[b-hebrew] Qamats or patah?

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Nov 29 06:05:17 EST 2007

On Nov 29, 2007 8:50 AM,  Pere Porta wrote:
> I compare the word HBY)TNY in 2Sa 7:18 with the word HBY)TNW in Nm 16:14 and
> I wonder why the first has patah under taw while the latter has qamats
> instead.
> I assume these are words of the same structural pattern, with the only
> difference of the personal pronoun at the end.
> Is there any good reason for this different vowels in structurally identical
> words?

Look also at Ps 66:11.  As it turns out, Num 16:14 is possibly a
pausal form.  Normally,
pausal forms occur at more major pauses (etnax/ta, silluq), but there
are in fact several
degrees of pauses, and sometimes pausal forms occur in any case which suggests a
different original division of the verse.  When two suffixes are added
-- in this case -ta and
-nu: or -ta and -ni:, the word becomes extremely long.  havi?o +
-tanu: or -tani:.  It seems
that in some of these cases, the -i?o- part reduced to -e:-.  Thus,
have:tVnu: in Ps 66:11.
This might have also led to a shift in stress, and a consequent
lengthening of the vowel
of -ta, giving have:ta:nu:, and the later shift of all long a: to
qamats, meant that Ps 66:11
would have have:tɔnu:.  Going back to the pausal form issue, in pausal
forms, the
reading and speech was slowed down, meaning that some of the older
sounds remained.
This should have given havi?otanu: in Num 16:14, but it's possible
that while the
differentiation of i?o was maintained (rather than produce -e:-), the
stress was still placed
in accordance with the non-pausal form, giving the same consequent
lengthening and
shift to qamats.  In the case of -ni:, though, this development did
not take place at all.
The stress in -ni: must have been different, I think, because the -ta-
was maintained as
a patax, and it must therefore not have been long at the time that
long patax shifted to
qamats (around 6th century CE in the reading tradition).  But I don't
really know for sure.
All of this is a theory, and it relates to an issue of stress although
I do not know if the
stress was really different in prior times.  But I think it is a
working explanation for the
differences you ask about.

Yitzhak Sapir

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