Your above assertion also has nothing to do with the point at hand, which was your contention that I should not have said that it is foolish to judge the Hebrew by the Greek.
If you understood the concept, you would know that the depravity of B and Aleph makes it utterly foolish to correct the Hebrew based on the text of B and Aleph, et. al., which was my earlier statement, because it is obviously clear that the scribes of B and Aleph were ignoramuses in Greek, and therefore to try to derive the Hebrew from the Greek of scribes who were themselves ignoramuses in Greek is foolish to the extreme.
Ok, so I realize this is an old, old discussion, but I was doing some research and, happening upon it, found myself in a position to further address some of the points discussed in this thread.
Basically, regarding the waw, it was, by all our best evidence, originally a waw. One of the greatest proofs to this is the use of it as a mater letter. Mater letters were the first attempt at vowel markings in the Hebrew. They also became the foundation used for the current vowel markings. The Masorites basically used the consonants that were closest to the vowel sounds to indicate the vowels. Hebrew has three vowel categories: the a family, the e/i family and the o/u family. Since the closest letter to the a vowel sounds is the h sound, they used "he" for the a vowels, which makes sense, since even in English we often use "ah" in phonetic spellings to indicate the soft a vowel sound. E/i took on the yod, and o/u took on the waw. If it had been vav instead of waw, it would not have been a close enough consonant to the o/u vowels to be used FOR the o/u vowels. Pay attention to what your mouth is doing for a moment, if you don't mind. Say wah, ooh, you (as in u) and ohhhh. Notice the position of the lips and tongue do not change much.
This isn't the only differences noticed in the classical vs modern pronunciations. All of the BeGaDKePaT letters (letters that take dagesh lene) all have dual pronunciations based on whether they have the dagesh or not. Modern Hebrew, if I recall correctly, only has dual pronunciation on bet(h) and maybe one other letter.
And the soft b, or bet(h) without the dagesh, is where the v sound can be found in classic Hebrew. The letter bet in classic Hebrew is beth, because the final letter of bet is a tau, which without the dagesh has a th sound. We see this survive in worlds like Bethlehem and Bethel. Yet modern readings of Gen 1:1 start with bereshiyT instead of bereshiyTH (which would be proper in classical/Biblical Hebrew).
So why aren't modern Hebrew speakers aware of this? Doesn't that prove that waw was a later construct? No. Most, if not all, who read this are native modern English speakers. Do you all know that English used to have case endings? Did you know that English verbs used to be highly inflected? Even if you do, did you learn that in public school? I didn't learn those facts until after college, in private study. (I am a bit of a language buff.)
So if modern pronunciations do not affect meaning, why do so many seminary professors insist on classical pronunciation? Well, there are a few reasons. This actually came up between a professor and myself in a discourse regarding learning modern Hebrew.
1) The idea of learning ancient pronunciation for purposes of reading the Scripture in the original text is the pursuit of hearing, reading and experiencing the ancient text in the same way that our spiritual predecessors did.
2) Because Modern Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew diverge in grammar and certain key vocabulary, it is helpful to the Biblical Hebrew student to separate him/herself from the Modern for better focus and understanding UNLESS they have also a desire to travel to Israel some day. If you don't plan on conversing with a modern speaker, Modern Hebrew is more cons than pros to the Bible student. If your purpose is strictly to learn to read the Bible in the ancient tongue, focusing on the Classical will be clearer AND faster. (In MH you have to learn words like cellphone, airport and automobile, which just add unnecessary words to your vocab lists.)
3) Many who pursue this do so because a love of the Word AND a love of language. And if you have a passion for languages, there is a certain intimacy to taking a language back that far. In Koine, I leaned to pronounce iota as ee-ota, because that is how they said it in Koine. Those little intimate details are the things that take you from the realm of learning a language to knowing a language, making love to the language, if you will. Yes, some of us are that passionate about language.
4) And this is one of my own predilections. Hebrew is a guttural language, with a lot of hard sounds. V is a hard letter. W is a soft one. Retaining the waw returns that softness to the language which was originally there that balanced the hard and guttural letters. Just my humble opinion on that one.
Anywho, those are my two cents on the discussion. It really doesn't matter if you learn it as waw or vav, at the end of the day.
The late Professor Benzion Netanyahu stated at the Messiah Truth Forum that “ The earliest Hebrew grammar texts that were produced in a European language were published in Austria and hence were written in German. The Hebrew letter ו (vav) was transliterated by the letter W in those grammar texts because the letter W has the same sound in German as the letter V has in English. Unfortunately, though, the transliteration scheme was overlooked when these grammar books were subsequently translated into English, and consequently the use of the letter W to represent the Hebrew letter ו (vav) was never corrected to the letter V. From this simple oversight has grown the unshakeable conviction among many christians that the Hebrew letter ו (vav) “originally” sounded like the English letter W “because books written by Jews say so” and, however many times they are told that this is not the case, they flatly refuse to accept it.”
I came across this info when I was researching GOD'S sacred Hebrew name for my teaching on You Tube titled "Why So Many Names"?
@Sarah, that quote from the messiahtruth forum is not from the late history Prof Ben Tzion Netanyahu. It is from somebody posting under the name ProfBenTziyyon and I can assure you that was not Netanyahu's late father posting on that forum! It is a common view though. And for example, Rabbi Dawid Bar Hayyim pronounces it w, as many academics do.. on the reasoning that it comes from Germans not pronouncing it right. However, I have heard that V is more common even among jewish pronunciations in the middle east than W.. and Iraqi Jews and some others(like yemenites maybe), pronounce it W.
And I think from some new information I have found which i'll post, from Nehemia Gordon, that it should be pronounced V not W.
I have since spoken to an academic and they've disputed what Nehemia Gordon has said. They say that Gav with a vav and Gav with a vet come from two different roots. Not different spelling of the same word.
ok so in this video with nehemia gordon,
he says it's V
he says it's not just Jews that have lived in Germany or Europe that pronounce it V.
He says that Jews of Syria pronounce it V.
And the W is arabic influence.
And there is an ancient poem that rhymes words with the V, and Levi(a word spelt with vav/waw), is in there rhymed like a V.
Further detail here -
He says scholars went around the jewish world in the 1800s, and documented how they pronounced every letter. They found some pronounced the 6th letter as V some as W. Most as V. Not just Germany/Yiddish speaking Jews. But Jews of Syria that had been there from the time of King David. Even though they spoke Arabic at home, saying waw, in arabic, when reading from the Torah, they read V. He spoke to a member of the academy of the hebrew languages, one of the top people in the world, and Nehemia asked him about this.. There aer 5 communities that had the w sound. Yemenite, Libyan.. All arabic speaking. The professor nehemia spoke to said it's 100% certain that W for the 6th letter, is influenced by arabic. He showed nehemia some ancient sources.. Yemenites one can see why they'd do as as W, as that's in arabic, but why would a Jew from damascus pronounce it V.. he's clearly preserving something authentic, but tha'ts only 150/200 years ago. Another thing is a poem named Kalir from 6th century in the land of israel. So 1500 years. And he's rhyming Levi and Navi. All Jews agree that the V exists in hebrew, bet without a dot. So anyhow, this poet rhymes Levi with Navi. It wouldn't work with Lewi like the yemenites pronounce it. So nehemia thinks 1500 years ago there's no question it was pronounced V. Interestingly ibn ezra who was much later, liek 700 years later, wrote criticising this poet, for having two words that didn't rhyme.. See, ibn ezra didn't realise that V was the pronunciation. that was the influence of arabic on ibn ezra. Nehemia points out that the word for "back" is Gav, and Gav can be written with a soft bet, or with a vav. I see that doing a search in bw Nehemia mentions Ezekiel, to make the point that in the time of Ezekiel it could be spelt either way, Ezekiel 23:35 has it with a vav, and Ezekiel 16:24 with a vet (though translations on that verse say e.g. arch, I see bibleworks says "back or side", as translation for gav with a vav and for gav with a vet) http://biblehub.com/hebrew/1458.htm.