The twelfth (sheet no. 3) - the sixteenth columns of text (sheet no. 4) are inscribed within a printed border. Below them,the illustrations are depicted:
Frame 12: On the right, on a pedestal with a colonnade stands a table at which Esther, Ahasuerus, and Haman are seated (Es. 7:1). On the left, a palace garden with a fountain is depicted.
Frame 13: On the right, Haman is hanged on the gallows (Es. 7:10). A ladder leans against it and at its top sits an executioner who holds his legs on Haman's neck. Next to it, a group of guards with spears is standing. On the left, Ahasuerus sits on the throne and Esther kneels at his feet; she is attended by two maid-servants. In the background, there is a figure (Mordecai?) who watches the scene. It can depict either the moment when the king gives Haman's house to Esther (Es. 8:1) or when she pleads with him to annul Haman's decree (Es. 8:3).
Frame 14: On the right, before Ahasuerus seated on the throne placed on a pedestal, under a canopy, stands Queen Esther attended by four maid-servants. Next to the throne, most likely Mordecai and two other men are standing (Es. 8:7-8). The gestures of the king and the queen suggest that they are talking. On the left, there is a long table at which a scribe is seated (Es. 8:9); he is accompanied by three other people.
Frame 15: On the right, Ahasuerus sits on a throne topped with a canopy and points at crowned Mordecai (Es. 8:15). The scene is witnessed by three men. On the left, one of the moments when Jews battle their enemies is depicted but it is difficult to determine which particular verse is illustrated here (Es. 9:5-12).
Frame 16: A group of men is shown while fighting in a city square (?). The scene can depict either Jews who battle their enemies, possibly in the city of Susa (Es. 9:5-12) or an additional day of fights of Jews against their enemies (Es. 9:15-16).
Length of the membranes in the scroll: 1) ca. 500 mm, 2) ca. 460 mm, 3) ca. 465 mm, 4) 460 mm, 5) ca. 460 mm + the part of the membrane in which the roller is wrapped.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the printed decoration: ca. 260x468 mm;
- a text panel: 120 x ca. 82 mm;
- a section with a pair of birds: ca. 35 x ca. 90 mm;
- a balustrade: 28-30 mm (height);
- a frame with narrative scenes: 26x75 mm;
- an average line of the text: ca. 75 mm long;
- an average letter: ca. 3 mm (height);
- spaces between the text lines: 3 mm;
- letters in col. 16: 5 mm (height);
- spaces between the lines of the text: 5 mm (height).
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 speaks to Esther and Mordecai (Es. 8:7-8)
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) | Mordecai before Ahasuerus in royal apparel (Es. 8:15)
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)
O | Ornamentation: | Architectural frame
C | Columns
V | Vase | Vase with flowers
O | Ornamentation: | Cartouche
B | Bird | Hoopoe
T | Turkey (bird)
C | Cock (Hen, Rooster)
P | Parrot
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The manuscript is preserved in good condition, although there is a hole in a part of the first text column and first illustration.
The state of preservation of the text is differentiated but it is still legible; it is partly caused by the condition of parchment.
In some places (especially on the third membranes) the letters could be seen on the other - blank - side of the membranes.
The edges of the membranes are straight beyond a part of the first membrane that is jagged.
On col. 14, there is a "yellow" stain. The parchment shows some traces of its renovation.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 5 membranes containing 19 text columns with 23 lines except for col. 16 that is inscribed in 11 lines divided into two parts. Four membranes contain 4 text columns and on the fifth membrane 3 columns are inscribed.
The text is inscribed on the flesh side of parchment membranes in a small, square Italian script, in black ink with brown hues that differ on particular membranes. In some places, the second layer of ink could be placed on the letters.
The letter ח (Es 1:6) is of similar size as an average letter in the scroll but it is highlighted by its shape because this is the only place where letter ח is composed of two parts joined with a roof. Whereas col. 16 contains enlarged and diminished letters.
The flesh side of the membranes is bright, almost white, whereas another side is yellow.
On the right side of the first column, the prickings are visible.
The left margins in the text columns are straight.
The ruling was made but it is visible only in the places in which the text is absent.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
The illustrations show numerous common features with the scrolls representing Klagsbald and Gaster II types (see in the Index) but they are more detailed; especially more figures are included in them.
To the right edge of the first membrane, a string is stitched.
The plants in the vases represent possibly carnations and tulips, and orange and lemon trees.
It seems that the pattern was painted after the stitching of the membranes because the shades of the paints are identical on them all.
The columns between the text panels are decorated with different ornaments.
Some cartouches are painted with silver metallic paint inside.
The last - the twentieth - panel is empty.
The scroll was displayed at the "Synagoga" exhibition in 1960/1961 in Recklinghausen and in 1961 in Frankfurt am Main (respectively objects B 66 and 132 in the catalogues - see "Bibliography").
On the blank (hair) side of the second membrane, there is a sticker with the inscription "Bibliotheca Regia Berolinensis Ms. Ham. 235". The scroll could formerly belong to the collection of the Tübingen University Library as a depot of the Presussische Staatsbibliothek.
The scroll is mentioned in:
Synagoga. Kultgeräte und Kunstwerke von der Zeit der Patriarchen bis zur Gegenwart, Städtische Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, 3. November 1960 – 15. Januar 1961, ed. Anneliese Schröder, Recklinghausen 1961, object B 66.
Synagoga. Jüdische Altertümer Handschriften und Kultgeräte. Historisches Museum Frankfurt am Main, 17. Mai – 16. Juli 1961, Frankfurt am Main 1961, object 132.
The scrolls decorated with this pattern are discussed in:
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, 381–432, esp. 416-432 (here the scrolls are called "post-Griselini").
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, 1:135-138.
Victor Klagsbald, Catalogue raisonné de la collection juive du Musée de Cluny, Paris 1981, p. 74-75, object 74.
A short description in French and several photographs are available on https://www.mahj.org/en/decouvrir-collections-betsalel/rouleau-d-esther-50121 (accessed on 24.05.2020).