The System of Masoretic Accentuation: Some Introductory Issues

P. Sanders, Raymond de Hoop

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Initially, the Masoretic accents were added neither to indicate the stressed syllable of words, nor the syntactical aspects of the text, nor to represent melodies. From their first occurrence, the recitative function of the accents was their true raison d’être. It is obvious that the musical (i.e. melodic) function was not a major concern for the Masoretes. The comprehensive Tiberian system of accentuation includes a subsystem for the Three Books (Psalms, Job 3:2–42:6, Proverbs) and another one for the Twenty-one Books (rest of the Hebrew Bible). The more equivocal and less adequate accentuation system of the Three Books is the oldest. The system of the Twenty-one Books is more transparent and adequate. It can be considered as the final product of an extended process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Number of pages66
JournalJournal of Hebrew Scriptures
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2022


  • Accents
  • Hebrew
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Masoretic Text

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