[b-hebrew] Hebrew pronunciation before the Masoretes
sesamox at hotmail.com
Sat Jan 15 15:32:42 EST 2011
I'm no expert and so would like to know your opinion about a point that is just intuitive on my part.
I guess that when Hebrew proper names are transliterated into Greek (in the LXX version or in the NT), that transliteration reflects to a certain extent the pronunciation of Hebrew in that time.
For instance, Moses' sister is "Mariam" in the LXX, and that name is the same in the NT. But in the Masoretic text, she is "Miryam". This would mean that by the 2nd century b.C. and 1st century A.D. the first sillable of at name had a vowel sound "a" that had changed into "i" by the 7th century.
Accordingly, the son of David was called "Salomon" by the 2nd cent. b.C., but "Solomon" in the 1st cent. and then "Slomo" by the 7th cent.
The prophet who annointed Saul and David was called "Samuel" by the 2nd cent. b.C. and 1st cent. A.D., but "Semuel" by the 7th cent.
2 Chro 17:7 includes the name "Nathanael" in the LXX, just like the apostle in the NT, but in the Masoretic text he is called "Nethanel".
Considering these former examples, it seems that the first vowel had a tendency to be weakened. Another example that seems to agree with this is Capernaum. The name Capernaum seems to be a transliteration of "Kefar Nahum". This might indicate that the word "Kefar" was pronounced "Kafar" in the 1st cent. at least in Galilee.
This makes me wonder if the names beginning with "Yeho-" could have been "Yaho-" originally. But in this case, the LXX puts "Yo-" which doesn't seem to support my suspicion. Any ideas?
The name of Moses' succesor was pronounced "Yesu" by the 2nd cent. b.C., or maybe "Yesua", if the Greeks considered the final sound just as a gutural consonant (the final -s is just a peculiarity of Greek, it was added to any name ended in a vowel), and that seems to be the pronunciation in the 1st cent. A.D. And it was "Yehoshua" by the 7th century (it seems strange to me the change from "Ye" to "Yeho"; could it be a kind of archaization on the part of the Masoretes?).
One of Jacob sons was called "Sim'on" in the 2nd cent. b.C. (since the "e" in "Simeon" seems to be a representation of the sound of the "ayin"). In the first cent. it was pronounced "Simon", but there is at least one example in Acts of "Simeon". This could miean that the pronunciation of "ayin" was dissappearing by then, at least among Galileans. And the Masoretic text is not relevant in this case.
The capital city of Judah was pronounced "Yerushalem" in the 2nd cent. b.C. and 1st cent. A.D. but "Yerushalaim" by the 7th cent. This seems to mean that the vowel sound "e" in that position had dipthongized by the 7th cent.
What do you think about this? Am I making mistakes in these suppositions?
Sergio Saavedra (Madrid)
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