Brescia - Biblioteca Queriniana - MS L FI 11

Brescia Classical Ilan
Manuscript name
Brescia - Biblioteca Queriniana - MS L FI 11
The Brescia parchment was likely written by a Spanish scribe around the late fourteenth century. The text has been attributed to Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla (1248–ca. 1305). It deploys a distinctive rota-augmented arboreal schema. The message of the schema is clear: Tiferet, the central hub of the entire sefirotic tree, is emblazoned just above the compass foot perforation mark at the center of the concentric circles. As in the Vatican ilan, atop the innermost circle is the Tetragrammaton in its “normal” letter order, along with inscriptions that stress the central position of Jacob. The rota ringing Tiferet has no parallel in its counterpart, however. It is devoted to orders of twelve: the signs of the zodiac, the Hebrew months, the tribes of Israel, and the possible sequences of the four letters of the Tetragrammaton. The cosmological valence of the rota is clear: Ein Sof may be the fount of all, but Tiferet is the center of creation. An inscription within the medallion is consistent with this perception: “the Holy Sanctuary corresponding to the center” (heikhal ha-kodesh mekhuvan ba-‘emẓa). Although the inscriptions of the channels that connect Tiferet to the sefirot that surround it betray theosophical content, e.g., “the pathways of Ḥokhmah coming to Tiferet,” the layout of these channels is unusual. Despite the undeniable impetus to represent the theosophical transvaluation of the ten sefirot and 22 letters of Sefer yeẓirah as an arboreal diagram with ten circles connected by 22 channels—an aspiration achieved when prioritized, as we will see below—most classical trees display fewer interconnections. The Brescia ilan has half the number of channels of its peers—and all eight radiate exclusively from Tiferet. Recalling the “Tree of Wisdom”—now in a theosophical key—the designer of this variation on the arboreal schema thought of Tiferet as the center-point not only of the divine sefirotic constellation but ultimately of three-dimensional space itself. The eight spokes of Tiferet reach eight hubs—now implied vertices—of the tree, imbuing it with connotations of cubic structure. Adapted from J. H. Chajes, The Kabbalistic Tree (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2022).
one hand, Sephardi script
Support material
MS L FI 11
Alternative identifier
ms ebraico, 1 f. pergameno
Biblioteca Queriniana
1 sheet
56.0 cm
76.0 cm
Creation time
... Translation
... Commentary
... Object