Page 10 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

Basic HTML Version

a leading instrument for the forging of literary links between
publishers and peoples.
The traditional Jewish love of and respect for books was
effectively reflected in the special exhibit arranged by the Is-
rael Museum in Jerusalem on the occasion of the thirtieth
anniversary of the State of Israel. The exhibit, entitled “Writ-
ing, Scroll and Book,” consisted of a number of unique items
which spanned four historical periods: The First and Second
Temples, the Talmudic era and the Gaonic age.
Each of the items on display had a dramatic background
and represented an exciting discovery. The Hebrew inscrip־
tions which were shown dated from the biblical period and
were discovered on wall plaster only a few years ago at Kuntlet
‘Ajrud, a site bordering on the Sinai desert some fifty kilome-
ters south of Kadesh Barnea. On view, too, was the Temple
Scroll, the largest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which had been
kept in hiding by an Arab dealer in Bethlehem until June 1967,
when it was uncovered after the occupation of the city by the
Israeli forces. This Scroll served as the basis for the magnifi-
cent three-volume edition edited last year by Yigael Yadin.
The largest mosaic inscription ever found in Israel, consist-
ing of an halakhic text of 29 lines dealing with agricultural
laws, was another item. It had been part of an ancient syna-
gogue dug up in Kfar ha-Nativ, near Tel-Rehov, some seven
kilometers south of Beth-Shean. Finally, the Aleppo Codex,
the oldest known biblical scroll, which was probably written
in Tiberias at the beginning of the tenth century, was ex-
hibited. Considered authoritative by Maimonides, the scroll
was provided with masoretic notes and pointed by Aaron
Ben Asher. It was almost totally destroyed in the 1948 riots
against the Jews of Aleppo, Syria, when about one quarter of
the codex was lost. It was published in 1976 in a beautiful
facsimile edition as part of the Hebrew University Bible Proj-
ect, under the editorship of Moshe H. Goshen-Gottstein.
What other country celebrating thirty years of independence
could draw upon a literary tradition that reaches back over
so many centuries? In Israel archaeological discovery and dili-