[b-hebrew] yhwh pronunciation

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Jul 25 07:19:55 EDT 2005

On 25/07/2005 03:32, Karl Randolph wrote:

>Just out of curiosity, what time frame do you determine for 
>the invention of matres lectionis?

I don't know, Karl. Do you? Obviously no later than the late ninth 
century because it is attested at that time. And there is very little 
written Hebrew earlier than that. There is older Phoenician, which 
apparently did not use matres lectionis at all. And there are no he 
matres lectionis in the Gezer calendar, which is Hebrew from the late 
tenth century, although there are final vavs which may well indicate 
long "u" sounds (in the repeated word YRXW which is understood as 
meaning "two months", a construct dual) - but this rather short work 
just may not include any words ending with a vowel other than "u". This 
suggests, but by no means proves, that use of final he as a mater 
lectionis was a ninth century innovation.

Here, for reference, is the entire text of the Gezer calendar, in a 
rather non-standard transliteration:

* L1: yrxw ’sp // yrxw z
* L2: r‘ // yrxw lqš
* L3: yrx ‘cd pšt
* L4: yrx qcr s‘rm
* L5: yrx qcr ??l(?)
* L6: yrxw zmr
* L7: yrx qc

>Do you include where the final he in a verb is changed to a 
>yod as an example of matres lectionis?

Well, that depends on the pronunciation of the yod. If it marks a long 
"i" vowel, as for example in the 1st and 2nd person singular "perfect" 
forms of the qal of "lamed-he" verbs, it is a mater lectionis. But if it 
is a consonant, as in the qal passive participle, then it is not a mater 

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

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