As more and Hebrew manuscripts become digitized and available online, more and more evidence is found for the full vowels of YHVH being consistently Sheva, Cholam & Kamatz. On this page we will share links to manuscripts from the British Library which have the full vowels in יהוה in the document. Many of these manuscripts (MS) have full vowels in יהוה throughout the text and not just sparse instances. That these MS exist is evidence that the scribal practice to leave out the middle vowel “cholam” was NOT a universal practice.
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This first document is a partial Pentateuch with Targum Onḳelos and masorah magna and parva available at the British Library and is numbered “Or 1467”. It is dated to between 1000-1199. It was purchased by the British Museum from Moses Wilhelm Shapira, an Antiquities dealer of Jerusalem, on November 24, 1877. Click on the link above or on the photo below of Leviticus 14:1 to go to the document at the British Library website.
This second manuscript is dated to 1275-1299 and is also at the British Library, numbered Harley MS 5710. It is a first volume of the Bible containing Genesis through Kings with masorah magna and parva. This manuscript is part of the The Harley Collection, formed by Robert Harley, 1st earl of Oxford and Mortimer, and Edward Harley, 2nd earl of Oxford and Mortimer, book collector and patron of the arts. Their heirs sold the collection in 1753 to Britain and it became one of the foundation collections of the British Library and Museum. This image is of Genesis 6:5-9a.
This third codex numbered Or9879 is dated to 0900-0999 and was in the private collection of scholar and rabbi Moses Gaster. He sold the Hebrew manuscript to the British Museum on April 12, 1924. It is a partial Tanakh with portions of 2 Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther and Daniel. The image below is of Psalm 15.
I can’t say I’m surprised to find full vowels in the other volume of the Bible from the private collection of scholar and rabbi Moses Gaster but this image is SO EXCITING! This is Exodus 3:15 where Yehovah tells us what His Name, His mention, is to be forever!! Given the damaged condition of this codex, finding this page intact was a true blessing. This is taken from Or9880, Biblical fragments from the ‘Second Gaster Bible’ with masorah magna and parva.
This manuscript, Or 9881, is a compilation of fragments from a Yemenite codex from the 16th century and the rest from an older codex from the 12th-13th century. The full vowels are less frequent in the Yemenite pages than in the rest of the manuscript, but they are there. I share it to illustrate the difference in “fonts” between the two scripts in the codex.
Did you know that Hebrew manuscripts can be dated and located based on the script type used? The National Library of Israel has a department with experts in this field.
British Library, Or 1473 – The Books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel in Hebrew with Babylonian vowels, dated to Yemen, 1500-1599. The British Library purchased from Moses Wilhelm Shapira, bookseller and antiquities dealer in Jerusalem on November 24, 1877
Bibliography – George Margoliouth, Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: British Museum, 1899-1935; vols I-III repr. 1965); IV, Introduction, Indexes, ed. by Jacob Leveen (London: British Museum, 1977), no. 140.
British Library Or 2229 – The Pentateuch with commentary and Arabic translation in Hebrew with Tiberian vowels dated to Yemen 1655 CE. Purchased from Jerusalem bookseller and antiquities dealer Moses Wilhelm Shapira by the British Library on April 10, 1880.
George Margoliouth, Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: British Museum, 1899-1935; vols I-III repr. 1965); IV, Introduction, Indexes, ed. by Jacob Leveen (London: British Museum, 1977), no. 183.