Thursday, May 21, 2009

The kametz in the zakef on tikkach

On Bemidbar 3:47, there is a slight irregularity in the nikkud on one word. The word tikkach would normally have a patach rather than the kametz which is present. With the kametz, it is a pausal form of the word. This had no impact on meaning, but it is an ornate form of the word usually found at a major pausal juncture, most often the sof pasuk and the etnachta.

Yet the trup on the word tikkach is zakef katon! This is out of the ordinary, but not so much so that it never happens. When this occurs, a masoretic note (as exists here, with that little hollow circle referring to it) will indicate a kametz in a zakef.

In this particular instance, I can understand on logical grounds why the author of trup would indicate such a level of pause. There are three independent thoughts in this pasuk, which can even stand independently on the level of syntax, and Esrim Gera Hashekel deserves to be off on its own. This makes it almost as if there are two etnachtas in this pasuk, reflecting this.

The alternative to this is to claim (as Shadal has done elsewhere) that the trup and the nikkud reflect two different traditions in this case, one with the etnachta on tikkach, and one with the etnachta on lagulgolet.

It would be interesting to do a study on all these instances of pausal forms on zakef, and see if any consistent theory can emerge. Indeed, someone probably has already done this, but I simply did not hear of it...

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