[sword-devel] The Masoretic Text

chris sword-devel@crosswire.org
Mon, 10 Jun 2002 19:08:18 -0500

On Monday 10 June 2002 17:06, you wrote:

> 1. the Masoretic text is a text representing hundreds of variations, of
> which 3 major ones are obvious.
> 2. there is no single Masoretic tradition, and there never will be
> 3. the Masoretes did not change the text, but noted copyist errors,
> deviances, and alternative readings.
> 4. There are vowels and pronunciation in Hebrew, its just that vowels are
> not part of the meaning, they merely aid pronunciation, and flow of the
> language.
> 5.  Modern Hebrew speakers don't use vowel pointers because they know the
> system, and its easy to remember once it is known (they learn it from
> birth) 6. The basis that the Masoretic text is in someway satanistic or
> changed to favour one group over another, shows ignorance, and fear, and is
> based on antisemitism
> 7. All Bibles have a masoretic base
> 8. The Aleppo Codex is the most accurate, and oldest extant manuscript of
> the Hebrew text we have.
> 9. No text is 100% accurate, the nature of copying and time makes it so,
> but we have a text that is nearly 100% accurate - 98%, and thats good
> enough for me, when it means that 2% is merely differences of vowels, and
> of the sentence.  (i.e. the meaning remains the same).
> 10. There is no alternative to a Masoretic Text, it is the most accurate
> Hebrew text.
> 11. If G-d has made sure His Chosen People (the Jews), have ensured its
> survival, and they have maintained its accuracy up to this point, then its
> good enough for me.

Thank you Daniel for that very informative post. Just a few clarifications 
and additions...

In 4 above and in places in the text you contend that there are vowels in 
hebrew. Vowel sounds yes, the nikkudim (current vowel points) were a late 
addition as you've stated. Strictly speaking the original hebrew alefbeis 
contains no actual vowels. This is how the original Torah was written and how 
the Torah scrolls used in synagogues across the world today are written and 
read from. 
	For an example of the Torah text see 

Read everything from ancient pages of talmud to current Israeli news papers 
and they are all written without vowel pointing (nikkudim). The nikkudim are 
written mostly for people who are not fluent in hebrew. Even intermediate 
students can begin to read/recognize words without them.

As for the accuracy of the Torah Scroll here are some basic rules that a 
sofer (torah scribe) must follow when copying the text.
	1. The sofer may not write even one letter by memory. A second kosher scroll 
must be open to him from which to copy at all times.
	2. The sofer must pronounce every word out loud before writing it.
	3. Every letter must be surrounded by sufficient white space so that no two 
letters touch.
	4. Each letter must be distinguishable/recognizable to the average 
	5. The sofer must not alter the design of sections, line lengths, 
orparagraph configurations.

	There are many more rules. If any one rule is violated the entire scroll is 
made non-kosher and must be fixed within 30 days or buried. An addition or 
subtraction of even one letter invalidates the text.

These rules have been followed since the beginning. Consider the Yeminite 
Torah scrolls. The Yemenite Jews were not part of the checks and balance 
system for hundreds of years. Of the 304,805 letters comprising the Torah 
there are a total of 9 differences found between their texts and the rest of 
the worlds Jews. These differences do not in fact change the meaning of the 
text in any way.

Jewish tradition also holds that the letters contained within the Torah 
sustain the universe and that the omission or addition of a single letter 
threatens the worlds existence. 

I'm with you. I will place my bet's with the Torah scroll and it's accuracies.

For further reading on the accuracy of a Torah Scroll see 

Thank's again

Deuteronomy 7:9 (Jewish Publication Society TaNaKh)
Know therefore that the L-RD thy G-D, He is G-D; the faithful G-D, who 
keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments 
to a thousand generations;