It is well known that ר not lend itself to gemination. It never has virtual gemination. As for the full gemination indicated by the dagesh, ר allows it, but only very rarely, and never after the definite article. There are only about 15 words in Tanakh e.g. in 1Sam 10:24. I wonder if there has been an old tradition of articulation of the resh. Is it possible that the name שָׂרָ֖ה has once been spelled Sarra (and not Sara)? The famous pasuk Gen 17:15 is translated by the Septuaginta as follows:

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֔ם שָׂרַ֣י אִשְׁתְּךָ֔ לֹֽא־תִקְרָ֥א אֶת־שְׁמָ֖הּ שָׂרָ֑י כִּ֥י שָׂרָ֖ה שְׁמָֽהּ׃

εἶπεν δὲ ὁ θεὸς τῷ Αβρααμ Σαρα ἡ γυνή σου οὐ κληθήσεται τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς Σαρα ἀλλὰ Σαρρα ἔσται τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς.

The Name Sara is transliterated Σαρρα and not Σαρα, whereas Sarai is transliterated with Σαρα. Any ideas?


2 Answers 2


There was a geminated resh at least during the Second Temple Period. In fact, there was a time where even the gutterals were geminated. Resh eventually became unable to receive dagesh (in the Tiberian tradition), like the gutterals. Yeivin says "This lack of gemination is a rather late phenomenon. It first affected r and ʾ, later ʿ and h, and finally ḥ" (2010:82, Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew)

The Septuagint has gemination of resh, as you note, e.g. Γομορρα עֲמֹרָ֛ה and Χαρραν חָרָ֖ן. Cuneiform transliterations from the 9th-4th centuries BCE also show gemination of resh, e.g. am-qar-ru-na עֶקְרוֹן, za-kar-ri-ya-ma זְכַרְיָה and gir-re-e-ma גֵּרְיָה (Resh: Pre-Modern Hebrew, Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics).

Resh is dropped out of words occasionally in the Dead Sea Scrolls, indicating the weakening of resh in the Second Temple Period (Qimron 1986:26–27, The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls).

Some modern pronunciation traditions have geminated resh in their reading of rabbinic literature. Eastern Mishnah manuscripts in fact have geminated resh occasionally (Bar-Asher 1987, The Different Traditions of Mishnaic Hebrew).


שבע כפולות בג"ד כפר"ת (מתנהגות בשתי לשונות), יסודן חיים ושלום וחכמה ועושר חן וזרע וממשלה, ומתנהגות בשתי לשונות ב"בּ ג"גּ ד"דּ כ"כּ פ"פּ ר"רּ ת"תּ תבנית רך וקשה תבנית גבור וחלש כפולות שהן תמורות. תמורת חיים מות תמורת שלום רע תמורת חכמה אולת תמורת עושר עוני תמורת חן כיעור תמורת זרע שממה תמורת ממשלה עבדות: There were formed seven 'double' letters: Bet [b/v], Gimel [g/j], Dalet [d/dh], Kaph [k/kh], Pe [p/ph], Resh [r/rr], Tav [t/th], each has two voices, either aspirated or softened. These are the foundations of Life, Peace, Riches, Beauty or Reputation, Wisdom, Fruitfulness, and Power. These are double, because their opposites take part in life, opposed to Life is Death; to Peace, War; to Riches, Poverty; to Beauty or Reputation, Deformity or Disrepute; to Wisdom, Ignorance; to Fruitfulness, Sterility; to Power, Slavery.


According to Sefer Yetzirah, there is BGDKPRT in Hebrew rather than BGDKFT as in Aramaic.

שבע כפולות בג"ד כפר"ת שבע ולא שש שבע ולא שמונה בחון בהן וחקור מהן (וצור וחשוב) והעמד דבר על בוריו והשב יוצר על מכונו: Seven double letters BG"D KFR"T. Seven, and not six; seven and not eight. He tested them and examined them (and drew and contemplated) and placed each on its well [and the Maker returned to its place?].


There are different opinions, but it's likely the dageshed resh is a trilled R, like in Spanish versus a tapped R without the dagesh. There is controversy over the exact pronunciation. For example, sefaria seems to take gimmel versus jimmel. Some say instead it's gimmel versus throaty Rimmel (like the stereotypical Israeli resh)

  • In short, resh can be dageshes in the same way the others BGDKPRT letters can. Meaning, it can be elongated. There are different approaches to how this would work, but it seems to me the dageshed resh is trilled, like in Spanish versus a tapped resh without dagesh. In the same way, the dageshed daled is a frictive dh as in Arabic. The relevant passage begins in Perek 4.
    – JewAnon
    Feb 12, 2023 at 17:28
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  • Two things Resh cannot be: 1. Trilled Spanish dental R, and 2. Israeli German French Arabic guttural R. Why because Sefer Yetzirah five families of consonants א"עחה guttural גיכ"ק palletal etc. sefaria.org/Sefer_Yetzirah.2?lang=bi Feb 12, 2023 at 21:05
  • דלטנ"ת dental זסצר"ש SIBBILANT (clenched teeth) בומ"פ Labial Feb 12, 2023 at 21:10
  • If anything is close look to the Mandarin (Semites from Shem?) R which is pronounced with clenched teeth or like the Czech r as in Dvorak. Ř, ř (R with háček) Feb 12, 2023 at 21:14

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