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Obj. ID: 19118
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  Munich Sephardi Massoretic Bible, Castile, 1275-1300 and c. 1400

© BSB, Photographer: Unknown,

106 image(s)

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Munich Sephardi Massoretic Bible | Unknown
Object Detail
Last quarter of the 13th century and additions of c. 1400
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Spain | Castile
| (Toledo or Soria)
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Period Detail
Germany | Munich | Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB)
| Cod.hebr. 392 (Steinschneider 1895, No. 392)
Documentation / Research project
Sheepskin (e.g. fols. 22v, 34v-35, 38v-39).
II + 439 + II leaves (fols. 1-3 and 438-439 are parchment flyleaves).
The quires are arranged according to Gregory's rule.
Watermark on the second front flyleaf (height: 105 mm) similar to Briquet No. 864, dated 1469.
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Full page: (221-222) x 185 mm.
Text space: (139-141) x (142-144) mm.
Height with massorah: 177-180 mm.
Panel Measurements
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Worn and stained parchment flyleaves (fols. 1-3, 438-439). Fols. 4-6 have holes caused by an instrument. The manuscript was last restored on 26.1.2007 (sticker on back pastedown).
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
Languages of inscription
Type of grave
Bible, vocalized, punctuated and accentuated, with massorah magna and parva in the margins and massoretic lists preceding and following the biblical text, written by one scribe, and various treatises within decorative tables written by another contemporary hand. Scribe A (fols. 4-8v, 25-428v): I. Bible: Pentateuch, Hagiographa, Prophets (fols. 27v-423v): Pentateuch (fols. 27v-131v): Genesis (fol. 27v); Exodus (fol. 53); Leviticus (fol. 75v); Numbers (fol. 90v); Deuteronomy (fol. 111v). Hagiographa (fols. 133v-243): I, II Chronicles (fol. 133v); Psalms (fol. 164v); Job (fol. 191v); Proverbs (fol. 202v); Ruth (fol.211); Song of Songs (fol. 212v); Ecclesiastes (fol. 214v); Lamentations (fol. 218); Esther (fol. 220); Daniel (fol. 224); Ezra (fols. 231v); Nehemiah (fols. 236-243). Prophets (fols. 243v-423v): Former Prophets: Joshua (fol. 243v); Judges (fol. 256); I Samuel (fol. 268); II Samuel (fol. 285); I Kings (fol. 298v); II Kings (fol. 315). Latter Prophets (fols. 331v-404v): Isaiah (fol. 331v); Jeremiah (fol. 353); Ezekiel (fol. 381); Hosea (fol. 405); Joel (fol. 408); Amos (fol. 409); Obadiah (fol. 412); Jonah (fol. 412); Micah (fol. 413); Nahum (fol. 415); Habakkuk (fol. 415v); Zephaniah (fol. 416v); Haggai (fol. 417v); Zechariah (fol. 418); Malachi (fol. 422v). II. Framed texts preceding and following the Bible, written in squares framed by the text of other massoretic treatises: 1. Massoretic lists, mostly sections from Sefer Dikduke ha-Teamim by Aharon ben Asher (fols. 5v-8v, 25, 26v-27, 423v left column-425, 426v-427v). 2. Later inscriptions: text on the fortunes and misfortunes of mankind, and a document recording the acquisition of the Bible, written in the 15th century by the owner Isaac ben Solomon ibn Sahl within the square frames left vacant by Scribe A (fols. 425v-426). III. An unframed list of variations between the Muggeh and Hilleli Codices (fol. 428). The variables follow the unusual order of the three divisions of the Bible, namely: Pentateuch, Hagiographa and Prophets. IV. Carpet pages by Scribe A: At the beginning of the Codex: an incomplete carpet page, unframed (fol. 4). Preceding the Pentateuch (fols. 25v-26) are two facing carpet pages framed by massoretic treatises. Following the Pentateuch (fols. 131v-132) are two facing carpet pages executed in colours. Scribe B (fols. 9-24; 430-437v): V. Decorative tables of triple arches preceding and following the Bible: 1. Two quires (fols. 9-24v) inserted between the massoretic lists of Scribe A, include: (i) Introduction to the Enumeration of the Commandments (מנין המצות) by Abraham ibn Hassan Halevi based on the Book of Commandments of Maimonides (fol. 9); (ii) Divinations according to the weather in Hebrew with only the title in Aramaic: סימן מיטרא דכול' שתא (Rain forecast for the whole year), by a later Italian hand written in 2 of the 3 arches left vacant by Scribe B (fol. 24v). 2. One quire at the end of the codex (fols. 430-437v) includes massoretic lists and short treatises: Deed of Sale of Haman to Mordecai (fol. 430); Reason for four seasons (fol. 430v); Large and small Letters (fol. 430v); Otiyyot de-Rabbi Akiva (fol. 431); Midrash ram horns (fol. 432); The seventy- two elders of Israel and King Ptolemy of Greece (fol. 432v); Tikkun Sofrim (Scribal Corrections) by R. Solomon ben Aderet (RaShBa; fol. 432v); Proof that the Talmudic sages were learned in all seven sciences (fol. 434); Number of letters in the Pentateuch (fol. 436); Total of letters of the Pentateuch (fols. 437-437v); Letters which may replace each other (fol. 437v). VI. Five additional flyleaves from a parchment manuscript of c.1400, at the beginning and end of the manuscript (fols. 1-3, 438-439), three decorated: 1. Full-page rhymed poem (piyyut) by Yehiel ben Asher (Yehiel ben Harosh), written in the form of a tree (fol. 2v). 2. Full-page piyyutאין לו גְוִיה יהלל פי לאל in the form of a circle (fol. 3) with the name of Yehiel ben Harosh (Davidson, Thesaurus,י 1427), repeated on the verso of the page in semi-cursive Sephardi script, mainly in two columns (fol. 3v). 3. A festival calendar for the 14 possible types of years and tables for five lunar cycles (small cycle, 19-years), Nos. 276-280 corresponding to the years 1466-1560 (fol. 438v).
Scribe A: The Bible was copied by one scribe who was the main vocaliser-massorator. He also wrote the massoretic lists (fols. 5v-8v; 26v-27; 423v left column-425; 426v-427v), and the square text frames (fols. 25-26, 425v-426). Scribe B: The scribe and artist of the decorative three-column tables (fols. 9-24; 430-437v). Scribe C: A 16th-century Italian hand which wrote in 2 of the 3 columns left vacant by Scribe B (fol. 24v). Massorators: The massorah was copied mainly by Scribe A, though the hand of a second massorator is evident (e.g. fols. 60-61v, 66-66v, 71-72, 239, 419-423v framing the right column).
The main text is written in square Sephardi script in light brown ink. The massorah magna and parva are written in small square Sephardi script mainly in light brown ink. The second massorator uses darker ink. The massoretic lists in four columns preceding (fols. 5v-8v, 26v-27) and following the Bible text (fols. 423v left column-425, 426v-427v) are written by Scribe A in small square Sephardi script in light brown ink. He also framed two carpet pages (fols. 25v-26) and the facing pages of Ibn Sahl's inscription (fols. 425v-426) with massoretic texts in large square Sephardi script surrounded by micrography in light brown ink, as well as writing the unframed list on fol. 428 in small square Sephardi script with titles in large letters. The decorative tables in three columns preceding the biblical text (fols. 9-24) are written by Scribe B in square Sephardi script of varying sizes, while those following the biblical text (430-437v) are in semi-cursive and square script. The running titles in the upper margins and chapter numeration in some books are written by an 18th-century hand (see History).
Number of Lines
Most of the Bible is written in 3 columns (each: 37 mm) with the usual exception of Psalms, Proverbs and Job in 2 columns (each: 60 mm), as well as the Second Song of Moses (Deut. 32:143; fols.129-130v) and the two Songs of David (I Chron. 16:8-36; fol. 141-141v, and II Sam. 32:2; fol. 297-297v). The First Song of Moses (Ex. 15:119; fols. 60v-61) and Deborah's Song (Judg. 5:131; fol. 258-258v) are written in a brick-work pattern (for massoretic lists see Script). 28 lines. Massorah magna 2 lines at top and 3 at the bottom. Massoretic lists 30-31 lines. The text within Scribe B's tables usually 38-40 lines.
Ruling by stylus on the hair side 2+3+3+2 vertical lines (e.g. fol. 93v) and 28 horizontal lines; for the massorah magna 2 horizontal lines at the top and 3 at the bottom; for Scribe A's massoretic list 1+2+1+2+2+2+2+1 vertical lines, only the outer lines being ruled the length of the page (e.g. fol. 5v), and 30-31 horizontal lines; for Scribe B's tables 38-40 horizontal lines (e.g. fols. 9v, 10v). The tables are framed by at least 1+1 vertical ink lines.
Noticeable in the inner (e.g. fols. 10-14, 140, 305-310, 424) and outer margins (e.g. fols. 11-24, 38) for Scribes A and B.
59 quires of 8 leaves each except for I3 (3 foliated single parchment flyleaves), II4-1 (last a single leaf), LI6, LII6, LIV6, LV6, LVI1+2 (first a single leaf), LVII1+1 (2 single leaves), LIX1+1 (2 single parchment flyleaves, foliated 438-439). Quire structure: I3 (1-3); II4-1 (4-8); III8 (9-16); IV8 (17-24); V8 (25-32); VI8 (33-40); VII8 (41-48); VIII8 (49-56); IX8 (57-64); X8 (65-72); XI8 (73-80); XII8 (81-88); XIII8 (89-96); XIV8 (97-104); XV8 (105-112); XVI8 (113-120); XVII8 (121-128); XVIII8 (129-136); XIX8 (137-144); XX8 (145-152); XXI8 (153-160); XXII8 (161-168); XXIII8 (169-176); XXIV8 (177-184); XXV8 (185-192); XXVI8 (193-200); XXVII8 (201-208); XXVIII8 (209-216); XXIX8 (217-224); XXX8 (225-232); XXXI8 (233-240); XXXII8 (241-248); XXXIII8 (249-256); XXXIV8 (257-264); XXXV8 (265-272); XXXVI8 (273-280); XXXVII8 (281-288); XXXVIII8 (289-296); XXXIX8 (297-304); XL8 (305-312); XLI8 (313-320); XLII8 (321-328); XLIII8 (329-336); XLIV8 (337-344); XLV8 (345-352); XLVI8 (353-360); XLVII8 (361-368); XLVIII8 (369-376); XLIX8 (377-384); L8 (385-392); LI6 (393-398); LII6 (399-404); LIII8 (405-412); LIV6 (413-418); LV6 (419-424); LVI1+2 (425-427); LVII1+1 (428-429); LVIII8 (430-437); LIX1+1 (438-439).
None, possibly cut off by binder except that on fol. 16v there are two catchwords written by Scribe B in the lower decorative frame in semi-cursive script.
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Blank foliated flyleaves: 1-1v, 2, 438, 439-439v. Blank folios: 4v, 5r, 132v, 133r, 429-429v.
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Scribal Notes
Scribe A: Variant readings in small square script written in the margins and intercolumnar space throughout the Bible headed by the word בהללי (in Codex Hilleli, e.g. fols. 34, 48v, 69, 94v, 219, 220v, 223, 254 and many more). The variants between the text exemplar Codex Muggeh (i.e. corrected; see fol. 25) and the correcting exemplar Codex Hilleli are listed separately by scribe A (fol. 428).
Trade Mark

15th-century brown sheepskin on wooden boards. Both covers are decorated with a blind-tooled rhomboid within a rectangular frame, decorated with stamped floral motifs in the spandrels and a large one in the centre. The spine has four double cords and head and tail bands. The front and back covers show remnants of clasps and straps respectively. The top and bottom edges of the pages show goffered hatching with vestiges of gold.

Binding history:

1. Previous binding, c.1400-1437: five parchment flyleaves of a manuscript datable to c.1400, bearing an

    owner's inscription of 1437 (fol. 1).

2. Present binding, c.1500 with two thin paper flyleaves bearing a watermark of c.1469 (see Material).

    3. Restoration of pastedown and addition of two thick paper flyleaves bearing an owner's inscription of

    1880 (first front paper flyleaf).

    4. The manuscript was last restored on 26.1.2007 (sticker on back pastedown).

Decoration Program

The manuscript was decorated by the two scribes. Scribe A executed the micrographic and painted decorations of the Bible, including five carpet pages (fols. 4, 25v-26, 131v-132), and Scribe B decorated three complete quires including 46 full-page tables of triple arcades (fols. 9-24, 430-437), both using green, red, violet, blue, yellow, yellow ochre, gold powder and sometimes gold leaf (e.g. fols. 9v, 430, 431v).

Scribe A:

1. Five carpet pages: a single carpet page at the beginning of the codex, composed of interlacing bands

    within a square panel, partially painted in brown (fol. 4); twin carpet pages within square text frames

    filled with fleur-de-lis scrolls in yellow ochre (fols. 25v-26), as a base for the mostly flaked-off gold

    powder and gold leaf. These two carpet pages mark the beginning of the Pentateuch.

    Further twin carpet pages are painted at the end of Pentateuch (fols. 131v-132), each composed of four

    palmette arabesques in red, blue, olive green and yellow ochre framed by acanthus scrolls, palmette

    chain and braid motifs.

2. Massoretic lists (fols. 5v-8v, 26v-27, 423v, left column-425, 426v-427v) and a poetical epigraph

    (fol. 25) written within textual frames. The frames consist of large script surrounded by micrography.

3. Decorated seder signs (ס) topped by a trefoil motif (e.g. fols. 36v, 64v), and parashah signs (פרש) within

    penwork cartouches often decorated with an interlace (e.g. fol. 73v), both written in square script

    between the text columns or in the margins.

4. Mid-book signs within penwork cartouches (e.g. fols. 40, 64v).

5. Decorated end of the biblical text (fol. 423v, right column).

6. Micrographic massorah in geometrical forms (fols. 138, 141-141v, 164).

Scribe B:

46 full-page tables of decorated triple arcades enclosing various texts (fols. 9-24, 430-437v). The frames

include three types of decoration, each type similarly executed on either side of a folio, as follows:

Type a: 15 folios decorated with arcades formed by foliate scrolls intertwined with geometrical interlace

motifs (fols. 9-9v, 12-13v, 15-16v, 18-18v, 20-21v, 24-24v, 430-430v, 431-431v, 432-432v, 435-437v).

These include arcades with rounded trefoil arches (e.g. fols. 9-9v, 430-430v), pointed trefoil arches

(e.g. fols. 15, 18), cinquefoil arches (e.g. fols. 16-16v, 436-437v), and lancet or pointed arches

(e.g. fols. 12-13v, 20-21v, 432v). The foliate scrolls often extend to the four corners (e.g. fols. 432,


Type b: 5 folios decorated with horseshoe arches forming arcades are decorated with filigree work and

interlacing bands (fols. 11-11v, 14-14v, 19-19v, 22-22v, 433-433v, 434-434v). The filigree decorates the

top part and spandrels. Some arches and columns of interlacing bands include thin acanthus scrolls

fols. 14-14v, 19-19v, 434-434v), while others remain undecorated (fols. 11-11v, 22-22v, 433-433v).

Type c: 3 folios decorated with arcades formed by geometrical interlace motifs (fols. 10-10v, 17-17v,

23-23v) including some filigree in the spandrels of the round arches. The interlace motifs extend beyond the frame, forming squares at the corners of the frames and triangles above and below the central columns.  

Additional later parchment flyleaves:

1. Afull-page decorated rhymed poem in the form of a tree springs from an elaborate foliate motif, and its

    diagonal branches consist of text lines written in alternating brown and red ink (fol. 2v).

2. Afull-page decorated circle within a square frame consists of a piyyut written in micrography in brown

    and red ink. The frame is decorated with braid and foliage motifs in spared-ground technique (fol. 3).

    The text of the piyyut is copied on the verso of the page, but not in graphic form (fol. 3v).

3.A full-page decorated calendar executed in brown and red ink (fol. 438v).

Summary and Remarks

The Munich Spanish Bible, square in format, comprises the entire Bible with massorah, written by Scribe A. The independent massoretic lists and treatises which precede and follow the biblical text were written by Scribes A and B. Scribe B's texts are enclosed within decorative frames.

The order of the books in each division of the Bible follows the Spanish tradition. However, the order of the three divisions of the Bible: Pentateuch, Hagiographa and Prophets (Book of Joshua is at the end of Nehemiah, fol. 243r-243v) does not. That the unconventional division order is not accidental is evident from the List of Variants, which are likewise arranged (fol. 428). This order contrasts with the Talmudic Canon (BT tractate Baba Bathra 14b) as well as the present order, in which the Hagiographa directly follows the Prophets, yet it is found in some other Spanish Codices from the time of the Munich Sephardi Bible. For example, in the Earl of Leicester Bible dated c.1250-1300 and attributed either to Toledo (Ginsburg 1966, No. 51) or Burgos (Sed-Rajna 1975:7), the Prophets are not included and the text of the Hagiographa massorah runs on continuously from the last verso of Deuteronomy (fol. 104v) to the first recto of Chronicles (fol. 105r). Another example which originally had a similar inverted order is the First Ibn Merwas Bible (BL, Or. 2201), the product of the Schoolof Toledoin 1300. As Narkiss pointed out, the manuscript was rebound by a later binder to accord with the usual order, but since the original foliation has survived it is possible to follow the previous arrangement, namely: Pentateuch, Hagiographa and Prophets (see Narkiss 1982, No. 2).

These three Bibles may represent a larger group of Castilian Bibles sharing the same tradition. It is worth noting the earliest surviving dated Hebrew Bible fromSpain(Toledo, 1197), in which the Hagiographa is followed by the Prophets (Paris, BnF hébr. 105). But here, in contrast to the First Ibn Merwas Bible, the ancient foliation of the manuscript shows that the inverted order is the result of a later binding (Sed-Rajna 1975:6, and note 2).


Our Bible was copied from Sefer Mugah (מוגה, corrected), and includes marginal gloss from the Hilleli Codex. Sefer Mugah is a biblical codex written with special care in order to serve as an exemplar for scribes writing Torah scrolls or other Bible codices. Ginsburg defines the Muggeh as the earliest Codex quoted by the Massorites (Ginsburg 1966:429). Indeed, the Muggeh is cited in two early model Bibles, the London Pentateuch Codex (BL Or. 4445) of c.820-850 CE, and the St. Petersburg Prophets Codex written about half a century later, in916. In the absence of a colophon our Munich Spanish Bible cannot be safely identified as a model book. However, the use of the Muggeh and Hilleli Codices as the text and correcting exemplars may point to it as such, or, at least, to the precise bibles to the well known precise Spanish Bibles from the 13th-14th century fromToledo, such as the above mentioned the First Marwas Bible (see Sed-Rajna 1975:8).


The Muggeh Codex is mentioned in the poetical epigraph, a poem "in praise of the version" (שיר בשבח הנוסח), which in our Bible precedes the Pentateuch (fig. 1), stating that the book was "copied from the Muggeh Codex" ((נעתק ממוגה with the utmost attention and care:

ספר זה נבדק/ כפי חוזה נצדק// נעתק ממוגה/ באור שמש יגה// ננקד במלאכה/ ונמסר כהלכה// נגמר באותיות/ קטנות ורצויות// ובמלא ובחסר/ ותקון בלי חסר// פסוקים נסדרים/ וחשבון הסדרים// ותקון כל שירה/ כדת בו נחברה// פתוחות וסתומות/ בתוכו נחתמות//  במאמר הזקנים/ במיטב רעיונים// גוזרים ואין מפר/ בהגיוני שפר// נפתלי ואשר/ אמוני הכושר// וספר זה ידיד/ ובין עצומים יפריד.

This Muggeh epigraph, originating from Aharon ben Asher's Sefer Dikduke ha-Teamim (Baer and Strack 1879:19), became a literary hallmark for the corrected Bibles. A similar epigraph of 12 lines, though with minor differences of words and spelling, precedes the Pentateuch of the above-mentioned Leicester Codex (ToledoorBurgos, c.1250-1300), which served as a model book. Moreover, similarly to our manuscript, the Hilleli codex is quoted in this Leicester Bible, which also has appendices with massoretic lists, some of which are within square text frames (Ginsburg 1966:732-734).

The Muggeh epigraph with some abbreviations appears already in the earliest extant Sephardic Bible fromToledo, 1232 (Paris, BnF hébr. 25, fol. 9v; Sed-Rajna 1994, No. 3; Kogman-Apel 2004:fig. 20; and the order of books is Pentateuch, Prophets, Hagiographa (Chron. first)). Although the poetical epigraph is not found in the First Ibn Merwas Bible of 1300, it was copied in the Second Ibn Merwas Bible written in Toledo in 1308 (fig. 2).



Fig. 1:MunichSephardi Bible

Castile,Toledoor Soria, last quarter

of the 13th century

Munich, BSB 392, fol. 25


Fig. 2: Second Ibn Merwas Bible

Toledo, 1308      


MS Friedberg 5-001, fol. 2v

(olim Sassoon 1932, No. 508)



Fig. 3: Pentateuch: Early Spanish Manuscript (Codex Hilleli)

Toledo, 1241

New York, JTSA L44a, fol. VIII (Seforim Database, facsimile addition)


The Codex Hilleli which served as the correcting exemplar of our Munich Bible, is the famous Spanish model Codex (Stern 2012:249-250), the importance of which rivals the Muggeh. Although the original Codex was carried away from the Kingdom of Leon in 1197 (Zacuto 1857:220), a copy of the Hilleli was produced in Toledo in 1241 by Rabbi Israel ben Isaac ben Israel of the Ben Israel family (for the Ben Israel family of scribes in Toledo, see Kogman-Appel 2004:61-63). Its Pentateuch, including the poetical epigraph, has survived to this day (fig. 3).

However, another copy of the Hilleli Codex was in use inToledoin the year 1300, as is evident from the marginal gloss by the original massoretic annotator of the First Ibn Merwas Bible (Ginsburg 1966:869). Moreover, evidence of a Hilleli Codex inBurgosis found in a letter of R. Meir Halevi ben Todros Abulafia (RaMaH 1180 - c.1244) to the sages ofBurgos, from which it follows that they had 'a book' known as הללייא (Haleleia; Ta-shma 1970:120). Furthermore, in the King's Bible written in Solsona in 1385

(BL King's 1; Narkiss 1982:110-111) the massorator adduces variants from a Hilleli Codex and quotes one variant from the Muggeh (Ginsburg 1966, No. 9:514–515). Thus, Hilleli manuscripts, like the Muggeh, were in the possession of different communities, not just inCastile, and their texts were in use as late as the end of the 14th and even into the 15th century. Accordingly, the Muggeh and Hilleli codices cannot give a clear indication to the place of production and date of our manuscript. An analysis of the decoration, however, suggests a date in the last quarter of the thirteenth century inCastile, either inToledoor Soria.


The twin carpet pages of our Bible, executed by Scribe A (figs. 4-5) resemble in their composition of four interlaced medallions within a decorated frame those in a Pentateuch produced in Toledo in the first half of the 14th century (fig. 5; Kogman-Appel 2004:61-68). However, the foliage arabesque in our Bible resembles more closely the Joshua Ibn Gaon Bible of Soria, 1306 (fig. 7).



Fig. 4: Carpet page

End of Pentateuch

MunichSephardi Bible

Castile,Toledoor Soria, last quarter

of the 13th century

Munich, BSB 392, fol. 132


Fig. 6: Pentateuch

Toledo, first-half of the 14th century

Marseilles, Bibliothèque municipale

ms. 1626/I, fol. 1v

(Sed-Rajna 1975, fig. 13)




Fig. 5: Carpet page

End of Pentateuch

MunichSephardi Bible

Castile,Toledoor Soria, last quarter

of the 13th century

Munich, BSB 392, fol. 131v


Fig. 7: End of Latter Prophet          

Joshua Ibn Gaon Bible

Soria, 1306

Oxford, Bodl. Ken. 2, fol. 299

(Narkiss 1982/II, fig. 18)


The single carpet page at the beginning of our Munich Codex (fig. 8), composed of interlacing bands with vestiges of gold leaf, can be compared to other carpet pages in the same Ibn Gaon Bible (fig. 9). Joshua Ibn Gaon worked in Soria and Tudela at the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century (for Ibn Gaon Bibles and forms of decorations see Narkiss 1982:22-26; Kogman-Appel 2002:264).



Fig. 8: Single carpet page

MunichSephardi Bible

Castile,Toledoor Soria, last quarter

of the 13th century

Munich, BSB 392, fol. 4


Fig. 9: Facing carpet pages

Joshua Ibn Gaon Bible

Soria, 1306

Oxford, Bodl. Ken. 2, fols. 14v-15

(Jerusalem, CJA Narkiss Archive)


The two facing carpet pages preceding our Pentateuch, in fine arabesques of trefoil flowers (fig. 10), recall two earlier Castilian Bibles: the Second Cambridge Castilian Bible of c.1279 (fig. 11) and the First Cambridge Castilian Bible, CUL Add. 465, mid-13th century (Narkiss 1982/II, fig. 1), particularly in style, if not in motif.



Fig. 10: Two facing carpet pages

MunichSephardi Bible

Castile,Toledoor Soria, last quarter

of the 13th century

Munich, BSB 392, fols. 25v-26


Fig. 11: Arabesque

SecondCambridgeCastilian Bible

Castile, c.1279

CUL Add. 3203, fol. 365v   

(Narkiss 1982/II, fig. 504)


Scribe A's use of early motifs is also seen in his parashah and seder sign decorations, similar to those in

Suggested Reconsdivuction
I. Owners' inscriptions: 1. Fol. 1, top of page: 15th-century inscription by David Francis attesting that he gave this Bible to Shlomo אנאי in exchange for books which Shlomo gave him on Elul 28th 5197 (7.9.1437): אני דוד פראנסיש נתתי הספר ארבע ועשרים זה ל(מהרר?)/ שלמה אנאי בדנ' כחליף של ספרים שנתן לי היום/ יום כ"ח אלול הקצ"ז אלפים ... למניני. [חתימה:] ד פראנסיש. 2. Fols. 425v-426: 15th-century inscription by Rabbi Isaac ben Solomon ibn Sahl on the fortunes and misfortunes of mankind, and the document recording acquisition of the Bible, written in semi-cursive Sephardi script on two facing pages within square textual frames, followed in Aramaic in cursive script (fols. 425v-426). On fols. 425v (line 14)-426 Ibn Sahl notes that he paid the full price for the Bible. He further adds in Aramaic that if he leaves this world childless, he bequeaths this book as a legacy to R. Reuben called Vidal son of Don Joseph Nasi son of R. Abraham ben Ban Veneste, the leader of the exiled Spanish community (ראש גלות ספרד) fol. 425v: ... אני יצחק בר' שלמה בן סהל זלה"ה (זכרונו לחיי העולם הבא). ונתן אל לבי ובעוד שדי עמדי מראשית בקרי עמלי בכסף מלא קניתי זאת התורה כוללת ארבעה ועשרים ספרים המקודשים למען תהיה לי למחסה ולמסתור ביום קרב ומלחמה. ולעת האסף להשאיר אחרי ברכה. והיה ביום ההוא עת צאתי מעולם התמורה זאת חקת התורה וכמשפט הזה יעשה לה. :cont. in Aramaic ... ואם חס ושלום אסתלק מהעולם הזה (:fol. 426) בלא זרע, אני מותיר את הספר הזה כמתנה למהר"ר ר' ראובן הנקרא וידל, בן דון יוסף הנשיא בר המהר"ר אברהם בן באן בנשת כתרא דבני גלותא די יהוד ... Two witnesses signed their names (fol. 426): R. Abraham ben Judah חדדה and R. Samuel ben Moses בואנה בידה(?) ha-Sofer (the scribe). Reuben-Vidal ben Joseph ben Abraham ben Ban Veneste in the second inscription, a member of a privileged and wealthy rabbinical family in Soria, is mentioned in Abraham Zacuto's Sefer Yuhasin compiled c.1500 (eds. Cracow 1580:134; London 1857:226), according to which Don Abraham Ben Veneste was appointed Rab de la Corte (רב החצר) in Castile in the year 1432 (d. 1454; Beinart 1992:32). He and his son Don Joseph and grandsons Don Vidal and Don Abraham supported rabbinic academies and rabbinic scholars with their fortune (cf. HB XXI (1881/2):59). The family of Don Abraham ben Ban Veneste of Soria purchased the Oxford Ibn Gaon Former Prophets (dated Soria, c.1300; Bodl. Opp. Add. 40 75) in 1491, perhaps with a manuscript of the Latter Prophets (Narkiss 1982, No. 5, History). II. Other inscriptions: 1. Fol. 429 lower part, an inscription in cursive Sephardi script in light brown ink includes two verses from Lamentations (4:21, 22), each followed by Jonathan ben Uziel's Aramaic Targum: זה תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל. 2. 16th-century Italian hand (Scribe C): Fol. 24v: Weather divinations for the whole year written in Aramaic in the right and centre decorative columns, which were left empty by Scribe B. III. Additional five single leaves from a manuscript of c.1400 (fols. 1-3, 438-439): Three front parchment flyleaves (fols. 1-3): Fol. 2v: A rhymed poem written in the form of a tree beginningמדושתי ובן גרני דגני והפרי אשר גדל בן גיל הקריב. The poem is by Yehiel ben-Harosh though it is not signed and not included among his published work (David 1986:53-55). Yehiel was the great-grandson of Harosh (d.1327), and since his first poem is dated 1390, we may surmise that the leaves can be dated around 1400. Surrounding the tree are many inscriptions in semi-cursive Sephardi script, probably verses from one or more unidentified poems. Fol. 3: A rhymed poem יהלל פי לאל אין לו גְויה by Yehiel ben Harosh (Davidson, Thesaurus, י 1475), written in micrography in the form of a circle enclosing a rosette. This form was originally conceived by Yehiel who called it עוגת שירה(Poetical Circle), and includes his name in an acrostic (Steinschneider 1895:216; David 1986:53-55). Fol. 3v: Yehiel's poem is copied once more, and although entitled העוגה זהי (This is the Circle), it is written in verse form by a semi-cursive Sephardi hand (Steinschneider 1895). A later hand deciphered the name of the poet in the acrostic and wrote it in the outer margin in pencil, in faint semi-cursive Sephardi script: יחיאל הקטן ברבי אשר בן אשר חזק אמן. Of the two back parchment flyleaves (fols. 438-439), apparently from the same manuscript as fols. 1-3, the last is blank (fol. 439) and the other (fol. 438v) includes a calendar for the 14 possible years of the Jewish festivals, and tables (לוחות המולדות) for the five cycles 276-280 corresponding to 1466-1560. IV. Textual annotations by an 18th-century Italian hand: Fol. 133v, upper margin, an inscription in semi-cursive Italian script indicating that the books of the Hagiographa were arranged by the massoretes in the following order: Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra (and Nehemiah), which is the traditional Spanish order and that of this Bible: ובעלי המסורת סדרו הכתובים בזה הדרך, דה"י (דברי הימים), תהלים, איוב, משלי, רות, שיר השירים, קהלת, קינות, אסתר, דניאל, עזרה(!), וכזה הסדרים הספרדים וכן הוא סדר המקרא הזאת. By the same Italian hand, in the margins, additional massoretic variants according to two celebrated exegetes: In the Pentateuch (fols. 30, 90v): ר' מאיר, R. Meir Halevi ben Todros Abulafia (Burgos 1170– Toledo 1244), known as RaMaH, according to his Masoret Seyag LaTorah (ed. Florence 1751). In various books (fols. 105v, 204v, 412 - twice): נורצי, R. Yedidiah Shelomo Norzi (Mantua 1560– Italy 1626), probably according to his Minhat Shai (ed. Mantua 1742). The fact that this hand revised the text in accordance with Norzi's massoretic work, printed for the first time in the 18th century in Italy, suggests that he lived in this period, perhaps in Italy. By the same hand: running titles of pericopes in the Pentateuch and chapter numeration in Hebrew letters in some books. V. R.N.N. Rabinowitz catalogue: First paper flyleaf, recto: Dieses ms. ist in Catal. Rabbin. 1880/ p. 31 verzeichnet; s. Hebr. Bibliogr./ XXI (1881/2) S. 59 (This manuscript is recorded in Rabinowitz Catalogue 1880:31; cf. Hebräische Bibliographie (HB), XXI (1881/2), p. 59). Both Steinschneider (1895:216) and Davidson (1907:122) indicate that the manuscript was owned by Rabinowitz in 1880. Indeed, there is a description of this manuscript by Rabinowitz in Munich BSB manuscript archive. VI. C. D. Ginsburg's inscription: On the front pastedown is an inscription in plummet by Christian D. Ginsburg written on 14th October 1884, referring to the list on fol. 428-428v: "The list of variations between the sepher Muga (Codex Muggeh) and sepher Hilali (Codex Hilleli) given in this MS fol. 428 a-b I have printed in my edition of the Massorah Vol. III. No. III p. 129-134. 14. Oct 1884. Christian D. Ginsburg" (Ginsburg, מסורת המסורת, London 1881–1905, III:130-134; idem, 1966:431). VII. Signatures and library stamps: At the foot of the front pastedown, on the right: "Kruis" printed in blue. Fol. 1 and back pastedown, in pencil: Cod. Hebr. 422; and on the right by a different hand: num. 392. Fols. 1v-2 were once glued together with cardboard between. Fol. 2: On that piece of cardboard glued onto the parchment there are pen trials of verses, e.g. עניה סוערה לא נוחמה (Isa. 54:11), and an imprint of a lost Latin text. Fols. 1, 439v and on first front and first back paper flyleaves: an oval stamp: BIBLIOTHECA\ REGIA\ MONACENSIS. The manuscript is not registered in the accession books of the BSB, but it must have been acquired before 14th October 1884, when Ginsburg signed his name on the front pastedown.
Main Surveys & Excavations
Baer and Strack 1879 S. Baer and H. L. Strack (eds.) Die Dikduke Ha-Teamim des Aharon ben Moscheh ben Ascher, Leipzig 1879. Beinart 1992 H. Beinart (ed.), Moreshet Sepharad: The Sephardi Legacy, Jerusalem 1992. Convivencia 1992 Convivencia: Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Medieval Spain, V. B. Mann, T. F. Glick, J. D. Dodds (eds.), New York 1992. David 1989 Y. David, The Poems of Yehiel ben-Harosh, Jerusalem 1986. (Hebrew). Elizur 2004 ש' אליצור, שירת החול העברית בספרד המוסלמית, תל אביב 2004 (S. Elizur, Secular Hebrew poems in Islamic Spain, Tel Aviv 2004). Garel 1991 M. Garel, D'une Main Forte: Manuscrits Hébreux des Collections Françaises, Paris 1991. Ginsburg 1880–1905 C. D. Ginsburg, The Massorah, 3 vols., London 1881–1905 (כ' ד' גינצבורג, מסורת המסורת, 3 כרכים, לונדון, 1881-1905). Ginsburg 1966 C. D. Ginsburg, Introduction to the Massoretico-critical edition of the Hebrew Bible, London 1897, repr. 1966 with introduction by H. M. Orlinsky. Kogman-Appel 2002 K. Kogman-Appel, "Hebrew Manuscript Painting in Late Medieval Spain: Signs of a Culture in Transition", The Art Bulletin, vol. 84, No. 2 (Jun., 2002):246-272. Kogman-Appel 2004 K. Kogman-Appel, Jewish Book Art Between Islam and Christianity: The Decoration of Hebrew Bibles in Medieval Spain, Leiden: Brill 2004. Levin 2011 I. Levin (ed.), Abraham Ibn Ezra's Poetry, Tel Aviv 2011. Pagis 1993 D. Pagis, Poetry Aptly Explained - Studies and Essays on Medieval Hebrew Poetry, Jerusalem 1993 ( ,השיר דבור על אופניוHa-Shir Davur Al Ofanav). Narkiss 1982 B. Narkiss, Illuminated Manuscripts in the British Isles, Jerusalem and London 1982. Sarna 1984 N. M. Sarna, The Pentateuch. Early Spanish Manuscript (Codex Hillely) from the Collection of the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, Introduction by N. M. Sarna, Jerusalem 1984. Sassoon 1932 D. S. Sassoon, Ohel Dawid: Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the Sassoon Library, Oxford 1932, vol. 1:1-2. Sed-Rajna 1975 G. Sed-Rajna, "Toledo or Burgos?", Journal of Jewish Art, vol. II (1975):6-21. Sed-Rajna 1992 G. Sed-Rajna, "Second Kennicott Bible", Convivencia: Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Medieval Spain, V. B. Mann, T. F. Glick, J. D. Dodds (eds.), New York 1992:180-181. Sed-Rajna 1994 G. Sed-Rajna, Les Manuscrits Hébreux Enluminés des Bibliothèques de France, Leuven-Paris 1994. Stern 2012 D. Stern, "The Hebrew Bibles in Europe in the Middle Ages: A Preliminary Typology", Jewish Studies: An Internet Journal 11 (2012):235-322; available at: http://www.biu.ac.il/JS/JSIJ/11-2012/Stern.pdf. Weiser 1992 R. Weiser (ed.), Books from Sefarad, Jerusalem 1992. Zacuto 1857 A. Zacuto, Sefer Yuhasin, London 1857.
Short Name
Full Name
Ilona Steimmann; Prof, Aliza Cohen-Mushlin | 2009; 2009, 2010
Author of description
Estherlee Kanon; Prof, Aliza Cohen-Mushlin; Yaffa Levy | 2009; 2010, 2014; 2010, 2014
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal; Project Head: Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin |
Language Editor
Christine Evans | 2014
Supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation |
Negative/Photo. No.