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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Rabbinical Dialect

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By this term we understand that form of the Hebrew language in which the principal Scripture commentators among the rabbins wrote, as Kimchi, Aben-Ezra, Abrabanel, Rashi, together with the Mishna, the Jewish Prayer- books, etc. Books in this dialect are generally printed in a round character, more resembling writing than the ordinary square Hebrew letters; but the power, value, and pronunciation of the letters are precisely the same as in Biblical Hebrew. The Rabbinical characters are given below. Although substantially Hebrew, yet this dialect has so many peculiarities as to require a separate study. The scholar who is well versed in the pure or classic Hebrew of the Holy Scriptures would be unable to read the first two lines in the Talmud without an especial indoctrination in its grammatical forms, aside from the difficulty of explaining words derived from the Greek, Latin, French, Arabic, and the like. The orthography, too, of this dialect has, to the reader of pure Hebrew, often an uncouth, and at first sight unintelligible, appearance. This is caused by the habit of inserting the letters י ו א, instead of using the corresponding vowelpoints, and thus א stands for or-, as שאני for מאי שָני for מִי ; ו stands for or T as כולם : for לפותרו כֻלם for לפָתרו ;for .. or .., as פירוש for פֵּרוּשׂ, איפשר for אֶפְשִׁר ; also for or dagesh, as לימינות for לְמינוֹת, כיסה for כַסָּה . Sometimes a radical in verbs is dropped either at the beginning, middle, or end of a word. It drops the first, as חד for נש אחד for נא אנש : for נן אנא for כל מר אנן for אכל . It drops the second, as אי for קס אוי : for קדם, שה for תלים שעה for תות תהלים for תחות; or it drops the third, as איטוֹר בי איןטוֹר נין, בי for כי בית for שב כין for שכ שבת for תו שכע for תוב Parts of words are often prolonged, as by doubling letters, or inserting double Yod; and to this and many other peculiarities must be added the use of numerous abbreviations, requiring a study in itself-thus e.g. אא may be אחד אמר אהד אמר אליהו אדני אבי אומר אני אאעה אומרים אין אי אמרת אשת איש אמן אמן אי אפשר אופן stands for השלום אברהם אבינו עליו We give a list of such works as will help the student in this branch of literature.

(I.) Grammars. J. H. Mai, Grammatica Rabbinica (Giessen, 1712); Mercer, לוחי דקדוקי כשראה או ארמאה, Tubulce in Gr. L. Chald. quce et Syr. dicitur: multa intesrim de Rabbinico et Talmudico Stilo traduntur (Paris, 1560); Reland, Analecta Rabbinica (Ultraj. 1723); Millius, Catalecta Rabbinica (ibid. 1728); Alting, Synopsis Institutionumz Rabbinorum (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1701); Danz, סגלתא דרבנן, sir e Rabbinismus E'nucleatus (Jena, 7th ed. 1735); Cellarius, Rabbinismus sive Inst. Gram?. Rabbisnorunm Scriptis, Legendis, et Intellig. acconmodata (Zeiz, 1684); Genebrard, Isacgoge cad Leqenda et Intellic gendica Rabbinorum Comment. (Paris. 1563); Tychsen, Elem. Dialect. Rabb. (Bitzow, 1753), Dukes, Die Spirache der Mischlna, lexicogr. und gramman t. betrachtet (Esslingen, 1846); Geiger, Lehr- u. Lesebuch zur Sprache der Mischna (Breslau, 1845); Landau, Geist und Spirache der lIebraer nach demn zweiten Tempelbau (Prague, 1822); Luzzatto, Elemnenti Granmmaticali del Caldeo Biblico e del Dialetto Talmudico Babilonese (transl. into German by KrUiger [Breslau, 1873]); Faber. Alnzerkuungenz zuir Erlerungu des Talmudischen und Rabbinischen (Gottingen, 1770); Weiss, Studien uber die Sprache der Mischna (Heb. [Vienna, 1867]); Nolan, An Introduction to Chaldee Grammatr, etc. (Lond. 1821).

(II.) Rabbinical Lexicons and Word-books. Buxtorf. Lexicon Chaldaicum, Talmudicum, et Rabbinicum (Basle, 1640, fol. [new ed. by Fischer, Leips. 1866 sq.]); id. Lexicon Breve Rabbinico-Philosophicum (ibid. 1607, and often since); Hartmann, Supplementa ad J. Buxtorfii et W. Gesenii Lexicon (Rostock, 1813); id. Thesaurus Linguce Hebraicce e Mishna augend. (ibid. 1825-26); לשון חכמים, Worterbuch enthaltend hebr. Worter u. Redensarten, die sich im Talmud befinden (Prague, 1845- 47, 2 pts.); Nathan ben-Jechiel, HaAruch (Rome, 1515); Dessauer, Leshon Rabbanan (Erlangen, 1849); Stern, Ozar ha-Millin (Vienna. 1864); Levy, Neuhebraisches und chaldaisches Worterbuch (Leips. 1875 sq.); Rabinei, Rabbinisch- aramaisches Worterbuch (Lemberg, 1857); Young, Rabbinical Vocabulcary, etc. (Edinb. s. a.).

(III.) Miscellaneous. For the abbreviations, comp. Wolf (Bibl. Hebr. vols. ii, iv), and also Buxtorf (ed. Fischer), where at the end of each letter the abbreviations of the respective letter are given. (B. P.)


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Rabbinical Dialect'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/r/rabbinical-dialect.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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