Sheet no. 3
Column 12: In the upper margin, landscape no. 4 is printed and in the frame in the lower margin, on the left, Esther reclines on a bed with a canopy as Haman falls on the bed while begging her for his life (Es. 7:8). At the same moment, the king returns from the palace gardens (Es. 7:8); he is shown on the right. In the small rectangular window, a gallows is visible; this is the same gallows that Haman built for Mordecai (Es. 5:14) and its presence here foreshadows the death of Haman (Es. 7:10).
Sheet no. 4
Column 13: In the upper margin, landscape no. 1 is printed and in the frame in the lower margin, the king's scribes are represented. On the left, a table with three seated scribes is shown; they are most likely writing the decree that allowed the Jews to defend themselves (Es. 8:8-10). On the right, two messengers of the king are going to deliver the new decree (Es. 8:14).
Column 14: In the upper margin, landscape no. 2 is printed and in the frame in the lower margin, two groups of people are shown, with some of the people in each group looking upwards. This detail suggests that the scene should be interpreted together with the illustration of the hanging of Haman's ten sons (Es. 9:14) which is incorporated in the text column above. On every beam of these gallows, a single body (one of the sons of Haman) is hanged. A high ladder leans against the gallows, and atop it stands an executioner. It seems the people shown below are onlookers witnessing the execution.
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 485 mm, 2) ca. 400 mm, 3) ca. 390 mm, 4) ca. 430 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the print: 160 x ca. 485 mm;
- text panel: 670x90 mm (inner dimensions);
- spaces between the text panels: 31 mm;
- frames with illustration(s): 35x69 mm (inside the frame);
- frames with illustration(s) in the opening decoration: 62x28 mm, 47x32 mm, or 47x34 mm;
- benedictions panel: 62x34 mm;
- vases separating the illustrations: ca. 25x38 mm;
- an average letter (including benedictions): 2 mm;
- letters in the words ברוך, in the initial word of the scroll, and in col. 14: 5 mm.
The roller: ca. 355 mm (height).
C | Columns
H | Herm(a)
P | Putto (Putti in Plural)
V | Vase | Vase with flowers
B | Basket | Basket with flowers
A | Acanthus Leaf
G | Garland
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus returns from the palace garden (Es. 7:8)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman begging for his life (Es. 7:8)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Gallows built for Mordecai (Es. 5:14)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | King's scribe(s) (Es. 8:9)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus' messenger(s) (Es. 8:14)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman's sons hanged (Es. 9:14)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Other topics related to the Megillah: | Group of onlookers
In general, the manuscript is well preserved, although there are yellow stains on the third sheet.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew preceded with benedictions recited before the Megillah reading
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing a total of 16 columns of the text with 24 lines, except for col. 14 with 11 lines divided into two half-columns. Additionally, initial benedictions are written within the opening decoration.
Every sheet contains 4 columns of text.
The text is written in the Hebrew square script, in brown and black ink on the flesh side of parchment membranes that are of medium thickness but rather stiff. The blank side of the sheets is more suede and darker (rather grey).The initial word of the Megillah is enlarged and bolded.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its form - it is composed of two parts joined with a roof and it is decorated with scrolled feet. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.
There are some corrections and erasures in the text.
The ruling is well visible on the blank side of the sheets.
The pricking is invisible.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions: the formulas are copied in the square script. Each of them starts with an enlarged and bolded word ברוך; in the first benediction, it is separated from the rest of the text. The letters א and ל are written as a ligature.
There are two variants of the scrolls decorated with this pattern that in the Index are marked "I" and "II". In some exemplars, just below the decorative herms, the pedestals with angel's heads and bases were added, therefore, the text panels are higher; this type is marked with "II". Whereas, the rest of the manuscripts containing no pedestals with angel's heads and bases are marked with "I". The latter are more numerous.
The earliest scroll sharing a similar engraved pattern is dated to 1701; this is the megillah BCM 25 from the Braginsky Collection in Zurich (see http://braginskycollection.com/esther-scrolls/; accessed on 22.04.2020).
Similar narrative scenes are included in the scrolls with "portrait medallions" (see in the Index); some of them are their mirror image.
No bibliography on the scroll is available. The scrolls sharing the same or similar pattern are discussed for example in:
Jiřina Šedinová, From the Mss. Collections of the State Jewish Museum in Prague. The Scrolls of Esther, "Judaica Bohemiae" 1979, nr 15/2, 79-80.
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. Evelyn M. Cohen, Emile Schrijver, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, 234-237.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 282-283.
Victor Klagsbald, Catalogue raisonné de la collection juive du Musée de Cluny, Paris 1981, 63-64, object 72.
Falk Wiesemann, Codex hebraicus 159, [in:] Irina Wandrey ed., Manuscript Cultures, vol. 6, 257-259.
Dagmara Budzioch, The Decorated Esther Scrolls from the Museum of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and the Tradition of Megillot Esther Decoration in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries – An Outline [Polish: Dekorowane zwoje Estery z Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Warszawie na tle tradycji dekorowania megilot Ester w XVII i XVIII wieku. Zarys problematyki], Warsaw 2019, 1:163-176, 2:41-49.