[b-hebrew] Kamatz katan; was: Translating

rochelle altman willaa at netvision.net.il
Sat Oct 7 05:41:09 EDT 2006

RF said:

>>  As a matter of fact, the WAYYIQTOL did not exist before the Masoretes! 
>> By that I mean that it is impossible to distinguish between WEYIQTOLs 
>> and WAYYIQTOLs in the DSS since many WEYIQTOLs in the MT are apocopated 
>> just as are many WAYYIQTOLs. In the transcriptions of Origen´s Hexapla 
>> the WAYYIQTOLs and WEYIQTOLs are transcribed similarly (no gemination 
>> and the prefix transcribed as OU). The Masoretes obviously distingusihed 
>> between YIQTOLs/WEYIQTOLs on the one hand and WAYYIQTOLs on the other. 
>> But again, was this in their mind a semantic or a pragmatic distinction? 
>> And, if there is no trace of this distinction before them, on which 
>> basis did they make the distinction?

RISA: replies:

There are "traces." The very existence of "rival" nikkud systems 
demonstrates that notational systems did exist prior to the Masoretes. In 
fact, there is evidence that various notation systems did exist; the BCE 
letters and scrolls supply concrete evidence.

The Elephantine papyri, for example, still show variant forms of consonants 
to indicate which vowel was attached to a consonant. (Syriac Biblical texts 
retained the variant forms.) And these variant forms appear in the DSS; for 
example, !Qsa displays variant forms of sin/shin; aleph, bet, dalet, vav 
(oh, all right, WAW), etc. as do the fragments of Exodus from Wadi 
Murab'bat. And, as there is evidence of the notational system that 
developed into the ta'anim in the DSS (at the very least the archaic forms 
of tifcha, geresh, and gershaiim -- all of which are found in the early 
Latin and Greek musical notation systems), it is quite possible that the 
MSS that the Masoretes used had notation systems, whether variant forms or 
archaic nikkud, that marked the difference between  YIQTOL/WEYIQTOL 

What about Matres lectonis? They only appear in what someone, sometime or 
another, thought to be ambiguous situations. In Square Script, WAW, after 
all, is a bit of a problem to vary, so they vary it in the starting stroke 
at the top of the letter. YOD is handled like the WAWI. Likewise, in Square 
Script, HEH is also a bit of a problem, but it's use does not require a 
variant form.. There are variant forms of ALEPH, but that, as HEH, WAW, 
YOD, etc., dates back to Phoenician, so it's hardly surprising.

And, yes, I have written a bit on the variant forms in the DSS and hope to 
be able to devote more time to that project within the next year. They 
distinguished between shin and sin, too. The left-hand 'arm' on the shin is 
from the side; in the sin, it runs straight down the center. The variants 
are not meant to leap out at one; they are small, yet important, 
differences in the way a letter is consistently formed.

BTW, when you state that Origen transcribed both "WAYYIQTOLs and WEYIQTOLs" 
as OU, are you quite certain that there is no difference in the two forms 
as-written? I do know that the Greek Phonetic Alphabet (GPA), from the 
sixth BCE through the Byzantine period, had distinct forms of  upsilon, 
used in, for example, between AV/OV and OU.

We do have evidence of how the words were pronounced prior to the 
Masoretes, but it requires that we look at the originals, not editions -- 
and pay attention to consistent differences in letter forms; they have 

Back to lurking,..


Dr. R. I. S. Altman

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