Text column no. 15 (sheet no. 4): In the upper margin, a bust of the king with a scepter in the hand (Ahasuerus?) is depicted. 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).
Text column no. 16 (sheet no. 4): In the upper margin, a bust of the king with a scepter in the hand (Ahasuerus?) is depicted. In the frame placed in the lower margin, 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).
In the octagon separating the frames, a landscape with a building on a hill is depicted.
Benediction panel (sheet no. 4): the final blessing starts with a hand-drawn decorative word ברוך in which every letter is separated and surrounded with a filigree ornament. In the column below it, the Purim poem is copied in a semi-cursive script; only the letters opening the subsequent verses are inscribed in the square script (they are bolded too), and two large letters - א and ש - against a decorative background drawn in brown ink are incorporated. Before every verse, a small flower is placed.
In the lower margin, there are five full representations of the Esther story protagonists holding oval shields that in this exemplar are filled with Hebrew inscriptions.
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) | The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour (Es. 8:16-17)
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) | Esther story protagonists
P | Portrait | Portrait medallion
A | Acanthus Leaf
L | Landscape
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ship(s) going out to sea (based on Es. 10:1)
O | Ornamentation: | Architectonic motif
A | Angel of Death | Angel's head
O | Ornamentation: | Initial word, decorative
O | Ornamentation: | Initial Letter | Initial letter, framed
P | Purim | Purim celebration
P | Purim | Purim costume
The Book of Esther in Hebrew with the benedictions recited before and after the Megillah reading and the liturgical poem אשר הניא
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing a total of 16 columns of text and two additional benediction panels at the beginning and the end of the manuscript. Columns include 27, 28, or 30 lines of text, except for col. 1 with 20 lines and the initial word that is written in a separate line, and col. 14 with 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
Every sheet comprises 4 columns of the text.
The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square script with tagin, in brown ink, on the flesh side of parchment membranes.
The scroll opens with a decorative initial word in which every letter is separated and surrounded with a filigree ornament.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its size (it is enlarged and bolded) and form (it is composed of two elements joined with a roof and has scrolled feet). The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14; additionally, every letter in this section is outlined with a thin, light brown line.
The ruling and pricking are invisible.
The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.
The benedictions: The initial benedictions are inscribed in the central panel of the opening decoration. The words ברוך are separated from the rest of the formulas written in the square script. The background is filled with a filigree ornament drawn in brown ink.
The final blessing starts with a decorative word ברוך in which every letter is separated and surrounded with a filigree ornament. In the column below it, the Purim poem is copied in a semi-cursive script; only the letters opening the subsequent verses are inscribed in the square script (they are bolded too), and two large letters - א and ש - against a decorative background drawn in brown ink are incorporated.
For other scrolls sharing the same or similar pattern see IDs: 1545, 1547, 23764, 36305, 37876.
For related scrolls see IDs: 1545, 36305, 37875.
The manuscript is unique due to col. 14 in which the text is written by hand, while the gallows is printed and it lacks the filigree ornament that should surround the text (in other scrolls sharing the same border, both the text and decorations are printed; the gallows is placed in the center and the ornament behind the text appears). Additionally, this is the only manuscript in which large, decorative letters are incorporated.
The scroll is mentioned in:
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 megillot Ester w XVII i XVIII wieku. Zarys problematyki], Warsaw 2019, 1:176-188.
Manuscripts sharing the same pattern are described in:
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.
Jiřina Šedinová, From the Mss. Collections of the State Jewish Museum in Prague. The Scrolls of Esther, "Judaica Bohemiae" 1979, nr 15/2, 80-83.