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Hebrew and Jewish manuscripts

Collection Details

Hebrew and Jewish manuscripts held at Cambridge University Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

The collection of Hebrew manuscripts at Cambridge University Library is among the world's most important. In this collection, which includes well over a thousand items, a wide range of Hebrew literature is represented. The languages covered are Hebrew, Aramaic and Judaeo-Arabic, as well as Judaeo-Spanish and specimens of other languages. Although the bulk of the material is late medieval, there are also earlier items, such as the famous Nash Papyrus, dating back to the 2nd century BCE.

The library also holds ca. 140000 Hebrew and Aramaic fragments from the Cairo Genizah. A separate description exists for that collection (see link below).

History and development

The collection of Hebrew mansucripts has grown from a nucleus of a few Hebrew items that were deposited in the Library soon after its foundation. The collection has been expanded, at various stages, through new purchases and donations. For a detailed history of the collection's development, see the preface to Reif's catalogue.


It includes substantial numbers of Bible manuscripts, Bible versions and commentaries, as well as Talmud, Halakhah, Liturgy, Science, Poetry, Philosophy and Kabbalah.

General arrangement and access regulations

Most Hebrew manuscripts are kept within the "Oriental" sequence in the stack (class-marks beginning with Double letters [e.g. "Aa"], "Add." or "Or."). They can be consulted in the main manuscripts reading room. Normal opening hours and access regulations apply.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Near & Middle East and North Africa.


Egypt, Israel, Yemen.

Languages of material

Aramaic, Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, Ladino, Yiddish.


Agriculture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Communication and media, Economics, Education, History, Language, Literature, Medicine, Philosophy, Religion.

Languages as linguistic focus

Aramaic, Hebrew.

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types


Total size of collection

over 1000 codices.

Size of collection - vernacular


Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has stayed the same.

Annual intake

4 items

Content date range

200 BC to 1900 AD

Collection Catalogue Information


Hebrew manuscipts are not included in the online catalogue of the library. Readers may consult the printed cataloguge (see below).

Catalogue transliteration schemes

The transliteration scheme used in the most recent printed catalogue corresponds largely to that of the Library of Congress.

Collection printed catalogues

Hebrew manuscripts at Cambridge University Library
Reif, S.C.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
This is the most recent catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts collection. There are also the volumes of an earlier, partial catalogue, prepared by S.M. Schiller-Szinessy, which include more detailed descriptions of some items. See the bibliography on the webpage linked below.

Links to other collections

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