[b-hebrew] Ex 6:6 hiphil imperative 'bring'

Petr Tomasek tomasek at etf.cuni.cz
Thu Jul 11 07:33:49 EDT 2013

On Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 06:24:33PM -0400, Will Parsons wrote:
> Hello Jerry,
> On Tue, 9 Jul 2013 21:50:40 -0600, Jerry Shepherd <jshepherd53 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hi Karl,
> > 
> > The problem was with how strongly you put things: "You can't trust the
> > Masoretic points."  I believe rather that a great deal of trust can be put
> > in the Masoretic points.  And, as it turns out, in the example Chris
> > brought forward, the Masoretic text was spot on.
> > 
> > Also, I do not believe that the Masoretic points reflect the "Masoretic
> > time and place."  Rather, they reflect the tradition that was passed down
> > to the Masoretes, which may well indeed go back to biblical times in large
> > measure.
> They do indeed "reflect the Masoretic time and place".  I don't think
> there can be any doubt that the Hebrew text as we see it printed with
> vowel marks, dageshes, &c. represents how it was pronounced in that
> time and place.  That of course is not inconsistent with its being a
> continuation of the pronunciation in Biblical times, but as it stands
> it doesn't represent the pronunciation of Biblical times directly.
> How could it?  Even ignoring that there were most likely dialectal
> differences in ancient hebrew and the Biblical texts were written over
> a period of centuries, there's more than a millenium of time in
> between the writing of the Biblical texts and the Masoretes' work.
> In looking at the 3rd person sing. corresponding forms (M & F) of the
> verb כתנ, we have the Masoretic forms כָתְבָה - כָתַב, which I take to
> represent the underlying pronunciations [kɔ:θ'av] (or perhaps
> [kɔ:θaβ]) and [kɔ:θəv'ɔ:], but it seems pretty easy to infer that
> these are later phonetic developments of something that would have
> been something like /katab/, /kataba(h)/ earlier.  (How much earlier,
> I can't say, or whether this would have represented the situation in
> Biblical times.)
> In another reply, Karl wrote:
> > Actually, not to Biblical times. But it was a tradition that evolved over a
> > millennium of no native speakers in an Aramaic and later Greek milieus.
> I think I agree to a certain extent with Karl on this (at least about
> the Aramaic part - not so much the Greek part).  The pronunciation of
> Hebrew must have evolved after the Exile along with Aramaic, and I
> can't help but think the pronunciation of Hebrew as finally codified
> by the Masoretes owes a lot to developments in Aramaic.

You are obviously right that the exact pronounciation developed
between Biblical times and the times of the Masoretic codices we know
today. But this changes nothing on the fact that the Masoretic
tradition is a reliable one: the vast majority of changes that
happened to this tradition are simple sound shifts (and similar phenomena)
that have absolutely no influence on the ability to discern particular
forms, i.e. it has no influence on the meaning.

So Karl's claim that because the Masoretic pronounciation doesn't
reflect exactly the pronounciation "in the biblical times" (which itself
may mean many things given the complicated textual history of the bible!)
it shouldn't be trusted - or worse, one can arbitrarily "vocalize"
the consonantal text is a complete nonsense.


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