Academic journal article Hebrew Studies Journal

Further Clarifications on the Work of Norzi

Academic journal article Hebrew Studies Journal

Further Clarifications on the Work of Norzi

Article excerpt

The printed editions of the commentary Minhat Say differ from the two autographs written by Selomoh Raphael Norzi in that its opening words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are not vocalized whereas those of the autographs are. The absence of vocalization in the opening words of the printed publications generated speculation regarding Norzi's readings. My study focuses on this fact and also describes the importance of Norzi's essay for determining the exact reading of the Bible in the period preceding the discovery of the Aleppo Codex (the Keter) and the Leningrad manuscript B19 a of the Bible. The study of the relative chronology between Minhat Say and his three articles ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] The Rules of Begad Kefat following Yehu, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] The Rules of the Qames Hatuf, and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] The Ma arikh Article) as presented here should enable a fuller understanding of Norzi's work.

Norzi's Work--Manuscripts and Editions

Yedidyah Selomoh Raphael Norzi (1) was born in 1560, ordained as a Rabbi in 1585 and appointed Rabbi of his birthplace, Mantua, at the close of the sixteenth century. He spent his life researching the biblical text and became known throughout both Jewish and Christian circles as an authority in the field of Masora. He died not earlier than 1626. (2)

Norzi spent most of his life writing notes on the words of the Bible following the sequence of the text. Completed in 1626, he called the work [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Goder Peres (Fencing Breaches),(3) a name indicating that his aim was to close breaches that had entered the text with the passage of time, that is, to rid the biblical text of the errors that had accreted to it because of copyists and printers.

Goder Peres was first printed in Mantua in 1742-1744, as an appended commentary to the Mantuan edition of the Bible. Three articles written by Norzi were also appended to this edition: (4) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] The Rules of Begad Kefat following Yehu; (5) (2) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] The Rules of the Qames Hatuf (6) and (3) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] The Ma arikh Article.(7)

The publisher, Raphael Hayyim, changed the name Goder Peres to Minhat Say and, subsequently, that remained the work's name! The publisher did not print a number of items including even the author's introduction and his epilogue.

The second edition of Minhat Say was printed by G. Holzinger in Vienna 1813-1816. Holzinger, however, did not republish the articles and other material by Norzi published in the Mantuan printing. The introduction and the epilogue (as well as the title page Migdas Yah and a short piece taken from the Efodi) (9) omitted from these editions were published only in 1876 in Vienna through the efforts of A. Jellinek. (10)

From the six manuscripts of Minhat Say and its addenda (or parts of them) the two most important ones are London manuscript and Oxford manuscript. London manuscript, Add. 27198, housed in the British Library, carries the classmark number 231 in Margoliouth's catalogue. Norzi's autograph, completed in 1626, contains 642 leaves with the full text of Minhat Say and all addenda. Oxford-Bodleian manuscript, Number 1444 in Neubauer's catalogue, contains 279 leaves, including only Minhat Say to the Torah and to the Megilloth.

At a number of places in my book, I noted the affinity that exists between these two manuscripts. (11) I have regarded the London manuscript as an autograph and the Oxford-Bodleian manuscript a dubious autograph. My reasons for this evaluation of the Oxford-Bodleian manuscript are the following: First, Neubauer proposed that this manuscript was an autograph without giving any plausible reason for this determination, thus creating some doubt. (12) My doubt deepened after seeing Malachi Beit-Arie's comments on this manuscript in which he made no reference to it being an autograph (though his description does allow for such a possibility). …

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