On Saturday, 18 August 1883, Monsieur Clermont-Ganneau completed his second of two days of what he called an “unpleasant task” of examining the two fragments of the MS displayed in the King’s Library. He wrote his assessment on this day, but it would not appear until 21 August in that day’s edition of The Times. The celebrated soldier-scholar, Captain Claude Conder would also put pen to paper with his own reasons for rejection of the manuscript strips on 18 August. His opinion would also appear in the 21 August edition of The Times.

The negative assessments of Adolf Neubauer and Archibald Sayce written on 13 August appeared in The Academy on 18 August. There were also stories about the manuscript strips published in The Saturday Review and The Leeds Mercury, though these papers were primarily reporting on information covered already in The Times and The Athenæum

Dr. Ginsburg’s second of three installments appeared in the Saturday, 18 August 1883 edition of The Athenæum.[1] It offered readers the Hebrew text from the beginning of the manuscript up to a certain point, followed by Ginsburg’s English translation and a few explanatory notes.

The Shapira MS. Of Deuteronomy.

Herewith I give the beginning of Deuteronomy as exhibited in the fragments. The other portions will follow in regular order.

אלה הדברם אשר דבר משה על פי יהוה

אל כל בני ישראל במדבר בעבר הירדן

בערבה . אלהם אלהנו דבר אלנו בחרב

לאמר . רב לכם שבת בהר הזה פנו וסעו

לכם ובאו הר האמרי ואל כל שכנו בערבה

בהר ובשפלה ובחף הים . ונסע מחרב ונלך

את כל המדבר הגדל והנרא הזה אשר

ראתם ונבא עד קדש ברנע ואמר אלכם

באתם היום עד הר האמרי עלו ורשו את

הארץ כאשר דבר …… אבתם לעלת

ותרגנו ותאמרו בשנא … לאבדנו וינאף

אלהם וישבע לאמר חי אני כי כל העם

הראם את אתתי ואת מפתי אשר עשתי זה

עשר פעמם …. לא … לא שמעו בקלי

אם יראו את הארץ הטבה אשר נשבעתי

לתת לאבתהם . בלתי טפכם וכלב בן יפנה

ויהשע בן נן העמד לפנך המה יבאו שמה

ונהם אתננה . ואתם פנו לכם וסעו המדברה

דרך ים סף עד תם כל הדר אנשי המרבה 

מקדש המחנה ותשבו בקדש ברנע עד תמו

אנשי המרבה למת מקרב המחנה ………

א]תם עברם היום את גבל בני עשו

היושבם [בש]עיר לא [תצר]ם ולא תתגר בם

מלחמה כי לא אתן מארצם לכם ירשה . 

כי לבני עשו נתתה ירשה . החרם מעלם

ישבה בה ובני עשו ירשם וישבו תחתם .

ונפן ונעבר את מדבר מאב . ויאמר אלהם

אלי אתם עברם היום את גבל מאב לא

תצרם ולא תתגר בם מלחמה כי לא אתן 

מארצם לכם ירשה כי לבני לט נתתי עד

ירשה . רפאם מעלם ישבו בה והמאבם יקראו

להם אמם וישמדם אלהם וישבו תחתם . 

ונפן ונעבר את נחל זרד ויאמר אלהם אלי

לאמר קמו ועברו את נחל ארנן היום החלתי

לתת לפנך את סיחן מלך חשבן האמרי

ואת ארצו . ונצא לקראת סיחן יהצה ונכה

עד לא השאר לו שרד ונלכד את כל ערו

מערער אשר על שפת נחל ארנן עד הגלעד

ועד נחל יבק הכל נתן אלהם אלהנו לפננו .

ונפן ונעבר דרך נחל יבק ויאמר אלהם אלי

לאמר אתם עברם היום את גבל ארץ בני

עמן לא תצרם ולא תתגר בם מלחמה כי

לבני לט נתתי ארץ בני עמן ירשה . רפאם

מעלם ישבו בה והעמנם יקראו להם עזמזמם

.וישמ[ד]ם אלהם מפנהם וישבו תחתם

“These be the words which Moses spake according to the mouth of Jehovah unto all the children of Israel in the wilderness beyond the Jordan in the plain. God our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount. Turn you and take your journey and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale and by the seaside. And when we departed from Horeb we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw; and we came to Kadesh-Barnea. And I said unto you, Ye are come this day unto the mountain of the Amorites. Go ye up and possess ye the land, as said [unto thee the God of thy fathers]. [Notwithstanding] ye would [not] go up. And ye murmured and said, Because [God] hated us…… to cause us to perish. And God was angry [and sware] saying, As I live, surely all the people that saw my wonders and my signs which I have done these ten times … not … they have not hearkened unto my voice, they shall not see that good land which I sware to give unto their fathers, save your children and Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun which standeth before thee, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it. But as for you, turn you and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea, until all the generation of the men of rebellion shall be wasted out from among the host. [And they abode] in Kadesh-Barnea until the man of rebellion were wasted out by death from among the host. …… Ye are to pass over this day the coast of the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir. Thou shalt not distress them, nor meddle with them in war, for I will not give you of their land any possession, because I had given it unto the children of Esau for a possession. The Horim from of old dwelt therein, and the children of Esau succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead. And we turned and passed the wilderness of Moab. And God said unto me, Ye shall pass over this day the coast of Moab, ye shall not distress them, nor meddle with them in war, for I will not give you of their land any possession, because I have given unto the children of Lot the city for a possession. The giants dwelt therein from of old and the Moabites called them Amim, but God destroyed them, and they dwelt in their stead. And we turned and passed the brook Zered. And God said unto me [saying], Rise ye up and pass over the river Arnon. This day will I begin to deliver to thy face Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. And we went forth against Sihon to Jahaz, and we smote him till we left him none to remain. And we took all his cities from Aroer, which is by the brink of the river Arnon, unto Gilead and unto the brook Jabbok. God our God delivered all unto us. Then we turned and went up the way of the brook Jabbok. And God said unto me, saying, Ye are to pass this day the coast of the land of the children of Ammon. Ye shall not distress them nor meddle with them in war, because I have given unto the children of Lot the land of the children of Ammon for a possession. The giants dwelt therein from of old, and the Ammonites called them Azamzummim, but God destroyed them before them, and they dwelt in their stead.”

I have only to remark: – 

  1. That the writing, with the exception of the Decalogue, is continuous, and that the division of it into separate words is my own. 
  2. The points after certain sentences (e.g., lines 3,4, &c.), which are a kind of versicular division, are in the MS.
  3. In the original, when a word could not be got into the line it is divided, and part of it stands at the end of the line and the other part begins the next line, as is the case in the inscription on the Moabites Stone.

In the previous article the point after נפש “person,” has by mistake been joined to it, and thus made it a suffix, which must be corrected.

I have also to remark that instead of saying that the phrase אלהם אלהך, “God, thy God,“ does not occur in the Bible, I should have said “not in the Pentateuch,” since this phrase occurs twice in the Psalms (xlv. 8; l.7).

Christian D. Ginsburg.

In the same edition of The Athenæum, on page 211, the following notice appeared.

“Two of the pieces of leather which Mr. Shapira has brought over inscribed with portions of the text of Deuteronomy are being shown under glass in the King’s Library. Until Dr. Ginsburg has made his report on the fragments it will be impossible to permit the examination of them by other scholars, so that the wish of the Review Critique that they may be at once handed over “au contrôle d’autres savants compétents, et notamment à celui des savants Français qui, en matière d’épigraphie et de paléographie sémitiques, jouissent en Europe d’une incontestable autorité,” will not be realized.”

Ginsburg still refrained from offering an opinion as to the authenticity of the leather strips. Readers around the world waited for his decision, but scholars seemed eager to denounce the manuscript. Clermont-Ganneau and Claude Conder looked forward to the appearance of their respective assessments in Tuesday’s edition of The Times.

[1] “The Shapira MS. Of Deuteronomy,” The Athenæum, no. 2912, 18 August 1883, 206