WASHINGTON (VosIzNeias) – A rare medieval Hebrew Bible manuscript that had been in private collections for years was unveiled for the first time in many years at the Museum of the Bible in Washington.

The Bible, which is currently on display is called “the Washington Pentateuch,” is one of the oldest intact Torah manuscripts in the world, consists of two sections – one written around the year 1000 in Cairo, and the other written in Alexandria, Egypt, in the first half of the 12th century.

Before the appearance of books, Jews read the Pentateuch from the Torah, a scroll made of parchment or animal skins. Torah scrolls are still read in synagogues, but because they do not contain vowels, readers sometimes consult Pentateuch collections such as the one on display at the Museum of the Bible for the authoritative pronunciation.

The museum said in a statement that only a dozen “intact Hebrew manuscripts” from the 10th and 11th centuries have survived, and the majority are found either in Israel or in Russia. The manuscript on display now in Washington is the only intact Hebrew bible from that era which can be found in the United States, according to the statement.

The exhibit at the museum is titled “A Fence Around the Torah.”