[b-hebrew] Variants of YHWH in the BHS Text

David P Donnelly davedonnelly1 at juno.com
Fri Sep 26 09:19:52 EDT 2003

Bearpecs at aol.com says:

The only "Ben Chayyim" I know of who might be relevant
is Jacob Ben Chayyim ibn Adoniyah, who edited the Rabbinic Bible of 1525.

This was considered the definitive edition (textus receptus) 
and the basis of the first two editions of BHS's predecessor, the BHK.  

Ben Chayyim was the first to collate a large number of manuscripts and
massoretic volumes
in order to create what he considered the best possible representation of
the Massoretic Text 
(which of course meant according to the tradition of Ben Asher) 
together with massoretic marginalia.  

(Norman Snaith, however, suggests that the consonantal text of the first
Rabbinic Bible, 1517 
edited by Felix Pratensis, is closer to the authentic Ben Asher

Unfortunately he did not provide footnotes or bibiliography, 
so we do not know which specific manuscripts and volumes he used.

Can anyone clarify whether this website has some arcane information the
of us do not?  or is it simply mistaken?

Dave says:

Bearpecs at aol.com says that the Rabbinic Bible of 1525.  
[e.g. the Ben Chayyim Hebrew Text]:

was considered the definitive edition (textus receptus) 
and the basis of the first two editions of BHS's predecessor, the BHK." 

The Jewish people must have been aware that the Rabbinic Bible of 1525,
preserved God's name as "Yehovah" 
over 6000 times.

The Jewish people of that day did not appear to see this as a problem.

Previously, however,
The Rabbinic Bible of 1517 had not received the approval of the Jewish


The following information is found at the link above:

In 1516, a wealthy Venetian, Daniel Bomberg who had been born in Antwerp,

was granted the privilege of publishing Hebrew books in that city. 
Among the first he published was a folio edition of the entire Bible with
the leading commentaries, 
Mikraot Gedolot (Rabbinic Bible), which came off the press in 1516-17. 
Pope Leo's imprimatur was sought and granted, 
and Felix Pratensis, a monk born a Jew, was its editor. 
Bomberg published the edition because of growing interest in the Hebrew
and the Bible among learned Christians. 
As a good businessman, 
he quickly perceived that there was a substantial market for Hebrew texts
among the Jews of Italy, 
whose numbers had been increased by an influx of Spanish and Portuguese
Jewish exiles.
The commentaries of Rashi, Kimhi, Nahmanides, and Gersonides attracted
the Jewish clientele, 
but the editorship by an apostate and the blessing of the Pope made Jews
avoid the edition, 
so Bomberg quickly published a quarto edition, without any mention of
either editor or sponsor. 
Six years later in 1524, his second Rabbinic (i.e., with commentaries)
Bible appeared. 
This time Bomberg emphasized that his printers were pious Jews, as was
his scholarly editor. 
In time more than two hundred Hebrew books came off the Bomberg press, 
volumes of singular scholarly merit and typographical excellence. 
A fuzzy photo of the Ben Chayyim Hebrew Text is shown followed by the
following text:
The first Rabbinic Bible, i.e., the biblical text accompanied by a number
of commentaries, 
was published by the greatest of Hebrew printers in the sixteenth
century, Daniel Bomberg, 
a Christian from Antwerp, 
who set up his Hebrew press in Venice in 1515 and published some 230

Published in 1517 and edited by the apostate Felix Pratensis who
dedicated it to Pope Leo X, 
it apparently did not attract the anticipated Jewish audience,
hence a new edition, seven years later, edited by Jacob ben Hayim, 
who wisely chose to print the Masoretic text. 

The latter edition became the standard for all future printings of the
Hebrew Bible. 
It is opened to the end of the Book of Samuel and the first verses of the
Book of Kings (Hebraic Section, Library of Congress Photo).

Dave Donnelly

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