While some of the collections within the Chester Beatty Library, such as the Hebrew Collection, contain only a small number of volumes, they still reflect Beatty’s requirement for ‘quality’.
The Hebrew manuscripts were primarily acquired in the 1930s and 1940s from the dealer and collector Dr Abraham Shalom Yahuda (1877-1951).
The majority of the Hebrew texts are dated to the eighteenth or nineteenth century and consist primarily of Esther and Torah scrolls. Most of theses would appear to have originated in Italy, as many are written in an Italian quadrate script. In addition, the collection includes a number of illuminated manuscripts including a sixteenth century Italian Hebrew Bible (CBL Heb 772), a thirteenth-century Hebrew Yemenite Pentateuch bound together with a copy of Tijan's Grammatical Introduction to the Bible (CBL Heb 761) and a Hebrew cabalistic and astronomical codex from Spain (CBL Heb 762) dating to c. 1762.
The collection also includes a number of Samaritan texts including two important Pentateuchs (CBL Heb 751 and Heb 752), or the Five Books of Moses, the only book Samaritans share with the Jewish faith. The Samaritan text is written in a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet, related to but distinct from the Hebrew alphabet used in Judaic texts.
Plummer, Reinhart (1979) 'The Samaritan Manuscripts of the Chester Beatty Library', Studies (spring/summer): 66-79.