Does anyone have any coherent history of and/or source for the siman for the amount of pesukim in each parshah? (I’m sure it’s been asked here before, but I was unable to find anything while searching the site.)


1 Answer 1


A good essay on the subject (in Hebrew)1 is Dr. Aharon Ahrend's "The Mnemotechnical notes of the numbers of verses in the Torah Portions", Rabbi Mordechai Breuer Festschrift, pp. 157-171.

According to Ahrend, counting verses of the Tanach is ancient, but simanim - words whose gematriya equals the number of verses of a parsha or section of the Torah and Nach - first appeared near the end of the Masoretic period (the time in which the Masoretes/Baalei Hamesorah were active). The oldest evidence we have for usage of simanim in this context is from the end of the 10th-early 11th centuries CE. Originally the simanim were names of people in Tanach. Later simanim traditions also featured titles such as "אבי יסכה לוט" at the end of Parashat Noach and place names such as "מחניים" at the end of Parashat Vayetzeh.

1 I recall once finding a good essay in English on the subject. I'll see if I can find it again.


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