Courtesy of the British Library Digitized Manuscript Collection

HEBREW FROM ANCIENT SONGS. Exodus 15, the Song of the Sea—one of the oldest passages in the Hebrew Bible—was composed in Archaic Biblical Hebrew. The Song of the Sea describes Yahweh’s deliverance of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. While the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea safely, the pursuing Egyptians were drowned, according to Exodus 15:4.

With its special brickwork layout, the Song of the Sea is set apart from the surrounding text, a pattern followed in Torah scrolls to this day. Another passage in the Hebrew Bible that follows this special structure is the Song of Deborah in Judges 5. This page comes from the London Codex, one of the oldest surviving Hebrew Bibles, likely dated to the 10th century C.E. The London Codex contains the masoretic notes compiled by Aaron ben Asher, a 10th-century scholar from Tiberias, Israel. Ben Asher’s notation is considered to be the most authoritative masoretic version. Masoretic notation (Masorah) is a body of rules of pronunciation, spelling, vocalization and intonation of the scriptural text that is intended to preserve, explain and transmit it correctly.