Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heth - a strong guttural

This strong guttural ח is difficult to see and distinguish from ה in small text. Why would a language need all these letters that sound the same? It will become obvious that they are two very distinct letters. In contrast to ה, the letter ח does not take part in grammatical affixes and suffixes. The sound of ח occurs in Ruth in bread and mercy, the bread of Bethlehem בֵּית לֶחֶם and the mercy חֶסֶד of the covenant. Well perhaps I should not forget the name of מַחְלוֹן or the first הָאַחַת of the Moabite wives. The distinction between the two similar 'h' letters is clearly seen in the following three word snippet

לָתֵת לָהֶם לָחֶם
 latét lahem laxm
to give to them bread
The word in the middle לָהֶם is 'to them' - preposition + pronoun affixed to it, comprised entirely from the set of 11 letters that take part in such close encounters of the grammatical kind. The final word לָחֶם is a noun all by itself without any grammatical affixes at all. The first word is from נתן - to give with only one letter left from the root due to the tendency of nun's to disappear.

Perhaps the central word of the Old Testament, a word meaning covenant mercy, lovingkindness, or even reproof, is this one, חֶסֶד that occurs three times in Ruth
יַעַשׂ יְהוָה עִמָּכֶם חֶסֶד
 ya`ash yy `imakem xsed
may יְהוָה deal with you with mercy
That letter ח plays a part in rest also, a word used twice in Ruth.
יִתֵּן יְהוָה לָכֶם וּמְצֶאןָ מְנוּחָה
yitén yy lakem vumce)na mnvuxah
may יְהוָה give to you and may you find rest 
and ח is part of mother in law not to mention various other nouns and long prepositions
וַתִּשַּׁק עָרְפָּה לַחֲמוֹתָהּ
and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law
vàtishàq `arpah làxamvotah
בִּתְחִלַּת קְצִיר שְׂעֹרִים
 bitxilàt qcyr s`orym
at the commencement of the harvest of barley
חֶלְקַת הַשָּׂדֶה לְבֹעַז
xlqàt hàsadeh lbo`àz
on the part of the field belonging to Boaz
וְהָלַכְתְּ אַחֲרֵיהֶן
vhalàkt )àxaréyhen
and you go behind them
אֲשֶׁר-בָּאת לַחֲסוֹת תַּחַת-כְּנָפָיו
 )asher-ba)t làxasvot tàxàt-knapayv
to whom you came to take refuge under his wings
But the words that begin with het - mercy and grace and life - not a bad lot
אַחַר אֲשֶׁר אֶמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינָיו
)àxàr )asher )emca)-xén b`éynayv
after the one in whose eyes I will find favor
 אֶת-הַחַיִּים וְאֶת-הַמֵּתִים
)et-hàxàyym v)et-hàmétym
for the living and the dead
Tet ט is yet to come.

No comments: