Biblical Hebrew Homeschool Curriculum

Unshakable Jots

Did you ever wonder what those steadfast and staunch jots and tittles of Matthew 5:18 are?

"Jot" is a transliteration of the name of the Hebrew letter "yud." He's small, but scrappy, and will not be left out.

"Tittle" corresponds to the Hebrew word kotz, meaning literally "thorn," but referring to wee bits of Hebrew characters.

In a handwritten scroll, the Hebrew script is jauntily embellished with serifs and tiny strokes atop letters. Come visit a gallery of redoubtable jots and tittles, and enjoy the beauty of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts.

Coburg Pentateuch 1390-1396

Israeli Declaration of Independence plaque

Jots

The yuds are easy to see in this plaque. They are the small lines whose feet don't reach the ground, looking a bit like apostrophes.

There's an old story that when King Solomon was doing his kingly duty of copying the Bible (Deuteronomy 17:18), he tried to leave out a yud in a sentence concerning another kingly responsibility. Without that yud, he could legitimize the otherwise forbidden multiplication of wives!

He might have hoped to slip this omission past the overseeing priests, but the stalwart yud ascended to the Throne of God, bowed low, and formally complained that Solomon had erased a bit of the BIble.

God smiled on the little yud and reassured him, "Solomon and a thousand like him will pass away, but the smallest tittle will not pass away from my teachings." Sound familiar?


Tittles

There is some debate over exactly which bits are the tittles, but here you see some wonderful embellishments employed in a handwritten scroll.

Hebrew script

Sofer: The Story of a Hebrew Scroll

Children's Book Recommendation

Sofer: The Story of a Torah Scroll is an illustrated tour of the craftsmanship, calligraphy, and care that produce a handwritten scroll of the Bible. You are likely to consider the Hebrew letters fond friends after reading this book! Like many children's books, it is a suitable and appealing introduction for any age.


Gallery of Hebrew Calligraphy and Illumination

Illumination is the art of adorning a manuscript with illustrations. Medieval Christians and Jews fashioned exquisite drawings in their Bibles. In Jewish tradition, the marriage covenant (ketubah) may be beautifully decorated and displayed in the couple's home. There are lovely haggadahs, order of service books for a Passover meal. Another sort of illuminated document you will see here is the mizrach: a plaque hung in a home to indicate the direction for prayer (toward Jerusalem). The Jonah Copybook's cover features an illumination from a 13th century Spanish Hebrew Bible.

Click on any picture below for a larger image, captions and slideshow option.


copyright 2015 Alef Press

Manuscript and plaque photos are in the public domain in the United States because their copyrights have expired or because the photographer has given them to the public domain. Thanks to the British Library, where you can see more manuscripts online.