Jordan S. Penkower
[HEBREW MANUSCRIPT] BIBLE, in Hebrew – PENTATEUCH: GENESIS (second half) AND EXODUS (first half) ON PAPER with Babylonian Complex Vocalization and some Tiberian Vocalization
[Bukhara, 15th century]
Contents: Genesis 27:33-29:13 (fols. 1a-4b); Gen. 30:1-20 (fol. 5a-b); Gen. 30:33-31:41 (fols. 6a-9b); Gen. 31:54-39:13 (fols. 10a-25b); Genesis 40:4-Exodus 25:33 (fols. 26a-102b); Ex. 26:22-29:29 (fols. 103a-110b); Ex. 39:14-39 (fol. 111a-b).
Oriental laid paper, without chain lines. Quires of four leaves (in addition, some quires incomplete; others no longer attached). Catchwords at the end of each leaf. 112 folios (recently marked in pencil, on top left of each folio; one folio between 20 and 21 unmarked). Page size, including margins: 13.5 x 18.5 centimeters (5.3 x 7.3 inches); written text: 8.5 x 13.5 centimeters (3.4 x 5.3 inches). 15 lines per page. The paper leaves were ruled with a ruling-board (“mastura” in Arabic); however, these lines are rarely and barely visible (see e.g. fol. 4). The most prevalent device to justify the left margin was to write diagonally words that would exceed the margin. In some cases, the final spaces on the line are left empty, if the exceeding word is too large (even on the diagonal) – this was on the condition that the empty space was not large enough to be misinterpreted as a “section” (parashah).
Some features of the manuscript:
- The text is vocalized in Babylonian complex vocalization (above the letters). On this vocalization, see Yeivin [1979, p. 16; 1985, pp. 54 ff.]
- Unique to this manuscript is the sign of the qamatz – instead of the ususal Babylonian sign of the broken alef (with left leg absent), here the top left of the alef is absent too, the result being the form <. In addition, unique to this manuscript is the sign of the patah – instead of the usual sign of the ‘ayin, here the sign is a short horizontal line and attached to its right an additional semi-circle.
- In addition to the Babylonian vocalization, there is the recurring phenomenon of marking with Tiberian vocalization (segol) those cases of patah in Babylonian vocalization which are equivalent to segol in Tiberian vocalization. In these cases, both signs are marked – one above the letter, and one below.
- Other signs of Tiberian vocalization used in this manuscript: dagesh; shureq at the beginning of words; some occurrences of qubutz; and patah genuvah at the end of words, e.g. ending with het – always marked a bit to the right of the letter, to signify that the pronunciation is of the type “ah” (and not “hah”). A similar positioning of this patah can be found in the accurate Oriental (=Middle Eastern) manuscripts; see Yeivin [1968; pp. 21-22].
- At the end of every sentence there are two dots to mark the completion of the sentence. However, there is no systematic accentuation in the manuscript; the exceptions to this rule is the use of the Tiberian maqef (somewhat akin to a hyphen), and the use of the Tiberian paseq.
- On the other hand, there are parts of the manuscript where the accented syllables of the final words of each sentence are marked – but not with the regular Tiberian or Babylonian accents. Rather, the accented syllable in each of the final three words is marked by a vertical line below the letter, i.e. the sof pasuq accent in Tiberian accentuation. In other words, in these passages the sof pasuq accent not only marks the cases of sof pasuq, but so, too, the two preceding words. Thus, for example, beginning with Gen. 47:28 (beginning of the weekly portion vayehi) and until the end of Genesis – fols. 46a-52a. Similarly, beginning with Ex. 13:17 (beginning of the weekly portion beshalah) and until the middle of the portion mishpatim (Ex. 23:6) – fols. 79a-98a. It should be noted that both of the above sections contain poetic sections, e.g. Jacob’s testament to his sons; the Song of the Sea.
- Quite unique is the marking, in certain sections of the manuscript, of the accented syllable in various words with the letter zayyin above the accented syllable. Thus, for example, beginning with Gen. 48:19 (within the portion of vayehi; with one earlier marking at Gen 48:15 – fol. 47b) and until the end of Genesis 50:26 – fols. 48a-52a. So, too, beginning with Ex. 18:1 (beginning of the weekly portion yitro) and until Ex. 19:13 – fols. 88a-91a. Similarly, beginning with Ex. 21:1 (beginning of the weekly portion mishpatim), and until Ex. 23:6 – fols. 93b-98a. This should be seen as the influence of the Babylonian accentuation system, where the zayyin is used to represent the accent ziqfa, equivalent to the zaqef in the Tiberian system (see Yeivin [1976, p. 17]). In this case, the letter zayyin indeed marks the equivalent of the zaqef in the Tiberian system; however, it is also used to mark the equivalent of the ’entahta in the Tiberian system, as well as other Tiberian accents. This somewhat indiscriminate use of this accent is similar to the use in this manuscript of the sof pasuq sign to mark the accented syllable in various words (above #6).
- The letter het is once used to mark an accented syllable – at Gen. 49:20 – fol. 48a. This, too, should be seen as the influence of the Babylonian accentuation system, where the letter het represents the accent hazer, equivalent to the revia in the Tiberian system (see Yeivin , p. 17). However, in our manuscript the letter het does not mark the equivalent of the Tiberian revia, but rather the equivalent of the Tiberian accent ’etnahta. This indiscriminate use of the accent sign is similar to what we saw above, #6, 7, concerning the TIberian sof pasuq sign and the Babylonian zayyin
- Masorah: There is no systematic recording of the masorah parva or the masorah magna; neither as part of the Babylonian or Tiberian masorah. Nevertheless, there is a systematic recording of the cases of qeri in the margin (e.g. fols. 5a; 12b; 14a, b; etc) and there is also a systematic recording of the cases of the Tiberian paseq in the margin (e.g. fols. 5a; 21b; 25b; etc). In addition, there are a few notes of Tiberian masorah parva in the margins, in addition to the qeri notes (fols. 8b; 9b; 20a – 2x; 42a; 46a; 48a -2x; 95b).
- A systematic masoretic feature included in the manuscript is the recording of the number of verses at the end of every weekly portion (with the exception of the last two weekly portions in Genesis). This recording of the verse totals was the standard in the accurate Oriental manuscripts (Penkower [1991, p. 363]).
The manuscript is written in square letters, together with a few semi-square letters, especially the zayyin, shin, and peh. These semi-square letters assist in localizing and dating the manuscript. The shape of the zayyin is quite unique, somewhat like a reversed number four. Furthermore, the shin basically consists of the zayyin (forming the left side of the shin) together with the stroke on the right that completes the letter. The peh has a wide base, a very narrow top, with a short slanted line going down from the top to the left; there is no “inside” to the peh.
The above semi-square features of the zayyin, shin, and peh, are found in the following two manuscripts, which were written completely in semi-cursive letters: MS Ramat-Gan, Bar-Ilan University 1004 (Moussaieff 130; Avivi catalogue , MS 4); MS New York, JTS 4946 = Rab. 1682. Both of these manuscripts (which are both “collections”) were written by the same scribe, R. Elnatan b. Eliezer HaKohen. From his colophons we learn that the first manuscript was written in 1497, and the second in 1498-1499; and that both were written in Bukhara. A somewhat similar semi-cursive zayyin is also found in MS Paris – Alliance Israelite Universelle H 455 A, which was written in 1461 in Samarkind, near Bukhara. One may conclude that our manuscript originates in Bukhara, probably in the second half of the fifteenth century.
It is to be empahsized that all of the codicological features noted above agree with these conclusions. As M. Beit-Arie has noted [1977, pp. 29, 43], we find in Bukhara the following features in paper manuscripts: Oriental laid paper, without chain lines; quires of four leaves; and in the Orient we find (ibid, pp. 54, 103) catchwords at the end of each leaf; justification of the left margins by writing exceeding words diagonally.
The present Bukharan manuscript is of UTMOST RARITY AND IMPORTANCE. As to rarity: on the one hand, only a few medieval Bukharan Hebrew manuscripts have survived (all from the second half of the fifteenth century), and only one of them is a Pentateuch manuscript. This latter manuscript, MS Ramat-Gan, Bar-Ilan University 1001 (Moussaieff 37, Avivi catalogue , MS 1), is from 1488. It is an incomplete Pentateuch; it begins with Ex. 27:6 and continues to the end of Exodus, and then contains Lev. 24:1 to the end of Deuteronomy. It also contains the haftarot according to the Bukharan rite (incomplete at the end).
Thus, our manuscript is one of only two surviving medieval Bukharan Pentateuch manuscripts. Furthermore, it is the only surviving medieval Bukharan manuscript containing the second half of Genesis and the first half of Exodus (with some material missing in each part). The overlap with the above 1488 Bukharan manuscript pertains to two and half chapters: Exodus 27:6-29:29.
Our manuscript will enable us to fill in our knowledge of the traditions of the Pentateuch in Medieval Bukhara. Below we will analyze the text, the sections, and the layout of the Song of the Sea in our manuscript.
In order to evaluate the accuracy of our manuscript, we will take a sample passage: Ex. 10:10 – 16:15 (this passage was also examined in our previous study on traditions in the Pentateuch [Penkower 2002]) and compare our manuscript to the Aleppo codex – the standard of text accuracy in the Pentateuch (Breuer ; Penkower [1992, ch. 4]). Though the Pentateuch is missing today in the Aleppo Codex (A), Penkower  has found a witness to the text, sections, and the Songs in the Pentateuch of A. This enables us to conduct the comparisons with A in this study. Below we will list the variants between MS Bukhara and A.
11:5 הישב (A) – היושב (MS Bukhara=MS B)
12:3 אבת – אבות
12:15 הראשן – הראשון
12:15 השבעי – השביעי
12:18 בראשן – בראשון
12:18 מצת – מצות
12:21 אלהם – אליהם
12:29 מבכר – מבכור
12:39 עגת – עגות
12:44 אתו – אותו
13:6 מצת – מצות
13:9 הוצאך – הוציאך
13:11 יבאך – יביאך
13:13 חמר – חמור
13:15 מבכר – מבכור
13:16 ולטוטפת – ולטוטפות
13:17 בראתם – בראותם
14:2 צפן – צפון
14:5 מעבדנו – מעבדינו
14:7 ושלשם – ושלשים
14:9 צפן – צפון
14:12 ממתנו – ממתינו
14:27 לאיתנו – לאתנו
14:31 וייראו – ויראו
15:10 כעופרת – כעפרת
15:11 באלם – באלים
15:14 ישבי – יושבי
15:15 אלופי – אלפי
15:15 יאחזמו – יאחזימו
15:18 לעלם – לעולם
15:19 עלהם – עליהם
15:23 לשתת – לשתות
16:3 אלהם – אליהם
Thus, we see that there are 33 text variants in our passage between MS Bukhara and the Aleppo Codex. The majority of these are cases of plene spelling (adding a yod or a waw) where there is defective spelling in A. However, there are also a few reverse cases, where MS B has defective spelling where A has plene spelling (e.g. 14:27; 14:31; 15:10; 15:15 [a]).
In order to put the above results in perspective, let us consider the earlier results that Penkower [2002, pp. 239-247] showed concerning the variants in this passage in a selection of accurate Oriental (=Middle Eastern) manuscripts, as well as Sefardi, Ashkenazi, and Yemenite manuscripts (and one Ashkenazi printed edition). In the accurate Oriental manuscripts there is a small spread of variants in comparison with A (2-9). These were mostly corrected, so there remains an even smaller spread of variants (most have one variant; one ms has 5 or 6). Among the Sefardi manuscripts there are those that exhibit a very accurate text (no variants; one variant which was corrected); others exhibit a small spread of variants (4), which were then corrected. Still others exhibit a slightly wider spread of variants (12), but these too were corrected, leaving only one variant. The Yemenite text tradition is identical to that of A, and thus has no variants.
On the other hand, the striking characteristic of the Ashkenazi tradition is the large quantity of text variants as compared to A. In the above passage, we find among six sources examined, in rising order: 11 variants (2-3 after correction); 35 variants (19 variants after correction); 50 variants (33 after correction); 65 variants (23 after correction); 90 variants (60 of which occur in the other Ashkenazi sources).
Thus, we see that our MS Bukhara, with 33 variants, is closest in its range of variants to the “middle-type” of Ashkenazi manuscript.
In order to further demonstrate the similarity in text between MS Bukhara and the Ashkenazi type we will now expand considerably our examination of MS Bukhara. First, we will compare Exodus 1:1 – 29:29 in MS B with A (this excludes about one chapter, 25:34-26:21, missing in MS B). This comparison yields 100 variants.
These variants are, again, mostly cases of plene spelling in MS B for defective spelling in A. Yet there are also reverse cases, defective spelling in MS B for plene spelling in A. This time the percentage is larger than in the previous sample: a total of 35 cases. In addition, there are a few other types of variants: 3:8 ההוא (A) – ההיא (MS B); 3:18 נקרה – נקרא; 17:16 כס יה – כסיה; (28:30 בבאו – בבא(ו)); 29:10 וסמך – וסמכו.
To show the connection between the above set of 100 variants in MS B and the Ashkenazi tradition, we will examine these 100 variants in the apparatus of the Kennicott Bible (1776-1780) that lists variants found in several hundred medieval Hebrew Bible manuscripts, mostly Sefardi, Ashkenazi, and Italian from the 13th-15th centuries. For each of the 100 variants in MS B, we listed the Kennicott manuscripts which contained that variant. Then we tallied up the total number of variants in each of these Kennicott manuscripts that were in common with the 100 variants in MS B. The following is a list of the 23 Kennicott manuscripts closest to the 100 variants, together with the amount in common with MS B in each of these manuscripts, listed in descending order:
|K69 – 63||K13 – 48||K129 – 44|
|K80 – 60||K136 – 47||K193 – 45|
|K109 – 53||K108 – 48||K150 – 42|
|K132 – 52||K244 – 45||K89 – 43|
|K260 – 53||K107 – 44||K227 – 43|
|K17 – 50||K111 – 45||K253 – 42|
|K9 – 49||K196 – 45||K81 – 40|
|K84 – 49||K75 – 45|
The manuscripts in this list, which represent those closest to the variants in MS B, are in the majority Ashkenazi manuscripts (K69, 80, 109, 132, 260 [1488 printed edition, based on Ashkenazi manuscripts], 17, 9, 84, 136, 107, 111, 196, 75, 193, 150), with a few Italian ones (K108, 129 [possibly Ashkenazi], 227, 253; for the identity of most of the manuscripts in the list, see Penkower [1989, pp. 65-66 n. 65]). This list shows that there is a group of Ashkenazi manuscripts that contain between 40%-63% of the 100 variants in MS B. Furthermore, most of these variants are shared by these manuscripts: 47% of the variants are in common to 52%-91% of these manuscripts. In other words, this is a common tradition to these manuscripts (i.e. it is not the case that each manuscript has a different set of variants).
With the above results we can now formulate the following important conclusion:
MS B preserves in its text an alternate Pentateuch text tradition which can also be found in the Ashkenazi manuscripts. These are foremost variants in plene-defective spelling; but there are some other types as well. MS B is similar in its amount of variants to the “middle-type” of Ashkenazi manuscripts – for example with 33 variants in the first sample above, and 100 variants in the second sample. (The more extreme Ashkenazi type has considerably more variants; for example, in the first sample above, one source had 90 variants. In contrast, MS B has a total of 100 variants in the second larger sample).
Though MS B is probably from the fifteenth century, it preserves and represents a much older alternate text tradition. MS B is our first witness to this tradition in the area of Bukhara. Previously, Penkower had identified this alternate tradition in MS Cairo 3, a tenth century manuscript from Eretz Israel. MS B is thus another rare witness to this alternate Pentateuch text type. As noted above, it is this alternate tradition that is (later) represented in Ashkenaz.
Here, too, we will begin by analyzing the sections in MS B as compared to A, in the same sample text as above: Ex. 10:10 – Ex. 16:15. Below we will list all the variants between the two manuscripts: those including the switching of section types (e.g. Open for Closed), as well as addition or omission of sections. In order to facilitate the analysis, we will list the variants by types.
Open (A) – Closed (MS B)
10:21; 12:21; 12:37; 12:43; 13:1; 13:11; 14:1; 14:15; 15:20; 15:27; 16:11.
Closed (A) – Open (MS B)
12:29; 13:17; 15:22 (?).
Closed (A) – None (MS B)
None (A) – Closed (MS B)
It will be seen that there are 15 (+1?) variants between MS B and A, with the vast majority of the variants of the type: a Closed section in MS B for an Open section in A.
In order to put the above results in perspective, let us, here too, consider the earlier results that Penkower [2002, pp. 249-254] showed concerning the section variants in this passage in accurate Oriental (=Middle Eastern) manuscripts, as well as Sefardi, Ashkenazi, and Yemenite manuscripts.
In the majority of Sefardi and in all of theYemenite manuscripts there were no variants, as they followed Maimonides’ section list, which was based upon the Aleppo codex (see Penkower , ch. 3). However, one Sefardi manuscript had 7 variants (almost all with Ashkenazi precedents). The Oriental manuscripts had a few variants (2; 4; 7-8), with one manuscript containing 9 variants.
Once again, as with the text variants, the Ashkenazi manuscripts are characterized by the quantity of variants. Here they range between 8-9 and 16-19. Many of these sources have common variants, and thus it is clear that we are dealing here, too, with an alternate tradition.
Thus, we see that MS B, with 15 (+1?) section variants, is closest in its range of variants to the more extreme-type of Ashkenazi manuscript. The similarity extends not only to the amount of variants, but also to the type of variants. As noted by Penkower [2002, p. 253], most of the common Ashkenazi section variants are cases of switching an Open section in A for a Closed one. This is exactly what we found in MS B.
Furthermore, the quantity of identical section variants between MS B and the Ashkenazi manuscripts shows a common source. Thus, we find the following 12 common section variants (of the 15 [+1?] in MS B):
Open (A) – Closed (MS B and Ashkenazi sources)
10:21; 12:21; 12:37; 12:43; 13:1; 13:11; 14:1; 14:15; 15:20; 16:11.
Closed (A) – Open (MS B and Ashkenazi sources)
None (A) – Closed (MS B and Ashkenazi sources)
[C] The Layout of the Song of the Sea and the Lines before and after the Song
The common current layout of the Song of the Sea, following B. Meg. 16b, is “’ariah ‘al gabei leveinah”, a brick-like layout, where each line consists of text and spaces, and where the spaces of each line are aligned with the text of the previous line, and similarly the text of each line is aligned with the spaces of the previous line. This is ritually binding in Torah Scrolls, but is also followed in numerous codices. In the Aleppo Codex, as well as in most accurate Oriental manuscripts, the layout, after the first line, is alternating lines of three parts and lines of two parts. However, the last line is written in two parts, instead of the expected three. (MS Sassoon 507 differs as to the last two lines, which are written as prose, with no breaks).
In the Aleppo codex the lines before the Song are written in five lines (the first beginning “haba’im” – this is how it is laid out in a Torah scroll), as are the lines after the Song. (Thus the Song, together with the lines before and after the Song, and with the empty line before and after the Song, altogether consist of 42 lines – which was the length of a Torah scroll column). This layout is preserved in several Oriental manuscripts; though not all preserve the layout of the five lines after the Song (see Penkower [2002, pp. 255-256]).
In MS B, we find a very different layout. First of all, we note that v. 19, i.e. the last two lines of the Song in A (written here as three lines), are written as prose, without any breaks. (At the end of the second line there is an unexplainable empty space; possibly, the scribe felt that he could not fit in the next word comfortably, so he wrote it on the following line). Second, the Song itself is written in a somewhat strange fashion. Some of the lines are written in two parts (with a break between them), and some of these are not divided into logical units. Furthermore, several lines consist of one part only (these are usually logically divided phrases), and often these lines of one part follow consecutively, sometimes alternating with a slight indentation (i.e. every second line indented).
As to the lines before and after the Song, there is no particular layout. The lines after the Song consist of three lines, because they complete the page; the lines before the Song consist of two lines (one line, and the next line with one word), because that is the way it happened to occur in the manuscript.
Here too, in order to put the above results in perspective, let us consider the earlier results that Penkower [2002, pp. 255-261] showed concerning the layout of the Song of the Sea in accurate Oriental (=Middle Eastern) manuscripts, as well as Sefardi, Ashkenazi, and Yemenite manuscripts
As noted above, the Oriental manuscripts are similar to the Aleppo codex in the layout of the Song, including the last two lines (excluding MS Sassoon 507), as well as in the layout of the lines before and after the Song. Some however did not preserve the layout of the five lines after the Song (Penkower [2002, p. 256])..
Most of the Sefardi manuscripts were also similar to the Song layout in the Aleppo codex, as well as to the lines before and after the Song. The one typological variant was the layout of the last two lines of the Song. In the typical Sefardi layout, these were laid out in two parts and three parts (and not in two and two), similar to the layout of the rest of the Song. Another minor sub-variant, found in some Torah scrolls, was the indentation of the last word of the Song to the right (i.e. it was not justified to the column on the left, as were the rest of the three part lines). As explained by Penkower [2002, pp. 257-258], this later development was done in light of the various definitions of an Open section (that followed the end of the Song).
The majority of accurate Yemenite manuscripts agree with A concerning the layout of the Song, as well as the layout of the lines before and after the Song.
On the other hand, as Penkower has shown [1992, ch. 3], Ashkenazi manuscripts have several different layouts of the Song. However, they agree as to the layout of v. 19 as prose. This is typologically characteristic of the Ashkenazi manuscripts; it is also found in medieval Ashkenazi Torah scrolls, as well in the first printed Bible, 1488 Soncino, based on Ashkenazi manuscripts. This layout is not a new Ashkenazi layout, as it is already found in MS Sassoon 507.
In addition, Penkower has shown [1992, ch. 3] that in the Ashkenazi manuscripts there is no particular layout of the lines after the Song, nor for the lines before the Song.
More recently, Peretz has shown [2008, ch. 4] that among a sub-set of Ashkenazi manuscripts one finds the Song of the Sea in a layout of lines of one phrase, alternating in indentation (i.e. every second line indented).
If we now compare all of the above characteristics concerning the layout of the Song and the lines before and after the Song, as found in the Ashkenazi manuscripts and in MS B, we see a clear connection between the two sources. Both write v. 29 as prose; both disregard the lines before and after the Song; both have an option of lines in the Song consisting of one phrase, laid out in alternating indented lines. It is clear that we are dealing with one tradition.
We conclude by summing up MS B’s features in all three categories (text, sections, Song) as compared with these categories in the Ashkenazi tradition.
First, we recall that MS B differs from the other traditions (Oriental, Sefardi, Yemenite) in these three categories.
On the other hand, when comparing to the Ashkenazi tradition, we find typological similarities in all three categories.  Text – both MS B and the Ashkenazi manuscripts are characterized by a large quantity of variants, with several in common to one another. MS B seems to be closest to the “middle-type” of Ashkenazi manuscripts with respect to the quantity of variants (and not to the extreme-type).  Sections – both MS B and the Ashkenazi manuscripts are characterized by a large quantity of variants, with the majority in common with one another. The most prevalent type of variant is a Closed section in MS B, in place of an Open section in A. Here, MS B seems closest in type to the extreme-type of Ashkenazi manuscript with respect to the quantity of variants.  Song of the Sea – both MS B and the Ashkenazi manuscripts agree that v. 19 is written as prose. In both no special attention is paid to the layout of the lines before and after the Song. In part of the layout of the Song in MS B, and in a sub-type of the Ashkenazi manuscripts, one finds lines of one phrase, written in alternating indented lines.
We have thus seen that MS Bukhara represents and preserves an older alternate Pentatuech tradition concerning the text (mostly in plene-defective spellings); the division of the sections; and the layout of the Song, including v. 19. Given all of the above unique correspondences between MS Bukhara and the Ashkenazi manuscripts in these three categories, we may conclude that MS Bukhara, similar to the earlier MS Cairo 3, represents the alternate tradition that later was prevalent in Ashkenaz.
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