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Re: Essene etymology

> Why would it be Xassaya (implying a dagesh hazaq in the samekh)?   If we
> assume no dagesh (note that Jastrow gives both ASA and ASSA for healer) --
> or alternatively if we assume hebrew Xasiyn or Xasiyd, neither of which
> have dagesh in the Samekh -- then the following occurs to me:
> Wouldn't the initial Xet, as a guttural introducing an unstressed open
> syllable, have been pointed with Xataf-pataX?  This of course is half-way
> between an "a" and an "e" -- which could account for the rendering Essene
> with an E rather than Assene with an A, thus answering the vocalization ques-
> tion that someone asked a while back.

I don't wish to comment on the merits of the dagesh, but disagree that the
a-e equation is a reason for supposing an open syllable with hatef-patah,
for a couple of reasons.  First, there are quite a few LXX proper nouns
that have epsilon where the MT has patah in a closed syllable.  Two of the
better-known examples are MT malki-cedeq, LXX melchisedek and MT naftali,
LXX nephthali. Second, why should hatef-patah be any closer to "e" than
patah?  The Masoretic symbol for hatef-patah, and I believe also Masoretic
descriptions of the vowel, suggest that it is simply a patah of short
duration, not differing from it qualitatively.  I think you would do
better to argue, as Masoretic phonology and Greek transcriptions suggest,
that patah, regardless of duration, was a fronted "a" vowel, and hence
close to e. 

Fritz Knobloch
    Dr. Frederick W. Knobloch 
    Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies
    0113 Woods Hall
    University of Maryland              Phone: (301) 405-4980
    College Park, MD 20742-7415         E-mail: fk24@umail.umd.edu