[b-hebrew] (RWT in meaning?

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Jun 4 12:13:01 EDT 2008


On Sat, May 31, 2008 at 11:30 PM, Yaakov Stein <yaakov_s at rad.com> wrote:

> Karl,
>> Now you may say that the masorete's vocalization is rather late and thus
> actually a form of commentary. To that I would answer that the masoretes
> listened to how the Torah was religiously read yearly for at least 1000
> years before their time (and less frequently for even
> longer), and tried to capture what they heard. They also wrote many volumes
> on when they heard alternatives and why they chose what they chose.
> I said it before, but will repeat it for this response.

From what I have seen of the Masoretic pointing, it appears to have been
compiled first and foremost upon the tradition of pronunciation that existed
*at that time*. As such, it was primarily based on tradition, not
commentary. And yes, it is rather late.

From other sources, there are indications that there were both different
pronunciation traditions, and that the pronunciation traditions had changed
over time. As a result, we cannot be sure of Biblical era pronunciation.

> I would suggest that you look into some of the Masorete literature before
> completely dismissing its vocalization. Although parsing the MASORAH GDOLA
> can be difficult (due to the large number of abbreviations and quaint
> Aramaic expressions) the MINHAT SHAY is quite accessible.
> Even the Minhat Shay would be difficult for me, as it is written in late
Hebrew, not Biblical.

> I completely agree that errors certainly occurred, as always happens when
> text is handed down over the generations. However, this also certainly
> happened to the letters (I will give my favorite case of this in a separate
> email).
> Yaakov (J) Stein

Yes there were errors of transmission, the Nahal Heber scrap on Psalm 22
indicates two of them. But there were also errors of understanding that
crept in. Seeing as there were errors in transmission in the written text
where we had a physical standard to check them against, how much more would
there be errors in pronunciation where there was no physical standard to
check them against?

Karl W. Randolph.

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