[b-hebrew] YHVH pronunciation - cholam analysis & Ben Hayim text question

Praexus at aol.com Praexus at aol.com
Thu Jul 21 05:12:46 EDT 2005

Hi b-hebrew

Mail from my other account is jogging through the cyberspacetimecontinuum, so 
if I post this twice, apologies.

Hi b-hebrew, 

   There has been a lot written about the pronunciation of the 
Tetragrammaton, and it is very much appreciated.  I would like to focus on a couple of 
issues.  Any corrections to my understanding
of the thread so far greatly appreciated.

   For the purpose of the first part of the discussion, what I share probably 
works for the Aleppo and/or Leningrad Codexes, the Leningrad is more definite 
(see below).

    There seems to be 3 possibilities for why there would be a small number 
of cholams after the hey  (approximately 50 out of 7000 in Leningrad 
manuscript, see below), yet most Tetragrammatons are sans a vowel after the hay.

  ONE - 
Is the cholam after the hey ?

  a) added accidentally - as in an accent mark misrendered
  b) added accidentally - when it was supposed to be omitted (see below)
  c) exactly the way it was meant to be by the scribes.

  For awhile it seemed like (c) was being floated, that this might ONLY be on 
the YHVH-Adonai 
cases, which we know can be special, since the vowels from Elohim would 
change the pronunciation even if all were included.   (All of those verses DO have 
the cholam I understand.)  If that were the case then the vowel would ONLY be 
found in the Elohim soundings (YHVH-Adonai), and we would not have a clear 
path  to what was really the Tetragrammaton hey vowel.   However, that view has 
been largely bypassed, or superceded, by the discovery that the cholams are NOT 
limited to the YHVH-Adonai cases.

  Then the possibility of (a) was floated, but this has tremendous 
difficulties.  The scribes were meticulous, and if they would squiggle an error 50 times 
on the Tetragrammaton, then there should be similar errors all over the text 
on other words.  Maybe a few times on one manuscript, but not enough to match 
the data.

  That leaves (b), and I am going to share a couple of sentences about that 
from an article by Nehemiah Gordon, who has worked with Emanuel Tov with the 
Masoretic Text codexes.  First
back to the thread.


>  The most frequent error is the transformation e, a into e, o, a, thus the 
changing of the form YeHWaH into YeHoWaH, 


I am interested to see here evidence that the holam was found in Aleppo, and 
so even earlier than L. This would make me question whether this is  really an 
"error". Perhaps it was the original pointing, which was for some reason 
partially but incompletely suppressed in some MSS. The argument that this is 
really a misplaced revia is an unlikely one. 
The Masoretic accentuation is very precise, and there is no way that the same 
word would have been left accented with both revia and another accent 
multiple times by mistake.

So, these ideas of accent errors and such won't wash en masse. 
Maybe on one or two verses in one codex, but not as a general error. 

Now to Nehemiah Gordon, since we don't have HTML I have to make a few 

"by the rules of the Hebrew language the first hey in YHVH must have some 

This hasn't really come up directly, the basic rule, on b-hebrew.   
There was a little preview leading up to that conclusion, which I bypassed. 

"It is possible that the medieval scribes omitted the vowel in the first hey 
of YeHVaH to prevent the readers from reading the name out loud."

Seems to make sense.   
A deliberate omission of the cholam to prevent the accidental reading of the 

Nehemiah then contrasts this to the places where the Tetragrammaton is 
followed by Adonai, and the vowels for Elohim are included, and there are not text 
errors, as if the scribes consciously knew/decided there would be no problem if 
Yehowih were pronounced.

"only reason the Masoretic scribes would have left the form Yehowih without 
dropping the vowel after the hey is because they knew this was not the true 
pronunciation of the divine name. ... the Masoretic scribes knew the name to be 
Yehovah and suppressed its pronunciation by omitting the "o". This is confirmed 
by the fact that the scribes actually forgot to suppress the vowel "o" in a 
number of instances."

This is his critical claim.  
Apparently, it may be quite different than what Gerard Gertoux says, and it 
appears to be very important to the discussion.  All of those cholam (other 
than the YHVH-Adonai pairings) are accidentally remaining, (6750 omitted, 50 
accidentally retained) showing by the accidental omission (which is far more 
likely than an accidental error) what the actual vowel was/is. 

"the scribe knew that the word YHVH sounded like Yehovah and even though he 
was supposed to suppress the vowel "o" he left it in, in a few dozen instances. 
In the L19b Masoretic manuscript, the earliest complete Masoretic manuscript 
(and the basis of BHS), the name is written Yehovah 50 times out of a total of 
6828. It is significant that no other vowel besides "o" was "accidentally" 
inserted into the divine name."

So this is a very clear assertion, and I don't think we have discussed it on 
the thread yet.

Major question: 
Is Nehemiah correct in his implication that these are not a "special" 50, 
like the YHVH followed by Adonai ?

Perhaps a similar discussion might be helpful on the thoeries of the vowel 
accompanying the yud.   Again, we encounter multiple theories and it might be 
helpful to list them with pluses and minues.


To some of us the Ben Hayim is the true Received Text, and was even the text 
used for the first two Kittel's editions... however it is unknown to me 
whether Kittel's first and second edition match the vowels of the Ben Hayim text. 

Now I know the concept of the "Received Text" is not embraced by the majority 
of text-critical scholars, however, it does have great historical importance, 
and there are many who accept the concept in both the Tanach and NT.  

Therefore I am trying to research the Tetragrammaton vowels in  the ACTUAL 
Ben Hayim text, as used e.g. in the 16th and 17th century texts,  These were  
translated, I believe, into the Luther, Reina-Valera, Geneva and King James 
Bible,.  Not the Ben Asher text, but the Ben Hayim text.

Any help on this appreciated :-)

Steven Avery
Queens, NY

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list