Sheet 2 (text panel 7)
Cartouche 13 (upper margin): On the right, Haman is hanged on the gallows (Es. 7:10). A ladder leans against it and three guards, holding spears, stand on the left. At Haman's feet, there is a dog that is looking up at him. On the left, Ahasuerus sits on the canopied throne and extends his scepter to Esther, who kneels at his feet and touches the tip of the scepter. Mordecai stands in the background and watches the scene (Es. 8:1-4). This either depicts the moment when the king gives Haman's properties to Esther (Es. 8:1) or when Esther is pleading to annul Haman's decree (Es. 8:3-4).
Cartouche 14 (lower margin): On the right, Ahasuerus sits on a throne under a canopy and extends the scepter to Esther, who kneels at his feet and touches the tip of the scepter. Behind the throne stands a man (possibly Mordecai) and in the background, two king's scribes sit at a table and write the king's decree (Es. 8:9). On the left, two mounted messengers ride towards a walled city on the far left (Es. 8:14).
Sheet 3 (text panel 8)
Cartouche 15 (upper margin): On the right, Ahasuerus sits on a canopied throne, holding a scepter in one hand and pointing at Mordecai with the other. Mordecai stands before him wearing a turban and an overcoat, bowing slightly before the king (Es. 8:15). In the center part of this cartouche, figures are depicted fighting in a field; two men are lying on the ground. This is surely one of the moments when Jews battle their enemies, but it is difficult to determine which particular verse is illustrated here (Es. 9:5-12). On the left, five men sit around a table laden with food. The scene most likely depicts the happiness of the Jews at the news of the king's new decree (Es. 8:16-17).
Cartouche 16 (lower margin): Several figures are depicted fighting in a field flanked by buildings. Four soldiers holding spears emerge from the left and several bodies already lay on the ground. The scene can depict either the Jews defending themselves against their enemies (Es. 9:5-12) or the additional day of fighting between the Jews and their enemies (Es. 9:15-16).
O | Ornamentation: | Endless knot
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Floral motif
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman hanged (Es. 7:10)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus giving Esther the house of Haman (Es. 8:1)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther at Ahasuerus' feet, pleading he annuls Haman's decree (Es. 8:3)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus extending his scepter to Esther (Es. 8:4)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | New decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves (Es. 8:8-10)
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) | Mordecai before Ahasuerus in royal apparel (Es. 8:15)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour (Es. 8:16-17)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Jews battle their enemies (Es. 9:5-12)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Additional day of fighting (Es. 9:15-16)
The manuscript (the text, the decorations, and the parchments) is very well preserved.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 3 sheets containing 19 columns of the text with 22 lines each, except for col. 16 which includes 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
The number of columns per sheet: no. 1 - 6, no. 2 - 8, no. 3 - 5.
The text is written in Hebrew square Italian script in black ink on the flesh side of parchment sheets that are very bright.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are not highlighted in the text. Some letters included in col. 16 seem to be larger.
The ruling made with a hardpoint can be seen.
The pricking is invisible.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The name "Gaster I" was introduced by Mendel Metzger in his article entitled "The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth" (see "Bibliography"). The type was named after Moses Gaster (1856–1939), the rabbi, scholar, and manuscript collector, who owned a scroll adorned with this pattern (at present this is the scroll Gaster Hebrew MS 710 stored in the John Rylands Library in Manchester - ID 36150). At least 25 manuscripts representing this type are still extant and are preserved in private and institutional collections. For their descriptions see "Related objects".
The pattern features a number of decorative elements common with the scrolls of the Klagsbald type (in the Index see "Klagsbald type Esther scrolls").
According to the catalogue by Shachar (p. 156; see "Bibliography"), it was "Acquired in 1932 by exchange with the Jewish Museum, Vienna".
The scroll is shortly described in:
Isaiah Shachar, Jewish Tradition in Art. The Feuchwanger Collection of Judaica, Jerusalem 1981, object 413, p. 156.
Selected bibliography concerning other scrolls decorated with the same border:
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, 381–432.
Cornelia Bodea, Treasures of Jewish Art. The 1673 Illuminated Scroll of Esther Offered to a Romanian Hierarch, Iaşi–Oxford–Palm Beach–Portland 2002.
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, 240-241.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 262-263.
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, 1:99-119, 2:64-69.
Dagmara Budzioch, "An Illustrated Scroll of Esther from the Collection of the Jewish Historical Institute as an Example of the Gaster I Megilloth," Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 2013, no. 3 (247), 533–547.