determining roots (was Genesis 28:18)

Bryan Rocine 596547 at
Thu Sep 10 23:00:35 EDT 1998

Dear Al,

Now here's a chuckle.  You say you prefer the traditional grammarians to
Gesenius.  I say say Gesenius *is* an old tradition with which I also have
a few complaints.  It's all relative, right?  :-)

A few reservations occur to me about your idea that we should consider the
possiblity of a second synonomous root rather than try to explain the
anomolous appearance of a prefixed verb form.

1.  It would be truly remarkable for one root to be exclusively used in,
let's say, prefixed verbs and a different but synonomous root used
exclusively in affixed forms.  E.g. it is simply unreasonable to suggest
that *only* prefixed forms of a commonly attested root like _lqx_ are _nqx_
instead when _nqx_ is otherwise unattested.

2.  It makes more sense to deduce the radicals of a root in a prefixed verb
form from an attested noun form than it does to alledge that a root exists
which is otherwise unattested with all three radicals visible either in the
Biblical corpus or other cognate languages .

3.  Comparative Semitics in many cases provides us with likely alternatives
for roots which are not apparent in the Biblical corpus.


> From: Al Silberman <alfred.silberman at>
> Subject: Re: Genesis 28:18
> Date: Thursday, September 10, 1998 2:29 PM
> 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
> > 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
> 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
> just declare this to be a peh-nun verb?
> I have been searching for a long time for a book that describes just why
> particular (non-strong) root has been assigned for a group of words - 
> for those words another root could have just as easily been assigned.
> is not an issue for strong roots since the root is compelled from the
> form.
> 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
> 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
> 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
> [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.

B. M. Rocine
Associate Pastor
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13208


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