Genesis 28:18

Al Silberman alfred.silberman at
Thu Sep 10 14:29:46 EDT 1998

On Wed, 09 Sep 1998  Bryan Rocine <596547 at> wrote:

>What do Jewish grammarians do with a root like _yc(_   [yod-tsadeh-ayin]
>meaning in the Hiphil to make a bed?   With this root, the yod assimilates.
> It is therefore a third alternative to yod-visible and yod-quiescent,
>right?  The root you asked about _ycq_ seems to fall between the cracks.

The question is a good one. The answer to the question really demands a
book. I will get back to this in a moment but I would like to start my
reply with another question.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck why not just call it a duck?
There is nothing in the forms of the four instances of the root
[yod-tsadeh-ayin] which preclude the root being [nun-tsadeh-ayin]. Why not
just declare this to be a peh-nun verb?

I have been searching for a long time for a book that describes just why a
particular (non-strong) root has been assigned for a group of words -  when
for those words another root could have just as easily been assigned. This
is not an issue for strong roots since the root is compelled from the word

As a matter of fact there are disputes on exactly what the roots are of
many, many words. Take the word "take" (pun intended) [laqax] which has in
many of its forms all the qualities of a peh-nun verb. Yet, today no-one
has assigned a root such as nun-qof-xeth in Hebrew. In the past there were
grammarians who did make a peh-nun root for the words with the meaning of
"take" when they looked like a peh-nun.

There are many words which have been assigned more than one root with the
same meaning. The word "walk" has the root [he-lamedh-khaf] in the past but
[yud-lamedh-khaf] in the future.

To me this is a topic which needs much further clarification but I am not
aware of any books on this topic.

To get back to your specific question the root [yod-tsadeh-ayin] was
declared to be the proper root for these four words by early Jewish
Grammarians. I can only surmise that they based it on close noun forms -
though that is not a compelling reason by itself.

The reason that they felt they could do so is because it is not precluded
by the peh-yud forms. The answer to your question is really given by
Gesenius himself (or a later editor). In section 71 the following statement
is made with regard to these "third class" verbs:

"This assimilation is found always with sibilants ..."

This statement alone should be sufficient to raise a caution flag that
maybe it is not a separate class. As it happens Elias Levitas (16th
century) explains that the dagesh is not there for assimilation purposes
but for emphasis of the sibilant to prevent confusion among similar words
with sibilants. It is very possible (perhaps likely) that the pronunciation
of these words differed from what would have been its pronunciation had it
been a peh-nun verb.

Furthermore, one of the words listed by Gesenius as having assimilation
comes from the root "yalad" - a peh-yud root which he has already listed
with one of the earlier classes. So which is it? I don't feel his
classifications are any more satisfactory than what I consider as the
traditional explanation. (BTW - the whole peh-yud section in Gesenius is
very confusing due to the many exceptions listed throughout.)

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