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.