You may know that I’m currently leading a group through a study of The Basics of Biblical Aramaic (BBA) from the Zondervan Language Basics series. Last week we covered chapter 9, which you can view here on our YouTube channel (youtube.com/thehebrewcafe).

You may also be aware of the project known as the Daily Dose of Hebrew  (DDH), which is currently working through Deuteronomy chapter 7. I happened to passively listen through their playlist of Deuteronomy chapter 5 while working on other things online today, and once I got a chance I decided to just open up the chapter and read through it on my own. The following verse (5:23 or 5:27, depending on your version [DDH Video]) jumped out at me because of a connection to what we covered in Aramaic this week:

Deuteronomy 5:23 (Hebrew = 5:27 in Christian Bibles)

קְרַ֤ב אַתָּה֙ וּֽשְׁמָ֔ע אֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר יֹאמַ֖ר יַהְוֶ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֑ינוּ וְאַ֣תְּ ׀ תְּדַבֵּ֣ר אֵלֵ֗ינוּ אֵת֩ כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְדַבֵּ֜ר יַהְוֶ֧ה אֱלֹהֵ֛ינוּ אֵלֶ֖יךָ וְשָׁמַ֥עְנוּ וְעָשִֽׂינוּ׃

Notice that the expression וְאַתְּ תְּדַבֵּר “and you shall speak.” This looks like grammatical discord. We would expect to see either וְאַתָּה תְּדַבֵּר‎ (2ms) or וְאַתְּ תְּדַבְּרִי‎ (2fs), but what we actually see seems odd.

The 2ms personal pronoun is used fourteen times in the Aramaic portions of the Bible (BlueLetterBible), where it displays an oddity. In all non-biblical Aramaic, the form is either אַנְתְּ or אַתְּ for the masculine and אַנְתִּי for the feminine (Hebrew was originally [pre-historically] אַתִּי for 2fs according to Gesenius §32h), but biblical Aramaic uses אנתה, which the Masoretes understood to be spelled incorrectly and they corrected to אַנְתְּ in the kəṯîḇ-qĕrî system. Gesenius suggests, though, that we should actually read it as אַנְתָּה under the influence of Hebrew. This would make these pronouns ʾantâ (2ms) and ʾantî (2fs), which correspond exactly to the 2ms and 2fs pronouns in Arabic (أَنْتَ ʾanta and أَنْتِ ʾanti, respectively).

In Hebrew, the historical *אַנְתָּה ʾantâ became אַתָּה ʾattâ with the assimilation of the nun before the tav, but in Aramaic and Arabic there was no assimilation of the nun, which remained in these forms. The verse here in question shows that these personal pronouns were not only in fluctuation in biblical Aramaic (which doesn’t evince the 2fs or 2fp pronouns at all), but that biblical Hebrew also had a range of forms that popped up in verses hidden throughout the text of the Bible. In §32g, Gesenius says that אַתְּ should be read as 2ms three times in the Bible: Numbers 11:15, Deuteronomy 5:24, and Ezekiel 28:14.

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