[b-hebrew] Unpointed

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Jun 17 03:25:08 EDT 2010

Hello Steve,

I think some of your examples could possibly suggest that the pointing is wrong.
However, this is not certain, in any of the cases, in my opinion.

> Ps 23:6b  לְאֹרֶךְ יָמִים  וְשַׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית־יְהוָה
> As it is vowelled, the MT Hebrew text means "I will return", but that does not
> make sense with the preposition "in". Therefore no one translates it "I will return".
> Instead, they amend the consonantal text to say "I will dwell". The same MT
> consonants without modification mean "I will rest" if vowelled differently.
> I think it means "and I will rest in the house of the Lord for the length of days"

I have already discussed my suggestion that this is an archaic form with initial
w- rather than y-.  However, the verb "shavat" does not mean "rest
but to "cease" or "rest temporarily."  So I don't feel it fits the
context well,
although it is as good a solution as any other.

> Ps 27:4 same as above except "all the days of my life" instead of "for the length of days"

I don't see any problem with Ps 27:4.

> Ps 16:2 The MT Hebrew with vowels says "You (2nd person feminine singular)
> said to Jehovah ...". This doesn't make sense because there is no female
> antecedent for "You". The Hebrew verb "said" could be 2nd person masculine
> if vowelled differently. I think that when the Masoretes added the vowels to this
> word, they made it feminine so that it could not refer back to "my God" in v1, for
> that would make for two "God's" in their eyes: my God in v1 talking to Jehovah in
> v2. They dared not alter the sacred consonants, so all they could do by adding
> the vowels was to make it feminine.

> KJV translates it "My soul, you said to the Lord", but there is no other place in the Bible where "my soul" is added.
> I think the meaning is "my God" in v1 is speaking to Jehovah, similar to Ps 110:1 where Jehovah speaks to "my Lord".

First, there are various places in the Bible where final -ti: (1cs) is
spelled just
-t (1 Ki 8:48, Ezek 16:59, Job 42:2, Ps 140:13).

There is no "my God" in v1.  I think this may also be an archaism because I
think this could preserve an archaic *amartu with the loss of the final vowel.

I am not sure the Masoretes would be worried about -t@ being masculine.
Linguistically, in Mishnaic Hebrew, there was such a loss of the final vowels
in both masculine and feminine forms, similar to the word בך in vs. 1 (where
it is a pausal form).

All said, I agree that the general reading of )@mart = 2fs conjugation does
not fit here.

> Ps 110:3 The last phrase, "I have begotten You" is vowelled in the MT to
> say, "Your childhood". I believe that the meaning here is "I have begotten
> You",  ... It is a hard verse to translate in any case. My current attempt is:
> Your people are free will offerings in the day of Your army in the splendor
> of consecration from the womb.
> Since the dawn, in your place is the dew. I have begotten you.

As it stands you have a direct correspondence between משחר and טל,
suggesting these are opposite legs of a parallelism.  Given this, the
word ילדתיך is parallel to מרחם -- requiring that "I have begotten you"
be connected somehow to טל in the same phrase.  The above translation
that you offer does not meet this parallelism.

However, the LXX that you quote does not appear to translate טל at all.  This
may suggest that טל and משחר are really alternative forms that were coalesced
in the MT text.  That is, the MT is the conflation of:

מרחם משחר ילדתיך (the background of the LXX)
מרחם טל ילדתיך

In such forms, the word ילדתיך is not bound by the parallelism and appears to
mean "I have begotten you."  But in the MT, where the parallelism is created
(perhaps incorrectly), the reading with "childhood" is legitimate.

Yitzhak Sapir

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