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Obj. ID: 1522
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  Vienna Ka'arat ha-Kesef, Veneto, 1430-1440

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Unknown,
Summary and Remarks

The present manuscript includes the poem Ke’arat ha-Kesef and the Seder Hatanim according to the Italian rite.

Ke’arat ha-Kesef  (“The Silver Platter”), is an educational, ethical and religious poem written in the thirteenth century by the poet Jehoseph ben Hanan ben Nathan ha-Ezobi, who originated from the region of Orange in Provence, from a city whose Hebrew name in the Middle Ages was Ezob (see: Forcano, M., Safata d’argent, p. 68). The name of the poem refers to the silver platter offered by each tribe to the Tabernacle during the wandering of the Children of Israel in the desert (Num. 7:13 ff.), whose weight was “130 shekels”. Although the strophes of the poem were originally 131, Ezobi declares that he wrote only 130 (see the second dedication on fol. 11). However, in our manuscript only 129 strophes were copied, one missing on fol. 6, and one on fol. 9 (see: “Ke’arat”, in Nifla’im, in Hebrew, 1912, p. 7b rows 7-8; and p. 8a, row 26).  The poem is preceded by a rhymed dedication by the Ezobi to his son (fol. 1), and followed by another poem, "נפש קנה מוסר", which glorifies the “Silver Platter” (fol. 10). Only six verses "out of ten" of this poem are copied [as a note copied by the scribe states on fol. 9v; cfr. also Oxford, Bodl. Lib., Can. Or. 29 (Neobauer No. 1980/6), fol. 139v; for full version of this poem, which is composed of forty verses, see:Ke’arat”, in Nifla’im, in Hebrew, 1912, p. 8b]. At the end of this additional poem is the poet’s summation and a statement that “it was composed inPerpignan by the sage Rabbi Jehoseph ha-Ezobi” for his beloved son on the occasion of his wedding (see in our manuscript on fols. 10-10v). Following are ten more verses dedicated to his son and to the value of this precious present (fols. 10v-11).

Ke’arat ha-Kesef was well-known during the Middle Ages mainly in Spain and Italy. In the “Microfilm Reproductions Institute” at the Jewish National and University Library, more than 60 miscellaneous manuscripts from the 14th-16th centuries include the poem. The first printed edition of Ke’arat ha-Kesef was published inConstantinople in 1523. The poem was translated into Latin, first by the German Hebraist Johannes Reuchlin, in 1512-14, and later, in 1561, by the French Jean Mercier (see J. C. Wolf’s edition in: Bibliotheca Hebraea IV, 1733, 1140-67).


The second part of the present manuscript, originally left blank, consists of the blessings for the marriage ceremony (Seder Hatanim) according to the Italian rite, which includes piyyutim and Psalms typical of Italy since the late 14th century (see: Venice Siddur of Italian rite, 1627 and Ferrara Siddur of Italian rite, 1693).


The two texts of Ke’arat ha-Kesef and Seder Hatanim are written in two different scripts and inks, each by a different hand. The scribe of the poem was probably Shmuel, as his name is emphasized on fol. 2v. The Seder Hatanim, which is copied in semi-cursive Italian script, could be a later addition to the manuscript. The codicological features of the entire manuscript, such as quires of five leaves, the ruling of horizontal lines by ink with no trace of pricking, the clear distinction between the flesh and hair sides of the parchment (Beit-Arié, Hebrew Codicology, 1981, pp. 26, 78), as well as the script and the style of the decoration, clearly indicate an Italian origin, around the middle of the 15th century.


The Vienna Ke’arat ha-Kesef was originally part of a larger manuscript, which was divided into three volumes. The other two volumes are today in the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma (mss. 3500 and 3501; see: Richler, Nos. 1375 and 1288) and contain works by Jedaiah ben Abraham Bedersi Ha-Penini (Provence, c. 1270-1340): the lyrical and ethical work Behinat Olam ("The Examination of the World"), the piyyut Bakashat ha-Memim, every word of which begins with the letter mem (מ') (both in Parm. 3500); and his “letter of Apology”, an attack on the anti-rationalists in the Maimonideans controversy, in Parm. 3501. The original whole manuscript was in the collection of Salomon Gottlieb Stern of Rohoncz (Hungary), and possibly divided by him, before 1846, the year in which the Parma Library purchased the main part of Stern’s collection, including the two Parma volumes as independent manuscripts (see: Richler, p. XXIII). On 14 February 1849, the Vienna manuscript and four other Hebrew manuscripts were purchased from the same collection by the Hofbibliothek of Vienna. The two Parma volumes have the same measurements, layout of the text, and were copied by the same scribe of the Ke’arat ha-Kesef in the Vienna manucript (Shmuel ?). Their style of decoration is the same as in the Vienna manuscript, even though they are decorated with initial word panels and marginal ornamentations on almost each page. The evidence that Parma 3501 ends with the catchword Ke'arat (קערת), fitting the beginning of our manuscript, strengthens the fact that they were originally part of the same manuscript. On the last flyleaf of the same volume (fol.96, a flyleaf), are two sales inscriptions dated "2 November 5391[=1630]" one of which is signed by "Giuseppe Ottolenghii".


The three volumes are missing a colophon, however, in the Vienna manuscript the initial letter shin of the name Shmuel is emphasized within the text on fol. 2v, possibly indicating the name of the scribe.


The miniature on fol. 1v of the ViennaKe’arat ha-Kesef is identical in style to the two full-page panels on fols. 37v-38 of Parm. 3500 (fig. #) decorating the end of the piyyut Behinat Olam and the beginning of the poem Bakashat ha-Memim. The three frames are decorated with fleshy curly leafs, gold beads, and golden frames for the text. They should be compared to the decoration of the Bodleian Double Tur (Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms. Can. Or. 79), dated 1438 and attributed to a Venice workshop (see: B. Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts in the British Isles. Italian Manuscripts, unpublished volume, no. 18), perhaps under the influence of the Laguna miniaturist Cristoforo Cortese (U. Bauer-Eberhardt, “Miniature Italiane in codici ebraici” in Il codice miniato – Rapporti tra il codice, testo e figurazione, Firenze, 1992, p. 432). See for example the miniature on fol. 133 of the Bodleian manuscript, depicting a teacher seated on a low bench, offering a book to a young pupil, standing in front of him, illustrating the Hoshen Mishpat Tur (opening with “explanation of difficult words”). The similar composition of the panel, including the framed initial word on a blue ground, as well as the colours, the use of gold leaf and the fleshy curly leaves indicate to the similarities of the style. Another comparison should be made with the second stage of the First Daniel Siddur, (B.L. Add. 26968; Narkiss, ibid., no. 8; U. Bauer-Eberhardt, ibid.), executed in the late 1430s, and also attributed to Cortese's workshop or school (see for example the panel illustration of Raban Gamliel teaching his pupils, at the bottom of fol.118, in the Haggadah). This stylistic comparison contributes in locating and dating our manuscript to the Veneto region between the end of the 1430s and beginning of the 1440s.


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Vienna Ka'arat ha-Kesef | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
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Artist/ Maker

Italy | Veneto
| (?)
Historical Origin
Community type
Period Detail
Austria | Vienna | Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (ÖNB)
| Cod. Hebr. 88 (Schwarz, No. 110)
Documentation / Research project
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Panel Measurements
The manuscript is in quite good condition
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
This manuscript includes Ke’arat ha-Kesef (The Silver Platter), a poetic work by Jehoseph ben Hanan ben Nathan ha-Ezobi (from the region of Orange, France) of the 13th century, written on occasion of his son’s marriage and Seder Hatanim (Order of Marriage) according to the Italian rite, with instructions. The poem, as the other texts in the two Parma volumes, is vocalized. Ke’arat ha-Kesef (“The Silver Platter”): (fols. 1- 11) including 129 strophes out of 131 original Seder Hatanim (Marriage ceremony blessings): (fols. 11v-16), including the Seven Benedictions recited under the huppah, with the addition of the piyyut “Aseh tefillah / be'er hatan” (Davidson, 7784א' ) and Ps.128 within the seventh benediction, before the closing verse (fols. 11v-13); piyyut “Et hatan be-yom hatunato” (fols. 13v-14; Davidson, 8537א' ); Ps. 45 (fols. 14-15); special additions to the zimmun (invitation) and Grace after Meals (fols. 15-16).

Material: Parchment, IV + 16 + I leaves. Flesh side clearly distinct from hair side. The quires are arranged according to Gregory rule, beginning with the hair side



   Full page: (97-100) X (68-71) mm

Text space: (54-55) X (37-38) mm




Two scribes copied the two different texts.

Scribe A

Ke'arat ha-Kesef

Fols 1-11

Scibe B

Seder Hatanim

Fols 11v-16





The Ke'arat ha-Kesef is written in square Italian script in dark brown ink

The Seder Hatanim is written in small semi-cursive Italian script in light brown ink



The text is written in two columns.



Number of lines

Ke’arat ha-Kesef and Seder Hatanim:

16 lines per page in one column, except for fol. 1



Ruling on both hair and flesh side 16 lines by ink and 1 + 1 lines by plummet.



No pricking for horizontal lines is discernable, except for fol. 15, in both the inner and outer margins. Pricking corresponding to the vertical lines is discernible in the lower margin (fols 1-16) and in some pages also in the middle of the lower part of the page (fols. 5-14).



2 quires of 8 leaves each.



One catchword written horizontally in the lower left-hand corner of last verso of quireI.(The catchword "u-bahem" ובהם, does not exactly correspond, since the recto of the next quire starts with "u-vam" ובם. No text, however, is missing).


Hebrew numeration



Blank leaves

Fol. 16v

Number of Lines
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Fol. 2v, 7th text line: the initial of the name Shmuel is emphasized with three diagonal dots.
Scribal Notes
Fol. 9v, scribal note written in the last two lines of the page, stating that over ten strophes are missing. חרוזה אל הקערה והם יותר מעשר / ולא הגיעוני בכתיבה ומסירה “Rhymed with the platter (ha-ke'arah) there are more then ten (strophes) did not arrived to me in written (form) nor in transmission.” Fol. 11, scribal note at the conclusion of the poem: תמה התהלה לאל חי “(Here) ends the praise for the Living God”
Trade Mark

19th century binding. Marble paper pasted down in the front and back covers, with a parchment leaf ? at the spine, bearing Hebrew letters. On the front binding a paper stub with ink inscription: "Nro. 2" and in pencil: "Rabbi Joseph Ezobi"


Decoration Program

The frame and the illustrated initial word panel on fol. 1v were executed by the same artist after the text was written. The colours used are green, yellow, pink, blue and red tonalities and painted gold, while the text frame is in gold leaf. Part of the paint is flaked.

The pen decoration in red and blue of the Seder Hatanim was probably done by the scribe himself.


The frame and the illustrated initial word panel on fol. 1v were executed by the same artist after the text was written. The colours used are green, yellow, pink, blue and red tonalities and painted gold, while the text frame is in gold leaf. Part of the paint is flaked.

The pen decoration in red and blue of the Seder Hatanim was probably done by the scribe himself.

I. One full page with an illustrated initial word panel: (fol. 1v)

II. Pen-decoration: of floral motifs, above the title of Seder Hatanim (fol. 11v) in red, green and brown ink and for “La-menazeah (fol. 14) in simple brown ink; simpler pen decoration within the text of Seder Hatanim delineating the title (fol. 11v) and some verses in red wavy lines (fols. 11v, 13v, 14, 15, 16)

Suggested Reconsdivuction
Fol. 16v, the signature of the censor Domenico Ierosolomitano (active 1578-1610) is written in pen: “Dominico Ierosolomi(ta)no”. Another signature by the same censor is found on fol. 1 in Parma ms. 3500 (see: Remarks). In Parma 3501 (see: Remarks), on fol. 96 (a flyleaf), an owner inscription by Giuseppe Ottolenghii and another name with the date "2 November 5391[=1630]" (is that necessary here?) Acquired from the collection of Salomon Gottlieb Stern of Rohoncz (Hungary) in 14 February 1949 for 20 florins, for the Wiener Hofbibliothek, together with Cod. Hebr. 96, 110, 113, 115. On the recto of the first flyleaf, on fol. 1 and on fol. 16v, the violet stamp of the “k.k. Hofbibliothek” is impressed. A royal crown tops the inscription
Main Surveys & Excavations
Bar-Tikvah, "Ha-Ezobi", 1998 Bar-Tikvah, B., "Shiluvei Mikraot be-Piyyutei ha-Paiyyetan ha-Provensali R. Jehosseph ha-Ezobi" [Hebrew], Talpiyyot, X, 1998 Bauer-Eberhardt, “Miniature italiane”, in Il codice miniato, 1992 Bauer-Eberhardt, U., “Miniature Italiane in codici ebraici” in: Il codice miniato – Rapporti tra il codice, testo e figurazione, Firenze, 1992, pp. 425-437 (see p. 432 and fig. 9). Beit-Arié, Hebrew Codicology, 1981. Beit-Arié, M., Hebrew Codicology, Jerusalem, 1981. Forcano, Safata d'argent, 1997 Forcano, M., Safata d’argent, Anuari de Filologia, 20 E/7, 1997, pp. 67-79. Goldenthal, J., handschriftlichen hebräischen zu Wien, 1851, pp. 46-47 Goldenthal, J., Die neuerworbenen handschriftlichen hebraeischen Werke der k.k. Hofbibliothek zu Wien, Wien, 1851, pp. 46-47. Hazan, Ke`arat, 1912 Hazan, B.M., Ke’arat ha-Kesef [Hebrew], Jerusalem, 1912 . Hermann, Handschriften Italianischen Renaissance, 1930 Hermann, H. J., Die Handschriften und Inkunabeln der italienischen Renaissance, Leipzig, 1930, I, 1930, pp/ 22-23, tab. XIII,3. Metzger & Metzger, Jewish Life, 1982 Metzger, T. – Metzger, M., Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, New York, 1982 (p. 310, no. 249) Narkiss, Italian Manuscripts Narkiss, B., Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts in the British Isles. Italian Manuscripts, unpublished volume. Schwarz, A. Z., Hebräischen Hss. Wien, 1925 Schwarz, A. Z., Die hebräischen Handschriften der Nationalbibliothek in Wien , Leipzig, 1925, No. 110, p. 112. Wolf, Bibliotheca Hebraea, 1733 Wolf, J.C., Bibliotheca Hebraea: sive notitia tum auctorum hebr.; cujusunque aetatis, tum scriptorum, quae vel hebraice primum exarata vel ab aliis conversa sunt, ad nostram aetatem, Hamburg 1733, vol. IV, pp. 1140-1167. Type: Original
Anna Nizza | 2000, 2003
Author of description
Anna Nizza | 3.2002/ 12.2003/ 1.2008
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal | 3.2002/12.2003
Language Editor
Judy Cardozo | 12.2003
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |