Gen 10:21

Lewis Reich LBR at
Sat Oct 24 08:46:02 EDT 1998

On 20 Oct 98, at 1:15, Peter Kirk wrote:

> Is Japheth older or younger than Shem? 
> According to the accents of the Masoretic Text, NIV
> (also KJV, NKJV) is correct: "21 Sons were also born to
> Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the
> ancestor of all the sons of Eber." LXX and (so I am
> told) older Jewish commentators support this view. 
> But all other modern translations I have at hand (in
> various languages) translate something like NRSV "To
> Shem... the elder brother of Japheth". 
> MT is ...):AXEY YEPET HAG.FDOWL, with a disjunctive
> accent (Tipha) on ):AXEY and a conjunctive accent
> (Mereka) in YEPET. 

It seems to me that the ambiguity is intrinsic in the 
Hebrew;  I'm not sure I understand how the trope provides 
much evidence one way or the other.  The phrase ):aXeY 
YePeT HaG.fDoWL  could mean either "brother of YePeT, [who 
was] the elder" or "the elder brother of YePet".

Lewis Reich
LBR at

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list