Under Reconstruction!


(VII) Img. ID: 19484 Munich Rashi's Commentary on the Bible , Vol. I, fol. 34, Würzburg, 1232/33 edit  
Category: Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts

General Document

2 Name/Title Munich Rashi's Commentary on the Bible | Unknown
3a Object Biblical commentaries
3b Object Detail Vol. I, fol. 34
4a Artist/ Maker Shlomo ben Shmuel,Joseph (Scribe)
5 Date 1232/33
5a Activity Dates
5b Reconstruction Dates
6 Period Unknown
6a Period Detail
7 Origin Germany | Bayern (Bavaria) | Würzburg
8 Community Ashkenazi
9 Collection Germany | Munich | Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB)
| Cod. hebr. 5/I-II (Steinschneider 1895, No. 5)
9a Documentation / Research project Unknown
10 Location Germany | Bayern (Bavaria) | München (Munich) | Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB)
11 Site Unknown
12 School/Style Würzburg school of manuscript illumination in the 13th century|
13 Iconographical Subject Joseph, stripped of Coat (Gen. 37:23)
Joseph, cast into pit (Gen. 37:24)
Joseph, taken from pit (Gen. 37:28)
Joseph, sold to Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:28)
Initial word panel (Not used; see: Initial word panel, Illustrative, Initial word panel, decorative) |
14 Category
17 Photographer Unknown
18 Photograph Date 2008
19 Negative/ Photo. No.
19a Scan No.
20 Description

Vol. I, fol. 34: The initial word Vayeshev (וישב, And Jacob dwelt) of this parashah (Gen. 37:1-40:23) is written at the top of the illustrated panel in gold leaf on a green ground, set below the explicit of Vayishlach (חסלת וישלח יעקב) and its haftarah (ומפטירין בתרי עשר חזון עובדיה וגו').

The panel depicts the selling of Joseph to the Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:23-28), illustrating the biblical text and the commentary (I:34-35). In the centre of the composition Joseph, sitting at the edge of the well, is being stripped of his red coat by Simeon, one of his four brothers (commentary I:34v, 3rd column, following Gen. Rabbah, 84:16), who is also pushing his head down. Joseph is lifting his left leg either to enter or to leave the well. On the left, a group of four Ishmaelites (commentary I:35, 2nd column) with two camels are offering to buy him. The first is holding a coin in his left hand and a purse dangles from his right wrist. The figure on the left has a sack on his shoulder.

In the Bible, the stripping off the coat (Gen. 37:23) precedes throwing Joseph into the well (Gen. 37:24) and taking him out to sell to the Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:28). However, Joseph's ambiguous pose with one leg raised forms a connection between the episodes and makes a conflated illustration possible. The figures fill the frame, but some blue ground can be seen. Most figures wear green tunics, except for one brother in magenta and another on the right who wears a red tunic below a green chlamys and holds a scroll. The four brothers are wearing pointed Jewish hats, two of which were in gold leaf. One camel is coloured magenta, the other is uncoloured.

Plummet inscriptions in Latin by the 13th-century hand, and by a later hand in Hebrew:

  • Upper margin in square script, above the panel: וישב (Vayeshev), and a trial in display script: שב]]וי;
  • Vend[iderunt] [io]sef [i]s[mahelitis](?) ex[trahentes eu](m)[de] cis[terna] (Gen. 37:28).


21 Ornamentation
22 Custom
23 Contents
24 Codicology
24a Scribes
24b Script
24c Number of Lines
24d Ruling
24e Pricking
24f Quires
24g Catchwords
24h Hebrew Numeration
24i Blank Leaves

25 Material/Technique
Brown and black ink, gold leaf and green, blue, red and magenta.
25a Material Structure
25b Material Decoration
25c Material Bonding
25d Material Inscription
25e Material Additions
25f Material Cloth
25g Material Lining
25h Tesserae Arrangement
25i Density
25j Colors
25k Construction Material

26 Measurements
26a Height
26b Length
26c Width
26d Depth
26e Circumference
26f Thickness
26g Diameter
26h Weight
26i Axis
26j Panel Measurements 38 x 52 mm.
27 Direction/Location
27a Façade (main)
27b Entrances
27c Location of Torah Ark
27d Location of Apse
27e Location of Niche
27f Location of Reader's Desk
27g Location of Platform
27h Temp: Architecture Axis
27i< Arrangement of Seats
27j Location of Women's Section
27k Direction Prayer
27l Direction Toward Jerusalem

28 Coin
28a Coin Series
28b Coin Ruler
28c Coin Year
28d Denomination

29 Signature
30 Colophon
31 Scribal Notes
32 Watermark
33 Hallmark
33a Group
33b Subgroup
33c Hallmark Identification
33d Hallmark Group Classification
33e Hallmark Reference
34 Trade Mark
35 Binding
36 Decoration Program
36 Summary and Remarks

The depiction is based on Rashi's commentary according to which "Simeon himself had thrown him into the pit" (commentary I:34v, 3rd column; Gen. Rabbah 84:16). Indeed we see him pushing Joseph's head down with his right hand and pulling off his red garment with his left. This scene is a conflation with the next where merchants with camels on the left are offering money to buy Joseph. The brothers are common to both scenes, and so is Joseph: his upper body is being pushed into the pit, while his left leg is lifted as if to climb out of the pit, if compared to similar scenes (figs. 2, 3). Who are the merchants? According to Rashi and the Bible the merchants were Ishmaelites, although the Bible also mentions alternately Ishmaelites and Midianites (Gen. 37:28, 36; 39:1). Rashi explains these inconsistencies by listing a number of consecutive sales (I:35, top 2nd column; Tanchuma Buber, Vayeshev 13). A comparable depiction is found in the Munich Psalter, a Latin manuscript from Gloucester (?), England, c.1210 (fig. 2).


Fig. 1: Stripping off Joseph's coat; Joseph being thrown into the pit ; Lifting Joseph out of the pit; Selling Joseph, Munich Rashi's Commentary on the Bible, Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 5, I:34    


Fig. 2: Lifting Joseph out of the pit, TheMunich Psalter, Gloucester (?), 1210, Munich, BSB clm 835, fol. 13v, lower register,  (Morgan 1982, Cat. 23, fig. 79)

In the centre Joseph is being pulled out of the pit by one of his brothers, his left leg over the edge. He is flanked on the left by his brothers and on the right by a group of merchants who are handing them a purse of money. In contrast to our illustration this is a coherent final scene.


Fig. 3: Lifting Joseph out of the pit, mosaic, Venice, St. Mark's Basilica, 1200-10, (Demus 1984, colour pl. 53) 

Fig. 4: Joseph being thrown into the pit, mosaic, Venice, St. Mark's Basilica, 1200-10 (Demus 1984, colour pl. 55)

Similarly, in the mosaics in Venice of 1200-10, Joseph is being lifted out of the pit by three brothers, his left leg dangling over the edge (fig. 3). The scene is clearly identified as such because throwing Joseph into the pit shows three brothers pushing him down (fig. 4). This is an earliar scene, separately depicted. Another separate scene depicting the actual sale of Joseph to the Ishmaelites including handing over the purse, is found on a single leaf, part of a Psalter painted in Oxford by William de Brailles (fig. 5; Morgan 1982, Cat. 71).

Fig. 5: Joseph sold by his brothers By William de Brailles Oxford, 1230-40 Paris, MMT (Bridgeman Art Library) www.bridgemanart.com MMT 215686 (pictures)

38 Suggested Reconstruction
39 History/Provenance
40 Main Surveys & Excavations
41 Condition
All faces are completely scratched out; the necks, Joseph’s body and the scroll have turned grey; the gold leaf of some letters and of the Jewish hats has flaked off.
42 Biography
43 Bibliography
43a Short Name
43b Full Name
43c Volume
43d Page

44 Type
45 Temp: Batch Number
46 Temp: Aleph Number
47 Temp: Sys. Number / Doc. Name
48 Temp: Addenda

Function: Name: Date:
49 Documenter 49a
50 Researcher 50a
51 Architectural Drawings 51a
52 Computer Reconstruction 52a
53 Section Head 53a
54 Editor 54a
55 Donor 55a