[b-hebrew] "their mouth" compared to "their fruit"

George Athas george.athas at moore.edu.au
Tue Feb 6 19:02:04 EST 2007

Hi Isaac!
It may be worth your while taking a closer look at Hebrew morphology. Words
such as AB ('father') retain the final yodh in their construct forms; it is
not an extraneous yodh added purely for euphony, but is rather reflective of
their original morphology, which ended in a vowel (the verb forms developed
into III-he in Biblical Hebrew).
Furthermore, segholate nouns like DEGEL come from originally one syllable
forms. In the case of DEGEL, it's original form is *DIGL. The development
into DEGEL was due to Hebrew's dislike of consonantal clusters. A similar
phenomenon happens in some verb forms, such as the Wayyiqtol or Jussive
forms of Hiphil III-he verbs.

Best Regards, 

Moore Theological College (Sydney) 
1 King St, Newtown, NSW 2042, Australia 
Ph: (+61 2) 9577 9774 

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Isaac Fried
Sent: Wednesday, 7 February 2007 2:21 AM
To: 'kenneth greifer' <greifer at hotmail.com>
Cc: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] "their mouth" compared to "their fruit"
Importance: Low

Dear Kenneth,
“Why” is a delicate question in Hebrew grammar. Notice that the special
structure observed for PEH, ‘mouth’, occurs also in the other ancient words:
AV, ‘father’, AX, ‘brother’ and XAM, ‘father-in-law’. Thus: PIHEM, AVIHEM,
AXIHEM, XAMIHEM. Hebrew declension is a noun plus personal pronouns. It
stands to reason that at first they were distinct words, then with time, as
a result of heavy use, rapid talk and the eventual removal of spaces in
script they were fused into one word. In this sense AVIHEM = AV + I + HEM is
perfect; HEM being unmistakably ‘they’. The question is what is this ‘I’
stuck after AV? One may argue that at some historical stage of the Hebrew
language AV was AVI (such as ADI, GDI, PRI, and so on), or one may argue
that this ‘I’ is just a phonetic prop to avoid an awkward *AVHEM. I tend to
think that this ‘I = HI’ is the personal pronoun ‘he’, designed to turn
‘they’ into ‘their’. In PAR, ‘ox’, the possessive form collapsed from the
ideal *PARIHEM to PARAM = PAR + AM, ‘their ox’, but the plural is saved in
all its glory: PAREYHEM. I think that the ‘EY’ is a double ‘I’, short for a
double ‘he’. Thus: PAREYHEM = PAR + I + I + HEM, with one ‘he’ denoting
plural, and the other having the function mentioned above. 
We easily forgive the Hebrews who turned DEGEL, (2 vowels) ‘flag’, into
DIGLAM, (2 vowels) ‘their flag’, rather then *DEGELIHEM (4 vowels).
Isaac Fried, Boston University

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