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Sopherim [1]

is the title of a Talmudic treatise, which is generally found at the end of the ninth volume of the Babylonian Talmud, together with other treatises which belong to the post-Talmudic period. The whole consists of twenty- one chapters, and is divided into three parts, the first of which has given the title Sopherim to the whole treatise. Part first, comprising ch. 1-4 contains directions for the copyist of the Holy Writings. With this part corresponds what we read in the treatise Sepher Torah (edited by R. Kirchheim, Frankf.-on-the-Main, 1851), in the Septem Libri Talmudici Parvi Hierosolymitani. Part second, comprising ch. 6-9, contains the Masoretic part of the book, and treats of the ten words of the Pentateuch which have the puncta extraordinaria, viz.  Genesis 16:5;  Genesis 18:9;  Genesis 19:33;  Genesis 33:4;  Genesis 37:12;  Numbers 3:39;  Numbers 9:10;  Numbers 21:30;  Numbers 29:15;  Deuteronomy 29:28; of the Keri and Kethib, the variations between Psalms 18 and 2 Samuel 22, between Isaiah 36 sq. and 2 Kings 18 sq. The enumeration of the words, which are written, but not read, and of those portions which are not to be read publicly, leads us to the third part, which is subdivided into two sections, viz. ch. 10-16 which treat of the laws for the public reading in general, while ch. 17-21 treat of the holy days. From the contents we see the importance of this treatise for the text of the Old Test. Its redaction probably belongs to the 9th century; in the 12th century it is cited by the school of Southern France. This treatise has often been commented upon thus by A.L. Spira, who published the text with the commentary נחלת אריאל ומעיןאריות (Dyrhenfurt, 1732), and by Jac. Naumburg, in his נחְלת יעקב (Furth, 1793). The first part (ch. 1-5) has been edited, together with a Latin translation, by J.G. Chr. Adler, in his Judoeorum Codicis Sacri Rite Scribendi Leges (Hamb. 1779). Of late the treatise Sopherim has been published by J. Muller (Leips. 1878), under the title Masechet Sopherim, Der Talmudische Tractat Der Schreiber, Eine Einleitung In Das Studium Der Althebraischen Graphik, Der Masora Und Der Altjudischen Liturgie. This edition contains, besides the Hebrew text, explanations in German, which are very valuable in spite of the many mistakes which we often find in the writing of proper nouns, as Kennikut for Kennicott, etc. For a review of Miller's edition, see Schurer, Theolog. Literaturzeitung, 1878, p. 626 sq.; Judisches Literaturblatt, 1879, p. 53 sq.; 61 sq. (See Talmud). (B.P.)