Two fragments of an ancient biblical text that celebrates the Jewish
exodus from Egypt are on show at the Israel Museum after being pieced
together following centuries of separation, according to Bloomberg
The segments of the same 1,300-year-old Torah scroll are one of the few Hebrew manuscripts ever found from the so-called “silent period” between the 2nd and 9th centuries CE, said exhibition curator Adolfo Roitman.
The piecing together of the two fragments was a story of coincidence and sleuthing by Israeli scholars who were intrigued when Roitman exhibited one of the fragments, called the Ashkar-Gilson Manuscript, at Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book in 2007.
The fragment caught the attention of Mordechay Mishor and Edna Engel who, upon close examination, suspected that the fragment on loan from Duke University was the continuation of the so-called London Manuscript, containing passages of the Exodus 9:18-13:2 and discovered in the 1950s. The Ashkar-Gilson Manuscript portrays Exodus 13:19 though 16:1, a news release from the museum said.
The owner of the London Manuscript, Stephan Loewentheil of New York, showed scholars photographs and facsimiles of his fragment. Mishor and Engle realized their suspicions were well- founded.
“We had recovered a lost brother,” Roitman said. “The story was quite significant.” Loewentheil loaned his fragment to the museum for the “Piecing Together the Past” show.
The Ashkar-Gilson fragment contains the ‘Song of the Sea,” a biblical poem celebrating the Israelites’ safe crossing of the Red Sea.
“This is regarded by scholars as one of the oldest pieces of Biblical literature,” said Roitman, who has included in the exhibit two additional ancient manuscripts of the poem.
The exhibition, from March through May, opens before the Jewish holiday of Passover, that marks the Jews exodus from slavery in Egypt and “fits very well into the Jewish calendar,’ Roitman said.
“Piecing Together the Past: -- Ancient Fragments of the Song of the Sea” will run through May at the Israel Museum, Ruppin Blvd, Jerusalem.
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