[b-hebrew] Zech 6:8

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Sun Dec 11 08:09:19 EST 2005

Dear Karl,

I'm afraid you didn't go into my claims about memorising texts. It is
simply not true that "vowels were added much later". The traditional
pronunciation of the texts existed side by side with the consonantal
text all along. When signs like patach etc. were developed is
irrelevant because nothing was "invented" in the field of
pronunciation. It doesn't matter if a text exist in the minds or on
parchment. Of course there are changes in pronunciation, but that's
immaterial. If I were an Ashkenazi Jew, I could say "shabbos";
Sefardi, I could say "shabbat". Modern Hebrew says "shemesh" which was
probably pronounced "shamsh" 3000 years ago. However, the grammatical
categories don't change. A hif`il is still a hif`il even if vowels
shift a little here or there. A pi`el is still a pi`el, a noun is
still a noun, a static verb is still a static verb, and an infinitive
is still an infinitive.

Imho., your position is based on an error of judgement. You have,
yourself, learned Hebrew once. You could only have done that properly
by means of the grammatical categories handed down to you by the
masoretes. If we only have the written consonants, there is hardly a
way of knowing that there is something like a hif`il, a pi`el, etc.,
not to mention all other sorts of problems. We would have to deal with
the biblical text like we deal with Ugaritic, and use Arabic or
another Semitic language we do know the vowels and geminations of, to
fill in the vowels etc. In this light I think it is rather odd to
first be totally dependent of the vocalisation and then say later on,
"well, I think I can now do without; I can change it when it suits me,
because only the consonants are inspired". If we do so, we are turning
the Hebrew text into something that has little or nothing to do with
Hebrew. For example, how can you decide to change in the Zech 6 verse
that was discussed here, ויזעק wyz(q, from hifil into qal, if you
don't know these categories exist in the first place? The fact that
you do know that, is because we find them in the MT, and not in the
consonant signs!

In other words, the consonantal text is not inspired, only the words
and sentences, in the way they were pronounced (and still are, no
matter what pronunciation changes, irrelevant to meaning, occurred),
we can call inspired.

As for text criticism, everybody knows: "lectio difficilior potior",
the more difficult reading is the better reading. Scientifically,
then, turning the mentioned hif`il into a qal doesn't stand a chance.

Best regards,

2005/12/11, Karl Randolph <kwrandolph at email.com>:
> Herman:
> While spoken language has vowels, Hebrew written
> language at the time had only consonants. What both
> Steve and I recognize is that the vowels were not added
> to the written text until much later. Further, while we claim
> that the original autographs were inspired, the copies
> were not, and all we have today are copies of copies.
> Therefore, we claim that the written vowels were not
> inspired.
> Looking at ancient transliterations, we see evidence that
> the pronunciation preserved by the Masoretes is not the
> same as earlier pronunciations, which most likely was not
> the same as the pronunciation during Biblical times.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Herman Meester" <crazymulgogi at gmail.com>
> > Dear Steve,
> >
> > I hope you are not suggesting that we can do without the vowels? ...
> >
> > Regards
> > Herman
> --
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