Exodus 28:17 and 39:10 tell that the second stone in the first row of the breastplate of the high priest was פִּטְדָֽה (often translated as topaz).

The first unaccented syllable is פִּטְ which is a closed syllable. Why then doesn't ד in the following syllable take a dagesh lene? Shouldn't the word then be פִּטְדָּֽה?

  • 4
    +1, but note that there are many exception to the dagesh after sheva na, e.g. מַלְכוּת, שַׁרְבִיט, בִּגְדֵי...
    – Ypnypn
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 2:52
  • 1
    @Ypnypn בגדי and מלכות seem to be shva merachef and fit a specific known categorized defined exception, unlike (TTBOMK) here. שרביט looks like a transliteration issue which is probably at play here too, but a source would be nice.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 2:54
  • Speculation: Perhaps, in an earlier pronunciation scheme, dalet with a dagesh is awkward to pronounce immediately following a tet, where daled without a dagesh is not. Are there other words that have a tet followed by a dalet in the Torah?
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 14:55
  • @IsaacMoses None where the ט has a Shva under it, that I'm aware of. However we do have it with a ת like ושפטתי and there the Dagesh sticks around, fwiw.
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


The historical elision of a vowel preceding ד could explain the absence of a dagesh qal within it. Similar phenomena are seen in words like בִּנְפֹל and מַלְכֵי. The latter probably was pronounced like malak̲e at some point, since the absolute plural form מְלָכִים has an a vowel before k̲. See, for instance, p. 40 from Greenstein's "An Introduction to the Generative Phonology of Biblical Hebrew" in "Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew" or § and §1.13.4 from Blau's "Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew".

The word פִּטְדָה probably comes from the Sanskrit pīta, meaning "yellow stone", according to the article "Indian Loanwords" section of the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, written by Prof. Dennis Kurzon. One may therefore conjecture that the original pronunciation of פִּטְדָה is piṭad̲a or similar.

This is sometimes known as a shewa meraḥef (שווא מרחף).


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