On Sh'mos 2:3 and 15:17, Minchas Shay notes that הַצְּפִינוֹ and מִקְּדָשׁ have a dagesh in their respective second letters "for adornment (tif'eres)".

    1. Is this aural or visual adornment?
    2. How/Why is the presence of the dagesh considered an adornment?
  1. Why are these words, specifically, adorned?
  • 3
    This is called 'euphonic dagesh' in English, if that helps. I think it's definitely 'aural' adornment, dagesh le-tif'eret haqri'a.
    – paquda
    Jan 29, 2013 at 6:39
  • @paquda, more specifically, it's sometimes called dagesh forte dirimens, apparently.
    – msh210
    Dec 17, 2014 at 10:15

1 Answer 1


A shewa naʿ generally reflects a reduced vowel. The words you cite have a shewa naʿ where no originally short vowel existed. For example, we find מִקְדָּשׁ but in Shemot 15:17 we have מִקְּדָֿשׁ. We also get an unexpected dagesh in הַצְּפִֿינוֹ (as you note, in Shemot 2:3) and מַמְּגֻֿרוֹת (Joel 1:17).

Blau believes that this dagesh indicates that the shewa is naʿ, and not gemination. He does not suggest a reason for the appearance of the anomalous dagesh.

He states the phenomenon "is quite rare when the letter following the šwa is not a bgdkpt letter, e.g., יִקְּהַת ‘the obedience(?) of’, pronounced yiqəhat Gen 49:1" (Blau, Phonology & Morphology of Biblical Hebrew, p. 114).

I am not convinced that the letter with the dagesh is not geminated; at least, not at the time of the Masoretes. The University of Michigan manuscript, for example, has the form מִקֲּדָשׁ (and not מִקֲֿדָשׁ) (Shemot 15:17), which apparently geminates the qof. As Double AA commented, a hatef would seem to be the natural choice to make explicit that a shewa is naʿ without gemination.

Khan appears to agree. He writes:

Sometimes the preceding consonant is geminated, e.g., מִקְּדָ֕שׁ [miqqaˈðɔː∫] ‘sanctuary’ (Exod. 15.17 < מִקְדָּשׁ [miqdɔː∫]), עִקְּב֥וֹת [ʕiqqaˈvoːχ] ‘footprints of’ (Psa. 89.52 < עִקְבוֹת [ʕiqvoːχ]), מַמְּרֹרִֽים [mammaʀoːˈʀiːm] ‘bitterness’ (Job 9.18 < מַמְרֹרִים [mammaʀoːʀiːm) (Epenthesis: Biblical Hebrew, Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics)

  • How did those /a/s get in there in the Khan transcriptions? Does he really hold that is the pronunciation of sh'va? As in, no chatuf written, but one is pronounced?
    – WAF
    Jan 20, 2017 at 17:26
  • @WAF That is correct. It is well known that in Tiberian tradition a shewa naʿ before any letter (except אהחי״ע) was pronounced as a hatef patach.
    – Argon
    Jan 21, 2017 at 23:54

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