Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby's
The Codex Sassoon (late ninth to early 10th century).

The 1,100-year-old Codex Sassoon sold at a Sotheby’s auction in New York on Wednesday for a record $38.1 million.


With the sale, the handwritten Codex Sasson became the most valuable manuscript ever sold at auction. The text is an almost complete, meticulously accurate record of the 24 books of the Hebrew scriptures – one of only three such codexes in existence and the most complete of all. It is one of the most important religious manuscripts to have ever been discovered.

The manuscript dates to the late ninth / early tenth century CE and is the earliest and most complete Hebrew bible in existence – more than a millennium old.

The precious bible was acquired by Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, 93, who served as the US envoy to Romania from 1994 to 1997 and currently lives in Washington DC.

The ambassador gifted the Codex Sassoon to the ANU Museum of the Jewish People (formerly the Diaspora Museum) in Tel Aviv, where the manuscript was on public exhibit this past March.

To raise awareness about the precious text ahead of the auction, Sotheby’s took the Codex Sassoon on an international traveling exhibition tour that included stops in Dallas, Los Angeles and London.

“Today’s record-breaking result directly reflects the profound power, influence, and significance of the Hebrew Bible, which is an indispensable pillar of humanity,” said Sharon Liberman Mintz, Sotheby’s Senior Specialist for Judaica, Books & Manuscripts.

“For over a year, I have had the distinct pleasure of researching and studying this historical text, and I am absolutely delighted by today’s monumental result and that Codex Sassoon will shortly be making its grand and permanent return to Israel, on display for the world to see,” she said.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.