In the upper margin, landscapes nos. 3, 4, 1, and 2 are printed and in the lower margin, there are frames nos. 11-14.
Frame 11: The second banquet given by Esther is depicted (Es. 7:1). Together with the queen, the king and Haman are seated at a table. A servant is approaching the table with a tray.
Frame 12: On the right, on a bed with a canopy reclines Esther. Haman is falling on the bed while he is begging the queen for his life and this happens at the moment when 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 suggests the upcoming death of Haman (Es. 7:10).
Sheet no. 4
Frame 13: On the left, a table with three scribes seated at it is shown; most likely they write the decree allowing 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).
Frame 14: Two groups of people are shown and some of them look upwards. This detail suggests that the scene should be interpreted together with the depiction of the scene of hanging of Haman’s ten sons (Es. 9:14) incorporated in the text column above. On every beam of a very high gallows, a single body of one of the sons is hanged. A high ladder leans on it and on its top an executioner is standing. It seems the people shown below are onlookers who are witnessing the execution. In this scroll, pedestals with angel's heads and decorative bases were added, therefore, the text panels are higher and the gallows printed inside the text column is too short; in the empty space, several lines of the text are inscribed.
| 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) | Esther's second banquet (Es. 7:1)
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) | New decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves (Es. 8:8-10)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai writing the king's decree (Es. 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) | Haman's sons hanged (Es. 9:14)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Haman falling on Esther's bed (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) | Ahasuerus returns from the palace garden (Es. 7:8)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Other topics related to the Megillah: | Group of onlookers
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)