HEBREW MANUSCRIPT - David ben Aryeh Judah Leib of Lida, Sefer Sod ha-Shem ve-Sharvit ha-Zahav (illustrated Mohel book according to the Ashkenazic rite). Hamburg, copied and illustrated by Israel ben Jacob ben Judah Leib Sofer of Hamburg, 1744.
Fol. 1r: titlepage, dated 1744
Fol. 1v: original owner's inscription: Nathanel ben Nathan of Hamburg, 1744
Fol. 2r-25v: text
Fol. 12v: colophon, signed by the scribe and dated 1744
25 fols., probably lacking some leaves at the end. Thick parchment, soiled and thumbed, last quires detached. Dark brown ink. Fol. 6r: 136 x 93 mm., text: 98 x 65 mm.; varying number of lines per page, all pages within a frame in powdered gold with some, oxidized, copper. Quire structure: 1(2) + 1 before 1, 2(2), 3(2) + 1 after 2, 4(2) + 1 after 2, 5-6(2), 7(2) + 1 after 2, 8-10(2). No catchwords, signatures or running titles. Horizontal and vertical hard-point ruling on rectos and versos, twinned horizontal lines, traces of prickings (through the parchment) for vertical boundary lines in top margin of some pages. Square and semi-cursive Amsterdam letters. Space filling by dilatation, anticipating of the first letter of the next line or by the use of a plain dot as graphic filler, protruding lines prevented by compression and/or abbreviation. Incomplete vocalization, only distinguishing between begedkefet-letters in case of different Ashkenazic pronunciation. Contemporary calf, elaborate silver tooling, g.e., upper cover lettered in Hebrew 'Nathanel ben Nathan', some wear to spine ends; hinges weak, few leaves becoming loose, original paper flyleaves, two at the front, one at the back, decorated paper pastedowns.
Fol. 1r: multi-colored architectural titlepage showing Moses and Aaron. Fol. 3r: opening word 've-kharot', executed in powdered gold.
Fol. 9r: monochrome circumcision scene, partly erased, filled in later again.
Fol. 13r: opening word 'nodeh', executed in powdered gold.
This is the third known manuscript by the scribe Israel, the son of one of the most prolific scribes of the 18th century, Jacob ben Judah Leib Shamash, Sofer of Hamburg. His work is highly characteristic of the Hamburg/Altona school of manuscript decoration. Other manuscripts by Israel are in Hamburg, Staats-und Universitatsbibliothek, Levy 60 (Seder Tikkunei Shabbat, started by his father in 1719 and finished by the son in 1748) and in Copenhagen, Royal Library, No. 52 (a Mohel book, copied in Hamburg in 1744). Our manuscript closely resembles the Copenhagen Mohel book, which in its turn is believed to have been inspired by one of the Mohel books done by the father in 1741 (now in Jerusalem, JNUL 8 305). It is also assumed that Israel has been his father's assistant in quite a few pieces that were signed by the father only.
These data were drawn from Emile G.L. Schrijver, A repertory of decorated Hebrew manuscripts of the 18th century (in progress) and I. Fishof, The Hamburg-Altona school of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts of the first half of the 18th century (Hebrew diss., 2 vols., Jerusalem 1992) part 1: p. 102-103 and infra.