Edition 2.0

6 February 2012

 

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History of the Ancient and Modern Hebrew Language

By David Steinberg

David.Steinberg@houseofdavid.ca

Home page http://www.houseofdavid.ca/

http://www.adath-shalom.ca/history_of_hebrewtoc.htm

 

To print use PDF file here

Excursus 1

Phonemic Structure of Pre-Exilic, Tiberian[1] and Israeli Hebrew Contrasted

A Note on the Use of Post-Exilic Evidence Regarding the pronunciation of BH

a. What is a Phoneme?

Box 9 - Phones and Phonemes

b. Vowel and Consonant Length

Box 10 - Nature of Consonant and Vowel Length

Box 11 - Were Vowel Quantity and Consonant Quantity Phonemic in Biblical Hebrew?

Box 12 - Trade-off Between Vowel and Consonant Length

Box 13 - Pausal Forms

Table 6 - Distinctive Vowel Length and Syllable Type in EBHP and their Reflex in TH

Table 7 - Phonemic Status of Vowel and Consonant Length and Quality and of Word Stress over the History of the Hebrew Language

Table 8 - Phonemic Status of Vowel and Phonetic Realization of Vowel and Consonant Length in EBHP, TH and BHIH

c. Consonental Phonemes

Table - Reflexes of Proto-Semitic sounds in daughter languages

Table 9 - Consonants in EBHP, TH, [BHIH] and [THCSP IS-ENG]

Table 10 - EBHP Heterogeneous Diphthongs and their Development in LBHP, TH and BHIH

Box 14 - Consonantal Polyphony in Biblical Hebrew

Table 11  - Consonantal Minimal Pairs in Biblical Hebrew No Longer Valid in Later Hebrew

Table 12 - Voiced, Voiceless and Emphatic Consonants in Biblical Hebrew

Table 13 - Proto-Semitic Phonemes (Consonants) Exhibiting Sound Shifts in Hebrew and Their Equivalents in Aramaic and Classical Arabic

Table 14 - Biblical Hebrew Phonemes (Consonants) of Multiple Origin and their Equivalents in Proto-Semitic, Classical Arabic, Aramaic and Ugaritic

d. Vowel Phonemes

d.1 Diachronic Development of the Biblical Hebrew Vowel System

Box 15 - Distinctive Features of Hebrew Vowels

Table 14 - Proto-Semitic to Tiberian Hebrew - Vowel Phonemes with Possible Allophones

Box 16 - Semitic Vowels and their Actualization

Table 15 - Long Vowels in EBHP by Origin

Table 16 - Shifts in Proto-Semitic Vowels as Hebrew Developed

Table 17 - Vowel Length Minimal Pairs in Biblical Hebrew and their Transformation in Later Hebrew

Table 18 - Vowel Phonemes Minimal Pairs in EBHP

Box 17 - Distinctive Features of TH Vowels

Table 19 – Vowel System Tiberian Hebrew

Table 20 - Tiberian Vowels of the Same Quality often Have Diverse Origins

Box 18 - Vowel System - Modern Israeli Hebrew

d.2 Conventional Scholarly Transcription of the TH Vowel System (THCST)

Table 21 - THSBL Transcription - Vowel System of Tiberian Hebrew

e. Ancient Hebrew Orthography Provides Some, But Not Much, Guidance Regarding the Placement, and Nature of Vowels

Box 19 - Diphthongs

Box 20 - Origin of Matres Lectionis (Vowel Letters)

Box 21 - Matres Lectionis in Hebrew

Matres Lectionis in JEH

Box 22 - Matres Lectionis in the Biblical Text

f. Reading Traditions of Biblical Hebrew 

Table 23 - EBHP, TH and the Phonetic Realizations BH in Key Modern Pronunciations

 

A Note on the Use of Post-Exilic Evidence Regarding the pronunciation of BH

N.b. Justification of Proposals for EBHP

1. General Approach in Theory and Practice

In theory, derivations should be traced from *Proto-Semitic (PS) to *Proto-Northwest Semitic (PNWS) to Proto-Hebrew (PH) to Classical Biblical Hebrew  (CBH, /EBHP/+),  Post-Classical Biblical Hebrew (PCBH, */LBHP/ evidenced in the vowel letters of the Proto-Masoretic Text (PMT) and then separately to (in order of importance) -

1. *Proto-Tiberian Hebrew (*/PTH/+) and Tiberian Hebrew (/TH/+).

2. Biblical Hebrew as reflected in Greek and Latin transcriptions (BHGk-Lat)[2] - to the extent that relevant evidence is available.

3. Biblical Hebrew as reflected in the orthography of biblical Dead Sea Scrolls (BHQum) - to the extent that relevant evidence is available.

4. Biblical Hebrew pointed with Palestinian Vocalization (BHPal)[3] - to the extent that relevant evidence is available.

5. Biblical Hebrew pointed with Babylonian Vocalization (BHBab)[4] - to the extent that relevant evidence is available.

6. Biblical Hebrew as pronounced by the modern Samaritans (BHSAM)

7. The range of modern Jewish pronunciations.

However, in practice, given:

·         most of the areas of dispute relate to the vowel system of BH;

·         the superbly crafted and comprehensive nature of the Tiberian masoretic system which, in many cases preserves evidence of early pronunciations lost in the various non-Tiberian traditions;

·         the fragmentary nature of the vocalization that can be deduced from the vowel letters of the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls;

·         the difficulties of interpreting the Greek evidence[5];

·         the pervasive influence of Aramaic on post-exilic Hebrew in general and the highly Aramaized nature evidenced by BHPal, BHBab, and BHSAM[6] and in the Hebrew traditions underlying BHGk-Lat[7];

·         the rather obvious fact that BHQum is highly Aramaized[8] and is overlaid by a pronunciation tradition that is probably descended not from BH but from one or more contemporaneous dialects; and,

·         the high degree of overall similarity between TH and BHPal, BHBab[9] and Jerome's Latin transliterations[10].

it seems most practical that derivations should be traced -

i) from *Proto-Semitic (PS) to *Proto-Northwest Semitic (PNWS) to *Proto-Hebrew (PH) to Classical Biblical Hebrew  (CBH, */EBHP/+),  Post-Classical Biblical Hebrew (PCBH, */LBHP/ evidenced in the vowel letters of the Proto-Masoretic Text (PMT)); and then,

ii)  to *Proto-Tiberian Hebrew (*/PTH/+) and Tiberian Hebrew (/TH/+) bringing in evidence for parallel lines of pronunciation tradition from (in order of importance) - Biblical Hebrew as reflected in the orthography of biblical Dead Sea Scrolls (BHQum); Biblical Hebrew as reflected in Greek and Latin transcriptions (BHGk-Lat); Biblical Hebrew pointed with Palestinian Vocalization (BHPal); Biblical Hebrew pointed with Babylonian Vocalization (BHBab); and, the range of modern pronunciations. A superb example of how this is done by a master is seen in Ben-ayyim 1954. A good schematic outline of the vowel systems of Proto-Hebrew, Secunda Hebrew, Tiberian, Babylonian, and Palestinian Hebrew and Samaritan Hebrew is provided in the Wikipedia article Biblical Hebrew Phonology which also gives a condensed outline of the changes in the vowel system over the history of the Hebrew language.

 

2. What We Can Learn From the Greek and Latin Transliterations

i) historic distinctions of consonant and vowel length were still maintained in the Hebrew underlying the Secunda. The MT only preserves the historic distinctions of consonant length;

ii) The sound shifts >  and ġ > c  (see Polyphonic Letters ח ע) had not occurred in the Hebrew underlying the Septuagint Torah ( c. early third c. BCE) but had occurred in the Hebrew underlying the Secunda. These mergers had occurred in the Tiberian Masoretic tradition at some time before the fixing of the MT.

Aside form occasional mention of Israelite names transliterated into Akkadian, the Septuagint  (Torah early third c. BCE) provides the earliest transliteration of vocalized BH names while the Secunda (second-third c. CE) provides the transliteration of vocalized continuous text. Jerome  

 

 

a. What is a Phoneme?

Box 9

Phones and Phonemes

 

“Modern linguistics insists on an important distinction between phone and phoneme. A phone is a sound heard or articulated in actual speech, and as such it is a physical entity which can be measured and recorded by mechanical devices. A classification of consonants as labial, den­tal, etc. and of vowels as front, back, mid, high, etc. accords with such an approach. By contrast, a phoneme is what is perceived to be a particular phonetic entity, and thus by definition it is an abstrac­tion, something like the common denominator of countless phones, namely actual sounds which share certain essential features. Even one and the same speaker—and of course, different speakers of a given language —pronounces a given phoneme in numerous variations, which however are normally perceived as one phoneme, without creating any serious problem of communication.”

 

Quoted from Joϋon-Muraoka 1991 § 5

 

A phoneme is -

Ř       A contrastive unit in the sound system of a particular language.

Ř        A minimal unit that serves to distinguish between meanings of words.

Ř       Pronounced in one or more ways, depending on the number of allophones.

Ř       Represented between slashes by convention.

 

Example:

/b/, /j/, /o/

 

nb. I have not used slashes in the following tables.  For convenience, the transcription is a compromise between phonemic and phonetic

 

b. Vowel and Consonant Length

 

Box 10

The Nature of Consonant and Vowel Length

In pre-medieval Hebrew, vowel[11]  and consonant length probably resembled their manifestation in spoken Arabic. The following is a quote from Raja Tewfik Nasr's An English-colloquial Arabic Dictionary[12], (p. xvi)

Variations in the length of both consonants and vowels produce variations in meaning.... The difference between the short and long sounds is that the long sounds take a relatively longer time to be completely produced than the short ones. In the case of a stop, the explosion occurs after a longer withholding; in the case of a vowel, lateral, or fricative, it is continued longer; in the case of a flap, the flaps are repeated (hence the trills); and in the case of a nasal, the vibration of the vocal cords and the flow of breath through the nasal passage last longer.

 

As with spoken Arabic "The relative length of consonants and vowels contributes greatly to the rhythmic patterns of speech...."[13] and hence is vital to appreciating the meter of biblical poetry.


 

Box 11 - Were Vowel Quantity and Consonant Quantity Phonemic in BH?

 “Proto-Semitic /i:/ and /u:/ were retained unchanged throughout the history of Hebrew, but /a:/ became raised and rounded by the fourteenth century BCE in all or most environments. The evidence of the Tiberian reading tradition … suggests that there were two raised and rounded allophones of /a:/ which in one instance yielded doublets ḳan:o’ = ḳan:ĺ’  zealous’.

"Eventually, the inherited short vowels also developed allophones as did the up-gliding diphthongs: [ĺ:] and [ä] from /a/; and [o:], [o] and [ĺ] from /u/; [e:], [e], and [ä] from /i/; [o:] from /aw/; [e:] and [ä:] from /ay/. The merger of some of these allophones resulted in a completely reorganized system in which the number of contrastive qualities was doubled and the role of quantity was greatly reduced.

"Long [i:] and [u:] are in complementary distribution with [y] and [w], respectively, and alternate with them, e.g.
[
ˈli:] ‘vessel’ ~ [kälyәˈkĺ] ‘your vessel’, [ˈpi:hu:] ~ [ˈpi:w] ‘his mouth’, [ˈśäku:] ‘lookout point’~ [śäkˈwi:] ‘rooster’, [yištaḥăˈwä:] ‘he will prostrate himself’ ~ [way:išˈtaḥu:] ‘and he prostrated himself’. It is thus possible that the semivowels should be viewed as allophones of vowels rather than consonantal phonemes…."

"Outside of closed unstressed syllables, which excluded long vowels, Ancient Hebrew had a contrast between long and short vowels. However, between the tannaitic period and the time of the Masoretes, short vowels in stressed syllables lengthened, erasing the contrast in those syllables. Thus, while Hebrew was still a spoken language, the o of infinitival yĺˈko(w)l  ‘be able’ was long, while the o of sg. 3m. perfect yĺˈkol  ‘he was able’ was short, like the ancestor of ĺ in kĺlˈtäm. In the Pre-Tiberian reading tradition, the o of sg. 3m. perfect
ˈkol  lengthened, splitting off from the ancestor of ĺ in yәkĺlˈtäm and merging with the long o of infinitival
ˈkowl[14]. 

"As a result of this change, length became to a large extent conditioned by stress[15]. Outside of opened unstressed syllables (where a length contrast survived), there was a simple rule: stressed vowels are long and unstressed vowels are short.

Non-systematic representation of vowel length through the use of matres lectionis … developed in Standard Biblical Hebrew. These vowel letters are used to mark not only etymologically long vowels but also stressed vowels in pre-pausal[16] position. In the Tiberian reading tradition, such vowels were probably no longer than other stressed vowels, but morphophonemic alterations show that a length difference had once existed, e.g. tiškab ~ tiškĺb < *tiškab ~ *tiškāb, yәšal:aḥ ~ yәšal:eaḥ < *yišal:eḥ ~ *yišal:ēḥ.

"Consonant length (like vowel length) was phonemic in Proto-Hebrew, but it was not represented in the biblical period, even in an unsystematic way. Thus, the spelling crwmym was used for both members of the minimal pair Job 5:12 [căru:mi:m עֲרוּמִים]  not =  Job 22:6 [cărum:i:m עֲרוּמִּים] ‘crafty (pl. m.) not = naked (pl. m.)’.  And the spelling ntnw was used for both [nĺtan:u:] ‘we gave’ and [nĺtănu:] ‘they gave’. It is only in Mishnaic Hebrew that representation of consonant length began to appear….

"Most of the Proto-Hebrew minimal pairs are no longer valid for the Tiberian system…. The fact remains, however, that the Masoretes considered consonant length important enough to create a sign for it (“strong” dagesh). Two minimal pairs noted by the Masoretes themselves are Job 5:12 căruwmiym (עֲרוּמִים) not =  Job 22:6 căruwm:iym (עֲרוּמִּים) (see above) and Lev. 7:30 tәbiy’äyh (תְּבִיאֶינָה) not =  Lev. 6:14
tәbiy’än:ĺh (
תְּבִיאֶנָּה) ‘ they (f.) shall bring not = you/she shall bring it’.  Although Arabic transcriptions suggest that, in the first pair, the vowel preceding the lengthened consonant was shorter than the vowel preceding its unlengthened counterpart, the Masoretes clearly considered this difference to be secondary, unworthy of being represented.”[17]

 

"In the tradition of Hebrew that was adopted by the Tiberian Masoretes, the following vowel quality shifts took place some time before the Masoretic period: e:ē > ɛ:ē, a:ā > a:ɔ̄. The result was the emergence of four vowel qualities (ɛ, e, a, ɔ) from an original two (e, a). The signs ere and qame in Tiberian Hebrew represent vowels that were long e and a respectively before the operation of the quality shifts. The signs segol and pata in Tiberian Hebrew represent vowels that were short e and a respectively before the operation of the quality shifts.

"At some stage after these quality shifts had taken place, vowel length became totally dependent on stress and syllabic structure[18]. All stressed vowels and all vowels in an unstressed open syllable were pronounced long[19]. As a result not only qame and ere but also pata and segol were pronounced long when stressed or when in an open syllable.

"At some stage after vowel length became dependent on stress and syllable structure, long and short o developed into two distinct qualities: o:ō > ɔ. For this reason long ō occurs only in stressed or unstressed open syllables whereas short ɔ occurs only in unstressed closed syllables."[20] [21]

 

 

Box 12

Trade-off Between Vowel and Consonant Length

In both Hebrew and Arabic, in the words of Blau, "...rhythmically long vowel + simple consonant are more or less identical to short vowel + double consonant...."[22]

Thus pretonic gemination at times substitutes for pretonic lengthening[23].

See also

Simplification of diphthongs

Elision of word-final aleph with compensaatory lengthening of the preceeding vowel.

Interrogative Pronoun מָה

 

 

Box 13

Pausal Forms

Pausal forms in TH are probably closely related to the rhythm of formal reading of scripture[24]. In many instances they reveal pre-Tiberian stress patterns and the quality of vowels reduced to vocal šwas in contextual forms. Where appropriate I include pausal, as well as contextual forms, in tables.

 

 


 

 

Table 6 - Distinctive Vowel Length and Syllable Type in EBHP and their Reflex in TH

 

EBHP

*/EBHP/+[25]

(c. 850-550 BCE)

TH

/TH/+ *[TH]

(c. 850 CE)

Open stressed syllable

Long

*/ˈhű/ (<*/ˈhuʾa/) "he"

Long in [TH]

/ˈhu/ *[ˈh] "he"

Closed stressed syllable

Long in nouns, short in verbs

*/naˈtan/ "he gave": */naˈtaːn/ "Nathan"

Long in [TH]

/nĺˈtan/ *[nɔːˈθɐːn] "he gave": /nĺˈtĺn/ *[nɔːˈθɔːn] "Nathan"

 

*/gaˈmal/ "he weaned":

*/gaˈmaːl/ "camel"

/gĺˈmal/ *[gɔːˈmɐːl]

"he weaned"

Stressed syllable doubly closed in EBHP

N.b. in TH doubly closed syllables rarely remain because of reduction of geminated final consonant and insertion of anaptyctic vowels breaking up other consonantal clusters

Short

*/ˈuqq/ "law"

*/šōˈmart/ (<*/šōˈmirt/) qal a.p. fs. "guard, guarding"

Long in [TH]

/ˈoq/ *[ˈħoːq] "law"

/šoˈmɛrɛt/ *[ʃoːˈmɛːrɛθ] "guard, guarding"

Open unstressed syllable

Long/Short

*/ˈgar/ "cage”

*/suˈgar/ qal passive PC 3ms.

"it was closed”

Long in [TH]

/suˈgar/ *[suːˈɣɐːr] "cage”

/sugˈgar/ *[sugˈgɐːr] "it was closed”

(syllable closed by gemination resulting in form identical to pual)][26]

Closed unstressed syllable

Short/Long

*/min-/ “from”

*/ˌmīn/ “variety of..”

Short in [TH]

/min-/ “from”

/ˌmin/ *[ˌmiːn] “variety of..”

Unstressed syllable doubly closed in EBHP

Short

*/ˌuqq/ "law of"

*/šōˌmart/ (<*/šōˌmirt/) qal a.p. fs. constr. "guard of"

Long in [TH]

/ˌoq/ *[ˌħoːq] "law of"

/šoˌmɛrɛt/ *[ʃoːˌmɛːrɛθ]
"guard of"


 

Table 7 - Phonemic Status of Vowel and Consonant Length and Quality and of Word Stress over the History of the Hebrew Language

Phase

Date

Examples

(phonemically presented)

BHA phase 1 (PNWS)

 

c. 2000 -
c. 1200 BCE

/ˈcālamu/ > /ˈcōlamu/

/šaˈlāmu/ > /šaˈmu/

/ˈqāilu/ > /ˈilu/
(
ms. a.p. qal)

/ˈqāiltu/ > /ˈiltu/
(
fs. a.p. qal)

/paˈdu/

/ˈ’amara/ (“he said”)

/ˈ’amarū/ (“they said”)

BHA phase 2 (PH)

c. 1200 -
c. 1000 BCE

/cōˈlamu/

/šaˈmu/

/qōˈilu/ (ms. a.p. qal)

/qōˈiltu/ (fs. a.p. qal)

/paˈdu/

/’aˈmara/

/’aˈmarū/

BHA phase 3 (/EBHP/+)

(note non-spirantization of the bgdkpt consonants)

c. 1000 -
c. 500 BCE

/cōˈlaːm/

/šaˈlōm/

/qōˈeːl/ (ms. a.p. qal)

/qōˈilt/ (f.s. a.p. qal)

/paˈqīd/

/’aˈmar/

/’aˈmarū/

BHA phase 4 (/LBHP/)

c. 500 BCE – c. 200 CE

/cōˈlaːm/

/šaˈlōm/

/qōˈẹːl/ (ms. a.p. qal)

/qōˈɛlt/ (fs. a.p. qal)

/paˈqīd/

/’aˈmar/

/’aˈmarū/

BHA phase 6 (/TH/+ [TH])

c. 850 CE

/coˈlĺm/ [coːˈlɔːm]

ĺˈlom/ [ʃɔːˈloːm]

/qoˈẹl/ [qoːˈẹːl]
(ms.
a.p. Part. qal)

/qoˈɛt/ [qoːˈɛːθ]
(fs.
a.p. qal)

/pĺˈqid/ [pɔːˈqiːđ]

/ʾĺˈmar/ [ʔɔːˈːr]

/ʾĺmәˈru/ [ʔɔːmәˈruː]

No Phonetic distinction in length of vowels (IH)

 

Current Israeli Hebrew

/oˈlam/

/šaˈlom/

/koˈtɛl/ (ms. a.p. qal)

/koˈlɛt/ (fs. a.p. qal)

/paˈqid/

/aˈmar/

/amˈru/

 


 

Table 8
Phonemic Status and Phonetic Realization of Vowel and Consonant Length in EBHP , TH and BHIH

*PH

(c. 1200 BCE)

EBHP

*/EBHP/[27][28] *[EBHP] [29]

(c. 850-550 BCE)

TH

/TH/+ *[TH]

(c. 850 CE)

BHIH
[BHIH] = [IH]

(present)

Phonemic distinction based on and comments

/min/

/min/ [mɪn]

“from”

מִן־

/min/ [min]

[min]

PHvowel length

EBHP - vowel length, stress

TH – spelling, stress and context

IH – spelling and context

/mīn/

/ˌmīn/ [ˌmiːn]

“variety of..”

מִין

/ˌmin/ [ˌmiːn]

[min]

/ˈšitu/

ŠYT

/ˈšeːt/ [ˈʃẹːt]

“base”

שֵׁת

/ˈšẹt/ *[ˈʃẹːθ]

[ˈʃɛt]

PH vowel length

EBHP - vowel quality

TH and IH –spelling and vowel quality

/ˈšītu/

ŠYT

/ˈšīt/ [ˈʃiːt] 
(qal
inf. constr.) “putting”

שִׁית

/ˈšit/ *[ˈʃiːθ]

[ˈʃit]

 

/ʾitt/  [ʔɪtt]

"with"

אֵת

/ʾt/ *[ʔːθ]

[ɛt]

EBHP - consonant length (gemination) and, possibly, vowel quality.

TH and IH - context

 

/ˌ’at/? /ˌ’it/?

[ˌʔɐt]?, [ˌʔɪt]? [ˌʔɛt]?

(particle indicating direct object)

אֵת

/ˌʾt/ *[ˌʔːθ]

[ɛt]

אֶת־

/ʾɛt/ *[ʔɛːθ]

[ɛt]

 

/ˈcabdu/

/ˈcabd/
[ˈcɐbd]?
[ˈcɐbәd]?

“slave”

עֶבֶד

/ˈcɛbɛd/ [ˈcɛːvɛđ]

[ˈɛvɛd]

PH vowel distribution and length.

EBHP – vowel quality and distribution; spelling

TH and IH – vowel quality and distribution; spelling

/ˈcabadū/ >
/
caˈba/

/caˈbạ/ [cɐˈduˑ]

“they served”

עָבְדוּ

/cĺbәˈdu/
[cɔːvәˈđuː]

[ɐvˈdu]

/yaˈmu/

 

 

/yaˈqūm/ [ˈquːm]

“he will stand”

(qal indicative)

יָקוּם

/ˈqum/
[
yɔː
ˈquːm]

[ˈkum]

PH vowel length, final short vowel and stress distinguish indicative from preterite/jussive

EBHP - vowel length and stress distinguish indicative from jussive. Preterite distinguished from jussive by waC -, in this instance way, prefix.

TH - vowel quality and stress for wayqĺm

IH vayaˈkam frequent but considered incorrect.

/ˈyaqum/

/ˈyaqum/[30]

[ˈqʊm]? [ˈqo̞m]?

“let him stand”

(qal jussive)

יָקֹם

/ˈqom/
yɔːˈqoːm]

[ˈkom]

/ˈyaqum/

/wayˈyaqum/

[wɐyˈqʊm]?

[wɐyˈqo̞m]?

“he stood”

(qal preterite)

וַיָּקָם

/wayˈqǫm/
[
wɐyˈyɔːqɔm]

[vɐyɐˈkɐm]

 

/ˈhašmid/

[ˈhɐʃmɪd]?
[
ˈhɐʃmɛd]?
(hiphil imp.)

“destroy!”

הַשְמֵד

/hašˈmẹd/
[hɐʃ
ˈmẹːđ]

 

[hɐʃˈmɛd]

EBHP – vowel length and stress.

TH and IH - vowel quality

 

/hašˈmīd/
[hɐʃˈmiːd]
(hiphil inf. constr.)
“destroying”

הַשְׁמִיד

/hašˈmid/
[hɐʃˈmiːđ]

[hɐʃˈmid]

/ˈṭabbaḫu/ >
/
ṭabˈbaḫu/

 

/ṭabˈbaː/
[
ṭɐbˈbx]
“butcher”

 

טַבָּח

/ṭabˈbĺḥ/

[ɐbˈbɔːħ]

[tɐˈbɐx]

 

PH – vowel length and quality and consonant length.

EBHP –vowel quality and consonant length

TH - vowel quality, stress, number of syllables and residually consonant length

IH - vowel quality, stress, number of syllables and consonant quality

/aˈu/ >
/
aˈbōu/

/ṭaˈ/ [ṭɐˈboːx]
(qal inf. abs.) “slaughtering”

טָבוֹחַ

/ĺˈboːa/

[ɔːˈvoːɐħ]

[tɐˈvo.ɐx]

/ˈātamu/ >
/
ˈōtamu/ >
/ḫ
ōˈtamu/

/ḫōˈtaːm/ [xoːˈtaːm] 
“seal”

חוֹתָם

/ḥoˈtĺm/

[ħoːˈθɔːm]

 

[xoˈtɐm]

PH vowel length

EBHP - vowel quality and length

TH and IH - vowel quality

/ḫaˈmu/ >
/ḫa
ˈtōmu/

/ḫaˈtōm/ [xɐˈtoːm]
(qal inf. abs.) “sealing”

חָתוֹם

/ḥĺˈtom/

 [ħɔːˈθoːm]

[xɐˈtom]

/šaˈmu/ >
/
šaˈlōmu/

/šaˈlōm/ [ʃɐˈloːm]
“peace”

שָׁלוֹם

/šĺˈlom/ [ʃɔːˈloːm]

[ʃɐˈlom]

 

PH – vowel quality and length

EBHP –vowel length and vowel quality; suffix ū

TH - vowel quality; suffix u

IH - vowel quality; suffix u

/ˈšalamū/ >
/
šaˈla/

/šaˈl/ [ʃɐˈlɐ̣muˑ]
“they became complete etc.”

שָׁלְמוּ

/šĺlˈmu/

[ʃɔːˈmuː]

[ʃɐlˈmu]

/maˈdu/ >
/
maˈrōdu/

RWD

*/maˈrōd/ [ˈɾoːd] “homelessness”

מָרד

/mĺˈrod/

[mɔːˈɾoːđ]

[ˈʁ̞od]

Note the regular noun formation
/maˈlu/ from QWL. מָקוֹם QWM] “place”; מָלוֹן LWN “inn”

 

All periods context only

/maˈdu/>
/
maˈrōdu/

RWD

/maˈrōd/ [ˈroːd]
(qal inf. abs.) “rebelling”

/mĺˈrod/

[mɔːˈroːđ]

[maˈʁ̞od]

/ˈđakaru/
/zaˈkaru/

/zaˈkaːr/ [ˈkaːɾ]
“male”

זָכָר

/zĺˈkĺr/ [zɔːˈxɔːɾ]

[zaˈxaʁ̞]

PHvowel length (u - ū)

EBHP – suffix ū

TH - vowel quality and suffix u

 IH - vowel distribution and quality and suffix u

/ˈđakarū/
/zaˈkarū/

/zaˈkrū/ [ˈkɐ̣ɾuˑ]
(qal SC 3ms.) “they remembered”

זָכְרוּ

/zĺkˈru/ [zɔːxәˈɾuː]

[zaxˈʁ̞u]

 

/kaˈbid/ [kɐˈbɪd]
“he was heavy” (qal. 3ms. SC)

כָּבֵד

/ˈbd/ [kɔːˈvẹːđ]

 

[kaˈvɛd]

EBHP – vowel and consonant length

TH - vowel quality and residually consonant length

IH - consonant quality and context

 

/kaˈbeːd/ [kɐˈbẹːd] “heavy” (adj. = ms. part. qal.)

כָּבֵד

/ˈbd/ [kɔːˈvẹːđ]

 

[kaˈvɛd]

 

 

/kabˈbid/ [kabˈbid]
“honour!”
(piel. m. s. imp.)

כַּבֵּד

/kabˈbẹd/

[bˈbẹːđ]

[kaˈbɛd]

 

/ˈagg/ [ˈħɐgg]
“festival”
[
HGG]

חַג /ˈḥag/ [ˈħɐːɣ] OR

חָג /ˈḥĺg/ [ˈħɔːɣ]

[ˈxag]

EBHP – vowel length and consonant length

TH - vowel quality (where “festival” vocalized ḥag) or none (where “festival” vocalized ḥĺg)

IH - context

 

/ˈḥâg/ [ˈħagg]
“he described a circle [
HWG]

חָג /ˈḥĺg/ [ˈħɔːɣ]

[ˈxag]

/ˈ’āsiru/ >

/ˈōsiru/ >

/ōˈsiru/

/ōˈseːr/ [’oːˈsẹːɾ]
(qal
a.p.)

“one who ties”

אֹסֵר

/’oˈsẹr/ [’oːˈsẹːɾ]

[oˈʁ̞]

PH – vowel length

EBHP –vowel length and vowel quality

TH and IH - vowel quality

/’aˈru/

/’aˈsīr/ [’ɐˈsiːɾ]
“prisoner”

אָסִיר

/’ĺˈsir/ [ɔːˈsiːɾ]

[aˈsiʁ̞]

/ˈqabbiru/ >
/
qabˈbir/

 

/qabˈbeːr/ [qɐbˈbẹːɾ]
(piel
inf. constr.) “burying” (more than one body)

קַבֵּר

/qabˈbẹr/

[qabˈbẹːɾ]

[kaˈʁ̞]

PH –vowel length, vowel distribution and consonant length

EBHP – vowel length, vowel quality, vowel distribution and consonant length

TH - vowel quality, vowel distribution, stress and residually consonant length

IH - vowel and consonant quality.

/ˈbiru/ >
/
ˈbiru/

/ˈbeːr/ [qoːˈbẹːɾ]

(qal ms. act. part.) “burier”

קוֹבֵר

/qoˈbẹr/ [qoːˈvẹːɾ]

[koˈʁ̞]

/ˈqabru/

/ˈqabr/

[ˈqɐbɾ]? [ˈbәɾ]?

“tomb”

קֶבֶר

/ˈbɛr/ [ˈːvɛɾ]

[ˈkɛvɛʁ̞]

/ˈgaru/ >
/
ˈgaru/

/ˈgar/ [suːˈgɐr] “cage”

סוּגַר

/suˈgar/ [suːˈɣaːr]

[suˈgaʁ̞]

PHvowel quality and length

EBHP - vowel quality and length

TH and IH - vowel quality

/ˈsaru/ >
/
saˈru/

/saˈgūr/ [ˈguːɾ]
(qal
p.p.) “closed”

סָגוּר

/ˈgur/ [sɔːˈɣuːɾ]

[saˈguʁ̞]

/ˈgaru/ >
/
ˈgaru/

/ˈgar/ [suːˈɾ]
“cage”

סוּגַר

/suˈgar/ [suːˈɣaːɾ]

[suˈgaʁ̞]

PH – vowel length, consonant length and vowel quality of suffix.

EBHP –vowel length and consonant length

TH - Consonant length

IH - context

/ˈsuggara/ >
/
sugˈgara/

/sugˈgar/ [sʊgˈɾ]

(pual 3rd ms. SC) “it was closed”

סֻגַּר

/sugˈgar/

[sugˈːɾ]

[suˈgaʁ̞]

/gaˈlu/ >
/
gaˈlu/

/gaˈdōl/ [ˈdl]
(qal inf. abs..) “becoming big”

גָּדוֹל

/ˈdol/

[gɔːˈđoːl][31]

[gaˈdol]

PH – vowel quality and length

EBHP – vowel quality and length

TH and IH - none

/ˈgadulu/ >
/
gaˈdulu/

/gaˈdl/ [ˈdl]
(adj.) “big”

גָּדוֹל

/ˈdol/ [gɔːˈđoːl]

[gaˈdol]

 

/ˈgudlu/

/ˈgudl/
[
ˈgʊdl]? [ˈdәl]?
[
ˈgdәl]?
“greatness”

גֹדֶל

/ˈgodɛl/ [ˈgoːđɛl]

[ˈgodɛl]

PH – vowel length and pattern and consonant length

EBHP – vowel length and pattern and consonant length

TH - vowel quality and residually consonant length

IH - vowel quality and pattern

/ˈguddalū/
/
gudˈda/

/gudˈd/ [gʊdˈdɐ̣luˑ]
“they were magnified”

גֻּדְּלוּ

/guddәˈlu/

[guddәˈluː]

[gudˈlu]

/ˈsipru/

/ˈsipr/  
[
ˈsɪpɾ]? [ˈɾ]?
“book”

סֵפֶר

/ˈsẹpɛr/ [ˈsẹːfɛɾ]

[ˈsɛfɛr]

PH – vowel quality, length and pattern and consonant length

EBHP – vowel quality, length and pattern, stress and consonant length

TH - vowel quality and pattern; stress; residually consonant length

IH - vowel quality and pattern; stress; consonant quality.

/ˈsapparū/
/sipˈpi/

/sipˈpị/ [pˈpɪ̣ɾuˑ]
“they recounted” (piel 3rd pl. SC)

סִפְּרוּ

/sippˈru/

[sippәˈɾ]

[sipˈʁ̞u]

/ˈsupurū/ >
/
suˈpu/

/suˈpu/ [sʊˈpʊ̣ɾuˑ] >
/sˈpu/ [sŭˈɾuˑ]
“count” (qal ms. imp.)

סִפְרוּ

/sipˈru/ [sifˈɾ]

[sifˈʁ̞u]

/ˈraḥabu/ >
/ra
ˈḥabu/

/raˈḥaːb/ [rɐˈħaːb]
“wide”

רָחָב

/rĺˈḥĺb/ [rɔːˈħɔːv]

[ʁ̞aˈxav]

PH – vowel length

EBHP - vowel quality and length

TH and IH - vowel quality

/raˈḥābu/ >
/ra
ˈḥōbu/

/raˈḥōb/ [ɾɐˈħoːb]
(qal inf. abs.) “spreading”

רָחוֹב

/rĺˈḥob/ [ɾɔːˈħoːv]

[ʁ̞aˈxov]

/ˈqairu/ >
/
qaˈiru/

 

/qaˈeːr/ [qɐˈːɾ]
“short”

קָצֵר

/ˈẹr/ [qɔːˈːɾ]

[kaˈtsɛʁ̞]

PH – vowel length

EBHP - vowel length

TH and IH - vowel quality

/qaˈīru/

/qaˈīr/ [qɐˈiːɾ]
“harvest”

קָצִיר

/ˈir/ [ːˈiːɾ]

[kaˈtsiʁ̞]

/ˈša/? /ˈšā/?

ŠWB

/ˈšâ/ [ˈʃaːbuˑ]
“they returned”

שָׁבוּ

/ˈšĺbu/ [ˈʃɔːvuː]

[ˈʃavu]

EBHP - vowel length and stress

TH and IH – stress

/ˈšabayū/ >
/
šaˈbayū/

ŠBY

/šaˈbū/ [ʃɐˈbuː]
“they took prisoner”

שָׁבוּ

/šĺˈbu/ [ʃɔːˈv]

[ʃaˈvu]

/ˈšab/? /ˈšāba/?

ŠWB

/ˈšâb/ [ˈʃaːb]
“he returned”

 

שָׁב

/ˈšĺb/ [ˈʃɔːv]

[ˈʃav]

EBHP - vowel length, stress and suffix ā

TH and IH – stress and suffix

/ˈšabat/? /ˈšābat/?

/ˈšā/ [ˈʃaːˑ]
“she returned”

שָׁבָה

/ˈšĺbĺ/ [ˈʃɔːvɔː]

שָב

[ˈʃava]

/ˈšabaya/ >
/
šaˈbaya/

ŠBY

/šaˈ/ [ʃɐˈː]
“he took prisoner”

שָׁבָה

/šĺˈ/ [ʃɔːˈvɔː]

[ʃaˈva]

/ˈšaba/

ŠWB

/ˈšâb/ [ˈʃaːb]
“he returned”

שָׁב

/ˈšĺb/ [ʃɔːv]

 

[ˈʃav]

EBHP - vowel and consonant length

TH - vowel quality

IH - none

/ˈšabba/

ŠBB

/ˈšabb/ [ˈʃɐbb]
“he cut down”

שַׁב

/ˈšab/ [ʃɐːv]

[ˈʃav]

 

c. Consonantal Phonemes

Table - Reflexes of Proto-Semitic sounds in daughter languages

 

Table 9 - Consonants in EBHP, TH, [BHIH] and [THCSP IS-ENG][32]

Hebrew Letter

EBHP

*/EBHP/ *[EBHP]

(c. 850-550 BCE)

TH
/TH/+ *[TH]

(c. 850 CE)

BHIH
[BHIH] = [IH]

(present)

[THCSP IS-ENG]

א

/ʾ/ [ʔ][33]

/ʾ/ [ʔ, -]

Silent when word or syllable final.

[Ř]

[Ř]

/b/ [b]

bilabial, stop, voiced

 

/b/

2 allophones in complementary distribution
= [b] and ב = b [v]

 [b] [34]

 [b]

ב

[v]

[v]

גּ

/g/ [ɡ]

/g/

Two allophones in complementary distribution
גּ = [ɡ] and ג = g, ġ [ʁ] or nearly identical [ɣ][35]

(I will use [ɣ] in [TH] transcriptions)

[ɡ]

[ɡ]

ג

דּ

/d/ [d]

/d/

2 allophones in complementary distribution
דּ = [d] and ד = d [đ]

[d]

[d]

ד

ה

/h/ [h]

/h/ [h]

 

Rarely [h] frequently silent [Ř] or glottal stop [ʔ]

[h]

consonantal [h] at end of word

consonantal [h] at end of word

 [Ř]

 [Ř]

ו 

/w/ [w]

/w/ [w] (possibly [v][36])

(I will use [w] in [TH] transcriptions)

 [v]

 [v] or [w]

ז

/z/ [z]

/z/ [z]

[z]

[z]

ח

 

a polyphonic letter in BH representing /ḥ/ [ħ] or /ḫ/ [x][37] depending on its PS origin.

/ḥ/ [ħ]

[x]

 

[x]

 

ט

/ṭ/ [t̪ˁ]

/ṭ/ [t̪ˁ]

(nb. I use [] in the case of the root קטל used conventionally for grammatical examples)

[t]

(identical in pronunciation to ת)

[t]

(identical in pronunciation to ת)

י

 

/y/ [j]

(I will use [y] in [BH] transcriptions)

/y/ [j]

(I will use [y] in [TH] transcriptions)

[j][38]

(I will use [y] in [IH] and
 [THCSP IS-ENG] transcriptions)

[j]

/k/ [k]

/k/

2 allophones in complementary distribution
= k [k] or [] and כ = k [x]

[k]

[k]

כ

[x]

[x]

ל

/l/ [l]

/l/ [l]

 [l]

 [l]

מ

/m/ [m]

/m/ [m]

[m]

[m]

נ

/n/ [n]

/n/ [n]

 [n]

 [n]

ס 

/s/ [s]

/s/ [s]

 [s]

 [s]

ע

a polyphonic letter in BH representing /c/ [ʕ][39]

or /ġ/ [ɣ] depending on its PS origin. (]is very close to [ʁ̞])

/c/ [ʕ]

 [Ř]

 [Ř]

/p/ [p]

/p/

2 allophones in complementary distribution
= p [p] and פ = p [f]

[p]

[p]

פ

[f]

[f]

צ

/ṣ/ []

Less likely [ ʦ͡ ]

/ṣ/ []

[ ʦ͡]

[ ʦ͡]

ק

/q/[40] []

/q/ []

[k]

[k]

ר

/r/ [ɾ][41]

/r/ [ɾ]

[ʁ̞][42]

[ɾ]

 

/ś/ [ɬ][43]

/ś/ [s]

[s]

[s]

 

/š/ [ʃ][44]

/š/ [ʃ]

[ʃ]

[ʃ]

תּ 

/t/ [t]

/t/

2 allophones in complementary distribution

תּ = [t] and ת = t [θ]

[t]

[t]

ת

22

26 phonemes

24 phonemes

 

 

 

 

 

Table 10 - EBHP Heterogeneous Diphthongs and their Development in LBHP, TH and BHIH

 

EBHP

*/EBHP/ *[EBHP]

(c. 850-550 BCE)

TH

/TH/+ *[TH]

(c. 850 CE)

BHIH
[BHIH] = [IH]

(present)

Carrying primary stress

/áy/ = [ɐ́y]

/áy/ = [ɐ́y]

[ɐ́y]

Unstressed or carrying secondary stress

/ay/ or /ŕy/ = [ɛy][45]

/ay/ or /ŕy/ = ę [ː]

[ɛ]

Carrying primary stress

/áw/ = [ɐ́w]

/áw/ = [ɐ́w]

[ɐ́w]

Unstressed or carrying secondary stress

/aw/ or /ŕw/ = [ɔ̝w]

/aw/ or /ŕw/ = ô [oː]

[]

 

 

 


Box 14 - Consonantal Polyphony in Biblical Hebrew

Sibilants

 BH (Biblical Hebrew) had at its inception three sibilants /š/, /ś/ and ס /s/. We do not know for sure how the second phoneme was originally pronounced (today it is pronounced like ס = s). A few generations ago, scholars believed that /ś/ was only a kind of offshoot of the /š/ which had developed within Hebrew (and Aramaic). This view has been discarded for three reasons:

1) Hebrew /ś/ is always paralleled in Arabic by one consonant, while the equivalent of Hebrew /š/, is another consonant …

2) South Arabic, both that of the inscriptions and of the modern dialects has indeed preserved three different phonemes exactly paralleling the three Hebrew phonemes dealt with here.

3) Hebrew /š/ and /ś/ are never interchanged except in foreign loans שׂריון - שׁריון 'armor'. Therefore there is no reason to doubt that in Hebrew as in South Arabic there existed three different phonemes /š, ś, s/. represented by ,, ס…. The alphabet was apparently invented by a people whose language possessed only two of these three phonemes. When it was adopted by other peoples such as the Jews and Arameans, whose language had all three phonemes, they simply employed one sign for two phonemes instead of adding a new sign. Apparently they chose the ש sign because the pronunciation of the /ś/ was close to that of the /š/...

But the pronunciation of the /ś/ did not remain stable even during Biblical times. In the course of several centuries it came close to that of the /s/ and finally merged with it. We know when this process came to an end because especially in the later books of the Bible there appear several roots containing an original /ś/ spelled with a /s/ e.g., סֹכְרִים 'they hire’ (Ezra 4. 5: = שׂכְרִים). In MH most of the roots containing an original /ś/ are already spelled with samekh….

Gutturals                        

  The pharyngals /c, /: Each of these pharyngals represents a merger of two PS (Proto-Semitic language ) phonemes. The phonemes that disappeared are /x/ (pronounced as in Bach, Scottish loch or Yiddish ich) and /ġ/ (pronounced like a fricative /g/). When did these phonemes disappear? At first glance it would seem that they disappeared before Hebrew was committed to writing, or else we should have expected to find in the Hebrew alphabet a special grapheme for their notation.

 But in the light of our discussion of the notation of /ś/ and /š/ by the same grapheme … this conclusion would he hasty because there is reason to believe that these phonemes did in fact exist during Biblical times, and that, as in the case of /ś/, it was only for lack of a grapheme of their own that the graphemes ח,ע respectively were used for them. In other words, we can assume that ח was used during Biblical times to indicate both the pharyngal /ḥ/ and the velar /x/ while the sign ע did service for both the pharyngal /c/ and the velar /ġ/. It should be mentioned that Arabic, which possesses all four of these sounds does indeed use the graphemes ح  = ḥ; خ  = ;  ع = c; غ = ġ for the two other sounds and distinguishes between the two pairs by means of a diacritical point (compare Hebrew ,).

   ח (/ḥ/) and ע (/c/) in Greek Transcriptions. §25. … This assumption is borne out by the transcriptions of the Septuagint from the third-second centuries B.C.E…. Here we find that while some ḥets do not seem to appear in certain names, e.g., Isaac = יִצְחָק , others are transliterated by the Greek ϰ (chi, henceforth written ch ) the pronunciation of which corresponds to the above mentioned German, Yiddish and Scottish /x/, e.g., Rachel = רָחֵל, Achiezer = אֲחִיעֵזֶר The same holds true for the cayin. While some 'ayins do not appear in the Greek transcription, e.g., in the name Iakob = יַעֲקֹב others do, e.g., Gaza = עַזָּה, (the Greeks, for lack of an adequate letter, use the Greek letter Γ = /g/ to denote the sound). Although more detailed research is required to clarify the picture, it can safely be stated on the basis of comparison with Arabic that the lxl is employed mainly where the parallel Arabic root has a /x/, while in words in which Hebrew ḥet  parallels Arabic /ḥ/. Greek, for lack of an adequate grapheme, has no consonantal notation. The same applies to the ghayin in as in the case of the name of the city of עַזָּה which is transliterated in the Septuagint with a lgl - Gaza  since the cayin in this word, exactly as in its modern Arabic form, was pronounced as a velar lġl. As is well known, the Arabic form, transliterated by Europeans as Gaza, is in use outside of Israel.

  These instances go a long way towards proving that during the third and second centuries each of the two signs ח,ע was pronounced in either of two ways in different words, and each pronunciation represented the PS pronunciation of the two different phonemes that survived in Arabic until today.

The Merger of /x/ with //and /ġ/ with /c/…. However, during the course of the next few centuries, one of the pronunciations of the two signs disappeared. This is proved by the fact that the transcriptions of the Hexapla from the second to third centuries C.E. never employ the letter chi for the ḥet and gamma for the cayin (cf. §§245, 247). The Masoretes who vocalized the Hebrew text during the second half of the first millennium C.F. no longer distinguished between two kinds of ḥet and two kinds of cayin. This is not surprising since their vocalization of the Hebrew text aimed at transmitting the last stage of spoken Hebrew which, as we said, already lacked the above mentioned distinctions.

Quoted from Kutscher 1982 pp. 13, 14, 17, 18. For more information see Blau 1982, Steiner 2006.

See - A Lexicon of Unmarked Consonantal Phonemes in Biblical Hebrew:

1. /ḫ/ [x]

2. /ġ/ [ɣ]


 

 

Table 11[46] - Consonantal Minimal Pairs in EBHP No Longer Valid in Later Hebrew

Consonantal Phonemes

EBHP

*/EBHP/+

(c. 850-550 BCE)

TH

/TH/+ *[TH]

(c. 850 CE)

BHIH
[BHIH] = [IH]

(present)

/t/://

נתעו (*/nitˈtacū/ "they have broken out" Jb. 4:10) : נטעו (*/niˈacū/ "they were planted" Is. 40:24) 

נִתָּעוּ /nitˈcu/ *[nitˈtɔːcuː] :

נִטָּעוּ /niˈĺcu/ *[niˈɔːcuː]

Both pronounced [niˈtu]

שתו (*/ˈšātū/ "they put"):

שטו (*/ˈšāū/ "they went back and forth") 

ׄשָתוּ/ˈšĺtu/ *[ˈʃɔːtuː] :

שָטוּ /ˈšĺu/ *[ˈʃɔːuː]

Both pronounced [ˈʃɐtu]

//://

חפר (qal ḪPR  "to be shy") :

חרף (qal ḤPR "to dig")

Merged as ḤPR

Both pronounced ḫpr

חרף (qal RP "to spend the winter") :

חרף (qal ḤRP "to annoy, taunt")

Merged as ḤRP

Both pronounced ḫrf

חרם (/ˈḫirm/ = "a net") :

חרם (/ˈirm/ = "devoted thing")

Both /ˈḥẹrɛm/

*[ˈħẹːɾɛm]

Both pronounced [ˈʁ̞ɛm]

פתח (/pitˈti/ "he engraved") :

פתח (/pitˈtiḥ/ "he opened")

Both פִּתַּח