A Hebrew Bible, purchased for $38.1 million

The oldest Hebrew Bible (complete) was bought at Sotheby’s New York for $38.1 million (£30.6 million). The volume thus becomes the most valuable manuscript sold at auction.

This Codex Sassoon is believed to have been written about 1,100 years ago.

It is the oldest “surviving copy” of a single manuscript that contains all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible and has punctuation, vowels, and accents.

Codex Sassoon was purchased by American lawyer and former ambassador Alfred Moses for the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.

“The Hebrew Bible is the most influential in history and is the cornerstone of Western civilization,” Moses said in a statement.

“I am glad to know that it belongs to the Jewish people. It was my mission, realizing the historical significance of the Codex Sassoon, to see that it would end up in a place of global access for all people.”

The winning bid surpassed the $30.8 million paid by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in 1994 for the Codex Leicester, Leonardo da Vinci’s scientific notebook.

Codex Sassoon is named after a previous owner, David Solomon Sassoon, who purchased it in 1929.

The text of the Hebrew Bible — whose 24 books make up what Christians call the Old Testament — remained in flux until the early Middle Ages, when Jewish scholars known as Masoretes began creating a body of notes that standardized it .

The Aleppo Codex, which was “assembled” around 930, is considered the most authoritative Masoretic text. Due to a fire that occurred in 1947 in the Syrian city of Aleppo, only 295 of the original 487 pages remain.

The Codex Sassoon Bible, which carbon dating shows was created around 900, is missing just 12 pages, according to Sotheby’s.

Series of annotations and inscriptions show that the manuscript was sold by a man named Khalaf ben Abraham to Isaac ben Ezekiel al-Attar, who later transferred ownership to his two sons, Ezekiel and Maimon.

In the 13th century, the codex reached the synagogue of Makisin in northeastern Syria.

After the city was destroyed, the manuscript was entrusted to Salama ibn Abi al-Fakhr for safekeeping. Then it disappeared into history for 500 years.

The most recent owner of the Codex Sassoon was Swiss investor Jacqui Safra, who bought it for £2 million ($2.5 million) at auction in London in 1989.

Source: Cotidianul RO by www.cotidianul.ro.

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