[b-hebrew] Zech 6:8

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Sat Dec 10 18:20:00 EST 2005

Dear Steve,

I hope you are not suggesting that we can do without the vowels? If
the text is inspired, then everything is. How can a text written in
human language exist of only consonants? These signs *are* not sounds,
they only indirectly represent sounds. It is even scientifically more
than probable that one letter can represent two different original
sounds (Karl will disagree here). For example we have only one `ayin ע
but they originally represented either the sound `ayin or ghayin. For
example: Gaza עזה (LXX: spelling with gamma) and Baal בעל (LXX:
spelling with alfa). The masoretes did not pronounce any gutturals
anymore, that's why in most cases they pronounced -a- (usually patach)
to replace עחא and many cases of הר and even ק.

The tradition of exactly remembering the Hebrew/Aramaic biblical text
is very old, and very reliable. Sometimes it is more reliably than the
consonantal text. Considering the above, the consonants were in a way
less relevant than vowels; they were written on scrolls in any case,
but the only way to pronounce them was by means of the exact,
remembered pronunciation.
In Daniel for example we have cases of Qre ("to be read") readings
that are very probably older (!) than the Ktiv ("written") they belong
to. We'd think that's odd, but qre is not by definition a younger
change in the text. It often corrects a younger reading that had crept
into the consonantal text; once one got afraid of changing the text
itself, a qre in the margin was the only way.
People copying manuscripts can make all sorts of errors, on purpose or
accidental (homoioteleuton, homoioarkton, mixing up letters (הח תח רד
וי םס and so on), and various other changes) but when you learn it all
by heart (and as long as enough people do so) no mistakes are made.
People listen to each other and correct each other. The brain does not
make scribal errors!
I therefore have no doubt that in the great majority of cases, the
masoretes are just right. I'm not saying this because of my religious
convictions, but because in the last couple of decades, hundreds of
proposed conjectural, scientifically well or less well argued changes
have been shown to be linguistically, semantically and/or
syntactically unnecessary.


2005/12/10, Steve Miller <smille10 at sbcglobal.net>:
> Thanks very much Karl.
> I did not know that the only difference between the Hiphil and Qal Z(Q in
> Zech 6:8 (and most other places) is the vowels, which (am I correct?) are
> not part of the inspired text.

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