In Psalms 18:26:

עִם־חָסִ֥יד תִּתְחַסָּ֑ד עִם־גְּבַ֥ר תָּ֜מִ֗ים תִּתַּמָּֽם

Why is the word עם־גבר vocalised as עִם־גְּבַ֥ר ʕim-ggəvár instead of עִם־גֶּבֶר ʕim-ggέvɛr? I am asking this because גֶּבֶר ggέvɛr seems to be the usual vocalisation.

Also, curiously, the Secunda renders this word as γαβρ gabr, which would correspond to Tiberian Hebrew גֶּבֶר ggέvɛr (a).

I have heard various explanations from different people, here listed in order of credibility (according to me):

  1. Raba (=Ibn Ezra) says that גְּבַר ggəvár is an adjective and is not in construct [with תָּמִ֗ים tʰɔmíym] (b), but I'm not sure what he meant by adjective, or what this tells us about the relationship between גְּבַר ggəvár and גֶּבֶר ggέvɛr.

  2. Rashash (=Samuel Strashun) quoted Rambam (=Maimonides) saying that גֶּבֶר ggέvɛr is sometimes called גְּבַר ggəvár, but I tried to look at Rambam's original statement (c), and I couldn't quite reach the same conclusion.

  3. גְּבַר ggəvár is the Aramaic version of גֶּבֶר ggέvɛr. (d) While this is true, it doesn't explain why an Aramaic word ended up in the middle of a psalm.

  4. Someone suggested that גְּבַר ggəvár is simply the construct of גֶּבֶר ggέvɛr, but I could not find evidence of this claim; on the contrary, the construct of גֶּבֶר ggέvɛr seems to again be גֶּבֶר ggέvɛr (e).

  5. Someome suggested that they are the same word, and the stress was simply moved backwards for poetic purposes.

I would appreciate if someone can clarify the whole situation. In my limited knowledge of Hebrew grammar, I don't think a segolate CέCεC can have a form that is CəCáC, as they belong to different templates.


(a) R. A. Carrera Companioni's transcription of a 9th-century manuscript of Origen's Hexapla has the second part of Psalms 18:26 as:

ουεμ γαβρ θαμιμ θεμαμ̣μ̣α̣μ̣

This γαβρ gabr seems to reflect the segolate ggέvɛr (before the evolution of segolates CaCC > CɛCɛC).

(b) Ibn Ezra on Psalms 18:26:

גבר - תואר ואיננו סמוך

My translation: גבר ggəvár - adjective and not construct

(c) Rambam on Mishnah Bekhorot 7:5:

ובעל גבר על משקל ארץ ולפעמים קורא גבר על משקל גובל [גבר על משקל גבל כדכתיב זקני גבל (יחזקאל כז ט)]

My translation: ובעל גבר uvaʕal ggέvɛr in the template of ארץ έrεṣ, sometimes pronounced גבר √gbr in the template of גובל (govál??) [גבר √gbr in the template of גבל gəvál as the scripture says זקני גבל ziqnéy gəvál in Ezekiel 27:9]

This is what I don't understand, because according to my understanding, Rambam is saying that ggέvɛr is sometimes pronounced ggovár, but then in brackets he is saying ggəvár? But ggovár and ggəvár are different pronunciationns, so why would Rambam put the latter in brackets as if the latter was explaining the former?

For context, this is a commentary on Mishnah Bekhorot 7:5 listing conditions which would disqualify one from priesthood, one of which is וּבַעַל גֶּבֶר uvaʕal ggέvɛr.

(d) Targum Onkelos Genesis 2:24 says:

:עַל כֵּן יִשְׁבּוֹק גְּבַר בֵּית מִשְׁכְּבֵי אַבוּהִי וְאִמֵּהּ וְיִדְבַּק בְּאִתְּתֵהּ וִיהוֹן לְבִסְרָא חָד

(e) Zechariah 13:7 says:

:חֶ֗רֶב עוּרִ֚י עַל־רֹעִי֙ וְעַל־גֶּ֣בֶר עֲמִיתִ֔י נְאֻ֖ם יְהֹוָ֣ה צְבָא֑וֹת הַ֚ךְ אֶת־הָֽרֹעֶה֙ וּתְפוּצֶ֣יןָ הַצֹּ֔אן וַֽהֲשִֽׁבֹתִ֥י יָדִ֖י עַל־הַצֹּֽעֲרִֽים

although someone expressed doubt as to whether גֶּ֣בֶר is in construct state here. But another line of evidence is that segolates CeCeC seem to always have construct state the same CeCeC.

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