Okhlah Ve-Okhlah

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OKHLAH VE-OKHLAH (Heb. אָכְלָה וְאָכְלָה), early collection of masoretic notes to the Bible text, arranged partly alphabetically and partly in the order of the books of the Bible. Its date and author are unknown but it was mentioned for the first time by Jonah ibn Janāḥ in the tenth century (Abu al-Walīd Marwān ibn Janāḥ, cf. חלךְ), by whom it was considered the most important book on the subject. Originally called Ha-Masoret ha-Gedolah by Rashi and R. Jacob Tam, its present name, first mentioned by R. David Kimḥi (Sefer Shorashim, ed. Biesenthal-Lebrecht (1864), 334 cf. קרב), derives from the opening words of the first section, which is an alphabetic list of pairs of words occurring only twice in the Bible (once with waw and once without), i.e., okhlah (I Sam. 1:9) and ve-okhlah (Gen. 27:19). Jacob b. Ḥayyim gained most of his information for the masora finalis (list of masoretic notes found at the end of a Bible, as opposed to the masora marginalis written on the sides of its pages) from Okhlah ve-Okhlah for his Bomberg edition of the Bible (Venice, 1524/5).

After lying in obscurity for over 300 years it was redis-covered and published by S. Frensdorff (Das Buch Ochlah W'ochlah, 1864), and shortly afterwards a second manuscript was discovered by H. Hupfeld. Hupfeld's manuscript contains 120 citations more than Frensdorff, and it is concluded that the book was expanded over the centuries (see Graetz, bibl.). In 1954 F. Diaz Esteban prepared a critical edition of the work as a Ph.D. dissertation and published it later, in 1975.


E. Wuerthwein, The Text of the Old Testament (1957), 21–22; S. Frensdorff, Das Buch Ochlah W'ochlah (1864), introd.; H. Hupfeld, in: zdmg, 21 (1867), 201–20; Graetz, in: mgwj 36 (1887), 1–34. add. bibliography: F. Diaz Esteban, Sefer 'Oklah we-'Oklah – Colección de Listas de Palabras Destinadas a Conservar la Integridad del Texto Hebreo de la Biblia entre los Judios del a Edad Media (critical edition, 1975).