Golden Haggadah - Liberation and Preparation, folios 14v - 15.
Copyright © The British Library Board
In this last opening of the sequence of full-page miniatures,
the artist concentrates on two themes: the Israelites' liberation
and joyful departure from Egypt, and preparations for the Passover
The artist's mastery of contemporary Italian techniques, aimed
at creating space and depth, can best be seen in the miniatures
on the left-hand page. Here, architectural backgrounds of niches,
arched windows, coffered ceilings, and canopies create a distinct
sense of space lacking elsewhere in the manuscript.
This illustrates the plague of the first-born. In the upper-right
scene, a man is struck by an angel's sword; in the left scene,
the queen mourns her baby lying lifeless on a nurse's lap; the
third scene, not recorded in the Bible, probably represents the
funeral of the first-born.
Pharaoh, on a battlement, orders the Israelites to leave Egypt.
Followed by Moses, the Israelites, holding lumps of dough, walk
with hands raised illustrating the verse: 'And the children of
Israel went out with a high hand'.
The pursuing Egyptians are depicted as contemporary knights led
by a crowned king. The heraldic devices in Hebrew medieval manuscripts
portrayed personal arms, but the impossibility of identification
has reduced most of them to a purely decorative role.
The Israelites' safe crossing of the Red Sea is shown. Moses,
holding his rod, turns back and takes a last look at the drowning
Miriam, Moses' sister, holding a timbrel decorated with an Islamic
motif, is joined by maidens dancing and playing contemporary musical
In this ritual scene of preparations for Passover, the master
of the house, sitting under a canopy, orders the distribution of matsah (unleavened
bread) and haroset (sweetmeats) to the children.
A family prepares the house for Passover. The man holding a candle
searches for leaven on the night before Passover, helped by a boy.
The woman cleans the coffered ceiling, while a girl sweeps the
Sheep are slaughtered and prepared for Passover in the building
on the right. Beneath a baldachin, a man purifies utensils in a
cauldron over a fire.