THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Medieval manuscripts blog

12 February 2012

Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts Online

A80062-21a[1]
'Duke of Sussex's German Pentateuch', Germany, 14th century (Additional MS 15282, f. 296v). Initial-word panel Shir (song) inhabited by a bear and a unicorn.

Last year we told you about the British Library's project to catalogue our Hebrew illuminated manuscripts. Here is an update with a list of the books in question.

The British Library holds one of the world's most important collections of Hebrew manuscripts, of which about 300 have some decoration. All of the illuminated manuscripts and those with significant decoration are now in our Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts. Their inclusion was made possible through grants from the American Trust for the British Library in memory of William T. Golden, the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, Roger and Julie Baskes, and an anonymous donor. We're pleased to announce that more images will be made available in the next upload to the site.

G70008-93[1]
Jacob ben Asher, Arbaah Turim (The Four Pillars), Italy, 1475 (Harley MS 5716, f. 8). Frontispiece to the first pillar of Arbaah Turim, Orah Hayyim (The Way of Life). The initial-word panel Barukh (blessed) is inhabited by three white rabbits. The lower medallion contains the coat of arms of Joab Emmanuel.

These Hebrew illuminated manuscripts range in date from the 10th to the 18th century, and their geographical division is just as wide, encompassing Europe, Northern Africa and the East. Most of them contain religious works, such as biblical and liturgical texts, but there are also a number of legal, philosophical and scientific books. You can read more here about the decoration and script of our Hebrew manuscripts.

004061a[1]
'Golden Haggadah', Catalonia, 14th century (Additional MS 27210, f. 12v). Detail of a miniature of the plague of lice.

From the 13th century, Jewish books were examined by Christian censors in order to eliminate passages that were considered blasphemous. The first official list of prohibited Hebrew books (Index autorum et librorum prohibitorum) was published in 1559, but the expurgation or destruction of certain Hebrew books had started much earlier. Official revisers, usually converted Jews, were appointed to revise Hebrew books and implement the restrictions. Many of the Hebrew items in the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts were present in Italy at some point and include evidence that they were examined by censors.

C08288-08[1]
'First Gaster Bible', Egypt, 10th century (Oriental MS 9879, f. 14v). Text page with punctuated Oriental script, ornamental space fillers and marginal decoration.

C7740-06[1]
'The Northern French Miscellany', France, 1277-14th century (Additional MS 11639, f. 521). Full-page miniature of Noah's Ark with the raven seated on the ark and the dove returning with a sprig of olive in its beak.

C03791-01[1]
'Barcelona Haggadah', Barcelona, c. 1340 (Additional MS 14761, f. 28v). Historiated initial-word panel Ha lahma aniya (The Bread of Affliction), and a miniature depicting a family by the Seder table, the master of the house placing the basket of unleavened bread on the head of one of his children.

C7743-04a[1]
'Duke of Sussex's Italian Bible', Ferrara?, 15th century (Additional MS 15251, f. 313v). Decorated initial-word panel at the beginning of 1 Chronicles.

C11088-01a[1]
'Lisbon Bible', Lisbon, 1483 (Oriental MS 2626, f. 13v). Detail of a full border.

C7595-05a[1]
Pentateuch, Germany, 14th century (Oriental MS 2696, f. 257v). Initial-word panel with gold letters, pen-flourishing and medallions inhabited by hybrids, at the beginning of Numbers.

C7747-01[1]
'Coburg Pentateuch', Coburg, 1390-1396 (Additional MS 19776, f. 54v). Miniature of a man sitting on a bench holding a scroll escorted by a dog, a dragon and a lion. The two scrolls contain masoretic notes.

077786[1]
'Tripartite Mahzor', Germany, c. 1322 (Additional MS 22413, f. 3). Historiated initial-word panel of the Receiving the Law with Moses stretching his hands for the tablets, and Aaron and the Israelites waiting at the foot of the mountain.

G70008-96[1]
Series of tables, France or Spain, 15th century (Oriental MS 11796, f. 57v). Astronomical and calendrical table.

Here is a list of Hebrew manuscripts in the British Library's Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts:

Add 9405

Biblical readings from a festival prayer book (mahzor): Germany, 1309

Add 9406

Biblical readings from a festival prayer book (mahzor): Germany, 1309

Add 10456

Festival prayer book (mahzor), Ashkenazi rite: Germany or Eastern Mediterranean, 1349

Add 11639

Miscellany of biblical and other texts ('The Northern French Miscellany'): France, 1277–14th century

Add 11657

Former and Latter Prophets (Neviim): Italy, 14th century

Add 11830

Festival prayer book (mahzor) for Rosh ha-Shanah, Ashkenazi rite: Germany, before 1384

Add 14759

Levi ben Gershon, Commentary on the Pentateuch: Avignon, 1429

Add 14761

Haggadah, liturgical poems and biblical readings for Passover ('Barcelona Haggadah'), Sephardic rite: Barcelona, c. 1340

Add 14762

Eleazar of Worms, Haggadah for Passover ('Ashkenazi Haggadah'), German rite: Ulm?, c. 1460

Add 14763

Maimonides and others, Miscellany of philosophical works: Viterbo, 1273

Add 15250

Bible ('Duke of Sussex's Catalan Bible') with masorah magna and parva: Catalonia, 14th century

Add 15251

Bible ('Duke of Sussex's Italian Bible') with masorah magna and parva: Ferrara?, 1448 or 1498

Add 15252

Duke of Sussex Bible with masorah magna and parva: Catalonia, 14th century

Add 15282

Pentateuch ('Duke of Sussex's German Pentateuch'): Germany, 14th century

Add 15283

Pentateuch, Haftarot and the Five Scrolls (Hamesh megillot): Lisbon, 15th century

Add 15306

Pentateuch with masorah magna and parva: Spain, 14th or 15th century

Add 15423

Pentateuch ('Duke of Sussex's Italian Pentateuch'): Florence, 1441-1467

Add 16577

Festival prayer book, Italian rite: Italy, 15th century

Add 16916

Prayers for Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur, Ashkenazi rite ('London Days of Awe Mahzor'): Germany, 13th or 14th century

Add 17745

Zohar on Genesis: Italy, 15th century

Add 18424

Works of Rabbi Samson ben Tzadoq and others: Germany, 1307

Add 18684

Works of Isaac of Corbeil and others: France, 1392

Add 18724

Isaac Abravanel, Haggadah for Passover: Hamburg, 1740

Add 18731

Nahmanides, Commentary on the Pentateuch: Isola, 1491

Add 18970

Hebrew Grammar: Spain, 15th century

Add 19064

Festival prayer book (mahzor), Italian rite: Italy, 15th century

Add 19776

Pentateuch ('Coburg Pentateuch') with the Five Scrolls (Hamesh megillot), Haftarot, and grammatical treatises: Coburg, 1390-1396

Add 19943

Nathan ben Joel Palquera, Tzorei ha-guf (The balms of the body): Italy, 1447

Add 19944

Festival prayer book (mahzor), Italian rite, vol. 1: Florence, 1441

Add 19945

Festival prayer book (mahzor), Italian rite, vol. 2: Florence, 1441

Add 21160

Pentateuch ('Yonah Pentateuch'): Germany, 13th century

Add 21967

Hebrew translation of the first two books of Avicenna's Canon: Rome, 15th century

Add 22092

Gan Elohim (The Garden of God): France, 1403

Add 22413

Joseph Kara, Festival prayer book for Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) and Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles), German rite ('Tripartite Mahzor'): Germany, c. 1322

Add 26878

Solomon ben Isaac, Pentateuch with Targum Onkelos and Rashi's commentary: France, 14th century

Add 26879

Solomon ben Isaac, Former and Latter Prophets with masorah magna and parva, Targum Jonathan and Rashi's commentary: France?, 13th century

Add 26896

Festival prayer book (mahzor), Ashkenazi rite ('Tinted Mahzor'): Germany, 14th century

Add 26897

Festival prayer book (mahzor) for Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, Ashkenazi rite: Germany, 14th century

Add 26933

Nahmanides, Commentary on the Pentateuch: Spain or Italy, 15th century

Add 26957

Prayer book (siddur), Italian rite: Italy, 1469

Add 26968

Prayer book (Forli Siddur) for the entire year, Italian rite: Italy, 1383

Add 26970

Rabbi Isaac ben Meir of Düren, Festival prayer book: Germany, 1308-1314

Add 26974

Sefer Maalot ha-Middot (The Book on Degrees of Virtue) by Jehiel ben Jekuthiel: Italy, 1287

Add 27029

Prayer book, Italian rite: Italy, 1501

Add 27126

Prayer book, Sephardic rite: Spain, 14th or 15th century

Add 27137

Jacob ben Asher, Fourth Book of Arba'ah Turim: Hoshen ha-Mishpat ('The Breastplate of Judgment'): Italy, 1360

Add 27167

Pentateuch ('Almanzi Pentateuch') with Haftarot and Five Scrolls (Hamesh megillot): Lisbon, 15th century

Add 27210

Haggadah for Passover ('Golden Haggadah'): Catalonia, 14th century

Egerton 872

Solomon ben Isaac ('Rashi'), Commentary on the Pentateuch with the Haftarot on the Five Scrolls: Germany, 1341

Harley 1528

Bible with masorah magna and parva ('Harley Catalan Bible'): Catalonia, 14th century

Harley 1861

Solomon ben Isaac (Rashi), Pentateuch with Targum and Rashi's commentary: France, 14th century

 

 

Harley 5531

Joseph ben Judah Zark, Baal ha-Lashon (The Master of the Language): Italy, 1474

Harley 5648

Baruch ben Isaac of Worms, Sefer ha-Terumah: Germany, 1253/1254

Harley 5680

Books Three and Five of the Canon of Avicenna in Hebrew translation: Spain or Italy, 1479

Harley 5686

Festival prayer book (mahzor): Italy, 1427–1466

Harley 5698

Maimonides, Lisbon Mishneh Torah, vol. 1: Lisbon, 1471-1472

Harley 5699

Maimonides, Lisbon Mishneh Torah, vol. 2: Lisbon, 1471-1472

Harley 5709

Solomon ben Isaac (Rashi), Pentateuch: France, 14th century

Harley 5710

Bible with masorah magna and parva: Italy, 13th century

Harley 5711

Bible with masorah magna and parva: Italy, 13th century

Harley 5716

Jacob ben Asher, Arbaah Turim (The Four Pillars): Italy, 1475

Harley 5717

Jacob ben Asher and Maimonides, Even ha-Ezer (The Stone of Help) and Hoshen Mishpat (The Breastplate of Judgement) of Arbaah Turim (The Four Pillars): Italy, 1475

Harley 5773

Pentateuch ('London Catalan Pentateuch') with masorah magna and parva: Catalonia, 14th century

Harley 5774

Prophets with masorah magna and parva: Castellon d'Ampurias, 1396

Harley 5775

Hagiographa with masorah magna and parva: Castellon d'Ampurias, 1396

Harley 7586A

Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed (Moreh Nevukhim) in Samuel ibn Tibbon's translation: Italy, 1283

Harley 7586B

Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed (Moreh Nevukhim) in Samuel ibn Tibbon's translation: Italy, 13th century

Harley 7621

Pentateuch with Rashi's commentary and Targum Onkelos : Italy, 15th century

King's 1

Bible ('King's Bible'): Catalonia, 14th century

Oriental 42

Festival prayer book (mahzor) for Rosh ha-Shanah and the Yom Kippur, Ashkenazi rite ('Dragon's Head Mahzor'): Germany, 14th century

Oriental 1404

Haggadah with commentary and liturgical poems for Passover ('Brother Haggadah'): Catalonia, 14th century

Oriental 1424

Biblical readings and liturgical poems for Passover: Catalonia, 14th century

Oriental 1467

Fragment of the Pentateuch with Targum Onkelos and masorah magna and parva: Persia, 11th-12th century

Oriental 1487

Abraham ibn Ezra, Commentary on the Pentateuch: Iberian Peninsula or Italy, 15th century

Oriental 2091

Former and Latter Prophets and Hagiographa, with masorah magna and parva: Germany, 13th century

Oriental 2201

Bible with masorah ('First Ibn Merwas Bible'): Toledo, 1300

Oriental 2211

Saadia ben Joseph (Saadia gaon), The Latter Prophets: Yemen, 1475

Oriental 2348

Pentateuch with masorah magna and parva: Yemen, 1469

Oriental 2363

Pentateuch with Targum Onkelos and masorah magna and parva: Persia or Babylonia, 11th-12th century

Oriental 2365

Bible with masorah magna and parva: Yemen, 14th century

Oriental 2373

A portion of the Hagiographa with masorah magna and parva: Yemen, 13th century

Oriental 2396

Solomon ibn Gabirol and others, Miscellany of ethical texts: Italy, 1382

Oriental 2451

Pentateuch with masorah magna and parva: Persia, 1483

Oriental 2493

Portions from the Exodus with Arabic translation and commentary: Persia, Babylonia or Egypt, 14th century

Oriental 2540

Fragments from Exodus: Palestine or Egypt, 10th century

Oriental 2626

Bible ('Lisbon Bible') with masorah magna and parva: Lisbon, 1483

Oriental 2627

Bible ('Lisbon Bible') with masorah magna and parva: Lisbon, 15th century

Oriental 2628

Bible ('Lisbon Bible') with masorah magna and parva: Lisbon, 15th century

Oriental 2696

Pentateuch, Five Scrolls (Hamesh megillot) and Haftarot with masorah and commentary: Germany, 14th century

Oriental 2733

Festival prayer book (mahzor) for Rosh ha-Shanah, Franco-German rite: France, 14th century

Oriental 2736

Prayer book (siddur), Italian rite: Bertinoro, 1390

Oriental 2737

Haggadah for Passover ('Hispano-Moresque Haggadah'): Castile, c. 1300

Oriental 2884

Haggadah for Passover ('Sister Haggadah'): Barcelona, 14th century

Oriental 4227

Bible with masorah: France, 14th century

Oriental 5024

Decisions of Isaiah of Trani the Younger (Pisqei Rabbi Yeshayah Aharon): Italy, 1374

Oriental 5600

Festival prayer book (mahzor) for Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur, North African rite: North Africa, 15th century

Oriental 9879

Biblical fragments ('First Gaster Bible') with masorah magna and parva (sections from Psalms): Egypt, 10th century

Oriental 9880

Biblical fragments ('Second Gaster Bible') with masorah magna and parva (Fragments from the Pentateuch): Egypt, 11th or 12th century

Oriental 9900

Parts of the Scriptures (Ketuvim): Italy, 15th century

Oriental 10186

Prayer book with Haggadah and Pirqei Avot, Ashkenazi rite: Italy, 15th century

Oriental 10752

Prayer book (siddur), Italian rite: Italy, 15th century

Oriental 11594

Festival prayer book (mahzor) for the whole year, Sephardic rite, with the commentary of Joseph Zaddik: Spain, 15th century

Oriental 11796

Series of calendrial and astronomical tables: France or Spain, 15th century

Oriental 11924

Prayer book, Italian rite: Italy, 15th century

Oriental 14061

Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed (Moreh Nevukhim): Catalonia, 14th century

Sloane 3173

Haggadah for Passover with the commentaries of Isaac Abravanel ('Leipnik Haggadah'): Germany, 1740

Stowe 30

Prayers: England, 1578

Yates Thompson 31

Matfré Ermengau of Béziers, Breviari d'Amor (Catalan prose version): Catalonia, 14th century

 

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