The oldest, nearly complete manuscript of the Jewish Bible known to date is on display for a week in Israel. It was presented to the media in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and will be made available to the public before it goes up for auction in New York next May.
This copy was called the “Sassoon Manuscript” after its most famous owner, David Solomon Sassoon, who died in 1942, and dates back to the tenth century AD, or even to the end of the ninth century, according to the auction house “Sotheby’s”, which will sell it.
The manuscript contains the twenty-four books that make up the Jewish Bible (Tanakh), namely the Torah (or the first five books of Moses of the Bible), the section of the prophets “Nifim”, and the section of other writings “Ketuvim”, and the missing from this manuscript does not exceed 12 leaves.
It will be displayed starting Thursday at the Museum of the Jewish People on the campus of Tel Aviv University.
“This is one of the greatest moments in my life as curator,” museum director Orit Shaham-Gover said. “This ancient Bible reflects the history of the Jewish people from ancient times to today.”
The book also contains passages in Greek and Aramaic, and has been exceptionally well preserved.
Sharon Mintz, a researcher in Jewish texts at Sotheby’s auction house, said that this manuscript disappeared for more than 500 years after the destruction of the Jewish synagogue in Makisin (the town of Marqadah in northeastern Syria today), where it was located, before it appeared again in 1929.
Examination of the dating of the “Sassoon Codex” by Carbon 14 revealed that it is older and more complete than the Aleppo Codex, which was written in Galilee in the tenth century and returned to Israel in the fifties of the twentieth century after being found in the Syrian city.
The manuscript is also believed to be older than the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) manuscript, which is the oldest surviving complete copy of the Hebrew Bible text, and is dated to the early 11th century.
And “Sotheby’s” stated in a statement that the “Sassoon manuscript” had previously been shown to the public “only once, decades ago, and will now be displayed before it is sold at Sotheby’s in New York for about 30 to 50 million dollars, which will probably make it the most expensive manuscript ever sold at auction.” public”.
The auction is scheduled to take place in May during the spring auction season, which is usually organized by major specialized companies in New York.