In the upper margin, landscapes nos. 4, 1, 2, and 3 are printed and in the lower margin, there are frames nos. 4-7.
Frame 4: In the frame, a wedding ceremony of Ahasuerus and Esther is represented. The scene is witnessed by a group of men standing on the right and a group of women standing on the left. The Book of Esther does not mention this episode and the source for this representation remains unknown. It can be influenced by European paintings in which the scene of the marriage of the Virgin Mary and Josef was similarly composed. This can also explain the dress of a man standing in the center that refers to the high priest's robes.
Sheet no. 2
Frame 5: On the right, a man with a bow in his hands is depicted; he is aiming at the wheel with the signs of Zodiac on its perimeter (on the left). The scene is shown against the landscape. The depiction symbolically shows the moment of casting lots by Haman (alludes to Es. 3:7). The Book of Esther mentions only casting lots that means appointing the least favorable period for Jews, but there is no reference to the signs of the Zodiac in the text.
Frame 6: On the left, a mounted messenger is carrying the edict of Haman that he holds in his right hand (Es. 3:13) and in his other hand, he has a French horn. He is riding towards a man sitting under a tree, most likely Mordecai, who tears his clothes as a sign of mourning (Es. 4:1).
Frame 7: On the left, Haman stands in front of Ahasuerus attended by a group of men (his advisers?, servants?). The vizier holds weight with scales on which the vizier is going to weigh silver for the king (Es. 3:9). In the background, the king's palace is visible.
| Cod. Levy 159
C | Columns
P | Putto (Putti in Plural)
B | Basket | Basket with flowers
G | Garland
A | Acanthus Leaf
V | Vase
A | Angel of Death | Angel's head
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus' and Esther's wedding
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman casting the lot/Pur - Haman aiming at the Zodiac wheel (based on Midrash)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Messenger(s) delivering the decree of Haman (Es. 3:13)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai in mourning (Es. 4:1)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman entreats Ahasuerus to issue a decree destroying the Jews (Es. 3:9)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman paying money to the king (Es. 3:9)
Z | Zodiac Signs
H | Herm(a)
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The manuscript is preserved in very good condition.
In two places, the first and second membranes are sewn with red thread.
Color saturation is not the same on all membranes; some parts of the print are unpainted.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew with initial benedictions
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing 16 columns of the text with 27 lines, except for col. 14 with 19 lines (the first 11 lines in the column are divided into two parts).
Every sheet contains 4 columns of text.
The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square script, in black and brown ink, on the flesh side of parchment membranes.
The initial word of the Megillah is enlarged and bolded.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is slightly larger than an average letter in the scroll; additionally, it is highlighted by its form - it contains two parts joined with a roof and 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.
In col. 13 several letters are extremely elongated and due to this, their shape is difficult to recognize. The last line in the column is inscribed on the printed border.
The ruling - made with a hardpoint - is slightly visible; it can be discerned in some places only.
There are some erasures and corrections in the text.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched.
The benedictions open with enlarged and bolded words ברוך written separately in the lines. The formulas are written in the square script. They include the ligature of א and ל letters.
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.
Similar narrative scenes are included in the scrolls with "portrait medallions".
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).
The scroll is described in:
Falk Wiesemann, Codex hebraicus 159, [in:] Irina Wandrey ed., Manuscript Cultures, vol. 6, 257-259.
Photographs and a short description of the manuscript in English are available on https://resolver.sub.uni-hamburg.de/kitodo/PPN893258520 (accessed on 12.02.2020).
Other 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.
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.
http://braginskycollection.com/esther-scrolls/ (accessed on 22.04.2020)