Ben-Naphtali, Moses (or Jacob) ben David

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BEN-NAPHTALI, MOSES (Or Jacob) BEN DAVID , masorete. He is assumed to have been a contemporary of Aaron b. Moses *Ben-Asher, who dates from the ninth or tenth century c.e., and an inhabitant of Tiberias. Although nothing about him is known, except his name, there survives a list of some 850 minor differences from the reading of Ben Asher in vowels and accents in the Hebrew Bible. The list notes only eight variants in the consonantal text. The differences in vocalization and accents, especially as recorded by Mishael b. Uzziel (10th–11th centuries) with considerable deviations in detail in the different traditions (published by L. Lipschuetz), reveal no systematic features, and may be nothing but a gathering of traditional variants. Penkower (in bibliography) argues that the high level of agreement proves that Ben-Naphtali and Ben-Asher do not represent two rival schools regarding the biblical text, but rather the contrary. Some scholars have observed that the very name Ben-Naphtali is suspect: Naphtali in the Bible is the son of Jacob born after Asher, and the series "Ben-Asher, Ben-Naphtali" resembles the standard series of random names, "Reuben, Simeon." In Western and Central Asia in that period it was a common feature to systematize differences by assigning them to two "schools," only one of which existed. The closest parallel, as shown by Gotthold *Weil, is the invention of a Kufan School of Arabic grammar as a foil for the Basrian School.

There are, indeed, a number of Bible manuscripts with a type of Tiberian vocalization rather different from that of the Ben-Asher school (which itself is not entirely monolithic), but the slight similarity these manuscripts share with some variant readings ascribed to Ben-Naphtali in Mishael's list is not sufficient to substantiate the claim that they are representative of the Ben-Asher School.

See also: *Masorah.


C.D. Ginsburg, The Massorah (1880–1905); idem, Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible (1897), 241–86; Mann, Egypt, 2 (1922), 43–49; Edelmann, in: P. Kahle, Masoreten des Westens, 2 (1930), 45–68; idem, The Cairo Geniza (1947), 67–76; L. Lipschuetz, in: Textus, 2 (1962), Heb. pt. 3–58; 4 (1964), 1–29; Morag, in: jss, 4 (1959), 216–37; idem, The Vocalization Systems of Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic (1962), 34, 38–41; idem, in: Leshonenu, 29 (1965), 203–9; G. Weil (ed.), Abu'l-Barakāt ibn al-Anbāri, Die grammatischen Streitfragen der Basrer und Kufer (1913), 48–93. add. bibliography: J. Penkower, in: dbi i, 119–20.

[Chaim M. Rabin]