The Maters Lectionis or in Hebrew imot kri’ah, in other words the letters mentioned in yesterday’s quiz – א ה ו י – were added before the Masoretes produced the Masoretic text – the authoritative Hebrew text of the Torah including its vocalization and accentuation.
When they added the diacritical notes – the little dots and signs which indicate the vowel sounds – why didn’t the Masoretes do away with א ה ו י? In other words they could have deleted the Mater Lectionis as they now had the vowel sounds expressed twice in a single syllable.
For instance, if you take a simple and well-known word: תּוֹרָה (Torah). The sound o is expressed both by the holam (the dot) and the vav while the ha sound is expressed twice thanks to the kamatz (the little sign) and the he.
Why did the Masoretes keep the Maters Lectionis?