[b-hebrew] Jerusalem

wbparsons at alum.mit.edu wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Wed Jul 7 06:42:42 EDT 2010


Thanks for the reply.  I'm convinced on some points, but not others...

On Tue, 6 Jul 2010 05:49:16 +0300
Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.

OK - I'm convinced that the form "Shalim" can be estsblished.  You say above,
though, that the vowel is long, specifically [i:].  Is this implicit in the
Assyrian/Ugaritic transcriptions?
> >> 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.

I'm confused by what you mean here - which yodh are your referring to?
And do you mean that this yodh could not refer to [e:] for example?

> >> 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.

Here I must disagree concerning eta.  I don't believe there is any possibility
of seeing Ιερουσαλημ/Ierousalem as indicating a diphthong in the last syllable,
or any pronuncation other than one substantially like [jeruʃale:m].
> >> See here -
> >> http://books.google.com/books?id=yws4Zey-ZnYC&pg=PA73&dq="mid front vowel"

Yes, I am familiar with Allen's work (I have a copy) and nowhere does he suggest
a diphthongal value for eta.

> >> 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].

I'm confused here.  Aren't we talking about the *absence* of yodh in the 
Hebrew spelling?

> > 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.

OK - I think that the absence of yodh in early spellings is evidence that
points away from a *ay.

> 2) Jerusalem in pre-exilic Assyrian transcriptions has an -i-.

I have to accept the transcriptional evidence, but then the phonetic process
by which [i:m] finally arrived at [ajim] becomes hard to understand.

> 3) The Canaanite patron god of the city is Shalim.

OK - I'm convinced.

> 4) Eta and -y- could both represent either a diphthong or a simple vowel.

No - I don't think eta could.  Eta has three basic origins in Greek:

a)  The result of fronting an original [a:] in Ionic to something like
    [æ:].  It was apparently this phonetic change in Ionic that caused H
    to be first used as a vowel instead of an aspirate.

b)  The reflex of an inherited Indo-European [e:].  By the classical period,
    H had further evolved to a closer vowel, (though still relatively open)
    [ɛ:], and at this point H came be used for both these cases as they had
    fallen together in sound.

c)  The result of contraction, most notably between [e] & [a].  The result
    would most likely have resulted in something like [ɛ:].

This relatively open sound continued to become closer in time, until by 
the middle ages it merged with [i].  This of course took time, and for
a lot of the Hellenistic period we can posit a transitional form like
[e(:)].  (This is further bourne out by the use of H to transcribe long E
in Latin, and conversely, the use of Latin E to transcribe Greek H.)  But
at no time during this process, did H have a diphthongal value.

If ירשלם *did* have a diphthongal pronunciation at the time of the
LXX, one would expect it to be transcribed as Ιερουσαλαϊμ/Ierousalaïm.
Note that e.g., on one hand we have transcriptions like Ισραηλ/Israel,
and on the other Εφραϊμ/Ephraïm.

> 5) Normal *ay become tsere in Biblical Aramaic.  But Jerusalem has seghol.

I didn't know that.  I don't know the significance of having the seghol is,
though (apart from it pointing away from *ay).

> 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.

I guess you've convinced me that my hypothesis of a doublet Yerushalayim/
Yerushalem is mistaken, but I still find it hard to posit a credible path
by which [i:] evolved to [a(j)i], in lack of additional corroborative 
evidence.  (Of course, I realize that my lack of knowledge of such evidence 
is not the same as there being none.)

> Best, and again, welcome to the list!
> Yitzhak Sapir


William Parsons

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