Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

A friend today told me that the word חשמונאי traditionally pronounced "Chashmonai" should really be pronounced "Chashmunai" with the vav being read as a shuruk vowel instead of a cholom.

Is this true? How would one know? And if so, when and why did it change?

NOTE: Since this is an issue where many people feel very connected to their received pronunciation, a clear online source that anyone can read is highly recommended.

share|improve this question
Also of interest: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66132 – msh210 Dec 9 '15 at 21:58
is this on topic? – mevaqesh May 24 at 9:14

"Chashmunai" is the spelling in the old siddurim i.e. the siddurim in manuscript (see the research in 'Azor Eliyahu'). It was changed to Chashmonai about 200 years ago. Wether the name Chashmun is the name of the grandfather or of the whole family is disputed.

Re: "Chashmonay" vs. "Chashmona'i"- Modern ivrit uses "...a'i" everywhere, such as Chashmona'i, barka'i... rather than the old barkay, based on the assumption that there are two nekudot- patach and chirik. However the original nikud in manuscripts has only 'patach' no "chirik".

share|improve this answer
alius, Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for this information! I look forward to seeing you around. Would it be possible to edit in some more information about your references, including Azor Eliyahu, to help people who want to look up the same information? – Isaac Moses Dec 20 '11 at 14:56
I don't have it next to me now, "Azor Eliyahu" is a siddur which has traced the original nusach ashkenaz (and the Gr"o nusach). It states who made the change to chashmonai, I can't remember who it was. – alius Dec 20 '11 at 17:30
They also use the original "ay" - Chashmunay, not a'i". – alius Dec 20 '11 at 17:37
I checked and found that the change to Chashmonai with a cholom was made by Rav Wolf Heidenheim. @H'Gabriel it could be that the haskamot were given based on the halachot and overall nusach, most siddurim do not research manuscripts. – alius Dec 21 '11 at 11:36
Some manuscripts have shuruk some kubutz. – alius Dec 21 '11 at 12:36

Josephus transliterates the name as Ἀσαμωναίος. The transliterated form ω corresponds to long o (see Brønno, "Some nominal types in the Septuagint" in Classica et Mediaevalia 3 and Studien über Hebräische Morphologie und Vokalismus auf Grundlage der Mercatischen Fragmente der zweiten Kolumne der Hexapla des Origines). For example, יוֹנָתָן is transliterated as Ἰωνάθην. It would appear, therefore, that Josephus used the form commonly used today.

Nevertheless, old mss agree with u in the name. MS Kaufman A50 (Italy[?], c. 11th cent.), widely considered to be the best extant Mishnah ms, has חַשְׁמוּנַּיִי (e.g. Middot 1:5). Though it is hard to see, it appears that MS Parma 3173 (1073 CE) agrees with this vocalization. The eleventh century MS Bibliotheque Nationale 649 also has this form, but without the dagesh and with the ending אי-.

Thus, the early mss attest to the form with shuruq. Perhaps there two traditions for the pronunciation.

EDIT: From the Cairo Genizah: T-S AS 105.17 (1r): חַשְׁמוּנַּאי

share|improve this answer

No, the correct pronunciation is Chashmonai (see Sidur Abodat Hashem in Al Hanisim. This siddur has Haskamot with Rav Ovadia Shelita and Rav Meir Mazuz Shelita).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.