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This past week I found a rather interesting difference in the Stone/Hertz chumash Hebrew texts. The reference is Numbers 25:12. The word shalom is translated with a broken Vav in Hertz. Stone uses a full vav? Can we know which is correct and if so, how? I have wondered which Hebrew text is used (Leningrad, Vulgate, Aleppo)? I am an amateur when it comes to understanding all the nuances/syntax of the language.

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    How is something "translated with a broken vav"? What does that mean? – Double AA Aug 3 '16 at 15:41
  • Note that even prints relying on a certain manuscript or tradition may intentionally omit its letter-form variations (see e.g. the answers to judaism.stackexchange.com/q/18402) in favor of a uniform readable font. – msh210 Aug 3 '16 at 15:45
  • @DoubleAA transliterated – kouty Aug 3 '16 at 15:45
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    @kouty How does one transliterate a broken vav? I don't know what that means either. – Double AA Aug 3 '16 at 15:46
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    Both Chumashim have a star on top of the vav leading to a note ו׳ קטיעה which means “a broken vav”. See the Minchas Shai for a discussion. – Avrohom Yitzchok Aug 3 '16 at 16:17
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The Gemara (Kiddushin 66b) says that the vav is cut, and that is the way it is written in Ashkenazic Sifrei Torah (as opposed to Yemenite Sifrei Torah). That is probably why many Chumashim indicate it. Those Chumashim that omit it probably do so because it does not affect the literal meaning of the verse (and/or perhaps to be in accordance with the aforementioned mesorah that omits it).

(By the way, it is not a language/syntax issue; this is a unique occurrence in the Torah - there is generally no phenomenon in Hebrew as a cut vav)

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According to the footnotes of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, the shortened vav appears in various medieval manuscripts to include the second edition of the Bomberg Rabbinic Bible (1524), which was edited by Jacob b. Ḥayyim of Tunis. However, earlier witnesses do not attest to the shortened vav. For example, the Masoretic Text according to the Codex Leningrad (c. 916) reflects no shortened vav as per the image below boxed in red. This text is one of the earliest surviving manuscript in Hebrew for this passage. Please click on the image below to enlarge.

This image depicts Numbers 25:12 as seen in the Codex Leningrad

Also, the Masoretic Text according to the Oriental 4445 (c. 820-850) reflects no shortened vav as per the image below boxed in red. This text is one of the earliest surviving manuscript in Hebrew for this passage. Please click on the image below to enlarge.

This image depicts Numbers 25:12 as seen in Oriental 4445

In summary, the Masoretic texts were meticulous to record variations or other notes deemed important, and there is no record of the shortened vav in at least two of the most reliable codices extant today. Finally, there are no Dead Sea Scrolls or variations in the Targumim that would otherwise provide more information.

  • Those manuscripts are Tiberian, while the Talmud is Babylonian. Have you checked old Babylonian witnesses for evidence? – Double AA Aug 14 '17 at 16:40

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