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A Phonological Approach to the Tetragrammaton

Robin Baugus
Under the supervision of Doctor Ellen Kaisse
Linguistics Departmental Honors Thesis

1. Introduction
Language has always been a great influence on religion. The words of a member of
clergy can have sway the actions of many people: from a political leader to a begging streetwalker. Entire faiths and communities have been built around oral traditions, codified many
years later into an established text. Words in religion provide power. They can become anything
from weapons to medicine, magic to salvation. It shouldn't be unexpected, then, to find that
some words may reach such a level of awe as to become sacred.
Such is the case of the name of G-d in the Hebrew Bible. If you were to glance over a
fully pointed1 text of the Hebrew Bible you would find a curious set of four consonants, often
provided without any vowels to accompany itself. These four consonants (, corresponding to
[jhwh]2), identified as the 'tetragrammaton,' are meant to represent the divine name of G-d.
When they appear, the word itself is often rendered unpronounceable: either without vowels at
all or with vowels which cannot be read with the consonants in question.3 Being that the Hebrew
1 Hebrew, both ancient and modern, is often written without the inclusion of vowels. A 'fully pointed' text would
include all vowel notations for words, and, in the case of biblical Hebrew, prosodic diacritic marks.
Unpointed texts may, however, make use of matres lectionis, consonants used to indicate the presence of
specific, often long, vowels. While originally a mater lectionis was only included word-finally, later the practice
of including them word-internally as well developed. Matres lectionis include the consonants [ j], [ h], and
[w]. These consonants were not pronounced, rather they indicated the presence of specific vowels and acted as a
guide. Thus, for instance, if a reader saw that the final consonant of a word was a [j], it would be taken as an
indication to produce an [i] vowel with the penultimate consonant it did not, however, indicate the phonetic
presence of a [j] at the end of the word. In this regard, matres lectionis act as vowels rather than consonants.
2 In most texts regarding Biblical Hebrew and the tetragrammaton, English orthography is used (such that the
consonants of the tetragrammaton would appear YHWH). However, this thesis will utilize IPA symbols.
3 More on this later

Bible was transmitted orally prior to the establishment of a writing system, the tetragrammaton
must have had, at one time, an oral form. The pronunciation of the name was lost with time as
the name came to be regarded with higher and higher levels of sacredness: eventually being
deemed unspeakably holy and therefore unsuitable for use in public reading. (Freedman, et al,
1986) While it is unclear exactly when the sacred name became unspeakable, some scholars,
such as De Troyer, believe it was pronounced until the end of the second century BCE. (De
Troyer, 2005)
As the name became too sacred to be spoken, an alternative was needed. While the
tetragrammaton itself remained in the text, the tradition of replacing the word orally with
[adonaKi] (in vowelled Hebrew:XZ, meaning Lord) arose. Reminders, in the form of an
occasional marginal note or by writing the tetragrammaton with the vowels of [adonaKi] (the
unpronounceable combination mentioned above), became common practice as the Masoretes 4
solidified the written form of the Hebrew Bible. The tradition of replacing the sacred name with
[adonaKi] in reading continues to this day as students learning to read Biblical Hebrew (from
Sunday school to college classes) are instructed in this practice.
Yet the question remains: what was the original pronunciation of the sacred name? Had
these four consonants never been elevated to such sacred status, what vowels would the
Masoretes have provided them in later years? Is it possible to find out? The answer is a
resounding Maybe. The good news is that there is a general consensus on the most likely
pronunciation of the tetragrammaton by scholars: [jahwh]. The bad news is that this is, indeed,
just an educated guess. Some maintain that [hova] is the correct pronunciation (though the
vast majority of scholars deem [hova] to be a Christian mistake: the result of early Christians
who were unfamiliar with the Masoretic convention attempting to pronounce the tetragrammaton
4 The Masoretes and their writing system are discussed below in section 1.1.2.

with the vowels of [adonaKi]).5 Hard evidence is, unsurprisingly, hard to come by. It may,
however, be possible to further strengthen the argument for [jahwh] through the examination of
literary features in Biblical Hebrew which can assist in pointing to this as the most acceptable
pronunciation.
In particular assonance, consonance, alliteration, rhyme, meter, and syllable count will be
examined for their usefulness in determining what could be the pronunciation of G-d's name. It
is fortunate, as Badillos (1993) points out, that Hebrew as a language has remained substantially
the same avoiding changes which would significantly affect its essential morphological,
phonological, or even syntactic structure. Thus the basic structures of the language, its
morphological system, and especially its verbal morphology, [have] been preserved without
major changes over the centuries... (Badillos, 1993: 50) It is not expected that a definitive
answer will be made. Certainly there is not enough space in this piece to truly examine each
instance of the tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Bible: the word appears nearly 7,000 times.
Rather than seeking to determine whether [jahwh] is, indeed, the most likely candidate (though
the argument for [jahwh] as the appropriate vowel-consonant combination will be revisited
briefly later), this thesis seeks to outline those factors which should be taken into consideration
when making such assumptions. How much weight should each of these literary features be

5 Franklin (1997) argues strongly for the pronunciation of [hova] . It is difficult to examine his claims as he
provides few sources in his article, written (perhaps with significant bias) for the Christian Biblical Church of Gd Website.
Franklin is an outlier in this regard as most other scholars have pointed out that this pronunciation is highly
unlikely. [hova] has no meaning in Hebrew and does not otherwise exist as a lexical item. Furthermore, the
reading of [hova] assumes that the vowels of [adonaKi] are meant to be applied to the tetragrammaton: thus
invalidating the point of the deeming the name too sacred to be spoken. It is unlikely that the correct vowels
would have been codified for a word meant never to be spoken aloud. Lastly, of the sources gathered in the
research of this thesis (Rogers, 2005; Rendsburg in Kaye, 1997; Badillos, 1993) none include in their list of
Biblical Hebrew consonants the affricate [] or any comparable sound. Perhaps the establishment of the
affricate [] arose as English speakers encountered copies of the Bible written in European languages for which,
orthographically, 'j' presents the [j] sound (unlike in English where the [j] consonant is represented by 'y'
orthographically.)

given?

How do these literary features interact and how might such interaction affect the

environment in which the tetragrammaton appears? The ambitious scholar may take this thesis
and use it as a basis by which to lay their foundations for a more in-depth study of the
tetragrammaton as it appears in the text of the Hebrew bible.

1.1 Basic Linguistic Parameters of Hebrew


This section will briefly outline linguistic elements of Biblical Hebrew which will be
essential for understanding the remainder of this thesis.
1.1.1 Syntactic and Phonological
Biblical Hebrew utilizes a syntactic structure of verb-subject-object (VSO). As we will
discuss below, this word order is sometimes manipulated in poetry.

Biblical Hebrew's

phonological inventory consists of the following:


Table: 01
Tiberian Hebrew Consonants (Reproduced from Rogers, 2005: 126)
p

Kts
s

Table: 02
Tiberian Hebrew Vowels (Reproduced from Rogers, 2005: 127)
i

1.1.2 The Tiberian Tradition


As discussed in footnote 1, Hebrew is commonly written without vowels. The Masoretes,
a group of scribes in the city of Tiberias, codified the pronunciation of the Biblical text by

pointing the text. As this pointing system is the one which has survived the test of time, some
scholars refer to the Biblical Hebrew Text as the Masoretic Text (MT) and the language it is
written in as Tiberian Hebrew. (Rogers, 2005: 126)
1.1.3 Poetry versus Prose
The distinctions between Biblical poetry and prose is not always clear. Furthermore,
sections of poetry may be found scattered within prose texts (in such forms as speeches, songs,
or prophecy, among others). Sections of Biblical poetry are not uniform in size either: Pslam 87
contains only 7 versus, but Pslam 18 contains 50. Debates as to whether a certain portion of the
Hebrew Bible should be considered prose or poetry still occur today, 6 and as such there isn't a
comprehensive list of what is and is not poetry within the Bible. Additional features which are
seen more often in Biblical poetry (such as sound patterns like alliteration) will be discussed
below, beginning in section 4.

Scholarly consensus does extend to some portions of text, such as the Song of the
Sea (Exodus 15)7, Isaiah, the Psalms, the Proverbs, The Song of Songs, and The Song of
Deborah (Judges 5). It is these texts that I will primarily limit my analysis to. Additional
texts may be examined, however all texts which are examined are acknowledged as
poetry by Watson (1984) or O'Connor (1997).

1.2 Parameters and Conventions for this Thesis


This thesis will primarily focus on literary devices as they appear in Biblical Hebrew
poetry.8 Furthermore, unless otherwise stated, all translations of Biblical texts have been pulled
from the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh, second edition (1999).

Index I contains a list of

6 In large part, this debate centers around attempts at assigning metrical structure to poetry and prose which is
not a straightforward task in the case of Biblical Hebrew, as is discussed in section 3.2 below.
7 This is also known as the Song of Moses.
8 Additionally, for the sake of avoiding repetition, any references to Hebrew poetry/language/structure/etc.
always refers to Biblical Hebrew not to Modern Hebrew, unless otherwise stated.

abbreviations used for morpheme-by-morpheme translation in this thesis.

2. An Examination of the Tetragrammaton


2.1 What We Know
What we know for absolute certain about the tetragrammaton is relatively limited. We
know that it consists of four consonants, [j]-[h]-[w]-[h]. We know that is a divine name of G-d
which makes its first of nearly 7,000 appearances in Genesis 2:4. We know that the name has
been shortened to [ja] throughout the bible. This shortened form appears alone as in Exodus
15:2:
Example 01: Exodus 15:2 (own translation)
azi wzimat jah
strength PS and song G-d
m.sg. 1.c.sg.
f.sg.
My strength and song is the LORD
as well as conjoined to certain words or names:
Example 02: hallu-ja (own translations)
Priase G-d
imper
Praise the LORD
za-jah
to remember G-d
perf.2.m.sg.
The LORD has remembered
We know that at some point, probably around but at least before the 2 nd century BCE
(judging from evidence in the Qumran scrolls9), the full four-consonant name was deemed too

9 The Qumran scrolls are often more colloquially identified as the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls constitute the
2nd oldest surviving artifacts containing copies of portions of Biblical texts (many are damaged or incomplete),
alongside Biblical commentary and copies of the community rules. They were discovered near the site of the
ancient city of Khirbet Qumran in the West Bank over a period of ten years (from 1946-1956) scattered
throughout eleven caves.

sacred to be pronounced while the shortened version remained acceptable.10 There was an
intermediary step prior to this in which the High Priest was permitted, on the Day of the
Atonement, to speak the name of G-d once. (De Troyer, 2005) Once the tetragrammaton was
deemed too sacred to be spoken aloud, the tradition of replacing (verbally, but not
orthographically) all instances of the tetragrammaton with the word [adonaKi] was developed.
This is a practice which continues today.
Evidence for the replacement of the tetragrammaton with [adonaKi] as early as the Qumran
scribes can be found in the Qumran Isaiah scroll and the community rules. One rule of the
community indicates that any person who speaks the name of G-d for any reason would face
banishment from the community with no chance of return. An examination of Isaiah 3:14-19 11
presents five instances of either the tetragrammaton or [adonaKi] being written. Of the five
tokens, three have the opposite set of consonants written above them while the other two remain
untouched. The first instance of this features the tetragrammaton written with [adonaKi] above it,
shifted slightly to the left. In the traditional Masoretic text, both appear: [adonaK i] being followed
by the tetragrammaton ([adonaKi jhwh]). It is possible the shifting of the written-in word is meant
to denote that it should be added, not changed. 12

It is difficult to explain the other

corrections notated in the rest of the text. However, the most likely scenario is that a teacher or
10 Had the shortened version of the tetragrammaton been also deemed unpronounceable, there would have been no
reason for the word to receive vowel pointing during orthographic codification. As no attempts appear to have
been made which hinder the pronunciation of the shortened form of the name (it remains fully pointed and
attached to various words or names, as discussed), it must be assumed that pronunciation of [jah] was acceptable.
However, Durousseau (2014) notes that even if the verbally pronouncing the tetragrammaton was not technically
forbidden, more observant individuals might avoid doing so except in the instance of prayer and study.
Likewise, they may avoid writing the word as well. This is illustrated in the use of different consonants ([tw]) in
the writing of the number 15 which would otherwise be expected to be the consonants of [jah]. Furthermore, for
the number 16 which differs from [jah] by one letter ([jh] and [jw]) is still deemed too close for comfort and
substituted by two other letters ([tz]) as well.
11 The Isaiah scroll is significant when examining Qumran texts as it is the only complete copy of a Biblical Book
found in the caves. These verses, as they appear in the Isaiah scroll, provide evidence of the replacement of the
tetragrammaton orally with [adonaKi], as will be explained.
12 This is conjecture by Professor Gary Martin of the University of Washington's Near Eastern Languages and
Civilization department. (Personal interview, 2015)

scribal leader was reading from an established copy (or reciting from memory) the text of Isaiah
which another scribe (perhaps an apprentice or student) was copying down. As, by this point, all
instances of the tetragrammaton were spoken aloud as [adonaKi] there would be no verbal
indication as to whether the tetragrammaton or [adonaKi] should be written in the text and, as
such, the transcriber wrote which ever first occurred to him. When the document was later
checked against a standard of the community, the corrections were annotated by a second hand.
(Howard, 1977: 69)
Along with being too sacred to pronounce, the name of G-d became to sacred to copy in
full. Thus it was written with the vowels of its verbal replacement, [adonaK i], or without vowels
at all.13 Alternatively, the word may be abbreviated by using select letters. In his article on
tetragrammaton substitutions, Lauterbach (1931) identifies 83 alternatives which have been
utilized throughout the years in various writings (manuscripts, early books, etc.) primarily
involving combinations utilizing the consonant [j].
Howard (1977) mentions that in other texts, such as the Greek Septuagint, the practice of
abbreviation was continued. The surrogates which replaced the tetragrammaton in the Greek
translations of the bible, 'theos' and 'kurios' eventually being abbreviated to TS and KS,
respectively. He goes on to illustrate the ways in which abbreviation began to be applied
towards all words deemed 'sacred' in the New Testament but this exceeds the scope of this
thesis.
There is some speculation that the name of G-d is related to the Hebrew root meaning To
13 As a point of interest, this is also where the tradition of writing G-d without the middle 'o' vowel arises. In some
more religious communities (such as the one in which the author was raised) writing of the complete name in
English is frowned upon. Doing so makes the name and that which it is written upon sacred: the name cannot be
erased and the document or item it is written on can no longer be thrown away or allowed to touch the
ground/feet/etc. This includes, for instance, writing the name in full on a blackboard in a classroom. The only
way to dispose of these items now becomes a ritual burial of documents/items with the name of G-d and other
sacred text on them alongside other sacred items (such as prayer shawls, etc.). Leaving out the vowel renders the
name 'incomplete' and thus it can be disposed of as normal, etc.

Be made of the consonants [h]-[j]-[h]. This is in conjunction with Exodus 3:13,14:


13

Moses said to G-d, When I come to the Israelites and say to


them, 'The G-d of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask
me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them? 14And G-d
said to Moses, Ehyeh-asher-ehyeh. he continued, Thus you
shall say to the Israelites, 'Ehyeh sent me to you.'
G-d's response is, in Hebrew, [( hj ar hj]) When translated
into English it is most frequently rendered, I am that I am. Alternatives are I am who I am,
I will be what I will be etc. Thus, individual instances of [hj] are rendered I am or I will
be. The connection between this phrase containing the verb 'to be' and the sacred name stem
from Hebrew verb formation. In the movement of verbs through the paradigm of forms denoting
count, gender, and perspective (1st, 2nd, or 3rd person) similarities can be seen in verbs whose root
consists of a middle [j] or [w] consonant (in this instance, we would take the 'root' of the
tetragrammaton to be [hwh]). Furthermore, certain forms of a [w]-middle root verb involve the
replacement of the [w] with a [j] consonant and the infinitive absolute form of roots with a
middle [j] include a central [w]. There is, obviously, no definitive answer to whether or not the
name of G-d is truly related to the verb to be but, as can be seen, there are clear indications as
to why such a correlation may be drawn.

2.2 Why [jahwh]


Let's now make the argument for [jahwh] specifically. As mentioned at the beginning of
this thesis, we will not seek to definitively seek to determine one pronunciation over the other.
However, it is important to understand why the larger academic community has agreed upon
[jahwh] as the appropriate vowel/consonant combination for the name of G-d.
The first syllable has been agreed upon as 'yah.' This is related to the explanation above
concerning the abbreviation of the tetragrammaton which appears to be allowed to be

pronounced without consequence and which appears throughout the Biblical text both
independently and as a part of phrases (ex: Hallelu-yah) and names (ex: Zechariyah). Thus,
scholars uniformly agree that this abbreviated form was taken from the first half of the name
itself. This left only the second half of the tetragrammaton in question.
The spelling of the name has helped in at least eliminating a few possibilities. Matres
lectionis (see footnote 1) were rather consistent: a [j] consonant indicated a long [i] vowel, [w]
indicated a long [u] or [o], and [h] identified long [], or [a] vowels.

Thus, as the

tetragrammaton ends with the consonant [h], we can eliminate the vowels [i], [u], and [o] as
possibilities. This leaves the remaining two. Though there has been some skepticism in the past
that the correct vowel would be [o] (resulting in [yaho] with a long final vowel, we will see why
this is significant later in this thesis in section 4.3.1),14 it is likely that G-d's response in Exodus
3:14 is a significant factor in choosing []. Wilhelm Gesenius (author of Gesenius' Hebrew
Grammar) was the first to officially propose the vowel [] which has come to be accepted by the
scholarly community.

3. Syllable Count and Meter


3.1 Syllable Count
One might imagine that syllable count is a significant feature in Biblical Hebrew verse
structure especially as it applies to poetry. My own personal conjecture attributea this to be the
result of many scholars equating well-known traditional forms of poetry to established,
sometimes rigid formulas. Haikus follow a 5-7-5 syllable structure, Tankas adhere to 5-7-5-7-7,
14 This is the result of some observances in Canaanite dialects of Hebrew wherein [nbo] and [oto] have been
generated from [nbh] and [th], respectively. Freedman et al (1986) note that in the Canaanite tradition, the
mater lectionis which represents the [o] is [h]. However, as the Tiberian tradition is the tradition which scholars
of the Hebrew Bible have analyzed, it makes more sense to adopt the Tiberian system of matres lectionis which
does not indicate an [o] with [h], but with [w]. Freedman et al (1986)
See Freedman for a more significant examination of the vowels of the tetragrammaton.

and cinquain poems organized by syllable count are structured 2-4-6-8-2.

Perhaps most

influential, Shakespeare's sonnets are constrained to 10-syllable lines. Why shouldn't Biblical
Hebrew, especially Biblical Hebrew poetry, be equally organized around syllable count?
As it refers to the tetragrammaton this could prove useful. [hova] and [adonaKi] both
function as a three-syllable words while [jahwh] is only two. If verse structure was dependent
upon syllable count, such a distinction could indicate which of the pronunciations is more likely
to be correct.15 Unfortunately there are some flaws with this idea.
First and foremost, it does not appear that the verse structure of Biblical Hebrew,
including poetry, is rigidly defined by syllable count. In the first place, scholars do not always
agree on syllable boundaries. DeCaen (2009) provided a comparison of the syllable counts by
different scholars (Culley, 1970; Vance, 2001; Fokkelman, 2003; and Loretz, 1989) and the
Masoretes for Psalm 111:1-10c. While syllable counts did not vary greatly across the board (and
it is true that many of the counts matched exactly), it should be noted that these scholars did not
always agree with the Masoretes or each other.16 As the distinction between our alternative
pronunciations for the tetragrammaton as they appear above differ in length by only a single
syllable: even minor disagreements among scholars about the syllable-count of a verse weaken
the reliability of this literary feature in analysis. Furthermore, scholars seem to be in agreement
that syllable-count should not be depended upon. Freedman (1960) (as cited in O'Connor, 1997)
points out, It is not likely that the Israelites counted syllables carefully, or even accents for that
matter, when composing their poetry... having found it useful for describing phonological
features, but not in generating a system which would apply to any large sample without
15 Additionally, if syllable count could be identified as a defining characteristic of verse structure, one may posit
that it could be possible (if one disregards [hova]) to determine whether [adonaKi] was being substituted for the
tetragrammaton at the time of composition. Such a course of research is beyond the breadth of this thesis,
however.
16 It should be noted that syllable counts by these scholars were not necessarily undertaken in the pursuit of the
creation of a syllable meter for Biblical Hebrew.

extensive reshaping of individual poems and verses... (Freedman, in O'Connor, 1997: 38-39).
Watson (1984) notes that syllable-counting is merely, [a]t best...useful for lineation. His
judgment here is based on the fact that a structure based upon syllable count does not
acknowledge stress and is dependent upon the reconstruction of vowels.
The last thing to consider when examining syllable-count as a means of determining the
pronunciation of the name of G-d comes from Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar (1909).17 Section
26:m indicates that when a syllable bearing a firm vowel 18 is preceded by a single consonant
bearing a vocal shewa,19 the two are meant to be attached so closely...that it forms practically
one syllable... This has been taken by some scholars (such as Professor Gary Martin in the
University of Washington's Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations department) to indicate
that [adonaKi] is, in actuality, meant to be a two syllable word. Determining whether this rule
17 Despite its age, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar remains one of the most influential grammars on the market and is
still in print.
18 Firm vowels are a term used by Hebrew grammarians to refer to vowels in a word are long by nature, not as a
result of rhythmic modifications which adjust vowel length for features such as tone or syllable formation.
(Gesenius, 1909: 76).
19 Here, a shewa does not refer to the name of the phonetic vowel [] (a 'schwa'). In Hebrew (both Biblical and
Modern) 'shewa' is the name for a vowel represented by two vertical dots beneath a letter (for instance: ).
Generally this vowel is silent and prompts the reader to only produce the sound of the consonant under which
it appears. For instance:
( X
[katalti]
to kill
perf.sg.1.c.
I killed.
Vocal shewas refer to one of two things. They may either be simple (involving just the shewa and the
consonant) or composite (involving two vowels, one of which is a shewa, under the same letter). Simple vocal
shewas prompt the reader to produce the sound of the consonant without linking it to the following consonant.
This generates a short vowel (a phonetic schwa []):
(
[tiktli]
to kill
imperf.sg.2.f.
You(f) will kill
Composite vocal shewas prompt the reader to produce a glottal stop before the sound of the second vowel
attached to the consonant.:
X
[paalo]
Deed PS
sg.m.
His deed

does, indeed, apply to [adonaKi] requires more research, time, and space than this thesis can
provide. However, it is important to note that such a possibility exists and should be explored
further if one decides to pursue this line of examination. While [hova] is less affected by this
occurrence, it does essentially eliminate the syllable-distinction between [jahwh] and [adonaK i]
which may have been significant if syllable-count affected Biblical Hebrew verse structure.

3.2 Meter
It is not difficult to see the ways in which metrical structure could be a useful tool. The
stress patterns of the various possible pronunciations differ just enough that a solid metrical
system could provide insight.

Does the metrical structure of verse X require that the

tetragrammaton contain a word-initial stress? Word-final? However, meter is perhaps the most
difficult structure to understand with regards to Biblical texts. Meter (especially of poetry) is
most effectively analyzed by listening to the poem aloud in a natural context. This would allow
a researcher to deduce how stress and phrasing is manipulated to, for instance, provide emphasis
or fit to musical accompaniment. Furthermore, metrical structure may have been altered with
time. Despite such setbacks, metrical analysis of Hebrew poetry has still been undertaken many
times, but as will be discussed, there appears to be no consensus on how metrics interacted with
Biblical poetry.
Meter is, in many ways, closely tied to the notion of syllables. Expectations regarding
meter are once again the likely result of a reader accustomed to rigid metrical structure (as found
in Iambic Pentameter). However, as discussed above, the precise syllabic length of verses is not
necessarily regular, nor do scholars readily agree on how syllables should be counted. While
there appears to be, in DeCaen's (2009) comparison of syllable counts, an average of about 8
syllables per line,20 as was discussed earlier, even if an 8-syllable standard is applied, it would
20 That is to say, the average amount of syllables per line is between 7.7 and 8.2 depending upon which set of data

not assist in determining which of the pronunciations of the tetragrammaton is correct if both
[jahwh] and [adonaKi] are meant to be bisyllabic words.21
What's more, this analysis focused on only one piece of Hebrew Poetry (Psalm 111),
which is easily divided into lines and segments based on such features as parallelism 22 or
syntactic indicators (such as clause breaks). Not all poetry is so easily divided, making an
analysis of syllable count difficult. Of the poetry which can be analyzed along these lines,
Culley's (1970) study finds that average syllable count is not consistent across the board. Psalms
111, Job 9, and verses 21-46 of Psalm 89 all have a most frequent count of 8 syllables per line,
but Psalms 112 and Job 6 have a most frequent count of 9. Psalm 74 and verses 1-19 of Psalm
89 both have a most frequent count of 10 syllables per line, and Psalm 119 has a most frequent
count of 17 syllables (the range of syllables per line for Psalm 119 is 13-24, most of the other
sections of poetry he examined didn't have an upper-bound as high as 13 in their range). (Culley,
1970: 18-27)
Furthermore, attempts at confining Biblical Poetry to metrics in a system which scholars
agree on have not been successful. It may come as no surprise that, according to O'Connor
(1997) some scholars reject the applicability of a metrical scheme to Hebrew... altogether. He
argues that, as metrical descriptions seem to fail at explaining the regularities of Biblical Hebrew
Poetry, metrical structure should be side-lined in favor of syntactic structure. Thus, rather than
being shaped in part by a series of phonological requirements[, Biblical Hebrew Poetry is]
is being examined. Each line, however, varied between 7-9 syllables.
21 An IPA transcription of Psalm 111 (the subject of Decaen's study) and a reproduction of the table from Decaen
can be found in Appendix A with an added column of my own syllable count for each line. It should be noted
that I used the trisyllabic pronunciation of [adonaKi] as that is the method of reading Biblical Hebrew which I was
taught. The tetragrammaton itself appears as [jhwh] in all instances of the transcription as its pronunciation is
the subject of the debate at hand.
22 Parallelism generally refers to repetition of ideas rather than sounds. For instance, in the Song of Songs 2:8 the
maiden mentions that her beloved is Gazing through the window./Peering through the lattice. (JPS translation)
Such Parallelism may also be 'chiastic' in nature, such that the two sections of text present similar ideas in
reverse (in an AB/BA pattern) as in Isaiah 2:3 For from Zion will come the Torah/And the word of the LORD
from Jerusalem. (Own translation)

shaped in part by a series of syntactic requirements. (O'Connor, 1997: 65). 23 More accurately,
meter in Biblical Hebrew is syntactically patterned and phonologically constricted whereas the
general assumptions about metrical theory are reversed. Having decided to base his proposal
around a syntactical framework, O'Connor additionally notes that he will not refer to his proposal
as a meter at all: rather he chooses to refer to its components as constraints and to the whole
as a constriction. (O'Connor, 1997: 67)
Some of O'connor's justification for this theory has already briefly been mentioned above
when it was noted that some verses are more easily broken into lines based on syntactic
structure, such as clause endings. O'Connor's first example of constriction is the presence of a
line made of a complete clause.
Example 03: Psalm 106:35a (Reproduced from O'Connor, 1997: 69, own translation)
wajitavu vaojim
ccccccccccccccccccccccccccccand
to mix
with DA nation
imperf.3.m.pl.
m.pl.
And they mixed/mingled with the nations
Following this, O'Connor notes examples which illustrate the use of a 2-unit dependent
nominal phrase which make a line of verse:
Example 04: Psalm 106:43a (Reproduced from O'Connor, 1997:70, own translation)
pamim-abot jatSsilem
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatimes many
to deliver
PS
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaf.pl. f.pl. imperf.3.m.sg. 2.m.pl.
Many times he delivered them
O'Connor's syntactic system of constraint continues for several pages. It should now be
decided if the tetragrammaton is affected by the proposed system. O'Connor lists Psalm 106:1a
(which contains the tetragrammaton) as an additional example of a line consisting of a complete
23 Watson (1984) also points out that changes to words (or even their removal) to accommodate a metrical structure
in the Masoretic text generated much criticism: implying that metrical structure was not so rigid as may
generally be expected. (Watson, 1984: 42)

clause:
Example 05: Psalm 106:1a (own translation)
hodu la[jhwh] ki-tov
ccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccTo throw To [jhwh] For-good
cccccccccccccccccccccccccccc cccimper.
m.sg.
Give (priase) to the LORD,24 for he is good.
Psalm 106:16b and 25b are examples of the 2-unit nominal phrase structure which contain the
tetragrammaton:
Example 06: Psalm 106:16b (own translation)
lahaon kdo-[jhwh]
cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccOM Aaron
Holy
[jhwh]
m.sg.cstr.
Of Aaron, holy one of the LORD
Example 07: Psalm 106:25b (own translation)
lo-amu bkol-[jhwh]
ccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccNo To obey OM-voice [jhwh]
perf.3.c.pl.
m.sg.
They have not obeyed the voice of the LORD
In each of these examples, the pronunciation of the tetragrammaton has little effect. It could just
as easily be replaced with any of the pronunciations of the tetragrammaton, or the name of any
individual for that matter, without causing a change in structure.
In the elimination of metrical features as a crucial element in poetical structure and
claiming that syntax is truly the factor at work, O'Connor has eliminated metrics as useful, in this
context, for determining the likely pronunciation of the tetragrammaton. Whatever might have
been revealed through metrical analysis is not useful in this context. It seems, according to
O'Connor, that Biblical Hebrew does not play by the standard rules.

Syntactically, the

24 The translation give praise by the pre-verse word [hallu-jah] Praise [jah] where [jah] is the shortened form
of the tetragrammaton as discussed above. Furthermore, following convention, the translation of the
tetragrammaton has been rendered LORD so as to distinguish the occurance of the tetragrammaton from another
word of similar meaning (such as [adonaKi]).

pronunciation of the tetragrammaton has no effect.

It is merely an alternative way of

pronouncing a noun and in no way alters the placement of that noun in a verse or phrase, nor
does it change the referential meaning of that noun. Whether one reads [jahwh], [adonaKi], or
[hova], both the speaker and listener recognize that the name of G-d has been spoken.
However, not all are inclined to agree that metrical structure is absent from Biblical
Hebrew. Dresher (1981) adopts large parts of the analysis of Biblical Hebrew stress conducted
by Hayes (1980) and McCarthy (1979). Summarized for its main points we are left with the
following proposal:25

Prior to the application of additional phonological rules, if the rhyme of a word's final
syllable ends in a consonant, the ultima syllable receives stress. If the rhyme of a word's
final syllable ends in a vowel, the penultimate syllable receives stress.

Figure 01

Figure 02

Long vowels constitute a branching rhyme.

After additional phonological rules (such as pretonic lengthening 26) have been applied, a
'P-structure' may form. P-structures constitute a foot in which the left syllable is
characterized as having a weak nucleus and the right syllable is characterized as having a

25 For the purposes of this section, long vowels will be represented by repeated characters ([aa] rather than [a]) this
is done as it allows for a better illustration of branching nodes in word-trees. Additionally, Figures ## are
reproductions from Dresher (1981).
26 Pretonic lengthening is described very succinctly by Malone (1990):
...an originally short open-syllable vowel immediately preceding a stressed syllable...appear[s] as long.

binary branching strong nucleus. In Figure 03, the P-structure has been boxed.
Figure 03

Figure 04

In words which have more than one stressed syllable, the last stressed syllable receives
primary stress.

The final foot always receives the strongest stress. Thus feet are binary branching iambic
feet.

Dresher additionally proposes the structure of a super foot, dubbed the 'accentual (A-) foot:'

The final foot is an A-foot.

P-structures make up the weak right-segment of an A-foot.


Rules regarding secondary stress begin to get complicated. When all is said and done,

even the McCarthy-Hayes proposition generates problems. Following this metrical structure
would render every long-vowel stressed requiring additional rules of defooting and adjunction
[to be] needed to produce the desired alternating pattern. (Dresher, 1981: 194) This can lead to
incorrect results.

Even as this metrical theory is tweaked, Dresher concludes his article

acknowledging that the proposed structures do not seem to be wholly applicable at all times, or
at the very least appear perhaps more complicated than they should.
Thus it is difficult to say who has the right idea. Dresher's article works out a metrical

structure just-shy of accurately accounting for Biblical Hebrew, but even he recognizes that it is
at times overly complex and can lead to incorrect conclusions. O'Connor's statement that there
is, as of yet, no solution acceptable to the wider proportion of scholars thus seems to hold true.
Whether syntactic structure is truly at play is a topic for another paper. It seems to have very
little bearing on the determination of the tetragrammaton.
There is, however one other line of thinking which I will address. Watson (1984) argues
that there is a metrical structure to be found in Hebrew Poetry, but that this meter is fluid. That is
to say that scholars have failed to find a consistent 'regular' meter because no such regular meter
exists. Rather, metrical structure is never maintained for more than few verses at a stretch, if
even that. (Watson, 1984: 92) Thus, no single poem is consistently written in one metrical
pattern. (98). Appendix B contains Watson's analysis of Micah 3:9-12 during which verses 9,
10, and 12 all contain two stresses per line, but verse 11 contains three per line.27
Watson's argument may explain the discrepancies found in Culley (1970) discussed
earlier wherein different pieces of poetry exhibited different syllable-counts per line. If syllable
count is, indeed, a part of fluid metrical structure, it would be expected that individual pieces of
poetry (or sections of poetry, as was the case with Pslam 89) would display distinct (but regular)
patterns.

4. Assonance, Consonance, Alliteration, and Rhyme


4.1 The Presence or Absence of Intentional Phonological Repetitions
We now turn our attention the sounds which make up the syllables and feet so crucial to
syllable-count and metrical structure discussed above. Assonance (the repetition of, usually
27 In his analysis, Watson does not denote which stress is primary or secondary in each line. The reproduction in
the Appendix has identified the last notation of stress in each line as the primary stress and all preceding
indications of stress as secondary. This is a personal extrapolation to the phrasal-level made based on the
consensus of Dresher (1981), McCarthy (1979), and Hayes (1980) that Tiberian Hebrew words bore primary
stress on the right-most syllable.

stressed, vowel sounds), alliteration (the repetition of word-initial consonants), and rhyme are
recognized literary features which are visible in languages across the globe. If one was asked
about Peter's vegetable-harvesting habits, most Americans (or indeed, most English speakers)
could immediately launch into the old-tongue twister: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled
peppers... They might use assonance indicating that the repetition of the tongue twister was
Easy peasy. If you ask to test them again, they may tell you with rhyme to go ahead and do
Whatever floats your boat.
The potential significance of these features is easily understood. Each of our potential
names sounds different from the next. If it was decided these features were at play, it would be
easy (or perhaps at the very least, easier) to decide which variation of the tetragrammaton would
be the best option. However, determining the presence of these features is a more difficult goal
to accomplish.
For starters, there is some doubt as to whether it is even possible for Hebrew to truly
make use of these features. As a fusional 28 language, Hebrew attaches end morphemes to words,
such as verbs, which indicate the gender and count, as well as the tense, of the word. The
attachment of these morphemes causes changes in the structure of the word as it existed before
hand. Why is this fact significant?
Some would argue that the nature of Hebrew prevents it form utilizing real rhyme. As
these morphemes are attached, it is no longer surprising to expect to see similar ending sounds
across the board. Hebrew has (it would seem) no choice in the matter! Such rhyme appears
obligatory. Thus, how could it be possible for rhyme to be a deliberate factor in Biblical
Hebrew? The same for assonance, as these attached morphemes restructure the vowels of the
28 A fusional language is one in which single morphemes denote several meanings (such as gender, count, tense,
etc.). Such morphemes are fused to the morphemes of the word which they modify, making them difficult to
separate. Changes to the morpheme in question may change multiple aspects of the word. (SIL International,
2005)

words they attach to in specific ways. Prepositions, conjunctions, and determiners take the form
of prefixes which also attach to words. This may imply that alliteration is also the product of the
language itself, not one of Human deliberate choice.
Segert (1992) identifies these as grammatical rhymes and argues that such rhymes,
when they appear in Hebrew, are often wrongly dismissed or frowned upon by speakers of
languages who's inflectional system is not thus constrained. This mindset often leads to rhyme in
Hebrew poetry being rejected or viewed as an accident of the nature of the language by scholars
who do not study Hebrew in detail. However, scholars who have examined Hebrew poetry
generally agree that rhyme is, indeed, a deliberately manipulated feature.
Segert noted in a comparison of rhyme and parallelism that when a section of poetry
exhibits an increase in parallelistic structures, it usually made use of less instances of rhyme and
assonance. Likewise, as the use of parallelism decreases, the uses of rhyme and assonance
increase. If grammatical rhyme was an unadjustable consequence of the language structure, then
we would expect to see approximately proportional tokens of grammatical rhyme no matter how
much parallelistic structure does or does not exist in any given piece. How is such adjustment
managed? There are a variety of ways.
First, as Watson (1984) notes, rhyme need not necessarily encompass large parts of the
text. This can be seen in Isaiah 62:3:

Example 08: Isaiah 62:3


att tipt
crown beauty
f.sg. f.sg.
a beautiful crown
The verse begins with a phrase which exhibits end-rhyme together but do not rhyme with the

remainder of the verse. There are several examples of two-word phrases which exhibit such
rhyme (and this may extend into slightly larger sections of three or more words).
Second, Badillos (1993) notes that the use of specific pronominal suffixes occurs more
frequently in Hebrew Poetry than elsewhere. Specifically, he notes the frequent use of the plural
masculine third person suffix [-mo]. (Badillos, 1993: 57) Traditionally, we see that the plural
suffix in this case would be characterized by an ending of the consonant [m] (with different
preceeding vowels dependent upon additional factors). We can find examples of this specific
suffix use in the Song of Moses in Exodus 15:
Example 09: Exodus 15.5 (Own Translations)
jasjumu29
To cover
PS
imperf.3.m.pl. 3.m.pl.
They covered them.
Exodus 15.7
jolemo
to devour
PS
imperf.3.m.sg. 3.m.pl.
It devoured them.
Additionally, word order may be adjusted. Badillos (1993: 60) refers to such reordering
as casus pendens wherein the traditional predicate-subject order is switched for the sake of
emphasis. Isaiah 1:2 provides an example:
Example 10: Isaiah 1:2 (own translations)
Found: banim idalti wromamti/whem pau vi
child grow
and to rise up /and they to rebel
against
m.pl. perf.1.c.sg. perf.1.c.sg.
pl.m. perf.3.c.pl.
me
children I have brought up and raised/and they rebelled against me
29 Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar (1910) makes note that the vowel for this token of the [-mo] suffix is different from
the standard. This is the only instance wherein the [-mo] suffix was codified as [-mu]. It is impossible to decide
why this lone word received an [u] vowel, however it is agreed that this suffix is the same [-mo]. It might be
noted that in an unpointed text, utilizing only matres lectionis, the consonant structure would remain the same for
either case ([-mw]).

Expected: idalti wromamti banim/whem pau vi


to grow
child and to rise up /and they to rebel
against
perf.1.c.sg. m.pl.
perf.1.c.sg.
pl.m. perf.3.c.pl.
me
I have brought up and raised children/ and they rebelled against me
The movement of the predicate certainly accomplishes emphasis (to what was done, not who it
was done by), but it also serves to allow for end-rhyme. By shifting the word for children
([banim]) to the start of the phrase, an end rhyme involving the 1st person singular suffix can be
utilized. Watson points out an additional example in Nahum 2:1:
Example 11: Nahum 2:1 (own translations)
Found: ai jhuda aaji/almi ndaaji
to hold a festival Judah Festival to be complete
Vow
imper.
m.pl.
imper.
m.pl.
Celebrate, O Judah, your festivals/fulfill your vows.
Expected: ai aaji jhuda/almi ndaaji
to hold a festival Festival Judah to be complete
Vow
imper.
m.pl.
imper.
m.pl.
Celebrate your festivals, O Judah/fulfill your vows.

The shift has allowed for an end rhyme utilizing a 2nd plural masculine ending for nouns.
Furthermore, verbs may be combined. Examine this section from Deuteronomy 32:10:
Example 12: Deuteronomy 32:10 (Own translations)
Found: jsovvnhu jivonnehu/jitSsnhu kion eno
To surround
PS
To watch
PS
To guard
PS
As pupil Eye
imperf.3.m.sg. 3.m.sg. imperf.3.m.sg. 3.m.sg. imperf.3.m.sg. 3.sg.m.
sg.m.

PS
2.sg.m.

He engirded him, he watched over him/Guarded him as the pupil of his eye.
Possible Alternative: jisav wjivonnehu/jitSsnhu kion eno
To surround
imperf.3.m.sg.

and

To watch
PS
To guard
PS
As pupil Eye
imperf.3.m.sg. 3.m.sg. imperf.3.m.sg. 3.sg.m.
sg.m.

PS
2.sg.m.

He engirded and watched over him/Guarded him as the pupil of his eye.
The available alternative would have eliminated the assonance generated by the third singular

masculine object morpheme, [-hu].


Another way in which rhyme is manipulated in Hebrew poetry is through the use of rare
words. Watson implies that some of these may be invented. Often these rare words (or rare
forms of words) appear only once in the entirety of the Hebrew Bible and are more commonly
referred to as hapax legomena. One such example can be found in Deuteronomy 32:15:
Example 13: Deuteronomy 32:15 (own translation)
amanta avita kasita
to become fat
to be thick
to be gorged
perf.2.m.sg.
perf.2.m.sg.
perf.2.m.sg.
You grew fat, you became thick, you were gorged.
Here we find the word [kasita] meaning to be gorged or fat. This word is not found any
where else in the Bible. Elsewhere when something is described as being fat (and even in the
case of growing arrogant as implied in Deuteronomy 32:15) the word used is based upon the root
consonants []-[m]-[n]. A word built around this root already appears in the line ([amanta]).
What does this accomplish? By using a hapax legomena, a synonym is able to be used which
extends the assonance of the [a] vowel for emphasis and effect.
As a final example of the manipulation of traditional word order and structure so as to
develop intentional phonological repetition we can examine the relative particle. In Biblical
Hebrew prose there is a relative pronoun, [ar]. It can be seen in the first line of the Song of
Songs (often identified as the title):

song
m.sg.

Example 14: Song of Songs 1:1


i haiim ar lilomo
DA
song
RPro
m.pl.

of Solomon

The Song of Songs by Solomon


However, throughout much of Hebrew poetry (the Song of Songs included) this relative pronoun
appears to be replaced by a prefixed particle [-]. The beginning of 1:6 of the Song of Songs

reads:

no-

Example 15: Song of Songs 1:6


al-tiuni ani aot
to look
PS
RPart.-I
imperf.2.m.pl. 1.c.sg.

dark
f.sg.IA.

Do not stare at me because I am swarthy


Here the relative pronoun is attached to the word for I in [ani]. The placement of this
relative particle allows for alliteration that would otherwise have been absent had the relative
pronoun been used in its place:
Example 16: Song of Songs 1:6
Alternative: al-tiuni a ani aot
noto look
PS
RPro I
dark
imperf.2.m.pl.
1.c.sg.
f.sg.IA.
Do not stare at me because I am swarthy
While one might note that this allows for assonance of the vowel [a], what is lost extends further
as the repetition of the [] sound carries through as consonance to the next line (where the
relative pronoun has again been utilized):
Example 17: Song of Songs 1:6
zafatni haam
RPart-To catch sight of PS
the sun
perf.3.f.sg.
1.c.sg.
c.sg.
Because the sun has gazed upon me.

4.2 The Significance of Intentional Phonological Repetitions


Having argued alongside various scholars that Hebrew poetry includes deliberate
adjustments so as to induce uses of assonance, consonance, alliteration, and rhyme we must ask
why. The answer lies in the origins of the Biblical canon.
As discussed briefly above, in its initial form, the Hebrew Bible was an oral tradition
passed vocally from one generation to the next prior to the inception of a writing system. It is

not at all far-fetched to believe that the prevalence of phonological repetitions served as
mnemonic devices to aid in the memorization of the oral tradition. Research has indicated that
these features assist in the ability for one to remember novel material. Certainly syllables and
metrics contribute to memorization as well (our ability to sing songs we may not have heard very
many times stems from such a combination of metrical organization and rhyme).
How do these features aid in memorization? Subjects in a study on rhyme conducted by
Bower and Bolton (1969) were given a list of 18 rhyming pairs of words accompanied by 18
non-rhyming pairs of words. When tested for memory, consistently rhyming pairs were more
easily and quickly recalled. Additional experiments continued to provide similar results. The
researcher determined that rhyme limits the quantity of possible responses. Subjects know that
they are meant to recall a word which exhibits specific phonological features that are largely
identical to those of the first word. Thus, if we attempt to find a word which would pair with
bat there is absolutely no reason to consider the word car. The two words share length and
syllable count but otherwise have no phonological relationship. Our field of possible answers
has been narrowed.
In a study of L2 learners, Lindstromberg and Boers (2008) discovered that phonemic
repetition facilitated the memorization of lexical-chunks. In particular their study observed the
effectiveness of assonance (word-chunks consisted of phrases such as: home phone, day
break, and high price on one hand and park bench, false move, and waste bin on the
other.) Consistently, assonance related word-chunks were more readily recalled than those which
lacked assonance.

In an earlier study, Lindstromberg and Boers (2004) had also observed the

effectiveness of alliteration, and again found that phrases which utilize alliteration (such as bite
the bullet) are recalled more easily than those which don't (for instance: show me the ropes).

Sound patterns are, additionally, recognized as a source of constraint in the memorization


of oral traditions by Rubin (1995) as reviewed by Moelter et al (1997). The notion that features
of oral traditions (namely sound patterns, meaning or story structure, and imagery) facilitate the
constriction of oral recall by setting limits on the variability of the information to be recalled...
[increasing] the probability of accurately selecting particular information from memory stores
during retrieval. (Moelter et al, 1997: 143) restates the conclusions of Bower and Bolton
regarding the shrinking of the possible response field based upon the parameters of known
phonological requirements for the item to be recalled. All agree that the mnemonic effectiveness
of phonological repetitions facilitate memory of words and phrases.

4.3 Application
Having established that phonological repetitions are viable features of Biblical Hebrew
and that their likely purpose was in the facilitation of the memorization and oral repetition of the
Hebrew Bible we can now being to piece together the various elements of the central question of
this thesis: can we use phonological features of the text of the Hebrew Bible to select the most
likely candidate for the pronunciation of the tetragrammaton?
Of course it is impossible to say with absolute certainty that this is the case. However, as
this analysis has shown, the notion is not far-fetched. Even this cursory examination of Hebrew
poetry has revealed several instances of deliberate syntactical and phonological changes so as to
produce phrases and verses which exhibit elements of phonemic repetition without any loss of
meaning. There is no reason why the tetragrammaton should serve as an exception to these
structures. In instances where the tetragrammaton appears, it should theoretically be possible to
determine a working pronunciation which satisfies tokens of assonance, consonance, alliteration,
or rhyme for that verse or section.

4.3.1 An Application of [jahwh]


If one were to pursue an exploration into the possible names of G-d utilizing the
information of this thesis, what might such an exploration look like? The researcher would seek
out instances of the tetragrammaton and examine the phonemic structure of the words and
syllables in the phrase around it. In determining the sounds present, the researcher could then
select a pronunciation of the tetragrammaton which would best facilitate one of the features
discussed above (assonance, alliteration, consonance, and rhyme). Let's examine a few
possibilities now.
Example 18: Isaiah 3:16
wajome [jahwh] jaan ki avhu bnot tSsijon
wajome [adonaSi] jaan ki avhu bnot tSsijon
wajome [jaho] jaan ki avhu bnot tSsijon
wajome [hova] jaan ki avhu bnot tSsijon
and
to say
G-d greed because to be high daughters Zion
imperf.3.m.sg.
perf.3.c.pl.
And the LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are so vain

If we replace the tetragrammaton with the generally accepted [jahwh], we find that an
alliteration is generated: jahwh jaan In this instance, it would appear that the proposal of
[jahwh] is most effective as replacing the tetragrammaton with alternative options simply does
not yield an effect as fluid. Even though [jaho] also begins with the [j] consonant, the effect is
lessened by its lack of a guttural consonant at the end of the first sentence (which both [jahwh]
and [jaan] share). In 3:17 we see that the tetragrammaton reappears:
Example 19: Isaiah 3:17 (own translation)
wsipa adonaSi kadkod bnot tSsijon wa [jahwh] pathen jarh
wsipa adonaSi kadkod bnot tSsijon wa [adonaSi] pathen jarh
wsipa adonaSi kadkod bnot tSsijon wa [jaho] pathen jarh
wsipa adonaSi kadkod bnot tSsijon wa [hova] pathen jarh
And To cause to scab upon Lord Head Daughters Zion And-G-d Fragment
To be bare
perf.3.m.sg.
f.sg.
imperf.3.m.sg.

And the LORD will scab over their their heads of the Daughters of Zion

By replacing the tetragrammaton with [jahwh] there is some rhyming assonance ([jahwh]
pathen jarh). However, in looking at 3:14 of the same book we see something interesting:
Example 20: Isaiah 3:17 (own translation)
[jahwh] bmipat javo im-zikne amo wsaaw
[adonaSi] bmipat javo im-zikne amo wsaaw
[jaho] bmipat javoim-zikne amo wsaaw
[hova] bmipat jav im-zikne amo wsaaw
G-d

in judgement
to enter
with-elders nation
PS Leader
PS
m.sg.
imperf.3.m.sg. cstr.m.pl.
m.sg. 3.m.sg. m.pl. 3.m.pl.

The LORD will enter judgment with the elders of his nation and their leaders
Here, replacing the tetragrammaton with [jahwh] does not have the same effect:
[jahwh] bmipat javo im-zikne amo wsaaw There is, of course, repetition of the Y
consonant, however, it is not nearly as fluid as in 3:16. Alternatively, if we place the sometimes
suggested [jaho] we get something different: [jaho] bmipat javo im-zikne amo wsaaw In
this instance, the selection of [jaho] has produced assonance in every other word.
We see similar difficulties in looking at Exodus 15. [jaho] again appears to be the better
option in some instances:
Example 21: Exodus 15:1 (own translation)
aia la [jahwh] ki-ao aa
aia la [adonaSi] ki-ao aa
aia la [jaho] ki-ao aa
aia la [hova] ki-ao aa
to sing
to G-d
because-to rise up to rise up
imperf.1.c.sg.
IA
perf.3.m.sg.
I will sing to the LORD, for He has surely risen up

Example 22: Exodus 15:3


[jahwh] i milama [jahwh] mo
[adonaSi] i milama [adonaSi] mo
[jaho] i milama [jaho] mo
[hova] i milama [hova] mo
G-d
Man
battle
G-d
Name
PS
m.sg.
f.sg.
m.sg.
3.sg.m.
The LORD, the Warrior, LORD is His name
And so on. Here there is constant assonance generated by the use of [jaho] which is not found so
readily with the other alternatives: la[jaho] ki-ao (15:1); [jaho] mo (15:3). Of course it is
difficult to tell how much of these perceived instances of assonance and rhyme can truly be
included in a determination of the pronunciation of the tetragrammaton.

However, it is

interesting to note that a cursory skim through Exodus 15 finds that the long [o] vowel seems
particularly prominent. (A more in-depth examination of the distribution of the [o] vowel in this
chapter would be a useful endeavor for another time.) It is easy to see, then, why this thesis can
only serve as a bare foundation for future study. A greater understanding of literary features is
necessary to understand how to rectify the two options.

APPENDIX I: Syllable Count of Psalm 111


MT

Culley
(1970)

Vance
(2001)

Fokkelman
(2003)

Own

1b

bsod jaim weda

2a

dolim mase [jhwh]

2b

duim lol-ft-sehm

3a

hod-whada paalo

3b

wt-sikato omdt laad

4a

ze asa lniflotaw

4b

anun waun [jhwh]

5a

tf natan lieaw

5b

jizko lolam bito

6a

koa maasaw higid lamo

6b

latet lahm naalat ojim

7a

maase jadaw mt umipat

10

10

10

7b

nmanim kol-pikudaw

8a

smuin laad lolam

8b

asujim bmt wjaa

9a

pdut ala lamo

9b

-tsiwah-lolam bito
9c
kado wnora mo

10a

1a

od [jhwh] bol-levav

10b

eit omah jiat [jhwh]


sel tov lol-osehm

10c

thilato omdt laad

183 | 8.3

180 | 8.2

170 | 7.7

168 | 7.6

182 | 8.3

Total | Average

APPENDIX II: Stress Count of Micah 3:9-12 (Reproduced from Walker, 1984: 101)
Number of Stresses
9a

imu-na zot

9b

9c

ukt-sine bet jisael


9d
hamataavim mipat

9e

ae bet jaakov

wet kol-ha-iaa jakesu

10a

bon -tsijon bdamim

10b

viualajim bawla

11a

aha boad jipotu

11b

wohanha bimi jou

11c

unviha bsf jiksomu

11d

wal-[jhwh] jiaenu lemo

11e

halo [jhwh] bkibenu

11f

lo-tavo alenu aa

12a

12b

12c

laen biglalm
-tsijon sad teae
wiualajim ijin tihjh

12d

wha habajit lvamot jaa

INDEX I: Abbreviations Used in Morphemic Translations


perf.
imperf.
1
2
3
m.
f.
c.
sg.

perfect
imperfect
1st person
2nd person
3rd person
masculine
feminine
common
single

pl.
Imper.
Cstr.
RPro.
RPart.
DA
PS
OM
IA

plural
imperative
construct
relative pronoun
relative particle
definite article
pronominal suffix
object marker
infinitive absolute

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