Isidore Singer.

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to write a copy of the Toraii for himself, and each
congregation owned at least one. In tlie Talmudic
period there was an enormous number of copies, es-
pecially as it was customary to wear portions of
the Bible (chiefly Torah rolls) around the arm as
amulets. Manuscripts of the Bible were found also
in lieathen families, and pagans even liked to trade
in these books, which they were able to write them-
selves. Christians converted from Judaism or pagan-
ism owned many Hebrew writings (ib. pp. 84-97).
In consequence of the ever-increasing demand a kind
of book-trade developed as early as
Book- tlie first century. In general, how-
Trade, ever, people ordered tiieir manu-
scripts direct from the copyist, accord-
ing to ancient custom. The Apocrypha, tiie original
of which has been lost, and other non-Biblical He-
brew books, were not in special demand and did not
circulate in large numliers.

Tlie high value placed upon the Scriptures is evi-
denced by the great care taken for their preserva-
tion. The .scrolls were wound on a stick, the Torah
on two sticks. Coverings of various kinds .served
to protect them, and cases of various forms were
used for keeping them. The rolls were firmly tied
with a cord, and sometimes they were sealed to jirc-
vent any one from reading them with-
Oldest nut permission {if), pp. 173-1>*8 ct seq.).
Codices. When worn out the manuscripts of the
Bible were protected against profana-
tion by being placed in the coffins of dead scribes.
In consequence of this custom not a single Bib-

lical manuscript has been preserved from an-
cient times, nor is there any hope that one will ever
come to light. Nevertheless, a few archetypes which
existed in antiquity are mentioned. In the first
rank among these stands tlie copy of the Torali of
the Second Temple, already noted (I Mace., Intro-
duction ; II Mace. ii. 14; Josephus, "Ant." v. 1,
§ 17; Blau, I.e. pp. 99 et seq.). "The Book of the
Court " (M. K. iii. 4a et al.) was the copy from which
the high priest read on the Day of Atonement and
which served as a model (Blau, I.e. p. 107).

Three other codices from the Temple court are
mentioned: "Sefer Me'on," "Sefer Za'atute," and
"Sefer Hi," and they still served as models at the
beginning of the fourth century {ib. p. 104). After
the destruction of the Temple the Torah of the cele-
brated copjist R. Meir, the codex of Emperor
Severus, and others {ib. p. Ill) are mentioned, while
from post-Talmudic times date the codices of Hillel,
Sanbuki, and others. The most celebrated was the
codex of Ben Aslier, used by Maimonides (H. L.
Strack, "Prolegomena Critica in Vetus Testamen-
tum Hebraicum "). See Bible Manuscripts.

Bibliography: L. Low, Graphische Reqnisiten bci den Ju-
den, Leipslc, 1870-71 ; L. Blau. Studien zum AUhebrdischen
Buchwesten iind zur Bihlischen Litteratur- und Textye-
schichte, Budapest and Strasburg, 19()2 (where a full bibliog-
raphy is given); idem, Ueher den Einflnss deK Althebrii-
ischen Buchrcetiens, in Berliner Festschrift^ Frankfort-on-
the-Main, 1903 (also printed separately).

J. L. B.

It is now necer to inquire how the Hebrew

manuscripts collet in various public and private
libraries were written, and in what form the mate-
rial of which they consist was presented. The time
over which the inquiry extends ranges, roughly
speaking, from about the 3'ear 900 of the common
era down to the present day, though in some in-
stances, notably in the case of papyri, an earlier
period is referred to. For inscriptions on stone,
metal, and other hard substances see Paleography.

I. Materials Used to Receive Writing. —
Papyrus (Greek, Tvarrvpoq, from the ancient Egyptian
word " p-apa " ; but in Herodotus always l^i'ii^og, no
doubt also from an Egyptian term ; Hebrew, " neyar, "
apparently representing the Arabic "naur"): The
number of Hebrew papyri hitherto discovered is
quite insignificant as compared with the numer-
ous classical papyri recently brought into Europe
from Egypt. There is the small number of Egyp-
tian-Aramaic papyri belonging to the late Ptolemaic
or early Roman perioil, of which the British Museum
papyrus No. cvi.*is a good representative specimen
(see the first specimen of writing on

Earliest Plate I. ; also " Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch."

Papyri. xxv. , parts 4 and 5). Some pieces da-
ting from the sixth to the ninth century
have been described by Steinschneider, Chwolson,
and others (for references see bibliography below).
The Cambridge University Library possesses a muti-
lated liturgical codex assigned to the ninth century.
Tlie papyrus of the Decalogue in the same library,
first described by S. A. Cook ("Proc. Soc. Bibl.
Arch." xxv., part i. ; sei; Jew. Enxyc. iv. 493, s.v.
Decalogue), may be assigned to the sixth or seventh
century (see PI. III., No. 59). A few Oxford frag-
ments, probably of the sixth century, have been




described by A. Cowley in "J. Q. R." Oct., 1903 (see
PI. I., No. 2).

SkinB (Hebrew, "'or," known also as "gewil";
Greek, 6i(pf)ipa, a term which in early times was trans-
ferred to papyrus, and was later on applied to vellum
also) : None of the skin was peeled off, but the hair
was carefully rubbed away ; for it was the hair side
that was used for writing upon. The ancient rule of
using only skins for Torah rolls has not, however,
been universally followed in the period under con-
sideration. The Yemenite rolls (Pentateuch, Esther,
and run nVp) are indeed all of red skin; and the
Pentateuch rolls written in the eighteenth century
for the Jews of K'ai-Fung-Foo, China {e.g., Brit.
Mus. MS. Add. 19,250), are of white leather. The
oldest Pentateuch roll (14th cent., Spanish origin) in
the British Museum is also of leather ; but there are
many specimens on vellum belonging to the six-
teenth century and onward. Of the forty-seven
Karaite Pentateuch rolls in the Imperial Library,
St. Petersburg, only five are of leather, the remain-
ing forty-two being of vellum. This proportion no
doubt represents the greater deviation among the Ka-
raites from the old synagogue rolls. For the Book
of Esther vellum appears to have been more largely
used than for the Torah. A roll of the Haftarot on
leather, written in Corfu in 1560, found its way into
Europe a few years ago. For manuscripts in book
form skins would in early times have been naturally
superseded by parchment or vellum as material fitted
for receiving writing on both sides.

Parchment and Vellum (Hebrew, "kelaf" and
"doksostos," for the exact meaning of which see
above) : For practical purposes, that is to say, so far
as the manuscripts now under consideration are con-
cerned, it is enough to remark that "kelaf," not un-
like the term "parchment" in its more restricted
sense, signifies the rougher article, while by "doksos-
tos," as by the term "vellum," the finer variety is
meant. The Jews were no doubt at all times adepts
in the art of producing parchment and vellum, as they
had so much need of the materials, and as a religious
intention during the manufacture was considered
important; but their art would naturally be condi-
tioned, to a large extent at any rate, by the degree
of perfection attained in it in the countries where
they were domiciled. The finest kinds of vellum
used for Hebrew manuscripts were of Spanish and
Italian origin. As examples of the former may be
mentioned Brit. Mus. MS. Or. 5866 (liturgy, mid-
dle of 15th cent. : thin vellum, delicately worked,
smooth surface), and Brit. Mus. MSS. Or. 2626-2628
(Bible, 1482-1483: stout, crisp, and pretty smooth).
A fine specimen of Italian vellum of about the mid-
dle of the same century is furnished by Brit. Mus.
MSS. Add. 19,444-19,445 (Florentine liturgy: mate-
rial very carefully prepared and slightly tinted).
Rougher sorts of material were to be found by the
side of the finer kind in both countries.

Among representative codices of earher times, the
British Museum Pentateuch dating from the ninth
century (MS. Or. 4445, apparently of Babylonian
origin) consists of strong, crisp, and very smooth
vellum. Brit. Mus. MS. Harley 5720 (probably of
early part of 12th cent. ; also of Eastern origin) is
hard and strong, with suiface not very smooth.
VIII.— 20

The British Museum copy of the Mahzor Vitry (MSS.
Add. 27,200-27,201: 12th cent.; French origin) is
written on a very inferior sort of mate-
Examples rial. Frenchas well as German vellum

of Old employed for Hebrew in the Middle

Vellum. Ages is, in fact, as a rule coarse as com-
pared with the Spanish and Italian
kinds; but Brit. Mus. MS. Add. 11,639 (collection of
works, 12th cent.), from the south of France, is an
example of exceedingly tine, smooth vellum. The
vellum used for Hebrew charters in England in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries (note especially the
large collection belonging to Westminster Abbey) is
fairly good, though fineness of manufacture can not
be expected in material used for this particular pur-
pose. Some of the early examples of vellum (11th
and 12th cent.) found in the Cairo Genizah are stout
and smooth ; other specimens are of a rougher man-
ufacture. No example of purple-stained vellum, of
which there are fair numbers among Greek and
Latin manuscripts, has so far come to light among
Hebrew ones. On the comparative use of vellum
and paper see below.

Paper (Greek, ndnvpoq, name taken over from
" papyrus " ; called also " charta bombycina," " charta
Damascena," etc. ; Hebrew, -)"j, also taken over from
the Hebrew name for papyrus) : This material was
known to the Chinese at a very early period; and
the Arabs are said to have first learned its use at
Samarcand about tlie middle of the eighth century
(for an account of recent researches on this matter
see " J. R. A. S. " Oct. , 1903, first article, where further
references will be found). A JudjEO-Persian docu-
ment lately brought from Khotan, written (in Per-
sian in Hebrew characters) on paper, appears to be-
long to the eighth century (see "J. R. A. S." Oct.,
1903, fifth article). Another extant example of a
J udajo -Persian document is dated 1020 ("J. Q. R."
1899, pp. 671 et seq.).

The Karaites, standing as they did in very close
connection with the Arab world, and being also less
tied by this kind of conservatism, appear to have
used no other material than paper for their manu-
scripts in book form. Karaite collections of man-
uscripts are, therefore, an excellent means of study-
ing the kinds of paper made in Palestine, Egypt,
and Turkey during a practically uninterrupted pe-
riod from the tenth century onward. Thus Brit.
Mus. MS. Or. 2540 (Exodus : Hebrew text in Arabic
characters ; see the first two specimens on PI. IV.,
col. 2) belongs to the tenth century. Among the
dated Karaite manuscripts are found specimens be-
longing to 1004, 1024, 1027, 1211, 1331,

Karaite 1564, 1614, 1700, 1744, and 1869.
Manu- Like early Oriental paper generally,

scripts. the older kind of Karaite paper (ap-
parently made for the most part of
fine linen rag) is stout, of a yellowish tint, and with
a glossy surface. In later times the yellowish tint
gradually disappears, the texture becomes rougher,
and the surface less smooth. The early specimens
of paper used by the Karaites are, moreover, much
finer than the Khotan Hebraeo-Persian document
(probably Chinese paper) already referred to. An
early dated example of a Rabbinite manuscript on
paper is Brit. Mus. MS. Or. 73 (1192; Rashi's com-




mentary on Baba Mezi'a, written in tlie East). A
British Museum copy of the " Tahkemoni " (MS.
Add. 27,113; Spanish Oriental writing) is dated 1283.
The last-named two manuscripts show the same liiud
of slight yellowish tint ; but the paper of the second
is thicker than that of the first. A specimen of
Italian paper of 1363-64 is furnished by Cambridge
University Library MSS. Dd. 11, 12; and Brit. Mus.
MS. Add. 27,293 "(also of about the middle of the
14th cent.) is a specimen of fairly early Spanish

The European Jews were slow in allowing paper
to displace vellum; for though several paper-fac-
tories are known to have existed in the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries (indeed, the earliest known
mention of paper made in Europe occurs in the
tract of Peter, Abbot of Cluny, 1122-50), there are
comparatively few Hebrew paper manuscripts of
the fourteenth century. There is a fair number of
the following century ; and the proportion kept on
growing until the use of paper became quite com-
mon among the Jews from the seventeenth century

Egypt as a center of Arab life would naturally
abound in paper manuscripts fairly early; and the

contents of the Cairo Genizah accord -

Paper in ingly include specimens dated 832 (in

Egypt. the possession of E. N. Adler), 977,

1005, etc. (at the British Museum and
elsewhere). In Yemen paper was used by the Jews
pretty freely side by side with vellum from the
fifteenth century and probably earlier. The older
specimens of Yemenite paper often show an exag-
gerated kind of yellow tint. For the rest, the Jews
of the different countries would naturally depend on
the paper manufactured there; and the information
contained, e.5'.,in Sir E. M. Thompson's "Greek and
Latin Palasography," will, therefore, be found to
apply to Hebrew manuscripts also in so far as vel-
lum can be shown to have in some degree given
place to pii]i('r.

II. Writing-Flui etc. : The ink (Hebrew,
" deyo " ; Arabian Tarieiy, " hibr ") used by the Jews
during the period here considered would naturally
be much the same as that used by their Gentile
neighbors in different countries. On the manufac-
ture of ink generally see Thompson, I.e. pp. 50, 51.
The ink sanctioned by Maimonides, and no doubt
used by him for writing his own scroll of the Law,
was, according to a responsum discovered a few
years ago, made of oil, pitcii, resin, gum arabic, etc.
By burning these substances a soot was formed
wliirh was mixed with gum and honey, and the thin
slices formed of it were finally dissolved in an infu-
sion of galls (see "J. Q. R." July and Oct., 1899).
Vitriol (DinJp^p; ,t^i/Kav0of) is expressly excluded
by .Miiiinoiiides, though lie does not absolutely

forbid it. His point is that the ink
Kinds should cleave firin-ly to tiie vellum,
of Ink. but that, at the same time, one should

be able to erase it (on tliis point, as
on the preparation of ink generally, sec; r>ow, "Gra-
phische Re(|uisiten und Erzeugnisse bei den Juden,"
p. 145; and Ink).

"With regard to the appearance of the ink actually
used in the raauuscripts now under observation, it

should be noted that Torah rolls are all written
witii black ink (though early Samaritan scrolls are
written with ink of a reddish hue). Brit. Mus. MS.
Or. 4445 (9th cent.) and in fact many of the early
manuscripts written in the East are in black or
bluish black. Several of the finest Spanish codices
show a yellow tint, while the finer sort of Italian
manuscripts present a more or less violet one. Ger-
man ink is generally black, though not very pro-
nouncedly so. Early Cairo Genizah fragments often
show a yellow tint; but Yemenite ink is usually

Red ink is sometimes, though but rarely, used
alternately with the usual writing-fluid. Pigments
of different kinds, though generally red, are some-
times used for initial words, etc. On the use of gold
as a writing-fluid see p. 318 under "Illuminations."

With regard to writing-instruments, only the reed
("kulmos"; /cdAa/iof) and the quill pen need be con-
sidered here. It is diflicult to say when the quill
came into use, and for how long the reed was used
alongside of it. Syrian scribes aj'e known to have
used the quill as far back as 509 (Wright, "Cat.
Syriac MSS. in Brit. Mus." p. xxvii.); and the Os-
trogoth Theodoric (c. 454-526) is reported to have
used a quill for writing his name. The reed, on the
other hand, continued in use to some

Kinds of extent through the Middle Ages, and
Pens. appears to have survived in Italy into
the fifteenth century (Thompson, I.e.
p. 49). Several early Hebrew codices of Eastern
origin appear to have been written with a reed; but
the greater suitability of the more flexible quill
pen could not have been overlooked by Jewish
scribes even in comparatively early times.

III. Forms of Books : Apart from contracts of
small size (" get, ""shetarhalizah," etc.), which would
naturally be preserved flat, there call for considera-
tion (1) the roll and (2) manuscripts in book form.

The Roll (Hebrew, " megillah " ; Latin, " volumen" ;
used only for the five scrolls, the Torah roll itself
being always called "Sefer Torah"): This consists
of a number of strips of leather or vellum sewed to-
gether to form a continuous whole. It is, at one end,
fixed to a stick round which it is rolled; and it is
usually provided with a flat, round border-piece at
top and bottom to keep the roll even. The number
of columns to a strip varies cou.sidcrably ; and there
is also great diversity in the height of rolls. Brit.
Mus. MS. Harley 7619, which is about 26.f ins. high,
is probably one of the largest extant. Esther rolls
are sometimes of very diminutive dimensions. A
very rrmarkable and ]ierliaps unicjue specimen of a
roll is Brit. Mus. MS. Add. 20,883 (containing caba-
listic prayers written in Italy in the 15th cent.), which,
though measuring about 125 ins. from

Size of end to end (the height being about 4i
Rolls. ins.), is all of one piece instead of con-
sisting of strips sewed together. The
vellum of this roll is very fine; and the workman-
ship in straightening out so long a piece must have
been exceedingly elaborate. Rolls of Ruth, Lamen-
tations, tlie Song of Solomon, and E(;elesiastes are
far less frequent than those of J^sther. The Yemen-
ite rolls of the njn nvp (to which the haftarah for
the Ninth of Ab is fouud attached), as a leather




roll of 1560 containing tlie liaftaiot, have already
been mentioned. For Karaite Torah rolls consult
Harkavy and Strack, "Catalog dcr Hchraisclien
Bibelhandscliriftcn zu St. Petersburg," Nos. 1-47.
For Samaritan rolls see Harkavy, " Catalog der He-
braisclien uiid Saniaritanischen ITandschriften dcr
Kaiserlichen Oclfenlliclien IJibliothek " (in Russian),
St. Petersburg, 187.").

Manuscripts in Book Form : Manuscripts in book
form date from Ihe whole peiiod under cousideralion,
and were doubtless iu use for a number of centuries
before. Most of the early codices that have been
preserved are very large. Thus Brit. Mus. ]\IS. Or.
4445 measures about 16^ ins. by 13 ins. : the St.
Petersburg codex of 916, about 14| ins. by 12^-
ins. ; the Vatican codc.\ of the Sifra, dating from
1073, about 12f ins. by 10 ins. ; the British Museum
cop}'^ of the Mahzor Vitr}', about 15^ ins. by 12 ins.
Small sizes are, however, not wanting. German
codices of the Bible and liturgy written in the thir-
teenth and fourteenth centuries are generally very
large. Among manu.scripts written in Italy the
quarto and octavo sizes are much more common
than in Germany. Spanish Bible codices of the
thirteenth to the fifteenth century are as a rule hand-
some quartos; but the comparatively few Spanish
service-books extant are usually very small, proba-
bly on account of the proscription

Size of under which Jewish worship lay in

Books. Spain, and owing to the fact that
small volumes could be more ciisil}'
hidden away. North-African manuscripts of tlie
fourteenth and tifteenth centuries are more often
octavos than f^uartos. Yemenite Bible codices are
generally folios, and liturgies either folios or quar-
tos. Tlie Karaites had a great predilection for the
octavo size.

In the arrangement of quires (generally 8 or 10
leaves to a gathering), etc., Hebrew manu.scripts do
not differ from contemporary Latin and Greek ones;
and the student may, therefore, be referred to gen-
eral works on paleograpliy. When a Hebrew vel-
lum manuscript is opened, "the two pages before
the reader have the same appearance, either the yel-
low tinge of the hair side or the whiter surface of
the flesh side " (Thompson, I.e. pp. 62-63). There is
usually at the end of each quire a catchwoid in-
dicating the first word of the next quire. Signa-
tures in Hebrew letters — in the case of Hebrew-
Arabic works, sometimes in either Arabic letters or
numerals — were generally placed in the left-hand
lower corner on the last page of a quire, but occa-
sionally in the right-hand upper corner of the
page. In some cases both methods were adopted.
In Karaite manuscripts the signatures are often in
the left-hand upper corner of the first page.

Tlie ruling of Hebrew manuscripts is not different

from that observable in contemporary classical ones.

There are usually perpendicular lines to mark off

the columns, besides the horizontal

Ruling- of ruling. The prickings in the margin

Manu- made to mark the distances between

scripts. the horizontal lines have in many cases
been cut away in the process of bind-
ing. The writing sometimes depends from the
ruled line instead of standing on it; so, e.g., Brit.

:Mus. MS. Or. 4445 (9th cent.; corap. Blau, "Stu-
dien zum Althebraischen Buchwesen," p. 147).

The earlier codices of large size have usually either
two (e.^f., St. Petersburg codex of the year 916) or
three columns (6^. (/., Brit. Mus. ^IS. Or. 4445) (see
Blau, I.e. pp. 138-139). Manuscripts of small size
generally exhibit but one column to a page. In
later times the single column became mucli more
frequent even in manuscripts of larger size.

IV. Styles of Writing: The style of writing
Hebrew has in each country been influenced more
or less by causes similar to those which produced
what may fairly be called national differences in
calligraphy generally. So far as Europe is con-
cerned, Hebrew penmanship most probably was
brought first to the countries of the southern
coast, more especially to Spain and Italy; and
spread thence into France, Germany, and divers
other countries, assuming various modifications in
its course. The locality in which a manuscript was
written is, however, not always a safe guide to the
kind of calligraphy used, as it sometimes happened
that a scribe belonging to one part of the world
prosecuted his profession for a longer or shorter
time in a different country. It should also be re-
marked that after the introduction of

Copying printing there arose a tendency to copy
from from printed forms; so that, in Europe

Printed at any rate, the square character has

Forms. for several centuries past been almost
everywhere conforming to one par-
ticular form of calligraphy. The earlier printed
books were, it is true, set up in types that were
cut differently in different countries (compare
especiallj^ the early Spanish with the early Italian
printed books) ; but the Spanish forms soon super-
seded all the others, and they have on account of
their greater regularity ever since maintained their
ground both in printing and in writing.

In the following observations the specimens of
writing given in the accompanying four plates are
referred to their sources and localities, and attention
is occasionally directed to some peculiarities of pen-
manship. As a rule, however, the specimens are
left to speak for themselves.

A. Square "Writing : This series is, for the sake of
comjjleteness, preceded by two lines taken from the
above-mentioned British Museum papyrus No. cvi.*
(belonging to the late Ptolemaic or early Roman
period), as the Hebrew-Aramaic writing then used
exhibits a close affinity with the Palmyrene charac-
ter, and thus forms an important link in the transi-
tion to the square character. Then follow speci-
mens of:

Early Oriental (Nos. 2-8): No, 2 is taken from an
Oxford papyrus belonging to the sixth or seventh
century ("J. Q. R." xvi.. No. 61); No. 3, from the
Hebrceo-Persian document (apparently of the 8th
cent.) lately brought from Khotan in central Asia
and already referred to; No. 4, from Brit. Mus. MS.
Or. 4445 (9th cent.); No. 5, from the St. Petersburg
codex of the Later Prophets (dated 916) ; No. 6, from
Codex Gaster No. 150 (belonging to about the same
period) ; No. 7, from a contract (dated 980) on vel-
lum, brought to the British Museum from the Cairo
Genizah ; No. 8, from Brit. Mus. MS. Or. 1467 (Per-

Plate I.

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Online LibraryIsidore SingerThe Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 8) → online text (page 76 of 169)