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A Scroll of the Law Supposed
to have been Written by

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S. Roubin

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nnin isd

yi 3inD

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San Francisco, Cai,.

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IT may not be amiss to call the attention of all, to whom
-^this pamphlet is sent, to the foundation of the great
Sutro Library.

It is one of the largest collections of scientific and tech-
nical works, a veritable monument, in which all the labor
of the human mind since the earliest centuries up to this
date, is centered. The owner, Adolph Sutro, Esq. intends
to place this collection into a fire-proof building on one of
TO the most beautiful and attractive sites of the city, near
'- Golden Gate Park, and bequeath it with his blessing to
^ posterit}'.

Q= In 1881, after many years of arduous labor on the Com-

^ stock lode, Nevada, Mr. Sutro felt at liberty to gratify his
5 long projected plan of visiting the Orient. He made a
o very extended tour around the world, visiting China, Japan,
India, Palestine and Europe. To gratify another projected
scheme, that of establishing in San Francisco a free reference
library of scientific and technical literature, he collected
while travelling, all books, documents and curiosities worthy
of consideration, and being himself a man of high educa-
tion and of taste, his selections were intelligently made.

In December 1881, at various auction sales, amongst
them that of the great Sunderland library owned by the late
Duke of Marlborough, Mr. Sutro bought several thousand
volumes, and about '25 000 pamphlets and broadsides relat-
ing to the Avar between Charles I and the Parliament. This
collection, extending through the Cromwelian period to the
landing of the Prince of Orange, may be considered unique
in the United States. Mr. Sutro also bought largely at the
sale of the librarv of the Duke of Hamilton.



In Germany he made several large and important pur-
chases ; about 13,000 volumes from the Koyal Bavarian
library in Munich ; 9,000 volumes from the Carthusian Mon-
astery in Buxheim, and 6,000 volumes from the library of
the Duke of Dahlberg, Augsburg. During his stay in Europe
on this occasion, about 100,000 volumes were secured. Be-
tween this and his next visit to Europe in 1889, over 75,000
volumes were purchased through an agent in London.

In March, 1889, Mr. Sutro again started for Europe, via
Mexico, and in the City of Mexico made a purchase of about
13,000 volumes. On the day after his arrival in London, on
this occasion, he attended a sale of books and bought several
thousand volumes from the library of the late Frederick
Perkins of Chipstead place, Kent. This purchase was
largely drama and the fine arts. Since his return from this
second trip, several purchases of whole catalogues have been
made, among the latter the library of the late Kev. S. M.
Schiller Szinessy, Eeader of Talmudic literature in the
university of Cambridge, England, and also of the library
of the late Eev. G. Wells, Secretary of the Society of In-
dustrial Chemistry of England. The military library of San
Francisco has also been purchased.

The Sutro Library has now about 200,000 volumes,
amongst them books of the earliest editions, old MSS. in
many languages some illuminated, besides a great number of
antiquities in the line of numismatics, Egyptology, &c.
Relics from different parts of the world are stored up by
Mr. Sutro on the far western coast.


Amongst the many valual)le MSS. possessed by the Sutro
Library of San Francisco, Cal., United States of America,
there are many scrolls upon which the Pentateuch is in-
scribed, which are of undoubted antiquity. One of these
scrolls is supposed to be the one mentioned by Mairaonides

in his codex CNn'' ]?2'D 12 '5 n'\')n ")3D mD^^H Hmn HX'O)
as having been written by himself.

In the following lines 1 venture to express my opinion re-
garding the authenticity of this scroll, emphasizing however
that I am submitting nothing that exceeds the barrier of a
tlieory, and that I have no convictions in the matter that can-
not be modified by the riper knowledge of European Archae-

In the quoted passage from the Mishne Torah, Maimouides
speaks as follows :

p'D'CD ^1 '?3 nmi irrxn ni't:n wn ni^iin m;^Di'^^
•D^c'Dm nnN* qii ^i '?:)d::' pD^cn p::i mr^VN nc-'sr
^liixi -^1 nncy^ nc*t:n dmn!: ifion '^dS::' p^in pjDi
: Dn^pD nu'^VN* nc'C') wcc) nw:: rScn fi'^N itDon ^d
n'?nn3r jr'?:!'? pDcn^ nnnM mr^VN ccm i^v

' ' The scroll of the Law which I myself have written con-
tains 226 columns of 51 lines each; the width of each column
is four fingers, (taking the Ezba as the width of the knuckle
of the middle finger). The Avidth of the columns on which
the Song of the Sea and the Song of Warnings are written,
is six fingers. The length of the whole scroll is 1366 fingers.

— 6 —

The remaining six lingers* — after deducting the quantum of
226x6-|-2x2 — are for the marginal space at the beginning and
the end of the scroll. The hides on which the scroll is writ-
ten are buckskins.

The Sutro Scroll in question corresponds in every detail
with these ritual suggestions.



The correspondence of the arrangements of the columns
alone Avould not be sufficient ground wliereupon to base a
theory of the genuineness of the scroll, if there were not also
some peculiarities in the mode of writing aud shape of the
letters and certain derogations from the usual ritualistic laws
controlling the writing of a scroll for the use of the Syna-
gogue. Maimonides wrote a scroll for the purpose of serving
as a sample to other scribes and to illustrate the twenty rules

laid down by him. See ^-\''Cy '£} r\"D n):i''?n'

All the usual embellishments introduced by the scribes

*^nD1Dn fD mVD^ are left out in the scroll before us, for
instance: the crowns (pJiri) are altogether omitted; the mar-
gins between the columns are not always exactly two fingers
wide; neither majusculae nor minusculae are to be found.

The Cpii of i^')p>^ {Leviticus I: I ); the "tV of 'C'H
{Deutoronomy XXXII : 18) and others, are not smaller than
the other letters, nor are the VI of pflJl {Leviticus XI: 42)
and the IV of SlJ» {Numbers XIV: 18) bigger. The above
mentioned twenty rules are strictly observed and no other
rule is recognized.

In a great many places there are to be found, on the right
hand margins, three points of the shape of a tonic segolta
(.*.). A close examination convinced me that they indicate
the seven subdivisions of the weekly sections DHID' These

"See n''J1^''"'0 mnjn l. c where there is a just objeutiou to these diiueu-
sions. The glossiirist tinds only 4 fingers reuiMiuing, (after luy caleulatiou I
find 10 fingers for there can only be accounted for 225 colniuns).

differ vvidel}' from the usual subdivisions — I found the same
order of division in many old MS8. of the Pentateuch {pos-
sessed by the Sutro Library) which bear the mark of the ritual
of the Arabian Jews who followed the codex of Maimonides,
and in which MSS. the jlVJinDI mmn^ are also regulated
after Maimonides's system. From the glosses to one of those
MSS. which appears to be a copy of the Sutro scroll {see
ch. VI-) is to be learned that there are three kinds of sub-
divisions of the weekly sections regulated respectively by
Ezra, the Gaonim and Maimonides, and at some future time I
intend to publish the characteristic differences between

It is obvious to me that those points have been put there
by the same hand and are written with the same ink as the
rest of the MS. Those points may be considered as very
strong presumptive evidence establishing the integrity of the
whole as being written b}^ Maimonides, for no one else Avould
have allowed himself the liberty of putting points in a scroll
destined for ritual use. The purpose he had in view with
this notation is obvious. Every scholar in studying the
Codex might, at first sight, wonder at the forgetfulness of the
teacher to indicate the subdivisions of the weekly sections
DHID* He who has to control and note every ritualistic
rule should not have omitted such an important suggestion.
"We might infer from this fact that the scroll in question
belongs in point of fact to the original manuscript of the
Tyy\r\ nju*^ and is an intrinsic part thereof.



The letters are of peculiar form; the {<3 has no tongue
entering out of the D but a small line coming down from the
head; the HV and j'^f are similar to those met wdth in older
MSS. coming from the Orient. The DO /ND and t]1p are
strikingly similar to those met with in the famous letter rec-
ognized to be the genuine manuscript of Maimonides, a fac-

— 8 —
simile of wbich is given in the Ginze Oxford by M. H.
Bresslau. The VI is sometimes shapeless; the 10^ is formed
of a ti'n with a IV on the top. There are NtJ's which are
mfitiD'? and jl^H's which are ni!:"lpi'- (Those NtD's and n^H's
are also noted in many MSS. of the Pentateuch [possessed
by the Sutro Library] which are copies of this scroll and
seem to have been written as samples for scribes and to
preserve the maimonidian version.)

The hand of the unskilled and unprofessional scribe is
conspicuous everywhere in this scroll. The lines are not
evenly parallel, nor are the letters regularly vertical. The
work shows rapid execution, as if the writer cared more for
illustration of points than for calligraphic beauty and



The scroll has a height of 22 inches; each column is 15 to
16 inches high and 5 inches in width — the spaces included —
the length of the whole is 1090 inches ; the height is exactly
equal to the circumference.

Three fingers width are left as margin at the end. A piece
of skin is attached and stitched to it for the use of the roller;
this is in accordance vvith Maimonides's indication about the

The color of the hides is like that of papyrus, or similar
to the binding of a book in fair calf after fifty years wear
and exposure. The hides are stiff and brittle.


SECTIONS niDinD") mninfi

The sections respectively bear the marks of the system of
Maimonides. One of the sections embarrassed the glossa-
rists nX'D i^DD and n*3^!:*^t^ r\^n:in namely that of LevitL
cus VII. 22. The 'T'OC* 'tD n"D mrD^n nprnn T says:

nz'iKn n-nn r\'^\^ .pnN* ^k n^-ii iDin ']'2'\'p r\n i^m
nam ^yspr^n Sn^i:'* 'jd "^n nun nDin .hd? niin nN*n

— 9 —

Both glossavists agree that there must be an omission of
D'^n ^Dl "IDT^I and an error, that instead of Ct^ (ITl there
ought to be ^3C' [ni. In an old nptnH "1* printed in Con-
stantinople on parchment in the year 1509 — there occur in
deed the words )^'2C jm. But as in the scroll under discus-
sion and in many MSS. which bear the marks of the system
of Maimonides as far as the m^DinDI mninfi are concerned.

2^n '^Dl "l^TI is only noted as a IimntD, I looked for an
explanation of this curious discrepancy in six old MSS. of
the UpTnn 1^ written respectively in the years 1373, 1386,
1390 (possessed also hy the Sutro Library) ; and in them I found
neither ^Sh '?:)! "^^in nor n'"ip::ni '^yV^ but merely
"^NX'* ^JD ^N "1311 "ID"?^*! by which is meant the 22d
verse, and also the words ti*C'|rn. It is evident there-
from that there is an error in all the printed editions of the

n'p\ur\ ^\ (See 'c* nnit:.)

The Song of l^'TNIl is in this scroll condensed into 67 lines
instead of written in 70 as it is ordered in the npilin l^*
This derogation puzzled me very much, the more so, because
I found in the old MSS. of the Pentateuch mentioned above,
also only 67 lines. (See »C^ nnit2).

I found a solution in the already quoted old MSS. of
the nprnn T where the following words n^l^C* fOniDI

niD^C* D^u'u'l rX'D TiNm are to be found, and really all
the initial words given in illustration correspond exactly
with those of the scroll and of the MSS. In the old printed
Constantinople parchment is also given D^^''2C yet there is
a restriction by the glossarist CD '£3 H^^TtD^rtD mnjn)

o N*Dn x:nn xp amy "idi qi "^^ ^nn mj<n ni*t:*i
: r\yc'c* dtx'I y3t:'D ]''2r\^^ irr^n ni^ti'r y^^^ iJ^nD

We see therefore conclusively from these two facts that the
printed codices vary materially from the MSS.

— 10 —


I examined all the words wliicli are under massoretic dis-
cussion, with regard to tlieir spelling full or defective, by the
oriental and the occidental schools on the one hand, and by
the Hileliau and the Jerusaleinite versions on the other hand,
and I found that this scroll gives credit to the Jerusaleinite
version, except when the Hilelian is seconded by the best

I noticed furthermore a very remarkable thing. One of
the MSS. (possessed by the Sutro Library) of the Pentateuch
with both nilD!3 (magna et parva) written in zigzag shape
on the margins, corresponds exactly with this scroll with re-
gard to plena et defeftiva, m^^iriDI mmni, subdivisions
of the weekly sections ; mGlsS N5 mDlpI* D^ni and
finally to the initials and ultimates of the columns, i. e. those
words which are either the initials or the ultimates of the col-
umns in the scroll are also respectively the same in the MS.
But as the scroll has 51 lines to the column and the MS. has
only 20 to the column, the writer of the MS. has condensed
the contents of the 51 lines of the scroll into 50, so that the
11th line of every third page is the first line of every second
column of the scroll; and the first line of every sixth page is
the first line of every third column of the scroll.

It might be deduced from this remarkable coincidence
that the MS. is a true copy of the scroll.

The MS. appears to be very old, and has been restored
several times, once recently in the orient, as the scraps of
paper with which it has been mended look new, and some
bear an Arabic manufacturer's stamp. It is so carefully
mended that even wherever a letter appears to be damaged
there is to be found the substitution of the Avhole Avord,
either between the words or on the margin. From this fact
it may be supposed that the possessor of the MS. attached
a great value to it knowing- its great importance. The MS.
is gramatically and raassoretically the most carefully execu-

— 11 —

ted piece of work, there is not a poiut omitted ; the m£3"1
are marked by a line on the top.

It contains also, as a preface, a treatise on the orthography
of the Hebrew language; and on the D''*2^*l2l all the marked
differences between Ben Asher's and Ben Naphtaly's ver-
sions; all the words which are Hp N7T yn^ and X^l Hp
^^riDl the number of the letters of the Pentateuch in an
alphabetical form after R. Saadia; finally all the words which
have an nn5 with pIDS ^|1D"I HIIN*.*

Unfortunately there is neither name of writer nor date to
be found.

In that same MS. in Exodus XXV, are quoted two pas-
sages of the rrnn njJi^^S referring to the lamp of the tab-

("ID 'f2 ':ii)"l 'n^ '0 'N*£3 HTH^n iTD 'H miD;^ -)3D)
This quotation of the second passage {')12 '0 J'fl) diifers
with the printed n^^nT] 1* in regard to the spelling of a
word, tharof D'n")D which means, after ^"Cn in I'HD mTOO
the name of a place, whereas in the MS. is written D'^m"lD
as it is in JD mm!: and in the "|n;^ (HliDn p^) and in two
MSS. of the nmn njt^'D which signifies cypress, the name
of a tree-

I found afterwards four more MSS. of the Pentateuch
which are also copies of the Maimonides scroll. All these
MSS. are noting every peculiarity of the scroll, even when a
letter is of an unusual shape.

"Many reasons induce me to suppose that this treatise had for author Abou-
l-Walid,Mervan Ibn Jauah and has been probably translated by Ibn Esra.
There is twice quoted the name of a book nmpn (probably nnplH by Chiug.)
It is an opuscule of 52 pages in 4o. The Sutro library is in possession of
three of this treatises, each attached to a MS. of the Pentateuch. The same
Massorah is attached to these MSS. and seem to have had for author the same
as that of the treatise.

To one of those MSS. is attached one more opuscule in Arabic treating
D^)0yt31 IIPJ (pi'obably by Jehuda Chiug), we have also three copies of the
latter. It is an opuscule of 17 pages in 4o.

— 12 —


The first nine columns are missing altogether, until Gen-
esis X : 18.

Four columns containing Genesis, from XXXV: 27 to
XXXIX : 10, are completed by a later writer, who essays a
faithful imitation of the original ; these are written on a hide

of red tanned leather (D^DIJ^D). Seven columns containing
Genesis, from XLI: 57 to XLVII: 16, are completed by a
comparatively recent hand, the writing being very nice,
markedly different from the original, on two fresh hides of
red tanned leather. (I discovered this section in a segrega-
ted condition, and no casual looker at it would have assumed
that it represents a substitution for the missing section of
the original scroll).

Fifteen columns containing Exodus, from VIII : 16 to
XXI: 26, are completed in a very old hand entirely similar
to the original, and even the section points mentioned above
are not omitted. The color of the hides on which those 15
columns are written are somewhat different from the original
— a little brighter. From the seams it can be judged that
the original 15 columns must have been in a very bad con-
dition, so that they needed restoration in order to preserve
such a document.

Two columns containing Exodus, from XXXIV: 23 to
XXXVI: 3, are also completed by another writer on red
tanned leather, and spaced in between the first and fourth
columns of one hide; ^ the writing differs from the original.

After a careful examination I have come to the conclusion
that the four restorations have taken place at four different
times very distant from each other, and probably by people
who knew the real value of the document.

*Sucli a kind of restoratiou makes the scroll to be excluded from the service
of the Synagogue, it is to be infered from this fact that the restorations was
more intended for the preservation of the scroll than for using it in the

— 13 —


The scroll belongs to a collection of antiquities once owned
by Shapiro, who some years ago obtained considerable noto-
riety for having tried to sell a supposed rare document of the
ten commandments to the museums of Europe for a very
high price, and who afterwards committed suicide after fail-
ing in his attempt, when the document had been denounced
as a fraud by the best experts. Mr. Adolph Sutro, while in
Jerusalem in the year 1884, casually learned from the Ger-
man consul at that place, that Shapiro had hypothecated his
antiquities with two bankers and that the latter were eager
to dispose of them, as Shapiro was then dead. Mr. Sutro
accordingly became the purchaser of about 150 MSS, most
of which are valuable relics from the Orient. The collection
consists mainly of 31 Pentateuchs with Arabic and Chaldaic
translations, some with ^b'"Ts and other commentaries and
nniDtD; 24 volumes of niin IUJ^'D some with Arabic com-
mentaries; 9 DHTID with poems by Jehuda Halevy, Solomon
ben Gabirol, Ibn Ezra and others; 25 different copies of
the ^njil tini*D a work very little known in the Jewish
literary world, never printed, but now being edited, I be-
lieve by Mr. Schechter, and many others. (A catalogue of
these various MSS. will shortly be published).

I question whether Shapiro knew the real value of the
scroll he possessed, if so, he would undoubtedly have spoken
of the matter to some of the archaeologists of Europe.



All the statements T have entered here are the results of a
close examination. Many eminent Hebrew scholars of San
Francisco corroborated them in a meeting called for that
purpose on February the 26tli of the present year. They
remain only to be verified by some of the renowned arch-

— 14-

aeologists of Europe and America. For that purpose this
pamiDhlet, with a fac- simile of three columns, of about nine
tenths of the full size, is forwarded to the leading librarians
and archaeologists, and is at the service of every person
who is acquainted with such matters.

All are kindly requested to give in their opinion as to the
value of the scroll, as no scholar in San Francisco, including
the writer of this pamphlet, has deemed it right to express a
final and conclusive opinion, without availing themselves of
the wider knowledge and broader experience of eminent



This book is DUE on the last date stamped below



Form L-9-15to-2,'36




T rrj-o A Tt-xr

a.i^wv X\.\^UI>/XXi.

R75S A scroll of the

law supposed to
have b een written by-
Ma imonides"^


AA 000 642 86^




Online LibraryS RoubinA scroll of the law supposed to have been written by Maimonides : explanations → online text (page 1 of 1)