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HAFṬARAH (lit. "conclusion"):

That portion of the Prophets read immediately after the reading of the Torah in the morning services on Sabbaths, feast-days, and the Ninth of Ab, and in the afternoon services on fast-days. The passage chosen usually contains an explicit reference to some event described in the section previously read from the Torah; for instance, Isa. liv., on account of verse 9, goes with Gen. vi. 9-xi. 32; Hosea xii. 13 with Gen. xxviii. 10-xxxii. 2; Micah v. 6-vi. 8 with Num.xxii.-xxv. In all of these cases the direct relation of one passage to the other is limited to one verse. Often the two sections bear merely a general resemblance to each other in their content, as is the case with those for most feast-days, those for the four Sabbaths before the Feast of Passover, etc. For example, II Kings iv., on account of verse 16, goes with Gen. xviii.-xxii.; I Kings i. with Gen. xxiii.-xxv. 18, on account of xxiv. 1, with which the weekly lesson originally began; Judges xiii. with Num. iv. 21-vii. 89, on account of vi. 1 et seq. Sometimes, when nothing more appropriate could be found, a remote similarity of ideas determined the selection of the hafṭarah: thus, Isa. xlii. 5 would be coupled with Gen. i.-vi. 8; Ezek. xxxvii. 15 with Gen. xliv. 18-xlvii. 27; indeed, sometimes the connection consists only in one word, as between Hosea ii. 2 and Num. i.-iv. 20; Isa. xxvii. 6 and Ex. i. 5. The hafṭarot are definitely fixed; they consist of from ten to fifty-two verses, and are read by the last person called upon by the prayer-leader or the rabbi to read from the Torah. They are preceded by two exordiums on the subject of God's delight in His prophets and their utterances and in the Torah, and are concluded by four laudations—upon God's faithfulness to His promises in regard to the restoration of Zion, the coming of the Messiah, and the reestablishment of the throne of David, upon the revelation of the Torah, upon the Prophets, and upon the feast-day.

Stages of Development.

The hafṭarah has passed through several stages of development (see Liturgy). The Talmudic sources, which trace the custom of reading from the Torah back to Moses and Ezra, do not mention the originator of the hafṭarah, which would seem to point to a later origin. Abudarham, a Spanish teacher of the fourteenth century, traces the hafṭarah back to the time of the persecution under Antiochus IV., Epiphanes (168-165 B.C.), when, owing to the prohibition against reading from the Torah, the corresponding sections from the Prophets were read instead, this practise becoming established as a custom. Although all authority for this explanation is lacking, it is not improbable that the custom dates from the pre-Christian era, and that originally it was observed only on feast-days and on the four special Sabbaths, and was later extended to all Sabbaths. It appears that the Pharisees in their conflict with the Sadducees read in connection with the various sections from the Torah such selections from the prophetical books—principally from the so-called Earlier Prophets—as supported their own interpretation of the laws concerning the festivals. Talmudic statements, together with Luke iv. 17, show that the reading of the hafṭarah on the Sabbath had already been instituted in the first century of the common era (Meg. 25b; Yer. Meg. iv. 75c; Tosef., iv. 34), although the selections at that time were by no means fixed (Meg. iv. 9).

Triennial Cycle.

The portions to be read on feast-days were first determined in the middle of the second century (Tosef., Meg. iv. 1); then followed those for the special Sabbaths; for ordinary Sabbaths only a few were fixed, which bore special relation to the sections from the Torah (Tosef., Meg. iv. 18). In the second century the choice of the passage was still left to the scholar who was called upon to read from the Torah (Meg. iv. 5). In Palestine the reading of the Prophets was completed in three years, in accordance with the three-year cycle of readings from the Torah, and consequently necessitated as many selections as there were weeks in the three years. A manuscript in the Bodleian Library contains an incomplete list of these, which manuscript came originally from a synagogue in Cairo, probably of the Palestinians, who in the twelfth century still observed the triennial cycle. These hafṭarot consisted often of two or three verses, as in the oldest times, and were repeated in Aramaic, the language of the people, by an official translator, sentence by sentence, as they were read (Meg. iv. 4). Inappropriate passages remained untranslated. At times an address followed the reading from the Prophets (comp. Luke iv. 17 et seq., and Pesiḳta), usually based upon the section from the Torah. In the course of time the hafṭarah grew (comp. Meg. 31a). When the triennial cycle was replaced in Babylonia by an annual cycle, and each three sections of the Torah were read as one, the hafṭarah to the first section was usually preserved, seldom that of the second or third, which is explained by the similarity of the rites in this respect. The Karaites almost always chose the hafṭarah to the middle section. The hafṭarot for the three Sabbaths of mourning before the Ninth of Ab and for the three Sabbaths of consolation after the Ninth of Ab, which have no connection with the section from the Torah, are later, though probably of Palestinian origin; for the former, admonitory speeches are chosen from Jer. i.-ii. and Isa. i.; for the latter, consolatory speeches from Isa. xl.-lxi. The hafṭarot of consolation were later made to extend over the following Sabbaths to the New-Year, and attained such importance that the homilies of the preacher touched only upon the hafṭarah and not upon the Torah (Pesiḳta). However, the extension beyond the three hafṭarot of consolation did not at first find general recognition, and not until later did it become prevalent. The benedictions preceding and following the hafṭarah are first found in the Palestinian treatise Soferim (xiii. 9-14), and, with some variations, in the prayer-book of the gaon Amram of Babylonia (900). For the accents of the hafṭarah see Jew. Encyc. iii. 540-546, s.v. Cantillation, Nos. 3-8.

  • Rapoport, Erech Millin, pp. 167 et seq.;
  • Herzfeld, Gesch. des Volkes Jisrael, iii. 215;
  • Büchler, in J. Q. R. vi. 1 et seq.;
  • Müller, Tractat Soferim, pp. 181 et seq.
E. G. H. A. Büch.

The following is a list of the sidrot and the corresponding hafṭarot for the various Sabbaths, together with the sections and hafṭarot for special Sabbaths and festivals:

BereshitGen. i. 1-vi. 8Isa. xlii. 5-xliii. 10 (among Sephardim xlii. 5-21)
NoaḥGen. vi. 9-xi. 32Isa. liv. 1-lv. 5 (among Sephardim liv. 1-10)
Lek LekaGen. xii. 1-xvii. 27Isa. xl. 27-xli. 16
WayeraGen. xviii. 1-xxii. 24II Kings iv. 1-37 (among Sephardim iv. 1-23)
Ḥayye SarahGen. xxiii. 1-xxv. 18I Kings i. 1-31
ToledotGen. xxv. 19-xxviii. 9Mal. i. 1-ii. 7
WayeẓeGen. xxviii. 10-xxxii. 3Hosea xii. 13-xiv. 10 (among Sephardim xi. 7-xii. 12)
WayishlaḥGen. xxxii. 4-xxxvi. 43Hosea xi. 7-xii. 12, or Obad. i. 1-21
WayeshebGen. xxxvii. 1-xl. 23Amos ii. 6-iii. 8
MiḳḳeẓGen. xli. 1-xliv. 17I Kings iii. 15-iv. 1
WayiggashGen. xliv. 18-xlvii. 27Ezek. xxxvii. 15-28
WayeḥiGen. xlvii. 28-l. 26I Kings ii. 1-12
ShemotEx. i. 1-vi. 1Isa. xxvii. 6-xxviii. 13 (among Sephardim Jer. i. 1-ii. 3)
Wa'eraEx. vi. 2-ix. 35Ezek. xxviii. 25-xxix. 21
BoEx. x. 1-xiii. 16Jer. xlvi. 13-28
BeshallaḥEx. xiii. 17-xvii. 16Judges iv. 4-v. 31 (among Sephardim v. 1-31)
YitroEx. xviii. 1-xx. 26Isa. vi. 1-vii. 6 (among Sephardim vi. 1-13)
MishpaṭimEx. xxi. 1-xxiv. 18Jer. xxxiv. 8-22; xxxiii. 25-26
TerumahEx. xxv. 1-xxvii. 19I Kings v. 26-vi. 13
TeẓawwehEx. xxvii. 20-xxx. 10Ezek. iii. 10-27
(Ki) TissaEx. xxx. 11-xxxiv. 35I Kings xviii. 1-39 (among Sephardim xviii. 20-39)
WayaḳhelEx. xxxv. 1-xxxviii. 20I Kings vii. 40-50 (among Sephardim vii. 13-26)
PeḳudeEx. xxxviii. 21-xi. 38I Kings vii. 51-viii. 21 (among Sephardim vii. 40-50)
WayiḳraLev. i. 1-v. 26Isa. xliii. 21-xliv. 23
ẒawLev. vi. 1-viii. 36Jer. vii. 21-viii. 3 and ix. 22, 23
SheminiLev. ix. 1-xi. 47II Sam. vi. 1-vii. 17 (among Sephardim vi. 1-19)
Tazria'Lev. xii. 1-xiii. 59II Kings iv. 42-v. 19
Meẓora'Lev. xiv. 1-xv. 33II Kings vii. 3-20
Aḥare MotLev. xvi. 1-xviii. 30Ezek. xxii. 1-16
ḲedoshimLev. xix. 1-xx. 27Amos ix. 7-15 (among Sephardim Ezek. xx. 2-20)
EmorLev. xxi. 1-xxiv. 23Ezek. xliv. 15-31
BeharLev. xxv. 1-xxvi. 2Jer. xxxii 6-27
BeḥuḳḳotalLev. xxvi. 3-xxvii. 34Jer. xvi. 19-xvii. 14
BemidbarNum. i. 1-iv. 20Hosea ii. 1-22
NasoNum. iv. 21-vii. 89Judges xiii. 2-25
Beha'alotekaNum. viii. 1-xii. 16Zech. ii. 14-iv. 7
ShelaḥNum. xiii. 1-xv. 41Josh. ii. 1-24
ḲoraḥNum. xvi. 1-xviii. 32I Sam. xi. 14-xii. 22
ḤuḳḳatNum. xix. 1-xxii. 1Judges xi. 1-33
BalaḳNum. xxii. 2-xxv. 9Micah v. 6-vi. 8
PineḥasNum. xxv. 10-xxx. 1I Kings xviii. 46-xix. 21
MaṭṭotNum. xxx. 2-xxxii. 42Jer. i. 1-ii. 3
Masse'eNum. xxxiii. 1-xxxvi. 13Jer. ii. 4-28 and iv. 1, 2
DebarimDeut. i. 1-iii. 22Isa. i. 1-27
Wa'etḥananDeut. iii. 23-vii. 11Isa. xl. l-26
'EkebDeut. vii. 12-xi. 25Isa. xlix. 14-li. 4
Re'ehDeut. xi. 26-xvi. 17Isa. liv. 11-lv. 6
ShofeṭimDeut. xvi. 18-xxi. 9Isa. li. 12-lii. 13
Ki TeẓeDeut. xxi. 10-xxv. 19Isa. liv. 1-10
Ki TaboDeut. xxvi. 1-xxix. 8Isa. lx. 1-22
NiẓẓabimDeut. xxix. 9-xxx. 20Isa. lxi. 10-lxiii. 9
WayelekDeut. xxxi. 1-30Isa. lv. 6-lvi. 8 (among Sephardim Hosea xiv. 2-10; Micah vii. 18-20)
Ha'azinuDeut. xxxii. 1-52Hosea xiv. 2-10 (among Sephardim II Sam. xxii. 1-51)
Wezot ha-BerakahDeut. xxxiii. 1-xxxiv. 12Josh. i. 1-18
Special Sabbaths and Holy Days.
Rosh Ḥodesh on SabbathWeekly portion and Num. xxviii. 9-15Isa. lxvi. 1-24
Rosh Ḥodesh on day following SabbathWeekly portionI Sam. xx. 18-42
SheḳalimEx. xxx. 11-16II Kings xii. 1-17 (among Sephardim xi. 17-xii. 17)
ZakorDeut. xxv. 17-19I Sam. xv. 2-34 (among Sephardim xv. 1-34)
ParahNum. xix. 1-22Ezek. xxxvi. 16-36
Ha-ḤodeshEx. xii. 1-20Ezek. xlv. 16-xlvi. 18 (among Sephardim xlv. 18-xlvi. 15)
Ḥanukkah on SabbathPart of Num. vii.Zech. ii. 14-iv. 7
Sabbath ha-GadolWeekly lessonMal. iii. 4-24
Passover, 1st DayEx. xii. 21-51; Num. xxviii. 16-25Josh. iii. 5-iv. 1 (among Sephardim v. 2-vi. 1)
Passover, 2d DayLev. xxii. 26-xxiii. 44; Num. xxviii. 16-25II Kings xxiii. 1-10, 21-25
Passover and SabbathEx. xxxiii. 12-xxxiv. 26; Num. xxxiii . 19-25Ezek. xxxvii. 1-15
Passover, 7th DayEx. xiii. 17-xv. 26; Num. xxviii. 19-25II Sam. xxii. 1-51
Passover, 8th DayDeut. xv. 19-xvi. 17; Num. xxviii. 19-25Isa. x. 32-xii. 6
Shebu'ot, 1st DayEx. xix. 1-xx. 23; Num. xxviii. 26-31Ezek. i. 1-28 and iii. 1-12
Shebu'ot, 2d DayDeut. xv. 19-xvi. 17; Num. xxviii. 26-31Hab. iii. 1-19 (among Sephardim ii. 20-iii. 19)
Tish'ah be-Ab, MorningDeut. iv. 25-40Jer. viii. 13-ix. 23
Tish'ah be-Ab, AfternoonEx. xxxii. 11-14, xxxiv. 1-10Isa. iv. 6-lvi. 8
Rosh ha-Shanah, 1st DayGen. xxi. 1-34; Num. xxix. 1-6I Sam. i. 1-ii. 10
Rosh ha-Shanah, 2d DayGen. xxii. 1-19; Num. xxix. 1-6Jer. xxxi. 2-20
Yom Kippur, MorningLev. xvi. 1-34; Num. xix. 7-11Isa. lvii. 14-lviii. 14
Yom Kippur, AfternoonLev. xviii. 1Jonah i. 1-iv II (Sephardim add Micah vii. 18-20)
Sukkot, 1st DayLev. xxii. 26-xxiii. 44; Num. xxix. 12-16Zech. xiv. 1-21
Sukkot, 2d DayLev. xxii. 26-xxiii. 44; Num. xxix. 12-16I Kings viii. 2-21
Sukkot, on SabbathEx. xxxiii. 12-xxxiv. 26; Num xxix. 26-31Ezek. xxxviii. 18-xxxix. 16
Shemini 'AẓeretDeut. xiv. 22-xvi. 17; Num. xxix. 35-xxx. 1I Kings viii. 54-66
Simḥat TorahDeut. xxxiii., xxxiv.; Gen. i.-ii. 3; Num. xxix. 35-xxx. 1Josh. i. (among Sephardim i. 1-10)
Fast of GedaliahEx. xxxii. 11-14, xxxiv. 1-10Isa. iv. 6-8
Fast of 10th of ṭebet
Fast of Esther
Fast of 15th of Tammuz
  • Hebrew Bible, ed. Hahn;
  • American and English Jewish Year Books;
  • Gaster, The Book of Prayer, London, 1901.
J. I. G. D.
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