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3 Orthography and Phonology

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Chapter Summary

The relevance of spelling for the dating of biblical texts is a much-debated issue. It is widely agreed that ancient Hebrew orthography became more plene with time, so that later texts may be expected to exhibit more extensive usage of matres lectionis, especially in the marking of medial vowels, than earlier texts. Jeremiah exhibits a few non-standard spellings of the o vowel, though in most of these cases no discernible diachronic pattern emerges. The pre- and post-exilic extra-biblical sources present a very clear picture of the classical use of the theophoric ending יהו- and of its post-classical replacement with יה-. The Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar is known from both biblical and extra-biblical sources. It is true that some Masoretic, non-Masoretic, and extra-biblical forms may be explained merely as phonetic spellings, which have no real significance regarding morphological derivation.

Keywords: ancient Hebrew orthography; biblical texts; Jeremiah; Masoretic biblical forms; Nebuchadnezzar



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