[b-hebrew] Initial "Beged Kefet" consonants always have a...

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman joel at exc.com
Sun Oct 23 11:54:59 EDT 2005

>> There is considerable pre-masoreteic evidence, and none of it confirms
>> the Masoretic Beged Kefet rules.  I go through the evidence in great
>> detail in my NYU book (_In the Beginning: A Short History of the
>> Hebrew Language), which is available from most libraries.  "Rebekka"
>> demonstrates well, as the Masoretes recorded two syllables and a /v/
>> for the second consonant, while the LXX gives us three syllabes and a
>> /b/ for the second consonant.  "Milcah" shows the same pattern, with
>> /k/ according to the Masoretes but /x/ according to the LXX.
>I was thinking of these examples.  Why do you assume that if two names
>have the same form (mishqal) in the MT, they necessarily had the same
>form a few (or more than a few) centuries earlier.  Two possibilities can

I don't make that assumption at all, and, in fact, that's the
viewpoint I'm arguing *against*.  I assume that the Tiberian forms *do
not* capture the more ancient forms.  It is others on this list who
think that they do.

I pointed out that the evidence from the LXX is in general
inconclusive, but it *does not* support the view that the Tiberian
forms correctly capture the ancient Biblical sounds of Hebrew.

I'm actually shocked that people do believe that the Tiberian forms
(which, we have seen, do not match the LXX forms or the other
Masoretic forms) reflect pronunciation from 1,000 years earlier.

>some words.  If the second, could we not suggest the form of Rebeccah
>might earlier on have been the same as "m:sillFh" (Isaiah 40:3) or
>"c:biyyFh" (Song of Songs 3:5)?  It's possible of course that different

Of course that's the most obvious conclusion.  The name originally had
three syllables, and by the time the Tiberian Masoretes recorded the
pronunciation, it had two.  Of the other possibilites, the most likely
is that the LXX does such a poor job recording transliterations that
we should not draw any conclusions from it.  (In general,
transliterations are terrible guides to language, as I discuss at
length in my book, and as is well-known by linguists.  If people want,
I'll try to post the evidence on-line.)

-Joel M. Hoffman

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list