[A PDF version of this post is available on my Academia page. These “notes as a preface to the M.S. of Deut.” is contained in the dossier, “Papers Relative to M.W. Shapira’s Forged MS. Of Deuteronomy (A.D. 1883 – 1884).” Add. MS. 41294 (London: British Library). In this transcription I have made every effort to present the text as written by Moses Shapira, even preserving misspelled words and improper grammar for the purpose of retaining the authentic nature of Shapira’s notes.]

A few notes as a preface to the M.S. of Deut. will I think not be out of place. 1st how I got it?

            About 5 years ago I heard in the house of Sheique Machmud Arakat in Abu Dis talking a good deal of all things which are still to be had at the east of the Jordan. Some of the Haijaha tribes who were present said that every beduin who delivers old Charms or talisman’s to Europians has to be deriven out from among his people because he delivers the blessingness of his Countery to others, &c, & they narrate many things all of which were to illustrate the great blessedness the Charms of stones brings to the owner. One present told the following a long history from which I only catch the following. That about 12 or 15 years (about 1865) some old black strips of inscribed linen or leather strips smelling like Humar (Asphat) should have been discovered of by one of the Salid tribes, when hiddin high up in a Cave haven in rock near Arnon (Mojib) against the pesrucutian of the Turkish Governement. They the strips should have had been covered with old rotten Lenin, which have been peeled away. Sopposing some gold inside being disapointed they through them away but one of them was cleaver & took them up. & have them yet he said in his tent. & he became since,


he possess them wealthy. Whilst the oder remain poor. I althoug not beliving all what the man said & especially as he had it only from hearsay I x nevertheless asked the man if could not bring me some of the strips. he answered that the owner will not give them for hunderts, another said that he will persude the man to sell them for a few medjdis – My friend Sheque Arakat, found me a man, which will steal to use his own words his mother in law for a few Beshlics Well the man one of the Hajyaha tribes who called himself Salam made an apointment with me to meet on the road between the so called fountain of the Apostels & Bethany. (he was afraid to inter the town being it seems a rubber or murderer) brought me a little peace upon which I could at the first look discover a few phöniecian letters for which I gave him only a few Beshlics with a promise to give him the 2nd time some what more. in the course of 5 weeks he brought me all I possess now in 4 different times & said there are no more to be got. I have never been enabled to follow the trace of this man nor the 1ststory teller. as my friend Sheque Arakat died soon 

When they came to me there were very much oiled, the man said they did it to priseve it from wettness as well as from too much

[new page]

dryeness, from the great heat.

            The reading were clearer than now, althiogh the ink or die (what it is) was more pale than it is now after being refreshed hunderds of times with wt water/& spirit the only method of inabling one to read it. 

            They have been already folded to gether not rolled up when they came to my possesion

            The 1st method I used to read it well was to put oil upon it. as long as the glitter contain the letters were seeing very clear but soon the Lustre fad away & nothing were seen of the letters. I tryed water. & I have nearly spoiled the peace, – I then tryed spirit which did the best. & inabled me to read the must of them, in the course of 5 weeks – 

I found that it contains a short account of Moses speech in the plain of Moab only. I soon discovered that they are of two or even 3 M.S.S. of one & the same Containce as well as the same forms of letters, but not of the same material & not of the same writen – one is much better written, it looks as if the man wrote a good deal in his live time. The verses are devided with a point but no devitian of words are to be found only in both of them in the ten Commandments. I helped myself when I could not read one by the other although both seems not to be complete

[new page]

I found soon that the Topographia of the Eastern side of Palestine are good the History marviously clearly told, in the most beautiful pure old Hebrew but I was astounished to find that although the name Jehova are mentioned it in the 1st & last verse of the M.S. it is never mentioned in the body of the M.S., only Elohim, not even El or Adonai. no! not once. (It certainly belongs if Genuine to an Elohistic school which may have existed even long after Jehova have been accknowleged by the orthodox Jews).

            In the 24 Sept 1878 I have send a copy of it transcribed in Hebrew letters marked also all the places where my reading were only sugestians to Prof. Schlottmann and a few days later to I gave notice of it with a very short discriptian to Dr. Reiw in the British Museum. I got an answer from Prof Schlottmann that he thinks that a trap has been laid for me, he could not believe 1st that our Decalogia is not genuine (who said this?) 2ndly That our Deutr should be so bad (!!) 3 That there should be in the ten Commanded an Aramaic word החרתך That argument I thought at that time very strong but not now as the root of the word are of the oldest Hebrew. חרי הארץ

2 [?]

again he has against of the form אבם instead of אבות (it was a miscriptian of mine) it are realy אבת again an other word which would cairtainly have been a prove but it was only my fault in reading it badly. it was the childern of עשו instead of לוט but we examined it again & again in the two M.S.S. & it is written right – nevertheless when I got prof S. letter I thought that he is right & have Telegraphed (I belive so have telegraphed not written) to Dr Riew that Prof S. declaired the MS as a forgery – 

            Of course my first thought was who made it? & for what pop porpose? &c &c.

            My suspition fell upon a Dr Landsberg who wished to hurt me in every way & I thought at that time that he his an Hebrew scholar, (but I heard now that he is it not) again I thought it could not be because in that case it would have been for his porpase to write it with the so much desputet letters found in the Moabitic pottery which are not here the case,  – Well I sealed up the M.S.S. & giving over to a Banking be[f]ure before leaving for Arabia Felix to be kept in a fine fine save trunk, My own chief daubts agains the genuiness of the MS was that 

[new page]

Agrees with our usuel Bible, 

but since I myself had have found of late years great variations of the text, & specially thous of the Hebrew text with Arabic letters now since last year in the British Museum, which variatians are marviausly great nearly as much as our M.S. from our Bible & since I have the varriatians in the revised New Test. even in our Lords prayers & since I have studied some of the new critics on the Old Test. a change came over my mind.


A few more remarks

It is always written חסר even the יוד before the ind מם of plural and duel form are always wanting even of שמים but are to be found in מים & in שעיר & סיהן and always at the end of a word, as pronoun 1st person so, מצותי אלי פני עשתי נתתי but אנך are always without a יוד

The wav are always חסר besides in הוא & יום & in מצות & in p. n. as ראובן זבולן יהודה but wanting in סיחן עג לט עמן and in שמען

            There are no devisian of words in the whole M.S.S. besides at the ten Commandments in both of them where there are a space & int point betwein every word even the smaller word as כן  על but there are neither devisian nor point after the words לא & את

            Every Comand begins with a new line & ends with the words אנך אלהם אלהך.

            Every verse has a stop – but the words do not ind at the ind of a line but has often half in one & half in the other line – 

            They are two different material & writting hand writing (as it seems to me) of one & the same object & a piece seems to have belonged to a 3th M.S. of the same object.

[new page]

My reasons of daubting the genuiness of the M.S. for a long time have been as follows – 

against itfor it
1. That we met neither Jehova or El or אדניin the whole body of the M.S. & only אלהם are used even near אלהך or אלהנו – Could it be possible that they have not known so late the name יהוה? and especialy as we find יהוה on the Mesa Stone?It may belong to a school which know only Elohim even when Jehova was well known under the Orthodox Jews.again the Original of the M.S. may be very old.We have only to accustum ourself to אלהם אלהנוWe have many such cases as אל אלהים יהוה – זה אלהים אלהינו
2. How is it that the first line & ind the name יהוה are mentioned The scribe who headed and inded the put this verses of his account & he was a Jehovist.
3. The change in the ten Commanment are very suspicious?Yes some said, but for the better and looks an original whilst ours not – 
4. The word החרתך looks Aramaic not early Hebrew?The root חורי חרר are certainly old Hebrew.
5. לא תענו instead of תענה seems to be wrong – May be only a miscription although Dr Guthe proves that תענו is better תענה – 
[new page] 
against itfor it
6. בעת ההוא are suspicious in an original I mean the verse ויצאו  בעת ההוא בנת מאב ונשי מדין לקראכם6. It was already a time ago of week or month & it is not as bad as עד היום הזה וגי
7. The word לתתוהת instead of לטטפת in very curious?7. Yes, but not any reason of a forgery. 
8. It seems that it was rolled around a mummy (although not certain the people said that it was found in small bundles but only from hearsay) & again if it was folded.?It will be more than 20 years that it should have been found and may have been folded by the Arabs – or was it ever folded?
9. There are a few fault as ותאלו instead of ותאכלו & מנסחהו instead of מנסכהן – 9. That is certainly only a miscription of the scribe. I heard in the reverse complained that so little faults of writing are to be met. This M.S. seems never to be corected as no syin of correctians are to be seen – 
10. It is too good to be true, & too surprising?10. So it is & maked me also irresolute very often.
[new page] 
against itfor it
11. The ink looks in some places very blak & new & some pieces do not at all look old?11. Of course if one piece are genuine the whole are genuine. The first owner seemed to have oiled it very much to save it for dryness & wettness.The spirit & other means we used to enable us to read it maked some letters of the strips every day more black – We tried in Leipzig other old M.S.S. & find the same.

[new page]

Rema[rk]able that in our Authorised vertian of Deut. when ever Moses had accasian for warning Israel against worshiping images he always addressed them in plural form no matter if he only just used the singular adress & use also after inwards singular per Ex. (but only at the worship of תמנת פסל מסכה תבנית not at תעבה אשרה ירח.

At the last singular forms are used.

Deut.   4, 15-18           at pesel &c.                 plural

            4. 19                שמש ירח וגו                   singular

            4. 23                pesel                            plur

            4  24                singular address

            4. 25-29           worship of Idols          plural

            4. – 30             singular form

            6. 13                singular address

                 14               Idols                            plural

                 15               Common address

            7. 23, 24          singular

                 25               פסילי                            plural

                 26               תועבה אל ביתך               singular

            8. 19                beginning of the verse singular and coming to worship Idol plural.

[new page]

11. 15              sing ונתתי עשב בשדך 

      16              plur וסרתם ועבדתם אלהים  

30. 17              begins in reality with sing but ends with plural but these are not mentioned only אלהים אחרים not תמונה פסל in the song of הארינן are remarkable that all the address are used  in plural form only when speaking of strange gods the plural form are used – per Ex.

32. 17              יזבחו לשדים

       21             הם קנאוני בלא אל

       38             אשר חלב זבחימו יאכלו ישתו

have they at the worship of פסל & only service at assemblys & mettings? The MS of Deutr have also that from in plural.