[b-hebrew] yhwh pronunciation

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Jul 21 21:17:05 EDT 2005

On 21/07/2005 20:37, Karl Randolph wrote:

>I wonder if the furtive Petah is a vestage of an original pronunciation of -Ha or -Xa, or in the case of Ayin -(a with a full glottal stop? It makes those readings a lot easier.
The history of the furtive patah is interesting. But I don't think it is 
as you suggest.

It is helpful to look at old forms of names with furtive patah. For 
example, Yehoshua`/Yeshua`. The Greek form of this is almost always 
IHSOUS, with no trace of an "a" vowel; nothing like IHSOUAS is ever 
found, although the odd spelling IWSHE (W = omega, H = eta) is found in 
the Lucianic recension of LXX. But by the time of the Latin Vulgate 
Jerome writes IOSVE (and IESVS only for the New Testament character). 
This suggests a vowel glide in the pronunciation he heard, but not an 
"a" vowel. I think it was only with the Reformation that spellings like 
Joshua, with a final a, became standard.

Another name with a furtive patah is Noah. Here the Greek is NWE, and 
the Vulgate is NOE - so evidence of a vowel glide, but to "e" rather 
than "a".

Of course we cannot tell whether this final "e" was pronounced before or 
after the guttural consonant, because neither Greek nor Latin 
represented these consonants.

In fact it is part of the nature of sounds like het, ayin and (voiced) 
he that it is difficult to pronounce them with close vowels like "i" and 
"u". That explains the strong tendency throughout Hebrew grammar for "a" 
vowels before and after gutturals. And it explains why an "a" vowel was 
inserted to ease the transition from "i" or "u" to a word final guttural.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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