[b-hebrew] Ssade Can Be Emphatic Sin

Will Parsons wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Mon Nov 19 21:46:47 EST 2012

Hi Jim,

On Mon, 19 Nov 2012 16:35:07 -0500 (EST), JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:
> Ssade Can Be Emphatic Sin As noted in my prior post, in early
> Biblical Hebrew ssade/C can be emphatic sin.  The most obvious
> example of that is that the name “Isaac” and the verb “to laugh”
> start out in the Bible being spelled with ssade/C, but in late books
> in the Bible, both are instead spelled with a sin/%.  Here’s another
> indication that ssade could be emphatic sin.  In a post on ANE-2 on
> December 26, 2006, Yitzhak Sapir noted: “Ezra 4:1 calls the "elite
> (Heb: s'ry [%RY]) of Judah and Benjamin" as "Enemies (Heb: cry
> [CRY]) of Judah and Benjamin".  In other words, a Sin becomes a
> Sade.  It is clear that mockery is involved, but what is also quite
> impressive is that the two letters hark back to very similar
> phonemes in Proto-Semitic.”  Now consider a third example of this
> same phenomenon.  II Samuel 8: 3 has LH%YB with a sin/% (or shin),
> as opposed to I Chronicles 18: 3, which has LYCYB with a ssade/C.
> So there is a fair amount of Biblical evidence that ssade could be
> emphatic sin, with ssade/C having a sound quite similar to sin/%.
> That’s a key part of the basis for comments one often sees like the
> following:
> “The languages of the Semitic family share a number of
> features.  One of them is phonetic, involving: (a) the recognition
> of emphatic forms for some consonants -- for example, the Hebrew
> ssade being the emphatic form of the sin or samekh….”  Kamal
> Suleiman Salibi, The Historicity of Biblical Israel (1998), p, 10.

I don't know, Jim - this view sounds kind of mainstream to me.  At this
rate you may lose your reputation for advocating "unconventional"

At any rate, I think you're in line with the usual interpretations of
Hebrew/Semitic phonology (with which I also am in agreement), that
consider the sound represented by sadhe an "emphatic S".  Of course,
it is not completely clear how this "emphatic S" was realized
phonetically in ancient times, but I think it *is* clear that a
phonetic "feature", [emphasis], distinguished sadhe from
samekh/sin/shin, just as the feature [emphasis] distinguished teth
from taw.  This is I think clear from the metathasis followed by
assimilation to the [emphasis] feature that takes place in hithpa`el
forms of verbs that begin with sadhe, e.g.,

התצדק > הצטדק

i.e., /hitṣaddeq/ > /hiṣṭaddeq/

compared with the similar metathasis followed by assimilation to the
[voiced] feature, that take place in e.g.,

התזכר > הזדכר

i.e., /hitzakker/ > /hizdakker/

Will Parsons
μη φαινεσθαι, αλλ' ειναι.

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