I am delighted to post pictures from some of our oldest codices depicting the writing of Lemarbe as it appears in Sefer Yishaya 9:6.
This first picture is from the Keter Aram Tzova (Aleppo Codex). It was written by the Sofer Shelomo Ben Bo'oya under the direction of Aharon Ben Asher in Tiberia in the 10th Century. This Codex was our oldest extant manuscript of the entire Tanach + Masoretic notes including punctuation and Ta'amei HaMikra. As mentioned in my previous post, it is also the most authoritative due to it's proven exactness.
Notice how Lemarbe is written in two words, with the MEM SOFIT placed at the end of the first "word." Likewise, notice the masoretic note indicating that it should be pronounced as one word... i.e. Lemarbe.
In it you will also notice other strange things with regard to how they used to write Ketav Ashurit in 10th Century Tiberia. Notice the length of the YOD. Although we would invalidate it today; then, this was deemed as standard and proper. More so, notice that it was also usual for the inner legs of the HEI and KOF to be joined at the roof. Other details include the lack of tagin, the long upward elongated LAMEDS with short feet and no base, among many others. In essence, our modern dfinition of Ketav Ashurith has changed somewhat from the standard practice of sofrim in the 10th Century.
This second picture is of the Leningrad Codex. The Codex was completed at the beginning of the 11th Century in what today is Cairo Egypt. Both, its text and punctuation are patterned against the Ben Asher family tradition but it is not as precise as the Aleppo Codex. Some of the same characteristics in the shape of the letters exhibited above are also observable in this script.
Notice that in the Leningrad Codex Lemarbe is written as one word with the MEM SOFIT appearing in its middle. Likewise, the same masoretic note appears with the instruction for us to read as one word. As we can see, these variances have existed in our tradition for a very long time. What is even more incredible, is that we have been perpetuating these differences until today.
For us, it is truly an oddity to see a MEM Sofit in the middle of a word. However, after viewing the Keter Aram Tzova and how tradition had it split in two separate words, we can now begin to understand that the MEM SOFIT was placed there in order to signal in a clear and decisive way that tradition required this one particular word to be split in two.