By November 2, 2008 Read More →

Pentateuch with Rashi Commentary, 14th century


 Pentateuch with Rashi Commentary

Germany, first half of the fourteenth century

Numbers 1

Rashi (an acronym of Rabbi Solomon ben Itshaki, 1040-1105, of Troyes, France) is considered the greatest medieval commentator on the Hebrew Bible. His unique commentary is still an essential companion to study of the biblical text.

This is the beginning to the fourth book of the Torah, known in the Christian Bible as Numbers. The opening word in gold letters inside the window-shaped panel reads Va- Yedaber, from the verse ‘And the Lord spoke…’ (Numbers 1-1). The panel ground was divided into eleven decorated red and blue compartments featuring circular medallions with animals and grotesques. The illuminations reveal Germanic influences. The biblical text was copied in a single column in vocalized Ashkenazi square script (a Hebrew style of writing in Franco-¬German lands). The masoretic notes were penned close to the sacred text, whereas Rashi’s commentary was added in columns of minute, semi¬cursive script in the outer margins. Rashi’s commentary had a significant influence on Christian scholars from the twelfth century onwards, such as the Franciscan scholar Nicholas of Lyra (1270-1349), who in turn was a major source for Martin Luther (1483-1546).

John Reeve. Sacred- Books of the Three Faiths, Judaism, Christianity, Islam. The British Library, London, 2007. p. 42.

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