I am relaying a question that my friend emailed to me, last night. (It's a mitzvah to credit others):

There are two places in the Torah that have an unusual dual trope note combination on a single word. The notes are written as telisha gedolah followed by gershayim. In the Torah, this combination can be found in two places:

Breishit 5:29 on the word זה and in Vayikra 10:4 on the word קרבו


  1. Is there any significance to these two words having this trope combination?
  2. Do these specific notes add anything to the word meaning? (this Q may be a dupe or rephrasing of the prev. question.)
  3. The notes are written in one order, but the Ba'al Kri'ah sings them in the opposite order. Why?
  4. Are there any other occurrences in Tana"ch where this combination is found? If so, please list where. (I assume that the list is very small.)
  • hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=24771&st=&pgnum=21
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 14:32
  • 2
    I think the notes really are in the order that they are sung, just that a Telisha Gedolah is always on the front of the word (and also the front of the syllable if that not the front of the word). So we have to make a special note that even though it appears to be first, it’s actually sung second.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 12:39

5 Answers 5


Here is a partial answer. Shaarei Zimra says that there are 5 locations total in Tanach with these two combinations. The first two you mentioned.

1 - Bereishis 5:29 זֶ֠֞ה יְנַֽחֲמֵ֤נוּ מִֽמַּעֲשֵׂ֨נוּ֙

2 - Vayikra 10:4 קִ֠רְב֞וּ שְׂא֤וּ אֶת־אֲחֵיכֶם֙

3 - Melachim2 17:13 שֻׁ֠֜בוּ מִדַּרְכֵיכֶ֤ם הָֽרָעִים֙

4 - Yechezkel 48:10 וּ֠לְאֵ֜לֶּה תִּֽהְיֶ֣ה תְרֽוּמַת־הַקֹּדֶשׁ֮

5 - Tzefania 2:15 זֹ֠֞את הָעִ֤יר הָֽעַלִּיזָה֙

Over here he explains why we sing the Gayrshayim first however I do not understand it enough to explain it.

  • This is really good! Thank you for researching this so quickly. I wouldn't have known where to begin. I read the Sha'arei Zimra link. I understand what he is saying about why the notes are written the way they are. But, I also couldn't quite get why they are sung the other way. I think he is saying that the telisha is a "pause" in the way it is sung and the gershayim is not? I have to think that through, a bit. If others can comment on this further, I appreciate it.
    – DanF
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 16:48

The Baal Haturim discusses this in the one in Shemini. He says that the two different trop indicate that they went in part of the way, then used spears to pull them out, as the Midrash says.

The Artscroll Baal Haturim gives a nice explanation in the footnotes. They say that because the gershayim and the telisha gedola are both (small) pauses, it indicates that they were supposed to stop in the middle of their action, like we have an extra pause in the middle of the word.

I've had a few thoughts extending this:

The siman given in the Mesorah is כי תכלה לעשר, which also has a gershayim before a telisha (on two different words). This is meant to help you remember how to read it, the gershayim goes first. In the case of the double trop on one word, this is backwards with respect to the way it's written; in the case of כי תכלה לעשר, it's backwards with respect to the normal order, since usually telisha comes before gershayim. I think this could be taken to mean that in these cases, we should stop and look backwards, and do something different.

  • In the one in Melachim, this is obvious - that's basically the definition of teshuva
  • In כי תכלה לעשר, which the Mesorah gives as the basis - let's say you didn't fulfill all the qualifications outlined in the viduy, and this time around you're ineligible for it. But there's always next time, in 3 years. כי תכלה, when you finish separating, stop, and לעשר again. (Yes I know this grammatically doesn't make sense, it's a drash.)
  • When Noach was born - don't just be happy that you're now able to work the earth, do better this time and don't cause it to be cursed again. (Didn't work out that way, but it should have.)
  • In the case of Mishael and Eltzafan, as the Baal Haturim says - stop, remember what caused Nadav and Avihu to die, and don't go in yourself. Use spears.

For the other two it's not hard to identify some change, but I'm not familiar with these pesukim in depth to understand why this is such a big deal to deserve one of the 5 instances of this trop. They deserve further development.

  • Yechezkel - this is a change from the original cities of the Kohanim.
  • Tzefanya - a complete change in Nineveh for the worse this time, they did teshuva in the time of Yonah, but now they became bad again.
  • Thanks for the interesting source and analysis. I was wondering about the verse in Ki Tavo, when I got to it, as I thought the order was reversed, but wasn't certain. I'll see if I can view the B'al Haturim during Shabbat.
    – DanF
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 14:37
  • 1
    @DanF Check the Artscroll Baal Haturim in particular if you have access to it. The Baal Haturim himself is very terse here and the footnotes help a lot.
    – Heshy
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 14:40
  • See also Neh 5:18.
    – magicker72
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 14:42
  • @magicker72 yeah I wasn't saying כי תכלה לעשר was the only one. That's the one the Mesorah chooses to use as a siman. Probably more people are familiar with Ki Tavo than with Nechemia. How did you find that pasuk so quickly? The trop there needs some explanation. Why is שש-בררות connected to צפרים but separated from צאן by a mafsik?
    – Heshy
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 14:48
  • Congrats on getting the bounty reward. This was a tough choice as all the answers are good. Yours seemed the simplest to understand and is supported by a good source. I appreciate the contribution and effort. As a Ba'al Kri'ah, I am always interested in the nuances of trope. The combo is quite unusual, so it's nice to get some good analysis from various contributors. I have to see if there's a way to award multiple people.
    – DanF
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 14:39

William Wickes writes on page 101 of his A Treatise on the Accentuation of the Twenty-one So-called Prose Books of the Old Testament:

In five passages, Gen. v. 29; Lev. x. 4; 2 Ki. xvii. 13; Ezek. xlviii. 10; Zeph. ii 15 (see Mas. to Gen. v.29), Geresh and T'lisha are found together in the same word, - an intimation that ancient authorities differed as to the chanting. The later Massoretes, unable to decide which was right, directed that both accents should be chanted (הקורא יטעים הגרש קדם התלישא), Geresh first, as being the more common. And this is observed in the present day.

To answer your questions directly:

  1. The significance of having two notes is that there is uncertainty as to which is correct.

  2. These notes do not seem to add anything to the word meaning. Either one would be a valid option in these types of verses, and the Masoretes were simply unsure as to which it was in each of these five cases.

  3. We read the Geresh first because that is the more commonly found note in verses that follow this pattern. (They are printed in the opposite order because Telisha Gedolah is always printed at the beginning of a word, and Geresh always comes on the stressed syllable.)

  4. As listed in the other answers, this occurence found in 5 places in Tanakh - Bereshit 5:29, Vayikra 10:4, Melachim 2 17:13, Yechezkel 48:10 and Tzephaniah 2:15.


A note regarding question (3):

I. Yeivin notes that "in printed editions, the telisha sign is marked at the beginning of the word, and the geresh sign on the stress syllable, even though the reader is warned to read the geresh before the telisha. In [manuscripts] the accent signs are maked in the order in which they are to be read, with the geresh before the telisha." (Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah, §272).

This can be seen, for example, in the Aleppo codex (Zeph. 2:15 etc., see also the note regarding the 5 instances of such a ta`am) or in the Leningrad codex (Ez. 48:10, Zeph. 2:15, etc.).

  • Thanks. Would you know how I can view the source you mentioned at the end of the 1st paragraph? Is it online? If so, can you link it? Is this book available in a Judaica book store?
    – DanF
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 13:20
  • @DanF It is an academic book, so it is unlikely you would be able to find it at a Judaica bookstore. It is surely available for purchase online and in most university libraries. It is available in snippets on Google Books.
    – Argon
    Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 23:12

The Masorah Katanah states that in five places are there words which appear with these two ta'amim.

And the Masorah Gedolah goes on to explain about the Mesorah Katanah, that these two ta'amim in a single word are Telishah Gedolah and Garish. It says the marker for where they appear is זה, קרבו, שובו, ולאלה, זאת. This points to Bereshit 5:29, VaYikra 10:4, Melachim-2 17:13, Yechezkel 48:10 and Tzephaniah 2:15 as clarified by the Komarna Rebbe. It goes on to explain that the reader pronounces the Garish before the Telishah even though the Telishah Gedolah appears first, at the beginning the word. It states the general rule is that Garishin are first and Telishah is afterward. It then explains that marker for this rule is taken from the posuk (Devarim 26:12 כי תכלה לעשר) discussing the requirement of giving ma'aser from the field in the third year to those who have no inheritance in the land (like the idea of גרושין) before benefitting from the harvest of the produce (like תלשא גדולה). And this follows the explanation of the Komarna Rebbe in his commentary to the Masorah on Bereshit 5:29 called Menorat Shlomo.

Telishah Gedolah can have two possible meanings. One is like a big harvest, תלש means to pick, or to pluck, or to detach. But it can also have a connotation of harvesting kindness. גדולה can also be understood to mean kindness. Among Sephardim this trope is called Tirtzah which has a connotation of pardon and reconciliation. That would seem to imply the idea of harvesting kindness is more appropriate.

Gershayim has a connotation of divorce, or separation, or banishment. Since it is plural it means that it relates to two or more. Again, the Sephardic name is Shnei Gerishin, meaning two levels of separation.

In terms of trope, in general, according to kabbalistic understanding, they pertain to the Heavenly influence that is actually driving what is occurring below in the physical world.

Additionally, there is a concept of Kri v'Kativ, where what is written is not how something is pronounced. This has a connotation that how something appears below in the physical (the Kri) is different or opposite from what it is above (the Kativ).

In the context of your first quotation, the dual trope appears over the word "This (one)" זה, meaning Noach, will give us comfort from our acts and from the pain and toil of our hands in regard to the soil which G-d cursed.

This is referring to two ideas. The first mentioned is our acts. This is the sin of idol worship which began in the generation of Enosh ben Shet. There were 8 generations from Enosh to Noach but the generation of Chanoch was not included in the count because they did teshuva with Chanoch's help.

The second idea is the pain and toil of our hands which relates to the one of the consequences of the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. The soil of the earth was cursed and the quality of the produce decreased. They would plant wheat and thorns and brambles would sprout.

Noach was going to be instrumental in removing the consequences of these two sins from the world. That would manifest in the physical as the flood. But the hidden, Heavenly influence driving all of this was actually great kindness and reconciliation.

The 7th generation after Enosh would remove the judgement (the fruit of the five Gevurot) from the world. And this is alluded to in the word which carries the double trope (זה).

In the citation in VaYikra from parshat Shemini 10:4, there seems to be a similar theme. There are two brothers involved in improper behavior, Nadav and Avihu.

But even though what happens to them appears physically and externally to be the consequence of sin, the commentaries emphasize according to Moshe's words to his brother Aharon (בקרבי אקדש) that their offering was found favorable and accepted (תרצה). Their remains were treated just like any other offering on the altar.

The problem with their activity was because it wasn't commanded by G-d. In the language of kabbala, it was Ratzu (approaching HaShem) without Shuv (drawing that influence back into the physical world). The two brothers were detached (תלישא, גרשים) from drawing HaShem's blessing (גדולה) back into the physical world. And this is alluded to through the word b'Krovai (בקרבי) being spelled without the letter Vav. That Vav hints to the six behaviors lacking in the actions of the two brothers enumerated by the Tur to VaYikra 10:2 and that this lacking results in detachment from the physical world.

And this is alluded to in the word which carries the double trope Kirvu קרבו, which can be understood both as a command to Mishael and Eltzafon to approach the remains of their brothers and also to the fact that Nadav and Avihu approached (without returning).

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