Codex Cairensis

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The Codex Cairensis (also: Codex Prophetarum Cairensis, Cairo Codex of the Prophets) is believed to be the oldest extant Hebrew manuscript containing the complete text of the Old Testament Nevi'im (prophets).



According to its colophon, it was written complete with punctuation by Moses ben Asher in Tiberias "at the end of the year 827 after the destruction of the second temple" (= 895 CE). It was given as a present to the Karaite community in Jerusalem, and taken as booty by the Crusaders in 1099. Later, it came into the possession of the Karaite community in Cairo, where it is still kept today.

When the Codex reached Israel, in 1985, the Karaite Jews formed a committee that decided to keep the Codex temporarily in the custody of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Any future decision for the codex would be in the hand of the Karaite Jews Council in Israel. In 2006 David Marzouk and Albert Gamill visited the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and inspected the Codex for authenticity and explore the possibility of digitizing the Codex on behalf of the Karaite Jews in Israel. The Hebrew University emphasized at that time that any decision is and will always be up to the Karaite Council in Israel.

In 2008, when David Marzouk and Albert Gamill along with Abraham Cohen, the president of the Karaite Council, and Moshe Dabbah, member of the Karaite committee, requested and urged gently the Hebrew University to digitize the Codex, on behalf of the Karaite Jews Council in Israel, the Hebrew University's reply was regrettably unfavorable.

Negotiations are still active between the Hebrew University and the Karaite Jews Council to keep and maintain forever the ownership and authority on this valuable and precious Ben Asher Codex of the prophets in the hand of the Karaites.


The codex contains the books which belong to the prophets according to Jewish terminology, i.e. as well as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the book of the Minor Prophets (but not Daniel), the so-called former or earlier prophets Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. It also contains 13 carpet pages.

See also



  • Ernst Würthwein, Der Text des Alten Testaments, Stuttgart 1974 (4th edition), ISBN 3-438-06006-X
  • The Hebrew University Bible Project: Ezekiel, ed. S. Talmon; pub. The Hebrew University Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 2004; ISBN 965-493-186-9

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