Oldest Hebrew Bible in the world fetches a staggering €35 million in sale.

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The Codex Sassoon Sets Auction Record

A leather-bound Hebrew Bible, believed to be over 1,000 years old, has achieved a historic sale of $38.1 million (approximately €35.23 million), making it the most valuable manuscript ever sold at auction. The Codex Sassoon, dating back to the late ninth or early 10th century, is considered the earliest near-complete Hebrew Bible still in existence. Sotheby’s, the auction house responsible for the sale, revealed that the bidding lasted a mere four minutes before being won by Alfred H. Moses, a former U.S. ambassador and president of the American Jewish Committee.

A Priceless Contribution to the ANU Museum

Alfred H. Moses, recognizing the tremendous significance of the Hebrew Bible, has decided to donate the Codex Sassoon to the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel. Moses emphasized the profound influence of the Hebrew Bible throughout history and its foundational role in shaping Western civilization. He expressed his joy in knowing that this invaluable manuscript now belongs to the Jewish people.

A Record-Breaking Sale

The sale of the Codex Sassoon eclipsed the previous record set by Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 1994 when he purchased Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester for $30.8 million (about €28.48 million). Although the Codex Sassoon is now the most expensive handwritten document ever sold at auction, the priciest historical document remains the one-of-a-kind first print of the U.S. Constitution, which Sotheby’s sold for a staggering $43 million (approximately €40 million) in November 2021.

A Bridge Between Ancient and Modern Scriptures

The Codex Sassoon, one of only two surviving codices containing all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible, holds immense historical and religious significance. It predates the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, two other renowned early Hebrew Bibles, making it substantially more complete than its counterparts. The manuscript serves as a crucial link between the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date as far back as the third century BC, and the accepted form of the Hebrew Bible used today. Named after its previous owner David Solomon Sassoon, who assembled an unparalleled collection of ancient Jewish texts, the Codex Sassoon was presented to the public only once before, at the British Library in London in 1982.


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