[b-hebrew] Zech 6:8

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Sun Dec 11 13:23:44 EST 2005

Obviously, "lectio difficilior potior" is used only when it does not
lead to bizarre readings. However, imho. Zech 6,8 is an excellent
example where it is indeed a good criterion.
As for Prov 1,19 you refer to, there is no need to change anything
there, because the second בצע there already is a segholate noun, be it
in pausal vocalisation; it's not a verb. Note also the place of the
accent. (^ under the first syll.) Just as we have ארץ aretz (in pausa)
and ארץ eretz.

BTW I think your distinction between written and spoken language is a
little artificial. Imagine Hebrew happened to have used a totally
different writing system (hieroglyphs, cuneiform, or an alefbet with a
lot more matres lectionis), and we would see all the vowel in writings
in every type of text, I guess then suddenly the vowel signs are part
of the inspired text?
I know you consider the Hebrew alefbet to be exclusively designed for
Hebrew; I guess our basic suppositions diverge so much that we won't
convince each other. Which is good, it would be dull if everyone was
of the same opinion all the time. I hope you agree with me on the
Proverbs verse, though.

And I disagree with the Chinese ;)


2005/12/11, Karl Randolph <kwrandolph at email.com>:
> 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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