Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reader Question on Ancient/Modern Hebrew Script Usage


Hi Avielah, I have a question. In Ki Tisa we read about the Luchot with the Aseret Dibrot originally written michtav Elohim, the script of HaShem, and then the second version b'yad Moshe. What, if any, do you think the difference of script was - any Midrash you can guide me towards? Thank you, thank you.

Hi, L! Re your question about the first Luchot being written be-ketav Ivrit be-yad Ha-Shem, and the second set of Luchot being written be-ketav Ashurit be-yad Moshe, (or about all the Luchot and original Sifrei Torah written in ketav Ivrit and the switch happening sometime between Matan Torah and Ezra Ha-Sofer) there's lots - mostly in Hebrew:

Sanhedrin 21b-22a notes that this subject is of Tannaitic dispute and that there are three different opinions; Menachot 29b; Shabbat 104a; Teshuvot Ha-Ge'onim (responsum 358, fully quoted by Margolis Ha-Yam to Sanhedrin 21b); RaMBaM's Commentary to Mishnah, Yadaim 2:5; Ha-Mikra Ve-Ha-Mesorah by R' Reuven Margulies; Yerushalmi Megilah 1:9.

Quti'im (Samaritans) still write their Sifrei in ketav Ivrit, and Yemenite Jews up until recently wrote their Sifrei in ketav Ashurit, with only Y-H-V-H written in ketav Ivrit. Since their gradual exposure to the broader Jewish world, they've ended that practice.

There is an academic article at about the Hebrew AlefBet and it's transition, and Omnigot has an interesting page on "Paleo-Hebrew", ie ketav Ivrit.

Hope you like the juicy references - enjoy researching!
Love you :)

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