A Remarkable Find

In July 2017 Israeli scholar Yoram Meital stumbled upon an unbelievable discovery in a Cairo synagogue: a 616 page handwritten biblical codex of the Writings, the third division of the Tenach. “Wrapped in simple white paper of the sort one finds in cheap eateries, the Zechariah Ben Anan manuscript, one of the most complete and preserved examples of the Writings, had been lost to scholars for almost 40 years. This Cairo manuscript is one of the earliest known examples of the Tiberias school which trained famous scribes from 9th-11th Centuries, including Ben Anan.”

Meital was in Egypt documenting the synagogues in Cairo when he made his discovery. The discovery of the manuscript left Meital ‘overwhelmed.’

He explains the unusual details he found in the document. “In a stroke of scholarly luck, the colophon, or the book’s imprint, includes the name of the scribe, Zechariah Ben Anan, and the person who commissioned it, as well as its date of completion. These are rare and important details and show the provenance of the work, as well as the philanthropy and wealth of the family who presumably donated the text to the local synagogue for communal study.”

Since its discovery the manuscript is held at an undisclosed safe location. The organization Meital was working with, Drop of Milk, hopes to be able to find enough funding to complete a renovation and climate control modernization” of a two-story building at the Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue in Cairo, turning it into a library for Jewish heritage and open the library by the summer of 2020.

This remarkable find underscores once again, that God’s Word endures forever (Psalm 119:89,152,160).

(Source: Amanda Botschel-Dan; The Times of Israel)