In my Artscroll chumash, on Bereishit 31:53, there is an asterisk next to the two uses of "elohei" which refer to the "god" of Nachor and of "their fathers."

It looks like this

אֱלֹהֵ֨י אַבְרָהָ֜ם *וֵֽאלֹהֵ֤י נָחוֹר֙ יִשְׁפְּט֣וּ בֵינֵ֔ינוּ *אֱלֹהֵ֖י אֲבִיהֶ֑ם וַיִּשָּׁבַ֣ע יַעֲקֹ֔ב בְּפַ֖חַד אָבִ֥יו יִצְחָֽק׃

On the side of the page there is this


But I'm not sure why that is there. If this is commentary on the fact that the "elohei" reference is not holy (that is, it is a reference to a secular, non-divine object) then why is it written in the text and not in a commentary? The side of the page is usually for notes about reading/pronunciation or large or small letters, not for points of meaning.

This is from the Stone Tanach

--------------Irony Edit------------

I don't see any markings in an actual Tikkun enter image description here

  • Or, conversely: Sofrim ch. 4 lists a whole slew of such words which appear like Sheimos but aren't, such as אלהים in Bereishis 33:10. Why don't you see Chumashim listing those in the Mesoretic notes in the margins?
    – DonielF
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 0:27
  • 1
    The meaning here has a defined Halakhic implication for writing the text properly. Names of God must be written with special intent.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 2:45
  • @DoubleAA can a Stone tanach act as a tikkun for a sofer to copy from? I don't know those rules -- if it can, then this makes sense, but if not, why put notes for the sofer in it?
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 4:02
  • @rosends it would be a terribly inefficient choice at the very least, but the point here is this fits in with eg. the small letter annotations. None or at least few are strictly necessary for their expected clientele, but all these little notes are somewhat traditional to include.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 4:04
  • Did you try emailing Artscroll to ask why they included it?
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 8, 2019 at 23:21

1 Answer 1


I believe the answer is in your question itself. You wrote: “the side of the page is usually for notes about reading/pronunciation...”. I believe that is exactly what the side note is saying. When reading Chumash for study purposes, as opposed to reading for the tzibbur or doing shnayim mikra, the custom is to not pronounce G-d’s name. We therefore would pronounce the word elohei as elokei. However, if the word is not referring to G-d, but rather to a secular deity, one is allowed to say elohei even during general study. Thus, the note is informing you that here elohei is chol so it could be read/pronounced as written.

  • If one were at least reading the entire verse for study purposes, I believe there is an Igrot Moshe citing Rav Yaakov Emden citing the Chacham Tzvi, that one would have to G-d's name, even if not doing shnayim mikra (I believe the Chacham Tzvi was attacking the practice of children's teachers saying e.g. "Elokim" instead of G-d's actual names - I believe Rav Moshe limits this requirement to where the verse is uninterrupted otherwise.)
    – Loewian
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 20:34

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