Recently, I paid attention to the Rosh Chodesh Torah reading (Bamidbar/Numbers Chapter 28) and noticed that in verse 10, "olas Shabbas b'Shabato…", the word "Shabbas" is vowelized with a pasach (short o as in "pot") under the bais. Usually, the word has a kamatz (short u as in "dug") under the bais, being read "Shabbus", and transliterated as "Shabbos."
A pasach in this manner usually indicates a s'michus, meaning that the word is connected to the following word, typically as a description. Here, though, "Shabbas" does not appear to be describing the next word, "b'Shabato".

So why the unusual vowelization?

  • 3
    I believe this is just a masoretic quirk. Your thoughts are correct. – Double AA May 11 '14 at 4:38
  • I think that when the word "Shabbat" is followed by an adjective, it gets a patach. See the consistency in the Torah's use of "Shabbat Shaboton" - The 1st Shabbat has a patach as it is followed by the "adjective" - Shabbaton (what kind of Shabbat? a "Shabbaton" or "double" Shabbat.) In a sense, "Shabbat B'Shabbato" the "B'SHabbato" could be considered an adjective as the meaning of teh phrase means, "each Shabbat". BTW - The same patach is used in speech in the phrase "Shabbat Shalom" - "Shalom" is an adjective. – DanF May 12 '14 at 17:17
  • @DanF Are you sure the phrase Shabbat Shalom is like that? Perhaps it is just the Sefardic and Modern Israeli tendency of pronouncing Patach and Kamatz the same – Double AA Jul 8 '14 at 4:11
  • @DoubleAA - I had forgotten about this Q. You raise a good point, here. I'm still inclined to stick to my original analysis, though. Another example to support the Patach - from Zemirot - "Shabbat Kodesh Hayom Chemdato" (Patach - Kodesh is an adj.) – DanF Jul 8 '14 at 17:45

This seems to be a Masoretic quirk. The Masorah (in the "Damascus Keter") for that verse notes this unusual occurance and lists the other places in Tanakh where שבת is punctuated this way.

manuscript masorah notes to numbers 28 10

[The word] Shabbat [thus punctuated appears] 4 [times]. And their mnemonic: Vehayta Olat Lehakhin Kodshecha. And all [instances of the phrase] Shabbat Shabbaton [are also thus punctuated].

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