I am surprised I couldn’t find an answer to this. As we’ve seen in the first few parshiyos (Bereishis, Noach Lech Lecha) there are times when the Torah will write a name with one set of Nikkudot, and then again with a different set of Nikkudot, referring to the same person.

Wouldn’t the person have one way to pronounce their own name?


Noach’s son: Yefes /// Yafes

Avraham’s father: Tarach /// Terach

Ever’s son: Paleg /// Peleg

There are more instances at the end of Parshas Noach, but most seem to revolve around changing the the name between an “Ah” and an “Eh” sound. Why is this? Wasn’t there name pronounced a certain way?

I understand that there are certain grammar rules that define when a Hebrew world will be an “Eh” sound or an “Ah” sound. I am curious how this pertains to a name. A name is generally pronounced one way. Does this mean the way people pronounced each other’s names actually changed?

Note: I am not referring to Avram/Avraham or Sarai/Sarah. Those are clearly identified changes. I am only referring to names that are spelled the same but pronounced differently.

  • 2
    Google ‘pausal form Hebrew’
    – Joel K
    Oct 13, 2021 at 16:09
  • How does that work in a name? A name is pronounced a certain way, no?
    – michael
    Oct 13, 2021 at 16:26
  • @michael a name is no different from any other word. like judaism.stackexchange.com/q/34283/759
    – Double AA
    Oct 13, 2021 at 16:30
  • 2
    I once heard a relevant witticism in the name of Rav Belsky zt"l: If you met the King of Egypt in the morning, you said "Good morning Paroh;" but if you met him in the afternoon, you'd say, "Hello Faroh." Oct 13, 2021 at 19:45
  • 1
    "Does this mean the way people pronounced each other’s names actually changed?" I'm not a grammarian, but I would assume the answer to this would be simply yes, and the proof is the Passuk from the Torah where it does just that? Oct 14, 2021 at 21:15


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