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A Thousand Year-Old Sheet from Torah Scroll


Michelle Chesner, the Librarian for Jewish Studies at Columbia University, has posted on Facebook a link the auction site of what is claimed to be a parchment from a Torah scroll dating from 10th or 11th century. The following is from the auction site’s description of the sheet of parchment.

This extraordinary manuscript is one of the three earliest known Torah scroll sheets and one of the most important ancient Hebrew scrolls in the world after the Dead Sea Scrolls. The only other Torah scroll sheets of this date or earlier are the Jews’ College Scroll (Exodus 9:18-13:2) and its twin, the virtually unreadable Duke University fragment by the same scribe (Exodus 13:19-16:1). As the Dead Sea Scrolls are extremely fragmentary for Exodus, the present scroll is the most complete, and the only obtainable, early Exodus manuscript scroll sheet…This is the oldest known scroll with the Masoretic Text of the Exodus saga from the plagues through the Song of the Sea. The manuscript dates to the height of the Masoretic tradition, having been written at the time of the 10th-century Aleppo Codex (now missing Genesis through Deuteronomy) and the 11th-century Leningrad Codex.

From the discussion about the parchment in the Hebrew Codicology and Paleography group it seems that scholars do date this sheet of parchment to the 10th or 11th century. For a detailed discussion of this sheet read this article by Jordan S. Penkower.


Update: When it rains it pours. See this auction page of maybe the oldest complete Ashkenazi Sefer Torah (c. 1270) ever offered at auction.

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