[HEBREW MANUSCRIPT]. BIBLE, in Hebrew. -- PENTATEUCH, Exodus 9:18-13:2. ONE COMPLETE SHEET FROM A TORAH SCROLL ON LEATHER.
[Oriental, perhaps Iraq or Syria (possibly Babylon), 10th or 11th century]
500 x 774 mm, oblong, 7 columns, each measuring 397 x 74 mm, 33 mm apart, 42 lines per column written in dark brown ink in an oriental Hebrew hand without nikud and largely without division of words, lines left partly unfilled between chapters, ruled in blind. (Small hole in last column with minor loss of text, several large stains not impairing legibility, edges gashed and irregular, laid down on a thin sheet of modern leather.)
ONE OF THE EARLIEST EXTANT HEBREW BIBLICAL MANUSCRIPTS AND ONE OF THE OLDEST KNOWN TORAH SCROLLS. This fragment is so close in style to the leather scrolls from Qumran and related sites around the Dead Sea that an early date has sometimes been suggested for it. In 1959 S.A. Birnbaum published a detailed paleographical analysis and dated it to the eighth century. More recently Colette Sirat has argued that it cannot be earlier than 900 or 950 and has proposed a date of the tenth or eleventh century. Apart from the Dead Sea scrolls, the earliest recorded Hebrew biblical scrolls, with their probable dates, are:
1. Ashmolean Museum, Pap. 49-50 + Bodleian Library, MS. Heb.d.89 (p), frag. I: fragments of a few lines of Exodus and Job, 3rd to 6th cent.
2. Ashmolean Museum, Pap. 47-48: fragments of Kings, 5th to 6th cent.
3. Cambridge University Library, T.S. N.S.3:21, etc.: two fragments of Genesis, 5th to 6th cent. From the Cairo Geniza.
4. Cambridge University Library, T.S. N.S.2:16, etc.: fragments of a Pentateuch, 8th to 10th cent. From the Cairo Geniza.
5. Berlin, Staatliche Meusuem, p10598: fragments of Numbers, 9th or 10th cent.
6. The present manuscript. This sheet, perhaps the most substantial of all the early fragments, includes the story of the plagues of Egypt and the first Passover.
S.A. Birnbaum, "A sheet of an eighth-century synagogue scroll," Vetus Testamentum 9, 1959, pp. 122-129; Colette Sirat, "Les rouleaux bibliques de Qumrn au moyen ge: du livre au sefer tora, de l'oreille l'oeil," Comptes rendus de l'Academie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, 1991, pp. 415-32.