Remarks on syllabic structure and metrical structure in Biblical Hebrew
In the Middle Ages Biblical Hebrew was transmitted in a variety of oral reading traditions, which became textualized in systems of vocalization signs. The two most important oral traditions were the Tiberian and the Babylonian, which were represented by different vocalization sign systems. These two oral traditions had their origins in ancient Palestine. Although closely related, they exhibit several differences. These include differences in syllable and metrical structure. This paper examines how the syllable and metrical structure of the two traditions reflected by the medieval vocalization sign systems should be reconstructed. The Tiberian tradition exhibits an on ‘onset typology’ of syllabification, where word-internal /CCC/ clusters are syllabified /C.CC/ and word-initial clusters are syllabified within the onset /CC /. The Babylonian tradition exhibits a right-to-left computation of syllables resulting in a ‘coda typology,’ whereby the second consonant of a word-internal sequence /CCC/ is syllabified as a coda, viz. /CC.C/, and word-initial clusters are syllabified C.C, with the first consonant extra-syllabic.