Page 46 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

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ILLUSTRATIONS OF ERETZ-ISRAEL
IN HEBREW MANUSCRIPTS AND PRINTS
By
Z
ev
V
il n a y
ILLUSTRATIONS of sacred shrines and historical sites in the
1 Holy Land first appeared in medieval Hebrew literature.
These were primitive and naive drawings made by folk artists
who had never seen the places they depicted. They gave full
rein to their imagination, and however puerile their attempts,
their artlessness all the better expressed the love of the Jew for
his far-away homeland and his longing for its hallowed places.
Various pamphlets about the holy shrines in Eretz-Israel were
written in the sixteenth century. For the Jewish people sundered
from its native soil for more than fifteen hundred years, they
were the main source of information about the remote Father-
land so distant geographically but so near to the nostalgic heart.
For the few who had the joy of visiting the Holy Land, these
pamphlets were guides which companioned them on their jour-
neys along historic roads to the sites so closely interwoven with
cherished memories of the past.
One of the most widespread was the Hebrew pamphlet en-
titled
Lineage of Forefathers and Prophets,
written in 1537 and
copied by Uri ben Shim’on of Safed in 1564. It was first printed
in 1659 with a wealth of imaginary pictures of the sacred tombs
of significant personalities in Jewish history: Rachel; the sons
of Jacob and his daughter, Dinah; the kings of the House of
David in Jerusalem and of his father Jesse in Hebron; the shrines
of renowned prophets—Samuel, Isaiah, Zechariah, Hosea, Hulda,
and Ezekiel in Babylonia; and the legendary tomb of Queen
Esther in Kefar-Bir’am in Upper Galilee.
The pamphlet contains reproductions of the monuments of
outstanding personages in the Mishna and in the Talmud from
the second to the fourth century. It includes the Cave of the
Sanhedrin and of Simon the Just in Jerusalem; the tombs of
Rabbi Shim’on and his son, Elazar; of Hillel the Elder and his
pupils in Meiron; of Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa and his wife in
Arav, a village in Lower Galilee; of Yosi the Galilean and his
son, Ishmael, in the village of Dalton in Upper Galilee, and
numerous others. There are also designs of the Temple in
Jerusalem, the Palace of King Solomon and the adjoining Gate
of Mercy, which is the Golden Gate of Christian tradition (fig. 1).
In 1598, in the little townlet of Cassel Monferrato in northern
Italy, an anonymous Jewish artist copied the text of
Lineage of
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