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Biblical hebrew pronunciations

I have a question. Why don't orthodox jews switch to Tiberian pronunciation when its the canonical pronunciation of the Torah and also the nearest to ancient hebrew as a pronunciation system? I'm not an orthodox nor religious but I really interested in the history of biblical hebrew

For example ,PSALM 91

יֹשֵׁב בְּסֵתֶר עֶלְיוֹן בְּצֵל שַׁדַּי יִתְלוֹנָן: אֹמַר לַיהֹוָה מַחְסִּי וּמְצוּדָתִי אֱלֹהַי אֶבְטַח בּוֹ: כִּי הוּא יַצִּילְךָ מִפַּח יָקוּשׁ מִדֶּבֶר הַוּוֹת:

He who dwells in the covert of the Most High will lodge in the shadow of the Almighty.shall say of the Lord [that He is] my shelter and my fortress, my God in Whom I trust.For He will save you from the snare that traps from the devastating pestilence.

There are 3 and more (ashkenazi communities) types of pronunciation.

Sephardic translit : Yoshev beseter ʕelyon beṣel shaddai itlonan,omar lAdonai maḥsi umṣodati elohai evtaḥ bo, ki hu yasilecha mippaḥ yaqush middeber hawot

Ashkenazi(from germany) translit: Yosheyv beseyser 'elyon b'tseyl shadday islonɔn, omar La-Adoynoy(or La-Hashem) machsei umtsodasi elohay evtah bo. Ki hu yatslil'chɔ mipach yakush midever havvos

Yemenite translit: Yöshév beséthár ʕál'yön beṣél shaddai ithlönɔn,ömar lAdhönoy maḥsi umṣudɔthi álöhai ávtʕaḥ bö, ki hu yaṣlilechɔ mippaḥ yɔgush middávár hawwöth

Modern hebrew translit: Yoshev beseter 'elyon betsel shaddai itlonan omar La-Adonai machsi umtsudati , 'elohai evtach-bo, ki hu yatslilecha mipach yakush middever havot

So how did these evolve? And if they're aware of that Tiberian hebrew is the most near to the correct pronunciation , why no group have ever obtained that pronunciation? After all , as far as I know , in judaism , correct pronunciation is really important.

June 25, 2016



I don't think most of orthodox jews agree with your statement "Tiberian pronunciation ... its the canonical pronunciation of the Torah and also the nearest to ancient hebrew as a pronunciation system" and even if they do they won't abandon their ancestors' tradition.

the "lahashem" you put in the Ashkenazi translit is a religius pronunciation (for all jews) when you don't want to say 'שם ה (god's name)

[BTW Sephardic don't pronunce "yosheb" but "yoshev", and Sephardic and Yemenite "צ" is more guttural, like ص in arabic - sˤ ]


Yes, La-Hashem, some say La-Adoynoy, Ashkenazic traditions differs per group ,and even the pronunciation on a minimal level, like litvanian ashkenazi jews say "yisruayl" , but an other community says "yisroel"

As far as I knew Sephardim pronounce bet always as b,but anyways I fix it to v

Yeah, yemenites pronounce tsadi as saddhi but I couldnt find the correct letter for that. Maybe I'll use ṣ to mark it or sˤ.

Did wikipedia screw me over again? when it said

"Tiberian Hebrew is the canonical pronunciation of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh committed to writing by Masoretic scholars living in the Jewish community of Tiberias in ancient Judea c. 750–950 CE. " and

"the Tiberian pronunciation of Hebrew is considered by textual scholars to most accurately reproduce the original Semitic consonantal and vowel sounds of ancient hebrew"

Anyways thanks for the answer and I'll try to fix the mistakes in the translits


What I meant to say is that saying "Hashem[or similar pronunciation]" (literally: the name) instead of "Adonay[or similar pronunciation]" (which used as the name that refers to god, translated to "the Lord") has nothing to do with different traditional methods of pronounciation. All religous jews (Ashkenazi Sephardic and Yemenite and all the others) use "Adonay[or similar pronunciation]" only in prayers and when quating full sentence from the Bible etc. For other uses they won't say god's name in vain, they will say 'The Name' (=Hashem) or other kind of refering.

About Sephardim pronouncing of v, I know many Sepharadim and I was many times in Sepharadic synagogue (I am an Ashkenazi orthodox) and they always used v same as Ashkenzim. Maybe there is a small special group of Sephardim who doesn't use v and you read about them.

About Wikipedia, I really don't know this topic enough to know how much of it is a conjecture and how much is based on archaeological finds (and how physical finds can tell us the way a language was pronounced). ANYWAY the concept of keeping the tradition is very primary in the orthodox judaism, so I don't think it would be much matter.


So that's how Hashem is used. Now that's clear for me.

I guess you're right , its probably v , i used to listen to sephardic readings , and in this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwQ0waPkEqU) video I can't tell if its a v or a b in yoshev .

A last question , is there are any trouble between the judaist groups, whether its sephardic, ashkenazic , or yemenite due to the differences in their traiditions?


Even in this video he read מדבר as 'midever' (at 0:57)

About your question, there might be a bit of wierd situations, usually at the first times you meet the new tradition, but disagreements and different behaviors isn't something new in judaism so there are some universal rules such as "act according to local custom" which make it (most of times) so easy and natural to integrate.

There is also not-religious tension between the Spharadim and Ashkenazim but that is more cultural and political (and racist) tension, not regarded to religion directly.


bet is always hard in Levantine and Spanish-portuguese, and North Moroccan hebrew

heres a Syrian torah reading http://pizmonim.org/book.php?recording=1241

the thing is the beth itself is softer (like Spanish) so sometime it can sound like almost v but it's not made using teeth. They always transliterate B as Ma'arib,ya'aqob etc


Not true. Most Sephardim and 3edoth hammizraH did not do V for veth but many today do now. The majority did do it for waw though except for

1) Iraqis,Yemenites and Berber Jew of north Africa (but not Sefaradim of north africa)

as for not abandoning fathers tradition, that is only Ashkenazim, majority of Sephardic/MizraHi authorities believe if you can consistently do better pronunciation you should, and that is why organizations like Yeshivath kisse ra7amim exist! כתוב על תטוש תורת אמך ולא על תטוש שבוש אביך

I recommend this book on the subject http://www.wslibrary.net/sifria/he/dikduk/1768-sefat-emet-siftei-kohen_rbentsion-hakohen.html

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