Obj. ID: 27371
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts IM Zodiac Esther Scroll, Venice (?), first half of the 18th century
The scroll is decorated with the signs of the Zodiac and the symbols of the Israeli tribes; both are framed in cartouches placed - respectively - on the upper and lower margins. The text columns are interspersed by twisted columns and the cartouches in the upper margins are separated by flower-filled vases and these in the lower margins with the columns' bases. To every sign of the Zodiac, the name of a corresponding month of the Hebrew calendar is added, whereas the symbols of sons of Israel are accompanied by their names. The months of the Hebrew calendar are listed in the calendrical order starting from the month of Nisan (Ex. 12:1), whereas the name of Reuven starts the list of the names of Israeli Tribes (Num. 2, 10).
The scroll is mounted on a wooden turned handle.
The IM possesses a similar scroll - Ms. 182/25; its opening decoration is clearly based on the Gaster I scrolls. Another exemplar possibly executed by the same artist is stored in the museum of the B'rit Kodesh community in Rochester (NY).
The signs of the Zodiac depicted in the scroll allude to casting lots by Haman (Es. 3:7).
The symbols of Israeli Tribes (Nu. 2, 10) only rarely were incorporated in the ornamentation of megillot Esther.
Lory Friedfertig (p. 36, see "Bibliography") suggests that both motifs - the signs of Zodiac and Israeli Tribes - are present in the 17th-century ketubbah of Venice and that the artist of the scroll must be familiar with it.
| Venice (?)
The scroll is formed of 3 membranes with 12 text columns containing 31 lines.
The text is inscribed in an Italian square script, in a ha-melech layout.
Isaiah Shachar, Jewish Tradition in Art. The Feuchtwanger Collection of Judaica, Jerusalem (The Israel Museum) 1981, p. 156, object 410.
A similar scroll is discussed by Lory Friedfertig, From Darkness to Light. Discovering the Judaica Museum of Temple B'rit Kodesh, Rochester (?) n.d., pp. 32-37.