The oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible was purchased at Sotheby’s New York for $38.1 million (£30.6 million), making it the most costly document ever sold at auction.
It is believed that the Codex Sassoon was written around 1,100 years ago.
It is the earliest surviving example of a single manuscript having all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible in their entirety, complete with punctuation, vowels, and accents.
Alfred Moses, a former US ambassador and lawyer, purchased it for the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.
“The Hebrew Bible is the most influential book in history and the foundation of Western civilisation,” Mr Moses said in a statement., to check that it is located in a location where everyone has worldwide access.”
The winning bid was higher than the $30.8 million paid by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in 1994 for Leonardo da Vinci’s scientific notebook, the Codex Leicester.
However, it fell short of the record for a historical document sold at auction set by hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who paid $43.2 million for a first-edition printed copy of the United States Constitution two years ago.
The Codex Sassoon is called for its previous owner, David Solomon Sassoon, who purchased it in 1929 and built the world’s largest and most important private collection of Hebrew manuscripts at his London residence.
“I am glad that it belongs to the Jewish people.” Recognizing the historical relevance of Codex Sassoon, it was my mission.The text of the Hebrew Bible remained in flux until the early Middle Ages, when Jewish academics known as Masoretes began to establish a corpus of notes that standardised it.
The Aleppo Codex, compiled around 930, is regarded as the most authoritative Masoretic text. However, due to damage caused by a fire in the Syrian city of Aleppo in 1947, only 295 of the original 487 pages survive today.
According to Sotheby’s, the Codex Sassoon, which was created about 900 based on carbon dating, is missing only 12 pages.
“For the first time, an almost-complete book of the Hebrew Bible appears, complete with vowel points, cantillation, and notes on the text.”bottom instructing scribes on how to write the correct text,” In March, Sharon Mintz, senior Jewish artefact specialist at the auction company, stated.
Centuries of annotations and inscriptions suggest that the manuscript was sold to Isaac ben Ezekiel al-Attar by a man named Khalaf ben Abraham, who then passed it to his two sons, Ezekiel and Maimon.
The codex was dedicated to a synagogue in Makisin, Syria, in the 13th century.
After the town was destroyed, perhaps by the Mongols later in the 13th century or by the Timurids at the beginning of the 15th century, the manuscript was transferred to Salama ibn Abi al-Fakhr for protection. It then vanished from history for 500 years.
The most recent owner of the Codex Sassoon was Jacqui Safra, a Swiss financier, purchased it at auction in London in 1989 for £2 million ($2.5 million).