How to read Hebrew without points (nekudot)
In the 18th century many Hebrew grammars were published. All of them bore titles like "Hebrew Grammar...with points" or "....without points" and even some "with and without points." It was practically a genre.
One such grammar was published by an anti-pointist Anglican clergyman named Anselm Bayly (1718-1794) (here is music book he wrote for sale with some info about him). It was called A plain and complete grammar of the Hebrew language, with and without points, published in London in 1773.
In the preface Bayly writes that "the hebrew hath never been totally dead; it is alive to this day in the mouths and understanding of the wise and learned Jews who all over the world can converse with each other, and write in biblical ad well as in the rabbinical hebrew. This is a fact*
the asterisk leads to the following footnote:
Bayly continues making his case for the Jews knowing their Hebrew: "It is certain, that the hebrew was pronounced, and its grammar understood by the Doctors at Tiberius in the third and fourth century, otherwise they could not have taught it to Origen and Jerom..."
What is he getting at? That Hebrew is a living language and those who know it can read it quite easily...without nekudot. Therefore they are unecessary.
Of course he has to explain how to read Hebrew then. He does so as follows:
What sort of responses this kind of thing evoke? Here is one in a book called Jonah, a faithful translation from the original: with philological and explanatory notes by George Benjoin (the only info I have so far found about him is that he taught at Jesus College and in 1794 an Act of Parliament naturalized him as a British citizen. The book itself is worth a future post, as it is filled with gems. Here is what he has to say on the matter: