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Masoretic spelling and the LXX


The Masoretes record Rivkah, but the LXX gives us Rebekka. The original spelling was Rebkah with short [ae]. The Masoretes consistently recorded that sound as hirek. They forcibly syllabified the words with dagesh kal, Ri-bkah – Riv.kah.

The cluster bk in Re-bkah consisted of two strong plosives, and was broken in speech, Re-b’kah. Kof is aspirated in Hettura because its syllable is unaccented. In the accented syllable, kof is unaspirated, Cain.

According to the Greek accenting convention, stress fell on the penultimate, Reb’kah – RebEkah – RebEkkah (post-tonic gemination).


The Masoretic Zilpah is Zilfa in the LXX. Dagesh kal forced syllabification, Zi-lphah – Zil.pah.

Alternatively to breaking the lp cluster with epenthesis, pey was aspirated. In Calneh, nun could not be aspirated, thus epenthesis, Halanni.

Hebrew had a consistent linguistic tendency of breaking the clusters. That resulted in epenthetic vowels. Hebrew morphology depends on the rigid use of vowels, and additional vowels damaged the words’ structure. The Masoretes, instead, broke the clusters with stop (dagesh kal).


The Masoretes give the first vowel hirek in Rivkah and Zilpah. The LXX concurs in Zilpah, but has [e] in Rebekka because the syllable is open and the vowel is longer than [i].


Uncomfortable tr cluster in Yi-tro is broken by transposition, the LXX’s Yothor.

The Masoretes recorded short indeterminate sound as hirek, and Greeks in that particular instance heard it like o. Similar short sound is recorded as [e] in the LXX’s Melha. The Masoretes consistently used hirek for that sound, while the LXX’ translators uncritically recorded allophonic variations of the indeterminate ultra-short vowel.


The Masoretic spelling is consistent with the LXX evidence. The only difference is caused by the dagesh kal. It re-syllabified the words and changed aspiration, Zi-lphah – Zil.pah.