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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Extrabiblical Hebrew Sources

Our knowledge of the Hebrew of the biblical period is limited almost entirely to what is attested in the Bible. There is a relatively small corpus of Hebrew inscriptions from different sites in the land of Israel (e.g., Gezer, Samaria, Jerusalem, Arad, and Lachish) whose grammar corresponds to that of biblical Hebrew. These inscriptions have also slightly enriched our knowledge of the vocabulary of the biblical period. The Siloam inscription (8th to 7th centuries BCE) describing the digging of a water tunnel (also mentioned in 2 Kings 20.20 and 2 Chron. 32.30 ) contributes a previously unattested word zdh, whose pronunciation is unknown since there is no internal mater lectionis to inform us what the medial vowel was (the final heh probably represents a). The word seems to mean “crack, fissure” since it occurs in a context in which something in a rock allowed masons wielding picks on either side of the rock to hear each other. A Lachish ostracon (6th century BCE) also reveals a new form tsbh (= tesibbah?) “course” (from the root s‐b‐b, “to turn”) in the phrase tsbt hbkr (= tesibbat ha‐boker) “during the course of the morning.”

In addition to inscriptions, archeological digs have turned up seals and bullae (seal impressions on clay) that contain names known from the Bible, e.g., lbrkyhw bn nryhw hspr “belonging to Berekhyahu son of Neriyahu the scribe” (the amanuensis of Jeremiah known as Baruch ben Neriyahu in Jer. 36.32 ). A few seals bear the title ʿasher ʾal ha‐bayit, “who is over the house,” an official in charge of the royal palace mentioned several times in the Bible, e.g., 1 Kings 4.6; 16.9; 18.3 . Many of the seals and bullae reveal names from the ancient Hebrew onomasticon (inventory of names) that are not attested in the Bible.

The Qumran caves next to the Dead Sea have yielded hundreds of Hebrew documents. Multiple copies of biblical texts have been discovered (all books are attested except for the book of Esther) as well as sectarian writings of the Qumran community. (See “The Bible in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” pp. 1920–28.) The linguistic contribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls is considerable. Frequently one witnesses the linguistic modernization of biblical texts: Older, archaic forms found in the Masoretic Text are replaced by more modern ones, e.g., the archaic case ending on the first word of the Masoretic ḥayto ba‐saday “beasts in the field” (Isa. 56.9 ) has been deleted in the Great Isaiah Scroll from Qumran (1QIsaa), and the archaic form of the second word (saday) has been changed to the classical sadeh. Some features in the language of the Dead Sea Scrolls are representative of Late Biblical Hebrew, e.g., the expression beshel sheℐ “so that,” and even Tannaitic Hebrew phenomena crop up, e.g., the idiom nasaʿ ve‐natan “carried and took” (= “traded”). From the slightly later period of the Second Jewish Revolt one finds that the Hebrew of the Bar Kokhba letters from nearby Naπal ever and Wadi Murabbaʾat no longer reflect biblical Hebrew, but rather a Tannaitic‐like Hebrew, e.g., the use of final nun and the negative particle loʿ in wlʿ dʿgyn lʿḥykhn (ve‐loʿ doʿagin le‐ʿaḌekhon) “you do not care for your brethren” as against what in biblical Hebrew would have final mem and the negative particle ʿen (ve‐ʿen doʿagim le‐ʿaḥekhem).

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