[b-hebrew] Biblia Hebraica transcripta

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Sun Mar 16 22:21:40 EDT 2008


One thing is crystal clear, to wit, that there never was a pair of  
xet and ayin letters in the Hebrew script system. Never. The myth of  
the double letters [or one letter selected to represent two ancient  
distinct meaningful sounds] originated precisely from the desire to  
explain the seemingly puzzling situation of the existence in Hebrew  
of such pairs of words as NAXAL, 'water source' and NAXAL, 'settled',  
inevitably drawn from an apparently common root. But it is all in  
vain, unnecessary and even counterproductive.  For a brief moment you  
[or for that matter the venerable Blau] may find respite in the  
expediency of xet1 and xet2 --- in the claim that the two words come  
from "different" roots NXL of a merged X, but then there comes the  
example of numerous other, seemingly unrelated, words stemming also  
from equal roots, and for which there is no claim of double letters.   
How do you account for all the different words spawned by the root  
DBR? Are there five "different" DBR roots? [Gesenius thinks the root  
DBR has the essential meaning of 'arrange in a row', which is a step  
in the right direction, but still too specific to be useful.] It  
leaves also unresolved the question of what is the "difference"  
between the two similar roots NXL, and what it means for the two  
roots to be "different". Also, who is to say when xet=xet1 and in  
what instances xet-xet2?
In fact, this deus ex machina contrivance of a double Hebrew xet and  
ayin letters results, methinks, from a profound misunderstanding  
[yes, even by the )ILANOT GDOLIM upon which you lean for support] of  
the nature of the Hebrew root and it but helps to obfuscate the  
relationship among Hebrew words derived from the same root. I would  
discard the double xet and double ayin hypothesis swiftly and entirely.
There is no denying that the root (LM is a variant of BLM [BLIMAH],  
TLM [TELEM], all essentially meaning 'tall and massive, of substance  
and body'.
There is no denying that the root NXL is a variant of NHL. Water may  
NHL=NXL on the face of the earth, or a person may NHL-NXL on the face  
of the earth, from the root perspective the two phenomena are one and  
the same.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Mar 4, 2008, at 3:39 PM, David Steinberg wrote:

> Isaac -
> 1 It is clear that /Chet/ in written Hebrew corresponds to two
> proto-Semitic consonants which, to avoid typographic problems we can
> write /kh/ and H. Similarly '/ayin/ in written Hebrew corresponds  
> to two
> proto-Semitic consonants which we can represent as /^c / and /gh/.
> 2. Most scholars have been convinced by Wevers  (Wevers J. W., / 
> Heth/ in
> Classical Hebrew by in /Essays on the Ancient Semitic World/ ed. J. W.
> Wevers and D. B. Redford, University of Toronto press 1970) and Blau
> (/On Polyphony in Biblical Hebrew, /  Israel Academy of Sciences and
> Humanities Proceedings, vol. VI no. 2 1982) that the original dual
> pronunciation /Chet/ and '/ayin/ was only lost in the Hellenistic  
> period
> -- i.e. these letters were polyphonic in the pre-exilic, Persian and 
> early Hellenistic periods. E.g. see  Sáenz-Badillos/ /p. 69
> (Sáenz-Badillos/ /A/, A History of the Hebrew Language/ by, Cambridge
> 1993), Kutscher pp. 17-18 (Kutscher,/ /Eduard Y. , /A History of the
> Hebrew Language/  edited by Raphael Kutscher Published by The Magnes
> Press, 1982) and Rainey (Jewish Quarterly Review XCI pp. 419-427,
> Jan.-Apr. 2001).  See also Consonantal Polyphony in Biblical
> http://www.adath-shalom.ca/history_of_hebrew3.htm#polyphonyHebrew*__*
> 3. You can make the argument that you should ignore etymology in
> defining the semantics of Biblical Hebrew words as is being done in
> /T//he Dictionary of Classical Hebrew/ , David J.A. Clines, editor.
> However even a synchronic approach cannot ignore the phonemic  
> structure
> of the language as it existed at the time of text composition.
> 4. In practice, in the cases of discontinuous semantic ranges of
> biblical roots containing /Chet/ or '/ayin, /it seems useful to  
> look at
> the etymological background to see whether it might account for  
> what se
> see in the Hebrew.
> 5. Re the specifics see HALOT (/The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the
> Old Testament // by Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner ;  
> subsequently
> revised by Walter Baumgartner and Johann Jakob Stamm ; with assistance
> from Benedikt Hartmann ... [et al.]. Leiden ; New York : E.J.  
> Brill, 1994)
> naHal HALOT
> Ugaritic nHlt --take in possession; nHl heir
> Hebrew -- basically the same semantic range
> Nkhl -- apparently gorge in Ugaritic and definitely in Akkadian
> Hebrew -- basically the same semantic range
> ^c lm ('ayin, lamed, mem)
>    1. ^c lm = concealed in Arabic and possibly in Ugaritic with  
> parallel
>       meanings in Hebrew
>    2. ghlm = dark, obscure in Ugaritic with possibly st same  
> meaning in
>       Job 42:3 etc
>    3. ghlm = Ugaritic to be agitated, Arabic to be filled with
>       passionate desire.
>    4. Note the word for boy is derived from ghlm not ^c lm.
> David Steinberg <mailto:webmaster at adath-shalom.ca>
> http://www.houseofdavid.ca/
> David.Steinberg at houseofdavid.ca  
> <mailto:David.Steinberg at houseofdavid.ca>
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