[b-hebrew] YHWH Pronunciation

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Jul 26 20:27:10 EDT 2005


On 26/07/2005 20:09, Schmuel wrote:

> ...
>
>Peter,
>  
>
>>James, I brought in the word "scholarly" only because Steven referred to the "consensus on a scholarly forum" and to "scholarship". Steven seemed to argue that the self-perpetuating group of "scholars" whose consensus since the 19th century has been for "Yahwe" had changed its mind.
>>    
>>
>
>"self-perpetuating group" -- this almost sounds like a parody of the "scholarship"position :-)
>
>Peter
>  
>
>>But I see no evidence of this. That same group of "scholars" continues to support "Yahwe" and is largely unaware of the arguments of outsiders to whom they would pay little attention.
>>    
>>
>
>Fine.  Again, are they really very relevant ?  Who are they ?  Do they have any current writings ? Do they offer more insight than the diverse crew on this forum ?  Is the fact that they are not interested in dialog a point of favor or disfavor ?  Is there really a "they" there ? :-)
>  
>

Thanks for the info on Gordon, Gertoux and Franklin. I don't say they 
are wrong, although I still go for "Yahwe". My only point about the 
so-called "scholars" is that they only read what is written by one 
another, and not what outsiders write. So they probably consider that 
what Gesenius wrote on this has been uncontested for well over a century 
and so doesn't need to be defended. They certainly haven't changed their 
minds.

As for current literature, I am sure you will find good discussions in 
modern reference works from the scholarly world like the Anchor Bible 
Dictionary.

And these people are relevant, because what they teach is standard in 
universities and theological colleges, and from there becomes standard 
in pulpits and in many books.

> ...
>
>Nehemiah Gordon's view is that the dropping of the cholam was the full Adonai qere methodology, 
>and he gives arguments for that view. 
>  
>

So, how does he explain that, at least in L, the holam was also dropped 
from the large majority of cases where the qere was Elohim? This fact 
surely destroys Gordon's argument. Well, you come on to this later.

>...
>
>Here is the critical Nehemiah discussion-- note that the 50 mentioned here are, seemingly, NOT the Elohim cases.  Yehovah is mentioned, not "Yehovih".
>
>"This means that 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. The way scribes copied ancient writings was to read the words either out loud or under their breath. The scribe sometimes made a mistake and wrote what he heard from his own lips, even if this differed from what he read with his eyes. This is a common mistake in modern English as well. When English speakers are writing quickly or typing they often write down "know" instead of "no" or "their" instead of "there". This is not due to ignorance since most people who make this mistake know full well the difference between these homonyms. Instead this is an error stemming from how the words sound. In the case of the divine name 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, the implication here is that the scribe (I think all of L was 
written by one scribe) was reading the divine name (not a substitute) as 
he went "either out loud or under their breath". Really? And sometimes 
he accidentally wrote down the full divine name? This sounds rather 
improbable if the divine name was really held to be ineffable or 
unpronounceable.

>Peter has counterpointed this ..
> "The evidence seems to be that the holam was never written."
>  
>

This needs a little more context. I wrote, on 21st July, "This 
presupposed that they omitted something, rather than never writing it. 
The evidence seems to be that the holam was never written." I was of 
course talking about the occurrences of YHWH without holam, and what 
Gordon had written about them. Gordon wrote "It is possible that the 
medieval scribes omitted the vowel in the first hey of YeHVaH", which 
suggests that it was "omitted" while copying from another manuscript 
which had a holam. But there is no evidence for this process; rather, 
the evidence is for more holams rather than fewer in later manuscripts. 
So it seems more likely that in such cases the holam-less form was 
copied from another holam-less manuscript, and so on back to before the 
days of pointing, i.e. the holam had never been written.

But this preliminary conclusion would be made more secure by the further 
detailed analysis which I proposed.

>...
>
>...
>NOTE ON QERE PERPETUUM 
>
>btw.. this is an important summary of one paragraph from Nehemiah, relates to a question,
>I believe by James.
>
>"Yet nowhere in Scripture is there an instance of Qere Perpetuum in which the word written one way but read another way always lacks a scribal note. If we were to apply the Qere Perpetuum rule to YHVH it would be unique in this class of Qere-Ketiv since it never has a scribal note saying "read it Adonai", not once in the 6828 times the word appears."
>  
>

Is there actually a scribal note for all of the 192 occurrences (in BHS) 
of HIW), i.e. ketiv HW) but qere hi', which is every occurrence of "she" 
in the Torah (also Isaiah 39:1)?

>=============================
>
>MODERN PRINTED TEXTS
>
>And Nehemiah claims that later printings of the Masoretic Text actually modified the vowels to match the Adonai theory, which is rather interesting.   This might have had a lot to do with the enthusiasm of 
>the "scholarship" of the last 100+ years.. .they were used to looking at the wrong vowels in their texts !
>  
>

Well, for 100+ read nearly 500, for the "modified" vowels he refers to 
seem to be those of the Ben Hayyim text, which always has that holam. I 
suppose Nehemiah is assuming that by Ben Hayyim's time everyone had 
forgotten the real pronunciation of the divine name, and so Ben Hayyim 
restored it to the text unintentionally (perhaps by unconscious divine 
inspiration, on the basis of what you wrote later?) Or perhaps (although 
I guess some might find this suggestion a bit offensive, sorry but I 
need to mention it as a logical possibility although not my preference) 
Ben Hayyim had learned the supposedly true form Yehowa from Gertoux's 
mediaeval Christians and restored it to the text for that reason - but 
for some reason not in the Elohim passages, where he restored the holam 
but kept the hiriq? That sounds even more improbable.

>================================
>HEY DISCUSSION
>
>  
>
>>"by the rules of the Hebrew language the first hey in YHVH must have some vowel...."
>>    
>>
>
>Peter Kirk
>This point is misleading. The Hebrew *language* does not require a pronounced vowel following the he. There are many words e.g. EHYEH "I am" in which he is followed directly by a consonant. The rule which Gordon presumably has in mind is a rule of the Hebrew *writing system*, with Tiberian Masoretic pointing, by which, except at the end of a word, each consonant which is to be pronounced (i.e. excluding matres lectionis - but he is never a mater lectionis in the middle of a word) must carry a point. But that point may be not a vowel point, but sheva, which (in a context like this) indicates the lack of a vowel sound, that the consonant is the first in a consonant cluster. 
>
>Schmuel
>Yes, I was doing a small extract, and I believe you had seen the article
>For the forum, here is more in context, and basically the same points are covered by Nehemiah.
>  
>

I read the whole article rather quickly from your Yahoo group (which I 
joined for the purpose but I don't receive postings). But I didn't save 
it and have relied on the extracts you have posted.

[Note for Rolf if you are reading this: I first wrote "... you posted", 
then I realised that that was incorrect because Schmuel may yet post 
more extracts, so corrected it to "... you have posted" which does not 
imply that the activity has stopped. And only then did I realise the 
relevance to my earlier posting.]

>"A fundamental rule of the Hebrew language is that a consonant in the middle of a word must be followed by either a vowel or a silent sheva. Now there are sometimes silent letters in the middle of a word that have no vowel or sheva (e.g. the Aleph in bereshit ). But this is never the case with a he in the middle of a word. In Biblical Hebrew, it is common for H to be silent at the end of a word, but there is no such thing as a silent he in the middle of a word. This means that by the rules of the Hebrew language the first he in YHVH must have some vowel. So what happened to this missing vowel? Perhaps the answer can be found in another medieval scribal practice. When the biblical scribes wanted to omit a word they would remove its vowels. The medieval reader knew that when he came across a word without vowels that this was a word that was not to be read. It is possible that the medieval scribes omitted the vowel in the first he ä of YeHVaH to prevent the readers from reading the name out loud."
>
>And the fact that these are writing system rules is precisely the issue, we are dealing with folks who are reading text from the Masoretic writing system :-)
>  
>

OK, I take the point. In the context, when Gordon wrote "by the rules of 
the Hebrew language the first hey in YHVH must have some vowel....", 
what he clearly meant was some vowel POINT, or as he writes earlier 
"either a vowel or a silent sheva". But without this context, the 
sentence looked like a claim that this he must carry a full vowel and 
not a silent sheva, and so as a disproof of the form Yahwe in which the 
first he has a silent sheva. The form Yahwe cannot be dismissed this easily.

>Peter
>  
>
>>However, this rule needs to be modified in cases of Qere and Ketiv, especially where there are fewer 
>>Qere vowels than Ketiv consonants,
>>    
>>
>
>It would help here if you could you show other qere/ketiv cases that have comparable ungrammatical omissions in the vowels in the Masoretic Text. 
>  
>

I suggest you look at 
http://www.qaya.org/academic/hebrew/Ketiv-Qere-difficult.pdf, an 
analysis (done for a quite different purpose) of cases where qere and 
ketiv differ in the number of syllables, and how these have been 
represented in the Hebrew text (based on BHS). But these are all cases 
of more vowels than consonants. My original analysis for this included 
cases of the opposite, in which there remain unpointed consonants in the 
middle of the word, and I looked back at this for suitable examples. See 
for example Deuteronomy 32:13: Ketiv BMWTY, Qere B.F74M:FT"Y, form in 
the text B.F74M:FWT"Y with an unpointed vav. Or 1 Samuel 10:7: Ketiv 
TB)YNH, Qere TFBO91)NFH, form in the text TFBO91)YNFH with an unpointed 
yod. Or 1 Samuel 26:22: Ketiv HXNYT, Qere X:ANI74YT, form in the text 
HX:ANI74YT with an unpointed he. Or 2 Samuel 16:2: Ketiv WLHLXM, Qere 
W:HAL.E70XEM, form in the text W:LHAL.E70XEM with an unpointed lamed. 
And there are also all the occurrences of the name Issachar.

> ...
>
>Peter
>  
>
>>But my point was explicitly about Codex L, the basis of BHS. It seems clear that by Ben Chayyim's 
>>time the pointings of YHWH had been regularised, probably to just two - and perhaps another two after prefixes. But at the earlier stage of L there were at least nine different pointings, although four of these are found just once or twice which may indicate copying errors..... And it is going back to 
>>this earlier stage, before Ben Chayyim, which is helping us to understand the original intentions of these pointings.
>>    
>>
>
>That depends on your viewpoint.  There are many that feel that an "older" manuscript can simply be a corrupt manuscript, of less value.
>
>Examples:.. In the NT realm, Aleph and B were maintained in good physical shape precisely because they were junk and unused. ...
>

This argument is hopelessly flawed, but this is not the place to discuss 
NT textual criticism.

>...  The Leningrad text is just one Masoretic Text, not up to the standards of the Received Text.
>  
>

Nevertheless, it is a historical record of the text at a particular 
time. And the Aleppo codex (which is the most highly regarded by many 
orthodox Jews, I understand) is a record of the text at its time.

> From this viewpoint, what really counts is the Received Text.  And it is not likely to have the annoying small copying errors. And the consistency of such a text is not just accidental, but actually a reflection of the process of Inspiration --> Preservation of Scripture at work. 
>
>Now of course, in scholarship circles "Inspiration" and "Preservation" of scripture are often considered off limits :-)  However, it is important to mention that our view of manuscripts will in fact often be a function of our view of those concepts.  And that is why I personally consider the Ben Hayim text far more significant than Leningrad. 
>  
>

Understood. I too hold to a doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture, 
but do not hold to the view that the inspired authoritative texts of 
both the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament are by some strange 
coincidence (or providence) texts from the first quarter of the 16th 
century CE.

But if you want to rely only on Ben Hayyim, let's forget all this 
argument about missing holams, because as I understand it there are none 
in the Ben Hayyim text, but only in manuscripts which you consider to be 
less reliable and, by implication, full of small copying errors.

> ...
>
>>But it seems that in the great majority of cases the Masoretic scribes 
>>didn't write the holam from Y:HOWIH, as well as in Y:HOWFH. So a 
>>different explanation is needed of why the holam is sometimes written 
>>and sometimes not.
>>    
>>
>
>Agreed.  
>Although note my interest is principally in the Ben Hayim text, as discussed above :-)
>  
>

My data are of course for L. Ben Hayyim, as I understand it, always 
wrote the holam in both Adonay and Elohim cases, and so is of no help to 
Gordon's arguments.

>However, this Leningrad reference possibly can be forwarded to Nehemiah, as it seems he built a lot of his views on the implication of a consistent cholam inclusion in the Elohim cases.
>
>That does not necessarily overall make his general case weaker or stronger, (ie. that the cholam is part of the Tetragrammaton) but it potentially deep-sixes one or two of the logical threads therein. 
>
>  
>
You are welcome to forward to him anything I have posted to the list.


-- 
Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
http://www.qaya.org/




-- 
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.0.338 / Virus Database: 267.9.5/58 - Release Date: 25/07/2005




More information about the b-hebrew mailing list