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What is the significance of the Hebrew letter làmεḏ preceding a number of verses in Psalm 89 in the margin of the Masoretic text? enter image description here

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This is the minor Masorah, which is a collection of notes by the Masoretes. They correspond to the words in the verse which have the little circle above them. The ל here is an abbreviation of the word לא, 'no' or 'not', which indicates that the specific word does not appear elsewhere in the text. This happens because of the specific form of the word, with suffixes and morphological variations. For instance, in v. 39 התעברת is derived from עבר, as in 'to pass over' which is a very well attested root that appears in a variety of forms all throughout scripture, but that specific form doesn't appear elsewhere.

You can learn more about the Masorah at The Masoretes at Work: A Tradition Preserved.

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    Thank you Shmuel for this explanation and also the reference which I will check out.
    – ed huff
    Nov 27, 2023 at 22:04
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From the Discover the Holy Language web site:

The prefix ל (Lamed) means ‘to/for’.

Both the pictograph and the Biblical Hebrew versions of Lamed depicted an UPSIDE DOWN staff indicating its function of extending one’s reach. The idea of extending involves a point from which something is extended and a point to which it is extending. Thus it would be in a specific direction toward (to) or for something.

"Thus" and "so" also fit with this understanding of ל as a prefix. Both the letter are the word "lamech" are related to teaching and learning.

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  • Thanks Dan! While I understand the nature of 'ﬥ' acting as a preposition, it intrigues me that a number of verses in this Psalm have this letter 'unattached' - sort of just hanging out there by themselves in the right-hand margin.
    – ed huff
    Nov 27, 2023 at 16:01
  • Is there a compilation of these unique words anywhere?
    – ed huff
    Dec 11, 2023 at 14:33
  • @edhuff I recommend ( goodreads.com/book/show/… ) This is the basic, introductory level book that I was required to read when I was a beginning Hebrew student. It contains a "compilation of these unique words" among other things. Note, however, that the masora are written in Aramaic. So, where we would expect "אַיִן" for "there is not", instead, the Aramaic, "ל=לית" is written.
    – Epimanes
    Dec 28, 2023 at 11:12
  • Thanks for the recommendation! Currently trying to find the lowest price as this text is a bit pricey!
    – ed huff
    Dec 29, 2023 at 15:23

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