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date: 06 December 2019

Megillahlocked

  • Gabrielle Sed-Rajna
  •  and Shalom Sabar

Extract

Parchment scroll containing the text of the Old Testament Book of Esther, which recounts the deliverance of the Jews from persecution in the Persian empire and which was probably written during the reign of the Hasmonean Jewish king John Hyrcanus (regc. 135–105 bc). The Book of Esther has since then traditionally been read in the synagogue on the festival of Purim, for which purpose it was copied separately in the form of a scroll (Megillah; see also Jewish art §VI 3.).

Those scrolls intended for use in the synagogue had no ornament, but every well-off family had an elegantly decorated scroll for its own use, kept in a costly silver case (see Jewish art §VI 3.). It is not possible to trace the history of the decorated Megillah (pl. Megillat); a few exceptional and relatively old pieces served as models and were frequently copied. A 14th-century manuscript (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. hébr. 324, fol. 180) has the earliest description of a scroll of Esther, showing a cantor holding an undecorated Megillah. The illustrations of the Castilian ...

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O. Schmitt and others, eds: Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte (Stuttgart, Metzler and Munich, 1937–)