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The first mention of the Parah Adumah in Parshas Chukas (Numbers 19:2) is:

דַּבֵּ֣ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֣וּ אֵלֶיךָ֩ פָרָ֨ה אֲדֻמָּ֜ה

Instruct the people of Israel to bring you a red cow without blemish

There "פָרָה" is without a dagesh (dot inside) and is pronounced with an "F" sound- "farrah."

However, in describing the rest of the procedure the Torah uses "פָּרָה" with a dagesh, pronounced as "parah" with a hard "P" sound (see 19:5, 19:6 19:9, 19:10)

Question:
Why is the first mention of the Parah Adumah "פָרָה" instead of "פָּרָה"?

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Generally, when a word ends in a vowel sound, without a pausal cantillation note on that word, the first letter in the next word loses its dagesh. Usually, the rule is stated in terms of the previous word ending with one of the letters אהוי, but here, it seems to be operating on the previous word's last consonant being succeeded in pronunciation by a vowel. It's probably smoother to pronounce a fricative (non-dagesh) consonant right after a vowel sound than a harder consonant.

Source: High school Biblical grammar class. These rules are written up in books, but none of those books are ultimately the source for the rules, as they're all based ultimately on observing patterns in the Torah itself.

  • This isn't the first time on this site someone has had to explain basic biblical begedkefet rules. Do we really need a new question for every word? Is there not a sufficient duplicate already? Or can we make a sufficiently canonical one? – Double AA Jul 11 at 14:29
  • @DoubleAA If there's another question that is an instance of the same אהוי rule, I think it would be fair to dupe them. – Isaac Moses Jul 11 at 14:35
  • I wish all day schools had a high school Biblical grammar class! – Heshy Jul 11 at 14:36
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    @DoubleAA OTOH, this one is an אהוי question without the [apparent] presence of אהוי, so it's a little special. I guess it would be helpful to have a question asking "In the Torah, when does the first letter of a word get a dagesh, and when doesn't it?" A comprehensive-enough answer to that would probably be short of book-length and could be a helpful dupe-target. – Isaac Moses Jul 11 at 14:45
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