In the upper margin, landscapes nos. 2, 3, 4 are printed and in the lower margin, there are frames nos. 14-16. An additional illustration is incorporated into the text column.
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.
Frame 15: On the right, two mounted troops are represented as fighting together. The clothing of the men on the left suggests that they are Jews who are fighting their enemies approaching from the opposite direction. This is one of the moments in the narrative when Jews battle their enemies but it is difficult to determine which particular episode is illustrated here (Es. 9:5-12). On the left, the royal couple sitting on the throne is represented, however, it is unclear which episode it illustrates; it can be the moment when Esther pleads with the king for an additional day of fights (Es. 9:13).
Frame 16: On the right and in the center, the feast with musicians and a group of dancing people of both sexes is shown. One of them is wearing clothing typical for the Jews at the time when the pattern was designed, another man is wearing a checkered costume, and yet another man has a long curly wig. It is difficult to determine if this can be the feast after the victory of the Jews over the enemies (Es. 8:16-17) or the first Purim feast (Es. 9:17-23). On the left, a ship on the sea is shown (alludes to Es. 10:1).
| 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) | Haman's sons hanged (Es. 9:14)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Other topics related to the Megillah: | Group of onlookers
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) | And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea (Es. 10:1)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ship(s) going out to sea (based on Es. 10:1)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | First Purim feast (Es. 9:17-23)
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) | Esther asks the king for an additional day of fighting (Es. 9:13)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Ahasuerus and Esther, enthroned
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)