Early Editions of The Hebrew Bible - First Hebrew Presses

First Hebrew Presses

The first to establish a Hebrew printing-press and to cut Hebrew type (according to Ginsburg) was Abraham ben Hayyim dei Tintori, or Dei Pinti, in 1473. He printed the first Hebrew book in 1474 (Tur Yoreh De'ah). In 1477 there appeared the first printed part of the Bible in an edition of 300 copies. It is not really an edition of a Biblical book, but a reprint of David Kimhi's commentary on Psalms, to which the Biblical text of each verse is added; the text being in square, the commentary in Rabbinic, characters. Each verse is divided off by a sof-pasuk. The first four Psalms have the vowel-points; but the difficulty of printing them seems to have been too great, and they were discontinued. The ketib is replaced by the qere; but the text is badly printed and contains many errors. The Psalms are not numbered, but simply divided, as in the manuscripts, into five books. From the type used it is conjectured that the printing was done at Bologna. The printers were Maestro Joseph, Baria, Hayyim Mordecai, and Hezekiah of Ventura. The Psalms alone seem to have been reprinted before 1480, in Rabbinic characters similar to those used in the 1477 edition; and a third time together with an index of the Psalms and the text of the Birkat ha-Mazon. It is supposed that these two reprints were issued at Rome.

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