posted on Jul, 29 2012 @ 08:32 AM
the Aleppo Codex is the oldest, most complete, most accurate text of the Hebrew Bible. The story of how it arrived in Jerusalem, is a tale of ancient
fears. The story of how some 200 pages of the codex went missing — and to this day remain the object of searches carried out around the globe by
biblical scholars, private investigators, shadowy businessmen and the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency — is one of the great mysteries in
To talk to the many individuals who are obsessed with finding the missing portions of the codex or solving the mystery of who stole them, or whose
histories are somehow bound up with the story of the book, is to get a glimpse of the power it has held over people for more than a thousand years.
In Aleppo, Syria, where the codex was safeguarded for six centuries, it was believed to possess magical properties. It was said that women who looked
upon it would become pregnant, that those who held the keys to its safe were blessed, that anyone who stole or sold the codex was cursed and that a
terrible plague would wipe out the Jewish community if it were removed from their synagogue.
The story of what happened next — how the codex came to Israel and where the missing pages might have gone — is a murky and often
contradictory one, told by many self-serving or unreliable narrators.
On Nov. 30, 1947, the morning after the U.N. General Assembly voted in favor of the establishment of a Jewish state, a mob stormed the Jewish quarter
of Aleppo, attacking the Jews and demolishing their businesses and setting fire to the synagogues. News that the codex had been destroyed spread
quickly across the globe. Because the elders in Aleppo forbade photographing the manuscript, the invaluable information that it contained was thought
to have been lost forever.
The Syrian government took an interest in the codex after an American antiquities merchant offered $20 million for it, and so the leaders of the
Aleppo synagogue went to great lengths to persuade Syrian intelligence that the book had been burned. For 10 years, even after word got out that the
codex had not been destroyed, they kept it hidden in secret locations and refused to contemplate moving it from Aleppo.
In the mid-1990s, Mossad, with some involvement from the C.I.A. and the U.S. State Department, conducted a large-scale secret operation to get the
last Jews out of Syria, including the devastated Aleppo community, many of whose members believed that the curse of the codex had befallen them.
Read more: www.nytimes.com...