Biblical Hebrew

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Biblical Hebrew
Page from Genesis (left) and title page (right) from the second Rabbinic Bible.

שער ה’ החדש
“The new gate of [the house of] the Lord.”

The son of an Antwerp merchant, Daniel Bomberg (born c. 1480) came to Venice to pursue the family business, and, having obtained a license to print Hebrew books, established a printing house. Among Bomberg’s first imprints were a Hebrew Pentateuch (1516) and the first Rabbinic Bible (1517).

The Rabbinic Bible was a new printed form, presenting the Hebrew text with full vowel and cantillation marks, and accompanied by Aramaic Targums and medieval commentaries. The four-volume second edition was produced by Bomberg in 1524; edited by Jacob ben Ḥayyim ibn Adonijah and containing an impressive critical apparatus of Masoretic notes, the second Rabbinic Bible has been the prototype for Hebrew Bibles to the present day.

The image of an ornate edifice fills the title page of volume one; between its decorated pillars, at the entry way, is a description of the book’s contents. Title page images such as this one—often accompanied by the phrase, “this is the gateway to the Lord,” from Psalm 118:20—establish the text as a place: a sacred place to be entered with care. Yet here, above this particular doorway, a somewhat different text (from Jeremiah 26:10), declares this to be “the new gate [of the house] of the Lord.” However venerable the site, the Rabbinic Bible (its publishers indicate) constitutes a novel approach.

Indeed, the Rabbinic Bible was a product of its time, a period in which Hebrew printing flourished in Italy, a time in which Christian study of the Hebrew Bible fomented and shaped its publication. Yet the Rabbinic Bible also made palpable Jewish textual culture, in which study of the Hebrew Bible closely entwined it with translation, commentaries, and other texts.

UCB scholars—and scholars from around the world—can pore over the pages of the 1524 Bomberg Rabbinic Bible​ at UC Berkeley’s ​Bancroft Library​.

Come delve into Hebrew at Berkeley:

Study ​Hebrew and Hebrew literature​ in the ​UCB Near Eastern Studies Department​:

Choose the undergraduate ​Minor in Hebrew.

Pursue advanced study in UCB’s ​Near Eastern Studies​ or ​Comparative Literature​ graduate programs.

Contribution by Ruth Haber
 Judaica Specialist, Doe Library

Title: שער ה’ החדש … 

Title in English: [The Rabbinic Bible]
Author: Jacob ben Hayyim ben Isaac ibn Adonijah or Jacob ben Chayyim (c. 1470 – before 1538)
Imprint: Venice: Daniel Bomberg, 1524-1535.
Edition: 2nd
Language: Biblical Hebrew
Language Family: Afro-Asiatic, Northwest Semitic
Source: The Internet Archive

Other online editions:

Select print editions at Berkeley:

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