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The Torah has 304,805 letters and different counts of words (such as 79,976 words). The first word is Bereshit and the last is Israel. I was just wondering (no real reason, just for curiosity): What word is in the exact middle of the Torah?

  • Are you also curious about the word that's 1/5 of the way through? If not, why is it less interesting than the one that's 1/2 of the way through? (Answering this can help you figure out why youre asking.) – Double AA Mar 1 '16 at 5:09
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    You might like to have a look at chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1883118/jewish/… – Epicentre Mar 1 '16 at 5:52
  • @Epicentre This site doesn't actually give an answer. It mentions the middle of the large letters or something. – Gabriel12 Mar 1 '16 at 12:11
  • @sabba The Torah also has different counts of letters... – Double AA Mar 1 '16 at 19:12
  • @Gabe12 - Which is why I put is as a comment and not an answer. – Epicentre Mar 2 '16 at 6:21
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There are 304,805 letters, not words. According to this, there are 79,976 words in the Torah, which means the center is between the words "אֶל יְסוֹד" ("at the base" [of the altar]) in Vayikra 8, 15.

According to this, there are 79,977 words, and the middle one is the above-mentioned "יְסוֹד" ("base").

  • Do you know what versions of the Torah they are using? – Double AA Mar 1 '16 at 14:11
  • @DoubleAA Unfortunately neither site states the version on which its count is based. – Cauthon Mar 1 '16 at 14:18
  • Shame. I'd expect bigger variance. Modern Temani Torah scrolls, for instance, have פוטיפרע as one word. There are also traditions floating around with פדה צור as two – Double AA Mar 1 '16 at 14:29
  • @DoubleAA Here are a few more differences, however only "פוטיפרע" (from those mentioned) affects word-counting (as opposed to letter-counting). Tishbi yetaretz... – Cauthon Mar 1 '16 at 14:37
  • @DoubleAA is there some sort of master list floating around of all the variances in the torah and who holds by which? – ShamanSTK Mar 1 '16 at 14:41
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According to the Masoretes, the middle word in Torah is “דָּרֹשׁ,” which is found in Leviticus 10:16. The image below comes from Page 128 of the Codex Leningradensis.

The Masoretic margin notes (Masora Parva) to the left of the column state, “חצי התורה בתיבות,” which translated from Aramaic means: “The middle of Torah by words.”

enter image description here

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    That can't be. It's hundreds of words off. The Masoretes clearly didn't mean what you think they do. – Double AA Mar 1 '16 at 15:03
  • @DoubleAA - The same source (Codex Leningradensis) indicates that the middle letter of Torah appears in Lev 11:42, and the middle verse within Torah appears in Lev 8:8. In other words, the Masoretes appear to have counted letters, words, and verses... – Joseph Mar 1 '16 at 15:07
  • Cf. chabad.org/1883118 (hat-tip Epicentre (what an appropriate name!)). – msh210 Mar 1 '16 at 15:08
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    @DoubleAA The Talmud does mention that we don't "know how to properly count" which is why our calculation of the center is off... Curious as to what that means, but technically Joseph's answer is correct al pi mesora, even though Cauthon is correct according to mathematics... – Isaac Kotlicky Mar 2 '16 at 13:39
  • According to the summation found in the Masorah Gedolah at the end of Deuteronomy, the Masoretic scholars appeared to have included and counted the “0-class” holem vowels as letters, which appear throughout the Dead Sea Scrolls as the holem waw (written letter with vowel). Thus, the numbering system of the Masoretic scholars for letter-counting appears much higher than the numbering by current systems using computers, which count only the consonant letters of the received Masoretic Text. – Joseph Mar 2 '16 at 15:10

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