Tora with Onkelos, Megillot and Haftarot

Abbildung einer Seite aus der Tora ″H62/MS 1252″ is one of the most important Hebrew manuscripts in the collection of Erlangen-Nuremberg University Library. It consists of 225 parchment folios (14,4 x 20 in.) and its first part contains the text of the Torah divided into Parashot (weekly portion). Each verse is followed by an Aramaic paraphrase from the Targum Onkelos (f. 1r-166v). The second and third part contain the Five Scrolls (the Megillot: Song of Songs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, f. 166v-183v) and the Haftarot respectively (portions from the books of the Prophets, f. 166v-224v).

The manuscript is regularly and neatly written in Ashkenazic square script and may be dated to the 13th century AD (K. Irmischer, 1, and E. Lutze, 273, date it to the 15th century). The text is vocalised as well as accentuated (except for a few unvocalised verses especially within the Haftarot) and contains Masoretic notes (Masora magna and Masora parva). In most cases, the text is written in 3 columns. Exceptions are to be found on the last page of a book or in the text-representation of a song (for example f. 55v; 115r; 192r).

Unfortunately, the manuscript is not completely preserved: Not only the beginning (the text starts with Ex 27,29) but also a quire (Lev 4,34-10,4) and a few pages (Num 10,17-11,21) within the manuscript are missing. The marking of a further quire as well as the incomplete last verse (1 Kings 9,1) indicate that the manuscript once may have contained the Haftarot for further special Shabbatot (see Roth, 43).

Although the selection of Bible texts is based on Jewish liturgical traditions, it′s unlikely that the manuscript, being a codex, has been put to liturgical use. However, the marginalia of different origin and age scattered throughout the book might indicate the manuscript′s use for preparing services or for study.

The manuscript also stands out because of its monochrome illuminations. In most cases, they can be found on the Torah folios and occasionally in the ornamented first word at the beginning of one of the Five Scrolls (folios 56r; 115v; 166v; 168v; 175v). The Leviticus folios display further illuminations and drafts − mostly of floral ornaments and animals − which have not been described by Eberhard Lutze and Ernst Roth, folios 38r; 44v; 45r and 165r.

The folios of the manuscript have been paginated twice. One pagination follows the Hebrew text; the other one follows the ″Latin″ way from the left to the right. As the latter pagination begins at the manuscript′s end, it is only given in square brackets because a few secondary texts refer to it.

The manuscript came from the former Altdorf University Library, as is indicated by a note on the back or – following the Hebrew text – front cover page; there are no other notes of origin. The inscription ″Altd. Theol. p. 112. N. 144. // Am. I.″ refers to the entry in the second volume of the four-volume catalogue of the Altdorf Libraries, which lists the theological books and has been written by the librarian Christoph Bonaventura Herzer in 1748/49 (Catalogus librorum Theologicorum Bibliothecae Publicae Academiae Altdorfinae). The University of Altdorf, founded in 1623, was closed in 1809 and its books came to the Erlangen-Nuremberg University Library in 1818/19.


  • Irmischer, Johann Konrad: Handschriften-Katalog der Königlichen Universitäts-Bibliothek zu Erlangen, Frankfurt a.M. und Erlangen 1852.
  • Lutze, Eberhard: Die Bilderhandschriften der Universitätsbibliothek Erlangen, Erlangen 1936.
  • Roth, Ernst / Striedl, Hans: Hebräische Handschriften, Bd. 2 (Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland 6,2), Wiesbaden 1965.

Delia Klingler

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