[b-hebrew] Variants of YHWH in the BHS Text - inscriptions

furuli at online.no furuli at online.no
Mon Sep 29 17:17:43 EDT 2003

Dear Uri,

Whereas the default value of the first sign of Jehoiachin is IA, it 
can also be IE, IU and JI (See Labat 142).  Therefore we cannot rule 
out that the scribe took the sign as IE.  We can also note that 
Gedalyahu is written as GA - DA - AL - IA - A - MA and Gemaryahu as 
GA - MAR  - IA - A - MA. The sign GA (Labat 319) does not have the 
variant GE, so we cannot rule out that the timbre of each vowel was 
somewhat different in Assyria/Babylon than it was in Israel/Juda.  On 
the other side, we should remember that the shewah in the first 
syllable of Jehoiachin is supplied by the Masoretes, and that the 
default pronunciation of shewa in Masoretic times was an "a"-sound. I 
therefore find the discussion of the original pronunciation of YHWH, 
on the basis of the Greek or Akkadian languages or on the basis of 
the MT, futile. We simply cannot know anything about it!  But the 
view that YHWH had three rather than two syllables is much stronger 
in the light of the theophoric names in the MT.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

>Perhaps we may get some help in the discussion from syllabic 
>evidence, though only partial:
>    Hezekiah    =    ha - za - qi - (i)a  - u     From the Sennacherib prism.
>    Jehoiachin  =    ia - ku - u - ki - nu           From  Babylonian 
>varia  .    
>     One must keep in mind that these were written by scribes of 
>different cultures, Assyrian and Babylonian respectively,  who most 
>probably didn't know the language of the bearers of the names; that 
>theophric components of personal names did not neccessarily sound 
>exactly like the full divine name; that a span of well over a 
>century separates the two.
>      The  variations between the theophric component at the end of 
>personal names between Judah and the Northern Kingdom  , YH/YHU  vs. 
>YW<is well known from the inscriptions,
>   Elephentine is so far geographically and culturally that the 
>divine name defintely underwent separate development over the 
>Liz Fried <lizfried at umich.edu> wrote:
>>  >
>>  Add H, yes, but why U or O? After all, the Hebrew basis of Greek ABRAAM
>>  and AARWN is not Avrahoam or Ahuaron. Maybe Greek IAOUE might be more
>>  like Yahue, but in Greek it would not be well-defined whether this was
>>  two syllables yah-we or three syllables ya-hu-e. To go back to Hebrew,
>>  if the vav is used as evidence for a central U or O vowel it cannot be
>>  reused as a consonant, but I supposed the pronunciation could be
>>  something like ya-hu-he, or even ya-huah with a furtive patah before he
>>  with mappiq. So maybe your conclusion is not so off-based, but not
>>  because HU or HO is dropped.
>A furtive patah! of course!
>Right, I ran into problems, cuz I cannot have the W be both a vowel and a
>consonant, and I cannot have two vowels together.
>But YaHUaH would solve it all, no?
>>  --
>>  Peter Kirk
>>  peter at qaya.org (personal)
>>  peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
>  > http://www.qaya.org/

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