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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 29

§29. The Tone, its Changes and the Pause.

1. The principal tone rests, according to the Masoretic accentuation (cf. §15c), as a rule on the final syllable, e.g. קָטַ֫ל‎, דָּבָ֫ר‎, דְּבָר֫וֹ‎, דְּבָרִ֫ים‎, קְטַלְתֶּ֫ם‎, קָֽטְלוּ֫‎, קִדְר֫וֹן‎—in the last five examples on the formative additions to the stem. Less frequently it rests on the penultima, as in לַ֫יְלָה‎ night, קָטַ֫לְתָּ‎, קַ֫לּוּ‎, קָ֫מוּ‎; but a closed penultima can only have the tone if the ultima is open (e.g. קָטַ֫לְתָּ‎, לֵ֫כְנָה‎, קֹ֫מְנָה‎), whilst a closed ultima can as a rule only be without the tone if the penultima is open, e.g. וַיָּ֫קֶם‎, וַיָּ֫קָם‎; see also below, e.

A kind of counter-tone or secondary stress, as opposed to the principal tone, is marked by Metheg (§16c). Words which are closely united by Maqqeph with the following word (§16a) can at the most have only a secondary tone.

2. The original tone of a word, however, frequently shifts its place in consequence either of changes in the word itself, or of its close connexion with other words. If the word is increased at the end, the tone is moved forward (descendit) one or two places according to the length of the addition, e.g. דָּבָ֫ד‎ word, plur. דְּבָרִ֫ים‎; דִּבְרֵיכֶ֫ם‎ your words; קֹ֫דֶשׁ‎ holy thing, plur. קָֽדָ֫שִׁ֫ים‎; קָטַ֫לְתָּ‎ with suffix קְטַלְתָּ֫הוּ‎, with Wāw consecutive וְקָֽטַלְתָּ֫‎. On the consequent vowel-changes, see §27d, i–m.

3. On the other hand, the original tone is shifted from the ultima to the penultima (ascendit): (a) In many forms of the Imperfect, under the influence of a prefixed Wāw consecutive (וַ‌ּ‎ see §49c–e), e.g. יֹאמַ֫ר‎ he will say, וַיֹּ֫אמֶר‎ and he said; יֵלֵ֫ךְ‎ he will go, וַיֵּ֫לֶךְ‎ and he went. Cf. also §51n on the impf. Niphʿal, and §65g, end, on the impf. Piʿel; on these forms in Pause, when the ו‎ consec. does not take effect, see below, p.

(b) For rhythmical reasons (as often in other languages), when a monosyllable, or a word with the tone on the first syllable, follows a word with the tone on the ultima, in order to avoid the concurrence of two tone-syllables[1]. This rhythmical retraction of the tone, however (נָסוֹג אָחוֹר‎ receding, as it is called by the Jewish grammarians), is only admissible according to a, above, provided that the penultima, which now receives the tone, is an open syllable (with a long vowel; but see g), whilst the ultima, which loses the tone, must be either an open syllable with a long vowel, e.g. קָ֣רָא לָ֑יְלָה‎ Genesis 1:5, Genesis 4:17, Genesis 27:25, Exodus 16:29, Psalms 5:11, Psalms 104:14, Daniel 11:13, or a closed syllable with a short vowel, e.g. תֹּ֣אכַל לֶ֫חֶם‎ Genesis 3:19, Job 3:3, Job 22:28.[2] The grave suffixes ־כֶם‎, כֶן‎, ־הֶם‎, ־הֶן‎ are exceptions, as they never lose the tone. Moreover a fair number of instances occur in which the above conditions are fulfilled, but the tone is not retracted, e.g. esp. with הָיָה‎, and before א‎; cf. Qimḥi, Mikhlol, ed. Rittenberg (Lyck, 1862), p. 4b, line 13 ff.

Although Ṣere can remain in a closed ultima which has lost the tone, it is perhaps not to be regarded in this case (see §8b) as a long vowel. At any rate it then always has, in correct editions, a retarding Methog, no doubt in order to prevent its being pronounced as Seghôl, e.g. לְבָ֣עֵֽר קָ֑יִן‎ Numbers 24:22; cf. Numbers 17:23, Judges 20:2, Isaiah 66:3, Jeremiah 23:29, Ezekiel 22:25, Psalms 37:7, and even with a following furtive Pathaḥ Proverbs 1:19, Proverbs 11:26, &c., although there is no question here of two successive tone-syllables. In other cases the shortening into Seghôl does take place, e.g. ה֫וֹלֶם פַּ֫עַם‎ who smiteth the anvil, Isaiah 41:7, for הוֹלֵ֫ם פַּ֫עַם‎; מֵ֫אֶת שֶׁ֫מֶר‎ 1 Kings 16:24.—The retraction of the tone even occurs when a half-syllable with a Šewâ mobile precedes the original tone-syllable, e.g. וַיּ֫אֹמְרוּ לוֹ‎ Genesis 19:5, and frequently; י֫וֹרְדֵי בוֹר‎ Psalms 28:1; טָ֫מְנוּ לִי‎ Psalms 31:5; מְטֹ֣עֲנֵי חָ֫רֶב‎ Isaiah 14:19; as also when the tone-syllable of the second word is preceded by a half-syllable, e.g. ע֫שֶֹׁה פְּרִי‎ Genesis 1:11 (on the Dag. f., cf. §20f); לָ֫תֶת לְךָ‎ Genesis 15:7 (cf. §20c).

According to the above, it must be regarded as anomalous when the Masora throws back the tone of a closed ultima upon a virtually sharpened syllable with a short vowel, e.g. אַ֫חַר כֵּן‎ 1 Samuel 10:5, §101a; וְכִ֫חֶשׁ בּוֹ‎ Job 8:18, cf. Leviticus 5:22, Hosea 9:2; לְצַ֫חֶק בָּ֫נוּ‎ Genesis 39:1417; whereas it elsewhere allows a closed penultima to bear the tone only when the ultima is open. Still more anomalous is the placing of the tone on a really sharpened syllable, when the ultima is closed, as in הֻ֣קַּם עָל‎ 2 Samuel 23:1; נִ֣כַּר שׁוֹעַ‎ Job 34:19; cf. also יֻֽקַּם־קָ֫יִן‎ Genesis 4:24, with Metheg of the secondary tone. We should read either הֻקַּ֣ם‎, or, with Frensdorff, Massora Magna, p. 167, Ginsb., Kittel, after Bomb., הֻ֣קַם‎. Other abnormal forms are וַיַּחֲזֶק בּוֹ‎ Exodus 4:4 (for similar instances see §15c, end) and וַיִּ֣הְיוּ שָׁם‎ Deuteronomy 10:5.

(c) In pause, see i–v.

The meeting of two tone-syllables (see e, f) is avoided also by connecting the words with Maqqeph, in which case the first word entirely loses the tone, e.g. וַיִּכְתָּב־שָׁ֫ם‎ and he wrote there, Joshua 8:32.

4. Very important changes of the tone and of the vowels are effected by the pause. By this term is meant the strong stress laid on the tone-syllable in the last word of a sentence (verse) or clause. It is marked by a great distinctive accent, Sillûq, ʾAthnâḥ, and in the accentuation of the books תא״ם‎, ʿÔlè weyôrēd (§15h). Apart from these principal pauses (the great pause), there are often pausal changes (the lesser pause) with the lesser distinctives, especially Segolta, Zaqeph qaṭon, Rebhîaʿ, and even with Pašṭa, Tiphḥa, Gereš, and (Proverbs 30:4) Pazer.[3]

The changes are as follows:

(a) When the tone-syllable naturally has a short vowel, it as a rule becomes tone-long in pause, e.g. קָטַל‎, קָטָ֑ל‎; מַ֫יִם‎, מָ֑יִם‎; קָטַ֫לְתָּ‎, קָטָ֫לְתָּ‎. An ă which has been modified to Seghôl usually becomes ā in pause, e.g. קֶ֫שֶׁר‎ (ground-form qašr) in pause קָ֫שֶׁר‎ 2 Kings 11:14; אֶ֫רֶץ אָ֑רֶץ‎ Jeremiah 22:29; also in 2 Kings 4:31 read קָשֶׁב‎ with ed. Mant., &c. (Baer קָשֵָׁב‎).—דִּבֶּר‎ becomes in pause דִּבֵּר‎.

Sometimes, however, the distinct and sharper ă is intentionally retained in pause, especially if the following consonant is strengthened, e.g. יֻכַּ֑תּוּ‎ Job 4:20, or ought to be strengthened, e.g. כְּבַֽת‎ 2 Samuel 12:3, בַּֽז‎ Isaiah 8:1, &c.; but also in other cases as זָקַ֑נְתִּי‎ Genesis 27:2, because from זָקֵן‎, cf. below, q; עַ֑ד‎ Genesis 49:27; וְהִקְדַּ֑שְׁנוּ‎ 2 Chronicles 29:19 (so Baer, but Ginsb. הקדָּ׳‎, ed. Mant. הקדָ׳‎); and regularly in the numeral אַרְבַּע‎ four, Leviticus 11:20, &c. In the accentuation of the three poetical books (§15d) the use of Pathaḥ with ʾAthnaḥ is due to the inferior pausal force of ʾAthnaḥ, especially after ʿÔlè weyored (§15o); cf. Psalms 100:8, Proverbs 30:9, and Qimḥi, Mikhlol, ed. Rittenberg, p. 5b, line 4 from below. Compare the list of instances of pausal ă and è in the appendices to Baer’s editions.

(b) When a full vowel in a tone-bearing final syllable has lost the tone before an afformative, and has become vocal Še, it is restored in pause as tone-vowel, and, if short, is lengthened, e.g. קָטַ֫ל‎, fem. קָֽטְלָה‎ (qāṭe), in pause קָטָ֑לָה‎; שִׁמְעוּ‎ (šĭmeʿû), in pause שְׁמָֽעוּ‎ (from sing. שְׁמַע‎); מָֽלְאָה‎, מָלֵאָ֑ה‎; יִקְטְלוּ‎, יִקְטֹ֫לוּ‎[4] (sing. יִקְטֹ֫ל‎). The fuller endings of the Imperfect וּן‎ and ־ִין‎ (§47m and o) alone retain the tone even when the original vowel is restored. In segholate forms, like לְחִי‎, פְּרִי‎ (ground-form laḥy, pary), the original ă returns, though under the form of a tone-bearing Seghôl, thus לֶ֫חִי‎, פֶּ֫רִי‎; original ĭ becomes ē, e.g. חֲצִי‎, in pause חֵ֫צִי‎; original ŏ (ŭ) becomes ō, חֳלִי‎ (ground-form ḥuly), in pause חֹ֫לִי‎ ( 93 x, y, z).

On the analogy of such forms as לֶ֫חִי‎, &c., the shortened Imperfects יְהִי‎ and יְחִי‎ become in pause יֶ֫הִי‎, יֶ֫חִי‎, because in the full forms יִהְיֶה‎ he will be, and יִחְיֶה‎ he will live, the ĭ is attenuated from an original ă. Similarly שְׁכֶם‎ shoulder, in pause שֶׁכֶם‎ (ground-form šakhm), and the pron. אֲנִי‎ I, in pause אָ֫נִי‎; cf. also the restoration of the original ă as è before the suffix ־ְךָ‎ thy, thee, e.g. דְּבָֽרְךָ‎ thy word, in pause דְּבָרֶ֫ךָ‎; יִשְׁמָרְךָ֫‎ he guards thee, in pause יִשְׁמְרֶ֫ךָ‎; but after the prepositions בְ‎, לְ‎, (אֶת) אֵת‎ the suffix ־ְךָ‎ in pause becomes ־ָךְ‎, e.g. בָּךְ‎, לָךְ‎, אִתָּךְ‎.

(c) This tendency to draw back the tone in pause to the penultima appears also in such cases as אָֽנֹכִ֫י‎ I, in pause אָנֹ֑כִי‎; אַתָּ֫ה‎ thou, in pause אָ֑תָּה‎ (but in the three poetically accented books also אַ֑תָּה‎, since in those books ʾAthnaḥ, especially after ʿÔlè weyôrēd, has only the force of a Zaqeph; hence also יִמָּֽלְא֑וּ‎ Proverbs 24:4 instead of יִמָּלֵ֫אוּ‎)[5]; עַ֫תָּה‎ now, עָ֑תָּה‎; and in other sporadic instances, like כָּ֫לוּ‎ Psalms 37:20 for כָּל֫וּ‎; but in 1 Samuel 12:25 תִּסָּפֽוּ‎ with Baer and Ginsb., is to be preferred to the reading of ed. Mant., &c.

(d) Conversely all forms of imperfects consecutive, whose final syllable, when not in pause, loses the tone and is pronounced with a short vowel, take, when in pause, the tone on the ultima with a tone-long vowel, e.g. וַיָּ֫מָת‎ and he died, in pause וַיָּמֹ֫ת‎.

Of other effects of the pause we have still to mention, (1) the transition of an ē (lengthened from ĭ) to the more distinct ă (see above, l), e.g. הֵתַז‎ for הֵתֵז‎ Isaiah 18:5 (cf. §67v; §72dd); קָמַל‎ Isaiah 33:9; אָצַל‎ 1 Chronicles 8:38 (beside אָצֵל‎ [, see v. 37. Cf. טָֽבְאַֽל׃‎ Isaiah 7:6 (טָֽבְאֵל‎ Ezra 4:7); שָׁשַֽׁר׃‎ Jeremiah 22:14; סְפָרַ֑ר‎ Obadiah 1:20; וַיִּנָּפַֽשׁ׃‎ Exodus 31:17; וַיֵּֽאָנַֽשׁ׃‎ 2 Samuel 12:15 (below, §51m)—S. R. D.]); הֵפַר‎ Genesis 17:14; הַפְצַר‎ 1 Samuel 15:23; תְּאַחַֽר‎ Psalms 40:18; הַרְחַק‎ Job 13:21, mostly before liquids or sibilants (but also הָשַֽׁב‎ Isaiah 42:22, and without the pause תֵּרַד‎ Lamentations 3:48). So also וַיֵּ֫לֶךְ‎ (shortened from יֵ֫לֵךְ‎) becomes in pause וַיֵּלַ֫ךְ‎; cf. וַיּׄלַ֫ךְ‎ Lamentations 3:2; תָּלַ֑ן‎ for תָּ֑לֶן‎ Judges 19:20. On Seghôl in pause instead of Ṣere, el. §52n, 60 d, and especially §75n, on וֶהָֽיֶה‎ Proverbs 4:4 and Proverbs 7:2.

(2) The transition from ă to è in the ultima; so always in the formula לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד‎ (for עַד‎) for ever and ever.

(3) The pausal Qameṣ (according to §54k, lengthened from original ă) in Hithpaʿēl (but not in Piʿĕl) for Ṣere, e.g. יִתְהַלָּךְ‎ Job 18:8 for יִתְּהַלֵּךְ‎. But pausal forms like סָ֫תֶר‎, שָׁ֫בֶט‎ (in the absol. st. סֵ֫תֶר‎, שֵׁ֫בֶט‎) go back to a secondary form of the abs. st. סֵ֫תֶר‎, שֵׁ֫בֶט‎.

(4) The restoration of a final Yodh which has been dropped from the stem, together with the preceding vowel, e.g. בְּעָ֫יוּ‎, אֵתָ֫יוּ‎ Isaiah 21:12, for בְּעוּ‎, אֱתוּ‎, the latter also without the pause Isaiah 56:912; cf. Job 12:6, and the same occurrence even in the word before the pause Deuteronomy 32:37, Isaiah 21:12.

(5) The transition from ô or ō to ā in pause: as שְׁאָלָה‎ Isaiah 7:11, if it be a locative of שְׁאֹל‎, and not rather imperat. Qal of שָׁאַל‎; שָׁכָֽלְתִּי‎ Genesis 43:14 for שָׁכֹֽלְתִּי‎; עָז‎ Genesis 49:3; יִטְרָף‎ Genesis 49:27; perhaps also שִׁרְיָן‎ 1 Kings 22:34, Isaiah 59:17, and מִשְׁקָ֫לֶת‎ Isaiah 28:17, cf. 2 Kings 21:13. On the other hand the regular pausal form יֶחְפָּץ‎ (ordinary imperfect יַחְפֹּץ‎) corresponds to a perfect חָפֵץ‎ (see §47h).

(6) When a Pathaḥ both precedes and follows a virtually strengthened guttural, the second becomes ā in pause, and the first Seghôl, according to §22c and §27q, e.g. אַחַי‎ my brothers, in pause אֶחָ֑י‎. Similarly in cases where an original Pathaḥ after a guttural has been attenuated to i out of pause, and then lengthened to ē with the tone (cf. §54k), e.g. יִתְנַחֵם‎, but in pause יִתְנֶחָ֑ם‎ Deuteronomy 32:36; cf. Numbers 8:7, Numbers 23:19, Ezekiel 5:13, Psalms 135:14.—On pausal Ṣere, for Seghôl, in infin., imperat., and imperf. of verbs ל״ה‎, see §75hh.

[Other instances of the full vowel in lesser pause, where the voice would naturally rest on the word, are Genesis 15:14 יעבֹדו‎, Isaiah 8:15, Isaiah 40:24, Hosea 4:12, Hosea 8:7, Daniel 9:15, and very often in such cases.]

  1. Even Hebrew prose proceeds, according to the accentuation, in a kind of iambic rhythm. That this was intended by the marking of the tone, can be seen from the use of Metheg.—Jos. Wijnkoop in Darche hannesigah sive leges de accentus Hebraicae linguae ascensione, Ludg. Bat. 1881, endeavours to explain, on euphonic and syntactical grounds, the numerous cases in which the usual retraction of the tone does not occur, e.g. וּבוֹרֵא֣ ח֫שֶׁךְ‎ Isaiah 45:7, where the object probably is to avoid a kind of hiatus; but cf. also Amos 4:13. Prätorius, Ueber den rückweich. Accent im Hebr., Halle, 1897, has fully discussed the nasog ’aḥor.
  2. The reading עֲדָ֑יִים‎ (so even Opitius and Hahn) Ezekiel 16:7 for עֲדָיִי֑ם‎ is rightly described by Baer as ‘error turpis’.—That an unchangeable vowel in a closed final syllable cannot lose the tone is shown by Prätorius from the duplication of the accent (see above, §22f).
  3. In most cases, probably on account of a following guttural or (at the end of a sentence) וּ‎ (cf. e.g. Exodus 21:31, Jeremiah 3:9 [but Ginsb. ותחנַף‎], Ruth 4:4, Ecclesiastes 11:6 [but Ginsb. יכשַׁר‎]; before וְ‎ Jeremiah 17:11) [see also §29w]. שָׁפָ֣ט אֶת־‎ 1 Samuel 7:17, וָאָ֣רֶץ‎ Isaiah 65:17, Proverbs 25:3, where ā has munaḥ, are very irregular, but the lengthening here is probably only to avoid the cacophony šāphá̆ṭ ʾĕt. In the same way הֲיִצְלָח‎ Ezekiel 17:15 (with Mahpakh before הֲ‎) and וַיִּקְרָם‎ Ezekiel 37:8 (with Darga before עֲ‎) are to be explained. The four instances of אָנִי‎ for אֲנִי‎ apparently require a different explanation; see §32c.—The theory of Olshausen and others that the phenomena of the pause are due entirely to liturgical considerations, i.e. that it is ‘a convenient way of developing the musical value of the final accents by means of fuller forms’ in liturgical reading (Sievers, Metr. Studien, i. 236, also explains pausal forms like קָטָ֫לָה‎, יִקְטֵֹ֫לוּ‎ as ‘late formations of the grammarians’) is contradicted by the fact that similar phenomena are still to be observed in modern vulgar Arabic, where they can only be attributed to rhythmical reasons of a general character.
  4. Such a pausal syllable is sometimes further emphasized by strengthening the following consonant, see §20i.
  5. יִפְּל֑וּ‎ Psalms 45:6, cf. also יִבָּֽלְמ֑וּ‎ Psalms 40:15, is to be explained in the same way, but not הִמָּֽלִטִ֑י‎ Zechariah 2:11, where, on the analogy of הִשָּׁמֵ֫רוּ‎ Jeremiah 9:3, we should expect הִמָּלֵ֫טִי‎.
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