Raphe and dagesh in the same letter

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Raphe and dagesh in the same letter

Postby sebalou » Mon May 22, 2017 4:05 am

Dear all,

could someone help me understand why in the following words we have at the same time both a raphe and a dagesh in the Tav letters:

לֹא תִּֿרְצָח
לֹא תִּֿנְאָף

Source: Exodus 20, 13 from the BHS.

A raphe is supposed to have the opposite meaning of the dagesh (lene or forte) or the mappiq. So here it seems contradictory.

Unless the raphe means that the Tav should be pronounced as fricative, but should be geminated as indicated by the dagesh (forte)? In that case we would have a geminated fricative.

Would it be possible?

Thanks in advance!

Sébastien Louis
Sébastien Louis (Belgium)

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Kirk Lowery
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Re: Raphe and dagesh in the same letter

Postby Kirk Lowery » Mon May 22, 2017 11:09 am

Hi, Sébastian!

Good question!

Ah, the Ten Commandments. The Hebrew orthography gets strange, with varying verse divisions and different accentuations. The manuscript has two competing sets of accents! Henry Churchyard on B-Hebrew way back in 2000 said:

The basic principle behind the double accentuation isn't particularly mysterious -- if you take the stronger accent on each word, you get a parse that follows the orthographic soph-pasuq marks, while if you take the weaker accent, you get a division into exactly ten verses. By the way, the double reading isn't only strictly accentual -- BHS shows both raphe and dagesh on the taw of tirs.ah. in Exodus 20:13, etc.

Look at the two accents on ‎‎לֹ֥֖א: The first accent is conjunctive, the second is disjunctive. The second is unusual. We would expect the negative Do not to be in the same phrase as the verb murder! In that case, the conjunctive accent applies and the raphe is expected and the dagesh should be omitted. With the disjunctive accent, the interpretation is rhetorical on the part of the cantor: Do not! [full stop; long pause on the musical tone] murder! The obvious intent is to emphasize the fact that it is a prohibition. The same is true for the next two verses. The beginning of a sentence would imply a dagesh lene, for a plosive pronunciation of the tav.

So the Masoretes were following their rules; it's just that there were two competing traditions of pronunciation and the Masoretes decided they should preserve both.

I hope this clarifies matters for you. The manuscripts as they have come down to us do require a bit of textual archaeology to understand what we see.

For further reading on the peculiarities of the Hebrew manuscripts, I strongly recommend Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, 3rd revised and expanded ed. Fortress Press, 2011. In my opinion, it should be on the shelf of every student of the Hebrew Bible.
Last edited by Kirk Lowery on Mon May 22, 2017 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Updated to the latest edition of Tov.
Kirk E. Lowery, PhD
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Re: Raphe and dagesh in the same letter

Postby sebalou » Wed May 24, 2017 5:09 am

Hi Kirk,

thank you very much for the explanation and your advice on Emanuel Tov.

I didn't know about the double accentuation, now it clarifies things.

I will read more about it in the next couple of days.

Sébastien Louis (Belgium)

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