[b-hebrew] Initial Consonant Clusters in Biblical Hebrew

jimstinehart at aol.com jimstinehart at aol.com
Thu Jun 10 22:38:38 EDT 2010

Is an initial consonant cluster in Biblical Hebrew possible?
The normal rule in Hebrew, as to which I thought there were supposed to be few if any exceptions, is:  “There are no syllable-initial consonant clusters;  hence the shewa symbol under the first letter of a word must indicate a reduced vowel, not zero.”  But what about the feminine numeral ‘two’:  $TYM?  “The feminine numeral ‘two’ has been a perennial problem of Biblical Hebrew orthography and phonology.”  Regarding this ‘perennial problem’, Robert D. Hoberman in a 1989 scholarly article shockingly suggests:  “In this paper it will be argued on comparative and typological grounds that the most likely interpretation is simply $tayim.”  http://www.jstor.org/pss/544498
Do people agree with Robert Hoberman’s analysis?  Is $T + vowel pronounceable at the beginning of a Biblical Hebrew word as a single syllable, with no vowel sound at all implied either before or after the $?
Are syllable-initial consonant clusters like that possible in Biblical Hebrew?
In particular, if $R + vowel were possible as a single syllable in Biblical Hebrew, then one of my most cherished theories regarding the Patriarchal narratives would, I fear, be fatally wounded.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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