Towards the Eternal Center: Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple


Scribe: Issachar Baer ben Jacob Hayyim
Germany?, 1739
ms. 8896

This miniature haggadah contains an unusual illustration of the words, u-ve-Zero'a Netuyah (and with an outstretched arm), a phrase from Deuteronomy (26:8) that describes God's might and power when he took the Jews out of Egypt. The haggadah explicates this phrase with a reference to the plague God brought upon Jerusalem in the time of King David. The artist of this volume, however, chose to interpret the phrase in a more positive manner and depicted Sennacherib's thwarted attempt to conquer Jerusalem in 701 B.C.E. instead. The illustration shows an angel with its sword outstretched over Jerusalem protecting the city against the Assyrian forces of Sennacherib. On the folio preceding the illustration, the artist included Talmudic extracts in order to interpret the image: "Is this the city of Jerusalem" he [Sennacherib] exclaimed, "for which I set all my troops in motion and conquered the whole country? Why, it is smaller and weaker than all the cities of all the nations which I have subdued by my might!" [Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 95a]. That night all his soldiers were killed. As is stated in Kings II (19:35), "an angel of the Lord went out and smote 185,000 in the Assyrian camp".