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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Kere-Kethib

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(keh ree'-keh theeb) Transliteration of Hebrew terms meaning, “read” and “written.” The terms represent notations made in the margin of the Hebrew text by early scribes called Massoretes. In such cases the text has the written consonants of the traditional text, but the scribes had placed vowel points in the text indicating how the word should be read. In the margin of the text stands the consonants of the word to be read. An example is the perpetual kere involving God's personal name, where the Hebrew text contains the consonants yhwh with the vowels a, o, a from adonai , the Hebrew word for Lord in which i is actually a Hebrew consonant. The textual margin would read dni , the consonants of adonai . How such readings developed in the history of the text is not known. They may have been early attempts to correct a text known to be wrongly copied. They may have sought to make the text read in worship by the community conform to a standard written text. It may have been an attempt to record known differences between Hebrew texts at the time of the copyist. Some examples may have been theologically motivated, as the change in the divine name warned the reader not to pronounce the sacred name but to replace it with adonai or Lord.


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Kere-Kethib'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/k/kere-kethib.html. 1991.

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