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Italian Ketubah, 1776


Italian Ketubah

Italian Ketubah, Ancona, Italy, 1776

The tradition of the ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract) dates back 2000 years, making it one of the earliest documents granting women legal and financial rights. This example records the matrimony of a Jewish couple in 18th-century Ancona, which was known for its splendid ketubot.

This ketubah records the marriage of Moses Michael ben Judah from Ascoli and Esther, daughter of Joshua Sabbetai, in Ancona. This contract includes a depiction of Jerusalem in the lower vignette with the following legend- “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning” (Psalms 137- 5), which is often recited at Jewish ceremonies. The text also memorably occurs in William Walton’s 1931 choral piece Belshazzar’s Feast.

Hebrew scriptural verses from Proverbs 12-4 and Psalms 128-3 alluding to the wife’s attributes and her fertility appear in the upper perimeter inside the crown and in the heart-shaped cartouche placed beneath it.

British Library- Italian Ketubah

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