[b-hebrew] DSS --> MT silent letters and vowel-points

Schmuel schmuel at escape.com
Tue Mar 15 07:29:26 EST 2005

Hi b-hebrew,

Subject was: Re: [b-hebrew] Yahwism (was: their altar)

Karl Randolph 
>>... So when the returnies from the Exile made Hebrew the language of religion, legal and high literature, they froze the spelling (in so far as there were spelling rules) to that which was used in the oldest and most important books.

Peter Kirk,
>...it is clear from the DSS than Hebrew spelling was not frozen soon after the exile, but remained fluid right through the Second Temple period. For there are significant and consistent differences betwen DSS, Mishnaic and Masoretic Hebrew e.g. DSS and Mishnaic Hebrew rather consistently use a silent alef to mark a long A vowel, but the Masoretic text never does. 

Thank you Peter and Karl.  My sense is that Hebrew was a continuing language, but I claim no particular scholarship expertise :-)

I have a semi-technical question vis a vis the scholarship mentioned above.

To what extent do we have a good study on these changes, and to what extent are they handled uniformly in Masoretic vowel pointing. (on those examples where we might see the spelling differences so represented)

Has anybody done a study saying along these lines..
  a) here are x dozen silent alefs in such and such a section of the DSS
  b) here are the same words in the Masoretic Text, with the following letters and vowel-points 
  c) this shows such and such a consistency/inconsistency in usage.


Steven Avery
Queens, NY

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