The Hebrew aphorism shiv’im punnim laTorah – lit. ‘70 facets has the Torah’ – first appeared in medieval literature, but the concept dates back centuries.

By Dov Chaikin |
Photo: Public domain

It expresses the thought that there are any number of ways of interpreting the Torah [Pentateuch] – applied by extension to the entire Tanakh [the volume of the Hebrew Scriptures].

The vowel points and cantillation marks extant in the Masoretic Text (MT) – introduced towards the end of the first millennium AD by the group of Masorites known as the Sages of Tiberias (ST) – may be construed as an example of interpretation of the ‘bare’ text, ostensibly designed to facilitate correct reading of said texts. It is a given that what the ST did must have been based...

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