[b-hebrew] Why tsere? (was ואילילה Micah 1:8)

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Tue Jul 23 14:59:07 EDT 2013

1. The NIYQUD is perplexing. It is conceivable that the different  
point marks are combinations to express certain compromises in the  
various reading traditions, and to also satisfy certain euphonic  

2. I go out of the assumption that the dot in the letter, the dagesh,  
was already there when the NAQDANIYM came to add the external dot  
vowels. The dagesh served as an early, pre NIYQUD, reading cue for a  
patax, a xiriq, and a qubuc. No dagesh was thus needed in "full", or  
plene writing. This is what we call now the dagesh "forte".

3. In case of a schwa following a patax, a xiriq, or a qubuc the  
dagesh was moved ahead one letter. This is what we call now a dagesh  
"lene". As we got the habit to automatically "harden" BGDKPT at the  
sight of an internal dot, the dagesh "lene" was retained for these  
letters, but was ignored for all other letters.

4. The same thing happened to the initial dagesh, which I think is  
but a remnant of a dot to mark the first letter of a distinct word.

5. Now, in אַשְׁבִּיתָה )$BYTH of Dt 32:26, there is a  
dagesh in the letter B, and hence the patax under the initial A.  
Because the word is written "full" with a yod following the B no  
dagesh is needed in the letter T. Similarly, there is a dagesh "lene"  
in the letter D of וָאַבְדִּילָה W)BDYLH of Ezr 8:24, but  
no dagesh "lene" in the letter L (not BGDKPT) of  
וְאַבְלִיגָה W)BLYGH of Job 9:27.

6. In Micah 1:8 we find אֶסְפְּדָה וְאֵילִילָה  
אֵילְכָה in which the segol is, methinks, a xiriq/tsere  
compromise (as in אֶצְבַּע ECBA, 'finger'), and where the  
tsere is due to the yod.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Jul 23, 2013, at 6:54 AM, Pere Porta wrote:

> he word in Mic 1:8 we dealt with some days ago, has tsere under the  
> aleph.
> Now,  some words are found in the biblical text having the same  
> pattern (binyan, person, number...)...  And so,
> )$BYTH, ashbytah (Dt 32:26)
> W)BDYLH, w'abdylah (Ezr 8:24)
> W)BLYGH, w'ablygah (Job 9:27)
> All of these have PATAH under the aleph.
> My question is:
> is there any good reason for the tsere  -and not a patah--    under  
> Tthe form in Mic 1:8?
> Pere Porta
> (Barcelona, Catalonia, Northeastern Spain)

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