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Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Whole Megillah

Today is Purim, the Jewish festival when we celebrate Queen Esther saving her people from the evil Haman. We read the Megillah, the Book of Esther, which, interestingly, is unique in the Bible in that it doesn't mention the name of God. The story has been covered in Norah Lofts's book, Esther, which is good fun. Her Esther is a nerd who makes a living, when she has to take her nose out of the books, by catering wealthy feasts. She spends her year in the king's palace, while waiting for her turn at a visit to His Majesty, in the palace library reading, so when she has supper with the king she has something more interesting to discuss than "How do I look?"

On my first trip to Israel, I dropped into a bookshop and found a gorgeous book I still have. It's an illustrated Megillah with Hebrew on one side of each page and English on the other. The book is illustrated like an illuminated manuscript, with illoed plates. I treasure it and read it every year.

A beautiful book, like every other thing of beauty, is a joy forever.

I couldn't get my system to show all the images that came up on Google Images, but here's a sample of his style. Apparently, he illoed quite a few Biblical stories - and other stuff. Go check it out on Google Images yourself!