Monday, June 3, 2013

Oldest Torah Scroll Discovered in Italy

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                  

It's quite exciting to find an ancient and complete Torah scroll as old as one just discovered in February in University of Bologna's library by the Professor of Hebrew at U. of Bologna, Mauro Perani.  It had been mis-catalogued in 1889 and had been thought to have been from the 17th century.  This Five Books of Moses on sheepskin is 40 yards long and 25 inches high, all rolled up as Torah Scrolls should be.  The print has been verified as the Babylonian tradition Hebrew script style.  Such a Torah is taken out ever Saturday morning and read by the congregation with the Cohens called up first, then any Levite, and then Israelites who want the honor.  This dated back to the 12th to 13th centuries.  It was sewed together in 1155 to 1225 CE.   Older bibles have been found preceding it by 200 years,  but this is the first Torah, which means it is the writings of the first 5 books of Moses:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Torah's are hand-written and without any errors.  If the scribe does make a mistake, the scroll must be thrown out and he must start all over again.  This is why there has been no errors in Torah.

During the period of the life of this Torah the Crusaders were ruling in the Holy Land from 1099 to 1291.  The Jewish community in Jerusalem was massacred by them.  In 1096 the German Crusade massacred Jewish Communities in European towns who were riding on their way to get to Jerusalem.  By 1290 Jews were thrown out of England  "From the 1200's to the mid 1400's, treatment of the Jews in Italy varied from pope to pope."  They had little to no regard for Moses (1391 to 1271 BCE who had set down the 10 Commandments including "Thou Shalt Not Kill."

This Torah had lived a charmed life as Torahs are buried when they become tattered and worn, just as a person is buried. It was still in good condition and in a library.

Added 6/4/13

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