Tough Italian Jews (Scroll of Esther) (1616)

I’m posting the link to the Ferrara scroll of Esther (1616) here at the The Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art at the Center for Jewish Art. It has links to all two other Scrolls of Esther also illuminated by Moshe ben Avraham Pescarolo (scroll down for “related objects” as well as bibliographical material. The site has links to all (?) of the images and is easy to navigate. Surrounded by foliage, the lush graphic life represented in the Ferrara ms. is especially violent, as suggested here. But is this simply a message of hope and consolation? Also noted is the veiled threat against Christendom. In the image of Mordechai and Haman and the three children, which I’m posting below, the Scriptural passage reads, “I will wreak My vengeance on Edom through My people Israel” (Ezekiel 25:14).What I would add is that this is a Renaissance document, the politics are rough and tumble. The political and, with it, the religious and the ethical scene is de-idealized, as if out of Machiavelli. I am posting below only the very violent images, starting with the execution of Vashti and concluding with the hanging of Haman. Esther and Mordechai are in the mix. These are tough Italian people, the Jews and women included.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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