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The Tiberian Pronunciation Tradition of Biblical Hebrew. Volume II

Geoffrey Khan

Hidāyat al-Qāriʾ

Hidāyat al-Qāriʾ (Short Version)

Texte intégral

II.S.0.0. Introduction



  • 1 Literally: the book of the lifeblood.

2This is the book of the abbreviated version of The Guide for the Reader, known as The Book of Essential Requirements.1


3Its author begins and says: You, may God support you, asked me to abbreviate for you The Book of Rules, which is generally known as The Guide for the Reader, in which I mention its essential requirements. So, I am here responding to this request of yours, asking God to grant me success in this, possibly including where necessary what was not mentioned in The Guide for the Reader. From Him, may He be exalted, I seek help.


If somebody were to ask what the need is for knowledge of the rules of biblical recitation, the response should be: because the accents change meanings, for exampleImage 100000000000006000000024014DB2B1E6CFCF07.jpg‘Arise! Shine! ’ (Isa. 60.1), which are two feminine singular imperatives, since the accent is on the first letter, butImage 100000000000008E00000029CCCCAEC066A32BC5.jpg‘for the day when I arise as a witness’ (Zeph. 3.8),Image 100000000000009B0000002ABA83EBC015550D33.jpg‘The Lord is my light and my salvation’ (Psa. 27.1), which are two masculine nouns, since the accent is at the end and not the beginning of the word. Other examples areImage 10000000000000C8000000287960E5B36BD9D09F.jpg‘They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers’ (Jer. 11.10), which denotes ‘returning’ since the accent is on the first letter, butImage 100000000000005A00000024D56479D2399DF88D.jpg‘they captured and made their prey’ (Gen. 34.29), which denotes ‘capturing’ since the accent is placed not on the beginning of the word but on its end.


4A further reason is that this reading, which is now current in the Land of Israel, is the reading of Ezra, peace be upon him, and his generation, because the nation was not cut off from the Land of Israel from the time of Ezra, peace be upon him, in the Second Temple, until now, except from Jerusalem during the reign of Edom over the land. Israel taught this reading to their children until now, generation after generation. Another reason is that if somebody were to read the twenty-one books with the accents of the three books or the three books with the accents of the twenty-one books, this would be rejected. Likewise, if somebody read merkha in place of darga or darga in place of merkha, the congregation would declare him to be in error in this regard.


5So, if there are rules for the accents, there is a need to know them.

II.S.1.0. Section concerning the place of articulation of the letters


The letters consist of twenty-two basic letters. They fall into five groups in five places of articulation, namelyImage 100000000000003E00000021BAC66C99413418F7.jpg, ̇Image 10000000000000370000001F47F7C49F8CCBD6B1.jpg,Image 100000000000004200000020F455E3CD70551CEC.jpg,Image 10000000000000980000001EC00AC3CD4A84CE07.jpg


Take note that the place of articulation ofImage 100000000000003E00000020B256D1B04D7849CB.jpgis the root of the tongue and the place of swallowing, that is the throat and the base of the tongue. For this reason they are the lightest of the letters and never take dagesh. It may be thought that he and ʾalef take dagesh, but this is not the case. This is because the dot in the he at the end of a word indicates the (consonantal) property of the he. Surely you see that the property of the he at the beginning and in the middle of a word appears without a dot. As for (the dot in) ʾalef in the four places (where it is found), namelyImage 100000000000005E0000002C3DDA7E118BFD7AE5.jpg‘and they brought him’ (Gen. 43.26),Image 1000000000000041000000267E3F9A80EA4D0874.jpg‘you shall bring’ (Lev. 23.17),Image 10000000000000620000002C18097634EDF887F1.jpg‘and they brought to us’ (Ezra 8.18),Image 1000000000000052000000271C98F38B83C6D52D.jpg‘were not seen’ (Job 33.21), this reflects a strong effort to pronounce the letter by the reader and is not dagesh.


The place of articulation ofImage 100000000000003E00000022248A0971BF21BD1E.jpgis the middle of the tongue, in its wide part. The place of articulation ofImage 100000000000002200000024CB937B512EF9DC22.jpgpronounced rafe is the third of the tongue adjacent ot the throat.


The place of articulation ofImage 100000000000004400000022E43E3DA35CD3EB8B.jpgis the extremity of the tongue in combination with the flesh of the teeth. When the lettersImage 100000000000002200000020FBFBB77344A39A18.jpgare pronounced rafe, the extremity of the tongue is pressed gently onto the flesh of the teeth.


The place of articulation ofImage 100000000000003A0000001E38DA11CB90CC3FAB.jpgis the teeth.


The place of articulation ofImage 100000000000003400000022EEA62EC8E697F30F.jpgis the lips. WhenImage 100000000000002200000022F5F5AAACB52EF1EF.jpgare rafe, the lips are closed gently while they are pronounced.


It is said that the letters interchange with one another, as inImage 10000000000000280000002495BFD51C708B53E1.jpg‘he scattered’ (Psa. 68.31) andImage 10000000000000300000002386AD522BCC00204B.jpg‘he has distributed’ (Psa. 112.9),Image 10000000000000360000003062E4CD426F7E81A7.jpg‘he will (not) rejoice’ (Job 20.18),Image 100000000000003800000030BDEF80C3FB206E4A.jpg‘it exults’ (1 Chron. 16.32), and similar forms. There are cases of enhancement and reduction. It is preferable, however, not to call it ‘interchanging’, for it is possible that this takes place for a reason, either to express multiplicity or paucity, or for some other reason. They give the form bet to express one sense and for another sense they give it pe. Likewise withImage 100000000000003900000027BDF89C121203CF69.jpg, when the joy has a particular sense, they give it samekh and for another sense they give it zayin, and so forth concerning what I initially said were cases of interchange and inversion.

II.S.2.0. Section concerning א̇ו̇י̇ה̇ and ב̇ג̇ד̇כ̇פ̇ת̇


When one of these four letters, I meanImage 1000000000000036000000228746AD305F9A3193.jpg, is at the end of a word and the word is conjoined to what follows it by a (conjunctive) accent, and when the second word begins with one these six letters, I meanImage 100000000000004E000000258BAF4ABBE5B4EB6D.jpg, this letter is pronounced rafe, for exampleImage 10000000000000880000002331DBF25DF177C8B6.jpg‘for in their anger they have slain’ (Gen. 49.6),Image 1000000000000089000000247422EBB7055C92E0.jpg‘and the word of the Lord was’ (1 Kings 17.2, etc.), inImage 1000000000000094000000291C07C8E3DD5D1EE5.jpg‘and I shall fetch a morsel of bread’ (Gen. 18.5), and similar cases.


6There are nine types of cases that break the rule I have just mentioned. These are ʾOghera, di-fsiq, di-dhḥiq, ʾathe me-raḥiq, mappiq he, mappiq vav, mappiq yod, two identical letters, bet and pe.


As for ʾOghera, this is the ‘collection’ of only seven words. Four of these are in the songImage 100000000000003800000026A3C780B44542B48D.jpg(Exod. 14.30, ‘the Song of the Sea’). These areImage 100000000000005E0000002A7306C7ABA2EE1EB0.jpg‘he has triumphed gloriously’ (Exod. 15.1) and the other case of this (Exod. 15.21),Image 10000000000000660000002C9FA9FE0E042B3B4A.jpg‘they are as still as a stone’ (Exod. 15.16),Image 10000000000000C4000000293D3C6B0696EFC540.jpg‘Who is like you, majestic in holiness?’ (Exod. 15.11). In the book of Isaiah there isImage 10000000000000770000002C6AFAC941177C8745.jpg‘and I shall make (your pinnacles) of agate’ (Isa. 54.12). In the book of Jeremiah there isImage 10000000000000D200000027691944EBD603905B.jpg‘and I am weary of holding it in and I cannot’ (Jer. 20.9). In the book of Daniel there isImage 10000000000000C60000002967AF674E8A9E5143.jpg‘and wisdom like wisdom of the gods’ (Dan. 5.11). I do not know any disagreements concerning these seven. In other cases, concerning which there are disagreements, the reader should choose which of the variants he wants to read in his reading and nobody can reject this.


As for di-fsiq, whenever paseq comes between one of the lettersImage 100000000000003000000024A901970E45DAAC34.jpgand the lettersImage 100000000000004F00000026FF27F4E36DC020D1.jpg, the lettersImage 1000000000000034000000240FBCDA6E5F6A6CC5.jpghave no influence, for example,Image 10000000000000D20000002664E07C784A36AA11.jpg‘May the Lord add to his people (a hundred times as many) as them’ (1 Chron. 21.3),Image 100000000000006100000024190001802CDEFED8.jpg‘they have done completely’ (Gen. 18.21), and similar cases. There is no exception to this type of case that breaks the rule.


Di-dhḥiq: The meaning of di-dhḥiq (literally: what is compressed) is that between the accent that is in the word containing one of theImage 1000000000000032000000233EE35090B9DEC60B.jpgletters and aImage 100000000000004E000000257BEA70984453E23E.jpgletter there is a vowel and this vowel is not dwelt upon or prolonged in pronunciation. On account of this compressed vowel the rule of theImage 1000000000000036000000268380741C976CE106.jpgis broken, as inImage 1000000000000066000000228185FCE9EB95F30E.jpg‘that I may call to witness against them’ (Deut. 31.28),Image 100000000000005A0000002904A496F5F939667B.jpg‘you shall meditate on’ (Josh. 1.8) and similar cases. The compression may occur in a word that does not have an accent but is a small word, as inImage 100000000000009A000000269FF9DAC1E412C8D1.jpg‘whatever your soul says’ (1 Sam. 20.4),Image 10000000000000700000002780DB8E9978F8395A.jpg‘This is my son that is alive’ (1 Kings 3.23), and other similar cases in which the vowel is pronounced compressed. Surely you see inImage 10000000000000A10000002E9A0F402BBFCD9261.jpg‘through which you let us down’ (Josh. 2.18), in which the vowel after the accent is pronounced long with exhalation of breath, the same, or approximately the same, as other (long) vowels, the bet of ב ֔ וֹ does not have dagesh. If you examine this closely, you will discern the difference.


ʾAthe me-raḥiq is the opposite of the previous type of case that breaks the rule, because this one (i.e. ʾathe me-raḥiq) is on account of what is far and that one (i.e. di-dhḥiq) is on account of what is near. This (i.e. ʾathe me-raḥiq) arises from the fact that due to the distance of the accent (from the preceding conjunctive accent), one comes upon it (the accent) like a ballista and so theImage 100000000000005400000022CAECA42A7059E90E.jpgletters are pronounced with dagesh, as inImage 100000000000007C000000208060280ACE4BA18E.jpgImage 10000000000000360000001CDEACED618604C279.jpg‘He will build a house for my name’ (2 Sam. 7.13),Image 100000000000004F00000028FB53060D92750687.jpgImage 100000000000006A00000026B693557E2B2BAEA2.jpg‘Do you work wonders for the dead?’ (Psa. 88.11),Image 10000000000000840000002523524202CA6933F2.jpg‘Turn aside, sit here’ (Ruth 4.1). Also (included in this category) are cases in which there is no (conjunctive) accent, so (such cases must be considered) to have a virtual (conjunctive) accent before them in order to conform to (cases such as)Image 10000000000000B60000002BCBE3E1D111661B09.jpg, as inImage 10000000000000E000000029494394F49AE167F2.jpg‘that I may go to her and inquire of her’ (1 Sam. 28.7), and similar cases.


So far four types of cases that break the rule have been discussed. The fifth type of case that breaks the rule is mappiq he. The meaning of the term mappiq he is the (consonantal) pronunciation of the he and its appearance. It is derived fromImage 100000000000006C000000291EACBC3D8CB61916.jpg‘and the decree went forth’ (Dan. 2.13), that isImage 100000000000003C0000002EB596B29E2EC47750.jpg. This is because when the he is pronounced at the end of a word, the rule of theImage 1000000000000037000000229BB034C686D34166.jpgletters is broken, as inImage 10000000000000820000001FAA62FFBC8920284C.jpg‘half of it in the morning’ (Lev. 6.13),Image 10000000000000E700000029D9FB323754698E8E.jpg‘she and all those who are with her in the house’ (Josh. 6.17),Image 1000000000000088000000241958A7A25F7BADA4.jpg‘and it has four wings’ (Dan. 7.6), and similar cases. There are no exceptions to this breaking of the rule at all.


The sixth type of case that breaks the rule is mappiq vav. This is because every vav at the end of a word is pronounced according to the view of the Palestinians as a bet rafe, which breaks the rule of the א ̇ ו ̇ י ̇̇ ה , as inImage 100000000000008800000021BCC8087483BE36EB.jpg‘ (enter) his courts with praise’ (Psa. 100.4),Image 100000000000008A000000260AE2709EA4D90546.jpg‘I cried aloud to him’ (Psa. 66.17), and similar cases. There are only two words that are exceptions to this breaking of the rule, namelyImage 100000000000009E0000001F80716E7282B9226C.jpg‘He will stretch the line of confusion over it’ (Isa. 34.11),Image 10000000000000B00000002965DA6E929A3CECD6.jpg‘The sound of a carefree multitude was with her’ (Ezek. 23.42).


The seventh type of case that breaks the rule is mappiq yod. This is that whenever yod occurs at the end of a word and the next word begins with one of theImage 100000000000005300000026A029EE12D826CB0E.jpgletters, and ḥireq or ṣere, I mean a dot or two dots, occur under the letter before the yod, then the rule ofImage 100000000000003000000020BC7397C804F055ED.jpgis observed, as inImage 10000000000000510000002968F6796AB5EEC0C1.jpg‘Libni his son’ (1 Chron. 6.14),Image 10000000000000660000002A8CDDAFC68AE18260.jpg‘for they have stripped them’ (Nahum 2.3),Image 100000000000008000000026F10FA1761E808075.jpg‘the princes of the Philistines’ (1 Sam. 18.30), and similar cases. If vowels that are different from the aforementioned occur under the aforementioned letter, the yod is strengthened and the rule ofImage 10000000000000310000001EECF77D79F1A67036.jpgis not observed, as inImage 100000000000002F00000029F2510209CDA556B2.jpgImage 10000000000000480000002C70D02644493FCBAF.jpg‘perhaps you may inspire terror’ (Isa. 47.12),Image 1000000000000067000000274443A726A8BF3B28.jpg‘Jeatherai his son’ (1 Chron. 6.6),Image 10000000000000860000002CE6B019820ED50DDE.jpg‘for what great nation’ (Deut. 4.7), and similar cases. One word is an exception to this breaking of the rule.


The eighth type of case that breaks the rule is the succession of two letters. If two bets or kafs, but not the remaining letters, I meanImage 100000000000004E00000022903AB53DBA5F8F7B.jpg, succeed one another and under the first of them there is a shewa, then the rule ofImage 1000000000000036000000226D57D88DEF58F019.jpgis broken, as inImage 100000000000006C0000002577AE615DFDA71430.jpg‘and when she came’ (Josh. 15.18),Image 10000000000000A000000026AE7254C741AE5757.jpg‘and she caught him by his garment’ (Gen. 39.12),Image 1000000000000089000000267E3889AB8CFC38CF.jpg‘Is it not like Carchemish?’ (Isa. 10.9), and other cases. If a vowel occurs under the first of the two instead of shewa, the rule ofImage 10000000000000350000001EBFFD87E3EE126456.jpgis observed, as inImage 10000000000000DE000000293BAE4FF88AAF3ED1.jpg‘And he (shall take) a wife in her virginity’ (Lev. 21.13),Image 10000000000000C80000002831D19E744DAAE13B.jpg‘They went in haste to the Jews’ (Ezra 4.23), and similar cases.


The ninth type of case that breaks the rule is bet and pe. The statement concerning them is similar to the statement regarding the preceding type of case that breaks the rule, without there being any disagreement. This is that when bet is followed by pe and shewa is below the bet, the rule ofImage 100000000000003600000022B08B1D21E5FD97FC.jpgis broken, as inImage 10000000000000940000002A1101B6224847953C.jpg‘and I will get glory over Pharaoh’ (Exod. 14.4),Image 10000000000000D500000026218305ACACF4C2BD.jpg‘and my words which I have put in your mouth’ (Isa. 59.21), and similar cases. If a vowel occurs instead of shewa, then the rule ofImage 100000000000003D00000020CF4FA666F3C55F57.jpgis observed, as inImage 10000000000000910000002A315E498C5A1B8D14.jpgImage 100000000000003400000022434F15D2968B3F8F.jpg‘He will not look upon the rivers, the streams’ (Job 20.17).


  • 2 The fuller citation וַיְהִ֙י כַאֲשֶׁר־֜תַּמּוּ as opposed to simply וַיְהִ֙י כַאֲשֶׁר in the text of Hid (...)

Take note that seven cases of kaf afterImage 100000000000002D00000026768689DE5FD4988D.jpgare the subject of disagreement, some pronounce them with dagesh and others pronounce them with rafe, namelyImage 10000000000000A8000000225E81B4AF4D6B2CFC.jpg‘when his master heard’ (Gen. 39.19),Image 100000000000006C00000027E87D8F75A6444B82.jpg‘and when he heard’ (Gen. 39.15),Image 10000000000000710000002AC1FD5B0EE7A640FC.jpg‘and when he saw’ (Jud. 11.35),Image 100000000000006E0000002B77E2C4B74BB04958.jpg‘and when (the king) saw’ (Esther 5.2),Image 10000000000000820000002653BEDD383106F538.jpg‘and when they brought (them) out’ (Gen. 18.17),Image 10000000000000700000002CA5C2B8B87374892A.jpg‘when he became king’ (1 Kings 15.29),Image 100000000000009400000029608DCC33ADECF3BD.jpg‘and when they perished’ (Deut. 2.16).2 The reader makes a choice: if he wants, he strengthens them (with dagesh), and if he wants, he pronounces them with rafe.


Take note that the criterion of the (rule of) theImage 100000000000003900000020DD4136BF7D8E40A2.jpgletters and theImage 10000000000000520000002234281906703DC93F.jpgletters should be based on pronunciation and not on writing. For example inImage 100000000000005F0000002E0717B4A519568ED1.jpg‘and Balak saw’ (Num. 22.2) the bet is pronounced with dagesh, because the last letter heard when you readImage 10000000000000340000002637DCDED12DF125B5.jpgis resh. An opposite case isImage 10000000000000C300000028EA7784337A7C9342.jpg‘and you will make poles of acacia wood’ (Exod. 25.23). The last letter heard when you read the wordImage 100000000000004900000027EF3E6FEB3DF73A18.jpgis ʾalef or he, and therefore the bet ofImage 100000000000002400000029D4C967742FE51455.jpgis pronounced rafe. This is the principle throughout the reading of Scripture.

II.S.3.0. TAV

Take note that tav in three places is strengthened with dagesh to a greater degree than (other) cases of tav with dagesh. These areImage 10000000000000D000000029E5625A189361B34A.jpg‘He made it an eternal heap of ruins’ (Josh. 8.28),Image 10000000000000890000001E0D1C066FD95CFB16.jpg‘and its houses and its treasuries’ (1 Chron. 28.11),Image 10000000000000B4000000285A391BD9DED2480D.jpg‘and these three men’ (Dan. 3.23). Note that there is disagreement concerning every tav in the formImage 10000000000000370000002627E72594F62EA6A1.jpgexcept inImage 10000000000000A2000000278EC8CC2A7D65E611.jpg(1 Chron. 28.11). Whoever wishes to pronounce it with the normal dagesh of tav, may do so and whoever wishes to pronounce it with the heaviness of the tav ofImage 100000000000009400000026E5F6933134F095D3.jpg(1 Chron. 28.11), may do so, on condition that this is when there is a conjunctive accent and a disjunctive accent in the word without an intervening letter.

II.S.4.0. Section concerning the vowels


7What is to be said concerning the vowels is manifest and clear, and not obscure, because it is through them that the purpose of a speaker is understood, and without them speech would be nonsense. A letter can be without a vowel, but a vowel cannot be without a letter.


  • 3 Literally: the three (points).
  • 4 Literally: the point above.
  • 5 Literally: the two points.
  • 6 Literally: the point below.
  • 7 Literally: the arrowhead.
  • 8 Literally: the point in the heart of the vav.

The total number of vowels is seven:Image 100000000000001800000028A5E13F3EDEAF3C81.jpg,Image 10000000000000160000001DE7C8B6BD10390403.jpg,Image 100000000000001C0000002298044B3501E84075.jpg,Image 100000000000001A0000001FFD467F55B50FD627.jpg,Image 10000000000000180000001E1190357E1EBC830A.jpg, ֹImage 10000000000000180000001BEDE64BDDB48202C8.jpgandImage 100000000000001800000020E7C85EE166349948.jpg. From within these seven vowels the letters ו , ה , א , and י are pronounced. From qameṣ, pataḥ and segol3 ʾalef and he are pronounced, as inImage 1000000000000078000000228EEA011645887537.jpgandImage 100000000000003400000022702398823CE5EDE4.jpg. If the he (inImage 100000000000003D00000024A25D928821E6C9A3.jpg) were elided, the segol (by itself) would indicate its existence, just as the qameṣ inImage 10000000000000D40000002269E9195927BE334E.jpgindicates the existence of ʾalef or he in full orthography. LikewiseImage 100000000000003600000024A31128EBE4BF67B5.jpgandImage 100000000000002E0000002289BF1DB75BB2379E.jpg—the pataḥ indicates the existence of ʾalef. Ḥolem4 indicates the existence of vav, as inImage 1000000000000071000000284B3656E5C54AE02E.jpgand the like. Ṣere5 and ḥireq6 indicate the existence of yod, as inImage 100000000000002A000000201E3A5A282DAC0705.jpg, since the yod is frequently written defectively but these two vowels indicate its existence. Qibbuṣ7 and shureq8 indicate the existence of vav as in וּמוּק . So what is pronounced from within the seven vowels are the letters ו , ה , א , and י .

II.S.5.0. Section concerning the Shewa


The shewa is to be classified into two categories: quiescent and mobile. The distinctive feature of the quiescent shewa is that it makes quiescent the letter under which it is present and puts it in the group (of letters) that precedes it, as inImage 100000000000004600000028E4D5F457F6D1D94D.jpg‘Israel’,Image 100000000000003E0000001A8C86414A89152B40.jpg‘Jehdeiah’,Image 100000000000002E00000027FF6E73CA299C3322.jpg‘Zimri’,Image 10000000000000420000002798DCAFD62A8E3971.jpg‘for cleansing’ (Ezek. 16.4),Image 100000000000006E000000292F05BD4EBD9C7FBB.jpg‘my graven image and my molten image’ (Isa. 48.5). So the letter under which it is present has become quiescent, and has been separated from what follows it and conjoined to what is before it. It is also distinctive of its nature that it divides a word into (units that have) the status of words. This is because every letter at the end of word that is without a vowel and quiescent becomes the stopping point of the word and its place of division, like the tav inImage 100000000000005300000023791DB8FD0C58E5DC.jpg‘in the beginning’ and like the resh in רוֹא ‘light’. Likewise (a quiescent letter) in the middle (of a word) has the status of a stopping point, as inImage 100000000000005F0000001E8C83F6C75AB5CE23.jpg‘those who chirp’ (Isa. 8.19),Image 10000000000000540000002788D36601A13F77F2.jpg‘they (fpl.) ride’,Image 100000000000005E0000002CFB58288FDDBDE994.jpg‘they (fpl.) send’. Each one of these words has the status of three words on account of the quiescent shewa. If it were absent, such a division would not be correct.


The distinctive feature of the mobile (shewa) is that when it is under a letter, the letter is not static or at rest, as, for example, the zayin inImage 10000000000000300000002AE5F4B373D37763DE.jpgand the shin inImage 100000000000003800000027996AFF84BB14FB63.jpg, and similar cases. Just as a quiescent letter groups with what comes before it, a mobile letter groups with what is after it, the opposite (of what is the case) with a quiescent letter, as inImage 100000000000004B000000269BFF3CBFC9B9B488.jpg‘your (pl.) king’, in which the lamed is quiescent with a quiescent shewa and groups with the mem, whereas the kaf is mobile with a mobile shewa and groups with the next kaf. The same applies toImage 100000000000004C00000028F0C6294A29AB5B9F.jpg‘and they lay down’,Image 100000000000004800000026A595F7E93C8D194C.jpg‘and they buried’, and similar cases.


If there is doubt in some cases as to whether the shewa is quiescent or mobile, the endowing of heaviness to the letter before the letter with the shewa indicates that it is mobile. This applies toImage 100000000000002E00000028A9A0D9B8062C7720.jpgat the beginning of words. When shewa is under the mem and pataḥ is under the he and it (i.e. the pataḥ) is made heavy, then the shewa is mobile.


The mobility of the shewa can also be ascertained by the number of letters of the word. If there are five letters, then the shewa is mobile, as inImage 1000000000000046000000232E1792B94C1F511A.jpg‘are (you) jealous?’ (Num. 11.29),Image 100000000000004A00000025295AA93FD44B1E85.jpg‘the one who waits’ (Dan. 12.12),Image 100000000000005400000024260CED169CA353CE.jpg‘one that cheers’ (Jud. 9.13),Image 100000000000004C0000002716FFFEDAF1DD0077.jpg‘the one that speaks’ (Gen. 45.12, etc.), and similar cases, except for one word, namelyImage 10000000000000C40000002938037EDF4C8FC342.jpg‘why did this madman come’ (2 Kings 9.11). The number of letters is five but the shewa is not mobile. The reason for this is that the he has not been made heavy. If words consist of more than five letters and he and mem are at their beginning, the shewa in them is sometimes quiescent and sometimes mobile. The rule concerning this is that if the accent is on the fifth letter, or one after this, then the shewa is quiescent, such asImage 100000000000005A0000002DB72A264D1B3CA757.jpg‘the ones speaking’ (Exod. 6.27, etc.),Image 1000000000000063000000290EB196291E01BC8E.jpg(Num. 5.19) ‘those that curse’ (Num. 5.22, etc.),Image 1000000000000068000000227CF89304680E387E.jpg‘those who chirp’ (Isa. 8.19), apart from the exceptions (to this rule)Image 1000000000000060000000272F343493BA27B930.jpg(Exod. 4.19) ‘those who seek’,Image 100000000000005A000000292FE936D42C1B5E0A.jpg‘the lepers’ (2 Kings 7.8), and similar cases.


The shewa on successive identical letters in the middle of a word can also give rise to uncertainty, when shewa is on the first of the two, as to whether this is mobile or quiescent. Consideration should be made as to whether there is heaviness in (the vowel of) the letter before them (i.e. the two successive letters). If this occurs, either through a gaʿya, or an accent or the lengthening of a vowel, then the shewa is mobile, as inImage 10000000000000940000002C3BDBE944E855E63D.jpg‘they will plunder those who plundered them’ (Ezek. 39.10),Image 10000000000000410000002EC0BC323DA2F0A0E4.jpgImage 100000000000006E00000029BF19E86A6E1CAD1B.jpg‘they will despoil those who despoiled them’ (Ezek. 39.10),Image 100000000000007E0000002792C5FFD1BE99504E.jpg‘and to teach them the writing’ (Dan. 1.4), and similar cases, except for six cases, in which heaviness occurs (on the vowel of the preceding letter) but the shewa is not mobile, namelyImage 100000000000018000000024690EC0EF75A7A268.jpg‘Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me’ (Prov. 1.28),Image 10000000000000A0000000299FB0486246D3E846.jpg‘and in their distress they seek me’ (Hos. 5.15),Image 10000000000000D9000000291583877A26BB5C8A.jpgImage 100000000000004B000000272C552A249DAD105B.jpg‘I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me’ (Prov. 8.17), .Image 10000000000000A600000026B94691BB4B9ADD24.jpg‘He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honours me’ (Psa. 50.23).


Take note that a mobile shewa never occurs on a second letter (of a word) that has a silent (following letter), because it (this second letter) is mobile due to the mobility of the first letter with shewa. A (shewa on) the third letter after (an initial mobile) shewa may be quiescent or mobile, as inImage 10000000000000530000002B8CDD8416C1A4DD69.jpg‘to Israel’,Image 100000000000004D0000002785562F572CA1F1DE.jpg‘against Jeremiah’ (Jer. 29.27, etc.),Image 10000000000000580000001DC49C4488B1899F94.jpg‘to Joshbekashah’ (1 Chron 25.24).


Take note that when a letter has a vowel under it, the letter is mobile and quiescence occurs in the following (letter), for example inImage 100000000000003600000025C518CED217E59E59.jpgandImage 100000000000002E00000026814E69A60A6F1538.jpgquiescence occurs on the ʾalef that is pronounced from within the qameṣ and the pataḥ.


8The (discussion of the) mobile shewa should be divided into various subsections.

II.S.6.1. The First Subsection


This concerns the influence that it undergoes in connection with the letters ח , ה , א and ע . When these four letters are preceded by a letter that is not one of them and under this letter there is shewa, this shewa is pronounced as a short (vowel) with the pronunciation of the vowel that is under the four letters, unless it is appropriate for gaʿya to be combined with it. If this may appropriately be combined with it, it is pronounced with the pronunciation of the vowel equal (in length), as inImage 100000000000005A0000002FF67A70B5BC96F935.jpg‘and if there remains’ (Exod. 29.34),Image 100000000000005A0000002C3B76A46488283828.jpg‘and if thus’ (Num. 11.15),Image 10000000000000780000002DC2AD8F36B193CA62.jpg‘and its surrounding pasture lands’ (1 Chron 6.40, etc.),Image 100000000000005000000026FB3A98FE285BB053.jpg‘and his sons’ (Gen. 9.1, etc.). This is a sample of cases with ʾalef.


He: When shewa is before he, the shewa is pronounced (with the same pronunciation) as the pointing of the he, for example inImage 100000000000002F000000245D58328F1A7D6944.jpgthe vav is pronounced with a short qameṣ and inImage 1000000000000034000000289D8AB14FC0D0A767.jpgthe shewa is pronounced with long qameṣ on account of the gaʿya.


Ḥeth:Image 100000000000008E000000267120DBD7C51B09A8.jpg‘and the skilfully woven band’ (Exod. 28.8, etc.),Image 100000000000006200000029AA5764AF0E2CE924.jpg‘and the sword will rage’ (Hos. 11.6),Image 100000000000007E00000028D20900597F58CD11.jpg‘because it is far’ (Jdg 18.28).


ʿAyin:Image 10000000000000A80000002638621B5A0AF9C3E8.jpg‘blessed be the Lord for ever’ (Psa. 89.53),Image 100000000000008800000025D959890E97EC5356.jpg‘may his name be for ever’ (Psa. 72.17),Image 100000000000007A0000002CC0A3F6B2FA231E01.jpg‘in the eyes of God’ (Prov. 3.4),Image 10000000000000980000003088563B1EE6A79BA8.jpg‘and if it is bad in your eyes’ (Josh. 24.15).


Now this rule is applied to shewa with the four letters when the shewa is under a letter that is not one of these four. If it is one of the four letters, the rule does not apply, as inImage 10000000000000640000002405749E7AEE4272EE.jpg‘let them clap their hands’ (Psa. 98.8, etc.),Image 1000000000000064000000283F4E176E757D656F.jpg‘the God of’ (Dan. 3.28, etc.).


Take note that when shewa occurs under vav before a letter of (the verbal prefixes) נ , י , א or ת , it is more suitable (to express) the future than the past. When instead of the shewa a vowel appears under the vav, it is more suitable (to express) the past than the future tense, as inImage 10000000000000A600000028B01BD866D36BABB5.jpg‘and I decorated you with ornaments and I gave’ (Ezek. 16.11),Image 100000000000007300000028D254DE6769740731.jpg‘and I rose in the morning’ (1 Kings 3.21). If a shewa had occurred in place of these qameṣ vowels, the verb would have been future. This is one of the functions of the shewa.

II.S.6.2. The Second Subsection


When shewa comes before yod, the shewa is always pronounced as ḥireq, irrespective as to what pointing the yod has, as inImage 100000000000001E000000280174F51B8AC1E2CF.jpgImage 100000000000005C0000002408B04FD8E6FA2938.jpg‘for into the hand of woman’ (Jud. 4.9),Image 100000000000007200000028CD642A1905A86405.jpg‘on the day he consecrated’ (Lev. 7.35),Image 100000000000004C0000002A87A91F3348DD2407.jpg‘into dry land’ (Psa. 66.6),Image 100000000000003400000023C023743A090D806C.jpg‘of Joram’ (2 Kings 8.16), and similar cases.


Take note that when shewa occurs before yod, it generally indicates the indefinite, whereas a vowel before it indicates the definite, as inImage 100000000000007E00000028E0B308B4996123B9.jpg‘on the day of your sacrifice’ (Lev. 19.6), (which is) indefinite, andImage 10000000000000940000002781FE89D66DD0D67F.jpg‘on that day, a vineyard’ (Isa. 27.2), (which is) definite, and so forth.

II.S.6.3. The Third Subsection


The remainder of the primary letters of Hebrew are seventeen, and to these should be added yod, so they come to eighteen. When shewa is under one of these eighteen at the beginning of a word, or in the middle of a word, where it has the same status (as one at) the beginning (of a word), the shewa is pronounced as a short pataḥ when it is not accompanied by a gaʿya and as a long pataḥ when it is accompanied by a gaʿya, as inImage 1000000000000054000000269D5554AEC6E45073.jpg‘in a multitude of people’ (Prov. 14.28),Image 1000000000000060000000281F5A25C43D057B31.jpg‘your evictions’ (Ezek. 45.9),Image 100000000000003B000000229ABC8AF286D165FF.jpg‘his ways’,Image 10000000000000620000002691DDAB075E17DA1A.jpg‘and the head of Oreb’ (Jud. 7.25),Image 100000000000006400000028A92C649DB9730840.jpg‘remember, oh Lord’ (Psa. 132.1),Image 100000000000004200000026F38D09F342B838FE.jpgImage 1000000000000032000000261BC69799CAD17A07.jpg‘unclean of name’ (Ezek. 22.5),Image 1000000000000084000000285B72954FF9AF9E74.jpg‘fear the Lord’ (Jos. 24.14), and other cases with these eighteen letters.


9Take note that these eighteen are (pronounced as if) pointed with pataḥ, but it is a feature of this pataḥ that it is only pronounced short. There is no way of (representing) its shortness other than by combining it with shewa. Since, however, the shewa according to their principles does not combine with a vowel under these eighteen letters, they have marked the shewa by itself. They could not have written the pataḥ by itself, since it would have been pronounced with its full length. I have discussed this subject at length in The Guide for the Reader, where you will find the matter explained clearly.

II.S.6.4. The Fourth Subsection

The shewa is never combined with a conjunctive or disjunctive accent on the same letter. This is because an accent cannot combine with a quiescent shewa on account of the incongruity (of their functions), since a letter is made mobile by an accent, whereas a quiescent shewa makes a letter quiescent, and a letter made quiescent by the shewa would have to be made mobile by the accent simultaneously, and this is impossible. Furthermore the mobile shewa gives a letter a mobility that has no endurance, like the bet inImage 1000000000000058000000289C647D6C12A6BEA2.jpgand the zayin in ז ְ רוֹכ , whereas a letter is given a stable mobility by an accent and it is given many different melodies, as inImage 10000000000000940000002DE56B2037096E3DAB.jpg‘and they made haste and went out early’ (Josh. 8.14). So the mobility of an accent cannot be combined with the mobility of the shewa on account of the speed of the mobility of the shewa.

II.S.6.5. The Fifth Subsection

A letter following a mobile shewa is always rafe, as in בּ ְ ב ָֹ א ֣ ם ‘when they enter’ (Exod. 28.43, etc.),Image 100000000000005A0000002CBB30920AD10E6775.jpg‘in every corner’ (cf. 2 Chron. 28.24),Image 10000000000000480000002A9BE6E56F4A5E8D2D.jpg‘on finishing’ (Deut. 31.24, etc.), and similar cases. The reason for this is that the shewa, since it wishes to have movement and speed, requires the lightness of the letter after it, because dagesh introduces a kind of heaviness in the letter.

II.S.6.6. The Sixth Subsection


A mobile shewa does not combine with a vowel on any of the Hebrew letters except the four letters ח , ה , א and ע , for exampleImage 10000000000000220000002994AF42043BB6D62C.jpg‘I’, אוּהImage 10000000000000340000002C12CCE2CF7A12FE46.jpg‘not he?’,Image 10000000000000840000002901C81764E1C331CA.jpg‘and encamp against the city’ (2 Sam. 12.28),Image 100000000000002C0000002834CAA3349FAB2F8B.jpg‘go up! ’, and similar cases. If one sees this on other letters in some codices, this is because the scribe inteneded thereby to remove uncertainty, for example ק ֳָ םד ‘before’,Image 100000000000005600000026AEF0A79F4E14D861.jpg‘before them’,Image 100000000000007A00000026235F6CCB01C6C1B8.jpg‘drag her! ’ (Ezek. 32.20),Image 100000000000004000000027328CEF3425D4C87B.jpg‘and destroy! ’ (Jer. 49.28). It is not, however, the opinion of all (that this practice is permissible). So you see that everybody combines shewa with a vowel under the four letters but only a few combine a vowel with shewa under the other eighteen letters, there being no consensus as to whether this (practice) be erroneous or not.


10Take note that if one wishes to remove a vowel from one of the four letters ח , ה , א or ע , and pronounce the shewa, that would be permissible. It is not permissible, however, to mark the vowel by itself, since a vowel by itself would be pronounced with its full length. So, understand this!

II.S.6.7. The Seventh Subsection

When a shewa is combined with a vowel under a letter, the vowel is prevented from being given its full length, as inImage 1000000000000030000000235E69741E8B596DC2.jpgImage 1000000000000055000000270CD9C36DBB5163D7.jpg‘Ḥorem and Betanath’ (Josh. 19.38),Image 10000000000000640000002945F632F694E643A9.jpg‘also every sickness’ (Deut. 28.61). Take note that the maintenance of the mobility of the shewa is more important than the maintenance of the full length because if they did not need to shorten the vowel and (read it) quickly, they would not have marked shewa with it.

II.S.6.8. The Eighth Subsection

11Shewa is combined with only three vowels. These are qameṣ, pataḥ and segol. This is because these three may be read with pause and also with speed.

II.S.6.9. The Ninth Subsection

When shewa is at the beginning of a word, it is always mobile, as inImage 100000000000004E00000028B3214AE032D430FA.jpg‘at the time of (each) day’ (1 Chron. 12.23),Image 100000000000004C000000268CCD1F67CEAAD154.jpgImage 100000000000002D000000262D053E68ABFBAEA2.jpg‘the word of whom will stand’ (Jer. 44.28),Image 100000000000006400000026D1FD9FBE255BD39A.jpg‘in the heat of the day’ (Gen. 18.1), and similar cases. This is because it is not permissible to begin (a word) with a quiescent letter. You will find the issues concerning this aspect explained in The Guide for the Reader. God knows best.

II.S.6.10. The Tenth Subsection

A mobile shewa is followed by quiescence in the third letter after it, or one greater (in number than the third), as in,Image 10000000000000600000002B340FB1FE31DA2CDD.jpg‘to Joshbekashah’ (1 Chron 25.24),Image 100000000000004D00000028C1B6ED485C6F9621.jpg‘to Jokmeam’ (1 Kings 4.12), and the like, and as in cases in which the quiescence is in the third letter and also in what is beyond the third letter, such asImage 1000000000000044000000292B769FF6096C8A19.jpg‘God’ andImage 100000000000004B000000274F8CE24C6F84517E.jpg‘cypresses’.

II.S.6.11. The Eleventh Subsection

12A mobile shewa does not come next to a (mobile) shewa either at the beginning of a word, or in the middle of it, or at its end. This is because a word is mobile (with a vowel) and what attaches to this mobile component when it begins with (a mobile) shewa is of a lesser degree of mobility. A quiescent letter may follow these two. Therefore two mobile (shewas) are not combined together, in the way that two quiescent ones can combine.

II.S.6.12. The Twelfth Subsection

Two quiescent shewas are not combined except at the end of a word, as inImage 10000000000000380000002943423D599EED9D7F.jpg‘and he captured’ (Num. 21.1),Image 100000000000007D000000280AD02535289723F5.jpg‘and you will wash and anoint yourself’ (Ruth 3.3). Take note that when shewa under shin and ṣade is quiescent and bet and tav remain after it, they must obligatorily be made quiescent, because they do not have a letter next to them to which they could move towards.

II.S.6.13. The Thirteenth Subsection

It is not possible to have a succession of two adjacent shewas the first of which is mobile and the second quiescent. Rather the first must be quiescent and the second mobile. Take note that shewa may be construed as a successive sequence (of two) even though only one is written, as inImage 100000000000003D0000002645A5478D7F213054.jpg‘from crying’ (1 Sam. 7.8),Image 10000000000000440000001CADFB79C1F3F9E06A.jpg‘sacrificing’,Image 100000000000004A0000002A8E4D2177845EB4B8.jpg‘playing the pipe’ (1 Kings 1.40, etc.),Image 10000000000000380000002BC2D0451CA1A86DB5.jpg‘from being king’ (1 Sam. 8.7, etc.),Image 1000000000000041000000293A761B4C4E3E0EA0.jpg‘will it be like?’ (2 Sam. 3.33). The reason for this is that the letter is pronounced as two letters. This is the custom of Hebrew, namely that every letter with strengthening, I mean with dagesh, in the middle of a word, where it does not have the status of beginning (a word or syllable), under which there is shewa, is pronounced as two letters.

II.S.6.14. The Fourteenth Subsection

A shewa at the end of a word can only be silent, as inImage 100000000000003200000028E4AD7CC58A856BD7.jpgImage 10000000000000260000001EB1034AC155BDDFA1.jpgand similar cases.

II.S.7.0. Section on the names of the vowels and their place of articulation


The vowels are seven, namelyֹ א ,Image 10000000000000170000001FD57BCD8EFCEA8D70.jpg,Image 100000000000001800000020B7820635B3B76988.jpg,Image 100000000000001B00000021A8C946630777E986.jpg,Image 100000000000001A000000209237E6577AFA313C.jpg,Image 10000000000000150000001CA198458F90582D96.jpg,Image 10000000000000180000001F377EE467C660594D.jpg.


13The first is ‘the point above’ (i.e. ḥolem) because it moves along the surface of the whole mouth. Its name is ḥolem. The meaning of this is ‘fullness’, because it fills the whole mouth. They have derived (the name) from one of the languages that they used.


The second is qameṣ, which is derived fromImage 100000000000006A00000026ADB6D1BCD83C0B87.jpg‘and the priest will grasp’ (Lev. 5.12, etc.), because it grips the mouth.


The third is pataḥ, which opens the whole mouth, fromImage 100000000000005800000028D2E8229AD641FB71.jpgImage 100000000000005A000000281F73775E19C790B7.jpg‘open your mouth, judge righteously’ (Prov. 31.9).


14The fourth is segol, which consists of three dots below, as if they were a bunch of grapes.


15The fifth consists of two dots below in a line. Its name is ṣere, the meaning of which is ‘splitting’, because it splits between the teeth. They have derived it from the languages that they used.


The sixth is one dot below. Its name is ḥireq, fromImage 100000000000008C000000259E8278C2411EA5D6.jpg‘and gnashes his teeth against him’ (Psa. 37.12). The meaning of this is that the teeth make a squeaking sound with it.


The seventh consists of three dots (written) obliquely. It may be replaced by one dot in the heart of vav. Its name is shureq, meaning ‘whistling’, fromImage 10000000000000CC00000029D6405538F93D77FD.jpg‘to hear the whistlings of the flocks’ (Jud. 5.16), because it gathers the lips together.

II.S.8.0. Discussion concerning their place of articulation


16The place of articulation of ḥolem is the root of the tongue and the place of swallowing, and it moves over the surface of the entire mouth.


17The place of articulation of qameṣ is slightly above the root of the tongue, this being the (first) third of the tongue, and its movement is to above the palate.


18The place of articulation of pataḥ is the surface of the tongue downwards.


19The place of articulation of segol is the contraction of the sides of the mouth and its movement is upon the lower surface of the mouth.


20The place of articulation of ṣere is the teeth, without closure.


21The place of articulation of ḥireq is the closure of the teeth with force.


22The place of articulation of shureq is the lips gathered together (as if for) whistling.

II.S.9.0. Section concerning the Gaʿya

The gaʿya is an exhalation in speech, which conducts the reading along and carries it forward in a beautiful manner, animating the reader and moving him to read more. One reader omits it in some places whereas another reader sustains it. In sum, it has no principle, because it is not an accent, like a disjunctive accent or a conjunctive accent. It is marked on a slant to the right of the reader, similar to the marking of ṭifḥa and mayela. It is said that the gaʿya has no principle. It is never accompanied by maqqef, which is a line that links two words on account of the fact that one word does not have a disjunctive or conjunctive accent. This is because any word that has an accent does not have maqqef, unless a gaʿya can come before the accent, in which case a word may contain an accent and maqqef in some places. There are, however, some places from which gaʿya cannot be omitted, such asImage 100000000000006400000027B6DCD1F8B34BF5FD.jpg‘for they do not sleep’ (Prov. 4.16), which is from ‘sleeping and slumber’. If you were to omit it, it would come to mean ‘repeating’, as inImage 100000000000008B0000002E6149099903345A56.jpgImage 100000000000002E000000283FCE435878218BF1.jpg‘after my word they did not speak’ (Job 29.22), and similar cases where the meaning changes on account of it.


1 Literally: the book of the lifeblood.

2 The fuller citation וַיְהִ֙י כַאֲשֶׁר־֜תַּמּוּ as opposed to simply וַיְהִ֙י כַאֲשֶׁר in the text of Hidāyat al-Qāriʾ is given in Kitāb al-Khilaf (ed. Lipschütz, 1965, 19).

3 Literally: the three (points).

4 Literally: the point above.

5 Literally: the two points.

6 Literally: the point below.

7 Literally: the arrowhead.

8 Literally: the point in the heart of the vav.


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