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Writings n : the third of three divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures [syn: Hagiographa, Ketubim]




  1. Plural of writing
Ketuvim is the third and final section of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), after Torah and Nevi'im.
The Hebrew word כתובים (ketuvim) means "writings." In English translations of the Hebrew Bible, this section is usually entitled "Writings" or "Hagiographa."
In the Jewish textual tradition, Chronicles is counted as one book. Ezra and Nehemiah are also counted together as a single book called "Ezra." Thus, there is a total of eleven books in the section called Ketuvim (see the enumeration in the list of books below).

Special groups of books in Ketuvim

The three poetic books (Sifrei Emet)

"Poetic form" in manuscripts

In masoretic manuscripts, Psalms, Proverbs and Job are presented in a special two-column form emphasizing the parallel stiches in the verses, which are a function of their poetry. Collectively, these three books are known as Sifrei Emet (an acronym of the titles in Hebrew, איוב, משלי, תהלים yields Emet אמ"ת).

Poetic cantillation

These three books are also the only ones in Tanakh with a special system of cantillation notes that are designed to emphasize parallel stiches within verses. The notes in this cantillation system are called Ta`amei Emet.

The five scrolls (Hamesh Megillot)

The five relatively short books of Song of Songs, Book of Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Book of Esther are collectively known as the Hamesh Megillot (The Five Scrolls). These scrolls are traditionally read over the course of the year in many Jewish communities. The list below presents them in the order they are read in the synagogue on holidays, beginning with the Song of Solomon on Passover.

Other books

Besides the three poetic books and the five scrolls, the remaining books in Ketuvim are Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles.
Although there is no formal grouping for these books in the Jewish tradition, they nevertheless share a number of distinguishing characteristics:
  • Their narratives all openly describe relatively late events (i.e. the Babylonian captivity and the subsequent restoration of Zion).
  • The Talmudic tradition ascribes late authorship to all of them.
  • Two of them (Daniel and Ezra) are the only books in Tanakh with significant portions in Aramaic.

Order of the books in Ketuvim

The following list presents the books of Ketuvim in the order they appear in most printed editions. It also divides them into three subgroups based on the distinctiveness of Sifrei Emet and Hamesh Megillot (see above).
Group I: The Three Poetic Books (Sifrei Emet) Group II: The Five Scrolls (Hamesh Megillot) Group III: Other Historical Books

Other ways to order the books

The order of the books in Ketuvim varies in manuscripts and printed editions. Some, for instance, place Chronicles first instead of last. The above list presents the books in the order found in most common printed versions of the Hebrew Bible today. Historically, this particular order of the books derives from manuscripts written by the Jews of Ashkenaz (medieval Germany).
The Jewish textual tradition never finalized the order of the books in Ketuvim. The Babylonian Talmud (Bava Batra 14b-15a) gives their order as follows: Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Daniel, Scroll of Esther, Ezra, Chronicles.
In Tiberian masoretic codices including the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, and often in old Spanish manuscripts as well, the order or Ketuvim is as follows: Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel, Ezra.

The Targum to Ketuvim

Western targumim exist on Sifrei Emet, on the Five Megillot and on Chronicles, i.e. on all the books of Ketuvim besides Daniel and Ezra (which contain large portions in Aramaic anyway). There are several complementary targumim to Esther.
There is, however, no "official" eastern (Babylonian) targum to Ketuvim, the likes of Targum Onkelos on the Torah and Targum Jonathan on Nevi'im. In fact, the Babylonian Talmud explicitly notes the lack of a Targum to Ketuvim, explaining that Jonathan ben Uzziel was divinely prevented from completing his translation of the Bible.

External links

  • Listening and free download of the readings of Tehilim (Psalms) and Iyov (Job) with the Ta'amei Emet Cantilation Notes
writings in Arabic: أسفار الكتابات
writings in Czech: Spisy
writings in Danish: Kethuvim
writings in German: Ketuvim
writings in Spanish: Ketuvim
writings in French: Ketouvim
writings in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Ketuvim
writings in Italian: Ketuvim
writings in Hebrew: כתובים
writings in Lithuanian: Ketuvimas
writings in Hungarian: Ketuvim
writings in Japanese: 諸書
writings in Norwegian: Ketubim
writings in Norwegian Nynorsk: Ketubím
writings in Russian: Агиографы
writings in Serbian: Списи
writings in Finnish: Ketuvim
writings in Turkish: Ketuvim
writings in Ukrainian: Кетувім
writings in Chinese: 詩歌智慧書
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