Isaac Fried wrote
Try it. Delete all inner dots (except in בכפ) and you will see that you don't miss not one of them.
I will explain (אני יסביר
as they say it now in Hebrew) this claim of mine at some length, and possibly in a clearer manner.
So, in the "beginning" Hebrew used to be written with consonants only. This is acceptable for very simple texts, but is untenable for such elaborate texts as the evolving Hebrew sacred books. To remedy this, early scribes, say at the late First Temple era, dared to introduce into the text the letters yod and waw as reading props. The all consonant word גבנה
, 'cheese', became by this גבינה
, and the word חמה
became by this חוֹמָה
But this was still not enough. The sacred books could still be read in a bewildering number of different ways, according to a multitude of branching reading traditions. So, an additional system was imposed on the text, just for learning to read it right, which is the system of the unobtrusive inner dots to hint for (in today's terms) a patax, a xireq, and a qubuts.
Thus, at first it was עמּדי
for the post niqud עִמָדִי
, with a dot in the מ
to hint at a xireq under the previous ע
. If so, ask some people, why is there no dot in the letter ג
, 'cake', as in 1Kings 17:13?
עֲשִׂי לִי מִשָּׁם עֻגָה קְטַנָּה
Because, methinks, at the time of introducing the dgeshim, it used to be written in full as עוגה
with an added waw making the dagesh unnecessary. The dagesh is needed only in כתיב חסר
but not in כתיב מלא
. Thus: שִלֵּם
with a dagesh, but שִילֵם
without a dagesh.
BTW, note the dagesh in מִשָּׁם
and in קְטַנָּה
There was another inner dot, this one introduced into the first letter of every word to clearly separate them. With time Hebrew speakers started to pronounce בגדכפת
without an inner dot differently than with a dot. With improvements in the writing technology the dot in the first letter was removed, but was left, as a dubious gift, in בגדכפת
There was a variation in the method of inserting a dot following אַ, אֻ, אִ
, which is that if it was followed by a schwa, then the dot was moved one letter forward, for instance, עֻלְפֶּה
of Ezekiel 31:15 with a dagesh in the פֶּ
for the qubuts under the עֻ
. With time this deferred dagesh was removed, except in בגדכפת
Then there is the mapik.
In conclusion, the niqud renders all dageshim redundant.
But now a number of this forum enterprising members will raise a hackle, paying me back in my own coin, claiming that what Isaac is saying here is nothing but historical fiction and a mere figment of his imagination. OK, let it be so. But as the British are fond of saying: the proof is in the pudding. Here it is. Delete all inner dots (except in בכפ) and you will see that you don't miss not one of them.
Isaac Fried, Boston University