The Aleppo Codex Is in the News Again

Every once in a while, the Aleppo Codex pops up in the news.  This time, it is because Biblical Archaeology Review posted an article on the history of the Codex on its website.

In response to the partition vote, anti-Jewish riots broke out in Aleppo, Syria, and elsewhere in the Arab world. The Aleppo synagogues were stormed and their Torah scrolls set ablaze. The worst-case scenario was realized: The Aleppo Codex, the cherished 1,000-year-old manuscript known as “the Crown,” was trashed. Rioters rushed into the Great Synagogue and broke into the locked iron chest where the codex was kept. Precisely what the mob did with it is uncertain; no Jew witnessed it. Fearing for their lives, the Jewish population had barricaded themselves in their homes…

The Aleppo Codex was created in about 930 C.E. in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, the center of Masoretic activity at the turn of the millennium. The Biblical text was written in a magnificent script by a scribe named Shlomo Ben Boya’a. The Masorete Aharon Ben Asher added the voweling and cantillation marks as well as the Masoretic notes written in the margins of the text.

In 1957 most of the Aleppo Codex was brought to Israel, but some pages were missing.  Over the years, pieces of the Codex resurfaced.  They had been in the possession of families that fled Syria after the riots.  Biblical Archaeology Review is asking people for information about the pieces which are still missing.  It is possible that they were burnt or stolen by Arabs, or they may be in a box in someone’s attic waiting to be discovered.

You can view the Aleppo Codex at aleppocodex.org.

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