‘Codex Sassoon’ secrets revealed by $700 digital microscope, scholar says

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A $700 digital microscope — within the palms of an historical manuscripts scholar — might have added to the importance of an historical Hebrew Bible manuscript bought for $38 million Wednesday.

The 1,100-year-old “Codex Sassoon,” because the manuscript is thought, was bought at a Sotheby’s public sale in New York by Alfred H. Moses, former U.S. Ambassador to Romania, the Related Press reported.

Mr. Moses, in flip, has donated the quantity to the ANU Museum of the Jewish Individuals in Tel Aviv. The amount, as soon as owned by David Solomon Sassoon, a son of an Iraqi Jewish enterprise tycoon, was most lately owned by banker Jacqui Safra, who purchased it in 1989.

The $38 million gross sales value, together with the public sale home’s fee, was greater than 10 instances the $3.19 million the information company stated Mr. Safra had paid for the traditional quantity.

However Nehemia Gordon, government director of the Institute for Hebrew Bible Manuscript Research in Bedford, Texas, stated in a phone interview that the Codex Sassoon was truly “invaluable.”

He stated the Codex Sassoon is one in every of “six key manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible” that exist at the moment. 

“We don’t have the unique [Bible] that Moses wrote,” Mr. Gordon stated. “We’ve copies of copies, and our key copies are these six key manuscripts, and the one one which’s been on the market — definitely on this century — is the Sassoon Codex.”

Mr. Gordon, together with Professor Yosef Ofer of Bar-Ilan College in Ramat Gan, Israel, examined the Sassoon quantity in 2019, and utilized that $700 digital microscope to disclose textual notes hidden underneath centuries-old leather-based strips inserted to strengthen the binding.

“Except you’re Superman,” Mr. Gordon stated, referring to the fictional superhero’s x-ray imaginative and prescient, “how are you speculated to see by means of a strip of leather-based?”

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His resolution was to shine a light-weight by means of the again of the textual content, making the inscriptions seen. 

The microscope he used, manufactured by Dino-Lite Digital Microscope-Lite, has an roughly 50-times magnification and makes use of each seen ultraviolet and infrared imaging.

“And there are every kind of issues that you may see with that gadget which you can’t see with the bare eye,” Mr. Gordon stated.

The researcher’s technique, he stated, “made it doable to learn quite a lot of the of those proofreading notes — referred to as Mesora notes — that had been lined over.”

The notes — which element pronunciation and vowel usages — bolstered the veracity of probably the most correct of the important thing manuscripts, the Aleppo Codex, he stated. And since roughly one-third of the Aleppo quantity is lacking, the notes within the Codex Sassoon that referenced the Aleppo work “assist us fill within the blanks and fill out the puzzle of the lacking parts of the Aleppo Codex.”

These key manuscripts, Mr. Gordon stated, convey “what Jews within the early Center Ages believed with exactly all the way down to the letter, [was] what Moses wrote, proper and exactly all the way down to the vowel with the accent of the way in which Moses pronounced it.”

The Related Press quoted Sotheby’s Judaica specialist Sharon Liberman Mintz as saying the $38 million gross sales value “displays the profound energy, affect, and significance of the Hebrew Bible, which is an indispensable pillar of humanity.”

This text relies partly on wire service studies.

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