There are 3 places in the Torah (that I know of) that have a double zarka trope note before the segol:

What does the double zarka mean grammatically, and why is it only in these places?

  • There's also one place with 2 zarkas and no segol, Yeshaya 45:1
    – Heshy
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 21:45
  • @Heshy And also one place with 3 zarkas, Kings 2:1:16
    – Double AA
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 21:50
  • Please elaborate and ask whether it is important somehow, or why it should be important.
    – Josh
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 21:51
  • @Josh based on the 2 answers posted, so far, that may be unnecessary. I need some time to digest what they say.
    – DanF
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 21:58

2 Answers 2


In a clause ending in segolta, the dichotomy is marked by a zarka, if in the first, second, or third word away from segolta. If the dichotomy occurs further away, then it is marked by revia or pashta, and then the second minor dichotomy (in the intervening clause, from that revia until the segolta) is marked by the zarka.

However, on musical grounds, if the revia or pashta is in very close proximity to the zarka, it is itself turned into a zarka. See William Wickes, A Treatise on the Accentuation of the Twenty-one So-called Prose Books, pg 87 - 88.

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Practically, we can see what this means by taking on of the example pesukim, such as the one in Bereishit (מב,כא).

וַיֹּֽאמְר֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ אֶל־אָחִ֗יו אֲבָל֮ אֲשֵׁמִ֣ים ׀ אֲנַחְנוּ֮ עַל־אָחִינוּ֒ אֲשֶׁ֨ר רָאִ֜ינוּ צָרַ֥ת נַפְשׁ֛וֹ בְּהִתְחַֽנְנ֥וֹ אֵלֵ֖ינוּ וְלֹ֣א שָׁמָ֑עְנוּ עַל־כֵּן֙ בָּ֣אָה אֵלֵ֔ינוּ הַצָּרָ֖ה הַזֹּֽאת׃

The major dichotomy (division in two) happens at the etnacha, on the word שָׁמָ֑עְנוּ, and thus from וַיֹּֽאמְר֞וּ until שָׁמָ֑עְנוּ is the first half of the verse. That half-verse is in turn divided in two by a minor dichotomy, a zafek type, namely the segolta at אָחִינוּ֒, such that from וַיֹּֽאמְר֞וּ until אָחִינוּ֒ is the first half, and from אֲשֶׁ֨ר until שָׁמָ֑עְנוּ is the second half.

Focusing now on that first half, that is:

וַיֹּֽאמְר֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ אֶל־אָחִ֗יו אֲבָל֮ אֲשֵׁמִ֣ים ׀ אֲנַחְנוּ֮ עַל־אָחִינוּ֒

There are three division of this segment. The first, is the revia on אָחִ֗יו. We are dividing the "Person said to his fellow" from the actual quote. (Why this division didn't happen first and foremost, even with an etnachta, is discussed by Wickes elsewhere when he discusses the division of quoted statements.) We are then left with a clause consisting of four words, which needs to be divided up:

אֲבָל֮ אֲשֵׁמִ֣ים ׀ אֲנַחְנוּ֮ עַל־אָחִינוּ֒

The division is on the word אֲבָל֮, "indeed, verily", separated from "we are guilty regarding our brother." This would be properly marked by a revia, but since it is two words from the eventual closest zarka (on אֲנַחְנוּ֮), it is itself transformed into a zarka.

Finally, "we are guilty" is divided from what they are guilty regarding, namely "our brother", by placing a zarka on אֲנַחְנוּ֮ to get:

אֲשֵׁמִ֣ים ׀ אֲנַחְנוּ֮


  • I should understand the trope rules better than I do. Two Qs - 1) what do they mean by "dichotomy"? and 2 - What do you recommend as a good "beginners" book to help understand the trope rules - for grammar and musical purposes? Wikipedia isn't doing the job for me.
    – DanF
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 22:01
  • @DanF Dichotomy basically means that you split a segment in half. Wickes discusses a "continuous dichotomy", which means that you first split the pasuk in half, and then each half in half, and so on. Take a look at the parse trees here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parse_tree Commented May 5, 2017 at 15:41
  • A recent upvote brought my attention to this question. I need to re-read this to understand it better. B"N, once I do, I'll prob. accept it.
    – DanF
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 17:18
  • @DanF Still thinking about it?
    – DonielF
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 2:16
  • @DonielF Somewhat only b/c I read a sample last Shabbat, and you reminded me ;-) I somewhat* get it, now, but have to read the Wkipedia link to gain a bit netter understanding on it.
    – DanF
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 0:44

Usually only the last Revi'i note before a Segol becomes a Zarka.

In general the note Revi'i doesn't like to be next to itself (probably a musical consideration). So if there are two in close proximity, the second one changes to a Pashta (eg. Genesis 1:7).

But when that second one is sufficiently close to the last one which is already converting to the "final form" of Zarka, it too goes ahead and assumes the "final form". (The same applies mutatis mutandis to a double Tevir before a Tipcha, such as Numbers 14:40.)

So grammatically it means nothing different than the Revi'i you might have been expecting.


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