An Illustration of the Binding of Isaac From the JTS Library

Vayera By :  The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary Posted On Nov 7, 2014 / 5775 | דבר אחר | A Different Perspective

The Hebrew Bible in which this engraved frontispiece is found was printed in Venice in 1739 at the request of a physician named Isaac Foa. In addition to the Hebrew text, it contains Italian explanations of difficult passages. The engraver, Francesco Griselini (1717–1787), illustrated many non-Jewish works as well as notable borders for megillot, and later became known for his scholarly writing on natural history.

This is the most elaborate of the four frontispieces in this Bible, with images from the story of the Akedah (Binding of Isaac) in this week’s parashah. The number of images from just a few verses—the 11 images illustrate Genesis 22:2–12—highlight the remarkable pace of this vignette, which is so rich in drama and theological significance.

View high-definition image.

Captions, clockwise from top-right:

“Take your son, your favored one” (v. 2)

“So early next morning, Abraham saddled his ass” (v.3)

“He split the wood for the burnt offering” (v.3)

“ . . . and he set out for the place” (v.3)

“[Abraham] put it on his son. He himself took the fire” (v.6)

“He built an altar there” (adapted from v.9)

“He laid him on the altar” (v.9)

“And Abraham put out his hand . . . to slaughter his son” (adapted from v. 10)

[center image] “Do not raise your hand against the boy” (v. 12)

“ . . . and his eye fell upon a ram” v.13