[b-hebrew] Zech 6:8

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Sun Dec 11 12:35:19 EST 2005


Herman:

Please refer to what I wrote:

"While spoken language has vowels, Hebrew written 
language at the time had only consonants."

I make a distinction between written and spoken 
language. It is the consonantal text that was inspired in 
the original autographs, not the vowels that were added 
to the written text much later.

As to the question of memorization on this question, that 
is largely irrelevant, as people memorize according to the 
pronunciations they receive. What the record seems to 
show is that those pronunciations have changed over 
time and place. While people in other societies perform 
what we consider as amazing feats of memorization, the 
accuracy of their memories can probably be best summed 
up by the Chinese proverb, "The palest ink is stronger 
than the strongest memory."

In other words, any teaching held only in memory is open 
to corruption based on fading memories.

I have not questioned the grammatical categories, for 
once having learned them, I can see them in practice as 
I read the texts. What I question is specific verses where 
the evidence seems to indicate that the Masoretes may 
have remembered incorrectly the pronunciation indicating 
which grammatical category applies. But as I repeatedly 
claim, those specific verses are few and far between.

As for text criticism, the standard  "lectio difficilior potior" 
is a human invention, that sometimes contradicts context 
and meaning. It is not a scientific standard. Some time 
back, I gave the specific example of Proverbs 1:19 where 
it is almost impossible to read it according to the points 
preserved by the Masoretes. Rather what is pointed as a 
compound verb should be read as a participle, followed 
by a shegolate noun. (A Google search should be able to 
find it in the b-hebrew site)

So also in Zechariah 6:8, context gives an argument that 
the verb is Qal.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Herman Meester" <crazymulgogi at gmail.com>

> 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,
> Herman

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