[b-hebrew] Biblical Hebrew vs. Masoretic Hebrew

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman joel at exc.com
Fri Nov 24 13:03:40 EST 2006

>Biblical Hebrew and Massoretic Hebrew are one and the same.  That
>you use an unpointed Massoretic text does not mean you have all of
>a sudden made the step towards pre-Massoretic Hebrew.  You now
>have the Great Isaiah scroll on the Israel Museum site, though.

Biblical Hebrew and (Tiberian) Masoretic Hebrew are most certainly
different.  Masoretic Hebrew is the Hebrew of the Bible as the
Tiberian Masoretes understood it roughly 1,000 years ago.  Biblical
Hebrew is the Hebrew from a millennium and a half earlier.

You are correct that some people (confusingly) use "Biblical Hebrew"
to refer to "The Hebrew of the Bible as the Masoretes understood it,"
but I think that usage should be discouraged.

Even Saenz-Badillos in his _A History of the Hebrew Language_ is not
careful to distinguish the two, but the difference is important.


Joel M. Hoffman, PhD

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