[b-hebrew] "extra" patach in Ex 20,3 / Deut 5,7 ?

Gary Martin garmar at u.washington.edu
Fri Oct 20 00:01:57 EDT 2006

Thank you Yigal. I should have mentioned that I had come across your posting
dated February 19, 2004 and read your earlier response there. I appreciate
the further information you provide here. I should add that I came across
that posting just yesterday after noticing the phenomenon and, not finding
any ready information in my standard works on the Masorah (Yeivin, Ginsburg,
etc.) did a Google search that landed me here:
So I joined the b-hebrew list serve and have already profited much in less
than 24 hours!

In looking through my library a bit further this evening, I did find a note
on the phenomenon in Wickes, "Treatise on the Accentuation of the Twenty-One
So-Called Prose Books of the Old Testament" (2-volume reprint, KTAV, 1970)
in Appendix I: "Notes on some difficult or otherwise noteworthy passages,"
pp. 130-131, which generally states what you have written here, and further
explains the terms ta'am 'elyon and ta'am taxton in footnote 6 on pg. 131.
Thanks very much!


-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Yigal Levin
Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2006 4:13 PM
To: b-hebrew
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] "extra" patach in Ex 20,3 / Deut 5,7 ?

Dear Gary,

What you've stumbled on is the double-pointing of the Decalogue, in both 
it's Exodus and Deuteronomy versions. Both have two sets of cantilation 
marks - one, known as the "lower" (ta'am tahton), divides the text into 
verses in the standard way. The other, known as "upper" (ta'am 'elyon), 
divides the text so that each "commandment" is a single, distinct, unit. For

example, in Ex. 20, vss. 8-11 in the lower are all one big "verse" (the 
fourth commandment) in the upper. For this reason, the word "leqaddesho" in 
verse 8 has both a sof-pasuq ("verse-end") for the "lower" and a revi'i for 
the "upper". In some cases, the change in accent causes a change in vowel, 
from short to long. Not just in "panay". Look at the first "mittahat" in vs.

4. In the BHS print, The tav has both a qamatz and a patah.

The reason for all of this is "ritual". In the public reading of the ten 
commandments in the synagogue on Shavu'ot, which is considered to be the 
anniversary of the giving of the Torah, the section is read so that each 
commandment is a single unit, thus sort of "recreating" the original Sinai 
event. Some printed Hebrew Bibles (like BHS), superimpose both sets of marks

on the same text. Others simply ignore the "upper". Yet others reprint the 
Decalogue in an appendix at the end of the volume.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Gary Martin" <garmar at u.washington.edu>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2006 8:29 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] "extra" patach in Ex 20,3 / Deut 5,7 ?

> Can anyone provide documentation for this phenomenon of double pointing
> (vowels and accents) on the same letter in panay of Exod 20,3-4 (also
> mitaxat) and Deut 5,7? Does it occur in places outside these two parallel
> texts? Any leads to relevant discussions/literature would be much
> appreciated.
> Thanks!
> Gary Martin
> Ph.D. Candidate, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Near and Middle 
> Eastern
> Studies
> University of Washington, Seattle
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew

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