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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Mar 15 13:01:29 EST 2004

On 15/03/2004 05:31, furuli at online.no wrote:

> Peter  Kirk writes,
>> On 14/03/2004 23:13, Karl Randolph wrote:
>>> gfsomsel:
>>> 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)
>> http://www.qaya.org/
> 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:

Rolf, I accept that you may not have changed your position, but only 
clarified it. I am sorry for any misunderstanding. But in that case it 
seems that Karl has misunderstood your position. For you did clarify 
that you did not hold that the Masoretes invented the distinction. You 
wrote, on 11th March, "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, ..." Thus you seem to 
agree with me that there was a small phonetic distinction before the 
Masoretes, although we agree that this was not reflected in written texts.

> 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. ...

This passage is highly unrepresentative. It is certainly post-exilic and 
considered by many to be the newest part of the Hebrew Bible. It is 
certainly "late biblical Hebrew", and it is generally accepted that the 
use of verb forms in LBH is different from in classical BH. There is 
evidence for this in the anomalous WAYYIQTOL without the characteristic 
loss of final he in Daniel 8:27 which I noted yesterday.

> ... 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. ...

There is a fallacy here that you assume that the two groups heard the 
same thing. There may have been two variant traditions of pronunciation, 
so that each group of Masoretes recorded what they heard. This may have 
occurred with Daniel because readers were confused by its non-standard 
use of the verb forms.

> ... 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.

I mention translation because I wish to demonstrate SEMANTIC 
differences, which are of course signalled by phonological differences.

> 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, ...

Well, if that is really true let me be the first to suggest this. It is 
clear that there is a grammatical and semantic distinction between the 
interrogative particle and the definite article. Would you agree? This 
distinction corresponds (for the most part - in some cases the two forms 
coincide) to a distinction in the Masoretic pointing, sometimes only in 
the gemination. So we have grammatical and semantic distinction 
signalled by gemination. This doesn't immediately tell us whether the 
distinction was introduced by the Masoretes or was heard by them. But 
the analogy with the WAYYIQTOL/WEYIQTOL case, and the careful way in 
which the pointing of each H prefix depends on the following consonant, 
suggests that there was here as well a small difference in pronunciation 
and rhythm which was faithfully recorded by the Masoretes.

> ... 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.

There is a real distinction in syllable structure and pronunciation, and 
one carefully noted by the Masoretes, between patah followed by a 
geminate consonant and sheva followed by a single consonant.

Compare also examples where the first vowel of the YIQTOL form is sheva, 
e.g. the shortened form Y:HIY from HAYAH. In such cases gemination is 
not always written, but the WAYYIQTOL form has patah; on the other hand, 
as successive shevas are not allowed, the first vowel of the WEYIQTOL 
form becomes hiriq. So the WAYYIQTOL form (very common) is WAY:HIY e.g. 
in Genesis 1:5, and the shortened (jussive) WEYIQTOL form, e.g. in 
Genesis 1:6, is WIYHIY. Now surely you must accept that there was a real 
pronunciation difference between WAY:HIY and WIYHIY.

> 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 time.

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

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