[b-hebrew] Fw: WAYYIQTOL

furuli at online.no furuli at online.no
Thu Mar 11 09:59:00 EST 2004

Dear Peter,

Allow me a few comments regarding the Masoretes.

>So, George, just to clarify: are you saying that there are in fact 
>two different verb forms, as clearly seen with 3-He etc roots, but 
>that before the Masoretes these were distinct only in certain verbs? 
>Clearly they were written the same in unpointed texts. Are you 
>saying that they were also pronounced the same, until the Masoretes? 
>If so, that conflicts with the general picture of the Masoretes as 
>careful recorders of what they heard. I wonder why they departed so 
>blatantly from their regular practice on this one.

The Masoretes would not dream of changing a single consonant of the 
text, and they were extremely careful to follow exactly what they 
heard recited in the synagogue. Yet they were inventors, not of new 
grammatical rules or new interpretations, but of vowel points and 
accents. Their task was to translate what they heard in the synagogue 
into vowels and accent marks. When we compare with the DSS, we see 
that by and large they followed a very old system of vowels, i.e. 
their punctuation represents  pronunciation used B.C.E.

As to what today is called WAYYIQTOL, WEYIQTOL and WEQATAL, they 
carefully followed what they heard in the synagogue as well. Because 
shewa and patah could be pronounced in a similar, or almost similar 
way (as an "a" sound), the pronunciation of the first syllable of all 
three forms could have been the same, or almost the same. But the 
stress may have been different, because narrative accounts probably 
would be read in a different way than future and modal accounts.  The 
Masoretes had at their disposition shewa and patah, which were 
pronounced similarly. And the fact that they chose one of them for 
verbs which often have past reference and the other for verbs which 
often have future or modal reference, is no departure from their 
faithfulness to tradition. This is no more strange than that they 
introduced hatef-vowels in certain situations. Thus the Masoretes 
were faithful to the consonant text, and they were faithful to the 
pronunciation that they heard in the synagogue. But in time, 
grammarians read into the Masoretic pointing something that was not 
intended by the Masoretes themselves, and the four-component model 
was born. So these later grammarians are the real inventors of the 
new grammatical theories that Hebrew has four conjugations, while the 
Masoretes were the ones who invented the graphical difference between 
verbs, which made it logical to distinguish between four, or rather 
five (WEYIQTOL  as well) groups of verbs.


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

Best regards


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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