1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible revealed in Washington, D.C.

Called the “Washington Pentateuch," this is one of the oldest, intact Hebrew Bible manuscripts of our time. It contains the entire five books of the Torah.

A 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible,was unveiled at the Museum of the Bible on November 8, 2019. (photo credit: JAMES STELLUTO/MUSEUM OF THE BIBLE)
A 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible,was unveiled at the Museum of the Bible on November 8, 2019.
(photo credit: JAMES STELLUTO/MUSEUM OF THE BIBLE)
Washington – A 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible, which experts estimate was written in the 10th century in Tiberias, has been unveiled to the public at the Washington, DC-based Museum of the Bible.
 

Called the “Washington Pentateuch," this is one of the oldest, intact Hebrew Bible manuscripts of our time.  It contains the entire five books of the Torah and was held in a private collection for the last 40 years until it was acquired by the museum two years ago.
"“This is one of the oldest and most intact Pentateuch manuscripts, certainly in the US, and it’s among the oldest in the world,” Dr. Jeff Kloha, chief curatorial officer at the Museum of the Bible, told The Jerusalem Post.
“The standard Hebrew text was produced beginning in about the eighth century. And this particular example is from the 10th century, and it carries the texts that are still used today and forms the basis of virtually all modern translations.”
He said the bible has “some beautiful micrography, which creates a very visually interesting page. It’s just a beautiful manuscript.”
The binding is from the 14th century – one of the oldest intact bindings from that period, according to Kloha.
“The colophon at the end of the manuscript actually has some information [about] damaged pages that were replaced in 1141,” the curatorial officer explained. “There’s also a note that indicates that it was given as a gift in 1835 to an archbishop in Crimea. Then, it made its way to a private collector in Israel and in London.”
Dr. David Stern, the Harvard University Harry Starr Professor of Classical and Modern Jewish and Hebrew Literature, told the Post that he was very excited about the opportunity to get a close look at the book.
“Books are like people,” he said, explaining that seeing the old bible is “like talking to a 1,000-year-old person.”
Stern said that 1,000 years is very old for a bible. Just before this particular manuscript was created, instead of bibles being produced in book form, they were produced as scrolls.
“These are the first examples of actual books rather than scrolls,” he said. “There are about 20 of them, but maybe five or six books as complete as this one, or more complete, and then probably about 10 or 15 more that have sizable portions.”