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Preliminary Thoughts on the Language of Sifre Zuta on Numbers

Pages 303 - 320


Sifre Zuta on Numbers is one of two Tannaitic halakhic midrashim that belonged to the ‘Zuta school’, a southern rabbinic center situated in Lod. A preliminary examination of a geniza fragment of the text (MS Firkovich) yielded three groups of linguistic features: (a) authentic features of Rabbinic Hebrew, which demonstrate the high quality of the text preserved in the manuscript; (b) lexical connections with Biblical Hebrew and Palestinian piyyuṭ, which point to lexical and stylistic singularity within rabbinic literature; (c) unique linguistic features that suggest grammatical (and perhaps dialectical) singularity. Several connections between the language of Sifre Zuta and another southern idiom, Qumranic Hebrew, were identified.

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