MASORAH:(Redirected from SEVERIN.)
- Etymology of the Name.
- Language and Form.
- Fixation of the Text.
- Tiḳḳune Soferim.
- "Mikra" and "'Ittur."
- Undecided Constructions.
- Suspended Letters and Dotted Words.
- Inverted Letters.
- Marginal Readings.
- History of Development.
- Differences Between Babylonia and Palestine.
- Ben Asher and Ben Naphtali.
- Critical Study.
- Masorah to Targum Onḳelos.
The system of critical notes on the external form of the Biblical text. This system of notes represents the literary labors of innumerable scholars, of which the beginning falls probably in pre-Maccabean times and the end reaches to the year 1425.Etymology of the Name.
The name "Masorah" occurs in many forms, the etymology, pronunciation, and genetic connection of which are much-mooted points. The term is taken from Ezek. xx. 37 and means originally "fetter." The fixation of the text was correctly considered to be in the nature of a fetter upon its exposition. When, in course of time, the Masorah had become a traditional discipline, the term became connected with the verb
The entire body of the Masorah goes back to the Palestinian schools; but recently Dr. P. Kahle discovered a fragment of the Babylonian Masorah which differs considerably from the received text in its terminology (comp. Paul Kahle, "Der Masoretische Text des Alten Testaments nach der Ueberlieferung der Babylonischen Juden," Leipsic, 1902).Language and Form.
The language of the Masoretic notes is partly Hebrew and partly Palestinian Aramaic. Chronologically speaking, the Aramaic is placed between two periods of the Hebrew; the latter appearing in the oldest, the pre-amoraic period, and in the latest, the Arabic period (which begins here about 800). To the oldest period belong terms like
The Masoretic annotations are found in various forms: (a) in separate works, e.g., the "Oklah we-Oklah"; (b) in the form of notes written in the margins and at the end of codices. In rare cases the notes are written between the lines. The first word of each Biblical book is also as a rule surrounded by notes. The latter are called the Initial Masorah; the notes on the side margins or between the columns are called the Small or Inner Masorah; and those on the lower and upper margins, the Large or Outer Masorah. The name "Large Masorah" is applied sometimes to the lexically arranged notes at the end of the printed Bible, usually called the Final Masorah, in Hebrew literature Masoretic Concordance (
The Small Masorah consists of brief notes with reference to marginal readings, to statistics showing the number of times a particular form is found in Scripture, to full and defective spelling, and to abnormally written letters. The Large Masorah is more copious in its notes. The Final Masorah comprises all the longer rubrics for which space could not be found in the margin of the text, and is arranged alphabetically in the form of a concordance. The quantity of notes the marginal Masorah contains is conditioned by the amount of vacant space on each page. In the manuscripts it varies also with the rate at which the copyist was paid and the fanciful shape he gave to his gloss.
The question as to which of the above forms is the oldest can not be decided from the data now accessible. On the one hand, it is known that marginal notes were used in the beginning of the second century of the common era; on the other, there is every reason to assume the existence of Masoretic baraitas which could not have been much later. The Small Masorah is in any case not an abbreviation of the Large Masorah. Like the latter, it occurs also arranged in alphabetical order.Origin.
From the statements in Talmudic literature to the effect that there was deposited in the court of the Temple a standard copy of the Bible for the benefit of copyists, and that there were paid correctors of Biblical books among the officers of the Temple (Ket. 106a); from the fact that such a copy is mentioned in the Aristeas Letter (§ 30; comp. Blau, "Studien zum Althebr. Buchwesen," p. 100); from the statements of Philo (preamble to his "Analysis of the Political Constitution of the Jews") and of Josephus ("Contra Ap." i. 8) that the text of Scripture had never beenaltered; finally, from the fact that there seem to have been no differences of readings between Pharisees and Sadducees, it may be concluded that the Scriptural text, at least as much as then belonged to the canon, was already fixed, at the latest, about 200
While the text was thus early fixed, it took centuries to produce a tolerable uniformity among all the circulating copies. This is by no means astonishing when one considers that the standard copy deposited at the Temple could be of benefit only to those who were sufficiently near Jerusalem to make use of it. This was not the case with those living in the Diaspora. When to this is added the carelessness of some copyists, it will not seem strange that as late as the second century of the common era scholars found it necessary to warn against incorrect copies; and the conclusions usually drawn from differences in the late books between the Hebrew text and the Greek version lose much of their force.
In classical antiquity copyists were paid for their work according to the number of stichs. As the prose books of the Bible were hardly ever written in stichs, the copyists, in order to estimate the amount of work, had to count the letters. Hence developed in the course of time the Numerical Masorah, which counts and groups together the various elements and phenomena of the text. Thus
The old Hebrew text was, in all probability, written in continuous script, without any breaks. The division into words, books, sections, paragraphs, verses, and clauses (probably in the chronological order here enumerated); the fixing of the orthography, pronunciation, and cantillation; the introduction or final adoption of the square characters with the five final letters (comp. Numbers and Numerals); some textual changes to guard against blasphemy and the like; the enumeration of letters, words, verses, etc., and the substitution of some words for others in public reading, belong to the earliest labors of the Masorites. Since no additions were allowed to be made to the official text of the Bible, the early Masorites adopted other expedients: e.g., they marked the various divisions by spacing, and gave indications of halakic and haggadic teachings by full or defective spelling, abnormal forms of letters, dots, and other signs. Marginal notes were permitted only in private copies, and the first mention of such notes is found in the case of R. Meïr (c. 100-150). The traditionally fixed text, especially with a view to its orthography, was called
Tannaitic sources mention several passages of Scripture in which the conclusion is inevitable that the ancient reading must have differed from that of the present text. The explanation of this phenomenon is given in the expression
The term "tiḳḳun Soferim" has been understood by different scholars in various ways. Some regard it as a viva voce correction or modification of Biblical language authorized by the Soferim for homiletical purposes; i.e., the Scribes interpret a supposed euphemism, and their interpretation is called "tiḳḳun Soferim." Others take it to mean a mental change made by the original writers or redactors of Scripture; i.e., the latter shrank from putting in writing a thought which some of the readers might expect them to express. Considering the various interpretations and the fact that neither the number nor the identity of the passages in question is definite (Mekilta counts 11, Sifre 7, Tanḥuma 13, Masorah 15 or 18), S. Sachs (in "Kerem Ḥemed," ix. 57, note) and, without mentioning him, Barnes ("Journal of Theological Studies," i. 387-414) come to the conclusion that the tiḳḳun tradition belongs rather to the Midrash than to the Masorah; i.e., its true bearing is on exegesis, not on textual criticism. The tiḳḳune Soferim are interpretations, not readings. The tiḳḳun tradition is probably connected with the tradition which ascribes the redaction of several books of Scripture to the Great Synagogue.
There are, however, phenomena in the Biblical text which force one to assume that at some time textual corrections had been made. These corrections may be classified under the following heads:
- (1) Removal of unseemly expressions used in reference to God; e.q., the substitution of
V08p366012.jpg("to bless") for V08p366013.jpg("to curse") in certain passages.
- (2)V08p367001.jpgPage from a Thirteenth-Century (?) Manuscript Bible Bearing Masoretic Notes Written to Form Ornamental Decorations.(In the British Museum.)Safeguarding of the Tetragrammaton; e.g., substitution of "Elohim" for "Yhwh" in some passages. Under this head some have counted such phenomena as the variants of the divine names in theophorous proper names; e.g., "Joahaz" for "Jehoahaz," "Elijah" for "Eliyahu," etc., but compare on this point J. H. Levy in "J. Q. R." xv. 97 et seq.
- (3) Removal of application of the names of false gods to Yhwh; e.g., the change of the name "Ishbaal" to "Ishbosheth."
- (4) Safeguarding the unity of divine worship at Jerusalem. Here belongs the change (Isa. xix. 18)
V08p368001.jpgfor V08p368002.jpgor V08p368003.jpg.
Among the earliest technical terms used in connection with activities of the Scribes are (Ned. 37b) the "miḳra Soferim" and "iṭṭur Soferim." In the geonic schools the first term was taken to signify certain vowel-changes which were made in words in pause or after the article; e.g.,
A number of words is mentioned—by the Talmud 5; by later authorities 8—which negatively expressed have no
There are four words having one of their letters suspended above the line. One of them,
In fifteen passages in the Bible some words are stigmatized. The significance of the dots is disputed. Some hold them to be marks of erasure; others believe them to indicate that in some collated manuscripts the stigmatized words were missing, hence that the reading is doubtful; still others contend that they are merely a mnemonic device to indicate homiletical explanations which the ancients had connected with those words; finally, some maintain the dots were designed to guard against the omission by copyists of text-elements which, at first glance or after comparison with parallel passages, seemed to be superfluous. Instead of dots some manuscripts exhibit strokes, vertical or else horizontal. The first two explanations are unacceptable for the reason that such faulty readings would belong to ḳere and ketib, which, in case of doubt, the majority of manuscripts would decide. The last two theories have equal probability.Inverted Letters.
In nine passages of the Bible are found signs usually called "inverted nuns," because resembling the letter נ. Others find a resemblance in these signs to the letter ר or כ. S. Krauss (in Stade's "Zeitschrift," xxii. 57) holds that the signs were originally obeli, and have textcritical value. He assumes that the correct reading in Massek. Soferim vi. 1, 2 is
Even in antiquity substitutions were made—at first only orally in public worship; later also in the form of marginal notes in private copies—of readings other than those found in the text. As Frankel has shown ("Vorstudien," pp. 220 et seq.), even the Septuagint knew those readings and frequently adopted them. These variants have various origins. Some of them represent variants in ancient manuscripts and have, therefore, a text-critical value (comp. Ḳimḥi, Introduction to Commentary on Joshua; Eichhorn, "Einleitung," § 148; also Joseph ibn Waḳar, in Steinschneider, "Jewish Literature," p. 270, note 15). Others arose from the necessity of replacing erroneous, difficult, irregular, provincial, archaic, unseemly, or cacophonous expressions by correct, simpler, current, appropriate, or euphonious readings (comp. Abravanel, Introduction to Commentary on Jeremiah). A third class may have been designed to call attention to some mystic meaning or homiletical lesson supposed to be embodied in the text (comp. Krochmal, "Moreh Nebuke ha-Zeman," ch. xiii.; S. Bamberger, "Einleitung zu Tobiah b. Eliezer's Leḳaḥ Ṭob zu Ruth," p. 39, note 1). A fourth class, finally, and this very late, is due to variants found in Talmudic literature (comp. "Minḥat Shai" on Isa. xxxvi. 12, Ps. xlix. 13, Eccl. viii. 10; Luzzatto, in "Kerem Ḥemed," ix. 9 on II Sam. xxii. 8). These variants are of a threefold character: (1) words to be read ("ḳere") for those written in the text ("ketib"); (2) words to be read for those not written in the text; (3) words written, but not to be read.
A certain school of Masorites used for the term "ḳere" the synonymous term "sebirin." The readings of that school are usually registered by the Masorah disapprovingly with the addition "u-maṭ'in" = "and they are misleading."
To the Masorites belongs also the credit of inventing and elaborating graphic signs to indicate the traditional pronunciation, syntactical construction, and cantillation of the Biblical text.History of Development.
The history of the Masorah may be divided into three periods: (1) creative period, from its beginning to the introduction of vowel-signs; (2) reproductive period, from the introduction of vowel-signs to the printing of the Masorah (1425); (3) critical period, from 1425 to the present time.
The materials for the history of the first period are scattered remarks in Talmudic and Midrashic literature, in the post-Talmudical treatises Masseket Sefer Torah and Masseket Soferim, and in a Masoretic chain of tradition found in Ben Asher's "Diḳduḳe ha-Ṭe'amim," § 69 and elsewhere. Masseket Soferim is a work of unknown date by a Palestinian author. The first five chapters are a sliglitly amplified reproduction of the earlier Masseket Sefer Torah, a compendium of rules to be observed by scribes in the preparation and writing of Scriptural rolls. Ch. vi. to ix. are purely Masoretic; the third part, commencing at ch. x., treats of ritualistic matter. While the work as a whole is perhaps not earlier than the beginning of the ninth century, its Masoretic portions probably go back to the sixth or seventh century. A comparison of this work with the Masoretic material found in Talmudic literature shows that the lists of marginal readings have been systematically enlarged. A critical comparison has been instituted between parallel passages in Scripture. Rules are now given, for the first time, as to the unusual form in which certain letters and words, of which the Talmud had taken special note, are to be written. The stichometrical form in which the Scriptural songs are to be arranged is described in fuller detail than it had been in the Talmud. It is also stated that in private copies the beginnings of verses used to be marked. Some readings in ch. xiii. 1 mention also accents; but these readings are doubtful (comp. Vocalization). In the chain of tradition quoted in Ben Asher the earliest name is a certain Naḳḳai, who is said to have emigrated under the persecutions of T. Annius Rufus from Palestine to Babylonia and spread Masoretic knowledge in the city of Nehardea. This would be about 140 of the common era, and the tradition, containing eight names, would date about 340.Differences Between Babylonia and Palestine.
In the course of time differences in spelling and pronunciation had developed not only between the schools of Palestine and of Babylonia—differences already noted in the third century (comp. Ginsburg, "Introduction," p. 197)—but in the various seats of learning in each country. In Babylonia the school of Sura differed from that of Nehardea; similar differences existed in the schools of Palestine, where the chief seat of learning in later times was the city of Tiberias. These differences must have become accentuated with the introduction of graphic signs for pronunciation and cantillation; and every locality, following the tradition of its school, had a standard codex embodying its readings.
In this period living tradition ceased, and the Masorites in preparing their codices usually followed the one school or the other, examining, however, standard codices of other schools and noting their differences. In the first half of the tenth century Aaron b. Moses ben Asher of Tiberias and Ben Naphtali, heads of two rival Masoretical schools, each wrote a standard codex of the Bible embodying the traditions of their respective schools. Ben Asher was the last of a distinguished family of Masorites extending back to the latter half of the eighth century. In spite of the rivalry of Ben Naphtali and the opposition of Saadia Gaon, the most eminent representative of the Babylonian school of criticism, Ben Asher's codex became recognized as the standard text of the Bible. Notwithstanding all this, for reasons unknown neither the printed text nor any manuscript which has been preserved is based entirely on Ben Asher: they are all eclectic. Aside from Ben Asher and Ben Naphtali, the names of several other Masorites have come down; but, perhaps with the exception of one—Phinehas, the head of the academy, who is supposed by modern scholars to have lived about 750—neither their time, their place, nor their connection with the various schools is known.Ben Asher and Ben Naphtali.
The two rival authorities, Ben Asher and Ben Naphtali, practically brought the Masorah to a close. Very few additions were made by the later Masorites, styled in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Naḳdanim, who revised the works of the copyists, added the vowels and accents (generally in fainter ink and with a finer pen) and frequently the Masorah. Considerable influence on the development and spread of Masoretic literature was exercised during the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries by the Franco-German school of Tosafists. R. Gershom, his brother Machir, Joseph b. Samuel Bonfils (Tob 'Elem) of Limoges, R. Tam (Jacob b. Meïr), Menahem b. Perez of Joigny, Perez b. Elijah of Corbeil, Judah of Paris, Meïr Spira, and R. Meïr of Rothenburg made Masoretic compilations, or additions to the subject, which are all more or less frequently referred to in the marginal glosses of Biblical codices and in the works of Hebrew grammarians.Critical Study.
Jacob b. Ḥayyim ibn Adonijah, having collated a vast number of manuscripts, systematized his material and arranged the Masorah in the second Bomberg edition of the Bible (Venice, 1524-25). Besides introducing the Masorah into the margin, he compiled at the close of his Bible a concordance of the Masoretic glosses for which he could not find room in a marginal form, and added an elaborate introduction—the first treatise on the Masorah ever produced. In spite of its numerous errors, this excellent work has generally been acknowledged as the "textus receptus" of the Masorah. Next to Ibn Adonijah the critical study of the Masorah has been most advanced by Elijah Levita, who published hisfamous "Massoret ha-Massoret" in 1538. The "Tiberias" of the elder Buxtorf (1620) made Levita's researches accessible to Christian students. Walton's eighth prolegomenon is largely a réchauffé of the "Tiberias." Levita compiled likewise a vast Masoretic concordance, "Sefer ha-Zikronot," which still lies in the National Library at Paris unpublished. The study is indebted also to R. Meïr b. Todros ha-Levi (RaMaH), who, as early as the thirteenth century, wrote his "Sefer Massoret Seyag la-Torah" (correct ed. Florence, 1750); to Menahem di Lonzano, who composed a treatise on the Masorah of the Pentateuch entitled "Or Torah"; and in particular to Jedidiah Solomon of Norzi, whose "Minḥat Shai" contains valuable Masoretic notes based on a careful study of manuscripts. Mention must also be made of J. C. Wolf, whose "Bibliotheca Hebræa" contains a treatise on the Masorah and a list of Masoretic authorities (part ii., book iii.). For less-known names consult the bibliography below.
In modern times knowledge of the Masorah has been advanced by the following scholars: W. Heidenheim, A. Geiger, S. D. Luzzatto, S. Pinsker, S. Frensdorff, H. Graetz, J. Derenbourg, D. Oppenheim, S. Baer, L. Blau, B. Königsberger, A. Büchler, J. Bachrach, I. H. Weiss, S. Rosenfeld, M. Lambert, J. Reach, A. Ackermann, L. Bardowicz, and W. Bacher. Among Christian scholars are to be mentioned: H. Hupfeld, Franz Delitzsch, L. H. Strack, C. D. Ginsburg (a Jew by birth), W. Wickes, Ad. Merx, F. Praetorius, and P. Kahle.Masorah to Targum Onḳelos.
In imitation of the Masorah to the Hebrew text, a similar work exists to the text of Targum Onḳelos, first edited by A. Berliner (Leipsic, 1877), then by S. Landauer (Amsterdam, 1896). According to Berliner's opinion, it must have been compiled about the end of the ninth or the beginning of the tenth century.
- On the name: Paul de Lagarde, Mittheilungen, i. 1884;
- P. Haupt, Proc. Am. Oriental Soc. xvi., p. cvi.;
- S. D. Luzzatto, additamenta to
V08p371001.jpg, ii. 119b;
- Ed. König, Lehrgebäude, ii. 358, 491;
- idem, Introduction, p. 38;
- Ginsburg, Masoretico-Critical Introduction, p. 421, note 1;
- Blau, in Zeit. für Hebr. Bibl. iv. 62;
- especially Bacher, in J. Q. R. iii. 785;
- idem, Aelteste Terminologie, s. v.;
- comp. J. Bachrach, Ishtaddelut im Shedal, i. 20, notes 4, 34, 181.
Editions:In Rabbinic Bible, Venice, 1524-25, by Ibn Adonijah;
- in Basel edition by Buxtorf, 1618-19 (in some respects an improvement on its predecessor, although it exhibits many unwarrantable alterations);
- Frensdorff, Ochlah we-Ochlah, Hanover, 1864;
- idem, Die Massora Magna, i., ib. 1876;
- C. D. Ginsburg, The Massorah, London, 1880-85.
- S. Baer's Masorah is still unpublished.
Masoretico-grammatical works:Ben Asher, Diḳduḳe ha-Te'amim, ed. Baer and Strack, Leipsic, 1879;
- anonymous, Horayot ha-Ḳore, inedited;
- Joseph of Constantinople, 'Adat Dibburim, inedited;
- Samson Punctator, Ḥibbur ha-Ḳonim, inedited;
- Moses Punctator,Darke ha-Niḳḳud weha-Neginot, ed. Frensdorff, Hanover, 1847;
- Jekuthiel Punctator, 'En ha-Ḳore, ed. Heidenheim (in his Pentateuch Me'or 'Enayim, Rödelheim, 1818-21, and in his Seder Yeme ha-Purim, ib. 1826);
- anonymous, Manuel du Lecteur, ed. Derenbourg, Paris, 1870 (reprint from Journal Asiatique);
- anonymous, Petite Grammaire Hébraïque, ed. Neubauer, Leipsic, 1891.
Commentaries:M. A. Angel, Masoret ha-Berit, Cracow, 1629;
- Abraham b. Reuben of Ochrida, Sefer Bet Abraham, Constantinople, 1742;
- David Viterbi, Sefer Em la-Masoret, Mantua, 1748;
- Abraham b. Jeremiah of Calvary, Sefer Seder Abraham, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1752;
- Asher Amshel of Worms, Seyag la-Torah, ib. 1766;
- Joseph b. David Heilbron of Eschweg, Sefer Mebin Ḥidot, Amsterdam, 1765 (a plagiarism from the preceding work);
- Solomon Dubno, Tiḳḳun Soferim, in Mendelssohn's Pentateuch Netibot ha-Shalom, Berlin, 1783:
- Phoebus b. Solomon, Menorat Shelomoh, and Minḥat Kalil, in Pentateuch edited in Dobrowno, 1804:
- Joseph b. Mordecai, Masorah Berurah, Berdychev (1820?);
- Joseph Ḳalman b. Solomon, Sha'ar ha-Masorah, Wilna, 1870.
Historico-critical works on the Masorah:Jacob b. Ḥayyim, Introduction, ed. Ginsburg, London, 1865;
- E. Levita, Massoret ha-Massoret, ed. Ginsburg, ib. 1867;
- H. L. Strack, Prolegomena Critica, Leipsic, 1873;
- Joseph Kalman b. Solomon, Mebo ha-Massorah, Warsaw, 1862 (2d ed., ib. 1890?);
- Geiger, Jüd. Zeit. iii. 78-119;
- J. H. Weiss, in Gesch. der Jüdischen Tradition, iv. and Index;
- S. Rosenfeld, introduction to his Mishpaḥat Soferim, Wilna, 1883;
- Ad. Merx, Die Tschufutkaléschen Fragmente, in Verhandlungen des Fünften Internationalen Orientalischen Congresses, part ii., section 1, pp. 188-225, Berlin, 1882;
- Isidore Harris, The Rise and Development of the Massorah, in J. Q. R. i. 128-142, 223-257;
- C. D. Ginsburg, Introduction to the . . . Hebrew Bible, London, 1897;
- W. Bacher, Die Masorah, in Winter and Wünsche, Jüdische Literatur, ii. 121-132;
- Hamburger, Massora, in his R. B. T. Supplement, iv. 52-68.
On special points:Sefer Tagin, ed. J. Bargès, Paris, 1866;
- Midrash Ḥaserot wi-Yeterot, ed. Berliner, in his Peleṭat Soferim, Breslau, 1872 (reedited in a more complete form by S. Wertheimer, Jerusalem, 1899);
- S. Rosenfeld, Ma'amar biḲere u-Ketib, Wilna, 1866;
- M. Lambert, Une Serie de Qere-Ketib, Paris, 1891;
- J. Reach, Die Sebirin der Massoreten von Tiberias, Breslau, 1895;
- L. Blau, Masoretische Untersuchungen, Strasburg, 1891;
- idem, Zur Einleitung in die Heilige Schrift, Budapest, 1894;
- B. Königsberger, Aus Masorah und Talmudkritik, i., Berlin, 1892;
- A. S. Weissmann, Ḳedushshat ha-TNK, Vienna, 1887;
- S. R. Edelmann, Ha-Mesillot, Wilna, 1875;
- L. Bardowicz, Studien zur Geschichte der Orthographie des Althebräischen, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1894;
- A. Wedell, De Emendationibus a Sopherim in, Libris Sacris Veteris Testamenti Propositis, Breslan, 1869.
- For articles in periodical literature compare M. Schwab, Répertoire, s.v. Accents, Division de la Bible, Massora, Massorétes, Sections de la Bible, Sedarim, Versets de la Bible, Tikkun Sofrim, and
- For older Christian literature compare the references in Strack's Prolegomena.
- For special points compare the literature under the various terms in C. Levias, Dictionary of Philological Terminology;
- also the bibliographies to Accents in Hebrew; Bible Manuscripts; Naḳdanim; Oklah We-Oklah; and Vocalization.