Inverted nuns, in the Masoretic text, is one of many scribal nuances. These scribal nuances have various traditions connected to them. The first appearance of the strange nuns is in parsha Beha’alotcha. They were one of the first scribal nuances I discovered.
Below I have posted my personal discovery of the strange nuns. Also included is a YouTube video by a Chabad Rabbi teaching their tradition concerning the nuns. Finally, there is a link to another article discussing them.
Inverted Nuns – my personal discovery
While in Christianity, I began to study the Hebrew language. I fell in love with it. I began to dig for information. Like so many others, the scribal traditions grabbed my attention. I created this post to gather the various ideas surrounding the inverted nuns.
Truthfully, no one really knows their purpose. Due to this lack of knowledge many traditions developed.
In the realm of texts and scholarship the oldest copies do not contain the nuns. Rather, it is some type of unknown mark. Over the course of time the scribes converted the markings into the nuns.
It is theorized the marks may indicate the text is either (1) out of order and belongs in another place or (2) was inserted to keep the text from being lost.
All of this is unseen in the English translation. It is impossible to translate this type of nuance. For the sake of reference below are the verses “inside the nuns”.
(35) And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said: ‘Rise up, O LORD, and let Thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee.’ (36) And when it rested, he said: ‘Return, O LORD, unto the ten thousands of the families of Israel.’ (JPS)
My favorite tradition is these nuns mark an entire book of Moses. This “book” is a mystery whose contents will be revealed when the Messiah comes. To further explain this idea, Moses’ “book” of Numbers is not one book rather three books.
- all that is written before the opening nun.
- all that is between the nuns – The mystery book of Moses later unlocked by the Messiah.
- all that is after the closing nun.
Hence, the tradition teaches Moses wrote seven books instead of five.
There is one other place with inverted nuns – Psalms 107 See image below. Can you spot them?
Now that I have discussed my personal discovery and my favorite tradition. Let’s see what Chabad teaches about the nuns.
Below is the Chabad teaching promised in the summary above.
For the final piece of material is a linked article. It will open in a new window.
For additional ideas about the inverted nun read this article.