Golden Haggadah - Scenes from Exodus, folios 10v -11.
Copyright © The British Library Board
Most of the miniatures on this and the following pages depict
events connected with the Exodus from Egypt, highlighting Moses'
role as leader. In contrast, Moses himself is not mentioned anywhere
in the text of the Haggadah. All references to him were removed
following a theological dispute in the eighth century.
The panels reveal a masterly hand, well acquainted with the French
High Gothic style of illumination and able to handle Italianate
concepts of space and perspective much more successfully than the
An angel appears above the bush that burns but is not consumed;
on divine instructions, Moses takes off his shoes; Moses hides
his face when he hears the voice of God.
Taking his family back to Egypt, Moses meets Aaron on the way.
Zipporah, holding two babies in her arms, rides a mule.
Moses and Aaron perform miracles in front of the Elders of Israel.
A stylistic feature of the second artist is the use of exaggerated
palm gestures, as seen here and in the next miniature.
Moses and Aaron come before Pharaoh. The second artist usually
portrays Pharaoh as a bearded, enthroned king, often sheltered
under a canopy or baldachin. Sometimes Pharaoh is depicted
with his legs crossed, as here.
This panel depicts the Israelites' bondage. At the top of the
tower the foreman, holding a stick, instructs three barefoot labourers:
a brick-maker, a man mixing mortar, and a man carrying straw.
The Israelites build Pharaoh's cities. An overseer armed with
a stick watches them work. The artist provides contemporary details,
such as scaffolding, trowels and a pulley, to enliven the scene.
Aaron's rod, turned into a snake, swallows the snakes of Pharaoh's
magicians, while Moses argues with Pharaoh, shown with his legs
crossed. Pharaoh watches Aaron bring the plague of blood, and Moses
points to the dead fish in the river. Two Egyptians digging for
drinking water find blood instead.