The oldest handwriting with the complete text of the
Hebrew Bible (better known as the Old Testament) is preserved
in the Russian National Library of Saint Petersburg. It is
dated between 1008/1009. It is known as the codex Leningradensis,
named after the city of Leningrad (formerly called Saint Petersburg).
The Codex was written by Jews living at the time in the
Egyptian city of Cairo. They were men who specialized in accurately
copying texts, handwritten very clearly and very uniformly.
They were presumably trained in the school of Moses Ben Asher,
a well-known copyist from that time. This old handwriting
is very valuable because of its well preserved condition.
The German scholar Rudolf Kittel used the Codex as the
main source for his highly regarded publication, the Biblia
Hebraica, published in 1937. His colleague Prof. Paul Kahle
continued the work of Kittel, which led to an improved translation
released as the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.
“A beautifully illustrated page from the
Codex" (click the image for a larger picture).
An expert in the field of Hebrew manuscripts brought
to our attention that the beautifully decorated picture with
the star of David, which is shown below, is called a “Masoretic
carpet”. We show a carpet filling an entire page. In
the Codex there are approximately 15 such images. These are
pages with beautiful drawings typical of the Jewish art from
the middle ages. In addition, they contain a religious message.
For example, we can find the Bible texts of Deuteronomy 12:1;
26: 15; 27: 10; 28: 2, 12-13 and also quotes from the Book
of Psalms 60: 10; 63: 1, 4; 68:20, 28a.
The copyist indentifies himself in the centre of the star
of David as Samuel, the son of Jacob.
(click the image for a larger picture)
"A page with text"
God’s name found in many places in this ancient handwritten
text, in the form of the Tetragrammaton. The first frame shows
the Tetragrammaton at Genesis 28: 20. The second frame does
not show the Tetragrammaton – this is a grammatical
conjugation of the verb "to be", It is the text
from Gen. 28: 22.
In the text itself: