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GUIDE TO HEBREW FOOTNOTES

by JPS / Varda Books
GUIDE TO HEBREW FOOTNOTES The footnotes were designed for readers having a general knowledge of Hebrew.* Three basic rules apply: • No abbreviations (ra’shei teivot) are used. • Numbers are indicated only with Arabic numerals, not with Hebrew letters. • A note refers to a certain letter by using a single hatch mark, not by spelling out the name of the letter. For example, the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is written as תה which stands only for that letter—and not for God’s name or the number five, as in other books. The following glossary of terms is in alphabetical order—without prefixed conjunctions, prepositions, or the definite article. Glossary for the Footnotes אהרן בן אשר Aaron ben Asher (renowned tenth-century masorete)—vocalization here was at issue in his day את direct-object marker בתראה latter; last דגושה pointed with a dagesh—which is unexpected in this particular case, or, for א and תר is rare altogether דרך המדרש according to midrash (rather than arithmetic) הלכה rabbinic law governing scrolls for ritual use המשך continuation הפוכה inverted * For background on issues treated in the footnotes, see the preface. Per tradition, the footnotes are composed in a shorthand (not literary) style. Deciphering them requires awareness of the context; a footnote either marks a special juncture in the text, or else the marked item is extraordinary in some way. For example, the footnote חסר ה means “The letter ה is missing.” Yet its full import becomes clear after taking into account that this must be both unusual and intended, yielding something like: “According to how the text has come down to us, the letter hcihw—ה is normal in the spelling of this word—is missing in this instance. So when you write the text, leave out that letter here; but when you read the text, supply that missing letter in your mind.” 2029

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GUIDE TO HEBREW FOOTNOTES The footnotes were designed for readers having a general knowledge of Hebrew.* Three basic rules apply: • No abbreviations (ra’shei teivot) are used. • Numbers are indicated only with Arabic numerals, not with Hebrew letters. • A note refers to a certain letter by using a single hatch mark, not by spelling out the name of the letter. For example, the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is written as תה' which stands only for that letter—and not for God’s name or the number five, as in other books. The following glossary of terms is in alphabetical order—without prefixed conjunctions, prepositions, or the definite article. Glossary for the Footnotes אהרן בן אשר Aaron ben Asher (renowned tenth-century masorete)—vocalization here was at issue in his day \\"את\\" direct-object marker בתראה latter; last דגושה pointed with a dagesh—which is unexpected in this particular case, or, for א' and תר' is rare altogether דרך המדרש according to midrash (rather than arithmetic) הלכה rabbinic law governing scrolls for ritual use המשך continuation הפוכה inverted * For background on issues treated in the footnotes, see the preface. Per tradition, the footnotes are composed in a shorthand (not literary) style. Deciphering them requires awareness of the context; a footnote either marks a special juncture in the text, or else the marked item is extraordinary in some way. For example, the footnote חסר ה' means “The letter ה is missing.” Yet its full import becomes clear after taking into account that this must be both unusual and intended, yielding something like: “According to how the text has come down to us, the letter hcihw—ה is normal in the spelling of this word—is missing in this instance. So when you write the text, leave out that letter here; but when you read the text, supply that missing letter in your mind.” 2029
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