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The Aleppo Codex: The mystery continues

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The oldest, most complete record of the Hebrew Bible is still missing almost 200 pages

The history of the Aleppo Codex is a mysterious one. It is nearly the oldest record of the Hebrew Bible that we know of, second only to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even then, the Aleppo Codex is more complete. Jennifer Drummond, from BibleArchaology.org, traces its origin to Tiberias, Israel, around the year 930, where it was recorded by scribes known as Masoretes.

Appearing in Aleppo, Syria, sometime in the second half of the 15th century, the Aleppo Codex was preserved nearly intact in a synagogue for centuries—until the 20th century. After the 1947 United Nations vote to partition Palestine and create independent Arab and Jewish states, riots broke out in Aleppo, and parts of the Aleppo Codex were destroyed. What remained of the codex was smuggled out of Aleppo and brought to Israel in 1957. The Aleppo Codex is now kept at the Shrine of the Book wing at the Israel Museum.

The Aleppo Codex was missing for a decade and in that time about 190 pages of this artifact were lost. To this day authorities on the Codex have no idea where those pages are, and theories on their whereabouts range from their placements in private collections to their destruction. We may never learn the whereabouts of this archaeological treasure, but there is always hope that it will resurface again.

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