JERUSALEM (Jul. 11)
A facsimile edition of the oldest known manuscript of the Hebrew Bible — the Aleppo Codex — was published by the Hebrew University last week. It is the fruit of 20 years’ work by a team of Hebrew University scholars, headed by Prof. Moshe Goshen Gottstein. The 500-page red and blue leather-bound facsimiles will sell for $400 apiece.
The Aleppo Codex was first published in about 900 AD in Tiberias by Aharon Ben Asher, a master of the textual tradition. By the end of the 11th century, the manuscript had been carried off from Jerusalem to Cairo. But it was subsequently transferred to Aleppo, Syria where it remained in the possession of the Jewish community. During Israel’s War for Independence in 1948, the Syrians tried to burn the Biblical treasure, but 600 of the 800 pages were saved.
The manuscript was smuggled out of Syria in 1956 and delivered to President Yitzhak Ben Zvi of Israel for safe-keeping. It is now at the Ben Zvi Institute in Jerusalem. Most of the Pentateuch is among the lost portion. The manuscript begins with Deuteronomy, Chapt. 28, Verse 17. It includes the books of Joshua, Judges and Samuel but Kings I is missing and only parts of Kings 2 have been preserved. The books of Isaiah and Ezekial are complete, but only parts of Jeremiah are preserved. Most of the minor prophets, the Book of Psalms and Chronicles are also preserved.