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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 21

§21. The Aspiration of the Tenues.[1]

The harder sound of the six Begadkephath letters, indicated by a Dageš lene, is to be regarded, according to the general analogy of languages, as their older and original pronunciation, from which the softer sound was weakened (§6n and § 13). The original hard sound is maintained when the letter is initial, and after a consonant, but when it immediately follows a vowel or Šewā mobile it is softened and aspirated by their influence, e.g. פָּרַץ‎ pāraṣ, יִפְרֹץ‎ yiphrōṣ, כֹּל‎ kōl, לְכֹל‎ lekhōl. Hence the Begadkephath take Dageš lene

(1) at the beginning of words: (a) without exception when the preceding word ends with a vowelless consonant, e.g. עַל־כֵּן‎ ʾal-kēn (therefore), עֵץ פְּרִי‎ ʿēṣ pe (fruit-tree); (b) at the beginning of a section, e.g. בְּרֵאשִׁית‎ Genesis 1:1, or at the beginning of a sentence, or even of a minor division of a sentence after a distinctive accent (§15d), although the preceding word may end with a vowel. The distinctive accent in such a case prevents the vowel from influencing the following tenuis, e.g. וַיְהִ֕י כַּֽאֲשֶׁר‎ and it was so, that when, Judges 11:5 (but וַֽיְהִי־כֵן‎ Genesis 1:7).

Rem. 1. The vowel letters ה‎, י‎, ו‎, א‎, as such, naturally do not close a syllable. In close connexion they are therefore followed by the aspirated Begadkephath, e.g. וּמָ֣צָא בָהּ‎, &c. On the other hand, syllables are closed by the consonantal ו‎ and י‎ (except קַו־תֹ֫הוּ‎ Isaiah 34:11; שָׁלֵו֣בָֿהּ‎ Ezekiel 23:42; אֲדֹנָי בָֿם‎ Psalms 68:18), and by הּ‎ with Mappîq; hence e.g. there is Dageš lene in עָלַי֣ פִּיהֶם‎ and always after יְהֹוָה‎, since the Qerê perpetuum of this word (§ 17) assumes the reading אֲדֹנָי‎.

2. In a number of cases Dageš lene is inserted, although a vowel precedes in close connexion. This almost always occurs with the prefixes בְּ‎ and כְּ‍‎ in the combinations בְּב‎, כְּכ‍‎, בְּפ‍‎ (i.e. when a Begadkephath with Šewâ precedes the same or a kindred aspirate) and בְּם‎ (see Baer, L. Psalmorum, 1880, p. 92,[2]

on Psalms 23:3); cf. e.g. 1 Samuel 25:1, Isaiah 10:9, Psalms 34:2, Job 19:2; כְג‎ is uncertain; בְד‎, כְד‎, and בְכ‍‎ according to David Qimḥi do not take Dageš, nor כְג‎, כב‎, and כְפ‍‎ according to the Dikduke ha-ṭeeamim, p. 30. Sometimes the Begadkephath letters, even with a full vowel, take Dageš before aspirant (and even before ח‎ in בַּֽחֲמִשָּׁה‎ 1 Kings 12:32); cf. the instances mentioned above, §20e (mostly tenues before א‎). In all these cases the object is to prevent too great an accumulation of aspirates. The LXX, on the other hand, almost always represent the כ‍‎ and פ‍‎, even at the beginning of a syllable, by χ and φ; Χερούβ, Χαλδαῖοι, Φαρφάρ, &c.—The forms כַּֽדְכֹד‎ (after וְשַׂמְתִּ֫י‎) Isaiah 54:12, and כַּֽלְכֵל‎ (after וְנִלְאֵ֫יתִי‎) Jeremiah 20:9 are doubly anomalous.

(2) In the middle of words after Šewâ quiescens, i.e. at the beginning of a syllable immediately after a vowelless consonant,[3] e.g. יִרְפָּא‎ yirpā (he heals), קְטַלְתֶּם‎ ye have killed; but after Šewâ mobile, e.g. רְפָא‎ rephā (heal thou), כָּֽבְדָה‎ she was heavy.

On קָטַלְתְּ‎, וַיִּשְׁבְּ‎ and similar forms, see §10i.

Whether Še be vocal and consequently causes the aspiration of a following tenuis, depends upon the origin of the particular form. It is almost always vocal

(a) When it has arisen from the weakening of a strong vowel, e.g. רִדְפוּ‎ pursue ye (not רִדְפּוּ‎) from רְדֹף‎; מַלְכֵי‎ (not מַלְכֵּי‎), because originally mălăkhê, but מַלְכִּי‎ from the ground-form malk.

(b) With the כ‍‎ of the pronominal suffixes of the 2nd pers. ־ְךָ‎, ־ְכֶם‎, ־ְכֶן‎, since Šewâ mobile is characteristic of these forms (see §58f; §91b).

Rem. Forms like שָׁלַ֫חַתְּ‎ thou (fem.) hast sent, in which we should expect an aspirated ת‎ after the vowel, cf. וַיִּ֫חַדְּ‎ Exodus 18:9, have arisen from שָׁלַחְתְּ‎, יִחְדְּ‎, &c.; Pathaḥ being here simply a helping vowel has no influence on the tenuis; cf. §28e.

  1. Cf. Delitzsch, Ztschr. f. luth. Theol. u. Kirche, 1878, p. 585 ff.
  2. Also L. Proverbiorum, 1880, Praef. p. ix; and Dikduke ha-ṭeamim, p. 30 (in German in König’s Lehrgeb., i. p. 62).
  3. The exceptions יָקְתְאֵל‎ Joshua 15:38 (see Minḥat shay, on this passage), 2 Kings 14:7, and יָקְדְעָם‎ Joshua 15:56 may perhaps be due to the character of the ק‎.
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