Friday, December 01, 2017

Torah scroll seized in Turkey

APPREHENDED: Four Arrested in Turkey for Stealing 700-Year Old Torah Scroll (Sputnik News).
Four people were arrested in Turkey last week after attempting to sell an ancient Torah scroll to undercover police officers for almost $2 million.

The Torah, the holiest book in Judaism, contains the entire Hebrew text of the Five Books of Moses and is read aloud in all synagogues. The one recently recovered in Turkey is believed to be 700 years old.

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It's possible that they had a 700-year-old Torah scroll, but I am skeptical of all details of the story until I see some independent verification. I note it because in recent years there have been many stories about supposedly-ancient Jewish artifacts being seized from smugglers in Turkey.

I like to keep track of these. I have collected my past posts here (follow-ups here and here). Often the claims about the artifacts have seemed dubious. This case is one of the more plausible stories, although the asking price strikes me as awfully high.

Again, well done to the Turkish authorities for all their efforts against antiquities smuggling.

The photo at the top of the article is not of the Torah scroll in question. It is of a printed volume and the text isn't even the Pentateuch.

UPDATE: Reader Roberto Labanti points us to this Daily Sabah article, which has photos of what is reported to be this Torah manuscript: 700-year-old Torah seized in Turkey's Mu─čla. It is written in gold ink (cf. here, here and here). The first and third image are upside-down, but I can make out enough of the text to see that it isn't a Torah text. It has more recent Hebrew forms in it. Also, it isn't nearly big enough to be a complete Torah scroll. I don't know what it is, but I very much doubt that it is worth $1.9 million.

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