[b-hebrew] Fragment 9 Yod vs. Vav

JoeWallack at aol.com JoeWallack at aol.com
Thu Oct 26 10:21:17 EDT 2006

Moshe Schulman:
“OK look better. :) Compare the vov (yud) with the yod in the word 
m'reiyim (which is also elongated). Both are similar with a similar 
sharp down point to the left on top. This is commonly found in yods. 
The vov in the previous word has a top but it does not have the sharp 
down point. My vote is still that this yud is like the one two words 
earlier. Personally I think this scribe gets a C- for handwriting. :)”
Shalom Rabbi Schulman. The enhanced version of Fragment 9 from PAM 
42.190 is misleading to the untrained eye as the letter in question
looks to be a Vav based on Biblical and modern Hebrew with Yods for 
these writing systems significantly shorter. However, an analysis of
the handwriting for the related scribe here indicates that Yods and
Vavs were close to the same length. The Vertical line of the Yods is
generally the same length as the vertical line of the preceding
letter while the vertical line of the Vavs is generally a little 
longer than the vertical line of the preceding letter. The vertical
lengths of the letters would also appear to be their most remarkable
In my opinion the combination of the similar lengths and badly
faded text of Fragment 9 preclude a confident conclusion as to
identification. The best one can do is offer statistical reasons 
based on this scroll which favor one letter over the other. 
I’ve graphically analyzed Fragment 9 and some of the clearer 
fragments from the Scroll and I’d be glad to send you the
photographs. To my untrained and biased eye the vertical line of
the letter in question looks to be the same length as the vertical
line of the preceding Resh which favors Yod. I suspect though
that this test will operate as a K)RYoarscharch test with a 
tendency for people to find what they are looking for in length
with such a badly faded text and letters which are normally
close to the same length here anyway. I’ve also placed the word
in question next to a clear word from the same scroll which has a
Resh preceded by a Yod and followed by a Vav and clearly shows that
the Vertical line of the Yod is the same length as the vertical line
of the Resh, while the vertical line of the Vav is a little longer.
Scholarship here has concentrated on using this Fragment to doubt
the related Masoretic text. Not much effort has been expended to
date considering the other side, how it might support the Masoretic
text. Aquila was known to have confused Yods and Vavs in his Greek 
translations (see Gregory Vail, JBL) and was considered the best 
of the related translators. So here we have a possible explanation
as to why Greek translators such as Aquila apparently did not 
translate “like a lion”. They were unsure whether the final letter
was a Yod or Vav. In the Script before the time this Scroll was
written Yods and Vavs were often not distinguishable. Taking the
final letter as a Vav or at least not accepting the Yod explains 
how Aquila and others apparently had to guess at the meaning of a
word they did not recognize. 

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list