The Morphology of the Biblical Root ḥ-­b-­q A Diachronic Analysis

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Nili Samet



This paper discusses the stem variance of the root ḥ­b­q in the Bible, suggesting that its inconsistent conjugation does not reflect the original Biblical Hebrew, but rather results from an anachronistic pronunciation created by the Masoretes. The paper reviews the research of Masoretic anachronisms and the methodologies developed to identify them, applying these to the case of the root ḥ­b­q. It concludes that ḥ­b­q belongs to a specific type of Masoretic anachronism, in which original Qal forms were misvocalized by the Masoretes as Piel under the influence of Mishnaic Hebrew. After presenting biblical and extra-biblical evidence to support this conclusion, the paper briefly discusses some of its main implications for the diachronic study of ancient Hebrew: the "late spelling paradox," the scope of the phenomenon of substituting Piel for Qal, and the relation between Masoretic anachronisms and the scholarly debate about the linguistic reliability of the Masoretic text.

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