When a long vowel has a meteg, there is a difference of opinion if the shva after it is na or nach. What about a short vowel with a meteg? Is it vayihi chen or vayhi chen? Is it tihiyeh or tihyeh? Is it vihiyitem or vihyitem? These words often sound more like a shva na, but the siddurim tend to have them as nach.

  • what part of tefilloh /the siddur is that? and what siddur?
    – barlop
    Aug 31, 2015 at 3:30

2 Answers 2


The opinion of the Minchat Shai (and most commentators, from what I can tell), is that a meteg on a short vowel in a closed syllable is almost always a euphonic meteg (there for stress or to stop you from swallowing a syllable, but not for the vowel quality), and thus does not affect the following shva. See also Geoffrey Khan's The Tiberian Pronunciation of Biblical Hebrew and The Pronunciation of the Verbs היה and חיה in the Tiberian Tradition of Biblical Hebrew.

There are two exceptions. Firstly, following a definite article prefix (הַ, בַּ, כַּ, לַ), we expect a dagesh chazak. In its absence, we often find a meteg with the patach to indicate that the schva should be na (eg. במסלה in Numbers 20:19). However, all other instances of patach with a meteg are short, and don't induce a following shva na. For example, in וידברו (Genesis 34:20) and ויהי־אור (Genesis 1:3), the shva on the yod is nach.

The second exception is not so much an exception, but a clarification that the vowel that looks short is actually long (ie. chirik missing its following yod or kubbuts instead of shuruk). For example, ויראו in Joshua 4:14 means they feared, not they saw, because of the meteg under the yod. However, the Minchat Shai explicitly says that יהיה, יחיה, להיות, לחיות all have shva nach. For להיות and יהיה and similar, my tikkun says to pronounce the ה as if there were a mappik, and that the shva is nach.

The only explicit dissenting opinion that I'm aware of is the author of Arugat HaBosem, who thinks that the meteg will lengthen the chirik in the verbs היה and חיה (and I imagine in all cases, but he's only quoted in this context). Jacobson's Chanting the Hebrew Bible also says that "some grammarians disagree with [the Minchat Shai]", but no further details are given.

  • Why should there be an exception only for a definite article because of missing dagesh chazak? A vav with a patach without a meteg also has a dagesh chazak.
    – natan
    Jul 25, 2014 at 23:53
  • Can anyone show an example of a short vowel with a meteg followed by dagesh chazak? I think I noticed some in tehilim, but I was not sure if it was menuked properly. Are there any examples in chumash?
    – natan
    Jul 26, 2014 at 0:00
  • @natan I don't know why the definite article is singled out over the vav hahipuch that often takes a dagesh. Perhaps there was a fear of mistaking the definite article for the interrogative particle in the absence of a dagesh? For your second question, Numbers 3:27 has המחנה and Deuteronomy 1:14 has ויכתו with what you were looking for.
    – magicker72
    Jul 27, 2014 at 4:10
  • I can't find the references you gave above. In any case, I did come across a number of places, but not all chumashim were in agreement. Furthermore, the word tihyeh seems most certainly to be a sheva nach because a heh seems to never have a sheva na replacing it rather with a chataf vowel. Since it is sheva nach, it it logical to find it come up as the first hypothetical sheva nach of a dagush letter.
    – natan
    Jul 27, 2014 at 19:22
  • Another reason the sheva should be nach: We find that a meteg makes a kametz katan into a kametz gadol and does other similar things. But it does not seem to cause a sheva na. The trope stress actually causes a sheva nach as in the word laylah (night). The long vowels are sheva na without the meteg, but the short vowels would not seem to be changed into sheva na because of the meteg.
    – natan
    Jul 27, 2014 at 20:00

With regard to " tihiyeh or tihyeh", a klal (rule) that I have heard is that a sh'va can NEVER be sounded when it appears under the following guttural letters; אהעח

  • It would much benefit your answer if you could substantiate your claim with sources. Mar 11, 2021 at 16:21
  • משנת הגר"א (שער השוא אות א') "כל אותיות אהחאהח"ע לא יבא בהם שוא נע Dikdukei Shai pg 52 footnote 25 Jun 15, 2021 at 2:32

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