The Old Testament Aleppo Codex: Vowels Added after Consonants

The standard edition of the Hebrew Old Testament is Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS). BHS is based off of a manuscript called the Leningrad Codex (B 19A) which dates to AD 1008. The Aleppo Codex is like B 19A, only older (AD 920), and partly missing (and so B 19A is more widely used). High resolution photos of the Aleppo Codex are available online for free. This site allows one to zoom-in and examine any portion of any page.

The Aleppo Codex was written by two scribes. One wrote the consonants, the other added the vowels. This can be detected by observing how the Hebrew letter L (ל) was written. The first scribe wrote every L nearly twice as tall as the other letters. On line 4 of Malachi, there is an L which extends up into line 3. This L splits in half a vowel that is directly above it. The scribe put half the vowel on both sides of the L. That means the vowel of line 3 was written after the L of line 4. Here is the picture:


The vowel (really it is a half-vowel) has the top line of the L intruding into it. The consonants were put in place by Shlomo ben Buya’a. It was given Massoretic vowels by Aaron ben Asher. Above, below and beside the Old Testament text there are scribal notes given in a smaller text (these are called Massorah).

Bible Software
I have not found the Aleppo Codex in Logos. I wonder if it is in other Bible software?
BibleWorks, as far as I can tell, links to the above photographs (i.e., getting you nothing more than what you could do via the web interface). It seems to me, an opportunity exists for being first to market with a searchable/morphological edition of the Aleppo codex!

Printed Edition of Aleppo Codex
Jerusalem Crown: The Bible of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, $150 on Amazon. Read the introductioin chapter to this Bible (PDF). See sample page of this volume (PDF).

Amazon is good, but a better deal is here: Buy the Aleppo Codex Old Testament and a companion volume — both for $95.

– Steve Rives

This article was published under Ancient Manuscripts, Hebrew.

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