Ruth Manuscript

Illuminated cover for the Hebrew Book of Ruth (detail), ca. 1320. Illuminated Hebrew manuscript, The British Library, London.

Produced in southern Germany in the 14th century C.E., this illuminated illustration adorns the cover of a Hebrew Book of Ruth housed in the British Library. The work was created by a society of Ashkenazi Jews who settled in central and eastern Europe after the fall of imperial Rome. The illustration depicts Ruth and Boaz at the Feast of the Pentecost (Shavout), celebrating the law given to Moses at Sinai. Ruth is shown at the far left, gesturing to two men, one holding a bag of grain, the other wielding a stick designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. Meanwhile Boaz, the central figure in long red robes holding a sickle, preaches to his people.

Illuminated cover for the Hebrew Book of Ruth (detail), ca. 1320.

A West Semitic language, in which most of the Hebrew Bible is written except for parts of Daniel and Ezra. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period.

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