Bnei Yisrael vs Vnei Yisrael

Question

In V-Shamru, the words “the children of Israel” are written 2 different ways:
1st: בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
2nd: בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

Why is the first with a Vav and the second with a Bet?
Should each be pronounced accordingly? I have always used the B sound for both.

3 months

Answers

  1. In Modern Hebrew they are generally both pronounced as “Bnei”. However, because the verses quoted come from the Torah it is necessary to look at the cantillation note’s, as the words are sung when being read from the Torah, to understand subtle differences like these.

    When one looks at the notes, the first Bnei Yisrael is read as one whole phrase – “Veshamru Vnei Yisrael” and, due to a somewhat obscure grammatical rule in Biblical Hebrew the ‘bet’ of “bnei” loses its emphasis and becomes a ‘vet’. The second time that Bnei Yisrael is mentioned the notes are completely different and the notes are sung in such a way that the “bnei” is its own word and not read as part of a greater phrase.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team