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By default, the world אַתָּה (you) has a final stress. If I am correct (and the concordance as well), out of 172 occurrences 159 satisfies this rule in the Torah (92%).* However, if this word is in a pausal position, the stress is withdrawn to the penultimate syllable (Bereishit 29:14):

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ לָבָ֔ן אַ֛ךְ עַצְמִ֥י וּבְשָׂרִ֖י אָ֑תָּה וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב עִמּ֖וֹ חֹ֥דֶשׁ יָמִֽים׃

And Laban said to him: "Surely thou art my bone and my flesh." And he abode with him the space of a month.

I have counted 7 such cases (4%). Yet, right in the next verse we see:

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לָבָן֙ לְיַֽעֲקֹ֔ב הֲכִֽי־אָחִ֣י אַ֔תָּה וַֽעֲבַדְתַּ֖נִי חִנָּ֑ם הַגִּ֥ידָה לִּ֖י מַה־מַּשְׂכֻּרְתֶּֽךָ׃

And Laban said unto Jacob: 'Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? Tell me, what shall thy wages be?'

I have found 6 cases where there is a patach despite the penultimate stress (Bereishit 3:19, 22:12, 29:15, 32:17, 49:3, Shemot 33:3). 5 of them have zakeif katan, 1 has pashta. Aren't these disjunctives strong enough to warrant a kamatz? Does it happen due to a nasog achor? Are these cases simply exceptions?

* I have considered the words: אַתָּה, וְאַתָּה, אָתָּה, וָאָתָּה.

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The words אתה and עתה both have "minor" pausal forms אַ֔תָּה and עַ֔תָּה, that occur only at lesser disjunctives: tipḥa x5, zaqef qaton x23, pashta x2, and revi'a x2; and in the poetic books: etnaḥ x4 and revi'a gadol x1. The full pausal forms never appear at these disjunctives.

Why other words do not have a minor pausal form, that I can't tell you.


Here's a list of the minor pausal forms occurrences for אתה and עתה, respectively:

  • Gen 3:19, 22:12, 29:15, 32:18, 49:3, Ex 33:3, Judg 12:5, Sam 1:17:33, 1:20:8, 1:30:13, 2:15:2, 2:15:19, Kings 1:1:42, 2:9:25, Is 41:9, 44:21, Jer 2:27, 17:17, Hos 2:25, Hab 2:16, Psa 2:7, 25:7, 40:18, 70:6, 76:8, Ezra 9:15, Chr 1:28:3, 2:14:10.

  • Gen 46:34, Judg 11:7, Is 48:6, Jer 3:4, Ezek 4:14, Hag 2:3, Ruth 2:7, Dan 10:17, Chr 2:16:9.

All the counts here come from the article Exegesis and Pausal Forms with Non-Pausal Accents in the Hebrew Bible by Dr James D. Price.

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  • Then why I don't have a single one from 6 zakeif gadol and why do I have 3 "normal" ones with zakeif katan? – Kazi bácsi Nov 25 '20 at 19:08
  • Great question. I think we don't know much about the distribution of pausal forms, especially on lesser disjunctives. Even weirder, page 7 of the linked article lists cases where silluq and etnaḥta have non-pausal forms, for no apparent reason. – magicker72 Nov 25 '20 at 19:22
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/70824/… magicker did you find that on your own? @Kazi (and judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/73957/…) – Double AA Nov 25 '20 at 19:26
  • In Torah the (triple) exception is עַ֤ם קָדוֹשׁ֙ אַתָּ֔ה לַיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ, where there isn't really a pause in the meaning, while in the penultimate stress case there's indeed a rhetoric pause as the article argues, so there might be something. – Kazi bácsi Nov 25 '20 at 19:28
  • @DoubleAA Indeed, I have noticed it, but my question was whether it was a pausal form or a nasog achor. As a sidenote, does nasog achor work if the syllable has an additional sheva as well like this: אַ֔תָּה וְלֹ֥א? – Kazi bácsi Nov 25 '20 at 19:33

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