The Cairo Genizah

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The Bodleian has some 5000 fragments, mainly 10th-15th century, including twenty pages of a classified compendium of Jewish Law, one of the principal works on Maimonides, in his own hand (MS. Heb. d. 32). The first dated fragment is from 922.

The full shelfmarks of the collection are as follows: MSS. Heb. a. 1-4, b. 1-5, 7-13, 17-18, c. 1, 8-13, 14 (R), 16-21, 23, 26-8, 51-6, d. 19-29, 31-9, 41-52, 54-68, 73-6, 78-81 e. 22-41, 43-51, 52 (R), 54-6, 62, 69-78, 82, 93-105, f. 18-34, 35 (P), 36-40, 42-5, 47-8, 51, 54, 56-9, 61, 99-108, g. 2-3, 5-6, 8.

Administrative / Biographical History

Manuscript fragments from the Genizah at the old Ezra synagogue of Fostat, now old Cairo. The Genizah contained over 200,000 fragments in Hebrew, Judaeo-Arabic and Yiddish. These are now dispersed in over 25 public and private libraries in many countries.

Conditions Governing Access

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

In 1890 the Bodleian obtained, in part by gift from the Egypt Exploration Fund, in part through Greville Chester, sufficient manuscripts to fill 38 volumes. Successive acquisitions made in subsequent years, partly through the Assyrologist Professor Sayce, greatly added to the collection, and in 1906 a considerable number of fragments from the same source were bought in Jerusalem.


Collection level description created by Susan Thomas, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

The majority of the fragments are described in A. Neubauer and A.E. Cowley Catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts in the Bodleian library, and in the College Libraries of Oxford, 2 vols., Catalogi Codd. MSS. Bibliothecae Bodleianae pars xii, (Oxford, 1886-1906), vol. 2.

Some fragments which had not been bound when Neubauer and Cowley's catalogue was printed, or which were acquired later (including those given by Cowley himself in 1910), are described in a typescript by Cowley entitled 'additional Genizah Fragments'. This typescript is only available in the Oriental Reading Room.

Alternative Form Available

The manuscripts have been microfilmed by the Institute for Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts in Jerusalem. They are also available at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York.

Corporate Names

Geographical Names