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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 22

§22. Peculiarities of the Gutturals.

The four gutturals ח‎, ה‎, ע‎, א‎, in consequence of their peculiar pronunciation, have special characteristics, but א‎, as the weakest of these sounds, and sometimes also ע‎ (which elsewhere as one of the harder gutturals is the opposite of א‎), differ in several respects from the stronger ה‎ and ח‎.

1. They do not admit of Dageš forte, since, in consequence of a gradual weakening of the pronunciation (see below, note 2), the strengthening of the gutturals was hardly audible to the Masoretes. But a distinction must be drawn between (a) the complete omission of the strengthening, and (b) the mere echo of it, commonly called half doubling, but better, virtual strengthening.

In the former case, the short vowel before the guttural would stand in an open syllable, and must accordingly be lengthened or modified.[1] For a distinction must again be drawn between the full lengthening of Pathaḥ into Qameṣ—mostly before א‎ (always under the ה‎ of the article, see §35), as a rule also before ע‎, less frequently before ה‎, and least often before ח‎—and the modification of Pathaḥ to Seghôl, mostly before a guttural with Qameṣ. In the other case (virtual strengthening) the Dageš is still omitted, but the strengthening is nevertheless regarded as having taken place, and the preceding vowel therefore remains short. This virtual strengthening occurs most frequently with ח‎, usually with ה‎, less frequently with ע‎, and very seldom with א‎. Examples of (a) מֵאֵן‎, הָֽאָדָם‎, הָעָם‎, הָהָר‎, יֵֽחָבֵא‎ (for yiḥḥābhēʾ); also אֶחָד‎, הֶחָג‎, הֶֽהָרִים‎, הֶֽעָנִי‎ (see more fully on the pointing of the article before ע‎ in §35).—Of (b) הַחֹ֫דֶשׁ‎, מִחוּט‎ (from minḥûṭ), הַהוּא‎, בִּעֵר‎, נִאֵץ‎, &c.—In all these cases of virtual strengthening the Dageš forte is to be regarded at least as implied (hence called Dageš forte implicitum, occultum, or delitescens).

2. They prefer before them, and sometimes after them (cf. h), a short A-sound, because this vowel is organically the nearest akin to the gutturals. Hence

(a) before a guttural, Pathaḥ readily (and always before הּ‎, ח‎, ע‎ closing a syllable) takes the place of another short vowel or of a rhythmically long ē or ō, e.g. זֶ֫בַח‎ sacrifice, not zèbĕḥ; שֵׁ֫מַע‎ report, not šēmĕʿ. This is more especially so when a was the original vowel of the form, or is otherwise admissible. Thus in the Imperat. and Imperf. Qal of guttural verbs, שְׁלַח‎ send thou, יִשְׁלַח‎ he will send (not yišlōḥ); Perf. Piʿel שִׁלַּח‎ (but in Pausa שִׁלֵּחַ‎); יַחְמֹד‎ he will desire (not yiḥmōd) ; וַיָּ֫נַח‎ and he rested (not wayyānŏḥ); נַ֫עַר‎ a youth. In שִׁלַּח‎ and יַחְמֹד‎ ă is the original vowel.

Rem. In such cases as דֶּ֫שֶָׁא‎, טֶ֫נֶא‎, פֶּ֫לֶא‎, פֶּ֫רֶא‎, the א‎ has no consonantal value, and is only retained orthographically (see §23a).

(b) After a heterogeneous long vowel, i.e. after all except Qameṣ, the hard gutturals[2] (consequently not א‎), when standing at the end of the word, require the insertion of a rapidly uttered ă (Pathaḥ furtivum) between themselves and the vowel. This Pathaḥ is placed under the guttural, but sounded before it. It is thus merely an orthographic indication not to neglect the guttural sound in pronunciation, e.g. רוּחַ‎ a, נוֹעַ‎, רֵעַ‎, הִשְׁלִיחַ‎, גָּבוֹהַּ‎, (when consonantal ה‎ is final it necessarily takes Mappîq), but e.g. רוּחִי‎, &c., since here the rapidly uttered ă is no longer heard.

Iach for ich, &c., in some Swiss dialects of German, is analogous; a furtive Pathaḥ is here involuntarily intruded before the deep guttural sound. In Arabic the same may be heard in such words as mesîaḥ, although it is not expressed in writing. The LXX (and Jerome, cf. {{{title}}} iv. 79) write ε, sometimes α, instead of furtive Pathaḥ, e.g. נֹחַ‎ Νῶε, יַדּוּעַ‎ Ίεδδούα (also Ίαδδού).

Rem. 1. The guttural may also have an influence upon the following vowel, especially in Segholate forms, e.g. נַ֫עַר‎ (not naʿĕr) a youth, פֹּ֫עַל‎ (not pōʿĕl) deed. The only exceptions are אֹהֶל‎, בֹּהֶן‎, לֶחֶם‎, רֶחֶם‎.

2. Where in the present form of the language an ĭ, whether original or attenuated from Pathaḥ, would stand before or after a guttural in the first syllable of a word, a Seghôl as being between ă and ĭ is frequently used instead, e.g. יֶחְבַּשׁ‎ (also יַֽחֲבֹשׁ‎), יֶהְגּוּ‎, חֶבְלֵי‎, נֶאְדָּר‎, עֶזְרִי‎, &c.

On the other hand, the slighter and sharper Ḥireq is retained even under gutturals when the following consonant is sharpened by Dageš forte, e.g. הִלֵּל‎, הִנֵּה‎, חִטָּה‎; but when this sharpening is removed, Seghôl is again apt to appear, e.g. הִגָּיוֹן‎ constr. הֶגְיוֹן‎, חִזָּיוֹן‎ constr. חֶזְיוֹן‎.

3. Instead of simple Šewâ mobile, the gutturals take without exception a compound Še, e.g. שָֽׁחֲטוּ‎, אֲקַטֵּל‎, אֱמֹר‎, אֳנִי‎, &c.

4. When a guttural with quiescent Še happens to close a syllable in the middle of a word, the strongly closed syllable (with quiescent Še) may remain; necessarily so with ח‎, ע‎, and ה‎ at the end of the tone-syllable, e.g. שָׁלַ֫חְתָּ‎, יָדַ֫עְתָּ‎, but also before the tone (see examples under i), even with א‎.

But in the syllable before the tone and further back, the closed syllable is generally opened artificially by a Ḥaṭeph (as being suited to the guttural) taking the place of the quiescent Še, and in particular that Ḥaṭeph which repeats the sound of the preceding vowel, e.g. יֽחֲשֹׁב‎ (also יַחְשֹׁב‎); יֶחֱֽזַק‎ (also יֶחְזַק‎); פָּֽעֳלוֹ‎ o (for pŏʿlô). But when, owing to a flexional change, the strong vowel following the Ḥaṭeph is weakened into Šewâ mobile, then instead of the Ḥaṭeph its fall vowel is written, e.g. יַֽעַמְדוּ‎ (from יַֽעֲמֹד‎), נֶֽעֶרְמוּ‎, פָּֽעָלְךָ‎ (from פֹּעַל‎). The original forms, according to §28c, were yaʿmedhû, neʿremû, pŏʿlekhā. Hence יַֽעַמְדוּ‎, &c., are really only different orthographic forms of יַֽעֲמְדוּ‎, &c., and would be better transcribed by yaʿamedhû, &c.

Rem. 1. On the use of simple or compound Šewâ in guttural verbs, see further §§ 62–65.

2. Respecting the choice between the three Ḥaṭephs, it may be remarked:

(a) ח‎, ה‎, ע‎ at the beginning of a syllable prefer ־ֲ‎, but א‎ prefers ־ֱ‎, e.g. חֲמוֹר‎ ass, הֲרֹג‎ to kill, אֱמֹר‎ to say; when farther from the tone syllable, however, the ־ֱ‎ even under א‎ changes into the lighter ־ֲ‎, e.g. אֱלֵי‎ (poetic for אֶל־‎) to, but אֲלֵיכֶ֫ם‎ to you, אֱכֹל‎ to eat, but אֲכָל־‎ (ʾakhŏl, toneless on account of Maqqēph). Cf. §27w. The 1st pets. sing. imperf. Piʿēl regularly has ־ֲ‎. Likewise ־ֲ‎ is naturally found under א‎ in cases where the Ḥaṭeph arises from a weakening of an original ă (e.g. אֲרִי‎ lion, ground-form ʾary), and ־ֳ‎ if there be a weakening of an original u (e.g. אֳנִי‎ a fleet, עֳנִי‎ affliction, cf. §93q, z).

(b) In the middle of a word after a long vowel, a Ḥaṭeph-Pathaḥ takes the place of a simple Šewâ mobile, e.g. הֹֽעֲלָה מֵֽאֲנָה‎ (see §63p); but if a short vowel precedes, the choice of the Ḥaṭeph is generally regulated by it, e.g. Perf. Hiph. הֶֽעֱמִיד‎ (see above, i), Infin. הַֽעֲמִיד‎ (regular form הַקְטִיל‎); Perf. Hoph. הָֽעֳמַד‎ (regular form הָקְטַל‎); but cf. שִֽׁחֲדוּ‎ Job 6:22 (§64a).

5. The ר‎, which in sound approximates to the gutturals (§6g), shares with the gutturals proper their first, and to a certain extent their second, peculiarity, viz.

(a) The exclusion of the strengthening, instead of which the preceding vowel is almost always lengthened, e.g. בֵּרַךְ‎ he has blessed for birrakh, בָּרֵךְ‎ to bless for barrēkh.

(b) The preference for ă as a preceding vowel, e.g. וַיַּרְא‎ and he saw (from יִרְאֶה‎); וַיָּ֫סַר‎ both for וַיָּ֫סָר‎ and he turned back, and for וַיָּ֫סֶר‎ and he caused to turn back.

The exceptions to a are מָרַּת‎ mŏrrăth, Proverbs 14:10; כָרַּת‎ khŏrrăth and שָׁרֵּךְ‎ šŏrrēkh, Ezekiel 16:4 (cf. Proverbs 3:8); שֶׁרֹּאשִׁי‎ Song of Solomon 5:2; הַרְּעִמָהּ‎ 1 Samuel 1:6; הַרְּאִיתֶם‎ 1 Samuel 10:24, 1 Samuel 17:25, 2 Kings 6:32; exceptions to b are הִרִּדִיפֻהוּ‎ Judges 20:43 (cf. §20h); מִרְּדֹף‎ 1 Samuel 23:28, 2 Samuel 18:16; also on account of דחיק‎ (§20c), Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 20:22, 2 Chronicles 26:10; and on account of אתי מרחיק‎ (§20f) 1 Samuel 15:6, Jeremiah 39:12, Psalms 52:5, Habakkuk 3:13, Proverbs 11:21, Job 39:9, Ezra 9:6. A kind of virtual strengthening (after מִ‍‎ for מִן‎) is found in מִֽרָגְזֶךָ‎ Isaiah 14:3. In Samaritan and Arabic this strengthening has been retained throughout, and the LXX write e.g. Σάῤῥα for שָׂרָה‎. [So Baer (cf. his note on Judges 20:43; Jeremiah 39:12, and several of the other passages in question): but Ginsburg only in 10 of the exceptions to b, and Jacob ben Ḥayyim and Kittel only in 5, viz. Jeremiah 39:12, Proverbs 11:21, Proverbs 15:1, Psalms 52:5, Ezra 9:6.—S. R. D.]

  1. Cf. terra and the French terre, the German Rolle and the French rôle; German drollig and French drôle. The omission of the strengthening shows a deterioration of the language. Arabic still admits of the strengthening of gutturals in all cases.
  2. Prätorius, Ueber den rückweich. Accent im Hebr., Halle, 1897, p. 17, &c., remarks that Pathaḥ furtivum has not arisen merely under the influence of the guttural, but is due to a duplication of the accented syllable, so that e.g. יָשִׁיב‎, יָצוּד‎ would also be pronounced yasîibh, yaṣûudh although the short intermediate vowel was not so noticeable as before a guttural.
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