Masoretic Accents and Phrasing in the Hebrew Bible Recitation: New Reflections

Boris Kleiner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Masoretic Text is a codification of the recitation tradition, the crucial aspect of which is its phrasing represented by the masoretic accents. The accents address primarily the declamation rhythm rather than the pitch of the recitation melody. Disjunctive accents of different hierarchic prominence mark the phrasing caesurae as relatively major or minor, distinguishing between various grades of caesural depth. However, the chanted recitation realizes the caesurae by the positionally assigned durations that do not express the significance of the individual caesurae and are aligned only with the division of the text into superordinate phrases. Caesurae of different depth may be realized indiscriminately, yet are distinguished in the accentuation. By their differentiating notation the accentuators were able both to capture the phrasing sound of the oral tradition and to interpret, determine, and even manipulate its sense.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-675
Number of pages26
JournalVetus Testamentum
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2021


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1982/19


    • Biblical Hebrew
    • Hebrew Bible recitation
    • masoretic accents
    • phrasing
    • prosody


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