There are two places "דָּת" appears in Tanach in a form that means "the law of": Esther 2:12 and 9:13. In both places it appears as "דָּת" with a kamatz.[1]

Yet, when we marry, according to the ArtScroll sidur, we say "הרי את מקדשת לי בטבעת זו כְּדַת משה וישראל", with a patach. (That's as we might naively have expected from pairs like שֻׁלְחָן ("table", Psalms 78:19) and שֻׁלְחַן ("the table of", Malachi 1:7[1]).)

What gives?

  • Is ArtScroll simply wrong?
  • Or is there a grammatical distinction to be made between Esther and the marriage ceremony which affects the vowel to be used in "דת"?
  • Or did Hebrew change (in this respect) between Esther's time and the composition of that line in the marriage ceremony?
  • Or what?

1. Possibly of interest, it appears there without a following makaf. I'm not sure what, if anything, the relevance of that fact is.

  • 3
    Even Shoshan says that Artscroll is correct. Also, BDB has a patach at 2:12, but I don't know what text they're working with.
    – magicker72
    Mar 12, 2015 at 11:24
  • 3
    Before I got married I asked one of my eidei kidushin to be who is a prominent rabbi/dayan/posek this question and he brushed me off. But this question has bothered me for a long time.
    – user6591
    Mar 12, 2015 at 17:52
  • 2
    This was messing with me when I was preparing Megillah leining this year. I kept saying דַּת out of instinct
    – Double AA
    Mar 12, 2015 at 18:28
  • 1
    hhmm. Ester 2 12. My Artscroll chumash has a patach and my mikros gedolos has a kamatz under the dalet. My concordance has a patach too, that's how I found it:)
    – user6591
    Mar 13, 2015 at 0:07
  • 2
    @user6591 There is minimal manuscript evidence for a patach in that case and none in the other.
    – Double AA
    Mar 13, 2015 at 5:24

4 Answers 4


Shadal, while commenting on the word זמרת in Exodus 15:2, discusses cases where there is a kamats instead of the expected patach (or other reduction) in smikhut. The cases he mentions are:

Isaiah 11:11 "שאָר עמו", Isaiah 45:13 "גָלותי" Esther 1:4 "יקָר תפארת גדולתו", Esther 1:20 "פתגָם המלך", Esther 4:8 "כתָב הדת", Job 34:25 "מעבָדיהם", II Chronicles 31:3 "מנָת המלך".

He says about these (translation by Daniel Klein, from Shadal on Exodus):

... the word does indeed preserve a kamats, but that kamats is aramaic (as in the Syriac מְנָתָא...), not a Hebrew kamats... Because it is an archaic kamats, it does not change [to a pataḩ].

Although it is noteworthy that Shadal does not list your explicit examples (even though he lists several other examples from Esther), he might extend the same explanation to those as well, viz. that these kamatses are archaic holdovers from an earlier Hebrew, comparable to one preserved in Aramaic.

In his grammatical treatise Prolegomena to a Grammar of the Hebrew Language, Shadal speaks further on this phenomenon of an "immutable Aramaic kamats". He says (in Section 138, translated by Aaron Rubin):

In the passage of Aramaic words into Hebrew, the Aramaic קמץ, where it does not change to וֹ (see Section 126a [where, for example, the phenomenon of שְלָם to שָלוֹם is described]), normally preserves its immutability, though not with the same constancy as in Aramaic.

He lists examples, which again notably does not include דָת. He then (in Section 140) lists examples where the kamats became mutable, again not listing our example דָת.

Thus, although it is impossible to make a definitive conclusion from Shadal about דָת, since it is conspicuously absent from both sides of the discussion, one could argue (especially based on the evidence in our text of Tanakh) that he would include the kamats in דָת among the immutable kamats (of which his list includes the words "for example"), and thus carrying over to the construct form and plural. If this is indeed the case, then ArtScroll is incorrect1, and the correct pointing would always be with a kamats2.

1 On the other hand, the exact language of הרי את does not seem to be a required part of kiddushin. Thus, any language that implies kiddushin is acceptable. Since דַת with a patach is correct in modern Hebrew (according to Even Shoshan), it might not be incorrect to use modern Hebrew, and hence this formulation, nowadays in effecting kiddushin.

2 We can see from the Prolegomena that Shadal posits correct pronunciation based on his discussion for words in common parlance (like שְׁטָרֵי and כְּתָבֵי), not just Biblical pointing.

  • Eh…. Interesting, and a nice find, but I see no rules there (maybe there are in Prolegomeni, I haven't checked) about how to tell whether a particular word is of that sort, and am not convinced that he holds das is. (Also, I'm not sure why you conclude that ArtScroll's correct and Hebrew changed before ArtScroll's time, rather than that ArtScroll's wrong and Hebrew didn't change before ArtScroll's time.)
    – msh210
    Feb 21, 2016 at 4:56
  • 1
    @msh210 You're right, Shadal doesn't give any rules here, and it's not clear that he holds it for דת as well (although it would certainly fit). I concluded that ArtScroll's not wrong because if Shadal holds that דָת is an archaism, then the "correct" Hebrew form would be דַת, and thus ArtScroll would be within their rights to use a patach (modulo any reason to specifically use Megillath-Esther-style language). I understand that there is guesswork here, and I'm not convinced myself, but it's something to go on.
    – magicker72
    Feb 21, 2016 at 5:34
  • @msh210 FWIW I can't find דת used outside of Ezra, Esther and Daniyel in Tanakh (unless you count Dev 33:2 but that's an unusual situation as it is).
    – Double AA
    Feb 23, 2016 at 16:29
  • דת is on this list hebrewbooks.org/… but my German (?) isn't good enough to follow what he's saying.
    – Double AA
    Feb 23, 2016 at 16:42
  • 2
    @DoubleAA The footnote just says that the mesorah (at Ezek. 36:5?) lists 13 words that are in construct form with a kamats, namely מנת מקצת משקל מתן שאט אולם שאר פתגם מצב כתב יקר זמרת דת.
    – magicker72
    Feb 23, 2016 at 17:50

I just took a look at some mishnah manuscripts from Argon's links in this answer. The word appears three times in Kesubos 7:6. The language there is very similar to the language used during kiddushin and may even be the source, although דת משה ויהודית/ישראל in the two cases are not referring to exactly the same laws.

The Kaufmann A50, a Western manuscript with the most highly-respected readings of any, has a patach all three times (middle of the right column).

In MS Parma A, a highly-respected Eastern manuscript (bottom of the left column), the last two are definitely written with a patach. For the first one it's hard to tell, could be either one.

The usage of patach here seems to be pretty old, maybe from when the Persian word got adapted into more regular Hebrew use.


Just saw this interesting question, and would like to point you to a discussion regarding this exact issue between several Israeli/Jewish researchers:


There are many sides of this issue discussed there, but I think the prevalent point is that the word "דת" is originally from Persian (and later Aramaic), not Hebrew, and this may have caused some exceptions when it came to nikkud.

Also, it is mentioned there that Yemenites actually have an opposite tradition (patach in Esther, and kamatz in marriage).

  • That's not right. The Yemenites have Kamatz in Esther.
    – Double AA
    Feb 23, 2016 at 16:21
  • @DoubleAA I couldn't find a Yemenite version with nikkud, so I'm just the messenger for this one. There are some other interesting points there.
    – Cauthon
    Feb 23, 2016 at 16:27
  • 1
    I think you might just be misunderstanding the claim there. It claims Temonim have Kamatz in all cases, even marriage. (I guess there could be differences among the posters, but that seems to match the facts on the ground.)
    – Double AA
    Feb 23, 2016 at 16:45
  • @DoubleAA There is this guy: "תמיד בקמץ ולא בפתח, וכך נוהגים בני תימן בהגייתם בכל מקום" which is what said, and there's this guy: "ומסורת בני תימן בקריאת המגילה. בדפוסים: "כדת הנשים" בפתח.". But this last one may be written poorly (there's a period in the middle, so the sentence isn't really clear - which "דפוסים" were meant).
    – Cauthon
    Feb 23, 2016 at 17:40
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/104690/170
    – msh210
    Jun 14, 2019 at 11:42

This is part of the Hebrew rules of niqqud. When a noun is followed by a classifier ("The law of Moses" vs. just "The law"), a "patach" is used instead of a "kamatz".

From the Hebrew Acadamy's website:

"כלל א – דין הקמץ בצורת הנסמך ולפני כינויי הנוכחים

כל קמץ הבא בשם הנפרד בהברה מוטעמת שהיא ההברה האחרונה, משתנה לפתח בנסמך היחיד ולפני כינויי הנוכחים ־כֶם,־כֶן. למשל: דָּבָר דְּבַר־ דְּבַרְכֶם, מַלְכָּה מַלְכַּת־ מַלְכַּתְכֶם, סוֹלְלָה סוֹלְלַת־(תותחים),[1] רָץ רַץ־ רַצְכֶם, כְּתָב כְּתַב־ כְּתַבְכֶם, תְּשׂוּמָה תְּשׂוּמַת־(לב,[2] לבו). יוצאים מכלל זה השמות המסתיימים ב־ָא, שהקמץ בהם מתקיים בנסמך היחיד. למשל: מוֹצָא מוֹצָא־, תָּא תָּא־ (אבל מוֹצַאֲכֶם, תַּאֲכֶם).

  • 5
    So why is it with a kamatz in the verses in Esther?
    – Double AA
    Mar 12, 2015 at 12:18
  • 1
    Why the downvotes? This answer is correct.
    – LN6595
    Feb 21, 2016 at 23:36
  • 1
    @DoubleAA in "k'dos mah l'asos" the word is a noun, not a musmach (adjunct). As far as "k'dos hamelech", sometimes the word remains with a kamatz for more complex reasons. Grammar is full of exceptions.
    – LN6595
    Feb 21, 2016 at 23:37
  • 2
    @LN6595 Telling me it's "an exception for more complex reasons" is exactly why this is not an answer. It's nothing useful. If you were to explain the reasons that would actually be worth reading...
    – Double AA
    Feb 22, 2016 at 0:44
  • 4
    @LN6595 No one questioned כדת מה לעשות. The two were כדת הנשים and לעשות כדת היום.
    – Double AA
    Feb 22, 2016 at 2:10

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