Vellum, II+503+II leaves.
Thin parchment. Hard to distinguish between hair and flesh sides.
Full page: (375-380) x (270-278)mm.
Text space: Varied text space, mostly ranging between (310-330) x (195-207)mm
Text space of 2 columns is about 250 X150 mm. width of each column 60-65 mm.
Text space with flanking extra commentary 260 X (195-200) mm.
Text space with extra commentary flanking the sides and top and bottom (310-335) X (200- 220) mm.
Most of the text was divided between the scribes according to the different treatises, rather than according to codicological units. We were able to identify the following scribes:
- Scribe A (Shalom?): Pentateuch, Rashi's commentary, Targum Onkelus, SeMak and commentaries, Haftarot, calendar, Siddur for the entire year, Sefer Sha'arai Dura (fols. 1-385v).
- Scribe B (Hayyim son of David): Sefer Panach Raza, surrounding the main text, set in roundels and semi-roundels, appearing in all the margins, flanking the Onkelus. (Fols. 2-311v); Sefer ha-Machkim by R. Nathan son of Yehuda written in the margins of the text of the siddur (Fols. 351-373); Additions to Sefer Panach Raza (Fols. 418-422v); Commentary on the Pentateuch by Recanati (Fols. 423-486v); Agreement of the philosophers, astrologers and kabbalists by Joseph son of Abraham Ibn Wakar (Fols. 488-491v).
- Scribe C: Compilation of additional commentaries (See Contents, III, b) (e.g., fols. 2, 3, 3v, 16v, 21v-22, 26v-29, 31v, 34v-36, 50v, 56v, 67v).
- Scribe D: Interpolations in the SeMaK, between the sections copied by Scribe A (e.g., fols. 63v-64, 72-73).
- Scribe E: Rashi's Commentary on the Haftarot (Fols. 312v-348v); Treatise-Book of Customs by un-identified author (See Contents, IV) (Fol. 312); Table of contents of the SeMaK (Fols. 498-503).
- Scribe F: Instructions on how to use the Calendars, giving as an example the month of Tevet for the year קס"ג December 1402/3) (Fol. 350).
- Scribe G: Additional text of the SeMaK (Fols. 386- 416 (lower second column)).
- Scribe H: Additional text of the SeMaK (Fols. 416 (lower second column)-417)).
- Scribe I: Tikkun Shetarot by Rabbi Yitzhak the preacher son of Meir Ha-Hassid ("The Pious") (Fols. 492-495v).
- Scribe J: Divorce bill mentioningZurich, 1391 with explanation and commentary by Rabbi Samson ben Isaac Chinon (Fol. 496v).
- Scribe K: Commentary of divorce bill (Fols. 497-497v).
- Scribe L: Divorce formula mentioning Strasbourg (fols. 297-297v).
- In addition to these 12 scribes, there may have been additional scribes who copied some sections of the texts (especially in the sections written by scribe A, although perhaps in other sections as well). Further paleographic research is needed in order to determine the exact number of scribes who worked on this manuscript.
of Scribe A (Shalom?):
The main texts of the Pentateuch, Haftarot, Siddur with Haggadah, most of the SeMak (unvocalized), and Sefer Sha'arei Dura are all written in square Ashkenazi script in varying tones of brown ink.
Certain sections of the SeMak open with initial words or letters written in red ink, in a script emulating the Latin Gothic script of the 14th-15th centuries (Fols. 279v-282v. See Decoration Program, category A)
The texts of the Rashi commentary, Onkelus translation, commentaries on the SeMaK, and calendar with instructions are all written in semi-cursive Ashkenazi script of varying sizes and varying tones of brown ink.
Text of Scribes B-I, K:
The texts of these scribes are all written in semi-cursive Ashkenazi scripts of varying sizes and varying tones of brown ink.
Text of Scribe J:
The main text of the divorce document is written in square Ashkenazi script.
The explanations accompanying the main text are written in semi-cursive Ashkenazi script.
Number of Columns
The main text is arranged in a varying number of columns, ranging mostly between 2-3 columns (except for fol. 496v which is written in 1 column). The additional texts in the margins are also arranged in a varying number of columns, ranging mostly between 1-3 columns.
On many folios, the main text columns are further divided into narrow column units, thus dividing the text into as many as 10 smaller column units (e.g., fols. 206v, 213v, 283v, 284v, 285v, 416v).
Number of lines
Varying number of lines.
Ruling by plummet (e.g., fols. 13v, 15v, 19v, 20, 32v) on each page.
Ruling varies: 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 vertical lines for 2 columns flanked by two columns of commentary. Or 2 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 2 vertical lines when text is flanked by two columns of commentary usually 1 + 1 for each column, whether text of commentary. (1+2+1 vertical ruling in both options are for the main text).
Difficult to discern horizontal lines within the commentary 40-55-57 lines.
Pricking is discernable in all margins. There are usually 2 parallel rows of pricking in the inner and outer margins (e.g., fols. 138, 234), spaced according to the biblical and the flanking Onkelus translation. The smaller Rashi commentary is adjusted accordingly. In the Haftarot there are even 3 parallel pricking holes, for the biblical text and the Rashi commentary in the intercolumnar space (e.g., fol. 314). Pricking is also visible in the upper and lower margins for the vertical lines (e.g, fol 314).
66 quires of 8 leaves each, except for II2 (no folios missing. However, missing are the verses of Genesis 11:29-32, which were added on fol. 1); XVI8-1 (last blank folio cut out); XXXIX8+1 (stub of single fol. 306 stuck on gutter of fol. 298), XL6-1 (last blank folio cut out; fol. 307 is a widow), XLV8-1 (last blank folio cut out; stub of fol. 344 between fols. 350 and 351), XLVIII8-1 (last blank folio cut out), L4, LV8-3 (3 last blank folios cut out), LXIV6-1 (first blank folio cut out), LXV8-2 (2 last blank folios cut out), LXVI6.
The quires start on the flesh side of the parchment.
Catchwords for the quires appear in the lower left corner of the last verso of the quire (e.g., fols. 26v, 58v, 74v, 114v, 145v, 185v, 209v).
Horizontal catchwords for the commentary columns in the sections written by Scribe B (Hayyim) often appear at the bottom of the column (relating to another column on the same page) or in the lower left corner of the folio (relating to the following page); e.g., fols. 30, 31, 35, 36, 37, 39v, 42v, 43, 56v, 105-106v, 112, 137v, 157, 165v. The catchwords are decorated by small dots.
Hebrew numeration for the first leaf of each quire beginning on fol. 418 (according to Palaeography Project ZJ 11).
1v, 350v, 417v, 487, 487v, 496.
Greenish-yellow, pink, blue, black and white marble paper pastedown and first and last fly leaves.
Note that there are two inscriptions, within the spine of the binding on the inside – one on top and one on bottom??
A. The decoration was made in 1 stage, most probably by the hand of scribe A (Shalom?).
Thirteen initial letters and word panels opening sections of commentary for the SeMaK (fols. 279v-282v). Most of the initials are written in brown letters in Gothic script and set in a rectangular panel filled with red filigree work (e.g., fol. 280) or a hatching ground (e.g., fols. 281v, 282). Extending from the panels are long tendrils and flourishes in red and brown ink. Two other initials opening the main text of the books of Leviticus (fol. 119v) and Numbers (fol. 170v,) are written in large display script, outlined in brown ink and remain hollow. These seem to have not been finished.
B. Decoration inserted within the text columns as column's fillers:
Type A: Two pairs of half-medallions inhabited with human heads (fol. 164v) or dragon head hybrids (fol. 264) flanking the end of the shaped commentary text column of the SeMaK, executed in red and brown ink.
Type B: Two bunches of acanthus leaves each set at the end of sections of commentary for the SeMaK (fols. 281v, 282). The leaves are depicted on a hatching ground all executed in red ink.
Type C: Two narrow vertical fillers set in the column of the Targum Onkelus executed in red and brown ink. The one on fol. 3v is a panel inhabited by a hybrid with a foliate scroll tail, and the one on fol. 44 is composed of two quadrupeds.
C. Shaped text outlined mostly by double framed geometrical shapes of circles (e.g., fols. 5, 7v, 8v, 14v, 20v, 25, 40, 108v, 137, 142v, 200v, 242v, 253v, 298), half-moons (e.g., fols. 4, 5, 8v, 17, 21v, 25, 55v, 58, 110, 127v, 137, 142v, 241v), spirals (e.g. fols. 9v, 10), triangles (e.g., fol. 27) and squares (e.g., fol. 5) or a floral frame (fols. 2, 271v). Some of the shaped commentary text is outlined by dragons and hybrids (fols. 130, 236, 318v) or by architectonic motifs (fol. 7v, 80). All these are outlined in red ink and set in the margins of the page, except for the large dragon on fol. 318v which is set in the inter-columner space and outlined in brown ink.
D.l Architectonic ink frame for calendar lists (fol. 349v). The frame is composed of four equal arches separated by columns and one narrower column topped by a double-gabled arch.
E. 3 simple diagrams (fol. 268) illustrating the adjacent text dealing with boundaries of courtyards.
F. Small decorative motifs accentuating the beginnings or ends of columns (e.g., fols. 7, 67).
The Vienna Miscellany is a codex of large dimensions, containing more than 500 pages and over a dozen texts, copied by numerous scribes and decorated on many folios. Among the more well-known texts to be found in the Vienna Miscellany are a Pentateuch and Haftarot accompanied by Rashi's commentary, a SeMaK (Sefer Mitzvot Katan), a siddur for the entire year and several important treatises. The text appearing on fols. 351-373 is titled above as "a book of customs" (ספר מנהגים) and was identified by Zunz (Ritus, p. 202) as the text of Sefer Hamachkim composed by Rabbi Nathan son of Rabbi Yehuda in the 13th century. The version of this text found in our Vienna Miscellany later served as the main basis for the critical edition of Sefer ha-Machkim published by Freimann (see Bibliography). Several of the texts are less well-known such as the text found on fol. 312, titled above "Customs I have toiled over and found" ((מנהגים אשר יגעתי ומצאתי. In this text, Speyer in the Rhenish Palatinate in Germany is mentioned as well as R. Isaac bar Dorbelo, a pupil of Rabbenu Tam who was active in the 12th century in France and in Germany.
On many of the pages several texts appear simultaneously, written in different columns of varying sizes and shapes. It is clear from this complex layout of the texts that such a miscellany must have been copied by skillful scribes who were familiar with these texts to such a degree that they could design several intertwining columns of various texts on a single page, in a complicated format known to us only later from printed books. The use of a complex system of columns for different halachik texts appears in several other manuscripts produced around the same period as our Miscellany, as can be seen for example in the SeMaK with commentary copied in Germany, 1398? (Paris, BN, Hébreu, 388, fol. 142; Garel, Manuscrits Hebreux, p. 121) and a Mahzor and Halachik treatises produced in Ashkenaz around 1390 (Paris, BN, Hébreu 646, fol. 38v; Sed-Rajna, Les Manuscrits Hebreux, p. 221, no. 85). The fact that the paleographic research revealed that many scribes were involved in the copying of the manuscript, and certainly no less than a dozen scribes, may indicate that this miscellany was produced in some sort of Jewish scribal workshop or family production, being passed between the different scribes. For example, when studying the work process, it's clear that Scribe A (Shalom?) copied the main text from fols. 1-385v. However, Scribes C, D and L appear within the sections copied by Scribe A, so that the manuscript must have been passed between them and Scribe A. Scribe B (Hayyim) then added additional texts in the margins of Scribe A and copied the main texts on fols. 418-491v.
Of the numerous scribes involved in copying the Vienna Miscellany, only two can be identified by name. Scribe A was most probably Shalom (שלום) as the scribe decorated this name when appearing in the text (e.g. fol. 44). A second scribe copied several sections (See Scribes, above) and identifies himself as Hayyim son of Rabbi David (see fols. 311, 311v, 373, 491v). The name Ya'akov is also decorated twice on the final line of the two outer text columns on fol. 44. However, the text of this page was clearly copied by Scribe A, Shalom, so it would seem probable that the marking of the name Ya'akov indicates either Shalom's father, or perhaps an annotator. The name Baruch (ברוך) is also marked on fol. 230, within the section copied by Scribe B, Hayyim, probably as a blessing.
The exact place and time of production of the Vienna Miscellany remain uncertain. The texts of marriage and divorce agreements appear several times in the Miscellany (e.g., fols. 286v, 496v, 497). These forms were meant to serve as examples, and may have been copied from earlier documents, thus the information which can be deduced from them is partial and can only serve as tentative evidence regarding the dates and origin of production. Two of the divorce agreements include full dates: the one on fol. 496v copied by scribe J records the date of Thursday, 21st of Tevet, the year of 5151 (29/12/1390) while the one on fol. 497 by scribe K records the date of Thursday, 13th of Shevat, 5107 (25/1/1347). In addition to these dates, the year 1403 ((קס"ג is mentioned in the instructions for the calendar on fol. 350, written by scribe F. According to these dates, as well as from the nature of the script, it can be assumed that the manuscript was not copied before the year 1403. The divorce examples mention two cities –Strasbourg (fol. 286v) andZurich (fol. 496v, 497). It is clear that the manuscript could not have been produced inStrasbourg, as the Jews of Strasbourg were expelled from the city at the end of 1388. This indicates that at least the city ofStrasbourg was most likely copied by the scribe from his model. Although there existed a Jewish community in Zurich at the time, the fact that the name of one of the cities was copied from a model, may indicate that the other city was also mentioned in the model, and cannot supply us with a specific place of origin.
It is interesting to note the special combination and layout of the Pentateuch text together with the texts of Rashi's commentary and the SeMaK, in a most unique manner. Unlike the typical Ashkenazi layout in which the Pentateuch text is written in the center and the Rashi commentary surrounds it in the margins, the Vienna Miscellany is a rare example in which the Rashi commentary is inserted in between the lines of the Pentateuch text, so that the biblical verses alternate with the commentary. The two texts are written within the same columns, but are clearly discernable from one another, as the Pentateuch verses are written in square script and the Rashi in semi-cursive script.
The source of this rare layout of the Pentateuch and Rashi texts, may be originally related the differences in attitudes between French and German Jewry, in relation to the importance of the Targum Onkelus. According to Shalev-Eyni (Jews Among Christians, In Print), the German Pentateuchs usually included the Aramaic Onkelus translation, inserted verse by verse within the main text, alternating with the Hebrew verse. These sometimes also included the Rashi commentary in the margins, although not as a rule. From the middle of the thirteenth century on, the French scholars tended to prefer Rashi’s commentary as a substitute for the Aramaic translation. The Pentateuchs produced in France of this time, often appear without the Targum Onkelus or include also the Rashi commentary in their margins. In the case of the Vienna Miscellany, the French attitude towards the hierarchy between the two texts is made clear, with the Rashi commentary given the place of greater importance – the Targum is moved from the main columns to the margins, while the Rashi receives the traditional place of the Targum Onkelus and is set in between the biblical verses.
One of the main texts appearing in the Vienna Miscellany is the Small Book of Precepts, known as the SeMaK, composed by Isaac son of Joseph of Corbeil (died: 1280). Our copy of the text of the SeMaK includes the annotations by Moses of Zurich, known as the "SeMaK of Zurich", which consist of a selection from the works of German and French scholars which were added to the original text of the SeMaK. The interspersing of the SeMaK text between the biblical verses, sometimes several pages at a time, is unique. This points to the fact that the miscellany must have been intended for scholarly use, as the text of the SeMaK is broken up and divided into sections in such a manner that the precepts appear subsequent to the biblical verses to which they are relevant, according to subject, in a manner that suits the needs of scholarly study. This is in contrast to the more commonly found method of listing the precepts, according to the seven days of the week (See for exampleVienna, ÖNB, Cod. Hebr. 75).
The texts of theVienna manuscript mention many Rabbis of France and Ashkenaz. In addition, the section of the siddur, several notes within the commentary refer to the difference between the Ashkenazi and French customs (see Scribal Notes).
The decoration of the Vienna Miscellany was executed at the same stage as the production of the codex and was most probably the work of one or more of the scribes involved in copying the manuscript, very possibly scribe A (Shalom), as the decoration indicating his name, appearing on fol. 42, is similar to the turrets flanking the trefoil arch in the decoration in the margin of fol. 80. The decoration program of the Vienna Miscellany consists mainly of initial words and letters and pen-work decorations inserted within the text space. Several initial words and letters are shaped in a manner emulating the Gothic script, sometimes found in other Hebrew manuscripts of the period. The letters appearing in the Vienna Miscellany on fols. 280, 281v, 282 can be compared to similar ones appearing for example on fol. 109v in a copy of a Talmud Katan (Abridged Talmud) by R. Isaac Alfasi attributed according to Mann (Prague Jewry, pp. 85-86, fig. 7.5) to Bohemia, Prague(?), c. 1380-1400, housed in Paris (Paris, BN, Hébreu 311; Sed Rajna, Ibid., p. 237, no. 93) and those found on fol. 92 of the Mahzor produced in Ashkenaz in 1390 (Paris, BN, Hébreu 646; Sed-Rajna, Ibid., p. 223, no. 85).
Also prevalent in the Vienna Miscellany is a type of decoration in which the text of the commentary column is shaped and outlined, so that the lines of the text follow the shape of the outline. Many marginal illustrations in manuscripts from Ashkenaz of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries display the Massorah magna text outlined by micrography, whereas in our Miscellany we find the use of a decoration form, in which the commentary text is shaped in figurative or geometrical forms. According to Narkiss (Albenc Pentateuch, pp. 330), this type of decoration has some antecedents in Franco-German Hebrew manuscripts. An early example of this type of decoration for a commentary text appears for example on fols. 8v, 10v, 11 of A Hazzan's Siddur, produced in Franconia in the first quarter of the fourteenth century (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Mich.571). This special type of decoration is also found, according to Narkiss (Ibid., pp. 331) in a group of manuscripts attributed to southern France, dating between the 14th-15th centuries. For example, we can compare the text shaped as dragons and hybrids on fols. 236, 318v of our Miscellany with similar dragons and hybrids adorning folios 3v, 46v, 72v of the Albenc Pentateuch, produced in 1340 in Dauphine (Oxford, Bodliean Library, Ms. Oppenheimer 14; see Narkiss, Ibid., pp. 319-351). A similar winged dragon drawn in this technique also appears for example on fol. 133v of the Multiscribe Pentateuch (e.g., fol. 133v), produced in Dauphine, c. 1340 (British Library, Add. 26878). Later, we see the continuation of the use of this technique in the copy of a Talmud Katan (Abridged Talmud) by R. Isaac Alfasi attributed according to Mann (Ibid., pp. 85-86, fig. 7.5) to Bohemia, Prague(?), c. 1380-1400, housed in Paris (Paris, BN, Hébreu 311; Sed-Ra