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Chag Purim Sameach, Happy Purim!

Purim begins with the Fast of Esther at sundown this evening. Shown here are two images of Esther and King Ahasuerus from the 2003 facsimile of the late 13th-century North French Hebrew Miscellany. The original is held at the British Library (Add. MS 11639) and the facsimile was produced by Facsimile Editions of London in an edition of 360 copies, printed in nine colors by Grafiche Milani onto a specially milled neutral pH parchment paper, with individually applied gilding. This company is well known for producing state-of-the-art facsimiles of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts. 

The first image from Folio 260v portrays Esther before Ahasuerus: “the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near and touched the top of the sceptre.” Esther 5:2. After this scene Esther invites the king and Haman to a banquet she prepares (5:2-4). As a result of events during the banquet Haman is hanged (7:1-10).

The second scene from Folio 524r depicts Esther kneeling before the king, imploring him “to put away the mischief of Haman” Esther 8:3 against the Jews, after which Ahasuerus grants the Jews written permission to destroy their enemies. 

Images of both Esther and King Ahasuerus are rare in Hebrew illuminated manuscripts.