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Qumran Hebrew

Qumran Hebrew: An Overview of Orthography, Phonology, and Morphology

Eric D. Reymond
  • Book Info
    Qumran Hebrew
    Book Description:

    A unique study of the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls

    In Qumran Hebrew, Reymond examines the orthography, phonology, and morphology of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Short sections treat specific linguistic phenomena and present a synopsis and critique of previous research. Reymond's approach emphasizes problems posed by scribal errors and argues that guttural letters had not all "weakened" but instead were "weak" in specific linguistic environments, texts, or dialects. Reymond illustrates that certain phonetic shifts (such as the shift of yodh > aleph and the opposite shift of aleph > yodh) occur in discernible linguistic contexts that suggest this was a real phonetic phenomenon.


    Summary and critique of previous researchDiscussion of the most recently published scrollsExamination of scribal errors, guttural letters, and phonetic shifts

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-932-8
    Subjects: Religion, Linguistics

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. A Note on Transliteration, Etymological Bases, and Manuscript Identification
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The following pages began as a handout on the grammar of the Dead Sea Scrolls (= DSS). While preparing to teach a class on Post-Biblical Hebrew, I found that the descriptions of the Hebrew of the DSS in Qimron’sHebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls(=HDSS) and Kutscher’sThe Language and Linguistic Background of the Complete Isaiah Scrolldid not suit the needs of students.¹ Although Kutscher’s treatment is thorough, careful, and nuanced, it treats a text that exhibits numerous idiosyncrasies not shared by other texts; as such it cannot easily be used to introduce students to the language...

  6. 1 Corpus
    (pp. 5-12)

    The corpus of the Dead Sea scrolls preserves texts mostly in Hebrew, though some are in Aramaic and Greek. The texts are often associated with the Essenes, though in its broadest sense, the Dead Sea scrolls—that is, the texts found around the Dead Sea—are from a number of groups, including the followers of Bar Kokhba, the Masada Zealots, as well as other groups. Nevertheless, the term Dead Sea Scrolls typically refers to those texts discovered in caves near or adjacent to Wadi Qumran and an ancient group of structures called collectively Qumran. (Some believe the structures were home...

  7. 2 General Remarks
    (pp. 13-22)

    The language of the scrolls bears traits that connect it, on the one hand, with Standard Biblical Hebrew (SBH) as found in the Masoretic Text (MT), with Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH) as also found in the MT, with Mishnaic Hebrew (MH), even in some instances with Samaritan Hebrew, and the Hebrew of the Babylonian tradition.¹ And yet, the Hebrew of the scrolls also represents features that have no parallel in other traditions. Although these basic ideas are affirmed by almost everyone, there is still much that remains unsettled. Scholars differ, for example, in how they describe the language of the...

  8. 3 Orthography
    (pp. 23-64)

    Everything discussed below depends on understanding the orthographic representation of words as intentional in some sense. By intentional I mean that the scribes intended to write a particular word according to a specific orthographic style (for example, השעי “[who] will do” in 1QIsaaat Isa 56:2), or, when diverging from this style (even unintentionally), they wrote letters with the assumption that they indicated specific sounds (for example, השיוwayyase“it made” in 1QIsaaat Isa 5:4 for what is in the MT שַׂעיו).¹ Despite this, there are many cases where scribes have simply made gaffs or errors in their...

  9. 4 Phonetics and Phonology
    (pp. 65-150)

    The phonemic inventory of the Hebrew attested in the DSS is unknown, but it seems quite possible that it was similar to that found in Tiberian Hebrew. The following list of Tiberian Hebrew consonants gives the phoneme between slashes and the approximate phonetic realization in brackets (using the IPA system of phonetic notation). Labials /b/ [b], [v]; /m/ [m]; /p/ [p], [f]; /w/ [w], [v]; dentals/alveolars: /t/ [t], [θ]; /d/ [d], [ð]; /ṭ/ [ṭ]; /s/ [s]; /z/ [z]; /ṣ/ [ṣ]; /š/ [∫]; /n/ [n]; /l/ [l]; palatals: /y/ [j]; velars and uvulars: /k/ [k], [χ]; /g/ [g], [ʁ]; /q/ [q];...

  10. 5 Morphology
    (pp. 151-224)

    In rare cases, analephappears prefixed to a noun that often appears without it; the nouns that sometimes attest thisalephbegin with a consonant + shewa. Presumably, thealephfunctions to break up a word-initial consonant cluster. In the MT thealephis usually followed by aseghol(less oftenhiriq), as in לוֹמ ְת ֶא, לוֹמ ְת ֶא, לוֹמ ְתּ ִא, “yesterday,” which occur eight times, versus לוֹמ ְתּ,, which occurs twenty-three times, and ַעוֹר ְז ֶא “arm,” which occurs twice, whereas ַעוֹר ְז occurs sixty-eight times.¹ Often, it seems, that thealephappears before nouns that are themselves preceded by a preposition or other particle.²


  11. Conclusions
    (pp. 225-234)

    The preceding analysis has documented a number of characteristics of the DSS, both among the nonbiblical scrolls, as well as among the biblical scrolls. If one were to extract a general observation from the many phenomena found in the diverse texts described above (which also reflect an equally diverse range of dialects and idiolects), it may be a tendency reflected in DSS-SP9 and DSS-SP1c texts to write and pronounce the writing/reading register of Hebrew in a manner that would better reflect its characteristic vowels and syllabic contours, both through natural linguistic developments (like a preference for verbal and nominal forms...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 235-256)
  13. Sources Index
    (pp. 257-292)
  14. Author Index
    (pp. 307-310)