Saturday, February 23, 2013

The megillah of Esther, in German!

Be sure to enlarge this one! (you know, one click, then another)

Every year at this time, Megillat Esther is unrolled and read out in the synagogue to tell the story of Purim
Tonight and tomorrow morning in my village (just outside of Jerusalem), and Sunday evening and Monday morning in Jerusalem. 
The scroll is read in Hebrew, of course, to recount the deeds of brave Queen Esther, of her uncle Mordechai the Jew, the Persian King Ahasuerus, and the evil Haman back in the 5th century BCE.

So you can imagine how I did a double-take when I walked near the scroll pictured above at the Jerusalem International Book Fair!  -- It was in old German and lavishly illuminated! 

German art book publisher Taschen  has just published their facsimile of the Esther scroll.
It is produced from a very fine and rare example of the scroll held by the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library in Hanover, dated 1746 and measuring 6.5 meters long (over 21 feet).
 The artist of the Hanover scroll was Wolf Leib Katz Poppers, a Jewish scribe and illustrator from Hildesheim.

From the limited edition of only 1,746 copies you can buy one from Amazon for only $744 or through Taschen for about 500 Euros.  

It comes with a commentary volume by Falk Wiesemann containing an introductory essay, the biblical text of the Book of Esther in German, Hebrew, English, and French and a fold-out sheet with an overview of all the illustrations. 

Please see a pdf of the facsimile with more description and some of the beautiful colored illuminations.

The Book of Esther is only ten short chapters and is an exciting story. 
You can read it in English next to Hebrew here.
Interestingly, it is the only book of the Bible that does not mention God. 


VP said...

I have seen some of these but never in German! They are really wonderful!

Birdman said...

Thanks I'll take a look at that link.

richies said...

What a beautiful reproduction. Now if I only had an extra 744 dollars and could read German.
An Arkies Musings

Hels said...

A Very long time ago, i wrote my honours thesis on illuminated Hebrew manuscripts from the Rhinelands. My manuscripts were 14th and 15th century, and yours is mid-18th century, but the link between the two is undeniable. Gorgeous!!!

Anonymous said...

Must have been a joy to taste the wine the text writes about.

Thank you for this adventure, very interesting.

Cloudia said...

That IS interesting!
I always hear children stamping and shouting even reading the "H" name. What I find interesting is that H got all worked up because Uncle M didn't make a big fuss over him and feed his ego. "But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate, he became very angry. Haman was very mad at him because Mordecai didn’t show any respect when Haman walked by. Mordecai was not afraid of Haman, and this made Haman mad. "
Esther 5:9-11 (Easy-to-Read Version)

Chag Semeach Purim!
ALOHA from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° > <3

Petrea Burchard said...

Could you tell what material it was made of? It doesn't look like paper, but if it was vellum I assume it would cost a lot more.

Kay said...

Wow! This is so beautiful. It is just incredible to see such a priceless work of art.

Dina said...

Friends, thanks for all your interesting additions here!

Petrea, before posting I tried to find out about the material of the scroll but it was never mentioned.

Another Purim scroll facsimile I came across on the web IS on parchment and costs $4000.
The website is a delight! It has a glossary and it shows the whole process of making parchment and of crafting the silver case. See

Peter said...

Wow! I love your stories from Israel. The manuscript looks fabulous.

Rob Siemann said...

That's amazing! And I can read it, despite of the Hoelderlin script.
Enjoy Purim, make a lot of noise!

Spiderdama said...

This is very beautiful!
I like the story of Esther and think it is a book of good news.
Esther chose to risk her life to save her people.

I can actually read German:-)