[b-hebrew] YHWH pronunciation

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Tue Aug 2 09:20:39 EDT 2005

> > I doubt ayn-ayn for hi or hw cell.
> >
> Well, it is a fact that in EVERY part of lamed-he verbs in which the
> final he is actually written, that he is a mater lectionis, as pointed
> by the Masoretes. For it is always word final, and never has mappiq.
> This of course excludes a small class of verbs where the third radical
> is an actual consonantal he, pointed with mappiq when word final - but
> HWH is not one of those verbs.

Right. This might make hwh an artificial extension of hw, but doesn't prove

Aramaic had its hwh well before Masoretic interpretations, and neither hw,
nor hww or hii is, to my knowledge, attested.

About "a small class," I don't think that there are many lamed"heys which
are not radicals, either.

> >Then aleph in Iao is unlikely to originate from schwa. Rather, Y- I, H-
> >WH - o.
> >
> I never said it did arise from schwa. But I note that he (in biblical
> Hebrew), when not word final, NEVER represents an "a" sound, but always
> a pronounced consonant - as you recognise below apparently with your
> garbled "vcvv".

I only mentioned that YHWH, *if* a verb, is pronounced vcvv (why garbled,
anyway?) and is unlikely to lose consonantal he.
As you correctly noted, first he would not be lost in YHWH, and the word
could not be pronounced as Iao. But rather than dismiss Iao, the only
attested pronunciation, I say that the first he is no radical, and YHWH is
not a verb. Rather, each of the YHW letters is mater lectionis. The word is
compound of matres lectionis for 1-2-3s suffixes. This explains the
pronunciation Iao. Verb hypothesis doesn't explain Iao.

> Indeed. I never claimed that Iao is derived from anything like ihie or
> ihwe. Probably it is derived from the original form of the prefix of
> theophoric names, which was probably Yaho-, later shortened to Yeho-
> with a schwa.

This seems odd to me. I always assumed that theophoric constructs originate
from divine names, not vice versa.
Besides, your hypothesis just circumvents the basic question of the meaning
of the name, whether YHWH or Yaho. Say, we assume for a moment that the
original name was Yaho. What does that mean? We come back to the starting
point. In my hypothesis, Iao-YHW has clear and profound meaning,
"mine-thine-his" or "I, thou, he." In another plane, the name consists of
the jewels of the linguistic development, the vowels, matres lectionis.

> >In my opinion, you unwarrantedly ignore a rare phonetic environment of
> >vcvv. ...
> I don't understand this. The yod MUST be a consonant because ALL Hebrew
> words start with a consonant.

If it looks like a duck, and flies like a duck, then before the law it is a
duck. Iod is pronounced as a vowel in 3ms FT, and there is no evidence
whatsoever that it ever was pronounced as consonant, at least as 3ms FT
If you are inclined to dwell into this issue, it is my belief that iod in
3ms FT is mater lections derived from he in 3ms nouns. A similar process
made iod 2fs FT suffix where we could expect he.

> The final he may be a consonant, but is probably silent.

I think, it is mater lectionis, suffix of result, like in catav-ctiva. Iaoa
naturally was pronounced Iao.

> I don't know of any cases in biblical Hebrew where -WH is used for a word
final "o" sound - it is
> either W or H, but not both of them together.

I don't say WH was used for o. I think, it was YHW+H, 1-2-3ms suffixes +
suffix of result. Iaoa became Iao. I would not be surprized to learn that
Iaoa did not exist, but he always was silent, allowing association with ass
in Egyptian tongue.

> On the other hand, there is evidence which I posted
> earlier today for a final -e vowel sound.

The problem is, no other hypothesis explains the pronunciation Iao. If YHW
is not a compound of matres lectionis, but a regular word, he must have been

Vadim Cherny

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