Karaite Judaism - Karaites, Aharon Ben Mosheh Ben Asher, and The Masoretic Text

Karaites, Aharon Ben Mosheh Ben Asher, and The Masoretic Text

Aharon ben Mosheh ben Asher was a Jewish scholar from Tiberias, famous as the most authoritative of the Tiberias masoretes, and a member of a family who had been involved in creating and maintaining the Masorah (authoritative text of the Hebrew scripture), for at least five generations. His vocalization of the Bible is still, for all intents and purposes, the text all Jews continue to use, and he was the first systematic Hebrew grammarian.

His Sefer Diqduqei HaTe‘amim (Grammar of the Punctuation/Vocalizations) was an original collection of grammatical rules and masoretic information. Grammatical principles were not at that time considered worthy of independent study. The value of this work is that the grammatical rules presented by Ben-Asher reveal the linguistic background of vocalization for the first time. He had a tremendous influence on the world of Biblical grammar and scholarship.

From documents found in the Cairo Geniza, it appears that this most famous masorete (and, possibly, his family for generations) were Karaite. It should not be surprising to discover that many masoretes, so involved in the Masorah, held Karaite beliefs. After all, it was the Karaites who placed such absolute reliance on the Torah text. It would be natural that they would devote their lives to studying every aspect of it.

In 989 CE, an unknown scribe of a former Prophets manuscript vouched for the care with which his copy was written by claiming that he had vocalized and added the Masorah "from the books that were vocalized by Aaron ben Moses Ben-Asher". Rambam, by accepting the views of Ben-Asher (though only in regard to open and closed sections), helped establish and spread his authority. Referring to a Bible manuscript then in Egypt, he wrote: "All relied on it, since it was corrected by Ben-Asher and was worked on and analyzed by him for many years, and was proofread many times in accordance with the masorah, and I based myself on this manuscript in the Sefer Torah that I wrote"

With one exception:

It was known that Saadia Gaon had written against the Karaites. In his critiques, Saadia mentioned a "Ben Asher". Until recently, it never occurred to Jewish scholars to associate the "Ben Asher" of Saadia's diatribe with the famous Aharon ben Asher of Tiberius. After all, Aharon ben Asher was respected throughout the Jewish world. The Karaites were considered outsiders. It was unthinkable that traditional "normative" Jews would accept the work of a Karaite.

Recent research indicates, however, that it is probable that the subject of Saadia's attack was Aharon ben Mosheh ben Asher.

In his work Sefer Diqduqei HaTe‘amim, Aharon ben Asher wrote, "The prophets... complete the Torah, are as the Torah, and we decide Law from them as we do from the Torah." This is a Karaite belief. It also has forced scholars to re-evaluate the relationship between Rabbanite Jews and Karaite Jews in the 10th century despite the writings of Saadia Gaon. See,

Read more about this topic:  Karaite Judaism

Other articles related to "ben, mosheh":

Moshe Alshich - Works
... Levi ben Gershon or Maimonides ... of which have appeared in several editions "Torat Mosheh" (Commentary on the Pentateuch), first ed ... Qe'tannah," a commentary on the earlier prophets published in the Biblia Rabbinica (Qohelet Mosheh), Amsterdam, 1724 ...
Moses In Rabbinic Literature - Wishes To Avoid Death
... Petirat Mosheh, in Jellinek, l.c ... Petirat Mosheh, l.c.) ... not be done, since the people would leave Joshua and return to him (Midrash Petirat Mosheh, l.c.) ...

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