[b-hebrew] Jerusalem

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sat Jul 10 16:13:37 EDT 2010

On Sat, Jul 10, 2010 at 9:08 AM, Garth Grenache wrote:

> Dear Yitzhak and all,
> While Aramaic Sheyol has consonantal 'y' instead of aleph,
> and sometime Mikayel can be likewise spelled,
> when Micha'el, Salathi'el and Gabri'el are spelled with both alpha
> and then yodh,
> it can hardly mean that a consonantal 'y' has replaced the
> consonantal aleph which is still present, can it?

The examples you gave for the names with -el in the Old Syriac
of the NT are inappropriate for several reasons - first, they are
several centuries later than the spellings with ירושלים.  Second,
they are in Aramaic, which may have different spelling conventions.
Third, they are in Christian texts, which may have different spelling
conventions than Jewish texts.

However, the main problem is the date.  In late Byzantine Hebrew
inscriptions we find tsere spelled with a yodh -
1) The En Gedi inscription -
אדם שת אנוש קינן מהללאל ירד חנוך מתושלח למך נוח שם חם ויפית
טלה שור תאומים סרטן ארי בתולה מאוזנים עקרב קישת גדי ודלי דגים
ניסן אייר סיון תמוז אב אילול תשרי מרחשון כסליו טבית שבט ואדר
אברהם יצחק ויעקב שלום חנניה מישאל ועזריה שלום על ישראל
2) The Rehov inscription -
שלום הפירות הללו אסורין בבית שאן בשביעית ובשאר שבוע מתאסרין דמי הקישואין
והאבטיחין והממלפפונות והאסטפליני והמינתח הנאגדת בפני עצמה ופול המצרי הנאגד
בשיפה והקפלוטות מן העצרת עד החנוכה. והזירעונין והקצע והשמשמין והחרדל והאורז
והכמן והתורמסין היבישין והאפונין הגמלונין הנימכרין במידה והשום ובצלין בני מדינה
הנימכרין במידה והתמרין אפסיות בשביעית שביעית שני שבוע דמי והפת חלה לעולם
אילו המקומות המותרין סביבות בית שאן ...

We see here examples of tsere with yodh (יפית, תשרי, כסליו, טבית, הפירות,
היבישין, והזירעונין, אילו) but also tsere without (שת, מישאל, מהללאל, שם).
Some of these (הזירעונין, for example) may be an indication of a hiriq not
a tsere.  We also have קישת where a seghol (patah?) is with a yodh.  In
אילול we have a short tsere/hiriq with a yodh.

This then gives us examples of a yodh for a tsere in Hebrew Jewish
inscriptions, one directly from Judea.  The main problem is that all of
these, including the Old Syriac examples, are late examples of a yodh
for a tsere.  (See that here, אל is spelled without tsere in names, in
contrast to the spelling conventions of Syriac).

In contrast, the spelling of ירושלים is found already in the DSS.  Here is
a listing from a concordance -

One of these examples contains a Piel (בקש) right next to the name
Jerusalem.  There are many examples of [e:] in the Bible whose origin
is in a short [i] (just like our agreement on Jerusalem).  The common
participle form qo:te:l is one example.  Is yodh ever used there?  If
so, why?  Why is it that yodh is not used in standard transcriptions of
[*i] > [e:] but is used in Jerusalem?  I think the best explanation is that
ירושלים already shows that the [e:] of Jerusalem was already changing
from e: > aj.

> In pre-exilic times, maters were typically only used at the ends of words.
> Thus pre-exilic spellings like BYT 'beyth', YWM 'yom', didn't originally contain
> maters. Rather they were bayt- and yawm- as they still are in Arabic and
> some forms of Aramaic today.

Actually in pre-exilic inscriptions we have ים for יום, as aw became o: rather
early.  However, while we usually don't have medial maters in pre-exilic
inscriptions, we do have some examples such as the word ארור spelled
once ארור and once ארר.

> In post-exilic times, however, there is an increasing use of maters WITHIN
> words.  In the consonantal MT they are usually only used for long vowels,
> but in later works such as the DSS, w or y can be used even to represent
> short vowels. There are even places where w represents what in MT is a shwa.

I have no problem with this statement.  Where I differ is the specific
use of yodh
for e: that does not derive from -aj-.

> Therefore the impression you have, Yitzhak, is of something real, when you say:
>> My impression is that in Hebrew, the yodh is not used for
>> a tsere unless it originates in a consonantal yodh such as
>> *ay.  Maybe I am just missing some rare examples.

Here I meant post-exilic Hebrew, not pre-exilic Hebrew.

> No doubt Aramaic orthography is a major influence in this more 'full' spelling of words.

Aramaic orthography may have had an influence.  However, I think it may be hard
to show.  In any case, Aramaic orthography could not have influenced Hebrew
orthography of 500 years earlier.

> *Even post-exilic books only rarely include the second 'y',
> *This reflects e: as the medial matre y represents a long i: in Dawi:d, and a
> long e: in CE. Peshitta Micha'e:l, Gabri'e:l, Shlti'e:l, etc.
> *Both LXX and Gk NT have -LE:M, whereas -aim for words which were originally
> -ayim/-aym, eg. Ephraim.

Once a name enters a language, it has its own unique development in that
language.  Compare the name Jerusalem in English, or the -el names in
Syriac compared to the Hebrew examples above.  Also, names are generally
conservative in spelling.  So the use of eta in the NT does not
indicate that at
that time there was still a long e:.  Perhaps the e: had changed but Greek
retained its spelling.  Furthermore, the -aj- in Jerusalem may have started out
similar to an e: so that in Greek an eta was still used.

> [Personally, the -ayim pronunciation marks a divergence from that
> pronunciation which was used by the prophets and apostles of my 1st
> century faith.]

Again just because they may have written eta in Greek does not mean
they pronounced e: in Hebrew, just like today someone writes Jerusalem
in English but says ירושלים in Hebrew.

Yitzhak Sapir

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