HEBREW PENTATEUCH AND 'FIVE SCROLLS'. CODEX MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM. [France, mid-13th century].\n\n310 x 220 mm. 261 leaves (of 264): 1-138(lacking 13/6) 144; 15-248(lacking 24/5) 254; 26-348(without 34/8 blank). Modern pencilled foliation 1-261. On thick vellum with clearly distinguishable hair and flesh sides, arranged according to Gregory. Double column, 22 lines. Ruled in blind with a sharp hard point, bifolium by bifolium on the hair side: 23 horizontal lines for the Biblical text; three vertical lines each in the inner margins, between columns, and in the outer margins (the last cropped); three narrower horizontal lines in upper margins and four in lower margins for the Masorah magna, which was not copied; written area of Biblical text: 215 x 155 mm. Prickings visible in top margins (elsewhere cropped). The blind ruling occasionally supplemented with colored plummet on the flesh side (ff. 79v, 99v, 104r, 216r, 227v). Written by a single skilled, professional scribe in dark brown ink in a square Ashkenazic (Franco-German) script, with vocalization and accent signs. Marginal corrections and annotations by the original scribe and others (occasionally cropped). Justification of line-ends accomplished by stretching or compressing the last letters, by anticipating the next word (in many cases the last letter of the beginning of the following word is executed in a stunted shape), and by inserting graphic fillers. (The margins trimmed to reduce the size of the bookblock from an original measurement of perhaps 400 x 250 mm, f. 1r blank and the lower blank margin of f. 2r discolored from contact with the board of an earlier binding, faint dampstain to upper margins, ca. 30 leaves with stains to lower blank corners, strips cut from the lower blank margin of f. 1 and the outer blank margins of 6 other leaves, blank margins partially cut from 5 other leaves and re-attached by early sewing, small natural flaws to ca. 20 leaves, early repairs to lower blank corners of ca. 10 leaves.)\nBinding: 15th-century Italian dark brown blind-tooled goatskin over wooden boards, covers tooled to a geometrical pattern with knotwork tools, roll-tooled border enclosing a central panel formed by a smaller roll-tool, the panel divided into two equal squares by a roll-tooled band, each enclosing two small squares of repeated circular knotwork tools on upper cover, and a center- and corner-piece design on lower cover, spine tooled to an overall diaper pattern by intersecting diagonal double fillets, each lozenge decorated with a single small circle tool, evidence of two fore-edge clasps, original plain parchment pastedown endleaves (possibly a 15th- or 16th-century remboîtage, worn with some loss to leather, but apparently unrestored).\n\nContents: Genesis (ff. 1v-60v), Exodus (ff. 60v-107v, lacking 1 leaf after f. 101: Ex 35:35-36:21); Leviticus (ff. 108r-143r), Numbers (ff. 143v-190v, lacking 1 leaf after f. 183: Num. 31:10-31:36); Deuteronomy (ff. 191r-232r, partial interlinear Latin translation on f. 191r, colophon to Pentateuch on f. 232r: "This Pentateuch has been examined and checked; from it one may copy the Torah of Moses"), Song of Songs (ff. 232r-236r), Ruth (ff. 236r-239v), Lamentations (ff. 239v-244r), Ecclesiastes (ff. 244r-252v), Esther (ff. 252v-261v).\n\nLocalization and Dating: The manuscript shows a combination of codicological features which are typical of dated Franco-German Hebrew manuscripts prior to the last third of the thirteenth century, when there was a shift in techniques of parchment preparation, pricking and ruling. In addition, the manuscript manifests other typical Ashkenazic scribal traditions such as the pattern of ruling, writing between the lines, and the devices for producing even lines and left margins. The kind of parchment employed and the partial experimental use of plummet to reinforce the ruled lines are characteristic of the late twelfth century and the first third of the thirteenth century. However, the French style of the Ashkenazic script, which indicates France as the place of production, is similar to dated French manuscripts of the middle of the thirteenth century, and in particular to Tours, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 9, which is dated 1268 (cf. C. Sirat and M. Beit-Arié, Manuscrits médiévaux en caractères hébraïques portant des indications de date jusqu'à 1540, vol. I, Paris and Jerusalem 1972, no. 6). On the basis of the codicological and paleographical evidence and comparison with other dated Hebrew manuscripts, the production of the present manuscript may be assigned to France ca. 1250.\n\nProbably in the fourteenth century, the Latin text of Deut. 1:1 was written in over the Hebrew words on f. 191r. Tours, MS 9, was also provided with a partial interlinear Latin translation of about the same date, but in a different hand. By the fifteenth century the present codex was in Italy, to judge from its binding. This is clearly the manuscript's second binding, and it was presumably on this occasion that the textblock was cut down drastically, particularly in the outer and lower margins. This suggests that the boards were pre-existing and perhaps reused from the binding of another book.\n\nTHIS HIGHLY IMPORTANT MANUSCRIPT OF THE PENTATEUCH WAS INTENDED AS A GUIDE FOR SCRIBES. The colophon following the book of Deuteronomy, which may be translated "This Pentateuch has been examined and checked; from it one may copy the Torah of Moses," or "This Pentateuch has been revised and proof-read for copying the Sefer Torah of Moses," indicates clearly that the manuscript was prepared as a Tiqqun Soferim, or guide for scribes. That is, it was a text from which the Torah could be copied. This is of great significance because no Ashkenazic Torah scrolls survive from so early a period.\n\nThe masorist who vocalized the text, and who worked in cooperation with the scribe, was responsible for the accuracy of the text and the details of the Masorah regarding orthography and placement of the words on the pages. He added the words and phrases which had been inadvertently omitted by the scribe, and attested on f. 232r that the book was suitable to serve as a guide for scribes. Although the Masorah magna was not copied into the manuscript, and the Masorah parva only selectively, the masorist added the information a scribe would need, indicating oversized letters, undersized letters, open sections, closed sections, and arranged sections, four blank lines between the books of the Pentateuch, and words which should appear on the top lines of columns or at the beginning of lines.\n\nThe text is divided into "open" sections (petuhot) and "closed" sections (setumot), and in rare cases "arranged" sections (sedurot). The open and closed sections appear in every possible variation, nor did the scribe write the closed passages in one particular form. When an open section ended in the middle of its last line, and the new one began at the beginning of the next line, one letter "peh" was added to the space; whenever the former passage ended at the end of a line and the scribe left a blank line between the two passages, it was marked by two letters "peh", one at the beginning of the blank line and one at the end. Closed sections were indicated by the letter "samek". If at the end of the last line of the previous section enough room was left, the letter was placed in the blank space at the end of the line; if only a small space remained, the letter was placed at the beginning of the next line. If the closed section began at the end of the same line where the previous section ended and there was space in the middle of the line, the letter "samek" was placed in the free space between the two sections.\n\nIn addition, the letter "peh" was inscribed in many places in the margins, indicating not open sections, but breaks in the reading for calling up the next of the "seven men" honored with the Torah reading. Where these letters are absent, they were evidently trimmed by the binder. Only in the first Torah portion, Parashat Bereshit, were the first two readings cited as Kohen (f. 1r, margin of Gen. 1:1) and Levi (f. 1v, margin of Gen 2:4). A scepter-like decoration appears above the words Kohen and Levi, which were apparently written by the masorist. In general, the manuscript accurately follows the ancient Franco-German tradition, and also includes some masoretic details unknown from any other source. A description of these features is available on request.\n\nChristie's thanks Dr. Malachi Beit-Arié, Dr. Colette Sirat, and Dr. Shelomo Zucker for their contributions to the cataloguing of this lot.