https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chefjan17

Biblical vs Modern Hebrew - letter B - bet

If in Biblical Hebrew there were no vowel points used originally, how would we know today to pronounce Abraham, for example, as Avraham with a v. Why isn't it Abraham?

When I look at transliterations of names from Scripture I see no consistency. For example, Baalzebub. I have seen this transliterated as Baal Zevuv. Why wouldn't the B in Baal be a V as in Zevuv, or Zevuv left as Bs.

It's interesting to note that in modern Hebrew the B has the dagesh to give it the B sound, and without it is a V. And since no dagesh was used originally in Scripture why aren't all words pronounced with a V and not a B?

October 12, 2017

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeviPolasak

There is a rule called "beged kefet", which basically says since it's in the beginning of the word, it's pronounced like a v and not a b. I don't really know these rules well, but there's more to beged kefet

October 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/E.T.Gregor

I think it should be the other way round... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begadkefat

October 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Neshariym

Yes, when a Beit בּ has a dagesh in the Bible it is pronounced as a 'B' sound, but when there is no dagesh on a Beit ב then it is always pronounced as a 'v' in the Bible (at least in the Sephardi dialect).

April 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chefjan17

So if I understand your comment, baal should really be pronounced as vaal. But that doesn't explain a B in the middle of a word.

October 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/webgenie

The initial ב and ב after another vowel should be pronounced B. Also if it has a dagesh, such as in the piel conjugation. After a vowel it should be pronounced v.

October 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shaharkohan

There are several ways to know when to use dagesh and when not.

  1. beged kefet- the letters ב ג ד כ פ ת will always have dagesh at the start of a word or after a shva nah (you can read about shva here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shva).

  2. dagesh tavniti- in the binyanim piel pual and hitpael the second letter of the root letters will always have dagesh. there are also some noun templates which have a built in dagesh.

  3. dagesh mashlim- occurs usually in verbs so isnt really important for this instace.

October 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chefjan17

In the Tanakh, before the niqqud were added by the Masoretes, how would this name be spelled in English? אברהם I know the bet with a dagesh in modern Hebrew is a B, and without it is a V. Wouldn't this name be started with a V and not a B when no niqqud are present? בנימין I am trying to understand how to pronounce and read Biblical Hebrew.

October 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shaharkohan

well you shouldent have a problem reading biblical hebrew because the tanakh has nikkud. as for your question about אברהם, its possible that it was pronounced with B and not with V, we dont know and we cant, nowadays we say it with V because there is no reason to read it as B, it doesnt fit any of the rules I mentioned above.

October 18, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chefjan17

I'm taking an online class in Ancient Hebrew and it was said that if the bet follows a vowel it is pronounced as a V. I'm always amazed at how many different ways the names in Scripture are transliterated since we don't know for sure. Thanks for your response. It confirmed what I thought.

October 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Neshariym

It is my theory that the Bible always had vowel and cantillation markings. I have this theory for many many reasons. In other words, I believe that Mosheh wrote the torah with vowel markings on it. The popular believe does indeed say that there were no vowel markings in the original writings of Mosheh, but I say that until we actually see the Torah with the real ark of the covenant, we just will not know for sure.

April 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/E.T.Gregor

As far as I recall, niqud were introduced in the Early Middle Ages and used to record the pronounciation of Tiberian Hebrew, a form of Hebrew in use by scholars in the town of Tiberia that had much older roots (i.e. it didn't reflect the language that was spoken at the time, but tried to stick to oral tradition). It is considered by most scholars to be the closest approximation to Biblical Hebrew available.

October 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chefjan17

Actually, the niqud were introduced by the Masoretes during the 6th and 10th centuries CE. During this time they invented a system of vocalization, punctuation, and cantillation marks for the cantors (religious singers) to sing Scripture. The Hebrew texts found in Cave 4 of the Dead Sea Scrolls were without the vowel points. Hence my question of how can we know if all letters with a Bet should be pronounced as a B instead of some with a B and some with a V.

October 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/webgenie

Because Hebrew still existed as a living language at the time in places, and was pointed precisely so the pronunciation would not be lost as it was with Egyptian hieroglyphics. Hebrew is the only language that has been "resurrected" or given new life..

October 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chefjan17

Take a look at this. https://www.myhebrewbible.com/Home/Tetragrammaton It shows the many different ways that YHWH can be written by using different vowel points. So how do we know how to spell the names???

October 12, 2017
Learn Hebrew in just 5 minutes a day. For free.