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Has anyone attempted to reconstruct the pronunciation / phonological form of the Torah as it would have been heard at the time of the fixing of the consonantal text (ca. 6th c. BCE)?

So, just as a little side project, I've been taking the diachronic processes given in The Development of the Biblical Hebrew Vowels by Benjamin Suchard (2016), and trying to 'work backwards' from the Tiberian reading tradition in order to arrive at the oldest stage of Hebrew which is consistent with the consonantal orthography of the unvocalized Masoretic Text. It's been a fun little project, and I've discovered some neat little diachronic quirks on my own. For example, the opening of the Book of Job, by using a combination of Suchard's relative chronology and the rest of my knowledge of Proto-Semitic, I've arrived at:

אִ֛ישׁ הָיָ֥ה בְּאֶֽרֶץ‏־ע֖וּץ אִיּ֣וֹב שְׁמ֑וֹ וְהָיָ֣ה ׀ הָאִ֣ישׁ הַה֗וּא תָּ֧ם וְיָשָׁ֛ר וִירֵ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים וְסָ֥ר מֵרָֽע ׃

ʔīʃ hājā baʔart͡sʼ-ʕūt͡sʼ; ʔejjōb ʃmō. wahājā haʔʔīʃ hahhūʔ tamm wajāʃār, wajareʔ-ʔəlōhīm, wasār merrāʕ.

'There was a man in the land of Utz; his name was Job. And that man was pure and righteous, and fearful of God, and shunned evil.'

Obviously, everything about this is highly speculative. I'm not an especially religious person, just a nerd with too much free time, so this isn't much more than a weekend hobby. But I was wondering if this sort of thing has been attempted before on a larger and more rigorously academic scale, and if so, where?

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    אֶרֶץ is /ʔart͡sʼ/, not /ˈʔeresˤ/?.. Could you comment on how you came to that pronunciation? Why CaCC instead of CeCeC ? – Yellow Sky Jan 23 at 8:14
  • @YellowSky The Proto-Semitic form is *ʔárɬʼ-. I'm trying to derive the earliest form of Hebrew consistent with the orthography, using Suchard's relative chronology with a few personal tweaks. Segolation of *CáCC- nouns like *kálb- > כֶּלֶב doesn't affect the consonantal spelling (ארץ) and strictly follows many of the most important changes which would have affected consonantal orthography, so I exclude segolation of *CaCC- nouns. My reconstruction above is roughly equivalent to phases 1 through 4 of Suchard's chronology. – Khove Jan 23 at 18:09
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    IIRC segolation is largely absent in the secunda. Dating the secunda is tricky, it's sometimes held to have been based on an earlier now lost text, rather than contemporary with Origen, but either way, it seems good evidence that at least some varieties of Hebrew resisted segolation until after the composition of the Tanakh – Tristan Jan 25 at 11:12
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    one difficulty you will have with this endeavour is that different passages of Tanakh were composed at wildly different times, and in different dialects – Tristan Jan 25 at 11:14
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    Have you checked en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_Hebrew#Phonology? There also should be quite a lot of literature on Greek-Hebrew linguistic contacts in the antiquity, with both Greek words attested in Hebrew script as well as vice versa – ain92 Jan 25 at 15:13

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