The practice of creating an acrostic to spell out the name of the author of a Hebrew liturgical poem started in the classical period (5th or 6th century). An acrostic may sometimes indicate the name of the scribe who copied the manuscript. In recent years some examples of acrostics have been discovered in the Masoretic notes accompanying ancient manuscripts of the Bible. David Lyons exposed three acrostic signatures in ms British Library Or. 4445. I have discovered two further acrostics: one in a biblical manuscript, the other on a page of a Masoretic work. The article addresses the ways in which the Masoretes create their acrostic signatures, and what we may deduce from these acrostics concerning the location of their creators and their time. The main point is that the place of the masorete of ms Or. 4445 is included in his acrostic, and has not been recognized before.
OferY.RevellE.J.“Masoretic List of Babylonian Origin of Dotted Words in the Pentateuch”Proceedings of the Twelfth International Congress of the International Organization for Masoretic Studies—Masoretic Studies199687185(1996)
Cf. Lyons1983pp. 411-413; Lyons 1987; Dotan 1993 pp. 48-49; Lyons (1987 n. 12) pointed out that already in 1899 Margoliouth noticed that the Masorete wrote “on the name of the vocalizer and Masorete” (Gen. 49; fol. 40r) but did not notice the acrostic and thus did not catch the Masorete’s intention (Margoliouth par. 64 vol. 1 pp. 38-39).
Cf. Kahle1927pp. 59-60; Yeivin 1982; Penkower p. 55. nos. 23057 and 63239 in the Institute.
Ibid. pp. 118-119.
Cf. also: Lyons1983p. 365. List no. 23 (in Okhla waOkhla Ms. P) is richer than list no. 40 and includes in most cases more than one pair of words for each letter of the alphabet but nevertheless the Masorete could not have relied on it exclusively because he needed an item for the letter dalet and list no. 23 does not have that letter.
Ginsburg1885par. ל 21d. The source is unknown. In the list in Ms. P there are 71 entries among them three that do not appear in other lists (לכל גוים [Ps. 59:9]—added by another hand; לשנת חמש [ii Chr. 15:10]—no verse without the letter lamed exists in Scripture; לתשעת המטות [Num. 34:14; Jos. 14:2—not unique]). In the list in Ms. H there are 71 entries three of which do not appear in the list in Ms. P (למאה ועשרים [ii Chr. 5:12] למשה איש [Ps. 90:1] למעשה ידיך [Job 14:15]). Ginsburg’s list includes all the entries in Ms. H (which may have been the basis of his list) and three additional entries (לחנכת המזבח [Num. 7:11] לגבול מואב [Num. 21:15] לגבול ארנן [not found in Scripture!]).
Ginsburg1897pp. 249-250 470; Margoliouth p. 38; Kahle 1951 p. 167; Dotan 1993 pp. 43-44.
Dotan2005b. The citations are from that study—Ibid. p. 40.