[b-hebrew] Jerusalem

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Jul 5 22:49:16 EDT 2010

On Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 12:37 AM, Will Parsons wrote:

Welcome to the list!

>> 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.
> I don't know about the Assyrian transcriptions, but can we know with
> confidence that the pronuncation of the Canaanite god *was* Shalim?  My
> understanding is that Ugaritic like other Semitic languages didn't regularly
> represent the vowels, so how would this be known?

Yes.  We have the transcriptions of Abdi-Hepa, Amarna age ruler of Jerusalem,
we have the transcription of Sennacherib talking about Jerusalem in
various copies
of the Sennacherib prism, and although Ugaritic is written mostly with
an alphabetic
cuneiform, there are also tablets written in other cuneiform where
personal names
DINGIR-shalim and DINGIR-shalima appear.

>> The yodh could represent this long i:
>> and nothing else.
> Why nothing else?  Couldn't the yodh indicate a pronuncation (e.g.) such as
> -aym?

Perhaps my Hebrew is interfering with the English here.  The above is meant
to mean - the yodh could be nothing more than a long i:.  There are other
possibilities, and indeed I advocate one below.

>> 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:.
> Although true, I don't see how development in Greek is significant for Hebrew.
> The transcription with eta just indicates the translators of the LXX heard a
> pronuncation similar to [jeruʃale:m].

No.  I think it means that we cannot rule that this transcribes a diphthong.
Just like the yodh is ambiguous, so too is the eta.

>> 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].
> Rather than the diphthong being a development of an earlier simple vowel, and
> that Yerushayim vs Yerushalem is the same sort of doublet seen in bayith vs
> beth?  In which case Yerushalayim (or rather *Yerushalaym) would represent an
> earlier pronuncation, the diphthong being monophthongized as usual in the
> pronuncation reflected by the usual Hebrew spelling and Greek transcription.
> The diphthongal pronunciation would be an alternate preserved either as a
> dialectal variant or perhaps in a different speech register, ultimately to
> survive and prosper in the pronuncation reflected by the Massoretes.

The evidence simply does not support this.
1) Historical *ay is always spelled out in pre-exilic inscriptions
from Judea (in
contrast to other locations).  But Jerusalem is spelled ירשלם in Kh. Bet Lei.
2) Jerusalem in pre-exilic Assyrian transcriptions has an -i-.
3) The Canaanite patron god of the city is Shalim.
4) Eta and -y- could both represent either a diphthong or a simple vowel.
5) Normal *ay become tsere in Biblical Aramaic.  But Jerusalem has seghol.
5) I dislike "alternate register preservation" explanations.  Sometimes
there is no alternative - Masoretic pronoun suffixes -ka and -ta appear in
DSS as -kh and -th but in the Secunda without a vowel, making dialectical
variation very likely and the most reasonable and simplest explanation.
But here the evidence suggests just the opposite - that -i- became -ay-
or -ayi- by Masoretic times.  There is no evidence for an -ay- in pre-exilic
times and various evidence (Assyrian, Kh. Bet Lei) against it.

Best, and again, welcome to the list!

Yitzhak Sapir

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