[b-hebrew] Yerushalayim, you say? Really?

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Jul 5 14:08:52 EDT 2010

Hello Garth,

The Tiberian reading tradition is not just an issue of mater
lectionis.  The reading tradition
can read a totally different word, skip a word, add a word, skip a
letter, add a letter, all
kinds of ways in order to achieve the appropriate reading.  It is even
less reasonable to
assume that even had the Tiberians come to a consonantal text with no advance
knowledge of the reading, and added vowels as they saw fit and
understood it, which
they did not, that they also did so for such a common and very
significant name as
Jerusalem.  It is best to analyze all reading developments, not least
of which the name
Jerusalem, as resulting from standard phonetic developments in pronunciation.

In the case of the name Jerusalem, the last vowel was original a long
i:.  We know
this from Assyrian transcriptions and also from the name of the Canaanite god
Shalim which underlies the city's name.  The yodh could represent this long i:
and nothing else.  However, the Greek eta used to transcribe the name indicates
a lowering of the vowel at this position.  It is perhaps significant
that the eta itself
has its development from both a long a: and a long e:.  See here -
http://books.google.com/books?id=yws4Zey-ZnYC&pg=PA73&dq="mid front vowel"
In my opinion, the use of a yodh in mid-word position is indication
that the vowel
already had a diphthong pronunciation at this point, even if it wasn't
the [ai] or
[ayi] of Tiberian [yarushalaim].

Yitzhak Sapir

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list