In a historic auction, the world's oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible, known as the Codex Sassoon, was sold for an impressive $38.1 million, making it one of the

highest-priced books or documents ever sold at auction. Sotheby's announced the winning bid on Wednesday, as the valuable manuscript found a new home.

The generous bidder behind the record-breaking purchase was Alfred H. Moses, a former U.S. ambassador and president of the American Jewish Committee, who made the acquisition through a donation. Moses plans to gift the Codex Sassoon to the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The price achieved for the Codex Sassoon surpasses the previous auction record set in 1994 when Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester manuscript was sold for $30.8 million. While it falls short of the estimated $50 million Sotheby's predicted in February, it remains a remarkable achievement. Additionally, it is below the $43.2 million paid in 2021 for a first edition of the U.S. Constitution, which currently holds the world record for any book or document.

Dating back to around the year 900, the Codex Sassoon takes its name from its previous owner, David Solomon Sassoon, who acquired the Bible in 1929. Sassoon assembled an extraordinary private collection of Judaica and Hebraica manuscripts during the 20th century.

The significance of the Codex Sassoon lies in its role as a crucial link connecting Jewish oral tradition to the modern Hebrew Bible. Recently, the manuscript underwent carbon dating at the request of its former owner, collector Jacqui Safra, confirming its age to be older than both the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, two other notable early Hebrew Bibles, as confirmed by Sotheby's. The auction house revealed that scientific and paleographic analysis dated the Codex Sassoon to either the late 9th or early 10th century. Notably, it contains nearly the entire Bible. The oldest known copies of Biblical texts are the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in caves in 1947.

The Hebrew Bible consists of 24 distinct books organized into three sections: the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Writings. Spanning from the book of Genesis to Chronicles, the Hebrew Bible holds immense religious and historical significance for Judaism, as well as Christianity and Islam. Its preservation and the acquisition of the Codex Sassoon provide invaluable insights into the early roots of these major faiths. Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama, Wikimedia commons.