Photo by Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman, West Semitic Research, in collaboration with the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center, courtesy Russian National Library
OLDEST COMPLETE HEBREW BIBLE. The Leningrad Codex dates to 1008 C.E. It is currently stored in the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad, hence the name). Prior to arriving at the National Library, the codex was in the possession of Abraham Firkovich, a Karaite collector. Before that, we know only part of the codex’s history. In the codex itself are two colophons—one at the beginning of the codex and one at the end—that state that the codex was copied in Cairo by Samuel ben Jacob. Eventually the codex made its way to the Damascus Synagogue. While Firkovich did not specify where he had originally procured the codex, it seems plausible that he acquired it in Damascus.
The text of the Leningrad Codex was used as the base for Biblia Hebraica Quinta, the most recent critical edition of the Hebrew Bible in the Biblia Hebraica series. In addition to being authoritative, the codex is beautifully decorated, replete with 16 illuminated carpet pages. Interwoven in the designs of the carpet pages are Biblical texts and blessings.