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POLEMICAL IMAGES IN THE GOLDEN HAGGADAH (BRITISH LIBRARY, ADD. MS 27210)

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Careful examination of two miniatures in the fourteenth-century Golden Haggadah (British Library, Add. MS 27210) reveals polemical content which seems at odds with the tolerant atmosphere in which the Aragonese Jews associated with the manuscript are thought to have lived. Specifically, the Haggadah includes a rarely illustrated scene—the Spoiling of the Egyptians (fol. 13)—which draws its polemical flavor from a visual context in which spoils are shown as church plate, and Egyptians, one folio later, are shown as contemporary Spanish knights. Although the earlier scene's configuration depends on the Midrash, in contrast to this source and even to the biblical description of events, the illumination shows the Israelites plundering an unattended treasury. The miniature's divergence from text and its combative iconography point to historical and theological developments which are the subject of this paper. The meaning of its polemical interpolations will be considered in view of the Haggadah's special role in the Passover Seder—a ritual which conflates past and present so that participants feel as if they themselves experienced the Exodus and are awaiting a final redemption.

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/content/journals/10.1163/15700670260497006
2002-12-01
2015-08-04

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