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lieve, that the Masforets preserved or retrieved the an. cient Pronunciation of the Hebrew Tongue ; for the fame Helps have not been wanting to preserve the Pronunciation of Greek and Latin. A vast Number of People made use of those two Languages in all Ages : A prodigious Number of Greek and Latin Books are extant to this Day : Nay, the Church has preserved and consecrated those Two Languages in her Offices; and yet their true Pronunciation is loft, without any Hopes of recovering it. The same ought therefore to be laid of the Hebrew Tongue, notwithstanding the Tradition' alledged to prove the con. trary.
This Objection will appear weaker ftill, if we consider the Alterations and Changes of that Tradi. tion. The Mafforets knew without doubt how to pronounce Hebrew, as it was pronounced in their Time, The Septuagint did also pronounce it, as it was pronounced in their Days. The same ought to be faid of Fosephus, Origen, St. Jerome, and other ancient Doctors. Why then do they not agree with the Mafforets about that Pronunciation ? 'Tis because the Tradition has not been always the same. But if that Tradition has undergone several Changes, how could it have been sufficient to hinder the Mafforets from running into Miftakes about a Thing to uncertain and so intricate?
Perhaps it will be said, That notwithstanding the various Pronunciation of the Hebrew Tongue ar several Times, we must acknowledge at least, that the Mafforetick Way of pronouncing it, is the best. But, not to infift upon the Impoffibility of proving such an Affertion, it appears from several Arguments, that the Pronunciation of the Mafforets is very faulty, and frequently more imperfect than others.
In the first Place, If it be considered that the Tradition in question has been subject to many Altera. tions for so many Ages, and that the Mafforets pronounced Hebrero differently from the Septuagint, and the other ancient Translators ; is it not very natural to
infer from thence, that their Pronunciation must needs be more different from the true one?
The Pronunciation of the Maßorets runs upon Two Heads. 1. Upon the Sound, which they ascribe to each Lecter of the Hebrew Alphabet. 2. Upon the Vowels, which must be understood in those Syllables, wherein they are not expressed; for every body knows the Hebrews did not write all the Vowels which they pronounced. It is no difficult thing to thew that upon those Two Heads, the Mafforets are far from follow. ing the ancient, and consequently the true Pronunciation of the Hebrew. As for whaç concerns the Lete ters, the Masorets and their Followers affirm that they are all Consonants, and that there is no Vowel among them. Bur how can any one believe it? At this Rate, those Letters that have no Sound by them. felves, have been invented ; but those that have a Sound, have been laid aside. Why were Letters in vented ? Was it not to express Sounds ? Bur Vowels are infinitely more necessary to that End than Conso. nants : And therefore 'tis not true that the latter were invented, and the former quite forgotten. Besides, don't we find in the Hebrew Alphabet i 17*, that is, #, e, i, u, aleph, he, jod, vau ? Those Letters are true Vowels, tho' the Masorets deny it.
Our Author mentions fome Mistakes of the Masto. rets relating to Consonants, and then proceeds to the second Head. viz. the Vowels which they add where they think it necessary. Wherein (says he) they dif. fer from the Ancients, not only by inserting Vowels where the Ancients inserted none, or, on the contrary, by inserting, no Vowels where the Ancients inserted 'some;
but also by inserting different Vowels.
M. Masclef gives fome Instances of it, by shewing how the Ancients and the Mafforets read proper Names very differently. This Difference is no less conípicuous in other Words, even fo far as to alter their Signification. What is among the Ancients a Singular Number, a Masculine Gender, a First Person, an Active Verb, a Future Tense, a Word derived from a
certain Root, appears among the Mafforets a Plural Number, a Feminine Gender, a Second Person, a Passive Verb, a Preter-Tense, a Word derived from a quire different Root; because they have been pleased to insert some Vowels in those Places, whereby the Words are derermined to a certain Sense. 'Tis true, the Sense which the Masforet's put upon them, is sometimes preferable to that of the Ancients ; but it frequently proves worse, as several eminent Authors have Thewed at large. 'Tis observable, that the Maforets do not only differ from the Ancients, such as the Sepa tuagint, Origen, Sr. Jerome, &c. in their way of Reading and Pointing Tome Words, but also from the Talmudists. Nay, from the Time of the Mafforets to this present Age, their Pronunciation has undergone very great Altera:ions. The Fews pronounce now some Vowels, for instance, the Cametz, quite otherwise than the Mafforets, as it has been observed by some Learned Men : Nor do they agree ainong themselves about the Pronunciation. The Eastern Fedos pronounce Hebrew one Way, and the Western another Way': The Portugueze pronounce it differently from those that live in Germany. The Christians are still more divided among themselves, insomuch that those who learned Hebrew of different Masters, have frequently much ado to understand one another. So true it is, that 'tis impossible to know exactly the true and ancient Pronunciation of the Hebrew Tongue; which is the second Principle that was to be laid down. The Author confirms his Opinion by a Passage out of Drufius.
In the next Place, he lays down a third Principle to support his new Merhod. In order to understand Hes brew (says he) 'tis altogether needless to know how it was pronounced formerly. Is it neceflary to know how Greek was read and pronounced in the Time of Demostbenes, to learn that Language? Nor in the least. So tis with the Hebrew Tongue. The Signification of Hebrew Words lies in the Characters, and not in the Manner of pronouncing them. As long as the Characters are preserved, every thing is safe. The Author adds, 'that one might raise the same Difficulties
against the Pronunciation of the Jews in the Time of Origen, as against that of the Masorets.
M. Masclef having endeavoured to shew, that the Pronunciation and Punctuation of the Mafforets may be laid aside, establishes a fourth Principle in order to prove that it ought to be actually rejected. In order to understand the Hebrew Text of the Holy Scripture, (says the Author) and to trandate it accord, ing to critical Rules, it ought to be read without the Points of the Masorets, for several Reasons.
First, the Points of the Mafforets have been added to the Hebrew Text, and make no Part of țhe Holy Scripture.
Those Points do not represent the Sense of the Saa cred Writers, but only that which is ascribed to them by the Mafforets, who were not infallible in their Punctuation.
From whence it follows, that whoever reads the Bible, as it has been pointed by those Fews, cannoc pretend to read it in its original Pnrity: He only reads the Commentary of the Masorets.
Besides, it ought to be observed, That the Mafforet's pointed the Bible according to their prejudiCated Opinions
; and that their Punctuation is frequently wrong, as it has been proved by several greac Criticks,
Thefe Considerations lead the Author to a fifth Prin ciple, viz. That in order to have a good Hebrero Grammar, it must be such as may teach the Hebrew Tongue without Points ; since 'tis plain that the Design of a Grammar can only be the understanding of a Language. Whereupon M. Masclef bestows a great Encomiur upon Lewis Cappel, and quotes a long Pasfage of that Learned Critick out of the YIth Book of his Critica Sacra, Chap. xi. That Chapter is intituld, Nova Grammaticæ ratio ex ifta de variis lectionibus observatione inftituenda. Cappel shews at large, the “ Insufficiency of the Punctuation and Grammar of the “Mafforets, and the Necessity of composing a new
Grammar. He lays down the Plan and the Rules of t it, and above all Things would have it to be with
"out Points. 'Tis true, the Difficulties of succeed“ ing in such a Delign appear to him insuperable ; " and therefore he only wilhes that some body may " at låst prove more happy than he has been, and "invent such a Grammar, for which he had taken 4 so inuch Pains...
I need not insert here the Passage of that Auta thor; his Critica Sacra is not a scarce Book. M. Masclefi concludes his Discourse with thele Words. " It appears that the only Reason why Cappel dares
not affirm, that the Grammar of the Maffórets ought "to be whelly-rejected, or decide whether it le pof: ** fible to have a better one than theirs, is because " he supposed that it was impoffible to read Hebremo ". without Points'; being otherwise disposed to lay Tande that 'Grammar, if any one could find a more “ certaiu and convenient Way of Pointing and Pro
nouncing Hebredo. *What Cappel dares - not affirm to be possible, ap
pears to me not only poñible, but even so easy, " that I am surprised how to Learned a Man, who “had meditated so long upon that Subject, did not " perceive it. This I shall thew in 'the fecond Part s of iný Project."
See an Account of it, in ART. XXX. OGOS 03:2009:
AR TIGLE XIV,
A NEW OB TERVATION upon the Nae Pure and Qualities of the wild Afh.Tree fbewing that it may serve instead of Sena,
By M. T ABLE T. pismo Y taking a narrow View of the Nature of Sena,
elpecially of that which is brought into France from Tripoli, I plainly found that it was of the same Species with the wild Ath-tree, that grows plentifully