[b-hebrew] Psa 107:19-21 (was WAYYIQTOL) -- CORRECTION

furuli at online.no furuli at online.no
Mon Mar 15 08:31:49 EST 2004

Peter  Kirk writes,

>On 14/03/2004 23:13, Karl Randolph wrote:
>>This was a question that I never expected to ask. I had been taught 
>>in class that the Masoritic points preserved the original 
>>pronunciation. I didn't question my prof, not even years later.
>>But if Rolf is correct, even some of the pronunciations that we 
>>thought we knew from the Masoretes are wrong.
>I think you are misunderstanding Rolf. Even he has stepped back from 
>the position of claiming that the Masoretes invented the 
>pronunciation distinction.
>Or is your point that we don't know exactly how the Masoretic 
>pointing should be pronounced? This is generally agreed, and is not 
>specific to Rolf.
>Peter Kirk
>peter at qaya.org (personal)
>peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

Dear Peter,

I do not know what you mean by "has stepped back from the position", 
but my view of the Masoretes has been the same all the time. It is 
built on the following data:

1) There is no distinction between WAYYIQTOL  and WEYIQTOL in the DSS.

2)  There is no distinction between WAYYIQTOL  and WEYIQTOL in Origen.

3) The first graphic distinction between the two is found in the Tiberian MT.

  I mention the *Tiberian* MT, because in Palestinian Manuscripts 
there are several differences. In Paul Kahle's "Masoreten des Westens 
II" of 1930 (pp. 20-23), his manuscript J covers Daniel 9:24-12:13, 
and the context is future. Of the 50 YIQTOLs with prefixed WAW in 
this manuscript, 11 are pointed.  Three of them are pointed as 
WEYIQTOLs both in J. and in the Tiberian MT, and one is pointed as a 
WAYYIQTOL  in both texts. However, the 6 examples from 11:5, 15(2), 
16(2), 17 are pointed as WEYIQTOLs in the Tiberian MT but as 
WAYYIQTOLs in J.  We must presume that the Palestinian Masoretes made 
their pointing on the basis of what they heard in the synagogue, just 
as did the Tiberian Masoretes, yet they interpreted it differently. 
Your examples from the LXX regarding a difference between WAYYIQTOL 
and WEYIQTOL in pre-Masoretic times are irrelevant, because what we 
need to demonstrate are graphic or phonological differences. 
Translation into another language tells us very little.

4) We know that the default pronunciation of shewa in Masoretic times 
was an "a"-sound just as patah.

The Masoretes introduced gemination after the article, after the 
relative particle $ and after the interrogative particle MH, but not 
after the interrogative particle H. Why? As far as I know, nobody has 
suggested that the gemination or the differences are grammatical or 
semantic, yet the Masoretes introduced this distinction. We know that 
the Masoretes were not grammarians and that the Tiberian Masoretes 
introduced the graphic difference between WAYYIQTOL and WEYIQTOL, but 
this difference need not be grammatical or semantic. Nobody today can 
know exactly the motives or the procedures of the Masoretes, but the 
graphic differences need not be anything but two different ways of 
expressing the "a"-sound (patah pronounced as "a" and shewa 
pronounced as "a" - one used in past contexts and the other in future 
contexts). But because of their rules that patah should not normally 
occur in an open unstressed syllable (except in particular 
situations), the first consonant of the WAYYIQTOL became geminated 
(Rather the reverse is true, gemination cases patah - this is seen in 
1.p.s forms.

The thoughts above regarding the work of the Masoretes are of course 
only tentative,  but I have not stepped back from any previous 
position, these thoughts are the same that I have expressed all the 

Best regards


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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