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Some names are popularly used in a different form than the way they're spelled or pronounced in Tanach. A few that I can think of are:

  • Nochum (נָחוּם) - is written in Tanach (Nah. 1:1) as נַחוּם (with a patach under the nun).

  • Yerachmiel (יְרַחְמִיאֵל) - is written in Tanach (Jer. 36:26; I Chron. 2:9 passim, and 24:29) as יְרַחְמְאֵל (with a sheva under the mem, and no second yud).

  • Yeruchom (יְרֻחָם) - is written in Tanach (I Sam. 1:1; Neh. 11:12; I Chron. 6:12,19, 8:27, 9:8,12, 12:8, 27:22; II Chron. 23:1) as יְרֹחָם (with a cholam following the reish).

Where do these variants come from? And in the case of Yerachmiel, where the spelling (not just the pronunciation) is different, does halachah recognize the popular spelling as valid for use in official documents like kesubos and gittin, or is the Biblical form supposed to be used?

(There are others, such as Yeshayah/u and Yirmiyah/u, where both forms are found in Tanach. My question is about ones such as those listed above, where all usages of each name are spelled and pronounced the same way each time.)


Some others mentioned in comments (thanks all):

  • Daniel (דָּנִיאֵל) - is written in Tanach (in the book of that name, as well as in Ez. 8:2, Neh. 10:7 and I Chron. 3:1) as דָּנִיֵּאל (with the tzeirei under the yud, which also has a dagesh).

  • Basyah (בַּתְיָה) - is written in Tanach (I Chron. 4:18) as בִּתְיָה (with a chirik under the beis). (That may have been influenced by the Midrash, Vayikra Rabbah 1:3, in which Hashem, so to speak, adopts her as His daughter - בַּת יָ-הּ - in recognition of her having done the same for Moshe.)

  • Shamshon (שַׁמְשׁוֹן) - is written in Tanach (Judg. 13:25 passim) as שִׁמְשׁוֹן (with a chirik under the first shin). (That may have been influenced by the non-Jewish form, originally from the Septuagint.)

  • Tuviah (טוּבְיָה) - is written in Tanach (Zech. 6:10,14; Ez. 2:60; Neh. 3:35 passim; II Chron. 17:8) as טוֹבִיָּה (with a cholam after the tes, a chirik under the veis and a dagesh in the yud). That one might actually imply a difference in meaning: Tuviah - "the goodness of G-d"; Toviah - "G-d is good."

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Don't forget about Noiach (נח) :) –  Dave Feb 10 '12 at 2:47
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What about bityah vs the common batyah? see chronicles i 4:18 for those who don't believe me. –  Double AA Feb 10 '12 at 4:31
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@DoubleAA, good point. Although that at least might be justified by the Midrash's etymology of it as Hashem calling her "daughter of G-d" - בַּת יָ-הּ. –  Alex Feb 10 '12 at 4:37
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I suggest (no source) that the name became yerucham because people either did not understand the concept of tashlum dagesh from the middle root letter in pual, or they lost a need for it as the Het became a Chet. –  Double AA Feb 10 '12 at 4:46
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I vote for etymology instead of tanach. The question doesn't have to do with tanach. –  Double AA Feb 10 '12 at 4:49

1 Answer 1

I'll address part of the question, viz:

And in the case of Yerachmiel, where the spelling (not just the pronunciation) is different, does halachah recognize the popular spelling as valid for use in official documents like kesubos and gittin, or is the Biblical form supposed to be used?

The former: halacha supports the popular spelling. Aruch Hashulchan (YD 129) writes (in my own loose translation, with any questionable translation marked in brackets with question mark [thus?]):

ירחמיאל we write like that [in a get], with a yod after the mem. There's a dispute among the pos'kim about this, but that's how the Bes Sh'muel decided: that around these parts people typically write it with a yod. All the more so for us, who [stress?] the mem with a chirik. This is unless the man in question signs his name [by repute?] without a yod, in which case you should write "ירחמאל, who's called ירחמיאל", for..., since we pronounce it with a chirik, it's a different name [from that in Divre Hayamim], so we must write "who's called".

(I see also that the Bes Sh'muel (129) says about Y'rucham that if someone's name is pronounced that way (with a shuruk), then it should be written in a get with a vav (unless we know he spells it without one).)

As always, consult a qualified rabbi if this is a practical matter for you.

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