The Death of Shlomo Moussaieff

Robert Deutsch writes

Shlomo Moussaieff dies at the age of 92

deutsch cross moussaifShlomo Moussaieff’s passion for collecting antiquities began in his youth, on the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City. He very soon developed an enthusiasm for antiquities of historical significance, specifically for inscribed items. His acquisitions were always motivated and inspired by the biblical narrative and the history of the Jewish people, with the primary drive being to establish the link between the ancient finds and the Bible, which he knew by heart.

As a collector for over 80 years, Mr. Moussaieff amassed the largest collection of biblical antiquities found in private hands. His huge collection numbers over 3000 objects. But of greater significance is the quality of the collection. Extremely important and unique pieces were added simply because he was the right man in the right place, at the right time.

His generosity was evident in his positive attitude to scholars interested in studying and publishing artifacts from his collection. Belief in the historicity of the biblical narrative was his main driving force in sharing knowledge and money to promote his vision, which was expressed in his own words: “To prove the authenticity of the Bible”.

Mr. Moussaieff’s philanthropic qualities were observed in his longstanding contributions to archaeological excavations such as the Megiddo expedition, the Tel Gath excavations, the new investigation and survey of the tombs of the sons of Hezzir in Jerusalem, and his support for publications such as the Israel Numismatic Journal, The Coins of Beit Shean, and more.

I had the privilege to study hundreds of items from Mr. Moussaieff’s collection and to publish a portion of them in several books. Artifacts such as inscribed vessels, arrowheads, ostraca, weights, jar handles and inscribed bronze bowls were published since 1994, in four books: “Forty New Ancient West Semitic Inscriptions”, “New Epigraphic Evidence from the Biblical Period”, “Windows to the Past” and “Epigraphic News”. In 1997, I published his Hebrew seal impressions in a book entitled “Messages from the Past”, and in 2000 with the collaboration of André Lemaire, we published “Biblical Period Personal Seals in the Shlomo Moussaieff Collection” dedicated to his collection of west Semitic seals. The last two books were printed both in English and Hebrew. Many other artifacts appeared in various journals and magazines such as Eretz Israel, Israel Exploration Journal, Israel Numismatic Journal, Semitica, Transeuphraténe, Biblical Archaeology Review, etc.

Mr. Moussaieff’s wise decision to make his collection known to the public was possibly his most important act. He acknowledged the fact that the real scientific value of an inscribed artifact is in its publication. Publicizing them is comparable to bringing them back to life.

In June 2000 Bar-Ilan University bestows an honorary doctorate upon Mr. Shlomo Moussaieff in appreciation of his endowment of a Center for Research in Kabbalah and his generous donation of rare book and manuscript collection to the university.

He left his wife Aliza and his three daughters, Dorrit, Tamara and Sharon