו‬to him’ in vv. 2, 8). A number of occurrences of dageš and raphe still defy explanation, however, and vary considerably between individual manuscripts, such as the tendency of the Reuchlin Codex to apply raphe to initial vowelless /š-/ and /l-/ (e.g., ‫‘ ְּֿש ָבא‬Sheba’ in 1 Kgs 10:4, 10, 13) (cf. Morag 1962: 38; Heijmans 2013: 968). The frequent occurrence of dageš for highlighting consonantal ʾaleph and he can be related to the regular use of a dot (termed mappiq but formally identical to dageš) inside (in some manuscripts, beneath) consonantal word-final he in Tiberian Hebrew and the four instances of consonantal ʾaleph marked with a dageš: ‫‘ וַ ִּיָביאּּו‬and they brought’ (Gen 43:26; Ezra 8:18), ‫‘ ָּת ִביאּּו‬you shall bring’ (Lev 23:17), and ‫‘ ֻראּּו‬they were (not) seen’ (Job 33:21) (presumably a third-person masc. pl. perfect of the qal passive [cf. Bauer and Leander 1922: §8z]). This Tiberian convention thus seems a dim reflex of a tendency that was far more widespread in TiberianPalestinian, either because it remained experimental in the tradition of the received text and was but later expanded or because it represents vestiges of a formerly more common use that later became obsolete; the choice depends on one’s stance on the chronological relation between the mainstream Tiberian and the Tiberian-Palestinian vocalizations. A similar disambiguating principle appears to underlie the tendency to mark not only consonantal waw (see above) but also ḥet, ʿayin, and, rarely, he, in word-final position with šəwa: for example, ְ‫‘ ֶא ֿ ָליו‬to him’ (e.g., 1 Kgs 10:2; 17:2, 8) (Tiberian ‫)א ָליו‬, ֵ ‫‘ ֶּק ָֿמ ְח‬flour’ (1 Kgs 17:12, 14, 16) (Tiberian ‫)ק ָמח‬, ֶ or ‫‘ וַ יִ ְֿש ָמ ְע‬and He heard’ (1 Kgs 17:22) (Tiberian ‫)וַ ּיִ ְׁש ַמע‬. Occasionally, the same phenomenon occurs with initial or even medial ḥet: for example, ‫ליֿ וֹ‬ ְ ֿ ‘his sickness’ (1 Kgs 17:17) (Tiberian ‫)ח ְליֹו‬. ָ The šəwa in these cases reinforces the consonantal value of letters otherwise also used as matres lectionis, such as waw and he, or highlights sounds with otherwise weak pronunciation such as ḥet and ʿayin. According to Kahle (1930: 40*), the gutturals were widely used as mere vowel letters in the Palestinian tradition. Even if this statement may go too far, the influence of gutturals on neighboring vowels appears to differ in Tiberian and Palestinian pronunciation (cf. Dietrich 1968: 126–29). Morag (1962: 39) notes that the šəwa with word-final ḥet and ʿayin was meant to insure that they “should be pronounced ‘correctly.’” It can thus be seen as a more rigorous application of the Tiberian Hebrew convention of adding šəwa to word-final kaph and in other stops that directly follow consonants without an intervening

Tiberian-Palestinian Tradition


vowel. The latter happens regularly in the second-person fem. sing. perfect ending ‫ּת‬ְ (see Bauer and Leander 1922: §7i′). Neither, however, resolves any real ambiguity, at least not in fully vocalized texts (although the use of šəwa with final kaph graphically reinforces the difference with final nun, which looks similar in some hands). Like the dageš, Tiberian-Palestinian vocalization can thus insure the consonantal realization of weak or ambiguous letters. Such a gradual extension of certain orthographic devices beyond their mainstream functions is fairly common in spelling practice. Finally, dageš and raphe are widely used for what is generally thought to be highlighting syllable boundaries in Tiberian-Palestinian. The individual manuscripts exhibit a good deal of variation, but the basic principle seems to be that dageš appears with ‫ז‬, ‫ט‬, ‫ל‬, ‫מ‬, ‫נ‬, ‫ס‬, ‫צ‬, ‫ק‬, ‫ש‬, though not to the same extent as with the ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬consonants but rarely with laryngeals and reš, at the beginning of a new syllable after a closed syllable or a disjunctive accent; otherwise, raphe is placed on that letter (yet it is often omitted in final position, especially with mem and nun), as in ‫‘ ֶח ְֿפ ָצ ִה‬her desire’ (1 Kgs 10:13) (Tiberian ‫)ח ְפ ָצּה‬. ֶ Sperber (1959: 67–68) claims that this dageš indicates a short vowel in the preceding syllable; but such a view presupposes an overt and systematic distinction between long and short vowels that seems alien to all Hebrew pointing traditions. Nonetheless, inconsistencies occur even in the same passage and in identical or nearidentical expressions: for example, ‫‘ ְּק ִחי נַ א‬please take!’ (1 Kgs 17:10) ~ ‫י־נ ֿא‬ ָ ֿ ‫( ִל ְֿק ִח‬17:11) or ‫‘ ַליְ הוָ ה‬to Yhwh’ (1 Sam 1:3) ~ ‫( ַליְ הוָ ה‬1 Sam 1:21; a similar variation occurs in v. 28). They can be multiplied by a study of the various texts included in vol. 2. Some manuscripts employ dageš in this function only with some of the letters mentioned above or in more specific circumstances (cf. Eldar 1978: 131). The use of dageš at syllable boundaries has been assumed to reflect a stronger pronunciation of consonants at the onset of a syllable comparable to the more restricted occurrence of dageš with the plosive allophones of the ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬sounds in the Tiberian tradition (Bauer and Leander 1922: §8b′, referring to such a pronunciation in Yemenite liturgical recitation described by Grimme 1915: 129–30, 135–37; Meyer 1963: 60; similarly, Yeivin 1983, who suggests that dageš here indicates gemination—that is, consonantal length). However, the dageš in such cases could simply distinguish a silent šəwa in syllable-final position, where no auxiliary vowel is pronounced, from a vocal šəwa (Morag 1959: 226; Heijmans 2013: 968);


Chapter 13

contrast lamed with dageš after silent šəwa in ‫‘ וְ ִה ְֿש ָּל ְח ִתי‬and I will send’ (Ezek 14:13) and lamed without dageš after vocal šəwa in ‫‘ וְ ִּֿש ְּכ ָל ָתֿה‬and she will leave it childless’ (Ezek 14:15). In that case, the dageš would serve a purely orthographic function without marking a different pronunciation of syllable-initial consonants, much in line with the general disambiguating tendency of Tiberian-Palestinian. The problem and its implications for the history of the dageš sign and its evolution out of a simple differentiating dot, as in Syriac vocalization traditions, merit further investigation.

Bibliography Bacher, Wilhelm 1874 Kritische Untersuchungen zum Prophetentargum. Nebst einem Anhange über das gegenseitige Verhältniss der pentateuchischen Targumim. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 28: 1–72. Bauer, Hans, and Leander, Pontus 1922 Historische Grammatik der hebräischen Sprache des Alten Testamentes. Halle: Niemeyer. Dietrich, Manfried 1968 Neue palästinisch punktierte Bibelfragmente: Veröffentlicht und auf Text und Punktation hin untersucht. Leiden: Brill. Díez-Macho, A. 1963 A New List of So-Called ‘Ben-Naftali’ Manuscripts, Preceded by an Inquiry into the True Character of These Manuscripts. Pp. 16–52 in Hebrew and Semitic Studies Presented to Godfrey Rolles Driver, ed. D. Winton Thomas and W. D. McHardy. Oxford: Clarendon. Eldar, Ilan 1978 ,‫ מהותה והיסודות המשותפים לה ולמסורת ספרד‬:‫מסורת הקריאה הקדם־אשכנזית‬ ‫ ענייני הגייה וניקוד‬:‫[ כרך א‬The Hebrew Language Tradition in Medieval Ashkenaz (ca. 950–1350 C.E.), vol. 1: Phonology and Vocalization]. ‫עדה ולשון‬ 4. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem Language Traditions Project. 1979 ,‫ מהותה והיסודות המשותפים לה ולמסורת ספרד‬:‫מסורת הקריאה הקדם־אשכנזית‬ ‫ ענייני תצורה‬:‫[ כרך ב‬The Hebrew Language Tradition in Medieval Ashkenaz (ca. 950–1350 C.E.), vol. 2: Morphology]. 5 ‫עדה ולשון‬. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem Language Traditions Project. Goshen-Gottstein, Moshe 1963 The Rise of the Tiberian Bible Text. Pp. 79–122 in Biblical and Other Studies, ed. Alexander Altmann. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Grimme, Hubert 1915 Die jemenische Aussprache des Hebräischen und Folgerungen daraus für die ältere Sprache. Pp. 125–42 in Festschrift Eduard Sachau zum siebzigsten Geburtstage, ed. Gotthold Weil. Berlin: Reimer. Haneman, Gideon 1980 )138 ‫[ תורת הצורות של לשון המשנה על פי מסורת כתב־היד פרמה (דה־רוסי‬The Morphology of Mishnaic Hebrew according to the Tradition of the Parma

Tiberian-Palestinian Tradition


Manuscript (De-Rossi 138)]. Texts and Studies in the Hebrew Language and Related Subjects 3. Tel-Aviv: Tel-Aviv University Press. Heijmans, Shai 2013 Vocalization, Palestino-Tiberian. Pp. 967–71 in vol. 3 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill. Kahle, Paul 1930 Masoreten des Westens, vol. 2: Das Palästinische Pentateuchtargum: Die Palästinische Punktation; Der Bibeltext des Ben Naftali. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Lagarde, Paul de, ed. 1872 Prophetae Chaldaice e fide Codicis Reuchliniani editi. Leipzig: Teubner. Meyer, Rudolf 1961 A. Sperbers neue Studien über das masoretische Hebräisch. Vetus Testamentum 11: 475–86. 1963 Die Bedeutung des Codex Reuchlinianus für die hebräische Sprac­hgeschichte. Dargestellt am Dageš-Gebrauch. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlän­ dischen Gesellschaft 113: 51–61. Milano, Attilio 1963 Storia degli ebrei in Italia. Torino: Einaudi. Morag, Shelomo 1959 The Vocalization of Codex Reuchlinianus: Is the “Pre-Masoretic” Bible PreMasoretic? Journal of Semitic Studies 4: 216–37. 1962 The Vocalization Systems of Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Janua Linguarum 13. The Hague: Mouton. Ryzhik, Michael 2013 Italy, Pronunciation Traditions. Pp. 362–66 in vol. 2 of Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan. Leiden: Brill. Sperber, Alexander 1956 The Pre-Masoretic Bible: Codex Reuchlinianus, No. 3 of the Badische Lan­ des­bibliothek in Karlsruhe (formerly Durlach No. 55), with a General Introduction; Masoretic Hebrew. Corpus Codicum Hebraicorum Medii Aevi 2/1. Copenhagen: Munksgaard. 1959 A Grammar of Masoretic Hebrew: A General Introduction to the PreMasoretic Bible. Copenhagen: Munksgaard. 1969 The Hebrew Bible with Pre-Masoretic Vocalization: The Prophets according to the Codex Reuchlinianus. Leiden: Brill. Yeivin, Israel 1983 "‫[ משמעות סימן הדגש בניקוד הטברני ה"מורחב‬The Meaning of the Dageš in the “Extended” Tiberian Vocalization]. Pp. 293–307 in ‫מחקרי לשון מוגשים לזאב‬ ‫[ בן־חיים בהגיעו לשיבה‬Hebrew Language Studies Presented to Professor Zeev Ben-Ḥayyim], ed. Moshe Bar-Asher et al. Jerusalem: Magnes.

Chapter 14

The Tiberian Tradition of Reading the Bible and the Masoretic System Y osef O fer

The Prestige of the Tiberian Tradition Various traditions of reading the Bible evolved over time, corresponding to different dialects of Hebrew. These traditions are reflected in manu­ scripts and Genizah fragments from the ninth and tenth centuries CE, whose texts are vocalized according to different systems: Tiberian, Palestinian (see chapter 12), Tiberian-Palestinian (chapter 13), and Babylonian (chapter 10). Eventually, the Tiberian linguistic tradition became the most prestigious of the systems, displaced all the others, and its vocalization came to be accepted by all Jewish communities. As early as the tenth century, there is evidence that the Tiberian system was recognized as superior. The Karaite sage Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb alQirqisāni wrote in his Kitāb al-Anwār (937 CE): In this generation there is no one any more among those who occupy themselves with the science of language and grammar, among the people of Isfahan (Persia), Basra (Iraq), Tastur (Tunisia) and elsewhere, who do not admit to the superiority of the reading of the Land of Israel, who do not recognize it as the true one, and who do not see that the truth of the grammar is only explained by it. Furthermore, a group of their elders, who do not by nature read the reading of the Land of Israel, but read only the Babylonian, and know the reading of the Land of Israel only by hearsay, when they want to speak about matters of language and grammar speak only about the language of the Land of Israel and none other (Nemoy 1939: 140 [autograph]; Klar 1914: 327–28 [translation]).



Chapter 14

When Qirqisāni wrote this passage, the Babylonian vocalization of the Bible was in common use throughout western Asia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Arabia, and Yemen. At the time, it was probably the most widely used, geographically and quantitatively, of all Hebrew vocalization systems. Yet, Qirqisāni maintained that grammarians recognized the superiority of the Palestinian reading (i.e., the Tiberian), on which they based Hebrew grammar. Saadia Gaon (882–942), a pioneer of Hebrew grammar, is a case in point. He was born in Egypt, lived for a while in Tiberias, and then settled in Babylonia. Although he was familiar with the Babylonian vocalization and the Babylonian reading tradition, he based his grammar on the Tiberian vocalization (Dotan 1977: 33–40). An examination of manuscripts with Babylonian vocalization reveals a clear evolutionary process: the older manuscripts preserve a unique tradition of Hebrew that differs in many details from that of the Tiberian. In the course of time, however, the differences tended to disappear: Babylonian manuscripts still used the supralinear vocalization signs of the Babylonian system, but the linguistic tradition that was reflected in them gradually lost the features that distinguished it from the Tiberian tradition. As noted above, the Tiberian vocalization tradition eventually triumphed over all the others, and all Jewish communities adopted the use of the Tiberian signs. The system did not remain limited to the Bible but was extended also to the Mishnah, liturgical and other poetry, and occasionally prose writings as well. The reading traditions, on the other hand, did not merge, and to this day the Bible is read differently among Yemenite, Ashkenazic, and Sephardic Jews (as well as some other Jewish communities) (see chapter 16). The traditions of these various groups have preserved ancient linguistic traits. For example, the Yemenite tradition has six vowels, in which the pronunciation of səgol is identical to that of pataḥ; the Yemenite reading tradition is clearly connected to the Babylonian tradition. Although embraced by all Jewish communities, the Tiberian vocalization system did not accurately reflect their pronunciation. As a result, grammatical theories developed which made it possible to retain the original pronunciation as well as the Tiberian vocalization. Thus, for example, Joseph Qimḥi (Provence, 1105–1170) created the theory of five long and five short vowels in Hebrew, which bridged the gap between the Tiberian vocalization and the Sephardic pronunciation (see chapter 1, pp.  4ff.). Jews who used this pronunciation when reciting the Bible had to cope with

The Tiberian Tradition of Reading the Bible


the need to distinguish between qameṣ gadol ([a]) and qameṣ qaṭan ([o]). The non-Tiberian vocalization systems were completely forgotten.

Unification of the Tiberian Version of the Bible The Masoretes were determined to produce a biblical text that was unified and uniform in every detail: the letters, the vowel signs, and the cantillation (trope) signs. While disagreements and differences existed in all three domains—due to the influence of distinct ancient traditions and because of errors introduced in the course of copying and transmission— where such disagreements arose, the Masoretes were careful to agree on a single solution, which was then fixed and preserved by means of a Masoretic comment. It should be stressed that by uniformity we mean the way in which one should read and write a particular word in a particular verse. We do not mean a general uniformity in orthography or in vocalization among different occurrences in one text. Nor do we mean the standardization of parallels texts that appear in several places in the Bible. On the contrary, the Masoretes strove to preserve the internal differences in the text. They transmitted, for example, how many times a certain word appeared plene and how many times defective, and they prepared lists of differences between parallel texts in the Bible. A comparison of the best manuscripts of the Bible shows a remarkable uniformity, which is also maintained in the currently available printed editions. It is not absolute, however, since some differences exist among the various manuscripts, as well as between the manuscripts and the more common printed editions. Almost all the differences are minor and do not affect the interpretation of the text. We shall demonstrate this through a comparison of two codexes, the Aleppo Codex (A) and the Leningrad Codex (L), the two best-known manu­scripts of the Bible. The text of the Aleppo Codex was written in Tiberias at the beginning of the tenth century by Shlomo ben Boyaʿa, and the vocalization and Masoretic comments were added by the famous Masorete Aharon ben Moshe of the Ben Asher family. Today the manuscript is no longer complete, after about a third of its pages were lost during the Damascus pogrom of 1947. The Leningrad Codex was written in Egypt in the year 1009 by Shmuel ben Yaʿaqov, who wrote the text and also added the vowels and Masoretic comments. The copyist noted that he based his work


Chapter 14

on “the edited and illuminated books made by the sage Aharon ben Moshe ben Asher.” Many modern editions of the Bible base their version of the text on one or both of these codexes. We shall examine a photograph of one page from each of these two codexes and compare one common text: Isa 46:10–48:1 (reproduced in vol. 2). In the Aleppo Codex, the passage runs from the first words in the right column of the photograph (beginning with ‫‘ וכל חפצי‬all My desire’) to line 12 of the left column (ending with ‫‘ בשם יהוה‬in the name of Yhwh’). In the Leningrad Codex, the passage begins at line 15 of the right column and ends at the last line of the left column. The passage contains 239 words and more than 2,200 characters: letters, vocalization signs, cantillation signs, and metegs. A comparison of the two codexes reveals only five differences. Two are differences in spelling, plene vs. defective: in Isa 47:11, there is ‫ש ָֹא ֭ה‬ ‘ruin’ (A) vs. ‫ׁשֹואה‬ ֖ ָ (L); and in Isa 47:13, ‫(‘ ֽמ ִֹוד ִע ֙ם‬who) make known’ (A) vs. ‫יע ֙ם‬ ִ ‫( ֽמ ִֹוד‬L). There is one difference in vocalization, involving a ḥaṭeph vowel with a non-guttural consonant, in Isa 47:10: ‫שׁוֹב ָ ֑ב ֶתְך‬ ֲ ‘your turning back’ (A) vs. ‫שׁוֹב ָ ֑ב ֶתְך‬ ְ (L). Another difference is in the location of a cantillation sign, in Isa 47:8: ‫‘ ִבּ ְל ָב ָ֔בהּ‬in her heart’ (A) vs. ‫( ִבּ ְל ָ֔ב ָבהּ‬L); the zaqeph in the Leningrad Codex is mistakenly placed on the first instead of the second ‫ב‬. Yet another difference is the location of a meteg: in Isa 47:11, ‫עי‬ ֙ ִ ‫‘ ֵ ֽת ְד‬you will (not) know’ appears in the Aleppo Codex with a meteg under the letter ‫ ;ת‬it is absent in the Leningrad Codex. Except for these few minor differences, the Aleppo and Leningrad codexes are identical in all respects: text, vocalization, cantillation, and meteg. Note that the differences in spelling concern only plene vs. defective—that is, they do not affect the way the words are read or interpreted; the difference in cantillation does not reflect a difference of opinion between the vocalizers but is the result of a scribal error by one of them. The difference in vocalization, too, is marginal: it concerns the way a vocal šəwa with a non-guttural consonant is to be marked, which is more a matter of notational stylistics than of linguistic substance. Clearly, the two codexes do not represent different dialects: both reflect one version of the Bible, that of the Tiberian Masoretes. Two additional differences between the codexes concern the spaces between paragraphs. In the Bible, a new ‫ פרשה‬parašah (similar to a paragraph in a modern text) is marked by a preceding space. There are two

The Tiberian Tradition of Reading the Bible


types of parašot: open and closed. An open parašah is one that begins on a new line, with a preceding space that reaches to the end of the previous line, which may, in fact, take up a whole line. A closed parašah marks a smaller separation and begins in the middle of the line, usually on the same line as the ending of the previous paragraph but sometimes on the following line. In the passage under consideration, each codex has five parašah spaces, which are located at identical junctures: in Isa 46:12, at ‫‘ ִׁש ְמ ֥עּו‬hear!’; 47:1, at ‫‘ ְר ִ ֣די‬descend!’; 47:4, at ‫‘ ּג ֲֹא ֕ ֵלנּו‬our redeemer’; 47:8, at ‫‘ וְ ַע ָּ֞תה‬and now’; and 48:1, at ‫‘ ִׁש ְמעּו־‬hear!’. In two of these locations (47:4, 8), the codexes have different types of spaces—open in the Aleppo Codex and closed in the Leningrad Codex—while in the other three both codexes have the closed type. Manuscripts differ considerably in the way paragraphs are indicated: the Tiberian Masoretes made no effort to impose the kind of uniformity that they achieved in plene and defective spelling. A uniform division into paragraphs of the Pentateuch was achieved only beginning in the twelfth century CE under the influence of Maimonides, who made a list of paragraphs according to the Aleppo Codex and included it in his book of hala­ khah. No such uniformity was ever achieved in the books of the Prophets and the Hagiographa. In conclusion, although in some respects a certain latitude remained and a number of signs remained at the discretion of the vocalizers, no substantive differences remained, which could affect the interpretation or language of the text. Another noteworthy feature of Tiberian manuscripts is their full vocalization. In most Babylonian vocalized manuscripts, only words that were at risk of being read erroneously were provided with vowel signs, whereas common and unmistakable works were left without vocalization; the Tiberian copyists, on the other hand, provided a full vocalization of each and every word.

Advances in the Tiberian System: Conjunctive Cantillation Signs and Meteg Two types of signs that were extensively developed in the Tiberian system do not exist in the Babylonian tradition: the conjunctive cantillation signs and the ‫ מתג‬meteg sign. The Tiberian cantillation signs, which determine the way in which the text is chanted in ritual contexts, are divided


Chapter 14

into two types: disjunctive (‫ מפסיקים‬maphsiqim) and conjunctive (‫משרתים‬ məšarətim). The disjunctive signs have a double function of punctuation and melody. Together they constitute a system that makes it possible to achieve a sophisticated and accurate syntactic division of the text. In this sense, the disjunctive signs may be compared to modern punctuation signs but are capable of expressing more delicate internal divisions than the latter. Their other function is musical. The musical function combines with punctuation to give a division of the verse into syntactic units. Disjunctive signs exist in both the Babylonian and the Tiberian systems. The Tiberian system also has conjunctive signs, which have only a musical function, without any significance for syntax or punctuation. Their melody fits in with the melody of the following disjunctive sign. The rules involving the conjunctive signs are complex: often a sequence of two or three conjunctive signs precedes a disjunctive sign. Nearly every word in a verse has a conjunctive sign. There are many different such signs, which make for considerable musical variety. Occasionally short words do not possess a sign of their own but form a single musical unit with the following word. Such a musical union is marked by a hyphen (‫ מקף‬maqqeph). The Babylonian tradition does not have conjunctive signs, and therefore has no need for the hyphen. Disjunctive and conjunctive signs also have a third function: they mark, on the whole, stressed syllables. Another convenient comparison appears in Isa 48:2.

In the Aleppo Codex, there are two hyphens, ‫י־מ ִ ֤עיר‬ ֵ ‫‘ ִ ֽכּ‬for from the city’ in the first line and ‫ֹלהי‬ ֥ ֵ ‫ל־א‬ ֱ ‫‘ וְ ַע‬and upon the God of’ in the second, where the particles ‫ כי‬and ‫ ועל‬are cliticized. Three words in this verse are marked with conjunctive cantillation signs: ‫מ ִ ֤עיר‬, ֵ ‫ֹלהי‬ ֥ ֵ ‫א‬, ֱ and ‫הו֥ה‬ ָ ְ‫י‬. The other words are marked with disjunctive signs, creating the following syntactic division:

The Tiberian Tradition of Reading the Bible


‫ ְשׁ ֽמוֹ׃‬/ ‫הו֥ה ְצ ָב ֖אוֹת‬ ָ ְ‫ י‬/// ‫ נִ ְס ָ ֑מכוּ‬/ ‫ֹלהי יִ ְשׂ ָר ֵ ֖אל‬ ֥ ֵ ‫ל־א‬ ֱ ‫ וְ ַע‬// ‫ נִ ְק ָ ֔ראוּ‬/ ‫י־מ ִ ֤עיר ַה ֙קּ ֹ ֶד ֙שׁ‬ ֵ ‫ִ ֽכּ‬

In the Old Babylonian vocalization (Oxford d.64,1), the reading is somewhat different (see illustration above). Here, the disjunctive signs are the following: ‫ יהוה‬//// ‫ נסמכו‬/


‫ ועל אלהי ישראל‬///


‫ נקראו‬/


‫ מעיר הקדש‬// ]‫כי [ת‬ ]o[ ‫ שמו‬/ ]~[ ‫צבאות‬

The signs in gray and with lines are disjunctive cantillation signs (those with lines are not marked in the manuscript but can be concluded from those that precede them). The unmarked words possess no cantillation signs, while in the Tiberian text they have conjunctive signs. In the Tiberian passage, ‫ ועל‬is connected to the following word with a hyphen, while in the Babylonian version it has neither a hyphen nor a cantillation sign. The word ‫ כי‬in the Babylonian text has a disjunctive sign while in the Tiberian passage it is connected with a hyphen to the following word. The other sign that became highly developed in the Tiberian system is the meteg, also known as ‫ געיה‬gaʿya, which marks a secondary stress inside a word (see also chapter 11, pp. 155–56). There are various types of meteg, some quite complex. For example, in the word ‫‘ ַ ֽהנִּ ְשׁ ָבּ ִ ֣עים׀‬who swear’ (Isa 48:1) it is located on the initial letter ‫ ה‬in a closed syllable and indicates that this syllable has secondary stress (the main stress in this word is on the last syllable, marked with the cantillation sign ‫ מונח לגרמיה‬munaḥ ləgarmeh under ‫)ע‬. An examination of the Aleppo and Leningrad codexes shows that the meteg appears in both. Indeed, this type of meteg may be considered an “obligatory meteg,” whose appearance is quite uniform


Chapter 14

across different manuscripts. In the word ‫עי‬ ֙ ִ ‫‘ ֵ ֽת ְד‬you will (not) know’ (Isa 47:11) the meteg appears under the initial letter ‫ת‬, in an open syllable; it, too, indicates secondary stress (the main stress is on the last syllable, on the letter ‫)ע‬. The two codexes do not agree in this case: in the Aleppo Codex, the word has a meteg, while in the Leningrad Codex it does not (see also above). The manuscripts do not treat meteg in open syllables uniformly; their presence is optional, and every vocalizer, in the absence of a binding tradition, decided each case according to his own intuition. Both codexes agree in three other occurrences of meteg in the passage. Two appear in an open syllable (‫א ְמ ָר ֙ה‬ ֹ ֽ ‫‘ ָה‬who says’ [Isa 47:8] and ‫ֽמ ִוֹד ִע ֙ים‬ ‘[who] make known’ [47:13]), and one in a closed syllable (‫ֵ ֽבּית־יַ ֲע ֗קֹב‬ ‘house of Jacob’ [48:1]).

Ben Asher and Ben Naftali The Tiberian Masoretes attached great importance to the slightest details of recitation and attempted to agree on a uniform version of the text with respect to the meteg and all cantillation signs. Among the Tiberian Masoretes of the tenth century, two names in particular stand out, Aharon ben Moshe of the Ben Asher family and David ben Moshe of the Ben Naftali family. These two sages disagreed on many details of the Biblical text. Their points of disagreement were documented in a work by the eleventh-century scholar Mishael ben Uzziel, who listed 867 such words in the Bible and another 406 cases in which they agreed but other Masoretes disputed their view. Most of the disputes between Ben Asher and Ben Naftali concern the occurrence of metegs, hyphens, and conjunctive cantillation signs. Below are five examples of disputed signs in the book of Isaiah (Lipschütz 1965: 32): 1.  Isa 44:20. Ben Asher: ‫ימ ִ ֽיני׃‬ ִ ‫‘ ֲה ֥לוֹא ֶ ֖שׁ ֶקר ִבּ‬Is not a lie in my right hand?’; Ben Naftali: ‫ימ ִינֽי׃‬ ִ ‫לוֹא־שׁ ֶקר ִבּ‬ ֶ֖ ‫ה‬. ֲ According to Ben Asher, the first word has the conjunctive sign ‫ מירכא‬merəkha, while Ben Naftali puts a hyphen between the first two words. 2.  Isa 45:3. Ben Asher: ‫הו֛ה‬ ָ ְ‫י־א ִנ֧י י‬ ֲ ‫‘ ִ ּֽכ‬for I am Yhwh’ (Isa 45:3); Ben Naftali: ‫הו֛ה‬ ָ ְ‫כּי ֲא ִנ֧י י‬. ֣ ִ Here one finds the opposite: Ben Asher puts a hyphen between the first two words, while Ben Naftali is of the opinion that the first word should be marked with a conjunctive sign (munaḥ). 3. Isa 45:20. Ben Asher: ‫וּמ ְת ַפּ ֲל ֔ ִלים‬ ֽ ִ ‘and (who) pray’; Ben Naftali ‫וּמ ְת ַפּ ֲל ֔ ִלים‬. ִ The dispute concerns the meteg in the closed syllable beginning

The Tiberian Tradition of Reading the Bible


with the letter ‫מ‬. Ben Asher believes there should be a meteg under this letter, whereas Ben Naftali does not. 4. Isa 50:5. Ben Asher: ‫אזֶ ן‬ ֹ ֔ ‫ח־לי‬ ֣ ִ ‫‘ ָפּ ַ ֽת‬He opened my ear’; Ben Naftali: ‫אזֶ ן‬ ֹ ֔ ‫ח־לי‬ ֣ ִ ‫פּ ַת‬. ָ Here, too, the two Masoretes disagree on whether a meteg should be placed in the closed syllable under the letter ‫ת‬. This case differs from the preceding: the meteg occurs in a syllable that adjoins a stressed syllable because of the guttural ‫ ח‬that closes it. 5. The last disagreement (Isa 54:9) differs fundamentally from the previous: ‫ל־ה ָ ֑א ֶרץ ֵ ֥כּן נִ ְשׁ ַ ֛בּ ְע ִתּי ִמ ְקּ ֥צֹף ָע ַ ֖ליִ ְך‬ ָ ‫שׁר נִ ְשׁ ַ֗בּ ְע ִתּי ֵמ ֲע ֥בֹר ֵמי־ ֹ֛נ ַח ֖עוֹד ַע‬ ֣ ֶ ‫י־מי נ ַ ֹ֙ח ֣ז ֹאת ֔ ִלי ֲא‬ ֥ ֵ ‫ִ ֽכּ‬ ‫ר־בְּך׃‬ ֽ ָ ‫וּמגְּ ָע‬ ִ For (like) the waters of Noah is this to me, as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again pass over the earth, so I swear that I will not be angry with you or rebuke you.

Ben Asher reads ‫ימי נ ַ ֹ֙ח‬ ֥ ֵ ‫;כּ‬ ִ Ben Naftali has ‫י־מי נ ַ ֹ֙ח‬ ֥ ֵ ‫כּ‬. ֽ ִ The difference in pronunciation between the two versions is minuscule, yet the difference in meaning is significant. According to Ben Naftali, the verse speaks about ‫‘ ֵמי נ ַֹח‬the waters of Noah’—that is, the waters of the flood which are mentioned again later in the same verse. Ben Asher is of the opinion that the phrase refers to ‘the days of Noah’, a reading reflected also in the Aramaic translation (Tg. Neb. ): ‫יֹומי נ ַֹח‬ ֵ ‫‘ ְּכ‬as in the days of Noah’. This dispute is also reflected in ancient Masoretic manuscripts: both the Aleppo and Leningrad codexes read ‫ּכי ֵמי‬, ִ as two separate words, while the Cairo Codex has ‫ימי‬ ֵ ‫ּכ‬. ִ The vocalization of these words in the Aleppo Codex as two separate words contradicts the opinion that Mishael Ben Uzziel attributed to Ben Asher. This is surprising, because Aharon ben Asher himself vocalized the Aleppo Codex. Paradoxically, the disputes between Ben Asher and Ben Naftali demonstrate the uniformity of the Tiberian version of the Bible. Most of the differences between the two concern issues that are ignored in the Babylonian vocalization system: to wit, metegs, hyphens, and conjunctive cantillation signs. In a small number of cases, the dispute concerns the addition or deletion of the conjunction -‫ו‬. Other disagreements concern the division of one word into two, exchanging a silent šəwa with a ḥaṭeph, the presence or absence of dageš, and the like. In all matters of greater import, such as the disjunctive signs and alterations of words, there were no disputes.


Chapter 14

Masoretic Comments Both codexes contain comments whose purpose was to protect the text from error. Masoretic comments are written in tiny script and may be divided into two types according to style and their place on the sheet. The comments of the Masorah Magna (‘Great Masorah’) are long, detailed, and written in two or three lines at the top and the bottom of the page. The comments of the Masorah Parva (‘Little Masorah’) are short and written to the right and left of the narrow columns of the biblical text. Each comment of the Masorah Parva is connected to a word in the text through a small circle above the word. The biblical text itself is written in three narrow columns on every page, making it possible to add many comments. In vol. 2, about 30 Masorah Parva comments appear on the page from the Leningrad Codex, and about 60 on the page from the Aleppo Codex. Masoretic comments were the mechanism that led to the uniformity of the Tiberian manuscripts. This mechanism was developed over many generations by scribes, most of whom have remained anonymous. Every Masorete who wrote a copy of the Bible used the Masoretic materials in his possession, which he shaped into newly formulated Masorah Magna and Masorah Parva comments and which he wrote down on the margins of his manuscript. It is difficult to determine which comments are early and which are late; nor is it possible to know who first formulated any given Masorah. The internal consistency of the various Masoretic materials is impressive, despite the fact that different individuals over generations shaped the materials into a collective work. Below we examine a number of comments and explain their mechanism and meaning. The two first comments of the Masorah Parva on the page reproduced from the Leningrad Codex are ‫ל׳‬, accompanying the words ‫‘  ִ֠י ָּׂש ֻאהּו‬they will carry him’ (Isa 46:7 [line 3]) and ‫‘ יִ ְס ְּב ֜ ֻלהּו‬they will bear him’ (line 4); they are indicated by means of the small superlinear circles to the right of the right-hand column of text. These comments tell us that the marked words do not occur elsewhere in the Bible (the sign ‫ ל׳‬is short for the Aramaic expression ‫ותיּה‬ ֵ ָ‫יתא ִד ְכו‬ ָ ‫‘ ֵל‬there is none like it [elsewhere]’). To the right of the middle column, there are two consecutive comments, ‫ל׳ל׳‬, which, to judge by the small circles, are connected to the words ‫‘ ַצ ָּמ ֵ ֧תְך‬your veil’ and ‫‘ ֶח ְׂש ִּפי־‬scoop!’ on the same line; both, too, are unique forms in

The Tiberian Tradition of Reading the Bible


the Bible. Uniqueness in the Masorah does not refer to the root, or even to the lexical form, since the word ‫ ְל ַצ ָמּ ֵ ֽתְך‬occurs three times in the Song of Songs (4:1, 3; 6:7). But the form ‫צ ָּמ ֵתְך‬, ַ without a prefixed ‫ל‬, occurs only in the verse here, and this is the fact that is noted in the comment. The purpose of the comment ‫ ב׳‬to the right of line 5 in the right-hand column of the Leningrad Codex, which is connected to the word ‫מד‬ ֹ ֔ ‫וְ ַי ֲֽע‬ ‘and it will stand’ (Isa 46:7), is clear: it indicates to the reader that only in this and in one other verse (Dan 11:16) is ‫‘ ו‬and’ vocalized with šəwa; the verb can therefore be translated as a future. In contrast, the form ‫וַ ּיַ ֲעמֹד‬, with ‫ ו‬vocalized with pataḥ, is much more common, appearing 55 times in the Bible; here ‫ ו‬is the “waw consecutive,” and the verb can be translated as a past or perfect. The distinction between the two forms is significant, which explains why a Masoretic comment was deemed appropriate. Note the brevity and economy in the formulation of the comment: the two words inform us of the vocalization of all 57 occurrences of ‫ ויעמד‬in the Bible. Another Masoretic comment mentions a relatively large number, ‫—ה׳י׳‬ that is, 15. This number is mentioned in the Masorah Parva of both codexes for the word ‫‘ ַּב ֲא ֶ ׁ֥שר‬in which’ (Isa 47:12). Its intention is to distinguish this form from a similar word with which it might be confused, ‫‘ ַּכ ֲא ֶׁשר‬when’, which occurs much more frequently in the Bible (495 times). As is usually the case, here the Masorah mentions the frequency of the rarer form and so prevents confusion between the two. The numerical value of the letters is spelled ‫ ה׳י׳‬instead of the expected ‫י׳ה׳‬, because the latter is the spelling of one of God’s names. Some of the Masoretic comments concern plene and defective spelling. For example, the comment in line 9 of the right-hand column of the Leningrad Codex (Isa 46:8), ‫ב׳ מל׳‬, appears in reference to the word ‫פֹוׁש ִ ֖עים‬ ְ ‘transgressors’; in the Bible, this word is twice spelled plene (with ‫ )ו‬and eight times defectively (i.e., ‫ ַהּפ ְֹׁש ִעים‬,‫ּפ ְֹׁש ִעים‬, etc.). The Masorah takes care to preserve the original spelling of the word in each of its occurrences, according to the tradition passed on from one generation to the next, even though different spellings have no effect on the reading or the meaning. Masoretic comments may concern phrases, in particular whenever an error is likely. Thus, for example, the Masoretes of both the Aleppo and Leningrad codexes make the comment ‫ ג׳‬in the Masorah Parva in reference to the phrase ‫‘ וְ ֥ל ֹא ֵא ַ ֖דע‬and I shall not know’ (Isa 47:8), indicating that it occurs three times in the Bible. Both codexes also give the references of


Chapter 14

all three occurrences in the Masorah Magna (Isa 47:8; Ps 73:22; Job 42:3). The comment is important because the phrase ‫לֹא ֵא ַדע‬, without ‫ו‬, occurs four times in the Bible (1 Kgs 3:7; 18:12; Ps 101:4; Job 9:21), and the two can easily be confused. To conclude, we compare two comments in the Masorah Magna that can teach us something about the way the Masoretes worked. The Leningrad Codex in a comment notes that the phrase ‫‘ ישיבה ָל ָא ֶרץ‬sitting on the ground’ (i.e., a verbal form derived from the root ‫ יש״ב‬followed by the word ‫)ל ָא ֶרץ‬ ָ occurs three times in the Bible. The commentary is as follows (see the bottom of the page, from the left, in vol. 2): ‫ישיבה לארץ ג' שבי לארץ אין כסא וישבו אתו לארץ שבעת ימים ישבו לארץ‬ ‫ידמו זקני‬ Sitting on the ground [occurs] 3 times: “Sit on the ground without a throne!” (Isa 47:1); “And they sat on the ground with him seven days” (Job 2:13); [and] “The elders (of the Daughter of Zion) sit on the ground silently” (Lam 2:10)

The comment is designed to distinguish this phrase from the similar and more common ‫ישיבה ָּב ָא ֶרץ‬. The comment does not refer to a simple juxtaposition of two words, since the two words in Job 2:13 are not consecutive; yet they are included because of the identical syntactic connection between the verb and ‫ל ָא ֶרץ‬.ָ The Masorete of the Aleppo Codex makes a similar comment, but mentions four, not three, verses. The two Masoretes do not disagree over the biblical text, but the Masorete of the Aleppo Codex also includes the verse ‫‘ ונקתה לארץ תשב‬she shall be cleansed, on the ground she shall sit’ (Isa 3:26), in which the word ‫ ָל ָא ֶרץ‬precedes the verb from the root ‫ ;יש״ב‬because the two words here stand in the same syntactic relationship as in the other verses, the Masorete decided to include the verse in his comment, despite the difference in word order. Note, however, that in the Aleppo Codex there are erasure marks and corrections (see the top of p. 199): The letter ‫‘( ד‬4’) is written over the erasure on the top line, as are two words on the following line. Thus, it appears that at first Aharon ben Asher wrote the comment in a form that was identical to that in the Leningrad Codex, enumerating three verses, and later changed his mind and decided to add the verse in which the word order is reversed, forcing him to change the number at the beginning of the comment from ‘3’ to ‘4’. This example reveals how the Masoretes worked: although they transmitted materials that they received from their predecessors, they did not

The Tiberian Tradition of Reading the Bible


copy the comments blindly but examined them and reformulated them as they saw fit. Among all extant ancient Tiberian manuscripts, no two have exactly the same comments, and in no two are all the comments themselves formulated identically. Every time a new copy of the Bible was created, the Masoretic comments were also reformulated. The constant reworking of the Masoretic comments eventually created a high degree of uniformity in the biblical text. The Masoretic comments seem quite abstruse to the average contemporary reader. In fact, already in antiquity most of those who studied the Bible were not familiar with the intricacies of the Masorah. The same was even true of some of the Masoretes who passed on the comments. However, since copies of the Bible written in the Masoretic period were valued only when provided with a Masorah Magna and a Masorah Parva, of necessity, copying manuscripts had to be solely in the hands of experts in the formulation and reading of Masoretic comments. This certainly contributed to the preservation of the biblical text in accordance with the Masoretic rules. A comment is in order about the relationship between the Masoretes and the grammarians. The primary aim of the Masoretes was to fix and preserve the biblical text. It is for this purpose that they composed thousands of Masoretic comments on the words of the Bible. The result of their work was a precise, vocalized uniform text that served as the basis for the work of the grammarians; it enabled grammarians to formulate clear grammatical rules that reflect the internal regularities of the Bible’s language. The beginnings of grammatical awareness and use of rules of grammar


Chapter 14

can already be seen occasionally in the Masoretic comments (e.g., in the change made by Ben Asher in the comment on the phrase ‫ ישיבה לארץ‬in the Aleppo Codex).

Qəre and Kətiv In the page chosen for analysis in vol. 2, there are two Masoretic comments of the type known as qəre and kətiv. Such comments appear as inconspicuous components of the Masorah Parva; but they are important, since without them the Bible cannot be read properly. Therefore, even editions of the Bible that do not contain the Masoretic comments must include the information concerning qəre and kətiv. In ‫‘ ק ֵ ֹ֤רא ִמ ִּמזְ ָר ֙ח ֔ ַעיִ ט ֵמ ֶ ֥א ֶרץ ֶמ ְר ָ ֖חק ִ ֣איׁש עצתו‬I summoned from the East the bird of prey, from afar the man of (His?) counsel’ (Isa 46:11), a Masoretic comment on the last word states in both codexes: ‫‘ עצתי קרי‬it should be read ‫ עצתי‬my counsel’. Likewise, in ‫יעְך הברו ָׁש ַ֗מיִ ם ַ ֽהחֹזִ ֙ים‬ ֻ ֜ ‫יֹוׁש‬ ִ ְ‫דּו־נא ו‬ ָ֨ ‫יַ ַע ְמ‬ ‫ֹוכ ִ֔בים‬ ָ ‫‘ ַּב ּ֣כ‬So let them stand up and save you, they scanned the heavens, the star-gazers’ (Isa 47:13), there is the remark on ‫הברו‬: ‫‘ הברי קרי‬it should be read ‫ הברי‬the scanners of’. What is the reason for the double versions? Why are both readings presented by the Masorah, and why does the Masorah choose between different versions? The answer lies in the transmission of the Bible. The entire text was passed on from one generation to the next in what is basically a double transmission: (1) the letters of the text and (2) the oral recitation. Early scrolls were copied from each other and contained only letters and spaces, while at the same time students learned the oral tradition of recitation, which included the pronunciation with vowels as well as the cantillation signs. Over time, differences and inconsistencies between the written and the oral traditions emerged, although the care in transmitting the Bible ensured that each of these traditions was passed on accurately. When the Masoretes began to add the vocalization signs to the written text, they wrote down both traditions, written and oral, on the same page. This was done by leaving the text itself unchanged and adding vocalization (and cantillation) signs above, below, and between the letters. However, whenever the differences between the two traditions were considerable, it was impossible to write down the reading tradition on the letters without stressing the inconsistency. The result was that the Masoretes vocalized ‫ איש ֲע ָצ ִתו‬and ‫ ה ְֹב ֵרו שמים‬in accordance with the reading

The Tiberian Tradition of Reading the Bible


tradition, but added a comment in the margins that the vocalization fits a different spelling. This is the technical explanation for the way in which the Masoretes operated. As a result, scholars are faced with two versions that they must try to interpret. Furthermore, each of the some 1,500 qəre-kətiv pairs in the Bible must be considered by itself. Usually it is easier and simpler to explain the qəre version, both because it is given in its entirety and also because it is usually more easily understood. The kətiv, on the other hand, is often a riddle, since only the consonants are given and no tradition is preserved as to its original pronunciation. Occasionally, the kətiv represents an earlier form of the language (such as the spelling ‫ אתי‬of the second-person fem. sing. independent personal pronoun, instead of the usual form ‫א ְּת‬, ַ which fits the qəre as well [as in 1 Kgs 14:2 and elsewhere]). Occasionally, the kətiv constitutes a reasonable alternative version, and only rarely is it more understandable than the qəre (such as ‫הֹוצא =[ הוצא‬ ֵ ‘bring out!’] vs. the qere ‫[ ַהיְ ֵצא‬Gen 8:17]). See, for example, Isa 46:9, 11. The context of the first verse is God speaking in the first person: ‫ֹלהים וְ ֶ ֥א ֶפס ָּכ ֽמֹונִ י‬ ֖ ִ ‫‘ ִ ּ֣כי ָאנ ִ ֹ֥כי ֵאל֙ וְ ֵ ֣אין ֔עֹוד ֱא‬For I am God and there is no other God and none like Me’ (Isa 46:9). The qəre version is thus more comprehensible: ‫( ק ֵ ֹ֤רא ִמ ִּמזְ ָר ֙ח ֔ ַעיִ ט ֵמ ֶ ֥א ֶרץ ֶמ ְר ָ ֖חק ִ ֣איׁש ֲע ָצ ִתי‬a reference to King Cyrus). However, the version in which the last word ends with the third-person pronoun is also possible: ‘I am He who calls on the man of His counsel (‫ )עצתו‬from a far land’ (see, e.g., Hacham 1984: ‫)תקו‬. The second case is not as easy to explain. The root ‫( הב״ר‬Isa 47:13) does not occur elsewhere in the Bible. The context suggests ‘astrologists’, who search the heavens for signs to predict the future. Some scholars base their interpretation on a comparison with Ugaritic and explain the phrase ‫הברי‬ ‫ שמים‬as ‘those who worship the heavens’, while others prefer a comparison with Arabic and explain the phrase as ‘those who cut and divide the heavens’ in order to predict the future. Regardless of the explanation, the qəre form ‫ ה ְֹב ֵרי‬is the masc. pl. construct form of the qal active participle. The kətiv has been explained as a third-person masc. pl. perfect form ‫( ָה ְברּו‬the medieval exegete David Qimḥi). Perhaps it can be understood as the masc. pl. imperative form ‫ החוזים בכוכבים‬,‫;ה ְברּו שמים‬ ִ in this case, the parallelism that exists in this verse according to the qəre is lost in the kətiv form.


Chapter 14

Bibliography Dotan, Aron 1977 ‫[ ניצנים ראשונים בחכמת המילים‬The Dawn of Hebrew Linguistics: The Book of Elegance of the Language of the Hebrews by Saadia Gaon]. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language. Hacham, Amos 1984 ‫ספר ישעיהו‬. 2 vols. ‫דעת מקרא‬. Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook. Khan, Geoffrey 2013 A Short Introduction to the Tiberian Masoretic Bible and Its Reading Tradition. 2d ed. Gorgias Handbooks 25. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias. Klar, Benjamin 1954 ‫מחקרים ועיונים בלשון בשירה ובספרות‬. Tel Aviv: Maḥbarot le-Sifrut. Lipschütz, Lazar, ed. 1965 ‫ כתאב אל ̇כלף אל ̇די בין אלמעלמין בן אשר ובן נפתלי‬:‫[ ספר החילופים‬Kitāb AlKhilaf: Mishael Ben Uzziel’s Treatise on the Differences between Ben Asher and Ben Naphtali]. Publications of the Hebrew University Bible Project Monograph Series 2. Jerusalem: Magnes. Nemoy, Leon, ed. 1939 Kitāb al-Anwār wal-Marāqib:‎Code of Karaite Law by Yaʿqūb al-Qirqisānī, vol. 1: First Discourse: Historical Introduction; Second Discourse: Philosophical and Theological Principles of Jurisprudence. New York: Kohut Memorial Foundation. Yeivin, Israel 1980 Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah, trans. and ed. E. J. Revell. Society of Biblical Literature Masoretic Studies 5. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press. 2003 ‫[ המסורה למקרא‬The Biblical Masorah]. Studies in Language 3. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language.

Chapter 15

The Contribution of Tannaitic Hebrew to Understanding Biblical Hebrew M oshe B ar -A sher

Introduction In addition to the strata of Biblical Hebrew known from the consonantal text—Archaic, Standard, Transitional, and Late—another stratum is reflected in the vocalization. This vocalization, represented by vowel signs, was first added to the consonantal text sometime in the seventh century CE. The vocalization traditions known to us, such as the Tiberian, Palestinian, and Babylonian, sometimes reveal post-biblical features that have their origin in Tannaitic Hebrew. Rabbinic Hebrew reflects a linguistic stratum that postdates Biblical Hebrew. Texts composed in Rabbinic Hebrew (often loosely called “Mishnaic” Hebrew) range over a period of 450 years, from the second half of the first century CE until approximately 500 CE. Compositions written in Rabbinic Hebrew reflect two different periods: Tannaitic Hebrew and Amoraic Hebrew. For the present purpose, only Tannaitic Hebrew will be discussed; Amoraic Hebrew, written during the Amoraic period from 250/300 to 500 CE, was no longer a living spoken language. Tannaitic Hebrew originates in the Mishnaic period, when Hebrew was still spoken. Its sources include not only the Mishnah and early halakhic midrashim (Mekhilta, Siphra, Siphre, Seder ʿOlam Rabba), but also epigraphic material from this period. Especially noteworthy are the Hebrew documents of Simon Bar Kosiba (Kokhba). Tannaitic Hebrew itself is divided into three strata: (1) the early mishnayot, written close to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, such 203


Chapter 15

as the tractates of Tamid and Middot, chapter 3 of Bikkurim, and chapter 1 of Qiddušin (Epstein 1957: 15–58); (2) the Mishnah and other texts that were edited near 200 CE; and (3) compositions that were edited around 250 CE and a bit later, such as the Tosephta and probably a part of the halakhic midrashim. The epigraphic material reveals a dialect that differs slightly from the language of most Tannaitic literature, which itself reflects the existence of dialects. Research into Tannaitic Hebrew demonstrates two opposing trends: (1) Some phenomena of Tannaitic Hebrew represent a stage of language that is later than that of Biblical Hebrew. For example, BH uses hitpael and hitpaal stems: e.g., ‫‘ ִה ְת ַאּנַ ף‬He grew angry’ (Deut 1:37) and ‫ּוכ ִה ְת ַּפ ֵּלל‬ ְ ‘and when (he) prayed’ (Ezra 10:1). In contrast, Tannaitic Hebrew uses nitpaal, in which the nun of niphal has analogically replaced the initial he of hitpael/hitpaal (Segal 1936: 118): for example, ‫‘ נִ ְת ַע ַּסק‬he occupied himself’ (m. Soṭ. 1:9). There are, however, a few verbs in Tannaitic Hebrew that continue to appear with a he prefix, primarily in ritual descriptions that rely on biblical formulas (Haneman 1980: 208–11): for example, ‫‘ ִה ְׁש ַּת ַחּוָ ה‬he bowed down’ (m. Bik. 3:6). It has also been suggested that the forms with he in Tannaitic Hebrew express the reflexive voice whereas the nitpaal expresses the passive (Breuer 2002: 175–78). Another example showing that Tannaitic Hebrew reflects a stage of Hebrew later than that of the Bible involves the adverbial case ending ‫ה‬, which marks direction in Standard Biblical Hebrew: for example, ‫ַא ְר ָצה‬ ‘to the land’ (Gen 11:31) and ‫‘ ַהּנֶ גְ ָּבה‬to the Negev’ (Gen 12:9). Only in a few passages does the adverbial case ending no longer express direction: for example, ‫‘ ַּבּנֶ גְ ָּבה‬in the Negev’ (Josh 15:21). In books from the end of the First Temple period, the function of the case ending weakens, as in ‫ל־ה ָּצפֹונָ ה‬ ַ ‫‘ ֶא‬to the north’ (Ezek 8:14), where the allative preposition ‫ ֶאל‬is otherwise superfluous. The loss of directional function increases during the Second Temple period: for example, ‫‘ ַל ָּצפֹונָ ה‬to the north’ and ‫‘ ַלּנֶ גְ ָּבה‬to the south’ (1 Chr 26:17). In Tannaitic Hebrew, this morpheme has almost disappeared and, when attested, is merely a linguistic fossil that no longer marks direction: for example, in reliable manuscripts, ‫חּוצה ָל ָא ֶרץ‬ ָ ‘abroad’ (m. Ter. 1:5) or, in printed editions, ‫חּוצה ָל ָא ֶרץ‬ ָ ‫‘ ְּב‬abroad’ (m. Ḥul. 5:1) and ‫חּוצה ָל ָא ֶרץ‬ ָ ‫‘ ְל‬outside the land’ (m. Giṭ. 4:6); on the latter forms, though, reliable manuscripts have ‫ ְּבחּוץ‬and ‫לחּוץ‬,ְ respectively.

The Contribution of Tannaitic Hebrew


(2) Tannaitic Hebrew also has linguistic traits that are typologically earlier than that of Biblical Hebrew, such as the construct form ‫‘ ֵל ֵילי‬night’: for example, ‫‘ ְּכ ֵל ֵילי ַׁש ָּבת וְ יֹומֹו‬like the night of the Sabbath and its day’ (m. Nid. 4:4), in which a reflex of the original quadriliteral *laylay is attested (cf. Biblical Aramaic ‫)ל ְיליָ א‬. ֵ Both diphthongs in ‫ ֵל ֵילי‬have contracted: *ay > ê. The difference between Tannaitic ‫ ֵל ֵילי‬and Biblical ‫ליִ ל( ַליְ ָלה‬,ַ ‫)ליל‬, ֵ as well as other forms, may be significant, for some scholars conclude that Tannaitic Hebrew is not descended directly from Biblical Hebrew but from another dialect that was related to Biblical Hebrew (see Kutscher 1972: 30 n. 5, on ‫ ל״ה‬verbs; 1977: ‫תמו‬, on ‫;חיִ ל‬ ַ and Bar-Asher 2009: 1.120–22). Because Tannaitic texts are more numerous than biblical texts, one may occasionally find that Tannaitic Hebrew preserves the ancient meaning of a word whereas Biblical Hebrew attests a later meaning. For example, the primary meaning of ‫‘ חת״ך‬cut off’ is concrete and is attested in Tannaitic Hebrew: ‫ ָח ַתְך ֶאת ַהּיָ ַדיִ ם‬. . . ‫‘ ָח ַתְך ֶאת ָהרֹאׁש‬he cut off the head . . . he cut off the hands’ (m. Tam. 4:2). The derived non-concrete meaning, ‘to make a decision’, occurs in the Bible: ‫‘ ָׁש ֻב ִעים ִׁש ְב ִעים נֶ ְח ַּתְך ַעל ַע ְּמָך‬Seventy weeks are decreed upon your people’ (Dan 9:24). Tannaitic Hebrew illuminates and often confirms linguistic phenomena found in Biblical Hebrew—phenomena relative to both the consonantal as well as the vocalized text. Tannaitic Hebrew contributes to a better understanding of the orthography, phonology, syntax, lexicon, and semantics of Biblical Hebrew. The Tannaitic data authenticate Biblical Hebrew linguistic phenomena, testify to the existence of different Hebrew dialects during the biblical period, and sometimes reveal colloquial speech that only rarely found its way into the Bible. As the following will show, sometimes features of Tannaitic Hebrew have been superimposed (unintentionally?) onto the text of the Bible by later generations. Following are a few notable examples of how Tannaitic Hebrew elucidates Biblical Hebrew.

The Book of Jeremiah The book of Jeremiah (see chapter 3) exhibits several features that demonstrate a link to Tannaitic Hebrew. (1) The first-person pl. independent subject pronoun ‫ ֲאנַ ְחנּו‬is attested more than 100 times in the Hebrew Bible: for example, Gen 19:3 and 1 Chr 29:13. There are also six examples of ‫נַ ְחנּו‬: Gen 42:11; Exod 16:7, 8; Num


Chapter 15

32:32; 2 Sam 17:12; and Lam 3:42, where this form fulfilled the need of the larger acrostic. Moreover, one other form appears in the consonantal text: ‫( אנו‬Jer 42:6); its qəre is ‫אנַ ְחנּו‬. ֲ Though it would be easy to assume an error in the Tiberian text, the kətiv is supported by the Babylonian tradition in both the orthography and vocalization: ‫אנּו‬. ָ There is also a Masoretic note to this passage: ‫ אנו‘ למדנחאי אנו כתיב וקרי‬is the kətiv and qəre of the Easterners’ (Yeivin 1985: 1103). In Tannaitic Hebrew, the only form of the first-person pl. independent pronoun is ‫אנּו‬. ָ It is attested in scores of passages, both in reliable manuscripts as well as in printed editions: for example, m. Demai 3:5 and m. ʿErub. 4:2. The Biblical Hebrew form, ‫אנַ ְחנּו‬, ֲ has been inserted into the Mishnah twice in printed editions (m. Pesaḥ. 10:5; m. Ketub. 10:2). (2) In Biblical Hebrew, ‫‘ ָּכ ֵרׂש‬belly’ occurs only in Jer 51:34. The noun, though, is typical of Tannaitic Hebrew where it is spelled with a samekh: for example, ‫‘ ַה ָּכ ֵרס‬the belly’ (m. Ḥul. 3:1) and ‫‘ ְּכ ֵרסֹו‬his belly’ (m. Bek. 7:5). In Biblical Hebrew, ‘belly’ is otherwise ‫ ֶּב ֶטן‬and is attested more than 70 times (e.g., Judg 13:7). The single biblical occurrence of ‫ ָּכ ֵרׂש‬antedates Tannaitic Hebrew by several centuries. (3) ‫ ל״א‬verbs are treated as ‫ל״ה‬: for example, ‫‘ נִ ְר ָּפ ָתה‬she was (not) healed’ (Jer 51:9) and ‫‘ וַ יְ ַרּפּו‬and they healed’ (Jer 8:11), instead of ‫נִ ְר ָּפ ָאה‬ and ‫( וַ יְ ַר ְפאּו‬e.g., Jer 6:14), respectively. This morphological pattern is a salient feature of Tannaitic Hebrew: for example, ‫יתי‬ ִ ‫‘ ָק ִר‬I read’ (m. Yoma 1:6) and ‫‘ יִ ְקרּו‬they will read’ (m. Ber. 1:3) < ‫אתי‬ ִ ‫*ק ָר‬ ָ (see ‫אתי‬ ִ ‫[ ָק ָר‬Exod 31:2]) and ‫( *יִ ְק ְראּו‬see ‫[ יִ ְק ְראּו‬Deut 2:22]), respectively. (4) The ‫ ָּפעֹול‬noun class, with an unchangeable qameṣ, functions as an agentive noun: for example, ‫‘ ָּבחֹון‬assayer’ (Jer 6:27), ‫‘ ָעׁשֹוק‬oppressor’ (Jer 22:3), ‫‘ ָצרֹוף‬refiner’ (Jer 6:29), and ‫גֹודה‬ ָ ‫‘ ָּב‬traitor’ (Jer 3:7, 10). Though these nouns are not attested in the Mishnah, quite a few nouns have the same vowel pattern and agentive meaning: for example, ‫‘ ָלעֹוז‬speaker of a foreign language’ (m. Meg. 2:1) and ‫‘ ָסרֹוק‬hatcheller, wool dealer’ (m. Kel. 26:5) (Bar-Asher 2009: 2.137–39; 2014: 70–73). These four phenomena demonstrate that the grammar of Tannaitic Hebrew and its vocabulary illuminate the language of the book of Jeremiah. Accordingly, the book of Jeremiah has linguistic features that must have existed in a spoken dialect at the end of the First Temple period. Eventually this spoken dialect, or one similar to it, crystallized into the written language of the Tannaim.

The Contribution of Tannaitic Hebrew


The Orthography -‫ =( שה‬-‫ )ש‬of the Relative Pronoun In the book of Qohelet, two words have kətiv/qəre variations: ‫כשהסכל‬ (kətiv) / ‫( ְּכ ֶׁש ָּס ָכל‬qəre) (Qoh 10:3) in both the Aleppo (Breuer 1999) and Leningrad codexes (Dotan 2001), and ‫( שהתקיף‬kətiv) / ‫( ֶׁש ַּת ִּקיף‬qəre) (Qoh 6:10 [Leningrad]; cf. ‫[ ֶׁש ַּת ִּקיף‬Aleppo]). The kətiv in the first example might reflect a noun with the definite article (‫‘ ְּכ ֶׁש ַה ָּס ָכל‬when the fool’) like nouns in some following verses: for example, ‫ּמֹוׁשל‬ ֵ ‫‘ ַה‬the ruler’ (Qoh 10:4) and ‫‘ ַה ַּׁש ִליט‬the master’ (Qoh 10: 5). The qəre, however, omits the definite article. According to the context, in fact, this latter form is indefinite: ‘a fool’. Perhaps the spelling of these two words in Qohelet contains scribal mistakes; editions of the Rabbinic Bible view the he as extraneous (‫)ה׳ יתרה‬. There are also Masoretic notes that suggest yet another interpretation. In the case of ‫כשהסכל‬, one finds the annotation: ‫בס״א [= בסברא‬ ‫ ְּכ ֶׁש ַה ָּס ָכל כת׳ וק׳‬:]‫‘ אחריתא‬in another view: the kətiv and the qəre reflect ‫’ּכ ֶׁש ַה ָּס ָכל‬. ְ Another note reads: ‫ ְּכ ֶׁש ָּס ָכל כת׳ וק׳‬:‫‘ וס״א‬and another view: the kətiv and the qəre reflect ‫’ּכ ֶׁש ָּס ָכל‬ ְ (Kahana 1930: ‫)רה‬. As for ‫כשהתקיף‬, the Leningrad Codex has the Masoretic note: ]‫למע[רבאי] שהתקיף כת׳ למד[ינחאי‬ ‫‘ שתקיף כת׳‬for the Westerners [i.e., Jews in Palestine] one finds ‫שהתקיף‬ (sic) as the kətiv, and for the Easterners [i.e., Jews in Babylonia] ‫שתקיף‬ as the kətiv’. Research into Tannaitic Hebrew provides a different explanation. The kətiv forms reflect an orthographic plene practice by which he represents the ε-vowel of the šin: that is, -‫ = שה‬-‫ׁש‬. ֶ Epigraphic material as well as reliable manuscripts of Tannaitic Hebrew testify to this practice. For instance, the basalt lintel inscription from Dabbura on the Golan Heights reads: ‫‘ זה בית מדרשו שהלרבי אלעזר הקפר‬This is the house of study of Rabbi Elazar ha-Qappar’ (Orman 1972: 21). Here the particle ‫( ֶׁשל‬-‫)שהל‬ is prefixed to a noun with a first-person sing. pronominal suffix (‫‘ רבי‬my lord’); no other interpretation of the he is possible. There are a few examples in MS Kaufmann, the best of the Tannaitic manuscripts, mostly in the order Neziqin: for example, ‫(ה)ּד ְר ָּכן‬ ַ ‫‘ ֶׁש‬that their way’ (m. B. Qam. 1:1; where he was erased by the scribe) and ‫סּוריָ יה‬ ְ ‫(ה)ּב‬ ְ ‫‘ ֶׁש‬that in Syria’ (m. ʿEd. 7:7; where, again, he was erased by the scribe). There is also the form ‫‘ שהערה‬that which he poured’ (m. ʿAbod. Zar. 5:7); it belongs to the piel stem, not the hiphil (Bar-Asher 2009: 1.230–31). The scribe who wrote the consonantal text intended a piel verb (‫)ׁש ֵע ָרה‬, ֶ but the vocalizer was misled


Chapter 15

by the he and pointed the verb as hiphil: ‫( ֶׁש ֶה ֱע ָרה‬Bar-Asher 2009: 1.245). See, similarly, MS Vatican 32 of Siphre Numbers: ‫‘ שהרשות נדרים‬permission of vows’ (Bar-Asher 2009: 1.245). Clearly, epigraphic material and Tannaitic manuscripts corroborate an orthographic practice first attested in the book of Qohelet. The spelling -‫שה‬ was a genuine orthographic feature of ancient Hebrew (cf. Fassberg 1996). The examples from Qohelet also show that this scribal practice, admittedly peripheral, developed already at the end of the Second Temple period.

The Relative Pronoun )‫ ְׁש‬,‫(ׁש‬ ַ ‫ ֶׁש‬/ ‫ֲא ֶׁשר‬ Another feature distinguishing Biblical from Tannaitic Hebrew is the relative pronoun. ‫ אשר‬occurs in all periods of Biblical Hebrew, beginning in archaic poetry: ‫אכלּו‬ ֵ ֹ ‫‘ ֲא ֶׁשר ֵח ֶלב זְ ָב ֵחימֹו י‬who ate the fat of their sacrifices’ (Deut 32:38). But in Tannaitic Hebrew, ‫ ֲא ֶׁשר‬is attested only in benedictions. It is otherwise replaced by -‫ ֶש‬plus geminated contiguous consonant, [šεCC]: for example, ‫יהרּו ֲח ָכ ִמים‬ ֲ ‫‘ ְס ֵפקֹות ֶׁש ִּט‬conditions of doubt that the Sages have declared clean’ (m. Ṭeh. 4:7). There are also the variants -‫ַׁש‬ [šaCC] and -‫[ ְׁש‬šə]. Both forms find other support, too. The vowel of -‫ ַׁש‬is preserved in the adverb ‫‘ ַע ְכ ָשׁיו‬now’, which is a contraction of the phrase ‫‘ ַעד ַשׁהּוא‬until he’ (which, in turn, is a calque on the Palestinian Aramaic idiom ‫‘ ַעד ַּכּדּו‬now’ [Ben-Ḥayyim 1954: 81–82]). -‫ ַש‬may also be preserved in a document from Beit ʿAmar (Eshel et al. 2011), written shortly after the Second Jewish Revolt against the Romans, where ʾaleph serves as a mater lectionis: -‫‘ מאשא = ַמה ַּׁש‬that which’. The pronunciation, though, is at odds with other Tannaitic evidence and may therefore reflect a different dialect of Tannaitic Hebrew (Bar-Asher 2014: 399–400). The other reali­ zation, -‫[ ְׁש‬šə-], is known in Tannaitic Hebrew, especially in its eastern variety—for example, in the Babylonian tradition (Yeivin 1985: 1160), MS Parma B of the Mishnah )Bar-Asher 2009: 1.154), and in the Mishnaic reading tradition of Yemenite Jews (Morag 1963: 184–86; 1974: 308–9). In MS Parma B, it is found before third-person independent pronouns and negative and conditional particles: for example, ‫שהּוא‬, ְ ‫( ְש ִהיא‬m. ʾAhel. 8:5), and ‫( ְׁש ֵהן‬m. Kel. 29:3); ‫( ְׁש ֵאין‬m. Kel. 1:20); and ‫( ְׁש ִאם‬m. ʾAhel. 2:6) and ‫( ְׁש ִאיּלּו‬m. ʾOhel. 16:3). -‫ ש‬is also attested in Biblical Hebrew, primarily and frequently in books from the Second Temple period: for example, ‫‘ ֶׁש ְּׁשזָ ַפ ְתנִ י‬that it has looked at me’ (Song 1:6) and ‫אכל‬ ַ ֹ ‫‘ ֶׁשּי‬who eats’ (Qoh 3:13). In all biblical periods,

The Contribution of Tannaitic Hebrew


though, the realization [šaCC] ([šāC] with compensatory lengthening before an ʾaleph) is limited. It appears in archaic poetry (‫[‘ ַׁש ַּק ְמ ִּתי‬until] you arose’ [Judg 5:7 (bis)]), in First Temple prose (e.g., ‫‘ ָׁש ַא ָּתה‬that you’ [Judg 6:17]), and in Late Biblical Hebrew (e.g., ‫‘ ַׁש ָּל ָמה‬lest’ [< ‫ ָל ָּמה‬+ ‫]ׁש‬ ַ [Song 1:7]). There are only two attestations of [šə-] in a late Biblical Hebrew book: ‫‘ ְׁשהּוא‬that he’ (Qoh 2:22) and ‫‘ ְׁש ֶהם‬that they’ (Qoh 3:18). The relative pronoun -‫ ש‬in Biblical Hebrew is an attested variant of ‫אשר‬ in all biblical periods. Thus, there is no need to argue that -‫ ֶׁש‬and -‫ ַׁש‬reflect a late stage in the history of Hebrew, having penetrated the biblical text from Tannaitic Hebrew. In fact, one may deduce that -‫ ֶׁש‬and -‫ ַׁש‬are dialectal variants and that both are part of Biblical Hebrew grammar. In contrast, the two isolated vocalizations of the relative with šəwa—‫ׁשהּוא‬, ְ ‫—ׁש ֶהם‬may ְ have been grafted onto the consonantal text from a late tradition.

The Nominal Forms ‫ זָ כּור‬/ ‫זְ כּור‬ In several Biblical Hebrew nouns, the absolute sing. form is unattested. It is therefore impossible to know with certainty to what noun pattern such forms belong. BH ‫‘ זכור‬male’ is a case in point; its attested forms are ‫כּורָך‬ ְ ְ‫ז‬ ‘your males’ (Exod 23:17; 34:23; Deut 16:16) and ‫כּורּה‬ ָ ְ‫‘ ז‬her males’ (Deut 20:13). Its absolute sing. form, then, may have been ‫ זְ כּור‬or ‫זָ כּור‬. The best manuscripts of Tannaitic Hebrew indicate that both forms, ‫ זְ כּור‬and ‫זָ כּור‬, were current in Tannaitic Hebrew. For example, MS Kaufmann shows both ‫( ַהזְ כּור‬m. San. 7:4 [bis]) and ‫( ַהּזָ כּור‬m. San. 8:7) (Bar-Asher 2015: 384). The Babylonian tradition in MS Vatican 66 of the Siphra (Yeivin 1985: 916) also knows both forms: ‫ זְ כּור‬/ ‫ ַהזְ כּור‬/ ‫( ַהזְ כּור‬quater) and ‫( ַהזָ כּור‬unis). The data from Tannaitic Hebrew raises the distinct possibility that there were by-forms of this singular noun in Biblical Hebrew.

The ‫ )נִ ַּפ ַעל( נִ ְת ַּפ ַעל‬Stem As mentioned above, Tannaitic Hebrew largely replaced BH hitpael/ hitpaal with the nitpaal stem. In several cases, it is also likely that Tiberian vocalizers superimposed the nitpaal onto a consonantal text that originally had niphal forms. The most obvious example is ‫יס״ר‬, which is attested in Biblical Hebrew as a verb in the qal, niphal, and hiphil: for example, ‫י ֵֹסר‬ ‘he (who) admonishes’ (Prov 9:7), ‫‘ ִתּוָ ְסרּו‬you will be admonished’ (Lev 26:23), and ‫‘ ַאיְ ִס ֵרם‬I will admonish them’ (Hos 7:22). The verb is especially common in the piel, where over three-quarters of its occurrences


Chapter 15

are found: for example, ‫‘ יַ ּסֹר יִ ְס ַרּנִ י‬He surely admonished me’ (Ps 118:18). In addition, there is the unique form ‫‘ וְ נִ ּוַ ְסרּו‬and they will be admonished’ (Ezek 23:48); its consonantal skeleton reflects a niphal stem (‫נֹוסרּו‬ ְ ְ‫)*ו‬, whereas its vocalization reflects the nitpaal whose prefixed taw assimilated to the contiguous waw (see below). In Rabbinic Hebrew (Tannaitic and Amoraic), the verb occurs only in the piel and, when passive, in the nitpaal: e.g., ‫‘ מייסר‬he admonishes’ (b. San. 39a) and ‫‘ נתייסר‬he was admonished’ (y. San. 27:4), respectively. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that the vocalization tradition ‫( וְ נִ ּוַ ְסרּו‬nitpaal) was grafted onto the consonantal text ‫( ונוסרו‬niphal) in the Bible. ‫ וְ נִ ּוַ ְסרּו‬is not the only biblical example where the consonantal text intended a niphal but the Masoretes vocalized a nitpaal: ‫‘ וְ ִתּנַ ֵּׂשא‬and she shall be raised up’ (Num 24:7), ‫‘ וְ יִ ּנַ ֵּׂשא‬and he shall be raised up’ (2 Chr 32:23), and ‫‘ יִ ּנַ ְּׂשאּו‬they shall raise themselves up’ (Dan 11:14). First, the vocalization of these forms almost certainly reflects the well-known shift characteristic of later Hebrew, especially Tannaitic Hebrew, from the basic stem (qal and its related stem niphal) to the heavy stems ( piel and its related stem nitpaal) (Ben-Ḥayyim 1958: 236–41). Second, in Tannaitic Hebrew, taw of the prefix *nit- can assimilate to the following consonant: for example, ‫יּמ ָּלְך‬ ָ ִ‫‘ נ‬he considered’ (m. Yad. 2:3 [MS Parma B]), ‫ְל ִהיּגַ ַּלע‬ ‘to break forth’ (m. Nid. 8:2, 3 [MS Parma B]), ‫וצה‬ ָ ָ‫‘ ֶׁשּנִ ָיּקּו‬which has been cleared of thorns’ (m. Šeb. 4:2 [MS Parma A]) (see Haneman 1980: 207), and ‫‘ תיגלגל‬she will roll back’ (m. Ṭ. Yom 4:7 [MS Parma A]) (Bar-Asher 2009: 1.158–59, 247–49). The assimilation of taw to the first consonant of the root is characteristic of the corresponding Jewish Palestinian and Babylonian Aramaic ethpeel and ethpaal stems (‫יּכ ֵתב > ִא ְת ְּכ ֵתב‬ ְ ‫‘ ִא‬it was written’ and ‫‘ ִא ַיּק ַּדׁש > ִא ְת ַּק ַּדׁש‬it was sanctified’).

The ‫ נֻ ְפ ַעל‬Verb Form ‫ יל״ד‬usually takes one of two passive forms in Biblical Hebrew. One is the internal qal passive, as in ‫‘ יֻ ַּלד‬he was born’ (e.g., Gen 4:26) and ‫יֻ ַּל ְד ִּתי‬ ‘I was born’ (Jer 30:14). The other is the niphal, as in ‫נֹולד‬ ָ ‘he was born’ (1 Kgs 13:2), ‫‘ יִ ּוָ ֵלד‬he will be born’ (Gen 17:17), and 24 other occurrences. In addition to these two standard forms, there are two exceptional cases reflecting a nuphal stem: ‫נּוּלדּו‬ ְ ‘they were born’ (1 Chr 3:5; 20:8). Nuphal is a variant of niphal, whose u-vowel clearly marks its passive function (Bar-Asher 2009: 2.8–11). It is attested in Tannaitic Hebrew, especially in

The Contribution of Tannaitic Hebrew


‫ פ״נ‬and ‫ פ״י‬verbs: for example, ‫נּוּטל‬ ַ / ‫‘ נֻ ַּטל‬it was removed’ (m. Šabb. 17:3 [MS Kaufmann according to the consonantal text]; cf. the vocalization ‫יּטל‬ ַ ִ‫ נ‬and ‫‘ נוצל‬he was saved’ (t. Ber. 1:11 [according to one manuscript]; cf. ‫ ניצל‬in other manuscripts). Similar forms appear in the Yemenite reading tradition of the Mishnah: e.g., ‫נּוּל ָדה‬ ְ ‘she was born’ (m. Neg. 4:11) and ‫נּוצ ְר ָּת‬ ַ ‘you were created’ (m. ʾAbot 4:10). Nuphal forms are also found occasionally in ‫ ע״ו‬verbs (e.g., ‫‘ הנוער בלילה‬who is awakened at night’ [m. ʾAbot 3:4 (Genizah fragment)]) and in strong verbs (e.g., ‫שנוגאלו בלילה‬ ‘that were defiled at night’ [Siphra Deut §128 (MS Rome 32)]). Still, the chronological implications of ‫נּוּלדּו‬ ְ in Chronicles cannot be firmly resolved at present. Either the nuphal was created at the end of the Second Temple period in one of the dialects of Biblical Hebrew or, alternatively, it arose significantly later and, in two lone cases in the LBH corpus, was superimposed onto the niphal from Tannaitic Hebrew. The evidence suggests that the latter possibility is more likely.

The Passive Participle ‫ָראּוי‬ The active participle of ‫ רא״ה‬occurs frequently in the Hebrew Bible: for example, ‫(‘ ר ֶֹאה‬you) see’ (Gen 13:15). The passive participle, by contrast, is attested only once in a late book from the Second Temple period: ‫ֶׁש ַבע‬ ‫ת־לּה‬ ָ ‫( ַהּנְ ָערֹות ָה ְר ֻאיֹות ָל ֶת‬Esth 2:9). Here, the passive participle does not have a concrete meaning of ‘seeing with the eye’. As in the Mishnah, it has an abstract sense of ‘understanding, thinking’. For example, in m. Roš Haš. 2:8, ‫ רואה אני את דבריך‬literally means ‘I see your words’; idiomatically, it means ‘I understand and accept your words’. Thus the Tannaitic passive participle ‫ ָראּוי‬can be translated as ‘viewed as accepted’, ‘found suitable’, or ‘be capable’: for example, ‫‘ כל שראוי להיות קדש‬whatsoever is fit to be holy’ (m. Ter. 6:6) or ‫‘ אם לא היו ראויות לראות‬if they were not capable of seeing’ (m. Nid. 9:4). This discussion naturally applies to the passage in Esther; ‫ ַהּנְ ָערֹות ָה ְר ֻאיֹות‬means ‘the young girls who are suitable’ for Esther. Medieval commentators already made this connection. For example, Abraham ibn Ezra comments: ‫הראיות—הלשון הזה ידוע בדברי רז״ל [= רבנינו זכרונם‬ ]‫‘ לברכה‬this linguistic usage is known from our Rabbis of blessed memory’ (on Esth 2:9 [first commentary]). Anticipating Rabbinic usage by several hundred years, the author of the book of Esther, who mostly succeeded in imitating the grammar of First Temple Hebrew, used the language current in his time.


Chapter 15

The Adjectives ‫ ָק ָטן‬and ‫ָקטֹן‬ In the Tiberian tradition of Biblical Hebrew, ‫‘ ָק ָטן‬small’ has the variant ‫קטֹן‬,ָ which is attested only in the masc. sing. The former belongs to the noun pattern qātāl, but its inflected forms are ‫( ְק ַטּנָ ה‬fem. sing.), ‫ְק ַטּנִ ים‬ (masc. pl.), and ‫( ְק ַטּנֹות‬fem. pl.). The two masc. sing. variants, however, form a suppletive paradigm. ‫ ָק ָטן‬appears in pause, whereas ‫ ָקטֹן‬occurs in context: for example, ‫‘ ָק ָ ֑טן‬young’ (Gen 44:20) and ‫‘ ַה ָּק ָ ֽטן‬the young(er)’ (Gen 27:15) vs. ‫ם־ק ֤טֹן ַא ָּת ֙ה‬ ָ ‫‘ ִא‬if you seem small’ (1 Sam 15:17) and ‫טֹן‬ ֙ ‫ִמ ָּק‬ ‫‘ וְ ַעד־ּגָ ֔דֹול‬from small to great’ (Jer 44:12) (Ben-David 1995: 313, 316–17). In Old and Middle Babylonian pointed texts, only ‫ ָק ָטן‬is attested (Yeivin 1985: 948). Thus, the Tiberian and Babylonian traditions reflect different dialects of Biblical Hebrew. But this feature also points to a dialectal distribution within Tannaitic Hebrew. There, both ‫ ָק ָטן‬and ‫ ָקטֹן‬appear in the variety of Tannaitic Hebrew represented by MS Kaufmann, whereas only ‫ ָק ָטן‬occurs in the Babylonian vocalization, in MS Parma B, in MS Antonin, and in most oral traditions of Oriental Jewry (Bar-Asher 2011).

Summary Tannaitic Hebrew can contribute greatly to elucidating features of Biblical Hebrew. Some phenomena that are frequent in Biblical Hebrew are infrequent in Tannaitic Hebrew, while some infrequently attested Biblical Hebrew features are frequent in Tannaitic Hebrew. These relationships hold true for both the consonantal and vocalized traditions. It should also be noted that Tannaitic literature deals intensively with the Hebrew Bible. It is not surprising, then, that there are clear ties to the Biblical Hebrew language, such as citations or semi-citations of biblical words and texts. The Tannaitic lexicon contains a not insignificant portion of elements borrowed from Biblical Hebrew, which are not, however, a component of living Tannaitic Hebrew (Epstein 1958: 21–58; Bar-Asher 2009: 1.301–11, 326–29, 2.160–61, 195–205; 2015: 25–26).

Bibliography Bar-Asher, Moshe 2009 ‫ פרקי דקדוק‬.‫ ב‬,‫ מבואות ועיוני לשון‬.‫ א‬:‫[ מחקרים בלשון חכמים‬Studies in Mishnaic Hebrew. 2 vols. Volume 1: Introductions and Linguistic Investigations. Volume 2: Grammatical Topics]. Asuppot 4–5. Jerusalem: Bialik.

The Contribution of Tannaitic Hebrew


2011 ‫[ ָק ָטן ָוקטֹן במקרא ובמשנה ובחיבורים שביניהם בזמן‬Qatan and Qaton in Biblical, Qumran, and Mishnaic Hebrew]. Pp. 279–96 in Israel: Linguistic Studies in the Memory of Israel Yeivin, ed. Rafael I. Zer and Yosef Ofer. Publications of the Hebrew University Bible Project 6. Jerusalem: Hebrew University Bible Project. 2014 Studies in Classical Hebrew. Studia Judaica 71. Berlin: De Gruyter. 2015 ‫ תצורת שם העצם‬:‫[ דקדוק לשון חז״ל‬A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew: The Morphology of the Noun]. Jerusalem: Bialik. Ben-David, Israel 1995 ‫ תחביר וטעמי המקרא‬:‫[ צורות הקשר וצורות הפסק בעברית שבמקרא‬Contextual and Pausal Forms in Biblical Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Magnes. Ben-Ḥayyim, Zeʾev 1954 Studies in the Traditions of the Hebrew Language. Madrid / Barcelona: Instituto «Arias Montano». 1958 ‫מסורת השומרונים וזיקתה למסורת הלשון של מגילות ים המלח וללשון חז״ל‬. Leshonenu 22: 223–45. Breuer, Mordechai 1999 ‫תורה נביאים כתובים מוגהים על פי הנוסח והמסורה של כתר ארם צובה וכתבי היד‬ ‫ מהדורה חדשה בתופסת הסבר עקרונות הנוסח‬:‫הקרובים לו‬. Jerusalem: Ḥorev. Breuer, Yochanan 2002 ‫[ העברית בתלמוד הבבלי לפי כתבי היד של מסכת פסחים‬The Hebrew in the Babylonian Talmud according to the Manuscripts of Tractate Pesaḥim]. Jerusalem: Magnes. Dotan, Aron, ed. 2001 ‫תורה נביאים וכתובים‬. Biblia Hebraica Leningradensia Prepared according to the Vocalization, Accents, and Masora of Aaron ben Moses ben Asher in the Leningrad Codex. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson. Epstein, J. N. 1957 ‫הלכה‬-‫ תוספתא ומדרשי‬,‫ משנה‬:‫[ מבואות לספרות התנאים‬Introduction to Tannaitic Literature: Mishna, Tosephta and Halakhic Midrashim], ed. Ezra Zion Melamed. Jerusalem: Magnes / Tel-Aviv: Dvir. Eshel, Esther; Eshel, Hanan; and Yardeni, Ada 2011 A Document from “Year 4 of the Destruction of the House of Israel.” Dead Sea Discoveries 18: 1–28. Fassberg, Steven E. 1996 The Orthography of the Relative Pronoun -‫ שה‬in the Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods. Scripta Classica Israelica 150: 240–50. Haneman, Gideon 1980 )138 ‫רוסי‬-‫יד פרמה (דה‬-‫[ תורת הצורות של לשון המשנה על פי מסורת כתב‬A Morphology of Mishnaic Hebrew according to the Tradition of the Parma Manuscript (De-Rossi 138)]. Texts and Studies in the Hebrew Language and Related Subjects 3. Tel-Aviv: Tel-Aviv University. Kahana, Abraham, ed. 1930 ‫תורה נביאים וכתובים עם פירוש מדעי‬, vol. 18: The Five Scrolls–Qohelet. Zhi­ to­mir: n.p.


Chapter 15

Kutscher, Eduard Yechezkel 1972 ‫[ מצב המחקר של לשון חז״ל (בעיקר במילונות) ותפקידיו‬The Present State of Research into Mishnaic Hebrew (Especially Lexicography) and Its Tasks]. Pp. 3–28 in ‫[ ערכי המילון החדש לספרות חז״ל‬Archive of the New Dictionary of Rabbinical Literature], ed. Eduard Yechezkel Kutscher. Ramat-Gan: New Dictionary of Rabbinical Literature Project, Bar-Ilan University. 1977 ‫[ מחקרים בעברית ובארמית‬Studies in Hebrew and Aramaic], ed. Zeev BenḤayyim, Aharon Dotan, and Gad Sarfatti. Jerusalem: Magnes. Morag, Shelomo 1963 ‫[ העברית שבפי יהודי תימן‬The Hebrew Language Tradition of the Yemenite Jews]. Academy of the Hebrew Language Studies 4. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language. 1974 On the Historical Validity of the Vocalization of the Hebrew Bible. Journal of the American Oriental Society 94: 307–15. Orman, Dan 1972 Jewish Inscriptions from Dabbura in the Golan. Israel Exploration Journal 22: 16–23. Segal, M. H. 1936 ‫דקדוק לשון המשנה‬. Tel Aviv: Dvir. A revised and expanded translation of A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew. Oxford: Clarendon, 1927. Yeivin, Israel 1985 ‫[ מסורת הלשון העברית המשתקפת בניקוד הבבלי‬The Hebrew Language Tradition as Reflected in the Babylonian Vocalization]. 2 vols. Academy of the Hebrew Language Texts and Studies 12. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language.

Chapter 16

Modern Reading Traditions of Biblical Hebrew A haron M aman

Introduction Since the custom was fixed by Ezra the Scribe in the sixth century BCE, Jews read set portions from the Torah in synagogues on Mondays, Thursdays, and the Sabbath (b. B. Qam. 82a). The cycle of readings is completed on the Festival of Simḥat Torah (“Rejoicing in the Law”), which is celebrated at the end of the Festival of Sukkot (“Tabernacles”). In the Land of Israel, the custom was to complete the reading of the Torah over a three-and-a-half year period, so that the entire Torah was read twice during a seven-year period ending with the sabbatical (‫)ׁש ִמ ָּטה‬ ְ year (Naeh 1998, 2005). This custom, however, was eventually replaced by the Babylonian, in which the entire Torah was read in one year. The latter custom continues in all Jewish communities. All have the same text, but its pronunciation differs among Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Yemenites and Indians, Easterners, and Maghrebis (those from North Africa). Differences in melody are immediately noticeable, and with some attention, one also hears differences in the phonetic realization of the consonants and vowels.

The Speech Communities Jewish communities were and still are dispersed all over the globe. Their dispersal is accompanied by a division of the formal liturgical reading of the Hebrew Bible into several main traditions: Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Yemenite, and Italian (which in some respects is Ashkenazic and in others Sephardic). The Ashkenazic tradition is at home in most of Eastern and Western Europe, the Italian reading tradition in Italy, and the Yemenite tradition in Yemen. The Sephardic tradition existed in Ashkenaz until the 215


Chapter 16

thirteenth century (Eldar 1978, 1979), in Spain until the expulsion of Jews in 1492, in the Balkans until the destruction of the Jewish communities in the Holocaust, and, until the mass emigration to the new State of Israel, in Arabic-speaking countries (except Yemen), Persia, Pakistan, and India, as well as in Karaite communities (the Crimea and Lithuania). Outside of Israel, one finds the Ashkenazic tradition in most North American communities today, though in the beginning of Jewish settlement in the Americas the Sephardic-Portuguese tradition was dominant; the latter is still heard in some communities such as in the Shearith Israel synagogue in Manhattan, the Mikveh Israel synagogue in Philadelphia, and some synagogues in London (England). One can also hear the Sephardic tradition among emigrants from Aleppo who have resettled in Brooklyn, New York and in Deal, New Jersey. Fittingly, the Sephardic tradition is used in revived Jewish communities in Spain today, particularly in Madrid and Barcelona. The Italian tradition can be found among descendants of the original Jewish communities in and outside of Italy. The terms “Ashkenazic tradition” and “Sephardic tradition” are simplifications for clusters of traditions. For example, the Ashkenazic reading traditions in Eastern Europe, especially in Lithuania, differ from those in Western Europe, and that of Frankfurt (as still practiced in the Kehal Adath Jeshurun synagogue in Manhattan) from other parts of Central Europe. Remnants of the Sephardic-Portuguese tradition exist in various communities in the world, and this tradition has several features in common with Italian traditions. The Sephardic traditions in North Africa are distinguished from their related traditions further to the East. A single word may highlight some of the differences among communities. For example, ‫‘ עולם‬eternity’ is pronounced in Ashkenaz as [óylåm], in Central Yemen as [ˁölǻm], in Southern Yemen as [ˁelǻm] (Morag 1963), in Georgia (i.e., the Georgian Republic) as [ġolám] or [qġolám], in Iran as [ulám], in Cochin (and in India in general) as [olám], in Italy, Holland and the Spanish-Portuguese tradition as [ŋolám, ñolám], and in the other Sephardic traditions as [ˁolám] or [ˁʊlám]. Of the five phonemes that make up the word, only ‫ ל‬and ‫ מ‬are stable in all of the traditions,1 whereas among the other phonemes the consonant ‫ ע‬and the vowels ḥolem and qameṣ are pronounced differently. Most of the Sephardic communities realize ‫ ע‬as 1.  In Russia and the United States, however, ‫ ל‬is realized as an emphatic-velar [ɫ, ḷ].

Modern Reading Traditions of Biblical Hebrew


a voiced pharyngeal fricative [ˁ], but in Georgia it is realized as a velar affricate [qġ] or a velar fricative [ġ], in the Sephardic-Portuguese community (Amsterdam and elsewhere) and in Italy as a nasal-velar [ŋ], and in Ashkenazic communities (as well as in India) as zero. Another word exemplifies the differences: the proper noun ‫‘ עובדיה‬Obadiah’ is realized as [ˁobadya] in most of the Sephardic traditions, [ŋovadya] in the Italian and Sephardic-Portuguese traditions, and [qḡobadiya] in the Georgian tradition; in the Ashkenazic tradition, one hears [ovadya].

Examples of Reading Traditions by Community We present below examples of one verse from the Hebrew Bible according to different reading traditions, followed by comments on salient features. The reading of the entire chapter can be found in the materials associated with the website for this book, which comes from The Hebrew University Jewish Oral Traditions Research Center (see http://www.eisenbrauns.com/item/GARHANDBO/). ‫ת־מ ְצ ַ ֔ריִם ֵ ֖מת ַעל־‬ ִ ‫הוה ַּבּי֥ ֹום ַה ֛הּוא ֶאת־יִ ְׂש ָר ֵ ֖אל ִמ ַּי֣ד ִמ ְצ ָ ֑ריִם וַ ַּי ְ�֤רא יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל֙ ֶא‬ ֜ ָ ְ‫ֹוׁשע י‬ ַ ֨‫וַ ּי‬ ‫ְׂש ַ ֥פת ַה ָּיֽם‬ ‘Yhwh saved Israel on that day from Egypt. Israel saw Egypt dead on the seacoast’ (Exod 14:30).

Ashkenazic Tradition Lithuania: [vayoyša: ašé:m bayóym ahú: es isråél miyád mitsrǻyim vayár israél es mitsrǻyim mé:s al sfát ayǻ:m] A salient feature of the pronunciation of the consonants in Lithuania, and in Ashkenaz in general, is the weakening of the pharyngeals and the laryngeals. ‫ ע‬and ‫ א‬quiesce; sometimes in their place an adjacent vowel is lengthened: for example, [vayoyša:]. ‫ ה‬is usually reduced to zero but is retained under certain conditions (e.g., [ahú:]). ‫ח‬, which is not attested in this verse, is realized as an unvoiced velar fricative ([χ, x]) as if it were derived from *ḫ (IPA [χ]). A name such as ‫‘ ָר ֵחל‬Rachel’ (e.g., Gen 29:6) is realized as [råxel] or [ġåxel]. ‫ ח‬merged with the spirantized ‫[( ֿכ‬x]) in pronunciation. The dageš ḥazaq is not geminated: e.g., [ayǻ:m, vayár]. Of the ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬consonants, only ‫ בכפ״ת‬are spirantized, and ‫ ֿת‬is realized as an unvoiced interdental fricative [s]. ‫ ו‬is realized as [v] (e.g., [vayár] just like


Chapter 16

spirantized ‫)ֿב‬. Because of the loss of emphasis (pharyngealization), ‫ ט‬and ‫ת‬, and ‫ ק‬and ‫ כ‬have merged in pronunciation. ‫ צ‬is pronounced as an affricate [ts] (e.g., [mitsrǻyim]), as in Italy, apparently under the influence of the German (and Italian) realization of z. In Lithuania, the distinction between ֹ ‫ ש‬and ‫ ׁש‬is also lost. None of the reading traditions preserves a distinction between ‫ ס‬and ‫ׂש‬, which was lost early in the history of Hebrew, already 2,000 years ago, as attested in the orthography of Tannaitic Hebrew. ‫ ר‬is realized two different ways based on region: in Slavonic-speaking areas it is pronounced as a lingual trill [r], whereas in German-speaking areas it is realized as a voiced velar fricative [ġ]. For example, ‫ ִמ ְצ ַריִ ם‬is realized as [mitsrǻyim] or [mitsġǻyim]. Among the vowels, qameṣ is pronounced as a raised low, back vowel (e.g., [isråél]) and the ḥolem and ṣere are diphthongized: ḥolem as [oy] (e.g., [vayoyša:, bayóym]) and ṣere (sometimes also səgol) in an open syllable as [ay] (like the Yiddish pronunciation of Hebrew ‫ חדר‬as [xáyder]). Generally, however, there is a distinction between ṣere pronounced as a diphthong [ey] and səgol pronounced as [e]. In Frankfurt, ḥolem is pronounced as [aw]. For example, ‫‘ אֹו ד ֹדֹו אֹו ֶבן־ד ֹדֹו‬or his uncle or his uncle’s son’ (Lev 25:49) is realized as [áw dawdáw áw ben dawdáw] whereas elsewhere in Ashkenaz it is pronounced [oy doydoy oy ben doydoy]. Vocal šəwa is realized as a səgol or as a zero-vowel ([sfát]) depending on the phonological environment. The lengthening of vowels in this verse is compensation for the loss of a guttural or is the result of the stress accompanying pausal Biblical accent signs (‫ טעמים‬ṭəʿamim).

Yemenite Tradition Sanʿa, Yemen: [wayyóšaˁ aḏənǻ:y bayyöm hahú: ˀaθ isråˀél miyyáḏ miṣṛǻyi:m wayyár isråˀél ˀaθ miṣṛáyim méθ ˁal safáθ hayyǻ:m] The Yemenite tradition is a continuation of the ancient Babylonian reading tradition from the Geonic period. Of all the traditions, only it and part of Iraqi Kurdistan (the cities of Zakho, Mosul) retain a full system of spirantized ‫בג״ד כפ״ת‬: [b/v, ğ/ḡ, d/ḏ, k/x, p/f, t/θ], respectively, as in [aḏənǻ:y, ˀaθ, méθ, safáθ]. Spirantized ‫ ֿת‬is realized as a unvoiced labial-dental [θ] (Morag 1977: §17; Yaʿakov 2015: §2.3). Spirantized ‫ ֿג‬is realized as a velar [ġ]; however, ‫ ּג‬with a dageš qal is pronounced as an affricate [ğ]; contrast ‫ק‬, which is pronounced as a voiced velar stop [g], probably under the influ-

Modern Reading Traditions of Biblical Hebrew


ence of the local Arabic. The guttural consonants are maintained in Yemen (as they are in the surrounding dialects of Arabic). ‫ א‬is realized as a glottal stop ([ˀaθ isråˀél]), though when adjacent to ‫ע‬, it is liable to quiesce (e.g., [wayyóšaˁ aḏonǻ:y]). ‫ ה‬is realized as a glottal fricative: e.g., [hayyǻ:m]. ‫ע‬ is realized as a voiced pharyngeal fricative ([ˁal]), while ‫ ח‬is realized as an unvoiced pharyngeal fricative [ḥ] (e.g., ‫[ ָר ֵחל‬raḥel]), as in most Sephardic traditions. The existence of [ḥ] and [x] is not related to the same two pronunciations of ‫ ח‬in ancient Hebrew and other Semitic languages. ‫ ו‬is pronounced as a bilabial semi-vowel [w]: e.g., [wayyóšaˁ]. ‫ צ‬is pronounced as an emphatic fricative [ṣ]; the emphasis sometimes spreads to adjacent consonants, as is the case with ‫( ר‬e.g., [miṣṛáyim]). ‫ ט‬is pronounced emphatically as [ṭ]. Dageš ḥazaq is realized by gemination, as in [wayyóšaˁ] and [miyyáḏ]. As for the vowels, qameṣ (both the qameṣ gadol and the qameṣ qaṭan) is pronounced as a lower mid-back vowel [å] ([isrǻˀél, yǻ:m]). The səgol is realized as a pataḥ: a low vowel [α] and sometimes even as [a] (e.g., [ˀaθ]). One of the most salient features of the Yemenite tradition, and before it the Babylonian pronunciation, is the absence of səgol (apparently, the Babylonian and Palestinian traditions separated before the development of the səgol); where one expects Tiberian səgol one finds pataḥ in Babylonian and Yemenite. Ḥolem is centralized (e.g., [yǿm]) like German ö or French e. In southern Yemen (Sharˤab, the ancient Jewish quarter of Taˤizz, and in Aden), ḥolem is realized as a lowered high front vowel [e] like ṣere. In this detail and others, there are significant differences between southern Yemen and the northern and central (Sanˤa and its environs) regions of the country (Yaʿakov 2015). The vocal šəwa is realized as a reduced [a]; before guttural consonants, however, its realization varies according to the vowel of the guttural. Before ‫י‬, šəwa is realized as [i].

Sephardic Traditions Unlike Ashkenazic and Yemenite traditions, Sephardic traditions distinctively have only five vowel qualities: [a, e, i, o, u]. They neither distinguish between the pronunciation of qameṣ and pataḥ (both are realized as [a] and so too the ḥaṭeph pataḥ) nor between ṣere and səgol; the latter are both pronounced [e], as is ḥaṭeph səgol. In this regard, it continues the ancient Palestinian pronunciation system. Only qameṣ qaṭan and the ḥaṭeph qameṣ are realized as [o]. The vocal šəwa is realized as ṣere/səgol,


Chapter 16

but following a long vowel it may reduce to zero, as in ‫[ ָׁש ְמרּו‬šamrú] ‘they kept’ and ‫[ ׁש ְֹמ ִרים‬šomrím] ‘guarding, keeping’; and in some communities, this realization occurs even when the accent is on the penultimate syllable ([šámru, šómrim]). It seems that the realization of the vocal šəwa as [e, e] in this environment ([šamerú, šomerím], respectively) is a learned pronunciation under the influence of grammar books. Some communities distinguish ḥireq from ṣere, but others, due to interference from local foreign speech, blur the difference between these two cardinal vowels. Similarly, individuals and communities that lost the ability to distinguish between ֹ ‫ ש‬and ‫ ׁש‬pronounce them both as an advanced postalveolar [ ʃ̟ ] or simple [s]. In another general trait of the Sephardic reading traditions, the spirantized pronunciation of the consonants ‫ בג״ד כפ״ת‬survived only in the consonants ‫גכ״פ‬: [g/ġ, k/x, p/f ]. In some communities, however, there are differences. The spirantized realizations of ‫ֿב‬, ‫ֿד‬, and ‫[( ֿת‬v, ḏ, θ]) are lost in most of the Sephardic traditions where one finds only their plosive counterparts ‫ּב‬, ‫ּד‬, and ‫[ ּת‬b, d, t]. In Iraq, one hears the spirantized realization of ‫ֿת‬ [θ], in general, and of ‫[ ֿד‬ḏ], in a single word: the Tetragrammaton [aḏonáy]; some are also careful to pronounce a spirantized ‫ ֿד‬also before ‫ּת‬, possibly as a learned tradition, as in ‫[ וְ ִל ַּמ ְֿד ֶּתם‬welimmaḏtém] ‘you will teach’ (Deut 11:19). In the traditional reading of Georgian Jews, the bilabials ‫ פ‬and ‫ב‬ are realized regularly in all environments as aspirated stops [ph, bh]. ‫ ו‬is pronounced in Eastern communities and by some Sepharadim as a bilabial [β] or a bilabial semi-vowel [w]; in other communities, it is a labial-dental [v]. Some communities in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and certain parts of North Africa have preserved the emphatic realization of ‫ט‬, ‫צ‬, and ‫ק‬. Other communities, such as those in Georgia, have merged the emphatics with ‫ּת‬, ‫ס‬, and ‫ּכ‬, as in the Ashkenazic traditions. The dageš ḥazaq is pronounced geminated in most communities. Georgia: [βayyóšaġ adonayí: bayyom aú et israé:l miyyád misrayím βayyár israé:l et misrayím mét ġal sefát ayyá:m] The defining characteristic of the Georgian Jewish reading tradition is the pronunciation of ‫ ע‬as a voiced uvular fricative [ġ] (e.g., [βayyóšaġ ġal sefát]) or an unvoiced/voiced uvular affricate [qġ]. Emphasis was lost in Georgia leading to the pronunciation of ‫ צ‬as ‫( ס‬e.g., [misrayim]). ‫ א‬and ‫ה‬ are reduced to zero (e.g., [aú et israé:l, ayyá:m]).

Modern Reading Traditions of Biblical Hebrew


Spanish-Portuguese: [vayyóšaŋ adoná:y bayyóm hahú: ét isġaˀél miy­ yád misġáyim vayyáġ yísġaél ét misġáyim mé(t) ŋal sefát hayyá:m] The most prominent feature of the Spanish-Portuguese reading tradition is the realization of ‫ ע‬as velar-nasal [ŋ]: e.g., [vayyóšaŋ] ‘He saved’, [ŋal sefát] ‘on the (sea)coast’, ‫[ ָע ָש ֹה‬ŋasa] ‘He did’ (Exod 14:31), ‫יׁשּועה‬ ָ ‫ִל‬ [lišuŋa] ‘(my) deliverance’ (Exod 15:2), and ‫[ ֻט ְּבעּו‬tubbeŋu] ‘they were sunk’ (Exod 15:4). The reading tradition also consistently distinguishes the qualities of the vowels. Vocal šəwa is realized as [e], except where it is marked by a ḥaṭeph pataḥ on a non-guttural: e.g., ‫[ ָצ ֲללּו‬salalu] ‘they sank’ (Exod 15:10). ‫ ח‬in many cases is velarized, as in ‫[ ַּבּכ ַֹח‬bakkoax] ‘in power’ (Exod 15:6) and ‫[ ֲחרֹונְ ָך‬xaronexa] ‘Your fury’ (Exod 15:7). But ‫רּוח‬ ַ ‫ּוב‬ ְ ‘and at the blast of’ (Exod 15:8) is realized as [ubrua], not [ubruax]; this realization, then, is a remnant of a weakened pharyngeal ‫ח‬. There is no distinction between ‫ ּת‬and ‫ ֿת‬or between ‫ ּב‬and ‫( ֿב‬see ‫[ אבן‬aben] ‘stone’). ‫ט‬, ‫צ‬, and ‫ ק‬lose their emphasis and are realized as their non-emphatic counterparts ‫ת‬, ‫ס‬, and ‫כ‬: e.g., ‫[ ֻט ְּבעּו‬tubbeŋu], ‫[ ָק ֶמיָך‬kamexa] ‘Your enemies’ (Exod 15:7), ‫[ ַּבּק ֶֹדׁש‬bakkodeš] ‘in holiness’, and ‫[ ָצ ֲללּו‬salalu]. Spirantized ‫ ֿג‬is devoiced and realized as spirantized ‫[( ֿכ‬x]): ‫[ ִכי גָ אֹה ֿגָ ָאה‬ki gao xaa] ‘He has triumphed gloriously’ (Exod 15:1). ‫ ר‬is realized in two different ways based on the language of background: in Holland and Provence, it is pronounced as a lingual trill [r], whereas in Northern France it is realized as a voiced velar fricative [ġ]. Cochin, India: [wayyošá: adoná:y bayyóm aú: ét israél miyyád misṛáyim wiyyáṛ israél et misṛáyim mét al sefǻd ayyá:m] In the reading tradition of Cochin, the glottal consonants ‫ א‬and ‫ ה‬and the pharyngeal ‫ ע‬are lost, as well as the emphatic pronunciation of ‫צ‬: see [aú: ét israél], [wayyošá], and [misṛáyim], respectively. The realization of ‫ שפת‬as [sefǻd] reflects an ad hoc voicing of ‫ת‬. In general, the vowels are realized as in the Sephardic traditions. There is a unique feature in the Cochin tradition in which qameṣ is realized as a raised mid-back vowel [ǻ] in certain biblical verses and in liturgical selections expressing redemption, festive occasions, or praise for God (a “festive qameṣ”); the same is true for an initial festive šəwa realized in the same circumstances as [a] (Forsström 1997: 125–27; 2007: §§4.6, 4.9,


Chapter 16

Yazd, Iran: [wayyúšá adonǻy bayyom hahú ít israél miyyád misráyím βayyár isrál éd misráyím mét ˁal safátə hayyǻ:m] The unique traits of the Jewish Iranian reading tradition are the realization of ‫ ח‬as a glottal fricative [h] and ‫ ק‬as a voiced uvular [ġ] (‫ִמ ְּק ָדׁש‬ [miġġedaš] ‘sanctuary’ [Exod 15:17], ‫[ ֲא ַח ֵּלק‬ahalleġ] ‘I will divide’ [Exod 15:9]), which seems to be the remnant of an emphatic realization. Nonetheless, the emphasis in ‫ ט‬and ‫ צ‬was lost: ‫[ ֻט ְּבעּו‬tubbaˀu] (Exod 15:4) and [misráyím], respectively. An additional feature is the loss of the pharyngeal realization of ‫[( ע‬wayyúšá](, which sometimes has a weak pronunciation (e.g., [ˁal] ‘on’ and [ˁabdʊ] ‘his servant’) and at other times is heard as a glottal stop (e.g., ‫[ לישועה‬lišuˀa] ‘[my] deliverance’ [Exod 15:2]). Yet another feature is the realization of the qameṣ as a low back vowel, apparently in an environment similar to the realization of the parallel vowel in Persian. Sometimes the vocal šəwa is realized as [a]: e.g., [safátə], ‫[ ְשמֹו‬šamʊ] ‘His name’ (Exod 15:3), and ‫[ ֻט ְּבעּו‬tubbaˀu]. Baghdad, Iraq: [wayyóšaˁ aḏúná:y bayyúm hahú: éθ israəl miyyád məṣṛáyəm wayyár israˀél éθ məṣṛáyəm méθ ˁal sefáθ ayyá:m] In their reading tradition, the Jews of Baghdad preserve the emphatic pronunciation of ‫[( צ‬məṣṛáyəm]), ‫( ק‬e.g., ‫[ וַ ּיִ ְק ָרא‬wayyiqrá] ‘he called’ [e.g., Exod 12:31]), and ‫( ט‬e.g., ‫[ טוב‬ṭób] ‘good’); they also distinguish between ‫( ּת‬following a closed syllable) realized as [t] and that of ‫( ֿת‬after an open syllable) realized as [θ] ([éθ, méθ]). They are careful to pronounce ‫ ד‬in the Tetragrammaton ([aḏúná:y] and sometimes also before ‫ּת‬. It is interesting that speakers clearly distinguish between their Hebrew and Arabic pronunciations of ‫ר‬: when reading Hebrew they realize it as a trilled [r] (‫ַא ְש ֵרי‬ [ašré] ‘fortunate’), but when speaking Arabic they realize it as a uvular [ġ] (‫[ رحت‬ġəḥtu] 'I went’). This difference is especially noticeable in cognate forms such as ‫[ ָיְב ֵרְך‬yəbárex] ‘he will bless’ as opposed to ‫[ يبارك‬yəbéġək] ‘he will bless’. A vowel in a closed unstressed syllable sometimes becomes centralized ([məṣṛáyəm]). Aleppo, Syria: [wayyóšaˁ adoná:y beyom hahú: ˀét israyél miyyád məṣṛáyim wayyár israyél ˀéθ məṣṛáyim mét ˁal sifát hayyá:m] Sephardic pronunciation traits are also preserved in Aleppo, including the emphatic realization of ‫ צ‬,‫ט‬, and ‫ק‬. In most cases, there is no difference between ‫ ּת‬and ‫ ;ֿת‬infrequently, however, spirantized ‫ ֿת‬is maintained (e.g.,

Modern Reading Traditions of Biblical Hebrew


[ˀéθ] as opposed to [mét, sifát]). There is no distinction between ‫ ּד‬and ‫ֿד‬. A vowel in a closed unaccented syllable becomes centralized ([məṣṛáyim]), and gemination is sporadically lost ([beyom]). Constantine, Algeria: [wayyóšaˁ aḏoná:y bayyóm hahú: ˀíts israyəl miyyád miṣṛáyim βayyár israyəl ˀits miṣṛáyim míts ˁal sifáts hayyá:m] Jews usually preserve a Sephardic reading tradition in Constantine (and in Algeria in general) but with a local variation. As in other Arabicspeaking countries, Jews do not distinguish clearly between ḥireq, ṣere, səgol, and ḥaṭeph səgol: all are realized between a high front [i] and a low high front [i]. Generally, they also do not distinguish between the vowels ḥolem and šureq/qibbuṣ and realize them between a back high [u] and a high lowered [ʊ]. As in Morocco, the Jews of Constantine do not distinguish between the plosive and spirantized realizations of ‫ ת‬and pronounce them both as an unvoiced affricate [ts] (e.g., [ˀits, míts]). Nor do they distinguish between the plosive and spirantized realization of ‫ד‬, except when pronouncing the Tetragrammaton ([aḏoná:y]), a feature that is reminiscent of the Jewish Iraqi reading tradition. Tafilalt, Morocco: [wayyošáˁ adoná:y bayyúm hahú: ˀíts israyəl miy­ yád miṣṛáyim wayyár israyəl ˀits miṣṛáyim mí:ts ˁal sifáts hayyá:m] The vowels in Tafilalt are realized as in Algeria, and so too the plosive and spirantized pronunciations of ‫ ת‬are realized as an unvoiced affricate [ts] (e.g., [míts, ˀits]). Similarly, there is no distinction between ‫ ּד‬and ‫ֿד‬. The glottal stop is realized as zero, and intervocalically it is sometimes heard as a palatal semi-vowel [y] ([israyəl]). In Tafilalt, ‫ ק‬merged with ‫ ּכ‬and is realized as [k], unlike in Marrakesh or in Casablanca where the emphatic ‫ ק‬is preserved. Djerba, Tunisia: [wiyyóšaˁ adoná:y biyyúm aú: hét israél miyyád moṣṛáyim wiyyár israél ét moṣṛáyəm mít ˁal sifát iyyá:m] The Jewish reading tradition of Djerba has been described in detail by Katz (1977). The realization of pataḥ as [i] in the “consecutive” prefix *wa- (e.g., [wiyyóšaˁ, wiyyár]) and in the definite article *ha- (e.g., [iyyá:m]) is not a direct shift of *a > [i] but represents the centralization of [a] > [ə], which eventually moved to a high front vowel in proximity to the semi-vowel [y]. The vowel ḥireq is likely to be realized either as


Chapter 16

its regular phone (e.g., [israél, miyyád]) or as a centralized vowel in a closed unstressed syllable (e.g., [moṣṛáyəm]). ‫ א‬and ‫ ה‬lose their consonantal status. But ‫ א‬is often realized as ‫ה‬, as in [hét-israél]; the opposite phenomenon is attested, too, where ‫ ה‬is realized as ‫א‬: e.g., ‫[ ֵמ ַהר‬meˀár] ‘from Mount (Paran)’ (Deut 33:2) and ‫[ וַ יְ ִהי‬wayˀí:] ‘he was’ (Exod 24:18) (Katz 1977: 2).

Concluding Remarks on the Reading Traditions Not all the differences among reading traditions can be exhibited in the single verse discussed. For example, in Tetouan (northern Morocco), the reading tradition regularly preserves a difference in the pronunciation of a šəwa following a long vowel, which is dependent on the stress. When the šəwa follows a meteg, it is realized as [e], and when it follows a different accent sign, it is reduced to zero. This can be illustrated by the two occurrences of ‫‘ ָהר ְֹפ ִאים‬the physicians’ in Gen 50:2: ‫ת־ע ָב ָד ֙יו ֶאת־‬ ֲ ‫יֹוסף ֶא‬ ֤ ֵ ‫וַ יְ ַ֨צו‬ ‫ת־אָביו וַ יַּ ַחנְ ֥טוּ ָהר ְֹפ ִ ֖אים ֶאת־יִ ְשׂ ָר ֵ ֽאל‬ ִ֑ ‫‘ ָה ֣ר ֹ ְפ ִ֔אים ַל ֲח ֹ֖נט ֶא‬Joseph ordered the physicians in his service to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed his father.’ The first, ‫ה ֣ר ֹ ְפ ִ֔אים‬, ָ has two accent signs, and the šəwa is realized as a zero-vowel following the first sign (‫ מונח‬munaḥ): [haróf  ˀim]. But the second occurrence, ‫הר ֽ ְֹפ ִ ֖אים‬, ָ has a šəwa following a meteg; its realization is [e]: [harófeˀim] (Maman 1984: § In conclusion, the dispersion of Jews over a large geographical area and over time has led to the creation of different reading traditions. Some features of the traditions go back to the Middle Ages and ancient Hebrew pronunciations. Other features are newer and influenced by the surrounding superstrata.

Formal Modern Israeli Reading Tradition We conclude with a reading of Exod 14:30 by a modern professional broadcaster, Mr. Shlomo Bertonov, recorded in 1959; for many years, this was a standard for the reading of biblical chapters on Israeli radio broadcasts and in public ceremonies.2 We then compare it with a reading (Exodus 15) recorded in 2013 for the purposes of this chapter by Mr. Amikam Gurevitz, who also was a broadcaster, an emcee of public ceremonies, and 2.  The entire Hebrew Bible was recorded by Bertonov in 1959 and was digitized in 2003 by the Central Library for the Blind in Netanya. The transcription of the verse is based on the 1959 recording.

Modern Reading Traditions of Biblical Hebrew


an instructor of public diction and speaking. Both are well-known figures in contemporary Israeli society. Bertonov: [vayyóšaˁ adonáy bayyóm hahú ˀet yisraˀél miyyád mitsráyim, vayyár yisraˀél ˀet mitsráyim mét ˁal sefát hayyám] Gurevitz: ‫מר‬ ֹ ֑ ‫אמ ֖רּו ֵלא‬ ְ ֹ ‫יהוה וַ ּי‬ ֔ ָ ‫את ַ ֽל‬ ֙ ֹ ‫ירה ַהּז‬ ֤ ָ ‫ת־ה ִּׁש‬ ַ ‫ּוב ֵ֨ני יִ ְׂש ָר ֵ֜אל ֶא‬ ְ ‫ָ ֣אז יָ ִ ֽׁשיר־מ ֶֹׁש ֩ה‬ ‫אה ּגָ ָ֔אה ֥סּוס ַב ָּיֽם וְ ר ְֹכ ֖בֹו ָר ָ ֥מה‬ ֹ ֣ ָ‫ָא ִ ׁ֤ש ָירה ֽ ַליהוָ ֙ה ִ ּֽכי־ג‬ [ˀázz yašír mošé uvné yisraél et haširá hazzót ladonáy vayyómerú lemór ašíra ladonáy ki gaˀó gaˀá sús veróxevó rammá βayyám] Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to Yhwh. They said, “I will sing to Yhwh, for He has triumphed gloriously; Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea” (Exod 15:1). These readings are based on the standard of pronunciation that was chosen at the beginning of the revival of Hebrew speech in Palestine at the end of the nineteenth century. It has a combination of Sephardic vowels and Ashkenazic consonants. There are only five vocalic qualities as in Sephardic traditions, which, as noted above, are derived from the ancient Palestinian pronunciation. There is no distinction between qameṣ and pataḥ nor between ṣere and səgol, as against the medieval Tiberian pronunciation. ‫ צ‬is pronounced as in Ashkenaz and in Italy, yet there are consonantal features that continue the Sephardic pronunciation, such as the merger of plosive and spirantized pronunciations of ‫ ּג‬and ‫ֿג‬, ‫ ּד‬and ‫ֿד‬, and ‫ ּת‬and ‫ֿת‬. Although the pronunciations of Bertonov and Gurevitz faithfully reflect, on the whole, Israeli Hebrew, one can nevertheless hear that the pronunciation of both broadcasters is learned and not colloquial. For example, both preserve the pronunciation of the vocal šəwa as either [e] ([sefát]) (Bertonov) or, sometimes, a short [e] (e.g., [vayyómerú, veróxevó] [Exod 15:1]) (Gurevitz) even where the Sephardic reading traditions do not, such as in the middle of the word after a long vowel or after a meteg (see ‫וַ ִ ּֽי ְיר ֥אּו‬ [vayyireˀú] ‘they feared’ [Exod 14:31]). The broadcast pronunciation is an idealized reading; it seeks to distinguish, as much as possible, between consonants that merged in Israeli Hebrew and to revive consonants that have largely disappeared, through a careful pronunciation of the glottal consonants ‫ א‬and ‫( ה‬see [hahú ˀet yisraˀél]), the laryngeals ‫ ח‬and ‫( ע‬see [vayyóšaˁ, ˁal]), or gemination (see [vayyóšaˁ, bayyóm]).


Chapter 16

There is proof that this is a learned reading tradition and not a continuation of something older: the broadcasters sometimes fail to pronounce glottals, pharyngeals, gemination, and other phenomena. There are also differences between the two broadcasters. While Bertonov pronounces ‫ק‬ as [k], following standardized Israeli pronunciation (e.g., ‫[ ָק ֶמיָך‬kaméxa], ‫[ ַּכ ַּקׁש‬kakkáš] ‘like straw’ [Exod 15:7], and ‫[ ָק ְפאּו‬kafeˀú ] ‘they congealed’ [Exod 15:8]), Gurevitz occasionally pronounces ‫ ק‬as the emphatic [q] as in Arabic (e.g., [kaqqáš] and [qaníta] ‘You acquired’ [Exod 15:16]). He also unexpectedly geminates ‫ ז‬in [ˀazz] (‫)אז‬ ָ and ‫ מ‬in [ramma] ‫ ָר ָמה‬in an ad hoc exaggeration of festive reading. Another important difference between the older reading traditions and those of Bertonov and Gurevitz is that the former were chanted in liturgical contexts whereas the latter are read in public forums. In 2011, Dan Kaner, a veteran broadcaster on Israeli government radio and television, produced a 72-hour recording, Kol HaTanakh: The Voice of the Bible, in which he read the entire Hebrew Bible. His reading is much like contemporary Hebrew speech. It is less dramatic than that of Bertonov, Gurevitz, and their peers, but it is similar in its essential phonetic features to that of Bertonov. Kaner’s reading is consistent in pronouncing ‫א‬, ‫ח‬, and ‫ ע‬with their classical Sephardic values, the vocal šəwa as [e], and here and there even geminating a consonant when there is a dageš ḥazaq. A sample of his reading of Genesis 1 may be found online (https://www.the-vob.com/). The recordings accompanying this book contain the traditional recitations of Exod 14:30 described above, as well as Exod 14:31 and Exodus 15 (see http://www.eisenbrauns.com/item/GARHANDBO).

Bibliography Eldar, Ilan 1978 ,‫מהותה והיסודות המשותפים לה ולמסורת ספרד‬ :‫אשכנזית‬-‫מסורת הקריאה הקדם‬ ‫ ענייני הגייה וניקוד‬:‫[ כרך א‬The Hebrew Language Tradition in Medieval Ashkenaz (ca. 950–1350 C.E.), vol. 1: Phonology and Vocalization]. ‫עדה ולשון‬ 4. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem Language Traditions Project. 1979 ,‫מהותה והיסודות המשותפים לה ולמסורת ספרד‬ :‫אשכנזית‬-‫מסורת הקריאה הקדם‬ ‫ ענייני תצורה‬:‫[ כרך ב‬The Hebrew Language Tradition in Medieval Ashkenaz (ca. 950–1350 C.E.), vol. 2: Morphology]. 5 ‫עדה ולשון‬. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem Language Traditions Project. Forsström, Jarmo 1997 The Pronunciation Tradition of Biblical Hebrew among the Jews of Cochin: A Preliminary Survey. Studia Orientalia 82: 111–28.

Modern Reading Traditions of Biblical Hebrew 2007


‫ תורת ההגה‬:‫מסורת הקריאה של יהודי קוצ'ין במשנה‬. M.A. thesis. Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Katz, Ktzia 1977 ‫ תורת ההגה והפועל‬:‫[ מסורת הקריאה של קהילת ג'רבה במקרא ובמשנה‬The Hebrew Language Tradition of the Community of Djerba (Tunisia): The Phonology and the Morphology of the Verb]. 2 ‫עדה ולשון‬. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem Language Traditions Project. Maman, Aharon 1984 ‫ פרקים בתורת ההגה‬:‫[ מסורת הקריאה של יהודי תיטואן במקרא ובמשנה‬The Reading Tradition of the Jews of Tetouan: Phonology of Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew]. Massorot 1: 51–120. Morag, Shelomo 1963 ‫[ העברית שבפי יהודי תימן‬The Hebrew Language Tradition of the Yemenite Jews]. Academy of the Hebrew Language Studies 4. Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language. 1977 ‫ תורת ההגה‬:‫[ מסורת הלשון העברית של יהודי בגדאד‬The Hebrew Language Tradition of the Baghdadi Community: The Phonology]. 1 ‫עדה ולשון‬. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem Language Traditions Project. Naeh, Shlomo 1998 ‫ עיון מחודש‬:‫ישראל‬-‫[ סדרי קריאת התורה בארץ‬The Torah Reading Cycle in Early Palestine: A Re-Examination]. Tarbiz 67: 167–87. 2005 ‫שנתי של הקריאה בתורה בארץ ישראל‬-‫[ על המחזור השבע‬On the Septennial Cycle of the Torah Reading in Early Palestine]. Tarbiz 74: 43–75. Yaʿakov, Doron 2015 ‫[ מסורת העברית שבפי יהודי דרום תימן׃ מערכת ההגה ולשון המשנה‬The Hebrew Language Tradition of the Jews of Southern Yemen: Phonetics and Mishnaic Hebrew]. 34 ‫עדה ולשון‬. Jerusalem: Hebrew University Jewish Oral Traditions Research Center.