Jerusalem, neuter plural

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Tue Sep 7 00:20:21 EDT 1999

Those who have taken a cursory look at Latin and English grammar will 
recognise the ungrammatical nature of the statement "The yod is always 
optional because it is a matres." I suppose that the writer meant "The 
yod... is a mater". But perhaps he meant "The yod... is a mattress". 
Perhaps the truth value of the two statements is the same.

But in fact I agree that the yod, which we are told occurs in 1% of 
occurrences, is a mater. That is, it is a consonant letter written, 
originally in unpointed texts, to indicate a vowel sound. In the dual 
ending (as opposed to the masculine plural ending) the yod does not 
represent a vowel sound but is rather pronounced as a consonant. Can 
you find any other cases of a dual ending in which the yod is optional 
or missing? I think not. Can you find any other cases in which a 
consonant sound was to be pronounced but was regularly not written? I 
think not. This is surely a clear indication that at the time when the 
consonantal text was fixed this city name was not understood as a 

The understanding as a dual is also incompatible with the ancient 
(popular?) etymology of the name as "City of Peace", for the M is a 
root vowel, not part of a dual ending, in the word for peace, Shalom 
or possibly Shalem. Then we have the evidence from Aramaic, Greek and 
other ancient spellings of the name, which as far as I know always 
include M (no Aramaic dual in N!) but never anything like AYIM.

Thus the theory has arisen that the traditional pronunciation of the 
city name changed between the 1st century CE destruction of the city 
and the time of the Masoretes, for reasons which may include the ones 
which John put forward initially. No-one is disputing that the 
Masoretes accurately represented what they heard read, and sought to 
represent it using unusual pointing to represent a consonant which 
they heard but which was not in the consonantal text.

This is surely evidence that requires a more thorough rebuttal than 
"Nope... Nope... Nope..." and "simply wrong". I look forward to a 
point by point answer to the points I have made above.

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Jerusalem, neuter plural
Author:  jwest at Highland.Net at internet
Date:    05/09/1999 14:45

At 08:50 PM 9/5/99 +0200, you wrote: 
>Dear Jim,
>Let me rephrase my statement so you don't miss my point.

I didnt miss your point the first time.  Your point is simply wrong.

>The YOD in dual endings is not a MATER (therefore not optional) - the YOD is 
>missing from the ending of YERUSHALAYIM in more than 99% of the cases.

The yod is always optional because it is a matres.  Just as the waw is 
always optional.

>Therefore, the pronunciation of Jerusalem in OT times was not with a dual 
>ending, but is a later contrivance.  This conclusion is reinforced by the LXX 
>transliteration plus the Aramaic spelling YERUSHALEM.

First, if you notice very carefully you will see that the masoretes (more 
familiar with the tradition and pronunciation of their own language than 
moderns I would suggest) include the hireq of the hireq yod in every 
occurance of Yerushalayim.  This demonstrates two things- the yod is 
understood (and absent because it is a matres and can be left aside) and 
second, the dual ending is understood in 100% of the occurances of the word.

Take a look at Gesenius' discussion of the matres lectiones.

>Do you have another explanation (as opposed to a simple reassertion of your 
>certitude based on facts you feel no need to share with the rest of us)?

Given above.  And I felt no need to share these facts as I presumed that 
they were well known to anyone who has taken even a cursory look at Hebrew 



Jim West, ThD
email- jwest at
web page-

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