[b-hebrew] Theophoric names

Will Parsons wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Sun Feb 24 16:29:18 EST 2013

Hi Jack,

On Fri, 22 Feb 2013 14:44:54 -0600, "Jack Kilmon" <jkilmon at historian.net> wrote:

> I have always been interested in the custom of theophorics and what
> appears to be a pattern.  During the 1st temple period, there was no
> problem voicing the name of God.  When the theophoric was a prefix
> to a name, it appears to have been יְהֹו "Yeho" (yod-tsere)

Where do you get the tsere?  It looks like a shwa to me, and that
could simply be a reduction of an earlier /a/.

> such as Yeho-shua, Yeho-nathan, 
> Yeho-sef, Yeho-Yakhin, and as a suffix, Yirmi-yahu, Yesha-yahu, Hizqi-yahu. 
> Inscriptions on bullae or LMLK impressions reveal the full suffix 
> theophoric, i.e.    חִזְקִיָּהוּ hzqyhw while the Biblical translations are 
> "HezekYAH.  I think the 2nd temple prohibition on the Shem haMeforash 
> resulted in truncations, such as Ye-shua for Yehoshua, Yo-sef for Yeho-sef, 
> Yesha-ya for Yesha-yahu (Isaiah).  Does anyone else see this pattern for 
> theophoric use and its altered praxis post-exilic?  Does the prefix YE-ho 
> and suffix YA-hu tell us anything about the actual voicing of YHWH?

The shwa in the prefix form could be the result of a reduction of /a/,
then we must compare /yaho-/ and /-yahu/.  But /yaho-/ can be derived
from /yahu-/ by positing (following Joshua Blau):

1) /yahu-/ optionally contracting to /yaw/ according to speech tempo

2) /yaw/ monophthongizing to /yo:/

3) uncontracted /yahu/ remodelled to /yaho:/ by analogy with the short

4) final reduction of /a/ to shwa

(Perhaps (4) should come before (3).)

I see no need to assume that prohibition against pronouncing the full
form of the Shem had anything to do with this.  The reductions of both
prefix and suffix forms can be explained by simple phonetic

William Parsons

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