When the same sound is called for on both sides of a maqaf, does this call for a single, prolonged version of that sound, or a second articulation of that sound? E.g. אֶל־לִבּֽוֹ׃ in Gen 6:6.

In practice, I suspect that it would be hard to re-articulate without adding an unwanted pause. So perhaps I'm asking more about theory than practice.

Biblically, this most often occurs with lamed (ל־ל). But it is also not rare (dozens of instances) with tav (ת־ת), nun (ן־נ), and mem (ם־מ). It happens on other letters, too, but only rarely. E.g. I find only two cases with tsadi (ץ־צ).

Rarely, it happens when the same sound is called for, but not using the same letter. E.g. יִשְׁפֹּֽט־תֵּבֵ֥ל in Ps 9:9. (Of course, this example is not calling for the same sound in a dialect that distinguishes tet from tav.) BTW in that example I think the dagesh in the tav is qal not ḥazaq so we need not get into whether this somehow calls for a triple-prolonged version of this sound!


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There is some discussion about the matter in Berakhot 15b, relating to the precise reading of the Shema and it's subsequent sections. The phrase בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֥ is cited as an example of where one is prone to slurring the words, and where one therefore ought to pause between enunciating the words.

Evidently, many Jewish communities took this rule to mean that they should pause between words that could be slurred in reading from Tanach. Morag writes that Yemenite Jews, for example, are careful to not to merge letters of adjacent words, whether the first has conjunctive or disjunctive accents (though he makes no mention of maqef) (העברית שבפי יהודי תימן, 65–6).

Katz notes that the Jews of Djerba also were careful to distinguish between words, even if there is a maqef between them. In fact, some readers would add an extra vowel between the words as a sort of separator, e.g. בן-נון as bine-nun (מסורת הקריאה של קהילת ג'רבה במקרא ובמשנה, 51).

There is some evidence that this was also the case in earlier stages of Hebrew. The בגדכפ"ת consonants were fricatives when they were proceeded by a vowel, unless the consonant was geminated; in this case, the original plosive was preserved. Consequently, if words like עַד־דָּֽן were pronounced without a pause between them, we would expect the pronunciation to be either something like ʿaddān (if the dalet were geminated), or something like ʿaðān (if the dalet were not geminated). However, the niqud indicates the first dalet is a fricative, and the second is a plosive. This suggests that a pause was likely present when the fricativization process took hold (as early as the Second Temple period?).


From what I learned from my Aramaic speaking Torah teacher. In this instance you repeat the sound. The maqaf serves to indicate these words grammatically should be taken as one word in terms of pausing, but not taken as one word in terms of merging letter sounds. Usually to combine 2 Lamed Sounds or two of any letter sounds this is indicated with a Dageish Hazaq

In the case of a simple doubling of the letter, we end up with a dageish hazak and we pronounce that doubled letter a bit different. For example, Shabbat is not Sha-bbat. It's Shab-bat. In much the same way roommate is pronounced room-mate not roo-mate

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