KENNICOTT BIBLE

Scribe: Moses ibn Zabara, artist: Joseph ibn Hayyim, commissioner: Isaac, son of Solomon di Braga Corunna, Spain, 1476 12 1/2 x 9 in. (31.8 x 22.9 cm) MS. Kennicott 1, fols. 7b–8a

The Kennicott Bible is the most lavishly illuminated Hebrew Bible to survive from medieval Spain and combines Islamic, Christian, and popular motifs. It has an inscription identifying the artist, rare in Hebrew manuscripts. The book is open to "Sefer Mikhlol," a grammatical treatise by the twelfth-century Provençal rabbi David Kihmhi. It is set within Islamic-style horseshoe arches, surrounded by animal vignettes. The Bible owes its name to the English Hebraist Benjamin Kennicott (1718–83), who acquired it while Librarian of the Radcliffe Library, Oxford. The history of the manuscript between the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and the eighteenth century remains a mystery.

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