JER 27:18

Henry Churchyard churchyh at
Fri Sep 24 05:31:41 EDT 1999

> Subject: Re: JER 27:18
> From: Rolf Furuli <furuli at>
> Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 22:30:19 +0200

> So there is little *direct* evidence of a difference between
> WEYIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL before the last part of the first millennium
> CE.  If we look at the use of vowels in Greek and Latin
> transliterations (Josephus, Origen, Jerome) we see that all the
> vowels are very stable except patah and shewa mobile.  Therefore,
> the worst possible choice to mark an important semantic distinction
> would be patah versus shewa (Henry is an expert on this topic and I
> am ready to be corrected if data can be produced against my
> opinion).

Actually, I'm not an expert in external transcriptions (Hexapla,
etc.).  However, I am to some degree an expert in historical phonology
(correlating early Semitic evidence and reconstructions with Tiberian
Hebrew).  When asking about the stability of a w at C- versus waCC-
contrast, you have to distinguish between external stability (i.e. how
sounds are transcribed into foreign writing systems) and internal
stability (how the contrast is maintained in Hebrew over time).  It's
simply a fact that there are a number of consistent correlations
between Tiberian Hebrew and early Semitic evidence or reconstructions
that are not transcribed in any consistent manner in pre-Tiberian
external transcriptions.  (This is why I haven't been too interested
in external transcriptions.)  The contrast between diachronically
earlier (early Hebrew) *wa- in a pre-main-stress open syllable and
diachronically earlier *wa- in a pre-main-stress closed syllable would
not in general become confused in Tiberian by normal phonological
developments, so external transcriptional evidence is somewhat
irrelevant here.

> There is much evidence against the view that the Masoretic
> distinction between WEYIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL distinguish two different
> conjugations

It really depends on your definition of "conjugation"; they are two
morphologically separate forms, and diachronically they come from
stems with distinct phonological shapes, even ignoring the forst
prefixes (*yaqtulu vs. *yaqtul respectively).

Henry Churchyard   churchyh at

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