Monday, July 30, 2012

Keter of Aleppo

Ronen Bergman has an absolutely fascinating article on the Keter Aram Tsova, the Aleppo Codex. Keter means crown, and Aram Tsova is the Biblical name of Aleppo. As the Syrian army grinds the ancient city under its artillery and armour, it's fitting to take a moment to remember perhaps the single most important document in Jewish history, which spent some 600 of its 1,400 years there, until the local mob attacked their Jews in 1947 for the crime of being co-religionists with the Zionists. As the article tells, much of the book is now back in Jerusalem from which it was taken long before Columbus discovered America - but where is the rest of it?

Ah, you'll say, aren't the Dead Sea Scrolls even more important? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that the information they contain has transformed our understanding of 2nd Temple era Jewish life in Judea. No, in that they were then lost for about 2,000 years. The Keter was used as the authoritive Biblical text for centuries. The Crusaders stole it. The Rambam used it.

I've asked some of my colleagues to see if we've got any really interesting files on the Keter, and if so I'll report later this week. In the meantime, I seriously recommend finding the time to read Bergman's report. It's fascinating, as I've said, and it's about Aleppo, which is in the news anyway.

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