What is the Aleppo Codex?  

What is the Aleppo Codex?

The Aleppo Codex is a medieval bound manuscript of the Hebrew Bible. It was written by the Masoretes in the city of Tiberias in the 10th century CE under the rule of the Abbasid Caliphate. These Scribes made sure to give an accurate script free from all alterations. The Aleppo Codex is regarded as the oldest Hebrew Bible found because although the Dead Sea Scrolls predated it, the scrolls didn’t come in one volume.  

The Aleppo Codex was endorsed by Maimonidesan authority of the text of the Hebrew Bible. The Masoretic Text has been the basis to most English translations of the Bible, and the Aleppo Codex is regarded as the greatest sample of the Masoretic text.

As the Leningrad Codex, which is found in the Russian national Library in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Aleppo Codex has the Ben-Asher Masoretic tradition for it contains vowel marks, cantillation signs and interpretive marginal notes. Scholars consider the Aleppo Codex superior to the Leningrad Codex and it was called “the Crown of Aleppo.”

Preservation

The codex was kept for five centuries in the Central Synagogue of Aleppo, until the synagogue was burned during anti-Jewish riots in 1947. The destiny of the codex during the following decade is not known. But when it reappeared in Israel in 1958, around 40% (200 pages) of the manuscript—including most of the Torah part—was missing. Only two more pages have been recovered since then.  

The initial belief that the missing Leafs were ruined in the synagogue fire has been questioned, forming the theory that they may have been in private possession. The part of the codex that is accounted for is found in the Shrine of the Book at the Israeli Museum. And as of 2011, the Aleppo Codex has been accessible online. Because the Codex had missing pages, scholars have used the Leningrad Codex for making modern editions of the Hebrew text such as the Biblia Hebraica. 

A number of significant editions of the Hebrew Bible are founded on the Aleppo Codex such as: the Breuer edition (1977 – 1982), the Horev edition (1996), and the Keter Yerushalayim, published by Hebrew University (2000).   

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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