Sotheby's unveils the Codex Sassoon for auction on Feb. 15, 2023, in Manhattan. (AP/John Minchillo, File) (AP/John Minchillo, File)
codex sassoon

‘Rejoice in Knowing That it Belongs to The Jewish People’: The 1,100-year-old Codex Sassoon will become part of the core exhibition and permanent collection of the ANU – Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv,

By Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

The 1,100-year-old Codex Sassoon, the oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible, was sold on Wednesday at Sotheby’s auction house in New York City for $38.1 million.

The Hebrew Bible will become part of the core exhibition and permanent collection of the ANU – Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel, following its purchase by former US Ambassador to Romania Alfred H. Moses on behalf of the American Friends of ANU. It was on display in New York for a short-term exhibit before the Sotheby’s auction.

“The Hebrew Bible is the most influential book in history and constitutes the bedrock of Western civilization. I rejoice in knowing that it belongs to the Jewish People,” Moses said in a released statement. “It was my mission, realizing the historic significance of Codex Sassoon, to see that it resides in a place with global access to all people. In my heart and mind that place was the land of Israel, the cradle of Judaism, where the Hebrew Bible was originated. In Israel at ANU, it will be preserved for generations to come as the centerpiece and gem of the entire and extensive display and presence of the Jewish story.”

Irina Nevzlin, chair of ANU’s board of directors, said that the museum “will be eternally grateful to Ambassador Moses and his family for ensuring that the most treasured, historic and complete Bible in existence will be permanently displayed at the world’s largest Jewish Museum.”

The Codex Sassoon dates back to circa 900 CE and consists of 24 books that include 792 pages made from sheepskins weighing a total of 26 pounds. The 24 books are divided into three sections: Torah (Pentateuch), Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings). Its writings create the basis for Judaism but are also followed by Christians, who refer to it as the Old Testament, and many of its stories are in the Qur’an and other Islamic works, according to Sotheby’s. The Codex Sassoon is named its previous and Judaica collector David Solomon Sassoon, who died in 1942.

“The Codex Sassoon Bible is a powerful and meaningful manuscript of faith, history and culture,” said Daniel Pincus, president of American Friends of ANU. “As the basis of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the Hebrew Bible is a seminal text to countless people, and one of the most important discoveries of our time.”

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