This document is widely considered the most splendid of the extant manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah, the systematic code of Jewish law produced by the 12th-century Jewish philosopher, theologian, and physician, Moses ben Maimon, better known as Maimonides. The manuscript was made by a copyist from Spain, who commissioned an artist to illustrate the work and left space in the margins for drawings, decorative panels, and illuminations. The artwork was done in Italy, possibly in the workshop of Mateo De Ser Cambio in Perugia, circa 1400. A few ornamental headings and signs of textual divisions were done in Spain. Many important textual changes in the margins of the manuscript correspond to those found in the version of this work proofread by Maimonides himself. Maimonides was born in Córdoba, Spain, in 1135. In 1160 he moved with his family to Fez, Morocco, to escape religious persecution, and eventually settled in Cairo, where he became the personal physician to the sultan and his family. He also served as the head of the Jewish community of Cairo, where he died in 1204. His works on theology, law, philosophy, and medicine, mostly written in Arabic and translated into Hebrew, Latin, and other languages, were widely influential in both the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds.
Title in Original Language
Type of Item
463 pages : 586 x 495 millimeters, parchment
- At the end of the manuscript are three hand-written deeds of sale that throw light on the location of the manuscript: 1) Written in Avignon on: "Friday the 9th of Iyar in the year 5111" (1351). The seller: Don Luz [Louis] Shemuel de La Guardia of northern Spain. The buyer: Don Menashe Jacob Navarre of Avignon. Through the intermediary: Elijah ben Joseph known as Eliot Joseph Delahaye. 2) Written in Arles on "Rosh Chodesh Adar II in the year 5133" (1373). The seller: Don Abram Vidal de Bourrienne of Arles. The buyer: Judah. 3) Written in Ferrara on "Friday, the 6th of Kislev, the 18th of November in the year 5308" (1547). The seller: Abraham ben Menahem Finzi of Rovigo. The buyers: The brothers Don Jacob and Don Judah, sons of Don Shemuel [Samuel] Abravanel [Abrabanel, Abarbanel]. This manuscript had various Jewish owners in Frankfurt am Main from 1880, and was purchased by the Jewish National and University Library in 1966.
Last updated: June 22, 2015