Segal, Moses Hirsch

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SEGAL, MOSES HIRSCH (Zevi ; 1876–1968), Bible scholar. Segal was born in Lithuania and educated at rabbinical academies and at London and Oxford universities, serving at the latter as tutor in biblical and Semitic studies (1906–09). He served congregations in Newcastle, Swansea, and Bristol. In 1926 he became lecturer in Bible and Semitic languages at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (full professor: 1939). Segal was an expert in the Hebrew language, and his grammatical lexical studies, A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew (1927; Heb. ed., Dikduk Leshon ha-Mishnah, 1935) and his work on the principles of Hebrew phonetics (Yesodei ha-Fonetikah ha-Ivrit, 1928), have remained widely used. He also edited two volumes of E. Ben-Yehuda's Millon ha-Lashon ha-Ivrit (vol. 8 (1928); vol. 9 (1929)).

In his writings on the Pentateuch, Segal casts doubt on the validity of the Documentary Theory (see *Pentateuch). His explanation is essentially a modification of the traditional doctrine of Mosaic authorship. In a series of articles elaborated in his last published book, The Pentateuch, its Composition and its Authorship… (1967), he maintained that the post-Mosaic sections of the Torah were erroneously associated with Moses by later generations, just as numerous additions to the Oral Law are incorrectly attributed to Moses. The result of his biblical scholarship, reflected throughout his introduction to the Bible (Mevo ha-Mikra, 4 vols., 1946–50, 19677), is the reaffirmation of the Bible's literary and artistic excellence. His other works include critical studies on the Damascus Covenant and Ben Sira as well as many articles on various books of the Bible and medieval Jewish exegetes. He was awarded the Israel Prize for Jewish Studies in 1954.

His son, samuel, lord segal (1902–1985), physician and politician, was a Labor member of parliament (1945–50), and was made a life peer in 1964. Another son, judah ben-zion segal (1912–2003), was professor of Semitic languages at the School of Oriental Studies, London University.


J.M. Grintz and J. Liver (ed.), Sefer M.Z. Segal (1964), incl. a complete bibliography until 1964; M. Haran, in: Molad, 3 (1970), 97–106.

[Zev Garber]