[b-hebrew] Pronunciation of Hebrew names

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Fri Oct 26 05:02:28 EDT 2007

Dear Sergio,

Please note that the Hebrew Bible/OT Shim'on is spelled "Simeon" in English, 
following the Greek. This means that when the Hebrew was translated into 
Greek, the 'Ayin was still pronounced, and the Greek used the "e" to 
indicate this. By the late Second Temple period, many people (especially 
Galileans) has stopped pronouncing the 'Ayin, and the pronounciation 
"Shimon" was transcribed "Simon" in Greek.

The proper name of "Galilee" in Hebrew is "Galil". "Gelil" of Isa 9:1 is in 
the construct ("Galilee of the Nations" - although that's a mistranslation). 
"Gelilah" looks superficially like a locatve "to Galilee", but the "-ah" is 
often added to place names.

As far as "John", yes, the Hebrew is "Yehohanan" or "Yohanan". The 
difference between those two forms is that the first abbreviates the Divine 
Name as "Yeho", the second as "Yo". In the pre-exilic period, the first was 
more common in Judah, the second in Israel, although the Bible is not 
consistant (The same is true for "Yehoram/Yoram, Yehonatan/Yonatan etc.). 
The "Israelean" form may have persisted in Galilee in the Second Temple 
period. I'm not sure how and when that was shortened to "Yohn" ("John"), 
without the final "-an". Maybe someonce else can elaborate.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sesamo m." <sesamox at hotmail.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, October 26, 2007 10:10 AM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Pronunciation of Hebrew names

> I like to know the pronunciation (or at least likely pronunciation) of the 
> names of biblical characters.
> For instance, for the pronunciation of John it seems it was originally 
> something like Yehokjanan, but by the first century it's been shortened to 
> Yokjanan.
> In the case of Simon, did it retain in the first century the gutural stop 
> (ayin), something like Sim-on?
> And what was the Hebrew name for Galilee? I've found Galil (Jos 20:7; 1 
> King 9:11), Gelil (Isa 9:1) and Galilah (2 Kings 15:29). Why this 
> difference? Which would be the pronunciation in the first century?
> Thanks
> Sergio
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