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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Pronunciation of Biblical Hebrew

Evidence for the pronunciation of Hebrew during the biblical period comes from three main sources:

Transliterations of Hebrew into Akkadian, Greek, Latin, and Arabic. Some Hebrew proper nouns are transliterated into cuneiform in e.g.,Нa ‐za‐qi‐a‐‐u Ya‐u‐da‐ai “Hezekiah the Judean” in Sennacherib's annals from the very beginning of the 7th century BCE. The Septuagint (3rd century BCE) is a rich source for transliteration of proper nouns, though, as is the case with all transliterations, there are many unknown variables including the lack of a oneto‐one correspondence between the Hebrew alphabet and theGreek alphabet and the possibility that the Hebrew tradition underlying the transliteration into Greek differs chronologically and possibly dialectically from the Hebrew of the Tiberian tradition that is found in Bibles currently used. See, e.g., the difference in pronunciation between the Greek transliteration Rebekka and Tiberian Hebrew Rivka. The Hexapla of the church father Origen, a sixcolumn work from the 2nd to 3rd centuries CE, is also of importance since column two (the “Secunda”) contains the Biblical text (not only proper nouns) transliterated into Greek. Unfortunately, only fragments from the Psalms have survived. Transliteration of Hebrew into the Roman alphabet is attested in the 5th century in the Latin works of Jerome. Biblical Hebrew transcribed into Arabic can be found in medieval Karaite works.

Vocalized Manuscripts. The oldest extant manuscripts of the Bible are the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran, which are purely consonantal and have no vowel signs. The oldest manuscripts with vowel signs (and cantillation signs that serve as musical notes and also mark word stress and punctuation) are attested only about a thousand years later toward the end of the first millenium. Four different vocalization systems were in use during the Middle Ages. The most prestigious system and the one that is still used today is that of the Tiberian Masoretes (see “Masoretic Bible,” pp. 2077–84), who devised vowel and cantillation signs in order to preserve an ancient tradition of reading that had been passed down orally for centuries. There were also Masoretes in Babylonia who developed a separate graphic system of pointing, which reflects a slightly different pronunciation. The discovery of the Cairo Genizah at the end of the 19th century revealed another system, known today as the “Palestinian,” which ap‐pears to be the ancestor of the Sephardic pronunciation of Hebrew (both the kamatz and the pataḥ are pronounced as a, and both the tzere and segol are realized as e). A fourth system known as “the expanded Tiberian” or “Tiberian‐Palestinian” makes use of Tiberian vowel signs to represent a “Palestinian” pronunciation.

Oral Traditions of the Recitation of the Bible. The oral traditions of the recitation of the Bible that have survived into the present also deserve mention, in particular that of the Yemenite Jews, whose reading tradition preserves many old features, e.g., the hard/ soft (stop/fricative) pronunciation of all six consonants bgdkpt (in contrast to Modern Hebrew where one finds an alternation of b/v, k/kh, and p/f, but not g/gh, d/dh, and t/th). Additional phenomena in the Yemenite reading tradition conform to what is described in the medieval treatises of the Tiberian Masoretes and thus demonstrate the antiquity of the tradition.

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