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The Masoretic Vowel Points explained and exemplified.


The reader is referred to either of the four right hand columns on pages 5 and 6 ante, to discern the forces of the letters according to the Masoretic grammarians; where he will find that the letters which we have used as vowels in the former part of this work, are all either deemed quiescent or changed into consonants.

The names always receive a tint from the native language of the au. thor of the grammar which we consult, but in Hebrew are said to be as follows: Aleph 45 a leader, Beth n'a a house, Gimel hoa a camel, Da: leth nyo the leaf of a door, Hay 807 behold! Vauv 11 a hook, Zain po?. weco pons, Cheth nin a living creature, Teth nu a scroll, Jod 7' a hand, Caph 9 a cavity, Lamed only a spit, Mem o» a spot, Noon 13 a snake, Samech Job a pron, Gnain j'y an eye, Pay so the mouth, Tzadi '73 a huntsman's pole, Kuph 7p an ape, Resh Vai a kead, Sheen ju a tooth, Tauv in the end.

If these meanings were sufficiently ancient, they would afford some guide for the sounds of the letters; yet even then it would be requi. site either that their names in some other language should also be of indisputable antiquity, or that the Hebrew should still be a living language. For example, one man might call the eye Oin, another Gnain, and who should decide? The ancient form of the letter resembles the eye, but the ear has preserved no remembrance of the sound. It is probable that these meanings are a mere work of imagination; and every learner possesses in this matter an equal right to indulge his own fancy.

The Masorites make five long, and five short vowels, to which they add three very short vowels, by prefixing a character they denominate Sheva, which, though it is often to be read as a very short e, they deny to be a vowel, but use it merely as an instrument to shorten the vowels which accompany it, and those with which it is compounded. This magical point is also, they say, to be understood under every consonant not followed by a vowel; and therefore is most probably the ghost of that murdered vowel which was anciently used

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with those consonants which had not x, 7, 1, , or y immediately succeeding them. Long Vowels.

Short Vowels. 1. Kamets like a in all. 1. Patha

like a in far. 2. Tseri e in obey. 2. Segol

e, or e in ale.

a . 3. Long Hirick is

ee in meet. 3. Short Hirick i in bid. 4. Holem

o in bone.

4.Kamets Chatuph for go in dot 5. Shurick yu, or oo in fool. 5. Kibbuts

u in much. The x is placed over some of the above vowel points instead of any other letter, and forms no part of such vowel, being quiescent. But the 1 is essential to the Shurick; and the Holem, though sometimes without it, always implies the 1. Yet the 1 may have also at the same time another vowel under it, and be sounded like v, before such vowel, as 171.7Jehovah,* the dột being Holem following the preceding letter. When the 1 is omitted, the dot is retained on the top and over the right hand side of the following letter; and has the same sound as if the shad been also retained.

If, be preceded by 'a letter that has a vowel, it is then a consonant, and the point within it is a Dagesh.f

When 1 is at the end of a word, and follows Kamets, Patha, Tseri, or Long Hirick, it is to be sounded as v.

Kamets Chatuph is chiefly written without the two dots, and is to be distinguished from the long Kamets by circumstances; as (1) where it precedes Maccaphot (2) when it is the last vowel of a word in which an accented vowel has gone before it, or a 1 conversive; (3) when it is followed by a Sheva, or Dagesh, without the intervention of an accent; (4) when it precedes Chateph Kamets even with an accent.[[ (5) when it is with a Metheg, and is followed by either Sheva or Dagesh.

* These letters have the pointing of Adonai, and it is said to have them that the latter word should be read in the place of the former.

† Vide Dagesh post, page 268.
# Vide Maccaph, post page 269.
I Vide Chateph Kamets, post 268.
$ Vide Methig, post, page 272

When at the end of a word, either Jod or Vau is immediately preceded by Kamets, Patha, Holem, or Shurick, it, according to some, forms a diphthong with them; others deny all diphthongs. More usually such Jod is sounded as ee; and such Vau as f oru.

If v have a dot over the right hand prong, as w, it is called Shin or Sheen; if over the left, as in, it is Sin, or Scen. When the letter which precedes v has no vowel point, the dot over the right hand prong serves both as a Holem to the preceding letter, and to make a Sheen. If the v have a dot over each prong, as w, and no point under it, the left dot is a Holem, and must be sounded after it; but if the preceding letter have no point, the right hand dot is the Holem, and the a Seen.

When a Patha appears under any of the letters 77, 71, or y, at the end of a word, it must be pronounced before them, in all other instances the vowels are sounded after the letters under which or after which they stand. This is denominated Patha furtivum.

A Sheva is a very short et (rapidissimum). When seen, it is two dots resembling a colon (-) placed under a letter. As it has been before said to be often invisible, and consequently not then sounded by the Masorites; so when it is seen, silence is frequently imposed on it. To know when Sheva is, and when it is not to be heard, is so important to a reader with the points, that he can scarcely read a word without a familiarity with the following rules.

1. Sheva is not sounded, 'when it follows a short vowel; except it be under a letter, which contains a Dagesh, then it must be sounded, although preceded by a short vowel. The sheva must also be sounded where the consonant is repeated.

2. It is not sounded before another Sheva; unless it stands under the first letter of a word, in which case it must be sounded.

3. A Sheva must not be sounded at the end of a word, even although it be preceded by another Sheva, which is also quiescent.

4. It is not sounded after a long vowel with a tonic accent. In other instances the simple Sheva is to be read as a very short e.

There are formed also by the help of the Sheva three very short vowels, which are never used but under X, 17, , or y, where they supply the

4 Vide ante, page 265.

The above rules may be recollected by these ancient verses.
Post longam, sociam, sub dagesh, fronte movetur,
« Post brevem, tonum, necnon in fine quiescit.

place of the simple Sheva, which is not to be read under the gutturals. The compound Shevas are made by placing a Sheva on the right hand side of Patha, Segol, or Kamets, and are called,

Chateph Patha (:) which is the shortest a.
Chateph Segol (*: )

the shortest vowel e.* Chateph Kamets (*: )

the shortest o. Kamets Chatuph may be distinguished from Chateph Kamets thus: the former is often written without the Sheva, but the latter never. Kamets Chatuph may be found under any of the letters of the alphabet, Chateph Kamets is regularly found only under the gutturals x, 77, n, and y. Kamets Chatuph has always after it either a quiescent Sheva, or a Dagesh forte, which is said by Buxtorf and Leusden to be never the case with Chateph Kamets.

The small dot which is seen in the middle of the letter ni at the end of a word is denominated Mappik, (from po to bring into action) and denotes it the inseparable feminine pronoun, and also a somewhat harder sound.

A similar dot, when found in in the middle of a word after Hirich, is also by some called Mappik; here again it indicates that the letter is not wholly to be neglected as quiescent.

In all other cases the small dot in the middle of a letter is called Dagesh, (w27 a point) and is either Dagesh lene or Bagesh forte.

The term fortis here corresponds to the tenuis in the Greek grammars, and means a hard or abrupt sound, as x, x, t. The term aspirate of the Greek is the raphe (897 80ft) of the Masorites, which they anciently marked as a Patha, but over the letter; in modern times, the omission of the Dagesh point makes the raphe, or softer sound by the introduction of an h, as in , 9.

Dagesh is denominated lene, when found in any of the letters 2, d, 7, 2, 3, or n (to be remembered by the technical words 193 723) either in the beginning of a word, provided it be not preceded by a word which terminates with a quiescent letter, or long vowel; or in the middle or end of a word after a quiescent Sheva. These letters being, as it is said, naturally raphated or aspirated, and to be read as Bv, Gch, Dh, Kch, Ph, and Th, are, when thus dageshed, somewhat harder, as B, G, D, K, P, and T, or which is the same thing, they are lenes or soft compared with the force added by Dagesh forte, which doubles its letter. But this distinction is justly said by Taylor to be without

* Sheva is not a vowel, vide page 265.

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