Isidore Singer.

The 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 11) online

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being mostly used for making scrolls of the Law,

while tlie inner and inferior part, called "doksostos "


Metal Case for Scroll of the Law.

(In the Mus/e de Cluny, Paris.)

{:= (IvaxiffTo^), was not employed for this purpose.
The writing was inscribed on the outer or hair side
of the gewil, and on the inner or flesh side of the
kelaf (Shab. 79b). Ever}' page was squared, and
the lines were ruled with a stylus. Only the best
black ink might be used (see Ink), colored ink or


(From Bodeaschatz, *' Kirchiiche VerfassuDg," 1748.)

Scroll of the Law



gilding not being permitted (Massek. Soferim i. 1).
Tlio -sviiting was executed by means of a stick or
quill; and the text was in square Hebrew charac-
ters (ib.).

The width of the scroll was about six handbreadths
(=24 inches), the length equaling the circumfer-
ence (B. B. 14a). The Baraita says half of tlie length
sliall equal the width of tlie scroll when rolled up

shifting of the body when reading from beginning
to end. The sheet ("yeri'ah") must contain no
less than three and no more than eight columns.
A sheet of nine pages may be cut in two parts, of
four and five columns respectively. The last col-
umn of the scroll may be narrower and must end
in the middle of the bottom line with the words
^JXnt" b ^rj?^ (^len. 30a).

(From the Sulzberger collection in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York.)

(Soferim ii. 9). The length of the scroll in the Ark
was six handbreadths, equal to the height of the
tablets (B. B. I.e.). Maimonides gives the size of the
regular scroll as 17 fingers (= inciies)
long (see below), seventeen being
considered a " good " number (21t2 =
17). Every line should be long enough
to contain thirty letters or three words
equal in space to that occupied by the
letters DDTIinDL"'^^. The lines are to be neither too
short, as in an epistle, nor too long involving the

Size of

tlie Scroll



The margin at the bottom of each page must be
4 fingerbreadths; at the top, 3 fingerbreadths; be-
tween the columns, 2 fingers' space ; an allowance be-
ing made of 1 fingerbreadth for sewing the sheets to-
gether. Maimonides gives the length of the page as
17 fingers, allowing 4 fingerbreadths for the bottom
and 3 fingerbreadths for the top margin, and 10
fingerbreadths for the lengtli of the written column.
In the scroll that Maimonides had written for him-
self each page measured 4 fingers in width and con-
tained 51 lines. The total number of columns was



Scroll of the Law

266, and the length of the whole scroll was 1,366
fingers (= 37.34yds.). Maimonides calculates a fin-
ger-nieasiue as equal to the width of 7 grains or the
length of 2 (-'Yad," I.e. ix. 5, 9, 10), which isabout
1 inch. The number of lines on a page might not
be less than 48 nor more than 60 {ib. vii. 10). The
Baraita, however, gives the numbers 42, 60, 72, and
98, based respectively on the 42 travels (Num. x.xxiii.
3-48), 60 score thousand Israelites (Num. xi. 21), 72
ciders (ib. verse 25), and 98 admonitions in Deu-
teronomy (xxviii. 16-68), because in each of these
passages is mentioned " writing " (Soferim ii. 6). (At
the present day the forty-two-lined column is the
generall}' ac-
cepted style of
the scroll, its
length being
about 24 inches.)
The space be-
tween the lines
should be equal
to the size of the
letters (B. B.
13a), which must
be uniform, ex-
cept in the case
of certain spe-
cial abnormal-
ities (see S.M.\LL
ter s ) . The
space between
one of the Pen-
tateuchal books
and the next
should be four
lines. Extra
space must be
left at the be-
ginning and at
the end of the
scroll, where the
rollers are fast-
ened. Nothing
may be written
on the margin
outside the
ruled lines, ex-
cept one or
two letters re-
quired to linish

a word containing more than twice as many

Some scribes are careful to begin each column
with initial letters forming together the words
llDt:' il"! (" by his name JAH " ; Ps. Ixviii. 4), as fol-
lows: n-t'x-id (Gen. i. 1), mini (ib. xiix. 8), ct^nri

(Ex. xiv. 28). -]r2\:} (ib. xxxiv. 11), riD (Num. xxiv.
5). HT'yxi [Deut. xxxi. 28). Other scribes begin all
columns except the first with the letter " waw " ;
such columns are called "wawe ha-'ammudim " =
"the waw columns" (see SciiiiiEs).

It is the scribe's duty to prepare himself by si-
lent meditation for performing the holy work of
writing the Pentateuch in the name of God. He is
obliged to have before him a correct copy ; he may
XL— 9

Scroll of the Law, with Crown

(lu the British

not write even a single word from memory ; and he
must pronounce every word before writing it.
Every letter must have space around it and must
be so formed that an ordinar}' schoolboy can distin-
guish it from similar letters (Shulhan 'Aruk, Orah
Hayyim, 32, 36 ; sec Taggix). The scroll may con-
tain no vowels or accents; otherwise it is unfit for
public reading.

The scroll is not divided into verses; but it has
two kinds of divisions into chapters (" parashiyyot "),
distinguished respectively as "petuhah " (open) and
"setumah" (closed), tlie former being a larger di
vision than the latter (Men. 32a). Maimonides

describes the
spaces to be left
between succes-
sive chapters as
follows: "The
text preceding
the petuhah
ends in the mid-
dle of the line,
leaving a space
of nine letters at
the end of the
line, and the pe-
t u h ah c o m -
mences at the
beginning of the
second line. If
a space of nine
letters can not be
left in the pre-
ceding line, the
petuhah com-
mences at the
beginning of the
third line, the
intervening line
being left blank.
The text prece-
ding the setu-
mah or closed pa-
rashah ends in
the middle of the
line, a space of
nine letters be-
ing left, and the
setumah com-
mencing at the
end of the same
line. If there is no .such space on the same line, leave
a small space at the beginning of the second line,
making together a space equal to nine letters, and
then commence the setumah. In other words, al-
ways commence the petuhah at the beginning of a
line and the setumah in the middle of a line "
("Yad," I.e. viii. 1,2). Maimonides gives a list of
all the petuhah and setumah parashiyyot as copied
by him from an old manuscript in Egypt written by
Ben Asher (ib. viii., end). A.sheri explains the petu-
hah and setumah differently, almost reversing the
method. The general practise is a compromise: the
petuhah is preceded by a line between the end of
which and the left margin a space of nine letters is
left, and commences at the beginning of the following

, Breastplate,

Museum. >

and Pointer.

Scroll of the Law



line; the setumah is preceded by a line closing at

the edge of the column and commences at the

middle of the next line, an iuterven-

Verses. ing space of nine letters being left

(Slmlhan 'Anik).
The poetic verses of the song of the Red Sea
("shiratha-Yam " ; Gen. xv. 1-18) are metrically ar-
ranged in thirty linos (Shab. 103b) like bricks in a
wall, as illustrated below :

The first six lines are placed thus :

ncN''! mn^S nNin n-ccn nN SNia-i ij3i ntt'D t'B'i ik
DID HNj riNj >D nin^*? m't-N icnS


313 n-\i iS>ni ny-ii3 n^Dns


The verses of the song of "Ha'azinu" (Deut.
xxxii. 1-43) are placed in seventy double rows, the
first four lines as follows:

maiNi D'Ctt'n unxn
■■npS it3C3 iny

N-\pN mn-' Da* o

The scroll must be written in accordance with
the Masoretic Ketib, the abnormalities of certain
letters being reproduced (see Small and Large
Letteks). If the final letters "1S1}*|D are written in
the middle of a word, or if their equivalents 2DVJD
are written at the end, the scroll is unfit for public
reading (Soferim ii. 10).

Scrupulous care must be taken in writing the
Names of God: before every name the scribe must
say, " I intend to write the Holy Name " ; otherwise
the scroll would be unfit (" pasul ") for public read-
ing. When the scribe has begun to write the name
of God he must not be interrupted

Name of imtil he has finished it. No part of
God. the name nuij' extend into the margin

outside the rule. If an error occurs in
the name, it may not be erased like any other word,
but the whole sheet must be replaced and the de-
fective sheet put in the genizah. AVhen the writing
is set aside to dry it should be covered with a cloth
to protect it from dust. It is considered shameful
to turn the writing downward ('Er. 97a).

If an error is found in the scroll it must be cor-
rected and reexamined by a competent person within
thirty days; if three or four errors are found on one
l>age the scroll must be placed in the genizah (Men.

The sheets are sewed together with threads made
of dried tendons ("gidin") of clean beasts. The
sewing is begun on the blank side of the sheets; the

extreme ends at top and bottom are left open to al-
low stretching. The rollers are fastened to the ends
of tlie scroll, a space of two fingerbreadths being
left between them and the writing. Every sheet
must be sewed to the next; even one loose sheet
makes the scroll unfit. At least three stitches must
remain intact to hold two sheets together (Meg.
19a; Git. COa).

If the scroll is torn to a depth of two lines, it may
be sewed together with dried tendons or fine silk, or
a patch may be pasted on the back ;
if the tear extends to three lines, the
sheet must be replaced. If the margin
or space between the lines is torn, it
may be sewed together or otherwise
repaired. Care must be taken that every letter is in
its proper place and that the needle does not pierce
the letters.

A scroll written by a non-.Tew must be put aside in
the genizah ; one written by a heretic ("apikoros ")

Sewing' the



Bifuiiplaie fur scroll of the Law.

(DesigDtfd l»y Leo Horvitz.)

or sectarian Jew (" miu ") must be burned, as it is
to be apprehended that he has wilfully changed the
text (Git. 45b).

Every one who passes a scroll must kiss its mantle.
The scroll may not be kept in a bedroom (M. K. 2oa),
A scroll of the Law may lie on the top of another,
but not under the scroll of the Prophets, which latter
is considered inferior in holiness to the scroll of the
Pentateuch (Meg. 27a).

Deca}'ed and worn-out scrolls are placed in the
Genizah or in an earthen vessel in the coffin of a
talmid-hakam (Ber. 26b). See also Manuscripts.



Scroll of the La-w

Tlie reverence with which the scroll of the Law
is regarded is shown by its costly accessories and
ornaments, which include a beautiful
Appurte- Ark as a receptacle, with a handsome-
nances, ly embroidered "paroket" (curtain)
over it. The scroll itself is girded with
a strip of silk and rolK'd in a Mantle op the
Law, and is laid on a "mappah," or desk-cover,

high priest. The principal ornament is the Crown
OF THE Law, which is made to fit over the upper
ends of the rollers when the scroll is closed. Some
scrolls have two crowns, one for each upper end.

Suspended by a chain from the top of the rollers
is the breastplate, to which, as in the case of the
crowns, little bells are attached. Lions, eagles,
flags, and the Magen Dawid either chased or em-


(From the Sulzberger collection jii the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York.)

when placed on the almemar for reading. The two
rollers, "ez hayyim," are of hard wood, with
flat, round tops and bottoms to support and pro-
tect the edges of the parchment when rolled up.
The projecting handles of the rollers on both sides,
especially the upper ones, are usually of ivory.
The gold and silver ornaments belonging to tiie
scroll are known as " kele kodesli " ( sacred ves-
sels), and somewhat resemble the ornaments of the

bossed, or painted, are the principal decorations

The borders and two pillars of Boaz and Jachin on

the sides of the breastplate are in open-

The work. In the center there is often a

Breast- miniature Ark, the doors being in the

plate. form of the two tablets of the Law,

with the commandments inscribed

thereon. The lower part of the breastplate has

a place for the insertion of a small plate, bearing

Scroll of the Law



the dates of the Sabbaths and holy days ou which
the scroll it distinguishes is used. Over the breast-
plate is suspended, by a chain from the head of the
rollers, the Yad. In former times the crown was
placed upon the head of the " hatan Torah " when
he concluded the reading of the Pentateuch on the
day of the Rejoicing of the Law, but it was not
permitted to be so used in the case of an ordinary
nuptial ceremony (Shulhan 'Aruk, Orah Hayyim,
154, 10). The people used to donate, or loan, the
silver ornaments used for the scroll ou hoi}' days {ib.
153, 18). When not in use these ornaments were
hung up on the pillars inside the synagogue (David
ibn Abi Zimra, Responsa, No. 174, ed. Leghorn,

verified with the aid of the table of contents and
index in Blau's "' Das Althebrai.sche Buchweseu " (see
also Manuscripts). The material used for syna-
gogue scrolls in ancient times was generally leather
made of the skins of wild animals, parchment being
used but seldom (Blau, I.e. pp. 23 et seq., especially
p. 30). This material continued to be employed in
the East; for in the second half of the sixteenth
century Joseph Caro was the first to codify the
word "gewil," thus giving the Polish Jew Moses
IssERLEiN occasion to remark that " our parchment
is better " (comp. also Low, " Graphische Requisi-
ten," i. 131). In Europe, on the contrary, parchment
scrolls were approved; and it was even permitted






i^iiuvyVHi'^VU'*' uUJiuviKmi;fW'.'«

'v»yi^^uiuvijvij\jwv i 4iyui^ i ^ii r' .u^ ' ^^^vf^iijwKJU^KKJ\M

.^,-.>Ny^^glUr.i-.-<ra.s1&S»SJ>y>^n>,-^n,r^fr.lSJ^O'^ftil^.^»^.>.^^.->iN^,-,>^ r^ y, ^ ,^*(^ ^ ..,^>T.J>-^■^■,-■■^,^r,

lUW lyuyjaivujm i.Aji lu

^^^^^t,r^r~^y,y^f^^,^^^,^,',-r, ,:^,m J^,^.n. ,-^:m,tw»r-L>^, >^ ^.>vk ■>:,>, v, ... ^ ,.. -^^ » ^ ,^ „^ .. ,h r. ^,^^^n.«.T, ^ . ^y^r^ rtl IN >-^


Binder for Scroll of the Law.

(From Kirchner, *' JUdisches Ceremonial," 1726.)

1651). In modern times they are placed in a drawer
or safe under the Ark when not in use.

For domestic use,' or during travel, the scroll is
kept in a separate case, which in the East is almost
invariably of wood; when of small dimensions this
is sometimes made of the precious metals and
decorated with jewels.

Bibliography: Manseket Soferim: Maimonide.s, Yad, Sefer
Torah. vii.-x.: Shnlfinn'Aruk. Yoreh De'ah, 270-384; Vitry
Mahzor.pp 651-685, 087- V04 ; bibliography under Sofkr ; Will-
iam Rosenau.Je if i.s/i Ceremonial Inntitution.f and Cu.<onu<,
p. 32, Baltimore, 1903; Cataloijue Anglo-Jewish Hi)<torical
J. J. D. E.

The awe with which the Torah was regarded,
even in Its outward form, and the immutability of
the East in general and of Jewish antiquity in par-
ticular, have preserved the scroll of the Law prac-
tically unchanged, and it may therefore be consid-
ered as the representative oi the ancient Hebrew
book. All the rules enumerated above find paral-
lels in the Talmud and in the Midrash, and may be

to read from the Torah in book-form if there was no
scroll at hand (Maimonides, Lex., end ; " Migdal 'Oz "
ad loc. ; and Low, I.e. ii. 138). In antiquity a. scroll of

small size with very fine script was
History, generally used ; and the largest copy,

the official Torah scroll of Judaism,
which was kept in the sanctuary at Jerusalem, and
from which the high priest and the king read to the
congregation on solemn occasions, did not exceed 45
cm. in height, as is shown both b}' direct statements
and by the illustration on the arch of Titus (Blau,
I.e. pp. 71-78). Under European influence, how-
ever, gigantic scrolls, specimens of which still exist,
became the fashion in the Middle Ages, although
side by side with them small, graceful rolls like-
wise were used both for syuagogal and for pri-
vate worship. The earliest extant manuscript of
the Torah is said to have been written before 604;
only fragments of it have been preserved (see Jew.
Encyc. iii. 180b, s.v. Bible Manuscripts). Among
noteworthy scrolls of the Law which have disap-

Metal-Work Cases for Scrolls of the Law, with Floral Designs and Hebrew Inscrip-
tions, Dated 1732.

(Formerly in a synafrogue at Bokhara, now in the possession of M. N. AdWr, London.)

Case Containing Samaritan Scroll
of the Law.

(From a photograph by the Palestine
Exploration Fund.)

Wooden Case for Scroll of the Law from Tafllet, Morocco.

(From the S-.hberger collection in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America,
New York.)

Breastplate for Scroll of the Law.

(In tlie synagogue at Schonhausen, Germany.)

Scroll of the Law



peared may be mentioned, in addition to the official
copy noted above, tlie roll of leather with golden
script sent by tlie high priest in the third century
B.C. to the King of Egypt, at the hitter's request,
to be translated into Greek (Letter of Aristeas,
§§ 17(5-17!): Blau, I.e. iip. 13, 157-1")'.)), and the Torah
scroll which Maimonides wrote with his own hand.
The latter scroll, made of rain's skin, was 1,366
fingers (about 25 meters) in length, contained 266
columns six fingers wide, with 51 lines in each, and
conformed to the rule, enforced even in antiquity
(B. B. 14a), that the girlli of the scroll should cor-
respond to its height (Maimonides, I.e. ix. 10).

The history of the dissemination of the scrolls of
the Law is one of vicissitudes. While they were
few in number at the time of the Chronicler (II
Chron. xvii. 7-9), their number increa.sed enormously
in the Talmudic period as a result of a literal inter-
pretation of the command that each Jew should
write a Torah for himself, and also in consequence
ol the custom of always carrying a
Personal copy (magic intiuence being attrib-
Copies of uted thereto) on the person. In the
the Torah. later Middle Ages, on the contrary,
the scrolls decreased in number, espe-
cially in Christian Europe, on account of the perse-
cutions and the impoverishment of the Jews, even
though for 2,000 years t^ie first duty incumbent on
each community was the possession of at least one
copy (Blau, I.e. p. 88). While the ancient Oriental
communities possessed scrolls of the Prophets and
of the Hagiographa in addition to the scroll of the
Law, European synagogues have, since the Middle
Ages, provided themselves only with Torah scrolls
and, sometimes, with scrolls of Esther. Six or nine
pigeonholes, in which the rolls are lying (not stand-
ing as in modern times), appear in certain illustra-
tions of bookcases (comp. Blau, I.e. p. 180; also illus-
trations in "Mittheilungen," iii.-iv., fol. 4), these
scrolls evidently representing two or three entire
Bibles, each consisting of three parts, the Torah, the
Prophets, and the Hagiographa. Curiously enough,
the interior of the Ark in the synagogue of Modena
is likewise divided into six parts (comp. illustration
in "Mittheilungen," i. 14). See also Sckibes.

Bini.ioGRAPHV: L. Blau, Das Althehriliifche Bnchivesou Bu-
dapest, 1902; Bodenschatz, KircJtUchc Verfassuiia ilcr
Judeii, ii. 31 et seq., Frankfort-oa-the-Main, 174!) ; L. Low,
Grnphixche Reqiiisiten, Leipsie, 1870; Maimonides, Yad,
Sefer Torah. 1.; Shnlhan 'Aruk, Yureh De'ah, 270-284;
Masseket Soferim. s.v.'Sofcrim.
K. c. L. B.

SCYTHIANS : A nomadic people which was
known in ancient times as occupying territory
north of the Black Sea and east of the Carpathian
Mountains. Herodotus relates how they swept
down over Media and across to the shores of the
Mediterranean, even lo the threshold of Egypt. So
far as can be determined this was between 628 and
610 n.c. The King of Egypt, it is said, bought
them off and induced them to return. They were
foragers and pillagers, and hence left no traces of
any system of government inaugurated by them.
It is true that there was a city in Palestine called
Scy thopolis (earlier Beth-shean) ; but it is not known
that it owes its name to l)arbarians. By many
it is thought that Jer. iv. 3-vi. 30 refers to the rav-

ages of tlie Scythian invaders; and it is possible
that Ezekiel in picturing the hordes that poured
down from the north (Ezek. xxxviii.) had the Scj'th-
iaus in mind. It has been suggested that the Asii-
KENAZ of the Bible is equivalent to Scythia.

In Roman times Scj'thia is designated as a ter-
ritory in northeastern Europe and Nearer Asia, occu-
pied by barbarians of various types without anj-
definite and fixed character. Paul in his letter to
the Colossians (Col. iii. 11) speaks of the Scythian
and the barbarian as those wliom Christianity imi-
fies. From the random references to them the Scyth-
ians seem to have been peoples of unknown home
in central Asia, whose character and habits were
ascertained only as the)^ crowded themselves upon
the civilized nations of southwestern Asia and south-
ern Europe in the centuries from 600 c.c. down to
the first century of the common era.

J. 1. M. P.

SCYTHOPOLIS. See Betii-shean.

SEA, THE MOLTEN. See Brazen Sea.

SEA-MEW : For Biblical data see Ctjckoo. In

the Talmud (Hul. 62b) is mentioned an unclean bird

under the name K1"lD, and {ib. 102b) under sn^JPp.

explained by Rashi as "a very lean bird." Some

would connect these words Avith the Latin "prava"

(bad) and the Greek Krj7.6v (meager, dry), and see in

these birds species of the sea-mew.

Bibliography : Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 210; Lewysohn, Z. T.
p. 183.

J. I. M. C.

SEA-MONSTER. See Leviathan and Behe-
SEAH. See Weights and Measures.

SEAIi : An instrument or device used for making
an impression upon wax or some other tenacious
substance. At a very early period the Jews, like
the other peoples of western Asia, used signets
which were cut in intaglio on cylindrical, spherical,
or hemispherical stones, and which were employed
both to attest documents (Neh. x. 1 et seq.) instead
of a signature, and as seals (Isa. xxix. 11). They
were highly valued and carefully guarded (Hag. ii.

23) as tokens of personal liberty and independence,
while as ornaments they were suspended by a cord
(m the breast (Gen. xxxviii. 18), and subsequently
were worn on a finger of the right liand (Jer. xxii.

24) or on the arm (Cant. viii. 6). A large number of
ancient Hebrew seals has been preserved, although

it is difficult to distinguish them

Biblical from Aramaic and Phenician signets.

References, both on account of the similarity of

the script and because of the figures;
these frequently contain sj'mbcls connected with
idolatry, especially in the case of the oldest speci-
mens, which date probably from the eighth cen-
tury B.C. Although the words r\2. \2, and nL"X.
which frequently occur on seals, indicate that they
are not Aramaic, and although the grammatical
form of the name also helps to indicate the origin,
it is the script which is usually the decisive factor;
for the Aramaic, Phenician, and ancient Hebrew
alphabets, derived indeed from the same source,
each developed in the course of time according to an



^' V;-::



*> Ij^^^kSe^^-''^


' !■ 1




— /-■

: ■ =i .


-r - J'" , '■■


Breastplates for Scrolls of the Law.

1. In the Great Synagogue, Aldgate, London. 2. Desiijned by Leo Horvitz.

3. In the Muflee de Cluny, Paris. 4. In the possession of Maurice Herrmann, Xew York.




individual type, although this is a surer criterion in
the later seals than in the earlier ones. Tiie inscrip-

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 11) → online text (page 33 of 160)