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A Major Early Hebrew Manuscript Discovery

We are pleased to loan a major early Exodus manuscript to the Shrine of the Book. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, announced the exhibition of two extremely rare fragments of the same ancient Hebrew manuscript, separated for centuries and reunited for the first time. Following the 2007 presentation of the previously unknown Ashkar-Gilson Manuscript in the Shrine of the Book, scholars discovered that the mysterious fragment came from the same ancient scroll as the well-known London Manuscript. Dating from the 7th or 8th century, this scroll of the book of Exodus comes from the “silent era” – the six-hundred year period from the 3rd through 8th centuries CE from which almost no Hebrew manuscripts have survived. Miraculously, two such fragments, originating in the same Torah scroll, found their way many years later into different collections.

Alongside the reunited fragments, which include the Song of the Sea, a biblical poem celebrating the Israelites’ safe crossing of the Red Sea, two other manuscripts containing the Song of the Sea are displayed: a section of the book of Exodus, found near the Dead Sea, and dated to the late first century BCE; and a section of Exodus from a medieval Torah scroll (10th or 11th century). The Shrine of the Book exhibition, Piecing Together the Past: Ancient Fragments of the Song of the Sea, is on display through May 2010.

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