The next two sections (§§ 8 and 9) have been severely criticized (Philippi, ThLZ. 1897, no. 2) for assigning a definite quantity to each of the several vowels, whereas in reality ־ֶ, ־ֵ, ־ׄ are merely signs for ä, e, o: ‘whether these are long or short is not shown by the signs themselves but must be inferred from the rules for the pause which marks the breaks in continuous narrative, or from other circumstances.’ But in the twenty-fourth and subsequent German editions of this Grammar, in the last note on §8a [English ed. p. 38, note 4], it was stated: ‘it must be mentioned that the Masoretes are not concerned with any distinction between long and short vowels, or in general with any question of quantity. Their efforts are directed to fixing the received pronunciation as faithfully as possible, by means of writing. For a long time only שִבְעָה מְלָכִים seven kings were reckoned (vox memor. in Elias Levita וַיּאֹמֶר אֵלִיָּהוּ), Šureq and Qibbuṣ being counted as one vowel. The division of the vowels in respect of quantity is a later attempt at a scientific conception of the phonetic system, which was not invented but only represented by the Masoretes (Qimchi; Mikhlol, ed. Rittenb. 136 a, distinguishes the five long as mothers from their five daughters).’
I have therefore long shared the opinion that ‘the vowel-system represented by the ordinary punctuation (of Tiberias) was primarily intended to mark only differences of quality’ (Sievers, Metrische Studien, i. 17). There is, however, of course a further question how far these ‘later’ grammarians were mistaken in assigning a particular quantity to the vowels represented by particular signs. In Philippi’s opinion they were mistaken (excluding of course î, ê, ô when written plene) in a very great number of cases, since not only does ־ָ stand, according to circumstances, for å̄ or å̆, and ־ֶ for ǟ or ä̆, but also ־ֵ for ē or ĕ, and ־ׄ for ō or ŏ, e.g. כָּבֵד and קָטֹן, out of pause kå̄bĕ́d, qå̄ṭŏ́n (form קָטַל), but in pause kå̄bḗd, qå̄ṭṓn.
I readily admit, with regard to Qameṣ and Segol, that the account formerly given in §8f. was open to misconstruction. With regard to Ṣere and Ḥolem, however, I can only follow Philippi so long as his view does not conflict with the (to me inviolable) law of a long vowel in an open syllable before the tone and (except Pathaḥ) in a final syllable with the tone. To me כָּבֵד = kå̄bĕ́d, &c., is as impossible as e.g. עֵנָב = ʿĕnab or בֹּרַךְ = bŏrakh, in spite of the analogy cited by Sievers (p. 18, note 1) that ‘in old German e.g. original ĭ and ŭ often pass into ĕ and ŏ dialectically, while remaining in a closed syllable.
First Class. A-sound.
|A||1.||־ָ||Qāmĕṣ denotes either ā, â, more strictly å̄ (the obscure Swedish å) and å̂, as יָד yå̄d (hand), רָאשִׁים rā’šîm (heads), or å̆ (in future transcribed as ŏ), called Qāmeṣ ḥāṭûph, i.e. hurried Qameṣ. The latter occurs almost exclusively as a modification of ŭ; cf. c and §9u.|
|2.||־ַ||Páthăḥ, ă, בַּת băth (daughter).|
- In early MSS. the sign for Qameṣ is a stroke with a point underneath, i.e. according to Nestle’s discovery (ZDMG. 1892, p. 411 f.), Pathaḥ with Ḥolem, the latter suggesting the obscure pronunciation of Qameṣ as å. Cf. also Ginsburg, Introd., p. 609.
- Instead of the no doubt more accurate transcription å̄, å̂ we have retained ā, â in this grammar, as being typographically simpler and not liable to any misunderstanding. For Qameṣ ḥaṭuph, in the previous German edition expressed by å̆, we have, after careful consideration, returned to ŏ The use of the same sign ־ָ for å̄ (å̂) and å̆, shows that the Massoretes did not intend to draw a sharp distinction between them. We must not, however, regard the Jewish grammarians as making a merely idle distinction between Qāmeṣ rāḥāb, or broad Qameṣ, and Qāmeṣ hatûph, or light Qameṣ. It is quite impossible that in the living language an ā lengthened from ă, as in dābār, should have been indistinguishable from e.g. the last vowel in וַיָּשָׁב or the first in קָֽדָשִׁים.—The notation â, ê, ô expresses here the vowels essentially long, either naturally or by contraction; the notation ā, ē, ō those lengthened only by the tone, and therefore changeable; ă, ĕ, ŏ the short vowels. As regards the others, the distinction into î and ĭ, û and ŭ is sufficient; see §9.—The mark ֫ stands in the following pages over the tone-syllable, whenever this is not the last, as is usual, but the penultimate syllable of the word, e.g. יֵ֫שֶׁב.