Manuscript on vellum, with Samaritan (Paleo-Hebrew) script and Islamic-style leather binding. Highly authoritative manuscript of the Samaritan Bible. A comparable manuscript in the Vatican, dated 1227, lacks most of the book of Genesis. Exodus 16 features a "tashkil" (colophon, or, statement of responsibility), written vertically, in characteristic Samaritan manner, one letter on top of the other, to avoid possible confusion with the biblical text proper. It reads: Mikhtav Avraham Nesiah (the writing of Abraham the Nasi, i.e., president, patriarch, prince, or member of the royal family). A second colophon further on in the manuscript is also written vertically and extends over several pages of Deuteronomy: "I, Abraham son of Israel son of Ephraim son of Joseph the Nasi, King of Israel (Melekh Yisrael), wrote this copy of the Holy Torah myself for my children in the 629th year of the Islamic ascendancy, corresponding to the 3,200th year of Israelite settlement in the land of Canaan, anno mundi 5993. It is the 74th Torah that I have written and I am now sixty years old. I give thanks to the Lord and entreat him to prolong the life of my children and grandchildren that they may study from it. Amen, amen, amen."
Biographical/historical: The scribe, Abraham ben Israel ha-Nasi, was probably the head of the Samaritan community in the land of Israel recognized by the Crusaders, just as the head of the Rabbanite community in the land of Israel, as recognized by the Roman Empire in late antiquity, was designated "nasi."The Samaritans were the only religious minority in the world at the time with rights that any Christian authority recognized, in honor, no doubt, of the fictional Good Samaritan of Jesus's parable. By the time this manuscript was written, however, Crusader fortunes were on the wane. Beaten back to the coastal strip and the cities of Acre, Jaffa, and Ascalon, the Samaritans' center at Nablus was back in Muslim hands, with Jerusalem itself only just recovered from the Saracens in 1229. Abraham ben Israel's son lived in Jamnia, and there is a good chance, therefore, that the "King of Israel" did so too. Ironically, this obscure village was also the seat of the Romans' Rabbanite nasi, the traditional birthplace of Rabbinic Judaism known in Hebrew as Yavneh.
Citation/reference: Described by W. Scott Watson, "A critical copy of the Samaritan Pentateuch written in AD 1232" in Hebraica 9 (1892-3), p. 216-225 and Hebraica 10, p. 122-158. See also B.Z. Kedar in The Samaritans (Alan Crown, ed.), Tübingen, 1989, and Richard Gottheil in American journal of Semitic languages and literature 18, p. 190. Described as Codex F in August Freiherrn von Gall, Der Hebräische Pentateuch der Samaritaner, vol. 1, p. xxxiii-xxxv, Giessen, 1914.
Acquisition: Purchased by the Lenox Library from W. Scott Watson in 1895. Formerly Manuscripts and Archives Division Hebrew-Samaritan Ms. 1.