Cover

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pp. 1-2

Dedications, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-6

Contents

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pp. 7-20

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Acknowledgments, Epigraphs

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pp. 21-22

The first edition of Chanting the Hebrew Bible was published by the Jewish Publication Society in 2002. Using it year after year as a textbook, I discovered numerous errata as well as opportunities for improvement. And after more than a decade I had many new technological resources available to me...

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How to Use This Book

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pp. 23-24

I know. This is an intimidating book. It’s long. It’s heavy. It gets technical. It has musical notation and strange diagrams. But it’s okay; take a deep breath and read on.

You don’t have to read this book cover to cover in sequence from the beginning to the end. But you should start with chapter 1, which gives you a general introduction to the...

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Transliterations, Translations, and Text Sources

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pp. 25-30

Not all editions of the fully punctuated Hebrew Bible are identical. Some modern editions are based on a single ancient authoritative source, while others were created by comparing several sources. Even though there is remarkable consistency among the oldest surviving sources from the Middle Ages, nonetheless, certain differences can be found, most notably in...

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1. Cantillation

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pp. 31-54

Cantillation is storytelling, and its most skilled practitioners are great storytellers. Of course, it's not just any story that they are telling—it's one of the oldest and most widely read stories on the planet. Cantillation, at its essence, is a means of putting across that sacred story with convincing rhetorical expression and with vocal beauty...

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2.1. Parallelism

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pp. 55-58

In this verse the ubiquitous pair “heaven and earth” is invoked; one in the first phrase, the other in the second. The opposition of the two contributes to the poetic balance.2 Prof. James Kugel, in his insightful study of biblical poetry, points out that the second phrase is one which “sharpens” the idea of the first. After stating an idea, the biblical author will often...

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2.2. The Primary Dichotomy: Siluk and Etnaḥta

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pp. 59-72

The Masoretes developed symbols to indicate the end of each half of a verse.1 A short vertical line designates the end of the second half of a verse. It signals the reader to slow down, then pause slightly before going on.
The vertical line can be thought of as symbolizing a barrier. Perhaps it resembles a hand, extended as a stop sign, viewed from the side. In fact, that is the gesture used by teachers...

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2.3. Level Two: Tippeḥa

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pp. 73-80

We have observed that many biblical verses are divided into two parallel segments, each of which is an independent clause, containing a verb and one or more complements. We will now continue the process by subdividing each of those segments into two smaller segments.
A simple clause may consist of three words: a verb followed by two complements. The...

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2.4. Conjunctives

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pp. 81-90

Up until now we have been punctuating only the last word of each segment, the word that indicates a pause or a cadence. We call these words “disjunctives” or “terminators” or “separators.” The Hebrew term is מפַסְִיקיִם (singular: 1.(מפַסְִיק
The words that are not disjunctives are “conjunctives” or “connectors.” The Hebrew term...

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2.5. Substitutions

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pp. 91-96

In the previous chapter we learned that if a segment consists of only two words, the first word will be a conjunctive and the last word will be a disjunctive. For example, if there are two words in the immdeiate domain of siluk, the last word is punctuated with siluk and the word before it is punctuated with merekha...

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2.6. Level Two: Zakef

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pp. 97-118

This verse contains three independent clauses. But our division is always binary, so we need to find a way to divide the verse into two level-one segments. The first part of the verse describes Michal’s feelings. The second part gives us information about her father Saul’s perspective. Our first dichotomy will separate these two parts....

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2.7. Level Two: Segol

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pp. 119-132

In the last chapter we learned that if there are two or more level-two segments within levelone, they are arranged as steps, descending to the left. The final segment terminates with tippeḥa, and the others terminate with zakef...

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2.8. Tevir

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pp. 133-146

In the last chapter we examined three types of dichotomy. A biblical verse will contain either one or two level-one segments. Most typical is the division into two contiguous level-one segments: etnaḥta and siluk. We diagram them with two side-by-side brackets...

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2.9. The Remote Conjunctives of Tevir

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pp. 147-156

We have learned that a segment consisting of three words is generally broken down into two components: a segment of two words and a segment of one word. Depending on the syntax, the division could be two-plus-one or one-plus-two.
A three-word siluk clause will normally divide into a segment terminating with tippeḥa...

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2.10. Revia

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pp. 157-170

Then, in chapter 2.6 we studied the phenomenon of “stepping brackets.” We analyzed the case of a level-one segment that divided twice: after the first level-two subdivision, the words to the left of the level-two segment subdivide again, creating a second level-two segment...

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2.11. Pashta

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pp. 171-196

The graphic symbol for pashta resembles an upside-down merekha. In most modern editions it is printed as a curved line, but its original shape was straight (\). The name pashta derives from an Aramaic word meaning “extending...

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2.12. Zarka

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pp. 197-210

The graphic symbol for zarka resembles a fallen-down inverted “s.” In some older Bibles it appears as an upside-down “J.” The name zarka derives from an Aramaic word meaning “scattering...

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2.13. Level Four: Geresh

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pp. 211-228

Some speculate that the system of the te‘amim was originally designed for the chanting of poetry; only later was the system extended to the narrative sections of the Bible.1 Indeed, this binary system of recursive dichotomy was ideal for ancient Hebrew poetry with its short verses, divided into (usually) two parallel segments. In the following examples, each poetic...

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2.14. Level Four: Legarmeh

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pp. 229-238

The rules for the level-four disjunctives are not as consistent as those that govern the higher levels.
The most common level-four terminator is geresh. However, in the level-three revia‘ segment (and only in the revia‘ segment) legarmeh could substitute for geresh...

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2.15. Level Four: Pazer

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pp. 239-246

We have already studied geresh and legarmeh. The other three te‘amim are even harder to predict. Although we will make note of some characteristic patterns, the student may prefer to think of the five level-four te‘amim as a pool to be drawn from, without the predictability of the upper-level disjunctives...

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2.16. Level Four: Pazer Gadol

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pp. 247-250

In our study of level two, we noted that zakef (katon) and zakef gadol share the same syntactic function. The difference between them was purely musical.1 A similar distinction can be drawn between pazer (katan) and pazer gadol (great pazer). But while the reasons for the substitution of zakef gadol for zakef (katon) were quite clear, the reasons for the substitution...

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2.17. Telishah Gedolah

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pp. 251-258

Telishah gedolah is a prepositive ta‘am; it is placed invariably over the upper right-hand corner of the first letter of the word. If it is a compound word, the ta‘am is placed invariably over the upper right-hand corner of the first letter after the makkef. In the Koren edition of the Tanakh (and some others) a second telishah is placed over the stressed syllable (unless, of...

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3. Pronunciation

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pp. 259-342

In the art of cantillation, the primary goal is the delivery of text; music is merely a vehicle for a performance that is expressive and beautiful. For centuries, traditional Jews have held the Hebrew text of the Bible to be sacred and immutable. While its melodies have evolved, the text has remained remarkably constant...

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4. Canon and Masorah

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pp. 343-374

Normally an oral text undergoes some evolutionary change as it is transmitted from person to person. The text could be paraphrased. It could be inflected differently. It could be translated from one language to another. Texts can be altered even after they are committed to writing. Words could be spelled differently. Typographical errors could creep into a written text in the...

5.1. The Te‘amim

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pp. 375-390

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5.2. Two Te‘amim on a Single Word

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pp. 391-402

We have seen that one of the functions of the te‘amim is to indicate which syllable is stressed, or accented. On long words, those with more than two syllables, a secondary stress is often indicated. In spoken English, many long words are given both primary and secondary stress. In the word en-cy-clo-pe-di-a, the primary accent is on the fourth syllable; the secondary...

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5.3. Troubleshooting

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pp. 403-412

Originally, both telishah ketanah and telishah gedolah were indicated by the same graphic symbol: a small circle placed above the word. In order to differentiate one from the other,4 the symbol for the conjunctive telishah ketanah was placed at the end of the word, close to the following word to which it was syntactically connected. The symbol for the disjunctive...

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5.4. Parsing the Hebrew Bible

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pp. 413-446

This chapter presents a systematic collection of observations that have been presented throughout chapter two on the division of a biblical verse into its syntactic components...

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5.5. The Pedagogy of Cantillation

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pp. 447-454

Many teachers have discovered that the te‘amim can serve as an effective tool for clarifying the meaning of the masoretic text. After learning the punctuating function of the te‘amim, students are better able to understand the nuances of the Hebrew Bible.
In some schools, teaching the te‘amim is integrated into the curriculum of Bible studies...

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6.1. Interpreting the Te‘amim

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pp. 455-472

Once upon a time, folk songs really belonged to the folk. Music hadn’t yet become a commodity to be bought and sold: there were no MP3s, no CDs, no sheet music, no copyright laws. Folk songs weren’t necessarily performed by a soloist for a listening audience. People sang to themselves every day—while they worked, while they nursed their babies, while they...

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6.2. Torah

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pp. 473-574

In the eighteenth year of the reign of Yoshiyahu (Josiah) King of Judah (ca. 622 BCE), Ḥilkiyahu the Priest reported that he had discovered a long-forgotten copy of the Torah that he said had been hidden away in the Sanctuary. The king was so moved by this discovery that he assembled the nation, just as Moses had instructed some seven centuries earlier, and...

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6.3. Haftarah

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pp. 575-640

In traditional synagogues, a portion from one of the “prophetic books” of the Bible is chanted after the reading of the Torah on Sabbaths, festivals, and fast days.1 This practice is known as the haftarah2 ( הפַטְ רָָה ), and the person who chants the haftarah is called the maftir ( 3.(מפַטְִיר On Shabbatot and festivals a haftarah is chanted during the morning service ( שׁחֲַ רִית ); on most...

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6.4. The Festival Megillot: Song of Songs, Ruth, and Ecclesiastes

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pp. 641-688

Three of the books from the Hagiographa ( כתובים ) are known as the “festival megillot” since each is associated with one of the major festivals. The Song of Songs ( שיר השירים ) is chanted on Pesaḥ, Ruth ( רות ) on Shavuot, and Ecclesiastes ( קהלת ) on Sukkot. We use the same melody for chanting the te‘amim of all three books....

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6.5. Esther

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pp. 689-738

Megillat ester1 is chanted on the Festival of Purim. It is chanted in the synagogue in the presence of a minyan in the evening service ( ערבית ) just before ואתה קדוש and עלנו , and in the morning service ( שחרית ) after the conclusion of the Torah service. Megillat ester is unique in that it may be chanted by individuals at home without the presence of a minyan (quorum)...

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6.6. Lamentations (Ekhah)

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pp. 739-766

The Book of Lamentations, traditionally ascribed to the prophet Jeremiah, describes the siege and devastation of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army in 586 BCE.1 It comprises five chapters, each of which is a self-contained elegiac poem. The first two and last two poems each comprise twenty-two verses, and all but the last are arranged in an alphabetic acrostic...

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6.7. Torah for the High Holiday Morning Service

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pp. 767-796

At the morning ( שחרית ) service on the High Holidays ( ראש השנה and יום כפור ), a special melody is used for the chanting of the Torah pericope.1 The High Holidays are unique in this respect; no special melody is used for Torah cantillation on any of the other festivals.2 The fourteenth-century German rabbi Jacob Mölin ( מהרי״ל ) wrote that this special melody was...

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7.1. Comparison Chart

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pp. 797-802

The charts on the following pages allow the reader to compare each disjunctive ta'am across all six systems...

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7.2. The Ideal Reader

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pp. 803-806

Choose a tempo (speed) that is appropriate for the service and for the congregation. Within your chosen tempo framework you may also sometimes subtly speed up and sometimes subtly slow down. These gradations can serve to delineate larger units of form within the designated reading and can make your rendition more engaging...

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7.3. Guide to the Readings

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pp. 807-834

This chapter calls the reader’s attention to special issues in the fifty–four weekly portions (Torah and haftarah), followed by the readings for various holy days. Highlighted are special melodies, unusual word forms, and some of the mistakes that are commonly made—mistakes that may make a difference in the meaning of the text. We also call attention to special...

7.4. Glossary

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pp. 835-846

Bibliography

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pp. 847-862

Index

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pp. 863-875