-mw suffix (was Re: [b-hebrew] Isaiah 53:8)

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Dec 13 06:59:01 EST 2004

On 12/12/2004 06:58, Samuel Arnet wrote:

> ... L:MOW in fact only occurs 4 times (Job 27:14; 29:21; 38:40; 40:4).
And in none of these cases is it in a pausal position - indeed in all 
but 29:21, it is linked to what follows by maqaf, and 29:21 is textually 

But in Isaiah 53:8, Genesis 9:26,27 and Deuteronomy 33:2 twice, LF^MOW 
is in a pausal position where a different form with retracted stress can 
be expected. These are all of the cases listed at 
http://whi.wts.edu/WHI/MORPH/BugTracker/7 as:

> In the following 5 cases, it *could* be X3ms but may be X3mp; listed 
> below are the references in the order of descending likelyhood, 
> according to Joüon-Muraoka

In fact it seems that there is a strong tendency for LF^MOW, whether 
singular or plural, to occur in pausal positions. I checked a good 
proportion of the 55 cases with only one apparent exception.

So is it possible that LF^MOW and L:MOW are simply different forms of 
the same lemma, with a rather regular stress shift? It looks as if 
LF^MOW is the pausal form and L:MOW is a reduced form (cf. a construct) 
used mostly when phonologically dependent e.g. joined by maqqef.

If this is true, I would expect to see a similar pattern with other 
prefixes like K-. But if the pattern shows that the distinction between 
-F^MOW and -:MOW is phonologically dependent i.e. linked to the 
accentuation and stress environment, it becomes rather difficult to 
maintain that they are semantically distinct forms showing a number 

I note after writing the above that this is no new controversy and no 
new explanation. The issue is mentioned in Gesenius (GKC) 103f note 3, 
where the link to the position of the pause is noted. Gesenius writes:

> The question whether LF^MOW can also stand for the sing. LOW ... must 
> be answered in the affirmative unless we conclude with Diehl and Haupt 
> that /all/ the instances concerned are due to corruptions of the text. 
> It is true that in such places as Gn 9:26,27, Dt 33:2, Is 30:5, Ps 
> 73:10 (all /in/ or immediately before the principal pause; in Dt 33:2 
> with /Zaqeph qaton/ at least) LF^MOW can be better explained as 
> plural... On the other hand, in Is 44:15 its explanation as plural 
> would be extremely forced.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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