The Masorah is a set of notations added to the Bible to insure its accurate textual transmission. Notes of the Masorah pertaining to the text, the spelling and vocalization of words were collated chiefly in Eretz Israel circa the 9th century. The Masorah Parva, generally written in the outer side margins, is remarkably concise, whereas the Masorah Magna elucidates the notes of the Masorah Parva, typically at the bottom margin of the page. In elegant manuscripts, particularly from later periods, when the use of the Masorah decreased, the annotations of the Masorah Magna were designed as micrography, i.e. miniature letters serving as ornamental borders. The National Library of Israel currently houses a number of ketarim known as the Damascus Codices. Damascus doesn’t refer to where they were written but rather to where they were located for centuries. Worthy of special mention is a complete Pentateuch, assumed to have been written in Eretz Israel, which is over 1,000 years old.
Text: Dr. Aviad A. Stollman, Judaica Collection Curator at the National Library of Israel
Scientific consulting: Professor Joseph Ofer, Bar-Ilan University
Descriptions are based on Raphael Weiser’s Tezugat Megillot Torah vesifrei Tanakh, Jerusalem 2000