Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Tue Sep 26 10:57:05 EDT 2000

> I have started reading Horsnell's very helpful _A Review and Reference
> Grammar for Biblical Hebrew_. I ran across a note on p. 33 that says the
> word for 'two', shtey/shtayim, begins with a silent sheva followed by a
> dagesh lene (as I have transliterated it). He argues that since the dagesh
> is a dagesh lene, the sheva must be silent. My question is, How do we know
> it is a dagesh lene? Thanks.

I've often wondered this myself.  My first Hebrew teacher told us 
"That's just how it is."  (His way of saying "Idunno, that's how I 
learned it!")  Gesenius (p.288 note 1) says the following:

Shortened form of $:NFTAYIM, which would be the regular feminine 
form of $:NAYIM.  Nevertheless, the Dagesh in $"TAYIM &c (even 
after MIN; MI$:T"YM Jon 4:11; cf., however, MI$.:T"Y Ju 16:28) can 
by no means be regarded as a Dagesh forte arising from 
assimilation of the Nun, for in that case the word could only be 
$IT.AYIM (cf. Arab. tintani).  This form does occur in the Codex 
Babylonicus of A.D. 916, but it is only a later correction for 
$"TAYIM, while in the Berlin MS. or. qu. 680 described by Kahle 
(Lpz 1902) there is no trace of the Dagesh.  It is rather to be read 
shtayim, shte (with Dagesh lene), cf. )E$:TAYIM, representing the 
later Palestinian pronunciation (Phillipi, ZDMG. xlix, p. 
206)...According to Barth (Orient. Studien...Th. Noldeke, ii. 792 f.) 
the irregularity of $:TAYIM (he takes the Dagesh as Dagesh forte) 
is due to the complete assimilation of its vowels to those of the 
masc. $:NAYIM where the Shewa mobile is normal.
(end quote)

This latter is different from what I learned; I was told that the shewa 
is silent in both the masculine and feminine forms, hence shney, 
shtey.  So there seems to have been a certain amount of 
disagreement about it.

Dave Washburn
"No study of probabilities inside a given frame can ever
tell us how probable it is that the frame itself can be
violated."  C. S. Lewis

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