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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 20

§20. The Strengthening (Sharpening) of Consonants..

1. The strengthening of a consonant, indicated by Dageš forte, is necessary and essential (Dageš necessarium)

(a) when the same consonant would be written twice in succession without an intermediate vowel or Šewâ mobile; thus we have נָתַ֫נּוּ‎ for נָתַ֫נְנוּ‎ nāthăn-nû and שַׁ֫תִּי‎ for שַׁ֫תְתִּי‎.

(b) in eases of assimilation (§19b–f), e.g. יִתֵּן‎ for yintēn.

In both these cases the Dageš is called compensativum.

(c) When it is characteristic of a grammatical form, e.g. לָמַד‎ he has learned, לִמַּד‎ he has taught (Dageš characteristicum). In a wider sense this includes the cases in which a consonant is sharpened by Dageš forte, to preserve a preceding short vowel (which in an open syllable would have to be lengthened by §26e), e.g. גְּמַלִּים‎ camels for gemālîm; cf. §93ee and kk, §93pp.

This coalescing of two consonants as indicated above does not take place when the first has a vowel or Šewâ mobile. In the latter case, according to the correct Masora, a compound Še should be used, preceded by Methĕg, e.g. הֽוֹלֲלִים‎, קִֽלֲלַת‎, &c. (cf. §§10g, 16f). This pointing is not used before the suffix ךָ‎, e.g. תְּבָֽרֶכְךָ֫‎ Genesis 27:4, but the first כ‍‎ has a vocal Še, otherwise the second כ‍‎ would have Dageš lene. Also when the former of the two consonants has been already strengthened by Dageš forte, it can only have a vocal Še, and any further contraction is therefore impossible. This applies also to cases where Dageš forte has been omitted (see below, m, e.g. הַֽלֲלוּ‎ properly הַלְּלוּ‎=hal-le. The form חַֽנְנֵ֫נִי‎ Psalms 9:14 (not חָנְנֵ֫נִי‎) might be explained as imperat. Piʿēl=חַנְּנֵ֫נִי‎; if it were imperat. Qal the non-contraction of the monosyllabic root would be as strange as it is in שָׁדְדוּ‎ Jeremiah 49:28, and in the imperf. יְשָׁדְדֵם‎ Jeremiah 5:6.

2. A consonant is sometimes strengthened merely for the sake of euphony (Dageš euphonicum), and the strengthening is then not so essential. This occurs[1]

(a) when two words are closely united in pronunciation by Dageš forte conjunctivum: (1) in the first letter of a monosyllable or of a word having the tone (or occasionally the counter-tone) on the first syllable,[2] when closely connected with the preceding word, if that word ends in a tone-bearing Qameṣ (־ָה‎) with Šewâ mobile preceding, or a tone-bearing ־ֶה‎, —called דְּחִיק‎ (i.e. compressed) by the Jewish grammarians.

The term monosyllable here and in f (by §28e) includes Segholates like כֶּ֫סֶף‎, שֹׁ֫חַד‎, &c., as well as forms like פְּרִי‎, שְׁאֹל‎, שְׁמוֹ‎, and even כְּנַ֫עַן‎. Some limit the use of the Deḥîq to the closest connexion of a monosyllable with a following Begadkephath. However, it also applies to cases like לְכָה־נָּא‎ Numbers 22:6; לֻֽקֳחָה־וּאֹת‎ Genesis 2:23; יְצַוֶּה־לָּךְ‎ Psalms 91:11; and even with Rêš, מַֽעֲנֶה־רַּךְ‎ Proverbs 15:1; וּמִֽשְׁנֶה־כֶּ֫סֶף‎ Genesis 43:15. In all these examples the tone, were it not for the Maqqēph, would be on the ultima of the first word.

Rem. 1. When זֶה‎ this has Maqqēph after it, a Dageš forte conj. always follows, even if the next word is neither a monosyllable nor has the tone on the initial syllable; thus not only in וְזֶה־שְּׁמוֹ‎ Jeremiah 23:6, but also in וְזֶה־פִּרְיָהּ‎ Numbers 13:27, 1 Chronicles 22:1. In הִנֶּה֣ נָּאֽ־‎ Genesis 19:2 (where Maqqēph is represented by a conjunctive accent, §9u, 1 c, and §16b), the Seghôl coincides with the secondary tone-syllable. On the origin of Dag. f. conj. after מַה־‎ (for מָה‎) what?, see §37b, c.

2. Such cases as גָאֹ֣ה גָּאָ֫ה‎ Exodus 15:1, 21, the 2nd כָּמֹ֖כָה‎ in ver. 11, גָּאָ֑לְתָּ‎ ver. 13, כָּאָ֑בֶן‎ ver. 16, do not belong here. In these the Dageš can only be intended for Dag. lene, see §21d.

(2) In the first letter of a monosyllable, or of a word with the tone on the first syllable after a closely connected Milʿêl ending in ־ָה‎ or ־ֶה‎. Such a milʿêl is called by the Jewish grammarians אָתֵי מֵרַֽחִיק‎ (Aram.=Heb. אֹתֶה מֵֽרָחוֹק‎) veniens e longinquo (in respect of the tone). The attraction of the following tone-syllable by Dageš forte conj. is here also due to the exigencies of rhythm, e.g. שָׁבִ֫יתָ שֶּׁ֫בִי‎ Psalms 68:19; הוֹשִׁ֫יעָה נָּא‎ Psalms 118:25 (so ed. Mant., but Ginsburg and Kittel הֽוֹשִׁיעָ֫ה נָּא‎); הִרְחִ֫יבָה שְּׁאוֹל‎ Isaiah 5:14; אַ֫רְצָה כְּנַ֫עַן‎ Genesis 11:31. The Milʿêl may, however, also be due to a subsequent retraction of the tone (nāsôg ʾaḥôr, §29e), as in ע֫שֶֹׁה פְּרִי‎ Genesis 1:11.—The prefixes בְ‎, ךְ‎, לְ‎ and וְ‎ alone do not take a Dageš in this case, except in לְךָ‎, always, and לְּלַיְלָה‎ Psalms 19:3. Such forms as הִשָּׁ֫בְעָה לִּי‎ Genesis 21:23, מָ֣לְאָה שֹּֽׁחַד‎ Psalms 26:10, רָ֣חֲקָה מֶּֽנִּי‎ Job 21:16, and even נַ֣עַמְדָה יָּ֑חַד‎ Isaiah 50:8 (i.e. the cases where the tone is thrown back from the ultima on to the syllable which otherwise would have Metheg), are likewise regarded as Milʿêl. On the other hand, e.g. חָ֣רָה לָךְ‎ Genesis 4:6, not לָּךְ‎ since the first ā of חָרָה‎ could not have Metheg. When words are closely united by Maqqēph the same rules apply as above, except that in the first word Metheg, in the secondary tone, takes the place of the accent, cf. עֽשֶֹׁה־פְּרִי‎ Genesis 1:12; הַנִּֽידָה־נָּא‎ Genesis 32:30, &c. Finally, the Dageš is used when the attracted word does not begin with the principal tone, but with a syllable having Metheg, הֵ֣מָּה יִּֽירְשׁ֫וּ‎ Psalms 37:9; אֵ֣לֶּה יַּֽעֲקֹ֫ב‎ Isaiah 44:21; עָשִׂ֫יתָ קְּעָֽרֹתָיו‎ Exodus 25:29, provided that the second word does not begin with a Begadkephath letter (hence e.g. אֵ֣לֶּה תֽוֹלְדוֹת‎ Genesis 2:4).

Rem. Such cases as קָּנֶ֨ךָ‎ Deuteronomy 32:6, and כָּשִׂ֫יתָ‎ 32:15, and נָּעוֹת‎ (so Baer, but not ed. Mant., &c.) 1 Samuel 1:13 are therefore anomalous; also, because beginning with a Begadkephath, בָּֽאֵלִם‎ Exodus 15:11 (cf. however above, e); תֵּֽל־‎ Joshua 8:28; בִּֽזְרוֹעַ‎ Psalms 77:16; כֶּן־הִיא‎ Job 5:27.—It is doubtful whether we should include here those cases in which Dageš forte occurs after a word ending in a toneless û, such as ק֫וּמוּ צְּאוּ‎ Genesis 19:14, Exodus 12:31; Exodus 12:15 (שְּׂאֹר‎), Deuteronomy 2:24; also לֹּא‎ Genesis 19:2, 1 Samuel 8:19; לּוֹ‎ Judges 18:19, Esther 6:13 (where P. Haupt regards the Dageš as due to the enclitic character of the לו‎); מְּעָט‎ Hosea 8:10; נֻּ֫דוּ‎ Jeremiah 49:30; רְּדוּ‎ 1 Samuel 15:6. When we explained the Dageš in these examples not as conjunctive, but orthophonic (see above, §13c, and Delitzsch, Psalmen, 4th ed. on Psalms 94:12 a), we especially had in view those cases in which the consonant with Dageš has a Še. The extension of the use of Dageš to consonants with a strong vowel, seems, however, to indicate that these are cases of the אָתֵי מֵֽרַחִיק‎, which was required by some Masoretes but not consistently inserted. On the other hand, the Dageš forte in י‎ after a preceding î (Psalms 118:5, 18), and even after û (Psalms 94:12), is due to an attempt to preserve its consonantal power; see König, Lehrgeb., p. 54 b.

(b) When a consonant with Še is strengthened by Dageš forte dirĭmens to make the Še more audible. In almost all cases the strengthening or sharpening can be easily explained from the character of the particular consonant, which is almost always a sonant, sibilant, or the emphatic Qôph; cf. עִנְּבֵי‎ Leviticus 25:5, Deuteronomy 32:32 (for עִנְבֵי‎); כַּנְּלֽתְךָ‎ Isaiah 33:1 (where, however, כְּכַלּֽוֹתְךָ‎ is to be read); cf. Nahum 3:17, Job 9:18, Job 17:2, Joel 1:17 (with מ‍‎); Isaiah 57:6 (with ל‎); Judges 20:43,[3] 1 Samuel 1:6 (with ר‎); Genesis 49:10, 17 (and so always in עִקְּבֵי‎ Judges 5:22, Song of Solomon 1:8 and עִקְּבוֹת‎ Psalms 77:20, Psalms 89:52); Exodus 15:17, Deuteronomy 23:11, Judges 20:32, 1 Samuel 28:10 (ק‎)[4]; Exodus 2:3, Isaiah 58:3, Amos 5:21, Psalms 141:3, Proverbs 4:13 (צ‍‎); Proverbs 27:25 (שׂ‎); Isaiah 5:28, Psalms 37:15, Jeremiah 51:56, Nehemiah 4:7 (שׁ‎). Also, with כ‍‎ Hosea 3:2; with ב‎ Isaiah 9:3, Jeremiah 4:7; with ת‎ 1 Samuel 10:11. In many instances of this kind the influence of the following consonant is also observable.

(c) When a vowel is to be made specially emphatic, generally in the principal pause, by a Dageš forte affectuosum in the following consonant. Thus in a following sonant, Judges 5:7 (חָדִ֑לּוּ‎), Job 29:21 (וְיִחֵ֑לּוּ‎), 22:12 (רָֽמּוּ‎); Ezekiel 27:19 (in נ‍‎); in ת‎ Isaiah 33:12, Isaiah 41:17, Jeremiah 51:58, perhaps also Job 21:13 (יֵחַֽתּוּ‎).

(d) When the sonants ל‎, מ‍‎, נ‍‎ are strengthened by Dageš fortz firmativum in the pronouns הֵ֫מָּה‎, הֵ֫נָּה‎, אֵ֫לֶּה‎, and in לָ֫מָּה‎ why? cf. also בַּמֶּה‎, בַּמָּה‎ whereby? כַּמָּה‎ how much? (§102k, l), to give greater firmness to the preceding tone-vowel.

3. Omission of the strengthening, or at least the loss of the Dageš forte occurs,

(a) almost always at the end of a word, since here a strengthened consonant cannot easily be sounded.[5] In such cases the preceding vowel is frequently lengthened (§27d), e.g. רֹב‎ multitude, from רבב‎; עַם‎ people, with a distinctive accent or after the article, עָם‎, from עמם‎; but e.g. גַּן‎ garden, בַּת‎ daughter, with the final consonant virtually sharpened. On the exceptions אַתְּ‎ thou (fem.) and נָתַ֫תְּ‎ thou (fem.) hast given Ezekiel 16:33, see §10k.

(b) Very frequently in certain consonants with Šewâ mobile, since the absence of a strong vowel causes the strengthening to be less noticeable. This occurs principally in the case of ו‎ and י‎ (on יְ‎ and יֵּ‎ after the article, see §35b; on יְּ‎ after מַה־‎, §37b); and in the sonants מ‍‎,[6] נ‍‎ and ל‎; also in the sibilants, especially when a guttural follows (but note Isaiah 62:9, מְאַסְפָיו‎, as ed. Mant. and Ginsb. correctly read, while Baer has מְאָֽסְ׳‎ with compensatory lengthening, and others even מְאָסְ׳‎; מִשְׁמַנֵּי‎ Genesis 27:28, 39; מִשְׁלשׁ‎ 38:24 for מִשְּׁ׳‎, הַֽשְׁלַבִּים‎ 1 Kings 7:28; אֶֽשְֽׁקָה־‎ 1 Kings 19:20 from נָשַׁק‎, הַֽשְׁפַתַּ֫יִם‎ Ezekiel 40:43 and לַֽשְׁפַנִּים‎ Psalms 104:18; מִשְׁתֵּים‎ Jonah 4:11, הַֽצְפַרְדְּעִים‎ Exodus 8:1 &c.);—and finally in the emphatic ק‎.[7]

Of the Begadkephath letters, ב‎ occurs without Dageš in מִבְצִיר‎ Judges 8:2; ג‎ in מִגְבֽוּרָתָם‎ Ezekiel 32:30; ד‎ in נִדְחֵי‎ Isaiah 11:12 56:8, Psalms 147:2 (not in Jeremiah 49:36), supposing that it is the Participle Niphʿal of נָדַח‎; lastly, ת‎ in תִּתְצוּ‎ Isaiah 22:10. Examples, עִוְרִים‎, וַיְהִי‎ (so always the preformative יְ‎ in the imperf. of verbs), מִלְמַ֫עְלָה‎, לַֽמְנַצֵּחַ‎, הִנְנִי‎, הַֽלֲלוּ‎, מִלְאוּ‎, כִּסְאִי‎, יִשְׂאוּ‎, יִקְחוּ‎, מַקְלוֹת‎, מִקְצֵה‎, &c. In correct MSS. the omission of the Dageš is indicated by the Rāphè stroke (§ 14) over the consonant. However, in these cases, we must assume at least a virtual strengthening of the consonant (Dageš forte implicitum, see §22c, end).

(c) In the Gutturals, see §22b.

Rem. 1. Contrary to rule the strengthening is omitted (especially in the later Books), owing to the lengthening of the preceding short vowel, generally Ḥireq (cf. mīle for mille), e.g. יְחִיתַ֑ן‎ he makes them afraid, for יְחִתֵּן‎ Habakkuk 2:17 (where, however, it is perhaps more correct to suppose, with König, a formation on the analogy of verbs ע״וּ‎, and moreover to read יְחִיתֶ֫ךָ‎ with the LXX), זִיקוֹת‎ Isaiah 50:11 for זִקּוֹת‎.

2. Very doubtful are the instances in which compensation for the strengthening is supposed to be made by the insertion of a following נ‍‎. Thus for מָֽעֻזְנֶ֫יהָ‎ Isaiah 23:11, read מָֽעֻזֶּ֫יהָ‎ (or מְעוֹנֶ֫יהָ‎); and for תָ֫מְנוּ‎ Lamentations 3:22, read תַּ֫מּוּ‎. In Numbers 23:13 קָבְנוֹ‎ is not an instance of compensation (see §67o, end).

  1. Cf. Baer, ‘De primarum vocabulorum literarum dagessatione,’ in his Liber Proverbiorum, Lpz. 1880. pp. vii–xv; F. Prätorius, ‘Über den Ursprung des Dag. f. conjunctivum,’ in ZAW. 1883, p. 17 ff. (ascribed to an original assimilation of ת‎ or נ‍‎).
  2. לֵאמֹר‎ alone, although having the tone on the ultima, invariably takes the Dageš forte conj. when משֶׁה‎ with a conjunctive accent precedes, Exodus 6:10, 29, 15:24, &c.
  3. The ordinary reading הִרְדִיפֻ֫הוּ‎, where ד‎ is without Dageš, is only intelligible if the ר‎ has Dageš.
  4. Also in Psalms 45:10 read בְּיִקְּרוֹתֶ֫יךָ‎ with Baer and Ginsburg, following Ben Asher, and in Proverbs 30:17 לְיִקְּהַת‎ (Ben Naphthali בִּיקְּ׳‎ and לִיקְּ׳‎).
  5. So in Latin fel (for fell), gen. fellis; mel, mellis; os, ossis. In Middle High German the doubling of consonants never takes place at the end of a word, but only in the middle (as in Old High German), e g. val (Fall), gen. valles; swam (Schwamm, &c., Grimm, Deutsche Gramm., 2nd ed., i. 383.
  6. Dageš forte is almost always omitted in מְ‍‎ when it is the prefix of the participle Piʿel or Puʿal, hence Psalms 104:3 הַֽמְקָרֶה‎ who layeth the beams, but הַמְּקָרֶה‎ the roof Ecclesiastes 10:18 (cf. הַמְּלָאכָה‎ the work, &c.).
  7. According to some also in ט‎ in תִּטְעִי‎ Isaiah 17:10; but see Baer on the passage.
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