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- Submitted: Apr 28 2012 03:08 PM
- Last Updated: Apr 28 2012 03:08 PM
- File Size: 3.91MB
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- Author: Shlomo ben Buya'a
- e-Sword Version: 9.x - 10.x
- Tab Name: Hot-Aleppo
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The Aleppo Codes (AD 920) 9x-10x
Shlomo ben Buya'a
9.x - 10.x
The Aleppo Codex
The Aleppo Codex (Hebrew: Keter Aram Tzova) is a medieval bound manuscript of the Hebrew Bible. The consonants in the codex were copied by the scribe Shlomo ben Buya'a in Israel circa 920. The text was then verified, vocalized, and provided with Masoretic notes by Aaron ben Asher. Ben-Asher was the last and most prominent member of the Ben-Asher dynasty of grammarians from Tiberias, which shaped the most accurate version of the Masorah and, therefore, the Hebrew Bible. \par\par
The codex has long been considered to be the most authoritative document in the masorah ("transmission"), the tradition by which the Hebrew Scriptures have been preserved from generation to generation. Surviving examples of responsaliterature show that the Aleppo Codex was consulted by far-flung Jewish scholars throughout the Middle Ages, and modern studies have shown it to be the most accurate representation of Masoretic principles in any extant manuscript, containing very few errors among the roughly 2.7 million orthographic details that make up the Masoretic Text. \par\par
The Karaite Jewish community of Jerusalem received the book from Israel ben Simha of Basra sometime between 1040 and 1050, about a hundred years after it was made. It was cared for by the brothers Hizkiyahu and Joshya, Karaite religious leaders who eventually moved to Fustat in 1050. The codex, however, stayed in Jerusalem until the latter part of that century. After the Fall of Jerusalem (1099) during the First Crusade, the synagogue was plundered and the Crusaders held the codex and other holy works for ransom. The codex was transferred to Egypt, whose Jews paid a high price for it. It was preserved at the Rabbanite synagogue in Cairo, where it was consulted by Maimonides, who described it as a text trusted by all Jewish scholars. It is rumoured that in 1375 one of Maimonides' descendants brought it to Aleppo, Syria, leading to its present name. \par\par
The Aleppo community guarded the Codex zealously for some six hundred years: it was kept in a special cupboard (later, an iron safe) in a basement chapel of the synagogue. It was regarded as the community's most sacred possession. The community received queries from Jews around the world, who asked that various textual details be checked, correspondence which is preserved in the responsa literature, and which allows for the reconstruction of certain details in the parts that are missing today. Most importantly, in the 1850s, R. Shalom Shachne Yellin sent his son in law, Moses Joshua Kimchi, to Aleppo, to copy information about the Codex; Kimchi sat for weeks, and copied thousands of details about the codex into the margins of a small handwritten Bible. (The existence of this Bible was known to twentieth-century scholars from the book ‘Ammudé Shesh by Rabbi S. S. Boyarski, and then the actual Bible itself was discovered by Yosef Ofer in 1989.) \par\par
During the riots against Jews and Jewish property in Aleppo in December 1947, the community's ancient synagogue was burned and the Codex was damaged, so that no more than 294 of the original 487 pages survived. In particular, only the last few pages of the Torah are extant. \par\par
The only modern scholar allowed to compare it with a standard printed Hebrew Bible and take notes on the differences was Umberto Cassuto. This secrecy made it impossible to confirm the authenticity of the Codex, and indeed Cassuto doubted that it was Maimonides' codex, though he agreed that it was 10th century. \par\par
Rabbi Mordechai Breuer began his own reconstruction of the Masoretic text on the basis of other well-known ancient manuscripts. His results matched the Aleppo Codex almost exactly. Thus today, Breuer's version is used authoritatively for the reconstruction of the missing portions of the Aleppo Codex. The Keter Yerushalayim, printed in Jerusalem in 2000, is a modern version of the Tanakh, based on the Aleppo Codex and the work of Breuer.
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