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Ancient Hebrew Periodization and the Language of the Book of Jeremiah

Studies in Semitic
Languages and Linguistics

Editorial Board

A.D. Rubin and C.H.M. Versteegh


The titles published in this series are listed at

Ancient Hebrew Periodization
and the Language of the Book of
The Case for a Sixth-Century Date of Composition


Aaron D. Hornkohl

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Hornkohl, Aaron D.
 Ancient Hebrew periodization and the language of the Book of Jeremiah : the case for a sixth-century
date of composition / by Aaron D. Hornkohl.
  pages cm. — (Studies in Semitic languages and linguistics, ISSN 0081-8461 ; VOLUME 74)
 Includes bibliographical references.
 ISBN 978-90-04-26964-4 (hardback : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-90-04-26965-1 (e-book)
1. Bible. Jeremiah—Language, style. 2. Bible. Jeremiah—Criticism, interpretation, etc. I. Title.

 BS1525.52.H67 2013

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isbn 978 90 04 26965 1 (e-book)

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Acknowledgements  viii

1 Introduction  1
1.1 Biblical Hebrew: Variety in the Face of Unifying Forces  1
1.2 Fundamental Difficulties in the Description of Biblical
Hebrew  1
1.3 Historical Development as a Factor in Biblical Hebrew
Variety  2
1.4 Non-Diachronic Factors and Linguistic Variety in the Hebrew
Bible  16
1.5 Recent Criticism of the Diachronic Approach to Biblical
Hebrew and the Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts  27
2 The Language of the Book of Jeremiah  51
2.1 History of Research  52
2.2 The Language of the Book of Jeremiah from a Diachronic
Perspective  53
2.3 The Language of the Book of Jeremiah and the Question of Regional
Dialects  62
2.4 The Language of the Book of Jeremiah and the Question of
Diglossia  64
2.5 Jeremiah’s Language, Composition, and Literary
Development  65
3 Orthography and Phonology  72
3.1 The Plene Spelling of Medial o (< u)  73
3.2 Other Non-standard Spellings of o  77
3.3 Non-standard Spellings with and without ʾalef  78
3.4 ‫ זע"ק‬versus ‫‘ צע"ק‬cry out; muster’  78
3.5 The Theophoric Endings ‫יה‬- and ‫יהו‬-  83
3.6 ‫רּוׁש ַליִם‬
ָ ְ‫ י‬versus ִ‫רּוׁש ַלם‬
ָ ְ‫‘ י‬Jerusalem’  91
3.7 ‫ ׂשח"ק‬versus ‫‘ צח"ק‬laugh; play; mock; Isaac’  95
3.8 ‫( נבוכדנאצר‬with nun) versus ‫( נבוכדראצר‬with resh)
‘Nebuchadnezzar’  99
3.9 Derivatives of ‫‘ רפ"א‬heal’ on the ‫ ל"י‬Pattern  103
4 Pronominal Morphology  108
4.1 1cs: ‫ ֲאנִ י‬and ‫‘ ָאנ ִֹכי‬I’  108
4.2 2fs: ‫( אתי‬ktiv) for ‫ ַא ְּת‬, ‫ ִכי‬- for ‫ְך‬-, and ‫ ִּתי‬- for and ‫ ְּת‬- ‘you; your’  112
4.3 3fs: ‫ קטלת‬for ‫  קטלה‬120
vi contents

4.4 1cpl: ‫( אנו‬ktiv) for ‫‘ ) ֲא)נַ ְחנּו‬we’  125

4.5 3mpl: ‫ ֵה ָּמה‬and ‫‘ ֵהם‬they’  129
4.6 3mpl: ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬ ֵ - and ‫ֹותם‬ ָ - ‘their’ 135
4.7 3fpl: ‫ קטלה‬for ‫  קטלו‬142
4.8 ‫( זאתה‬ktiv) for ‫‘ זֹאת‬this’  145
5 Nominal Morphology  148
5.1 The qå̄ṭōl (‫ ) ָקטֹול‬Nominal Pattern (for the nomen agentis)  148
5.2 The qĕṭå̄l (‫ ) ְק ָטל‬Nominal Pattern  152
6 Verbal Morphology  159
6.1 Use of the Short, Full, and Lengthened wayyiqṭol  159
6.2 Derivatives of ‫חי"י‬: Geminate versus ‫ ל"י‬Forms  181
7 Syntax  187
7.1 The Propositions ‫ ִעם‬and ‫‘ ֵאת‬with’  187
7.2 Replacement of the Preposition ‫ ֵאת‬with the Definite Direct
Object Marker ‫   ֵאת‬192
7.3 The Non-standard Use of Directional he  203
7.4 -‫ ל‬with Motion Verbs Indicating Movement toward a Place  218
7.5 Interchange of the Prepositions ‫ ַעל‬and ‫   ֶאל‬227
7.6 Accusative -‫  ל‬238
7.7 Word Order in Apposition: X ‫ ַה ַּמ ְל ָּכה‬/‫ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬vs. ‫ ַה ַּמ ְל ָּכה‬/‫ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬X  244
7.8 Position of the Demonstrative Adjective within the Clause  251
7.9 Perfective Past weqaṭal  254
7.10 The Infinitive Absolute, Especially in Place of a Finite Verbal
Form  266
7.11 The Double Plural Construct  273
7.12 Expressions of the Type X- ְ‫ ו‬X (‫‘ )ּכֹל‬every X’  282
7.13 Excursus: Imperfectivity in Biblical Hebrew with Special Reference to
Problematic weqaṭal Forms  287
8 Lexical Features  294
8.1 ‫‘ ִּד ֵּבר‬divine word’  294
8.2 ‫ ַחיִ ל‬in the Plural  298
8.3 ‫‘ ח ִֹרים‬nobles, officers’  301
8.4 Semantic and Functional Development of the Gentilic ‫הּודי‬ ִ ְ‫‘ י‬Judahite,
Judean, Jew(ish)’  305
8.5 Nominal ‫יֹומם‬ ָ ‘day’  314
8.6 ‫‘ ַמ ְלכּות‬kingdom, reign’  318
8.7 ‫נָ ַטר( נט"ר‬/‫‘ ) ַמ ָּט ָרה‬keep, guard’  325
8.8 ‫‘ ער"ב‬pleasant, sweet’  332
8.9 ‫‘ ֲע ֶת ֶרת‬wealth, abundance’  336
contents vii

8.10 ‫‘ ֶּפ ָחה‬governor’ and ‫‘ * ֶסגֶ ן‬prefect’  340

8.11 ‫‘ ַרב‬great man, noble, officer’  344
8.12 ‫רּוח‬
ַ ‘cardinal direction’  347
8.13 ‫‘ ָרץ‬messenger’  352
9 The Linguistic Profiles of the Short Edition and the Supplementary
Material of Jeremiah  356
9.1 Features and Their Significance  361
9.2 Dating the Two Strata on the Basis of Their Respective Linguistic
Profiles  366
10 Conclusion  370

Bibliography  374
Abbreviations  374
Primary Sources  376
Secondary Sources  378

Index of Foreign Words and Phrases  423

Passage Index  448
Subject Index  501

Since the present work is a revised translation of my Hebrew University of Jerusalem

doctoral dissertation, it goes without saying that I would like to thank here all whom I
acknowledged in that study. More specifically, at this juncture I would like to highlight
Dr. Randall Buth of the Biblical Language Center, who laid the foundation on which
all of my subsequent Hebrew studies have been based; Prof. Steven E. Fassberg of the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who was immensely helpful but pleasantly non-
invasive in his capacity as my PhD supervisor and who remains a source of encour-
agement, wisdom, and knowledge; Prof. Avi Hurvitz of the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, who first introduced me to the diachronic study of Hebrew and afforded me
the opportunity for hands-on research in his Late Biblical Hebrew Lexicon Project; and
Prof. Geoffrey Khan of the University of Cambridge, who, as my faculty and division
chair over the last year and more has of his own initiative supported me in my investi-
gations and writing even while actively assisting me in securing teaching and research
positions. My gratitude is also due to Stephanie Paalvast and Debbie de Wit of Brill for
their help in the publishing process, to series editor Prof. Aaron Rubin, and to the two
anonymous readers, who provided me with invaluable suggestions for improvement.
I would also like to thank my parents, my wife’s family, and our US, Italian, and Israeli
congregations for their continual, loving, and faithful support. I come now to my wife
and three children. Anna, you have been as constant, loving, and supportive a part-
ner as I could have desired. I could, of course, write a good deal more on this subject,
but to do it justice would require a work substantially longer than this already quite
lengthy study. Suffice it to say that you are truly ‫ת־ׂש ֶכל וִ ַיפת ּת ַֹאר‬ ַ ‫ ִא ָּׁשה‬. Yoni, Yoeli,
ֶ ‫טֹוב‬
and Emily, this book would almost certainly have been completed sooner had you not
been around, but I believe very strongly that it is, thanks to your presence, the prod-
uct of a more well-rounded scholar than would otherwise have been the case. Lastly,
‫אודכה אדוני כי סמכתני בעוזכה‬.
chapter 1


1.1 Biblical Hebrew: Variety in the Face of Unifying Forces

The works that comprise the Hebrew Bible were composed in diverse histori-
cal, geographical, social, and cultural contexts. In light of their various origins,
the degree of linguistic uniformity they exhibit is striking. This relative homo-
geneity likely stems in great part from the employment of BH in the hands of
professional scribes as a standard literary language, a situation that led to a
general leveling of the linguistic variety to be expected in such a composite
corpus.2 Even so, this linguistic uniformity is not complete, and variety is man-
ifested in every linguistic domain: orthography and phonology; pronominal,
nominal, and verbal morphology; syntax; and lexicon. Along with differences
in language which may be defined as purely ‘stylistic’—for example, the lin-
guistic idiosyncrasy of an individual writer or the similarity in formulation and
jargon characteristic of writers of a specific genre or belonging to a given liter-
ary school—there are also dissimilarities that reflect diachronic, geographical,
and register distinctions.

1.2 Fundamental Difficulties in the Description of Biblical Hebrew

Given the basic linguistic variety just discussed, it is not unreasonable to

assume the theoretical possibility of distinguishing between biblical texts
from different periods, regions, and registers. However, what seems so simple
in theory is exceedingly complicated in practice. As is well known, the evi-
dence on which a description of BH must be based presents daunting chal-
lenges. Generally speaking, such challenges are part and parcel of the research
on any ancient language. First, the amount of material—both biblical and
extra-biblical—is comparatively meager, and, as such, necessarily allows for
a description of the language that is at best partial. Second, the testimony

1 This chapter is an expanded revision of Hornkohl 2013.

2 See, among others, GKC §vii; Bergsträsser 1918–1929: I 11; Bauer and Leander 1922: 25–26;
Harris 1939: 22–23; Barr 1987: 206; Knauf 1990; Rendsburg 1990a: 1–33; Young 1993: 76–79;
Sáens-Badillos 1993: 52; Schniedewind and Sivan 1997: 313; JM §3a; Young, Rezetko, and
Ehrensvärd 2008: I 45–48, 58–60, 173–179; Blau 2010: §1.2.2.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���4 | doi ��.��63/9789004269651_��2

2 chapter 1

consists of written material alone and, as such, represents only limited aspects
of a type of language that may have differed substantially from the spoken
tongue. Third, due to the dearth of direct evidence, it is frequently necessary
to have recourse to indirect evidence, for instance, sources representing later
historical phases of the language (in the case of BH, the Hebrew of the DSS,
RH, and Samaritan Hebrew)3 or cognate languages (in the case of BH, other
ancient Semitic languages). It is clear, however, that information drawn from
such sources constitutes no more than ‘circumstantial evidence’, the value of
which is limited.
In the specific case of BH (and in the majority of the other ancient Semitic
languages) the orthography is also problematic, as it only partially represents
the sounds of the language. The Tiberian vowel representation is useful, likely
preserving a natural development of earlier pronunciation, but evidently a
later tradition than that reflected in the consonantal text, which represents
only some vowel sounds, often inconsistently, and ambiguously (each of the
matres lectionis generally representing multiple realizations). This ortho-
graphic difficulty is particularly vexing in the case of early epigraphic material
in Hebrew (see below, §‎1.5.2).

1.3 Historical Development as a Factor in Biblical Hebrew Variety

1.3.1 History of Research

Talmudic writings already testify to an awareness of BH linguistic variety
stemming from diachronic development.4 Yet it was only in the 17th century
that this knowledge was put to use for the dating of biblical compositions of
unknown chronological provenance. This was when the Dutch scholar Hugo
Grotius (1644: 434–435) cited language as chief among his reasons for reject-
ing the Solomonic authorship of Qohelet. As proof Grotius noted the book’s
frequent use of words characteristic of late compositions, like Daniel, Ezra,

3 On the late character of the Hebrew of the Samaritan Pentateuch see Ben-Ḥayyim 2000: §0.4
and Tal and Florentin 2010: 25–28.
4 Consider, for example, the following discussion of month names: ‫שמות חדשים עלו בידם‬
‫מיכן והילך‬ . . . ‫בראשונה ״בירח זיו״‬ . . . ‫בראשונה ״בירח בול״‬ . . . ‫ בראשונה ״בירח האיתנים״‬.‫מבבל‬
‫ ״בחודש העשירי הוא חודש‬.‫ ״ויהי בחודש כסליו שנת עשרים״‬.‫״ויהי בחודש ניסן שנת עשרים״‬
‫‘ טבת״‬the names of the months came up with them [= the exiles returning to Palestine] from
Babylon: originally in the month of Ethanim [1 Kgs 8.2]. . . . Originally in the month of Bul [1 Kgs
6.38]. . . . Originally in the month of Ziv [1 Kgs 6.1, 37]. . . . Subsequently, and it came to pass in
the month of Nisan [Neh 2.1] . . .; and it came to pass in the month of Kislev [Neh 1.1] . . .; in the
tenth month, which is the month of Tevet [Est 2.16]’ (Y Rosh Ha-Shana 1.2, 56d [Venice ed.]). I
am grateful to Prof. Avi Hurvitz for having brought this citation to my attention.
introduction 3

and the Aramaic targums.5 The works of the foremost grammarians and
commentators of the 19th century—the likes of Gesenius (1815: §10),6 Ewald
(1855: §3d), Delitzsch (1877: 190 et passim), and Wellhausen (1885: §§IX.III.1–
IX.III.2), to name but a few—also reveal awareness of the historical develop-
ment evident in BH (admittedly, with differences of opinion on significant
details). But prior to the 20th century, the most comprehensive and influential
discussion of historical evolution within BH was that of S.R. Driver (1898). In
his An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament Driver took pains to
assemble lists of linguistic features especially characteristic of the later books
of the Hebrew Bible over against earlier biblical literature. He noted that in
contrast to the language of works from before the Exile, post-exilic BH was
characterized by unequivocal traces of both internal development and exter-
nal influence, that is to say linguistic traits especially characteristic of RH or of
the Aramaic dialects of the Second Temple Period.7
Despite the important contributions made by Driver and others, and not-
withstanding the potential for employment of diachronic linguistics in the crit-
ical research related to the Graf-Wellhausian Documentary Hypothesis which
was then a focus in biblical studies, the scientific value of many early attempts
to date biblical texts on the basis of their language was severely diminished
by (a) the relatively small amount of primary material available to scholars
and (b) the lack of a controlled methodology for the identification of linguistic
features especially distinctive of post-exilic BH and for the identification of
compositions characterized by their use.8 While well-known reference books
from the early part of the 20th century recognized the distinction between the
pre-exilic and post-exilic phases of BH, they generally did not provide detailed
discussion of the issue.9
The period extending from the end of the 19th through the 20th century wit-
nessed the unearthing of many discoveries relevant to the diachronic invest­
igation of BH. Some cast light on the pre-classical phase of the language (such

5 “Ego tamen Solomonis esse non puto, sed scriptum serius sub illius Regis, tanquam poenitentia
ducti, nomine. Argumentum eius rei habeo multa vocabula, quae non alibi quam in Daniele,
Esdra ed Chaldaeis interpretibus reperias.”
6 See the recent assessment by Joosten (2013a) of Gesenius’ (1815) diachronic approach, which
in several significant respects methodologically anticipates the current standard approach
described below.
7 Two further significant studies were published at the beginning of the 20th century: BDB’s
lexicon (in 1906) and Kropat’s (1909) investigation of late syntactic phenomena in Chronicles.
8 See, for example, S.R. Driver’s (1882) review of Giesebrecht 1881 and Nöldeke’s (1903) review
of Kautzsch 1902.
9 Bergsträsser 1918–1929: I §§2h–k; Bauer and Leander 1922: §2q; Joüon 1923: §§3a–b; Segal
1927: §§7, 17.
4 chapter 1

as the El Amarna documents and the texts from Ugarit), others illuminated the
language of the classical period (such as the inscriptional material found at
Samaria, Arad, and Lachish), and still others aided in the clarification of texts
from the late period (such as the cache from Elephantine, the material from
the Judean Desert, and texts from the Cairo Geniza). Among these findings,
special diachronic importance attaches to the Hebrew of the DSS, as it was the
discovery of this unprecedented corpus of primary material—which provides
evidence of post-biblical Hebrew untouched by the hands of the medieval
scribes assumed by many to have corrupted the Masoretic textual tradition—
that led to renewed interest in diachronic research after several decades of
virtual neglect.10 Indeed, on the basis of a comparison between BH as it is
preserved in the representative Tiberian codices and the Hebrew of the DSS
(whether in biblical or non-biblical texts), it is clear in the majority of cases
that the former is typologically earlier than the latter.11 Additionally, despite
the variety in textual traditions represented in the biblical material from the
Judean Desert, the presence there of text types very similar or identical to texts
of the Masoretic tradition (which have been labeled ‘Proto-Masoretic’) largely
confirms the relative antiquity of this tradition.12
Also worthy of mention are developments in the study of RH, espe-
cially the discovery and linguistic description of important inscriptions and
manuscripts13 and the methodological transition in research from reliance on

10 Rooker 1990: 29–30; Hurvitz 1997b: 83–84.

11 Kutscher 1974; Qimron 1986. A thorough, diachronically sensitive study of the DSS biblical
scrolls has yet to be undertaken. However, a preliminary survey reveals that, outside of
purely orthographical phenomena (which are not always easy to filter out), where the two
corpora differ in terms of a diachronically significant feature, the MT more often than the
DSS text has the typologically earlier feature. This is significant, but such a general picture
requires further refinement, as the manuscripts of individual books must be compared
in their MT and Judean Desert forms. It is true that the Hebrew of the DSS sometimes
exhibits linguistic phenomena that appear to be typologically earlier than those standard
in BH, but these are the exception rather than the rule. Also, the typologically earlier
feature is not necessarily the most authentic, but may result from a scribal penchant for
harmonization. Finally, not every linguistic difference between the two corpora is given
to a diachronic explanation.
12 It thus seems that the textual tradition preserved in manuscripts of the Masoretic type is
at least as old as those represented by the Hebrew sources that stood behind the Ancient
Greek translation (commonly known as the Septuagint; henceforward ‘Greek’), even if
the oldest complete Masoretic manuscript, i.e., Codex Leningrad (MS Firk. I B 19a), is hun-
dreds of years more recent than the earliest extant complete Greek manuscripts (Codices
Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both dated to the 4th century ce).
13 Especially noteworthy are synagogue inscriptions and the medieval manuscripts known
as Kaufmann (A50), Parma A (de Rossi 138), Parma B (de Rossi 497), Lowe (or Cambridge;
introduction 5

printed editions, the language of which had often been ‘corrected’ in accor-
dance with the norms of BH, to utilization of such manuscripts, which better
preserve the particular characteristics of post-biblical Hebrew.
Notwithstanding the importance of these discoveries and developments
for diachronic enquiry into BH, there was as yet no strict procedure for the
identification of linguistic features especially characteristic of the late phases
of ancient Hebrew and for distinguishing between early and late texts on the
basis of those features. Arguments made on the basis of diachronic linguistics
were often subjective and lacking in scientific rigor. There was a need for a
methodology that would introduce into the diachronic approach to BH con-
trols for the identification of late linguistic elements and of late texts, and in
this way reduce the degree of subjectivity. Since the 1960s, the Israeli scholar
Avi Hurvitz has dedicated the bulk of his research efforts to the develop-
ment, application, and illustration of just such a methodology. His approach
is based on the language of material—biblical and extra-biblical, Hebrew and
non-Hebrew—the late date of which, i.e., post-exilic/Persian Period, is agreed
upon unanimously. It allows for the detection and collection of linguistic fea-
tures distinctively characteristic of what is generally termed LBH (Late Biblical
Hebrew) and post-biblical Hebrew, as opposed to CBH (Classical Biblical
Hebrew; used throughout this study synonymously with SBH [Standard
Biblical Hebrew])14 and, likewise, for the diachronic classification of biblical
and extra-biblical texts of unknown date based on their respective linguistic
profiles. This methodology has become standard among specialists who deal
with the history of ancient Hebrew (for a detailed description of the methodol-
ogy see below, §‎1.3.2; for a brief description of the linguistic features especially

Add.470.1), and Paris (328/9). See Kutscher and Breuer 2007: 640–642, 649–650; for bib-
liography see ibid. 682–683. Important manuscripts of other rabbinic sources have also
been examined in detailed linguistic studies (see Bar-Asher 1992: 658–659).
14 CBH is commonly considered the Hebrew of the First Temple Period, basically the lan-
guage of the prose material from Genesis–Kings and from the pre-exilic prophets. LBH
is the linguistic stratum represented by Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles,
and, according to most scholars, Qohelet, along with a few other texts with late linguistic
profiles. It is admitted that such terms are labels of convenience, generalizations based on
shared linguistic traits of individual compositions considered ‘snapshots’ of a common
linguistic reservoir. There are those who object to such labels on theoretical grounds, e.g.,
Naudé (2003; 2012) and Holmstedt (2012: 101–104), and while some of their criticism is not
without merit, it seems premature to abandon what a majority of Hebraists take to be
reasonable labels. The accepted nomenclature and the linguistic reality it seeks to depict
are adopted here as both convenient and historically descriptive of the basic pre- and
post-exilic contours of BH.
6 chapter 1

typical of LBH and a list of biblical texts characterized by their use see below
To this point the discussion of diachronic development in BH has focused
exclusively on the classical as opposed to the post-classical phase. Yet addi-
tional historical strata have been proposed, specifically a pre-classical, archaic
phase (see below, §‎ and a transitional phase linking the classical and
post-classical stages (see below §‎

1.3.2 The Standard Methodology for the Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts
As stated above, the standard methodological approach to the linguistic dating
of biblical texts is associated with Avi Hurvitz. It consists of a three-pronged
procedure for the identification of linguistic elements distinctively charac-
teristic of post-exilic Hebrew and a fourth prong for dating texts of unknown
chronological provenance on the basis of their linguistic profiles. Criteria for Identifying Late Biblical Hebrew Linguistic Traits

A given linguistic feature must satisfy three criteria to be considered distinc-
tively characteristic of LBH. Late Biblical Distribution

The prerequisite for consideration as a linguistic feature distinctively charac-
teristic of LBH is a given element’s exclusively (or predominantly) late distri-
bution within the Bible. However, a characteristically late element’s sporadic
appearance in presumed early material (including early inscriptions) does not
automatically disqualify it from consideration, since a form used rarely in one
phase of a language may become especially characteristic of a later phase.15 Linguistic Opposition

An element’s exclusively (or predominantly) late distribution in the Hebrew
Bible is not in and of itself sufficient grounds for classification as a linguistic
feature distinctively characteristic of LBH. It must also be shown that its

15 For example, the word ‫‘ ַׁש ִּליט‬ruler’ occurs in Gen 42.6, whereas the distribution of the
majority of the occurrences of words derived from the same root is limited to unquestion-
ably late material in biblical as well as extra-biblical material, in Hebrew and Aramaic.
Likewise, the form ‫‘ נְ ָכ ִסים‬possessions’ is found in Josh 22.8, but, again, is especially typical
of post-exilic Hebrew and Aramaic. See also the discussion on (‘First’) Isaiah’s unexpected
affinity for the term ‫‘ ְׁש ָאר‬remnant’ below, §§‎1.4.1; ‎5.2. While it is possible to ascribe the
apparently early use of these and other characteristically late features to late editorial
and/or textual modification, this is often theoretically gratutitous, since a number of
(though not all) typically post-exilic linguistic traits existed long before they gained wide-
spread currency.
introduction 7

absence from (or rarity in) presumed early biblical (and inscriptional) mate-
rial is more than just an accidental result of the narrow scope of the relevant
sources. It is important to bear in mind that an element’s non-occurrence in
earlier texts may stem from diachronic factors (i.e., it was not yet available for
use or was available but little used), yet may also reflect no more than mere
chance (i.e., opportunity for the element’s use never arose in the Bible and/
or in the relevant extra-biblical material). One must therefore demonstrate
the existence of linguistic opposition between the apparently late feature and
an alternative (or alternatives) in presumed early material. Opposition of this
sort shows that the presumed early material indeed presented opportunities
for use of the feature in question, but employed an alternative (or alterna-
tives) instead. Parallel texts (like those in Chronicles and Samuel–Kings) and
formulations are particularly useful for demonstrating linguistic opposition.
This criterion eliminates from consideration those elements whose exclusively
late distribution is no more than a product of their chance exclusion from pre-
sumed early material. Extra-biblical Corroboration

A given late element is considered particularly characteristic of LBH only if it is
also employed in late non-Masoretic, non-Hebrew, and extra-biblical sources,
such as the book of Ben Sira, the DSS, rabbinic literature, BA, the Aramaic
targums, the Syriac Peshiṭta, or epigraphic and documentary sources of the
Second Temple Period.16 This criterion serves to eliminate from consideration
possibly idiosyncratic linguistic features typical of certain biblical writers’
individual or even corporate styles that were not, however, characteristic of
post-exilic Hebrew in general. The Linguistic Dating of Chronologically Problematic Texts:

Finally, a given composition of unknown date may be judged late only if
its language exhibits an accumulation of linguistic features distinctively

16 In the present study, unless stated otherwise, the terms ‘Bible’ and ‘biblical’ (including
linguistic labels incorporating BH) refer to the Tiberian Masoertic Text (MT), which
label is itself shorthand for the Hebrew Bible as represented in Codex Leningradensis
(a.k.a. Petropolitanus) B19a, as reproduced in BHS. Other sources of information include
the Hebrew of non-Masoretic biblical material, e.g., the biblical DSS, the Samaritan
Pentateuch, and of and extra-biblical sources, e.g., First Temple inscriptions, the non-bib-
lical DSS, Ben Sira, and RH, as well as the language of non-Hebrew material whether bibli-
cal, e.g., BA, Peshiṭta, Targumic Aramaic, or non-biblical, e.g., various dialects of Second
Temple Aramaic.
8 chapter 1

characteristic of LBH, the presence of which cannot otherwise be explained

(e.g., due to issues of dialect, register, genre, literary strategy, or editorial/scribal
intervention). Conversely, a text lacking such an accumulation is judged to be
early, i.e., pre-exilic.
While there is general consensus that texts exhibiting an accumulation
of characteristically late linguistic features must be dated to the post-exilic
period,17 the corollary claim, namely, that the identification of classical texts
may be established on the basis of their general lack of such a concentration, is
perhaps the most controversial aspect of Hurvitz’ approach (see below, §‎1.5.1).
It should be noted that no methodology of comparable rigor exists for the
identification of ABH texts.18 This is due mainly to the lack of a Hebrew cor-
pus objectively datable to the pre-classical period on non-linguistic grounds.
Logically, whereas an otherwise unexplained accumulation of late features
is incontrovertible evidence of late provenance, a similar accumulation of
archaic features is more ambiguous, since classical (and even late) writers
could employ archaisms atypical of their own linguistic milieu.19 It is often
difficult to distinguish between the truly archaic and the merely archaistic, i.e.,
the authentic use of elements characteristic of the pre-classical age versus the
contrived use of obsolete forms in imitation of pre-classical style.20

1.3.3 The Historical Phases of Biblical Hebrew in Detail Archaic Biblical Hebrew
There is widespread scholarly consensus that certain linguistic elements espe-
cially characteristic of the pre-classical phases of BH are preserved in biblical
poetry, particularly in a few works thought to be relatively early,21 though it
should be admitted that the dating—linguistic or otherwise—of such texts

17 A major source of contention in this regard is Qohelet, the language of which most schol-
ars consider definitive proof of its late composition, but which a minority, in favor of a
pre-exilic date, attempt to account for on alternative grounds (see the bibliographical
references below, n. 32).
18 To be sure, however, the methodology set forth in Notarius 2013 is certainly a step in the
right direction.
19 See already Gesenius 1815: 26: “Reinheit der Sprache kann also nie zu einem sichern
Kriterium des Alterthums dienen, wiewohl umgekehrt eine chaldaisirende Sprache
sicher auf ein spateres Zeitalter fuhrt.”
20 Cf., however, Hurvitz 1985 and Notarius 2013, on the genuine versus contrived use of typi-
cally pre-classical features. On the diagnostic value of characteristically classical features
see also Joosten 2013a: 102–104; 2013b.
21 Robertson 1972; Kutscher 1982: §§111–116; Hadas-Lebel 1995: 70–72; Blau 2010: §§1.3.3–1.3.7;
Notarius 2012; 2013; Joosten 2013a: 101–102; 2013b.
introduction 9

is fraught with difficulty, and other less ancient, mainly poetic, texts also
contain archaic (or, at any rate, archaistic) usages.22 ABH features appear to
hark back to a stage of Hebrew earlier than CBH and often have parallels in
Ugaritic, Amarna Canaanite, or Old Aramaic. Compositions considered espe-
cially representative of ABH include: The Blessing of Jacob (Gen 49), The Song
of the Sea (Exod 15), The Balaam Oracles (Num 23–24), The Song of Moses
(Deut 32–33), The Song of Deborah (Jdg 5), The Song of Hannah (1 Sam 2.1–10),23
David’s Song of Thanksgiving (2 Sam 22 || Ps 18), and perhaps also Hab 3 and
Ps 78.24 Characteristic features include:25 archaic suffixes, e.g., the 3ms posses-
sive -ō written ‫◌ׁה‬- (for ‫ֹו‬-) ‘his’, e.g., ‫( ִעיר ֹה‬for ‫‘ ) ִעירֹו‬his donkey’ and ‫( סּותֹה‬for
‫‘ )סּותֹו‬his covering’ (Gen 49.11, both ktiv); the 3mpl possessive/object suffix ‫מֹו‬-
(for ‫הם‬- ֶ or ‫ם‬-) ‘their, them’, e.g., ‫ֹלהימֹו‬ ֵ ‫( ֱא‬for ‫יהם‬ ֵ ‫‘ ) ֱא‬their gods’ (Deut 32.37),
ֶ ‫ֹלה‬
‫( ִּכ ָּסמֹו‬for ‫(‘ ) ִּכ ָּסם‬the sea) covered them’ (Exod 15.10); the 2fs qaṭal suffix ‫ּתי‬- ִ (for
ְ ), e.g., ‫( ַק ְמ ִּתי‬for ‫‘ ) ַק ְמ ְּת‬you (fs) arose’ (Jdg 5.7); the 3fs qaṭal suffix ‫ַ◌ת‬- (for
‫ָ◌ה‬-), e.g., ‫( ָאזְ ַלת‬for ‫(‘ ) ָאזְ ָלה‬their might) is gone’ (Deut 32.36); the 3fpl qaṭal suf-
fix ‫ָ◌ה‬- (for epicene ‫ּו‬-), e.g., ‫( ָּבנֹות ָצ ֲע ָדה‬for ‫(‘ )* ָּבנֹות ָצ ֲעדּו‬his) branches climbed’
(Gen 49.22); retention of the reflexes of obsolete case endings on the head
nouns of construct phrases (and the like), e.g., the ‫ִ◌י‬- suffix in ‫( ְּבנִ י ֲאתֹנֹו‬for ‫ֶּבן‬
‫‘ ) ֲאתֹנֹו‬his donkey foal’ (Gen 49.11) or the ‫ֹו‬- suffix in ‫( ְּבנֹו ְבעֹר‬for ‫ן־ּבעֹור‬ ְ ‫‘ ) ֶּב‬son
of Beʿor’ (Num 24.3; 24.15); use of the short yiqṭol verbal form as a simple past
tense without conversive waw, e.g., ‫( יַ ֵּצב‬for ‫‘ ) ִה ִּציב‬he established’ (Deut 32.8)
and ‫( יָ ֶׁשת‬for ‫‘ ) ָׁשת‬he set’ (Ps 18.12); non-assimilation of he to energic nun, e.g.,
‫יִ ְּצ ֶרנְ הּו‬ . . . ‫( יְ ס ְֹב ֶבנְ הּו‬for ‫יִ ְּצ ֶרּנּו‬ . . . ּ‫‘ )יְ ס ְֹב ֶבּנו‬he surrounded him . . . he guarded him’
(Deut 32.10); retention of root-final consonantal yod in ‫ ל"י‬forms, e.g., ‫( ָח ָסיּו‬for
‫‘ ) ָחסּו‬they took refuge’ (Deut 32.37); the frequent absence of the definite article
-‫ ַה‬, the accusative marker ‫ ֵאת‬, and the relativizer ‫( ֲא ֶׁשר‬with parataxis or asyn-
desis in absence of the latter), e.g., ‫רֹומי ָׂש ֶדה‬ ֵ ‫זְ ֻבלּון ַעם ֵח ֵרף נַ ְפׁשֹו ָלמּות וְ נַ ְפ ָּת ִלי ַעל ְמ‬
(for ‫רֹומי ַה ָּׂש ֶדה‬ ֵ ‫‘ )*זְ ֻבלּון ַעם ֲא ֶׁשר ֵח ֵרף ֵאת נַ ְפׁשֹו ָלמּות וְ נַ ְפ ָּת ִלי ַעל ְמ‬Zebulon is a people
that disdained his own soul even to death and also Naphtali—up on the high
ground of the land’ (Jdg 5.18); ‫ זֶ ה‬or ‫ זּו‬as relative pronouns, e.g., ‫( ַעם־זּו ָקנִ ָית‬for
‫ית‬ ָ ִ‫*ה ָעם ֲא ֶׁשר ָקנ‬ ָ ) ‘the people whom you purchased’ (Exod 15.16); ‫ ַּבל‬for negation
of the verb, e.g., ‫( ַּבל־יָ ֻקמּו‬for ‫* ֶּפן יָ קּומּו‬/‫* ַאל‬/‫‘ )לֹא‬they must not/may not/lest they
rise’ (Isa 14.21); ‫( ָׂש ַדי‬for ‫‘ ) ָׂש ֶדה‬field’ (Deut 32.13).

22 Young 2003c: 342–343; Bloch 2009; 2012; Vern 2011; Mandell 2013; Notarius 2013.
23 Cf. the merely archaizing language of Ps 113.5–9, on which see Hurvitz 1985.
24 For this list see the studies cited above, n. 21; consensus is lacking as to the genuinely
archaic status of many of these texts.
25 See the list of studies cited above, n. 21, for these and other characteristic linguistic
10 chapter 1

As mentioned above, it is difficult to prove the pre-classical status of

a given biblical portion on the basis of its language, as it is not always
possible to discern between linguistic phenomena that reflect authentically
early provenance and those employed by classical or post-classical scribes
to lend their works an air of elevated antiquity, in imitation of archaic style.
Given that poetic style often incorporates vocabulary and grammar charac-
teristic of bygone days, it is to be expected that biblical poetry would preserve
many pre-classical features, even if the majority of it may have been written in
the classical or post-classical period (see below, §‎1.4.4, for further discussion of
genre as a source of linguistic variation). Classical (or Standard) Biblical Hebrew

CBH (or SBH) is generally defined as the language of biblical and extra-biblical
material from the First Temple Period (10th[?]–6th centuries bce): the bulk of
the Pentateuch;26 the Deuteronomistic History (i.e., Joshua–Kings); with some
hesitation, due to the difficulty of dating poetry, ‘First Isaiah’ (Isa 1–39), Hosea,
Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, various Psalms; and
the relevant epigraphic material.27 The sporadic appearance of a characteristi-
cally late feature in a CBH work is not sufficient to prove late provenance, since
an early writer could conceivably have employed a feature extant but atypical
of his time, which would only later gain wider currency. Some CBH works also
apparently contain late glosses and/or longer interpolations, the language of
which is demonstrably later than that of the work as a whole (e.g., the editorial
framework in certain of the prophetic books). For the characteristic features of
CBH the reader may consult the relevant lexicons and grammars as well as the
CBH alternatives in §‎ above and §‎ below. Late Biblical Hebrew

LBH is evident to different degrees in texts the content of which dates
them unequivocally to the Persian Period or beyond, that is to the period
extending from the end of the 6th century bce. However, it is exhibited in its

26 For the classical dating of P see Hurvitz 1974b; 1982; 1983c; 1988; 2000b; Grintz 1976a–c;
Rendsburg 1980b; Zevit 1982; Milgrom 1991–2001: 5–13 et passim cf. Ryssel 1878; Giesebrecht
1881; Wellhausen 1885: §§IX.III.1–IX.III.2; S.R. Driver 1898: §155–157, n. †; Polzin 1976;
Guenther 1977; Hill 1981; Levine 1983; Blenkinsopp 1996: 508–518; Young, Rezetko, and
Ehrensvärd 2008: II 11–17. On J see Wright 2005.
27 Rabin 1971: 69; Hurvitz 1997a:307–310; 1999; cf. Young 2003b.
introduction 11

clearest form in material composed after the Restoration, i.e., after 450 bce,28
e.g., Esther, Daniel, Ezra–Nehemiah, and Chronicles (in which the parallels
with Samuel–Kings are particularly illustrative).29 Other biblical texts exhibit-
ing an accumulation of characteristically late linguistic features include Pss
103; 117; 119; 124; 125; 133; 144; and 145;30 the narrative framework of Job (Job 1–2;
42.7–17);31 and Qohelet.32
Linguistically, much more unites CBH and LBH than separates them.
However, along with the majority of elements common to both strata, LBH
contains a minority of characteristically late linguistic features—orthographic,
phonological, morphological, syntactic, and lexical (genuine neologisms and
instances of semantic development). Many features are the result of external
influence, especially that exerted by the lingua franca of the day—namely,
Imperial Aramaic—whereas others appear to be the results of internal devel-
opment. In not a few cases the relevant factors are unclear or may consist of a
combination of the internal and external.33 External Influence

External influence on LBH resulted mainly from the dominance of Imperial
Aramaic. Hebrew and Aramaic were related languages, various dialects of
which were spoken by neighboring peoples, and were likely mutually influen-
tial from the earliest period of contact between their speakers. However, there
is no denying that Hebrew texts from the post-exilic period exhibit a marked
increase in Aramaic influence in comparison to earlier texts, a development

28 For opinions that vary slightly see S.R. Driver 1898: 156, 504–506, especially n. * on p. 505;
Rabin 1976: 1015; Ginsberg 1982: 68; Hurvitz 1982: 152–153, n. 36; 2007: 25, n. 6; Talshir 2003;
Wright 2005: 154.
29 For linguistic approaches to the dating of these texts see the following: Esther – Gesenius
1815: §10; S.R. Driver 1898: 484–485; Payton 1908: 62–63; Bergey 1983; Daniel – Gesenius
1815: §10; Pusey 1864: 33–40, 55–57; S.R. Driver 1898: 504–508; Montgomery 1927: 13–15;
Ezra and Nehemiah – Gesenius 1815: §10; S.R. Driver 1898: 553; Chronicles – Gesenius 1815:
§10; S.R. Driver 1898: 535–540; Kropat 1909; Curtis and Madsen 1910: 27–36; Yaphet 1968;
1993: 41–42; Polzin 1976; Williamson 1977: 37–59; cf. Rezetko 2003; 2007.
30 Hurvitz 1972.
31 Hurvitz 1974a; cf. Young 2009. Joosten (2013b) classifies this material’s language as transi-
tional between CBH and LBH.
32 Delitzsch 1877: 190–199 et passim; Driver 1898: 474–475; Hurvitz 1990; 2007; Schoors 1992–
2004; Seow 1996; cf. Fredericks 1988; Young 1993: 140–157.
33 For useful discussions of exogenous and endogenous change see Holmstedt 2012: 104–112;
Pat-El 2012: 246–252.
12 chapter 1

which evidently began in the late pre-exilic period, with the expansion into
Judah of the Assyrian Empire. Second Temple Period Hebrew material—
biblical and extra-biblical alike—is marked by borrowings both from and via
Aramaic, calques based on Aramaic usage, and the intensified use of certain
features native to Hebrew but more common in Aramaic. For example, use of
the word ‫ ָא ַחז‬, which normally means ‘to grasp’ in ancient Hebrew, in the mean-
ing ‘to close’ (most frequently associated with ‫ ָסגַ ר‬in classical literature) in
Neh 7.3 is almost certainly a loan translation based on Aramaic ‫‘ אחד‬to close’.34
Many such features are late in Aramaic itself, being absent from Old Aramaic.
Even so, not every apparent ‘Aramaism’ in BH necessarily indicates Aramaic
influence. Moreover, not every instance of genuine Aramaic influence is nec-
essarily late. First, as stated, Hebrew and Aramaic are related languages; since
both derive from Semitic stock, they naturally share many features. Second,
as previously mentioned, users of the two languages were in contact—and
thus exercised mutual influence—long before the late pre-exilic period. Third,
while a Hebrew writer’s use of Aramaic-looking forms may reflect Aramaic’s
late influence on his language, it may alternatively reflect a conscious stylis-
tic choice. For example, for purposes of the lexical variety required by par-
allelism, ancient Hebrew poetry regularly employs words that are rare in
non-poetic texts, but common in Aramaic. Thus, the use of such lexemes as
‫( ָחזָ ה‬for ‫‘ ) ָר ָאה‬see’ (Num 24.4, 18), ‫( ֱאנֹוׁש‬for ‫ן־א ָדם‬
ָ ‫‘ ) ֶּב‬man’ (Deut 32.26), and ‫ָא ָתה‬
(for ‫‘ )ּבֹוא‬come’ (Deut 33.2, 21) in CBH poetry is almost certainly not the result
of Aramaic influence. On the other hand, Wisdom Literature, with its eastern
associations, may exhibit genuine Aramaic influence that dates to the classical
period (see below, §‎1.4.1). In other genres, too, stylistic motivation may have
favored the employment of Aramaic or Aramaic-like forms. When dating texts
on the basis of apparent ‘Aramaisms’, then, care must be taken to determine,
first, whether or not there is real Aramaic influence and, second, whether this
influence is late.35
As already intimated, Aramaic also served as a conduit into Hebrew for
linguistic elements from other languages. Of special significance for the dia-
chronic approach are Persian loanwords (e.g., ‫ ָּדת‬, ‫זַ ן‬, ‫נִ ְׁש ְּתוָ ן‬, ‫) ַּפ ְר ֵּדס‬, which prob-
ably entered Hebrew no earlier than the time of the Persian conquest.36

34 Kutscher 1982: §106.

35 Driver 1882; Nöldeke 1903; Hurvitz 1968; 1969b; 2003; Pat-El 2012: 246–248.
36 Kutscher 1961a:21–24; Rabin 1962: 1079; Hurvitz 1974a:17a; Seow 1996: 647; Eskhult 2003:
12–14; cf. Young 1993: 69–71. It is not inconceivable that the odd Persian word found its way
into Hebrew already in the classical period (consider, for example, Hurvitz’ [1983a:218]
hesitation regarding the occurrence of ‫‘ ַּפ ְר ֵּדס‬park, orchard, garden’ in Song 4.13). Be that
introduction 13 Internal Developments

Not every linguistic development distinguishing LBH from CBH came about
as a result of external influence. In some cases it would seem that the impetus
for change came from within the language, often in the form of analogical
pressure. A clear case of late internal development in LBH and, especially, RH
is the nufʿal passive pattern, which arose in analogy to the u–a vowel pattern in
other passive binyanim (i.e., puʿal and hufʿal) as a more transparently passive
form than nifʿal, e.g., ‫נּוּלדּו‬
ְ ‘they were born’ (1 Chr 3.5; 20.8) (for nifʿal ‫נֹולדּו‬
ְ or the
obsolete qal internal passive ‫)יֻ ְּלדּו‬. Developments of Unknown Origin or Reflecting Multiple Factors

In certain instances it is difficult to ascertain why a given linguistic develop-
ment occurred. In others there would seem to have been a convergence of
factors. For example, while the term ‫‘ ַמ ְלכּות‬kingdom, reign’ (like other nouns
ending in ‫ּות‬-) seems to have been part of the ancient Hebrew lexicon from ear-
liest times, it did not become a particularly productive lexeme until the post-
exilic period, and this probably under the influence of Aramaic, in which it was
standard for the relevant meanings (see below, §‎8.6). In this case, Aramaic was
not responsible for the introduction of a late feature, but certainly played a sig-
nificant role in its increased usage in later periods. Consider also the redundant
employment of the plural morpheme -‫ֵ◌י‬- before the 3pl possessive suffixes
on plural forms ending in ‫ֹות‬-, e.g., ‫בֹותם‬ָ ‫יהם > ֲא‬ ֵ ‫ ֲא‬. There is little doubt that
ֶ ‫בֹות‬
the insertion of the second and superfluous plural morpheme -‫ֵ◌י‬- is an early
development born out of analogy to plural forms with the ‫ִ◌ים‬- ending, e.g.,
‫יהם‬ֶ ‫ ַמ ְל ֵּכ‬, since the phenomenon in question is documented in texts generally
considered classical. Be that as it may, the fact that Aramaic used the 3mpl pos-
sessive suffix ‫הֹון‬- with all nominal forms may have been a contributing factor
to the increased employment of forms like ‫בֹות ֶיהם‬ ֵ ‫ ֲא‬in post-exilic Hebrew texts
(see below, §‎4.6). Characteristic Late Biblical Hebrew Features

Examples of characteristically late features are seen in the following categories:

Proper names: the full spellings ‫( ָּדוִ יד‬for ‫‘ ) ָּדוִ ד‬David’ and ‫רּוׁש ַליִ ם‬
ָ ְ‫( י‬for
ָ ְ‫‘ )י‬Jerusalem’ (the vocalization consistently reflects the pronunciation
ִ‫רּוׁש ַלם‬
yĕrūšå̄layim, but the spelling without yod almost certainly reflects something
along the lines of yĕrūšå̄lēm; cf. ‫‘ ָׁש ֵלם‬Salem’ Gen 14.18; Ps 76.3; see below, §‎3.6);

as it may, the unmistakable concentration of Persian words in post-exilic texts is a telling

fact; see below, §‎1.5.4.
14 chapter 1

the short theophoric suffix, e.g., ‫( יִ ְר ְמיָ ה‬for ‫‘ )יִ ְר ְמיָ הּו‬Jeremiah’ (see below, §‎3.5);
ַ ֵ‫( י‬for ‫הֹוׁש ַע‬
‫ׁשּוע‬ ֻ ְ‫‘ )י‬Yeshua (‘Joshua’)’; ‫( ַּד ְר ֶמ ֶׂשק‬for ‫‘ ) ַּד ֶּמ ֶׂשק‬Damascus’.

Morphology: increased frequency of the qĕṭå̄l nominal pattern, e.g., ‫‘ ְּכ ָתב‬writ-
ing’ (see below, §‎5.2); increased frequency of abstract nouns ending in ‫ּות‬-, e.g.,
‫( ַמ ְלכּות‬for ‫ ַמ ְמ ָל ָכה‬, ‫לּוכה‬
ָ ‫ ְמ‬, or the infinitive construct forms -‫מ ְלכ‬/‫ֹלְך‬
ָ ‫‘ ) ְמ‬kingdom,
reign, rule’ (see below, §‎8.6); the piʿel (rather than polel) forms of ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬verbs,
e.g., ‫( ִקּיֵ ם‬for ‫קֹומם‬
ֵ or ‫‘ ) ֵה ִקים‬establish, fulfill’.

Syntax: the appositional word order ‫‘ ְׁשֹלמֹה ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬Solomon the king’ (for ‫ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬
‫‘ ְׁשֹלמֹה‬king Solomon’; see below, §‎7.7); the double plural construct, e.g., ‫ּבֹורי‬ ֵ ִ‫ּג‬
‫( ֲחיָ ִלים‬for ‫ּבֹורי ַחיִ ל‬
ֵ ִ‫‘ )ּג‬mighty warriors, heroes’ (see below, §‎7.11); increased fre-
quency of accusative -‫( ל‬for ‫ ; ֵאת‬see below, §‎7.2); increased substitution of the
preposition ‫‘ ַעל‬upon, over’ for ‫‘ ֶאל‬to’ and vice versa (see below, §‎7.5).

Lexicon (a very partial list): ‫ ִאּגֶ ֶרת‬and ‫( נִ ְׁש ְּתוָ ן‬for ‫‘ ) ֵס ֶפר‬letter’; the Babylonian
month names (for the earlier Canaanite names or ordinal numbers); ‫ ָּדת‬or
‫( ַמ ֲא ָמר‬for ]‫[ה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬
ַ ‫‘ ) ְּד ַבר‬command, (royal) decree’; ‫( ּבּוץ‬for ‫(‘ ) ֵׁשׁש‬fine) linen’; ‫זְ ַמן‬
(for ‫מֹועד‬ ֵ or ‫(‘ ) ֵעת‬appointed) time’; ‫( זַ ן‬for ‫‘ ) ִמין‬kind, type’; ‫( ִח ָּפה‬for ‫‘ ) ִצ ָּפה‬over-
lay’; ‫( ְּכ ֶא ָחד‬for ‫יַ ַחד‬, ‫יַ ְח ָּדו‬, or ‫‘ ) ְּכ ִאיׁש ֶא ָחד‬together’; ‫( כנ"ס‬for ‫אס"ף‬, ‫קב"ץ‬, or ‫)קה"ל‬
‘gather’; ‫( עמ"ד‬for ‫‘ )קו"ם‬stand up’; ‫( ַּפ ְר ֵּדס‬for ‫‘ )ּגַ ן‬park, orchard, garden’; ‫( ָצ ִפיר‬for
‫‘ ) ָׂש ִעיר‬he-goat’; ‫( שב"ח‬for ‫‘ )הל"ל‬praise’; ‫( של"ט‬for ‫מש"ל‬, etc.) ‘rule’; ‫( תק"ף‬for
‫חז"ק‬, etc.) ‘be strong’.37
It is worth mentioning that the above list is representative rather than
exhaustive; numerous features could be added.38 Transitional Biblical Hebrew

Transitional Biblical Hebrew (TBH) refers to the language of compositions that
date to a period extending from the close of the First Temple Period, through
the Exile, until the period of the Restoration, i.e., a span of time approximately
coterminous with, but somewhat longer than, the 6th century bce. Such works
apparently include the final chapters of the book of Kings; ‘Second Isaiah’ (Isa
40–66); Jeremiah; Ezekiel; Haggai; Zechariah; Malachi; and Lamentations.39

37 Many of these forms are included in the list of the Late Biblical Hebrew Lexicon Project,
under the direction of Prof. Avi Hurvitz of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the results
of which are currently in the process of being published.
38 Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd’s (2008: II 162–214) rather expansive and somewhat indis-
criminate list boasts 372 entries.
39 The language of the book of Kings has yet to be investigated thoroughly from a diachronic
perspective. Regarding the rest of the compositions listed see the following studies:
introduction 15

TBH consists of an admixture of a dominant component of CBH with forerun-

ners of the inner Hebrew developments and results of foreign influence more
characteristic of LBH. In some cases the persistent use of classical features in
TBH material clearly distinguishes it from LBH sources, e.g., the preference for
‫( ֵאת‬for ‫‘ ) ִעם‬with’ (see below, §‎7.1). A few cases of mixed usage also appear to be
particularly characteristic of compositions from the transitional period, e.g.,
the particular distribution of the 1cs pronominal forms ‫ ֲאנִ י‬and ‫( ָאנ ִֹכי‬see below,
§‎4.1) and the use of both the short and long theophoric suffixes in names
like ‫יִ ְר ְמיָ הּו‬/‫( יִ ְר ְמיָ ה‬see below, §‎3.5). For the most part, however, the distinction
between TBH and CBH, on the one hand, and between TBH and LBH, on the
other, is one of degree.
As in LBH, the late linguistic features characteristic of TBH run the entire
gamut, but grammatical development is often more obvious than lexical
expansion. It is also significant that TBH compositions lack Persian loan-
words.40 In many cases TBH reveals the beginning of a trend (sometimes even
a lone example) later to become more prevalent in LBH; occasionally, how-
ever, further usage is unattested until post-biblical Hebrew, e.g., ‫( אנו‬for ‫) ֲאנַ ְחנּו‬
‘we’ (Jer 42.6; ktiv; see below, §‎4.4); ‫ּומּפֹה‬ ִ  . . . ‫( ִמּפֹה‬for ‫ּומּזֶ ה‬
ִ  . . . ‫‘ ) ִמּזֶ ה‬on this
side . . . and on that side’ (Ezek 40.10), etc. TBH texts also occasionally contain
sub-standard, colloquial elements that were never to take hold in later strata
of the language.
Obviously, if one is to adopt Hurvitz’ general methodology for purposes
of the identification of linguistic features distinctively characteristic of TBH,

‘Second Isaiah’ – Cheyne 1895: 255–270; S.R. Driver 1898: 240, 505; Hurvitz 1983a: 215; Paul
2008: 31–33; 2012; cf. Rooker 1996; Jeremiah – S.R. Driver 1898: 505–506; Gropp 1991: 46;
Hurvitz 2003: 26, n. 4; C. Smith 2003; Wright 2005: 238–239; Fassberg 2006: 57, 64; 2011: 98;
Ezekiel – Gesenius 1815: 35–36; S.R. Driver 1898: 156, 505–506; Hurvitz 1982; Rooker 1990;
Fassberg 2011: 98; Haggai – S.R. Driver 1898: 156, 505–506; Hurvitz 1983a:215; Shin 2007;
Rendsburg 2012; Zechariah – S.R. Driver 1898: 156, 505–506; Hill 1982; Hurvitz 1983a:215;
Shin 2007; Malachi – S.R. Driver 1898: 156, 505–506; Hill 1981; Hurvitz 1983a:215–216; Shin
2007; and Lamentations – Dobbs-Allsopp 1998.
Naudé (2000; 2003) objects to use of the term ‘transitional’ to describe the lan-
guage of the works listed above, on the grounds that languages are never static, but in
a state of perpetual change, so that, by definition, TBH is no more transitional than CBH
or LBH. This should be borne in mind, and alternative labels might be sought, but as
Hurvitz (1997b:86 n. 35) argues, from the perspective of works written in the classical
and late forms of BH, TBH is a fitting and useful designation for the language of the mate-
rial that links those phases; see above, n. 14; see also Joosten 2013a: 99–100; cf. Kim 2012:
40 Seow 1996: 647. A few do, however, mention Persian historical figures: ‫ּכֹורׁש‬ֶ ‘Cyrus’ (Isa
44.28; 45.1); ‫‘ ַּד ְריָ וֶ ׁש‬Darius’ (Hag 1.1, 15; 2.10; Zech 1.1, 7; 7.1).
16 chapter 1

slight adjustment must be made to it to broaden the first criterion (on late
biblical distribution, see above §‎ In other words, the precondition for
being included as a potential feature of TBH is exclusive (or predominant) dis-
tribution in exilic or post-exilic texts, within the Bible or without. Biblical Texts with Chronologically Problematic Linguistic Profiles

Finally, there are works the language of which defies straightforward attempts
at dating, including Jonah, many of the Psalms, Proverbs, the poetic sections
of Job, Song of Songs, and Ruth (though 4.7 is clearly late).41 In some cases the
difficulty arises from the brief span of the text, which is too limited to give a
representative picture of the writer’s linguistic milieu. In other cases an accu-
mulation of non-standard features obtains, but is not unambiguously attribut-
able to late provenance or can be reasonably explained otherwise.

1.4 Non-Diachronic Factors and Linguistic Variety in the Hebrew Bible

While it is true that many cases of linguistic variation in the Hebrew Bible are
most reasonably ascribed to the historical development of the language, this is
not the only explanation, nor the most convincing in some cases.

1.4.1 Personal or Corporate Style

The appearance of a non-standard linguistic feature may be idiosyncratic to
a specific author’s personal style but more generally uncharacteristic of con-
temporary usage. For example, despite sporadic occurrences of the qĕṭå̄l nomi-
nal pattern in presumed early literature, the marked increase in its use in late
works (probably under Aramaic influence) qualifies it as a characteristic fea-
ture of post-exilic Hebrew. However, a probable exception to this late trend is
the frequent (13x) and apparently classical use of the keyword ‫‘ ְׁש ָאר‬remnant’
in Isaiah (1–39). Isaiah’s fondness for this particular lexeme is doubly unique.
First, no other pre-exilic text exhibits a comparable accumulation of this word
or pattern. Second, (‘First’) Isaiah shows no fondness for the qĕṭå̄l pattern in
general (or for other late features), but only for the word ‫ ְׁש ָאר‬. Thus, (‘First’)

41 See the following for linguistic approaches to the works listed here: Jonah – S.R. Driver
1898: 322; Brenner 1979; Qimron 1980b; Landes 1982; 1999; Dan 1996; Dobbs-Allsopp 1998:
2, 35; Proverbs – Yoder 2000; the poetic sections of Job – Gesenius 1915: 33–35; Hurvitz
1968: 236; 2003: 33; Pope 1973: 27; Song of Songs – S.R. Driver 1898: 448–450; Rabin 1973:
272–273; 1975: 215–216; Hurvitz 1983a: 217–218; Dobbs-Allsopp 2005; Noegel and Rendsburg
2009: 174–179; Ruth – S.R. Driver 1898: 454–456; Hurvitz 1976; 1983a: 218; 1983b; Zevit 2005:
592; Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: II 58–60.
introduction 17

Isaiah’s idiosyncratic use of ‫ ְׁש ָאר‬in no way contradicts the claim that the qĕṭå̄l
pattern constitutes a distinguishing feature of LBH. Nor does it support the
claim that Isaiah 1–39 is a late composition.42
And, of course, the same logic applies to certain stylistic tendencies shared
by groups of writers. For example, the use of particular forms and vocabulary
more typical of Aramaic than Hebrew typifies several of the biblical works that
belong to the category of Wisdom Literature.43 This situation has led a number
of scholars to posit a post-exilic date of composition for some of this material.44
However, in view of the traditions associating wisdom with areas to Israel’s
east,45 it is doubtful whether these Aramaic loans serve as a reliable indicator
of late provenance.46
Clearly, the possibility that linguistic variation in the Hebrew Bible may
reflect stylistic differences must be borne in mind. As the above example with
qĕṭå̄l ‫ ְׁש ָאר‬demonstrates, though, this possibility merely complicates the detec-
tion of historical development in BH. Given appropriate methodological stric-
tures, the challenges afforded by instances of non-diachronic linguistic variety
in no way render impossible the identification of cases of historical develop-
ment in the language.47

1.4.2 Regional Dialects (Especially Northern, i.e., Israelian, Biblical

The modern dominance in some countries of relatively monolithic, trans-
regional languages (such as English, French, Spanish, etc.), as opposed to a
situation characterized by a multiplicity of regional dialects, is evidently a
rather recent turn of events, due in part to political developments and in part
to modern innovations, such as public education, mass media, and ease of
travel. Despite these leveling factors, however, regional dialects survive and, in
some places, thrive. A priori, then, it seems reasonable to assume the existence
of regional dialects in ancient Israel.
Scholars generally agree on the existence in the First Temple Period of a
Judahite or Jerusalemite dialect in central Canaan, which probably exerted
profound influence on the literary register in which most of the extant biblical

42 Kutscher 1982: §103.

43 Consider, for instance, Prov 31.1–9, with ‫( ָּבר‬for ‫ ) ֵּבן‬in v. 1 (3x) and the plural ending ‫ִ◌ין‬-
(for ‫ִ◌ים‬-) in v. 3.
44 E.g., Yoder 2000: 17–48.
45 See, e.g., 1 Kgs 5.10; Jer 49.7; Obad 8; Dan 2.12, et passim.
46 Tur-Sinai 1965: 594; Kutscher 1982: §100; 2007: 346–347; Young 1993: 138–140; Hurvitz 2003:
32–33; see also below, §1.4.5.
47 See below, §2, and especially §
18 chapter 1

text is written, along with traces of a northern, Israelian dialect. However,

while it is possible to glean a certain amount of information on actual dia-
lectal differences between these two regional varieties from the available
biblical and extra-biblical sources, the paucity of Hebrew material of unde-
niably northern extraction precludes certainty regarding all but a few dialec-
tal features. The Samaria Ostraca show that the northern dialect of ancient
Hebrew, in contrast to the standard dialect, shared certain features with
Aramaic and Phoenician, e.g., contraction of the diphthong ay > ē (or a [?]) in
words such as ‫‘ בת‬house’ (for Tiberian ‫ ) ַּביִת‬and ‫‘ ינ‬wine’ (for Tiberian ‫)יַ יִ ן‬,48 and
with Moabite, e.g., retention of the feminine nominal suffix ‫ת‬- (for Tiberian
‫ָ◌ה‬-) and the form of the word ‫‘ שת‬year’ (for Tiberian ‫) ָׁשנָ ה‬, reflecting assimila-
tion of the nun and a syllable structure different from that known from SBH.
Turning to biblical literature, while notoriously difficult to explain in terms
of dialect geography,49 the shibboleth-sibboleth episode of Jdg 12.1–7 clearly
provides evidence of ancient awareness of regional linguistic diversity. There is
also widespread consensus that many of the non-standard linguistic features in
the Song of Deborah (Jdg 5) reflect an early northern dialect of Hebrew, among
them the following: the relativizing particle -‫( ַׁש‬v. 7 bis); the 2fs qaṭal suffix ‫ּתי‬- ִ
(for ‫ּת‬-
ְ ) in ‫‘ ַק ְמ ִּתי‬you (fs) arose’ (v. 7 bis); the plural suffix ‫ִ◌ין‬- (for ‫ִ◌ים‬-) in ‫ִמ ִּדין‬
‘cloths, blankets, rugs’ (v. 10); the root ‫( תנ"י‬for ‫ )שנ"י‬in ‫‘ יְ ַתּנּו‬they (would) repeat,
chant’ (v. 11); the form ‫‘ ָמ ֲח ָקה‬she struck’ (for ‫ ; ָמ ֲח ָצה‬v. 26);50 possibly also the
pronunciation ‫‘ יְ ַרד‬he descended’ (for ‫ ;יָ ַרד‬v. 13 bis), though many derive from
‫ רד"י‬and translate along the lines of ‘rule’. Northern linguistic features have also
been identified in the Elijah-Elisha cycle in the book of Kings51 and elsewhere.52

48 Consider also the wordplay in Amos 8.2, which apparently plays on similarity (or iden-
tity?) in pronunciation between ‫‘ ַקיִ ץ‬summer (fruit), figs’ and ‫‘ ֵקץ‬end’ in the northern
idiom of the prophet’s audience.
49 See, for example, Harris 1939: 64; Speiser 1942; Kutscher 1982: §22; Rendsburg 1986; 1992c;
2013a; for further bibliography see Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 189–190.
50 Burney 1918: 171–176; Kutscher 1982: §45 (cf. ibid.: §100); Rendsburg 1990b: 128; cf. Young
51 Burney 1903: 208–209; Young 1993: 171–172; Schniedewind and Sivan 1997; Rendsburg
2002a; cf. Young 1995.
52 S.R. Driver 1898: 188 n. *, 449 n. *, 553 n. †; GKC §2w; Bersträsser 1918–1929: I §2g; Bauer
and Leander 1922: §28v; Harris 1939: 75; Dahood 1952a; 1952b; 1958; 1962; 1966; C. Gordon
1954; 1955; Rainey 1964; Archer 1969; Rabin 1981; Ginsberg 1982: 163*; Kutscher 1982: §§22,
41, 44–45, 79, 81, 90–91, 94, 99, 100, 104; Rendsburg 1988; 1989; 1990b; 1991; 1992a; 1992b;
1992c; 1992d; 2002b; 2003; 2006a; 2006b; Garr 1985; Gevirtz 1986; 1987; Fredericks 1988;
Davila 1990; Baran 1992; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 43–44, 61–62, 65, 71; Gianto 1996; Yoo 1999;
Chen 2000; C. Smith 2003; Wright 2003; Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 180–195.
introduction 19

Linguistic diversity stemming from dialectal differences is an important factor to

consider in the diachronic study of BH, because, among other things, both LBH
and (early) northern BH exhibit features common in Aramaic. Consequently,
what one scholar considers characteristically late may be deemed early and
northern by another. For example, most scholars consider the non-standard
linguistic features in Jonah, the Song of Songs, and Qohelet to be indicative
of late provenance, but some explain the non-standard features as pre-exilic
and dialectal.53 Conceivably, a given feature may be both late and northern.54
In sum, consideration of the possibility that linguistic variation in BH stems
from dialectal diversity is a sine qua non of sound diachronic analysis.
The explanatory power of arguments based on the dialect geography of
ancient Canaan must not, however, be overestimated. While the expectation
that biblical texts dealing with diverse regions might exhibit dialectal differ-
ences is entirely reasonable, the whole issue is fraught with uncertainty. It is
very difficult to identify distinctively dialectal features and, thus, to discern
characteristically dialectal texts. Theoretically, it is logical to assume that a text
focusing on the north was penned by a northerner and that the text’s language
should reflect, at least to some extent, the distinctive traits of the northern dia-
lect. Thus, any non-standard linguistic element occurring in a story or poetic
work dealing with the north may be considered a feature especially charac-
teristic of the northern dialect. In practice, however, the extent to which the
language of biblical texts set in the north actually reflects the particular idiom
of northern climes remains unclear. Linguistic Leveling

First, there is no doubt that the biblical text has undergone a measure of
‘linguistic leveling’ (see above, §‎1.1), so that some amount of the dialectal dif-
ferences that must have originally characterized texts from different regions,
particularly that phonological portion manifest in the orthography, was elimi-
nated by editors and scribes in Jerusalem in the process of compilation and
transmission. It is likely that a further portion is masked by the Tiberian vowel
points, which reflect a remarkably uniform pronunciation that cannot possi-
bly have been shared by all the texts of the Hebrew Bible at the place and time
each was composed. If so, then, despite the renowned conservatism of the
Masoretic scribes and pointers, it is possible that the dialectal variation that

53 Jonah – Landes 1982: 163*; Song of Songs – Driver 1898: 449; Qohelet – Archer 1969;
Fredericks 1988.
54 Thus, the supposed northern character of the language of Qohelet does not necessarily
imply its pre-exilic composition; see Dahood 1952a; 1952b; 1958; 1962; Rainey 1964.
20 chapter 1

has survived the processes of editing and transmission represents but a small
fraction of what was once discernible.55 Thus, even in texts widely believed
to be northern the use of standard linguistic features is much more common
than the use of distinctively northern features.56 Put differently, the linguistic
commonalities of apparently standard and northern texts are far more numer-
ous than their distinguishing features. The Problem of Poetry

A second difficulty stems from the fact that a large percentage of the bibli-
cal texts thought to be northern are poetic compositions, such as The Song
of Deborah (Jdg 5; see above, n. 50), The Blessing of Jacob (Gen 49),57 The Last
Words of David (2 Sam 23.1–7),58 certain Psalms,59 and the book of Hosea.60
Evidence drawn from poetry is problematic for two reasons: first, it is diffi-
cult to determine whether the presence of non-standard linguistic features in
poetry dealing with the north derives from dialectal factors or, alternatively,
from stylistic factors. Indeed, even biblical poetry not considered northern
regularly exhibits linguistic phenomena that deviate from the conventions of
the standard language of biblical prose. The fact, then, that a unique linguistic
form occurs in a poetic piece dealing with the north does not necessarily imply
that the element in question is distinctively northern. Second, there is doubt
regarding the degree to which the language of northern poetry is typical of the
language of northern prose or of the northern spoken register. Methodological Problems

An additional difficulty involves methodology. Persuaded of the notion that
any text dealing with the north is a potential repository of forms characteristic
of the northern idiom, several scholars have attempted to write a lexicon and
grammar of this dialect.61 Subsequently, on the basis of this lexicon and gram-
mar, some have sought to assign northern provenance to biblical compositions
of questionable geographical extraction. Special mention should be made of

55 Schniedewind and Sivan 1997: 313; cf. Rendsburg 1990a: 174; 1990b: 1.
56 Rabin (1981) concludes that Amos is written in the standard literary register of ancient
Hebrew, whereas on the basis of a few linguistic phenomena considered distinctive of
the north he views Hosea as more characteristically northern. See also Young 1995; Young,
Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 194.
57 Gevirtz 1987; Rendsburg 1992b.
58 Rendsburg 1988; 1989.
59 Rendsburg 1990b.
60 Rabin 1981.
61 Burney 1903: 208–209; 1918: 171–176; C. Gordon 1954; 1955; Ginsberg 1982: 36–37; and espe-
cially Rendsburg 1988; 1989; 1990b; 1992a; 1992b; 1992d; 2002a; 2003.
introduction 21

Gary Rendsburg, who has developed a methodology for identifying such dis-
tinctively northern linguistic features and for distinguishing between northern
and southern, i.e., standard, biblical compositions. His methodology, which is
intended to ensure objectivity, is a modified version of Hurvitz’ approach to the
identification of late linguistic features and the classification of early and late
biblical texts on the basis of their linguistic profile (described above, §‎1.3.2).
According to the methodology proposed by Rendsburg, a linguistic phe-
nomenon is to be considered distinctively characteristic of northern BH (what
Rendsburg and others term ‘Israelian’) if (a) it exhibits an exclusively (or pre-
dominantly) northern distribution, that is it occurs only (or mainly) in north-
ern contexts, (b) there exists a corresponding element that serves in its place
in non-northern contexts, and (c) it is documented in extra-biblical sources of
northern affiliation, i.e., in a selection of other Northwest Semitic languages or
in RH. Once a number of such distinctive linguistic features have been identi-
fied, it is possible to localize texts of unknown geographical provenance based
on their linguistic profile. A text is to be considered northern only if (d) it con-
tains a concentration of distinctively northern linguistic features.
While there is little doubt that BH as represented in the Tiberian Masoretic
tradition conceals viable linguistic phenomena especially typical of north-
ern users of ancient Hebrew, and while Rendsburg’s methodology certainly
provides for some measure of scientific rigor, for a number of reasons it can-
not promise the same degree of objectivity offered by Hurvitz’ diachronic
approach. First, the corpus of biblical compositions of assuredly northern prov-
enance is much smaller than the corpus of biblical works of firmly late date.
It is therefore nearly impossible to assemble a lexicon and grammar certain
to be distinctively characteristic of the northern dialect. Second, as indicated
above (§‎, a sizable portion of the textual corpus considered northern
consists of poetry, which is problematic for purposes of linguistic description.
Third, the extra-biblical corpora that Rendsburg utilizes for control purposes
have less evidential value in relation to northern BH than do the extra-biblical
corpora that Hurvitz utilizes as controls in relation to LBH. The chronological
and geographical affinity between LBH, on the one hand, and DSS Hebrew,
RH, and Imperial Aramaic, on the other, is close and it is clear that the extra-
biblical sources shed light on LBH. Considerably more distant, in terms of both
time and geography, is the relationship between Israelian Hebrew, on the one
hand, and Ugaritic, Phoenician, Punic, Aramaic, Syriac, and RH, on the other, a
fact that somewhat diminishes the value of these extra-biblical sources as wit-
nesses to the linguistic character of the northern dialect of BH.62

62 Schniedewind and Sivan 1997: 306–311; see also Young 1995; 1997; Fredericks 1996; Talshir
2003; Hurvitz 2007.
22 chapter 1

Some claims regarding northern linguistic elements and texts thus seem
to go further than the evidence warrants, a state of affairs that has led to an
amount of justified criticism.63 Despite, however, the doubts raised here and
elsewhere, one ought to resist an extreme version of the opposing view, i.e., the
total rejection of a regional dimension to BH variety. A reasonable approach to
this linguistic variety must weigh the possibility that a part of it indeed reflects
areal differences, but will also recognize that the linguistic evidence serving
as the basis for diachronic classification is firmer than that which serves as
the basis for geographical classification. In sum and once more, the reality of
geographical diversity only complicates, but does not negate the diachronic

1.4.3 Registers (Especially Spoken Vernacular and Diglossia)

BH was a literary register65 that almost certainly differed to some extent from
forms of the contemporary vernacular.66 The extent of any such difference,
however, is unclear, since, in the nature of things, unambiguous evidence for
the spoken register of an ancient language preserved only in written form
is hard to come by. Quoted speech in the Bible may theoretically preserve
authentic colloquial features,67 but it is often couched in literary, even poetic
style unlikely to reflect everyday speech.68 Consequently, most of the available
evidence for ancient colloquial Hebrew derives from extra-biblical correspon-
dence and other non-literary documents from the biblical and post-biblical
period, though it should be borne in mind that the language of these, too, as
written artifacts, may not accurately mirror forms of contemporary spoken

63 See, for instance, Schniedewind and Sivan (1997: 311): “The criteria of distribution and
concentration easily lend themselves to circular reasoning. Rendsburg, for example, takes
a maximalist view of Northern Hebrew and consequently considers almost all texts of
disputed linguistic character to be northern (e.g., Qoheleth, Job, Proverbs, Song of Songs).
In addition any narrative that is set in the north or that speaks about northerners is con-
sidered by Rendsburg evidence for Northern Hebrew, as is any text that speaks about
foreigners, whether they be Philistines or Babylonians.”
64 Dresher 2012: 31; Holmstedt 2012: 117.
65 See above, §‎1.1, n. 2.
66 Segal 1927: §14; Sznejder 1935–1936; Melamed 1949; Bendavid 1951: 69–73 (cited on the
basis of Rabin 1970: 314); G.R. Driver 1957; 1970; Chomsky 1964: 161; Ullendorff 1971: 11;
MacDonald 1975; Rendsburg 1990a:1–33; 1992b; Young 1993: 76–79; Blau 1997: 26; S. Smith
2000; Polak 2003: 59–60; Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 173–179.
67 Sznejder 1935–1936; Melamed 1949; G.R. Driver 1957: 273; MacDonald 1975; see also Polak
2003: 59–60.
68 Rendsburg 1990a: 18–21, 159–161; Moshavi 2010: 4.
introduction 23

Hebrew. A few of the DSS, e.g., the Copper Scroll (3Q15) and Miqṣat Maʿaśe
ha-Torah (4QMMT), along with the Bar Kokhba letters, are written in a non-
literary register.69 It is widely assumed that their language is to some extent
representative of the spoken Hebrew of the day, an early form of RH, which
would eventually evolve into the written medium of rabbinic literature.70
Due, however, to the late provenance of these sources, their evidential value
vis-à-vis the spoken register of the pre-exilic period is uncertain. Where their
language differs from CBH it is difficult to determine if the deviation is a func-
tion of register, historical development, or some other factor or combination
To illustrate, consider the BH conversive tenses, still used widely in the
Hebrew of the DSS, but eschewed in RH, where they are used only in quota-
tions from the Bible or in imitation thereof. Is their absence from RH due to
diachronic development, or is it a carry-over from pre-exilic colloquial Hebrew,
in which, some assume, they were not employed?71 The nature of the available
evidence all but precludes a definitive answer. Regardless, the probable differ-
ence between spoken and literary registers must be taken into account in the
diachronic analysis of BH.
Nowadays, there is unanimous agreement among Hebraists that the written
medium known as RH is but the literary preservation of a natural living lan-
guage that served as a spoken medium during (at least) the first two-hundred
years of the Common Era.72 Around the same time a type of Hebrew, similar
to that found in the majority of the DSS, served as a higher literary register.73

69 On the language of the Copper Scroll see Rabin 1958: 156; 1972: 358; 1976: 1017–1018;
Bendavid 1967–1971: I 99; Qimron 2000; Lefkovits 2000: 18–19, especially n. 71. On that of
Miqṣat Maʿaśe ha-Torah see Qimron and Strugnell 1994: 65–108. On the Hebrew of the Bar
Kokhba letters see Kutscher 1961b.
70 For differing views on the relationship between DSS Hebrew and RH compare, for exam-
ple, Blau 1997 and Qimron 2000.
71 The absence of the conversive tenses in RH should evidently not be attributed to genre-
related factors, specifically to the general lack of narrative in rabbinic literature, since this
would affect only the use of the wayyiqṭol form. RH provides numerous opportunities for
the use of weqaṭal (for example, in procedural instructions), but does not employ it either.
72 Segal 1908; Kutscher 1982: §§193–194; see also Steiner 1992: 17–18, 21–26 for an extensive
bibliography of modern scholars who see RH as the literary reflection of what was once a
living and natural spoken language.
73 As noted above, the language of the Copper Scroll and that of Miqṣat Maʿaśe ha-Torah are
considered by many sorts of proto-RH. The presence of the latter at Qumran adds weight
to the claim that the writers of the scrolls spoke a form of early RH while they most often
wrote in a language similar to BH. Cf., however, the opinion of Qimron (2000), who sees in
24 chapter 1

In other words, the post-biblical period was characterized by a situation of

diglossia,74 in which a register similar to RH served as the spoken medium and
one similar to DSS Hebrew as the literary language. To what extent this situation
of diglossia can be projected back into the linguistic reality of the First Temple
Period is unclear. Some scholars are confident that the situation of diglossia of
the Second Temple Period provides a window into a similar situation in First
Temple times. Thus Rendsburg (1990a: 22–25) has proposed a methodology
according to which colloquial linguistic elements can be detected in BH. The
criteria are that the element be (a) rare in BH, but common in RH, and (b)
lacking or rare in post-exilic literary sources (Ben Sira, Daniel, the DSS), and
(c) that a similar case of colloquial and literary alternatives exists in a related
language (e.g., Arabic or Ethiopic).
Notwithstanding the apparent logic of the guidelines just described, it is
clear that they cannot provide unequivocal answers to many of the complex
questions related to the issue. An early form of RH was indeed a spoken ver-
nacular and a form of Hebrew similar to that used in the majority of the DSS
apparently served as a contemporaneous literary medium. It is reasonable to
assume (a) that some situation of diglossia, according to which the spoken
language differed to some extent from the written language, also existed dur-
ing the First Temple Period, (b) that BH, despite its literary nature, yet pre-
serves linguistic elements especially characteristic of the spoken register,
and (c) that RH, the vernacular of the post-exilic period, along with situa-
tions of diglossia in other Semitic languages, may prove useful in discerning
instances in which spoken elements penetrated the otherwise literary regis-
ter of BH. But one must exercise great caution in determining which specific
elements might characterize a colloquial form of First Temple Hebrew and
admit the very speculative nature of any conclusions drawn. It is well known
that the literary register of ancient Hebrew saw significant development over
the course of time, so that the language of the DSS differs from LBH, which,
in turn, differs from CBH and the language of First Temple inscriptions.75 If
such marked development could take place within a literary register—and
generally literary registers change more slowly than their spoken counter-
parts—then how much more must the spoken form(s) of ancient Hebrew
have developed and changed over the centuries. With this in mind, the project
of determining the customs of the spoken Hebrew of the 6th century bce on

the standard Hebrew of the DSS, i.e., that employed in the majority of the scrolls, a vital
spoken idiom.
74 According to the broadest definition of the term.
75 Even if the chronological and typological order of these phases is generally clear, it should
be noted that the relationship between them is not necessarily genetic or linear.
introduction 25

the basis of the spoken Hebrew of the first two centuries ce, while worthy and
interesting, should not be expected to produce unambiguous results. In addi-
tion, while the situations of diglossia in Arabic and Ethiopic no doubt illumi-
nate certain aspects of the assumed situation of diglossia in ancient Israel, it
is clear that these furnish no more than ‘circumstantial evidence’. One should
also take into consideration the overlap between the category of late features
and that of vernacular elements. It is reasonable to assume that the vicissi-
tudes of the Exile led to change (some would say, deterioration) in scribal con-
ventions, such that literary style became more ‘vulnerable’ than before to the
infiltration of vernacular elements.
These limitations do not invalidate all research dealing with First Temple
forms of spoken Hebrew, but it must be acknowledged that the unknown far
outweighs the known with regard to this register. For this reason discussions
of the Hebrew spoken during the biblical period should be characterized by an
appropriate degree of caution. Nonetheless, the recognition that some amount
of the linguistic variety in the Hebrew Bible may derive from its absorption of
colloquial elements in no way contradicts, but rather complements, the dia-
chronic approach to the language.

1.4.4 Genres
In the discussion of linguistic variety within BH in general and of the linguis-
tic dating of biblical compositions more specifically factors related to genre
should not be ignored.76 For example, as already intimated, ancient Hebrew
poetry (like that in many languages) is characterized by stylistic conventions,
often concerned with form—e.g., rhythm, word- and sound-play, parallel-
ism, archaic forms and structures—that distinguish its language from that of
(most) non-poetic genres. From a more specifically diachronic perspective, BH
poetry is known for exhibiting two opposing tendencies that directly affect
the degree to which it may be expected to represent contemporary linguistic
norms—namely, stylistic and linguistic conservatism, on the one hand, and
poetic license, on the other. Both tendencies should raise doubts as to the
advisability of over-reliance on poetic texts for purposes of linguistic descrip-
tion. Stylistic conservatism within the poetic genre likely resulted in the pres-
ervation of linguistic features characteristic of an early stage of the language
which had become obsolete in then-current non-poetic genres. Thus, there are
many linguistic parallels between the epic poetry from Ugarit (destroyed in
the early 12th century bce) and the poetry of the Hebrew Bible. On the other
hand, some features, particularly in the realm of the lexicon and morphology,
resemble the Aramaic borrowings so characteristic of LBH, but are in reality

76 Blau 1998: 13.

26 chapter 1

simply features common to both languages, typical of Aramaic, rare in Hebrew,

employed for poetic variety or effect.77 Because non-standard linguistic ele-
ments in ancient Hebrew poetry are often given to several alternative (and
often contradictory) explanations, great caution must be exercised in the
dating of poetic language and texts.78 Moreover, as previously observed, the
eastern associations of Wisdom Literature may also have favored the use of
non-standard, especially Aramaic forms (§‎1.4.1).

1.4.5 Literary Strategies

On occasion biblical writers exploited linguistic diversity for literary purposes,
by adapting a text’s language to fit a (contrived) foreign audience, to reflect
the speech of a foreigner, or to simulate a foreign setting.79 Obviously, sound
diachronic analysis must recognize the possibility that a certain amount of lin-
guistic variation in the Bible reflects the writers’ conscious use of non-standard
language for literary effect.

1.4.6 Literary and Textual Development

Though the surprising degree of general linguistic uniformity exhibited
throughout the biblical text no doubt stems from the fact that its individual
component parts were edited and copied by scribes who engaged in some
amount of linguistic leveling, thereby obliterating a percentage of the linguis-
tic variety expected in such a composite work (see above, §‎1.1), it almost goes
without saying that these same scribes may also have been responsible for the
introduction of a certain amount of linguistic variation, especially in the form
of textual corruptions. A potential example involves the occurrence of the
term ‫‘ ְק ָרב‬battle’ in MT 2 Sam 17.11. Since virtually all other instances of this spe-
cific term, along with most cases of the qĕṭå̄l nominal pattern in general, come
in indisputably late compositions, and since the other Ancient Versions point
unanimously to alternative readings at 2 Sam 17.11, chances are good that it
represents a scribal corruption (see below, §‎5.2, and especially n. 29). Likewise,
the only example of a theophoric name ending in the long suffix ‫יָ הּו‬- in the
approximately 260 potential cases in Ezra and Nehemiah comes in the form

77 Tur-Sinai 1965: 593–594.

78 Hurvitz 1968: 236. For attempts to date poetic texts linguistically see Hurvitz 1965; 1967;
1972; Polzin 1967; Robertson 1972; Notarius 2013.
79 Baumgartner 1959: 228 n. 3; Kaufman 1988: 54–56; Rendsburg 1995; 2013b; Hurvitz 2003:
31–32. The use of such literary strategies has been identified in Gen 24 (Rendsburg 2002a),
Isa 21.11–14 (Tur-Sinai 1965: 594; Rabin 1967: 304–305; Kutscher 1982: §100; Kaufman 1988:
54–56; Rendsburg 1995: 181–182), and certain prophetic oracles directed against foreign
nations (Rendsburg 1995: 184–188), to list but a few examples.
introduction 27

‫ וְ ֶׁש ֶל ְמיָ הּו‬in Ezra 10.41. However, it is a near certainty that this form resulted from
scribal error, according to which

‫ּוׁש ַמ ְריָ ה‬
ְ ‫ עזַ ְר ֵאל וְ ֶׁש ֶל ְמיָ ה‬
ֲ > ‫ֲעזַ ְר ֵאל וְ ֶׁש ֶל ְמיָ הּו ְׁש ַמ ְריָ ה‬
‘Azarel and Shelemiah and Shemariah’ ‘Azarel and Shelemiahu, Shemariah’

reflecting a change that involves no more than spacing (see below, §‎3.5, and
especially n. 40). Clearly, in the discussion of linguistic variation caused by dia-
chronic linguistic development, sensitivity to the potential for scribal interfer-
ence is a must (but see below, §‎1.5.2).

1.5 Recent Criticism of the Diachronic Approach to Biblical Hebrew

and the Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts

Since the beginning of the scholarly attempt to date biblical texts on the basis
of their language there have been differences of opinion on the respective
dates of certain works, for example, the Priestly source of the Pentateuch, the
different parts of Isaiah, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, and Qohelet, to name just
a few. Notwithstanding significant documentary and inscriptional discoveries
and methodological refinements made during the 20th century, the linguis-
tic approach to dating cannot provide a solution for every problem. As indi-
cated above (§‎, the linguistic status of several biblical texts is equivocal.
Moreover, in view of the many factors playing into the linguistic heterogene-
ity of BH, it is clear that not all instances of variation are to be explained in
terms of diachronic development (see above, §‎1.4).
Recently, however, an extreme, seemingly ‘anti-linguistic’ diachronic posi-
tion has been articulated in scholarly literature.80 A relatively small number
of Hebraists and biblical scholars have for some time taken issue with certain
aspects of the diachronic approach to BH,81 but the most thoroughgoing and

80 To be precise, the approach in question denies neither the historical development of

ancient Hebrew, nor the chronological variety found in the Hebrew Bible, nor that the
distinction between what are traditionally termed CBH and LBH, for example, has a dia-
chronic dimension. Its principal objection is rather to the viability of language typology
as a reliable indicator of date of composition. For details, see below.
81 The likes of Levine (1983), Knauf (1990), P. Davies (1992: 102–105), Cryer (1994),
T. Thompson (1995: 110), and Blenkinsopp (1996) represent attempts to undermine spe-
cific aspects of the accepted diachronic approach or its ramifications for the dating of
individual biblical compositions. See the responses to Levine 1983 in Hurvitz 1983c, to
Cryer 1994 in Ehrensvärd 1997, and to Blenkinsopp 1996 in Milgrom 1999 and Hurvitz
28 chapter 1

sustained effort to refute the methodology as a whole has been made by the
trio of Ian Young, Robert Rezetko, and Martin Ehrensvärd, most prominently in
their 2008 two-volume work Linguistic Dating of Biblical Hebrew.82 In this work
they offer what is by far the most fundamental, comprehensive, and detailed
critique of the standard linguistic approach for dating biblical literature and,
as such, may be taken as broadly representative of critics of the approach. The
book in question has generated mixed responses, with Hebraists offering gen-
erally unfavorable reviews.83 The present monograph is not the forum for such
a review, but it is nevertheless worthwhile to dedicate some discussion to the
specific criticisms and general approach laid out in the book and elsewhere.
The following paragraphs discuss the principal contentions of scholars who
object to the standard linguistic approach to dating biblical books.84

82 See also Ehrensvärd 2003; 2006; P. Davies 2003; Young 2003a; 2003b; 2005; 2008; 2009;
Naudé 2003; 2004; Rezetko 2003; 2007; 2010; 2013; and Lust 2006.
83 See, especially, Joosten 2012a and Zevit 2012. See also Dresher 2012; Holmstedt 2012;
Joosten 2012b; and Pat-El 2012.
84 Kim (2012: 154–156), who applies sociolinguistic variation analysis to the diachronic prob-
lem of BH, makes a laudable attempt to adjudicate between what he sees as two extreme
positions, adopting an intermediate stance. On the one hand, examining a selection of
allegedly late linguistic developments, he acknowledges that the differences between
EBH (= CBH) and LBH are indeed chronological rather than merely stylistic. On the other
hand, he concludes that linguistic dating is impossible. This latter view is based on the
observation that the writers of individual texts may have been early or late adopters
with regard to the general linguistic trends of a period and on the argument that only
unconsciously adopted changes ‘from below’, as opposed to reversible changes ‘from
above’, are chronologically reliable markers. There are several problems with Kim’s line
of argumentation. First, he bases his conclusion on an examination of a selection of just
eight features. However, since seven of these are considered authentic changes, and three
of these seven irreversible, unconscious changes from below, it stands to reason that an
examination of a larger sampling may very sell result in a large number of diachronically
meaningful developments. Second, as Kim himself admits, the classification of features
as ‘from above’ or ‘from below’ is not unambiguous. Even a single case of recategoriza-
tion would substantially alter Kim’s conclusions. Third, the simple fact that a late feature
was imposed ‘from above’ and/or consciously adopted by a writer does not automatically
cancel out its diagnostic value as a chronological marker, since, in many cases, this situa-
tion of freedom to choose between alternatives is exactly what characterizes late sources.
Fourth, as shown below, neither the sporadic early use of characteristically late features
nor the late persistence of classical features negates the validity of linguistic dating proce-
dures. Finally, Kim (ibid.:157, n. 6) rather uncritically accepts the premise that text-critical
issues fatally undermine attempts to date texts linguistically (see below).
introduction 29

1.5.1 The Post-Exilic Emulation of Classical Style

In the opinion of Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd, one of the central claims
of supporters of the accepted diachronic approach to BH—namely, that late
writers were incapable of producing texts written in pure CBH, untainted by
the linguistic developments and innovations of the linguistic milieu in which
they lived and worked—is an unfounded assumption. Against this stands the
alternative hypothesis, that some late writers, perhaps even many, were indeed
adept practitioners of the classical idiom, so that the main difference between
works written in what is called ‘CBH’ and those written in what is called ‘LBH’ is
merely stylistic: a tendency for conservatism versus a penchant for innovation.85
In reality, however, the idea that late writers could not help but betray the
linguistic norms of the era in which they wrote emerges quite clearly from
the relevant texts, whereas unambiguous documentary evidence that they
could successfully imitate classical style is lacking. The accepted asser-
tion regarding the inability of late writers to mimic classical linguistic style
is a conclusion firmly supported by actual biblical and extra-biblical texts
unanimously dated to the post-exilic period, as these consistently manifest
an accumulation of linguistic features especially characteristic of post-clas-
sical Hebrew,86 an accumulation not found in texts of assuredly early date
(e.g., pre-exilic inscriptions).87 To be sure, from the perspective of logical

85 See, e.g., Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 48–49, 55–57, 92–93, 129–130. See also
P. Davies 2003: 154.
86 At this point it seems advisable to deal with objections to this assertion. Ehrensvärd (2003:
175–186) argues on the basis of ‘Second Isaiah’, Joel, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi that
post-exilic writers were in fact capable of writing good CBH after the Exile. Citing the lan-
guage of Pesher Habakkuk (1QpHab), Young (2008) opines that the classical style could
be successfully imitated at about the time of the beginning of the Common Era. There
are serious problems with both claims. First, all of the biblical works cited by Ehrensvärd
exhibit a certain accumulation of late linguistic features which, though not as conspicu-
ous as that typical of still later works, certainly cannot be considered characteristic of
CBH. It should come as no surprise that the transition from CBH to LBH was a gradual
process that spanned many years, so that works composed between the periods in which
these two linguistic entities dominated exhibit forms of Hebrew presenting more or less
pronounced marks of historical development, i.e., phases of TBH (see above, §‎
On Young’s claims regarding the supposedly purely classical language of 1QpHab, see
Rendsburg forthcoming, which identifies within Pesher Habakkuk an impressive assort-
ment of linguistic features especially representative of LBH and post-biblical Hebrew, as
well as Joosten 2012b: 283–291.
87 Cf. Young (2003b: 292–298), who, on the basis of a comparison between the Hebrew of
pre-exilic inscriptions, CBH, and LBH, attempts to minimize the similarity between First
Temple Period inscriptional sources and BH, while highlighting the presence of features
30 chapter 1

argumentation, any attempt to prove a negative—in this case, that no late

writer could write in passable CBH—is difficult (but not necessarily impos-
sible); but, until unequivocal evidence to the contrary is adduced, the burden
of proof must lie with those who suppose that late writers were able to imitate
the classical style without betraying their late context.88

1.5.2 The Reliability of the Masoretic Textual Tradition as a Linguistic

Frequently, opponents of the accepted diachronic approach voice doubts as to
the reliability of the Masoretic textual tradition as a witness to authentic BH,
criticizing the naïveté of those who seek to employ it as a basis for diachronic

considered especially characteristic of post-exilic Hebrew in the inscriptions. As he him-

self points out, however, while “[i]t is initially quite surprising to see how many links can
be suggested between the inscriptions and LBH . . . this discovery can be seen in harmony
with the biblical evidence. Scholars of LBH have always admitted that LBH forms could be
found in EBH works. It is only the accumulation of such features which marks a work as
LBH” (ibid.: 298–299). He notes further that “[t]he accumulation of LBH forms discussed
in this section do [sic] not, in my judgment, indicate a special relationship between the
inscriptions and LBH. . . . [O]ne does not find a concentration of LBH features in one
inscription comparable with the core LBH texts. . . . [T]he inscriptions are like SBH in that
they avoid a heavy concentration of LBH features” (ibid.: 299) and finally “[t]he generally
close link between the language of the Bible and that of the inscriptions shows that it is
plausible that something similar to SBH was the language of the monarchic period. The
inscriptional evidence is not drastically inconsistent with a pre-exilic origin of those bib-
lical books whose contents suggest such a dating” (ibid.: 308).
88 Hurvitz 2000a: 154ff. Cf. Ehrensvärd (2003: 165, n. 8), who quotes Blau (1997: 28) regarding
late writers of Arabic, who were capable of mimicking Classical Arabic without anachro-
nistic errors. This state of affairs apparently proves the theoretical possibility of late imi-
tation of classical language. However, there is a crucial difference between the situation
in ancient Arabic and that in ancient Hebrew, namely, that there exists classically formu-
lated Arabic material that can be securely dated to the late period on the basis of non-lin-
guistic evidence (such as a colophon mentioning the date of the composition or the name
of the writer), but no classically formulated Hebrew material securely dateable to the late
period on non-linguistic grounds. To be sure, the markedly late character of the Hebrew
of late writers is evident even in cases in which they obviously strove to simulate the
classical style in order that their works might be considered authoritative (Hurvitz 2000a:
155–156), for example, the writer of the Temple Scroll (11Q19), who presents the content of
his work as the words of God revealed to Moses at Sinai (Qimron 1978b; 1980a: 239ff; Yadin
1983: I 34), or the poet responsible for the apocryphal Ps 151 (11Q5 28), a Hebrew copy of
which was found at Qumran, which is sung by King David (Carmignac 1963: 377; Hurvitz
1967; Polzin 1967; Schuller 1986: 9; M. Smith 1997).
introduction 31

linguistic research.89 They raise three principal arguments. First, the likelihood
that Second Temple orthographic revision extended beyond spelling: in com-
parison to epigraphic material from the First Temple Period, which exhibits a
high degree of scriptio defectiva, biblical orthography, while far from consis-
tent, is nevertheless comparatively plena, displaying a relatively late character.
This being the case, on the assumption that the Hebrew Bible indeed contains
early material, one is forced to explain its current orthography as the result of
a process of updating carried out by scribes in the Second Temple Period. In
view of the high probability that just such a revision was undertaken in the
realm of orthography, one may be inclined to assume the perpetration of a
more general linguistic revision, which would presumably have resulted in a
blurring of the linguistic picture presented by the MT, so that it should be dis-
qualified from consideration as a reliable linguistic witness.90
Second, textual differences: in light of the many textual differences that sur-
face in a comparison of passages in the MT and other ancient witnesses (both
Hebrew and non-Hebrew), one must posit a high degree of textual instability
and fluidity in the transmission of the biblical writings, so that it is difficult
to put faith in the Masoretic textual tradition (or in any ancient version) as a
trustworthy witness with regard to the details of Hebrew as it was used in the
First Temple Period.

89 For such suspicious views see, for example, Knauf 1990; Cryer 1994: 186–192; T. Thompson
1995: 110; Young 2003b:310; Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 16–18, 63–64, 341–360,
II 100–101. These views are by no means isolated, but are shared by a number—perhaps
even a majority—of text critics, who maintain that all extant Hebrew witnesses are the
product of manifold, though—and this is significant—largely undocumented, literary
and textual modification, which, it is argued, has led to the hopeless muddling of early
and late textual and linguistic elements. Obviously, such a pessimistic textual perspective
is at odds with the more optimistic approach adopted herein. While there is no denying
a degree of literary and textual development, unequivocally evidenced in the concrete
textual witnesses of a few exceptional cases (e.g., the DSS Jeremiah material), the vast
majority of instances of literary and textual development suggested by scholars remain
conjectural, unreflected in extant manuscript sources, or derive from the often ambigu-
ous evidence of the ancient translations. Ancient manuscripts in Hebrew and other lan-
guages do not present identical texts and the differences between them are sometimes
genuinely textual, i.e., reflect differences at the level of the relevant Hebrew source texts.
Even so, only in a minority of cases do the extant manuscript sources indicate that serious
literary and/or textual development has taken place and that this may interfere with lin-
guistic profiling. Moreover, even in these cases, it is arguably possible to separate and date
linguistically the separate component layers. At any rate, no literary, textual, or linguistic
approach should be based on sweeping generalizations; rather, specific instances must be
dealt with case-by-case to build up a broader approach.
90 Young 2003b: 310; Naudé 2004: 96–97.
32 chapter 1

Third, literary development: due to the complicated literary character of

many biblical texts, it is doubtful whether the Masoretic textual tradition,
which reveals only the final version of most of the biblical texts, presents them
in their purest, most ancient forms, free of later additions and modifications.
At first glance, it would seem that the textual situation of the Hebrew Bible
is plagued by such complexity and doubt that the MT cannot possibly serve as
the basis for serious enquiry into ancient Hebrew as used in the biblical period.
Upon further reflection, however, it turns out that the uncertainties men-
tioned above remain to a large degree merely theoretical and that opponents
of the diachronic method have exaggerated their ramifications for diachronic
research on BH. With reference to the assumed orthographical modernization
and the possibility of a more comprehensive linguistic revision: the MT indeed
appears to have undergone a spelling update and it is possible to envision a
situation in which the scribes responsible for the revision extended their work
beyond orthographical issues to include the domains of phonology, morphol-
ogy, syntax, and lexicon. In point of fact, however, scholars who emphasize
these doubts provide few concrete examples of the phenomenon91 and, in
any case, overstate their significance with regard to the value of the linguistic
testimony furnished by the Masoretic textual tradition (and by other ancient
textual witnesses).92 The hypothesis that the MT is the product of a compre-
hensive linguistic revision should by all means be considered. However, even
if this hypothesis were proven, its relevance for the specific linguistic ele-
ments that have been classified as distinguishing features of LBH should not
be simply assumed, but tested on a case-by-case basis. For in the majority of
instances, it will be found to have little or no relevance.93

91 See especially Young 2003b: 308–309.

92 Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: I 346–347) themselves apparently disavow the
idea of a wholesale linguistic revision, arguing instead that “scribes modified individual
linguistic elements occasionally and unsystematically” (see also Cryer 1994: 193, n. 25).
That said, certain of their statements could reasonably be interpreted as support for just
such a view, e.g., “[t]he vastly different editions of biblical books which were produced by
scribal reworking . . . raise the likelihood that all features of the biblical text were subject
to extensive editorial revision during the Second Temple Period . . .” (Young 2003b: 310).
93 At this juncture it is worthwhile to relate to the linguistic value of the Masoretic vocal-
ization. On the one hand, there is no doubt that the pointing reflects a relatively late
reading tradition that in many cases does not tally with the pronunciation reflected in
the consonantal text. On the other hand, though, it is clear that the pronunciation of this
reading tradition was no mere invention of the Masoretes, but was inherited from their
predecessors. Barr (1987: 188–222) presents a balanced discussion; see also Morag 1974a;
1974b. Cf. Lambert 1893: 55–62; Ginsberg 1934; 1936; and Hughes 1994 for specific catego-
introduction 33

On the issue of the alleged instability of the biblical text, Young, Rezetko,
and Ehrensvärd (2008) emphasize the pluriformity of the textual traditions
arising from the ancient textual witnesses. How can one justify dependence
on the MT in the face of the existence of so many other—and different—tex-
tual traditions? The question is not without merit. On the one hand, it can be
claimed that in view of such a complex textual situation, it is virtually impos-
sible to know anything with certainty. On the other hand, most of the ancient
witnesses agree on most of the biblical text. Further, with specific regard to
the Masoretic textual tradition, a number of biblical scrolls from among the
DSS, the texts of which are either very similar or identical to that of the MT,
demonstrate the antiquity of the tradition reflected in the latter, which, after
all, was the one adopted by mainstream Judaism as its official text. In any case,
it is doubtful whether any answer to such a general and theoretical question
can contribute much of value to the discussion. The relevance of all such tex-
tual approaches must be checked in specific connection to linguistic elements
that have been suggested as characteristic markers of LBH. When this is done,
in many cases the picture that emerges from the non-Hebrew textual wit-
nesses is equivocal—it is difficult to ascertain whether an apparent difference
between the MT and another version reflects a genuine textual difference, or,
alternatively, should be attributed to the activity of the translator.94 Further,
some linguistic features are entirely opaque in translations. Second, contrary
to the insinuation of Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd, namely, that proponents
of the accepted diachronic approach routinely ignore textual issues, these are
regularly examined where relevant. At times the textual situation is decisive
or raises questions about a given diachronic explanation.95 In many instances,
however, the textual situation has no bearing on diachronic conclusions

ries in which, due to differences between CBH, on the one hand, and BH as it was pro-
nounced in the Tiberian Masoretic tradition, on the other, the vocalization is apparently
not a late reflex of ancient phonology. Consider, for example, the qal internal passive,
which is sometimes pointed as a puʿal or hofʿal (see also Blau 1997: 26–27). It may also be
that the lack of symmetry in the paradigms of ‫יְ ַּד ֵּבר‬-‫מ ַד ֵּבר‬-‫ר‬
ְ ‫ ִּד ֶּב‬in binyan piʿel and -‫ּד ֵֹבר‬
‫ּד ֻבר‬-‫ָך‬
ָ ‫ ְּב ָד ְב ְר‬in binyan qal reflects a difference between the classical language—in which
there were perhaps complete paradigms in both piʿel and qal—and Tiberian Masoretic
Hebrew—which recognized piʿel alone, resorting to qal mainly where the consonantal
text precluded pointing as a piʿel (see Ben-Ḥayyim 1958: 237; Fassberg 2001: 252).
94 One must also consider the possibility of textual corruption within the individual trans-
mission histories of the ancient witnesses.
95 For examples, see above, §‎1.4.6, and the relevant sections listed there.
34 chapter 1

regarding a specific linguistic feature or text.96 The concrete examples adduced

as evidence that textual problems severely distort the linguistic picture depicted
in the MT are very few indeed and, in any case, either fail to substantiate the
approach or are less than convincing.97 Occasionally, they do indicate textual

96 Thus even Rezetko’s (2013) apparently impressive statistical argument demonstrating the
frequency of textual divergences between the MT and the biblical DSS texts is irrelevant,
since it does not show that this instability has irremediably altered the distribution of
classical and late features in the biblical text. A comprehensive linguistic comparison of
the MT and the biblical DSS remains a desideratum. Based on the limited number of cases
surveyed in research for the present monograph, when there are diachronically meaning-
ful differences between the Masoretic and DSS versions of biblical texts, in the majority
of cases the MT has the typologically classical feature and the DSS edition the typologi-
cally later counterpart. This state of affairs would seem to justify considering the MT an
extremely conservative textual tradition, despite the fact that its oldest complete copies
are more recent than the relevant DSS by approximately one-thousand years.
97 See Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 348–358 and n. 18. Space precludes detailed
treatment of all of their examples at this juncture, though a number of them mentioned
there, p. 348, n. 18, are dealt with in the case studies that follow. An attempt is made here
to respond in brief to their five principal examples.
On the issue of the preposition ‫‘ ִמן‬from’ with assimilated or unassimilated nun (I 348–
349, based, inter alia, on Young 2001: 123) their statistics for MT Song, where the classical
form with assimilated nun dominates, and 4QCantb, where the majority of the forms have
the more typically post-classical form with unassimilated nun, are consummate with the
standard diachronic approach. Moreover, the three scholars reasonably account for the
lack of ‫ מן‬with unassimilated nun in the Samaritan Pentateuch versus its four occurrences
in the Masoretic Pentateuch as due to “the tendency in the SP to harmonise irregularities
by replacing unusual linguistic forms with the standard ones.”
Their discussion of the “Decrease of ‫ ה‬of Direction” (I 350–351), which focuses on MT
and DSS Samuel, succeeds in illustrating (a) the difficulties presented to the diachronic
approach by linguistic differences between manuscripts, which seem especially severe in
the case of Samuel, (b) that late editors and scribes modified the language of texts, and
(c) that late scribes could make proper use of classical features. However, as is demon-
strated below (§‎7.3), in the case of other late texts, both the non-use and the promiscuous
use of directional ‫ ה‬is clear. The complexity of the literary, textual, and linguistic situation
in the case of Samuel is undeniable, but it should not be assumed to be generally repre-
sentative of late sources.
A similar argument could be made regarding MT’s ‫‘ זָ ֵקן‬old’ versus the purported ‫זקף‬
‘erect’ behind the Greek at 1 Sam 28.14 and MT’s ‫ ָע ֶרָך‬versus the expected ‫ צרך‬both ‘your
enemy’ or some other alternative at v. 16 (I 351–352). Alternatively, both MT readings
may be correct, the latter a dialectal oddity, in which case these have no real bearing on
linguistic dating.
Their discussion of ‫ ֵעת‬versus ‫ ִע ִּתים‬and of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬versus ‫( ָאנ ִֹכי‬I 352–353) is interesting,
though of questionable probity. First, it is based on Lust’s (2003) view that a single Greek
version of Ezekiel as preserved in p(apyrus)967 reflects an earlier Hebrew edition of the
introduction 35

development, but do not come close to confirming a degree of textual instabil-

ity so severe as to render impossible serious linguistic description. Other times,
the claims are based on non-linguistic grounds of highly speculative character,
with little or no supporting documentary evidence.98 In addition, there are not
a few cases in which the treatment of a given feature suffers from superficial-
ity, rendering it of questionable scientific value or misleading.99 Lastly, even
if the high degree of textual instability posited by opponents of the accepted
diachronic approach is conceded, it is incumbent upon them to explain why,
despite all this fluidity, it is precisely the corpus of texts of indisputably late
provenance that exhibits a marked concentration of linguistic elements dis-
tinctively characteristic of post-classical Hebrew, whereas texts attributed to
the period of the Exile bear lesser accumulations, and those in which such

book than does the MT (along with other witnesses). Second, even if Lust is correct—and
this is by no means certain—it shows merely that, in individual cases, late expanders
made use of both typically late—‫ ִע ִּתים‬and ‫— ֲאנִ י‬and characteristically classical—‫— ָאנ ִֹכי‬
features. This doubtless complicates matters in those specific cases where, according to
the sources, there is evidence of textual and linguistic modification. It does not, however,
irremediably obscure the linguistic profile of the entire biblical text.
Finally, their treatment of the parallel texts of 1 Kgs 22 and 2 Chr 18 (I 353–358) cor-
rectly stresses both the dominant shared linguistic component of Kings and Chronicles
and the Chronicler’s skill at employing classicisms. However, the fact that Kings should
share with Chronicles some late features is not surprising, given that the former probably
took shape during the Exile or soon thereafter. Furthermore, in light of the Chronicler’s
self-conscious penchant for archaizing and retouching his sources, it is to be expected
that his product might sometimes appear more classical than Kings. Finally, as a text
based on earlier sources, it is no wonder that Chronicles adheres to classical style to a
greater degree than other LBH and post-biblical Hebrew texts. The crucial point, however,
is explicitly admitted by Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (I 358 and elsewhere): “. . . the
core postexilic books of Esther–Chronicles are set apart by an overall higher accumula-
tion of LBH features than we find in other biblical books and especially in the books of
98 Consider, for example, Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd’s (2008:348, n. 18) acceptance of
the argument of Lust (2006:162–165) regarding ‫ ֶאל‬and ‫ ַעל‬in Ezekiel as detailed below,
§7.5, n. 148.
99 See, for example, Rezetko’s (2003: 233–235) discussion of the weqaṭal verb form. Despite
explicitly recognizing the classical iterative/durative function of the form, he evidently
does not exclude these cases from his totals of past weqaṭal forms. This is problematic,
because according to accepted theory, it is only the increased use of perfective past
weqaṭal forms that especially characterizes late biblical and extra-biblical material (see
below, §‎7.9). Also questionable is the same writer’s treatment (2003: 229–230; 2007:
173–174) of the order of the appositional element in combinations of the type ‫ְׁשֹלמֹה‬
‫‘ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬Solomon the king’ versus ‫‘ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך ְׁשֹלמֹה‬King Solomon’ (see below, §‎7.7).
36 chapter 1

accumulations are lacking generally deal with the First Temple Period.100 Were
the instability of the biblical text, i.e., the activity of post-biblical copyists, a
decisive factor in the penetration of late linguistic features into BH, we should
expect these features to be scattered throughout the canon more or less evenly,
not concentrated precisely in late material, as all of biblical literature, and not
just the latest, was subject to the vagaries of transmission in the hands of post-
biblical copyists. Whatever the level of textual instability in the ancient wit-
nesses to the Hebrew Bible, including the MT, it does not so blur or distort the
linguistic picture that one cannot reconstruct the general linguistic reality of
the biblical period on their basis with a high degree of probability.101
And finally, for most of the books in the Hebrew Bible, the MT obviously
presents the final version. For some books, it is true, there is evidence of
intermediate stages of literary development. Be that as it may, this does not
necessarily disqualify the Masoretic textual tradition from serving as a viable
linguistic witness for the various phases of BH. Indeed, linguistic arguments
have been brought to bear for purposes of dating the literary components
of several biblical compositions thought to be composite, for example, the
Priestly and Yahwistic material in the Pentateuch, ‘Second (or, according to
some, ‘Second’ and ‘Third’) Isaiah’, and the two halves of Zechariah.102 Or,
consider S.R. Driver’s (1898: 454–455) identification of a scribal gloss in Ruth
4.7, based partially on the presence there of the characteristically late form
‫‘ ִקּיֵ ם‬establish, confirm’. With specific regard to the language of the book of
Jeremiah, the difference between literary layers reflecting the ipsissima verba
of the prophet, the work of his scribe(s), and later insertions and additions,
especially section headings belonging to the editorial framework and the so-
called Masoretic pluses in comparison to the Greek text, for example, must
all be taken into consideration in a thorough diachronic examination. Again,
however, these issues merely complicate the diachronic picture; they do not
invalidate it. Historical linguistics has much to contribute to the discussion of
the literary formation of biblical texts and vice-versa.

100 Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: I 24) entertain the possibility that it is late scribes
who are responsible for the relative lack of characteristically late linguistic features in
material generally considered early: “We do not know to what extent ‘late’ words found
only in LBH books may once have appeared in EBH books.” Aside from the impression
that this seems something of a rather implausible ‘conspiracy theory’, Young, Rezetko,
and Ehrensvärd furnish no evidence indicating that characteristically late forms in classi-
cal biblical texts were replaced with classical forms by late editors/copyists.
101 Hurvitz 2000a: 160, n. 63.
102 For linguistic approaches to dating P and J see above, n. 26; on ‘Second Isaiah’ and
Zechariah see above, n. 39.
introduction 37

To sum up the discussion on the reliability of the MT as a witness to the

linguistic situation of ancient times: Masoretic orthography represents a com-
paratively late stage relative to the supposed date of composition for classical
biblical literature, the text that it presents is not free of errors, and it exhib-
its only the latest stage in the literary development of the composite texts
included therein. Be that as it may, it is reasonable in linguistic research to
utilize the MT as a point of departure, since its text actually exists and since
the majority of cases of doubt have no bearing on the validity of the diachronic
approach to BH. The limitations of the Masoretic textual tradition are not to
be ignored, and one may certainly profit from the use of other sources where
appropriate. However, one should refrain from exaggerating the severity of
the problems, from contenting oneself with theoretical possibilities, and from
relying on speculation when facts are available.103

1.5.3 The Concept of ‘Accumulation’

As has been stated, all Hebrew works securely datable on non-linguistic
grounds to the post-exilic period are characterized by an accumulation of lin-
guistic features especially distinctive of post-classical Hebrew. In the opinion
of Hurvitz (1973: 76), this accumulation is not given to objective statistical
quantification. This is due, at least in part, to the diverse degrees of linguistic
competence exhibited by late writers, whose skills in recreating the classical
idiom varied greatly, as well as to the extent to which each actually aimed to
imitate the classical idiom, as stylistic tendencies range from conservatism to
innovation. This is to say that post-exilic language and style are by no means
uniform, but in any case exhibit a common denominator of some concentra-
tion of characteristically late language. Several recent studies have emphasized

103 The appreciation of creative historical conjecture within certain circles of biblical studies
is vividly illustrated in a critique by Albertz (2001) of Lemche 1993, in which the former
complains not of too much speculation on the part of the latter, but of too little: “During
all these years, I have to state, Lemche has not worked out any historical reconstruction
of the Hellenistic period. . . . I am no longer sure whether Niels Peter Lemche is interested
in Israelite and Jewish history at all, apart from deconstructing it. For the period when the
formative historical development of Judaism took place, according to his view, he has no
historical imagination” (Albertz 2001:37). Imagination and speculation are not unknown
in linguistic studies. To be sure, assumptions must be made where there are holes in the
data, and even where information is ample interpretations often involve at least some
degree of inventiveness. Even so, Hurvitz’ (1982:19) admonition seems apt: “It is true that
a certain measure of ingenuity is useful—and, perhaps, even necessary—in studies seek-
ing to interpret texts written millennia ago. But it should be borne in mind that whenever
speculation becomes the dominant element in one’s argumentation, it does more harm
than good.”
38 chapter 1

the subjectivity inherent in the non-quantifiable criterion of accumulation

employed in the standard linguistic approach to dating biblical texts, implying
its unreliability. They propose a procedure for quantification, and, on the basis
of the suggested method, purportedly demonstrate that accumulation rates
of late linguistic features among allegedly classical and post-classical mate-
rial vary widely, with core classical and post-classical corpora exhibiting the
expected high and low concentrations of late features, respectively, but with
many cases of similar rates among allegedly early and later compositions. To
their mind, these similar rates nullify the value of the criterion of accumula-
tion and, with it, the validity of the entire linguistic approach to dating.104
The aim of establishing objectively quantifiable accumulation benchmarks
is certainly commendable, but the procedure must be sensitive to an intricate
array of interrelated factors. The methodology proposed by Young, Rezetko,
and Ehrensvärd (2008: 129–142), which totals the number of characteristically
late linguistic features in textual selections of various pieces of biblical litera-
ture five-hundred words in length and then compares the results, is straight-
forward enough, but too simplistic for such a complex linguistic situation. The
following theoretical criticisms are followed by practical examples.
First, the proposed method fails to take into account the frequency with
which a given late linguistic element is employed in a text, since “[o]nce an
author has demonstrated the possibility of using a particular LBH feature,
there is no reason it cannot be repeated as many times as opportunity presents
itself”.105 This is true, but precludes distinguishing in a given text between rare
and uncharacteristic use of a feature and recurring and characteristic linguis-
tic predilections. For this reason, a sound statistical approach must recognize
and properly weight the repeated use of a late linguistic feature in compari-
son to its sporadic use.106 The failure to make allowance for frequency also
prevents the detection of linguistic trends, e.g., the increased usage of a given
feature along the axis of time, from classical to late sources.
Second, the procedure does not distinguish between diachronic and non-
diachronic factors, such as regional dialect, social register, literary device,
individual or corporate style, and scribal or editorial intervention, but consid-
ers all characteristically late features as if their presence in a given text may
be explained only on the basis of historical development. This is surprising,

104 Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: 129–142; Young 2008: 21–26; 2009: 621–626.
105 Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 130.
106 See Dresher (2012: 24–30) for an example from the development of English and its rel-
evance to BH; see also Holmstedt 2012: 103. For examples of the early, sporadic use of
characteristically late linguistic features see above, n. 15.
introduction 39

since Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd they take great pains to provide non-
diachronic explanations for linguistic diversity in the Hebrew Bible. Due atten-
tion to multiple factors must precede mechanical tabulation.
Third, the selection of characteristically late linguistic features on which
Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd base their counts is maximal, mixing late
elements of undisputed diachronic significance with elements of more dubi-
ous diagnostic value.
Fourth, the treatment of individual linguistic elements is sometimes super-
ficial, glossing over important details (see below).
Lastly, one wonders if the five-hundred-word limit provides for too small
a sampling to be representative of the language of some of the longer texts,
particularly in light of the aforementioned factor of frequency.107
At this point in the discussion it may be helpful to illustrate the aforemen-
tioned criticisms with concrete examples. Since they may be dated extra-
linguistically, the Arad Ostraca provide a useful test-case. According to a recent
test performed by Young (2009: 623–626), the Arad Ostraca (with a total of nine
late linguistic features) had the sixth highest incidence of late linguistic fea-
tures in the selection of texts examined, following portions of Ezra (25), Daniel
(24), Chronicles (22), Nehemiah (20), and Esther (17), but lower than (inter
alia) Pesher Habakkuk (6), Ben Sira (4), and Zechariah (3). Space precludes a
detailed examination of the evidence behind all these statistics, but brief com-
ment can be made on the specific collection of late linguistic features detected
in the Arad Ostraca.108 In several cases it is not the mere presence of the fea-
ture that indicates late linguistic tendencies—as these are in fact documented
in texts thought to be classical—but their increased or frequent use. This is
true of the placement of the substantive before the numeral; use of ‫ על‬classi-
cally ‘on, above, etc.’ instead of another preposition; the phrase ‫‘ על יד‬into the
hand of’; unassimilated nun of ‫‘ מן‬from, of’; ‫ רצה‬meaning ‘want’; ‫ לק"ח‬in nifʿal
rather than qal internal passive meaning ‘be taken’; and theophoric ‫יה‬- names.
Moreover, there are exegetical difficulties with many of these cases and others

107 Note the criticism of Zevit (2012: 464), that the five-hundred-word span is half that recom-
mended by Biber (1990: 258–261) for representing common grammatical features.
108 Young 2009: 623, 625, n. 66. According the totals given in Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd
(2008: I 132–136) the Arad Ostraca rank earlier than such texts as the Temple Scroll, por-
tions of Chronicles, and a copy of the Damascus Document, have a diachronically similar
profile to the Community Rule and the War Scroll, and pattern as later than such texts as
Pesher Habakkuk and Ben Sira. It is imperative to realize that this statistical methodology
is not simply the objective quantification of the standard diachronic approach, but itself
a subjectively selective mechanism the results of which often skew linguistic reality (see
further, below).
40 chapter 1

in the Arad Ostraca that raise questions concerning their relevance to the dis-
cussion or the significance of the statistics based thereupon. For instance, the
reading of past-oriented we-qaṭálti, rather than future-oriented we-qaṭaltí in
Arad 3.2–3 and 16.4 is a matter of exegetical and linguistic judgment—rightly
informed by diachronic considerations—and not a given.109 This, in turn,
affects the interpretation (and relevance) of the u-ḇ-qåṭlō-type infinitive with-
out preceding ‫‘ וַ יְ ִהי‬and it was’ in Arad 16.3, since the latter would certainly not
be expected in reference to the future and the same infinitive structure in ref-
erence to the future without preceding ‫‘ וְ ָהיָ ה‬and it will be’ is not uncommon in
CBH. Besides, even if the reference is to the past, one wonders if the absence of
‫ וַ יְ ִהי‬could not be a product of genre: the document in question is a rather mat-
ter-of-fact, quotidian letter of instruction, not a piece of narrative literature.
In the case of the supposed theophoric ‫יה‬- names in Arad 107.2 and 110.1–2,
even if these are correct readings and genuine examples of the category,110 the
statistics fail to disclose the fact that they are in any case vastly outnumbered
in the Arad corpus by the approximately 65 cases of names ending in more
typically classical ‫יהו‬-. Significantly, problems and doubts of these kinds attach
to the late features tabulated in the other textual selections. The promising and
apparently objective statistical presentation is thus inadequate to the task. It
mechanically counts features without sensitivity to frequency (characteristic
versus uncharacteristic use) or to the full and complex array of factors contrib-
uting to linguistic diversity in ancient Hebrew. Further, it does not distinguish
between clear-cut cases and exegetical/linguistic cruxes. Since the interpreta-
tions of the latter are invariably characterized by some measure of subjectivity,
the statistics that represent them must not be viewed with the same certainty
as those representing unambiguous examples. Obviously, some of these prob-
lems are inherent in the method, while others involve the practitioner. It seems
clear that the former requires modification that goes beyond mere fine-tuning
and that its effective employment will demand more thoughtful and judicious
application than has hitherto been given. What is more, even with improve-
ment in the aforementioned areas, it is plain that the proposed method still
entails a substantial human—and, therefore, subjective—component.
It is also significant that, as noted above, the amount of linguistic material
shared by the classical and post-classical forms of ancient Hebrew is much
greater than that which divides them. This means that late linguistic features

109 See below, §‎7.9, n. 279.

110 ‫ אשיה‬in Arad 107.2 comes at the end of a line, which may have necessitated its abbrevia-
tion; the relevance of ‫ שמיה‬is questionable, as it may not in fact belong to the category of
names ending in the theophoric element. See below, §‎3.5, n. 30.
introduction 41

in post-exilic texts will nearly always constitute a small minority of the totality
of features, the majority of which will be common to many historical strata
of Hebrew, the classical layer included. Also, whereas characteristically early
features in certain linguistic domains, especially vocabulary, were doubtless
fairly easy to imitate, the simulation of others, e.g., morphology and syntax,
was evidently much more challenging. With this in mind, it seems likely that
statistical presentations can provide a helpful picture only in the case of com-
monly occurring phenomena, but not necessarily in the case of the odd clas-
sical or post-classical lexeme or even a concentration of individual lexemes.
These observations do not negate the value of statistical measurement when
it comes to the diachronic approach to BH and the linguistic dating of biblical
texts, but they do demonstrate the danger of an overly simplistic statistical
method. The attempt of Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd is somewhat reminis-
cent of that made by Giesebrecht (1881), which prompted the famous review
by S.R. Driver (1882: 203):

Giesebrecht’s facts are (with a few exceptions) correct: the use made
of them is not sufficiently discriminating. The tabular synopsis is plau-
sible and impressive: as the eye glances over it, the inferences which it
is intended to carry home seem clear and unanswerable. The same may
be said of the figures occurring so frequently in the later parts of the arti-
cle. But both labour under a radical defect: they number words instead
of weighing them; and when individual cases are examined, some cause
which cannot be tabulated may appear for the presence or absence of a
given word in a particular writing. In other words, the ostensible cause,
apparent from the table or the enumeration, may not be the real cause
which led to the employment of the word or phrase [emphasis in the

1.5.4 The Significance of Loanwords

In the course of the history of the diachronic approach to BH a strong empha-
sis has been placed on the significance of loanwords as a reliable indicator of
lateness, especially loans from Aramaic, Akkadian, and Persian (and, in a few
doubtful cases, from Greek). Unfortunately, the identification of such loans
and their attribution to a given foreign tongue have at times been determined
rather too rashly, without due consideration having been given to alternative
explanations. Other times, unwarranted conclusions have been drawn on the
basis of genuine or alleged loanwords. A number of scholars involved in the dia-
chronic investigation of BH have criticized studies in which the identification
of loanwords was methodologically suspect and/or the associated arguments
42 chapter 1

for dating flawed, especially uncritical claims regarding the classification and
chronological significance of ‘Aramaisms’.111 The diagnostic value of loans from
Akkadian and Persian must also be properly estimated.112 There is thus general
agreement that a reasonable approach to the periodization of BH and biblical
texts should entail a balanced view of the relevance of foreign loanwords. It
is interesting to note that the cautious approach with which practitioners of
the current diachronic method treat potential loanwords deviates very little
from that adopted by S.R. Driver more than a century ago: the accumulation of
genuine foreign loanwords from Aramaic, (late) Akkadian, or Persian is a reli-
able indicator of a late date of composition.113
In light of the circumspect approach to foreign loans already regularly prac-
ticed in the diachronic investigation of BH, the assessment of Young, Rezetko,
and Ehrensvärd regarding their significance for purposes of dating biblical
texts114 seems excessively critical and negative. Their discussion creates an
impression of great uncertainty in this realm, which, while not a complete mis-
representation of the situation, fails to convey the crucial fact that in most of
the relevant cases a foreign lexeme’s origin and late penetration into Hebrew
emerge clearly from the ancient sources. A minority of uncertain cases does
not invalidate a majority of sure evidence.
Somewhat emblematic of their approach is the attempt to undermine the
diagnostic value of Persianisms for the late dating of texts. To this end, Young,
Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd emphasize the apparently early attestation in BH
of forms whose Persian pedigree is dubious at best,115 among them the well-

111 See S.R. Driver’s (1882) review of Giesebrecht 1881; Nöldeke’s (1903) review of Kautzsch
1902; Hurvitz’ (1968) and Kutscher’s (1971: 358–361) reviews of Wagner 1966. See also
Kutscher 1982: §100; Hurvitz 2003.
112 Consider the careful and balanced formulation of Eskhult (2003: 12): “[T]he excess of
Akkadian and Persian loanwords is a clear characteristic of the later language” [emphasis
added: ADH].
113 Note the thoughtful discussion in S.R. Driver 1882; 1913: 156, 449–450, 501, n. *. On loan-
words in general in biblical literature see Tur-Sinai 1938a; Ellenbogen 1962; Rabin 1962;
Kutscher 1982§§69–76, 105. On loanwords from specific languages see the following:
Aramaic – Kautzsch 1902; Wagner 1966; Egyptian – Lambdin 1953; Muchiki 1999; Akkadian
– Mankowski 2000; Persian – Seow 1996: 646–654; Eskhult 2003: 12–14; Wright: 2005: 113–
120. On the issue of dating biblical compositions on the basis of foreign loans see Tur-
Sinai 1965; Hurvitz 1968; 2003; Kutscher 1982: §§70, 75, 105; Seow 1996: 646–654, 657–660;
Mankowski 2000: 173–175; Eskhult 2003; Young 1993: 66–72; 2003c: 314–317; Wright 2005:
113–120; Holmstedt 2012: 104–109.
114 Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 280–311.
115 Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 303–309 (see also Young 1993: 69–71). In their
opinion biblical scholars have not given sufficient consideration to the potential Persian
extraction of certain terms of unknown origin precisely because they predetermined the
introduction 43

known crux ‫( ֵאׁש ָּדת‬Deut 33.2 qre; ktiv: ‫)אשדת‬, which, with the support of most
of the Ancient Versions, the three scholars take as obvious and unassailable
evidence for the use of the Persian word ‫‘ ָּדת‬law’ in the Pentateuch.116 Such an
approach, of course, is extremely problematic. As they themselves point out,
there is no unanimity among the Ancient Versions.117 Even the testimony of
the MT is divided, as the difference between the written and reading traditions
demonstrates.118 Finally, there are numerous alternative solutions for the prob-
lem, not all of them requiring textual emendation.119 In sum: a few individual
forms of unknown origin are not sufficient to negate the diagnostic value of
foreign loans in general.

1.5.5 Classical Language in Late Texts and Late Language in Classical

Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: I 82–87 et passim) point out, on the
one hand, that late writers continued to make use of characteristically clas-
sical elements, i.e., tried and true linguistic features alongside which newer
alternatives had already arisen, whereas, on the other, many characteristically
late features are not limited to late texts, but occur in compositions considered
classical. In their opinion, this situation militates against the accepted dia-
chronic view that distinguishes between the classical and post-classical strata

impossibility of an early Persian loan in the Bible. However, even if one accepts the theo-
retical possibility of a Persian loanword in CBH (see, for example, S.R. Driver 1913: 449,
n. †, and the cautions formulation of Eskhult already cited above, n. 112), the Persian
origin of the alleged Persianisms listed by Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd remains far
from certain. To be sure, in the majority of cases, alternative explanations seem much
more likely. At any rate, it should be stressed that the use of Persian loanwords—whether
potential or certain—is not nearly as characteristic of works considered classical as it is of
works considered post-classical. Therefore, on the basis of the provisional linguistic pro-
file of books considered early, the proposed Persian extraction of early loans of question-
able origin should be resisted in favor of more probable alternative explanations. On the
diagnostic status of Persian loans for the late dating of biblical compositions see Hurvitz
1974a: 17; 1983a: 219; Seow 1996: 647; Eskhult 2003; Noegel and Rendsburg 2009: 174–179;
Holmstedt 2012: 107.
116 Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: 303–304.
117 The Samaritan Pentateuch: ‫( אשדת‬ktiv), ‫( אש דת‬qre); the Vulgate: ignea lex; Targum
Onkelos: ‫( אישתא אוריתא‬see also the other targums); cf. the Greek: ἄγγελοι μετ᾿ αυτοῦ;
the Peshiṭta: ‫ܝܗܒ‬ ݂ .
118 Margulis 1969: 206.
119 For a variety of suggestions see, among others, Ball 1896: 119; Cassuto 1928: 235; Nyberg
1938: 335; Cross and Freedman 1948: 199, n. 11; Beeston 1951; Miller 1964: 242; Seeligman
1964: 77; Dahood 1965: 52; G.R. Driver 1967: 50–51; Freedman 1980; Rendsburg 1980a;
Steiner 1996: 693–696.
44 chapter 1

of BH, because—evidently to their mind—the distinction in question must be

a clearly defined border, such that late compositions consistently employ late
forms to the exclusion of their classical counterparts and classical texts are com-
pletely free of linguistic elements especially characteristic of the late period.
This view seems to reveal a flawed understanding of the historical devel-
opment of languages in general and of ancient Hebrew more specifically. On
the issue of the continued use of classical features by late writers, the facts
seem rather obvious. First, as previously observed, overall, the similarities
between CBH and LBH far outnumber the differences; in other words, inno-
vation and/or development attach to a relatively small minority of linguistic
features. Second, the process by which a linguistic innovation comes into use
in a given language need not necessarily involve the total abandonment of its
earlier alternative(s). This seems especially relevant in the case of writings of a
religious character, where a high degree of linguistic and stylistic conservatism
should come as no surprise. By way of example, in no way does the post-exilic
use of classical ‫ ֵעת‬and ‫מֹועד‬
ֵ for ‘time’ impugn the characteristically late sta-
tus of ‫זְ ַמן‬. One should thus not expect a distinction between the classical and
post-classical phases of the language whereby late writers completely forsook
classical style. On the contrary, many late writers strove to lend their works a
classical air.120
As Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: I 88 et passim) themselves note,
in general the difference between CBH and LBH does not involve the substi-
tution of an old element with a new one so much as the addition of a new
element to the linguistic repertoire available to late writers. This accords with
the consensus view among proponents of the standard diachronic approach,
as represented long ago by S.R. Driver (1882: 236): the historical development
of a language is gradual and, even after many years, the use of early elements
often persists—frequently alongside that of their more recent counterparts.
Above all, despite the palpable differences between CBH and LBH, it should be
borne in mind that they are historical strata of the same written language, which
was probably more stylistically conservative than the related vernacular(s).
In conclusion, the continued late appearance of classical linguistic features in
no way affects the validity of the accepted diachronic approach to BH.121

120 Greenfield and Naveh 1984: 120–122; Joosten 2012b: 285.

121 For a broad discussion and further bibliography see Hurvitz 2000b: 185–188, where it is
stressed, inter alia, that the admixture of classical and late linguistic features is character-
istic of a wide variety of post-classical works, including late biblical literature, Ben Sira,
and the DSS.
introduction 45

Turning to the problem of encountering characteristically late linguistic fea-

tures in material of apparently classical provenance: as mentioned above, the
approach of Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd is hamstrung by its disregard for
the criterion of frequency. In the case of an absolute neologism, the first docu-
mented use must of necessity serve as a chronological marker (though, obvi-
ously, it is simplistic to believe that the first documented use is necessarily the
first actual usage). In the case of old words rarely employed in classical texts that
later on, perhaps due to external influence, gained currency in and, therefore,
became particularly characteristic of post-classical style, clearly the theoretical
availability of the element is much less important for arguments concerning
linguistic periodization than its characteristic, i.e., frequent, use in practice. The
unproductive appearance of a distinctively late linguistic feature in biblical
material of either presumed classical extraction or unknown date does not
constitute the characteristic usage necessary for dating either an individual
feature or a text.122 Even a writer’s frequent use of an individual late linguistic

122 Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: II 84–85) attempt to exploit the case of ‫ַמ ְלכּות‬
‘kingdom, reign’ to critique the accepted diachronic model. Unfortunately, the model
they scrutinize is not the cautious and nuanced one generally advocated by Hebraists,
but rather a crude oversimplification thereof. In their estimation, if a feature is defined
as characteristically late, then any text in which it is found should also be so defined;
conversely, if it can be shown on the basis of a feature’s appearance in classical material—
even sporadic appearance—that it was available for use at an early date, then the word
cannot be classified as characteristically late. Of course, such arguments are facile; they
betray an approach to linguistic change that does not comprehend the complex reality of
historical development. The determination of the exact initial date of use of a suspected
late feature is not unimportant, but in many cases of greater import is the determination
of when the usage of said feature became especially characteristic of the speech or writ-
ing of a generation of language users. In the specific case of ‫ ַמ ְלכּות‬it is clear that this was
not the classical period, since, despite its availability and notwithstanding many contexts
affording opportunities for its use, it is extremely rare. In the later period, on the other
hand, its use is typical of various languages, cultures, and genres (for details see below,
Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (ibid.) assert that the issue is merely one of style.
But matters of style can also have diachronic significance, especially if the stylistic fea-
ture in question is reflected widely in the language of a specific generation of language
users, but appears only sporadically—i.e., not characteristically—in the language of an
earlier or later generation of users (see Polak 2003). An illustrative example involves the
Babylonian month names, which served in Akkadian already in the pre-biblical period,
and which, therefore, were—at least theoretically—available for use by writers of CBH
(there is documentation of the use of these names in Canaan in Assyrian tablets from the
7th century bce discovered at Gezer; see De Vaux 1965: I 185). Be that as it may, as is well
46 chapter 1

feature is only one piece of evidence in the linguistic argument for late
composition, which must be confirmed or refuted on the basis of an accumula-
tion of multiple features. The possibility that a given late feature in an other-
wise apparently classical context is a result of literary or textual development
should also be considered (see above, §‎1.4.6).

1.5.6 The Language of Texts from the Transitional Period

Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: I 56–57) contend that the presence
of late linguistic features in compositions from the close of the First Temple
Period and the period of the Exile fatally blurs the supposedly clear distinc-
tion between CBH and LBH. They evidently expect a sharply defined linguistic
border between the two strata. Of course, this sort of expectation is unrealistic
in the case of linguistic development. It is true that the destruction of the first
temple, the Babylonian Exile, and the Restoration were among the most influ-
ential events in the history of ancient Israel (and later Judaism), affecting the
language as well as other aspects of the culture; it is just as plain, however, that,
generally speaking, the linguistic changes associated with these events were
not instantaneous, but gradual. Indeed, scholars are agreed that the processes
that led to the transition from CBH to LBH had begun already towards the end
of the First Temple Period, i.e., around the beginning of the 6th century bce,
and continued at an accelerated pace during the Exile and Restoration, but are
recognizable especially in that material written after the Restoration, i.e., after
approximately 450 bce.123 It is therefore not surprising in the least that com-
positions from the end of the First Temple Period, from the period of the Exile,
and from the Restoration period should already exhibit linguistic tendencies
more characteristic of the corpus of indisputably late material from the post-
Restoration period. Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (ibid.: 57) are aware of the
differences in frequency and accumulation of late elements in the classical,
transitional, and late corpora, but, again, deny the significance of the differ-
ences, thereby ignoring important yardsticks helpful in distinguishing the fore-
runners of linguistic tendencies later to become widespread from those that
have already become common and characteristic and, therefore, between TBH
from LBH proper.

known, these names do not appear in biblical material considered classical (which occa-
sionally employ the old Canaanite names, but more commonly use ordinal numbers).
Their use in Hebrew is known only from biblical and extra-biblical texts from after the
Exile (see Hurvitz 2012: 268–269; forthcoming).
123 S.R. Driver 1898: 504–505, n. *; Hurvitz 1982: 152–153, n. 36; 2007: 25; Talshir 2003; Wright
2005: 154. See also Knauf 2006: 310–311.
introduction 47

1.5.7 Linguistic and Non-linguistic Research

Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: I 16, 60–62; II 1–71) reject the supposed
objectivity of the linguistic approach to the periodization of biblical literature
and demand that research of this type be based on linguistic as well as non-
linguistic evidence, the latter category including, but not limited to, literary,
theological, historical, textual, archaeological, sociological, and anthropologi-
cal evidence. To their mind the dates of composition determined on the basis
of the linguistic approach contradict many of the ‘consensus’ dates reached
on the basis of alternative approaches, so that the linguistic approach stands
in virtual isolated opposition to the rest of biblical scholarship. This presen-
tation of the scholarly landscape is arguably misleading. First, while the call
for an interdisciplinary approach is both reasonable and laudable, it should
be noted that the majority of those involved in the dating of biblical litera-
ture on non-linguistic grounds routinely disregard linguistic evidence or give it
only cursory treatment. Second, the current scholarly state of affairs is not as
straightforward as that depicted by Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd, i.e., with
proponents of the linguistic approach on one side of the issue and proponents
of the rest of the approaches on the other. As their own survey (2008: II 1–71)
demonstrates, there are non-linguistic arguments on every side of the dispute
and it is often difficult to find any consensus among those involved in non-
linguistic research.
For example, in their discussion of the date of the Priestly material in
the Pentateuch (= P), Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: II 12–17) stress
the relatively recent role played by the linguistic evidence. In their estimation,
the results of certain investigations that conclude that P is composed mainly
of early material are dubious because they fly in the face of the late date
assigned to this material by most scholars. However, notwithstanding their list
of modern scholars who see in P a pre-exilic composition, Young, Rezetko, and
Ehrensvärd virtually ignore the fact that there have always been doubts regard-
ing the late dating of P along the lines of the Graf-Wellhausian Documentary
Hypothesis and that these doubts have not necessarily involved issues of
language. To this day arguments for the classical provenance of P include
both the linguistic and the non-linguistic. It is thus evident that the linguistic
approach to the periodization of biblical literature contradicts certain non-
linguistic approaches, but harmonizes quite well with others.124

124 See the convenient introduction in Wenham 1979: 8–13. The introduction in Hartley
1992: xxxv–xliii reflects the complex nature of the various approaches to the origin of the
Priestly material and the difficulty of finding a consensus. See also Zevit 1982 and the list
of scholars provided in Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: II 13. Of course, it should
also be noted that there is a lack of consensus on the date of P even among practitioners
48 chapter 1

Third, contrary to the claim that those involved in the diachronic inves-
tigation of BH rely exclusively on linguistic evidence, Young, Rezetko, and
Ehrensvärd themselves (2008: I 62–63) note examples of the integration of
various sorts of evidence by proponents of the linguistic approach.125 The
contention of the present study is not that the dating of biblical texts need
be purely linguistic, but that whatever non-linguistic approaches are adopted,
it is to their detriment that they ignore the linguistic dimension. Given the
nature of the data—limited, often fragmentary, and frequently ambiguous
even where abundant—it is inevitable that there be differences of opinion,
sometimes significant, regarding exactly how such methodologies are to be
integrated. Yet, if the certainty of conclusions reached on the basis of the con-
trolled linguistic methods described and applied herein is undermined by the
difficult conditions of working with ancient Semitic texts, how much more so
conclusions reached by means of non-linguistic approaches, in which schol-
ars’ subjective interpretations of these same data seems the chief component.
The call here is for serious attention to linguistic evidence in the pursuit of
literary periodization.

1.5.8 Critical Summary of the ‘Anti-linguistic’ Approach

The recent attempt to undermine the validity of the historical linguistic
approach to the periodization of biblical literature and to its results, conve-
niently represented by the recent (2008) two-volume publication of Young,
Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd, raises important methodological issues and makes a
number of valid considerations and proposals.126 However, the argumentation

of the linguistic approach, with several arguing for an exilic or post-exilic date of compo-
sition (see Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: II 16–17).
125 For an instructive example see above, §‎1.4.6, and the more detailed discussion below cited
there. Supporters of the diachronic approach routinely consider non-diachronic explana-
tions. Moreover, their treatment of these non-diachronic explanations is frequently much
more detailed and thorough than that of the dissenters. See, for example, S.R. Driver 1898:
188, n. *, 449, n. *, 553, n. †; Hurvitz 1968; 1972: 179–181; 2003; Kutscher 1982: §§79, 99;
Rendsburg 1990a; 1990b; 1991; 1992a; 1992b; 1995; 2002a; 2002b; 2006a; 2006b; Schniedewind
and Sivan 1997; Wright 2003. The apparent preference for diachronic explanations among
those involved in the issue should not necessarily be interpreted as deriving from preju-
dice in favor of the diachronic approach, but from serious consideration of the alternative
explanations, according to which the former is judged more reasonable than the latter.
126 One line of criticism found in both Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: passim) and
several of the studies critical of their book, e.g., Holmstedt 2012 and Naudé 2012, is the fail-
ure in much diachronic research on Hebrew to interact seriously with current approaches
to historical linguistics based on the study of non-Semitic languages. This is a valid point
introduction 49

suffers from numerous fundamental flaws. In the face of an accepted theory

securely founded on an abundance of solid data, the counterarguments often
consist of little more than the suggestion of potential alternatives, which are all
too often, due to the absence of clear and concrete documentary evidence, left
in the realm of theory and conjecture. Actual examples, whether in support of
alternative approaches or against the standard diachronic model are few, often
controversial, and frequently irrelevant or unconvincing. A modest proportion
of the criticism hits the mark, especially in connection to the more facile and
shallow arguments of diachronic and non-diachronic character adduced over
the years. Even so, in the majority of these cases similar or identical points and
corrections had already been voiced by competent scholars engaged in dia-
chronic research, so that one wonders if the critics of the linguistic approach
are aware of the non-novel status of their criticism.127 More frequently, criti-
cism leveled against serious and thorough diachronic investigations reveals a
lack of understanding of the issues and/or an overly simplistic treatment of
the basic linguistic facts.128 There are also cases in which the critics ‘build a
straw man’ by presenting a weaker and more extreme version of the opposing
position than is warranted. Likewise, one must be wary of the distortion of
assertions made by proponents of the diachronic approach in support of views
that they may not hold.129

and the addition of research in this vein, such as the aforementioned studies, along with
Dresher 2012 and Kim 2012, is a welcome development. However, incorporation of the
theories and methods developed in studies of this sort brings with it no guaranty of reli-
able conclusions, as Zevit (2012: 462–465) has demonstrated by detailing the superficial
treatment and misapplication of several relevant studies in the research by Young,
Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd.
127 Major examples include criticism of what they consider the standard superficial approach
to loanwords and the need for considering non-diachronic alternatives to the diachronic
explanation of non-standard linguistic features and compositions characterized by the
use of non-standard language.
128 This superficiality manifests itself in different ways: a few lines of perfunctory refutation
of detailed arguments that have taken well-respected scholars pages to lay out; the fail-
ure to distinguish between more and less meaningful data (for example, most scholars
would consider the concentration of Persian vocabulary in a given text a sure sign of late
provenance, whereas the fluctuation between the prepositions ‫ ֶאל‬and ‫ ַעל‬, though indeed
more common in late than in early texts, should probably be considered less securely
diagnostic, as it occurs a not inconsiderable number of times in works considered early,
including, perhaps, pre-exilic inscriptional evidence; see below, §‎7.5).
129 Consider, for example, the reference made by Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: I 60) to
Blau (1976: 1), cited explicitly in opposition to the accepted linguistic approach to the peri-
odization of BH: “We do not possess any objective criteria for fixing the accurate date of the
50 chapter 1

The standard linguistic approach to the dating of ancient Hebrew texts is

not full-proof. Nor does its implementation remove the need for interpreta-
tion and judgment, which are of necessity subjective. For this reason, there is
some room for disagreement among practitioners of this method and between
practitioners of it and adherents to alternative avenues of research, the results
of which may complement or contradict conclusions based on linguistic study.
However, despite recent attempts to undermine it, the linguistic approach to
dating remains the regnant standard among Hebraists and for some bibli-
cists as well. While there is a degree of risk and uncertainty inherent in any
research program in which subjectivity plays a part, the linguistic approach
to dating ancient Hebrew texts is certainly no more subjective than alterna-
tive approaches.130 Indeed, in the opinion of many scholars it involves a good
deal less subjectivity than competing lines of argumentation. Its repute among
Hebrew specialists and Bible scholars alike continues to make it a viable area
of research, notwithstanding the recent attacks it has endured. In light of the
current scholarly emphasis on variegated and multidisciplinary approaches to
biblical studies, the dating of biblical texts should incorporate not only non-
linguistic methods, but those linguistic methods pioneered in the 19th century
and more recently refined, but so often ignored in recent critical scholarship.
Unfortunately, a consequence of the anti-linguistic arguments reviewed above
is likely to be the conclusion, particularly among those less familiar with the
linguistic data, that language may safely be ignored when it comes to ques-
tions of periodization. However, discarding the most objective corrective to
the creative and interesting, but highly speculative, results of non-linguistic
approaches can hardly be considered a methodological improvement. What
is needed is more serious integration of linguistic and non-linguistic evidence,
lending to each no more than the amount of credence due it.

biblical books” (emphasis that of Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd). Now, in light of Blau’s
opinion as expressed later in the same work (ibid.: 2) and in studies dealing specifically
with the historical phases of the Hebrew language (1978; 1997; 1998), which argue, cru-
cially, that three historical phases can be discerned in BH, it would seem that Blau’s point
was that there are no objective criteria for fixing the absolute date at which each biblical
book was composed—on which there is unanimous consensus among those involved
in diachronic research—and not that objective criteria for the relative dating of biblical
literature are totally lacking.
130 See Tiemeyer (2011), who, though accepting a post-exilic date of composition for such
prophetic passages as Isa 18–23, 24–27, 56–66, Ezek 7 and 28, and Zech 9–14, perceptively
underscores the highly subjective nature of literary arguments for the Hellenisitc dating
of such material. It is hoped that the present work’s responses to criticism of the linguistic
approach to dating biblical texts will suffice to assuage at least some of the doubts raised
by Tiemeyer (ibid.: 256–261) regarding this methodology.
chapter 2

The Language of the Book of Jeremiah

The principal objective of the present study is to situate the language of the
book of Jeremiah within the broader history of the Hebrew language. As argued
in the introductory chapter, attempts (some recent) to discredit the standard
linguistic approach to dating biblical and extra-biblical texts, while no-doubt
judged by some as conclusively damning, are here considered unconvincing.1 It
remains a valuable paradigm and, as such, is adopted in the present study with
slight modification so that the language of Jeremiah may be correctly located
not only within BH, but within ancient Hebrew more generally. For this rea-
son, the criterion of Late Distribution is understood here to include Jeremiah
and other likely exilic/transitional material as well as LBH, non-Masoretic, and
post-biblical Hebrew, and late Aramaic, rather than just LBH.
Comparison with other texts proceeds from those biblical and extra-
biblical sources that can be unequivocally dated—both linguistically and non-
linguistically—to the later period through those extra-biblical inscriptions
that can be dated—non-linguistically—to the early period to bodies of biblical
text dated linguistically to the classical, transitional, and late periods. Since the
linguistic approach to dating has been deemed viable both here and elsewhere
in recent scholarship, its results regarding the classical dating of large portions
of the Hebrew Bible, e.g., the Torah and the Former Prophets, are accepted as
reliable. This is not to say that the Hebrew of, say, Genesis–Kings is homog-
enous, nor that this material is entirely lacking in characteristically late fea-
tures, but that notwithstanding fluctuations, these texts present a consistently
more classical linguistic profile than transitional and LBH sources. Statistically
speaking, a given corpus, for instance, P, may betray a typically late tendency
in one or even a few categories, e.g., use of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬rather than ‫( ָאנ ִֹכי‬see below, §‎4.1),
which may or may not necessitate a diachronic explanation, but these pale
in comparison to the multiple categories of characteristically late elements
present in high concentrations in all extant LBH, late non-Masoretic, and post-
biblical Hebrew sources. Summary judgments regarding the date of a given
composition based on only one or a few features must be avoided in favor of
descriptions taking into account accumulations of multiple features.

1 Far from being the isolated view of the present author, this opinion seems to hold general
sway among Hebrew specialists, as seen in the majority of the relevant articles in such col-
lections as Young 2003a, Hebrew Studies 46 (2005) and 47 (2006), and Miller-Naudé and Zevit
2012, as well as in Joosten 2012a.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���4 | doi ��.��63/9789004269651_��3

52 chapter 2

While non-diachronic explanations for some of the non-standard linguistic

features in Jeremiah—dialect, register, textual corruption, literary device—
are considered in the following studies, in line with doubts regarding the cer-
tainty of their respective methodologies as outlined in the Introduction these
are often judged less convincing than diachronic explanations. The bulk of
the non-standard features in Jeremiah are here ascribed to the book’s having
been written in a transitional form of BH linking CBH and LBH, approximately
reflecting the Hebrew of the 6th century bce.

2.1 History of Research

While the book of Jeremiah has garnered a great deal of scholarly attention
over the years—with research focused on such topics as its theology; the per-
sonality of the prophet and the nature of his prophecy; the historical portrait
presented by the book; its literary development, editing, and textual transmis-
sion (especially in view of the striking differences between the MT and the
Greek, on which see below, §‎9); and its dependence on, use of, or affiliation
with other biblical material2—its language has been relatively little discussed.
This is not to say that scholars have totally ignored linguistic issues in relation
to the book. Some who have investigated the aforementioned topics, espe-
cially those who have sought to identify the book’s component literary layers
and those interested in uncovering connections between the book and other
biblical material, like Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History, have
displayed sensitivity to language. By and large, however, these studies have
focused on style (e.g., characteristic vocabulary and phraseology), refraining
from a comprehensive examination of the language of the book from the per-
spective of historical linguistics.
The three most significant studies of the language of Jeremiah are articles
by Stipp (1997) and Joosten (2008), both of which deal with linguistic differ-
ences between the purported short Hebrew text thought to stand behind
the Greek translation and the longer Masoretic edition (see below, §‎9.2.2), and
C. Smith’s (2003) dissertation, which focuses mainly on morphology and high-
lights what the author considers linguistic features especially characteristic of
Jeremiah’s Benjaminite dialect (see below, §‎2.3).

2 Space precludes a detailed bibliographical survey of these topics. Besides the various
introductions to biblical literature and the relevant commentaries, the interested reader is
encouraged to consult Robinson 1924; Bright 1951; 1966; Holladay 1960; 1975; Hyatt 1961; 1967;
Weinfeld 1972; Thiel 1973–1981; Weippert 1973; Perdue 1984; Lundbom 1992; Friedman 1997;
Lipiński and Sperling 1997; Parke-Taylor 2000.
the language of the book of jeremiah 53

2.2 The Language of the Book of Jeremiah from a Diachronic


For the most part, the language of the book of Jeremiah exhibits a classical
aspect. It lacks unequivocal linguistic marks of post-exilic composition, e.g., a
striking accumulation of characteristically late features relative to its length.
There are no obvious Persianisms or Grecisms, though, it should be noted that
still later texts, including, for example, many of the non-biblical DSS, also lack
such obvious signs of lateness. The book’s language does, however, present
a considerable number of cases of late Aramaic influence together with fea-
tures especially characteristic of the latest phases of ancient Hebrew, such as
LBH, DSS Hebrew, and RH. It even contains a few features first documented in
Jeremiah that are totally lacking in LBH proper and which are not found again
until post-biblical sources. Now, one should not necessarily chalk up every
non-standard linguistic feature in the book of Jeremiah to historical develop-
ment of the language; alternative factors, such as regional variation, diglos-
sia, literary device, genre, and editorial or scribal intervention must also be
weighed. Be that as it may, evidence of diachronic development often proves
more convincing than other types of evidence.

2.2.1 Characteristically Late Linguistic Features

The lists that follow present the non-standard, i.e., non-classical, linguistic fea-
tures in the book of Jeremiah that are found exclusively or especially in LBH
and/or in other post-classical phases of ancient Hebrew.

Orthography and phonology: the plene spellings ‫‘ יעקוב‬Jacob’ (§‎3.1.1) and the
strong qal infinitive construct ‫§( (ל)קטול‬‎3.1.3); the shift from ‫ צ‬to ‫ ז‬in deriva-
tives of the root ‫‘ זע"ק‬cry out, muster’ (§‎3.4); proper names ending in the
abbreviated theophoric suffix ‫יה‬- (§‎3.5); the spelling/pronunciation ‫ירושלים‬
‘Jerusalem’, with the triphthong ayi marked by ‫§( י‬‎3.6); the shift from ‫ צ‬to ‫ ׂש‬in
derivatives of ‫‘ ׂשח"ק‬laugh, play’ (§‎3.7); ‫‘ נבוכדנאצר‬Nebuchadnezzar’ with nun
(§‎3.8); derivatives of the root ‫‘ רפ"א‬heal’ on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern (§‎3.9).

Pronominal morphology: the preference for 1cs ‫ ֲאנִ י‬over ‫‘ ָאנ ִֹכי‬I’ and the condi-
tioned use of the latter (§‎4.1); 1cpl ‫‘ אנו‬we’ (§‎4.3); 3mpl ‫‘ ֵה ָּמה‬they’ (§‎4.5); 3mpl
ֶ ‫ֹות‬-/‫ם‬
ֵ ֶ ‫◌ ֵׁת‬- ‘their’ (§‎4.6).

Nominal morphology: the qå̄ṭōl pattern (§‎5.1); the qĕṭå̄l pattern (§‎5.2).

Verbal morphology: the full/long yiqṭol form in wayyiqṭol (§‎6.1); verbal forms
derived from the root ‫‘ חי"י‬live’ on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern (§‎6.2).
54 chapter 2

Syntax: the accusative particle -‫אֹות‬/-‫ אֹת‬in place of the preposition -‫‘ ִאּת‬with’
(§‎7.2); non-standard use of directional he (‫ָ◌ה‬-; §‎7.3); use of the preposi-
tion -‫ ל‬with verbs denoting locative movement (§‎7.4); interchange of the
prepositions ‫ ֶאל‬and ‫§( ַעל‬‎7.5); accusative use of the preposition -‫§( ל‬‎7.5);
the order of the appositive in the expression ‫ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬X ‘X the king’ (§‎7.7); use
of weqaṭal to mark perfective past (§‎7.9); use of the infinitive absolute in
place of finite verbal forms (§‎7.10); the double plural construct chain (§‎7.11);
combinations of the type X- ְ‫ ו‬X (‫‘ )ּכֹל‬all/every X’ with distributive force

Lexicon: ‫‘ ִּד ֵּבר‬word of God’ (§‎8.1); the plural of ‫‘ ַחיִ ל‬force’ (§‎8.2); ‫‘ ח ִֹרים‬nobles’
(§‎8.3); the semantic shift of the gentilic ‫הּודי‬ ִ ְ‫‘ י‬Judahite, Jew’ (§‎8.4); nominal
use of ‫יֹומם‬
ָ ‘day’ (§‎8.5); ‫‘ ַמ ְלכּות‬kingdom’ (§‎8.6); ‫‘ נט"ר‬watch, guard’ (§‎8.7); ‫ער"ב‬
‘be pleasant’ (§‎8.8); ‫‘ ֲע ֶת ֶרת‬wealth’ (§‎8.9); ‫ּוסגָ נִ ים‬
ְ ‫‘ ַּפחֹות‬governors and prefects’
(§‎8.10); ‫‘ ַרב‬great man, noble, officer’ (§‎8.11); ‫רּוח‬ ַ ‘cardinal direction’ (§‎8.12); ‫ָרץ‬
‘messenger’ (§‎8.13).

2.2.2 Differences in the Distribution Patterns of Late Features in Jeremiah

The majority of Jeremiah’s linguistic elements especially characteristic of
post-exilic Hebrew are also found both in the LBH corpus proper and in non-
Masoretic and post-biblical sources (whether Hebrew, Aramaic, or both).
Generally, use of these elements is sporadic in Jeremiah (and sometimes also
in other transitional books or earlier material) and gradually increases in post-
biblical material. In light of such a distribution pattern, the status of the rel-
evant linguistic elements as features distinctively characteristic of post-exilic
Hebrew is virtually certain. However, several linguistic phenomena appear in
Jeremiah and in extra-biblical post-exilic sources, but not in the distinctive
LBH corpus. The characteristically late nature of these it is also possible to
establish with a reasonably high degree of certainty, as the LBH corpus is quite
limited and it is not surprising that a given number of characteristically late
linguistic features recorded in Jeremiah and post-biblical sources may have
failed to appear in the LBH corpus proper as a chance consequence of its very
limited scope. Conversely, Jeremiah also shares with LBH a linguistic element
possibly to be seen as characteristic of post-classical Hebrew that is (nearly)
absent from post-biblical sources. Regarding the supposed characteristically
late status of this feature one must entertain serious doubts, since its absence
from the broader corpus of post-biblical material raises the suspicion that it
may represent an ephemeral linguistic trend or involve the merely sporadic
use of an element not particularly characteristic of any era. There is also a
the language of the book of jeremiah 55

single linguistic element of potential diachronic import recorded exclusively

in the book of Jeremiah; its status as a marker of post-classical Hebrew is based
solely on typological considerations and, as such, is obviously a matter of the
highest speculation.

Late linguistic features found in Jeremiah, LBH, and post-biblical Hebrew: the
plene spellings of the proper name ‫‘ יעקוב‬Jacob’ (§‎3.1.1) and of the strong qal
infinitive construct ‫§( (ל)קטול‬‎3.1.3); the shift from ‫ צ‬to ‫ ז‬in derivatives of the
root ‫‘ זע"ק‬cry out, muster’ (§‎3.4); proper names ending in the abbreviated
theophoric suffix ‫יה‬- (§‎3.5); the spelling/pronunciation ‫‘ ירושלים‬Jerusalem’
(§‎3.6); ‫‘ נבוכדנאצר‬Nebuchadnezzar’ with nun (§‎3.8); derivatives of the root ‫רפ"א‬
‘heal’ on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern (§‎3.9); the preference for ‫ ֲאנִ י‬over ‫‘ ָאנ ִֹכי‬I’ and the con-
ditioned use of the latter (§‎4.1); ‫‘ ֵה ָּמה‬they’ (§‎4.5); ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬-/‫ם‬
ֵ ֶ ‫◌ ֵׁת‬- ‘their’ (§‎4.6);
the qĕṭål pattern (§‎5.2); the long yiqṭol form in wayyiqṭol (§‎6.1); verbal forms
derived from the root ‫‘ חי"י‬live’ on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern (§‎6.2); the accusative par-
ticle -‫אֹות‬/-‫ אֹת‬in place of the preposition -‫‘ ִאּת‬with’ (§‎7.2); non-standard use of
directional he (‫ָ◌ה‬-; §‎7.3); use of the preposition -‫ ל‬with verbs denoting locative
movement (§‎7.4); interchange of the prepositions ‫ ֶאל‬and ‫§( ַעל‬‎7.5); accusative
use of the preposition -‫§( ל‬‎7.6); the order of the appositive in the expression
‫ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬X ‘X the king’ (§‎7.7); use of weqaṭal to mark perfective past (§‎7.9); use of
the infinitive absolute in place of finite verbal forms (§‎7.10); the double plural
construct chain (§‎7.11); combinations of the type X- ְ‫ ו‬X (‫‘ )ּכֹל‬all/every X’ with
distributive force (§‎7.12); the plural of ‫‘ ַחיִ ל‬force’ (§‎8.2); ‫‘ ח ִֹרים‬nobles’ (§‎8.3);
the semantic shift of the gentilic ‫הּודי‬ ִ ְ‫‘ י‬Judahite, Jew’ (§‎8.4); nominal use of
‫יֹומם‬ָ ‘day’ (§‎8.5); ‫‘ ַמ ְלכּות‬kingdom, reign’ (§‎8.6); ‫‘ נט"ר‬watch, guard’ (§‎8.7); ‫ַּפחֹות‬
ְ ‘governors and prefects’ (§‎8.10); ‫‘ ַרב‬great man, noble, officer’ (§‎8.11); ‫רּוח‬
‫ּוסגָ נִ ים‬ ַ
‘cardinal direction’ (§‎8.12).

Late linguistic features found in Jeremiah and post-biblical Hebrew, but not in
LBH: the shift from ‫ צ‬to ‫ ׂש‬in derivatives of ‫‘ ׂשח"ק‬laugh, play’ (§‎3.7); ‫‘ אנו‬we’
(§‎4.4); the qå̄ṭōl pattern (§‎5.1); ‫‘ ִּד ֵּבר‬word of God’ (§‎8.1); ‫‘ ער"ב‬be pleasant’
(§‎8.8); ‫‘ ֲע ֶת ֶרת‬wealth’ (§‎8.9).

Late linguistic features found in Jeremiah and LBH, but not in post-biblical
Hebrew: ‫‘ ָרץ‬messenger’ (§‎8.13).

Typologically late linguistic features found exclusively in Jeremiah: ‫‘ זאתה‬this’

(ktiv, for ‫§ ;זֹאת‬‎4.8).
56 chapter 2

2.2.3 Factors Contributing to the Development of Late Features

The language of Jeremiah is marked by the results of both internal develop-
ment and external influence.

Internal Development. Some linguistic phenomena characteristic of post-

exilic Hebrew and found in the book of Jeremiah are most likely the result of
internal development: ‫‘ אנו‬we’ (§‎4.3); the long yiqṭol form in wayyiqṭol (§‎6.1);
non-standard use of directional he (‫ָ◌ה‬-; §‎7.3); the double plural construct
chain (§‎7.11); the plural of ‫‘ ַחיִ ל‬force’ (§‎8.2); the semantic shift of the gentilic
ִ ְ‫‘ י‬Judahite, Jew’ (§‎8.4); ‫‘ ער"ב‬be pleasant’ (§‎8.8).

Aramaic Influence. According to biblical testimony, already in the classi-

cal period (the First Temple Period or before) biblical writers demonstrated
acquaintance with Aramaic (indicating a certain expected acquaintance there-
with among their readership). For example, the placement of the toponym ‫יְ גַ ר‬
ָ ‫ ַׂש ֲה‬, literally ‘the mound of testimony’ (|| ‫‘ ּגַ ְל ֵעד‬mound of witness’ Gen
31.47), in the mouth of Laban the Aramean points to a measure of knowledge
of (Old) Aramaic among Hebrew users, as does the employment of Aramaic or
seemingly Aramaic forms in the speech of other foreigners, in foreign contexts,
and in addresses ostensibly directed at foreign audiences. With the successive
rise and expansion of the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Empires—in all
of which Aramaic served as a major language of trade and administration—
Aramaic influence on the languages of the Ancient Near East, among them
Hebrew, only increased. Aramaic’s official status is poignantly manifest in
the request of King Hezekiah’s ministers to Assyrian king Sennacherib’s rep-
resentative, Rab-Shakeh (‘commander’), that the latter parley with them in
Aramaic.3 In the post-exilic period the extent of Aramaic influence on biblical
literature is observable in entire sections written in that language4 as well as
numerous linguistic forms that penetrated Hebrew either from or via Aramaic
or that were native to Hebrew but became more widespread due to their simi-
larity to a feature common in Aramaic.
The book of Jeremiah, which, as is well known, deals with events of the late
First Temple Period and the Exile, when Aramaic already enjoyed the status
of a lingua franca shared by many and diverse people groups spread over an
extensive area, exhibits a significant number of linguistic phenomena reveal-
ing Aramaic influence. The book also contains one entire verse in Aramaic
(Jer 10.11):

3 2 Kgs 18.26 || Isa 36.11.

4 Dan 2.4b–7.28; Ezra 4.8–6.18; 7.12–26
the language of the book of jeremiah 57

‫אמ ֣רּון ְל ֔הֹום‬ ְ ‫‘ ִּכ ְדנָ ֙ה ֵּת‬Thus will you say to them:
ְ ‫“ ֱא ָל ַ֣ה ָּ֔יא ִ ּֽד‬The gods who did not make the heavens
‫י־ׁש ַמ ָּי֥א וְ ַא �ר ָ ְ֖קא ָל֣א ֲע ַ ֑בדּו‬
and the earth—
‫ן־ּת ֥חֹות ְׁש ַמ ָּי֖א ֵ ֽא ֶּלה׃‬
ְ ‫ּומ‬ ֧ ַ ֵ‫ י‬these will perish from the earth and
ִ ‫אבדּו ֵ ֽמ ַא ְר ָ ֛עא‬
from under the heavens.” ’5

It should be emphasized, however, that the extent of Aramaic influence in

Jeremiah is not as great as that discernible in some of the books that comprise
the distinctive LBH corpus.

5 Some commentators see this verse as a late addition to Jer 10 (e.g., McKane 1986–1996: I 218).
Others consider it an integral part of the chapter (e.g., Holladay 1986–1989: I 322–335) or,
at the very least, an independent expression that was inserted into the context at or near
the time of the chapter’s composition (Lundbom 1999–2004: I 593–595; in Codex Leningrad,
Codex Aleppo, and 4QJerb there are spaces before and after the verse). It is noteworthy that
the verse is reflected in all of the ancient textual witnesses, including the two fragments from
the DSS that include the relevant section (4QJera and 4QJerb). It is also worth pointing out
that the last two lines of the verse have a chiastic structure: a-b-c-d || d′-c′-b′-a′. Accordingly,
‫‘ ֵ ֽא ֶּלה‬these’ at the end of the verse does not modify ‫‘ ְׁש ַמ ָּי֖א‬heavens’, but rather serves as the
subject of its clause (corresponding chiastically to ‫‘ ֱא ָל ַ֣ה ָּ֔יא‬gods’; this interpretation is sup-
ported by the disjunctive accent [ṭip̄ ḥa] on the word ‫‘ ְׁש ַמ ָּי֖א‬heavens’ in the last line). On
the assumption that evidence of the verse’s date may be drawn from its language (although,
admittedly, its brevity makes this a highly speculative enterprise), it should be noted that the
Aramaic word for ‘earth’ is written in both its early form, ‫( ארק‬cf. the same spelling in the
inscriptions from Tell Fekheriye [KAI 309.2] and Tel Dan [KAI 310.4] from the 9th century
bce, from the inscriptions of Zakkur [KAI 202 B.26], Panamu [KAI 214.5, 6, 7, 10; 215.5, 7, 14],
Barrakib [Zinjirli; KAI 216.4; 217.2], and Sefire [KAI 222 A1.26, 28; A2.27; B1.8; C.6] from the 8th
century bce, and from the Saqqara papyrus [KAI 266.2] from the end of the 7th or beginning
of the 6th century bce), and in its later form, ‫( ארע‬which is apparently first documented
in the Elephantine material from the 5th century bce). It is interesting that there is other
material from the 5th century bce that, like Jer 10.11, exhibits a mixture of this word’s classi-
cal and late spellings, e.g., ‫ ‘‏‬Whoever shall institute against you (suit) in my name about that
land (‫ )ארקא‬shall give you silver, 20, that is twenty, karsh by the stone(-weight)s of the king,
silver 2 q(uarters) to the ten, and that land (‫ )וארקא‬is likewise yours and you are withdrawn
from any suit (in) which they shall complain against you on account of that land (‫’)ארעא‬
(TAD B2.2 14–16, which is dated to the 21st year of Xerxes I, i.e., to approximately 465 bce).
Baumgartner (1927: 101) proposed a 5th-century date of composition for Jer 10.11; cf. Coxon
(1979: 17), who warns against conclusions that go beyond the evidence. The combination
‫‘ מארעא‬from the earth’ is a hapax legomenon in Aramaic; 4QJerb has the more common ‫מן‬
‫ארעא‬. The form ‫‘ אלה‬these’ was once considered an obvious Hebraism, but several cases
have since been discovered in Egyptian Aramaic (e.g., TAD A3 9.5; A6 11.3).
58 chapter 2

Among the phenomena in Jeremiah considered ‘Aramaisms’ there are those

that apparently came into existence in Hebrew due to Aramaic influence.
However, not every development linked to Aramaic began its existence in
Hebrew in this way. In many cases linguistic phenomena defined as ‘Aramaisms’
are indeed especially characteristic of Aramaic, but are already sporadically
documented in classical biblical sources, which, generally speaking, are free
of unequivocal signs of Aramaic influence. Many of these phenomena are
apparently purely Hebrew, which is to say that their use in both Hebrew and
Aramaic derives from the fact that the two languages share a common Semitic
heritage. Genuine Aramaic influence is discernible in the more frequent use of
these elements in later phases of ancient Hebrew (biblical and post-biblical),
beginning with the late First Temple Period, after which the influence exerted
by Aramaic on Hebrew increased considerably.
In other cases, employment of an archaic Hebrew form ceased in CBH only
to make a comeback during the late period as a merely archaistic usage, per-
haps under the influence of Aramaic, in which the use of the form in question
had never ceased. However, it is often difficult to distinguish between the vari-
ous kinds of Aramaic influence discussed here.

(a) Aramaic loans: the qĕṭå̄l nominal pattern (§‎5.2); ‫‘ ח ִֹרים‬nobles’ (§‎8.3);
nominal use of ‫יֹומם‬ ָ ‘day’ (§‎8.5); ‫‘ נט"ר‬watch, guard’ (§‎8.7); ‫‘ ַרב‬great man,
noble, officer’ (§‎8.11).
(b) Loans from Akkadian introduced via Aramaic: ‫‘ נבוכדנאצר‬Nebuchadnez-
zar’ with nun (§‎3.8); ‫ּוסגָ נִ ים‬ ְ ‫‘ ַּפחֹות‬governors and prefects’ (§‎8.10); ‫רּוח‬
ַ ‘car-
dinal direction’ (§‎8.12); ‫‘ ָרץ‬messenger’ (§‎8.13).
(c) Aramaic influence and the late preference for certain native Hebrew ele-
ments: the shift from ‫ צ‬to ‫ ז‬in derivatives of the root ‫‘ זע"ק‬cry out, muster’
(§‎3.4); the preference for ‫ ֲאנִ י‬over ‫‘ ָאנ ִֹכי‬I’ and the conditioned use of the
latter (§‎4.1); ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬-/‫ם‬
ֵ ֶ ‫◌ ֵׁת‬- ‘their’ (§‎4.6); the qå̄ṭōl pattern (§‎5.1); verbal
forms derived from the root ‫‘ חי"י‬live’ on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern (§‎6.2); the accusa-
tive particle -‫אֹות‬/-‫ אֹת‬in place of the preposition -‫‘ ִאּת‬with’ (§‎7.2); use of
the preposition -‫ ל‬with verbs denoting locative movement (§‎7.4); accu-
sative use of the preposition -‫§( ל‬‎7.6); the order of the appositive in the
expression ‫ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬X ‘X the king’ (§‎7.7); the plural of ‫‘ ַחיִ ל‬force’ (§‎8.2); ‫ַמ ְלכּות‬
‘kingdom, reign’ (§‎8.6).
(d) The role of Aramaic in the late reappearance of archaic Hebrew ele-
ments: the 2fs endings ‫ִ◌י‬- in ‫‘ אתי‬you’ (ktiv), ‫כי‬- ִ , and ‫ּתי‬-
ִ (§‎4.2); 3fs ‫קטלת‬
(§‎4.3); 3fpl ‫§( קטלה‬‎4.7).
the language of the book of jeremiah 59

2.2.4 Linguistic Traits Especially Characteristic of Transitional Biblical

The difference between CBH and LBH is not a difference between black and
white. Theoretically, any linguistic element that appeared in an early layer of
the language could also serve in later phases. At all events, LBH (and other
post-classical strata of ancient Hebrew) always exhibit a mixture of classical
and late language. Distinguishing between LBH and TBH thus involves the spe-
cific character of the late linguistic phenomena contained in a given text as
well as their concentration therein.
The language of Jeremiah is characterized by a number of traits that indi-
cate its status as a transitional phase between CBH and LBH. In certain cases
Jeremiah and other apparently exilic works exhibit a combination of early and
late features not found in either CBH or LBH works. In others Jeremiah is the
sole composition that presents a mixture of a given classical linguistic element
and its late counterpart. In still other cases, the book’s language displays fea-
tures that herald the future expansion of a particular phenomenon. Finally,
there are tendencies in Jeremiah that demonstrate the persistence of the clas-
sical form of the language in the face of developments that eventually led to
the dominance of later forms of ancient Hebrew.

The admixture of classical and late linguistic elements: ‫ זע"ק‬and ‫‘ צע"ק‬cry out,
muster’ (§‎3.4); proper names ending in both forms of the theophoric suffix,
‫יה‬- and ‫יהו‬- (§‎3.5‎); the spellings/pronunciations ‫ ירושלים‬and ‫‘ ירושלם‬Jerusalem’
(§‎3.6); ‫‘ נבוכדנאצר‬Nebuchadnezzar’ with nun and resh (§‎3.8); derivatives of the
root ‫‘ רפ"א‬heal’ on the ‫ ל"י‬and ‫ ל"א‬pattern (§‎3.9); ‫ ֲאנִ י‬and ‫‘ ָאנ ִֹכי‬I’ (§‎4.1); ‫ ֵה ָּמה‬and
‫‘ ֵהם‬they’; §‎4.5); ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ֹות‬-/‫ם‬
ֵ ֶ ‫◌ ֵׁת‬- and ‫ֹותם‬-/‫ם‬
‫יה‬ ָ ‫◌ ָׁת‬- ‘their’ (§‎4.6); the qå̄ṭōl pattern
and other nominal patterns for the nomen agentis (§‎5.1); the short and long
yiqṭol form in wayyiqṭol (§‎6.1); verbal forms derived from the root ‫‘ חי"י‬live’ on
the ‫ ל"י‬and the ‫ ע"ע‬patterns (§‎6.2); use of the preposition ‫‘ ֵאת‬with’ (§‎7.1) and
its replacement with the accusative particle -‫אֹות‬/-‫ אֹת‬in the sense ‘with’ (§‎7.2);
standard and non-standard use of directional he (‫ָ◌ה‬-; §‎7.3); use of the prepo-
sition -‫ ל‬along with classical alternatives with verbs denoting locative move-
ment (§‎7.4); interchange of the prepositions ‫ ֶאל‬and ‫§( ַעל‬‎7.5); nominal and
adverbial use of ‫יֹומם‬ ָ ‘day’ and nominal use of ‫§( יֹום‬‎8.5); ‫‘ ַמ ְלכּות‬kingdom, reign’
and classical alternatives (§‎8.6); ‫‘ נט"ר‬watch, guard’ and classical alternatives
(§‎8.7); ‫ ֲע ֶת ֶרת‬and ‫‘ עׁש"ר‬wealth’ (§‎8.9); ‫ ַרב‬and classical alternatives ‘great man,
noble, officer’ (§‎8.11); ‫‘ ָרץ‬messenger’ and classical alternatives (§‎8.13).
60 chapter 2

Sporadic forerunners of linguistic elements destined to become characteristic of

later strata of Hebrew and/or Aramaic: ‫‘ אנו‬we’ (§‎4.4); the qå̄ṭōl pattern (§‎5.1);
‫‘ ִּד ֵּבר‬word of God’ (§‎8.1); ‫‘ ער"ב‬be pleasant’ (§‎8.8); ‫‘ ַרב‬great man, noble, officer’
(§‎8.11); ‫רּוח‬
ַ ‘cardinal direction’ (§‎8.12).

Distinctively classical linguistic tendencies. The language of the book of

Jeremiah exhibits its classical stamp in its general employment of classical
features instead of their late counterparts. Now, while the value of such an
argument from silence should not be overestimated—indeed, nearly every
composition securely datable to the post-classical period on non-linguistic
grounds preserves the use of classical and even archaic usages—it is surely
worth noting that the book eschews the use of such characteristically post-
classical elements as the following (listed together with their classical alterna-
tives and cases in Jeremiah): ‫ ִאּגֶ ֶרת‬and ‫ ֵס ֶפר( נִ ְׁש ְּתוָ ן‬29.1, 25, 29) ‘letter’; ‫ֻסּגַ ר( ָא ַחז‬
[qal internal passive] 13.19) ‘close’; ‫(ּכל־)זֹאת‬ ַ ֶ‫ ַא ֲח ֵרי ֵכן( ַא ַחר ז‬16.16; 21.7;
ָ ‫א ֲח ֵרי‬/‫ה‬
34.11; 46.26; 49.6) ‘after that’; ‫ה ְב ִהיל‬/‫ל‬ ִ ‫ ֵה ִריץ( ִּב ֵה‬49.19; 50.44 [qre]) ‘frighten’; ‫ִּבּזָ ה‬
(‫ ַּבז‬2.14; 15.13; 17.3; 30.16; 49.32; ‫ ָׁש ָלל‬21.9; 38.2; 39.18; 45.5; 49.32; 50.10) ‘plunder’;
‫ ַא ְרמֹון( ִּב ָירה‬6.5; 9.20; 17.27; 30.18; 49.27; ‫ ַּביִת‬7.2, 10, 11, 14, 30 and frequently) ‘pal-
ace’; ‫אֹוצר‬ ָ ‫אֹוצר( ֵּבית‬ָ 10.13; 38.11; 50.25; 51.16) ‘treasury’; ‫ ֵּבית [ה']( ֵּבית ִמ ְק ָּדׁש‬7.2
and frequently; ]'‫ ִמ ְק ָּדׁש [ה‬17.12) ‘temple’; ‫ ֶק ֶבר( ֵּבית ְק ָברֹות‬5.16; 8.1; 20.17; 26.23)
‘grave’; ‫ ָאז( ְּב ֵכן‬11.15, 18; 22.15, 16, 22; 31.13; 32.2; 44.18; ‫ ָל ֵכן‬2.9 and frequently) ‘so,
then, therefore’; ‫ ַּביִת( ִּבנְ יָ ן‬7.2, 10, 11, 14, 30 and frequently) ‘building’; ‫ּגַ נְ זַ ְך‬/‫ּגֶ נֶ ז‬
ָ 10.13; 38.11; 50.25, 51.16) ‘treasure, treasury’; ‫ ַּד ֶּמ ֶׂשק( ַּד ְר ֶמ ֶׂשק‬49.23, 24, 27)
‘Damascus’; ‫חֹק‬/‫מ ְצֹות‬/‫ּתֹורה‬ִ + ‫‘ ָּד ַרׁש‬seek (i.e., interpret) + law/command/statute’
('‫[את־]ה‬ ֶ ‫‘ ָּד ַרׁש‬seek Yhwh’ 10.21; 21.2; 29.13; 37.7); ‫הֹוׁשיט יָ ד‬ ִ (‫ ָׁש ַלח יָ ד‬1.9) ‘extend
a hand’; ‫ ִּפּנָ ה( זָ וִ ית‬31.38, 40; 51.26) ‘corner’; )‫(ל)טֹוב(ה‬ ְ ‫ זָ ַכר( זָ ַכר‬2.2; 15.15; 18.20;
‫ ָּפ ַקד‬15.15; 27.22; 29.10) ‘remember (positively)’; ‫מֹועד( זְ ַמן‬ ֵ 8.7; 46.17; ‫ ֵעת‬2.17 and
frequently) ‘(appointed) time’; ‫ ָעֹון( חֹוב‬2.22; 3.13; 5.25, and frequently) ‘sin’;
-‫)חּוצה ְל‬
ָ ‫(מ‬ ִ (-‫ ִמחּוץ ְל‬21.4) ‘outside of’; ‫ ִמ ִּב ְל ָע ֵדי( חּוץ ִמן‬44.19) ‘except’; ‫ ָא ַׁשם( ִחּיֵב‬2.3;
50.7; ‫ ָר ַָשע‬5.26; 25.31) ‘be guilty’; ‫יֹותר ִמן‬ ֵ (‫ ִמן‬4.13; 7.26; 15.8; 16.12; 17.9; 31.11; 46.23;
48.2 [?]) ‘(more) than’; ‫ יַ ְח ָּדו( ְּכ ֶא ָחד‬3.18 and frequently) ‘together’; ‫אס"ף( כנ"ס‬
8.2, 13, and frequently; 23.3 ‫ קב"ץ‬et al.; ‫ קה"ל‬26.9 et al.) ‘gather’; ‫ ֵס ֶפר( ְּכ ָתב‬3.8)
‘(product of) writing’; ‫ וְ ֵאין( ְל ֵאין‬4.4; 5.21; 7.33; 9.21; 13.19; 21.12; 30.10; 46.23, 27;
49.5; 50.32) ‘without’; )‫(מאֹד‬ ְ ‫[מאֹד]( ְל ַה ְר ֵּבה‬ ְ ‫ ַה ְר ֵּבה‬40.12) ‘exceedingly’; ‫ִה ְל ִעיג( ָל ַעג‬
20.7) ‘deride’; ‫ ִּבינָ ה( ַמ ָּדע‬23.20; ‫ ַּד ַעת‬10.14; 51.17; ‫ ֵּד ָעה‬3.15; ‫ ָח ְכ ָמה‬8.9; 9.22; 10.12; 49.7
[2x]; 51.15; ‫ ְּתבּונָ ה‬10.12; 51.15) ‘knowledge, wisdom’; ‫ ִה ְפ ִקיד( ִמּנָ ה‬1.10; 40.5, 7, 11;
41.2, 10, 18; ‫ נָ ַתן‬1.5, 18; 3.15; 6.27; 15.20; 29.26) ‘appoint’; ‫בּואה‬ ָ ְ‫( נ‬/'‫ה‬/‫ּד ְב ֵרי [יִ ְר ְמיָ הּו‬/‫ר‬
ִ ‫ְּד ַב‬
]‫ נָ ִביא‬1.1, 2; 18.18; 23.16; 26.5; 27.14, 16; 28.9 and frequently; ‫ ָחזֹון‬14.14; 23.16) ‘proph-
ecy’; ‫( נִ ְב ַעת‬33.9 ‫ ; ָּפ ַחד‬36.16, 24) ‘fear, be afraid’; ‫ ַּת ַער( נָ ָדן‬47.6) ‘scabbard, sheath’;
‫אֹוצר( נְ ָכ ִסים‬
ָ 15.13; 17.3; 20.5; 38.11; 48.7; 49.4; 50.25, 37; 51.13; ‫ ַחיִ ל‬15.13; 17.3; 34.1 [?])
the language of the book of jeremiah 61

‘property, wealth’; ‫ ָל ַקח ִא ָּׁשה( נָ ָׂשא ִא ָּׁשה‬16.2; 29.6) ‘marry, take as wife’; ‫נִ ְׁש ְּתוָ ן‬
(‫ ֵס ֶפר‬29.1, 25, 29) ‘letter’; ‫ ֵקץ( סֹוף‬13.6; 34.14; 42.7; 50.26; 51.13) ‘end’; -‫ ַעד( ַעד ל‬fre-
quently) ‘until’; ‫ ָח ֵצר( ֲעזָ ָרה‬19.14; 26.2) ‘courtyard, enclosure’; ‫ קו"ם( עמ"ד‬1.17; 6.17,
and frequently) ‘stand up, arise; erect’; ‫ ֵח ֶפץ)  צ ֶֹרְך‬22.28; 48.38); ‫ ָׁש ַמע( ִק ֵּבל‬2.4;
3.13, 25, et al.; ‫ ָל ַקח‬2.30; 5.3; 7.28, et al.) ‘receive’; ‫ ֵה ִקים( ִקּיֵ ם‬11.5; 23.20; 28.6; 29.10;
30.24; 33.14; 34.18; 35.16; 44.25) ‘erect, establish’; ‫ ספ"ן( קר"י‬22.14) ‘form a ceiling’;
Babylonian month names (month names corresponding to ordinal numerals
1.3; 28.1, 17; 36.9, 22; 39.1, 2; 41.1; 52.4, 6, 12); ‫ חז"ק( תק"ף‬5.3; 8.5; 10.4 et al.; ‫ גב"ר‬9.2;
‫ עצ"ם‬30.14, 15) ‘attack, overpower’.
Other classical tendencies to be noted in the language of Jeremiah include:6
consistent use of weqaṭal rather than yiqṭol in verb-initial apodoses of condi-
tional clauses (in clauses headed by ‫‘ ִאם‬if’ weqaṭal heads the apodosis in 12
of 14 cases);7 frequent use of the particle of entreaty or logical consequence
‫( נָ א‬30x total);8 preservation of nun paragogicum (8x);9 regular employment
of imperatival (11x)10 and, especially, paronomastic infinitives absolute (62x);11
repeated employment of sequences of commands of the type imperative +
weqaṭal (15x) and of the type infinitive absolute + weqaṭal (11 of the 16 exam-
ples in the Hebrew Bible).12

6 The author expresses his gratitude to the anonymous reviewer who suggested that this
study would be more comprehensive if it included reference to the phenomena discussed
in this paragraph.
7 Weqaṭal: Jer 4.1–2; 7.5–7(?); 12.16, 17; 17.24–25, 27; 22.4; 26.4–6; 38.17, 18; 42.10, 15–16. Yiqṭol:
Jer 15.19 (2x?). After ‫— ִּכי‬weqaṭal: Jer 5.19; 15.2; 16.10–11; 23.33; 25.28; 29.13–14; 38.25–26.
See Kropat 1909: 70–71, 73–74; Rooker 1990 120–122; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 120; Van Peursen
2004: 134–135, 354–357, 359; 361–362; 407–408; JM §176. For a potential example, see below
§‎6.2.1, n. 491.
8 2x with ‫‘ אֹוי‬alas’, 1x after the volitional negator ‫ ַאל‬with a negative command, 27x with a
cohortative, command, or jussive. See Bendavid 1967–1971: I 67; Polzin 1976: 145; Eskhult
1990: 87, 107; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 117; Van Peursen 2004: 192–193, 199, 407.
9 S.R. Driver 1913: 30–31; Qimron 1986: 15; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 118, 142; C. Smith 2003: 72–79;
Van Peursen 2004: 100–101, 402; JM §§44e–f. See C. Smith 2003: 72–79 for an attempt to
account for the presence of this nun with object suffixes on the basis of regional variation.
10 For the relevant citations see Hornkohl 2012: 279, n. 1396. More generally see Kropat 1909:
23, 72; Polzin 1976: 43–44; Hurvitz 1982: 121–123, 166–167; Kutscher 1982:§122; Qimron 1986:
47–48; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 118, 126; Van Peursen 2004: 277, 282, 402; JM §§49b, 123u.
11 For the relevant citations see Hornkohl 2012: 279, n. 1396. See also Polzin 1976: 43–44;
Hurvitz 1982: 121–123, 166–167; Qimron 47–48; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 118, 144–145; Van
Peursen 2004: 277, 279–280; JM §§49b, 123d.
12 Fassberg 2006: 57. To be sure, the dominant sequence in Jeremiah is imperative +
imperative (about 70 cases), which, while not unknown in CBH, becomes the dominant
sequence in LBH with the decreased usage of both the weqaṭal and the infinitive absolute,
62 chapter 2

The language of Jeremiah even exhibits classical tendencies in connection

with many of its late linguistic features, for example (the following list is not
exhaustive), continued use of ‫( צע"ק‬despite the increased use of ‫§ ;זע"ק‬‎3.4)
‘cry out, muster’; regular use of names ending in the long theophoric suffix ‫יָ הּו‬-
(despite a not insignificant number of names ending in the short suffix ‫יָ ה‬-;
§‎3.5); preference for the spelling/pronunciation ‫ נבוכדראצר‬with resh (despite
the use of ‫ נבוכדנאצר‬with nun; §‎3.8) ‘Nebuchadnezzar’; regular (though con-
ditioned) use of ‫( ָאנ ִֹכי‬despite the more natural use of ‫§ ; ֲאנִ י‬‎4.1) ‘I’; persistence
of ‫ֹותם‬-/‫ם‬
ָ ‫◌ ָׁת‬- (in face of the growing tendency for ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ֹות‬-/‫ם‬
ֵ ֶ ‫◌ ֵׁת‬-; §‎4.6) ‘their’;
use of the short (rather than the long or lengthened) yiqṭol pattern in 1st, 2nd,
and 3rd person wayyiqṭol forms (§‎6.1); continued use of the preposition ‫( ֵאת‬in
the face of a growing trend to opt for ‫§ ; ִעם‬‎7.1) ‘with’; preference for the apposi-
tional order X ‫‘ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬the king X’ (despite the rare occurence of late ‫ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬X ‘X the
king’; §‎7.6); continued classical use of imperfective past weqaṭal (§‎7.7); vibrant
and apparently natural use of the infinitive absolute; §‎7.10); the decided pref-
erence for classical ‫ ַמ ְמ ָל ָכה‬, ‫לּוכה‬
ָ ‫ ְמ‬, and -‫מ ְלּכ‬/‫ֹלְך‬
ָ ‫( ְמ‬despite the sporadic appear-
ance of ‫§ ; ַמ ְלכּות‬‎8.6) ‘kingdom, reign, rule’.

2.3 The Language of the Book of Jeremiah and the Question of

Regional Dialects

In contrast to C. Smith (2003), whose research on the language of Jeremiah

is characterized by a high degree of optimism concerning the prospects of
identifying linguistic features especially characteristic of the various regional
dialects employed in ancient Israel, the present investigation takes a much
more sober view, regarding many such attempts as highly conjectural. Indeed,
according to the results of this study, Jeremiah contains no non-standard lin-
guistic element that can be securely classified as dialectal. This is due in part to
the lack of a corpus of ancient Hebrew texts the language of which is demon-

especially in command sequences. Significantly, Fassberg (ibid.) compares the situa-

tion in Jeremiah to that of Ezekiel, “a book of similar length and roughly the same time
period, . . . where there are no sequences of infinitive absolute and waw consecutive as
opposed to forty-three passages with imperative and waw consecutive, and forty passages
with strings of imperatives.” From the standpoint of the selection of types of command
sequences, then, both Jeremiah and Ezekiel appear to be transitional between CBH and
LBH, since both make fairly regular use of the imperative + weqaṭal string. Jeremiah’s lan-
guage appears to be more classical in terms of its employment of the infinitive absolute
+ weqaṭal sequence.
the language of the book of jeremiah 63

strably characteristic of a specific region, and in part to the overlap between

features thought to constitute characteristic dialectal elements, on the one
hand, and late, colloquial, and archaic features, on the other (see above, §‎1.4.2).
Again, there seems little doubt that the Hebrew Bible in general and the book
of Jeremiah more specifically contain a number of region-specific linguistic
forms. All the same, the likelihood that the modern researcher can accurately
identify those elements and, on their basis, sort texts into groups represent-
ing various regional dialects seems questionable given the current paucity of
sources with undeniable geographic provenance.
The suggestion that Jeremiah’s language is especially representative of the
idiom of Benjamin merits further comment. It is true that the book deals with
the life of a prophet who hailed from the village of Anathoth, located in the
tribal allotment of Benjamin, and that the language of the book displays a not
insignificant number of non-standard linguistic features. However, while one
should not discount the possibility that certain of these non-standard ele-
ments reflect the local dialect of the prophet’s hometown, considering the
numerous and broad gaps in the data mentioned above, one must give seri-
ous consideration to the viability of alternative explanations. In principle,
because the life of the prophet extended from the close of the First Temple
Period into the Exile, i.e., a time when Imperial Aramaic was already beginning
to exert a profound influence on Hebrew, prima facie the theory according to
which the non-standard character of his language derives from its being a par-
ticular regional dialect is no more reasonable than that according to which its
non-standard character derives from the historical factors, including Aramaic
influence, that would eventually lead to the dominance of LBH. On the con-
trary, since the methodology for the identification of late linguistic features
is sounder than that for the identification of dialectal elements, the burden
of proof remains with those who would attribute the non-standard linguistic
features in Jeremiah to regional factors.
Of course, these considerations are even weightier when one takes into
consideration the fact that only a portion of the book named for the prophet
Jeremiah is explicitly attributed to him in the book. There is no need at this
point to enter into a discussion of the work’s complicated literary develop-
ment; it should suffice to point out that (a) Jeremiah’s Anathothite extraction
does not necessarily indicate a similar origin for the rest of those responsible
for the book and (b) if it is possible to detect late features in the prophet’s own
words, then how much more in the words of a later contributor, be he amanu-
ensis, writer, editor, compiler, copyist, or some combination thereof.
The specific geographical reality involved also merits discussion. Many
scholars identify the standard biblical dialect with that of Jerusalem or Judah.
64 chapter 2

Yet it is doubtful whether the dialect of Jerusalem exactly represented that of

Judah in general, since even if the kings of the southern kingdom, along with a
large number of their courtiers, came from Judah, Jerusalem itself was a border
town near that region’s boundary with Benjamin.13 It is therefore reasonable to
assume that the dialect that served Jerusalem’s scribes indeed gained official
and literary supremacy, but nevertheless differed to some extent from the cen-
tral Judahite dialect(s).
Moreover, while Anathoth may be found within the tribal inheritance of
Benjamin, it, like Jerusalem, lies very near the Judahite frontier. Furthermore,
the distance separating the two sites is only about seven kilometers, with
the central hills acting as a very modest barrier between them. This does not
mean that the dialect spoken in Anathoth should be thought of as identical to
the one spoken in Jerusalem—to be sure, differences can be detected in the
dialects of neighboring villages in many parts of the world today, even in the
absence of natural barriers—but considering the distances involved, one may
reasonably posit a great deal of similarity between the two.
Finally, there are a few linguistic phenomena recorded in Jeremiah which,
in other contexts, probably do reflect (northern) dialectal tendencies, but in
Jeremiah are perhaps better explained along other lines: the 2fs endings ‫ִ◌י‬-
in ‫‘ אתי‬you’(ktiv), ‫כי‬-ִ , and ‫§( ָק ַט ְל ִּתי‬‎4.2); ‫‘ נט"ר‬watch, guard’ (§‎8.7); and ‫ער"ב‬
‘be pleasant’ (§‎8.8).

2.4 The Language of the Book of Jeremiah and the Question of


As argued above (§‎1.4.3), it is very difficult to substantiate the claim that a

given linguistic phenomenon in the literary register of the Hebrew Bible is
the result of influence of the spoken register of ancient Hebrew, since, in the
nature of things, all the potential evidence for such a spoken dialect comes in
written form. Even so, a few developments in the language of Jeremiah might
be accounted for as penetrations from the vernacular, though in nearly all of
these cases there seems no convincing reason to prefer this over alternative
explanations: proper names ending in the abbreviated theophoric suffix ‫יה‬-
(§‎3.5); the spelling ‫‘ ירושלים‬Jerusalem’ and pronunciation with ayi (§‎3.6); the

13 The differences between urban and rural dialects, like those in the colloquial Arabic of
Israel and Palestine today, should also be kept in mind. In this case, too, however, the
validity of any argument is severely handicapped by a dearth of incontrovertible evidence
for ancient village dialects.
the language of the book of jeremiah 65

shift from ‫ צ‬to ‫ ׂש‬in derivatives of ‫‘ ׂשח"ק‬laugh, play’ (§‎3.7); derivatives of the
root ‫‘ רפ"א‬heal’ on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern (§‎3.9); the preference for ‫ ֲאנִ י‬over ‫‘ ָאנ ִֹכי‬I’ and
the conditioned use of the latter (§‎4.1); ‫‘ אנו‬we’ (§‎4.4); ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬-/‫ם‬
ֵ ֶ ‫◌ ֵׁת‬- ‘their’
(§‎4.6); ‫‘ זאתה‬this’ (ktiv; §‎4.7) non-standard use of directional he (‫ָ◌ה‬-; §‎7.3); ‫ִּד ֵּבר‬
‘word of God’ (§‎8.1).

2.5 Jeremiah’s Language, Composition, and Literary Development

Given the acknowledged complexity of the compositional history of Jeremiah,

not to mention the many and diverse theories on the development and assem-
bly of its various component parts, it might be imagined that a thorough inves-
tigation of the book’s language would allow for some contribution, however
modest, to the unraveling of these processes. This contribution is limited
mainly to the identification of distinctive linguistic tendencies exclusive to
or especially characteristic of certain literary sections in contrast to others.
However, it is essential to point out that distinguishing between component
sections of a text on the basis of their language—whether said language rep-
resents diverse authors or the work of post-authorial editors, compilers, or
copyists—is possible only if (a) the section of text contains a concentration
of non-standard linguistic features not characteristic of the rest of the book
and (b) the remainder of the book presents linguistic alternatives for the non-
standard features in question. In addition, one must consider the possibility
that differences in language arise from differences in genre (e.g., poetry versus
prose). Beyond this, if a section of text is marked by a concentration of linguis-
tic features especially characteristic of LBH or another late phase of ancient
Hebrew, then there is a foundation for the claim that it constitutes a late, sec-
ondary addition. Considering these limitations, it is no surprise that the sec-
tions of text in Jeremiah showing signs of unmistakable linguistic uniqueness
are very few. This state of affairs does not necessarily imply that the remain-
ing material, in some of which scholars have detected non-linguistic evidence
indicative of complicated literary consolidation, was originally unified, but
only that the linguistic approach cannot make a definitive contribution in
these cases due to lack of evidence.

2.5.1 The Linguistic Profiles of Various Component Sections of the Book

Notwithstanding these caveats, there are a few sections of Jeremiah that,
from a linguistic perspective, set themselves apart from the rest. In the case of
each the linguistic evidence appears to confirm arguments of a non-linguistic
nature (e.g., literary or textual) that the material in question is secondary.
66 chapter 2

However, the linguistic confirmation of the secondary character of a given

section should not necessarily be taken as evidence that it is the result of late
post-exilic expansion. As is discussed in what follows, while the language of the
linguistically unique sections of Jeremiah is sufficiently distinct from that of
the rest of the book to warrant classification as secondary and later, in no case
does it exhibit the degree of development characteristic of LBH proper, the
Hebrew literary register of the Persian Period, i.e., of the 5th century bce, or of
later forms of ancient Hebrew. It is thus reasonable to conclude that the bulk
of Jeremiah—including both the earlier material and secondary additions—is
a product of the 6th century bce, i.e., that it was composed before LBH had
become the standard written register in Hebrew (for details see below, §9). The Two Halves of Jeremiah

The majority of the non-standard linguistic features in Jeremiah discussed in
the present study come in both the first and second halves of the book, i.e.,
chapters 1–26 and 27–52, respectively. Yet there is a not insignificant number,
including an impressive list of features especially characteristic of the later
strata of ancient Hebrew, that appear exclusively, or predominantly, in the sec-
ond half of the book, i.e., chapters 27–52: plene ‫‘ יעקוב‬Jacob’ (§‎3.1.1); proper
names ending in the abbreviated theophoric suffix ‫יה‬- (§‎3.5); the spelling/
pronunciation ‫‘ ירושלים‬Jerusalem’ (§‎3.6); ‫‘ נבוכדנאצר‬Nebuchadnezzar’ with
nun (§‎3.8); use of the preposition -‫ ל‬with verbs denoting locative movement
(§‎7.4); accusative use of the preposition -‫§( ל‬‎7.6); the double plural construct
chain (§‎7.9); combinations of the type X- ְ‫ ו‬X (‫‘ )ּכֹל‬all/every X’ with distributive
force (§‎7.12); the plural of ‫‘ ַחיִ ל‬force’ (§‎8.2); the semantic shift of the gentilic
ִ ְ‫‘ י‬Judahite, Jew’ (§‎8.4); nominal use of ‫יֹומם‬
‫הּודי‬ ָ ‘day’ (§‎8.5); ‫‘ נט"ר‬watch, guard’
(§‎8.7); ‫‘ ער"ב‬be pleasant’ (§‎8.8); ‫‘ ֲע ֶת ֶרת‬wealth’ (§‎8.9); ‫ּוסגָ נִ ים‬
ְ ‫‘ ַּפחֹות‬governors
and prefects’ (§‎8.10); ‫‘ ַרב‬great man, noble, officer’ (§9.11); ‫רּוח‬ ַ ‘cardinal direc-
tion’ (§‎8.12); ‫‘ ָרץ‬messenger’ (§‎8.13).
The linguistic profile of the second half of Jeremiah distinguishes it from the
first half. This is likely due in part to the fact that a large proportion of the first
half of the book consists of poetry, which, as is known, tends to preserve (or
imitate) classical and archaic style. Genre, however, is not the sole factor that
emerges as significant. For example, the difference in the use of theophoric
names ending in the short suffix ‫יָ ה‬- (as opposed to ‫יָ הּו‬-; §‎3.5) is the most con-
spicuous sign that the two halves reflect different writers. In chapters 1–26 the
proportion of long names to short is 50:3 (94.3 percent long)—the three cases
of names with the short ending all occurring in a single verse: significantly, the
editorial heading at the beginning of chapter 21 (see below, §‎—whereas
in chapters 27–52 the same proportion is 191:80 (70.5 percent long). According
the language of the book of jeremiah 67

to its linguistic profile, the second half of the book appears to be a later
composition than the first half, a situation that would appear to confirm the
relevant pillar in the classical approaches of Duhm (1901) and Mowinckel
(1914), who held that the poetic material in chapters 1–25 is based on authen-
tic Jeremianic material, with most of the rest of the book made up of various
later component parts. Even so, one should not demand from the data more
than they can provide: generally speaking, the linguistic character of the first
half of the book corresponds to a date of composition near the end of the First
Temple Period or in the Exile, while the linguistic character of the second half
of the book—again, generally—appears to be later, but not as late as that of
the books of the distinctive LBH corpus. Worded differently, it would seem
that the two halves of Jeremiah were composed by different hands represent-
ing different linguistic milieux, but on the basis of the linguistic profile of the
second half it is difficult to date it to a period much later than the Exile. It
is also important to note that neither of the two halves of the book is a uni-
fied composition, both giving clear indications—linguistic and otherwise—of
their composite nature. Chapters 27–29

From a literary perspective it has been argued that chs. 26–29 and 34–45 form a
unit, namely, a group of stories about the prophet Jeremiah, interrupted by the
consolatory message in chs. 30–33. However, within the former division, and
within Jeremiah more generally, chapters 27–29 exhibit unmistakable linguis-
tic exceptionality:14 these chapters alone in the book display a preference for
theophoric names with the short ending ‫יָ ה‬- (as opposed to ‫יָ הּו‬-; §‎3.5), with a
ratio of long names to short of 8:35 (18.6 percent long). In the rest of the book,
the same ratio is 233:50 (82.3 percent long). In these chapters alone does the
short form of the name Jeremiah appear—nine times (with three occurrences
of the long form at the end of chapter 29) against 119 occurrences of the long
form in the rest of the book—a form distinctively characteristic of late sources
(§3.5). The same section contains eight instances of the spelling/pronuncia-
tion ‫‘ נבוכדנאצר‬Nebuchadnezzar’ with nun, against one case of ‫ נבוכדראצר‬with
resh, when the rest of the book knows only ‫ נבוכדראצר‬with resh (§3.8). Finally,
chapters 27–29 contain one of two occurrences in the book of the ‫ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬X ‘X the
king’ appositional word order so characteristic of late sources (§7.7) and one of
two cases of ‫‘ חֹר‬noble’ (though, significantly, neither of these latter is reflected
in the Greek; see below, §‎§8.3, 9).

14 Duhm 1901: 219–220; Holladay 1986–1989: I 570, II 114; Hoffman 2001: 533; Lundbom 1999–
2004: II 100.
68 chapter 2

Once more, however, sweeping conclusions are to be resisted. The afore-

mentioned phenomena are indeed characteristic of LBH and of later Hebrew
strata, but it should be emphasized that chapters 27–29 exhibit no further lin-
guistic marks of lateness. Thus, though they do contain individual concentra-
tions of two linguistic features typical of post-exilic Hebrew, concentrations
that likely demonstrate that this material was composed by a hand different
from and later than those responsible for much of the rest of the book, the
evidence is not sufficient to prove that this material was written long after that
which makes up the rest of the book. In other words, the linguistic distinctive-
ness of Jer 27–29 is strong evidence of their independence, but cannot sub-
stantiate a date of composition later than the Restoration. A date at the end of
the Exile or during the Restoration period seems much more appropriate given
the (albeit limited) data. Chapter 33.14–26

For a detailed discussion of the linguistic profile of this material see below,
§‎9.2.1. The Oracles against the Foreign Nations in Chapters 46–51

In the Greek translation of Jeremiah, the location and internal order of the
unit corresponding to chs. 46–51 differ from those in the MT and many schol-
ars see in this material an addition that was appended to the book sometime
during its literary consolidation,15 but placed and ordered differently in the
two textual traditions that served as the basis for the extant Masoretic and the
Greek versions, respectively. Of course, one might claim that the placement
and order of this material in one of the editions are original, and that only in
the other are they secondary. Whatever the exact literary history of the mate-
rial in question, there is linguistic evidence that hints at its independent char-
acter. In this case, as opposed to that of chapters 27–29 discussed above, the
nature of the evidence is not a selection of linguistic features exclusive to this
section, but a significant accumulation of non-standard linguistic phenomena
(not, however, necessarily indicative of a late post-exilic date). This relatively
brief span of text, consisting of a mere six chapters in predominantly poetic

15 On the internal order of the oracles see the modern commentaries along with Rofé 1989
and Fischer 1991. On their placement in the book: most convincing is the argument that
the unit of oracles against the nations was originally a separate scroll or scrolls associated
with Jeremiah that was appended to the early Hebrew editions behind both the MT and
the Greek, but inserted in different locations; see Mowinckel 1914: 14–16; Nötscher 1934:
301; Birkland 1938: 45; Bright 1965: lxxviii, 307; Janzen 1973: 115–116; J. Thompson 1980: 686;
Keown, Scalise, and Smothers 1995: 276; cf. Rietzschel 1966: 93; McKane 1986–1996: II 1109.
the language of the book of jeremiah 69

style, has its own peculiar linguistic character and contains, inter alia, a few
elements typical of post-exilic Hebrew: plene ‫‘ יעקוב‬Jacob’ (§‎3.1.1); ‫‘ זע"ק‬cry out,
muster’ (§‎3.4); 3fpl ‫§( קטלה‬‎4.7); non-standard use of directional he (‫ָ◌ה‬-; §‎7.3);
use of the preposition -‫ ל‬with verbs denoting locative movement (§‎7.4); inter-
change of the prepositions ‫ ֶאל‬and ‫§( ַעל‬‎7.5); accusative use of the preposition
-‫§( ל‬‎7.6); the double plural construct chain (§‎7.11); combinations of the type
X- ְ‫ ו‬X (‫‘ )ּכֹל‬all/every X’ with distributive force (§‎7.12); ‫‘ ַמ ְלכּות‬kingdom, reign’
(§‎8.6); ‫רּוח‬
ַ ‘cardinal direction’ (§‎8.12); ‫‘ ָרץ‬messenger’ (§‎8.13). In general, the
accumulation of non-standard linguistic elements in these six chapters indi-
cates a process of composition not only independent of, but apparently also
later than that of most of the rest of the book. Be that as it may, once more, the
evidence is far from unequivocal; one should bear in mind that the material in
question is both poetic and ostensibly directed at foreign audiences (though,
of course, it was actually intended for Judahite eyes and ears). In the discus-
sion of the passages’ language, origin(s), and date(s), these factors must not
be ignored, because they may help to account for their unique linguistic char-
acter.16 Furthermore, even if all of the non-standard linguistic phenomena in
these chapters are considered genuinely representative of a late date, there
is no decisive linguistic evidence that this date is much later than that of the
majority of the rest of the book, i.e., that the oracles against the nations were
composed in the post-Restoration period or later. The Editorial Framework

Dating editorial headings and glosses in the Hebrew Bible on the basis of their
language demands great caution. As a rule they are short and isolated lines or
even mere words and, due to their brevity, it is often difficult to discern a mean-
ingful distinction between their language and the language of the surrounding
bodies of text. There is also arguable evidence that the linguistic profile of an
editorial framework may eventually bleed into the corpus of text it envelopes
or vice versa, depending on scribal practices. This being the case, it is also hard
to establish differences in date, relative or absolute, on the basis of their lan-
guage. All the same, a few editorial headings in Jeremiah exhibit non-standard
linguistic phenomena which are absent from the bodies of text which they
head or which appear only in other passages characterized by non-standard
linguistic style.

16 For example, the poetic nature of the section may explain the archaistic use of the 3fpl
‫ קטלה‬form (for standard ‫§ ;קטלו‬4.7), while the fact that chapter 51 addresses Babylon
may have favored the use there of the foreign titles ‫ּוסגָ נִ ים‬
ְ ‫‘ ַּפחֹות‬governors and prefects’
(§8.10). Neither of these factors, though, justifies the atypical plene spelling ‫‘ יעקוב‬Jacob’
(for defective ‫§ ;יעקב‬3.1.1). About other features it is difficult to be certain.
70 chapter 2

Jer 21.1—theophoric names with the short ending ‫יָ ה‬- (as opposed to ‫יָ הּו‬-;
§‎3.5). This is the only verse prior to chapter 27 that contains names ending in
the short theophoric suffix. Indeed, in chapters 1–26, names with the long end-
ing outnumber their shorter counterparts by a ratio of 50:3 (all occurrences of
the short form in Jer 21.1). In the rest of the book the short form occurs 80 times,
as opposed to 191 cases of the long form. Other cases in which a section head-
ing contains such short forms are: Jer 27.1; 28.1 (2x), 12 (3x); 29.1–3 (5x); 49.34;
51.59 (4x). The long form is much more frequent in section headings.
Jer 26.1—‫‘ ַמ ְמ ְלכּות‬kingdom, reign’ (§‎8.6, n. 68). The form in question is not
necessarily characteristic of any diachronic layer of ancient Hebrew, but the
occurrence in Jer 27.1 is a hapax legomenon within the book that contrasts with
17 instances of ‫‘ ַמ ְמ ָל ָכה‬kingdom, reign’ (twice in editorial headings: 27.1, 28.1),
three instances of ‫‘ ַמ ְלכּות‬kingdom, reign’ (one in an editorial heading: 49.34),
and four instances of the infinitive construct ‫‘ ָמ ְלכֹו‬his reign, ruling’ (all of them
in editorial headings: 1.2; 51.59; 52.1, 4).
Jer 29.2—the order of the appositive in the expression ‫ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬X ‘X the king’
(§‎7.7). This same characteristically late order of constituents comes once
more, in a case of direct speech, which perhaps displays a certain similarity to
an editorial heading, in Jer 3.6. For purposes of linguistic opposition, the alter-
native order of constituents, X ‫‘ ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך‬the king X’ comes 17 times in the book,
twice (21.1; 34.8) in editorial headings.
Jer 33.19—the quotative frame ‫‘ לאמור‬to say, saying’ (§‎3.1.3). This plene
orthography is represented once more in the book, in the framework of direct
speech in Jer 18.5, which bears some resemblance to an editorial heading. For
purposes of linguistic opposition, the standard defective spelling comes 115
times in the book, including editorial headings (e.g., 21.1; 26.1; et al.).
Jer 49.34—‫‘ ַמ ְלכּות‬kingdom, reign’ (§‎8.6). See above, on Jer 26.1—‫ַמ ְמ ְלכּות‬
‘kingdom, reign’.
Four of the five aforementioned non-standard linguistic phenomena are
especially characteristic of the later phases of ancient Hebrew (the exception
being ‫) ַמ ְמ ְלכּות‬. Thus, to the extent that it is possible to judge on the basis of such
short passages of text, the headings in question apparently exhibit a linguistic
profile later than that reflected in the units of text that they head. Against that,
however, it should also be noted that the headings in general—like the rest of
the book—exhibit a mixture of classical and post-classical linguistic features.
Such a state of affairs is given to various explanations. For example, perhaps—
like the majority of the book—this editorial layer reflects the mixed language
known from the Bible’s transitional compositions. Alternatively, there is no
proof that the headings necessarily belong to a single editorial stratum; it is
possible that they were added gradually. Conceivably, since the insertions are
the language of the book of jeremiah 71

generally very short, they could also be very late, the editor(s) being spared
from exposing his (their) linguistic milieu(x) by the brevity of what he (they)
added. The nature of the material all but precludes certainty. The Masoretic and Greek Editions of the Book

For details on diachronically meaningful linguistic differences between the
longer Masoretic edition of Jeremiah and the shorter edition that evidently
served as the Vorlage of the Old Greek, see the relevant sections in the dis-
cussions of the individual linguistic phenomena in §§3–8 below and, espe-
cially, the summary discussion in §‎9. In deference to the majority approach,
in what follows material common to both the Masoretic and Greek versions
is described as belonging to the ‘short edition’, whereas textual matter repre-
sented in the Masoretic tradition (and similar witnesses), but apparently lack-
ing in the Greek, is labeled ‘supplementary material’ (for summary discussions
of this and alternative approaches see below, §‎9).
chapter 3

Orthography and Phonology

The relevance of spelling for the dating of biblical texts is a much-debated

issue. It is widely agreed that ancient Hebrew orthography became more plene
with time, so that later texts may be expected to exhibit more extensive usage
of matres lectionis, especially in the marking of medial vowels, than earlier
texts. This is made strikingly evident by the study of extra-biblical inscriptions
and documents: the spelling in pre-exilic sources is highly defective, that in
post-exilic material much fuller.1
However, the biblical orthographical situation is complicated by the fact
that many—if not all—biblical texts evidently no longer exhibit their original
spelling, so that no biblical text, no matter how early, exhibits orthography as
defective as that known from the pre-exilic Hebrew inscriptional corpus. This
may be interpreted in two ways: either the entire biblical text is significantly
later than the aforementioned pre-exilic inscriptional corpus or—what is
more likely—a significant proportion, if not all, of the biblical text has under-
gone some form of orthographical update,2 which, though far from consistent,
has obscured the earlier orthographic picture, presumably bringing the origi-
nally more defective spelling of early material into line with the fuller spelling

1 The factors that led to the emergence of the use of matres lectionis in ancient Hebrew are
not entirely clear. It has long been argued that it is the result of persistence in traditional
spelling practices: the use of waw and yod marking vowels that had contracted from diph-
thongs extended to words which never had such diphthongs. For example, qawl > qol, but
both written ‫קול‬, in which waw originally represented the off-glide of the the diphthong aw
and came to be associated with o after contraction of the diphthong. Presumably, even cases
of yod for i and waw for u are to be so explained, i.e., due to monophthongization of iy and
uw, respectively. On the other hand, the very early marking of both final and medial vowels
with matres lectionis in the Aramaic Tell Fekheriye inscription (9th century bce) may very
well be the result of intentional innovation for the purpose of facilitating reading. Such a
practice may also lie behind the relatively widespread use of vowel letters in personal names,
the pronunciation of which is often not readily retrievable from the context. See Ariel 2013
for a summary discussion and the references cited there.
2 For proposed dates for such a revision see Freedman 1962: 102; Andersen and Forbes 1986:
318–321; Barr 1989: 203.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���4 | doi ��.��63/9789004269651_��4

orthography and phonology 73

of late material.3 Despite this state of affairs, a general chronological trend is

evident,4 with striking cases of orthographic development in specific cases.
For example, in the pre-exilic and exilic material of Samuel, Kings, Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Amos the full spelling of the proper name ‫דויד‬
‘David’ is rare (six occurrences against approximately 700 instances of defective
‫)דוד‬, but the full spelling of this name is extremely common in LBH (272 cases
against a single occurrence of ‫דוד‬, in Qohelet).5 A similar situation obtains in
the case of plene forms of the numerals ‘three’, i.e., ‫( שלוש‬for ‫ )שלש‬and ‫שלושה‬
(for ‫)שלשה‬, and ‘thirty’, i.e., ‫( שלושים‬for ‫)שלשים‬, which are found in 51 of 59
cases in TBH, LBH, or other late material.6 The above characteristically late bib-
lical plene spelling phenomena are even more typical of post-biblical sources,
but—crucially—begin occurring with some frequency in TBH sources.7
There are also late spelling trends that, unlike the purely orthographical
developments discussed above, reflect phonological innovations.

3.1 The Plene Spelling of Medial o (< u)

3.1.1 ‫‘ יעקוב‬Jacob’
The name of the patriarch Jacob appears some 350 times in the MT, in all but
five occurrences written defectively, i.e., ‫יעקב‬. It is spelled ‫ יעקוב‬in Lev 26.42;
Jer 30.8; 33.26; 46.27; and 51.19. The core LBH material contains no examples
of the plene spelling, but it should be borne in mind that the patriarch is men-
tioned only twice in this corpus.8 The characteristic lateness of the orthogra-
phy is, however, confirmed by its frequency in non-Masoretic and post-biblical
sources, especially in Hebrew and Aramaic material from the Judean Desert, in

3 Zevit 1980: 32; Andersen and Forbes 1986: 60, 68, 318–328; Freedman 1992; Young, Rezetko,
and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 346–347 and n. 14; Tov 2012: 208–218; Khan 2013: 331–332.
4 See, most recently, Forbes and Andersen 2012; Andersen and Forbes 2013.
5 For discussions see Gesenius 1815: 30; Kutscher 1974: 5, 99; Qimron 1978a: 146; 1986: 91;
Freedman 1983; Greenfield and Naveh 1984: 120–121; Andersen and Forbes 1986: 6–9; Rooker
1990: 68–71; JM §3a, n. 5; Hornkohl forthcoming.
6 Ezekiel – 5/15 plene; Narrative Framework of Job – 2/2 plene; Esther – 7/9 plene; Daniel –
4/4 plene; Chronicles – 33/84 plene. The remaining cases come in Numbers (1/5 plene),
Deuteronomy (2/7 plene), Joshua (1/2 plene), Samuel (1/21 plene), Proverbs (1/2 plene), and
Job’s poetry (1/1). Andersen and Forbes 1986: 9–10 (cf. Barr 1989: 149–54); Hornkohl forth-
coming. The statistics here are based on a computerized count of the Leningrad Codex; the
statistics given by Andersen and Forbes, as well as those given by Barr, differ slightly.
7 For more detailed presentations on these features see Hornkohl forthcoming.
8 1 Chr 16.13, 17.
74 chapter 3

which the full spelling is almost twice as common as the defective.9 Notably,
the defective form is the norm in the Peshiṭta, while the plene spelling domi-
nates in the Aramaic targums. It is difficult to determine whether the occur-
rences of the full biblical spellings reflect some stage in the respective books’
composition or are accidents attributable to post-biblical scribal transmission.
With specific regard to Jeremiah: the plene form comes in four of 16 cases,
which are confined, perhaps significantly, to the second half of the book,
specifically to material that some scholars see as later additions to Jeremiah’s
authentic prophecies (namely, two occurrences out of eight in the consolation
material of chs. 30–33 and two occurrences out of four in the oracles against
the nations in chs. 46–51). There is scant difference relating to the spelling in
question between the MT and the Greek: against a 4:12 plene to defective ratio
in the former, the proportion is 3:9 in the latter.10 The ratio is thus a propor-
tionately identical 1:3 in the supplementary material present in the MT and
unparalleled in the Greek.

3.1.2 ‫(ו)יקטול‬
Andersen and Forbes (1986: 194) and Barr (1989: 103–105) discuss the relative
rarity of the plene spelling of the o vowel in the relevant forms (1cs, 2ms, 3ms,
3fs, and 1cpl) of qal yiqṭol and wayyiqṭol strong verbs in the MT. According to
Andersen and Forbes (1986: 194), excluding ‫ פ"נ‬verbs, this orthography obtains
in only 125 of 1481 cases.11 Barr (1989: 103–105) lists several corpora with rela-
tively high incidences of plene spelling in relevant forms (Ezekiel, the Twelve,
Job, Proverbs) as well as verbs in which the spelling is particularly common
(‫‘ ָח ַמל‬spare, have mercy on’, ‫‘ ָע ַבר‬cross, pass’, ‫‘ ָׁש ַכן‬dwell’), weighing various fac-
tors, though in the case of no corpus or verb is the full orthography dominant.
As argued above, extreme caution must be exercised in the discernment of any
trend in the historical development of spelling practices, because it is difficult

9 The ratio of plene:defective is about 115:65. In the non-biblical DSS it is 50:20, 65:45 in the
biblical scrolls. The full form also occurs twice in the Bar Kokhba letters and very rarely—
no doubt due to adherence to biblical spelling conventions—in RH (though these refer-
ences are not necessarily to the biblical patriarch).
10 The MT defective spelling is unparalleled in the Greek at Jer 30.10 (2x) and 33.26b; the MT
plene spelling has no parallel at Jer 33.26a.
11 The full spelling of the o vowel in ‫ פ"נ‬verbs is significantly more common than in the
case of strong verbs: 44 out of 236 cases according to Andersen and Forbes (ibid.) (my
own count puts the same figure at approximately 40 out of 90). Andersen and Forbes
(1986: 195) write that the stronger tendency to plene spelling in such forms “represents a
tendency to triconsonantalism on the purely orthographic level”.
orthography and phonology 75

to determine whether these were in vogue at the time of composition of the

texts in question or represent the work of later editors, compilers, or copy-
ists. Be that as it may, it is probably significant that in the Bible the spelling is
extremely uncommon in the Pentateuch (2x) and Former Prophets (6x), and
somewhat more common in the much more limited corpus of LBH (13x) and
other late material, such as Ezekiel (19x), ‘Second Isaiah’ (13x), and Qohelet (7x),
though, it should also be noted that certain biblical compositions of unknown
date also exhibit relatively high concentrations of the spelling in question, e.g.,
Job (32x), Proverbs (15x), Psalms (12x), and the Twelve (28x). Needless to say,
the spelling is extremely common in non-Masoretic and post-biblical sources,
such as the DSS12 and rabbinic literature.13 In light of these data it seems rea-
sonable to posit at least some correlation between the full spelling of (way)
yiqṭol forms and a late date of composition. In core CBH and LBH works, then,
the relevant incidence of plene spelling is in line with their respective dates of
composition, while in the blocks of Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, on the one hand,
and the Twelve, on the other, both of which are treated as literary units in
Jewish tradition, the high incidence of plene spelling seems attributable to the
(albeit inconsistent) application of a policy of spelling revision at the hands
of editors, compilers, or copyists. The book of Jeremiah presents 67 cases of
relevant (way)yiqṭol forms, and in eight the ktiv represents plene spelling of the
o vowel: ‫‘ ֶאּטֹור‬I will (not) rage, nurse a grudge’ (Jer 3.12); ‫‘ אסלוח‬I will forgive’
(5.7 ktiv); ‫‘ ֶאּתֹוׁש‬I will uproot’ (12.14; 24.6; 42.10); ‫‘ ֶא ְחמֹול‬I will spare, have mercy
on’ (13.14); ‫‘ ִּת ְׁשּכֹון‬she/it will dwell, be inhabited’ (33.16; 50.39). Four of the cases
involve a ‫ פ"נ‬verb. Two involve verbs which, for whatever reason, fairly com-
monly present a plene spelling in the relevant forms (‫‘ ָח ַמל‬spare, have mercy
on’ and ‫‘ ָׁש ַכן‬dwell’). It is interesting that the Greek lacks parallels for the two
cases of ‫‘ ִּת ְׁשּכֹון‬she/it will dwell, be inhabited’ (33.16; 50.39); it also lacks transla-
tions for three cases in which the relevant forms are spelled defectively (‫יִ ְפקֹד‬
‘he will take account of, remember’ Jer 14.10; ‫‘ ִּת ְׁשּכֹן‬it will be inhabited’ 46.26;
‫‘ יִ ּׁש ֹם‬he will be appalled’ 49.17). This means that the ratio of plene to defective
spellings in the three literary strata of the book are as follows: MT 8:59; short
edition 6:56; supplementary material 2:3. Obviously, the mere five cases found
in the MT but unparalleled in the Greek represent too small a sampling to sus-
tain any firm conclusion. Even so, it may be significant that the supplementary
material has a full spelling in two of five cases.

12 Qimron 1986: §100.2.

13 Segal 1936: §41.
76 chapter 3

3.1.3 ‫(ל)קטול‬
Throughout the MT the qal infinitive construct of strong verbs, i.e.,
(li)qṭōl, is regularly written defectively.14 There are approximately 1835 cases of
the infinitive construct in the pattern (lV)qṭōl in the Hebrew Bible. In just
under 950 of them the form in question is the quotative frame ‫‘ ֵלאמֹר‬to say,
saying’, which is written plene on only three occasions.15 Leaving aside the
verb ‫לאמ(ו)ר‬, approximately 175 of 885 cases, or about 20 percent, are plene.
The percentages of infinitives spelled with a mater lectionis waw in the various
parts of the Bible are as follows: Pentateuch – 1 percent; Former Prophets – 14.4
percent; Latter Prophets without TBH material – 14.8 percent; TBH – 25.6 per-
cent; LBH and Qohelet – 49.7 percent.16 For the situation in non-Masoretic and
extra-biblical sources, see the table: 17

Table ‎3 .1.3 Extra-biblical use of plene spelling of qal infinitive construct

Corpus Total infinitives Total plene forms Percentage

Pre-exilic Inscriptions17 6 0 0
Ben Sira 35 14 40
Biblical DSS 179 96 53.6
Non-biblical DSS 307 261 85
Mishna 315 305 96.8

14 This definition includes all construct infinitive forms of the (lV)qṭol pattern, except
those from ‫ ל"י‬roots (and ‫ל"א‬, when formed as if from ‫ ל"י‬roots); ‫ פ"נ‬forms are normally
included; ‫ ע"ע‬forms are included only in cases where they take the form of a strong verb;
‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬forms are excluded, as are many ‫ פ"י‬and stative forms, i.e., those with infinitives
in the (lə)qVṭlå̄ pattern and the few in the (li)qṭolet pattern. Forms with suffixes are also
excluded. In cases of ktiv-qre mismatch, the statistics here reflect the ktiv.
15 Gen 48.20; Jer 18.5; 33.19. The last case comes in a long section not reflected in the Greek.
16 Hornkohl forthcoming.
17 The small number of infinitive construct forms in the corpus of pre-exilic inscriptions,
the rarity of which is likely due not only to the paucity of material, but to factors related
to genre as well (i.e., a lack of prose texts), obviously diminishes the statistical signifi-
cance of the uniformly defective spelling there. Be that as it may, the overall dearth in
pre-exilic epigraphic material of potential examples of mater lectionis waw representing
medial o (or u) supports the contention that the sampling, while small, is nevertheless
orthography and phonology 77

From the perspectives of both biblical and extra-biblical sources it is clear that
the plene spelling is much more characteristic of late material than of classical
material, notwithstanding the likelihood that the biblical material has under-
gone an orthographic revision of some type.18 In Jeremiah, 22 of the 59 poten-
tial cases, or 37.3 percent, are written plene.19 This proportion of plene spellings
is more similar to that of the core LBH books than to that characteristic of CBH
texts.20 In cases paralleled by the Greek the same proportion is 17 out of 47, or
36.1 percent. In that material found in the MT but not paralleled in the Greek
the proportion is a very similar five out of 12, or 41.7 percent.21

3.2 Other Non-standard Spellings of o

Jeremiah exhibits a few other non-standard spellings of the o vowel, though in

most of these cases no discernible diachronic pattern emerges. The relevant
phenomena include high incidence of the spelling ‫ לוא‬for ‫( לא‬excluding the
particle ‫)הלוא‬,22 ‫‘ רעו‬his friend’ (Jer 6.21) for ‫רעהו‬,23 and the 3ms suffix ‫ה‬- for
‫ו‬-, often in the form ‫‘ ֻּכֹּלה‬all of it, every one’.24 One possible exception is the
full spelling of forms of the numeral ‘eight’. The standard spellings are ‫ְׁשמֹנֶ ה‬
used with femine nouns, ‫ ְׁשמֹנָ ה‬used with masculine nouns, and ‫‘ ְׁשמֹנִ ים‬eighty’.
The relevant plene spellings come in under a third of the potential cases (47 of
147), but 39 of these appear in the exilic or post-exilic works of Jeremiah (1/6),
Ezekiel (2/4), Qohelet (1/1), Esther (1/1), and Chronicles (34/36). In Jeremiah
the only case of the full spelling occurs in a passage (52.27b–30) unparalleled
in the Greek: Jer 52.29 (which also contains an example of the defective spell-
ing). This may indicate the late, secondary character of this material (though,

18 For further detail see Hornkohl forthcoming.

19 Plene cases: Jer 1.10 (4x); 11.10, 19; 13.10; 16.5; 18.7 (2x); 19.11, 15; 22.17; 25.34; 28.12; 31.28 (3x);
36.23; 40.9; 47.4; 51.40 (‫ לאמור‬18.5; 33.19).
20 Including only those texts with ten or more potential cases, the percentages are as fol-
lows: Gen 1.7; Exod 0; Num 4.3; Deut 0; Josh 11.1; Jdg 25; Sam 20.5; Kgs 4.6; Isa 14.7 (‘First’
12.5; ‘Second’ 17.9); Ezek 10; the Twelve 25.7; Ps 15.7; Prov 19.2; Job 16.7; Qoh 55.8; Est 33.3;
Ezra–Neh 39.1; Chr 52.2.
21 The Greek has no parallel for a plene form in Jer 1.10; 18.7; 19.11; 31.28 (2x). The Greek also
has no parallel for plene ‫ לאמור‬at Jer 33.9, but does represent it at 18.5. Two of 114 cases
of the verb are plene in MT Jeremiah; in the Greek this proportion is one out of 85; in the
supplementary material the proportion is one out of 29.
22 Hornkohl 2012: §
23 Hornkohl 2012: §
24 Hornkohl 2012: §
78 chapter 3

to be sure, it exhibits no further signs of lateness). Cf. the instances of ‫ְׁשמֹונִ ים‬
‘eighty’ in Gen 5.26 and 1 Kgs 6.1, in both of which the Greek reads otherwise.

3.3 Non-standard Spellings with and without ʾalef 25

Non-standard spellings involving ʾalef include forms of ‫‘ וְ ִּת ֶּׂשנָ ה( נש"א‬that

they may take up [a lament]’ Jer 9.17; ‫‘ נָ ׂשֹוא יִ נָ ׂשּוא‬they must be carried’ 10.5);
the ktiv ‫ בור‬and qre ‫‘ )?באר <( ביר‬well, cistern’ (Jer 6.7); the collocations ‫מבי אל‬
‘(behold I am) bringing upon’ (Jer 19.15 ktiv), ‫‘ החטי את‬cause to sin’ (32.35 ktiv),
and ‫(‘ מבי את‬behold I am) bringing’ (39.16 ktiv); ‫ה)אזִ ִּקים‬/ ָ ‘([in] the) chains’
ָ ‫(ּב‬
(Jer 40.1, 4) for ‫‘ מלכת ;זִ ִּקים‬queen of (?)’ read as ‫אכת‬ֶ ‫‘ ְמ ֶל‬handiwork of’ (Jer 7.18;
44.17, 18, 19, 25); ‫‘ פרה‬wild ass’ (Jer 2.24) for ‫‘ ַא ְׁש ֵּכים ;פרא‬early’ (Jer 25.3) for
‫ ַה ְׁש ֵּכים‬. See also below, §‎3.9.

3.4 ‫ זע"ק‬versus ‫‘ צע"ק‬cry out; muster’

3.4.1 The ΜΤ
It has been noted that the distribution of derivatives of the roots ‫ צע"ק‬and
‫‘ זע"ק‬cry out; muster’ in the Bible is not casual, but exhibits an unmistakable
diachronic trend.26 Both roots are represented throughout the entire Hebrew
Bible and likewise in post-biblical Hebrew. In the Bible ‫ צע"ק‬occurs around 75
times and ‫ זע"ק‬about 90. Yet while derivatives of ‫ צע"ק‬are especially common
in pre-exilic texts, these forms are by and large replaced by derivatives of ‫זע"ק‬
in later texts. Thus in the Pentateuch cases of ‫ צע"ק‬outnumber those of ‫זע"ק‬
by a margin of 27:2, but the ratio changes to 34:67 in the Prophets (20:30 in the
Former Prophets, 14:37 in the Latter Prophets), and to 3:11 in the distinctive LBH
corpus. See table ‎3.4.1.

25 For detailed discussions of the following phenomena see Hornkohl 2012: §5.1.
26 Kutscher 1974: 34, 233; Polzin 1976: 137; Qimron 1980a: 244; Bergey 1983: 119–122; Rooker
1990: 134–138. Cf. Hazel 1980: 114–115; Albertz 1997: 1088–1089; Young, Rezetko, and
Ehrensvärd 2008: II 104. Some have sought to explain the various forms on the basis of
regional dialects (e.g., Bauer and Leander 1922: §2v; Sperber 1966: 478, n. 4; Bendavid
1967–1971: I 33; Rooker 1990: 138; Albertz 1997: 1088–1089), but the data are no more indica-
tive of a dialectal difference than of one resulting from historical development. Besides,
the explanatory power of geographical factors in some cases does not necessarily exclude
a diachronic dimension (Dresher 2012: 31; Holmstedt 2012: 117).
orthography and phonology 79

Table ‎3 .4.1 ΜΤ distribution of derivatives of ‫ צע"ק‬and ‫זע"ק‬

‫ִה ְצ ִעיק נִ ְצ ַעק ִצ ֵעק ָצ ַעק‬ ‫ְצ ָע ָקה‬ ‫צע"ק‬ ‫ִהזְ ִעיק נִ זְ ַעק זָ ַעק‬ ‫זע"ק זְ ָע ָקה‬

Genesis 3 0 0 0 3 6 0 0 0 1 1
Exodus 10 0 0 0 5 15 1 0 0 0 1
Numbers 3 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0
Deuteronomy 3 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0

Joshua 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1
Judges 2 0 4 0 0 6 7 4 2 0 13
Samuel 0 0 1 1 2 4 12 1 2 0 15
Kings 7 1 1 0 0 9 1 0 0 0 1

Isaiah 5 0 0 0 1 6 6 0 0 3 9
Jeremiah 3 0 0 0 4 7 8 0 0 6 14
Ezekiel 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 1 5
Hosea 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2
Joel 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Jonah 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 2
Micah 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Habakkuk 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2
Zephaniah 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Zechariah 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1

Psalms 5 0 0 0 1 6 5 0 0 0 5
Proverbs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Job 2 0 0 0 3 5 1 0 1 1 3
Lamentations 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1
Qohelet 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1

Esther 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 3
Ezra 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nehemiah 1 0 0 0 1 2 2 0 0 2 4
Chronicles 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 0 4

Total 47 1 6 1 21 76 60 6 7 18 91
80 chapter 3

Table ‎3 .4.1 (Continued)

‫ִה ְצ ִעיק נִ ְצ ַעק ִצ ֵעק ָצ ַעק‬ ‫ְצ ָע ָקה‬ ‫צע"ק‬ ‫ִהזְ ִעיק נִ זְ ַעק זָ ַעק‬ ‫זע"ק זְ ָע ָקה‬

Pentateuch 19 0 0 0 8 27 1 0 0 1 2
Prophets 18 1 6 1 8 34 45 6 6 10 67
 Former 10 1 6 1 2 20 20 6 4 0 30
 Latter 8 0 0 0 6 14 25 0 2 10 37
LBH 2 0 0 0 1 3 7 0 0 5 11

Especially illustrative are parallel or similar formulations from classical and

post-classical biblical texts, e.g.,

Gen 27.34 and he cried a cry (‫ )וַ ּיִ ְצ ַעק ְצ ָע ָקה‬great and bitter
Est 4.1 and he cried a cry (‫ )וַ ּיִ זְ ַעק זְ ָע ָקה‬great and bitter

Exod 3.7 and their cry (‫ ) ַצ ֲע ָק ָתם‬I heard

Neh 9.9 and their cry (‫ )זַ ֲע ָק ָתם‬you heard

Exod 8.8 and Moses cried out (‫ )וַ ּיִ ְצ ַעק‬to Yhwh
2 Chr 18.31 and Jehoshaphat cried out (‫ )וַ ּיִ זְ ַעק‬and Yhwh helped him

Apparently, the two roots served one alongside the other during the early
period, with a slight preference for ‫צע"ק‬. Even so, to judge from texts consid-
ered earlier and/or transitional, ‫ צע"ק‬was already in decline by the late First
Temple Period. The distinctive LBH trait is thus not the mere use of ‫זע"ק‬, nor
even necessarily preference for it, but the increasing tendency for the exclusive
use of ‫ זע"ק‬at the expense of ‫צע"ק‬, though mixed usage continues.

3.4.2 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

The situation described above for the biblical material is generally characteris-
tic of the late non-Masoretic and extra-biblical sources as well, in both Hebrew
and Aramaic. ‫ צע"ק‬is entirely absent from the non-biblical DSS, where ‫זע"ק‬
comes 16 times, four of them in place of ‫צע"ק‬:

Exod 14.15 Yhwh said to   Moses, “Why do you cry out (‫ ) ִּת ְצ ַעק‬to me?”
4Q365 f6ai.4 [Yh]wh [said] [t]o Moses, “Why do you cry out (‫ )תזעק‬to me?”

Exod 15.24–25 the people grumbled against Moses . . . and he cried out (‫)וַ ּיִ ְצ ַעק‬
4Q365 f6aii+6c.10 the people grumbled aga[inst Moses] . . . and Moses cried out (‫)ויזעק‬
orthography and phonology 81

Deut 22.24 on account of the fact that she did not cry out (‫ ) ָצ ֲע ָקה‬in the city
11Q19 66.2–3 on account of the fact that she did not cry o[ut] (]‫ )זעק[ה‬in the city

Deut 22.27 for in the field he found her; the engaged girl cried out (‫) ָצ ֲע ָקה‬
11Q 19 66.7–8 for in the field he found her; the engaged girl cried out (‫)זעקה‬

Cases of ‫ זע"ק‬outnumber those of ‫ צע"ק‬in the biblical DSS as well; in this mate-
rial the ratio of ‫ צע"ק‬to ‫ זע"ק‬is 11:27, with five cases in which biblical ‫ צע"ק‬is
replaced with ‫זע"ק‬, e.g.,

Isa 42.2 he does not cry out (‫ ) ְיִצ ַעק‬nor raise nor make heard his voice
1QIsaa 35.11 he does not cry out (‫ )יז̇ עק‬nor raise nor make heard his voice

Ps 107.28 they cried out (‫ )וַ ּיִ ְצ ֲעקּו‬to Yhwh in their trouble
4Q88 3.19–21 they cried out (‫עקו‬̇ ̇‫ )ויז‬to Yhwh in their tr[ouble]27

The Hebrew of other non-Masoretic and post-biblical sources, e.g., Ben Sira,
the Samaritan Pentateuch, and, for the most part, RH, evinces the preservation
of ‫ צע"ק‬in the face of the encroachment of ‫זע"ק‬.28
In Aramaic sources, conversely, the preference for ‫ זע"ק‬is very strong.
Egyptian Aramaic in documents from the 5th century bce contain deriva-
tions of both roots, but nearly all other late material, including BA, Qumran
Aramaic, and Syriac in general, employ ‫ זע"ק‬to the exclusion of ‫צע"ק‬. Notably,
the targums favor ‫ זע"ק‬even where the MT has ‫צע"ק‬. It seems clear that Aramaic
played an influential role in the late Hebrew drift to preference for ‫ זע"ק‬over

27 The other three instances of interchange are 1QIsaa 27.7 (|| Isa 33.7); 39.12 (|| Isa 46.7); and
52.21 (|| Isa 65.14). The opposite interchange is documented only once: 4Q11 f3–4.4 (|| Exod
28 The four occurrences of ‫ צע"ק‬in fragments of Ben Sira are not especially surprising, given
the author’s archaistic predilection. In the case of the Samaritan Pentateuch, the pres-
ervation of ‫ צע"ק‬merely reflects the antiquity of this version’s source (further harmo-
nized so as to exclude the two cases of ‫ זע"ק‬in the Masoretic Pentateuch). The situation
in RH, on the other hand, is somewhat puzzling. Perhaps the ‘revitalization’ of classical
‫ צע"ק‬in these sources is to be explained as a result of what Kutscher (1982: §234) termed
“a resistance to wholesale Aramaization,” though it should be emphasized that the exam-
ple which he adduced, namely the preservation of ‫ ּגֶ ֶׁשם‬in the face of Aramaic ‫מטר‬, both
‘rain’, is not entirely parallel, as ‫ ָמ ָטר‬, while native in Hebrew, never became standard
under the influence of its Aramaic cognate in any phase of ancient Hebrew, but remained
something of a poetic alternate for ‫ּגֶ ֶׁשם‬.
82 chapter 3

3.4.3 Jeremiah
On the one hand, like most of the rest of the books of the Prophets (the excep-
tion being Kings), particularly the Latter Prophets, and unlike the books of
the Pentateuch, Jeremiah displays a preference for ‫( זע"ק‬14 cases) over ‫צע"ק‬
(seven cases). On the other hand, like the Former Prophets and Isaiah (both
‘First’ and ‘Second’), Jeremiah’s mixed usage contrasts with the decisive
preference for ‫ זע"ק‬in Ezekiel, the distinctive corpus of LBH books, the DSS,
and most of the relevant Aramaic corpora. From the perspective of use and
distribution, then, Jeremiah’s language patterns as a form of TBH, linking the
CBH best exemplified by the Pentateuch and the LBH of the distinctively late
The transitional status of Jeremiah’s language is also manifest in its use of
derivatives of the two roots in question side by side in the same context or in
parallel formulations, e.g.,

Jer 25.34 wail you shepherds and cry out (‫)וְ זַ ֲעקּו‬
Jer 25.36 the sound of the cry of (‫ ) ַצ ֲע ַקת‬the shepherds
Jer 48.3–5 The sound of a cry (‫ ) ְצ ָע ָקה‬from Horonaim. Devastation and great
destruction! Moab is broken, Her little ones have sounded out a
cry (‫)ּזְ ָע ָקה‬. For by the ascent of Luhith weeping they will ascend;
for at the descent of Horonaim they have heard the anguished
cry of (‫ ) ַצ ֲע ַקת‬destruction.
Jer 51.54 the sound of a cry (‫ )זְ ָע ָקה‬from Babylon and great destruction
from the land of the Chaldeans

3.4.4 The MT and the Greek

The Greek presents a parallel for most of the cases of ‫ צע"ק‬and ‫ זע"ק‬in Jeremiah.
It is worth mentioning that γελάσομαι ‘I will laugh’ (Jer 20.8) probably reflects
a reading of ‫א ְׂש ַחק‬/‫ק‬
ֶ ‫ ֶא ְצ ַח‬, against the MT’s ‫‘ ֶאזְ ַעק‬I cry out’. In Jer 48.4 the form
‫‘ זְ ָע ָקה‬cry’ has no Greek parallel; it is difficult to establish whether this is due
to the translator(s) or his (their) source. The same can be said for Jer 30.15, the
first part of which has no parallel in the Greek. If the Masoretic readings in
these two cases indeed reflect additions, it is not surprising that the insertions
make use of ‫ זע"ק‬rather than ‫צע"ק‬. However, this remains highly conjectural,
as the apparent disparity between the two texts may not stem from different
Vorlagen. Even if it does, the mere two potential opportunities for use of ‫זע"ק‬
or ‫ צע"ק‬in the supplementary material are too few to make up a representative
sampling. Summarizing, in the short edition ‫ זע"ק‬outnumbers 12:7 ‫צע"ק‬, while
both potential occurrences in the supplementary material involve ‫זע"ק‬.
orthography and phonology 83

3.5 The Theophoric Endings ‫יה‬- and ‫יהו‬-

3.5.1 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

Given the abundance of the relevant non-Masoretic, non-Hebrew, and extra-
biblical evidence, it is appropriate to begin the discussion with this material,
which, significantly, was not subject to the vagaries of scribal transmission.
The pre- and post-exilic extra-biblical sources present a very clear picture of
the classical use of the theophoric ending ‫יהו‬- and of its post-classical replace-
ment with ‫יה‬-. Evidence of overwhelming preference for the long form in the
First Temple Period comes from Hebrew and non-Hebrew inscriptional evi-
dence, including, but not limited to, the Lachish Letters, the Arad Ostraca,
Israelite and Judahite stamp seals and bullae, and Assyrian inscriptions. That
the long ending was largely superseded by its abbreviated counterpart in later
times emerges from such sources as the DSS, the ancient translations of the
Hebrew Bible (especially the targums and the Peshiṭta), rabbinic literature,
and other Second Temple epigraphic, documentary, and numismatic material.
For example, the short suffix outnumbers the long 131:4 in the non-biblical DSS
and 74:21 in the biblical scrolls. The conclusion is unavoidable: the long ending
dominated in pre-exilic times, whereas the short ending, while not unheard
of before the Exile, only later became common, eventually almost completely
supplanting the earlier form.
In the opinion of Tur-Sinai (1938b: 24–25), the short form is Aramaic in ori-
gin and from that tongue penetrated into Hebrew.29 Based on the evidence
found in a single copy of column III of the Sennacherib prism, which reads
Ḫazaqia instead of Ḫazaqiau, and in a pair of Israelite stamp seals from the
days of King Hezekiah (or slightly thereafter) Kutscher (1982: §89) dated the
penetration of the short form into Hebrew to the end of the 8th or the begin-
ning of the 7th century bce.30 Though available prior to the Exile, the short

29 Cf. Ginsberg 1938: 25. While the majority of names with the theophoric suffix in Aramaic
sources are indeed short—for example, most of those recorded in the Elephantine cache,
in BA, in the targums, and in Syriac—one must bear in mind that these are by and large
late sources, i.e., from the 5th century bce of thereafter. The long form does occur, for
instance, in the 9th-century bce Tel Dan inscription (KAI 310.8) as well as in later material.
30 It should be noted that the general picture as sketched by Tur-Sinai and Kutscher has been
confirmed by more recent epigraphic findings. For example, according to Schniedewind’s
(2008) electronic database of inscriptions and stamp seals from 1200 to 586 bce, names
with the long form outnumber those with the short form 657: 25 (excluding names with
doubtful, i.e., broken, endings). Cf. Young (2003b: 297, n. 17), who lists fourteen cases of
pre-exilic ‫יה‬- (of which the apparent cases on the Gezer Calendar [margins and reverse]
84 chapter 3

form gained ascendency in writing only in the 5th or 4th century bce. It is
important to note, however, that use of the long form never ceased completely
(see below).
Several additional points are in order. First, most of the epigraphic evidence
for the two forms of the theophoric suffix consists of seals and bullae, objects
on which the writing surface is very limited. Despite these narrow confines,
however, it is significant that names ending in the long suffix dominate not
only in longer inscriptions, but in seals and bullae as well. Moreover, it is note-
worthy that according to the dates given in the collection of G. Davies (1999–
2004), all of the certain examples of names bearing the short ending attested
in sources from before the 6th century bce are found on seals or bullae, and up
to the 3rd century only three cases of the short form are found outside of this
sort of material. In other words, the majority of the cases of names ending in
the short suffix in the period prior to the 3rd century bce involve inscriptions
made on objects the writing surface of which offered limited space. Only from
the 3rd century on is it possible to speak of a genuine ‘explosion’ in use of the
short ending in longer pieces of writing.
Second, despite the dominance of names with the short suffix in material from
after the Exile, even then the long form was still available for use, though, cru-
cially, its employment by late writers was conditioned. For example, in contrast
to the scribe responsible for the Great Isaiah Scroll from Qumran (1QIsaa), who
preferred the short form to the long,31 the names ending in the theophoric suffix
in 1QIsab (1Q8)—‫‘ חזקיהו‬Hezekiah’ 15.4; 16.9, 11 (MT 37.10; 38.22; 39.1) and ‫ישעיהו‬

are uncertain, because they are reconstructions and, in any case, the orthography of the
inscription is thought by most to be purely consonantal, while the apparent cases in the
Tell Jamma ostraca [2.3, 4] are not certainly Israelite names) and Young, Rezetko, and
Ehrensvärd (2008: I 167), who propose three additional pre-exilic short names (but ‫אשיה‬
in Arad 107.2 comes at the end of the line in a stamp seal in which there is clear evi-
dence of an attempt to conserve space in ‫נאשיה‬/‫[‘ לאלשב‬belonging] to ʾlšb son of ʾšyh’,
where a consonantal yod is evidently missing and a bet must do double duty as the final
letter in ‫ אלשב‬and the initial letter in ‫)בנאשיה‬. Cf. also Zevit (1983), who accepts Tur-
Sinai’s general approach, but on the basis of the biblical text and epigraphic material
unavailable to Tur-Sinai, emphasizes the early existence of the short form in ancient
Hebrew. Of course, Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd rightly warn against the danger of
circular arguments, according to which a stamp seal is given a late date on the basis of
the short ending and then used as evidence for the late character of the short ending.
Obviously, factors other than spelling, e.g., stratigraphy and paleography, must be consid-
ered in the dating of inscriptional material. However, once these are established, then the
late character of the short ending may also serve as evidence for late provenance.
31 Kutscher 1974: 4, 122–123.
orthography and phonology 85

‘Isaiah’ 16.8, 15 (MT 38.21; 39.3)—are all long.32 Similarly, the four instances of
the long suffix in the non-biblical DSS come in the names of well-known biblical
figures from the First Temple Period ‫‘ ירמיהו‬Jeremiah’ (CD 8.20; 4Q285 f7.1;
PAM43685 f65.1) and ‫‘ ישעיהו‬Isaiah’ (4Q385a fb.1). Especially instructive is the
situation in Ben Sira (B), where all of the relevant names are those of bibli-
cal figures: names belonging to First Temple personages all bear the long
ending—thus, ‫‘ אליהו‬Elijah’ (48.4), ‫‘ יחזקיהו‬Hezekiah’ (48.17, 22, 49.4), ‫ישעיהו‬
‘Isaiah’ (48.20), ‫‘ יאשיהו‬Josiah’ (49.1, 4), and ‫‘ ירמיהו‬Jeremiah’ (49.7)—while the
lone short ending occurs in the name ‫‘ נחמיה‬Nehemiah’ (49.13), which, belong-
ing to a figure of Second Temple times, consistently takes the short ending in
the Bible as well. From this survey it emerges that despite the dominance of
names ending in ‫יה‬- in the late period, ‫יהו‬- was still readily available for use in
the names of known personages from earlier times or as a convenient means
of lending an air of antiquity to a Second Temple Period historical account of
earlier times. The late use of the long suffix is thus a clear example of artificial
Before turning to the MT data, a related theophoric ending, ‫יו‬-, merits brief
discussion. This form, widely believed to represent the pronunciation -yaw
is thought to have developed from elision in the pronunciation of the [h] in
-yahu. Based primarily on the Samaria Ostraca, already in the first half of last
century Diringer (1934: 40) suspected that the two pronunciations, -yaw and
-yahu, reflected regional variation. Not long afterwards, Tur-Sinai (1938b: 25)
explicitly classified the former as ‘northern’. Since then many scholars have fol-
lowed suit.33 However, while there is no doubt that the name-final orthogra-
phy ‫יו‬- is characteristic of the northern dialect of ancient Hebrew, more recent
discoveries appear to show that it is not exclusively characteristic of the dialect
of this area, as a not insignificant number of examples have been unearthed at
non-northern sites, most notably Kuntillat Ajrud in the Sinai.34

32 Throntveit 1982: 216.

33 See, especially, Cross (2003: 108): “All Hebrew seals from Northern Israel use -yaw-, and
the same is true of ostraca of northern provenience”. See also Avigad 1965: 231; Cody 1970:
325, n. 1, 337–340; Coogan 1973: 187; McCarter 1974: 5; Silverman 1985: 219; cf. Ginsberg 1938:
24–25. Northern sites other than Samaria include Hazor, Shechem, Dan, Bethsaida, and
34 See Mastin 2007. There is no unequivocal evidence for the use of this spelling in BH, but
note ‫‘ ַא ְחיֹו‬Ahio’ (2 Sam 6.3, 4; 1 Chr 8.14, 31; 9.37; 13.7).
86 chapter 3

3.5.2 The ΜΤ
The chronological relationship between names ending in the two forms
of the theophoric suffix is also reflected in their biblical distribution. Despite
mixed usage in several books and certain exceptional patterns—both of which
situations may a priori reflect contemporary linguistic patterns, later scribal
intervention, or a combination of the two (see below)—the picture is clear.
The long form dominates in the Bible in general by a ratio of 839:672. The
books of the Torah and Joshua present no examples of names with either end-
ing, apparently reflecting a time before the use of such names was prevalent.35
Other books also have no cases36 or so few that it is difficult to draw any firm
conclusions.37 The long form is numerically superior in books that deal with
events of the pre-exilic period, for example (‘First’) Isaiah (62:1),38 Kings (248:77),
and Jeremiah (241:83), whereas the short form prevails in material securely

35 To be sure, the Pentateuch has only two names containing any form of the tetragramma-
ton, in both cases a prefix: ‫הֹוׁש ַע‬
ֻ ְ‫‘ י‬Joshua’ and ‫יֹוכ ֶבד‬
ֶ ‘Jochabed’ (it is interesting that they
appear to reveal awareness of the divine name before its explicit ‘revelation’ in Exod 3 and
6 in that they serve in material not attributed to the Yahwist [see Segal 1967: 4]). That the
Pentateuch indeed reflects the early pre-exilic situation receives striking confirmation
from the extra-biblical sources, which show very few instances of use of these names
prior to the 8th century bce, followed by a relatively sudden proliferation in their use.
Despite popular explanations of its etymology, the toponym ‫מֹורּיָ ה‬ ִ ‘Moriah’ (Gen 22.2;
2 Chr 3.1) is generally not considered relevant.
36 These are excluded from Table ‎3.5.2.
37 Consider, for example, the book of Samuel. At first glance, this book contains four cases
of names with the long ending in the face of 51 cases of names with the short ending. As
it turns out, however, the majority of the names ending in ‫יָ ה‬- are not germane. Thus, the
names ‫‘ ְצרּויָ ה‬Zeruiah’ (15x), ‫‘ ַאּיָ ה‬Ajah’ (4x), and ‫אּורּיָ ה‬
ִ ‘Uriah’ (24x) are not theophoric.
The ratio of long to short names in Samuel is then 4:8, a total so small for a book of this
size that it shows no more than that such theophoric names were not yet in fashion.
With specific regard for the name ‫אּורּיָ ה‬ ִ ‘Uriah’: it comes a total of 36 times in the
Bible, 26 of them referring to Uriah the Hittite. As the name of a foreigner, it is thought
that this name, at least when used in reference to a non-Israelite, does not bear the short
theophoric suffix ‫יה‬-; see Gustavs 1913: 201–205; Noth 1928: 168, n. 1; Kutscher 1982: §89;
HALOT 25b. The statistics here exclude use of this name when it refers to Uriah the
38 In MT Isaiah all 63 occurrences of names ending in the theophoric element come in
chapters 1–39 and of them only one is short: ‫אּורּיָ ה‬ ִ ‘Uriah (the priest)’ (Isa 8.2; under the
influence of the foreign name discussed in the previous note?; 4Q59 f4–10.1 has the long
form of the name); this same verse contains two other theophoric names, both long. In
contrast, 1QIsaa contains only two cases of names with the long ending—one in the head-
ing in 1QIsaa 1.1 (MT Isa 1.1) and the other an addition by a second hand at 32.14 (MT 38.21;
see Kutscher 1974: 4, 122–123)—against 61 instances of names with the short ending.
orthography and phonology 87

dated to the post-exilic period, such as Zechariah (1:13), Daniel (0:9),39 Ezra
(1:77),40 and Nehemiah (0:185). See Table 3.3.2.

Table 3.5.2 Biblical distribution of names ending in the long and short theophoric suffixes

Book long (%) short (%) Book long (%) short (%)

Judges 2 (100) — Zephaniah 1 (20) 4 (80)

Samuel 4 (33.3) 8 (66.7) Zechariah 1 (7.1) 13 (92.9)
Kings 248 (76.3) 77 (23.7) Malachi — 1 (100)
 (1 Kings 102 [85.7] 17 [14.3]) Proverbs — 1 (100)
 (2 Kings 146 [70.9] 60 [29.1]) Esther — 1 (100)
Isaiah 62 (96.9) 1 (3.1) Daniel — 9 (100)
Jeremiah 241 (74.4) 83 (25.6) Ezra 1 (1.3) 77 (98.7)
Ezekiel 4 (66.7) 2 (33.3) Nehemiah — 185 (100)
Hosea — 2 (100) Chronicles 275 (57.6) 202 (42.4)
Amos — 4 (100)  (1 Chronicles 85 [33.5] 169 [66.5])
Obadiah — 1 (100)  (2 Chronicles 190 [85.2] 33 [14.8])
Micah — 1 (100) Total 839 (55.5) 672 (44.5)

There are two major exceptions to the trend outlined above: the Twelve and
the book of Chronicles.

39 This sum refers to the Hebrew portion of Daniel; there are two additional short forms in
the Aramaic section.
40 These sums refer to the Hebrew material in Ezra; there are two additional short forms in
the Aramaic sections. The exception to the rule in Ezra–Nehemiah is the form ‫ֶׁש ֶל ְמיָ הּו‬
‘Shelemiah’ (Ezra 10.41), the only name ending in the long suffix in over 260 potential
cases in the two books combined. However, as claimed above (§1.4.6), a glance at the
occurrence in context is sufficient to demonstrate that it has almost certainly arisen from
scribal corruption, according to which ‫‘ ֲעזַ ְר ֵאל וְ ֶׁש ֶל ְמיָ הּו ְׁש ַמ ְריָ ה‬Azarel and Shelemiah,
Shemariah’ < ‫ּוׁש ַמ ְריָ ה‬
ְ ‫‘ * ֲעזַ ְר ֵאל וְ ֶׁש ֶל ְמיָ ה‬Azarel and Shelemiah and Shemariah’. The emen-
dation assumes an error in spacing alone—the conjunction -‫‘ ּו‬and’ preceding the third
name was inadvertently attached to the end of the second name—necessitating a change
in neither consonants nor even vocalization; see Japhet 1968: 339, n. 3, but cf. the Ancient
88 chapter 3 The Twelve

An apparent exception to the distribution patterns emerging from the above
survey is found in the Twelve, where the short form dominates the long by
the admittedly surprising margin of 26:2. This dominance is expected in books
like Zechariah and Malachi, but certainly not in the likes of Hosea and Amos.
However, it is noteworthy that 14 of the short forms occur in the first verse of a
literary section; these probably belong to an editorial framework of somewhat
later origin than the core material in each book. It is reasonable to assume that
the use of the short form in this editorial framework subsequently influenced
the spelling of the relevant names throughout the Twelve during the processes
of consolidation, editing, and/or revision. It is probably worth mentioning that
the only two long forms, also apparently in editorial headings, belong to the
well-known First Temple king ‫אׁשּיָ הּו‬ ִ ֹ ‫‘ י‬Josiah’ (Zeph 1.1) and Zechariah’s father
‫‘ ֶּב ֶר ְכיָ הּו‬Berechiah’ (Zech 1.7).41 Chronicles
The situation in Chronicles is curious.42 On the one hand, Chronicles contains
more short forms than any other book. This is not unexpected, as Chronicles’
contents date the book to the post-exilic period. On the other hand, long forms
outnumber short forms in the book by a margin of 275:202, making Chronicles
the only post-exilic book to contain a sizable proportion of names ending in
‫יָ הּו‬-. As bewildering as these statistics may seem, they are not wholly inexpli-
cable. First, approximately half of the long forms refer to kings, prophets, or
officials from the First Temple Period, a situation corresponding to the afore-
mentioned conditioned and archaistic use of the long form in post-biblical
times.43 Second, it is significant that 60 percent of the short names in the book
come in the genealogical material that comprises its first nine chapters, a sec-
tion in which 93 percent of the relevant names are short. Throughout the rest
of the book, conversely, the general tendency is to archaize when it comes
to these names (so pronounced was the Chronicler’s penchant for archaiza-
tion that he routinely lengthened names that were short in the parallel pas-
sages in Kings).44 In fact, disregarding 1 Chr 1–9, the proportion of long names

41 See above on the archaistic use of the long form by late extra-biblical writers.
42 For discussions see Sperber 1939: §131a; Burrows 1949: 204, n. 25; Japhet 1968: 338–340;
Kutscher 1974: 122–123; Zevit 1983: 5–8; Talshir 1988: 175–176.
43 Kutscher 1974: 122–123; Talshir 1988: 175–176; cf. Japhet 1968: 339.
44 One may consult the lists in Sperber 1939: 249a, §131a, and Japhet 1968: 339, n. 4. However,
Sperber’s is not exhaustive, while Japhet incorrectly dismisses the case reported by
Sperber at 2 Kgs 14.21 ‫‘ עזריה‬Azariah’ || 2 Chr 26.1 ‫‘ עזיהו‬Uzziah’, omits the case 2 Kgs 22.12
‫ || חלקיה‬2 Chr 34.20 ‫‘ חלקיהו‬Hilkiah’, and includes 2 Chr 36.22 ‫ || ירמיהו‬Ezra 1.1 ‫ירמיה‬
orthography and phonology 89

to short names in the book is 265:67, or approximately 3:1, which is greater

than that in either Kings or Jeremiah. The Chronicler’s use of long names was
a simple and effective way of lending an air of antiquity to the history he was
recounting (though he could not avoid revealing markers of his own contem-
porary linguistic milieu in the use of many other distinctively late forms), but
he did not resort to this sort of archaism in the genealogies of chapters 1–9,
which presumably more accurately reflect the language of his day.
The exceptional mixture of short and long names in Chronicles skews the
data. Including Chronicles, the distinctive LBH corpus accounts for 276 of the
839 cases of names bearing the long suffix in BH (or approximately 33 per-
cent of the cases). Removing Chronicles from consideration, the same corpus
accounts for a single case out of the remaining 564 (0.17 percent of the cases),
namely, the aforementioned dubious instance at Ezra 10.41.

3.5.3 Jeremiah
The diachronic distinction between the two forms of the theophoric end-
ing having been clarified for both biblical and extra-biblical sources,45 it is
now possible to turn to the situation in Jeremiah. First, like classical biblical
and extra-biblical sources, Jeremiah exhibits an unmistakable preference for
the long ending, which outnumbers the short 241:83 (25.6 percent short), or
approximately 3:1. However, the relative frequency of short forms, similar to
the situation in the book of Kings and very unlike that in (‘First’) Isaiah, would
seem to correspond to the period of Jeremiah’s late pre-exilic to exilic setting

‘Jeremiah’, which, since Japhet is explicitly dealing with Chronicles and Kings, is irrel-
evant. Japhet (ibid., n. 6) may be correct to discount the instance reported by Sperber
involving 2 Sam 23.30 ‫ || בניה‬1 Chr 11.31 ‫‘ בניהו‬Beniah’, on the grounds that the latter form
probably resulted from the misdivision of words during scribal transmission (cf. the rest
of the relevant names in the list in both books), but the text is difficult.
45 Tur-Sinai 1938b: 24–25; Kutscher 1974: 4, 122–123; 1982: §§89, 153; Qimron 1986: 91, 94;
Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 121, 134; Qimron and Strugnell 1994: §; cf. Young, Rezetko, and
Ehrensvärd (2008: I 43, 86–87; 107–109; 156–157; 167; 357) who oppose a diachronic expla-
nation for the two forms. Their arguments are, on the one hand, that despite the abso-
lute dominance of the long form in pre-exilic epigraphic sources, the existence of a not
insignificant minority of short forms proves that the latter was early on available for use,
and, on the other, that the continued use of the long form in late material (biblical and
extra-biblical) demonstrates that this form was not exclusively characteristic of the pre-
exilic period. These claims are true, but unpersuasive. The central question involves not
when the short form began to appear, nor when use of the long form ceased, but which
of the two was characteristic of the classical and post-classical periods, respectively. To
this question the answers that emerge from both the biblical and extra-biblical material
are unequivocal, even taking into consideration a few exceptional situations requiring
particular explanations.
90 chapter 3

and/or composition. Second, while the distribution of the long ending ‫יהו‬-
is fairly even throughout the book, the distribution of the shorter ‫יה‬- is not.
There is no instance of the short suffix at all before chapter 21 and there are
only three—all in the editorial heading at the beginning of chapter 21—prior
to chapter 27. In contrast, there are 19 cases of names with the long ending
before chapter 21 and 50 before chapter 27. Therefore, in the first half of the
book the ratio between long and short names is 50:3 (94.3 percent long); in
the second half, conversely, the same ratio is 191:80 (70.5 percent long). Third,
within the second half of the book, chapters 27–29 merit special mention. In
this section—and in no other—long names are outnumbered by short names,
by a ratio of 8:34 (against 232:49 in the rest of the book). These three chap-
ters contain 34 of the 83 cases (approximately 41 percent) of the short names
in the book. They also contain a greater variety of short names than the rest
of the book;46 in many cases, short names occurring here are found nowhere
else or very rarely in Jeremiah, but are common in LBH. The most striking
example is none other than the name of the prophet by which the book is
known. The form ‫‘ יִ ְר ְמיָ הּו‬Jeremiah’ comes 122 times in the book and another
four times in Chronicles. The prophet is referred to as ‫ יִ ְר ְמיָ ה‬only nine times
in the book of Jeremiah, all of them in chapters 27–29, and twice more in LBH
proper.47 There are a further seven cases of the short form of the name refer-
ring to somebody other than the prophet, all of these in late material as well.48
This pattern of generally late attestation also holds for the other short names
in these chapters.49

3.5.4 The MT and the Greek

The preference for the long form over the short is characteristic of the short
edition and of the supplementary material alike: 183:60 (24.7 percent short) in
the former, 57:23 (28.8 percent) in the latter. Though the short ending is used
with greater relative frequency in the supplementary material than in the short
edition, this may fall within the margin of statistical error. However, this statis-
tical picture may be somewhat misleading, since, in all probability, not every
case of mismatch between the MT and the Greek version involving theophoric
names stems from bona fide textual disparity. If instances of mismatch

46 S.R. Driver 1898: 272, n. *; Duhm 1901: 221; Lundbom 1999–2004: II 304; Hoffman 2001: II
47 Dan 9.2; Ezra 1.1.
48 Neh 10.3; 12.1, 12, 34; 1 Chr 5.24; 12.5, 11.
49 ‫‘ יְ ָכנְ יָ ה‬Jeconiah’, ‫‘ ִצ ְד ִקּיָ ה‬Zedekiah’, ‫‘ ֲחנַ נְ יָ ה‬Hananiah’, ‫‘ ִח ְל ִקּיָ ה‬Hilkiah’, ‫‘ ַמ ֲע ֵׂשיָ ה‬Maaseiah’,
‫‘ ְצ ַפנְ יָ ה‬Zephaniah’, ‫‘ ְׁש ַמ ְעיָ ה‬Shemaiah, ‫‘ ּגְ ַמ ְריָ ה‬Gemariah’.
orthography and phonology 91

arguably reflecting the activity of the Greek translator(s) are removed from
consideration, then the proportion of long to short names in the supplemen-
tary material is 36:21 (36.8 percent short),50 which is substantially higher than
the tendency for the abbreviated suffix in the rest of the book.51

3.6 ‫ יְ רו ׁ ָּשלַ יִ ם‬versus ‫‘ יְ רו ׁ ָּש ִ ַלם‬Jerusalem’

3.6.1 Preliminary Issues

The earliest mention of the toponym Jerusalem is in Egyptian and Assyrian
sources from before the First Temple Period. In extra-biblical Hebrew mate-
rial the name is first documented, as ‫ירשלמ‬, in a late-6th-century bce inscrip-
tion from Khirbet Beit Lehi (5.2). The dominant spelling in the MT (638 of
643 cases) is ‫( ירושלם‬including pausal forms and ‫ ירושלמה‬when ending in

50 It is no simple matter to distinguish between those cases of mismatch that reflect genuine
textual variation and those that derive from the activity of the Greek translator(s). The
basic criterion adopted in the preparation of the following lists is approximate representa-
tion. In other words, if a proper name ending in ‫יָ ה‬- or ‫יָ הּו‬- in the MT is at all represented
in the Greek, whether by a proper noun, a common noun (i.e., a title), a pronoun, or even
verbal morphology, the lack of a corresponding proper name in Greek is considered a
stylistic, rather than textual matter. While this may seem a crude and simplistic standard
for distinguishing between textual and stylistic variation, it has the advantage of being
completely objective, so that, at the very least, it provides for a classification on the basis
of which more refined judgments can be made. Differences of opinion on specific cases
are possible, but it is difficult to imagine a reclassification so deviant as to necessitate a
wholly different conclusion. Stylistic differences—‫יָ הּו‬-: 20.2; 25.2; 26.23; 32.26; 35.12; 37.16,
17, 21; 38.6 (3x), 10, 13, 14 (2x), 15, 16, 17, 24; 40.2, 6; 52.8; ‫יָ ה‬-: 28.12, 17. Textual differences—
‫יָ הּו‬-: 7.1; 27.1; 32.6; 33.19, 23; 35.1, 18; 36.9, 14, 26, 32 (2x); 37.1, 14, 18, 21; 38.5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 24;
39.4, 5, 6, 7, 11; 41.3, 9; 46.1, 2; 47.1; 50.1; 51.64; 52.3; ‫יָ ה‬-: 27.1; 28.15; 29.21 (2x); 36.8; 38.1; 40.14,
15; 41.2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16 (2x), 18; 49.34; 52.24 (2x).
51 It is also significant that 33 of the 75 cases in the MT in which a theophoric name with
the long suffix is not paralleled by a proper name in the Greek involve the form ‫יִ ְר ְמיָ הּו‬
‘Jeremiah’, while only two of the 32 cases of mismatch of names with the short ending
involve the form ‫יִ ְר ְמיָ ה‬. In other words, the statistical dominance of names ending in the
long form in the supplementary material is probably somewhat deceptive because it so
often involves insertion of the name Jeremiah, the long form of which, due to its frequent
mention, dominates the short by a margin of 122:9 in the book as a whole. If cases of the
name in question are excluded from consideration, the writer(s) of for the supplementary
material is (are) shown to be even more prone to opt for the short suffix than the writer(s)
of for the short edition. The relevant ratios of long to short are as follows: supplementary
material 24:21 (46.7 percent short); book as a whole 119:74 (38.3 percent short); short edi-
tion 95:53 (35.6 percent short).
92 chapter 3

directional he), without a yod to mark the glide in the triphthong ayi demanded
by the Tiberian reading tradition. There is little doubt that the orthography
without yod represents a pronunciation different from that reflected in the
vocalization, since biblical orthographic convention requires the presence
of a consonant to mark the glide of a diphthong or triphthong.52 The spell-
ing without yod is thought to represent a pronunciation along the lines of
yerušali/em,53 which resembles forms of the name in other ancient languages,
e.g., Akkadian Urusalimmu (Sennacherib), Canaaniteܶ Urusalim ܶ (El-Amarna),
ܺ ܿ ܺܽ
BA ‫רּוׁש ֶלם‬
ְ ְ‫י‬, Targumic Aramaic ‫לם‬-/‫ם‬ ְ ְ‫י‬, Syriac ‫ܐܘܪܫܠܡ‬/‫ܐܘܪܫܠܡ‬, Greek
ָ ‫רּוׁש ַל‬
Ιερουσαλημ, and Latin Hierusalem.54 Consider also the Tiberian pronunciation
of the related place name ‫‘ ָׁש ֵלם‬Salem’ (Gen 14.18; Ps 76.3).
Some have argued that the pronunciation with the triphthong ayi did not
arise before the Middle Ages,55 but the existence of the spelling with yod in the
DSS would apparently lend support to the antiquity of this pronunciation and
of the corresponding orthography in the mt. Of course, the spelling in ques-
tion was not exclusive to the triphthong ayi; theoretically, it may also indicate
i or even e.56 However, in light of the testimony furnished by the Masoretic
tradition of vocalization, there seems little reason to doubt that ‫ ירושלים‬reflects
yerušalayim, a pronunciation employed not only in the few cases where the
consonantal text admits it, but in every case of the name; hence the mismatch
between consonantal skeleton and vocalization in the dominant biblical form
ָ ְ‫י‬, where the lamed is pointed with two vowels, both pataḥ and ḥiriq. On
ִ‫רּוׁש ַלם‬
the basis of the foreign pronunciations of the name listed in the preceding
paragraph it is reasonable to reconstruct a developmental process for pronun-
ciation of the final syllable along the lines of ayi < ay < e < i.57 The shift i to e is
well known in Hebrew, as is the resolution, i.e., expansion, of the diphthong ay
to the triphthong ayi, while various explanations for the development e to ay
have been proposed.58

52 Compare the forms ‫( ֲא ִביגַ יִ ל‬1 Sam 25.23ff) and ‫‘ ֲא ִביגַ ל‬Abigail’ (1 Sam 25.32; 2 Sam 3.3 [ktiv];
17.25 [not referring to David’s wife]). For further examples, see below, n. 58.
53 GKC §88c; Bauer and Leander 1922: §63c′; Freedman 1962: 97; HALOT 437a; JM §416f.
54 HALOT 437a.
55 Payne 1980.
56 Freedman 1962: 97. The representation of i with yod is very common in all traditions.
Regarding e: spellings like ‫‘ ) ֵעד =( עיד‬witness’, ‫‘ ) ְּב ֵארֹות =( בירות‬wells’, ‫אׁשית =( רישית‬ ִ ‫) ֵר‬
‘beginning’, and ‫‘ ) ֵקץ =( קיץ‬end’ are known from the DSS and are standard in certain
Aramaic traditions, for example, various manifestations of Targumic Aramaic.
57 See, e.g., Blau 2010: §
58 Here follows a selection of suggested explanations: dual ending (König 1881–1895: I 120, II
437; Urbach 1968; Derby 1997); Zerdehnung, i.e., the spontaneous (?) expansion of a long
vowel into a diphthong (GKC §88c and the references cited there); hypercorrection based
orthography and phonology 93

3.6.2 The Diachronic Status of the Spelling with yod

Whatever the exact developmental process that produced the spelling and pro-
nunciation ‫רּוׁש ַליִם‬
ָ ְ‫י‬, there is general agreement among scholars that they are
late innovations.59 Whereas the spelling without yod comes in the vast major-
ity of the relevant cases in the Bible as well as in the most reliable manuscripts
of the Mishna, the spelling with yod comes only five times in the MT, with a
generally late distribution—Jeremiah (1x), Esther (1x), Chronicles (3x)—and
becomes widespread only in non-Masoretic and post-biblical sources, e.g., the
DSS,60 coins from the Second Temple Period,61 and rabbinic literature.62 It is
not impossible that the different spellings employed in the post-exilic period
represent different pronunciations—with and without a triphthong, respec-
tively—but given the mixture of forms in certain texts, for example, 1QIsaa,
which exhibits 33 with yod and 16 cases without it, it seems more likely that
the name was at this time consistently pronounced, at least by some speakers,
perhaps with a diphthong or triphthong, in which case instances of the orthog-
raphy without yod are merely historical spellings. Alternatively, the spelling

on a false analogy to authentic forms in which e < ay as a result of monophthongiza-

tion (Bauer and Leander 1922: §63c′); locative ending -aym/-ayn, as in ‫‘ ּד ָֹתיְ נָ ה‬to Dothan’
(Gen 37.17), ‫‘ שמרין‬Samaria’ (Aramaic), ‫‘ ִמ ְצ ַריִ ם‬Egypt’ (Barth 1894: §194c1, n. 5; GKC §88c;
Brockelmann 1908–1913: I §216); phonological development of ay < a after l, n, or r, and
before m or n (Demsky 2002); it also seems worth pointing out that four of the five occur-
rences of the spelling ‫‘ ירושלים‬Jerusalem’ occur in pause and that one ends in directional
he. Of course, some combination of the aforementioned factors may also have caused or
at least promoted the development of the pronunciation in question, for example, the
reanalysis of a locative ending as the dual suffix.
59 Bauer and Leander 1922: §63c′; Fohrer 1972: 296; Kutscher 1974: 5; 1982: §§118, 153; Bergey
1983: 43–45; Bar-Asher 1985: 94; Qimron 1986: 91; Demsky 2002: 17; cf. Young, Rezetko, and
Ehrensvärd (2008: I 43), who refer to the spelling with yod as ‘plene’ and cite a number
of works dealing with the characteristically late status of scriptio plena. Strictly speak-
ing, however, unless the spelling with yod is envisioned as representing yerušalem or
yerušalim, it is not plene, as the yod represents the glide between the two vowels in a
triphthong, and thus does not serve as a mere mater lectionis. Cf. their discussion (ibid. I
183) of the spelling ‫‘ ינ‬wine’ in the Samaria Ostraca, generally deemed to represent yan or
yen, which—problematically—they claim may represent the pronunciation yayn.
60 In the DSS the orthography with yod is more common than the one without by a margin
of approximately 95:60.
61 See Meshorer 1982: II 109, plates 17–19.
62 The dominant biblical orthography seems to have influenced spelling patterns in some
corpora of rabbinic literature. For example, in the Kaufmann manuscript of the Mishna
only 13 of the 120 cases of the name have a yod (though it should be noted that some forms
of the name are abbreviated and in some cases the yod appears to be a later insertion); see
Bergey 1983: 44, n. 2; Ryzhik 2013: 938.
94 chapter 3

with yod may conceivably be plene, the spelling without it defective, for e or i.
It is relevant (though by no means decisive) that the spelling ‫ירושליים‬, which
would unambiguously mark a diphthong/triphthong, is not found in the DSS,
though the corresponding spelling ‫‘ מצריים‬Egypt’ is.
On the assumption that the five biblical instances of the spelling ‫ירושלים‬
are authentic, i.e., represent authorial activity rather than copyist intervention
(and the restriction of the feature to relatively late texts may favor an authorial
explanation), it is reasonable to conclude that the pronunciation with ay arose
during the period in which Jeremiah was composed. In any case, it would seem
that Jeremiah furnishes the earliest testimony for the phenomenon in ques-
tion, which, though exemplified in LBH proper, did not become common until
post-biblical times. After all, even in those biblical sources in which the spell-
ing with yod may be found, it is rare (three in 151 cases in Chronicles, one in
108 in Jeremiah; Esther offers only one potential case). It emerges that biblical
writers (and later scribes) adhered to the classical spelling convention repre-
sentative of the pronunciation without the triphthong even if, at some point,
this spelling no longer reflected the toponym’s pronunciation in certain circles
of Hebrew speakers. Nevertheless, absolute prevention of the penetration of
the spelling explicitly representing the triphthong proved impossible, so that
the rare cases of this spelling in Jeremiah, Esther, and Chronicles are early fore-
runners of a trend eventually to take hold in the post-biblical period.

3.6.3 Jeremiah
Outside Esther and Chronicles, the late provenance of which is confirmed not
only by their language, but by their content, the only biblical occurrence of the
spelling ‫ ירושלים‬occurs in Jer 26.18. Interestingly, this verse is an explicit quota-
tion attributed to the prophet Micah of Moresheth, who prophesied about a
century before the prophet Jeremiah. Despite its status as a quotation, the ver-
sion in Jeremiah differs from that in Micah:

Mic 3.12 Zion will be plowed as a field and Jerusalem   (ִ‫ירּוׁש ַלם‬
ָ ִ‫ )ו‬will be heaps of ruins
Jer 26.18 Zion will be plowed as a field and Jerusalem (‫ירּוׁש ַליִם‬
ָ ִ‫ )ו‬will be heaps of ruins63

Modern commentators view Jer 26–29 and 34–46 as a sort of literary unit
composed of stories and prophecies. There is no consensus regarding their date
of composition, and the material’s language is by no means unified, but there
are a few linguistic indications of a relatively late date of composition for some

63 The reason for the nunation rather than mimation in the plural suffix of the form ‫ִעּיִ יִ ן‬
‘heaps of ruins’ in Micah’s edition of the verse remains unclear.
orthography and phonology 95

of the material, e.g., ‫( ירושלים‬for ‫ )ירושלם‬in chapter 26 and theophoric names

ending in the short suffix ‫יה‬- (for ‫יהו‬-; see above, §‎3.5) and the spelling ‫נבוכדנאצר‬
‘Nebuchadnezzar’ (for ‫ ;נבוכדראצר‬see below, §‎3.8) in chapters 27–29.

3.6.4 The MT versus the Greek

There is no difference between the language of the short edition and that of
the supplementary material related to the spelling ‫ירושלים‬, as the form in ques-
tion is reflected in both in all cases. The 19 instances in which mention of the
city in MT Jeremiah is not reflected by use of the city name in the Greek all
involve the spelling ‫( ירושלם‬Jer 2.2; 3.17; 8.5; 27.18, 20, 21; 29.1, 2, 20, 25; 33.16;
34.8, 19; 35.11 [ἐκεῖ = ‫‘ ָׁשם‬there’]; 36.9; 37.5; 38.28; 40.1; 52.3, 13 [τῆς πόλεως = ‫ָה ִעיר‬
‘the city’], 29).

3.7 ‫ שׂ ח"ק‬versus ‫‘ צח"ק‬laugh; play; mock; Isaac’

3.7.1 Preliminary Issues

The name of the patriarch Isaac is mentioned 112 times in the Hebrew Bible. In
108 of the occurrences it is written ‫יִ ְצ ָחק‬, with ṣade, whereas in four cases—Jer
32.26; Amos 7.9, 16; and Ps 105.9—the spelling is ‫יִ ְׂש ָחק‬, with śin. How should
the shift ṣ > ś in this name be explained and does it serve as evidence of the
linguistic character of Jeremiah?
Obviously, one must not deal with the shift ṣ > ś in the proper name ‫יִ ְצ ָחק‬
without first investigating this shift in derivatives of the roots ‫ צח"ק‬and ‫ׂשח"ק‬
more generally.
 According to Brockelmann (1908–1913: §§55dα, 88a) the Arabic
form   preserves the most ancient consonants, the Hebrew form ‫ ָצ ַחק‬hav-

ing resulted from assimilation—the emphatic q < k, due to partial assimilation
to pharyngeal ḥ and emphatic ṣ—and ‫ ָׂש ַחק‬, for its part, from dissimilation—
ś < ṣ—to avoid a sequence of three emphatic/pharyngeal consonants.64

3.7.2 The MT
The Masoretic, non-Masoretic, and extra-biblical distribution of the two roots’
derivatives is not casual.65 The verbs ‫‘ ָצ ַחק‬laugh’ and ‫‘ ִצ ֵחק‬play, joke, mock’ come
in the MT six and seven times, respectively. All but one of these 13 cases is in the
Pentateuch, the exception in Judges. The noun (or perhaps infinitival form) ‫ְצחֹק‬
‘laugh, laughter’ appears only twice, once each in Genesis and Ezekiel. Turning
to forms derived from ‫ׂשח"ק‬: the verbs ‫‘ ָׂש ַחק‬laugh’, ‫‘ ִׂש ֵחק‬play, make sport,
celebrate (dance?, play music?)’, and ‫‘ ִה ְׂש ִחיק‬mock’ occur 36 times between

64 See also Kutscher 1961a: 104–106; Greenfield 1962: 292–293; cf. Bartelmus 2004: 59.
65 For a helpful discussion see Brenner 1990: 46–48. More recently see Kim 2012: 144–150.
96 chapter 3

them, the noun (or infinitival form) ‫‘ ְׂשחֹ(ו)ק‬laughter, mocking’ comes 15 times,
and ‫‘ ִמ ְׂש ָחק‬object of derision’ once, in the books Judges, Samuel, Jeremiah,
Zechariah, Habakkuk, Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Lamentations, Chronicles, but—
significantly—never in the Pentateuch. In all, taking into account verbal as well
as nominal forms (but leaving aside the proper name ‫יִ ְׂש ָחק‬/‫‘ יִ ְצ ָחק‬Isaac’), ‫’צח"ק‬s
distribution is limited mainly to the Pentateuch (13 of 15 cases), the exceptions
in Judges and Ezekiel. The situation in the case of ‫ ׂשח"ק‬is very different. First,
forms representing this root outnumber those representing ‫ צח"ק‬by the sub-
stantial ratio of 53:15. Second, derivatives of the two roots occur almost exclu-
sively in complementary distribution.66 Further, while there are a few cases (six)
of ‫ ׂשח"ק‬in sources widely considered classical (such as Judges and Samuel), a
large proportion (30) come in late material (from the period of the Exile at
the earliest, e.g., Jeremiah, Zechariah, Lamentations, Qohelet, Chronicles) or
in sources for whose language some sort of Aramaic influence may safely be
assumed (such as the books belonging to the corpus of Wisdom Literature).

3.7.3 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

The distribution of the two roots in non-Masoretic, non-Hebrew, and extra-
biblical sources confirms the trend that emerges in the mt. The roots are, of
course, unattested in pre-exilic epigraphic Hebrew. It is of some significance,
though, that the cognate forms in Ugaritic and Akkadian begin with ṣ and/or
ẓ. The late situation is clearer. In the DSS cases of ‫( שח"ק‬or ‫ )סח"ק‬outnumber
those of ‫ צח"ק‬by a ratio of 10:1. ‫ שח"ק‬occurs four times in Ben Sira, while ‫צח"ק‬
is not documented there at all. In rabbinic literature, too, ‫ ׂשח"ק‬is much more
common than ‫צח"ק‬.67 In light of these distribution patterns, one is led to con-
clude that the two roots coexisted during the early period, but that already
then ‫ ׂשח"ק‬had begun to supplant ‫צח"ק‬, so that by the post-exilic period the
former had become dominant68 and use of the latter was a stylistic hold-over.
In view of the relatively early date of the shift and the proposed mechanism
based on phonetic dissimilation (see above), along with the fact that Aramaic
lacks ‫ׂשח"ק‬, the development in question seems to have been of the internal

66 Except in the case of Jdg 16.25–27, where derivatives of both forms of the verb are found
in the span of a few verses. See Brenner 1990: 47, n. 3.
67 Based on a search of the Historical Dictionary of the Hebrew Language Academy, there
are approximately 145 occurrences of ‫ ׂשח"ק‬in rabbinic literature up to the Babylonian
Talmud against only 20 of ‫צח"ק‬. See Brenner 1990: 47–48.
68 Ackroyd 1977: 74; Allen 1997: 1228.
orthography and phonology 97

3.7.4 Forms of the Proper Name

The distribution of the two forms of the relevant proper name, ‫ יִ ְצ ָחק‬and ‫יִ ְׂש ָחק‬,
does not line up with the distribution of the two roots as described above.
Indeed, despite the growing obsolescence of ‫ צח"ק‬already in CBH sources, the
form ‫ יִ ְצ ָחק‬is dominant not only in the Pentateuch, but throughout the Hebrew
Bible, including LBH, though it is worth pointing out that references to the
patriarch are rare (14 occurrences) outside the Pentateuch. For their part, the
four occurrences of the alternate form, ‫יִ ְׂש ָחק‬, do not appear especially charac-
teristic of any diachronic phase, regional dialect, or social register.
Be that as it may, some help may be garnered from non-Masoretic, non-
Hebrew, and extra-biblical sources, where the spelling with ś is much more
common than it is in the MT. Thus, in the non-biblical material from the DSS
‫( ישחק‬or ‫ )יסחק‬comes 20 times in Hebrew (against four occurrences of ‫)יצחק‬
and twice more in Aramaic (against a single occurrence of ‫)יצחק‬. In the biblical
material from the Judean Desert the form of the name in question generally
parallels that in the MT, so that ‫ יצחק‬is dominant, whereas ‫ ישחק‬appears only
in texts parallel to those biblical texts where it also occurs, i.e., Amos 7.9 (2x)
and Ps 105.9.69 The form ‫ ישחק‬also twice appears in a version of Exod 3.15–16,
against the Masoretic spelling. In all, cases of ‫ ישחק‬in the DSS outnumber those
of ‫ יצחק‬by a margin of 28:15.
The Aramaic targums for the most part reflect the forms in their respective
Hebrew Vorlagen, so that ‫ ישחק‬comes three times in Targum Jonathan, always
parallel with ‫ יִ ְׂש ָחק‬in the MT (though the targum of Ps 105.9 has standard ‫יצחק‬
against Masoretic ‫)יִ ְׂש ָחק‬.70 ‫ ܐܝܣܚܩ‬is also standard in Syriac. RH, conversely,
preserves the classical form, as is customary in the case of well-known biblical
The foregoing discussion reveals a linguistic discrepancy between the pro-
cess according to which verbal and common nominal derivatives of the root
‫ ׂשח"ק‬replaced those of ‫ צח"ק‬already at a relatively early point in time and the
persistence of the orthography of the proper name ‫ יצחק‬with ṣ. Why was the

69 The fact that these DSS fragments preserve the spelling ‫ ישחק‬in exactly the same verses
as it is preserved in the MT is impressive evidence for both the antiquity and conservative
nature of the Masoretic textual and linguistic tradition and the general stability of the
biblical text despite the vicissitudes of scribal transmission.
70 The spelling with ś also occurs once in the marginal material of Targum Neofiti to Exod
71 For example, while in rabbinic orthography waw is routinely employed to mark o vowels,
in deference to biblical spelling patterns, such spellings generally do not obtain in fre-
quently occurring biblical names like ‫‘ משה‬Moses’ and ‫‘ אהרן‬Aaron’, and even in certain
very frequent common nouns, like ‫‘ אלהים‬God’ and ‫‘ כהן‬priest‘; see Ryzhik 2013: 938.
98 chapter 3

process of dissimilation by means of which ṣ > ś operative in the case of verbs

and common nouns, but not in the case of the proper noun? It may be that the
shift in question did in fact occur in the pronunciation of the name, but that
because it belonged to a well-known figure, scribes clung to traditional spell-
ing conventions. From this perspective, the orthography with śin (and samekh)
may constitute a popular phonetic spelling72 that bespeaks a lack of acquain-
tance with or simple disregard for the norms of scribal tradition, a situation
that, it may be assumed, grew more common in the post-biblical period among
certain circles of scribes. With specific regard to the two occurrences of ‫ יִ ְׂש ָחק‬in
the book of Amos: the possibility should not be excluded that these reflect an
authentically northern pronunciation or were at least meant to represent one.73

3.7.5 Jeremiah
Jeremiah presents seven instances of words derived from ‫ׂשח"ק‬, with no rep-
resentation of ‫ צח"ק‬at all. This is to be expected given the relatively early
replacement of ‫ צח"ק‬with ‫ׂשח"ק‬. The presence of the non-standard spelling of
the proper name ‫יִ ְׂש ָחק‬, however, is unexpected (the standard form ‫ יִ ְצ ָחק‬is not
found in the book). Though the spelling of this name in Amos may conceivably
be attributed to dialectal factors, this seems less likely in the case of Jeremiah.74
More reasonable seems the possibility that the literary register of the book was
penetrated by an unconventional popular spelling which was later to become
much more prevalent, a situation that emerges in the case of several phenom-
ena discussed in this study.75

3.7.6 The MT and the Greek

The section of text containing the form ‫יִ ְׂש ָחק‬, Jer 33.14–26, is the longest con-
tinuous portion not represented in the Greek (though it is represented in the
‘proto-Masoretic’ 4QJerc fragment). For a brief discussion on the language of
this section, which exhibits a series of non-standard linguistic features unchar-
acteristic of the rest of the book and which for this and other reasons is consid-
ered by many a secondary addition to the early edition of Jeremiah, see below,

72 Van Selms 1964–1965: 158–159.

73 Both possibilities, along with further bibliography, are brought in Harper 1905: 166–167­.
On the language of Amos in general see Rabin 1981.
74 C. Smith’s (2003) doctoral dissertation, focusing on morphology, argues that a num-
ber of Jeremiah’s non-standard features represent the border dialect of Benjamin, but
many of his conclusions seem highly speculative (see above, §‎1.4.2). In any case, he dis-
cusses neither the root ‫ ׂשח"ק‬nor the proper name ‫יִ ְׂש ָחק‬.
75 See above §‎2.4.
orthography and phonology 99

§‎9.2.1. One of the difficulties in judging the significance of the form ‫ יִ ְׂש ָחק‬in this
section is the absence of the name from the rest of the book. In other words, it
is impossible to know how the name would have been spelled by the writer(s)
responsible for the short edition, because the name is nowhere mentioned.

3.8 ‫( נבוכדנאצר‬with nun) versus ‫( נבוכדראצר‬with resh) ‘Nebuchadnezzar’

3.8.1 Preliminary Issues

The Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (562–604 bce) is known from both
biblical and extra-biblical sources. His name in Babylonian, Nabū-kudurru/i-
uṣur, while once interpreted to mean ‘O, [the god] Nabu, preserve the border’,76
is today more commonly understood as ‘O, [the god] Nabu, preserve the first-
born/offspring/heir’.77 The different biblical forms of the name are a linguistic
problem of special relevance to an investigation of the language of Jeremiah.
Most modern languages have inherited a form based on Hebrew ‫נבוכדנאצר‬,
with nun, but this is not the only form in the Bible. A spelling with resh,
‫נבוכדראצר‬, is also known.
The name appears in one form or another 91 times in Scripture, 60 times in
Hebrew and 31 times in Aramaic. The forms in Aramaic reflect rather unified
traditions of pronunciation and spelling, the form bearing nun in all cases. The
variety of spellings in Hebrew, on the other hand, reflects different pronuncia-
tion traditions presumably already during the biblical period. The two most
common forms in the Hebrew Bible are ‫נבוכדראצר‬, written with resh (33x),
and ‫נבוכדנאצר‬, written with nun (27x).78 The instability in the spelling and pro-
nunciation traditions is hardly surprising, as this is often the case with foreign
names that deviate from native patterns.79
On the basis of forms of the name in Babylonian sources, it emerges that
the spelling with resh offers a closer match to the Akkadian than the form with

76 BDB 613a; see Gesenius 1847: 527a for further suggestions.

77 Van Selms 1974: 225; Wiseman 1985: 43; HALOT 660a–b; Kaddari 2006: 689a.
78 There are a few further variations, especially in the inclusion or exclusion of a mater lec-
tionis waw for the u vowel in the second syllable. There are also several cases in which
the ʾalef has been omitted. Finally, twice (Jer 49.28 and Ezra 2.1) the ktiv has a form with a
mater lectionis waw in the last syllable, evidently corresponding to a pronunciation with
o, similar to that found in Greek (Ναβουχοδονοςορ) and Latin (Nabuchodonosor), or, alter-
natively, to a pronunciation with u, as in Akkadian Nabū-kudurru/i-uṣur.
79 Compare the situation of the foreign name ‫‘ ֲא ַרוְ נָ ה‬Araunah’, mentioned twice in 2 Sam
24.16–24, and later Hebraized to ‫‘ ָא ְרנָ ן‬Ornan’ in its 12 occurrences in 1 Chr 21.15–28 and 2
Chr 3.1.
100 chapter 3

nun,80 as the Hebrew consonantal form ‫אצר‬-‫כדר‬-‫ נבו‬closely corresponds to

Babylonian Nabū-kudurru/i-uṣur.81 If so, how to account for the form with nun?82
Further, how should the biblical distribution of the two forms be explained?

3.8.2 The mt
Any explanation of the distribution of ‫ נבוכדראצר‬and ‫ נבוכדנאצר‬must account
for the striking distribution of the two forms in the Bible. The form with resh
has a very limited distribution: 33 occurrences confined to the Bible and there
only in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. In contrast, the spelling with nun was used more
widely, both within and outside the Bible. It comes six times in the last two
chapters of Kings, eight times in Jeremiah, and 13 times in LBH proper: Esther,
Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles. Also, as noted above, all 31 cases of the
name in question in BA are spelled with nun. In all, then, 44 of the 58 instances
of the spelling with nun in the mt come in late compositions.83

3.8.3 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

While the Akkadian scribes of Babylon seem consistently to have written
the name in question with r, spellings reflecting n are very common in late
non-Masoretic, non-Hebrew, and extra-biblical sources, for example, the
DSS84 and rabbinic literature.85 This is also the preferred form in the Aramaic
targums,86 the Syriac Peshiṭta, and that generally reflected in Greek and Latin

3.8.4 Explanations of the Shift r > n and Its Diachronic Ramifications

A variety of proposals for the shift r > n in the name in question have been
advanced. According to one (Price 1899: 27–28, n. 1) the interchange is no more
than a scribal corruption arising from the graphic similarity between nun and

80 S.R. Driver 1898: 272, n. *, 507, n. *; Price 1899: 27–28, n. 1; Duhm 1901: 169, 219–220; BDB
613a; J. Thompson 1980: 467; Bula 1983: 262; Holladay 1986–1989: I 570, II 114; Wiseman
1985: 3; McKane 1986–1996: I 496; Craigie, Kelley, and Drinkard 1991: 285; Hoffman 2001: II
553; Lundbom 1999–2004: II 100.
81 The Tiberian vocalization, on the other hand, is further from the Babylonian pronuncia-
tion than the Greek and Latin transcriptions given above (n. 78).
82 For various less than convincing suggestions see Price 1899: 27–28, n. 1; Wilson 1939: 2172;
Van Selms 1974: 225ff.
83 These statistics include both Hebrew and Aramaic. On the remaining 14 cases in Kings
and Jeremiah see below.
84 The form with nun occurs in CD 1.6 and 2Q12 f3–4.2 (|| ‫אּצר‬ ַ ‫בּוכ ְד ֶר‬
ַ ְ‫ נ‬Jer 43.10).
85 Mekhilta, Sifra, Sifre Devarim, Tosefta. Frequently, the spelling in rabbinic sources is
86 Sperber (1959–1973: II 133–263) has the spelling with nun throughout Jeremiah.
orthography and phonology 101

resh, along the lines of the confusion between resh and dalet in such cases as
‫‘ הדרעזר‬Hadarezer’ < ‫‘ הדדעזר‬Hadadezer’ known from some Hebrew manu-
scripts and from the Greek. However, while the character shapes involved in
the latter example were indeed very similar during certain periods, the pur-
ported similarity between nun and resh is not at all obvious in any period. No
more convincing is the suggestion (Van Selms 1974: 122ff) that the Akkadian
component kudurru ‘heir, first born’ was replaced by opponents of the dynasty
with kudannu/kūdanu(m) ‘mule’ as a form of ridicule, since there is no evi-
dence for the derogatory epithet in Babylonian sources. Another rather fanci-
ful idea (Wilson 1939: 2127) is that the form with n resulted from an attempt
to translate the perceived Babylonian meaning ‘Nabu, guard your servant’
into Aramaic (presumably on the basis of the root k-d-n, known from Syriac).
Again, however, this is no more than conjecture.
The simplest and most convincing explanation is phonetic. Interchange
between liquids (l-m-n-r) is a well-known linguistic phenomenon in general
and is represented by numerous cases across the Semitic languages more
specifically. Examples of interchange between resh and nun include Hebrew
‫ ֵּבן‬vs. Aramaic ‫‘ בר‬son’ and Hebrew ‫ ִמזְ ָרח‬vs. Aramaic ‫‘ מדנח‬east’. It is reason-
able to assume that the interchange between the same two consonants in the
name ‫נאצר‬/‫ נבוכדר‬is a further case of the phenomenon in question.87 König
(1881–1895: II 465) supposes that in the specific case of the shift ‫> נבוכדנאצר‬
‫נבוכדראצר‬, the shift was the result of a process of dissimilation (between the
two r consonants in ‫)נבוכדראצר‬.88
In accounting for the distribution of the two forms of the name one must
exercise caution. First, it should be borne in mind that the historical figure in
question lived around the time that CBH began to experience the effects of the
processes that would eventually lead to the dominance of LBH. For this reason
no form of the name can be classified as purely ‘classical’. Be that as it may,
a diachronic explanation of the evidence is arguably the simplest and most
convincing. As noted above, the spelling with resh is relatively rare, in the Bible
only in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, in a minority of the parallel passages in Targum
Jonathan, and in an Aramaic ostracon (KAI 227 a.5) dated to the first half of

87 Thus Bula 1983: 262; Wiseman 1985: 2–3.

88 See also Ružička 1909: 24 (as cited in HALOT 660a). LaSor (1987: 506) rejects this expla-
nation on the grounds that—in his words—the interchange is always Hebrew nun >
Aramaic resh, as in ‫ ֵּבן‬vs. ‫בר‬. Yet the opposite interchange is also known, as in Hebrew
‫ ִמזְ ָרח‬vs. Aramaic ‫מדנח‬. According to Wiseman (1983: 2–3), there is no need to assume
that the interchange of the two letters in the name in question was caused by the pro-
nunciation in Aramaic, because the shift from r > n occurs in additional transliterations
of Babylonian names.
102 chapter 3

the 6th century bce; the spelling with nun, in contrast, occurs in the historical
appendix comprising the last two chapters of Kings (from 562–560 bce at
the earliest, since it mentions Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Amel-Marduk [= Evil-
Merodach]), chs. 27–29 in Jeremiah (on which see below), and then becomes
the standard form in indisputably late corpora, including LBH, BA, the biblical
and non-biblical material from the Judean Desert, the targums (both where
they parallel the biblical original and where they expand on it), and the Syriac,
Greek, and Latin biblical and extra-biblical material. It is, of course, unclear
whether the penetration into Hebrew of the form with resh preceded that of
the form with nun or whether the two forms entered during approximately the
same period and co-existed for some time;89 what is clear, however, is that the
form with nun had almost completely displaced its counterpart by the period
of the Restoration and thereafter never relinquished this dominant status.
Thus, while use of the spelling with resh cannot unequivocally be character-
ized as earlier than that with nun in absolute terms, exclusive use of the form
with nun can be defined as characteristically late.

3.8.5 Jeremiah
Jeremiah is the only text that attests both spellings, the ratio of forms with resh
to those with nun 29:8. If the spelling with nun can justly be considered char-
acteristically later than the spelling with resh, then Jeremiah’s employment
of both would seem to come as rather striking evidence of the transitional
nature of its language. Yet, given the discussion above, the characterization of
the spelling with resh as earlier than the spelling with nun must be considered
reasonable, but unproven. Despite this, it is surely noteworthy that the spell-
ing with resh dominates in Jeremiah, whereas the spelling with nun is limited
to chs. 27–29, a cluster of material which uses this spelling almost exclusively
and which—uniquely in Jeremiah—is also characterized by the dominant use
of the characteristically post-classical short theophoric suffix ‫יה‬- (see above,
§‎3.5). Whatever the chronological status of the two forms under discussion,

89 Even if he agrees that the spelling with resh is closer than the spelling with nun to the
original pronunciation, Wiseman (1985: 2–3) cautions against concluding that the latter
spelling is necessarily later than the former, since “the writing of the name with n is pos-
sibly attested in an Aramaic tablet dated to Nebuchadnezzar’s thirty-fourth year” (ibid.
2). However, Wiseman is referring to the Aramaic Sefire ostracon, published by Dupont-
Sommer and Starcky (1958), the image of which unmistakably reads ‫[נ]בוכדרצר‬. Even
so, resemblance to the original Babylonian form and distribution (see below) cannot be
taken as unassailable evidence of the chronological priority of Hebrew ‫ נבוכדראצר‬in rela-
tion to ‫נבוכדנאצר‬.
orthography and phonology 103

it seems clear that the compositional history of chs. 27–29 differs from that
of the rest of the book. However, in terms of historical development, one can
summarize as follows: the spelling ‫ נבוכדנאצר‬occurs in the Bible only in the
decidedly post-classical material written in LBH proper and BA, a section of
Jeremiah the language of which apparently post-dates that of the majority of
the rest of the book, and a historical appendix in Kings that could only have
been penned well into the Exile at the earliest.

3.8.6 The MT and the Greek

Out of the 37 cases of the name ‫נאצר‬/‫ נבוכדר‬in the MT, only 14 are paralleled
in the Greek.90 Of these 14, all but one are spelled with resh (the exception
is Jer 27.6). This means that in the material common to both editions the
ratio between the form with resh and the form with nun is 13:1, whereas in the
material reflected only in the MT the same two forms occur at a ratio of 16:7,
though, admittedly, some portion of these instances may be stylistic omissions
rather than genuine textual differences. Thus, the latter, supplementary mate-
rial, while still favoring the spelling with resh, exhibits a tendency toward the
spelling with nun—30.4 percent—more than four times greater than that of
the material common to both editions—7.1 percent—a noticeable shift in the
direction of patterns known from decidedly post-classical compositions.

3.9 Derivatives of ‫‘ רפ"א‬heal’ on the ‫ ל"י‬Pattern

3.9.1 The mt
If the Masoretic consonantal text and the Tiberian vocalization may be relied
upon to give any indication of the pronunciation of Hebrew during the First
and Second Temple Periods, then one may conclude that, in general, speakers
of the language succeeded in distinguishing between derivatives of the root
‫רפ"י‬, on the one hand, and derivatives of ‫רפ"א‬, on the other. Words represent-
ing ‫ רפ"י‬come some 50 times in the Bible and include forms that can be classi-
fied as verbal (‫‘ ָר ָפה‬be weak, slack, sink, relax’, ‫‘ ִר ָּפה‬make slack’, ‫‘ ִה ְר ָּפה‬abandon,
let go’, ‫‘ נִ ְר ָּפה‬be lazy’, ‫‘ ִה ְת ַר ָּפה‬be lazy, put off’), adjectival (‫‘ ָר ֶפה‬weak’), and nomi-
nal (‫‘ ִר ְפיֹון‬weakness’). There is only one certain case testifying to interchange
with the root ‫הּוא־מ ַר ֵּפא ֶאת־יְ ֵדי ַאנְ ֵׁשי ַה ִּמ ְל ָח ָמה—רפ"א‬
ְ  ‘he is weakening the hands
of the warriors’ (Jer 38.4)—in which the written and reading traditions agree
on the derivation from ‫רפ"א‬.

90 Jer 24.1; 27.6; 32.1; 34.1; 35.11; 37.1; 39.1; 43.10; 44.30; 46.2, 13; 49.28; 51.34; 52.4.
104 chapter 3

The situation is more complicated in the case of derivatives of the root

‫רפ"א‬. This root is represented some hundred times in the Bible, relevant forms
including verbs (‫‘ ָר ָפא‬heal [transitive]’, ‫‘ ִר ֵּפא‬heal [transitive], repair’, ‫נִ ְר ָּפא‬
‘heal [intransitive], be healed’, ‫‘ ִה ְת ַר ֵּפא‬heal [intransitive], be healed’), com-
mon nouns (‫ ַמ ְר ֵּפא‬, ‫פּואה‬ ָ ‫ ְר‬, ‫ ִר ְפאּות‬, ‫רּופה‬
ָ ‫ ְּת‬all ‘cure, treatment, remedy’),91 and
proper nouns (‫‘ יִ ְר ְּפ ֵאל‬Irpeel [literally ‘may God heal’]’, ‫‘ ָר ָפא‬Rapha [literally
‘he has healed’]’, ‫‘ ְר ָפ ֵאל‬Raphael [literally ‘God has healed’]’, ‫‘ ָרפּוא‬Raphu [liter-
ally ‘healed’]’, ‫‘ ְר ָפיָ ה‬Rephaiah [literally ‘Yah has healed’]’).92 In the majority of
cases both the written and oral traditions bear witness to the pronunciation
of the radical ʾalef. However, in a not insignificant minority of cases—18 out
of one-hundred—the consonantal text, the vocalization signs, or a combina-
tion of the two testifies to a tradition according to which ʾalef was not pro-
nounced: ‫אתי ַל ַּמיִם ָה ֵא ֶּלה‬ ִ ‫‘ ִר ִּפ‬I have healed this water’ (2 Kgs 2.21); ‫‘ וַ ּיֵ ָרפּו ַה ַּמיִם‬and
the water was healed’ (ibid. v. 22); ‫‘ ִהנְ נִ י ֫ר ֹ ֶפא ָלְך‬Behold, I am healing you’ (ibid.
20.5);93 ‫‘ ֶא ְר ָּפה ְמׁשּוב ֵֹת ֶיכם‬I will cure your backsliding’ (Jer 3.22); ‫ת־ׁש ֶבר‬ ֶ ‫וַ יְ ַרּפּו ֶא‬
ַ ‫‘ ַּב‬They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people’ (ibid. 8.11);
‫ת־ע ִּמי‬
‫‘ ַמ ְר ֵּפה‬healing’ (ibid. v. 15); ‫א־יּוכל ְל ֵה ָר ֵפה עֹוד‬ַ ֹ ‫‘ ל‬it can no more be repaired’ (ibid.
19.11); ‫ת־ּב ֶבל וְ לֹא נִ ְר ָּפ ָתה‬
ָ ‫‘ ִר ִּפינּו ֶא‬we treated Babylon, but she was not healed’ (ibid.
51.9 [2x] qre; ktiv ‫‘ וְ נִ ְרּפּו ַה ַּמיִ ם ;)רפאנו‬and the water was healed’ (Ezek 47.8 qre;
ktiv ‫רּופה ;)ונרפאו‬ ָ ‫‘ ִל ְת‬for healing’ (ibid. v. 12); ‫יה‬ ָ ‫‘ ְר ָפה ְׁש ָב ֶר‬mend the fractures!’
(Ps 60.4); ‫‘ ְיִמ ַחץ וְ יָ ָדיו ִּת ְר ֶּפינָ ה‬he will strike, but his hands will heal’ (Job 5.18 qre;
ktiv ‫‘ ְר ָפיָ ה ;)וידו‬Rephaiah’ (Neh 3.9; 1 Chr 3.21; 4.42; 7.2; 9.43). In nine instances
(2 Kgs 2.22; Jer 8.11; 51.9b; Ezek 47.12; Neh 3.9; 1 Chr 3.21; 4.42; 7.2; 9.43) the writ-
ten and oral traditions agree on elision of the ʾalef; in four cases (Jer 3.22; 8.15;
19.11; Ps 60.4) the written tradition reflects omission of the ʾalef against the pro-
nunciation tradition, where the vocalization preserves its reflex; in another
four cases (2 Kgs 2.21; 20.5; Jer 51.9a; Ezek 47.8) the reading tradition testifies
to the non-pronunciation of ʾalef against the consonantal text; and in one case
(Job 5.18) the written tradition has no ʾalef, whereas the oral tradition is ambig-
uous. The distribution of the aforementioned forms is striking: the majority
occur in texts composed at the end of the First Temple Period, during the Exile,

91 Some posit the existence of the lexeme ‫ ַמ ְר ֵּפא‬II ‘softness, mildness’ at Prov 14.30; 15.4; and
Qoh 10.4.
92 Due to the uncertainty of their etymology, excluded from the category of related proper
names are the eponym ‫‘ ָר ָפא‬Rapha’ (1 Chr 20.6, 8 || ‫[ ָר ָפה‬2 Sam 21.20, 22]) as well as the
plural form ‫ ְר ָפ ִאים‬in both of its meanings, i.e., ‘dead people’ and ‘tribe of giants’.
93 In light of the survival of the ṣere vowel in such forms as ‫‘ יִ ָ ּ֫ק ֵרא ָלְך‬you will be called’ (Isa
1.26), ‫‘ וַ ֵּ֫י ֵצא ָלְך‬and your (fame) went out’ (Ezek 16.14), and ‫יִּמ ֵצא ָלְך‬
ָ֫ ‘he will be found by
you’ (1 Chr 28.9), it would seem that the appearance of segol in ‫ ֫ר ֹ ֶפא ָלְך‬is to be attributed
not to the effects of nesiga (i.e., retraction of syllable-stress), but to pronunciation of the
‫ ל"א‬form as if it were ‫ל"י‬.
orthography and phonology 105

or in the post-exilic period. If so, then perhaps the interchange ‫ רפ"א < רפ"י‬is
more typical of post-classical Hebrew than of CBH.94

3.9.2 Non-Masoretic and Extra-biblical Sources

The hypothesis that the interchange in question is more characteristic of late
texts than of early ones receives confirmation from non-Masoretic and extra-
biblical sources, which are also characterized by the use of derivatives of ‫רפ"א‬
in which the ʾalef was no longer pronounced, sometimes indicating formation
according to patterns characteristic of the ‫ ל"י‬pattern. Consider the following:
nominal forms—‫‘ מרפה‬healing’ (4Q176 f30.3 [?]; 4Q216 6.13), ‫‘ תרופות‬remedies’
(Ben Sira 38.4 [SirB 8r.10], ‫‘ ִריּפּוי‬healing’ (M Bava Qamma 8.1 [2x]; M ʿAvoda
Zara 2.2 [2x]); verbal forms—‫‘ ונרפו‬and they will be healed’ (1QIsaa 15.30 || ‫וְ ָרפֹוא‬
[Isa 19.22]), ‫‘ ורפתיהו‬and I shall heal him’ (1QIsaa 47.19 || ‫אתיו‬ ִ ‫[ ְּור ָפ‬Isa 57.19]),
‫‘ ורפתיו‬and I shall heal him’ (4Q58 12.3 || ‫אתיו‬ ִ ‫[ ְּור ָפ‬Isa 57.19]), ‫‘ רפאני ה' וארפה‬heal
me, Yhwh, and I shall be healed’ (4Q70 f26–28.5 || ‫[ ְר ָפ ֵאנִ י ה' וְ ֵא ָר ֵפא‬Jer 17.14]),
‫(‘ ִמ ְת ַר ִפים‬they) would be healed’ (M Rosh Ha-Shana 3.8), ‫‘ ְל ַרּפֹאותה‬to heal
her’ (M Ketubbot 4.9), ‫ּומ ַר ֵּפהּו‬ ְ ‘and he heals him’ (M Nedarim 4.4), ‫ְל ַר ְּפֹותֹו‬
‘to heal him’ (M Bava Qamma 8.1 [2x]), ‫‘ ְל ַרּפֹותֹו‬to heal him’ (ibid.), ‫ִמ ְת ַר ִּפין‬
‘they let themselves be healed’ (M ʿAvoda Zara 2.2), ‫רֹופה‬ ֵ ‫‘ ָה‬the physician’
(M Bekhorot 4.4).
This tendency is also evident in other examples of rabbinic literature,
e.g., the Tosefta, the Mekhilta, Sifra, Sifre Bemidbar, and the Babylonian and
Jerusalem Talmuds. The spelling without ʾalef and vocalizations reflecting its
elision are by no means standard in these sources, but they come in a sizeable
minority of the cases.
It is true that some Masoretic, non-Masoretic, and extra-biblical forms may
be explained merely as phonetic (versus historical) spellings, which have no
real significance regarding morphological derivation. For example, in the form
‫(‘ ִּת ְר ֶּפינָ ה‬his hands) will heal’ (Job 5.18), the pronunciation would not change
whether the ʾalef were written or not, since ʾalef in syllable-final position is
generally elided. Likewise in the case of the proper name ‫‘ ְר ָפיָ ה‬Rephaiah’. In
other instances, for example, ‫אתי‬ ִ ‫‘ ִר ִּפ‬I healed’ (2 Kgs 2.21), the vocalization
alone reflects a ‫ ל"י‬derivation, while the consonantal form reflects that of a
‫ ל"א‬form. Be that as it may, there are sufficient forms spelled without ʾalef that
do reflect ‫ ל"י‬pronunciation and derivation—like ‫‘ וַ ּיֵ ָרפּו‬and they were healed’
(2 Kgs 2.22), ‫‘ וַ יְ ַרּפּו‬and they have healed’ (Jer 8.11), ‫‘ נִ ְר ָּפ ָתה‬she was healed’ (ibid.
51.9), ‫רּופה‬ ָ ‫‘ ְּת‬remedy’ (Ezek 47.12)—to postulate—already in the exilic and
post-exilic periods—the beginnings of the process that would eventually lead

94 Ps 60 and of the poetic sections of Job are difficult to date linguistically.

106 chapter 3

to the fairly regular post-biblical use of forms such as ‫‘ ִריּפּוי‬healing’, ‫‘ לרפות‬to

heal’, and ‫‘ להתרפות‬to heal oneself’.

3.9.3 Jeremiah
Forms testifying to elision of the ʾalef in derivatives of the root ‫ רפ"א‬are not
found in the Pentateuch and are nearly absent from the Former Prophets.95
The second half of the book of Kings contains a single clear example in the ktiv
and an additional pair of qre cases (see above). Jeremiah is thus the earliest text
to exhibit a significant concentration of the interchange under discussion. In
more than a third of the relevant cases—six of 17, to be exact—the consonan-
tal form reflects a ‫ ל"י‬derivation. Generally in these cases, if the consonantal
skeleton allows for it, the vocalization reflects a ‫ ל"א‬derivation, with an excep-
tion in ‫ת־ּב ֶבל וְ לֹא נִ ְר ָּפ ָתה‬
ָ ‫‘ ִר ִּפינּו ֶא‬we have treated Babylon, but she did not heal’
(Jer 51.9 qre; ktiv ‫ )רפאנו‬in which the qre form is influenced by the obvious ‫ל"י‬
consonantal form ‫‘ נִ ְר ָּפ ָתה‬was healed’. With this orthography Jeremiah reveals
a feature shared with post-exilic and post-biblical phases of Hebrew. The fea-
ture in question should perhaps be explained as the result of the penetration
of colloquial, spoken forms into the literary register. The popular character of
the spelling in certain of the DSS and in RH in general fit well with such an
explanation for the shift ‫רפ"א < רפ"י‬. However, the possibility of Aramaic influ-
ence should not be discounted. As is well known, already as early as Imperial
Aramaic (e.g., BA), ‫ ל"א‬and ‫ ל"י‬forms had coalesced into a single pattern.

3.9.4 The MT and the Greek

The Ancient Greek translation presents parallels in five of the six cases in
which the consonantal text of Jeremiah omits the ʾalef in forms of ‫רפ"א‬. Only
the form ‫‘ וַ יְ ַרּפּו‬and they have healed’ (Jer 8.11) has no parallel in the Greek.
This form comes as part of a doublet in the MT—Jer 6.13–15 || Jer 8.10b–12—of
which only the first case—reflecting the consonantal ʾalef—is reflected in the

95 Cf. the interchange between ‫‘ קר"א‬to call, read’ and ‫‘ קר"י‬to befall, happen’, which is
amply attested in CBH. It is worth mentioning that in Jeremiah meanings generally associ-
ated with ‫ קר"י‬are consistently represented by forms derived from ‫קר"א‬: Jer 4.20 (though
some interpret ‘call’ here); 13.22; 32.23; 41.6; 44.23 (on the use of the ending ‫ת‬- rather than
‫ָ◌ה‬- see below, §‎4.3). Since this interchange is already found in what are widely consid-
ered classical texts, it cannot be considered especially characteristic of the late period.
Even so, the consistency of the phenomenon in Jeremiah is noteworthy.
orthography and phonology 107

Jer 6.14 they have healed (‫ )וַ יְ ַר ְּפאּו‬the wound of my people superficially
Jer 8.11 they have healed   (‫ )וַ יְ ַרּפּו‬the wound of the daughter of my people superficially

The experts have varying and contradictory opinions on the origin of this dou-
blet, but it is somewhat less than surprising that in the version of the line miss-
ing from the Greek the derivative from ‫ רפ"א‬should appear as if derived from
‫רפ"י‬, a feature more characteristic of late than of early material.
chapter 4

Pronominal Morphology (Pronouns, Pronominal

Suffixes, and Verbal Endings)

4.1 1cs: ‫ אֲ נִ י‬and ‫‘ אָ נ ִֹכי‬I’

4.1.1 The MT
Of the two forms of the 1cs independent subject pronoun in BH, ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬and ‫ֲאנִ י‬
both ‘I’, the latter, shorter form is the more common, with 874 occurrences,
compared to 359 of its longer counterpart. The dominance of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬is especially
conspicuous in texts composed during or after the time of the Exile. For exam-
ple, in the core LBH books of Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles
cases of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬outnumber those of ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬76:3. Exclusive use of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬is characteris-
tic of such late (i.e., exilic or post-exilic) works as Lamentations (4x), Haggai
(4x), Zechariah 1–8 (9x), Ezra (2x), Esther (6x), and Qohelet (29x). In other late
material ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬is used but once: Ezekiel (against 169 cases of ‫) ֲאנִ י‬, Nehemiah
(against 15 cases of ‫) ֲאנִ י‬, Daniel (against 23 cases of ‫) ֲאנִ י‬, and Chronicles (against
30 cases of ‫) ֲאנִ י‬. In the corpus just described, ‫ ֲאנִ י‬dominates ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬by a ratio of
291:4.1 The four exceptional instances of ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬in this late corpus are all attribut-
able to archaization: the cases in Mal 3.23 and Dan 10.11 come in divine speech,
that in Neh 1.6 occurs in a prayer, and the one in 1 Chr 17.1 reflects the classical
source material in 2 Sam 7.1–2.2 In Isaiah, too, there is a decided preference
for the short form (79:26), but this dominance is really only characteristic of
‘Second Isaiah’ (71:21; it is 8:5 in ‘First Isaiah’).
Earlier biblical material exhibits widely divergent tendencies. For example,
numbers of the two forms are fairly balanced in the books of Judges (17 ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬:
12 ‫) ֲאנִ י‬, Samuel (50 ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬: 50 ‫) ֲאנִ י‬, ‘First Isaiah’ (5 ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬: 8 ‫) ֲאנִ י‬, and Hosea (11 ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬:
12 ‫) ֲאנִ י‬. In the combined JE material ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬is more common than ‫( ֲאנִ י‬81:48),3
while Deuteronomy even more strongly favors ‫( ָאנ ִֹכי‬56:9), but the Priestly
material shows an extreme proclivity for ‫( ֲאנִ י‬130:1).4 It seems clear that the fac-

1 See Segal 1936: §67; Seow 1996: 661; Yoder 2000: 26–27; cf. Rezetko 2003: 225–226.
2 In all other cases the Chronicler replaces the ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬of his source with ‫ ֲאנִ י‬: 1 Chr 17.16 || 2 Sam
7.18; 1 Chr 21.10, 17 || 2 Sam 14.12, 17; 2 Chr 34.27 || 2 Kgs 22.19.
3 The statistics are those of BDB 59b.
4 The lone exception is Gen 23.4. Against the claim that P’s virtually exclusive use of ‫ֲאנִ י‬
necessarily implies a late date of composition (Giesebrecht 1881: 251–258; S.R. Driver 1898:
155–156, n. †), one should not ignore the fact that a large proportion of these cases involve

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���4 | doi ��.��63/978900426965�_�05

pronominal morphology 109

tors bearing on the choice between the two forms include, but are not limited
to, chronology. For example, the preference for ‫ ֲאנִ י‬in the Psalms, while perhaps
in some cases evidence of late composition, corresponds to the situation of
the cognate forms known from Ugaritic, where ʾank serves in prose, and ʾan in
poetry (for further discussion of non-diachronic factors in the choice between
the two forms see below).

4.1.2 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

A similar tendency to that described above for the late biblical material also
obtains in non-Masoretic and post-biblical Hebrew sources, such as the DSS
and rabbinic literature, in both of which ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬comes only in imitation of the
Bible or in citations thereof,5 and the book of Ben Sira, which employs only
‫ ֲאנִ י‬.6 The picture that emerges from the pre-exilic Hebrew inscriptions, on the
other hand, is not entirely clear, there being few unequivocal examples in the
extant sources.7
Ancient cognate languages use either only a cognate of ‫( ֲאנִ י‬Aramaic, Arabic,
Ethiopic, and apparently Amorite and Eblaite as well), only a cognate of ‫ָאנ ִֹכי‬
(Amarna Canaanite, Phoenician [Punic], and the extremely limited corpus
of Moabite), or cognates of both (Akkadian, Ugaritic, both of which reserve a
form parallel to ‫ ֲאנִ י‬for poetry).

the repeated formula '‫‘ ֲאנִ י ה‬I am Yhwh’ (for example, of the 71 cases of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬in Leviticus,
52 involve some form of this phrase) or other expressions in which ‫ ֲאנִ י‬is more common
than ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬throughout biblical literature (see S.R. Driver 1882: 222ff). It also bears repeating
that, according to the accepted linguistic methodology for dating biblical texts, a work of
unknown chronological provenance may be dated to the post-exilic period only on the basis
of an accumulation of multiple late linguistic features. P’s all but exclusive use of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬is not
to be ignored, but neither should its significance be exaggerated. For example, Hurvitz (1982:
169 n. 35) notes that even H, the antiquity of which is generally acknowledged by late-daters
of P, also makes exclusive use of ‫( ֲאנִ י‬see also S.R. Driver 1882: 222ff). On the pre-exilic charac-
ter of P’s language in general see Hurvitz 1974b; 1982; 1988; 2000b; Grintz 1976a–c; Rendsburg
1980b; Zevit 1982; Milgrom 1991–2001: 5–13 and passim; 1999; 2007.
5 In the non-biblical DSS cases of ‫ אני‬outnumber those of ‫ אנכי‬by a margin of approximately
150:40, most of the cases of ‫ אנכי‬referring to God or some other divine speaker. In the Mishna
‫ אני‬dominates ‫ אנכי‬298:3. On the use of the 1cs independent subject pronouns in the DSS see
du Plessis 1971: 173; Whitley 1979: 14; Qimron 1986: §321.11; Seow 1996: 661; Yoder 2000: 26–27;
Wright 2005: 79–82; Kutscher 2007: 640. On their use in rabbinic literature see Segal 1936: §67;
Rosén 1975: 280; Haneman 1980: §51.111; Kutscher 1982: §§40, 201; Hadas-Lebel 1995: 148; Seow
1996: 661; Fernández 1997: 18; Yoder 2000; 26–27; Wright 2005: 79–82; Kutscher 2007: 643.
6 4x; see Wright 2005: 79–82.
7 ‫ אני‬appears in Arad 88.1; ‫ אנכי‬is read by some in Lachish 6.8–9 (see Pardee 1982: 100, 244, 315;
Aḥituv 2005: 72–74 [with hesitation]; cf. Garr 1985: 79; Gogel 1998: 153).
110 chapter 4

4.1.3 Explanations for the Use of the Two Forms

A diachronic explanation according to which the form ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬largely fell into dis-
use in the post-exilic period accounts for the state of affairs during the late
period. It seems reasonable to assume that Aramaic, which in the later period
exerted profound influence on Hebrew by virtue of its status as an imperial
lingua franca, and which had only a cognate of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬, played some role in this
process. However, internal factors related to register should not be ignored.
On account of the late distribution patterns many have seen the preference
for ‫ ֲאנִ י‬as distinctively characteristic of the late phases of ancient Hebrew.
But a more nuanced description of the situation is required: all late texts are
indeed characterized by a decided preference for or even exclusive use of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬,
but since ‫ ֲאנִ י‬was clearly available for use during earlier periods, its frequent or
even exclusive employment in a text of unknown date does not—against what
some have claimed8—point unequivocally to a late date of composition. Since
a purely chronological explanation cannot account for the mixed usage of the
two forms in CBH, alternative theories, invoking dialect,9 register,10 syntax,11
and pragmatics,12 have been proposed, some accounting for the data more
successfully than others. Not surprisingly, some scholars see no functional dif-
ference between the two forms.13

4.1.4 Jeremiah
In Jeremiah cases of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬outnumber those of ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬by a ratio of 54:37, each
form coming in a variety of genres throughout the book’s various apparent
component parts. Rooker (1990: 72) attributes preference for the short form to

8 See, for example, Giesebrecht 1881: 251–258; Cheyne 1895: 256–257.

9 Isaksson (1987: 142) argues that ‫ ֲאנִ י‬is more characteristically northern; cf. Rendsburg
1990a: 142–143.
10 Segal 1936: §67; Harris 1939: 74; Kutscher 1982: §40; Schoors 1989: 72; 1992–2004: I §;
Rendsburg 1990a: 143–144 (hesitantly); Hadas-Lebel 1995: 148.
11 Cassuto (1953: 44–45) identified syntactic factors behind the use of the two forms based
on a study of the book of Genesis, but as Rendsburg (1990a: 142, n. 10) correctly observes,
the validity of these factors does not hold for the rest of the Bible.
12 On the basis of a study of the Pentateuch Rosén (1975) presented a rather complicated
pragmatic system involving information structure, expectation and intention, temporal
progression, and syntax, but this was at least partially disproven by Revell (1995: 199, n. 1),
who adduced counter-examples from outside the Pentateuch. For his part, Revell (ibid.:
200–216) has developed an explanation based on speaker status and information struc-
ture, though it should be noted that counter-examples can be furnished to demonstrate
the non-universality of his system.
13 Waltke and O’Connor 1990: §16.3a. See also Wellhausen 1885: 390.
pronominal morphology 111

diachronic factors; that is, like the core LBH books, Jeremiah prefers ‫ ֲאנִ י‬to ‫ָאנ ִֹכי‬
because it was written at a time when the longer form had fallen into disuse.
But even if the numerical superiority of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬in Jeremiah is clear—and all the
more striking in contrast to the dominance of ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬in the book of Deuteronomy,
with some form of which the writer(s) of Jeremiah was (were) almost certainly
familiar—it is far from absolute. Cases of ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬are by no means rare in the book
and the two forms many times appear together in the same section and twice
even in a single verse.14 In any case, as argued above, the mere prevalence of ‫ֲאנִ י‬
in a given biblical work is not unequivocal evidence of a late linguistic profile.
In terms of absolute numbers the relative regularity of ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬in Jeremiah con-
trasts with this form’s rarity in LBH proper and other late material, arguably
highlighting Jeremiah’s linguistically transitional character.
Be that as it may, the affinity of the book’s language to post-classical Hebrew
is nonetheless manifest, specifically in the conditioned choice between
the two pronouns. While ‫ ֲאנִ י‬is placed in the mouths of a wide variety of
speakers, 35 of the 37 cases of ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬appear in divine speech,15 a fact that would
seem to indicate that use of the form in question was no longer natural, but
had become archaistic, especially associated with formal speech contexts, as
in LBH proper (see above, §4.1.1). It may thus be argued that the distinction
between Jeremiah’s language and LBH with regard to the 1cs independent pro-
nouns is due only to the amount of divine speech in Jeremiah. In this Jeremiah’s
language resembles that of some of the DSS, like the Temple Scroll (11Q19), in
which all instances of the 1cs independent pronouns occur in divine speech
and cases of ‫ אנכי‬outnumber those of ‫ אני‬23:9.

4.1.5 The MT and the Greek

The mixed usage of ‫ ֲאנִ י‬and ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬characterizes both the short edition of Jeremiah
and the supplementary material.16 Furthermore, each layer is characterized by
the same archaistic usage of ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬.

14 Jer 24.7 and 25.29.

15 The two exceptions are Jer 1.6, in the prophet’s initial conversation with God, and Jer 28.7,
in the prophet’s public confrontation with Hananiah.
16 It is difficult to provide precise statistics for the use of the two forms in each stratum
because it is not always possible to determine whether a given instance of mismatch
between the Masoretic and Greek versions reflects genuine textual difference or the
activity of the translator(s). ‫ ֲאנִ י‬finds no explicit parallel in the Greek corresponding to Jer
1.11, 13, 18; 13.26; 28.4; 30.11; 36.18; and 38.14; ‫ ָאנ ִֹכי‬finds no explicit parallel in Jer 1.17; 27.6;
29.11 (2x); 30.22; and 32.42. Whatever the exact statistics may be, it seems clear that the
supplementary material, like the short edition, makes use of both forms.
112 chapter 4

4.2 2fs: ‫( אתי‬ktiv) for ‫אַ ְּת‬, ‫ ִכי‬- for ‫ ְך‬-, and ‫ ִּתי‬- for and ‫ ְּת‬- ‘you; your’

A certain lack of symmetry characterizes the standard set of 2fs suffixes

in Tiberian BH. In the yiqṭol (‫ ) ִּת ְק ְט ִלי‬and imperative (‫ ) ִק ְט ִלי‬these forms end
with an i vowel, whereas the relevant independent subject pronoun (‫) ַא ְּת‬,
object/possessive pronominal suffix (‫ְך‬-), and qaṭal verbal ending (‫ ְּת‬-) all
terminate with a consonant. There is, however, evidence—both external and
internal—that the latter endings may also at one time have regularly ended
in a vowel in Hebrew. The external evidence consists of the parallel endings
in cognateْ َ‫ أ‬languages, many of which end in i, e.g., Akkadian (attī, -ki, -āti),
‫نت‬ ‫ت‬
Arabic (�ِ ܿ � � ,ܰ ‫ك‬-, ِ various
ِ �-), ܿ dialects of Aramaic (‫אנתי‬/‫אתי‬, ‫כי‬-, ‫תי‬-), including
Syriac (‫ܐܢܬܝ‬, ‫ ܼܟܝ‬-, ‫ܬܝ‬- [written tradition only]), Ethiopic (ánti, -ki, -ki), and
Samaritan Hebrew (independent subject pronoun ‫ אתי‬and qaṭal verbal end-
ing ‫תי‬- only). BH also exhibits forms with a final i, quite regularly in the case
of the qaṭal verbal ending when followed by an object suffix, e.g., ‫‘ ּונְ ַת ִּתיהּו‬you
(fs) have placed it’ (Ezek 16.19) and ‫‘ ִל ַּב ְב ִּתינִ י‬you (fs) have captured my heart’
(Song 4.9).17 Other biblical vestiges of the suffixes under discussion are non-
standard and merit discussion.
The accepted explanation for the general loss of the i vowel in question is
that, as an anceps vowel (a vowel pronounced alternatively long or short), it
was retained when long and dropped when short, the latter in accordance with
the shedding of final short vowels that is known to have taken place in the
history of ancient Hebrew. This approach assumes the correspondence of the
written and pronunciation traditions, i.e., that orthographic forms ending in
a consonant were indeed pronounced without a final vowel. Alternatively, it
has been argued that the i vowel in question was not actually lost from BH,

17 There are 15 cases in the Bible in which a 2fs (we)qaṭal form has an attached object suffix.
In nine of them the verbal ending is vocalized with an i vowel (and in four of these the
orthography has a corresponding yod): ‫‘ ִה ְכ ַר ְע ִּתנִ י‬you (fs) have brought me low’ (Jdg 11.35);
‫יתנִ י‬
ִ ‫(‘ ִר ִּמ‬why) have you (fs) deceived me’ (1 Sam 19.17), ‫‘ ְּכ ִל ִתנִ י‬you (fs) have restrained me’
(ibid. 25.33); ‫אתים‬ ִ ‫‘ ְמ ָצ‬you (fs) did not find them’ (Jer 2.34), ‫‘ יְ ִל ְד ִּתנִ י‬you (fs) bore me’ (ibid.
15.10); ‫‘ ּונְ ַת ִּתיהּו‬you (fs) have placed it’ (Ezek 16.19), ‫אתים‬ ִ ‫‘ נְ ָׂש‬you (fs) bore them’ (ibid. v.
58); ‫‘ ִל ַּב ְב ִּת(י)נִ י‬you (fs) have captured my heart’ (Song 4.9 [2x]). Consider also the ktiv
form ‫‘ ילדתני‬you (fs) have given birth to me’ (Jer 2.27). Five of the six cases in which the
vocalization does not reflect an i vowel have the 1cpl suffix: ‫‘ ִה ְׁש ַּב ְע ָּתנּו‬you (fs) have put
us under oath’ (Josh 2.17, 20; Song 5.9); ‫הֹור ְד ֵּתנּו‬ ַ ‘you (fs) lowered us’ (Josh 2.18); ‫וַ ֲה ֵבאתֹו‬
‘you (fs) will bring him’ (2 Sam 14.10); ‫‘ יְ ִל ְד ָּתנּו‬you (fs) have given birth to us’ (Jer 2.27 qre).
Perhaps the ṣere in ‫הֹור ְד ֵּתנּו‬ ַ ‘you (fs) have lowered us’ (Josh 2.18) derives from contraction
of a diphthong containing an original i vowel.
pronominal morphology 113

but rather, that it was by and large pronounced, just not written, so that, for
example, the orthography ‫ קטלת‬in reality represented something like qaṭalti, a
pronunciation obscured by the Tiberian pronunciation with no final i.18 From
this perspective, forms of the type ‫ קטלתי‬are merely plene spellings of what
were generally written defectively.19 Whatever their exact nature, the non-
standard orthographical forms were often standardized in the reading tradi-
tion, i.e., read without a final vowel, except where they were simply interpreted
as something other than a 2fs form, e.g., ‫( ַק ְמ ִּתי‬Jdg 5.7) interpreted to mean
‘I arose’ rather than ‘you (fs) arose’.

4.2.1 The mt
In light of the uncertainties just raised regarding the degree of correspondence
between the written and oral traditions, the ensuing discussion will focus on
written forms whose consonantal spelling—with final yod—unambiguously
marks a final i vowel. Observations regarding the distribution of such forms
may, in turn, contribute to the discussion above.

18 I am indebted to Prof. Elisha Qimron for having acquainted me with this approach in cor-
respondence dated 23 February 2012.
19 Cf. the 2ms qaṭal ending and the object/possessive suffix, generally written ‫ת‬- and ‫ך‬-,
respectively, but pronounced with a final a vowel (matching the corresponding indepen-
dent subject pronoun ‫ ַא ָּתה‬, rarely spelled ‫ )את‬in the Tiberian reading tradition and sev-
eral other reading traditions, and sometimes even written ‫תה‬- and ‫כה‬-, respectively, in
the Hebrew Bible. Kahle’s (1959: 78–86, 100, 171–179) extreme view, according to which
these a endings were 1st-millennium CE imports into Hebrew from Arabic, is disproven
by the standard usage of the ‫תה‬- and ‫כה‬- spellings in the DSS, as noted by Kutscher (1959:
34–36; 1982: §46). However, the argument from the opposite extreme, namely that all
instances of defective spelling, whether for 2ms or 2fs, are necessarily to be seen as end-
ing in a vowel, also seems dubious. Had those presumably Second Temple Period scribes
responsible for the final orthographic revision of the biblical text been acquainted with
a reading tradition in which final i was standard in 2fs pronominal forms, it is difficult
to understand why they would not have added a corresponding final yod, especially in
light of the corresponding yiqṭol and imperative forms that did end in a yod (the same
doubt arises regarding the defective 2ms forms). Given the complicated and somewhat
contradictory nature of the evidence—the biblical consonantal tradition, the Tiberian
vocalization, and evidence from the DSS and non-Tiberian reading traditions—it seems
probable that forms both with and without a final vowel were in use in the First and
Second Temple Periods, so that the dominant spelling without final matres lectionis is at
times representative and at times defective. In any case, there seems little doubt that the
last word on this issue has yet to be uttered.
114 chapter 4

‫( אתי‬ktiv) ‘you (fs)’ – seven instances in 57 potential cases: Jdg 17.2; 1 Kgs 14.2;
2 Kgs 4.16, 23; 8.1; Jer 4.30; Ezek 36.13.

‫ ִכי‬-/‫כי‬- (ktiv) – 16 instances in 1565 potential cases: ‫‘ לכי‬to you (fs)’ (2 Kgs 4.2
ktiv), ‫‘ שכנכי‬your (fs) neighbor(s)’ (ibid. v. 3 ktiv), ‫‘ נשיכי‬your (fs) debt’ (ibid.
v. 7 ktiv), ‫‘ בניכי‬your (fs) children’ (ibid. ktiv); ‫‘ ָר ָע ֵת ִכי‬your (fs) wickedness’
(Jer 11.15); ‫‘ ֲעֹונֵ ִכי‬your (fs) sin’ (Ps 103.3), ‫‘ ַת ֲח ֻל ָאיְ ִכי‬your (fs) diseases’ (ibid.),
‫‘ ַחּיָ יְ ִכי‬your (fs) life’ (ibid. v. 4), ‫(‘ ַה ְמ ַע ְּט ֵר ִכי‬the one) who crowns you (fs)’ (ibid.),
‫עּוריְ ִכי‬ָ ְ‫‘ נ‬your (fs) youth’ (ibid. v. 5); ‫נּוחיְ ִכי‬ ָ ‫‘ ִל ְמ‬your (fs) rest’ (ibid. 116.7), ‫‘ ָע ָליְ ִכי‬to/
upon you (fs)’ (ibid.), ‫תֹוכ ִכי‬ ֵ ‫( ְּב‬ibid. 19); ‫תֹוכ ִכי‬ ֵ ‫‘ ְּב‬within you (fs)’ (ibid. 135.9); ‫ֶאזְ ְּכ ֵר ִכי‬
‘(if I do not) remember you (fs)’ (ibid. 137.6); ‫(‘ לכי‬get) yourself (fs) (up)’(Song
2.13 ktiv).20

‫(וְ ) ָק ַט ְל ִּתי‬/‫( (ו)קטלתי‬ktiv – 23 instances in 211 potential cases: ‫‘ ַׁש ַּק ְמ ִּתי‬you (fs)
arose’ (Jdg 5.7 [2x]); ‫‘ ָׁש ַב ְר ִּתי‬you (fs) broke’ (Jer 2.20), ‫‘ נִ ַּת ְק ִּתי‬you (fs) tore off’
(ibid.), ‫‘ למדתי‬you (fs) have taught’ (ibid. v. 33 ktiv); ‫‘ קראתי‬you (fs) called’ (ibid.
3.4 ktiv), ‫‘ דברתי‬you (fs) spoke’ (ibid. v. 5 ktiv); ‫‘ שמעתי‬you (fs) heard’ (ibid. 4.19
ktiv); ‫‘ הלכתי‬you (fs) walked’ (ibid. 31.21 ktiv); ‫‘ הרביתי‬you (fs) have multiplied’
(ibid. 46.11 ktiv); ‫‘ אכלתי‬you (fs) ate’ (Ezek 16.13 ktiv), ‫‘ נתתי‬you (fs) offered’ (ibid.
v. 18 ktiv), ‫‘ זכרתי‬you (fs) (did not) remember’ (ibid. v. 22 ktiv, v. 43 ktiv), ‫עשיתי‬
‘you (fs) made/committed’ (ibid. v. 31 ktiv, v. 43 ktiv, v. 47 ktiv, v. 51 ktiv), ‫‘ הייתי‬you
(fs) have (not) been’ (ibid. v. 31 ktiv), ‫‘ ָר ִא ִיתי‬you (fs) saw’ (ibid. v. 50); ‫וְ ַה ֲח ַר ְמ ִּתי‬
‘and you (fs) will devote’ (Mic 4.13); ‫‘ וירדתי‬and you (fs) will descend’ (Ruth 3.3
ktiv), ‫‘ ושכבתי‬and you (fs) will lie down’ (ibid. v. 4 ktiv).
The first thing to notice in the distribution of the forms is that they occur
in only a minority of the potential cases: the spelling ‫ אתי‬comes in 12.3 percent
of the potential cases, ‫כי‬- in only about 1 percent, and ‫תי‬- in approximately
11 percent. Further, rather than being strewn haphazardly along the length of
biblical literature, they tend to be concentrated in specific books. However,
even in these books it is clear that the standard forms dominate. See the fol-
lowing table:

20 This final case is in doubt, because it is unclear if the form in question consists of a prepo-
sition with the 2fs pronominal suffix or of a 2fs imperative.
pronominal morphology 115

Book ‫אתי‬/‫את‬+‫( אתי‬%) ‫כי‬-/‫ך‬-+‫כי‬- (%) ‫תי‬-/‫ת‬-+‫תי‬- (%)

Judges 1/5 (20%) 0/21 (0%) 2/11 (18.2%)

Kings 4/9 (44%) 4/72 (5.6%) 0/12 (0%)
Jeremiah 1/8 (12.5%) 1/179 (0.6%) 8/30 (26.7%)
Ezekiel 1/13 (7.7%) 0/448 (0%) 10/67 (14.9%)
Psalms — 10/65 (15.4%) 0/2 (0%)
Song of Songs 0/1 (0%) 1/71 (1.4%) 0/2 (0%)
Micah — 0/16 (0%) 1/3 (33.3%)
Ruth 0/4 (0%) 0/40 (0%) 2/22 (9.1%)

Also, it should be noted that the concentrations within individual books are
often actually limited to specific chapters. The clearest examples of this phe-
nomenon are 2 Kgs 4 (and 8.1–6), Ezek 16, Ps 103, and Ps 116, which together
account for 25 of the 46 combined cases of the relevant 2fs morphemes end-
ing in yod. Finally, since no one section or book contains concentrations of all
three non-standard 2fs morphemes, the possibility should be entertained that
use of one may not have been motivated by the same factors as use of another.
The forms in question have been explained alternatively as

(a) genuine archaisms, i.e., old forms in old texts,

(b) authentic dialectal features characteristic of the north,
(c) pseudo-dialectal forms meant to represent a non-standard dialect,
(d) pseudo-archaisms under the late influence of Aramaic (sometimes for
purposes of euphony), and
(e) various combinations of the above.21

Turning to specific examples where one or more of these factors seem pertinent:

Jdg 5: zero instances of ‫ אתי‬in zero potential cases (– percent), zero instances
of ‫כי‬- in zero potential cases (– percent), two instances of ‫תי‬- in two potential
cases (100 percent) = total two of two cases (100 percent). The Song of Deborah

21 The possibility that certain forms have arisen due to scribal corruption should also be
entertained. However, it is no less likely that a few viable cases of the forms in question
may have been corrupted themselves; consider, by way of example, the combination
‫‘ ֵמ ָע ָליִ ְך ִּכי‬from you (fs); for’ (Jer 11.15)—a notoriously difficult verse—which may conceiv-
ably reflect an original ‫‘ מעליכי‬from you (fs)’.
116 chapter 4

is considered to be both genuinely archaic and authentically dialectal, either

or both of which factors may explain the preservation of the primitive non-
standard 2fs qaṭal form twice in v. 5.22 The case of ‫ אתי‬in Jdg 17.2 also comes
in a northern setting (Ephraim), though it should be noted that there are no
examples of either ‫כי‬- or ‫תי‬- in two potential cases of each.

2 Kgs 4 and 8.1–6: three instances of ‫ אתי‬in four potential cases (75 percent),23
four instances of ‫כי‬- in 14 potential cases (28.6 percent), zero instances of ‫תי‬-
in three potential cases (0 percent) = total seven instances in 21 potential cases
(33.3 percent). The section narrates the exploits of Elisha, which, significantly,
concern the northern kingdom of Israel. Several scholars have argued that cer-
tain non-standard linguistic forms here (and elsewhere), among them the 2fs
forms under discussion, are either authentically dialectal forms preserved in
stories originally written in the north or are literary devices meant to reflect a
northern dialect.24 The case of ‫ אתי‬in 1 Kgs 14.2 also comes in a northern setting
(in the mouth of king Jeroboam son of Nebat), though it should be noted that
there are no instances of ‫כי‬- in six potential cases in the same chapter or of ‫תי‬-
in four potential cases.

Ezek 16: zero occurrences of ‫ אתי‬in nine potential cases (0 percent), zero occur-
rences of ‫כי‬- in 175 potential cases (0 percent), ten occurrences of ‫תי‬- in 36
potential cases (27.8 percent) = total ten instances in 220 potential cases (4.5
percent). The use of the non-standard 2fs forms in Ezekiel is probably not to be
attributed to dialect, but rather to exilic or early-post-exilic Aramaic influence,
as this book was most likely composed at a time when Aramaic—many dia-
lects of which preserve a final i vowel in their relevant 2fs forms—was in use
by the higher classes, including the literati, as the lingua franca of the empire.25
It should be noted, however, that this is not a pure loan from Aramaic, as the
feature already existed in Hebrew. Of course, this explanation (among many)

22 Burney 1918: 171–176; Kutscher 1982: §§45, 54 (cf. §100); Rendsburg 1990b: 128; see also
above, §§, 1.4.2; cf. Young 1995.
23 In the case of the apparently exceptional use within 2 Kgs 4 of the standard form ‫ ַא ְּת‬in
ָ ‫ּובנַ יִ ְך ִת ְחיִ י ַּב‬ָ ‫‘ וְ ַא ְּת‬and you and your children can live on the remainder’ (2 Kgs 4.7 qre)
it may be that the ktiv preserves the original reading, according to which ‫ את‬should be
read not as a 2fs independent subject pronoun, but as the marker of the direct object, i.e.,
ָ ‫‘ *וְ ֶאת בָּ נַ יִ ִכי ְת ַחּיִ י ַּב‬and your children keep alive with the remainder’.
24 Burney 1903: 208; BDB 61b; Harris 139: 75; Schniedewind and Sivan 1997: 332–333;
Rendsburg 2002a: 37–38; C. Smith 2003: 57–50, 149–158.
25 Kutscher 1974: 25–26, 188–190.
pronominal morphology 117

hardly accounts for the exclusive concentration of 2fs qaṭal verbal forms end-
ing in i in Ezek chapter 16.

Ps 103: zero instances of ‫ אתי‬in zero potential cases (– percent), five instances of
‫ ִכי‬- in six potential cases (84.3 percent),26 zero instances of ‫תי‬- in zero potential
cases (– percent) = total five instances in six potential cases (83.3 percent). The
late date of this psalm has been established linguistically by Hurvitz (1972: 107–
130). According to Hurvitz’ line of argumentation (ibid. 116–119), on the basis of
the generally late linguistic profile of this psalm, the use of 2fs ‫ ִכי‬- here, which
in a more neutral context may be classified as a true archaism preserved in
poetry, is rather to be seen as a native, but unproductive Hebrew form pressed
into archaistic poetic duty perhaps on the basis of late Aramaic influence.

Ps 116: zero occurrences of ‫ אתי‬in zero potential cases (– percent), three occur-
rences of ‫ ִכי‬- in three potential cases (100 percent), zero occurrences of ‫תי‬- in
zero potential cases (– percent) = total three instances in three potential cases
(100 percent). Hurvitz (1972: 172–176) includes this psalm in a list of those char-
acterized by an insufficient number of distinctively late linguistic features to
be securely classified as late (in addition to 2fs ‫ ִכי‬-, this psalm contains two
additional probable Aramaisms: the 3ms possessive suffix ‫ ִֹוהי‬- ‘his’ and the
taqṭul-pattern lexeme ‫‘ ַּתגְ מּול‬benefit, recompense’). Likewise, the case of ‫ ִכי‬-
in Ps 135.9 (which also exhibits the use of the relativizer -‫‘ ֶׁש‬that, which’ with
the participle and the collocation ‫ֹלהינּו‬ֵ ‫‘ ֵּבית ֱא‬house of our God’; ibid.). Finally,
while Ps 137, which also contains an instance of ‫ ִכי‬- (v. 6), does not present an
accumulation of characteristically late linguistic features (in addition to ‫ ִכי‬-,
only the relativizer -‫‘ ֶׁש‬that, which’ [3x]), it is clearly transitional at the earliest,
set as it is in the Exile.
This rather striking distribution, limited almost exclusively to archaic
poetry, northern prose, and late poetry must be seen as evidence against the
notion that the forms of the relevant morphemes with the i ending were wide-
spread in ancient Hebrew pronunciation. For if they had been, then one must
ask why relevant spellings were preserved specifically in northern prose and
archaic and late poetry, when they should be fairly evenly scattered through-
out biblical literature.

26 The form ‫ ֶע ְדיֵ ְך‬in Ps 103.5 is suspect from more than one perspective; see the BHS appara-
tus and the commentaries.
118 chapter 4

4.2.2 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

The relevant 2fs morphemes ending in i are fairly common in DSS Hebrew27
and in the Samaritan Pentateuch are the norm in the case of ‫ אתי‬and quite
common in the case of ‫תי‬-.28 Furthermore, as already stated, the endings were
preserved in various Aramaic dialects and orthographies. According to one
view, then, such forms are the result of late Aramaic influence on these types of
Hebrew.29 This would presumably qualify as a case of ‘linguistic convergence’,30
since the Hebrew forms are not pure loans from Aramaic. According to
another view, the sources in question preserve an ancient feature of Hebrew
obscured by the Tiberian vocalization of the MT.31 The absence of the endings
in question from RH may indicate that their employment in the DSS and the
Samaritan Pentateuch, not to mention late texts in the mt, is more a literary
affectation than a feature genuinely representative of the vernacular. However,
the situation may have been more complex than this, with multiple vernacular
dialects, some in which the final vowel was pronounced and others in which
it was not.

4.2.3 Jeremiah
The following verses in Jeremiah contain the morphemes in question:

Jer 2.20 for of old you broke (‫ ) ָׁש ַב ְר ִּתי‬your yoke, you tore off (‫ )נִ ַּת ְק ִּתי‬your
Jer 2.33 even to the evil (women) you have taught (ktiv: ‫ ;למדתי‬qre ‫) ִל ַּמ ְד ְּת‬
your ways
Jer 3.4–5 Have you not now called (ktiv: ‫ ;קראתי‬qre ‫ ) ָק ָראת‬to me “My father,
you are the God of my youth! Will he rage forever, will he be angry
for eternity?” Behold you have spoken (ktiv ‫ ;דברתי‬qre ‫) ִד ַּב ְר ְּת‬, but
you did as much evil as you could.

27 The non-biblical material exhibits the following proportions: ‫את‬:‫ אתי‬0:1 (?), ‫ך‬-:‫כי‬- 37:19,
‫ת‬-:‫תי‬- 0:2; the same ratios in the biblical material are 8:3, 494:28, and 39:20.
28 The ratio of ‫את‬:‫ אתי‬in the Samaritan Pentateuch is 1:6 (the apparent case of ‫ את‬is not
interpreted by Samaritan grammarians as a 2fs pronoun), ‫ך‬-:‫כי‬- 54:1, ‫ת‬-:‫תי‬- 5:5.
29 Hurvitz 1972: 116–119; Kutscher 1974: 25–26, 188–190, 208–209; Qimron 1979: 365.
30 See Gzella 2013; I am indebted to Paul Noorlander for pointing out the relevance of this
31 On DSS Hebrew see Yalon (1950–1951: 168–169). On Samaritan Hebrew see Ben-Ḥayyim
(2000: §2.0.13), who argues that the forms in question are authentic survivals, not bor-
rowings from Aramaic, that were nevertheless preserved in Samaritan Hebrew with the
help of Aramaic, which served as the spoken language of the Samaritans; cf. Ben-Ḥayyim
1943–1944: 125.
pronominal morphology 119

Jer 4.19 for you have heard (ktiv ‫ ;שמעתי‬qre ‫) ָׁש ַמ ַע ְּת‬, my soul, the sound of
the horn
Jer 4.30 and you (ktiv ‫ ;ואתי‬qre ‫)וְ ַא ְּת‬, devastated one, what will you do?
Jer 11.15 when you (do) evil (‫) ָר ָע ֵת ִכי‬, then you exult
Jer 31.21 attend to the highway, the road you have walked (ktiv ‫ ;הלכתי‬qre
‫) ָה ָל ְכ ְּת‬
Jer 46.11 in vain have you multiplied (ktiv ‫ ;הרביתי‬qre ‫ ) ִה ְר ֵּבית‬remedies

It is first to be noted that all these non-standard forms come in poetic pas-
sages. Further, while the presumably unique nature of Jeremiah’s Benjaminite
dialect has been suggested as a factor worthy of consideration,32 it seems pref-
erable to explain these cases on other grounds. Given the period in which the
prophet was active and in which the book bearing his name was subsequently
composed, Aramaic influence must be considered likely. Be that as it may, the
influence in question need not have been subconscious, but may rather have
consisted in the deliberate use of Aramaic/archaistic forms for purposes of
euphony. An argument for such motivation is particularly convincing in the
case of Jer 4.30 above, where 11 out of 22 words end in i.33

4.2.4 The MT and the Greek

The Greek presents parallels for all instances of 2fs ‫אתי‬, ‫ ִכי‬-, and ‫ ִּתי‬- in Jeremiah,
indicating that this is not one of the features distinguishing the short edition
from the supplementary material. All cases of MT ‫ ַא ְּת‬and ‫ (וְ ) ָק ַט ְל ְּת‬are also
reflected in one way or another in the Greek. There are 12 instances in which
the MT 2fs object/possessive suffix is not reflected in the Greek,34 but in all of
these the Tiberian form is ‫ְך‬-. If any number of these latter are to be considered
part of the supplementary material, then from this perspective its language is
entirely standard.

32 See C. Smith, who in his 2003 dissertation, explains a number of Jeremiah’s linguistic
peculiarities as features of his Benjaminite dialect, explains ‫כי‬- and ‫תי‬- as dialectal (2003:
56–57, 155–158), but opts for a slightly more nuanced literary explanation in the case of
‫( אתי‬ibid.: 40–47). More generally on the approach to detecting dialects in BH see above,
33 ‫י־ת ְק ְר ִעי ַבּפּוְך ֵעינַ יִ ְך ַל ָּׁשוְ א‬
ִ ‫י־ת ְע ִּדי ֲע ִדי־זָ ָהב ִּכ‬
ַ ‫י־ת ְל ְּב ִׁשי ָׁשנִ י ִּכ‬
ִ ‫ה־ּת ֲע ִׂשי ִּכ‬
ַ ‫ וְ ַא ְּת] ָׁשדּוד ַמ‬:‫ואתי [קרי‬
‫סּו־בְך עֹגְ ִבים נַ ְפ ֵׁשְך ַיְב ֵּקׁשּו‬ ָ ‫יַּפי ָמ ֲא‬ִ ‫‘ ִּת ְת‬And you, who are doomed to ruin, What do you
accomplish by wearing crimson, By decking yourself in jewels of gold, By enlarging your
eyes with kohl? You beautify yourself in vain: Lovers despise you, They seek your life!’
34 Jer 2.2, 17; 7.16; 15.6; 23.37; 30.14, 15 (2x); 31.21; 34.14; 48.7; 49.34.
120 chapter 4

4.3 3fs: ‫ קטלת‬for ‫קטלה‬

The primitive suffix for the 3fs (we)qaṭal form in proto-Hebrew was evidently
identical to the primitive suffix of the fs substantive, namely -at. This ending
is preserved in most Semitic languages. In Hebrew, on the other hand, the t
consonant in this suffix (unlike final t sufformative after other vowels, e.g.,
-et, -it, -ot, and -ut) is regularly elided in word-final position both in the verb,
e.g., ‫ ָק ְט ַלת > ָק ְט ָלה‬, and in nominal forms, e.g., ‫סּוסה‬
ָ > ‫סּוסת‬
ַ . The t in question is
preserved when not word-final, as in 3fs verbs preceding an attached object
suffix, e.g., ‫‘ ּגְ נָ ָב ַתם‬she stole them’ (Gen 31.32) and in fs nouns in construct, e.g.,
‫‘ ַחּיַ ת ָה ָא ֶרץ‬beast of the earth’ (Gen 1.25), including construct combinations with
a possessive suffix, e.g., ‫‘ ַּכ ָּלתֹו‬his bride’ (Gen 11.31).35

4.3.1 The mt
The Bible contains only a few forms (15) in which the feminine t in ques-
tion has survived in final position in the 3fs (we)qaṭal form: ‫‘ ֻה ָבאת‬she was
brought’ (Gen 31.11); ‫‘ וְ ָח ָטאת‬and she will sin’ (Exod 5.16 [?]); ‫‘ וְ ָע ָׂשת‬and it will
yield’ (Lev 25.21); ‫‘ וְ ִה ְר ָצת‬and (the land) will satisfy’ (Lev 26.34); ‫‘ וְ ָק ָראת‬and
(calamity) will befall (you)’ (Deut 31.29); ‫(‘ ָאזְ ַלת‬might) is gone’ (Deut 32.36);
‫‘ והית‬and (Jezebel’s carcass) will be’ (2 Kgs 9.37 ktiv); ‫‘ וְ ָק ָראת‬and she will call’
(Isa 7.14); ‫‘ וְ נִ ְׁש ַּכ ַחת‬and (Tyre) will be forgotten’ (Isa 23.15 [?; the form could be
construed as a participle]); ‫(‘ ָהגְ ָלת‬Judah) has been exiled’ (Jer 13.19 [2x]); ‫ָק ָראת‬
‘(this calamity) has befallen (you)’ (Jer 44.23); ‫‘ ֶה ְל ָאת‬she has wearied’ (Ezek
24.12); ‫‘ וְ ָׁש ַבת‬and it shall revert’ (Ezek 46.17); ‫‘ נִ ְפ ָלאת‬is wonderful’ (Ps 118.23).
At first glance, these instances appear to account for the smallest proportion
of cases (about one percent) of the approximately 1325 occurrences of 3fs
(we)qaṭal forms. Yet, one should note that in 12 of the 15 cases the verb in ques-
tion is either ‫ ל"י‬or ‫( ל"א‬including ‫ ֻה ָבאת‬Gen 31.11, which is also ‫)ע"ו‬. When only
verbs of this type are considered, the percentage of potential cases increases

35 The t in question is also regularly preserved in the 3fs (we)qaṭal forms of ‫ ל"י‬verbs. These
forms have double, i.e., redundant, feminine morphological marking in the form of (a) the
feminine ‫ת‬-, representing -at, and (b) the additional feminine suffix ‫ ָ◌ה‬-, itself apparently
having developed from -at, which was added as compensation for what was felt to be a
missing syllable in analogy to the 3fs forms of strong verbs in (we)qaṭal, i.e., ‫ַקנַ ת < ַקנַ ַתת‬
in analogy to ‫ ַק ַט ַלת‬, after which the final t in both forms stopped being pronounced and
was eventually no longer written. Alternatively, perhaps ‫ ַק ַט ַלת > ַק ַט ַלה‬, but ‫ ַקנַ ת‬did not
undergo the same process until later (as similar 3fs forms are known from RH); see GKC
§75i; Bergsträsser 1918–1927: II §30r; Bauer and Leander 1922: §57u; Harris 1939: 57–59;
Bendavid 1967–1971: I 133, II §107; Blau 1980: 18–20; 2010: §§–,;
Kutscher 1982: §§95, 100, 212.
pronominal morphology 121

(12 out of approximately 530, or about 2.5 percent of the cases), though it is
still negligible. One may also consider only those verbs in which the t ending
is actually preserved, and omit cases of the very common verbs ‫ ָהיָ ה‬and ‫ ָע ָׂשה‬,
each of which, it is true, occurs once with a t ending (in 210 and 30 potential
cases, respectively). Filtered in this way, forms ending in -at come in ten of
the 16 relevant cases: ‫‘ ֻה ָבאת‬was brought’ 1/1, ‫‘ ָח ָטאת‬sinned’ 1/5, ‫‘ ִה ְר ָצת‬satisfied’
1/1, ‫‘ ָק ָראת‬occurred’ 2/2, ‫‘ ָאזְ ַלת‬left’ 1/1, ‫‘ ָהגְ ָלת‬was exiled’ 2/3, ‫‘ ֶה ְל ָאת‬wearied’ 1/1,
‫‘ נִ ְפ ָלאת‬be wonderful’ 1/2. It is possible that the use of 3fs (we)qaṭal forms end-
ing in -at was still fairly common in the case of certain verbs (in certain con-
texts), but was regularized to ‫ָ◌ה‬- in the majority of verbs (in most contexts).

4.3.2 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

In early Hebrew epigraphic sources there is a single relevant case, ‫ הית‬in the
Siloam Tunnel inscription (ln. 3).36 The form ‫ ֯הית‬in the Mesha Stele (ln. 12),
though not Hebrew, is also worthy of note. In later material, though the ‫ה‬- end-
ing dominates, the ‫ת‬- ending has yet to fall into oblivion. The latter occurs in a
minority of cases in the DSS.37 RH alone is characterized by the regular, though
conditioned, use of the ending in question: in the most reliable manuscripts
the ‫ קנת‬pattern regularly replaces the ‫ קנתה‬pattern in the majority of ‫ ל"י‬verbs.38

4.3.3 Explanations
The forms in question have been explained in two basic ways. On the one
hand, since the ending in question is typologically more primitive than the
standard ‫תה‬-, and since several of its occurrences are found in archaic or at
least classical poetry, e.g., ‫ ָאזְ ַלת‬in Deut 32.36,39 it has been argued that these
represent genuine archaisms, i.e., old forms preserved in old contexts. On the
other hand, one must bear in mind that the ending in question is also the norm
in various dialects of Aramaic, including Second Temple dialects. With this in
mind, one must ask whether certain cases of the t ending in Hebrew—within
the Bible and in extra-biblical sources—are not better explained as a result of

36 Against the claim (GKC §75m, n. 1) that ‫ הית‬may represent a vowel-final pronunciation,
Renz and Röllig (1995: I 187, n. 9) argue that the inscription in question consistently marks
final vowels with matres lectionis.
37 Non-biblical material: 4Q394 f3–7i.12; 4Q418 f127.2; biblical material: 1QIsaa 1.10 (|| Isa 1.8
[?]); 14.3 (|| Isa 17.1); 15.21 (|| Isa 19.17); 40.13 (|| Isa 48.8 [?]); 4Q26c 2.3 (|| Lev 26.34); 11Q4
f3b+6.5 (|| Ezek 5.15).
38 Segal 1927: 91–94; 1936: 152–154; Haneman 1974: 314–320; Kutscher 1982: §212; Blau 1983;
Bar-Asher 1993. Haneman (1974: 315–316) notes that this principle does not hold in the
case of the verb ‫ ָהיָ ה‬, which normally comes in the 3fs form ‫ ָהיְ ָתה‬.
39 Kutscher 1974: 191; 1982: §55.
122 chapter 4

late Aramaic influence, for instance, those in Ezekiel and in the Great Isaiah
Scroll from Qumran (1QIsaa).40 Be that as it may, the explanation that attri-
butes the late revival (or survival) of ‫ת‬- to Aramaic influence does not fit all late
instances of the suffix. For example, regarding the situation in RH Kutscher
(1982: §212) explains:

Since in BH the earlier form is extremely rare, it would be very difficult to

explain it as a survival in MH. It would also be difficult to assume Aramaic
influence here since we can not explain why it should have affected only
the ‫ ל"י‬verbs. Perhaps we shall have to fall back again upon dialect mix-
ture as the explanation, and to assume that in some Hebrew dialect a
form of the type ‫ ָקנָ ת‬survived for phonological reasons that can not be set
forth here, and from that dialect it was taken over by MH.41

We may thus be dealing with a confluence of various factors, internal and


4.3.4 Jeremiah
Jeremiah contains over 165 cases of 3fs (we)qaṭal forms, 52 of them ‫ ל"י‬verbs. In
only three cases does the form in question end in ‫ת‬-:

Jer 13.19 Judah has been completely exiled (‫) ָהגְ ָלת‬, exiled (‫ ) ָהגְ ָלת‬entirely
Jer 44.23 therefore this calamity has befallen (‫ ) ָק ָראת‬you

On the form ‫‘ ָהגְ ָלת‬was exiled’ (Jer 13.19 [2x]): the expected standard form is
‫ ָהגְ ְל ָתה‬, as in Est 2.6. It is difficult to determine whether the form is genuinely
archaic or late. Though it preserves the primitive suffix, comes in binyan hofʿal,
which is more characteristic of early sources than of late ones, and is found in
a poetic context, the suffix in question is characteristic of Aramaic, examples
of which influence are found both in the book in general and in the immediate
context, and the use of hofʿal was still alive and well in BA, in all likelihood a
form of that language later than the one that exerted influence on the language
of Jeremiah. A certain combination of explanations is possible: perhaps, for
reasons of style connected to poetic composition, the poet adopted an archaic
form, but was influenced in doing so by the morphology of Aramaic. If so, then
the form would not be characteristic of the writer’s language, but, in Kutscher’s

40 Kutscher 1974: 191; 1982: §55; Rendsburg 1992d: 230.

41 See also Rendsburg 1992d: 229–230; C. Smith 2003: 159–162; cf. Blau 1983.
42 See the useful approach to ‘linguistic convergence’ in Gzella 2103.
pronominal morphology 123

(1982: §54) terminology, would constitute a ‘mirage form’, borrowed from

Aramaic in imitation of archaic Hebrew.43 One might also weigh the possibil-
ity that the non-standard usage represents a literary device whereby the poet
made use of an Aramaic-type form to hint at exile to eastern lands, where this
language was spoken.44
Regarding ‫‘ ָק ָראת‬she called’ (Jer 44.23): the issue of derivatives of ‫ קר"א‬and
‫ קר"י‬in Hebrew is interesting. In the early epigraphic sources ‫ קר"א‬is repre-
sented by seven examples, all of them in the sense ‘speak in an audible voice,
interpret a written text’,45 whereas ‫ קר"י‬is represented by two examples, both
in the sense ‘occur, happen, befall, meet’.46 Also in the Bible derivations of the
two roots tend to come in their respective meanings, though there are not a
few instances in which derivations of ‫ קר"א‬come in meanings normally associ-
ated with ‫קר"י‬, i.e., ‘occur, happen, befall, meet’.47 This interchange arises both

43 Rendsburg 1992d: 230; C. Smith 2003: 162.

44 C. Smith 2003: 262. GKC (§75m) hints at a phonological solution, according to which ‫ת‬-
replaces ‫תה‬- for purposes of euphony before the letters ʾalef and yod. It should be noted,
however, that in the majority of cases words beginning with these letters are preceded by
3fs (we)qaṭal forms ending in standard ‫תה‬-.
45 ‫‘ קל אש ק[ר]א אל רעו‬voice of a man ca[ll]ing to his companion’ (Siloam 2–3); ‫לא ידעתה‬
֯ ‫‘ ֯קרא ֯ס‬you do not know how to read a letter’ (Lachish 3.8–9), ‫חיהוה אמ נסה איש לקרא‬
‫‘ לי ספר‬As surely as Yhwh lives nobody has tried to read me a letter’ (9–10), ‫כל ספר אשר‬
‫‘ יבא אלי אמ קראתי אתה‬every letter that comes to me I have surely read it’ (11–12); ‫עבדכ‬
‫‘ כלב כי שלח אדני א[ת ספ]ר המלכ [ואת] ספרי השר[מ לאמ]ר קרא נא‬your servant is a dog
that my lord has sent the [lett]er of the king [and] the letters of the officer[s say]ing read
now’ (6.3–5), ‫‘ מ]אז קרא עבדכ את הספר[מ‬since your servant read the letter[s] (13–14);
‫[‘ [ס]פר [ח]י יהוה [כ]י אי ק[ר]אתי [א]תה‬le]tter [as surely as] Yhwh [liv]es [I swe]ar that I
re[a]d [i]t’ (12.1–4).
46 ‫‘ הכו החצבמ אש לקרת רעו‬the hewers struck each man to meet his fellow’ (Siloam 4);
‫והבקידמ על יד אלישע בנ ירמיהו ברמת נגב פנ יקרה את העיר דבר‬ ֯ ‘and he will entrust
them into the hand of Elisha son of Jeremiah in Rammat Negev, lest something happen to
the city’ (Arad 24.14–17).
47 According to Even-Shoshan’s (1977) concordance there are in the Bible some 740 instances
of ‫ קר"א‬in the sense ‘call, read’ (1026–1029), 22 cases of ‫‘ קר"י‬occur, happen, befall, meet’
(1034), and 17 cases of finite verbs derived from ‫ קר"א‬in the sense ‘occur, happen, befall,
meet’ (1029). In ‫יתי‬ ִ ‫יק ֵר‬ ְ ִ‫‘ נִ ְקרֹא נ‬I simply chanced upon’ (2 Sam 1.6) there is a combination
of the forms derived from the two roots in the sense ‘occur, happen, befall, meet’; in ‫אתי‬ ִ ‫ּוב‬
ַ ‫‘ ַל ֲה ִבינְ ָך ֵאת ֲא ֶׁשר־יִ ְק ָרה ְל ַע ְּמָך‬I have come to make you understand what
‫ּבא ֲח ִרית ַהּיָ ִמים‬
will happen to your people in the future’ (Dan 10.14) the consonantal text reflects a ‫ל"י‬
derivation, the vocalization a ‫ ל"א‬derivation, the latter apparently under the influence of
Jacob’s prophecy in ‫‘ ֵה ָא ְספּו וְ ַאּגִ ָידה ָל ֶכם ֵאת ֲא ֶׁשר־יִ ְק ָרא ֶא ְת ֶכם ְּב ַא ֲח ִרית ַהּיָ ִמים‬gather that
I may tell you what will happen to you in the future’ (Gen 49.1). On the infinitival form/
preposition ‫‘ ִל ְק ַר(א)ת‬to meet/toward’, see below.
124 chapter 4

from the phonetic similarity between derivations of the two roots, the degree
of which rose with the silencing of the glottal stop in syllable-final position
in forms of ‫קר"א‬, and from a certain semantic similarity: compare ‫‘ ָק ָרא‬invite’
(e.g., Gen 12.8; 41.8; Exod 10.24) and ‫‘ נִ ְק ָרא‬be invited’ (Isa 31.4; Est 2.14; 3.12; 4.11
[2x]; 8.9) to ‫‘ ָק ָרה‬occur, meet, meet with’ and ‫‘ נִ ְק ָרה‬occur, meet’.48 The mixture
of the two roots is especially striking in the case of the infinitive construct of
‫קר"י‬, ‫‘ ִל ְק ַראת‬to meet’, which serves as a quasi-preposition in the sense of ‘oppo-
site, toward’. This form comes in the spelling ‫לקרת‬, with no ʾalef, in the Siloam
inscription (ln. 4), but in the Bible is consistently written with ʾalef.49 The
majority of this form’s peculiarities can be explained,50 but the consistency
of the biblical spelling with ʾalef is surprising, and raises the suspicion that we
are dealing with the result of post-biblical orthographic leveling. However, it
should be noted that the spelling with ʾalef is dominant in the DSS as well,51 a
state of affairs that proves that the spelling in question is not simply an inven-
tion of the Masoretes, but rather was widespread already before the start of the
Common Era. In the book of Jeremiah, ‫ קר"י‬is consistently replaced with ‫קר"א‬,
to the total exclusion of the former from the book.52

48 An etymological connection is not‫ أ‬out of the question, as according to HALOT (1131a) the
‫ق‬ ‫ق‬
basic meaning of the Arabic verb �‫‘ �ر‬read’ is apparently ‘gather’ (like ‫)�ر�ى‬.
49 The expected form, ‫( ִל) ְקרֹות‬, is not documented in the Bible at all. The infinitive construct
of ‫‘ ָק ָרא‬call, read’, in contrast, is ‫( ִל) ְקרֹא‬.
50 The morphological uniqueness of the infinitive ‫ ִל ְק ַראת‬is explained by its belonging to
the nominative pattern qaṭlatu, from which the infinitives of many stative-class verbs are
formed, e.g., ‫‘ ְל ַא ֲה ָבה‬to love’, ‫‘ ְל ַא ְׁש ָמה‬to be guilty’, ‫‘ זִ ְקנָ ה‬to be old’, ‫‘ ְליִ ְר ָאה‬to fear’, ‫ְל ִר ְב ָעה‬
‘to be hungry’, ‫‘ ְל ִׂשנְ ָאה‬to hate’. Due to the lack of a guttural letter in first or second posi-
tion the vowel of the first root letter was attenuated from a to i. In the specific case of
‫ ִל ְק ַראת‬the final tav was preserved because the form is always in construct. The vowel pat-
tern is explained as follows: due to weakening of the ʾalef qarʾat > qarat; due to its being in
an open, unaccented syllable in construct (far from the word-stress) qarat > qĕrat (liqrat)
(GKC §§19k, 45d; Bauer and Leander 1922: Nachträge und Verbesserung (Schluß.), p. II, n.
to p. 425, ln. 8ff). The exact pronunciation of the form in the biblical period, i.e., with or
without an audible ʾalef, is unclear; the vocalization matches the pronunciation in RH.
51 There are 23 cases of ‫ לקר(א)ת‬in the Scrolls: 18 times with ʾalef, twice, perhaps three times
without. In the remaining cases the fragmentary nature of the text makes it impossible to
ascertain the precise spelling.
52 ‫ל־ׁש ֶבר נִ ְק ָרא‬
ֶ ‫‘ ֶׁש ֶבר ַע‬disaster occurs on top of disaster’ (Jer 4.20) (there are those who
interpret with a nuance of ‘call’ here); ‫ּדּוע ְק ָר ֻאנִ י ֵא ֶּלה‬ ַ ‫‘ ַמ‬why have these things befallen
me?’ (13.22); ‫ל־ה ָר ָעה ַהּזֹאת‬ ָ ‫‘ וַ ַּת ְק ֵרא א ָֹתם ֵאת ָּכ‬and all this calamity happened to them’
(32.23); ‫אתם‬ ָ ‫‘ וַ ּיֵ ֵצא יִ ְׁש ָמ ֵעאל ֶּבן־נְ ַתנְ יָ ה ִל ְק ָר‬and Ishmael son of Netanya went out to meet
them’ (41.6); ‫ל־ּכן ָק ָראת ֶא ְת ֶכם ָה ָר ָעה ַהּזֹאת‬ ֵ ‫‘ ַע‬it is for this reason that this calamity has
befallen you’ (44.23); ‫ּומּגִ יד ִל ְק ַראת ַמּגִ יד‬ ַ ‫את־רץ יָ רּוץ‬ ָ ‫‘ ָרץ ִל ְק ַר‬runner to meet runner runs
and herald to meet herald’ (51.31 [2x]).
pronominal morphology 125

The diachronic status of the form ‫ ָק ָראת‬is unclear. On the one hand, it comes
with a verbal sufformative common in Aramaic. On the other hand, the ending
is also typologically more primitive than the standard ending, ‫ ָתה‬-. Moreover,
there is consensus that the appearance of the ending ‫ת‬- in similar forms in
RH consists in the preservation of an early feature, and is not the result of late
Aramaic influence. It is also germane to note that the form in Jeremiah appears
in an allusion to Deuteronomy:

Deut 31.29 calamity will befall (‫ )וְ ָק ָראת‬you in the future

This being the case, it is possible that the form in question does not represent
the language of Jeremiah at all, but was simply adopted from an earlier source.
To summarize: the linguistic status of the 3fs verbal ending ‫ת‬- in Jeremiah
is not sufficiently clear. It may constitute a genuine archaism or a result of late
Aramaic influence. Whatever the case may be, the form is quite rare in the
book, especially in comparison to the many cases of the standard ending ‫ ָ◌ה‬-.

4.3.5 The MT and the Greek

The three forms in question are paralleled in the Greek of Jeremiah
(though the second case of ‫‘ ָהגְ ָלת‬was (fs) exiled’ in Jer 13.19 was evidently
understood as the nominal form ‫‘ * ַהּגָ ֻלת‬the exile’. Conversely, the 12 (we)qaṭal
forms in MT Jeremiah unparalleled in the Greek (Jer 7.28; 10.7; 16.4; 23.10; 38.28;
48.1, 39; 49.24; 50.12, 14; 51.44; 52.3) all end in ‫ה‬-.

4.4 1cpl: ‫( אנו‬ktiv) for ‫‘ ) ֲא)נַ ְחנּו‬we’

4.4.1 The mt
In the mt the 1cpl independent subject pronoun is usually ‫( ֲאנַ ְחנּו‬120 cases,
including pausal ‫) ֲאנָ ְחנּו‬, rarely ‫( נַ ְחנּו‬five times including pausal ‫)נָ ְחנּו‬,53 and
once ‫( אנו‬Jer 42.6 ktiv) all ‘we’.

53 A further case of ‫ נַ ְחנּו‬is possible at 2 Sam 17.12, but it is not clear if the form in question
is a pronoun (HALOT 689b) or a verb (BDB 59b). ‫ נחנו‬also appears in the Lachish let-
ters (4.10–11). According to one approach, ‫ נחנו‬is the primitive form, the initial ʾalef hav-
ing been added on the basis of analogy to the 1cs pronouns ‫ אני‬and ‫( אנכי‬Brockelmann
1908–1913: I 299; Barth 1913: §3c; Blau 1972: 93–94; 2010: §; HALOT 689b; JM §39a).
As evidence of the antiquity of the form without ʾalef JM note that ‫ נַ ְחנּו‬appears four times
in the Pentateuch and that its appearance in Lamentations should not be considered dia-
chronically diagnostic, because the form without ʾalef was needed for purposes of the
acrostic there. Others (e.g., Harris 1939: 78–79; Kutscher 1982: §42) think the form begin-
ning with ʾalef the earlier of the two.
126 chapter 4

4.4.2 Non-Masoretic and Extra-biblical Sources

In the non-biblical DSS ‫ אנחנו‬comes 35 times, ‫ נחנו‬once, and ‫ אנו‬22 times.54 In
RH ‫ ָאנּו‬is the preferred 1cpl independent pronoun,55 while ‫ ֲאנַ ְחנּו‬comes only in
prayers, blessings, and the like,56 or as a consequence of the copyists’ tendency
to mimic biblical style.57

4.4.3 Etymology
As for the etymological origin of ‫ ָאנּו‬, there are two main views. On the one
hand, there are those who see it as a popular creation that developed out of
analogy to the short 1cs independent pronoun ‫ ֲאנִ י‬.58 Conceivably, the verbal
ending/object suffix/possessive suffix ‫נּו‬- may also have played a role, i.e.,

just as ‫ ָק ַט ְל ִּתי‬: ‫ק ַט ְלנּו‬,ָ ‫ ְק ָט ַלנִ י‬: ‫ק ָט ַלנּו‬, ִ so ‫ ֲאנִ י‬: ‫ ָאנּו‬.59

ְ ‫ ִמ ֶּמּנִ י‬: ‫מ ֶּמּנּו‬,

Alternatively, some have claimed that the 1cpl object/possessive suffix itself
developed from ‫ ָאנּו‬.60 Whatever the exact course of development, it is clear
that ‫ ָאנּו‬is the result of inner-Hebrew development and not of external, i.e.,
Aramaic, influence.61

54 These figures are based on Abegg’s (2002–2012) concordance. Cf. Qimron 1986: §321.14;
Rendsburg 1990a: 139; C. Smith 2003: 45; Kutscher 2007: 636.
55 Segal 1908: 655–656; 1936: §68; Haneman 1980: §51.123; Kutscher 1982: §201; 2007: 642;
Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 184; Hadas-Label 1995: 160; Fernández 1997: 18. Segal (1935–1936: 114)
also lists a single instance of ‫ אנו‬in Ben Sira (8.7), but according to both his edition (1953)
and that of the Academy of the Hebrew Language (1973), this would appear to be a mis-
take. It should also be noted that, according to the most reliable sources, the ʾalef in ‫אנו‬
should be vocalized with a full vowel (qamaṣ or pataḥ), and not with ḥataf pataḥ; Segal
1936: §68; Orlinsky 1942–1943: 285, n. 31; Haneman 1980: §51.123; Rendsburg 1990a: 139, n. 2.
56 Segal (1936: §68) lists a few examples, but admits the existence of textual variants.
According to Haneman (1980: §51.123), ‫ ֲאנַ ְחנּו‬is not found at all in the Parma A manuscript
of the Mishna. The same is true of the Kaufmann manuscript.
57 Segal 1936: §68; Fernández 1997: 18.
58 Gesenius 1847: 63b; Segal 1908: 655–656; 1935–1936: 114; 1936: §68; Brockelmann 1908–1913:
I 299; Barth 1913: §3c; Blau 1972: 94; 2010: §; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 184; Fernández
1997: 18.
59 Segal 1908: 655–656; 1935–1936: 114; 1936: §68; Kutscher 1982: §201; Sáenz-Badillos 1993:
184; Fernández 1997: 18.
60 Gesenius 1847: 63b; GKC §32d.
61 Kutscher 1982: §201; 2007: 636; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 184; Hadas-Label 1995: 160; Fernández
1997: 18.
pronominal morphology 127

4.4.4 Jeremiah
Jer 42.6 whether good or bad, the voice of Yhwh, our God, to whom we (ktiv
‫ ;אנו‬qre ‫ ) ֲאנַ ְחנּו‬send you, we will obey

Various approaches to the ktiv form ‫ אנו‬in Jer 42.6 have been proposed.
According to one the form does not reflect an authentic linguistic usage from
the days of the Bible,62 but has arisen as a result of scribal corruption that was
left uncorrected due to its similarity to a genuine form in post-biblical Hebrew.63
It is true that the infrequency of ‫ אנו‬in the Bible, along with its absence from
the Masoretic reading tradition, arouses suspicion regarding its authenticity.
Even so, its fairly regular occurrence in the non-biblical DSS and its standard
usage in RH testify to its status as a viable form in the centuries straddling the
beginning of the Common Era and, in this way, increase the chances that the
biblical form reflects the linguistic milieu of an earlier period.
Yet even if there is broad consensus on the plausibility of the form’s genu-
ineness in its lone appearance in the Bible,64 there is still debate on the form’s
linguistic character. For example, in one discussion Segal (1908: 565) argues
that it penetrated into the book of Jeremiah as a popular addition in the long
course of the book’s literary crystallization. If so, the form is indeed authentic,
in that it is not a scribal error, but it is evidently not representative of the lan-
guage of the writer.65
According to others the form accurately represents the linguistic milieu of
the period of the Bible. Formulated in one way, this approach holds that the
presence of ‫ אנו‬in Jeremiah is evidence of the colloquial character of this pro-
noun in approximately the year 600 BCE. In favor of this view, it should be noted
that the form comes specifically in the speech of the people.66 Accordingly,
the ancient sources testify to a process of development whereby the colloquial
form succeeded gradually to penetrate the language’s literary register, even-
tually displacing completely its counterpart ‫ ֲאנַ ְחנּו‬in the post-biblical period.

62 Duhm 1901: 320; Orlinsky 1942–1943: 284–286 (according to Orlinsky, Bergsträsser [1918–
1929: I §§2o, 3g] and Joüon [1923: §39] also doubt the form’s genuineness, but to the best
of my understanding, the former does not render an opinion one way or the other, while
the latter does not deal with the form at all).
63 Orlinsky 1942–1943: 284–286.
64 Gesenius 1847: 63b; GKC §32d; Segal 1935–1936: 114; 1936: §68; Meyer 1969–1992: I §30,
1b; Blau 1972: 94; 2010: §; Kutscher 1982: §42; Rendsburg 1990a: 139–140; Sáenz-
Badillos 1993: 184; Hadas-Label 1995: 160; Fernández 1997: 18; Kaddari 2006: 56a; Bar-Asher
2010: 299.
65 Segal presents a less detailed, more moderate position in his other publications (1927:
§68; 1935–1936: 114; 1936: §68).
66 Kutscher 1982: §42; Rendsburg 1990a: 139; see also Young 1993: 92–93.
128 chapter 4

This explanation fits well with the rare use of ‫ אנו‬in the Bible and its increased
employment in the DSS and RH.67
Despite the logic of the approach presented in the preceding paragraph,
it leaves several details concerning the use of ‫ אנחנו‬and ‫ אנו‬in the DSS unex-
plained. For instance, in 4QMMT, the language of which is thought in some
ways to be more representative of the spoken Hebrew of the period of the
DSS—and more similar to RH—than the Hebrew of other scrolls,68 the 1cpl
independent pronoun employed is ‫אנחנו‬,69 while ‫ אנו‬is found in other, appar-
ently more literary texts.70
In the opinion of C. Smith (2003: 45–47) this unexpected use of the two
forms in the language of the DSS demonstrates that the difference between
them is not one of register, i.e., literary versus colloquial. For Smith, who
accepts ‫ אנו‬in Jer 42.6 as genuinely authorial, the distinction is one of dialect,
‫ אנו‬being indicative—either truly or literarily—of the specific border dialect
of the residents of Anathoth.
The lack of evidence from the biblical period precludes certainty on the
nature of the form in question. There seems no convincing reason to doubt
its authenticity in Jeremiah. In light of its growing use in the DSS and its
dominance in RH, the notion that we are dealing with a vernacular form that
gradually penetrated the literary register is perhaps the most convincing of the
arguments proposed.71

4.4.5 The MT and the Greek

The Greek presents an independent pronoun parallel to ‫( אנו‬ktiv) / ‫אנחנו‬
(qre) in Jer 42.6, but it is obviously impossible to determine which form the
translator(s) had before him (them). All ten instances of ‫ ֲאנַ ְחנּו‬in MT Jeremiah
are paralleled in the Greek.

67 This view is based on the claim that RH was a living spoken language (proven by Segal in
his seminal 1908 study), with origins in the spoken language of the period of the Bible. See
also Rendsburg 1990a: 139: “The greater use of ‫ אנו‬in the DSS is an indication that as time
passed written Hebrew become more susceptible to the incursion of vernacular forms.”
68 Morag 1988; Qimron and Strugnell 1994.
69 Qimron 1986: §321.14.
70 See Qimron and Strugnell 1994: §§, 3.7.2A; Schniedewind 1999: 251–252.
71 On this assumption, the qre at Jer 42.6 would involve the rejection of a seemingly ‘unbib-
lical’ form. It is interesting to note that in Modern Israeli Hebrew the forms ‫ אנחנו‬and
‫ אנו‬have exchanged roles, with the former dominant in everyday speech and the latter
reserved for more formal, especially written, contexts.
pronominal morphology 129

4.5 3mpl: ‫ הֵ ּ ָמה‬and ‫‘ הֵ ם‬they’

4.5.1 Preliminary Issues

The 3mpl independent pronoun comes in two forms in the mt, ‫ ֵהם‬and ‫ֵה ָּמה‬
‘they’. The long form is slightly more common than the short (by a propor-
tion of 290:273). There is widespread scholarly consensus on the development
of the short form: hem < him < humu; that is to say, loss of final u, due to the
general loss of final short vowels in ancient Hebrew, and the shift i < u, due to
analogy to the 3fpl independent pronoun.72
On the development of the long form opinions vary. According to Kutscher
(1959: 344) it developed from a form like ‫*המת‬, as in Ugaritic and Phoenician.
Ben-Ḥayyim (2000: §3.0) posits two basic forms in ancient Hebrew, one end-
ing in long a, which developed into ‫ המה‬in Tiberian Hebrew and to imma in
the Samaritan Hebrew reading tradition, and one ending in short a, which
developed into ‫ הם‬in Tiberian Hebrew and disappeared from Samaritan
Hebrew (with the possible exception of the orthography, which consistently
has ‫)הם‬. Qimron’s (2000: 241–242) view also deserves mention. On the basis
of the pronunciation of ‫ הם‬as imma in Samaritan Hebrew, along with the fre-
quency of the ending ‫ה‬- on pronouns, verbal endings, pronominal suffixes, and
other forms in the DSS—which, according to Morag (1988: 157–159), should
be considered genuinely representative of some non-standard dialect, and not
merely an exaggerated attempt of archaization—Qimron takes ‫ המה‬to be more
primitive than ‫הם‬, arguing that at least some portion—perhaps most—of the
cases of ‫ הם‬in the Bible are in reality instances of defective spelling, where the
pronunciation was hemma. Qimron reconstructs the process of development
hem < hemma < himma < humu, in which the first shift results from analogy to
the 3fpl independent pronoun and the rest of the steps parallel that pronoun’s
development: hen < henna < hinna. In light of the late status of the short 3fpl
independent subject pronoun ‫ הן‬hen in Hebrew, one must posit a similarly late
development of ‫ הם‬hem. In Qimron’s opinion the consistently long pronuncia-
tion reflected in Samaritan imma is more authentic than the sometimes long,
sometimes short pronunciation reflected in the MT, which, in his words, is
completely dependent on the orthography.

72 Barth 1913: 20; Brockelmann 1908–1913: I 305; Moscati 1964: §13.12; Kutscher 1974: 434–435.
Cf. Qimron’s (2000: 241–242) approach, which is presented in detail below, and that of
Fassberg (2009), who explains the shift e/ɛ < i as the result of a process of phonetic dis-
similation that took place prior to the general loss of final short vowels, i.e., ‫* < ֵהם‬him <
*himu < *humu < *humū̆.
130 chapter 4

It is difficult to decide between the aforementioned approaches, as all

involve a certain measure of reconstruction and speculation. This seems
especially true in the case of Qimron’s. There is little doubt that the 3fpl pro-
noun exerted some influence on its 3mpl counterpart, since there seems no
other way of explaining the shift in theme-vowel from u > i (unless, of course,
Fassberg is correct in suggesting that this may be due to dissimilation from
the original final u vowel; [see above, n. 72]). In any case, the possibility that
‫ המה‬was shortened to ‫ הם‬out of analogy to the development ‫ הנה < הן‬is reason-
able, but no more so than the possibility that ‫ הנה‬was shortened to ‫ הן‬due to
the late dominance of ‫( הם‬especially in the spoken register, as indicated by
the exclusive use of this form in RH [see below]). Finally, the value placed by
Qimron on the evidence adduced from the Samaritan reading tradition seems
unwarranted. The consistency with which this tradition reads imma arouses at
least as much suspicion as the MT’s consistent vocalization according to writ-
ten form.73 Whatever the exact course of development of the two forms, for
the time being, it would seem prudent to assume natural, rather than forced,
correspondence between the Masoretic orthographical and reading traditions.
In terms of semantics or function, it is difficult to discern a distinction
between the two forms,74 though certain tendencies have been noticed. For
example, the short form is preferred in combinations with the definite article.75
Likewise, it seems in some instances that one form was better suited to the
specific rhythm of a clause or phrase.76 Finally, diverging tendencies have been
noted in different parts of the Bible (see below).

73 To be sure, the consistency of the Samaritan written tradition—which always has the
short form—and the consistent mismatch with the reading tradition also arouse suspi-
cion. It is arguably the variety reflected in the MT that most strongly supports its linguistic
authenticity. Scribes tended to level linguistic differences, not to create them (except by
means of accidental corruption). Finally, forms like ‫כתבת‬ ָ ‘you (ms) wrote’, ‫‘ סוסָך‬your
(ms) horse’, and ָ ‫‘ תקטלן‬you/they (fpl) will kill’ (alongside forms like ‫כתבתה‬, ‫סוסכה‬, and
‫תקטלנה‬, respectively) prove that the vocalizers were willing to add final a vowels even
where these were not borne out by the orthography.
74 BDB 241a; Lambert 1938: §306; HALOT 250a; JM §39a. The two forms come in the same
verse on several occasions.
75 BDB 241a; HALOT 250a; JM §39a. Cases of ‫ ההם‬outnumber those of ‫ ההמה‬46:12. Other
combinations exhibiting a noticeable preference include ‫‘ ֵא ֶּלה ֵהם‬these are the ones’, 10x,
always short; ‫ל־ס ֶפר‬
ֵ ‫תּובים ַע‬
ִ ‫ ֵה ָּמה ְּכ‬/‫א־הם‬
ֵ ֹ ‫‘ ֲהל‬are these not written in the book’, 29 out of
32 cases short.
76 BDB 241a.
pronominal morphology 131

4.5.2 The mt
The following table presents the distribution of the two forms in question
within the mt.

Table 4.5.2 mt distribution of ‫ ֵהם‬and ‫ֵה ָּמה‬

Book ‫הֵ ם‬ ‫הֵ ּ ָמה‬ Book ‫הֵ ם‬ ‫הֵ ּ ָמה‬ Book ‫הֵ ם‬ ‫הֵ ּ ָמה‬

Genesis 18 4 Isaiah77 9 12 Psalms 3 25

Exodus 19 5 Jeremiah 17 51 Proverbs 6 4
Leviticus 18 1 Ezekiel 8 56 Job 1 3
Numbers 23 10 Hosea 6 7 Song of Songs 1 1
Deuteronomy 17 5 Joel 0 2 Ruth 0 1
Pentateuch 95 25 Micah 0 1 Lamentations 1 1
Joshua 7 6 Nahum 0 1 Qohelet 2 4
Judges 16 8 Habakkuk 0 1 Esther 3 1
Samuel 11 24 Zephaniah 0 2 Daniel 2 0
Kings 48 15 Zechariah 4 8 Ezra 1 0
Former Prophets 272 103 Malachi 0 1 Nehemiah 10 8
Latter Prophets 44 142 Chronicles 22 22
Writings 52 70
Core LBH 40 35
TOTALS 273 290

Several facts are immediately apparent from the statistics in the table. First,
both forms occur throughout the Hebrew Bible. Even so, certain preferences
and tendencies are apparent. The Pentateuch exhibits a striking preference for
the short form, as do Judges and Kings; Samuel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Twelve,
and Psalms prefer the long form; in the core late books usage of the two forms
is nearly identical. At first glance, one may be hard-pressed to find any pattern
in the distribution. It would certainly be a gross oversimplification to claim
that diachronic development alone explains the statistics presented here. If
there is any discernible pattern owing to something more significant than per-
sonal taste, then it is bound to involve a number of factors. Before discussing
these, however, it will be useful to survey use of the two forms of the 3mpl
pronoun in the extra-biblical sources. 77

77 In chapters 1–39 the ratio is 5:3; in chapters 40–66 it is 7:6.

132 chapter 4

4.5.3 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

Consider the following pattern of distribution in non-Masoretic, non-Hebrew,
and extra-biblical sources:

Table 4.5.3 Non-Masoretic, non-Hebrew, and extra-biblical distribution of ‫ הם‬and ‫המה‬

Source ‫הם‬ ‫המה‬

Mesha Stele (Moabite) 1 (?) 0

Samaritan Pentateuch (qre) 118 (0) 0 (118)
Ben Sira 3 1
Non-biblical DSS 69 117
Biblical DSS 38 54
Mishna 47 2

There is a single case of the 3mpl independent pronoun in extra-biblical

sources from the First Temple Period, though not in Hebrew, but Moabite: ‫המ‬.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine with certainty whether or not this
form was pronounced with a final vowel.78 Moreover, the form in question is
not an independent subject pronoun, but an object pronoun,79 further calling
into question its relevance to the discussion.
Evidence from later material is more plentiful, but not necessarily less
complicated. As already mentioned, the written tradition of the Samaritan
Pentateuch makes consistent use of the short form, but aside from the doubts
that arise from what appears to be an artificial degree of consistency (achieved
by replacing the minority ‫ המה‬forms with ‫)הם‬,80 the Samaritan pronunciation
tradition consistently reads imma.81 For their part, the DSS reveal a tendency in
favor of the long form; this is especially marked in non-biblical material. Even
in the biblical material, though, there is a marked shift toward the long form:
on 16 occasions the Dead Sea material has ‫ המה‬against the MT;82 it presents

78 Though from the use of final yod and he, it would seem that these letters were used to
mark final vowels when such were pronounced. Note, especially, ‫‘ מהדבה‬Medeba’ and
‫‘ ללה‬night’.
79 ‫כמש‬.‫לפני‬.‫המ‬.‫‘ ואסחב‬and I dragged them before Chemosh’ (ln. 18).
80 On the well-known penchant for content and grammatical harmonization in the
Samaritan Pentateuch see Tov 2001: 84–93, especially 89–90, and Tal and Florentin 2010:
81 Ben-Ḥayyim 2000: §3.1.6.
82 1Q6 f5–6.4 (|| ‫ ִהּנָ ם‬Jdg 9.31); 1Q7 f2.2 (|| ‫ ֵהם‬2 Sam 20.8); 1QIsaa 1.3 (|| ‫ ֵהם‬Isa 1.2); 31.20
(|| ‫ ֵהם‬Isa 38.1); 41.21 (|| ‫ ֵהם‬Isa 49.21); 43.7 (|| ‫ ֵהּנָ ה‬Isa 51.19); 46.23 (|| ‫ ִלנְ ּב ַֹח חֹזִ ים‬Isa 56.10); 47.5
pronominal morphology 133

‫ הם‬against MT ‫ המה‬only four times.83 The short form is preferred in the admit-
tedly few potential cases in Ben Sira, is decidedly dominant in RH,84 and is the
regular form in the Secunda of Origen’s Hexapla.85

4.5.4 Explanation
Kutscher suggested an explanation incorporating both historical development
and register. Describing the Great Isaiah Scroll’s (1QIsaa) virtually exclusive use
of ‫ המה‬over ‫ הם‬he observes:

In later Bibl. Hebr. one finds a marked tendency toward the use of the
form ‫המה‬. Striking proof of this is the fact that whereas in the Pentateuch
the ratio between ‫הן‬:‫( המה‬sic: ‫הם‬:‫ = )המה‬over 80 : over 20, or about 4:1, in
Chron the ratio is 14:18, or 1:1 1/3! It is this tendency which is responsible
for the fact that the Scr. contains ‫ המה‬almost exclusively. The question
is whether this reflects the colloquial usage then current, or whether it
is not rather a literary nuance, affected for the very reason that in the
spoken idiom—Rab. Hebr.—the short form had become dominant. . . .
(Kutscher 1974: 434–435; see also 59–50).

As previously noted, the diachronic explanation is not without its problems.

Some ostensibly classical material displays a preference for ‫ ֵה ָּמה‬, while LBH
use of ‫ ֵהם‬, though proportionally less frequent than that in the Torah, is by no
means negligible; indeed, it is to some degree comparable to use of the two
forms in material thought to be early.86 Still, it is premature to discard the dia-
chronic explanation. As Kutscher himself intimated, other factors also seem
to be at work. For example, the dominance of the long form in texts such as
Psalms and the Latter Prophets arouses the suspicion that the choice between

(|| ‫ ֵהם ֵהם‬Isa 57.6); 50.7 (|| ‫ ֵהם‬Isa 61.9); 51.29 (|| ‫ ָּת ִמיד ז ְֹב ִחים‬Isa 65.3); 53.7 (|| ‫ ֵהם‬Isa 65.24);
53.18 (|| ‫ ֵהם‬Isa 66.5); 4Q14 1.42 (|| ‫ ֵהם‬Exod 8.17); 4Q22 3.33 (|| ‫ ֵהם‬Exod 8.17); 4Q40 f1–3.4
(|| ‫ ֵהם‬Deut 3.20); 4Q80 f17.1 (|| ‫ ֵהם‬Zech 8.6).
83 1Q8 24.29 (|| ‫ ֵה ָּמה‬Isa 56.11); 28.7 (|| ‫ ֵה ָּמה‬Isa 65.23); 4Q51 8a–b.11 (‫ ַההּוא‬1 Sam 8.18); 4Q88 2.11
(|| ‫י־ה ְמרּו‬
ִ ‫ ִּכ‬Ps 107.11).
84 In Codex Kaufmann of the Mishna the form ‫ הן‬has to a large extent become the 3cpl
independent subject pronoun (thereby replacing both ‫ הם‬and ‫ המה‬in their role as the
3mpl independent subject pronoun). The statistics above thus represent the minority of
cases in which ‫ הם‬still occurs. The two occurrences of ‫המה‬, in Sukka 5.4 and Soṭa 7.5, not
surprisingly, come in citations from the Bible (Ezek 8.16 and Deut 11.30, respectively). See
Segal 1936: §§66, 69.
85 Sperber 1966: 219.
86 For these counterarguments see Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: II 104.
134 chapter 4

the two forms may have been conditioned at least in part by motivations of
genre, whereby ‫ ֵה ָּמה‬was used in poetic and/or lofty style. This, taken together
with the rabbinic propensity for a short form (whether ‫ הן‬or ‫)הם‬, may help to
account for both the biblical and extra-biblical distribution of the two forms.
It seems that both forms were available during the entire biblical period, but
that two conflicting tendencies were at work in the Hebrew of the Second
Temple Period, namely (a) a tendency to employ ‫ ֵה ָּמה‬in high, poetic, and—
eventually—simply literary texts and (b) a tendency to employ ‫( ֵהם‬or ‫ ) ֵהן‬in the
vernacular. Though the suggested explanation is highly conjectural, it has the
advantage of accounting for general trends in the chronological distribution of
the two forms and for certain genre-conditioned distributional patterns in the
Bible, as well as for the tendencies specific to post-biblical material considered
pseudo-classical (i.e., the DSS) and for that more authentically representative
of the vernacular (i.e., RH).

4.5.5 Jeremiah
As may be gleaned from the preceding discussion, Jeremiah, like the Latter
Prophets in general, shows a much greater tendency to use ‫ ֵה ָּמה‬than does most
earlier material. The distinction in this regard between Jeremiah (‫ ֵהם‬:‫= ֵה ָּמה‬
17:51) and Deuteronomy (17:5), with some form of which the writer(s) of
Jeremiah was (were) familiar, is especially striking. This pronounced change
is probably to be accounted for in terms of factors related to both chronol-
ogy and register/genre, though it is difficult to determine whether Jeremiah’s
decided preference for ‫ ֵה ָּמה‬is a ‘natural’ reflection of the book’s high propor-
tion of poetic, prophetic, and oratory discourse or, alternatively, an affected
and self-conscious attempt at high literary style. The fact that the long form
occurs not only in the poetry and speeches of the book, but is the only form
that appears in its narrative sections as well,87 may be evidence of somewhat
artificially archaistic use of ‫ ֵה ָּמה‬.

4.5.6 The MT and the Greek

A comparison of the MT and Greek editions reveals little of interest concern-
ing the two forms of the 3mpl independent subject pronoun. Both editions
appear to contain both forms, with no marked preference for one of them,
though, naturally, it is impossible to determine on the basis of the Greek which
form, short or long, the translator(s) had before him (them).

87 Jer 40.7, 8; 42.5.

pronominal morphology 135

4.6 3mpl: ‫ ֹו ֵתיהֶ ם‬- and ‫ ֹו ָתם‬- ‘their’

4.6.1 Preliminary Matters

In BH the 3mpl possessive suffix that attaches to plural substantives ending in
‫ֹות‬- comes in two forms: ‫ ָ◌ם‬-, as in ‫‘ ֲאב ָֹתם‬their fathers’, ‫‘ ַמ ֵּצב ָֹתם‬their standing
stones’, ‫‘ ִמ ְׁש ְּפח ָֹתם‬their clans’, and ‫ ֵ◌ ֶיהם‬-, as in ‫‘ ֲאב ֵֹת ֶיהם‬their fathers’, ‫ַמ ֵּצב ֵֹת ֶיהם‬
‘their standing stones’, and ‫‘ ִמ ְׁש ְּפח ֵֹת ֶיהם‬their clans’. There is general consensus
among scholars that the former ending is the typologically more primitive of
the two and that the latter, which exhibits double, i.e., redundant, marking
of the plural in its use of both ‫ֹות‬- and -‫ֵ◌י‬-, was created by language users out of
analogy to the 3mpl possessive suffix that attaches to substantives whose abso-
lute forms end in ‫ִ◌ים‬-, i.e., ‫◌יהם‬ ֶ ֵ -.88 If so, the shift in question may constitute an
inner-Hebrew development. It is also possible, however, that the longer form,
which occurs sporadically in texts thought to be classical, became more fre-
quent in the post-exilic period thanks in part to the influence of Aramaic, in
which the consonant he is not elided in the corresponding possessive suffix ‫הֹון‬-.89

4.6.2 The MT
The ‫ֹותם‬-
ָ ending would appear to be chronologically prior to the ‫יהם‬ ֵ - ending
ֶ ‫ֹות‬
not only in terms of linguistic typology, but in terms of actual distribution as

88 GKC §91m; Bauer and Leander 1922: §29q′; Kutscher 1974: 451 and n. 1; Hurvitz 1982: 24–27;
Qimron 1986: §322.182; Bar-Asher 2004: 138, n. 6; Wright 2005: 28; JM §94g; Kim 2012:
99–107. Cf. Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: II 156), who consider ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ֹות‬ֵ - typologi-
cally more primitive than ‫ֹותם‬ ָ -. Their logic is that in the former ending the consonant ‫ה‬
is preserved, whereas in the latter it has been elided. The suggested development of ‫ ָ◌ם‬-
from ‫הם‬- (whatever its vocalization) via elision of the ‫ ה‬is eminently reasonable. However,
one must note that the early form with ‫ ה‬is generally preserved only in post-vocalic posi-
tion, for example, regularly in forms like ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫‘ ֲא ִב‬their father’, ‫יהם‬
ֶ ‫‘ ֲא ִח‬their brother’, ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ִּפ‬
‘their mouth’, ‫‘ ) ָּבם >( ַּב ֶהם‬in/with them’, ‫‘ ָל ֶהם‬to/for them’, and infrequently in some other
forms, e.g., ‫‘ ֻּכ ָּל ַהם‬all of them’ (only 2 Sam 23.6). This ‫ ה‬is also preserved in the form of the
3mpl possessive suffix that attaches to substantives with plural forms that normally end
in ‫ִ◌ים‬-, because, with the shedding of the mimation, here, too, the ending comes after a
vowel. In the case of the suffix ‫ֹות‬-, however, there is no reason for the preservation of the
‫ה‬, because the 3mpl possessive suffix is now attached to a form ending in a consonant.
The presumed precursor of ‫ֹותם‬ ָ - is not ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ֹות‬
ֵ -, but something along the lines of -āthVm.
The late character of the ending ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ֹות‬
ֵ - is precisely the insertion of a vowel between the
endings ‫ֹות‬- and ‫ ֶהם‬-/‫ ָ◌ם‬-, apparently due to analogy with forms such as ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫סּוס‬
ֵ , which
permits the preservation or reinsertion of the ‫ ה‬and double marking of the plural. This
same late tendency is evident in the non-possessive forms ‫ ִע ָּמ ֶהם‬and ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫( ַּת ְח ֵּת‬against
‫ ִע ָּמם‬and ‫ ַּת ְח ָּתם‬, respectively); see BDB 767a, 1065a; Hurvitz 1982: 25, n. 9; HALOT 771a,
1026a; Wright 2005: 28. n. 37.
89 Bendavid 1967–1971: II 452, n. °°; Hurvitz 1982: 25; Wright 2005: 28.
136 chapter 4

well. The ending ‫ֹותם‬- ָ is found throughout the Bible as well as in post-biblical
sources; conversely, ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬-
ֵ is rare in material considered early (i.e., pre-exilic)
and appears with regularity (though not necessarily dominance) only in texts
dated to the Exile and beyond. In the Bible ‫ֹותם‬ ָ - is the more frequently used of
the two, with approximately 450 occurrences, against only about 150 cases of
‫יהם‬ ֵ -. As noted, both forms appear in all chronological phases of BH, but not
ֶ ‫ֹות‬
in equal proportions. While the short form dominates in the early books (in
the Pentateuch the ratio of ‫ֹותם‬-ָ to ‫יהם‬ ֵ - is 209:990 and in the Former Prophets
ֶ ‫ֹות‬
it is 67:15), use of the long form steadily increases in the later books (in the
core LBH books the ratio of ‫ֹותם‬- ָ to ‫יהם‬ ֵ is 49:61). Seen from a different per-
ֶ ‫ֹות‬-
spective, approximately 100 of the 150 cases of ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬- ֵ , i.e., two-thirds, come in
texts composed around the time of the Exile or afterwards (including ‘Second
Isaiah’, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the core LBH books).91 See the following table: 92

Table 4.6.2 Biblical distribution of ‫ֹותם‬

ָ - and ‫יהם‬
ֶ ‫ֹות‬
ֵ - according to the MT

Book ‫ותם‬- ‫ותיהם‬- Book ‫ותם‬- ‫ותיהם‬- Book ‫ותם‬- ‫ותיהם‬-

Genesis 22 2 Isaiah92 12 9 Malachi 1 0

Exodus 35 2 Jeremiah 18 19 Psalms 24 14
Leviticus 13 1 Ezekiel 28 15 Proverbs 5 3
Numbers 132 2 Hosea 10 1 Job 5 1
Deuteronomy 7 2 Joel 1 1 Lamentations 5 1
Joshua 40 3 Amos 2 1 Esther 0 1
Judges 10 4 Micah 4 4 Ezra 3 6
Samuel 2 4 Nahum 1 0 Nehemiah 3 14
Kings 15 4 Zephaniah 3 0 Chronicles 43 40
TOTALS 444 154

It should be noted that in the case of a few substantives with the plural ending
‫ֹות‬- the longer ending ‫יהם‬ ֶ ◌ֵ - is standard throughout all periods of BH, including
classical texts. For example ‫נֹות ֶיהם‬ ֵ ‫‘ ְּב‬their daughters’ appears 21 times, against
a single case of ‫‘ ְּבנ ָֹתם‬their daughters’. When it comes to other substantives
with the relevant plural ending, forms with the suffix ‫ ֵ◌ ֶיהם‬- are especially,

90 The count of 110 cases of ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ֹות‬

ֵ - in the Torah given by Bar-Asher (2004: 139) is obviously a
typographical error.
91 BDB 3a; GKC §91n; Bendavid 1967–1971: II 452; Cohen 1975: 303–305; Hurvitz 1982: 24–27;
Qimron 1986: §322.182; C. Smith 2003: 69–72; Wright 2005: 26–30; JM §94g.
92 In chs 1–39 the ratio of ‫ֹותם‬
ָ - to ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ֹות‬
ֵ - is 4:2; in chs. 40–66 it is 8:7.
pronominal morphology 137

sometimes exclusively, characteristic of late material. For example, ‫בֹות ֶיהם‬ ֵ ‫ֲא‬
‘their fathers’ comes 33 times in the Bible, 29 of them in Ezra, Nehemiah, and
Chronicles, whereas ‫ ֲאב ָֹתם‬is fairly standard the entire length of the Bible.93
Finally, the long possessive forms of certain substantives (the short forms of
which do occur in the Bible) are absent from the Bible, occurring only in post-
biblical sources, e.g., ‫מֹות ֶיהם‬
ֵ ‫‘ ְׁש‬their names’ and ‫יהם‬
ֶ ‫דֹות‬ ְ ‘their generations’
ֵ ‫ּתֹול‬
(see below).

4.6.3 Non-Masoretic and Extra-biblical Sources

The increased use of ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬-
ֵ is characteristic of LBH, non-Masoretic, and post-
biblical Hebrew, but it is important to note that the use of ‫ֹותם‬-
ָ also persists
in these sources; indeed, in the majority of the relevant corpora examined for
the present study (Ben Sira, the biblical and non-biblical DSS, the Samaritan
Pentateuch), the short form dominates (the exception being the Mishna). Even
so, similar to the situation in the core LBH books, the majority of the non-
Masoretic and post-biblical corpora exhibit a tendency to employ the long
form much stronger than that found in biblical books generally considered
classical. Consider the following table.

Table 4.6.3 Extra-biblical distribution of ‫ֹותם‬-

ָ and ‫יהם‬
ֶ ‫ֹות‬-

Corpus ‫ותם‬- ‫ותיהם‬-

Ben Sira 11 1
Biblical DSS 60 29
Non-biblical DSS 124 57
Samaritan Pentateuch 202 12
Mishna 11 78

The situation that emerges is one of contradictory trends in the post-exilic

period: the markedly increased use of ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬ֵ - versus the successful preservation
of ‫ֹותם‬
ָ -. In light of the nearly absolute hegemony of ‫יהם‬ ֵ - in the Mishna, it is
ֶ ‫ֹות‬
reasonable to suppose that this form represents a vernacular trait. The rest of
the sources are more literary and probably reflect more archaic or archaistic
style, though the possibility that ‫ֹותם‬ ָ - continued to be employed in spoken
Hebrew should not be discounted.94

93 See Hurvitz 2013: 113–114.

94 Bar-Asher (2004: 113–114) attributes the dominance of short forms such as ‫ שמותם‬in the
biblical DSS to a continued preference for literary, rather than vernacular, features. He
138 chapter 4

In a wide-ranging discussion of the book of Judges as preserved in the MT

and Qumran manuscripts Rezetko (2013: 56–58) rejects the diagnostically late
status of ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬
ֵ - vis-à-vis ‫ֹותם‬ָ -. He notes that the late ending is, in fact, attested
in apparently early material, e.g., Gen 49.5, while the classical ending persists,
and in some cases remains dominant, in late corpora. He also observes that
even if ‫ֹותם‬
ָ - is rightly considered the typologically older form (cf. the opinion
of Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd presented above in n. 88), the typologically
older form need not necessarily be the chronologically older form. Rezetko’s call
for consideration of non-chronological factors is also justified.95 Nonetheless,
as Rezetko himself admits, “[t]here is clearly a different ratio of occurrence of
these forms in core EBH and LBH writings, Genesis–Kings preferring ‫ֹותם‬ ָ - forms
and Esther–Chronicles preferring ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬ ֵ - forms” (ibid.: 57, n. 235). Whenever
each of the two forms may have come into being, there is no doubt that the
longer one is more typical of late texts than it is of early texts. On its own, this
means little. Taken together with accumulations of other late features, though,
it has significance. The degree of concentration in a given book is also relevant.
Rezetko (ibid.) makes much of the fact that Samuel has two short forms and
four long ones, but these cases are far too few to be statistically meaningful.
As seen in table 4.6.2 above, many biblical books contain ten or more poten-
tial occurrences of the characteristically late suffix, and nearly all those that
exhibit a sizable proportion thereof are exilic or post-exilic.
There are also certain inaccuracies in Rezetko’s discussion. For example, he
(ibid.: 56–58) cites the now outdated figures from Qimron’s (1986: §322.182)
study of only a limited corpus of Qumran material—some 70 cases of ‫ֹותם‬ ָ -
against only 15 of ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬ ֵ - (cf. the updated figures in table 4.6.3 above). As
already noted, it is true that the DSS, both biblical and non-biblical, show a
preference for classical ‫ֹותם‬ ָ -; but they also resort to ‫יהם‬ ֵ - with far greater rela-
ֶ ‫ֹות‬
tive frequency than does CBH. Moreover, with specific reference to the occur-
rence of ‫אבותי֯ ֯ה[ם‬
̇ ‘their fathers’ (4Q50 f2–3.8) versus ‫בֹותם‬ ָ ‫( ֲא‬Jdg 21.22), Rezetko
(2013: 58) maintains that “the absence of a trend in the direction of replace-
ment weakens any claim that 4QJudga’s ‫ אבותיהם‬is simply a linguistic mod-
ernization”. It is difficult to determine any trend on the basis of only one or a
few cases, but even given DSS Hebrew’s penchant for preservation of the clas-
sical ending, ‘a trend in the direction of replacement’ can be discerned. In the

also (2010: 290, n. 28) notes the possibility that the employment there of forms such as
‫ שמותיהם‬reflects a broader preference for longer, apparently more literary forms, and
thus constitutes something of an artificial archaism. On this latter phenomenon more
generally see Fassberg 2003.
95 For example, in some cases the rather common use of the longer, characteristically late
ending in Psalms may conceivably be due to poetic, rather than historical factors.
pronominal morphology 139

biblical DSS there are 66 cases in which a Masoretic form with ‫ֹותם‬ ָ - is repre-
sented in one way or another; in 59 of them it is paralleled by a form with
)‫ותם(ה‬-, in seven by a form with )‫ותיהם(ה‬-.96 Conversely, the biblical DSS have 23
cases in which a Masoretic form with ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬ ֵ - is represented one way or another;
in 22 of them the ending is )‫ותיהם(ה‬-, in only one )‫ותם(ה‬-.97 Comparing the
MT with the DSS, this means that when the two differ with regard to the end-
ings under discussion, the DSS show the later form in seven of 66 cases (10.6
percent), and the MT in one of 23 (4.4 percent). Neither proportion is over-
whelming, but, clearly, in cases where the two corpora differ with respect to
the ending the DSS are more than twice as likely to have the later ending. This
arguably qualifies as ‘a trend in the direction of replacement’. Put differently, in
seven of the eight cases of divergence, the biblical DSS have the characteristi-
cally later form.
Such a drift is also discernible when comparing the MT and the non-biblical
DSS. Again, while the latter show a pronounced affinity for )‫ותם(ה‬-, their num-
bers of )‫ותיהם(ה‬- are by no means insignificant, showing a clear increase in the
employment of the longer ending in relation to CBH. This is especially clear in
citations of the Bible and in allusions thereto in the non-biblical scrolls. Thus,
BH knows only the form ‫ּדֹורֹותם‬ ָ , which is also favored in the non-biblical DSS.
But 11Q19 (the Temple Scroll) four times has ‫‘ דורותיהמה‬their generations’.98 In
the Bible the phrase ‫‘ אלהי אבותם‬God of their fathers’ comes four times, three
of them in CBH, once in LBH, whereas ‫ אלהי אבותיהם‬comes 16 times, all in LBH;
the sole occurrence of the phrase in the non-biblical DSS, in 4Q385a f18ia–
b.9, is ‫אלהי אבותיהם‬. In 11Q19 2.5–6 the Temple Scroll makes a clear allusion to
Exod 34.12–13, but whereas the latter has ‫ת־מזְ ְּבח ָֹתם ִּתּתֹצּון‬
ִ ‫‘ ֶא‬their altars you will
tear down’, the former reads ‫‏[את מזבחו] ̇תיהםה תתוצון‬. Similarly, 4Q368 f2.4–5
is based on Exod 34.12–13, but has ‫‘ מצבותיהם‬their standing stones’ against the
MT’s ‫ ַמ ֵּצב ָֹתם‬. It is not inconsequential that in the case of three of the four exam-
ples just adduced the MT does itself, at some point, show an instance of the
characteristically later form. More important, however, is the fact that when
the forms of the MT and biblical allusions in the DSS differ, the latter corpus
is much more likely than the former to show the demonstrably late feature.99

96 The seven exceptions are 1QIsaa 48.19 (2x; || Isa 59.7–8); 53.15 (|| Isa 66.4); 2Q12 f1.7 (|| Deut
10.11); 4Q45 f15–16.2 (|| Deut 12.3); 4Q50 f2–3.8 (|| Jdg 21.22); 11Q5 fEii.1 (|| Ps 104.22). A fur-
ther example is ‫[‘ [ויונק]ו֯ תיהמה‬and] their [bab]ies’ 1QIsaa 53.28 (|| ‫‘ וִ ינַ ְק ֶּתם‬and you [mpl]
will nurse’ Isa 66.12), though in this case the forms are not entirely parallel; cf. the Greek.
97 4Q56 f2.2 (|| Isa 2.4).
98 11Q19 21.9; 22.14; 27.5; 11Q20 6.7.
99 Despite searching, I have been unable to find an instance in which the non-biblical DSS
quote or allude to the Bible and show an )‫ותם(ה‬- ending against ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ֹות‬
ֵ - in the MT.
140 chapter 4

In sum, despite the archaistic tendencies of the biblical and non-biblical DSS
scribes regarding the endings ‫ֹותם‬
ָ - and ‫יהם‬ ֵ -, their use of the latter is typical of
ֶ ‫ֹות‬
the Second Temple linguistic milieu.
The late tendency to replace ‫ֹותם‬ ָ - with ‫יהם‬ ֵ - is illustrated in the following
ֶ ‫ֹות‬
parallel or similarly phrased texts:

1 Kgs 8.34 and return them to the land that you gave their fathers (‫בֹותם‬ָ ‫) ַל ֲא‬
2 Chr 6.25 and return them to the land that you gave them and their fathers (‫)וְ ַל ֲאב ֵֹת ֶיהם‬

Isa 59.7 ruin and destruction on their highways (‫ּלֹותם‬

ָ ‫) ִּב ְמ ִס‬
1QIsa 48.18 ruin and destruction and violence on their highways (‫)במסלותיהם‬

Isa 59.8 and there is no justice on their paths (‫לֹותם‬

ָ ְ‫) ְּב ַמ ְעּג‬
1QIsa 48.19 and there is no justice on their paths (‫)במעגלותיהמה‬

Ps 104.22 they gather and lie down in their dens (‫) ְמעֹונ ָֹתם‬
11Q5 fEii.2 they gather and lie down in their dens (‫)מעונותיהם‬

Gen 25.13 by their names (‫ ) ִּב ְׁשמ ָֹתם‬according to their generations

CD 4.4 their names (‫ )שמותיהם‬according to their generations

Deut 12.3 tear down their altars (‫ ) ִמזְ ְּבח ָֹתם‬. . . break their standing stones (‫) ַמ ֵּצב ָֹתם‬
Sam Pent tear down their altars (‫ )מזבחותיהם‬. . . break their standing stones (‫)מצבתיהם‬

Exod 27.21 a perpetual ordinance throughout your generations (‫) ְלדֹר ָֹתם‬
Lev 7.36 a perpetual ordinance throughout your generations (‫) ְלדֹר ָֹתם‬
11Q19 21.9 a perpetual [ordinance] throughout your generations (‫)לדורותיהמה‬
11Q19 22.14 perpetual ordinances throughout your generations (‫)לדורותיהמה‬
11Q19 27.4–5 perpetual ordinances throughout your generations (‫)לדורותיהמה‬
11Q20 6.6–7 perpetual [ordinances] throughout your generations (‫)לדורותיהמה‬100

4.6.4 Jeremiah 100

From a purely numerical perspective the ratio of ‫ֹותם‬ ָ - to ‫יהם‬ ֵ - in Jeremiah is
ֶ ‫ֹות‬
18:19, similar to that in the core LBH books. Like them, Jeremiah, too, contains
a significant number of cases of the long ending. However, it is to be noted
that six of the relevant occurrences involve the form ‫נֹות ֶיהם‬
ֵ ‫‘ ְּב‬their daughters’,

100 It may very well be that the formulation with ‫ותיהמה‬- in these DSS passages was influ-
enced by the form of the 2mpl suffix in ‫יכם‬ ֶ ‫ ְלדֹר ֵֹת‬in Lev 3.17; 6.11; 10.9; 23.14; 23.31,41; 24.3;
Num 10.8; 15.15; and 18.23. However, this is exactly the sort of analogical influence not typi-
cal of classical sources.
pronominal morphology 141

which, as mentioned above, is used throughout the Bible, to the virtual exclu-
sion of ‫נֹותם‬ ָ ‫ ְּב‬. In the case of other words, it is impossible to determine whether
the form in question is especially characteristic of late material, as it is rare or
unique in the Bible and occurs in only one of the two possible forms. This is the
situation in the case of ‫‘ ִאּמ ָֹתם‬their mothers’ (Jer 16.3; Lam 2.12 [2x]), ‫ֲחלֹומ ָֹתם‬
‘their dreams’ (Jer 23.27), and ‫‘ מרצותם‬their courses’ (Jer 8.6 ktiv), which end
only in the short form in BH, and in the case of ‫ּגֹות ֶיהם‬ ֵ ַ‫‘ ּג‬their roofs’ (Jer 19.13;
32.29), ‫יעֹות ֶיהם‬
ֵ ‫‘ יְ ִר‬their curtains’ (Jer 49.29), ‫יהם‬ ֵ ‫‘ ִּכ ְל‬their kidneys’ (Jer 12.2),
ֶ ‫יֹות‬
‫יהם‬ֶ ‫ׁשּובֹות‬
ֵ ‫‘ ְמ‬their backslidings’ (Jer 5.6), and ‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫‘ נְ ֻער ֵֹת‬their youth’ (Jer 32.30),
which end in only the long form in BH. Of course, the mere fact that among
these forms ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬ ֵ - appears more frequently than ‫ֹותם‬ ָ - may itself have signifi-
cance. More specifically, the following forms in Jeremiah are particularly illus-
trative regarding the chronological development of the language:

‫ ֲאב ָֹתם‬versus ‫יהם‬ ֵ ‫‘ ֲא‬their fathers’—as previously noted, the long form has a
ֶ ‫בֹות‬
decidedly late distribution in BH. Aside from the 29 occurrences in core LBH
books there are only four cases: one in Kings and three in Jeremiah.101 The form
also comes in post-biblical Hebrew. Jeremiah contains 11 cases of the same
noun with the short ending.

‫ ֲעֹונ ָֹתם‬versus ‫יהם‬ ֵ ‫‘ ֲע‬their sins, guilt’—the long form’s distribution within and
ֶ ‫ֹונֹות‬
outside the Bible points to an increase in its usage in the late period.102 In the
word’s lone appearance in Jeremiah it has the long ending.

‫ ְׂשד ָֹתם‬versus ‫יהם‬ ֵ ֹ ‫‘ ְש‬their fields’—the short form occurs only in Neh 11.25, the
ֶ ‫דֹות‬
long in Jer 8.10 and Neh 5.11 within the Bible and rather frequently in RH.

ָ ‫ּתֹוע‬
ֲ versus ‫בֹות ֶיהם‬
ֵ ‫ּתֹוע‬
ַ ‘their abominations’—the short form comes five
times in the Bible, the long form six times—always in texts composed no ear-
lier than the late pre-exilic period.103 The latter form is also documented in
post-biblical sources.104

Summary: discounting the wholly predictable use of ‫נֹות ֶיהם‬

ֵ ‫‘ ְּב‬their daughters’,
Jeremiah exhibits a preference for the short ‫ֹותם‬
ָ - ending. However, like that
of the core LBH books, the language of Jeremiah employs ‫ֹות ֶיהם‬ ֵ - to a degree

101 1 Kgs 14.15; Jer 19.4; 24.10; 50.7. It may be significant that the occurrence in 1 Kgs 14.15 comes
as part of an extensive section with no parallel in the Greek.
102 Jer 33.8; Ezek 43.10; Lam 5.7; Ps 107; CD 4.10; 4Q266 f3i.4; 11Q13 2.6.
103 Jer 16.18; Ezek 6.9; 11.21; 12.16; Ezra 9.1, 11.
104 1Q22 f1i.7; 4Q169 f3–4iii.1; 4Q219 2.28.
142 chapter 4

unknown in classical material. Moreover, Jeremiah contains four specific

forms, accounting for a total of six occurrences—‫דֹות ֶיהם‬
ֵ ֹ ‫ ְש‬, ‫יהם‬
ֶ ‫בֹות‬ ַ , ‫יהם‬
ֵ ‫ּתֹוע‬ ֵ ‫ ֲא‬,
ֶ ‫בֹות‬
‫יהם‬ ֵ ‫— ֲע‬the employment of which is particularly characteristic of late
ֶ ‫ֹונֹות‬
sources. The transitional to late status of Jeremiah’s language can thus be said
to manifest itself in the use of the two endings under discussion.

4.6.5 The MT and the Greek

With regard to the forms in question there are two differences between the MT
and the Greek. The late form in ‫בֹות ֶיהם‬ֵ ‫‘ וְ ַל ֲא‬and to their ancestors’ (Jer 24.10)
finds no parallel in the Greek translation, though forms of this word with the
long ending are reflected in the Greek on two other occasions. The Greek also
has no parallel for the classical ‫חֹותם‬
ָ ‫‘ ִמזְ ְּב‬their altars’ (Jer 17.2). Clearly, the dif-
ference between the two editions with regard to the feature in question is not
significant enough to sustain any solid conclusion regarding differences in
their relative dates of composition.

4.7 3fpl: ‫ קטלה‬for ‫קטלו‬

4.7.1 The MT
Generally in BH the (we)qaṭal verbal ending agreeing with both 3mpl and 3fpl
subjects is the epicene ‫ּו‬-, e.g., ‫‘ ָּכ ְתבּו‬they (c) wrote’. However, in light of the
forms in other Semitic languages, e.g., Geʿez, Aramaic, Arabic, and Akkadian,
it is reasonable to assume that ancient Hebrew at one time made a morpho-
logical distinction between the two. This assumption finds confirmation in a
series of approximately 25 cases in BH in which a (we)qaṭal verbal form ending
in ‫ה‬- rather than ‫ו‬- (sometimes only in the ktiv) has a fpl subject. Evidently,
the 3mpl ending succeeded in supplanting its 3fpl counterpart, a phenomenon
known from Semitic in general and from Hebrew more specifically. However,
unlike the situation of the (way)yiqṭol and the pronominal forms, for which the
distinction between 3mpl and 3fpl is still for the most part maintained in BH,
the specific (we)qaṭal 3fpl ending had nearly fallen into oblivion by the biblical
period. It is found, and then only sporadically, in texts considered ancient or
in material, such as poetry, where preservation or imitation of old style is com-
mon, and also in late material thought to exhibit Aramaic influence. A list of
suggested occurrences follows:105

105 This list is based on the following studies: GKC §44m; Lambert 1938: §695; Rendsburg
1982a: 51, n. 54; 2001: 31, n. 18; Blau 2001: 166–167; C. Smith 2003: 164.
pronominal morphology 143

‫‘ ועיני ישראל כבדה‬and Israel’s eyes were heavy’ (Gen 48.10 Sam Pent); ‫ָּבנֹות ָצ ֲע ָדה‬
‘branches climb (?)’ (Gen 49.22);106 ‫ וְ ָהיָ ה‬. . . ‫ּוׁש ֵּתי ַט ְּבעֹת זָ ָהב ַּת ֲע ֶׂשה־ּלֹו‬
ְ ‘and two
rings of gold you will make for it . . . and they shall be’ (Exod 30.4); ‫ּתֹוצא ָֹתיו‬ ְ ‫והיה‬
‘and its limits will be’ (Num 34.4 ktiv); ‫‘ יָ ֵדינּו לֹא שפכה‬our hands did not shed’
(Deut 21.7 ktiv); ‫‘ והיה ּת ְֹצאֹות‬and the limits of . . . will be’ (Josh 15.4 ktiv); ‫והיה‬
‫‘ ּת ְֹצא ָֹתיו‬and its limits will be’ (Josh 18.12 ktiv, 14 ktiv, 19 ktiv); ‫‘ וְ ֵעינָ יו ָק ָמה‬and his
eyes were fixed’ (1 Sam 4.15); ‫[‘ נשברה ֳאנִ ּיֹות‬the] boats were wrecked’ (1 Kgs 22.49
ktiv);107 ‫אותינּו ָענְ ָתה ָּבנּו‬
ֵ ֹ ‫‘ וְ ַחּט‬and our sins have testified against us’ (Isa 59.12);
‫‘ ָע ָריו נצתה‬his cities were burnt’ (Jer 2.15 ktiv); ‫‘ ָע ִרים לֹא נושבה‬cities (which)
were not inhabited’ (Jer 22.6 ktiv); ‫‘ נִ ְל ְּכ ָדה ַה ְּק ִרּיֹות‬the towns have been captured’
(Jer 48.41); ‫‘ וְ ַה ְּמ ָצדֹות נִ ְת ָּפ ָׂשה‬and the fortresses have been captured’ (Jer 48.41);
'‫ל־ּב ֶבל ַמ ְח ְׁשבֹות ה‬
ָ ‫‘ ָק ָמה ַע‬Yhwh’s purposes against Babylon stand’ (Jer 51.29);
ָ ‫‘ ִח ְּת ָתה ַק ְּׁש‬their bows have been snapped’ (Jer 51.56); ‫‘ נִ ְׁש ְּב ָרה ַּד ְלתֹות‬the
gates of . . . are broken’ (Ezek 26.2); ‫(‘ ( ַּד ְלתֹות) נָ ֵס ָּבה‬the gates of the . . .) have
swung’ (Ezek 26.2); ‫י־ב ָאה‬ ָ ‫יה ִּכ‬
ָ ‫ּכֹות‬
ֶ ‫נּוׁשה ַמ‬ָ ‫‘ ֲא‬her wounds are incurable for they
have come’ (Mic 1.9 [?]); ‫א־ע ָׂשה‬ ְ ‘and the fields have not produced’
ָ ֹ ‫ּוׁש ֵדמֹות ל‬
(Hab 3.17); ‫חּוׁשה זְ רֹוע ָֹתי‬ ָ ְ‫‘ וְ נִ ֲח ָתה ֶק ֶׁשת־נ‬and my arms have bent a bronze bow’
(Ps 18.35); ‫‘ ַּכנְ ֵפי יֹונָ ה נֶ ְח ָּפה‬wings of a dove were covered’ (Ps 68.14); ‫שפכה ֲא ֻׁש ָרי‬
‘my feet/steps slipped’ (Ps 73.2 ktiv);108 ‫‘ ָּפנַ י חמרמרה‬my face became red’
(Job 16.16 ktiv);109 ‫‘ ְמנָ יֹות ַה ְלוִ ּיִ ם לֹא נִ ָּתנָ ה‬the Levites’ portions had not been given’
(Neh 13.10).110

4.7.2 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

The 3fpl we(qaṭal) ending ‫ה‬- is standard in various Aramaic dialects (including
Targumic Aramaic and the qre in BA).111 Relevant forms with this ending come
in a minority of cases in the Hebrew of the DSS, especially 1QIsaa:

Isa 3.9 their recognition   (‫ ) ַה ָּכ ַרת‬of faces testified (‫ ) ָענְ ָתה‬against them
1QIsaa 3.13 their recognitions (‫ )הכרות‬of faces testified (‫ )ענתה‬against them112

106 Cf. Rendsburg 2001: 31, n. 18.

107 Cf. GKC §44m.
108 Cf. Ps 37.31.
109 Cf. GKC §44m.
110 Contra Rendsburg (1982a: 51, n. 54) and C. Smith (2003: 164, 169), ‫‘ צֹאן א ְֹבדֹות היה ַע ִּמי‬lost
sheep were my people’ (Jer 50.6 ktiv) is not included in the list, because the subject of the
verb is the morphologically singular ‫‘ ַע ִּמי‬my people’, not the feminine collective/plural
‫צֹאן א ְֹבדֹות‬, which is the predicate.
111 Ben-Ḥayyim 1951; Kutscher 1974: 191–192.
112 Unless ‫ הכרות‬here is to be interpreted as a singular with the commonly abstract -ut suf-
formative. However, the fact that ‫ הכרות‬is a nomen regens in construct with the plural
144 chapter 4

Isa 4.1 seven women will take hold of  (‫ )וְ ֶה ֱחזִ יקּו‬one man
1QIsaa 4.4 seven women will take hold of (‫ )והחזיקה‬one man

Isa 48.3 the former things . . . I told and from my mouth they came forth  (‫)יָ ְצאּו‬
1QIsaa 40.8 the former things . . . I told and from my mouth they came forth (‫)יצאה‬

Isa 48.15 and on his way  (‫ ) ַּד ְרּכֹו‬he will succeed (‫)וְ ִה ְצ ִל ַיח‬
1QIsaa 40.20 and his ways (‫ )דרכוהי‬will succeed (‫)והצליחה‬113

Yalon (1950–1951: 168) apparently sees in the use of these forms in the Great
Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) an early linguistic phenomenon, as he opines “it is pos-
sible that the presence of forms like this in Aramaic aided in their preservation
in the scroll” (italics added). Kutscher (1959: 144–145) rejects this explanation;
in his opinion, the many instances of Aramaic influence in the scroll make
it more likely that the usage in question is a penetration from Aramaic. If
this is so, then the phenomenon in question is more like use in Hebrew of
the transparently Aramaic 3ms possessive suffix ‫והי‬- than like the use of other
Aramaic-like morphological forms discussed to this point, e.g., 1cs ‫ ֲאנִ י‬, 2fs ‫אתי‬,
‫ ִכי‬-, and ‫ ִתי‬-, and 3mpl ‫יהם‬ ֵ -, all of which, already occurring in Hebrew, seem
ֶ ‫ֹות‬
only to have been given new life due to contact with Aramaic. Theoretically,
one might view the 3fpl use of ‫ קטלה‬the same way, except that 3fpl forms are
so rare, it is difficult to imagine the archaic form persisting long enough in the
language to be re-drafted into service due to Aramaic pressure. Then again,
perhaps the fact that the form is limited to high and poetic language (cf. the
more colloquial register preserved in RH) testifies precisely to such a context
for its preservation.

4.7.3 Jeremiah
The number of cases of 3fpl ‫ קטלה‬in Jeremiah—six—is greater than in any
other book of the Bible: ‫‘ ָע ָריו נצתה‬his cities were burnt’ (Jer 2.15 ktiv); ‫ָע ִרים לֹא‬
‫‘ נושבה‬cities (which) were not inhabited’ (Jer 22.6 ktiv); ‫‘ נִ ְל ְּכ ָדה ַה ְּק ִרּיֹות‬the towns
have been captured’ (Jer 48.41);114 ‫‘ וְ ַה ְּמ ָצדֹות נִ ְת ָּפ ָׂשה‬and the fortresses have been
captured’ (Jer 48.41); '‫ל־ּב ֶבל ַמ ְח ְׁשבֹות ה‬
ָ ‫‘ ָק ָמה ַע‬Yhwh’s purposes against Babylon

nomen rectum ‫פניהם‬, in which case they constitute an example of the characteristically
late double plural construct (see below, §7.11), supports the reading of a plural form here.
113 Note the characteristically Aramaic 3ms possessive suffix ‫והי‬-, use of which supports the
view that use of the 3fpl qaṭal ending ‫ה‬- is also an Aramaism.
114 If the form in question is indeed in the plural, like its parallel ‫‘ וְ ַה ְּמ ָצדֹות נִ ְת ָּפ ָׂשה‬and the
fortresses have been captured’, in the same verse; see also Jer 48.24. Even if the form in
question is a proper noun, this does not necessarily eliminate the possibility of its being
plural. Cf. Rendsburg 2001: 31, n. 18.
pronominal morphology 145

stand’ (Jer 51.29); ‫תֹותם‬

ָ ‫‘ ִח ְּת ָתה ַק ְּׁש‬their bows have been snapped’ (Jer 51.56).115
Of course, these cases are a small minority when compared to the 37 instances
in which a fpl subject is accompanied by a ‫ (ו)קטלו‬verbal form. It is to be noted
that all six of the cases of 3fpl ‫ קטלה‬come in poetic contexts. One should nev-
ertheless resist the temptation to conclude that they necessarily constitute
genuine archaisms.116 It seems more reasonable to assume that the form in
question disappeared from Hebrew and then arose anew under the influence
of Aramaic or perhaps even penetrated from Aramaic as a genuine morpho-
logical loan.117

4.7.4 The MT and the Greek

All six occurrences of 3fpl ‫ קטלה‬forms in the MT have parallel forms in the
Greek, though the nouns in question are not always rendered as plurals, e.g.,
Jer 48.41; 51.29, and 56. For purposes of comparison, there is no instance of a fpl
subject with a ‫ (ו)קטלו‬verb form without a parallel in the Greek.

4.8 ‫( זאתה‬ktiv, for ‫‘ )זֹאת‬this’

In BH the dominant forms of the proximal singular demonstrative pronouns

are ms ‫ זֶ ה‬and fs ‫ זֹאת‬both ‘this’ (the two of which double as demonstrative adjec-
tives). This same situation also obtains in the Hebrew of the DSS. Apparently,
the masculine form developed from Proto-Semitic ḏī and parallels Aramaic ‫ֵּדין‬
‫ٰذ ذ ذ‬
and Arabic ‫ ِ� ��ي‬/‫ ِ� ِه‬/‫( �ه ِ�� ِه‬even if the Arabic forms denote the feminine).118 The
development of the Hebrew feminine form is debated. Scholars agree that
the initial component of ‫ זֹאת‬is the ancient demonstrative ‫זֹה‬/‫זֹא‬, which evi-
dently developed ٰ from Proto-Semitic ḏā and is cognate with Aramaic ‫ ָּדא‬and
Arabic ‫�ذَا‬/‫( �ه��ذَا‬the latter of which denotes the masculine). Regarding the ‫ת‬-
ending, on the other hand, there is less agreement. Some see it as a redundant
marker of feminine gender added to a particle without clear feminine mor-
phological marking for purposes of creating a more transparently feminine
form.119 According to this explanation, it is that demonstrative characteristic

115 On the intransitive/stative meaning of the piʿel form here see GKC §52k.
116 Blau 1972: 122; cf. Blau 2010: §
117 For versions of these approaches see Lambert 1938: §685; Kutscher 1974: 191–192; 1982: §56.
See also C. Smith 2003: 169.
118 Brockelmann 1908–1913: I §107tβ; Bauer and Leander 1922: §§14r, 30d; Blau 2010: §
(cf. § In the opinion of Barth (1913: 104) the quality of the vowel in the mascu-
line Proto-Semitic form is uncertain; see also Garr 1985: 82–83.
119 Brockelmann 1908–1913: I §107tβ; Bauer and Leander 1922: §30d; Segal 1936: 49; Bar-Asher
1985: 90–91; 1992: 663. Rabin (1958: 145, n. 3), Hurvitz (1972: 41), Kutscher (1982: §203; 2007:
146 chapter 4

of RH, namely ‫זֹו‬,120 which preserves the more primitive form, whereas in ‫זֹאת‬
BH exhibits a strong tendency in favor of a form that is the result of secondary
development. According to an alternative explanation the component ‫ת‬- is not
a feminine morpheme at all, but an ancient deictic marker.121 If so, ‫זֹו‬/‫ זֹה‬is not
more ancient than ‫זֹאת‬, despite being typologically simpler from a morpho-
logical perspective.122 There are also those who see in ‫זֹו‬/‫ זֹה‬a linguistic feature
especially characteristic of the northern dialect of ancient Hebrew.123 Others
speak in terms of a vernacular feature.124 Of course, it may be that ‫זֹו‬/‫ זֹה‬is char-
acteristic of the northern dialect in early material and of the penetration of
vernacular Hebrew into the written register in later texts.

4.8.1 Jeremiah
Whatever the original meaning/function of the ‫ת‬- in ‫זֹאת‬, there is consensus
that it was in the course of time interpreted as a feminine marker. However,
that marker seems itself eventually to have lost its feminine force in the minds
of language users, because the anomalous form ‫ זאתה‬pops up in Jer 26.6 (ktiv):

643), and Garr (1985: 83–84) also see in the demonstrative ‫זֹה‬/‫ זֹו‬a form typologically
simpler and more ancient than ‫זֹאת‬, but do not discuss the origin or original function of
the ‫ת‬-.
120 For the statistical data on RH see Bar-Asher 1985: 90, n. 67.
121 In the opinion of Blau (2010: §§– Proto-Semitic demonstrative pronouns
did not mark gender differences, so that ḏī and ḏā each served for both masculine and
feminine. Only with the misunderstanding of the originally deictic particle -t as a femi-
nine marker was the form ‫ זֹאת‬taken as feminine (see also Harris 1939: 70). According to
Blau the ʾalef in this form is also a deictic morpheme; cf. Brockelmann 1908–1913: I §107tα.
Barth (1913: 105) considers the -t a specifically feminine deictic morpheme. In view of the
orthography ‫ זאת‬in the Aramaic inscription from Tell Fekheriye Muraoka (1984: 93–94; cf.
ibid. 84) suggests the developmental process zā < zāʾ < zāʾt < zāʾtī, according to which the
form ‫ זאת‬precedes ‫ זא‬and the shedding of the -t is to be explained as a result of analogy
to the loss of -t on the absolute form of feminine nouns.
122 Cf. GKC (§34b) and du Plessis (1971: 174), who see ‫זֹה‬/‫ זֹו‬as a secondary abbreviation of ‫זֹאת‬.
123 S.R. Driver 1898: 188, n. *; Burney 1903: 207–208; Segal 1927: 41 (cf. Segal 1936: 49, which is
less precise regarding the geographical location of the dialect); Rabin 1981: 124; Kutscher
1982: §44; Tyler 1988: 103–104; Fredericks 1988: 107; Rendsburg 1990b: 89; 2002a: 105;
Schoors 1992–2004: I 53; Schniedewind and Sivan 1997: 327; C. Smith 2003: 79; cf. Young
1995: 64, 66.
124 Segal 1936: 49; Hurvitz 1972: 41; Levine 1978: 160, n. 33; Rendsburg 1990a: 133–136. Segal
(1927: 41) and Kutscher (1982: §§44, 203; 2007: 643) define the form as dialectal princi-
pally in northern speech. Gordis (1968: 110), Bendavid (1967–1971: I 77), Davila (1991: 821),
Schoors (1992–2004: I 53), and Sáenz-Badillos (1993: 124) raise the possibility of the late
influence of RH, by which they presumably mean a colloquial form of the language spo-
ken in the early Second Temple Period. See also Tyler 1988: 103–104.
pronominal morphology 147

and I will make this house like Shiloh, and this (ktiv ‫ ;הזאתה‬qre ‫ ) ַהּזֹאת‬city
I will make a curse to all nations of the earth

Assuming that the ktiv here represents more than a mere corruption,125 the
form in question seems to have resulted from the addition of a redundant
marker of the feminine: ‫זֹו < זֹאת < זאתה‬/‫ < זֹה‬ḏā.126 The addition of a superflu-
ous feminine morpheme for purposes of creating a more transparently femi-
nine form is perhaps best explained as a vernacular phenomenon.127 If so, the
form in question may very well constitute a unique incursion from the spoken
form of ancient Hebrew, which, however—and this is not to be glossed over—
is undocumented anywhere else in the history of the language. Of course, on
the basis of such meager evidence, this conclusion must be seen as tentative
in the extreme.

4.8.2 The MT and the Greek

The Greek presents no parallel for the form ‫ הזאתה‬in Jer 26.6. According to
the electronic database of Tov and Polak (2004), of the approximately 230
cases of ‫ זֶ ה‬and ‫ זֹאת‬in MT Jeremiah, 35 are not represented in the Greek.128 In
theory, then, the lack of a parallel here may be either stylistic or an omission
on the part of the translator. However, the context seems to warrant use of
the demonstrative.129 In any case, even if ‫ הזאתה‬belongs to the supplementary
material, its rarity makes it distinctively characteristic of no form of Hebrew, so
that it provides little help in distinguishing the language of the supplementary
layer from that of the rest of the book.

125 Lambert 1938: 123, n. 3; Orlinsky 1942–1943: 286–287; the Greek has no parallel for the form
in question (see below); cf. C. Smith 2003: 80, n. 59. Jeremiah contains 94 cases of the
standard ‫ זֹאת‬and 41 of them involve the expression ‫‘ ָה ִעיר ַהּזֹאת‬this city’.
126 Bauer and Leander 1922: §28b, d; Segal 1936: 49; Bar-Asher 1985: 90–91, n. 68. For an alter-
native explanation, assuming influence of a vernacular register, see G.R. Driver 1951a:
244–245. Janzen (1973: 45) and Holladay (1986–1989: II 100) view the form as authentic
Hebrew, but think that it penetrated from a different scribal tradition.
127 One might compare the addition of the apparently adjectival suffix ‫ ִ◌י‬- to a form that
already serves as an adjective, e.g., ‫‘ ַא ְכזָ ר‬cruel’ > ‫‘ ַא ְכזָ ִרי‬cruel’ in BH. Cf. also the colloquial
Modern Israeli Hebrew form ‫אתי‬ ִ ֹּ‫‘ ַהז‬this’ (< ‫‘ ַהּזֹאת ִהיא‬this one is’), as in ‫השמלה הזאתי‬
‘this dress’, in which the -i ending gives the demonstrative a more pronounced adjectival
(and perhaps feminine—cf. the verbal ending on fs commands and future forms) charac-
ter than has standard ‫זֹאת‬.
128 The figure includes only those cases in which the demonstratives in question have no
parallel in the Greek.
129 Janzen 1973: 45; C. Smith 2003: 80, n. 59. Cf. Holladay 1986–1989: II 100.
chapter 5

Nominal Morphology

5.1 The qå̄ṭōl (‫ )ָקטֹול‬Nominal Pattern (for the nomen agentis)

Among the many substantives in Hebrew with the qå̄ṭōl pattern, one group that
stands out semantically, morphologically, and phonologically is the nominal
template qå̄ṭōl for marking the nomen agentis. Semantically, nouns in this pat-
tern typically refer to an occupation or some other persistent ­characteristic.1
Morphologically, the plural forms of nouns in this pattern take ‫ֹות‬- rather than
‫ִ◌ים‬-, even in the masculine. Phonologically, the initial å̄ vowel in nouns of this
type—against the norm in Hebrew—is preserved as a full vowel even when,
due to the addition of a plural or feminine suffix, it is more than one syllable
distant from the primary word stress. The origin, etymology, and date of devel-
opment of the pattern within Hebrew are all disputed issues.2

5.1.1 The mt
There is some debate among scholars concerning which words—biblical and
otherwise—belong to the category in question.3 For purposes of the discus-
sion here forms included must (a) have a first root letter vocalized with qamaṣ

1 More common biblical nominal patterns with the same meaning include the participle of
the various active binyanim and qaṭṭå̄l.
2 See, e.g., Barth 1894: §§27g, 122d; Nöldeke 1904: §107; Brockelmann 1908–1913: I §§128, n. 4,
131; GKC §84ak; Bauer and Leander 1922: §61kα; Segal 1936: §114; Kutscher 1950–1951: 21; Ben-
Ḥayyim 1957–1977: III 109, nn. 79–80; Wernberg-Møller 1959; Bravmann 1971; Yalon 1971: 14;
Avineri 1976: 344–346; Bar-Asher 1977: 94–97; 1985: 94–95; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 187; J. Fox
2003: 184, 242–243; JM §88Ea.
3 Avineri (1976: 344–345), who holds that the nominal pattern in question can also refer to
‘instruments’, considers ‫‘ ֲארֹון‬chest, ark’ a member of the class, despite the vocalization of the
first syllable (see also Segal 1936: §114; JM §88Ea). Bar-Asher (1977: 96, n. 76) gives a convinc-
ing argument against including instruments, which would also apply to ‫קֹוע‬ ַ ‫‘ ָּת‬horn, trumpet’
(Ezek 7.14). The amended form ‫דֹודה‬ ָ ‫*ׁש‬
ָ ‘destroyer’ (Ps 137.8), replacing the apparently pas-
sive ‫דּודה‬ ָ ‫ ְׁש‬, has also been proposed as a member of this class. Indeed, the context would
seem to call for an active, rather than passive form. Be that as it may, active meanings are not
unknown in the case of på̄ʿūl )‫(ּפעּול‬ ָ forms; cf. ‫ידּוע ח ִֹלי‬
ַ ִ‫‘ ו‬and familiar with disease’ (Isa 53.3),
‫‘ ֲא ֻחזֵ י ֶח ֶרב‬wielders of swords’ (Song 3.8), and ‫י־ע ָפר ֲאנָ ְחנּו‬
ָ ‫(‘ זָ כּור ִּכ‬he) remembers that we are
dust’ (Ps 103.14); cf. such English forms as learnéd, experienced, and drunk. Since the vocaliza-
tion as it stands is admissible, it seems preferable to avoid emendation.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���4 | doi ��.��63/9789004269651_�06

nominal morphology 149

and (b) refer semantically to a vocation or persistent attribute. Along with the
suggested qå̄ṭōl form, its meaning, and references, the following list includes
classical alternatives:
‫‘ ָאמֹון‬artisan, craftsman’ (Jer 52.15; Prov 8.30)4 ≈ ‫( ח ֵֹׁשב‬Exod 40.20), ‫( ָח ָרׁש‬Exod
28.11), ‫( ח ֵֹרׁש‬1 Kgs 7.14), ‫( י ֵֹד ַע‬1 Kgs 9.27), and ‫( ָח ָכם‬Isa 40.20); ‫גֹודה‬ ָ ‫‘ ָּב‬traitress’
(Jer 3.7, 10) ≈ ‫( ּבֹגֵ ָדה‬Jer 3.8, 11); ‫‘ ָּבחֹון‬assayer’ (Jer 6.27)5 ≈ ‫( ּב ֵֹחן‬Jer 11.20; 17.10;
20.12; Ps 7.10; Prov 17.3; 1 Chr 29.17);6 ‫‘ * ָחלֹום‬dreamer’ (Jer 27.9; 29.8; Zech 10.2
[?])7 ≈ ‫( ח ֵֹלם‬Deut 13.5–6), ‫( ַּב ַעל ֲחלֹומֹות‬Gen 37.19); ‫‘ ָחמֹוץ‬oppressor’ (Isa 1.17)8 ≈
ֵ (Ps 73.21); ‫‘ יָ קֹוׁש‬fowler’ (Hos 9.8)9 ≈ ‫( י ֵֹקׁש‬Ps 124.7), ‫( יָ קּוׁש‬Jer 5.26; Ps 71.3;
Prov 6.5);10 ‫‘ ָעכֹור‬troubler’ (Josh 7.24–26)11 ≈ ‫עֹוכר‬ ֵ (1 Chr 2.7); ‫‘ ָעׁשֹוק‬oppressor’

4 Cf. ‫‘ ָא ָּמן‬artisan’ (Song 7.2). Textual debate attaches to the form in Jer 52.15 (cf. 2 Kgs 25.11
and Jer 39.9) and semantic debate to that in Prov 8.30. There are several potential early
synonyms, especially ‫ ָח ָרׁש‬.
5 The verse is difficult. Arguably, the most attractive interpretation assumes a double enten-
dre, according to which ‫ ָּבחֹון‬should be understood to denote both ‘assayer’ and ‘tower’;
see Qimḥi; Avravranel; Bula 1983: 87; Kaddari 2006: 94a.
6 The active participle in these cases may also be interpreted as a verbal, rather than nomi-
nal form.
7 All purported cases are disputed, though a form referring to an occupation ‘dreamer’
is arguably more appropriate in each case than a form referring to ‘dream’. This seems
especially true of the two cases in Jeremiah, where both the immediate context and the
literary dependence on Deut 13.2–6 seem to call for reference to a dreamer. The ‫ֹות‬- plural
ending is also thus explained. Many ancient and modern interpreters render accordingly.
The loss of a full vowel with the first root letter is to be explained (with Bar-Asher 1992:
660, n. 13) as a result of “quantitative dissimilation,” according to which ḥālōmōṯēḵem >
ḥălōmōṯēḵem due to the sequence of multiple long vowels. Bar-Asher compares the form
‫‘ ֵצ ְדנִ ּיֹות‬Sidonian women’ (1 Kgs 11.1), which he opines has the form ṣēḏniyyōṯ rather than
ṣēḏōniyyōṯ for the same reason.
8 The verse is difficult in part because of the verb ‫ ַא ְּׁשרּו‬, which is taken variously. Some take
‫ ָחמֹוץ‬as a passive, ‘oppressed’, as if it should have been vocalized ‫ ָחמּוץ‬, but see above n. 3.
9 Based on the qaṭal form of this verb, e.g., ‫‘ יָ ק ְֹׁש ִּתי‬I have set a trap’ (Jer 50.24), which pre-
serves the paʿol pattern, it is not impossible that the apparent qå̄ṭōl form in question is in
reality the participle/verbal adjective of the paʿol form.
10 The active force of ‫‘ יָ קּוׁש‬fowler’ is admittedly unexpected, but see above, n. 3.
11 The relevance of this form, a toponym, is somewhat doubtful. The place name is
explained in Josh 7.24 in a wordplay involving the personal name ‫‘ ָע ָכן‬Achan’ and the
verb ‫‘ ָע ַכר‬to trouble’. The same individual is referred to as ‫עֹוכר יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל‬ֵ ‫‘ ָע ָכר‬Achar the
troubler of Israel’ in 1 Chr 2.7. It seems farfetched to construe the etiological explanation
of a toponym as evidence for the early use of the qå̄ṭōl pattern to mark the nomen agentis.
However, it is not out of the question that a late writer, such as the Chronicler, may have
interpreted a name like ‫ ָעכֹור‬as just such a form, though this is admittedly unnecessary
for the wordplay in question.
150 chapter 5

(Jer 22.2)12 ≈ ‫עֹוׁשק‬ ֵ (Jer 21.12); ‫‘ ָצרֹוף‬metalsmith, refiner’ (Jer 6.29) ≈ ‫( צ ֵֹרף‬e.g.,
Jdg 17.4);13 ‫‘ ָרזֹון‬ruler’ (Prov 14.4) ≈ ‫( ר ֹזֵ ן‬e.g., Jdg 5.3);14 ‫‘ ָׁשתֹוי‬weaver’ (Isa 19.10)15 ≈
‫( א ֵֹרג‬e.g., Exod 28.32).

5.1.2 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

The nominal pattern in question is evidently rare in the DSS,16 but fairly com-
mon in RH,17 where its increased employment is often chalked up to the influ-
ence of Aramaic,18 in some dialects of which the cognate nominal template is
a standard means of denoting the nomen agentis.19 However, since the pattern
is not unknown in BH, Bar-Asher (1977: 96, n. 71) is surely correct to assert that
the claim of Aramaic provenance merits further examination. It seems much
more likely that Aramaic influence led to the increased frequency of a native,
but rarely used Hebrew pattern in late sources.

12 The active force of the form ‫ ָעׁשֹוק‬in Jer 22.3 is clear from both the immediate context—
‫‘ וְ ַה ִּצילּו גָ זּול ִמּיַ ד ָעׁשֹוק‬and you will rescue the robbed from the oppressor’—and the paral-
lel in Jer 21.3, which has the active participle ‫עֹוׁשק‬ ֵ instead of ‫ ָעׁשֹוק‬.
13 The phrase in question; ‫ ַל ָּׁשוְ א ָצ ַרף ָצרֹוף‬is somewhat ambiguous, in that ‫ ָצרֹוף‬can be read
as an infinitive absolute; but it seems preferable to read it as the subject of the sentence,
i.e., ‘in vain the metalsmith has refined’ َ‫َ زُ ن‬
14 The root in question is unproductive in Hebrew, but seems to be related to Arabic �� ‫ر‬
‘be significant, important, respected’.
15 For an explanation of this form as a qå̄ṭōl form marking the nomen agentis see Yalon 1950–
1951: 14–15. The word has been explained variously, but Yalon’s solution has the advantage
of accounting for the preservation of the qamaṣ in the first syllable as well as for the
modification of a plural form with ‫ֹות‬- by means of a masculine adjective. Yalon posits a
slight contraction of the expected form ‫יה‬ ָ ‫תֹויֹות‬
ֶ ‫*ׁש‬
ָ to ‫יה‬
ָ ‫תֹות‬
ֶ ‫ ָׁש‬.
16 Qimron (1986: §500.3) has identified potential cases in ‫‘ ידועי‬those who know’ (4Q405
f3ii.1; f8–9.3), which seems promising in light of the use of the active participle in 4Q405
f3ii.9, but could just as well be another case of the active use of the passive på̄ʿūl )‫(ּפעּול‬ ָ
pattern (see above, n. 3). ‫( בחון‬CD 13.3 [2x]) is usually analyzed as a passive participle, i.e.,
‘qualified’ rather than ‘examines, examiner’.
17 Segal 1936: §114; Bar-Asher 1977: 95–97; 1985: 93–94; 1992: 660.
18 Among those who see in the Hebrew use of the nominal pattern a result of Aramaic influ-
ence (at the very least in terms of the preservation of the qamaṣ with the addition of suf-
fixes): Barth 1894: §122d; Brockelmann 1908–1913: I §131; GKC §84ak; Segal 1936: §114 (with
reservation); Kutscher 1950–1951: 21; Avineri 1976: 346; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 187.
19 The pattern is already represented in BA (‫‘ ָּכרֹוז‬herald’ [Dan 3.4]) and is the standard form
for denoting the nomen agentis—replacing the participle—in the Targumic Aramaic of
Onkelos and Jonathan (Bar-Asher 1977: 97), Samaritan Aramaic (Kutscher 1950–1951: 21;
Ben-Ḥayyim 1957–1977: III 109, nn. 79–80), and Syriac (Nöldeke 1904: §107).
nominal morphology 151

5.1.3 Diachronic Status

Primarily on the basis of its frequency in RH and the later Aramaic dialects
several scholars view use of the qå̄ṭōl nominal pattern for marking the nomen
agentis, or at least its increased usage, as a characteristically post-classical phe-
nomenon in BH.20 The difficulties with this view are two: on the one hand, the
pattern in question evidently appears—albeit sporadically—in early texts; on
the other hand, it is not found in the core LBH books. Now, admittedly, use of
the qå̄ṭōl nomen agentis pattern is widespread in no historical phase of BH.
Moreover, as it turns out, the core LBH books offer very few opportunities for
use of the pattern in question. The prevalence of the form in RH may also indi-
cate a vernacular usage not deemed suitable for literary texts.

5.1.4 Jeremiah
Jeremiah contains a total of six nomen agentis qå̄ṭōl forms accounting for eight
occurrences between them. Both totals are by far the highest among biblical
texts. In Hebrew only rabbinic sources exhibit a comparable affinity. It should
be borne in mind, however, that Jeremiah still shows a preference for more stan-
dard forms of the nomen agentis, e.g., the active participle and the qaṭṭå̄l form.
Significantly, alongside four of the nomen agentis qå̄ṭōl forms there employed
one also finds (sometimes more frequent use of) more standard forms, e.g.,
ָ ‫ ָּב‬versus ‫ ּבֹגֵ דה‬both ‘traitress’, ‫ ָּבחֹון‬versus ‫ ּב ֵֹחן‬both ‘assayer’,21 ‫ ָעׁשֹוק‬versus
ֵ ‫ ע‬both ‘oppressor’, ‫ ָצרֹוף‬versus ‫ֹ(ו)רף‬
‫ֹ(ו)ׁשק‬ ֵ ‫ צ‬both ‘metalsmith, refiner’, and ‫ָאמֹון‬
versus ‫ ָח ָרׁש‬both ‘artisan, craftsman’. In several cases the qå̄ṭōl and its respec-
tive standard alternative appear in the same context. This state of affairs would
seem to reflect the transitional status of Jeremiah’s language, though, admit-
tedly, since the core LBH books contain no examples, Jeremiah’s linguistic pro-
file seems to be intermediate more specifically between CBH and RH.
It should be noted that the forms are scattered along the length of the book,
so that no section contains a striking concentration. Whether Jeremiah’s unpar-
alleled use of this pattern in BH stems from late external pressure (Aramaic) or
results from late internal development (penetration of vernacular Hebrew), or
is a result of multiple factors, the special linguistic link embodied in this feature
between Jeremiah’s Hebrew and RH, on the one hand, and between Jeremiah’s
Hebrew and some of the late Aramaic dialects, on the other, is undeniable.

20 Segal 1936: §114; Bar-Asher 1985: 93–94; JM §88Ea.

21 The active participle in Jer 11.20 may also be interpreted as a verbal form; cf. Jer 17.10; 20.12.
152 chapter 5

5.1.5 The MT and the Greek

The Greek translation presents a parallel for seven of the eight instances of
nomen agentis qå̄ṭōl forms in MT Jeremiah, usually representing them with a
Greek nomen agentis.22 The only form not represented in the Greek is ‫‘ ָאמֹון‬arti-
san, craftsman’ in Jer 52.15, most of which verse is unparalleled in the Greek.23
Clearly, then, the short edition already bears witness to use of the nomen agen-
tis qå̄ṭōl, meaning that, from the perspective of this feature, its linguistic profile
seems no more classical than that of the supplementary layer. For purposes of
comparison, and limiting the search for alternative forms marking the nomen
agentis in Jeremiah to those listed above in §5.1.1, there are no standard forms
in the MT without parallels in the Greek.

5.2 The qĕṭå̄l (‫ ) ְק ָטל‬Nominal Pattern

5.2.1 The MT
The biblical distribution of the qĕṭå̄l nominal pattern points unambiguously to
its status as a linguistic feature especially characteristic of the Second Temple
Period.24 It is true that it occasionally crops up in early sources and in texts
of undetermined date. Yet these potentially early occurrences are clearly
non-standard and uncharacteristic of CBH. Moreover, one cannot ignore the
pattern’s striking proliferation in biblical material composed during the later
period, that is to say from the close of the First Temple Period, through the
Exile, into the period of the Restoration, and beyond.

22 The sole case in which a nomen agentis qå̄ṭōl form in the MT is rendered with something
other than a Greek nomen agentis form is that of ‫יכם‬ ֶ ‫‘ ֲחֹלמ ֵֹת‬your dreamers’ in Jer 29.8. MT’s
‫יכם ֲא ֶׁשר ַא ֶּתם ַמ ְח ְל ִמים‬
ֶ ‫‘ ֲחֹלמ ֵֹת‬your dreamers that you cause to dream’ is rendered τὰ ἐνύπνια
ὑμῶν ἃ ὑμεῖς ἐνυπνιάζεσθε = ‫יכם ֲא ֶׁשר ַא ֶּתם ח ְֹל ִמים‬ ֶ ‫‘ ֲחֹלמ ֵֹת‬your dreams that you dream’.
23 The parallel verse in Jer 39.9 also goes unrepresented in the Greek, which has a long minus
at Jer 39.4–13. It should be noted, however, that στηρίγματος ‘pillar, column’ in 2 Kgs 25.11
provides support for the reading there of collective ‫‘ האמון‬the artisans, craftsman’ rather
than ‫‘ ההמון‬the crowd’, in that the Greek word is used to translate, among other things,
)‫‘ ֱאמּונֵ י (יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל‬the faithful (of Israel)’ (2 Sam 20.19), a consonantal match for the nomen
agentis qå̄ṭōl form ‫ ָאמֹון‬.
24 Bauer and Leander 1922: 470lα n. 1; Hurvitz 1972: 58–59 n. 158; Kutscher 1982: §103; Bergey
1983: 92–93, 103–105, 142–145; Rooker 1990: 141; Schoors 1992–2004: I 60–61; Hadas-Lebel
1995: 111; J. Fox 2003: 185; Wright 2005: 90–92, 143; JM §88Ef. See also individual entries in
Kautzsch 1902; BDB; Wagner 1966; Bendavid 1967–1971; Zevit 1984: 43–44; Sáenz-Badillos
1993: 127; Seow 1996: 652 n. 49. Cf. Nöldeke 1903: 416; Young 1993: 109; 2003b: 288, 293;
Young, Rezekto, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 114, 292.
nominal morphology 153

The rarity of the pattern in classical sources is explained by the fact that
it most often reflects the Proto-Semitic qaṭāl (*qVṭāl) nominal pattern, which
in Aramaic developed phonologically into qĕṭå̄l, but, in accordance with the
Canaanite shift, took the form qǝṭōl (or, alternatively, qaṭṭōl or qå̄ṭōl) in CBH. In
other words, the phonological norms of ancient Hebrew prevented the devel-
opment of qĕṭå̄l from Proto-Semitic qaṭāl (*qVṭāl) until the Canaanite shift was
no longer operative or, alternatively, the shift in question was not applied in
the case of recognized loanwords. In any event, Aramaic-looking qĕṭå̄l forms
multiply only in the post-classical phases of ancient Hebrew and there is broad
scholarly consensus that ancient Hebrew, especially in its later phases, owes its
use of the qĕṭå̄l nominal pattern to Aramaic influence.25
The 22 words that apparently belong to the pattern account for approxi-
mately 125 occurrences in the Bible. Of these, some are found in texts generally
considered classical. However, in a large proportion of these apparently early
cases of the pattern’s use there is doubt as to whether the word in question
really belongs to the pattern. In other instances, the use would appear to be
genuinely early, but is still anomalous. For example, ‫‘ ֲאנָ ְך‬plumb line (?), tin (?)’
(Amos 7.7 [2x], 8 [2x]) is a technical term related to architecture, apparently
of foreign origin, that was evidently borrowed into Hebrew at an early date.26
As is well known, foreign words are often exempt from, or at least resistant to,
a language’s standard phonological processes. In the case of ‫‘ ְמ ָצד‬stronghold’
(Jdg 6.2; 2 Sam 23.14, 19; 24.1; Isa 33.16) it is noteworthy that use of the singu-
lar is limited to late contexts (1 Chr 11.7; 12.9, 17), all non-late forms involving
the plural. Is ‫ ְמ ָצדֹות‬the plural of ‫ ְמ ָצד‬, or might it rather be the plural of an
undocumented singular ‫*מ ָצ ָדה‬ ְ , apparently reflected in later Greek Μασάδα27
and Aramaic ‫?מצדתא‬28 The word ‫‘ ֲענָ ק‬collar, necklace’ (Jdg 8.26; Prov 1.9; Song
4.9), like the aforementioned ‫ ֲאנָ ְך‬, seems to be a technical term, perhaps also of

25 Kautzsch 1902: 36–41, 44, 70, 77–78; BDB 490b (‫) ְּכנָ ת‬, 508a (‫) ְּכ ָתב‬, 714b (‫) ֲע ָבד‬, 898a (‫ ;) ְק ָרב‬GKC
§§84an, 93ww; Rabin 1962: 1075; Wagner 1966: 62–63, 69, 78–79, 88–89, 102–103, 122;
Hurvitz 1972: 58–59, n. 158; Kutscher 1982: §103; Bergey 1983: 103–105, 142–145; Zevit 1984:
43–44; Rooker 1990: 141, n. 53; Schoors 1992–2004: I 60–61; Hadas-Lebel 1995: 111; Seow
1996: 652; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 127; J. Fox 2003: 185; Wright 2005: 91; JM §88Ef; Holmstedt
2012:1 06.
26 BDB 59; Rabin 1962: 1079; Ellenbogen 1962: 31–32.
27 See, e.g., Josephus Antiquities 14.296, etc.; Wars 1.264, etc.
28 Consider, e.g., ‫במצדת עין־גדי‬ ַ ‘in the stronghold of Ein Gedi’ (Targum Jonathan to 1 Sam
24.1 || ‫‘ ִּב ְמ ָצדֹות ֵעין־ּגֶ ִדי‬in the strongholds of Ein Gedi’). It has also been suggested that
the consonantal form ‫ מצדות‬represents the pronunciation ‫ ְמ ֻצדֹות‬, but was vocalized in
accordance with later pronunciation, itself a result of Aramaic influence (Schoors 1992–
2004: I 61, n. 99).
154 chapter 5

foreign origin, and, like ‫ ְמ ָצד‬, is apparently represented in early material only by
a plural, whose corresponding singular is uncertain. The Aramaic-type singu-
lar is limited to Song of Songs, a composition widely considered either late or
northern or both. The seemingly early occurrence of ‫‘ ְק ָרב‬battle’ (2 Sam 17.11)
is dubious not only because of its unique status in pre-exilic material, but also
because in contrast to its presence in the MT, it is not reflected in any of the
principal Ancient Versions, pointing to a likely scribal corruption in the MT.29
The word ‫‘ ְׁש ָאר‬remnant’ comes 13 times in classical material, all cases in ‘First
Isaiah’ (Isa 7.3; 10.19, 20, 21 [2x], 22; 11.11, 16; 14.22; 16.14; 17.3; 21.17; 28.5). This
anomalous early usage is apparently to be explained in terms of high literary
usage of a foreign term. Both ‫‘ ְׂש ָלו‬quail’ (Exod 16.13; Num 11.31, 32) and ‫ְׂש ָרד‬
(‫(‘ ) ִּבגְ ֵדי‬clothes of) service (?), woven (clothes) (?)’ (Exod 31.10; 35.19; 39.1, 41)
appear to be early foreign loans.30 To summarize: one should not ignore early
biblical instances of the qĕṭå̄l nominal pattern, but its use, which is in any
case rare given the amount of CBH material, is in no way characteristic of that
phase of the language.31
Up to 25 apparent cases of the qĕṭå̄l pattern come in material that does not
belong to the core LBH sources and whose date of composition is thus debat-
able, i.e., Psalms, Job, Proverbs, and Song of Songs. It should be borne in mind,
however, that the relevance of some of these forms is questionable, since they

29 MT: ‫ּופנֶ יָך ה ְֹל ִכים ַּב ְק ָרב‬

ָ ‘and your presence goes into the battle’. Cf. the Greek καὶ τὸ
πρόσωπόν σου πορευόμενον ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν = ‫ּופנֶ יָך ה ְֹל ִכים ְּב ִק ְר ָּבם‬
ָ ‘and your presence goes
among them’; Targum Jonathan: ‫‘ ואת תהי אזיל ברישנא‬and you will be going at our head’;
Peshiṭta: ‫‘ ܘܐܢܬ ܐܙܠ ܒܡܨܥܬܐ‬and you are going in the midst’; Vulgate: et tu eris in
medio eorum ‘and you will be in their midst’.
30 On the former see BDB 969a as well as Rendsburg 1999: 30–31, the latter of which sees
‫ ְׂש ָלו‬as the broken plural of an otherwise unattested segholate singular, in which case its
relevance to the present discussion is doubtful. The latter has been understood variously
(see the lexicons), but may derive from the name of a people group known for producing
fine linen, which, according to Herodotus, was called λίνον Σαρδωνικὸν in Greek (see
Forbes 1964: 27; HALOT 1353b–1354b).
31 On the basis of Zevit’s (1984: 43–44) reading, Young (1993: 109; 2003b: 288, 293) sug-
gests the presence of ‫ ְּכ ָתב‬in the Khirbet El Qom inscription from the first half of the
8th century BCE, but most scholars read this as a verb, while Zevit himself vocalizes
‫ ָּכ ָתב‬. The following words are excluded from the count here: ‫*ּכ ָרע <( ְּכ ָר ַעיִ ם‬
ְ ?) ‘(animal)
legs’, since it comes only in the dual form and it is impossible to determine whether the
singular belongs to the nominal pattern in question; cf. ‫( ֶּכ ַרע‬M Kelim 18.7) and ‫ְּכ ַרע‬
(M Negaʿim 14.6); ‫‘ ֲע ַרב‬wasteland, steppe, Arabia’ (Isa 21.13), because the contextual form
has pataḥ under the second root letter, and the word is in any case a (foreign?) place
name; ‫קצוות‬/‫‘ )? ְק ָצת <( ְק ָצֹות‬ends’ (Exod 37.8 ktiv; 38.5; 39.4 ktiv), since the dominant
singular form in the Bible is ‫ ָק ֶצה‬, while sure cases of the singular ‫ ( ִמ) ְק ָצת‬are limited to
undisputed late material.
nominal morphology 155

may actually represent other nominal patterns. Also, the late provenance of
some of them is not out of the question; for example, Ps 144, which contains
one instance of ‫‘ ְק ָרב‬battle’, has been classified as late on the basis of its ­overall
linguistic profile.32 In other cases one may posit early Aramaic influence. This
seems a reasonable explanation in the case of both poetic material, where
non-standard forms are often employed, and Wisdom Literature, with its tra-
ditionally eastern affiliation. Generally speaking, none of the relevant sources
can be said to employ standard CBH. Consider the following list: ‫‘ *זְ ָמם‬scheme’
(Ps 140.9);33 ‫*ט ָהר‬ ְ ‘splendor’ (Ps 89.45);34 ‫‘ *יְ ָהב‬burden’ (Ps 55.23); ‫‘ יְ ָקר‬glory’
(Ps 49.13, 21; Prov 20.15; Job 28.10); ‫*מ ָדן‬ ְ ‘strife’ (Prov 6.14 ktiv, 19; 10.12);35 ‫ְמנָ ת‬
‘portion’ (Ps 11.6; 16.5; 63.11); ‫( ְס ָתיו‬qre; ktiv: ‫‘ )סתו‬winter, rainy season’ (Song 2.11);
‫‘ ֲענָ ק‬collar, necklace’ (Prov 1.9; Song 4.9); ‫‘ ְק ָרב‬battle’ (Ps 55.19, 22; 68.31; 78.9;
144.1; Job 38.23); ‫‘ ְׁש ָאר‬remnant’ (Zeph 1.4); ‫‘ ְׂש ָלו‬quail’ (Ps 105.40).36 Whatever
the exact date each of the genuine qĕṭå̄l forms became available for use in
Hebrew, it is clear that none can be termed characteristic of classical literature.
The post-classical explosion in the use of the qĕṭå̄l nominal pattern is
striking (the following list includes the form, its gloss, reference, and classi-
cal equivalents): ‫‘ יְ ָעף‬flight’ (Dan 9.21; ‫עֹופף ;עּוף‬ ֵ ); ‫( יְ ָקר‬Jer 20.5; Ezek 22.25; Zech
11.13; Est 1.4, 20; 6.3, 6 [2x], 7, 9 [2x], 11; 8.16; ‫‘ ְּכנָ ת ;)ע ֶֹׁשר ; ְּפ ֵאר ; ָּכבֹוד‬friend, other’
(Ezra 4.7; ‫זּולת ; ָע ִמית ; ָח ֵבר‬ ָ ; ‫‘ ְּכ ָתב ;) ֵר ַע‬writing, letter’ (Ezek 13.9; Est 1.22; 3.12, 14;
4.8; 8.8, 9 [2x], 13; 9.27; Dan 10.21; Ezra 2.62; 4.7; Neh 7.64; 1 Chr 28.19; 2 Chr
2.10; 35.4; ‫‘ ְמנָ ת ;) ֵס ֶפר ; ִמ ְכ ָּתב‬lot, portion’ (Jer 13.25; Neh 12.44, 47; 13.10; 2 Chr 31.3,
4; ‫ּגֹורל‬
ָ ; ‫‘ ְמ ָצד ;) ָמנָ ה‬fortress’ (Jer 48.41 [plural]; 51.30 [plural]; Ezek 33.27 [plu-
ral]; 1 Chr 11.7; 12.9, 17; ‫צּודה‬ ָ ‫‘ ְס ָפר ;) ְמ‬counting, census’ (2 Chr 2.16; ‫ֲע ָבד ;) ִמ ְפ ָקד‬
‘deed’ (Qoh 9.1; ‫‘ ( ִמ) ְק ָצת ;) ַמ ֲע ֶׂשה‬small portion, end’ (Dan 1.2, 5, 15, 18; Neh 7.69;
‫‘ ְק ָרב ;) ָק ֶצה ; ֵקץ ; ְמ ַעט‬war, battle’ (Zech 14.3; Qoh 9.18; ‫‘ ְׁש ָאט ;) ִמ ְל ָח ָמה‬contempt,
derision’ (Ezek 25.6, 15; 36.5; ‫‘ ְׁש ָאר ;) ַל ַעג ;ּבּוז‬remnant’ (Mal 2.15; Est 9.12, 16; Ezra
3.8; 4.7; Neh 10.29; 11.1, 20; 1 Chr 11.8; 16.41; 2 Chr 9.29; 24.14; ‫) ֶיֶתר‬.37

32 Hurvitz 1972: 164–169.

33 This form may or may not be relevant, as ‫ זְ ָממֹו‬may conceivably represent ‫זָ ָמם‬.
34 The form ‫ ִמ ְּט ָהרֹו‬is taken by some as representing the noun ‫ ִמ ְט ָהר‬.
35 The word is always in the plural, ‫ ְמ ָדנִ ים‬, which may conceivably represent an alternative
singular nominal pattern.
36 The form ‫‘ ) ְק ָצת <( ְק ָצֹות‬ends, remote places’ (Ps 65.9) has been excluded from the list (see
above, n. 31).
37 Despite their apparent relevance to the discussion of the nominal pattern in question,
the following words have been excluded from consideration: ‫‘ זְ ַמן‬time’ (Qoh 3.1; Est 9.27,
31; Neh 2.6)—the word represents a separate nominal pattern, with the second root
letter vocalized with pataḥ and gemination in the final root letter (the vocalization with
qamaṣ comes only in pause; see Muraoka 1993: 131; Hurvitz 2007: 28, n. 10); the Babylonian
month names ‫‘ ֲא ָדר‬Adar’ (Est 3.7, 13; 8.12; 9.1, 15, 17, 19, 21) and ‫‘ ְׁש ָבט‬Shevat’ (Zech 1.7)—
156 chapter 5

Based on the rather maximal counts given above—which include forms of

somewhat doubtful relevance—the following portrait of distribution emerges:

LBH ≈ 70 cases
non-LBH Writings ≈ 25 cases
rest of the Bible ≈ 30 cases

At first glance, such a distribution may not seem particularly indicative of pur-
portedly post-classical phenomenon. However, considering that well over half
of the qĕṭå̄l forms occur in the extremely limited LBH corpus, which accounts
for only about 14 percent of the biblical text in terms of graphic words, its use
must be considered especially characteristic of the post-450 BCE linguistic
milieu, all the more so when irrelevant forms are excluded from the count and
the total of instances occurring in exilic and post-exilic material not consid-
ered core LBH texts is taken into consideration.38

5.2.2 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

As noted above, words belonging to the pattern in question are particularly
common in the various Aramaic dialects.39 Post-biblical forms of Hebrew also
testify to the pattern’s status as a characteristically post-classical linguistic ele-

since they are foreign proper names that are not necessarily subject to the phonological
norms characteristic of common noun patterns; the adverb ‫‘ ְּכ ָבר‬already’ (Qoh 1.10; 2.12,
16; 3.15 [2x]; 4.2; 6.10; 9.6, 7)—since the form in question is not a noun and, in any case, is
etymologically unclear. It should be noted, however, that all of the above are distinctively
characteristic of post-classical sources, so that their inclusion would only strengthen the
argument that the qĕṭå̄l pattern is especially typical of the latest phrase of BH.
38 Since the distinction between qĕṭå̄l and alternative forms is purely one of vocaliza-
tion, some, doubting the reliability of the testimony regarding First and Second Temple
Hebrew afforded by the Tiberian vocalization, may view the distribution of the qĕṭå̄l pat-
tern as rather tenuous diachronic evidence. However, aside from the fact that there is no
basis for wholesale pessimism regarding the historical validity of the Tiberian pronun-
ciation tradition, were the pointing of qĕṭå̄l and alternative biblical forms the result of
a reading tradition lacking a historical connection to the ancient pronunciation of the
texts, these forms might be expected to be more or less evenly scattered throughout the
text, rather than especially concentrated in LBH.
39 For example, some of the BH forms listed above have identical forms in Aramaic: ‫יְ ָקר‬,
‫ ְּכ ָתב‬, ‫ ְק ָצת‬, ‫ ְק ָרב‬, and ‫ ְׁש ָאר‬all come in both BA and Targumic Aramaic; ‫ ְּכנָ ת‬comes in BA;
‫ ְס ָפר‬is common in Targumic Aramaic.
nominal morphology 157

ment, though it should be emphasized that a certain amount of speculation is

unavoidable in the classification of unvocalized forms.40

5.2.3 Jeremiah
As in the case of other apparent instances of Aramaic influence in BH, the
transitional period between CBH and LBH proper seems to have been the time
when qĕṭå̄l nominal forms became viable alternatives to their standard classi-
cal alternatives. This is especially clear from the appearance of relevant forms
in the book of Ezekiel. However, the sporadic use of the pattern in Jeremiah
also points to its growing employment in the transitional period. Jeremiah
exhibits two potential examples: ‫‘ יְ ָקר‬glory, honor, wealth’ and ‫‘ ְמנָ ת‬portion’. In
general, the two words exhibit a similar distribution: they are found mainly in
late material (lbH and BA and post-biblical Hebrew and Aramaic), together
with sporadic occurrences in biblical poetry and Wisdom Literature.
The form ‫ יְ ָקר‬is apparently found in Jer 20.5:41

And I will give all the wealth of this city and all of its toil and all of its
splendor (‫ ;)יְ ָק ָרּה‬and all of the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give
into the hand of their enemies and they will take them and bring them
to Babylon.

In this verse it serves as a synonym for several words from the same seman-
tic field. One is apparently to conclude that the writer, in need of an addi-
tional term referring to wealth, enlisted it from Aramaic. Be that as it may, it
should be noted that the word has no parallel in the Greek.42 Thus, perhaps
the lexeme does not represent the language of the writer, but that of a later
hand. Alternatively, given the presence of additional late Aramaic elements in
the language of Jeremiah, even in sections that are represented in the Greek

40 The Hebrew of the non-biblical DSS appears to contain cases of ‫זְ ָמם‬, ‫ ְט ָהר‬, ‫יְ ָקר‬, ‫ ְּכ ָתב‬, ‫ ְמ ָדן‬,
‫ ְמנָ ת‬, ‫ ְמ ָצד‬, ‫ ֲענָ ק‬, ‫( ִמ) ְק ָצת‬, ‫ ְק ָרב‬, and ‫ ְּכ ָתב ; ְׁש ָאר‬and ‫ ְק ָרב‬appear in Ben Sira; ‫ ְק ָצת‬and ‫ְׁש ָאר‬
come in the Bar Kokhba letters; and ‫ ְט ָהר‬, ‫ ְּכ ָתב‬, ‫ ְמנָ ת‬, ‫ ְס ָפר‬, ‫ ְק ָצת‬, and ‫ ְׁש ָאר‬are found in the
41 It is, however, not impossible that the form in question is a nominalization of the classical
adjective ‫‘ יָ ָקר‬dear, precious (thing)’, as apparently in ‫רֹותיָך‬ ֑ ֶ ‫‘ ִּביִ ְּק‬among your honored
(women)’ (Ps 45.10).
42 For the MT’s ‫ת־ּכל־יְ ָק ָרּה‬ ָ ‫יעּה וְ ֶא‬ ָ ִ‫ת־ּכל־יְ ג‬
ָ ‫ וְ ֶא‬lit. ‘all her toil and all her glory’ Targum Jonathan
presents ‫‘ וית כל עמלה וית כל ליאותה‬all her work and all her toil’, which apparently con-
sists of a double translation of ‫יעּה‬ ָ ִ‫‘ יְ ג‬her toil’. The readings of the Vulgate and the Peshiṭta,
pretium and ‫ܐܝܩܪܗ‬, respectively, both of which signify ‘(her) precious thing’, correspond
to the MT.
158 chapter 5

(including the lexeme ‫ ְמנָ ת‬discussed below), the book’s use of the word is not
completely out of character. The possibility that this difference between the
MT and the Greek is due to omission rather than addition cannot be ruled out.
A second example of the qĕṭå̄l pattern in Jeremiah, in the form of ‫ ְמנָ ת‬,
occurs in 13.25:

“This is your lot, your portion (‫ ) ְמנָ ת‬of measure from me,” declares Yhwh,
“since you forgot me and trusted in falsehood.”

Against the possible claim that the form in question is merely the construct
of ‫ ָמנָ ה‬, the classical term for ‘portion’, it is to be noted that the plural forms for
that word are ‫ ָמנֹות‬and -‫ ָמנֹות‬, with no shortening of the å̄ vowel. According to
its vocalization, then, ‫ ְמנָ ת‬has the look of a loan from Aramaic, which, not sur-
prisingly occurs predominately in later texts and sporadically in poetry.

5.2.4 The MT and the Greek

Since the short edition of Jeremiah as represented by the Greek presents a
form parallel to one of the two qĕṭå̄l forms in the book, it is difficult on the
basis of this feature to discern any meaningful linguistic difference between
the short and long editions. It is also hard to compare with all potential
semantic alternatives in the short edition and the supplementary material of
Jeremiah. However, it is worth noting that ‫’יְ ָקר‬s approximate classical synonym
ָ ‘treasure’ has no parallel in the Greek at Jer 17.3.
chapter 6

Verbal Morphology

6.1 Use of the Short, Full, and Lengthened wayyiqṭol

There is widespread agreement among scholars that the various BH yiqṭol pat-
terns, despite identical forms in the case of many verbs, developed from more
than one Proto-Semitic template. Thus, the yiqṭol used for encoding the future
(indicative and modal), the general present, and imperfective past, is thought
to derive from Proto-Semitic yaqṭulu. Conversely, the yiqṭol form that appears
in the wayyiqṭol and the jussive (including the negative imperative usually
negated with ‫ ) ַאל‬apparently developed from consonant-final yaqṭul.1 Already
at an early stage, due to the general loss of final short vowels in Hebrew, the
respective yiqṭol patterns of most verbs coalesced, so that the formal distinc-
tion between what will be here termed ‘full’ and ‘short’ yiqṭol was obliterated,
remaining evident only in certain forms of select weak patterns, e.g., ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬qal
and ‫ ל"י‬patterns, as well as of the hifʿil binyan. The existence of a third yiqṭol
form in BH has also been proposed. Ostensibly deriving from Proto-Semitic
yaqṭula,2 it serves almost exclusively in 1st person forms, especially (but not
only) for marking volition (i.e., the cohortative), as well as in wayyiqṭol forms.3
This form is termed here ‘lengthened’.
The distribution pattern of the three forms within biblical and extra-biblical
sources changes with the passage of time. Diachronic development is particu-
larly evident in the case of the wayyiqṭol. Since the specific patterns employed
and their distributions differ depending on person, especially 1st person versus
2nd and 3rd, these are discussed separately here. The discussion and statistics
reflect consonantal form, though the pronunciation tradition reflected in the
vocalization (and accentuation) will also be treated briefly. Specifically, dis-
tinctive short forms may obtain in the 1cs (‫)אקטל‬, 1cpl (‫)נקטל‬, 2ms/3fs (‫)תקטל‬,
and 3ms (‫ )יקטל‬forms of ‫ל"י‬, hifʿil, and ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬qal verbs, and some other weak
patterns; distinctive cases of the full pattern may obtain in the same types;
lengthened forms may obtain in the same forms of all verbs except for the ‫ל"י‬

1 For a recent bibliographic survey see Bloch 2007: 142, n. 3.

2 See Rainey 1986: 4, 8–10; JM §§114a–f, 116a–c; Bloch 2007: 143. For explanations of the preser-
vation of the final (anceps) a vowel in this form see Blau 2010: § and the note there.
There are also those who attribute this form to one ending in energic nun; see Blau 2010:
§ and the note there for bibliography and discussion.
3 Presumably, the a vowel of the lengthened imperative is related.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���4 | doi ��.��63/9789004269651_�07

160 chapter 6

class (but see below). Put differently, ‫ ל"י‬forms may be either short or full, but
not lengthened (but see below); ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬qal and non-‫ ל"י‬hifʿil forms may be short,
full, or lengthened; other verbs may be full or lengthened, but not short; some
weak patterns show a distinction between short and full forms in vocalization
and/or accent only. Where a distinction is made between full weak verbs and
strong verbs without the ◌-ָ suffix, the latter are here termed ‘unlengthened’.

6.1.1 1st Person The MT
In the mt 1st person (1cs and 1cpl) wayyiqṭol forms appear in all three of the pat-
terns in question—short (e.g., ‫וָ ָ֫א ָקם‬, ‫[ וָ אגדל‬routinely vocalized ‫]וַ ַאגְ ִּדל‬, ‫)וָ ֶ֫א ֶקן‬, full
(e.g., ‫וָ ֶא ְקטֹל‬, ‫וָ ָאקּום‬, ‫וָ ַאגְ ִּדיל‬, ‫)וָ ֶא ְקנֶ ה‬, and lengthened (e.g., ‫וָ ֶא ְק ְט ָלה‬, ‫קּומה‬
ָ ‫וָ ָא‬, ‫—)וָ ָאגְ ִּד ָילה‬
but not uniformly throughout the various historical stages of BH. Use of the
short pattern is particularly characteristic of classical biblical material, espe-
cially the Torah, and extra-biblical sources with a classical linguistic profile;
its usage can be seen to decline gradually in later material. In the case of verbs
with both short and full patterns, the full pattern is not commonly used in
the consonantal text of the Torah, but is often reflected, where possible, in its
vocalization,4 and is fairly standard in the consonantal text of the Prophets.
Examples of the lengthened pattern occur sporadically in the Pentateuch, are
only slightly more common in the Prophets, but become dominant in the core
LBH books. See table 6‎ .1.1.1a for details.5

Table M T, non-Masoretic, and extra-biblical distribution of short 1st person wayyiqṭol
forms: short/all cases (percentage short)

mt DSS Samaritan
Torah Prophets LBH + Qoh Biblical Non-biblical Pentateuch

‫ל"י‬ 18/21 28/66 7/25 3/10 1/9 1/21

(85.7%) (42.4%) (28%) (30%) (11.1%) (4.8%)
hifʿil 12/13 16/34 2/19 0/2 0/7 0/11
(92.3%)5 (47.1%) (10.5%) (0%) (0%) (0%)
‫י‬/‫ע"ו‬ 5/5 5/15 1/22 2/3 0/5 1/11
(100%) (33.3%) (4.6%) (66.7%) (0%) (9.1%)
TOTAL 35/39 49/115 10/66 5/15 1/21 2/43
(89.7%) (42.6%) (15.2%) (33.3%) (4.8%) (4.7%)

4 Gen 24.47; Exod 19.4; Lev 20.23, 26; Deut 9.21; 10.5.
5 These figures include the perhaps problematic form ‫( וַ ּנַ ִּׁשים‬Num 21.30), which is generally
considered an Aramaizing hifʿil form of ‫ ;שמ"ם‬for similar forms see Jer 49.20; 50.45; more
verbal morphology 161

Summarizing the mt data in the table, a short consonantal form comes in the
Torah in 35 of 39 cases (89.7 percent),6 in the Prophets in 49 of 115 cases (42.6
percent),7 and in the core LBH books and Qohelet in only 10 of 66 cases (15.2
percent).8 The downward historical trend is obvious.9
The distribution of the lengthened 1st person wayyiqṭol pattern, which can
obtain in all verbs except ‫( ל"י‬but see below), contrasts markedly with that of
its short counterpart. The relevant statistics are given in table ‎

typically Hebraic forms occur in 1 Sam 5.6 and Ezek 20.26. It may be worth noting that all
three of the Aramaizing forms occur in contexts dealing with foreigners, a fact which may
have invited the use of non-standard language. It should also be pointed out, however, that
some scholars, on the basis of the readings of the Ancient Versions here, suppose textual
corruption. The possibility of an archaic or archaizing hifʿil of ‫נש"י‬, with preservation of the
radical yod and a 3mpl object suffix (cf. ‫ וַ ּנִ ָירם‬at the beginning of the verse) is also not out of
the question. For further discussion see Bloch 2007: 149–150 and the references he cites.
6 ‫—ל"י‬short: Gen 24.46; 31.10; 41.22; Exod 6.3; 9.15; Num 13.33; 23.4; Deut 2.1, 8, 33; 3.1 (2x), 18;
9.15, 16; 10.3 (2x), 5; full: Gen 24.48; Deut 1.16, 18; hifʿil—short: Gen 43.7, 21; 44.24; Exod 19.4; Lev
20.26; 26.13; Num 31.50; Deut 2.34; 3.6; 9.21; 29.4; full: Num 21.30 (?); ‫י‬/‫—ע"ו‬short: Gen 24.42;
Lev 20.23; Num 13.33; Deut 1.19; 10.5.
7 ‫—ל"י‬short: Josh 7.21 (qre); 24.3 (ktiv); Jdg 18.4; Isa 64.5; Jer 3.8; 11.5; 15.6; 20.7; 35.10; Ezek 1.4,
15, 27; 11.16; 12.7; 20.9, 22; 23.13; 24.18; 43.8; 44.4; Hos 13.7; Zech 2.1, 5; 4.4, 11, 12; 5.9; 6.4; full: Josh
7.21 (ktiv); 9.24; 24.3 (qre); Jdg 12.3; 1 Sam 10.14; 13.12; 26.21; 2 Sam 7.6, 9; 11.23; 12.22; 22.24; 1 Kgs
8.20; 11.39; Isa 6.1; Jer 13.2; 25.17; 31.26; 32.9, 13; 44.17; Ezek 1.1, 28; 2.9; 8.2, 7, 10; 10.1, 9; 11.1; 16.8;
20.14; Hos 11.4; Amos 4.10; Zech 5.1; 6.1; 11.7 (2x); hifʿil—short: Josh 14.7; 24.3, 10; Jdg 6.9; 1 Kgs
2.42; 18.13; Jer 5.7; 32.10; 35.4; 42.21; Ezek 28.18; 31.15; 39.23, 24; Amos 2.10; Zech 11.8; full: Josh
24.6, 8 (qre); Jdg 2.1; 6.8; 1 Sam 10.18; 12.1; 15.20; Isa 48.5; Jer 2.7; 11.8 (not represented in the
Greek); Ezek 16.50; 36.19; Amos 2.9, 11; Zech 11.13; lengthened: Josh 24.8 (ktiv); Jdg 10.12; 2 Sam
7.9; ‫י‬/‫—ע"ו‬short: 1 Kgs 3.21; 8.20, 21; Jer 13.2; Zech 6.1; full: 1 Sam 10.14; 28.21; Isa 51.16; Ezek 3.15,
23; 8.10; 16.8; Zech 5.1; Mal 1.3; lengthened: Jdg 12.3.
8 ‫—ל"י‬short: Dan 10.5; Neh 1.4b; 2.11, 13, 15 (2x); 4.8; full: Qoh 4.1, 7; Dan 8.2 (2x), 3, 27; 9.4; 10.8;
Ezra 8.15, 17 (qre); Neh 1.4a; 3.38; 7.2; 12.31; 13.25; 1 Chr 17.5, 8; 2 Chr 6.10; hifʿil—short: Ezra 10.2;
1 Chr 17.10; full: Neh 2.18, 20; 4.3, 7 (2x); 6.4; 7.1; 13.15; 1 Chr 17.8; lengthened: Ezra 8.17 (ktiv), 24;
Neh 6.12; 12.31; 13.8, 9, 21, 30; ‫י‬/‫—ע"ו‬short: Neh 4.9 (qre); full: Dan 8.27; Ezra 8.22; Neh 2.9, 11, 12,
15 (3x); 4.8, 9 (ktiv); 13.7a, 25; 2 Chr 6.10, 11; lengthened: Ezra 8.15, 17, 23; Neh 5.7; 13.7, 11, 17.
9 Rounding out the biblical picture, in those books of the Writings not considered core LBH
books, i.e., Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs, and Lamentations, the relevant statis-
tics are seven short forms versus ten full/lengthened ones: ‫—ל"י‬short: Ps 18.24; 38.15; 69.12, 21;
73.14; Job 30.9; Prov 7.7; long—Ps 69.11; 102.8; Job 7.20; Prov 8.30 (2x); 24.32; hifʿil: lengthened—
Ps 119.59; ‫י‬/‫ע"ו‬: long: Job 38.15; lengthened—Ps 62.21; 90.10.
162 chapter 6

Table M T, non-Masoretic, and extra-biblical distribution of lengthened 1st person

wayyiqṭol forms: lengthened/all cases (percentage short)

mt DSS Samaritan
Torah Prophets LBH + Qoh Biblical Non-biblical Pentateuch

4/105 19/255 59/116 20/54 22/30 32/103

(3.8%) (7.5%) (50.9%) (37.0%) (73.3%) (31.1%)

As can be seen from the table, in the MT lengthened 1st person wayyiqṭol forms
are very rare in the Pentateuch,10 about twice as common, but still quite infre-
quent in the Prophets,11 and significantly more common in post-exilic material,
appearing in just over half the potential cases in LBH and Qohelet.12 Outside
of the core LBH material there is also a striking accumulation of lengthened
forms in texts with a characteristically late linguistic profile; ten of the 18 cases
of the lengthened pattern in those works among the Writings not considered
core LBH material come in Ps 119 (6x) and the narrative framework of Job (4x),
both of which have been dated to the post-exilic period on the basis of their
respective linguistic profiles.13 Use of the short form is characteristic of the
Torah; disuse of the short form and use of the lengthened form are character-
istic of late material. Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

There are no 1st person wayyiqṭol forms in the admittedly limited corpus of
First Temple Hebrew inscriptional evidence. Still, the ancient character of
this situation in the Torah is confirmed to some degree by the four relevant

10 Gen 32.4; 41.11; 43.21; Num 8.19.

11 Josh 24.8 (ktiv); Jdg 6.9, 10; 10.12; 12.3 (2x); 1 Sam 2.28; 28.15; 2 Sam 4.10; 7.9; 12.8 (2x); 22.24;
Jer 11.18; 32.9; Ezek 3.3; 9.8; 16.11; Zech 11.13.
12 Qoh 1.17; Dan 8.13, 15, 17; 9.3, 4 (2x); 10.16 (2x), 19; 12.8; Ezra 7.28; 8.15, 16, 17a (ktiv), 17b, 23
(2x), 24, 25, 26, 28, 31; 9.3 (2x), 5 (2x), 6; Neh 1.4; 2.1, 6, 9, 13; 5.7 (2x), 8, 13; 6.3, 8, 11, 12; 7.5;
12.31; 13.7, 8, 9 (2x), 10, 11 (2x), 13, 17 (2x), 19 (2x), 21 (2x), 22, 30.
13 Lengthened forms obtain in 18 of the potential 37 cases (48.7 percent): Ps 3.6; 7.5; 69.12, 21;
73.16; 90.10; 119.55, 59, 106, 131, 147, 158; Job 1.15, 16, 17, 19; 19.20; 29.17. On the linguistic profile
of Ps 119 see Hurvitz 1972: 131–152; on that of the narrative framework of Job see Hurvitz
1974a; cf. Young 2009; Joosten 2013b.
verbal morphology 163

‫ ל"י‬wyqṭl forms in the Moabite of the Mesha Stele, all of which are short: ‫ואעש‬
‘and I did/made’ (lns. 3, 9), ‫‘ וארא‬and I saw’ (ln. 7), and ‫‘ ואבנ‬and I built’ (ln. 9).14
For the later period there is a good deal more non-Masoretic and extra-
biblical evidence. Thus, with regard to use of the short 1st person wayyiqṭol, the
downward trend discernible in the Bible is confirmed by such Second Temple
sources as the biblical15 and non-biblical DSS16 and the Samaritan Pentateuch17
(see above, table ‎ The rarity of short forms in the non-biblical DSS is
unsurprising, since their language may be assumed to have been less influ-
enced by conventions specific to BH than that of their biblical counterparts.
More striking in contrast to the dominance of the short form in the MT Torah
is their near total lack in the Samaritan Pentateuch, where classical influence
might be expected.18
The late non-Masoretic Hebrew and extra-biblical material also furnishes
corroborative testimony for the characteristically late distribution of the

14 The orthography ‫‘ ואשמ‬and I set’ in the Aramaic of the Tel Dan inscription (KAI 310) prob-
ably should not be adduced as additional evidence of use of the short (as opposed to the
full) form of the 1st person wayyiqṭol in the early period, since medial vowels do not seem
to be marked in this text. Nevertheless, in view of the fact that final vowels are marked,
the use of a lengthened form here may be discounted.
15 ‫—ל"י‬short: 4Q31 2.4 (|| Deut 3.18); Mur2 f1i.3 (|| Deut 10.3a); 5/6Hev1b f6–7.10 (|| Ps 18.24);
full: 1QIsaa 51.19 (|| Isa 64.5 short); 4Q51 f42a.1 (|| 1 Sam 26.21); 4Q70 f21–22i.3 (|| Jer 13.2);
4Q73 f2.10 (|| Ezek 11.1); 4Q80 f14–15.2 (|| Zech 5.9 short); 4Q112 f14.12 (|| Dan 8.2); 4Q114 1.7
(|| Dan 10.8) (in two cases the scrolls have a full form parallel to a short form in the MT);
hifʿil—lengthened: 1QIsaa 40.10 (|| Isa 48.5 full); 11Q5 9.1 (|| Ps 119.59 lengthened); ‫י‬/‫—ע"ו‬
short: 4Q56 f36.2 (|| Isa 51.16 full); 4Q70 f21–22i.3 (|| Jer 13.2 short); lengthened: 4Q51 9e–i.16
(|| 1 Sam 10.14 full).
16 ‫—ל"י‬short: 4Q364 f26bi.6 (|| Deut 9.15); full: 1QHa 10.10, 12, 16, 17; 11.8; 14.27; 16.28; 4Q364
f24a–c.15; hifʿil—full: 4Q364 f26bii+e.1; 4Q389 f2.2; lengthened: 1QHa 17.9; 4Q385a f1a–
bii.1, 3; 4Q387 f1.7; 4Q389 f6.1; ‫י‬/‫—ע"ו‬lengthened: 1QHa 12.37; 4Q504 f1–2Rv.17; 11Q5 28.5.
17 ‫—ל"י‬short: Num 13.33a (also short in MT); full: Gen 24.46, 48; 31.10; 41.22; Exod 6.3; 9.15;
Num 23.4; Deut 1.16, 18; 2.1, 8b, 33; 3.1 (2x), 18; 9.15, 16; 10.3 (2x), 5 (of the 21 full forms in the
Samaritan Pentateuch, only three are paralleled by a full form in the MT: Gen 24.48; Deut
1.16, 18); hifʿil—full: Gen 43.7, 21; 44.24; Exod 19.4; Lev 20.26; 26.13; Num 31.50; Deut 29.4;
lengthened: Deut 2.34; 3.6; 9.21; ‫י‬/‫—ע"ו‬short: Lev 20.23 (also short in MT); full: Gen 24.42,
47; Deut 1.19; 10.5; lengthened: Gen 35.3; 43.8; 44.21; 50.5; Exod 4.18; Deut 10.5.
18 On the other hand, too much should not be made of the apparent rarity of the short pat-
tern in the biblical DSS. It is true that they twice give a full ‫ ל"י‬form where the MT has a
short form (see above, n. 15) and that short forms are outnumbered by a margin of ten to
five overall, but this seems at least partially due to the fragmentary nature of the Scrolls
and to the casual fact that most of the full forms preserved in the fragments are also full
in the MT.
164 chapter 6

lengthened 1st person wayyiqṭol seen in the mt. It obtains in a notable minor-
ity of the relevant cases in the biblical DSS material19 and the Samaritan
Pentateuch,20 and, again unsurprisingly, in a striking majority of the non-bib-
lical material from the DSS.21
Consider the following representative examples:

Exod 9.15 I struck  (‫ )וָ ַאְך‬you and your people with plague
Sam Pent I struck (‫ )ואכה‬you and your people with plague
[Neh 13.25 I struck (‫ )וָ ַא ֶכה‬men from among them]

Gen 43.21 we have returned  (‫ )וַ נָ ֶשב‬it in our hand

Josh 14.7 I have returned  (‫ )וָ ָא ֵשב‬him word
Neh 2.20 I have returned (‫ )וָ ָא ִשיב‬him word
Neh 6.4 I have answered (‫ )וָ ָא ִשיב‬him in the same way
[Ps 119.59 I have returned (‫ )וָ ָא ִש ָיבה‬my feet to your testimonies]
[Neh 13.9 I have returned (‫ )וָ ָא ִש ָיבה‬there the temple utensils]

19 1QIsaa 6.2 (|| Isa 6.8 unlengthened), 5 (|| Isa 6.11 unlengthened); 34.12 (|| Isa 41.9
unlengthened); 40.10 (|| Isa 48.5 full); 42.8 (|| Isa 50.7 unlengthened); 51.20 (|| Isa 64.5 short);
4Q13 f3ii+5–6i.8 (|| Exod 3.17 unlengthened); 4Q51 3a–e.25 (|| 1 Sam 2.28 lengthened),
9e–i.16 (|| 1 Sam 10.14 full), f61ii+63–64a–b+65–67.3 (|| 2 Sam 4.10 lengthened); 4Q80
f8–13.19 (|| Zech 4.4 unlengthened), f14–15.2 (|| Zech 5.9), 4 (|| Zech 5.10 unlengthened);
4Q83 f19ii–20.31 (|| Ps 69.12 lengthened); 4Q113 f16–18i+19.5 (|| Dan 8.3 unlengthened); 11Q5
9.1 (|| Ps 119.59 lengthened); 11.2 (|| Ps 119.106 lengthened); 12.4 (|| Ps 119.131 lengthened); 13.9
(|| Ps 119.158 lengthened); 20.2 (|| Ps 139.11 unlengthened). In 12 cases the biblical DSS have
a lengthened form against a short, full, or unlengthened form in the MT; in only two cases
does the MT have a lengthened form where the corresponding DSS text does not: 4Q3
f1ii.18 (|| Gen 41.11); 4Q112 f15.18 (|| Dan 10.19).
20 Gen 32.6 (MT lengthened); Exod 3.8 (MT unlengthened), 17 (MT unlengthened); 6.5 (MT
unlengthened); Lev 26.13 (MT unlengthened); Num 8.19 (MT lengthened); Deut 1.19 (2x;
MT both unlengthened), 43 (MT unlengthened); 2.1 (MT unlengthened), 8a (MT ---), 8b
(2x; MT both unlengthened), 13 (MT unlengthened), 26 (MT unlengthened), 34 (2x; MT
both unlengthened); 3.4 (MT unlengthened), 6 (MT unlengthened), 23 (MT unlength-
ened); 9.15 (MT unlengthened), 17 (MT unlengthened), 18 (MT unlengthened), 20 (MT
unlengthened), 21 (3x; MT all unlengthened), 25 (MT unlengthened), 26 (2x; MT both
unlengthened); 10.3 (MT unlengthened), 5 (2x; MT unlengthened and short) 22.14 (MT
unlengthened). On 31 occasions the Samaritan Pentateuch has a lengthened form against
a short or unlengthened form in the MT. On one occasion the Samaritan Pentateuch has a
lengthened form with no parallel in the MT. In two cases only does the MT have a length-
ened form against an unlengthened form in the Samaritan Pentateuch: Gen 41.11; 43.21.
21 1QHa 12.37; 14.9, 10; 15.23; 17.9, 10; 1Q49 f1.1; 4Q364 f26bi.8; 4Q385 f2.9; 4Q385a f1a–bii.1, 6,
7, f15i.5; 4Q387 f1.7; 4Q389 f2.4, 5, f6.1; 4Q390 f1.6 (2x); 4Q437 f2ii.13; 4Q504 f1–2rv.17; 11Q19
65.8; unlengthened: 4Q364 f23a–bi.6, 14, f24a–c.8, f26bii+e.1, 2; 4Q386 f1ii.2; 4Q389 f2.2;
4Q391 f36.2.
verbal morphology 165

Exod 3.17 I said    (‫ )וָ א ַֹמר‬I will bring you up  from the affliction of Egypt
Sam Pent I said  (‫ )ואמרה‬I will bring you     up  from the affliction of Egypt
4Q13 f3ii+5–6i.8 I said (‫ואו̇ ̇מ ̇רה‬
̇ ) [I will bring yo]u [up]from the affliction of Egypt
[Dan 10.16 I said (‫ )‏וָ א ְֹמ ָרה‬to the one standing before me]
[Ezra 8.28 I said (‫ )וָ א ְֹמ ָרה‬to them you are holy to Yhwh]

Lev 26.13 and I broke (‫ )וָ ֶא ְשבֹר‬. . . your yoke and made you walk (‫אֹולְך‬
ֵ ָ‫ )ו‬erect
Sam Pent and I broke (‫ )ואשברה‬. . . your yoke and made you walk (‫ )ואוליך‬erect Discussion
The respective and contrasting distribution patterns of the short and length-
ened forms seem straightforward, but several explanations have been offered.
Though arguments based on phonological and prosodic factors have been
suggested and may have explanatory power in a limited number of cases,22
as general theories they have been effectively refuted23 and in any case fail
to explain the rather clear-cut diachronic trends presented above. But even
focusing on explanations based on historical typology one finds multiple sug-
gestions. According to one, 1st person wayyiqṭol forms were at an early date
different from the corresponding 2nd and 3rd person forms; specifically, 1st
person forms were lengthened, while 2nd and 3rd person forms were short.
In the course of time, so it is claimed, 1st person forms were shortened due to
analogical pressure from the short pattern dominant in 2nd and 3rd person.24
This approach may account for the sporadic employment of lengthened forms
in apparently early texts, but it seems extremely unlikely in light of the gener-
ally clear picture of diachronic development discernible in the data. One is
forced to assume that lengthened forms were regularly used throughout BH,
but were only explicitly written as such in post-exilic orthography, the rele-
vant verbs in the Pentateuch and Prophets being pronounced without final
a in the reading tradition due only to their lacking a final mater lectionis he.
However, this scenario seems improbable from the perspective of the standard
Masoretic consonantal representation of final a vowels, which are regularly
marked. Indeed, the consistent pronunciation of final a in the absence of a
mater lectionis, as in the standard 2ms endings ‫ ָת‬- and ‫ָך‬-, is suspect. Note also
that final a is marked in the Mesha Stele and—presumably—missing from the
1cs wayyiqṭol forms there.

22 Tropper 1998: 166–167.

23 Bloch 2007: 145–147, 152–154.
24 Ungnad 1907: 58, n. 1.
166 chapter 6

The most widely accepted opinion is thus that the short pattern is the earli-
est in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person forms. Later, users of the language sensed a cer-
tain asymmetry between the wayyiqṭol and modal paradigms. This was because
in 2nd and 3rd person the wayyiqṭol forms very closely resembled the parallel
jussive forms, both short where possible; conversely, in 1st person wayyiqṭol
was short, whereas the corresponding cohortative involved the length-
ened pattern. On the basis of analogy to this lengthened cohortative, then,
the ◌- ָ ending was appended to the originally short 1st person wayyiqṭol
forms so that classical ‫ וָ ָ֫א ָקם‬and ‫ וַ ָּ֫נ ָקם‬were replaced with ‫קּומה‬
ָ ‫ וָ ָא‬and ‫קּומה‬
ָ ָ‫וַ ּנ‬,
Turning to the use of full forms, the situation is more complex. The pro-
cess by which full forms gradually replaced short forms in 1st person wayyiqṭol
verbs where such a distinction exists is difficult to explain. One problem
relates specifically to ‫ ל"י‬verbs. According to the Masoretic reading tradition
these verbs have no lengthened form ending in ◌- ָ (and no morphologically
distinctive cohortative form either). Even so, it has been suggested that the
full consonantal spelling of ‫ ל"י‬wayyiqṭol (and cohortative yiqṭol) forms with
‫ה‬-, e.g., ‫ואגלה‬, may very well have once represented both ‫ וָ ֶאגְ ֶלה‬and ‫*וָ ֶאגְ ָלה‬, but
that the latter was not preserved in the reading tradition, in which case at least
some current ‫ וָ ֶאגְ ֶלה‬forms may be assumed to represent ‫*וָ ֶאגְ ָלה‬.25 If so, then it
is possible that three of the four full spellings of 1st person wayyiqṭol forms in
the Pentateuch—i.e., those that end in ‫ה‬-—actually reflect lengthened forms.
There is an additional difficulty concerning the relationship between
the consonantal orthography and the Tiberian vocalization. Could it not be
claimed that the increased use of full spelling in 1st person wayyiqṭol forms is
the result of nothing more than a change in orthographical conventions and
that this does not necessarily indicate any sort of morphological development?
The question should certainly be entertained, but a morphologically sensi-
tive spelling comparison reveals that the issue is not purely orthographical in
nature. In 1st person forms the degree of divergence between spelling (defec-
tive) and vocalization (long) is much greater in the case of wayyiqṭol in hifʿil
and ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬qal than in the parallel forms of yiqṭol. There are some 76 instances
of the relevant wayyiqṭol forms and in 25 of them (32.9 percent) the spelling
does not match the vocalization. In yiqṭol forms, conversely, there are a mere
70 cases of mismatch in approximately 1145 instances (6.1 percent). One must
therefore assume that the discrepancy between consonantal spelling and pro-
nunciation in the case of 1st person hifʿil and ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬qal wayyiqṭol forms reflects
more than just a shift in spelling practices. Differences in spelling practice
appear rather to reflect underlying morphological differences, whereby full

25 Bergsträsser 1918–1927: II §5f. See also Revell 1988: 423; Bloch 2007: 150, n. 33, 155.
verbal morphology 167

spellings represent pronunciations with long vowels and defective spellings,

in turn, pronunciations with short vowels. Conversely, the full vocalization
of consonantally short forms, especially characteristic of the Torah, is appar-
ently a case in which the Masoretic vocalization obscures diachronic linguistic
How then to reconcile the use and distribution of the full 1st person
wayyiqṭol pattern with its short and lengthened counterparts? Bergsträsser
(1918–1929: II §5d) explains the use of forms like ‫ וָ ָאקּום‬as a result of the same
process that gave rise to lengthened forms like ‫קּומה‬ ָ ‫וָ ָא‬, but—frustratingly—
provides no details as to how the two forms are connected.26 Talshir (1986a: 7;
1987: 590) suggests the process of development ‫קּומה > וָ ָ֫א ָקם‬ ָ ‫וָ ָאקּום > וָ ָא‬. He
agrees with Bergsträsser that the transition from the first to the second stage
was based on analogy to the modal paradigm.27 In Talshir’s opinion it may be
that the lengthened form already served frequently at an early date, but was
rejected and erased from biblical writings by purist scribes. He accounts for
the third phase of the process by attributing the shift from lengthened to full
forms to the general collapse of the modal paradigm in ancient Hebrew, due
to which writers used the formerly distinct modal and indicative patterns pro-
miscuously, with little or no semantic distinction, a phenomenon especially
characteristic of LBH and late extra-biblical sources, but not entirely unknown
in material generally considered classical. It is important to note that Talshir
explains the relatively high frequency of full forms in the Prophets, as against
the relative rarity of lengthened forms in the same corpus, as a result of scribal
policy, according to which, for some reason, the full form was preferred there,
over against the preference for the lengthened form in LBH proper.
Talshir’s approach convincingly accounts for a majority of the relevant
issues, but slight adjustments may be suggested. First of all, despite the
assumption of overlap between the second and third stages in his suggested
process of development, the model seems overly linear. The identification of
the short form as the typologically earliest is acceptable. It is also clear that its
use gradually declined with the passage of time, thus favoring use of the other
two patterns. Additionally, since the lengthened pattern is sporadically docu-
mented in apparently early material, if it indeed resulted from analogical pres-
sure, the beginning of the process of analogy must be dated to a relatively early
period. However, two of Talshir’s claims are somewhat less convincing, namely,
(a) that the full pattern is not to be found in the Torah, and as such constitutes
a development based on the lengthened pattern, which is indeed documented
there, and (b) that the lengthened pattern once enjoyed widespread use in the

26 Cf. Qimron 1997: 177.

27 See also Rainey 1986: 13–14; Bloch 2007: 147, 155; Cf. S.R. Driver 1892: §72.
168 chapter 6

Former Prophets, but was erased and replaced there with the short pattern by
later scribes intent on linguistic purity.
As for the first claim: along with the four occurrences of the lengthened pat-
tern in the Pentateuch, there are four occurrences of the full pattern: ‫וָ ֶא ְׁש ַּת ֲחוֶ ה‬
‘and I bowed down’ (Gen 24.48); ‫‘ וַ ּנַ ִּׁשים‬and we laid waste’ (Num 21.30); and ‫וָ ֲא ַצּוֶ ה‬
‘and I commanded’ (Deut 1.16, 18). Unless the three relevant ‫ ל"י‬forms mask
lengthened forms, their testimony for early use of the full pattern is nearly as
strong as that for the early use of the lengthened pattern. If so, there seems
little reason to claim that the former necessarily developed from the latter.
On the situation in the Prophets: vis-à-vis the Torah these books exhibit a
significant decrease in the use of the short pattern, but it is less significant
than the decline characteristic of the core LBH material. Concurrently, these
books show a decided increase in comparison to the Pentateuch in the use
of full forms and a more gradual increase with regard to lengthened forms,
both of which are tendencies that become even more pronounced in the core
LBH books. On the basis of these facts, it seems reasonable to posit two con-
tradictory processes of analogy that operated contemporaneously. In one pro-
cess, already explained above, the modal paradigm influenced the wayyiqṭol
paradigm; in particular, the lengthened cohortative pattern took the place of
the originally short pattern in 1st person wayyiqṭol forms. Accordingly, ‫קּומה‬ ָ ‫וָ ָא‬
and the like replaced ‫ וָ ָ֫א ָקם‬in weak verbs and ‫ וָ ֶא ְק ְט ָלה‬replaced ‫ וָ ֶא ְקטֹל‬in strong
verbs. The developmental processes may be schematized as follows:

‫ וָ אָ קו ָּמה‬: ‫קּומה‬ָ ‫ ָא‬:: ‫ וַ ָּ֫י ָקם‬: ‫ וָ ָ֫א ָקם > יָ קֹם‬: ‫קּומה‬
ָ ‫ ָא‬:: ‫ וַ ָּ֫י ָקם‬: ‫יָ קֹם‬
‫ וָ אֶ ְק ְטלָ ה‬: ‫ ֶא ְק ְט ָלה‬:: ‫ וַ ּיִ ְקטֹל‬: ‫ וָ אֶ ְקטֹל > יִ ְקטֹל‬: ‫ ֶא ְק ְט ָלה‬:: ‫ וַ ּיִ ְקטֹל‬: ‫יִ ְקטֹל‬

Any symmetry lost when the 1st person wayyiqṭol pattern deviated from the
pattern of the 2nd and 3rd person was gained with the creation of one-to-one
correspondence between the modal and wayyiqṭol paradigms.
In the second analogical process, which, as noted, seems to have worked
at cross purposes with the first, the indicative paradigm more generally influ-
enced the modal paradigm. In this way the full pattern invaded the domain of
the short pattern in both its modal and wayyiqṭol functions. In other words,
language users exchanged the explicitly short forms of the minority of verbs
where these existed for their full forms, thus creating correspondence between
the weak verbs and their more common, strong counterparts. This process is
here schematized:

‫ וָ אָ קוּם‬: ‫ ָאקּום‬:: ‫ וָ ֶא ְקטֹל‬: ‫ וָ ָ֫א ָקם > ֶא ְקטֹל‬: ‫ ָאקּום‬:: ‫ וָ ֶא ְקטֹל‬: ‫ֶא ְקטֹל‬
verbal morphology 169

It should be noted that the effects of this process were not restricted merely
to 1st person forms, but evidently acted upon the relevant 2nd and 3rd person
forms as well, though in a more limited fashion (see below §‎6.1.2).
Distribution patterns indicate that both processes began early on. However,
while the results of the second are very well documented in the Prophets—
where both short and lengthened forms are in the minority, but the latter
are very rare indeed—the results of the second are much less pronounced.
Conversely, both processes are well represented in post-exilic literature. It
remains only to explain the difference between the two processes: why the
second took hold already in the Prophets, but the first only in LBH. Or, put dif-
ferently: why the sudden explosion of lengthened forms in LBH in contrast to
both the Torah and the Prophets? The process that produced ‫ וָ ֶא ְק ְט ָלה‬is just as
‘natural’ as the process that produced ‫וָ ָאקּום‬, but the sudden increase in the use
of ‫ וָ ֶא ְק ְט ָלה‬in the late writings seems anything but ‘natural’.
In all probability, the surprising intensification in use of the lengthened
wayyiqṭol is to be explained, at least partially, as a result of intentional archaiza-
tion. The very persistence of wayyiqṭol at all in LBH is likely due to literary
convention increasingly imitative, artificial, and archaistic and progressively
removed from the spoken form of the language.28 If so, in the case of 1st person
forms, late writers tended to choose between one of two options: on the one
hand, the majority form, i.e., the full forms ‫וָ ֶא ְקטֹל‬, ‫וָ ָאקּום‬, ‫וָ ָא ִקים‬, and ‫וָ ֶא ְקנֶ ה‬, all
corresponding to the ‘normal’ yiqṭol; on the other hand, a form which, due to
its inclusion of an old suffix that had lost its potency, gave the appearance of
antiquity, i.e., the lengthened forms ‫וָ ֶא ְק ְט ָלה‬, ‫קּומה‬
ָ ‫וָ ָא‬, and ‫ימה‬ ָ ‫וָ ָא ִק‬. The length-
ened pattern had an advantage over the full pattern: it differed from standard
yiqṭol, and could thus be considered a more ‘transparent’ wayyiqṭol form. But
this only raises the question as to why writers in search of a transparent form
did not return to the original short pattern. In view of a whole host of other
late forms, particularly pronouns, it would seem that the late preference was
quite simply for lengthening, not shortening. Further, given the then-current
plene spelling conventions, outside of verbs ‫ ל"י‬it would have been difficult
to distinguish short from full forms (particularly in the case of qal ‫ע"ו‬, less
so in qal ‫ ע"י‬and hifʿil). To summarize: the late use of the full form should
be seen, at least in part, as the fruit of a gradual process whereby the short
pattern, originally reserved for the jussive and wayyiqṭol in all the persons,
was supplanted by the more general, full form. Conversely, the late use of the

28 Cf. Qimron 2008: 153–154. Of course, there are those who maintain that the conversive
tenses were never employed in the vernacular, even at an early date.
170 chapter 6

lengthened pattern is to be seen as a sort of pseudo-archaism in which late

writers adopted a genuinely classical form, but extended and exaggerated its
use. The literary character of the late use of lengthened wayyiqṭol (and yiqṭol)
emerges from a comparison of the works in which it is frequent, e.g., LBH, the DSS,
and the Samaritan Pentateuch, all literary corpora with relatively late linguistic
profiles, and RH, generally considered to represent a formerly vernacular
Second Temple register, which does not use wayyiqṭol.29
For purposes of dating, it is not the mere appearance of the full and length-
ened patterns that constitutes a distinctive feature of late texts, but the inten-
sification in their usage. The regular use of the full form is characteristic of
First Temple material, especially the Prophets (but not the Torah),30 and of
late material. The frequent use of the lengthened pattern, on the other hand, is
characteristic only of late texts. Likewise, the complete or near complete non-
use of the short form is a distinctively late feature. Jeremiah
Jeremiah exhibits tendencies fairly typical of the Prophets. It has consonan-
tally short forms in five of the 11 ‫ ל"י‬forms,31 in four of six of the hifʿil forms (not
including ‫)ל"י‬,32 and in the sole case of ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬in qal.33 In total, then, Jeremiah has
short forms in ten of 18 cases (55.6 percent). This proportion is similar to that
found in the Prophets more generally and is in line with the classification of the
book’s language as transitional between the classical and late phases of BH.34
The lengthened pattern is represented twice in Jeremiah’s 53 potential cases
(3.8 percent): ‫‘ וָ ֵא ָ ֫ד ָעה‬and I knew’ (11.18)35 and ‫‘ וָ ֶא ְׁש ֲק ָלה‬and I weighed’ (32.9).36
In this the language of the book resembles CBH.

29 See Kutscher (1974: 326–327) for an explanation of the use of lengthened yiqṭol in the DSS
and its rejection in RH.
30 The figures for the individual books of the Prophets are as follows: Joshua 5/10 full; Judges
3/5 full; Samuel 11/13 full; Kings 2/7 full; Isaiah 3/4 full; Jeremiah 8/18 full; Ezekiel 16/32 full;
Hosea 1/2; Amos 3/4 full; Zechariah 6/15 full; Malachi 1/1 full.
31 Short: Jer 3.8; 11.5; 15.6; 20.7; 35.10; full: 13.2; 25.17; 31.26; 32.9, 13; 44.17.
32 Short: Jer 5.7; 32.10; 35.4; 42.21; full: 2.7; 11.8.
33 Jer 13.2.
34 However, from the perspective of the linguistic feature under discussion it is to be noted
that the language of the entire corpus of the Former and Latter Prophets has the appear-
ance of a stage linking the CBH of the Torah and the LBH of the distinctively post-exilic
35 It is to be noted that the Greek, Targum Jonathan, and the Peshiṭta render this form as a
future, apparently reading ‫וְ אדעה‬.
36 It is not impossible that the ◌- ָ suffix on this form was added for purposes of euphony,
to prevent the piling up of l sounds in something like ‫ ;*וָ ֶא ְׁשקֹל־ּלֹו‬see GKC §49e.
verbal morphology 171 The MT and the Greek

The shorter version represented by the Greek is characterized by approxi-
mately the same distribution as the longer MT version, with the former show-
ing no parallel for only two cases, one short and one full.37 Both of the two
lengthened forms are represented.

6.1.2 2nd and 3rd Person

In contrast to the 1st person wayyiqṭol, the originally short form of which, due
to various analogical processes, biblical writers and later scribes were, as time
passed, unable to preserve (see above, §‎6.1.1), in the case of 2nd and 3rd person
forms—specifically, those without endings, i.e., 2ms, 3ms, and 3fs—the short
wayyiqṭol pattern was routinely maintained where it could obtain, while the
lengthened pattern is virtually undocumented in the sources.38 The full pat-
tern, on the other hand, is found in a minority of cases with an interesting
The full pattern is represented principally by ‫ ל"י‬forms. It is apparently
revealed, albeit less frequently, in hifʿil and qal ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬forms in the Bible, though
it is difficult to be certain in such cases that plene spellings (i.e., those with
matres lectionis waw or yod) necessarily reflect full pronunciations and defec-
tive spellings (i.e., those without the matres lectionis) necessarily reflect short
pronunciations. This same hesitation is valid, perhaps even more so, with
respect to post-biblical sources, where the spelling is generally fuller than in
the Bible, including yiqṭol and wayyiqṭol forms. Given this uncertainty, one
must approach the evidence collected below for the full pattern in hifʿil and
qal ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬with a suitable amount of caution. The MT
Full forms are rare in the Hebrew Bible. ‫ל"י‬: there are some 2200 instances of
‫ ל"י‬wayyiqṭol forms in the 2ms, 3ms, and 2fs and just 53 of them exhibit the full
pattern, i.e., with final ‫ה‬-. None of these cases comes in the Torah (in 662 pos-
sible cases), 48 come in the Prophets (in 1140 cases),39 and three come in the

37 Short: Jer 42.21; full: Jer 11.8.

38 ‫‘ וַ ַּת ְעּגְ ָבה‬she lusted’ (Ezek 23.16 qre, 20). See also the yiqṭol forms ‫יׁשה‬ ָ ‫‘ יָ ִח‬let him hasten’
and ‫בֹואה‬ ָ ‫‘ ָּת‬let it come’ (Isa 5.19); ‫(‘ ְּת ֻע ָפה‬though) it be dark (?)’ (Job 11.17). See GKC §48d;
JM §45a, n. 1.
39 Josh 10.40; 19.50; Jdg 19.2; 1 Sam 1.7; 7.9 (ktiv); 17.42; 2 Sam 23.15; 1 Kgs 10.29; 14.9; 16.17, 25;
17.15; 18.32, 42; 19.8; 22.24, 34, 35, 54; 2 Kgs 1.10; 2.8, 14 (2x); 3.2; 5.21; 6.23; 8.21; 13.11; 16.15 (qre);
22.19; Isa 37.36; 57.3; Jer 3.7 (ktiv); 10.13; 20.2; 32.20; 36.5, 26; 37.21; 38.10; 44.21; 52.27; Ezek
16.36; 18.14, 19, 28; 23.19; Hab 1.14.
172 chapter 6

core LBH material (in 269 cases).40 Hifʿil: two41 out of 684 cases. ‫ע"ו‬:42 three43
of 456 cases. ‫ע"י‬: no example in 122 cases. Non-Masoretic and Extra-biblical Sources

The use of the full pattern is also known from non-Masoretic and extra-biblical
sources. ‫ל"י‬: non-biblical DSS—three44 out of 65 cases; biblical DSS—1845 out
of 361 cases; Samaritan Pentateuch—1946 out of 662 cases. With specific regard

40 2 Chr 16.12; 21.13; 26.6. Another apparently late instance may be found in Job 42.16 (qre), in
the book’s narrative framework, which has been judged late on the basis of its linguistic
profile; see Hurvitz 1974a; cf. Young 2009. The remaining case comes in Lam 3.33, the lan-
guage of which is probably transitional between CBH and LBH; see Dobbs-Allsopp 1998.
Note that the number of potential cases in the three sections of Scripture drops to 460,
606, and 160, respectively, if forms of the verb ‫‘ ָהיָ ה‬be’, which, apparently due to frequency
of use, never appears in the full pattern, are removed from consideration.
41 ‫‘ וַ ֵּיָביא‬and he brought’ (Ezek 40.3 against the vocalization); ‫‘ וַ ִּיָביא‬and he brought’ (Neh
8.2). In an additional 11 cases the consonantal spelling testifies to a short form, but the
vocalization to a full form: ‫(‘ וַ ָּת ִקא‬the land) has vomited’ (Lev 18.25); ‫ּיֹוצא‬ ִ ַ‫‘ ו‬and he brought
out’ (Deut 4.20); ‫‘ וַ ָּ֫ת ִרץ‬and it crushed’ (Jdg 9.53); ‫‘ וַ ַּת ֲח ִטא‬and you have caused to sin’ (1 Kgs
16.2; 21.22); ‫‘ וַ ַּת ְח ִּבא‬and she hid (her son)’ (2 Kgs 6.29); ‫ּיֹוצא‬ ִ ַ‫‘ ו‬and he brought out’ (11.12);
‫‘ וַ ּיַ ֲח ִטא‬and he caused to sin’ (21.11); ‫ּיֹוצא‬
ִ ַ‫‘ ו‬and he brought out’ (Ps 78.16); ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ְח ִׁשְך‬and he
made it/and it became dark’ (105.28), ‫ּיֹוצא‬ ִ ַ‫( ו‬43) ‘and he brought out’. Note that a majority
of the forms end in ʾalef (see the following note).
42 Forms of the qal verb ‫‘ ּבֹוא‬come’ are excluded from these counts. Given the weakness of
final ʾalef, this verb apparently ended in an open accented syllable, the type of syllable
that scribes tended to write plene, especially in post-biblical sources. It is in any case dif-
ficult to know whether there was a difference in pronunciation between the respective
yiqṭol and wayyiqṭol forms of this verb. Be that as it may, it is worth giving the biblical
distribution of the full forms of the verb in question. Including 1st person forms, out of
313 cases in the Bible, 40 are spelled plene: none may found in the Torah (in 60 cases), 29
come in the Prophets (in 200 cases), and 14 (out of 38 cases) come in the core LBH books.
In the corpus composed of the distinctive LBH material and Ezekiel, 25 of 58 cases are full.
43 ‫‘ ותלוש‬and she kneaded’ (2 Sam 13.8 ktiv); ‫‘ וַ ּיָ צֹום‬and he fasted’ (1 Kgs 21.27); ‫‘ וַ ָּתמֹוג‬and it
melted’ (Amos 9.5).
44 1QHa 21.10; 4Q223–224 f1i.4; 4Q225 f1.3.
45 1Q7 f4.2 (|| 2 Sam 23.10), 3 (|| 2 Sam 23.10), 5 (|| 2 Sam 23.10); 1QIsaa 4.13 (|| Isa 5.2), 14 (|| Isa
5.2), 16 (|| Isa 5.4); 5.13 (|| Isa 5.25); 16.24 (|| Isa 21.9); 23.19 (|| Isa 29.1), 23 (|| Isa 29.13); 30.19
(|| Isa 37.14); 31.23 (|| Isa 38.3); 32.16 (‫‘ ויחיה‬and he lived’ || Isa 39.1 ‫‘ וַ ּיֶ ֱחזָ ק‬and he recovered’);
4Q13 f3i–4.5 (‫‘ ותראה‬and she saw’ || Exod 2.6 ‫‘ וַ ִּת ְר ֵאהּו‬and she saw him’); 4Q14 3.15 (|| Exod
10.13); 4Q51 f61ii+63–64a–b+65–67.20 (|| 2 Sam 5.9); 4Q60 f8.1 (|| Isa 5.25); 4Q72 f6.2 (|| Jer
10.13 ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ֲע ֶלה‬and he caused to rise’). Only in Jer 10.13 does a full form in the DSS correspond
to a full form in the MT.
46 ‫‘ וישתחוי‬and he bowed down’ (Gen 18.2; 19.1; 23.7, 12; 24.26, 52; 33.3; 47.31; Exod 18.7; 34.8;
Num 22.31; Deut 17.3); ‫‘ ויראה‬and he appeared’ (Gen 26.2, 24; 35.9; Lev 9.23); ‫‘ ותקשה‬and
she had difficulty’ (Gen 35.16); ‫‘ ותשתה‬and (the congregation) drank’ (Num 20.11); ‫ויכי‬
verbal morphology 173

to the Samaritan Pentateuch, it is worth noting that according to Ben-Ḥayyim

(2000: §2.9.6) there are also cases in which the reading tradition testifies to full
forms against the consonantal tradition. Hifʿil: non-biblical DSS47—five48 out
of 41 cases; biblical DSS—three49 out of 64 cases; Samaritan Pentateuch—3050
out of 121 cases; ‫ע"ו‬: non-biblical DSS—five51 out of 11 cases; biblical DSS—
2352 out of 62 cases; Samaritan Pentateuch—no examples in 144 cases; ‫ע"י‬:

‘and he struck’ (22.23). Thus, in the Samaritan consonantal tradition, use of the full pat-
tern in ‫ ל"י‬forms is restricted to the verbs ‫( השתחוה‬12x), ‫( נראה‬4x), ‫ שתה‬,‫קשה‬, and ‫הכה‬.
47 Cf. Qimron 1986: §100.33 on the representation of the vowel e with mater lectionis yod.
48 ‫‘ ותצית‬and it kindled (?)’ (4Q163 f4–7i.13); ‫‘ ויגיד‬and he hold’ (4Q223–224 f2v.21, 22); ‫ויהיר‬
‘and it shone (?)’ (4Q381 f1.5); ‫‘ ויביא‬and he brought’ (4Q386 f1iii.1).
49 ‫‘ ויביא‬and he brought’ (1QIsaa 25.25 || ‫ וַ ֵּיָבא‬Isa 31.2); ‫‘ ויגיד‬and he told’ (40.19 || ‫‘ ִהּגִ יד‬he told’
Isa 48.14); ‫‘ ויוציא‬and he brought out’ (11Q5 15.13 || ‫ וַ ּי ֵֹצא‬Ps 136.11). Cf. above n. 47. The defec-
tive spelling of relevant hifʿil yiqṭol forms in the biblical DSS is not common. From this one
may surmise that the mater lectionis yod in these forms indicates i rather than e.
50 ‫‘ ויצמיח‬and he made sprout’ (Gen 2.9); ‫‘ ויוליד‬and he fathered’ (5.22; 6.10; 11.10; 44.20);
‫‘ ויריח‬and he smelled’ (8.21; 27.27); ‫‘ ותוריד‬and she put down’ (24.20 || mt ‫‘ וַ ְּת ַער‬and she
emptied’); ‫‘ ותגיד‬and she told’ (24.28); ‫‘ ויזיד‬and he stewed’ (25.29); ‫‘ ותלביש‬and she dressed
(trans.)’ (27.15); ‫‘ וילביש‬and he dressed (trans.)’ (41.42), ‫‘ וישביר‬and he bought grain’ (56 ||
mt ‫‘ ויוציא ;)וַ ּיִ ְׁשּבֹר‬and he brought out’ (43.23); ‫‘ ויסתיר‬and he hid’ (Exod 3.6); ‫‘ ויקריב‬and
he sacrificed’ (Lev 8.6, 13, 16, 22, 24; 9.15, 17; Num 16.10; 27.5); ‫‘ ויגיש‬and he offered’ (Lev
8.14, 18 || mt ‫)וַ ּיַ ְק ֵרב‬, ‫‘ ויקטיר‬and he kindled’ (20, 21, 28; 9.13). However, it is important to
note that the Samaritan reading tradition preserves no distinction between full yiqṭol and
short wayyiqṭol in the relevant forms of binyan hifʿil: the vowel with the second root letter
is ĕ whether it is spelled with a mater lectionis yod or not; there is also no difference in the
pronunciation of the preceding waw conjunction, i.e., conjunctive waw versus conversive
waw; see Ben-Ḥayyim 2000:§2.9.5.
51 ‫‘ ותשוך‬and you protected’ (1QHa 10.23); ‫‘ ותגור‬and she sojourned’ (11.26), ‫‘ ותשוט‬and it
spread’ (31); ‫‘ ויקום‬and he arose’ (4Q160 f1.3); ‫‘ וישוב‬and he returned’ (4Q254a f3.4). It
is not clear whether the medial waw in these cases represents o or u, but according to
Qimron (1986:§100.2), it does not represent å (in contrast to the relevant vowel according
to Tiberian pronunciation).
52 ‫‘ ויעוף‬and he flew’ (1QIsaa 5.28 || Isa 6.6); ‫‘ וישוב‬and he returned’ (1QIsaa 30.12 || Isa 37.8;
1QIsaa 30.13 || — Isa 37.9; 1QIsaa 31.17 || Isa 37.37; 4Q51 f8–10a–b+11.9 || 1 Sam 15.31; 4Q80
f8–13.15 || Zech 4.1); ‫‘ ותשוב‬and it returned’ (1QIsaa 31.29 || Isa 38.8); ‫‘ ויקום‬and he arose’
(4Q27 f1–4.1 || Num 11.32; 4Q51 f44.3 || 1 Sam 28.23; 4Q51 f102ii+103–106i.28 || 2 Sam 13.31;
4Q53 f5ii–7i.15 || 2 Sam 14.31; 4Q82 f78ii+82–87.12 || Jon 3.3); ‫‘ וירוץ‬and he ran’ (4Q27 f11.6 ||
Num 17.12; 4Q51 5a.5 || 1 Sam 4.12); ‫‘ וימות‬and he died’ (4Q27 f80–84.11 || Num 35.20; 4Q27
f80–84.15 || Num 35.23; 4Q51 f61i+62.7 || 2 Sam 3.27; 4Q51 f68–76.9 || 2 Sam 6.7; 4Q51 f88.2 ||
2 Sam 10.18; 4Q51 f93–94.3 || 2 Sam 11.17); ‫‘ וינוח‬and he rested’ (4Q41 4.6 || Exod 20.11); ‫ותלוש‬
‘and she kneaded’ (4Q51 f44.4 || 1 Sam 28.24); ‫‘ ותמוג‬and it melted’ (Mur88 11.1 || Amos 9.5).
As noted in the preceding footnote, in light of spelling conventions in the DSS (such that
they are), for all but a few of these forms, e.g., ‫‘ וינוח‬and he rested’ (4Q41 4.6 || ‫ וַ ָּי֖נַ ח‬Exod
20.11 [but even here there is doubt]), it is difficult to determine if the reading tradition
174 chapter 6

Table The full wayyiqṭol pattern in 2ms, 3ms, and 3fs in ‫ל"י‬, hifʿil, and qal ‫י‬/‫ע"ו‬

mt DSS Samaritan
Torah Prophets LBH Non-biblical Biblical Pentateuch

‫ל"י‬ 0/662 48/1140 3/269 3/65 18/261 19/662

hifʿil 0/215 1/305 1/104 5/41 3/64 30/121
‫ע"ו‬ 0/122 3/261 0/57 5/11 23/62 0/144
‫ע"י‬ 0/44 0/63 0/9 2/15 1/12 3/38
Totals 0/1043 52/1769 4/439 15/132 45/399 52/965

non-biblical DSS—two53 out of 15 cases; biblical DSS—one54 out of 12 cases;

Samaritan Pentateuch—three55 out of 38 cases.
Biblical and extra-biblical statistics are summarized in Table Explanations
At the risk of oversimplifying scholarly treatment of the issue, there are three
principal approaches to the use of the full pattern in the 2ms, 3ms, and 3fs
wayyiqṭol. Tropper (1998: 166–167) proposes a phonological explanation. For
full wayyiqṭol forms in binyan hifʿil (excluding ‫ ל"י‬forms) and for ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬forms
in qal he adduces two explanations: (a) the quality of the vowel between the
second and third root letters is influenced by these consonants; (b) full forms
tend to come instead of their short counterparts in pause. As for the first expla-
nation: in contrast to the situation in 1st person (see above, §‎6.1.1), this factor
appears to be valid in 2ms, 3ms, and 3fs:56 two cases of plene spelling involve
the verb ‫‘ ויביא‬and he brought’ and in nine of the 11 cases in which the vocal-
ization alone reflects a full form the third radical is ʾalef (see above, n. 41). The
second factor also has explanatory power: the two cases of plene spelling in qal
‫ ע"ו‬forms (see above, n. 43) and one of the two cases in hifʿil in which the third
radical is not ʾalef and in which the vocalization testifies against the conso-
nantal ­orthography and uses the full pattern (‫ וַ ּיַ ְח ִׁשְך‬Ps 105.28) come in pause.57

represented therein made a distinction between yiqṭol and wayyiqṭol forms. Excluding
cases of the verb ‫ ּבֹוא‬the proportion is 23 of 62 (37.1 percent) full.
53 CD 20.9; 4Q223–224 f2v.30. But see above n. 47.
54 ‫‘ ותשים‬and she put’ (4Q13 f3i–4.2 || Exod 2.3). But see above n. 47.
55 ‫‘ ותשים‬and she put’ (Exod 2.3 [2x]); ‫‘ ותקיא‬and it vomited’ (Lev 18.25).
56 Cf. Bloch 2007: 146, n. 20.
57 Cf. Bloch 2007: 145–146.
verbal morphology 175

Thus the factors identified by Tropper hold for 14 of the 15 biblical cases of the
full pattern in 2ms, 3ms, and 3fs forms of wayyiqṭol in hifʿil (excluding ‫ )ל"י‬and
‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬of qal.58 Even so, it must be noted that these factors appear less relevant in
the case of the 96 instances in the DSS and the Samaritan Pentateuch.59
Tropper’s explanation for the preservation of the final vowel in the relevant
‫ ל"י‬forms, e.g., full ‫ וַ ְּיִבנֶ ה‬rather than short ‫ וַ ֶּיִבן‬both ‘and he built’, is more difficult
to accept. In his opinion this vowel is the reflex of a long vowel that developed
from an original word-final diphthong. Normally, this vowel was shortened,
and due to its brevity, dropped. But in rare cases, argues Tropper, it kept its
length and was preserved as ‫◌ה‬- ֶ . In other words, Tropper derives the yiqṭol
forms in words like ‫ וַ ֶּיִבן‬and ‫ וַ ְּיִבנֶ ה‬from the same Proto-Hebrew ancestor—
*yibnay—but the regular yiqṭol form ‫‘ ְיִבנֶ ה‬he builds, will build’ from a different
Proto-Hebrew ancestor—*yibnayu. Accordingly, a form such as ‫ וַ ְּיִבנֶ ה‬is to be
considered archaic, since it preserves a typologically earlier pattern than ‫וַ ֶּיִבן‬.
This approach is problematic from several angles. For the problems connected
to the proposed phonological development see Bloch’s (2007: 153–154, n. 40)
discussion along with the references he cites. A second problem involves dia-
chronic distribution: if a form like ‫ וַ ְּיִבנֶ ה‬is indeed a relic, why is it so rarely used
in classical material? Its biblical distribution is limited almost exclusively to
the Prophets, especially to texts composed around the end of the First Temple
Period or during the Exile (like Kings, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel). Further, the use
of these forms became even more regular in later sources, like the DSS and the
Samaritan Pentateuch.
An additional phonological explanation for the full pattern of ‫ ל"י‬verbs in
wayyiqṭol may be found in JM (§79m). According to this explanation, forms
like ‫ וַ ְּיִבנֶ ה‬tend to come (a) in pause or (b) before a guttural letter. Stipp (1987:
129–131, 143–144) favors the second factor, but advises caution in the face of
scribal inconsistency.60
The second sort of approach is textual, running something like this. Scribes
in the late period—during which an early form of RH or some closely related
dialect served as the vernacular—spoke a language from which the short
yiqṭol had disappeared. Thus, in their copying of the biblical text and in their
composing of literary texts in imitation of the Bible, they made every effort
to write in classical biblical style, including the use of short yiqṭol in the rel-
evant wayyiqṭol forms, but under the influence of colloquial Hebrew, did not

58 The exception is ‫‘ וַ ָּ֫ת ִרץ‬and it crushed’ (Jdg 9.53).

59 On the former see above, nn. 48–49, 51–54, on the latter, nn. 50 and 54.
60 For example, in the first two-thirds of the book of Jeremiah forms like ‫ּיִבן‬ ֶ ַ‫ ו‬come before
guttural letters, whereas forms like ‫ּיִבנֶ ה‬ ְ ַ‫ ו‬before other consonants; in the final third, in
contrast, the opposite situation emerges (see Stipp 1987: 129–131, 143–144).
176 chapter 6

always succeed. In this case, biblical forms like ‫ וַ ְּיִבנֶ ה‬do not reflect the lan-
guage of the biblical writers, but originated in slips of the pen of post-biblical
scribes. This approach has been adopted in varying degrees by several scholars.
For example, Stipp (1987: 121, 126–127) explains five cases of full wayyiqṭol in
Ezekiel as scribal corruptions. Likewise, JM (§79m) think that a we-yiqṭol form
was replaced by a wayyiqṭol form in several cruces in which a recurring action
is described. A more comprehensive textual explanation has been proposed by
Bloch (2007: 156–165): in specific reference to use of the full pattern in the 2ms,
3ms, and 3fs of verbs ‫ ל"י‬he notes that the majority of the relevant cases are
limited to the books of Kings, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. These three books contain
additional cases of non-standard spelling (e.g., the spelling of the negator ‫לוא‬
as opposed to ‫לא‬, suffixed forms of ‘with’ spelled -‫ אות‬as opposed to -‫) ִאּת‬, and
Bloch concludes that in contrast to the scribes responsible for copying the rest
of the Bible, those who transmitted the three aforementioned books were not
precise in their work, allowing themselves to be influenced by contemporary
linguistic habits.61 The rest of the cases he accounts for as results of textual cor-
ruption of one sort or another (ibid. 163–165).62
There is little doubt but that late scribes, under the influence of contempo-
rary spoken Hebrew, sometimes substituted an authentic classical form with
an ‘updated’ one more characteristic of their time. It is thus very tempting to
adopt a sweeping explanation like Bloch’s. Be that as it may, the approach in
question may be extreme. While one should not deny the possibility of tex-
tual corruption in specific cases, it seems prudent to delay the adoption of
such a thoroughgoing explanation until alternative explanations have been
exhausted—all the more so in the case of an all-encompassing textual solu-
tion. A textual resolution may be warranted in a portion of the cases of the
full wayyiqṭol pattern, but it seems premature to assume its general suitability.
In the case of full 1st person wayyiqṭol forms Bloch (2007: 147) correctly
accepts the explanation according to which the form was generated through
analogy already in the biblical period. Why, then, does he reject a similar pos-
sibility in relation to the full pattern in 2ms, 3ms, and 3fs in favor of a whole-
sale textual explanation? The fact that some of the cases discussed above are
given to phonological explanations would seem to point to the possibility of a
linguistic phenomenon rooted in BH itself, thereby rendering unnecessary the
assumption of a linguistic update enacted by late copyists. If one is obliged to
consider the processes that led from ‫ וָ ֶא ְקטֹל‬to ‫ וָ ֶא ְק ְט ָלה‬and from ‫ וָ ָ֫א ָקם‬to ‫וָ ָאקּום‬

61 Stipp (1987: 144–145) suggests such a sweeping textual explanation for the books of Kings
and Jeremiah. Bloch (2007: 156, n. 47) observes that a full form that appears in a verse
paralleled elsewhere never comes in both verses.
62 For a textual explanation for hifʿil (excluding ‫ )ל"י‬and qal ‫י‬/‫ ע"ו‬forms see Bloch 2007: 152.
verbal morphology 177

in 1st person developments that began in BH itself and continued in the later
phases of Hebrew (see above, §‎6.1.1), then why should the process that led
from ‫ וַ ֶּיִבן‬to ‫ וַ ְּיִבנֶ ה‬not be viewed as a similar development, rooted in BH?63 One
is entitled to ask whether a form such as ‫ וַ ְּיִבנֶ ה‬may have come about as a result
of the collapse of the modal paradigm in BH: due to the general elision of final
short vowels, in the case of a majority of verbs the short and full yiqṭol forms
became identical. This situation in strong verbs gradually influenced the situ-
ation in weak verbs. In the classical period writers still tended to distinguish
between the short and full forms of these verbs, in spite of the loss of final
short vowels; the later period, in contrast, is characterized by an increase in the
non-standard use of short and full forms, i.e., short ones for the indicative and
full ones for the jussive and in wayyiqṭol.
In light of the statistics brought above any across-the-board textual approach
is liable to raise doubts. Unlike the lengthened pattern in 1st person, which
shows a gradual but definite increase in usage starting with the Torah through
the Prophets and ending with late material (biblical and extra-biblical), the
use of the full pattern increases in the Prophets and especially in the late extra-
biblical material in comparison to the Pentateuch, but it is not especially char-
acteristic of LBH proper. Why do the core LBH books fail to show the expected
full wayyiqṭol patterns in 2ms, 3ms, and 3fs when they do exhibit use of the full
pattern in 1st person forms? This is no doubt at least partially due to the fact
that 1st person wayyiqṭol forms are less frequent than the 3ms and 3fs forms
(and the 2ms is identical to the 3fs). Additional factors may also be at work.
First, the book of Chronicles has the greatest number of potential forms, but its
author is known for his intentionally archaistic style.64 It is true that Chronicles
contains three cases of the full pattern, but in six more cases the Chronicler
arguably ‘corrected’ his source.65 Second, in the remaining core LBH mate-
rial there are relatively few cases in which full wayyiqṭol could have obtained.
For example, there are only 23 potential ‫ ל"י‬cases combined in Esther, Daniel,
Ezra, Nehemiah, and Qohelet. This being the case, the relative infrequency of
the full pattern in LBH appears to result from both archaization and chance.
If the majority of cases of the full wayyiqṭol pattern are not to be explained
textually, how ought the striking accumulation of such forms in the books of
Kings, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel be explained? The following discussion will focus
on ‫ ל"י‬forms, since these forms account for the majority of the cases of the

63 See Kutscher 1974: 328.

64 Consider his treatment of theophoric names ending in ‫יה‬-/‫יהו‬- (see above, §‎3.5, esp.
65 1 Chr 11.17 (|| 2 Sam 23.15); 2 Chr 18.23 (|| 1 Kgs 22.24), 33 (|| 1 Kgs 22.34), 34 (|| 1 Kgs 22.35);
21.9 (|| 2 Kgs 8.21); 34.27 (|| 2 Kgs 22.18).
178 chapter 6

full wayyiqṭol pattern in 2ms, 3ms, and 3fs. First, it should be noted that the
raw data are liable to mislead. Though Kings contains 23 cases of the pattern
in question, these come in 234 potential cases.66 In other words, the propor-
tion of full forms in Kings is similar to that of Isaiah (two out of 22),67 about
10 percent in both cases, and only slightly greater than that of Joshua (two
out of 27). The only books that reveal a genuine accumulation are Jeremiah
(ten out of 22) and Ezekiel (five out of 24). In Stipp’s (1987: 121, 126–127, 144–
145) opinion the situation in the former derives from the textual variety among
the editions of Jeremiah, while the situation in the latter results from copyist
errors. Bloch (2007: 157–165), on the other hand, attributes use of the full pat-
tern in both books to the penetration of a late, popular form into the biblical
text during the post-biblical period in which these books were copied.68 The
logic of the analogy may be illustrated as follows:

‫ וַ ִ ּי ְקנֶה‬: ‫ יִ ְקנֶ ה‬:: ‫ וַ ּיִ ְקטֹל‬: ‫ וַ ִ ּי ֶקן > יִ ְקטֹל‬: ‫ יִ ְקנֶ ה‬:: ‫ וַ ּיִ ְקטֹל‬: ‫יִ ְקטֹל‬

This change probably occurred first in the spoken language and only later
in the written register. That is to say, the full yiqṭol pattern, which served to
mark future and habitual past and present, the jussive, and the simple past
(in wayyiqṭol) in the majority of verbs (i.e., the strong verbs), but only future
and habitual past and present in ‫ ל"י‬verbs, started to be used to mark the jus-
sive and simple past (in wayyiqṭol) in ‫ ל"י‬verbs as well due to influence of the
spoken language, or, at the very least, due to the activity of scribes who were
no longer capable of imitating pure classical style. Thus the theory according
to which the full wayyiqṭol pattern is in some way related to the late spoken
register is reasonable. However, this influence or penetration should not nec-
essarily be dated to the post-biblical period. In light of the biblical evidence,
there seems no reason to deny the possibility that forms like ‫ וַ ְּיִבנֶ ה‬had already
penetrated the literary register in the period during which the biblical texts
were being composed.69 The relative lack of similar forms in LBH proper is
either casual or derives from a conscious rejection of such forms in the spirit
of linguistic purism.

66 Cf. JM §79m, n. 18. These figures exclude forms of the verb ‫‘ ָהיָ ה‬be’, which never appears
in a full form in 2nd or 3rd person.
67 It should be noted that the recurring form ‫‘ וַ ּיְ ַצּוֶ ה‬and he commanded’ accounts for four of
these cases. The non-standard 3fs form ‫‘ וַ ִּתזְ נִ י‬and she prostituted herself’ (Jer 3.6) might
also be added (despite its vocalization; see below).
68 Noting the use of the full wayyiqṭol pattern in the DSS and the Samaritan Pentateuch,
Bloch claims—correctly— that both betray a popular linguistic profile.
69 GKC §75t; Kutscher 1974: 328; C. Smith 2003: 183–185.
verbal morphology 179 Jeremiah
The relevant cases in Jeremiah are listed and discussed in what follows:

Jer 3.7 And I said, after she had done all these things, “To me return,” but
she did not return; and she saw (ktiv ‫ ;ותראה‬qre ‫ )וַ ֵּת ֶרא‬a traitress, her
sister, Judah.

This is the sole case of the verb ‫‘ ָר ָאה‬see’ in wayyiqṭol in 2ms, 3ms, and 3fs. It
occurs in the 1cs in Jer 3.8 and 31.26, in short and full forms, respectively. In Jer
3.7 the ktiv form perhaps implies ‫‘* *וַ ִּת ְר ֶא ָה‬and she saw her’, with a proleptic
object suffix.

Jer 10.13 At the sound of his setting thunder in the water of the heavens, he
brought up (‫ )וַ ּיַ ֲע ֶלה‬clouds from the end of earth (qre the earth).

The parallel verse in Jer 51.16 presents the short form. Cf. the qal form ‫ וַ ַּת ֲע ֶלה‬Jer
44.21 (see below). It is worth noting that the parallel in 4Q72 (i.e., 4QJerc) f6.2
also reads ‫ותעלה‬, proving that use of the full pattern here goes back to at least
the end of the 1st century BCE.70

Jer 20.2 And Pashhur struck (‫ )וַ ּיַ ֶּכה‬Jeremiah the prophet and put him in stocks.

In the two relevant cases (here and Jer 52.27; see below) the verb comes in
its full form. In the present case the Greek perhaps reflects ‫*וַ ּיַ ֵּכ ֻה וַ ּיִ ֵּתן אֹתֹו ַעל־‬
‫‘* ַה ַּמ ְה ֶּפ ֶכת‬and he struck him and put him in stocks’.

Jer 32.20 . . . who performed signs and wonders in the land of Egypt until this
day, and in Israel and among mankind; and you made for yourself
ְ ‫ )וַ ַּת ֲע ֶׂש‬a name, as at this day.

The short pattern is reflected four times in the (admittedly more common)
form ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ַעׂש‬and he did’ (Jer 36.8; 38.12; 40.3; 52.2) and once in ‫‘ וַ ּנַ ַעׂש‬and we did’
(Jer 35.10).

Jer 36.5 And Jeremiah commanded (‫ )וַ יְ ַצּוֶ ה‬Baruch

Jer 36.26 And the king commanded (‫ )וַ יְ ַצּוֶ ה‬Jerahmeel

70 For the date of 4QJerc see Cross 1975: 308; Tov 1997: 182. There are two additional cases
in which a biblical verse containing a full wayyiqṭol form in the MT is represented in the
biblical DSS and in both the scrolls show a short form: ‫( וַ ּיַ ֶּכה‬Isa 37.36 || ‫ ויך‬1QIsaa 31.16);
‫( וַ ַּת ֲע ֶׂשה‬Hab 1.14 || ‫ ותעש‬1QpHab 5.12).
180 chapter 6

Jer 37.21 And king Zedekiah commanded (‫)וַ יְ ַצּוֶ ה‬

Jer 38.10 And the king commanded (‫ )וַ יְ ַצּוֶ ה‬Ebed-Melek, the Ethiopian

A case of the full pattern in 1st person occurs in Jer 32.13; the only short example
in the book comes in Jer 39.11. Additional instances of the full form in 1st per-
son come in Deut 1.16, 18; Ezra 8.17 (qre); Neh 7.2; another case of the full pat-
tern in 3rd person is found in 2 Kgs 16.15 (qre).

Jer 44.21 Them Yhwh remembered and brought (‫ )וַ ַּת ֲע ֶלה‬to mind.

See above on Jer 10.13.

Jer 52.27 And the king of Babylon struck (‫ )וַ ּיַ ֶּכה‬them.

See above on Jer 20.2.

One should perhaps also add the form ‫‘ וַ ִּתזְ נִ י‬and she prostituted herself’ in
the following passage:

Jer 3.6 And Yhwh said to me in the days of Josiah the king, “Have you seen
that which backsliding Israel has done. Going upon every high hill
and beneath every verdant tree, she has prostituted herself there
ָ ִ‫)וַ ִּתזְ נ‬.”71 The MT and the Greek

While it is virtually impossible to determine the exact form seen by the Greek
translator(s) in any given case, it is significant that all the verses listed above
find parallels in the Greek version. In contrast, disregarding the form ‫וַ יְ ִהי‬, which
goes unparalleled eight times in the Greek edition of Jeremiah, there are three
instances in which a 3ms wayyiqṭol form has no parallel in the Greek—‫‘ וַ יְ ַצו‬and
(Nebuchadnezzar . . .) commanded’ (39.11); ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ַעׂש‬and he did’ (52.2); and ‫‘ וַ ּיִ גֶ ל‬and
(Judah) was exiled’ (52.27)—all of which are short (there are no relevant 2ms
or 3fs forms lacking a parallel).

71 Compare ‫‘ צּור יְ ָל ְדָך ֶּת ִׁשי‬you (ms!) have forgotten the rock that bore you’ (Deut 32.18 ?);
‫ל־ּת ְמ ִחי‬
ֶ ‫‘ ַא‬do not blot out (ms)’ (Jer 18.23). See GKC §75ii for textual explanations; Tropper
(1998: 166–167) suggests a phonological solution (cf. Bloch 2007: 153, n. 39). Might the ktiv
in these cases reflect the pronunciation ‫◌י‬- ֶ , a spelling known from the DSS, the Samaritan
Pentateuch, and RH (see Kutscher 1974: 328)?
verbal morphology 181

6.2 Derivatives of ‫חי"י‬: Geminate versus ‫ ל"י‬Forms

The morphological shape of words derived from the root ‫ חי"י‬in the Bible con-
stitutes an interesting problem. The root in question belongs simultaneously
to the ‫ ל"י‬and geminate categories. It is therefore no surprise that derivations
along both lines can be found in ancient sources.
In the domain of the noun formation generally adheres to the geminate
pattern.72 In the domain of the verb, in contrast, most forms are conjugated on
the basis of ‫ל"י‬. Thus are derived all the piʿel and hifʿil forms, along with most
of the forms in qal—including future and related forms (short yiqṭol/jussive,
wayyiqṭol, imperative, and both types of infinitive). In (we-)qaṭal qal forms, con-
versely, the situation is complex. No relevant forms in 1st person are documented.
2nd person forms (2ms, 2mpl) follow the ‫ ל"י‬pattern.73 3rd person forms show
alternation. As such, the discussion here will focus on 3rd person forms. In the
3mpl, the form ‫‘ ָחיּו‬they lived’ follows the ‫ ל"י‬pattern,74 whereas the 3ms and 3fs
present forms following both the ‫ ל"י‬and geminate pattern. See table 7.2.75767778

Table 6.2 The verb ‫חי‬/‫ה‬

ַ ָ‫ ָחי‬in 3ms and 3fs

‫ל"י‬ Geminate

3ms ‘he lived’ ‫ ָ חיָ ה‬75 ‫ ָחי( ַחי‬in pause)76

3fs ‘she lived’ ‫ ָחיְ ָתה‬77 ‫ ָ֫חיָ ה‬78

72 Geminate: ‫‘ ַחּיִ ים‬life’, ‫ ַחּיָ ה‬I ‘animal’, ‫ ַחּיָ ה‬II ‘community’ (2 Sam 23.13), ‫(‘ ( ַא ְל ָמנּות) ַחּיּות‬wid-
owhood of) living’, and the adjective ‫ּיה–חי‬ ַ ‫ים–ח‬
ַ ִ‫ּיֹות–חּי‬
ַ ‫‘ ַח‬alive, live’. Cf. the ‫ ל"י‬forms ‫ָחיֹות‬
‘lively, vigorous’ (Exod 1.19) and ‫‘ ִמ ְחיָ ה‬preservation of life, subsistence’.
73 Deut 30.16; Ezek 37.5, 6, 14.
74 Num 4.19; 14.38; Zech 10.9.
75 Jer 21.9 (qre); 38.2a (qre), 17b; Ezek 18.23; 33.11; Qoh 6.6; Est 4.11; Neh 9.29. Possibly also
Exod 1.16 (see below, n. 78).
76 Gen 3.22; 5.5; 11.12, 14; 25.7; Exod 33.20; Lev 18.5; 25.35, 36; Num 21.8, 9; Deut 4.42; 5.24; 19.4, 5;
2 Sam 12.22; Jer 38.2b; Ezek 18.13, 24; 20.11, 13, 21; 47.9; Neh 6.11. There are those who amend
‫‘ וְ ֵחי‬and he will live’ (Lev 25.36), which is vocalized like a substantive in construct, to the
more transparently verbal ‫ וָ ַחי‬as in the preceding verse; see GKC §76i and compare the
ancient translations. Others read ‫ וְ ֵחי‬as a verbal form; see Böttcher 1866–1868: §1181f (fol-
lowed by BDB 310b–311a); Bauer and Leander 1922: §57t″; Bula 1992: 250, n. 33; HALOT 310a.
77 Gen 12.13; Jer 38.17a.
78 In Exod 1.16 the gender of the consonantal form is somewhat ambiguous in the context,
since it could be a masculine form used in reference to a general ‘it’ or a feminine geminate
form. The accentuation marks it as the latter. On the vocalization without gemination
of the yod see GKC §76i; Bauer and Leander 1922: §57t″; Bergsträsser 1918–1929: II §27p.
182 chapter 6

6.2.1 The mt
The derivatives of the root ‫ חי"י‬following the ‫ ל"י‬pattern, on the one hand, and
those following the geminate pattern, on the other, do not occur side by side in
the biblical text, but instead display a rather clear pattern of diachronic com-
plementary distribution: the geminate forms dominate in First Temple litera-
ture, whereas use of the ‫ ל"י‬forms expands only in those works composed from
the period of the Exile on.79 Table 6‎ .2.1 presents the distribution of the relevant
forms according to the books in which they are found.80
The data presented in the table can be summarized as follows:

(a) The 3rd person form that dominates in early material is built on the basis
of the geminate pattern. Out of 17 cases, 16 are formed in this way, leaving
one case in the ‫ ל"י‬pattern.
(b) The core LBH books and Qohelet, in contrast, are characterized by the
opposite tendency, according to which most of the relevant forms (three
of four) are formed on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern.
(c) Additionally, out of the nine cases formed on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern, eight come
in books composed during the Exile or thereafter.
(d) The tendency toward formation on the ‫ ל"י‬rather than geminate pat-
tern begins to take hold in Jeremiah and Ezekiel.81 These two books deal
with the end of the First Temple Period and the Exile and were probably

79 Lambert 1938: §1142, n. 3; Bendavid 1967–1971: I 65, 84; Haneman 1974: 24–26; Hurvitz 1982:
46–48; Bergey 1983: 35–36; Rooker 1990: 82; Rendsburg 1991: 363; Schoors 1992–2004: I 99;
JM §79s, n. 23.
80 Cf. the figures given in Haneman 1974: 24–26 and n. 6, according to which the two qre
forms in Jer 21.9 and 38.2 are not counted. The same is true of Hurvitz 1982: 46–48, where
the case in Ezek 47.9 is also excluded. The two qre forms in Jeremiah merit a brief discus-
sion. It is true that most commentators prefer the ktiv ‫‘ יחיה‬he will live’, a reading that
creates symmetry between the two halves of the verse in both cases: ‫ַהּי ֵֹׁשב ָּב ִעיר ַהּזֹאת‬
‫ יִ ְחיֶ ה‬. . . ‫ׂשדים‬
ִ ‫ל־ה ַּכ‬
ַ ‫ וְ ַהּי ֵֹצא וְ נָ ַפל ַע‬. . . ‫‘ יָמּות‬the one who dwells in the city will die . . . and the
one who leaves and surrenders to the Chaldeans . . . will live’; see, e.g., Duhm 1901: 170–171,
302; Holladay 1986–1989: I 573, II 266; Lundbom 1999–2004 II 94, n. 1, III 64, n. 1. However,
there are those who recognize the possibility of the qre; see Rudolph 1968: 136; Holladay
1986–1989: I 573. See also Gordis 1971: 145, n. 440 (p. 193), who adduces support for the pri-
macy of the qre (citing S.R. Driver 1892: 136–138 and BDB 254b–255a). Whether one reads
according to the qre or the ktiv, it should be noted that both forms fit a relatively late date:
‫‘ וְ ָחיָ ה‬and he will live’ on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern and yiqṭol rather than weqaṭal in the apodosis of a
conditional clause are both phenomena especially typical of late material (see JM §176f).
81 It should be noted that three of the four cases of geminate, i.e., classical, formation in
Ezekiel involve quotations from Leviticus (see below).
verbal morphology 183

Table 6.2.1 Distribution of the 3ms and 3fs (we)qaṭal forms of ‫חי‬/‫ה‬
ַ ָ‫‘ ָחי‬live’ on the ‫ ל"י‬and gemi-
nate patterns according to the MT

Book ‫ל"י‬ Geminate

Genesis 1 5
Exodus 0 2
Leviticus 0 3
Numbers 0 2
Deuteronomy 0 4
Torah 1 16
Samuel 0 1
Jeremiah 3 1
Ezekiel 2 4
Qohelet 1 0
Esther 1 0
Nehemiah 1 1
Prophets and Writings 8 7
Core LBH and Qohelet 3 1
Total 9 23

composed during the Exile or at the beginning of the Restoration period,

Jeremiah before Ezekiel.

6.2.2 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-Biblical Sources

The conclusions detailed above regarding the diachronic development from
‫ ַחי‬on the pattern of the geminates to ‫ ָחיָ ה‬on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern in Masoretic BH
receive confirmation from non-Masoretic, non-Hebrew, and extra-biblical
material. For example, in the Samaritan Pentateuch there are three cases of
forms following the ‫ ל"י‬pattern82 against only one in the MT. The DSS and

82 Gen 12.13; Exod 1.16; Lev 18.3.

184 chapter 6

Rabbinic literature also demonstrate a marked preference for ‫ ל"י‬formations.83

And finally, formation on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern is standard in Aramaic, e.g., the tar-
gums.84 An illustrative example of this diachronic development emerges in the
different versions of the weqaṭal forms in the following parallel verses:

Lev 18.5 by the doing of which a man will live    (‫)וָ ַחי‬85
Sam Pent by the doing of which a man will live (‫)וחיה‬
Ezek 20.11 by the doing of which a man will live  (‫)וָ ַחי‬86
Neh 9.29 by the doing of which a man will live (‫)וָ ָחיָ ה‬
CD 3.15–16 by the doing of which a man will live (‫)וחיה‬
4Q266 f11.12 by the doing of which a man will live (‫)וחיה‬

Lev 18.5, 11, 13, and 21 present the classical form. The book of Ezekiel preserves
the classical forms in a citation of Leviticus (three times), but sometimes
makes use of the characteristically late form, even in the same context as
the ancient form.87 The book of Nehemiah, the Damascus Covenant, and the
Samaritan Pentateuch, in contrast, ‘modernize’ the verse,88 though it is impor-
tant to point out that use of the classical form persists in late sources.

6.2.2 Explanation for the Development

The shift from ‫ ַחי > ָחיָ ה‬is to be explained as result of the power of analogy. In
CBH, conjugation of the (we)qaṭal qal derivative of ‫ חי"י‬involved a suppletive
paradigm: the form for each person was derived as if either ‫ ל"י‬or g­ eminate.89 In
the course of time, however, since the majority of the members of the paradigm
were formed on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern, and possibly since ‫ ל"י‬forms are more plentiful

83 In the non-biblical DSS there are five ‫ ל"י‬forms (CD 3.16; 2Q19 f1.4; 4Q200 f1ii.2; 4Q251
f12.4; 4Q266 f11.12) against two geminate forms (4Q266 f1a–b.7; 4Q504 f6.17). In the bibli-
cal scrolls the forms mirror their counterparts in the MT—‫ ל"י‬in one case only (4Q109
f1ii+3–6i.3 [|| Qoh 6.6]), geminate in five cases (4Q37 3.6 [|| Deut 5.24]; 4Q129 f1R.13 [||
Deut 5.24]; 4Q135 f1.3 [|| Deut 5.24]; 4Q137 f1.29 [|| Lev 25.35]; XQ2 1.5 [|| Deut 5.24]). In RH
the qaṭal form on the geminate pattern disappeared completely and even the participle
was affected: the form ‫ ַחי‬, on the geminate pattern, is limited to substantival usages (noun
and adjective) alone. Against this a new ‫ ל"י‬verbal participle was created, i.e., ‫( ָחיֶ ה‬see
Haneman 1974).
84 There are also exceptional cases, as in 4Q196 f18.14. The Samaritan Targum preserves ‫(ו)חי‬.
85 See also Lev 18.11, 13, 21.
86 See also Ezek 20.13, 21.
87 Compare ‫( וְ ָחיָ ה‬Ezek 18.23) and ‫( וָ ָחי‬v. 24), in the span of two verses.
88 The Samaritan Pentateuch also ‘updates’ Exod 1.16: ‫וְ ָחיָ ה < וחיתה‬.
89 Haneman 1974: 24.
verbal morphology 185

in the language in general, language users created a more unified paradigm on

the basis of analogy. In this way, the 3ms and 3fs forms, which had previously
patterned as if geminate, were brought into line with the rest of the paradigm,
as ‫ ל"י‬forms. The unification process due to analogy c­ ontinued in the later
stages of the language until in RH even the (verbal) participle changed ‫ ַחי > ָחיֶ ה‬.90
It is also possible that Aramaic had a hand in the development in question.
The ‫ ל"י‬formation ‫‘ וְ ָחיְ ָתה‬and (my soul) will live’ (Gen 12.13), it is true, comes as
evidence of the early employment of this pattern. However, as noted above,
this form is unique in the pre-exilic corpus of biblical texts (the Pentateuch and
Samuel). It is therefore reasonable to posit that the influence of Aramaic, in
which formation on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern is standard throughout the qaṭal paradigm,
furthered—i.e., reinforced and accelerated—an early inner-Hebrew process,
so that only in texts composed at a relatively late date—when Aramaic influ-
ence was pronounced—can a real accumulation of 3ms and 3fs qaṭal forms on
the ‫ ל"י‬pattern be found in Hebrew. One may also, of course, assume a devel-
opmental process devoid of Aramaic pressure, but such an explanation would
not explain why forms like ‫ ָחיָ ה‬and ‫ ָחיְ ָתה‬become common precisely in the late
period, when Aramaic had acquired the status of lingua franca in the Ancient
Near East. The contrast between CBH and Aramaic is illustrated in the follow-
ing example:

Gen 11.14 and Shelah lived     (‫ ) ַחי‬thirty years

Tg Onkelos and Shelah lived  (‫ )חיה‬thirty years
Tg Neofiti and Shelah lived  (‫ )חיה‬thirty years
Tg Jerusalem and Shelah lived  (‫ )חיא‬thirty years
Peshiṭta and Shelah lived (‫ )ܚܝܐ‬thirty years

6.2.4 Jeremiah
There are four cases of 3ms or 3fs ‫ ַחי‬/‫ ָחיָ ה‬in Jeremiah:

Jer 21.9 Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and plague,
but whoever goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans besieging
you will live (ktiv ‫ ;יחיה‬qre ‫ )וְ ָחיָ ה‬and have his soul as plunder.
Jer 38.2 Thus says Yhwh: “Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword,
famine, and plague, but whoever goes out to the Chaldeans will live
(ktiv ‫ ;יחיה‬qre ‫ )וְ ָחיָ ה‬and have his soul as plunder and live (‫”)וָ ָחי‬.
Jer 38.17 And Jeremiah said to Zedekiah: “Thus says Yhwh, God of Hosts, God
of Israel, ‘If you go out to the king of Babylon’s officers, your soul will

90 See above, n. 80.

186 chapter 6

live (‫ )וְ ָחיְ ָתה‬and this city will not be burnt in fire and you and your
house will live.’ ”

Three of the four cases involve forms on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern. The qre form ‫ וְ ָהיָ ה‬in Jer
21.2 and 38.2 appears authentic on account of its weqaṭal form, especially in the
light of ‫ וָ ָחי‬at the end of Jer 38.2.91 The form ‫( וְ ָח ָיְתה‬Jer 38.17) may be explained
as a result of grammatical attraction to the 2ms form ‫‘ וְ ָחיִ ָתה‬and you will live’
in the continuation of the verse; a similar explanation may also be valid in the
case of ‫ וְ ָחיָ ה‬in Jer 21.9 (attraction to ‫‘ וְ ָהיְ ָתה‬and it will be’ later in the verse), but
the proximity between ‫ וְ ָחיָ ה‬and ‫ וָ ָחי‬militates against attributing too much influ-
ence to the force of attraction. It may very well be that the formation according
to the ‫ ל"י‬pattern was already the norm when Jeremiah was composed, whereas
the form ‫וָ ָחי‬, which is in pause, was preserved in a prosodic position associated
with the conservation of archaic forms.92 Whatever the case may be, the book
of Jeremiah apparently bears witness to the earliest regular use of forms like
‫ ָחיָ ה‬and ‫יְתה‬ָ ‫ ָח‬, making its language similar to LBH proper, but at the same time
shows continued, though perhaps conditioned and archaistic, use of the gemi-
nate pattern. A similar situation arises in Ezekiel, where the classical geminate
forms occur in quotations (Ezek 20.11, 13, 21) of Leviticus 18.5 and independently
in pause in Ezek 18.24, but the late form also appears in parallel verses (Ezek 18.23;
33.11), significantly in pause, even in close proximity to the classical form (‫וְ ָחיָ ה‬
Ezek 18.23 beside ‫ וָ ָחי‬Ezek 18.24).

6.2.5 The MT and the Greek

To judge from the Greek, the Hebrew edition behind it included all of the rele-
vant forms, though it is naturally difficult to reconstruct the exact form that lay
before the translator(s). For example, in Jer 21.9 the situation is unclear, since
the Greek (καὶ) ζήσεται may equally represent ‫(ו)יחיה‬, ‫(ו)חי‬, or ‫(ו)חיה‬. A similar
ambiguity attaches to Jer 38.2 and 17. In all events, from the perspective of the
phenomenon in question, there is evidently no significant difference between
the MT and the Hebrew Vorlage behind the Greek.

91 If so, the qre preserves an early syntactic feature in the use of weqaṭal while at the same
time wearing a late morphological form in ‫( וְ ָהיָ ה‬on the ‫ ל"י‬pattern). The ktiv form is gram-
matically possible, but somewhat suspect both because it may easily be explained as a
result of graphic confusion (between waw and yod) and because it coincides with the
post-biblical form expected in the context. Of course, these considerations are far from
definitive and the facts are given to alterative explanations.
92 The only case of the geminate pattern in the core LBH books, Neh 6.11, also comes in pause.
chapter 7


7.1 The Propositions ‫ ִעם‬and ‫‘ אֵ ת‬with’

7.1.1 The mt
As is well known, BH knows two comitative prepositions having the basic
meaning ‘with’, i.e., ‫ ֵאת‬and ‫ ִעם‬.1 Overall in the Bible ‫ ִעם‬appears some 1050 times
and ‫ ֵאת‬some 900,2 both in material considered classical.3 However, these rela-
tively balanced figures are not equally characteristic of the various diachronic
phases of BH. The books of the Torah and the Former Prophets exhibit use of
both prepositions, with a slight preference for ‫ ֵאת‬in the Torah,4 and a more
pronounced, though by no means extreme, general preference for ‫ ִעם‬in the
Former Prophets.5 A similar picture arises from Isaiah 1–39 (‘First Isaiah’),
in which the ratio between ‫ ֵאת‬and ‫ ִעם‬is 11:14. A completely different situa-
tion emerges in the core LBH books and Qohelet. In this material ‫ ִעם‬comes
some 243 times, the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬only 40 times.6 What is more, out of these
40 late occurrences, 25 come in Chronicles, whose author’s archaistic penchant
is known: in 15 of the 25 cases of ‫ ֵאת‬the Chronicler apparently inherited the
formulation from his sources,7 and in two additional cases he seems to have

1 Not to be confused with instrumental -‫ב‬, which often corresponds to English ‘with’ and func-
tionally similar prepositions in other languages.
2 In the absence of any note to the contrary, the statistics presented in this discussion are
based on the table in Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: II 112–113; cf. the totals arrived
at by others cited there. It is unclear whether their data include cases in which -‫ ִאּת‬was
replaced with -‫אֹות‬/-‫אֹת‬.
3 Hebrew ‫ ֵאת‬and ‫ ִעם‬find early cognates in Akkadian itti and Ugaritic ʿm, respectively.
4 In this corpus that ratio between ‫ ֵאת‬and ‫ ִעם‬is 284:243. Among these there are books that
exhibit a preference for ‫ ֵאת‬over ‫ ִעם‬, e.g., Genesis (135:83) and Numbers (52:26), for ‫ ִעם‬over
‫ ֵאת‬, e.g., Deuteronomy (27:65), and balanced usage, e.g., Exodus (44:49) and Leviticus (26:26).
5 The ratio of ‫ ֵאת‬to ‫ ִעם‬in the Former Prophets is 271:364. In the corpus comprising the Torah
and the Former Prophets the same ratio is 555:607.
6 The ratios of ‫ ֵאת‬to ‫ ִעם‬in the core LBH books are as follows: Esther 4:11; Daniel 2:17; Ezra 2:24;
Nehemiah 6:13; Chronicles 25:170. In Qohelet the same ratio is 0:8.
7 1 Chr 17.6 (|| 2 Sam 7.7); 2 Chr 6.4 (|| 1 Kgs 8.15), 10.6 (|| 1 Kgs 12.6), 8 (2x; || 1 Kgs 12.8), 10b
(|| 1 Kgs 12.10b); 11.4 (|| 1 Kgs 12.24); 16.3 (|| 1 Kgs 15.19); 18.23 (|| 1 Kgs 22.24), 30 (3x; || 1 Kgs
22.31); 22.5 (|| 2 Kgs 8.28), 12 (|| 2 Kgs 11.3); 23.7 (|| 2 Kgs 11.8). The occurrence at 1 Chr 16.16
(|| Ps 105.9), not mentioned by Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: II 112–113), might also be
added to this list. Young et al. (ibid.) also fail to mention the occurrence at 2 Chr 10.6 (|| 1 Kgs

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���4 | doi ��.��63/9789004269651_�08

188 chapter 7

had in mind the homonymous marker of the definite direct object.8 If so, the
core LBH books and Qohelet contain just 22 independent cases of the preposi-
tion ‫ ֵאת‬.9 For purposes of illustrating the development according to which the
use of ‫ ֵאת‬ceased in the late period the following passages from Chronicles and
earlier books may be compared:10

12.6) and one of the cases in 2 Chr 10.8 (1 Kgs 12.8). Of the ten remaining cases in which
the Chronicler presents ‫ ֵאת‬independently of his source, three come in opposition to the
parallel in Samuel–Kings: 1 Chr 20.5 (|| 2 Sam 21.19); 2 Chr 6.18 (|| 1 Kgs 8.27); 10.10a (|| 1 Kgs
8 In the two cases in 2 Chr 18.30 the Chronicler evidently read the preposition in his source
(1 Kgs 22.31) as the definite direct object marker, since he twice added the otherwise
unnecessary definite article: ‫ת־קטֹן וְ ֶאת־ּגָ דֹול‬ ָ ‫‘ לֹא ִּת ָּל ֲחמּו ֶא‬you will not fight with small
or great’ > ‫ת־הּגָ דֹול‬
ַ ‫ת־ה ָּקטֹן ֶא‬ַ ‫‘ לֹא ִּת ָּל ֲחמּו ֶא‬you will not fight the small or the great’ (cf.
Josh 10.25; 1 Kgs 20.25).
9 Est 1.10; 2.20; 3.1; Dan 1.19; 9.13 (?); Ezra 8.19; 9.8; Neh 5.7 (2x); 6.16; 13.11, 17; 1 Chr 2.23; 16.16;
20.5 (|| ‫ ִעם‬2 Sam 21.19); 29.8; 2 Chr 6.18 (|| 1 Kgs 8.27); 10.10a (|| 1 Kgs 12.10a); 24.24; 29.29;
33.12 (?). The statistics in JM §103j are thus imprecise. See also Malessa 2003: 339, n. 23.
The figures given here differ slightly from those of Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008:
II 112–113): the particles in ‫ּומ ַח ְּל ִלים ֶאת־יֹום ַה ַּׁש ָּבת‬
ְ ‘and desecrate the Sabbath’ (Neh 13.17b)
and ‫ת־יֹואב‬
ָ ‫ר־ה ֶּמ ֶלְך ֶא‬
ַ ‫‘ ִּכי־נִ ְת ַעב ְּד ַב‬because the command of the king was abhorrent to
Joab’ (1 Chr 21.6) are not here considered cases of the preposition. Young, Rezetko, and
Ehrensvärd (ibid.) admit the rarity of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬in the late biblical books, but
downplay the diachronic significance of this fact, arguing that the choice between ‫ִעם‬
and ‫ ֵאת‬was basically stylistic. There is no doubt that stylistic factors should be taken
into account. Obviously, the choice between the two prepositions in early material, where
both are used, was at least partially a matter of subjective choice. Likewise, even in late
material there existed something of a choice: whether to adhere to prevailing or to past
linguistic conventions. Nevertheless, the recognition of stylistic factors does not negate
the possibility of identifying diachronically significant linguistic developments, including
‫’ ֵאת‬s descent into oblivion in the later period.
 In JM (§103j, n. 30), the editor compares the situation in spoken Modern Israeli Hebrew,
which, in his view, exhibits the opposite tendency, with ‫אתי‬, etc., instead of ‫עמי‬, etc. The
observation is correct as far as it goes, but it should also be noted that the replacement of
‫ עם‬with ‫ את‬in Modern Israeli Hebrew is generally restricted to forms with a pronominal
suffix. Additionally, the compound preposition ‫ מאת‬is much more common than ‫מעם‬.
In all other cases, however, ‫ עם‬is used to the total exclusion of ‫את‬, in both speech and
writing. The two prepositions thus complement one another in something of a suppletive
paradigm in Modern Israeli Hebrew.
10 In certain parallel verses ‫ ֵאת‬is replaced with ‫ ִעם‬, but other times the Chronicler sim-
ply omitted the preposition or adopted an alternative formulation. Outside of parallel
sections, i.e., in the Chronicler’s ‘independent’ material, preference for ‫ ִעם‬is clearer. For
special uses of ‫ ִעם‬on the part of the Chronicler see Kropat 1909:40.
syntax 189

Josh 21.34 the remaining Levites  from the tribe of Zebulon (‫בּולן‬
ֻ ְ‫) ֵמ ֵאת ַמ ֵּטה ז‬
1 Chr 6.62 those remaining  from the tribe of Zebulon (‫בּולן‬
ֻ ְ‫) ִמ ַּמ ֵּטה   ז‬

2 Sam 7.12 when your days are fulfilled and you lie with (‫ ) ֶאת‬your ancestors
1 Chr 17.11 when your days are fulfilled to go with  (‫  ) ִעם‬your ancestors

2 Sam 10.19 they were defeated before Israel and made peace with (‫ ) ֶאת‬Israel
2 Chr 19.19 they were defeated before Israel and made peace with  (‫   ) ִעם‬David11

7.1.2 Non-Masoretic, Non-Hebrew, and Extra-biblical Sources

The portrait of use of the prepositions ‫ ִעם‬and ‫ ֵאת‬painted above for the mt
is confirmed by a similar non-Masoretic, non-Hebrew, and extra-biblical
picture. Both prepositions are documented in early extra-biblical sources.12
Later extra-biblical material, conversely, demonstrates a tendency similar to
that known from LBH, i.e., rare usage of ‫ ֵאת‬. For example, in the non-biblical
DSS, the ratio of ‫ ֵאת‬to ‫ ִעם‬is 75:515 and in Ben Sira it is approximately 10:70.13
The process reaches is natural conclusion in RH, where ‫ ֵאת‬has fallen into com-
plete disuse, except for in quotations from the Bible or imitation of its style. In
the Mishna, the ‫ ֵאת‬to ‫ ִעם‬ratio is 3:455—the three cases of ‫ ֵאת‬in quotations of
the Bible.14 There is evidence of similar development in the DSS; see the fol-
lowing parallel verses and similar formulations:

Gen 35.22 and he lay with (‫ ) ֶאת‬Bilhah, his father’s concubine

4Q252 4.5–6 he lay with   (‫  )עם‬Bilhah, his concubine

Exod 34.27 I have made a covenant with you  (‫ ) ִא ְּתָך‬and with (‫  )וְ ֶאת‬Israel
4Q271 f4ii.3 I have made a covenant with you (‫ )עמכה‬and with (‫[)ועמ‬Israel

11 The cases presented here come from a check of Bendavid 1972. For additional examples
see 1 Kgs 15.23 || 2 Chr 16.12; 2 Kgs 12.6 || 2 Chr 24.5. There are also instances of the opposite
substitution, i.e., of ‫ ִעם‬with ‫ ֵאת‬, in 2 Sam 21.19 || 1 Chr 20.5 (see also 1 Kgs 12.10 || 2 Chr 10.10,
in which ‫ ֵאת‬replaces ‫) ֵאל‬.
12 ‫ ִעם‬: Arad 3.3; Kuntillet Ajrud 19.9; Moussaieff 2.4; ‫ ֵאת‬: Arad 3.6; 5.2; 16.7; 24.17, 19; 40.8;
Kuntillet Ajrud 19.4; Meṣad Ḥašavyahu (Yavne Yam) 10; Siloam Tomb 2.2.
13 According to the Historical Dictionary of the Academy of the Hebrew Language, the fig-
ures for Ben Sira differ slightly from those given in the concordance published in 1973.
Also somewhat different are the figures of the electronic concordance of Abegg (2008) in
the Accordance program.
14 Bava Meṣiʿa 9.12 (2x), quoting Lev 19.13; Makkot 2.2, quoting Deut 19.5.
190 chapter 7

1 Sam 21.2 And he said to him, “Why are you alone, no man with you (‫”?) ִא ָּתְך‬
4Q52 f6–7.15–16 And he said to him, “Why are you alone,]  no man with you (‫”?)עמך‬

Ps 105.9  . . .   that he made   with (‫ ) ֶאת‬Abraham, and his oath to Isaac.
11Q5 fEiii.14 . . . [that he made] with (‫ )עם‬Abraham, and  his oath to Isaac.15

The reduced usage of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬is generally attributed to the influ-
ence of Aramaic, which knows a cognate of ‫ ִעם‬but not of ‫ ֵאת‬.16 See the follow-
ing examples from the targums:17

Gen 9.9 I now establish my covenant with you (‫ )א ְּת ֶכם‬

ִ and with (‫ )וְ ֶאת‬ your seed
Tg Onkelos I now establish my covenant with you (‫ )עימכון‬ and with (‫ )ועם‬ your seed
Tg Jerusalem I now establish my covenant with you (‫ )עמכון‬ and with (‫ )ועם‬ your seed
Tg Neofiti I now establish my covenant with you (‫ )עמכון‬ and with (‫ )ועם‬ your seed
Sam Tg J I now establish my covenant with you (‫ )עמכון‬ and with (‫ )ועם‬ your seed
Sam Tg A I now establish my covenant with you (‫)עמוכון‬
Peshiṭta I now establish my covenant with you (‫ )ܥܡܟܘܢ‬ and with (‫ )ܘܥܡ‬your seed

Though the assumption of Aramaic influence seems reasonable, before adopt-

ing this conclusion, it is worth examining the use of the prepositions in the
transitional books whose language links CBH and LBH.

7.1.3 The Transitional Period

In light of the foregoing discussion detailing the process of linguistic develop-
ment that led from the classical to the late phase of ancient Hebrew, accord-
ing to which writers gradually ceased using the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬, one might
expect that works written during the intervening period would be character-
ized by an increasing tendency to avoid ‫ ֵאת‬to the benefit of ‫ ִעם‬. Be that as
it may, such a situation does not materialize. Rather, and surprisingly, the
corpus of material comprised of Isa 40–66 (‘Second Isaiah’), Jeremiah, and

15 See also Isa 53.9 || 1QIsaa 44.16. The opposite substitution, i.e., of ‫ עם‬with ‫את‬, occurs in
4Q51 f52a–b+53.3 || 2 Sam 2.6. Perhaps this latter change was made for purposes of harmo-
nization, to concord with the use of ‫ ֵאת‬in the continuation of the verse, ‫וְ גַ ם ָאנ ִֹכי ֶא ֱע ֶׂשה‬
‫ּטֹובה ַהּזֹאת‬
ָ ‫‘ ִא ְּת ֶכם ַה‬but I, too, will show you this same favor’, but the fragmentary nature
of the Qumran text precludes certainty.
16 JM §183j.
17 There is no need to multiply examples from the targums, as ‫ עם‬is the standard Aramaic
rendering of the BH preposition ‫ ֵאת‬.
syntax 191

Ezekiel exhibits a definite preference for classical ‫ ֵאת‬.18 The biblical trend
according to its historical periods is thus apparently (1) balanced use of the
two prepositions in the classical period; (2) almost exclusive use of ‫ ֵאת‬in the
transitional period; (3) near exclusive use of ‫ ִעם‬in the core LBH books and
post-biblical compositions.
As mentioned above, the difference between stages (1) and (3) can be
accounted for on the assumption of external influence. Aramaic has only one
comitative preposition meaning ‘with’, namely, ‫ ;עם‬hence, apparently, the
late tendency to favor ‫ ִעם‬in ancient Hebrew.19 In any case, the possibility of
internal development should not be dismissed out of hand. It may be that at
a certain point in the history of Hebrew, language users—perhaps only the
speakers, at first—no longer tolerated the similarity between the preposition
‫ ֵאת‬and the often homonymous definite direct object marker, the same simi-
larity that led to the many cases of confusion between the two particles (see
below, §‎7.2), and, in the name of simplification, abandoned completely the use
of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬, a situation clearly seen in RH. If so, perhaps the exter-
nal pressure of Aramaic merely accelerated an inner-Hebrew process that
had already begun. Of course, this hypothesis is not necessary to explain the
gradual disappearance of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬from the later strata of ancient
Hebrew, since Aramaic influence is sufficient as a decisive factor. However,
this supposition may help to explain why transitional biblical compositions
are characterized by virtually exclusive use of classical ‫ ֵאת‬, in opposition to the
marked tendency in later biblical and extra-biblical material. The employment
of ‫ ֵאת‬in works of the transitional period may point to a distinction between
the spoken and literary registers, and, more precisely, to a degree of resistance
to the preposition ‫ ִעם‬, which had acquired the ‘odor’ of a colloquial form, in
contrast to literary ‫ ֵאת‬. The lofty, sometimes poetic or quasi-poetic style of the
prophetic books would seem a fitting context for the employment of archaistic
forms. The striking accumulation of cases of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬in transitional
material is therefore, perhaps, an example of pseudo-archaization, i.e., hyper-
correction, according to which a perfectly valid classical form that had become

18 The ratios of ‫ ֵאת‬to ‫ ִעם‬in the individual TBH corpora are as follows: ‘Second Isaiah’ 35:1;
Jeremiah 96:7; Ezekiel 54:0. The total is 185:8. It is worth noting that also in the apparently
transitional books of Haggai (3:0), Zechariah (15:4), and Malachi (3:0) there is a clear pref-
erence for ‫ ֵאת‬over ‫ ִעם‬.
19 The occurrence in MT Jer 39.12 has no parallel in Greek, as this is part of a long minus in
the latter.
192 chapter 7

the lone vernacular option was replaced by another classical form that speak-
ers of the language had by then largely discarded. Only at a later stage, under
the influence of Aramaic belles lettres, did ‫ ִעם‬finally supplant ‫ ֵאת‬in Hebrew
literature, e.g., LBH and post-biblical Hebrew.

7.1.4 Jeremiah
In terms of its striking preference for ‫ ֵאת‬over ‫ ִעם‬, the language of Jeremiah
differs markedly from LBH proper. However, this partiality, also characteristic
of other prophetic material from the transitional period, may also speak to a
linguistic self-consciousness on the part of the writer(s), according to which a
form no longer typical of the spoken register was chosen over one that, while
perfectly classical, had become dominant in speech. In this way, the transi-
tional stratum in Jeremiah and similar prophetic books deviated from classical
style, where both prepositions were used fairly commonly.20

7.1.5 The MT and the Greek

Of the seven cases of ‫ ִעם‬in the MT of Jeremiah, six have parallels in the Greek.21
Conversely, out of the 96 instances of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬in MT Jeremiah,
78 have parallels in the Greek. This means that in the material reflected only
in the MT the ratio of ‫ ֵאת‬to ‫ ִעם‬is 22:1, while it is 78:6 in the material common
to both editions. The use of ‫ ִעם‬is rare in both, pointing to a similar linguistic

7.2 Replacement of the Preposition ‫ אֵ ת‬with the Definite Direct Object

Marker ‫אֵ ת‬

7.2.1 The MT
Related to the discussion in the previous section (§‎7.1) is the phenomenon
according to which declined forms of the preposition ‫‘ ֵאת‬with’ were replaced
with forms of the definite accusative marker ‫ ֵאת‬. As is known, despite their
development from separate and phonetically distinct Proto-Semitic par-
ticles, the respective undeclined forms of the two are identical.22 Not so in

20 Compare, in particular, the case of Deuteronomy, with some form of which the writers of
Jeremiah were evidently familiar. In the former cases of ‫ ִעם‬outnumber cases of ‫ ֵאת‬65:27.
21 The following occurrences in the MT have no parallel in the Greek: Jer 7.1; 21.2, 4; 26.22;
27.1; 29.16; 30.11 (2x); 32.5, 40; 33.9, 21 (2x); 34.12; 35.2; 36.1; 39.5; 40.4, 6; 41.3, 7; 42.8.
22 This is the situation in the Tiberian Hebrew pronunciation tradition. In his Greek transla-
tion Aquila also seems to have identified the two particles as one, since he renders both
σύν. In the Samaritan and Babylonian reading traditions, on the other hand, the distinction
syntax 193

the case of their respective declined forms; generally, the preposition returns
to -‫ ִאּת‬before suffixes, whereas the accusative particle comes as -‫אֹת‬/-‫אֹות‬/
-‫ ֶאת‬. However, the mt also exhibits a number of cases, in the neighborhood
of 60 to 70, in which declined forms of the accusative particle ‫( ֵאת‬-‫אֹת‬/-‫)אֹות‬
come in the meaning ‘with’, in place of declined forms of the preposition
‫( ֵאת‬-‫) ִאּת‬. These are listed here:
ִ ‫ר־ּד ֶּבר אֹתֹו ֱא‬ ֵ ‫‘ ַל‬at the time that God spoke with him’
ִ ‫ּמֹועד ֲא ֶׁש‬
or ‘at the time God said’ (Gen 21.2 [?]);23 ‫‘ וַ ּיִ ְׁש ַּכב א ָֹתּה‬and he lay with
her’ or ‘and he bedded her’ (34.2),24 ‫‘ וְ ִה ְת ַח ְּתנּו א ָֹתנּו‬and they will marry

between the two particles is maintained even in their respective undeclined forms (see
JM §103j, n. 29).
23 If the object suffix refers to Abraham, then ‫ ֵאת‬here is a preposition. However, the pro-
nominal suffix more likely refers to ‫מֹועד‬ ֵ . In this case, ‫ ֵאת‬is the accusative marker (see
Morag 1974a: 129, n. 83). If the verse in question is removed from consideration, there are
63 biblical cases of the collocation ‫ ִּד ֶּבר ֵאת‬in the meaning ‫‘ ִּד ֶּבר ִעם‬speak with’. In 31 of
them the vocalization reflects use of the preposition (Gen 17.3, 22, 23; 23.8; 34.6, 8; 35.13,
14, 15; 42.7, 30; 45.15; Exod 25.22; 31.18; 34.29, 32, 33, 34, 35; Num 7.89; Josh 22.15; 2 Sam 3.27;
2 Kgs 25.6, 28; Jer 38.25; 39.5; 52.9, 32; Dan 1.19; 2 Chr 10.10 [|| 2 Kgs 12.10 ‫)] ֵא ָליו‬, in 17 of them
the particle is undeclined, and its grammatical status cannot be determined with cer-
tainty (Gen 41.9; Num 3.1; Deut 5.24; Josh 22.21; 2 Sam 7.7 [|| 1 Chr 17.6]; 1 Kgs 8.15 [|| 2 Chr
6.4]; Jer 7.22; 9.7; 34.3; Ezek 20.3; 33.30 [2x]; Zech 8.16; Ps 12.3; 127.5; 1 Chr 17.6 [|| 2 Sam 7.7];
2 Chr 6.4 [|| 1 Kgs 8.15]), whereas in 15 cases the vocalization points to use of the accusa-
tive particle (Num 26.3; 1 Kgs 22.24 [|| 2 Chr 18.23]; Jer 1.16; 4.12; 5.5; 12.1; 35.2; Ezek 2.1; 3.22,
24, 27; 14.4; 44.5; 2 Chr 18.23 [|| 1 Kgs 22.24]) and in nine of the latter cases the consonantal
orthography, with mater lectionis waw, matches the vocalization (1 Kgs 22.24 [cf. 2 Chr
18.23]; Jer 1.16; 4.12; 5.5; 12.1; 35.2; Ezek 3.22, 27; 14.4).
24 In nine of the 16 occurrences of the collocation ‫ ָׁש ַכב ֵאת‬it is impossible to determine
the status of the particle -‫( ִאּת‬Gen 19.33, 34; 26.10; 34.7; 35.22; Lev 20.11, 12, 20; 1 Sam 2.22).
On the one hand, the collocation -‫ ָׁש ַכב ִאּת‬is not at all documented. On the other hand,
though, several facts point to the possibility that the particle serving in this expression
is in any case a preposition: (a) use of the expression ‫( ָׁש ַכב ִעם‬Gen 19.32, 34, 35; 30.15,
16; 39.7, 12, 14; Exod 22.15, 18; Lev 15.33; Deut 22.22 [2x], 23, 25 [2x], 28, 29; 27.20, 21, 22, 23;
1 Sam 11.4, 11; 12.11, 24; 13.11); (b) the use of ‫ ָׁש ַכב ֵאת‬with an indefinite object (Lev 18.22;
19.20; 20.13, 18); (c) the use of ‫ ָׁש ַכב ִעם‬and ‫ ָׁש ַכב ֵאת‬in the same context (Gen 19.32–35; 2
Sam 13.11–14); (d) the rarity of the plene spelling -‫ אֹות‬in the expression in question (only
in Ezek 23.8). On these grounds it is reasonable to assume that -‫אֹות‬/-‫( ָׁש ַכב אֹת‬Gen 34.2;
Lev 15.18, 24; Num 5.13, 19; 2 Sam 13.14; Ezek 23.8) is a result of the interchange under
discussion, whether by the writer or a later vocalizer. There are those who hold that ‫ָׁש ַכב‬
‫ ֵאת‬with the accusative serves specifically to indicate rape (e.g., Gen 34.2; 2 Sam 13.14), in
contradistinction to ‫ ָׁש ַכב ִעם‬, perhaps due to influence of the expression ‫( ָׁשגַ ל ֵאת‬thus
perhaps the object suffix in the qre form ‫ יִ ְׁש ָּכ ֶבּנָ ה‬should be seen as a reflex if the ktiv
‫)ישגלנה‬, but most of the cases of -‫אֹות‬/-‫ ָׁש ַכב אֹת‬do not involve rape (Lev 15.18, 24; Num
5.13, 19; Ezek 23.8). Additionally, ‫ ָׁש ַכב ִעם‬can also indicate rape (Exod 22.15; Deut 22.25);
194 chapter 7

with us’ (9);25 ‫‘ וְ ִא ָּׁשה ֲא ֶׁשר יִ ְׁש ַּכב ִאיׁש א ָֹתּה‬and a woman with whom a man should
lie’ (Lev 15.18), ‫‘ וְ ִאם ָׁשכֹב יִ ְׁש ַּכב ִאיׁש א ָֹתּה‬but if a man should lie with her’ (24);
‫ל־ּב ֵה ָמה ְל ִר ְב ָעה א ָֹתּה‬ ָ ‫‘ וְ ִא ָּׁשה ֲא ֶׁשר ִּת ְק ַרב ֶא‬and a woman who approaches any
ְ ‫ל־ּכ‬
beast to lie with it’ (20.16 [?]);26 ‫‘ וְ ָׁש ַכב ִאיׁש א ָֹתּה‬and a man lies with her’ (Num
5.13), ‫‘ ִאם־לֹא ָׁש ַכב ִאיׁש א ָֹתְך‬if a man has not lain with her’ (19); ‫וַ יְ ַד ֵּבר מ ֶֹׁשה וְ ֶא ְל ָעזָ ר‬
‫‘ ַהּכ ֵֹהן א ָֹתם‬and Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them’ (26.3); ‫ֲא ֶׁשר ַא ֶּתם‬
ָ ‫‘ נִ ְל ָח ִמים‬with whom you are fighting’ (Josh 10.25);27 ‫אֹותי‬
‫אֹותם‬ ַ ‘if Yhwh
ִ '‫אּולי ה‬
is with me’ (14.12);28 ‫‘ וַ ּיִ ְׁש ַּכב א ָֹתּה‬and he lay with her’ (2 Sam 13.14); ‫י־קנֹו‬ ָ ‫לֹא ִּכ‬
ְ ‫‘ ֶא ְקנֶ ה ֵמ‬no, but I will surely buy from you at a price’ (24.24);29 ‫ַּכ ַחיִ ל‬
‫אֹותָך ִּב ְמ ִחיר‬
ָ ‫‘ ַהּנ ֵֹפל ֵמ‬like the force that fell from you’ (1 Kgs 20.25), ‫אֹותם ַּב ִּמיׁשֹור‬
‫אֹותְך‬ ָ ‫וְ נִ ָּל ֲח ָמה‬
‘that we may fight with them on the plain’ (ibid.); ‫‘ וְ נִ ְד ְר ָׁשה ֵמאֹותֹו‬that we might
enquire of him’ (22.7 || ‫ ֵמאֹתֹו‬2 Chr 18.6), ‫‘ ִל ְדר ֹׁש ֶאת־ה' ֵמאֹתֹו‬to enquire of Yhwh
by him’ (8 || 2 Chr 18.7), ‫אֹותְך‬ ָ ‫‘ ְל ַד ֵּבר‬to speak with you’ (24 || ‫ א ָֹתְך‬2 Chr 18.23);

see König 1881–1895: II 297; BDB 85a, 1012a; Waltke and O’Connor 1990: §10.3.1c; HALOT
1487b; Kaddari 2006: 80b.
25 See König 1881–1895: II 297; cf. Morag 1974a: 129, n. 83.
26 Cf. the object suffix in ‫א־ת ֲעמֹד ִל ְפנֵ י ְב ֵה ָמה ְל ִר ְב ָעּה‬ ַ ֹ ‫‘ וְ ִא ָּׁשה ל‬and a woman will not stand
before a beast to lie with it’ (Lev 18.23). König (1881–1895: II 297) also compares to ‫ָר ַבץ ִעם‬
‘lie with’ in ‫ם־ּכ ֶבׂש וְ נָ ֵמר ִעם־ּגְ ִדי יִ ְר ָּבץ‬
ֶ ‫‘ וְ גָ ר זְ ֵאב ִע‬and the wolf will live with the sheep and
the leopard with the kid will lie’ (Isa 11.6), but that verse does not involve sexual relations.
27 The collocation ‫ל ַחם ֵאת‬/‫ם‬ ָ ‫‘ נִ ְל ַח‬fight with’ comes 23 times in the Bible. In 14 cases the par-
ticle is not declined (Josh 24.8; 2 Sam 21.15 [2x]; 1 Kgs 22.31 [3x; || 2 Chr 18.30]; 2 Kgs 8.29;
9.15; Jer 32.5; 33.5; 2 Chr 18.30 [3x; || 1 Kgs 22.31]; Ps 35.1). However, in two of these cases
it would seem that the particle was understood as the accusative marker: in ‫לֹא ִּת ָּל ֲחמּו‬
‫ת־הּגָ דֹול‬
ַ ‫ת־ה ָּקטֹן ֶא‬
ַ ‫‘ ֶא‬you will not fight with the small or with the great’ (2 Chr 18.30), as
compared to the parallel ‫ת־קטֹן וְ ֶאת־ּגָ דֹול‬ ָ ‫‘ לֹא ִּת ָּל ֲחמּו ֶא‬you will not fight with small or
great’ (1 Kgs 22.31), the addition of the definite article would seem to point in this direc-
tion. In seven cases the particle is vocalized as a preposition (Josh 24.8; 1 Sam 17.9; 1 Kgs
20.23; 2 Kgs 19.9; Isa 37.9; Jer 21.5; 37.10). Finally, in two cases the consonantal form reflects
the accusative particle (Josh 10.25; 1 Kgs 20.25).
28 The expression ‫‘ ה' ֵאת‬Yhwh is with’ comes nine times in the Bible: in four of them the
particle is not declined (Gen 39.2, 21; Josh 6.27; Jdg 1.19), in three it is vocalized as a prepo-
sition (Gen 39.3, 23; Num 14.9), and in two it is vocalized as the accusative particle (Josh
14.12; Jer 20.11). Cf. also the expression ‫‘ ה' ִעם‬Yhwh is with’, which comes some 25 times in
the Bible.
29 The compound preposition ‫‘ ֵמ ֵאת‬from (with)’ appears 180 times in the Bible. In 126 cases
the relevant particle ‫ ֵאת‬is not declined (consult the concordances), in 46 it is vocal-
ized -‫( ִאּת‬see the concordances), and in eight it is vocalized -‫אֹות‬/-‫( אֹת‬1 Kgs 20.25; 22.7
[|| 2 Chr 18.6], 8 [|| 2 Chr 18.7]; 2 Kgs 3.11; 8.8; Isa 54.15; 2 Chr 18.6 [|| 1 Kgs 22.7], 7 [|| 1 Kgs
22.8]; in five of these eight cases the particle is spelled plene (1 Kgs 20.25; 22.7 [against 2
Chr 18.6]; 2 Kgs 3.11; 8.8; Isa 54.15).
syntax 195

‫‘ ֵרד אֹותֹו‬go down with him’ (2 Kgs 1.15),30 ‫‘ וַ ּיֵ ֶרד אֹותֹו‬and he went down with him’
(ibid.); ‫‘ וְ נִ ְד ְר ָׁשה ֶאת־ה' ֵמאֹותֹו‬that we may enquire of Yhwh by him’ (3.11), ‫יֵ ׁש אֹותֹו‬
'‫‘ ְּד ַבר־ה‬the word of Yhwh is with him’ (12), ‫ע־מאֹות ִאיׁש‬ ֵ ‫‘ וַ ּיִ ַּקח אֹותֹו ְׁש ַב‬and he took
with him seven hundred men’ (26);31 ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫‘ ַר ִּבים ֲא ֶׁשר ִא ָּתנּו ֵמ ֲא ֶׁשר‬more numer-
ous are those with us than are those with them’ (6.16);32 ‫וְ ָד ַר ְׁש ָּת ֶאת־ה' ֵמאֹותֹו‬
‘and you will enquire of Yhwh by him’ (8.8); ‫אֹותי‬ ִ ‫‘ ֵהן ּגֹור יָ גּור ֶא ֶפס ֵמ‬if he attacks,
it is not from me’ (Isa 54.15); ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫יתי‬ ִ ‫‘ זֹאת ְּב ִר‬this is my covenant with them’
(59.21);33 ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫‘ וְ ִד ַּב ְר ִּתי ִמ ְׁש ָּפ ַטי‬and I will speak my judgments with them’
(Jer 1.16); ‫אֹותְך‬ ָ ‫‘ ִהנְ נִ י נִ ְׁש ָּפט‬behold I enter into judgment with you’ (2.35);34 ‫ם־אנִ י‬ ֲ ַ‫ּג‬
ָ ‫‘ ֲא ַד ֵּבר ִמ ְׁש ָּפ ִטים‬I too with speak judgment with them’ (4.12); ‫אֹותם‬
‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫וַ ֲא ַד ְּב ָרה‬
‘I would speak with them’ (5.5); ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫יטיב ֵאין‬ ֵ ‫ם־ה‬ֵ ַ‫‘ וְ ג‬neither is there (the abil-
ity) to do good with them’ (10.5);35 ‫אֹותְך‬ ָ ‫‘ ַאְך ִמ ְׁש ָּפ ִטים ֲא ַד ֵּבר‬but judgments I will
speak with them’ (12.1); ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫‘ ָל ֶׁש ֶבת‬to sit with them’ (16.8);36 ‫יטיב אֹותֹו‬ ִ ‫‘ ְל ֵה‬to do
good with him’ (18.10 [?]);37 ‫אֹותְך‬ ָ ‫‘ ָה ֲאנָ ִׁשים ַהה ְֹל ִכים‬the men who walk with you’
(19.10);38 ‫אֹותי ְּכגִ ּבֹור ָע ִריץ‬ ִ '‫‘ וַ ה‬and Yhwh is with me like a mighty warrior’ (20.11);
‫אֹותנּו ְּכ ָכל־נִ ְפ ְלא ָֹתיו‬
ָ '‫אּולי יַ ֲע ֶׂשה ה‬ ַ ‘would that Yhwh would do with us according

30 Cf. the collocation -‫‘ יָ ַרד ִאּת‬go down with’ (Gen 44.23; 1 Sam 26.6; Ezek 31.17; 32.30); ‫יָ ַרד ִעם‬
‘go down with’ (Gen 42.38; 46.4; Jdg 3.27; 1 Sam 26.6; 29.4; 2 Sam 19.17; 21.15).
31 Cf. -‫‘ ָל ַקח ִאּת‬take with’ (Gen 31.23; 48.1; Exod 13.19; 14.6; Deut 9.9; Josh 8.1; Jdg 4.6; 1 Kgs 1.33;
11.18; Hos 14.3); ‫‘ ָל ַקח ִעם‬take with’ (Gen 22.3; Exod 17.5; 1 Sam 9.3).
32 The collocation -‫‘ ֲא ֶׁשר ִאּת‬that is with’ comes over 65 times in the Bible; ‫‘ ֲא ֶׁשר ִעם‬that is
with’ over 25 times.
33 Cf. -‫‘ ְּב ִרית ִאּת‬covenant with’ (Gen 6.18; 9.9, 11; 17.4, 19; Exod 6.4; 34.27; Lev 26.9, 44; Deut
5.3; 28.69; 29.13; 31.16; Jdg 2.1; 2 Sam 3.12, 13, 21; 2 Kgs 17.35, 38; Jer 14.21; Ezek 16.62; 17.13, 16;
Mal 2.5); ‫‘ ְּב ִרית ִעם‬covenant with’ (Gen 26.28; Exod 24.8; Deut 4.23; 5.2; 9.9; 29.11, 24; 1 Sam
20.8; 1 Kgs 8.21; Hos 2.20 [2x]; 12.2; Job 5.23; 40.28; Neh 9.8; 2 Chr 6.11; 23.3).
34 -‫‘ נִ ְׁש ַּפט ִאּת‬enter into judgment with’ (1 Sam 12.7; Ezek 17.20; 20.35, 36; 38.22); ‫נִ ְׁש ַּפט ִעם‬
‘enter into judgment with’ (Joel 4.2; 2 Chr 22.8).
35 Collocations of the type ‫ ַל ֲעׂשֹות‬X ‫‘ ֵאין ִעם‬there is not with X to do’ come in 2 Chr 14.10;
36 The collocation -‫‘ יָ ַׁשב ִאּת‬sit, dwell with’ appears in Gen 24.55; 34.10, 16, 22, 23; Jdg 19.4; 1
Sam 22.23; 2 Sam 16.18; 2 Kgs 6.32; Jer 40.5, 6; Job 2.13; Prov 3.29.
37 The most common rection in the case of the verb ‫יטיב‬ ִ ‫‘ ֵה‬do good’ is with the preposition
-‫ל‬, e.g., Exod 1.20; Num 10.32; there are nine cases of the collocation ‫יטיב ֵאת‬ ִ ‫ ֵה‬in which
the particle is not declined: Exod 30.7; Jdg 19.22; 1 Sam 2.32; 20.13 (?); 1 Kgs 1.47; 2 Kgs 9.30;
Jer 7.6 (2x); Ps 41.20. All these cases involve a non-human object. ‫יטיב ִעם‬ ִ ‫‘ ֵה‬do good with’
comes in Gen 32.10, 13; Num 10.32; Mic 2.7; ‫יטיב ֵאת‬ ִ ‫( ֵה‬with the particle vocalized as the
accusative marker) comes in Deut 28.63 and refers to a human object.
38 Both -‫ ָה ַלְך ִאּת‬and ‫‘ ָה ַלְך ִעם‬go, walk with’ are common in the Bible.
196 chapter 7

to his wonders’ (21.2);39 ‫א־א ֱע ֶׂשה ָכ ָלה‬ ֶ ֹ ‫‘ א ְֹתָך ל‬with you I will not make an end’
(30.11);40 ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ִ ‫‘ ְל ֵה‬my doing good with them’ (32.40 [?]), ‫אֹותם‬
‫יט ִיבי‬ ָ ‫‘ ְל ֵה ִטיב‬to
do good with them’ (41 [?]); ‫ּטֹובה ֲא ֶׁשר ָאנ ִֹכי ע ֶֹׂשה א ָֹתם‬ ַ ‫‘ ָּכ‬all the good that I
ָ ‫ל־ה‬
do with them’ (33.9); ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫‘ וְ ִד ַּב ְר ָּת‬and you will speak with them’ (35.2); ‫וְ א ְֹתָך‬
ֶ ֹ ‫‘ ל‬but with you I will not make an end’ (46.28); ‫‘ וַ ֲא ַד ֵּבר א ָֹתְך‬that I
‫א־א ֱע ֶׂשה ָכ ָלה‬
may speak with you’ (Ezek 2.1), ‫אֹותְך‬ ָ ‫‘ ְס ָר ִבים וְ ַסּלֹונִ ים‬though briers and thorns are
with you’ (6); ‫אֹותְך‬ ָ ‫‘ ֲא ַד ֵּבר‬I will speak with you’ (3.22), ‫‘ וַ יְ ַד ֵּבר א ִֹתי‬and he spoke
with me’ (24), ‫אֹותָך‬ ְ ‫ּוב ַד ְּב ִרי‬ ְ ‘and when I spoke with you’ (27); ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫ִמ ַּד ְר ָּכם ֶא ֱע ֶׂשה‬
‘according to their way I will do with them’ (7.27); ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫רֹומם יֵ רֹוּמּו‬
ָ ‫ּוב‬ ְ ‘when they
arose, they arose with them’ (10.17); ‫ר־אֹותם‬ ָ ‫‘ ַּד ֵּב‬speak with them’ (14.4); ‫וָ ָאבֹוא‬
‫‘ ִב ְב ִרית א ָֹתְך‬and I entered into covenant with you’ (16.8), ‫אֹותְך‬ ָ ‫יתי‬ ִ ‫‘ וְ ָע ִׂש‬and I will
do with you’ (59 qre; ktiv ‫‘ ועשית‬and you will do’), ‫אֹותְך‬ ָ ‫יתי‬ ִ ‫‘ ְּב ִר‬my covenant with
you’ (60); ‫‘ וְ לֹא ְב ַחיִ ל ּגָ דֹול ְּוב ָק ָהל ָרב יַ ֲע ֶׂשה אֹותֹו ַפ ְרעֹה ַּב ִּמ ְל ָח ָמה‬and Pharaoh will not
do with (i.e., help) him in the battle with large force or a great multitude’ (17.17
[?]); ‫אֹותם ָּכ ָלה‬ ָ ‫יתי‬ ָ ֹ ‫‘ וְ ל‬and I did not make with them an end’ (20.17); ‫ַלּיָ ִמים‬
ִ ‫א־ע ִׂש‬
ָ ‫‘ ֲא ֶׁשר ֲאנִ י ע ֶֹׂשה‬in the days that I will deal with you’ (22.14); ‫אֹותּה ָׁש ְכבּו‬
‫אֹותְך‬ ָ ‫ִּכי‬
‫יה‬ ֶ ְ‫‘ ִבנ‬because with her they lay in her youth’ (23.8), ‫אֹותם‬
ָ ‫עּור‬ ָ ‫ל־ּבנֵ י ַאּׁשּור‬ ְ ‫‘ ָּכ‬all the
Assyrians are with them’ (23), ‫אֹותְך ְּב ֵח ָמה‬ ָ ‫‘ וְ ָעׂשּו‬and they will deal with you in
fury’ (25), ‫אֹותְך ְּב ִׂשנְ ָאה‬ ָ ‫‘ וְ ָעׂשּו‬and they will deal with you in hatred’ (29); ‫ְּב ִרית‬
‫אֹותם‬ָ ‫עֹולם יִ ְהיֶ ה‬ ָ ‘an everlasting covenant there will be with them’ (37.26); ‫וְ ַע ִּמים‬
ָ ‫‘ ַר ִּבים‬and many peoples are with you’ (38.9); ‫יתי א ָֹתם‬
‫אֹותְך‬ ִ ‫יהם ָע ִׂש‬ ֶ ‫ּוכ ִפ ְׁש ֵע‬
ְ ‫ְּכ ֻט ְמ ָא ָתם‬
‘according to their defilement and according to their crimes I have dealt with
them’ (39.24); ‫‘ ֲאנִ י ְמ ַד ֵּבר א ָֹתְך‬I am speaking with you’ (44.5); ‫‘ וְ נִ ְד ְר ָׁשה ֵמאֹתֹו‬that
we might enquire of him’ (2 Chr 18.6 || ‫ ֵמאֹותֹו‬1 Kgs 22.7), ‫‘ ִל ְדר ֹׁש ֶאת־ה' ֵמאֹתֹו‬to
enquire of Yhwh by him’ (7 || 1 Kgs 22.8), ‫‘ ְל ַד ֵּבר א ָֹתְך‬to speak with you’ (23 || ‫אֹותְך‬ ָ
1 Kgs 22.24).
According to the list there are nine instances of interchange in the books
of the Pentateuch, 17 in the Former Prophets, 41 in the Latter Prophets,
and three in the core LBH books. These data are too raw, however, to be of
much help, as only three books—Kings, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel—present true

39 The collocation -‫‘ ָע ָׂשה ִאּת‬do, deal with’ comes in Deut 1.30; 10.21; Jdg 11.27; 1 Sam 12.7;
24.19; 2 Sam 2.6; 2 Kgs 18.31; Isa 36.16; Jer 5.18; Ezek 20.44; Zech 1.6; Ps 109.21. The colloca-
tion ‫‘ ָע ָׂשה ִעם‬do, deal with’ occurs some 50 times in the Bible. The specific expression
‫‘ ָע ָׂשה נִ ְפ ָלאֹות ִעם‬do wonders with’ comes in Neh 9.17.
40 See the previous note. The normal rection in the case of the specific collocation ‫ָע ָׂשה ָּכ ָלה‬
‘make an end (of) varies: ‫ ָע ָׂשה ָּכ ָלה ֵאת‬with undeclined particle (Ezek 11.13; Zeph 1.18);
‫יתם ָּכ ָלה‬
ָ ‫ ֲע ִׂש‬with object suffix (Neh 9.31); ‫קֹומּה ָּכ ָלה‬ ָ ‫ ָע ָׂשה ְמ‬with object noun phrase (Nah
1.8); -‫( ָע ָׂשה ָּכ ָלה ִאּת‬Jer 5.18); -‫( ָע ָׂשה ָכ ָלה ְּב‬Jer 30.11; 46.28); -‫( ָע ָׂשה ָּכ ָלה א ְֹת‬Jer 30.11; 46.28;
Ezek 20.17).
syntax 197

accumulations; the two occurrences in Isaiah are restricted to chapters 40–66;

the three cases in LBH come in Chronicles, but the Chronicler inherited all of
them from his sources (he also evidently wrote them all defectively, against
two cases of plene spelling in his sources). The phenomenon should not be
seen merely as a mismatch between consonantal orthography and vocaliza-
tion, since in most of the cases the spelling is plene, i.e., the o vowel is marked
by means of a mater lectionis waw. For a tabular depiction of the biblical distri-
bution of the interchange see table ‎7.2.1:41

Table 7.2.1 mt distribution of the interchange -‫אֹת‬/-‫ < אֹות‬-‫ִאּת‬

Number of % of replaced forms

according to
Book Cases Questionable Plene spelling Potential qre ktiv
cases cases41

Genesis 3 1 0 82 3.66 0
Leviticus 3 1 0 16 18.75 0
Numbers 3 0 0 27 11.11 0
Joshua 2 0 2 9 22.22 22.22
Samuel 2 0 1 64 3.13 1.56
Kings 13 0 12 60 21.67 20
Isaiah 2 0 2 19 10.52 10.52
Jeremiah 17 3 14 51 33.33 27.45
Ezekiel 22 1 17 37 59.46 45.95
Chronicles 3 0 0 12 25 0
TOTALS 70 6 48 377 18.57 12.73

41 The figures in this column include cases in which the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬is declined, with
the exception of the 2mpl and 2fpl forms, in which, even in the case of interchange, an o
vowel would not be expected.
198 chapter 7

7.2.2 Non-Masoretic Sources

The replacement of forms of the preposition ‫‘ ֵאת‬with’ with forms of the accu-
sative particle ‫ ֵאת‬is not documented in epigraphic material from the First
Temple Period (though it should be noted that the distinction between the two
particles’ respective exponents would likely be neutralized due to the defective
spelling of medial vowels in that material). Also in late non-Masoretic material
it is difficult to find convincing examples of the interchange in question. This
is due in large part to the general disappearance of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬in favor
of ‫ ִעם‬in that period (see above, §‎7.1). Be that as it may, a few examples can be

Isa 30.8 now go, write it on a tablet with them  (‫) ִא ָּתם‬
1QIsaa 24.15 now go, write it on a tablet with them (‫)אותם‬

2 Sam 12.17  but he was not willing   and   did not  eat bread with them (‫) ִא ָּתם‬
4Q51 f100–101.4 [but he was not wi]lling and [did no]t eat bread with them (‫)אותם‬

Ps 66.20 who    has not    turned away . . . his    kindness from me   (‫) ֵמ ִא ִּתי‬
4Q83 f14ii.31 w]ho has not [turned away . . . his] kindness from me (‫)מאותי‬42

7.2.3 Explanations
Several explanations for the use of -‫אֹת‬/-‫ אֹות‬in place of -‫ ִאּת‬have been offered.
According to one, it is unnecessary to seek any solution more complicated
than textual corruption, according to which late copyists substituted forms of
the preposition -‫ ִאּת‬with accusative forms such as -‫אֹת‬/-‫אֹות‬.43 This suggestion

42 See also 1QIsaa 12.21 (|| Isa 14.20); 4Q51 2a–d.6 (|| 1 Sam 1.24); 8Q3 f26–29.21 (|| Deut 11.12);
8Q4 f1.11 (|| Deut 10.21). In the non-biblical DSS see Ben Sira 32.7 (SirF); 4Q503 f3ii.17. In
some of these cases the verb is also different. In such instances it is not clear whether
the particle was changed because of the change of the verb or vice versa. For example,
against ‫‘ ותעל אותו‬and she brought him up’ (4Q51 2a–d.6), the MT reads ‫וַ ַּת ֲע ֵלהּו ִע ָּמּה‬
‘and she brought him up with her’ (1 Sam 1.24), and the Greek has καὶ ἀνέβη μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ =
‫ ִעּמֹו‬/‫‘ וַ ַּת ַעל ִאּתֹו‬and she went up with him’. It may be that the form ‫ אותו‬in 4Q51 is a genu-
ine example of the interchange -‫אֹת‬/-‫( ִאּת < אֹות‬and qal < hifʿil), but it is not impossible
that the scribe responsible for the scroll, like the MT scribe and unlike the Greek transla-
tor, saw in ‫ ותעל‬a hifʿil form, and clarified the status of the following particle with a mater
lectionis. I am grateful to Jason Driesbach for having brought to my attention several of
the examples here.
43 S.R. Driver 1898: 188, n. *; Bauer and Leander 1922: §81o′; Stipp 1987: 139–141; HALOT 101a;
Bloch 2007: 157–162, n. 54.
syntax 199

is based on the fact that late Hebrew sources are characterized by a marked
reduction in the use of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬in comparison to earlier material
(see above, §‎7.1). In this way late writers eschewed the use of the preposi-
tion ‫ ֵאת‬in general, other than instances of allusion to the Bible or imitation
thereof, and when they used it often declined it according to the declension of
the accusative particle ‫ ֵאת‬. Consequently, in the case of odd collocations like
-‫‘ ְל ַד ֵּבר אֹות‬to speak with’, '‫‘ יֵ ׁש אֹותֹו ְּד ַבר־ה‬the word of Yhwh is with him’, and
ְ ‫יתי‬ִ ‫‘ ְּב ִר‬my covenant with you’ the original writers intended the preposition
‫ ֵאת‬, and its replacement with the accusative particle is to be attributed to the
activity of late copyists who were no longer accustomed to the use of ‫ ֵאת‬as a
Though the idea of textual corruption should not be dismissed out of hand
as an explanation, especially for individual cases of substitution, it seems
rather doubtful as a comprehensive solution, since it fails to account for the
special distribution of the phenomenon. Of the seventy cases listed above,
13 come in the Torah, 52 come in Kings (13), Jeremiah (17), and Ezekiel (22),
and there is no independent case in LBH proper (the three cases in Chronicles
coming also in its source material). Moreover, a clear acceleration in the trend
can be seen starting with Kings, through Jeremiah, and ending with Ezekiel, a
trend that virtually demands a chronological explanation. Despite this, it may
be worthwhile to entertain another possibility. Rather than a textual corrup-
tion, it may be possible to claim that the shift from -‫ < אות‬-‫ את‬derives from an
editorial policy44 according to which, for some reason, a later editor, or per-
haps a school of editors, who reworked a specific corpus—in the present case,
that containing Kings, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel—tended to replace the declined
cases of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬with the relevant forms of the accusative particle.
There is evidence of similar editorial policies, for example the dominance of
theophoric names ending in ‫יָ ה‬- rather than ‫יָ הּו‬- in the Twelve (see above, §‎3.5,
and especially §‎ Even so, this type of explanation is not particularly
convincing in the present case. It is first of all not clear why Kings, Jeremiah,
and Ezekiel should form an editorial corpus, especially without Isaiah. Second,
if an editorial policy were indeed responsible for the interchange in question,
it must be remarked that the policy was carried out with remarkably little con-
sistency even in those books that reveal a certain accumulation of relevant
cases. Finally, the theory does not explain why such a policy would have been
enacted precisely upon a group of books that focus on events from the end of
the First Temple Period and the Exile.

44 Clearly, only in cases of plene spelling can alleged cases of late editorial activity be
200 chapter 7

Given the doubts attached to attempts to ascribe the interchange in ques-

tion to post-biblical copyists and editors, perhaps one should weigh the possi-
bility that the substitution was a fairly early one45 that became more frequent
around the end of the First Temple Period and during the Exile, and then
ceased completely after that, along with the general decline of the preposition
‫ ֵאת‬into oblivion. But then the question is asked: why specifically the books of
Kings, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel?46 In the opinion of König (1881–1895: II 296) the
language in these three books is especially influenced by the vernacular. In
Morag’s (1974a: 128–141; 1974b: 313–315) view, the interchange involves foreign
influence: on the one hand, the interchange in the books of Kings and Jeremiah
arises from the influence of Aramaic, in which there is both an accusative
particle47 and a cognate of ‫ ִעם‬, but no cognate of the preposition ‫ ; ֵאת‬on the
other hand, the interchange in Ezekiel and ‘Second Isaiah’ (two instances) is to
be explained on the basis of the influence of Akkadian, which knows a cognate
of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬, but lacks both a cognate of the preposition ‫ ִעם‬and an
accusative particle. JM (§103j, n. 29) make the (hesitant) proposal whereby the
situation in all four books is to be attributed to Aramaic influence.48
All of the explanations mentioned in the preceding paragraph ascribe the
interchange in question to processes that took place within BH itself rather
than to activities associated with the editing and transmission of the biblical
text. In light of the phenomenon’s distribution, such an approach seems pref-
erable to textual and editorial theories, at least as a preliminary hypothesis.
Perhaps there is truth in each of these linguistic explanations. The similarity
(or identity?) between the undeclined forms of the two particles ‫ ֵאת‬and the
availability of a preposition synonymous with ‫ ֵאת‬in the form of ‫ ִעם‬doubtless

45 JM (§103j) raise the possibility of confusion stemming from the compound preposition
‫‘ ֵמ ֵאת‬from (with)’ (cf. ‫‘ ִמן‬from’), in which the force of the particle ‫‘ ֵאת‬with’ had disap-
peared completely. Maybe collocations of the type ‫‘ ָׁש ַכב ֵאת‬lie with’ and the like, in
which the verb became transitive due to misunderstanding of the following particle, also
46 Bloch (2007: 157–162, n. 54) sees the replacement as a result of the activities of late
copyists, but he does not explain why the majority of the cases are restricted to the three
books in question. If textual corruption were responsible, one might legitimately expect
the cases of substitution to be scattered in a more or less uniform fashion throughout the
Bible (at least in those books presenting a relatively large number of potential cases), not
concentrated in only a few books; see König 1881–1895: II 296; G. Cooke 1936: 36; Morag
1974a: 129; 1974b: 313b).
47 Though, as JM (§103j, n. 29) note, the use of the accusative particle is rare in Aramaic texts
from this period.
48 According to the formulation of JM, the phenomenon does not necessarily involve exter-
nal forces.
syntax 201

cooperated to create a situation in which the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬became vulnerable.

This being the case, it seems reasonable to assume that the process by means
of which -‫אֹת‬/-‫ אֹות‬replaced -‫ ִאּת‬for ‘with’ began in the spoken register. One can
discern the initial stages of this process in the few instances of replacement in
the early books of the Bible, though the possibility of mismatch between the
consonantal form and vocalization should not be dismissed;49 neither should
one deny the possibility of textual corruption in individual cases.
As for the concentration of cases of replacement in the three books of
Kings, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel: even if there is logic in explaining the begin-
ning of the process on the basis of internal factors, external influence must
apparently be assumed to have played a decisive role in the marked increase
of the phenomenon in the transitional period between CBH and LBH. Aramaic
influence may well be responsible in the case of Kings and Jeremiah. The situ-
ation in Ezekiel is less clear. The evidence adduced by Morag (1974a; 1974b)
for Akkadian influence on Ezekiel’s language is impressive:50 not only the fre-
quent employment of the collocations ‫ן־א ָדם‬ ָ ‫‘ ֶּב‬son of man’, evidently a calque
on the widespread expression mar awīlum ‘ibid.’ in Akkadian, and ‫ָה ֵרי יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל‬
literally ‘mountains of Israel’ in the meaning ‘regions of the land of Israel’, due
to the use of Akkadian šadū ‘mountain’, a cognate of Hebrew ‫‘ ַׂש ֶדה‬field’, but
also the complete disuse of the preposition ‫ ִעם‬in contrast to the marked late
preference for this proposition over synonymous ‫ ֵאת‬.51 The Akkadian influence
on the language of Ezekiel is indeed noteworthy, but is it the best explana-
tion for the replacement of -‫ ִאּת‬with -‫אֹת‬/-‫ ?אֹות‬There are two weaknesses in
this theory. First, according to its biblical distribution, the substitution began
before the period in which decisive Akkadian pressure might be expected, i.e.,
in the period of Kings and Jeremiah. The strong Aramaic influence seen in
Kings and Jeremiah did not cease in the time of the composition of Ezekiel. It
may be that Akkadian i­nfluence is indeed the decisive factor in the use of ‫ֵאת‬
rather than ‫ ִעם‬in Ezekiel, but that the confusion between -‫ ִאּת‬and -‫אֹת‬/-‫אֹות‬
should be sought in Aramaic influence. Second, perhaps Akkadian influence
explains the infrequency of ‫ ִעם‬in Ezekiel, but it must be borne in mind that

49 At this stage it is fitting to note that out of the 13 cases of interchange in the Torah, Joshua,
and Samuel, the orthography is plene in only three cases: ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ‫‘ נִ ְל ָח ִמים‬fighting with
them’ (Josh 10.25); ‫אֹותי‬ִ '‫אּולי ה‬
ַ ‘if Yhwh is with me’ (14.12); ‫אֹותָך ִּב ְמ ִחיר‬
ְ ‫י־קנֹו ֶא ְקנֶ ה ֵמ‬ָ ‫לֹא ִּכ‬
‘no, but I will buy from you at a price’ (24.24). This means that at least in these cases the
replacement of the preposition with the accusative marker should not be laid at the feet
of the vocalizer.
50 The evidence is decidedly less impressive in the case of ‘Second Isaiah’.
51 As indicated above (§‎7.1), the tendency in late sources is to eschew use of the preposition
‫ ֵאת‬in favor of ‫ ִעם‬. However, in Ezekiel the ratio of ‫ ֵאת‬to ‫ ִעם‬is 54:0; in ‘Second Isaiah’ it is
35:1 (the statistics are those of Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: II 112).
202 chapter 7

this same preposition is very rare in Jeremiah. This rarity was explained above
(§‎7.1) as the result of internal factors (preference for a transparently literary
form over one used in both literature and the vernacular). It is, of course, legiti-
mate to suggest different explanations for the absence of ‫ ִעם‬in Ezekiel, on the
one hand, and Jeremiah, on the other, but such explanatory inefficiency seems
undesirable unless it cannot be avoided.

7.2.4 Jeremiah
If the replacement of -‫ ִאּת‬with -‫אֹת‬/-‫ אֹות‬is to be explained as the relatively late
penetration of a vernacular feature into the literary stratum, then Jeremiah
exhibits a later stage than the Pentateuch or the Former Prophets (with the
possible exception of Kings). However, as argued above, the book also seems to
demonstrate an archaistic penchant for use of the preposition ‫ ֵאת‬to the near
total exclusion of ‫ ִעם‬. Even if this linguistic self-consciousness bespeaks the
post-classical status of Jeremiah’s language, its preference for ‫ ֵאת‬is striking in
comparison to the marked preference for ‫ ִעם‬in LBH proper and post-biblical

7.2.5 The MT and the Greek

Generally speaking, the Greek presents parallels for the cases in which
-‫אֹת‬/-‫ אֹות‬comes instead of -‫ ִאּת‬in the MT, though, not unexpectedly, the
translator(s) renders (render) according to the requirements of the context.
That said, it should be noted that in certain cases the collocation in question
is not paralleled in the Greek. Thus, in three of the four cases of the expres-
sion -‫‘ ָע ָׂשה אֹות‬deal with’ the collocation is not represented by a parallel in the
Greek.52 In Jer 32.40 there is no rendering of the collocation ‫אֹותם‬ ָ ִ ‫‘ ֵה‬do
good with them’, but the expression is represented in the next verse. Finally,
ָ ‫‘ ִּד ֶּבר‬speak with them’ (Jer 35.2) finds no parallel in the Greek, but is rep-
resented in Jer 1.16; 4.12; 5.5; and 12.1. Even if the Greek does not have a parallel
for each and every case of the substitution in question, it does represent each
of the individual expressions listed above. Of course, it is impossible to estab-
lish the exact consonantal orthography in each case—-‫את‬, -‫אות‬, or some other
form—but it is clear that the deviation between the MT and the Greek in rela-
tion to the interchange under discussion cannot be interpreted as evidence for
the lateness of the supplementary material found only in the MT.

52 Jer 21.2; 30.11; 33.9. In Jer 46.28 ‫ א ְֹתָך‬is apparently reflected by the accusative pronoun σὲ
syntax 203

7.3 The Non-standard Use of Directional he

In BH the (generally) unaccented ‫◌ה‬- ָ is normally suffixed to a word (typically a

proper noun, common noun, or adverb) functioning as the adverbial adjunct53
or complement54 of a verb denoting movement in order to mark direction
or destination55 and basically serves as an alternative to prepositions like ‫ֶאל‬
‘to’, ‫‘ ַעד‬until’, and -‫‘ ְל‬to’. However, in a significant minority of cases there is no
direction or destination of movement to speak of, but only stationary orienta-
tion or location relative to a point in space.56
The development of the suffix has been explained variously. In the past
there was a tendency to see it as a remnant of the old accusative a case end-
ing.57 This theory, though, is problematic for several reasons. First, according to
the prevailing view today the case endings were marked by short vowels, and
final short vowels dropped at a very early period.58 In addition, the use of a -h

53 E.g., ‫חּוצה‬ ָ ‫‘ וַ ּיָ נָ ס וַ ּיֵ ֵצא ַה‬and he fled and went outside’ (Gen 39.12).
54 E.g., ‫‘ נָ ַתן ָׁש ָּמה‬he put (it) there’ (Exod 16.33; 40.30; 2 Kgs 12.10).
55 More rarely the same suffix is attached to nouns indicating time, e.g., ‫ימה‬ ָ ‫יָמ‬
ִ ‫ִמּיָ ִמים‬
‘from time to time’ (Exod 13.10; Jdg 11.40; 21.19; 1 Sam 1.3; 2.19); ‫ד־אנָ ה‬ ָ ‫‘ ַע‬till when’ (Exod
16.28; Num 14.11 [2x]; Josh 18.3; Jer 47.6; Hab 1.2; Ps 13.2 [2x], 3 [2x]; 62.4; Job 18.2; 19.2); cf.
ָ ‫‘ ַע‬till when’ (Job 8.2). The same suffix may also serve in the words ‫‘ ָח ִל ָילה‬far be it’ and
‫‘ ַליְ ָלה‬night’ (but on the latter see below). In a few cases the suffix in question is accented
in the Tiberian tradition: ‫‘ ִמזְ ְר ָ ֖חה‬to the east’ (Deut 4.41); ‫‘ ּגִ ָ ּ֥תה‬to Gath(-hepher)’ and ‫ִע ָ ּ֣תה‬
‘to Eth(-kazin)’ (Josh 19.13); ‫‘ ַמ ְע ָר ָב ֩ה‬westward’ (2 Chr 33.14 [?]). In some cases it may be
that -ɛ < -å̄, e.g., ‫‘ נ ֶֹבה‬to Nob’ (1 Sam 21.2; 22.9); ‫‘ ָאנֶ ה‬whither’ (1 Kgs 2.36, 42); ‫‘ ְּד ָדנֶ ה‬to
Dedan’ (Ezek 25.13).
56 For example, ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ּכּו ַּבּיֹום ַההּוא ַּב ְּפ ִל ְׁש ִּתים ִמ ִּמ ְכ ָמׂש ַאּיָ ֹלנָ ה‬and they struck down Philistines
that day from Michmas to Aijalon’ (1 Sam 14.31); ‫יתם ֵק ְד ָמה‬ ֶ ִ‫יהם ֵק ְד ָמה וְ ֵה ָּמה ִמ ְׁש ַּת ֲחו‬
ֶ ֵ‫ּופנ‬
‫‘ ַל ָּׁש ֶמׁש‬and they were facing eastward and bowing down eastward toward the sun’ (Ezek
8.16); ‫ּובנָ יו‬ָ ‫ל־מֹועד ִמזְ ָר ָחה מ ֶֹׁשה וְ ַא ֲהר ֹן‬
ֵ ‫‘ וְ ַהחֹנִ ים ִל ְפגֵ י ַה ִּמ ְׁש ָּכן ֵק ְד ָמה ִל ְפנֵ י א ֶֹה‬and those camp-
ing in front of the tabernacle to the east in front of the tent of meeting eastward: Moses,
Aaron, and his sons’ (Num 3.38).
57 GKC §§90c–e; Bauer and Leander 1922: §§65n–x; Joüon 1923: §§93c–f; Lambert 1938:
58 Harris 1939: 59–60; Meek 1940: 230; Moscatti 1964: §12.67; Garr 1985: 63; Sáenz-Badillos
1993: 43, 48; Steiner 1997: 153. A short accusative -a ending may be preserved in the word
‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה‬land’ in ‫‘ ָּכ ֵעת ָה ִראׁשֹון ֵה ַקל ַא ְר ָצה זְ ֻבלּון וְ ַא ְר ָצה נַ ְפ ָּת ִלי‬as in past times when he
humbled the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali’ (Isa 8.23 [2x]). In this verse there
is no movement, the nouns in question have the grammatical status of direct objects, and
the survival of the final short vowels may be explained as a result of their being ‘protected’
within a construct chain. Be that as it may, this suggestion is only one among several pos-
sible solutions.
204 chapter 7

for the parallel suffix in Ugaritic, in which the orthography is predominantly

consonantal,59 is convincing proof that the suffixed ‫ה‬- in question was, at least
at one time, no mere mater lectionis, but a genuine consonant.60
There is also controversy regarding the basic meaning of the suffix under
discussion. Is it a restricted locative sense, limited to direction, or, alterna-
tively, a more general locative sense, covering both direction and stationary
presence in a location? There is no simple answer to this question. On the one
hand, in the majority of its occurrences the suffix is attached to a word serving
as the adverbial adjunct or complement of a verb of movement, such as ‫ּבֹוא‬
‘come, enter’, ‫‘ ָה ַלְך‬go, walk’, ‫‘ ָׁש ַלח‬send’, and the like, and could be replaced by
a preposition indicating destination or direction. Thus, the pre-exilic Hebrew
epigraphic material from Arad and Lachish testifies almost exclusively to use
of the suffix with a verb of movement.61 On the other hand, the Bible presents
not a few exceptional examples. There are cases in which the suffixed word
indicates the location of an event.62 In some instances the suffix is rendered
superfluous by its attachment to a word employed with a preposition that
itself indicates destination or direction, like ‫‘ ֶאל‬to’,63 ‫‘ ַעד‬until’,64 and -‫‘ ְל‬to’.65
In other cases the suffixed word comes with a preposition that indicates not

59 For discussion and references see Sivan 2001: 12–15.

60 Meek 1940: 229; Speiser 1954: 108; Waltke and O’Connor 1990: §10.5a; Gibson 1994: §27;
Rosik 2001: 208; Arnold and Choi 2003: 4–5, n. 2; JM §93c. One may compare the Akkadian
suffix -iš, which is also used to mark direction (Hebrew ‫ ה‬corresponds to Akkadian š here,
in the 3rd person pronouns, e.g., ‫‘ הּוא‬he’, ‫‘ ִהיא‬she’, ‫‘ ֵהם‬they (m)’, and ‫‘ ֵהּנָ ה‬they (f)’ versus
šū, šī, šunu, and šina, respectively, and in the causative verb patterns Hebrew hifʿil and
Akkadian šafel); on the morphological (but not etymological) link between the Hebrew
and Akkadian suffixes see Speiser 1954. Blau (1972: 22) has suggested a compromise expla-
nation of sorts. In his opinion directional he consists only of a consonant, without a char-
acteristic vowel of its own, and was added to nouns ending in the accusative case ending,
which in any case marked direction. According to this approach the a vowel before direc-
tional he is indeed a remnant of the pre- or proto-Hebrew case system, like many archaic
Hebrew suffixes preserved in non-final position.
61 ‫‘ בא ביתה‬come to the house of’ (Arad 17.1–2); ‫ שמה‬. . . ‫(‘ תבא‬lest Edom) should
come . . . there’ (24.20); ‫‘ לבא מצרימה‬to come to Egypt’ (Lachish 3.15–16); ‫ העירה‬. . . ‫לקחת‬
‘to take . . . to the city’ (4.7). ‫‘ שלח שמה‬he sent there’ (8); ‫‘ שמה‬thither’ (5.7 [?]) comes in
a broken context.
62 For example, ‫‘ ַה ִּמזְ ֵּב ָחה‬on the altar’ (Exod 29.13 and some 30 more times); ‫יְמה‬ ָ ָ‫(‘ ַמ ֲחנ‬in)
Mahanaim’ (1 Kgs 4.14); ‫‘ ָׁש ָּמה‬there’ (Gen 43.30 and frequently elsewhere; see BDB 1906:
1027b s.v. ‫ ;שם‬Even-Shoshan 1977: 165–166; cf. the discussion below).
63 For example, ‫ל־ה ָּצפֹונָ ה‬
ַ ‫‘ ֶא‬to the north’ (Ezek 8.14).
64 For example, ‫ד־אנָ ה‬ ָ ‫‘ ַע‬how long’ (Exod 16.28); ‫ד־א ֵפ ָקה‬ ֲ ‫‘ ַע‬until Aphek’ (Josh 13.4).
65 For example, ‫‘ ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬upward’ (58x); ‫אֹולה‬ָ ‫‘ ִל ְׁש‬to Sheol’ (Ps 9.18).
syntax 205

destination or direction, but simple presence at a location, like -‫‘ ְּב‬in, at’66 or
‫‘ ֵא ֶצל‬at, near’,67 or, with a partitive preposition, indicates distancing or separa-
tion, like ‫‘ ִמן‬from’,68 so that the suffix is wholly inappropriate. According to
the general approach adopted here, in its standard use the suffix in question
indicates destination, direction, or orientation while deviations from this rule
are to be explained as exceptions.69
Meek (1940), who labels the suffix ‘terminative’, has recourse to a variety
of explanations to account for its non-standard uses: (1) confusion with the

66 For example, ‫‘ ַּבּנֶ גְ ָּבה‬in the south, Negev’ (Josh 15.21).

67 For example, ‫‘ ֵא ֶצל ָצ ְר ַתנָ ה‬next to Zarethan’ (1 Kgs 4.12).
68 For example, ‫‘ ֵמ ֶעגְ לֹונָ ה‬from Eglon’ (Hos 10.36).
69 This approach is justified in light of the dominant use of the suffix and on the basis of
the character of the cases of non-standard use. In the vast majority of the cases in which
directional he serves it marks destination, direction, or orientation, while the major-
ity of the cases of its non-standard usage are restricted to specific and recurring words
and phrases (with minor differences the figures here are based on Groves and Wheeler
2005: they include the word ‫‘ ָאנָ ה‬whither’, exclude ‫ילה‬ ָ ‫‘ ָח ִל‬far be it’, and disagree regard-
ing the relevance of individual forms here and there, e.g., ‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה‬land (of)’ Isa 8.23 [2x;
see above, n. 58]; ‫‘ ַה ַּת ְחּתֹונָ ה‬the lower’ Ezek 40.19 [see GKC §80k; JM §93k]; ‫‘ ֶעזְ ָר ָתה‬help’
Ps 44.27; 63.8; 94.17; ‫‘ נֶ גְ ָדה־נָ א‬in the presence of [?]’ Ps 116.14, 18 [but cf. Fokkelman and
Rendsburg 2003]; ‫‘ ַמ ְע ָר ָבה‬to the west’ 2 Chr 33.14). There are approximately 1090 cases of
the suffix in the Bible. A startlingly high number of them—255—can be defined as devia-
tions from the above norms. However, on closer inspection it turns out that a majority of
these exceptions involve one of a few specific types; 227 of the 255 exceptional cases are
(a) quasi-frozen forms, in which the suffix became inseparable from its host, e.g., the
names of the cardinal directions, ‫יְתה‬ ָ ‫‘ ַּב‬home, inside’, and ‫חּוצה‬ ָ ‘outside’ (66x: Exod 27.13;
38.9; Num 35.5; Deut 25.5; Josh 15.5 [2x], 10, 12, 21; 18.12, 15, 20; 19.11; Jdg 21.19; 1 Kgs 6.15; 8.8;
Isa 33.7; Jer 1.13, 15; 23.8; 46.6; Ezek 8.14; 34.21; 40.40 [2x], 44; 45.7 [2x]; 46.9; 47.8, 15, 18, 19;
48.1, 2, 3 [2x], 4 [2x], 5 [2x], 6, 7, 8 [3x], 16, 21 [2x], 23 [2x], 24 [2x], 25 [2x], 26 [2x], 27 [2x],
32, 33, 34; 1 Chr 26.17 [2x]; 2 Chr 5.9; 31.14; 32.5); ‫‘ ( ִמ) ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬above, upward’ (59x: see the
concordances); ‫‘ ָׁש ָּמה‬there’ (42x: see below); ‫ד־אנָ ה‬ ָ ‫‘ ַע‬until where, when’ (14x: see below);
or (b) in fixed phrases, like ‫‘ ִה ְק ִטיר ִמזְ ֵּב ָחה‬burn on the altar’ (29x: Exod 29.13, 18, 25;
Lev 1.9, 13, 15, 17; 2.2, 9; 3.5, 11, 16; 4.19, 26, 31, 35; 5.12; 7.5, 31; 8.16, 21, 28; 9.10, 14, 20; 14.20; 16.25;
Num 5.26; 2 Chr 29.24). There are also 16 cases in which use of the suffix may be explained
as a result of attraction or misunderstanding; in these cases the ending was taken as an
integral part of the word to which it is attached: Deut 10.7; Josh 10.36, 39; 13.18; 18.13; 19.43;
21.36; Jdg 11.20; 14.1, 2, 5; 1 Sam 31.13; 2 Sam 20.15; Jer 48.21; 52.9; 1 Chr 6.63. In only 26 cases
is there ‘free’ non-standard use of directional he (and some of these cases are question-
able): Josh 13.4; 19.22 (?), 29 (?); Jdg 3.22 (?); 14.18 (?); 1 Kgs 4.12, 14; 2 Kgs 16.29; 17.24; Isa 16.1;
22.7; Jer 27.16; 29.15; Ezek 6.14; 25.9; 29.5; Hab 3.11; Ps 9.18; 68.7; 124.4; Job 34.13; 37.12; 1 Chr
1.7; 12.9 (?); 14.16; 18.3; 2 Chr 4.17. Eight of these are found in poetry, in which use of the
non-standard form might be attributed to stylistic factors (rhythm, sound, archaization).
206 chapter 7

feminine ending, e.g., ‫‘ ָא ְמנָ ה‬truly’ (Gen 20.12; Josh 7.20 [ibid.: 231]); (2) addition
of an emphatic -a ending, e.g., ‫‘ ַה ַח ְׁש ַמ ָלה‬amber, electrum, glowing metal’ (Ezek
8.2); ‫ׁשּוע ָתה‬ָ ְ‫‘ י‬deliverance’ (Jon 2.10; Ps 3.3 [ibid.]); (3) contraction of a diph-
thong, e.g., ‫‘ ַליְ ָלה‬night’ (ibid.); (4) development from a deictic or demonstrative
t—thus Meek explains non-directional ‫‘ ָׁש ָּמה‬there’ (ibid.: 232–233);70 (5) mis-
identification of the suffix as an integral part of the host name, e.g., ‫( ֶא ְפ ָרת‬2x)
versus ‫( ֶא ְפ ָר ָתה‬8x) ‘Ephrath’ and ‫( ִּת ְמנָ ה‬3x) versus ‫( ִּת ְמנָ ָתה‬9x) ‘Timnah’ (ibid.:
232);71 (6) scribal corruption, e.g., ‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה‬land’ (Job 34.13; 37.12 [ibid.]).
Some of these explanations are more convincing than others. Particularly
problematic is the claim that ‫‘ ָׁש ָּמה‬there’ contains not directional he, but rather
a he that developed from deictic t, so that there is no semantic difference
between ‫ ָׁש ָּמה‬and ‫ ָׁשם‬both ‘there’. Against this view, it may be noted that in the
majority of the cases of the former (approximately two-thirds)72 it does indeed
mark destination or direction.73 What is more, in 13 of the 42 exceptions the
use of he is explicable as a result of attraction.74 And finally, as already men-
tioned, ‫*מ ָּׁש ָּמה‬ִ *‘from there, whence’ is nowhere attested in the Bible, though
there are over one-hundred instances of ‫‘ ִמ ָּׁשם‬from where, whence’. On the
assumption that ‫ ָׁש ָּמה = ָׁשם‬one might expect at least a few cases of ‫ ִמ ָּׁש ָּמה‬. This
latter is attested in the DSS. It seems likely that language users did not generate
‫ ִמ ָּׁש ָּמה‬until directional he had lost most of its force, which is widely agreed to
have occurred in the later period.75

70 See also Blau 1985: 296; C. Gordon 1998: 102, n. 4; Sivan 2001: 180. Kutscher (1974: 414) dis-
tinguishes between the suffix in forms such as ‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה‬to the land’ (locative or directional
he) and the suffix in ‫‘ ָׁש ָּמה‬there’ (accusative a). Though such an approach is not to be
dismissed out of hand, the generally complementary distribution of ‫ ָׁשם‬and ‫ ָׁש ָּמה‬, where
the former is used chiefly to mark location of presence or activity and the latter direc-
tion or destination, should not be ignored. And again, the combination ‫‘ ִמ ָּׁשם‬from there,
whence’ comes 116 times in the Bible, to the total exclusion of ‫*מ ָּׁש ָּמה‬ ִ .
71 See Hoftijzer 1981: 9, n. 26, and 126ff.
72 According to Even-Shoshan (1977: 1165–1166) in 35 of 107 cases ‫ ָׁשם = ָׁש ָּמה‬. To his count seven
more cases should be added: Gen 14.10; Josh 7.3; 2 Kgs 4.11b; 5.18; 23.8; Jer 27.22; Ezek 1.12.
73 Blau (1985: 296), followed by Sivan (2001: 180), suggests the possibility that purely locative
‫ ָׁש ָּמה‬derives from ṯmt, while directional ‫ ָׁש ָּמה‬from ṯm + directional he. Of course,
according to this line of argumentation there is no such thing as non-standard use of
directional he in ‫ ָׁש ָּמה‬. See also Speiser 1954: 109; Hoftijzer 1981: 213–214.
74 Gen 43.16; Josh 2.1, 16; 2 Kgs 4.11b; 5.18; 9.16; Isa 22.18 (2x); Jer 13.7; 18.2; 27.22; Ezek 1.12; 33.30.
In these cases ‫ ָׁש ָּמה‬follows mention of a place name serving as the destination of a verb
of movement, a preposition denoting destination or direction, or an additional instance
of directional he.
75 In the DSS there is evidence that directional he was reduced from a locative particle
to a more generally adverbial particle, even serving in words such as ‫‘ מאודה‬very’ (see
Kutscher 1974: 414). On the other hand, this latter usage may have a distinct origin.
syntax 207

One might also object to Meek’s view of some examples as legitimate exam-
ples of the standard use of the suffix. For example, Meek renders ‫ִה ְק ִטיר ַה ִּמזְ ֵּב ָחה‬
‘burn on the altar’ (which comes some 30 times in the Bible) “to turn a sacrifice
into smoke toward the altar”. This translation is unnatural and forced. The altar
was the spot on which the sacrifice took place. While this certainly involved
movement, that this movement could be thought of as being ‘in the direction
of’, ‘to’, or ‘toward’ the altar seems doubtful. Alternative readings, such as ‫וְ ִה ְק ִטיר‬
‫‘ ַה ִּמזְ ֵּב ַח‬and he will burn (on) the altar’ (Lev 6.8) and ‫ל־ה ִּמזְ ֵּב ַח‬
ַ ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ְק ֵטר ַע‬and he
burnt on the altar’ (Lev 9.13, 17), though not as frequent, seem to give the correct
understanding in a more predictable syntactic structure (significantly with-
out the notion of ‘toward’). It seems preferable either to posit a more general
locative meaning for directional he—an approach to which Meek objects—
or, alternatively, to accept the development hypothesized here, namely that
the general locative meaning developed from the earlier and more specific
meaning associated with destination and direction.76 In the end it seems
that the morpheme acquired a broad adverbial nuance, as seen in the DSS.

7.3.1 Late Sources

The semantic and functional development of the suffix in question comes to
expression in two apparently contradictory tendencies. On the one hand, there
is a marked general reduction in the use of directional he in late sources, in
many of which it is variously replaced by alternative means for marking direc-
tion and destination, e.g., increased use of the preposition -‫‘ ְל‬to’ (see below,
§‎7.4). This trend is felt in LBH77 and is unmistakable in RH, where use of the
morpheme is restricted to fixed forms and phrases.78 On the other hand, there
was also an increase in the non-standard use of directional he, whereby late
writers attempted to mimic classical style for purposes of archaization, but
went to an extreme. This propensity is somewhat characteristic of LBH, but
is especially typical of the Hebrew of the DSS.79 These two trends are particu-
larly noticeable in the case of use of directional he with proper names. This

76 Speiser (1954: 109) agrees with Meek as to the basic sense of the particle (“the goal of
motion”), but argues that Meek has gone too far: “It is inherently probable that ‘whither’
may on occasions shade off into ‘wherein’, so that a locative develops from a termina-
tive.” Of course, different languages exhibit different processes. In English, for example,
where supplanted whither. In spoken Modern Israeli Hebrew there are opposing tenden-
cies: on the one hand ‫ ָׁש ָּמה‬literally ‘thither’ very frequently appears in place of ‫‘ ָׁשם‬there’
to indicate stationary location; on the other hand, ‫‘ ֵאיפֹה‬where’ often substitutes for ‫ְל ָאן‬
77 Joosten 2005: 337–338; cf. Rezetko 2013: 48–56.
78 Bendavid 1967–1971: I 65.
79 Qimron 1978b: 94–96; 1986: §340; Thorion 1984: 579–580; cf. Rezetko 2013: 48–56.
208 chapter 7

usage is very normal in biblical material considered classical, but rare in post-
exilic sources. For example, in the core LBH books there are only 21 cases, all
of them in Chronicles,80 and of these eight are apparently already found in
the Chronicler’s sources,81 whereas in four more cases the use of the particle
seems ­non-standard.82 In the non-biblical DSS there are only three cases of a

80 See Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 80. Despite the archaistic efforts of the
Chronicler, his regular use of characteristic late linguistic features is clear, e.g., colloca-
tions of the type verb of movement + -‫ ְל‬+ toponym (see below, §‎7.4).
81 ‫‘ יַ ְה ָצה‬Jahaz’ (1 Chr 6.63 || Josh 21.36); ‫‘ ֵיָב ָׁשה‬to Jabesh’ (10.12 || 1 Sam 31.12); ‫‘ ֶח ְברֹונָ ה‬to Hebron’
(11.1, 3 || 2 Sam 5.1, 3); ‫אֹופ ָירה‬ ִ ‘to Ophir’ (2 Chr 8.18 || 1 Kgs 9.28); ‫יׁשה‬ ָ ‫‘ ָל ִכ‬to Lachish’ (25.27
[2x]; || 2 Kgs 8.19 [2x]); ‫יְמה‬ ָ ‫רּוׁש ַל‬
ָ ְ‫‘ י‬to Jerusalem’ (2 Chr 32.9 || ‫רּוׁש ַל ְָמה‬ ָ ְ‫ י‬Isa 36.2). It is true,
there are a few cases in which the Chronicler employs directional he independently of his
sources—‫‘ ֶח ְברֹונָ ה‬to Hebron’ (1 Chr 12.24, 39); ‫‘ ָּב ֵב ָלה‬to Babylon’ (2 Chr 33.11; 36.6, 10)—or
even uses it correctly against his sources—‫ל־ק ְריַת יְ ָע ִרים‬ ִ ‫וַ ּיַ ַעל ָּדוִ יד וְ ָכל־יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל ַּב ֲע ָל ָתה ֶא‬
‫ֹלהים‬ִ ‫יהּודה ְל ַה ֲעלֹות ִמ ָּׁשם ֵאת ֲארֹון ָה ֱא‬ ָ ‫‘ ֲא ֶׁשר ִל‬and David and all Israel went up to Baalah,
to Kirjath Jearim, which belongs to Judah, to bring from there the ark of God’ (1 Chr 13.6
|| ‫ֹלהים‬ ִ ‫הּודה ְל ַה ֲעלֹות ִמ ָּׁשם ֵאת ֲארֹון ָה ֱא‬ ָ ְ‫ל־ה ָעם ֲא ֶׁשר ִאּתֹו ִמ ַּב ֲע ֵלי י‬ ָ ‫‘ וַ ּיָ ָקם וַ ּיֵ ֶלְך ָּדוִ ד וְ ָכ‬and David
and all the people with him arose and went from Baale Judah to bring up from there the
ark of God’ 2 Sam 6.2); ‫‘ וַ ּיֵ ֶלְך ְׁש ֵכ ָמה‬and he went to Shechem’ (2 Chr 10.1 || ‫‘ ְׁש ֵכם‬Shechem’
1 Kgs 12.1); ‫יְמה‬ ָ ‫יאהּו ִמ ְצ ָר‬ֵ ‫‘ וַ ִיְב‬and he brought him to Egypt’ (2 Chr 36.4 || ‫‘ וַ ּיָבֹא ִמ ְצ ַריִם‬and
he came to Egypt’ 2 Kgs 23.34), but he also reformulates so that directional he is elimi-
nated, e.g., ‫ת־ּכל־יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל וַ ּיַ ֲעבֹר ַהּיַ ְר ֵּדן וַ ּיָבֹא ֲא ֵל ֶהם וַ ּיַ ֲער ְֹך ֲא ֵל ֶהם וַ ּיַ ֲער ְֹך‬
ָ ‫וַ ּיֻ ּגַ ד ְל ָדוִ יד וַ ּיֶ ֱאסֹף ֶא‬
‫‘ ָּדוִ יד ִל ְק ַראת ֲא ָרם ִמ ְל ָח ָמה וַ ּיִ ָּל ֲחמּו ִעּמֹו‬and it was told to David and he gathered all Israel
and crossed the Jordan and came to them and arrayed (for battle) before them; so David
arrayed for battle toward Aram and they fought with him’ (1 Chr 19.17 || ‫וַ ּיֻ ּגַ ד ְל ָדוִ ד וַ ּיֶ ֱאסֹף‬
‫אמה וַ ּיַ ַע ְרכּו ֲא ָרם ִל ְק ַראת ָּדוִ ד וַ ּיִ ָּל ֲחמּו ִעּמֹו‬ָ ‫ת־הּיַ ְר ֵּדן וַ ּיָבֹא ֵח ָל‬
ַ ‫ת־ּכל־יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל וַ ּיַ ֲעבֹר ֶא‬ ָ ‫‘ ֶא‬and it
was told to David and he gathered all Israel and crossed the Jordan and came to Helam
and Aram arrayed [for battle] toward David and they fought with him’ 2 Sam 10.17); ‫וַ ּיֵ ְלכּו‬
‫ל־ה ָּק ָהל ִעּמֹו ַל ָּב ָמה ֲא ֶׁשר ְּבגִ ְבעֹון‬ ַ ‫‘ ְׁשֹלמֹה וְ ָכ‬and Solomon and all the congregation with him
went to the high place that was in Gibeon’ (2 Chr 1.3 || ‫‘ וַ ּיֵ ֶלְך ַה ֶּמ ֶלְך ּגִ ְבעֹנָ ה ִלזְ ּב ַֹח ָׁשם‬and
the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there’ 1 Kgs 3.4); ‫ת־ׁש ַמע ְׁשֹלמֹה‬ ֵ ‫ת־ׁש ָבא ָׁש ְמ ָעה ֶא‬ ְ ‫ּומ ְל ַּכ‬
‫ירּוׁש ַלםִ ְּב ַחיִ ל ָּכ ֵבד ְמאֹד‬ָ ‫ת־ׁשֹלמֹה ְב ִחידֹות ִּב‬ ְ ‫‘ וַ ָּתבֹוא ְלנַ ּסֹות ֶא‬and the Queen of Sheba heard
the rumor about Solomon and came to test Solomon with riddles in Jerusalem with a
very great company’ (9.2 || ‫רּוׁש ַל ְָמה ְּב ַחיִ ל ָּכ ֵבד ְמאֹד‬ ָ ְ‫‘ וַ ָּתבֹא י‬and she came to Jerusalem
with a very great company’ 1 Kgs 10.2); ‫‘ וַ יְ ַח ְּב ֵרהּו ִעּמֹו ַל ֲעׂשֹות ֳאנִ ּיֹות ָל ֶל ֶכת ַּת ְר ִׁשיׁש‬and he
partnered with him to build boats to go to Tarshish’ (20.36 || ‫הֹוׁש ָפט ָע ָׂשה ֳאנִ ּיֹות ַּת ְר ִׁשיׁש‬ ָ ְ‫י‬
‫אֹופ ָירה‬ִ ‫‘ ָל ֶל ֶכת‬Jehoshaphat built [qre; ktiv ‫ ]’?‘ עשר‬boats of Tarshish to go to Ophir’ 1 Kgs
22.49); ‫ל־ה ֶר ֶכב ִעּמֹו‬ ָ ‫ם־ׂש ָריו וְ ָכ‬
ָ ‫הֹורם ִע‬ ָ ְ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ֲעבֹר י‬and Joram crossed with all his officers and all
his chariotry with him’ (21.9 || ‫ל־ה ֶר ֶכב ִעּמֹו‬ ָ ‫יֹורם ָצ ִע ָירה וְ ָכ‬ ָ ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ֲעבֹר‬and Joram crossed to Zair,
and all his chariotry with him’ 2 Kgs 8.21); ‫‘ וַ ּיָ ָׁשב ׁש ְֹמרֹון‬and he returned to Samaria’ (25.24
|| ‫‘ וַ ּיָ ָׁשב ׁש ְֹמרֹונָ ה‬and he returned to Samaria’ 2 Kgs 14.14).
82 ‫‘ וְ ַעד־ּגַ זְ ָרה‬and up to Gezer’ (1 Chr 14.6); ‫ְך־צֹובה ֲח ָמ ָתה‬ ָ ‫ת־ח ַד ְד ֶעזֶ ר ֶמ ֶל‬
ֲ ‫‘ וַ ּיַ ְך ָּדוִ יד ֶא‬and David
struck Hadadezer king of Zova as far as Hamath’ (18.3 || 2 Sam 8.3); ‫ַל ֲח ִצי ַה ְמנַ ֶּׁשה ּגִ ְל ָע ָדה‬
syntax 209

proper name with directional he,83 and there are no such cases in Ben Sira or
the Mishna. In these sources the use of collocations like ִ‫ירּוׁש ַלם‬ ָ ‫‘ ָע ָלה ִל‬go up to
Jerusalem’, i.e., verb of movement + -‫ ְל‬+ toponym—which are very rare in CBH
and entirely absent from the admittedly limited corpus of pre-exilic inscrip-
tions—becomes very common. Of the 62 cases in the Bible, 50 come in the
core LBH books (see below, §‎7.4). The structure is also known from the non-
biblical DSS84 and is common in RH (see below, §‎7.4).85
The gradually increasing tendency in certain late sources to make non-
standard use of directional he emerges clearly from a statistical survey of its
use in the various phases of the language. The non-standard use is rare in the
Pentateuch and the Former Prophets, more frequent in the Latter Prophets
and in the core LBH books, and accounts for nearly half the cases in the DSS.
Statistics of the non-standard use of directional he in relation to its stan-
dard use are presented here for the various stages of BH (see above, n. 69, for
the references) and for the DSS, along with notes on RH and the Samaritan
Pentateuch. Torah: approximately 17 percent (63 out of 395; these figures are
somewhat misleading, because all 24 of the non-standard cases in Leviticus
involve the recurring phrase ‫‘ ִה ְק ִטיר ַה ִּמזְ ֵּב ָחה‬burn on the altar’; excluding these
examples the percentage drops to under ten); Former Prophets: 14.1 percent
(51 out of 361 cases); Latter Prophets: 41.7 percent (88 out of 211; however, here,
too, the raw statistics are misleading, since there is a peculiar concentration
of 33 non-standard cases in the final two chapters of the book of Ezekiel, and
most consist of construct phrases of the type ‫‘ ְּפ ַאת ֵק ְד ָמה‬eastern side’; if these

‫‘ יִ ּדֹו ֶּבן־זְ ַכ ְריָ הּו‬for the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead: Iddo son of Zechariah’ (27.21); ‫ֵּבין‬
‫ּובין ְצ ֵר ָד ָתה‬ ֵ ‫‘ ֻסּכֹות‬between Sukkot and Zeredah’ (2 Chr 4.17 || ‫ּובין ָצ ְר ָתן‬ ֵ ‫‘ ֵּבין ֻסּכֹות‬between
Sukkot and Zarethan’ 1 Kgs 7.46).
83 ‫‘ ] ֯בא אל עיתה‬he came to Aiath’ (4Q161 f5–6.5 || ‫ל־עּיַ ת‬ ַ ‫ ָּבא ַע‬Isa 10.28); ‫אש[ור] ֯ה‬֗ ‫בו] ֗אכה‬
‘as you come to Assyria’ (4Q364 f1a–vb.1); ‫מרת ֗ה‬ ֯ ‫‘ ו֗ י֯ בואו‬and they came to Marah’ (4Q365
f6aii+6c.9 || Exod 15.23).
84 ‫‘ בביאה מירחו לסככא‬as you come from Jericho to Secacah’ (3Q15 5.13); ‫[ו] ֯בא למצרים ומכר‬
‫[‘ את עפרה‬and] he will come to Egypt and sell her land’ (4Q248 f1.6), ‫למצרי֯ [ם‬ ֗ ‫‘ ושב‬and
he will return to Egypt’ (8); ‫‘ ועלו לנגב‬and they will go up to the Negev’ (4Q365 f32.10); ‫֯לו֗ ֗א‬
֯‫‘ [יכל]נ[ו לבו] ֯א[ לצי]ו֯ ן‬we could not come to Zion’ (4Q522 f9ii.2).
85 In the Mishna alone there are dozens of examples, to say nothing of the rest of rabbinic
literature. A few examples will suffice: ‫חּוצה‬ ָ ‫יאין ְל‬ ִ ‫מֹוצ‬
ִ ‫סּוריה וְ ֵאין‬ְ ‫יאין ְל‬
ִ ‫ּמֹוצ‬
ִ ‫ָׁש ַמ ְעּתי ְּב ֵפירּוׁש ֶׁש‬
‫‘ ָל ָא ֶרץ‬I have heard explicitly that they may export to Syria, but they may not export out-
side the land’ (Sheviʿit 6.5); ִ‫ירּוׁש ַלם‬ ָ ‫עֹולה ִל‬ֶ ‫‘ ֶּכ ֶרם ְר ָב ִעי‬a fourth vintage goes up to Jerusalem’
(Maʿaser Sheni 2.3); ‫ּוכ ֶׁש ָּבאּו ְליַ וְ ונֶ ה‬ ְ ‘and when they came to Yabneh’ (Rosh ha-Shana 2.8);
ִ‫ירּוׁש ַלם‬
ָ ‫‘ ִמ ָּׁש ָעה ֶׁשּנִ ְכנְ סּו ַהּגֹויִ ם ִל‬from the time that gentiles entered Jerusalem’ (Ketubbot 2.9);
‫יהיּנָ ם‬ ִ ֵ‫יֹור ִדים ְלג‬ ְ ‫‘ ַּת ְל ִמ ָידיו ֶׁש ְּל ִב ְל ָעם‬the disciples of Balaam descend to Gehenna’ (ʾAvot 5.19).
210 chapter 7

instances are excluded, the relevant percentage drops to 30.9); core LBH mate-
rial: 34.4 percent (33 out of 96 cases). It is also relevant to point out that the
poetic books of the Bible exhibit a pronounced non-standard use of directional
he. In the corpus composed of Psalms, Job, Proverbs, and Song of Songs use of
the particle deviates from the standard in 18 of 22 cases (81.8 percent). This is
clearly related to poetic style. Doubtless, some of the non-standard cases in
other books containing poetry, such as Isaiah, should also be ascribed to poetic
In the DSS 45.6 percent of the instances of directional he (123 out of
272 cases) deviate from standard usage. This non-standard usage is more com-
mon in non-biblical texts—64.8 percent (59 of 94 cases)—than in biblical
texts—35.9 percent (65 of 181 cases [in 33 cases the non-standard usage in the
DSS matches that in the MT]). Here follow the references from the DSS (forms
such as ‫ מאודה‬are excluded).86
In RH directional he is regularly replaced by -‫ ְל‬,87 but continues to serve
(superfluously) in several fixed phrases, e.g., -‫מחוצה ל‬/‫ל‬/‫ ב‬and ‫(מ)למעלה‬.
It bears repeating that the use of directional he in the DSS and in RH is
restricted almost exclusively to fixed forms and phrases or to instances of

86 Non-biblical texts: 1QHa 15.27; 1Q22 f1i.2, f1ii.10; 3Q15 10.2; 4Q158 f1–2.3; 4Q161 f5–6.5;
4Q177 f1–4.13, f10–11.8, 9; 4Q200 f6.6, 8; 4Q223–224 f2v.7; 4Q270 f7i.12; 4Q272 f1i.3; 4Q364
f27.4; 4Q365 f6aii+6c.11, f27.4, f31a–c.6, f32.11; 4Q365a f2ii.4, 9, f3.4; 4Q369 f1ii.1; 4Q372
f16.3; 4Q377 f2ii.7; 4Q393 f3.6; 4Q397 f3.3; 4Q405 f15ii–16.6, f31.3; 4Q410 f1.5; 4Q418 f107.2,
f148ii.5; 4Q491 f1–3.9, f8–10i.17; 4Q524 f6–13.3; 8Q5 f2.4; 11Q19 3.15; 6.2; 7.9, 12; 10.11, 13; 16.12,
13; 32.11; 37.14; 38.10; 42.16; 45.6; 52.20; 53.9; 56.9; 59.3, 20; 60.13, 14; 63.2; 11Q20 5.8; 9.2; bibli-
cal texts (instances in which the non-standard use in the DSS is paralleled in the MT are
marked with an asterisk [*]): 1QIsaa 5.22 (|| Isa 6.2); 6.26* (|| Isa 7.11); 8.15* (|| Isa 8.21); 10.15
(|| Isa 10.28); 11.28 (|| Isa 13.20), 29 (|| Isa 13.21); 12.15 (|| Isa 14.13); 13.17* (|| Isa 16.1); 17.11*
(|| Isa 22.7), 26** (2x; || Isa 22.18 2x); 27.7* (|| Isa 33.7); 28.12 (|| Isa 34.12), 14 (|| Isa 34.14),
15* (|| Isa 34.15), 24 (2x; || Isa 35.8 2x), 25 (|| Isa 35.9); 38.14 (|| Isa 45.8); 40.21 (|| Isa 48.16);
42.20 (|| Isa 51.6); 43.18 (|| Isa 52.4), 26 (|| Isa 52.11); 47.4 (|| Isa 57.6); 52.11 (|| Isa 65.9); 53.2
(|| Isa 65.20); 1Q8 8c–e.10** (2x; || Isa 22.18 2x); 2Q13 f7–8.14 (|| Jer 47.7); 2Q16 f4ii–5i.1*
(|| Ruth 2.19); 4Q11 f35.5* (|| Exod 27.9); 4Q17 f2ii.15 (|| Exod 40.19); 4Q22 30.31* (|| Exod
27.13); 4Q23 f32i+34i–43.11* (|| Num 4.6); f74.2* (|| Num 35.5); 4Q24 f8.4* (|| Lev 3.11);
4Q25 f4.5* (|| Lev 4.26); 4Q26 f4.3 (|| Lev 17.3); 4Q27 f3ii+5.13 (|| Num 13.22); f75–79.27
(|| Num 35.5); 4Q30 f10.4* (|| Deut 10.7); f48.2* (|| Deut 28.13); 4Q38a f5.5 (|| Deut 26.2);
4Q51 f3–5.7* (|| 1 Sam 14.32); 4Q55 f11ii+15.19* (|| Isa 22.18); 4Q56 f22–23.4* (|| Isa 37.31);
4Q57 f9ii+11+12i+52.17 (|| Isa 23.12); 4Q70 f21–22i.4* (|| Jer 13.7), 7* (|| Jer 13.4); 4Q74 f1–4.5*
(|| Ezek 1. 11), f6ii.6* (|| Ezek 1. 22); 4Q103 f7ii+11–14.6* (|| Prov 15.24); 4Q137 f1.22 (|| Deut 5.15);
4Q138 f1.27 (|| Deut 11.10); 11Q5 fEii.5 (|| Ps 104.25); 23.10 (|| Ps 133.3); 11Q7 f4–7.6* (|| Ps 13.2),
7* (|| Ps 13.3), 14 (|| Ps 14.5); XQ1 1.3 (|| Exod 12.46); Mur88 19.13* (|| Hab 3.11); 5/6Hev1b
f1iv+3.12* (|| Ps 13.2), 13* (|| Ps 13.3), 14* (|| Ps 13.3); Mas1d 3.14* (|| Ezek 37.8).
87 Bendavid 1967–1971: I 129, 371, II 452–453; Qimron 1978b: 95, n. 71.
syntax 211

imitation of the Bible or allusion thereto. In other words, despite its con-
tinued appearance in these sources, it is no longer a vibrant element of the
The use of directional he in the Samaritan Pentateuch is complicated. There
are some 400 cases in the MT against about 410 in the Samaritan Pentateuch.
There are 61 cases in which the two editions present differing versions of the
same verse (excluding cases where the editions present completely differ-
ent readings). In 45 cases the ending occurs in the MT and is missing in the
Samaritan Pentateuch and in 16 cases this situation is reversed. Three principal
categories may be discerned in which the suffix is omitted in the Samaritan
version: (a) certain collocations composed of a verb + ‫‘ ָׁש ָּמה‬there’ (19 cases);88
(b) syntagms consisting of nomen regens + directional he + nomen rectum
(11 cases, generally preserved in the case of the collocation ‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה ְּכנַ ַען‬to the land
of Canaan’);89 (c) rarer miscellaneous forms (14 cases).90 Most of those cases in
which directional he occurs in the Samaritan written tradition, but is missing in
the MT involve frozen forms.91 In the Samaritan reading tradition the consonan-
tal forms ‫ שם‬and ‫ שמה‬are both pronounced šamma (Ben-Ḥayyim 2000: §7.2).
Be that as it may, diachronic conclusions should be drawn with caution,
since, though relatively fewer, the number of apparently early examples is not
insignificant. Especially illustrative is the distribution of the relevant forms of
adverbial ‫‘ ַמ ַעל‬above, up’. The forms ‫‘ ִמ ַּמ ַעל‬from above’ and ‫‘ ַמ ְע ָלה‬upward’ are

88 ‫‘ נָ ַפל‬fall’ (Gen 14.10; Exod 21.33); ‫‘ ָק ַבר‬bury’ (Gen 23.13; 25.10; 49.31 [3x]; 50.5); ‫‘ נֶ ֱא ַסף‬be
gathered’ (Gen 29.3); ‫הֹוריד‬ ִ ‘send, put down’ (Gen 39.1; 42.2); ‫‘ ָּב ָכה‬weep’ (Gen 43.30); ‫נָ ַתן‬
‘give’ (Exod 16.33; 30.18; 40.30); ‫‘ ֵה ִביא‬bring’ (Exod 26.33; Deut 12.11); ‫‘ נִ ְד ַרׁש‬be enquired of’
(Exod 29.43 || mt ‫נֹועד‬ ַ ‘meet with’); ‫‘ יָ ָצא‬go out’ (Num 33.54).
89 ‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה ַהּנֶ גֶ ב‬to the land of the Negev’ (Gen 20.1); ‫תּואל‬ ֵ ‫יתה ְב‬ ָ ‫‘ ֵּב‬to the house of Bethuel’
(28.2); ‫י־ק ֶדם‬ ֶ ֵ‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה ְבנ‬to the land of the children of the east (29.1); ‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה ְׂש ִעיר‬to the land
of Shinar’ (32.4); ‫‘ ְּב ֵא ָרה ָׁש ַבע‬to Beersheba’ (46.6), ‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה ג ֶֹׁשן‬to the land of Goshen’ (28);
‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה ִמ ְצ ָריִ ם‬to the land of Egypt’ (Exod 4.20); ‫יָּמה סּוף‬ ָ ‘to(ward) the Red Sea’ (10.19); ‫נַ ְח ָלה‬
‫‘ ִמ ְצ ָריִ ם‬to(ward) the Wadi of Egypt’ (Num 34.5); ‫‘ ַא ְר ָצה ְּכנַ ַען‬to the land of Canaan’ (35.10);
‫‘ ִמזְ ְר ָחה ָׁש ֶמׁש‬to(ward) the shining of the son’ (Deut 4.41).
90 ‫יְמה‬ָ ‫‘ ָׁש ַמ‬skyward’ (Gen 15.5; 28.12; Exod 9.8, 10; Deut 4.19; 30.12); ‫‘ ַה ֶּפ ְת ָחה‬to the opening’
(Gen 19.6); ‫‘ ָה ַעיְ נָ ה‬to the spring’ (Gen 24.16, 45); ‫‘ ַהיְ א ָֹרה‬to(ward) the Nile’ (Exod 1.22);
‫יְמה‬ ָ ‫‘ ַה ַּמ‬to the water’ (Exod 7.15; 8.16); ‫‘ ֵא ִיל ָמה‬to(ward) Elim’ (Exod 15.27; Num 33.27).
There is also an exceptional case in which ‫ || בא אהל‬mt ‫‘ ָּבא א ֵֹה ָלה‬to (the) tent’ (Exod
91 Ten of 16 concern the names of the cardinal directions: ‫‘ קדמה‬east’ (Gen 25.6); ‫נגבה‬
‘south’ (Exod 27.9; 36.23; 38.9; Num 34.3 [2x]; 35.5); ‫‘ צפונה‬north’ (Num 34.9; 35.5); ‫ימה‬
‘west’ (Num 35.5). Another instance involves the word ‫‘ חוצה‬outside’ (Deut 23.13). The
five remaining cases are ‫‘ אשימך שמה‬I will put you there’ (Gen 46.3); ‫‘ נסב מעצמונה‬it
turned from Azmon’ (Num 34.5); ‫‘ בא חמתה‬come to Hamath’ (Num 34.8); ‫‘ משפמה‬from
Shepham’ (Num 34.11); ‫‘ והירדנה‬and the Jordan’ (Deut 3.17).
212 chapter 7

characterized by a predominantly classical distribution in the Bible,92 while

the use of ‫‘ ( ִמ) ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬above, upward’, characterized by a redundancy involving
both the proposition -‫‘ ל‬to’ and directional he, begins in the classical books,
but multiplies strikingly only in late sources, where it becomes the preferred
form.93 One may therefore conclude that in its classical use, directional he
indeed generally marked destination or direction, but already in CBH there
are deviations from this usage in the form of more generally locative meanings
and addition to words in prepositional phrases.

7.3.2 Jeremiah
In the book of Jeremiah there are 50 instances of directional he. In 12 of them
its employment deviates from standard usage as defined above.

Jer 1.13 And I said, “A boiling pot I see and its face is from the north (‫) ָצפֹונָ ה‬.”
Jer 1.15 “For behold I call to all clans of kingdoms of the north (‫) ָצפֹונָ ה‬,” says
Jer 13.7 And I went to the Perath and dug and took the belt from the place
where I had hid it (‫ר־ט ַמנְ ִּתיו ָׁש ָּמה‬ ַ ‫) ִמ‬.
ְ ‫ן־ה ָּמקֹום ֲא ֶׁש‬
Jer 18.2 Arise and go down to the potter’s house and there (‫)וְ ָׁש ָּמה‬
I will make my words known to you.
Jer 23.8 . . . but as surely as Yhwh, who brought you up and brought the seed
of Israel from the land of the north (‫) ָצפֹונָ ה‬, lives . . .
Jer 27.16 Behold the utensils if the temple of Yhwh will be brought back from
Babylon (‫ ) ִמ ָּב ֶב ָלה‬now, quickly.
Jer 27.22 To Babylon they will be brought and there (‫ )וְ ָׁש ָּמה‬they will be until
the day of my taking account of them.
Jer 29.15 For you said, “Yhwh has raised up for us prophets in Babylon
(‫) ָּב ֶב ָלה‬.”94

92 Out of 53 cases only four come in late material.

93 Out of 58 cases more than half come in late material: 14 come in Ezekiel (against one
case of ‫ּומ ַּמ ַעל‬
ִ ), 16 in Chronicles (against three cases of ‫)וָ ַמ ְע ָלה‬, and one in Ezra. Compare
expressions of the type ‫ ָׁשנָ ה וָ ַמ ְע ָלה‬X‫ ִמ ֶּבן־‬, normal throughout the entire Bible and in the
DSS, and ‫ּול ַמ ְע ָלה‬
ְ ‫ ָׁשנָ ה‬X‫( ִמ ֶּבן־‬1 Chr 23.27; 2 Chr 31.16, 17). Compare also ‫ ִמ ֶּבן־ח ֶֹדׁש וָ ַמ ְע ָלה‬,
nine times in the book of Numbers, and ‫ מבן חודש ולמעל[ה‬4Q365 f27.4. But there are also
13 cases of ‫ (ּו)( ִמ) ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬in the Torah; see Hurvitz 2013: 109–113. Cf. Hoftijzer 1981: 220–221.
94 This case is not to be seen as an example of standard usage. The ancient versions interpret
‘in Babylon’. Cf. GKC §90d “to Babylon” (!); Meek 1940: 228. This verse comes before a
section (Jer 29.16–20) which has no parallel in the Greek and many researchers think that
it is not in its original location; see McKane 1986–1996: II 735–740; Holladay 1986–1989:
II 133–135; Lundbom 1999–2004: II 344–346.
syntax 213

Jer 31.37 If the heavens above (‫ ) ִמ ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬can be measured and the founda-
tions of earth below can be plumbed.95
Jer 46.6 Let not the swift flee, nor the warrior take refuge; in the north
(‫) ָצפֹונָ ה‬, beside the Euphrates River, they have stumbled and they
will fall.96
Jer 48.21 And justice is coming to the land of the plain, to Holon and to Jahaz
(‫ )וְ ֶאל־יַ ְה ָצה‬and to Mephaath (qre; ktiv ‫‘ מופעת‬Mo/uphaath’)97
Jer 52.10 And the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before
his eyes and also all the officers of Judah he slaughtered in Riblah
(‫) ְּב ִר ְב ָל ָתה‬.98

The cardinal direction ‫‘ ָצפֹון‬north’ is mentioned 25 times in Jeremiah. In four

cases (1.13, 15; 23.8; 46.6) it terminates with an ill-fitting directional he.99 Similar
to certain toponyms on which directional he tended to become ‘frozen’—like
the aforementioned ‫‘ ִּת ְמנָ ָתה‬Timnah’ and ‫‘ ֶא ְפ ָר ָתה‬Ephrath’—in BH the names
of the cardinal directions also frequently end in directional he, even when
there is no explicit or implicit movement in that direction.100 This is a natural

95 Apparently the originally directional he in ‫‘ ַמ ָּטה‬down(ward)’ very early on became

inseparable from its host; cf. ‫ מט‬in Phoenician. In ‫‘ ָה ְל ָאה‬beyond’ the he ending has
evidently also been lexicalized, since -‫ ֵמ ָה ְל ָאה ל‬occurs in Gen 35.21; Jer 22.19; and Amos
5.27. The same may be true of ‫יְתה‬ ָ ‫‘ ַּב‬inside’ in ‫יְתה‬
ָ ‫‘ ִמ ַּב‬on the inside’ (1 Kgs 6.15).
96 The use of directional he here is problematic according to the biblical accents, which
mark a division between the words ‫ ַהּגִ ּבֹור‬and ‫ ָצפֹונָ ה‬. The Greek translator, conversely,
placed the pause after the word ‫ ָצפֹונָ ה‬, thus avoiding any difficulty. See the commentaries.
97 It is worth noting that the transcription in the Greek is Ιασσα, which evidently reflects an
understanding of the toponym according to which the final he was taken to be an integral
part of the name.
98 The Greek has the transcription Δεβλαθα. On the shift ‫ ִר ְב ָלה < ִּד ְב ָלה‬, arising from the
graphic similarity between dalet and resh (which are similar in several forms of the
alphabet used to write BH) see below, n. 109. Again, the Greek apparently reflects a name
in which directional he was taken as integral.
99 The usage is apparently felicitous in ‫ת־ה ְּד ָב ִרים ָה ֵא ֶּלה ָצפֹונָ ה‬
ַ ‫את ֶא‬
ָ ‫( ָהֹלְך וְ ָק ָר‬Jer 3.12), as the
verse involves the symbolic declaration announced from Jerusalem towards the north.
There are, however, those who interpret ‫ ָצפֹונָ ה‬here as ‘in the land of the north’ (Targum
Jonathan; Rashi).
100 Meek 1940: 226; Qimron 1978b: 95. Concerning the suffix Qimron (ibid.) observes
“Especially frequent is its use in the names of the cardinal directions (‫מזרחה‬, ‫קדמה‬, ‫נגבה‬,
‫תימנה‬, ‫ימה‬, ‫מערבה‬, ‫ ”)צפונה‬adding (ibid., n. 68) “In all these names come over 200 times
with directional he, and only a few times without it.” However, according to Even-Shoshan
(1977) these names end in directional he 221 times and come without it 241 times. The
figures specific for each cardinal direction name are as follows: ‫ ִמזְ ָר ָחה‬32 versus ‫ִמזְ ָרח‬
214 chapter 7

development, since the lexeme in question by its nature refers to a direction,

though not necessarily movement toward it. Thus already in pre-exilic bibli-
cal literature one meets with marginal uses of directional he, especially in the
construct phrase ‫‘ ( ִל) ְּפ ַאת ָצפֹונָ ה‬the northern quarter’ and the like.101 However,
with the exception of this expression, the non-standard use of ‫‘ ָצפֹונָ ה‬north’ is
limited to relatively late sources—Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Chronicles.102
On three occasions (Jer 1.13; 23.8; 27.16) directional he serves despite a parti-
tive nuance of distancing or separation indicated by the preposition ‫‘ ִמן‬from’.
Collocations of this type come approximately 25 times in the Bible,103 the lion’s
share (15 cases) in Ezekiel, which was composed no earlier than the Exile. In
most of these cases (11 in Ezekiel) the problematic suffix is attached to the
name of a cardinal direction,104 to which the addition of directional he seems
a natural development. In three cases it seems to have been added as a result
of attraction or was possibly simply mistaken as an integral part of the host
toponym.105 This leaves a handful of cases: ‫נֹוחה‬ ָ ָ‫‘ ִמ ִּמזְ ַרח י‬from the east of Janoah’

42; ‫ ֵק ְד ָמה‬26 versus ‫ ֶק ֶדם‬29; ‫ נֶ גְ ָּבה‬29 versus ‫ נֶ גֶ ב‬21; ‫ימנָ ה‬

ָ ‫ ֵּת‬13 versus ‫ימן‬ָ ‫ ֵּת‬11; ‫יָּמה‬ָ 4 versus ‫יָם‬
10; ‫ ַמ ֲע ָר ָבה‬4 versus ‫ ַמ ֲע ָרב‬10; ‫ ָצפֹונָ ה‬53 versus 100 ‫( ָצפֹון‬these figures are based on Even-
Shoshan 1977). In about one-third of the 153 cases of the word ‫ ָצפֹון‬in the Bible it ends with
directional he. Compare the situation in the Samaritan Pentateuch, in which all 19 cases
of the word have the ending (in the MT Torah eight of 16 instances terminate in the suffix).
101 ‫( ( ִל) ְּפ ַאת ָצפֹון‬Exod 26.20; 27.11; 36.25; 38.11; Num 35.5; Ezek 47.17; 48.16, 30); ‫( ִל) ְּפ ַאת ָצפֹונָ ה‬
(Josh 15.5; 18.12; Ezek 47.15). The following expressions are also found in the Torah: ‫ִל ְפ ַאת‬
‫ימנָ ה‬ָ ‫‘ נֶ גְ ָּבה ֵת‬the southern side’ (Exod 26.18); ‫‘ ִל ְפ ַאת ֵק ְד ָמה ִמזְ ָר ָחה‬the eastern side’ (27.13;
38.13); ‫ת־ק ְד ָמה‬ ֵ ‫‘ ְּפ ַא‬the eastern side’ (Num 35.5).
102 Ezek 8.14; 40.40; 46.9; 47.2; 48.1; 1 Chr 26.17. The form also comes in the expression ‫ִמ ְּצפֹונָ ה‬
ֵ ‫‘ ְל ֵב‬north of Bethel’ (Jdg 21.19), as part of a literary unit composed of apparently
early stories, but which may betray a few signs of late editing, for example, ‫ַעד־יֹום ּגְ לֹות‬
‫‘ ָה ָא ֶרץ‬until the day of the land’s exile’ (Jdg 18.30). Use of the structure -‫ ְל‬+ ‫◌ה‬- ָ X + ‫ ִמן‬,
where X is a cardinal direction, is otherwise limited to late texts: -‫חּוצה ְל‬ ָ ‫‘ ִמ‬outside of’
(Ezek 40.40, 44; 4Q26 f4.3 || -‫ ִמחּוץ ְל‬Lev 17.3; 4Q491 f1–3.9); -‫‘ מביתה ל‬inside’ (4Q405
f15ii–16.6; 11Q17 5.5; cf. -‫‘ ֵמ ָה ְל ָאה ל‬further on from’ Gen 35.21; Jer 22.19; Amos 5.27, where,
however, the directional he in ‫ ָה ְל ָאה‬has undergone lexicalization). The expression ‫חּוצה‬ ָ ‫ִמ‬
-‫ ְל‬is also attested in RH. Be that as it may, the conclusion of Edenburg (2003: 138–196),
namely that Jdg 19–21 was composed under the influence of LBH, seems excessively based
on the linguistic data.
103 Deut 10.7; Josh 10.36; 16.1, 7; Jdg 21.19; 1 Kgs 6.15; 2 Kgs 17.24; Isa 16.1; Jer 1.13; 23.8; 27.16; Ezek
6.14 (according to the pointing; see below); 40.40, 44; 45.7; 48.1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.
104 Josh 15.10; Jdg 21.19; 1 Kgs 6.15; Ezek 45.7; 48.1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.
105 ‫ן־הּגֻ ְדּג ָֹדה‬
ַ ‫ּומ‬
ִ ‘and from Gudgod’ (Deut 10.7, under the influence of the first part of the
verse); ‫‘ ֵמ ֶעגְ לֹונָ ה‬from Eglon’ (Josh 10.36, under the influence of v. 34); ‫נֹוחה‬ ָ ָ‫‘ ִמּי‬from Janoah’
(Josh 16.7, under the influence of the preceding verse).
syntax 215

(Josh 16.6);106 ‫ּכּותה‬ ָ ‫‘ ִּמ‬from Kuth’ (2 Kgs 17.24);107 ‫‘ ִמ ֶּס ַלע ִמ ְד ָּב ָרה‬from Sela of the
desert’ (Isa 16.1);108 ‫‘ ִמ ָּב ֶב ָלה‬from Babylon’ (Jer 27.16); ‫‘ ִמ ִּמ ְד ַּבר ִּד ְב ָל ָתה‬from the
desert of Diblah’ (Ezek 6.14).109
Construct phrases of the type ‫ ָצפֹונָ ה‬+ X in Jeremiah also appear typologi-
cally late. The construction nomen regens + nomen rectum + directional he
appears some 50 times in the Bible.110 In a large proportion of the occurrences
the nomen rectum is a name of a cardinal direction and the nomen regens is
‫ ִמ) ְּפ ַאת‬/‫‘ ( ִל‬side’ (38x), ‫‘ ּגְ בּול‬border’ (5x), ‫‘ ִמ ְק ֵצה‬from the end of’, or ‫‘ ִמ ְּפנֵ י‬before,
facing’. In the majority of the remaining cases the suffix seems to have been taken
as an integral element of the name to which it is attached.111 Of the 50 cases,
35 come in Ezekiel, where the construction nearly always involves one of the
nomina regentes listed above. Though the structure in question is known form
classical material, the three cases in Jeremiah—‫‘ ִמ ְּפנֵ י ָצפֹונָ ה‬away from the
north’ (1.13), ‫‘ ַמ ְמ ְלכֹות ָצפֹונָ ה‬kingdoms of the north’ (15); ‫‘ ֵמ ֶא ֶרץ ָצפֹונָ ה‬from the
land of the north’ (23.8)—have an arguably late aspect, since they are not fixed
On ‫ ָׁש ָּמה‬in the sense of ‫‘ ָׁשם‬there’ in general see the discussion above. In the
three relevant cases in Jeremiah—13.7 (cf. v. 4: ‫ ;) ָׁשם‬18.2; 27.2—it may be that

106 The vocalization testifies to a construct phrase. Perhaps the consonantal text intends
ָ ָ‫ ִמ ִּמזְ ָרח י‬, i.e., ‘from/on (the) east to Janoah’?
107 On the assumption that this is the same place mentioned in v. 30. However, many modern
translations distinguish between the two.
108 This collocation is given to two basic interpretations: ‘from Sela of the desert’ and ‘from
Sela to/across the desert’. See the commentaries.
109 The vocalization testifies to a construct phrase, but the possibility that the consonan-
tal tradition intends ‫‘ ִמ ִּמ ְד ָּבר ִּד ְב ָל ָתה‬from (the) desert to Diblah’ must be considered.
Additionally, the place name ‫*ּד ְב ָלה‬ ִ is a hapax in the Bible (but see above, n. 98); it has
been suggested that the text is referring to ‫‘ ִר ְב ָלה‬Riblah’, a toponym with a strong ten-
dency to end in directional he whether the latter’s use is grammatically necessary or not
(see below, n. 114).
110 This figure is based on Groves and Wheeler 2005, but their count mistakenly includes
ָ ‫‘ ַהּגְ בּול‬the border seaward’ (Josh 15.4) and excludes the relevant ‫‘ ֵמ ֶא ֶרץ ָצפֹונָ ה‬from
the land of the north’ (Jer 23.8).
111 ‫‘ ֶּד ֶרְך ִּת ְמנָ ָתה‬the way to Timnah’ (Gen 38.14); ‫נֹוחה‬ ָ ָ‫‘ ִמ ִּמזְ ָרח י‬on the east of Janoah’ (Josh
15.6; see above, n. 106); ‫‘ ֶּכ ֶתף לּוזָ ה‬the ridge of Luz’ (18.13, under the influence of ‫ לּוזָ ה‬in
the same verse); ‫ד־ּכ ְר ֵמי ִת ְמנָ ָתה‬ ַ ‫‘ ַע‬until the vineyards of Timnah’ (Jdg 14.5). The vocaliza-
tion of ‫‘ ַל ְמ ַצד ִמ ְד ָּב ָרה‬to the fortress of the desert’ (1 Chr 12.9) is unexpected, the first con-
stituent vocalized as a definite nomen regens; perhaps the consonantal text intends ‫ַל ְמ ָצד‬
‫ ִמ ְד ָּב ָרה‬, i.e., ‘to the fortress in the desert’. On ‫‘ ִמ ִּמ ְד ַּבר ִּד ְב ָל ָתה‬from east of Diblah’ (Ezek
6.14) see above, n. 109.
112 Cf. ‫‘ ִמ ִּמ ְד ַּבר ִּד ְב ָל ָתה‬from east of Diblah’ (Ezek 6.14); ‫‘ ַל ְמ ַצד ִמ ְד ָּב ָרה‬to the fortress of the
desert’ (1 Chr 12.9; on this last see the preceding note).
216 chapter 7

the use of ‫ ָׁש ָּמה‬is due to grammatical attraction to preceding words indicating
movement toward a place.
On ‫‘ ( ִמ) ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬above, upward’ in general see the discussion above. There are
four cases of ‫‘ ִמ ַּמ ַעל‬above, upward’ in Jeremiah: 4.28; 35.4; 43.10; 52.32. Compare
especially ‫‘ וְ ָק ְדרּו ַה ָּׁש ַמיִ ם ִמ ַּמ ַעל‬and the skies above darken’ (Jer 4.28) and ‫ם־יִּמּדּו‬
ַ ‫ִא‬
‫‘ ָׁש ַמיִם ִמ ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬if the heavens above can be measured’ (31.37).113
The non-standard use of directional he in the prepositional phrases ‫ֶאל־יַ ְה ָצה‬
‘to Jahaz’ (Jer 48.21) and ‫‘ ְּב ִר ְב ָל ָתה‬in Riblah’ (52.10) should be compared to simi-
lar employment in the toponyms ‫‘ ִּת ְמנָ ָתה‬Timnah’ and ‫‘ ֶא ְפ ָר ָתה‬Ephrath’, which
was described above. This is to say that the former usage may also stem from a
misinterpretation of the suffix as an integral element of the names.114
To sum up, from the perspective of the use of directional he, the language
of the book of Jeremiah reveals both classical and late tendencies. On the one
hand, the book still exhibits relatively routine usage of the suffix. Also, some of
the non-standard uses of the suffix in the book are attested in material generally
considered classical, including its use in toponyms of which it came to be con-
sidered an integral part, in the names of the cardinal directions, and in forms
such as ‫‘ ( ִמ) ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬above, upward’ and ‫‘ ָׁש ָּמה‬there’. On the other hand, despite
their sporadic appearance in earlier material, it should be noted that some of
the relevant usages become common only in the later stages of the language,
like he’s routine addition to the names of the cardinal directions (Ezekiel and
Chronicles), ‫( ( ִמ) ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬which eventually becomes the preferred form), and
‫( ָׁש ָּמה‬not necessarily late in the Bible, but certainly increasingly frequent
with the passage of time). Other non-standard usages, like the suffix’s attach-

113 The expression ‫‘ ַה ָּׁש ַמיִ ם ִמ ַּמ ַעל‬the heavens above’ appears six more times in the Bible—
Exod 20.4; Deut 4.39; 5.8; Josh 2.11; 1 Kgs 8.23; Isa 45.8—whereas ‫ ָׁש ַמיִ ם ִמ ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬is found
only here in the Bible, but also comes in 1QIsaa 38.14 (|| ‫ ִמ ַּמ ַעל‬Isa 45.8); 1Q22 f1ii.10.
114 The place name ‫‘ יַ ַהץ‬Jahaz’ is mentioned nine times in the Bible, twice without the
suffix (Isa 15.4; Jer 48.34), seven times with the suffix (Num 21.23; Deut 2.32; Josh 13.18;
21.36; Jdg 11.20; Jer 48.21; 1 Chr 6.63). In at least five cases use of the suffix is grammatically
questionable (Josh 13.18; 21.36; Jdg 11.20; Jer 48.21; 1 Chr 6.63; possibly also Deut 2.32). It
is worth pointing out that in one of the two occurrences of the place name without
the suffix, namely, ‫קֹולם‬ ָ ‫ד־א ְל ָע ֵלה ַעד־יַ ַהץ נָ ְתנּו‬
ֶ ‫‘ ִמּזַ ֲע ַקת ֶח ְׁשּבֹון ַע‬from the cry of Heshbon
to Elealeh to Jahaz they gave their voice’ (Jer 48.34), influence of the verse ‫וַ ִּתזְ ַעק ֶח ְׁשּבֹון‬
ָ ‫‘ וְ ֶא ְל ָע ֵלה ַעד־יַ ַהץ נִ ְׁש ַמע‬and Heshbon cried out and Elealeh to Jahaz their voice was
heard’ (Isa 15.4) is likely. On this assumption, the occurrence in the latter is the only indepen-
dent example of this name without the suffix. The verse ‫ל־א ֶרץ ַה ִּמיׁש ֹר ֶאל־חֹלֹון‬ ֶ ‫ּומ ְׁש ָּפט ָּבא ֶא‬
‫‘ וְ ֶאל־יַ ְה ָצה וְ ַעל־מופעת‬And justice is coming to the land of the plain, to Holon and to Jahaz
(‫ )וְ ֶאל־יַ ְה ָצה‬and to Mephaath (qre; ktiv ‫‘ מופעת‬Mo/uphaath’)’ (Jer 48.21) contains the only
biblical example of the construction ‫◌ה‬- ָ X + ‫) ֶאל‬.
syntax 217

ment to nomina recta (when not involving specific nomina regentes, such as
‫ ִמ] ְּפ ַאת‬/‫‘ [ ִל‬side, corner’) and its use in prepositional phrases with -‫ ְּב‬and ‫ִמן‬
(when not dealing with place names in which the suffix has been incorpo-
rated) seem late. It should also be noted that the ‘free’ use of non-standard
directional he is especially common in LBH, forms occurring outside of poetry
(see above, n. 69) being limited predominantly (14 of 15 cases) to the books of
Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Chronicles.
Jeremiah reveals a certain freedom and originality in its use of the suffix in
that about half of the cases involve expressions found nowhere else, e.g., ‫ִמ ְּפנֵ י‬
‫‘ ָצפֹונָ ה‬away from the north’ (1.13), ‫‘ ַמ ְמ ְלכֹות ָצפֹונָ ה‬kingdoms of the north’ (15);
‫‘ ֵמ ֶא ֶרץ ָצפֹונָ ה‬from the land of the north’ (23.8); ‫‘ ִמ ָּב ֶב ָלה‬from Babylon’ (27.16);
‫‘ ָּב ֶב ָלה‬Babylon’ (29.15); ‫‘ ָׁש ַמיִ ם ִמ ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬heavens above’ (31.37). This stylistic
uniqueness can be variously explained, but one should not ignore the transi-
tional nature of Jeremiah’s language as a link between CBH and LBH proper. In
comparison to post-biblical sources, the use of the suffix is still alive and well
in Jeremiah, but more than in earlier sources, the original directional meaning
of the suffix seems to have become blurred. Still, in Jeremiah (and even in later
biblical sources) use of the suffix has not arrived to the level of promiscuously
adverbial marking characteristic of the DSS or to the non-use typical of RH.

7.3.3 The MT and the Greek

The Greek exhibits a parallel to each of the cases of non-standard usage listed
above, with the exception of ‫ וְ ָׁש ָּמה‬in the verse ‘to Babylon they will be brought
and there (‫ )וְ ָׁש ָּמה‬they will be until the day of my accounting of them’ (Jer 27.22).115
Excluding the two transliterated place names that apparently reflect forms
with the suffix (Jer 48.21; 52.10), it is difficult to determine the exact form that
lay before the translator, i.e., whether it terminated in the suffix or not. Be
that as it may, the fact that the Greek presents a parallel in the majority of the
cases shows that from the perspective of the non-standard use of directional
he, there is no significant difference between the short and long editions of
the book of Jeremiah. This is confirmed by a detailed statistical examination,
according to which in both the short edition and the supplementary material
its employment is that of a still active and productive morpheme, each of the
two sections showing relatively infrequent cases of non-standard use.116

115 Tov (1979: 90) considers these words (along with other words in Jer 27 that have no paral-
lel in the Greek) late secondary additions.
116 Instances of non-standard use in the short edition are 11 in number (‫‘ ָּב ֶב ָלה‬Babylon’ 27.16;
29.15; ‫‘ יַ ְה ָצה‬Jahaz’ 48.21; ‫‘ ִמ ְל ַמ ְע ָלה‬above, upward’ 31.37; ‫‘ ָצפֹונָ ה‬north’ Jer 1.13, 15; 23.8; 46.6;
‫‘ ְּב ִר ְב ָל ָתה‬in Riblah’ 52.10; ‫‘ ָׁש ָּמה‬there’ 13.7; 18.2) out of 125 potential cases (8.8 percent);
218 chapter 7

7.4 -‫ ל‬with Motion Verbs Indicating Movement toward a Place

BH presents several types of rection with verbs of motion to express movement

towards a place, most commonly (a) the preposition ‫‘ ֶאל‬to’, (b) directional he,
somewhat similar to English ‘-ward’, and (c) the so-called accusative of place.117
All three are conveniently exemplified in

Jon 1.1–2 “Arise, go to Nineveh (‫) ֵלְך ֶאל־נִ ינְ וֵ ה‬. . . .” So Jonah arose to flee to
Tarshish (‫יׁשה‬
ָ ‫ ) ִל ְבר ַֹח ַּת ְר ִׁש‬. . . and went down to Joppa (‫ )וַ ּיֵ ֶרד יָפֹו‬and
found a boat going to Tarshish (‫) ָּב ָאה ַת ְר ִׁשיׁש‬. . . . So he set off to go
with them to Tarshish (‫יׁשה‬ ָ ‫ ) ָלבֹוא ִע ָּמ ֶהם ַּת ְר ִׁש‬. . .

The phrase ‫‘ ֵלְך ֶאל־נִ ינְ וֵ ה‬go to Nineveh’ is an example of (a) the use of a verb
of motion + the preposition ‫יׁשה ; ֶאל‬ ָ ‫‘ ִל ְבר ַֹח ַּת ְר ִׁש‬to flee to Tarshish’ and . . . ‫ָלבֹוא‬
ָ ‫‘ ַּת ְר ִׁש‬to go . . . to Tarshish’ involve (b) a verb of motion + a toponym ending in
directional he; and both ‫‘ וַ ּיֵ ֶרד יָ פֹו‬and (he) went down to Joppa’ and ‫ָּב ָאה ַת ְר ִׁשיׁש‬
‘going to Tarshish’ present (c) motion verbs + a toponym in the accusative of
place. Examples of all these types may be found throughout the Bible along with
less common constructions, for example, those employing other prepositions,
like ‫‘ ַעד‬until, as far as’ and ‫ ַעל‬usually ‘upon, above’, but not infrequently ‘to’ (the
latter sometimes in place of ‫ ; ֶאל‬see below, §‎7.5), though a noticeable reduction
in the use of ‫( ֶאל‬see below, §‎7.5) and in the standard use of directional he
(see above, §‎7.3) is evident in late material. This same later material evinces a
contemporaneous increase in the use of motion verbs with the preposition -‫ל‬.118

in the supplementary material there is one instance of non-standard usage (‫‘ ָׁש ָּמה‬there’
Jer 27.22) in fifteen potential cases (6.7 percent). In addition to those listed above, the
number of potential cases includes all instances in which the six forms that occur with
the non-standard ending in Jeremiah (a) lack the ending and (b) do not mark a destina-
tion or direction (in the following list an asterisk [*] indicates that the case in question
is not reflected in the Greek): ‫‘ ָּב ֶבל‬Babylon’ (excluding instances of the phrase ‫ֶמ ֶלְך ָּב ֶבל‬
‘king of Babylon’) – 27.16; 28.6; 29.10, 15, 22; 50.1, 2, 8, 9, 13, 14, 16, 23, 24, 28, 29, 34, 35, 42, 45,
46; 51.1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 (2x), 24, 29 (2x), 30, 33, 35, 37, 41, 42, *44 (2x), *47, *48, *49 (2x), 53,
54, 55, 56, 58, 60, 64; 52.32; ‫‘ ַמ ַעל‬up’ – 4.28; 35.4; 43.10; 52.32; ‫‘ ָצפֹון‬north’ – 1.14; 3.18; 4.6;
6.1, 22; 10.22; 13.20; 15.12; 16.15; 23.8; 25.9, 26; 31.8; 46.10, 20, 24; 47.2; 50.3, 9, 41; *51.48; ‫ִר ְב ָלה‬
‘Riblah’ – *39.6; 52.27; ‫‘ ָׁשם‬there’ – 2.6; 3.6; *7.2, 12; *8.14, 22; 13.4, 6 (2x); 16.13; 19.2; *20.6
(2x); 22.1, 24, 26 (2x); 29.6; 32.5; 35.7; 36.12; 37.12, 13, 16, 20; 38.11, 26; 41.1, 3; 42.14, 15, **16 (3x),
17, 22; 43.2, 12; 44.8, *12, **14 (2x), 28; 46.17; 47.7; 49.16, 18, 33, 38; 50.9, 40.
117 See Austel 1970: 4–13.
118 BDB 511a; Kropat 1909: 43–44, 74; Austel 1970: xxii, 51, 84, 113, 124, 140, 211, 243, 334–336,
342; Bendavid 1967–1971: I 369–370, II 453, n. *; Brin 1979: 24–25; Qimron 1986: §500.1;
syntax 219

7.4.1 The mt
In those books of the Bible generally considered classical, use of the prepo-
sition ‫ ֶאל‬, directional he, and the accusative of place is standard with verbs
of motion to indicate movement in the direction of a place. The parallel use
of the preposition -‫ל‬, conversely, is highly restricted not only numerically, but
also in terms of the variety of collocations in which it appears. In the corpus
comprising the books of the Torah and the Former Prophets there are 68 cases
of collocations composed of a verb of motion + -‫ ל‬+ a location.119 Of these 57
may be placed in one of five categories: the word referring to the destination
of movement is ‫‘ ָמקֹום‬place’, ‫‘ ֶא ֶרץ‬land’, ‫‘ א ֶֹהל‬tent’, or ‫‘ ַּביִת‬house’, or the colloca-
tion is of the type ‫ֹו‬-X-‫‘ ִאיׁש ְל‬each man to his X’.120 Apart from these colloca-
tions, there are only 11 relevant cases in this classical corpus. Of these only two
involve a toponym (i.e., a proper noun used as a place name).121

Talshir 1988: 179–180; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 117; Qimron and Strugnell 1994: §; Young,
Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd 2008: I 42, 80, II 158. The most comprehensive investigation is
the doctoral dissertation of Austel (1970), but as already noted by Qimron and Strugnell
(1994: §, this work is flawed in that it excludes all hifʿil motion verbs.
119 The statistics here include the following verbs (and their respective passive forms, where
relevant): ‫‘ ָא ַסף‬gather’, ‫‘ ּבֹוא‬come, enter’, ‫‘ ָּב ַרח‬flee’, ‫‘ ֵה ִביא‬bring, insert’, ‫‘ ִהּגִ ַיע‬arrive, make
touch’, ‫‘ ִהגִ ָלה‬exile’, ‫הֹוביל‬ ִ ‘lead’ (‫הּובל‬ ַ ‘be led’), ‫הֹוציא‬ ִ ‘take/bring out’, ‫הֹוריד‬ ִ ‘lower, put
down’, ‫‘ ָה ַלְך‬go, walk’, ‫‘ ִהּנִ ַיח‬set down’, ‫‘ ֶה ֱע ָלה‬raise up’, ‫‘ ָה ַפְך‬turn over’, ‫‘ ֵה ִׁשיב‬return (trans.),
‫‘ ִה ְׁש ִליְך‬cast’ (‫‘ ֻה ְׁש ַלְך‬be cast’), ‫‘ זָ ָרה‬scatter’, ‫‘ יָ ָצא‬go out, leave’, ‫‘ יָ ַרד‬descend’, ‫‘ יִ ֵּׁשר‬level’,
‫‘ נֶ ֱא ַסף‬be gathered’, ‫‘ נִ ְב ַּדל‬be separated’, ‫‘ נִ גְ ַּדע‬be cut’, ‫‘ נּוס‬flee’, ‫‘ נָ ַפל‬fall, dismount’, ‫נִ ְק ַהל‬
‘be assembled’, ‫‘ נִ ְקוָ ה‬be collected’, ‫‘ סּור‬turn aside’, ‫‘ ָע ַבר‬cross’, ‫‘ ָע ָלה‬ascend’, ‫‘ ּפּוץ‬scatter’,
‫‘ ָּפנָ ה‬turn’, ‫‘ ָּפ ַרׂש‬spread’, ‫‘ רּוץ‬run’, ‫‘ ָר ַמס‬trample’, ‫‘ ִׁש ַּבר‬shatter’, ‫‘ ׁשּוב‬return (intrans.)’, ‫ָׁש ַלח‬
‘send’, ‫‘ ִׁש ַּלח‬send away/off’. The situation in the case of the verbs ‫‘ ּגָ ָלה‬be uncovered,
exiled’, ‫‘ ֵה ִסיר‬remove’, ‫‘ ֵה ִפיץ‬scatter’, ‫‘ נָ ַסע‬travel’, ‫‘ ָק ַבץ‬gather’, ‫‘ ִק ֵּבץ‬gather’, ‫‘ ָק ַהל‬assemble’,
and ‫‘ ָר ַדף‬chase’ was also checked, but they are not attested in the relevant collocations. Cf.
the lists in BDB 511a–b and in Austel 1970. Verbs of giving and transfer of ownership, which
regularly take -‫ ל‬in all historical phases of Hebrew, have been excluded.
120 BDB 511a. There is some overlap between cases of the ‫ֹו‬-X-‫ ִאיׁש ְל‬structure and the other
four types of collocations; these are marked with an asterisk (*) in the citation lists and
counted only once, in one of the first four columns, in the totals at the bottom of the
table. In the ‫ֹו‬-X-‫ ִאיׁש ְל‬column the figure in parentheses represents the number of cases
overlapping with one of the other categories (see below, n. 129).
121 For purposes of distinguishing, all destinations of motion verbs containing a proper name
and labels referring to such names in the immediate context are considered toponyms,
e.g., '‫‘ ֵּבית ה‬temple of Yhwh’ and ‫ֹלהים‬ ִ ‫‘ ֵּבית ֱא‬temple of God’ (see BDB 511a).
220 chapter 7
Table 7.4.1 The biblical distribution of motion verb + -‫ ל‬+ destination according to the MT

‫ ָמקוֹ ם‬122 ‫ אֶ ֶרץ‬123 ‫ אֹהֶ ל‬124 ‫ ּ ַביִ ת‬125 ֹ‫ו‬-X-‫ ִאישׁ ְל‬126 Miscellaneous127 Proper Total129

Torah 4 1 2 4 1 (1) 5 0 17
Former 13 4 13 12 18 (3) 4 2 51
Latter 0 14 0 0 4 (1) 17 8 40
LBH 2 4 4 2 9 (5) 21 50 88
Other books 0 4 0 1 3 (1) 17 2 25
Total 19 27 19 19 35 (11) 64 62 221

122 Gen 18.33; 29.3; 30.25; 32.1; Josh 4.18; Jdg 7.7*; 9.55*; 19.28; 1 Sam 2.20; 5.3, 11; 6.2; 14.46; 26.25;
2 Sam 19.40; 1 Kgs 12.24*; 14.12; 2 Chr 25.10 (2x).
123 Gen 32.10; Josh 1.15; 1 Kgs 10.13; 2 Kgs 3.27; 19.7; Isa 14.12; 21.9; 25.12; 28.2; 63.6; Jer 12.15*; 23.15;
37.7; 50.16*; 51.9*; Ezek 19.12; 26.11; Amos 3.14; 5.7; Hag 1.9; Ps 7.6; Qoh 3.21; Lam 2.2, 10; Dan
11.28; 2 Chr 9.12; 30.9; 32.21. See also Ps 74.7; 89.40 (with the verb ‫‘ ִח ֵּלל‬profane’). Excluded
here are examples of the collocation ‫‘ יָ ַׁשב ָל ָא ֶרץ‬sit down on the ground’ (Isa 3.26; 47.1;
Job 2.13, etc.), because it is not clear that these involve movement toward a destination.
124 Deut 5.30; 16.7; Josh 22.4; Jdg 7.8; 19.9; 20.8; 1 Sam 4.10; 13.2; 2 Sam 18.17; 19.9; 20.22; 1 Kgs
8.66; 12.16; 2 Kgs 8.21; 14.12; 2 Chr 7.10; 10.16; 24.6; 25.22.
125 Deut 20.5, 6, 7, 8; Josh 2.3; Jdg 19.21; 20.8*; 1 Sam 10.25*, 26; 23.18; 25.35; 2 Sam 6.19;* 11.8;
14.8; 1 Kgs 1.53; 22.17; Job 7.10; Ezra 2.68; 1 Chr 16.43*; 2 Chr 11.4*; 18.16*. This list does not
include the expressions '‫ ֵּבית ה‬and ‫ֹלהים‬ ִ ‫ ֵּבית ֱא‬, which, for purposes of the present study,
are considered proper nouns (see below, n. 128).
126 Deut 3.20; Josh 24.28; Jdg 2.6; 7.7*, 8*; 9.55*; 20.8 (2x)**; 1 Sam 4.10*; 8.22; 10.25*; 13.2*;
2 Sam 6.19*; 18.17*; 19.9*; 20.22*; 1 Kgs 12.24*; 22.17*; 2 Kgs 14.12*; Jer 12.15 (2x)**; 50.16*;
51.9*; Ruth 1.8; Ezra 2.1; Neh 7.6; 13.10; 1 Chr 16.43*; 2 Chr 11.4*; 18.16*; 25.22*; 31.1 (2x).
127 Exod 25.20 (?); 32.27; 37.7 (?); Lev 25.27, 28; Jdg 1.34; 5.11; 7.13; 1 Sam 9.12; Isa 8.21; 22.1; 59.7;
Jer 31.17; 49.32, 36; Ezek 5.3, 10, 12; 12.14; 28.8; 40.40; Joel 4.5; Jon 2.7; Mic 7.9; Nah 3.10; Zech
9.12; Ps 18.20; 41.7; 68.19; 74.5; 96.8; 132.7; 146.4; Job 10.19; 12.22; 20.6; 21.32; Prov 6.18; Song
4.16; 5.1; 6.2; Qoh 3.21 (2x); Est 6.4; Dan 8.8; 11.4, 18 (ktiv), 19; Neh 13.12; 1 Chr 12.9; 2 Chr 1.3,
13; 22.1; 24.10; 25.12; 28.9; 29.4, 27; 30.8, 27 (2x); 32.30 (2x); 33.13.
128 Jdg 20.10; 2 Sam 23.11 (?); Isa 59.20; Jer 3.17; 44.28; 51.2; Hos 10.6; 12.2; Mic 1.12; Zech 1.16;
Ps 9.18; 88.4; Ezra 1.3, 11; 2.1 (2x); 3.8; 8.17, 30 (2x); Neh 7.6 (2x); 10.35, 36, 37, 39; 12.27; 13.7;
1 Chr 4.39, 42; 5.26; 9.1; 12.1, 17 (-‫ ;) ַעד־ל‬21.15; 24.19; 2 Chr 8.17; 11.14 (2x); 14.12; 18.2; 19.1; 20.20,
22, 26; 24.5; 28.8, 9, 27; 29.16, 17, 31; 30.1, 3, 10, 11, 14; 31.16; 32.23; 34.7; 36.7. Excluded from this
list are cases in which the reference to a destination is by means of a pronominal suffix,
especially when the destination has been personified (e.g., Isa 60.4, 5, 7).
129 In the figures in this column cases of overlap between the category ‫ֹו‬-X-‫ ִאיׁש ְל‬and the
other categories are counted only once; hence the difference between the sums in this
column and the totals in the preceding columns.
syntax 221

In the Latter Prophets, too, the use of collocations of the type motion verb + -‫ל‬
+ destination is limited. However, in comparison to the situation in the Torah
and the Former Prophets there is an increase in usages that do not correspond
to the five categories listed above, including use of the type motion verb + -‫ ל‬+
proper noun: out of 40 cases, only 15 belong to the aforementioned categories,
25 are of different sorts, and eight of the latter involve the use of a destination
referred to by a proper noun.130
The core LBH books are characterized by opposing tendencies. On the
one hand, use of structures of the type motion verb + -‫ ל‬+ destination in the
five categories common in CBH persists. On the other hand, in comparison
to material considered classical, the late sources reveal a marked increase in
the use of the same structure outside of the five classical categories. Out of 88
cases, 71 do not belong to those categories and 50 involve a destination referred
to by means of a proper name. From a different perspective, out of the 126
cases of relevant collocations not belonging to the five classical categories,
more than half come in the limited corpus of the core LBH books. Focusing
further on those collocations in which the destination is a proper noun, 50 of
62 come in LBH. On the basis of these facts it is reasonable to hypothesize that
an increased use of verbs of motion with the preposition -‫ ל‬to mark movement
toward a destination, particularly one referred to by means of a proper noun, is
a linguistic feature especially characteristic of post-exilic Hebrew.131 Here fol-
low examples of parallel verses and similar formulations contrasting classical
and post-classical sources:

2 Sam 24.16 the angel sent forth his hand toward Jerusalem   (ִ‫רּוׁש ַלם‬
ָ ְ‫ )י‬to destroy it
1 Chr 21.15 God sent forth an angel  to  Jerusalem (ִ‫ירּוׁש ַלם‬
ָ ‫ ) ִל‬to destroy it

1 Kgs 9.24 Pharaoh’s daughter came up . . .  to her house (‫ל־ּב ָיתּה‬
ֵ ‫ ) ֶא‬. . .
2 Chr 8.11 Solomon brought up Pharaoh’s daughter . . . to the house (‫ ) ַל ַּביִת‬. . .

130 It may be that the relatively high frequency of cases in the ‘Miscellaneous’ category in
these books is connected to their poetic character; compare the situation in the ‘Other
books’ in the table, which is composed of that material in the Writings not considered
part of the core LBH corpus. See BDB 511a.
131 BDB 511a; Kropat 1909: 43–44, 74; Austel 1970: xxii, 51, 84, 113, 124, 140, 211, 243, 334–336, 342;
Bendavid 1967–1971: I 369–370, II 453, n. *; Brin 1979: 24–25; Qimron 1986: §500.1; Talshir
1988: 179–180; Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 117; Qimron and Strugnell 1994: § Even Young,
Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (2008: I 42, 80, II 158), who routinely object to diachronic expla-
nations, acknowledge the distinctively late status of the structure in question.
222 chapter 7

2 Kgs 21.12 and he cast their dust into the Kidron Wadi (‫) ֶאל־נַ ַחל ִק ְדרֹון‬
2 Chr 30.14 and they cast (it) into the Kidron Wadi (‫) ְלנַ ַחל   ִ ק ְדרֹון‬

2 Sam 17.20 and they returned to Jerusalem (ִ‫רּוׁש ָלם‬ ָ ְ‫)י‬

2 Sam 20.22 he returned to Jerusalem (ִ‫רּוׁש ָלם‬ ָ ְ‫)י‬
2 Kgs 23.20 and he returned to Jerusalem (ִ‫רּוׁש ָלם‬ ָ ְ‫)י‬
Zech 1.16 I have returned to Jerusalem (ִ‫ירּוׁש ַלם‬
ָ ‫) ִל‬
Ezra 2.1 and they returned to Jerusalem (ִ‫ירּוׁש ַלם‬
ָ ‫) ִל‬
Neh 7.6 and they returned to Jerusalem (ִ‫ירּוׁש ַלם‬
ָ ‫) ִל‬
2 Chr 19.1 and he returned to Jerusalem (ִ‫ירּוׁש ָלם‬ ָ ‫) ִל‬
2 Chr 34.7 and he returned to Jerusalem (ִ‫ירּוׁש ָלם‬ ָ ‫) ִל‬

7.4.2 Non-Masoretic and Extra-biblical Sources

The extra-biblical material confirms the biblical picture sketched above. In
pre-exilic epigraphic material directional he appears a few times,132 while
attestations of ‫ ֶאל‬and -‫ ל‬are rare, limited to one of each.133 To the best of my
knowledge, the accusative of place is not exemplified in the same corpus.
For their part, late extra-biblical corpora are characterized by varying ten-
dencies. Directional he is frequently employed in the DSS, but its use there is
very often superfluous or non-standard. In the non-biblical DSS its use with
proper nouns is rare. These facts may show that the suffix no longer served
in the vernacular, with the possible exception of certain frozen forms, but
was artificially inserted into literary works in order to create an impression of
antiquity. In RH directional he is uncommon; it is affixed only to certain words
in fixed expressions and is not attached to proper nouns, except in imitation of
biblical style or in citation of the Bible (see above, §‎7.3). As for the preposition
‫ ֶאל‬: it is used in the DSS, but almost never in RH (see below, §‎7.5).134

132 ‫‘ בא ביתה‬come to the house of’ (Arad 17.1–2); ‫ שמה‬. . . ‫(‘ תבא‬lest Edom) should come
there’ (24.20); ‫(‘ לבא מצרימה‬he went down) to come to Egypt’ (Lachish 3.15–16); ‫ויעלהו‬
‫‘ העירה‬and he brought him up to the city’ (4.7), ‫(‘ שלח שמה‬I am not) sending there (the
witness)’ (8); ‫‘ שמה‬there’ (5.7) comes in a broken context.
133 ‫אל‬:
ֶ ‫‘ וילכו המימ מנ המוצא אל הברכה‬and the water ran from the spring to the pool’
(Siloam Tunnel 5–6); -‫ל‬: ‫ שמנ ושלח לזפ‬1 ‫[ו]עת בא ביתה אלישב בנ אשיהו ולקחת משמ‬
‫[‘ מהרה‬and] now: go to Elyashib son of Ashayahu’s house and take from there 1 oil and
send (it) to Ziph quickly’ (Arad 17.1–5).
134 Chomsky 1952: xii; Bendavid 1967–1971: I 369–370, II 453, n. *. The post-biblical use of the
accusative of place with verbs of motion is not discussed here; an investigation of the
topic remains a desideratum.
syntax 223

In comparison to BH, the incidence of the preposition -‫ ל‬with verbs of

motion is more common in post-biblical Hebrew, though frequency varies
according to corpus. Its use in the DSS remains marginal,135 but is widespread
in RH.136 Consider the following cases of parallel or similar formulations from
biblical and post-biblical sources:

Exod 16.35 their entrance into a land (‫ל־א ֶרץ‬

ֶ ‫ ) ֶא‬inhabited
4Q379 f12.5–6 their entrance into the land (‫  )לארץ‬of Canaan

Gen 46.6 and they came to Egypt (‫)וַ ּיָ בֹאּו ִמ ְצ ָר ָיְמה‬
2 Kgs 23.34 and they came to Egypt   (‫ֹא מ ְצ ַריִם‬
ִ ‫)וַ ּיָ ב‬
4Q248 f1.6 [and he] will come to Egypt  (‫ו]בא למצרים‬ ֯ )

Lev 19.23 and when you (pl) come to the land (‫ל־ה ָא ֶרץ‬ ָ ‫)וְ ִכ‬
ָ ‫י־תבֹאּו ֶא‬
Deut 17.14 and when you (s) come to the land (‫ל־ה ָא ֶרץ‬
ָ ‫י־תבֹא  ֶ א‬ָ ‫) ִּכ‬
T Qiddushin 1.12 until they have come to the land  (‫)עד שלא באו  לארץ‬

Deut 24.10 you will not enter his  house (‫ל־ּביתֹו‬ ָ ֹ ‫)ל‬
ֵ ‫א־תבֹא ֶא‬
M Ketubbot 6.5 when you enter my house (‫)כשתבוא  לביתי‬
M Bava Meṣiʿa 9.13 and you will enter his  house (‫)ולא יכנס לביתו‬

Isa 38.2 and Hezekiah turned his face to the wall (‫ל־ה ִּקיר‬
ַ ‫  ָּפנָ יו ֶא‬. . . ‫)וַ ּיַ ֵּסב‬
Y Berakhot 4.4 a man must turn   his face to the wall (‫ )להסב פניו  לכותל‬to pray

Deut 24.11 take not any of the meat from the house outside (‫חּוצה‬
ָ  . . . ‫א־תֹוציא‬
ִ ֹ ‫)ל‬
4Q37 10.1 take not any of the meat from the house outside (‫  לחוץ‬. . . ‫)לא תוציא‬137

135 ‫‘ בביאה מירחו לסככא‬as one goes from Jericho to Secacah’ (3Q15 5.13); ‫[ו] ֯בא למצרים ומכר‬
‫[‘ את עפרה‬and] (he) will come to Egypt and sell her land’ (4Q248 f1.6), ‫למצרי֯ [ם‬ ֗ ‫‘ ושב‬and
he will return to Egyp[t’ (8); ‫‘ ועלו לנגב‬and they went up to the Negev’ (4Q365 f32.10).
136 In the Mishna alone there are dozens of cases, not to mention the rest of rabbinic literature.
A few examples will suffice: ִ‫ירּוׁש ַלם‬ ָ ‫עֹולה ִל‬
ֶ ‫‘ ֶּכ ֶרם ְר ָב ִעי‬a fourth vintage goes up to Jerusalem’
(Maʿaser Sheni 2.3); ‫חּוצה ָל ָא ֶרץ‬ ָ ‫יאין ְל‬ ִ ‫מֹוצ‬
ִ ‫סּוריה וְ ֵאין‬ ְ ‫יאין ְל‬
ִ ‫ּמֹוצ‬
ִ ‫‘ ָׁש ַמ ְעּתי ְּב ֵפירּוׁש ֶׁש‬I have
heard explicitly that they may export to Syria, but they may not export outside the land’
(Sheviʿit 6.5); ‫ּוכ ֶׁש ָּבאּו ְליַ וְ ונֶ ה‬
ְ ‘and when they came to Yabneh’ (Rosh ha-Shana 2.8); ‫ִמ ָּׁש ָעה‬
ִ‫ירּוׁש ַלם‬
ָ ‫‘ ֶׁשּנִ ְכנְ סּו ַהּגֹויִ ם ִל‬from the time that gentiles entered Jerusalem’ (Ketubbot 2.9);
‫יהיּנָ ם‬
ִ ֵ‫יֹור ִדים ְלג‬
ְ ‫‘ ַּת ְל ִמ ָידיו ֶׁש ְּל ִב ְל ָעם‬the disciples of Balaam descend to Gehenna’ (ʾAvot 5.19).
137 ‫‘ לחוץ‬out(side)’ is known only from post-biblical Hebrew, e.g., biblical and non-biblical
DSS, the Mishna.
224 chapter 7

The late tendency to make use of the preposition -‫ ל‬for marking movement
toward a destination is often chalked up to the influence of Aramaic, in which
there is no directional he and in whose late dialects the preposition ‫ ֶאל‬is
extremely rare. Indeed, the replacement of ‫ ֶאל‬, ‫◌ה‬-
‫ ׇ‬, and the accusative of place
in post-exilic Hebrew very nicely parallels the situation in Aramaic, where the
use of -‫ ל‬and ‫ על‬for this purpose is normal. This situation emerges clearly form
a comparison of BH with the targums and the Peshiṭta:

Jer 39.1 Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem (ִ‫רּוׁש ַלם‬

ָ ְ‫   ֶאל־י‬. . . ‫) ָּבא‬
Tg Jonathan Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem (‫    לירושלם‬. . . ‫)אתא‬
Peshiṭta Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem (‫ ܠܐܘܪܫܠܡ‬. . . ‫)ܐܬܐ‬
[≈ Ezra 4.12 the Jews . . . have come to Jerusalem (‫ירּוׁש ֶלם‬
ְ ‫]) ֲאתֹו    ִל‬

2 Kgs 24.15 and he exiled Jehoiachin to Babylon (‫)וַ ּיֶ גֶ ל  ֶאת־יְ הֹויָ ִכין ָּב ֶב ָלה‬
Tg Jonathan and he exiled Jehoiachin to Babylon (‫)ואגלי   ית   יהויכין לבבל‬
Peshiṭta and he exiled Jehoiachin to Babylon (‫)ܘܓܠܝ ܠܝܘܝܟܝܢ ܠܒܒܠ‬
[≈ Ezra 5.12 (and its people he) exiled to Babylon (‫]) ַהגְ ִלי      ְל ָב ֶבל‬

7.4.3 Jeremiah
Preserving classical style, the language of Jeremiah exhibits a preference for
structures indicating movement toward a destination employing the prepo-
sition ‫( ֶאל‬or its surrogate ‫) ַעל‬, directional he, and the accusative of place.
However, a not inconsiderable number of collocations with the preposition
-‫ ל‬are also found therein:

Jer 3.17 In that time they will call Jerusalem the throne of Yhwh and
all the nations will be gathered to it in the name of Yhwh—
to Jerusalem (ִ‫ירּוׁש ָלם‬ ָ ‫  ִל‬. . . ‫)וְ נִ ְקוּו‬.
Jer 31.17 “And there is hope for your future,” says Yhwh, “and children will
return to their border (‫בּולם‬ ָ ְ‫  ִלג‬. . . ‫)וְ ָׁשבּו‬.”
Jer 44.28 And all of Judah’s remnant, the ones going to the land of Egypt
(‫ץ־מ ְצ ַריִ ם‬