Historic Hebrew Bible sells for staggering $38 million in public sale


Sotheby’s auctioneer Benjamin Doller (C R) takes bids through the Codex Sassoon sale at Sotheby’s in New York Metropolis on Might 17, 2023. —AFP

In a historic public sale in New York, a exceptional Hebrew Bible over 1,000 years previous was offered for a staggering $38.1 million, setting a brand new file for probably the most useful manuscript ever offered at public sale. 

The Codex Sassoon, courting again to the late ninth to early 10th century, represents one of many earliest near-complete Hebrew Bibles nonetheless in existence. Sotheby’s, the public sale home, reported a fierce four-minute bidding battle between two consumers earlier than the Bible was acquired by former US diplomat Alfred Moses on behalf of an American nonprofit group. 

The importance of the Hebrew Bible as probably the most influential e-book in historical past and the muse of Western civilization was emphasised by Moses, who served as an envoy beneath President Invoice Clinton. This sale surpassed the earlier file set in 1994 when Invoice Gates bought Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester manuscript for $30.eight million. 

Whereas the Codex Sassoon claimed the title of the most costly handwritten doc ever offered at public sale, the highest-priced historic doc stays one of many first prints of the US Structure, which fetched $43 million in November 2021.

The Codex Sassoon holds a singular place as one among solely two surviving codices containing all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible. Its completeness surpasses the well-known Aleppo Codex and predates the Leningrad Codex, each of that are famend early Hebrew Bibles. Serving as a bridge between the traditional Useless Sea Scrolls and the accepted fashionable type of the Hebrew Bible, this manuscript carries immense historic and cultural significance.

Named after its earlier proprietor, David Solomon Sassoon, who assembled some of the vital personal collections of historic Jewish texts on the earth, the Codex Sassoon’s public sale marked its first public look in over 30 years. 

All through its journey, the manuscript has traversed varied areas, and it was offered to the general public solely as soon as in 1982 on the British Library in London. Carbon-14 courting has revealed that the Codex Sassoon predates the Aleppo Codex, which was written in Galilee within the 10th century and later dropped at Israel within the 1950s after being found in Syria. Moreover, the Codex Sassoon is taken into account to predate the Leningrad Codex, the oldest current full copy of the Hebrew Bible textual content, which is estimated to be from the early eleventh century.

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