The Scroll of Esther

In 2021, this work received unique recognition with a Guinness World Record as the world’s longest megillah, writing a new chapter in the history of this ancient heritage text and the art of illumination.
For the last two millennia, the biblical Scroll of Esther has been illuminated with visuals to compliment the dramatic story it details. In the early 2000s, I was inspired to add my own artistic interpretation to this ancient tradition. I created four different scrolls for four individual collectors, each the only of its kind. I then set to paint one last final version. This one would be for my family.
There were three elements I wanted to combine. The first was the geometric two-dimensional design from the Near and Far East that are part of my everyday visual life in Israel. The second was the three-dimensional art of the European Renaissance, which reflects my western art education and provides the depth for depicting the drama as a play on a stage. The third element was spiritual, drawing on Jewish heritage and the biblical text to integrate the artistic elements. All these combined to create a vibrant mosaic of imagery, styles and cultures that tell the story of the ancient Persian court.
Unfolding to a length of 28 meters, it took 15 years, tens of thousands of hours of work, and nearly one million brushstrokes to create this version that breathes fresh life into the biblical story that is both ancient and timeless. It now takes its place in history as the longest in existence.

Full Artist Statement

There are times in one’s life when he pauses and reflects upon the past.

One such moment occurred for me at the end of 2020, when I completed illuminating this Scroll of Esther. After two decades of work dedicated to the “Jewish library,” I saw a pleasing paradox in that a dyslexic person as myself had found a way to add to its bookshelves.

For the last two millennia, the biblical Scroll of Esther has been illuminated with visuals to compliment the dramatic story it details. In the early 2000s, I was inspired to add my own artistic interpretation to this ancient tradition. I created four different scrolls for four individual collectors, each one unique and the only of its kind. I then set to paint one last final version that would include all 65 preliminary studies I had prepared throughout the project. This one would be for my family.

There were three elements I wanted to combine. The first was the geometric two-dimensional design from the Near and Far East that are part of my everyday visual life in Israel. The second was the three-dimensional art of the European Renaissance, which reflects my western art education and provides the depth for depicting the drama as a play on a stage. The third was a spiritual element: turning to my Jewish heritage, I used the biblical text to integrate the artistic elements. All these combined to create a vibrant mosaic of imagery, styles and cultures that tell the story of the ancient Persian court.

Preserving the traditional structure of the text dictates the placement of the images. The text follows a very specific format: every line begins with the words “The King”, and every sheet of parchment contains either 11 or 14 rows of text usually arranged in three columns. Much work went into ensuring that the paintings and text correspond with each other and adhere to these millennia-old traditions. The beautiful calligraphy for this scroll was created by Izzy Pludwinski.

Unfolding to a length of 28 meters, this megillah will take its place in history as one of the world’s longest and most labored-on editions. It took 15 years, tens of thousands of hours of work and nearly one million brush strokes to create this version that breathes fresh life into the biblical story that is both ancient and timeless.

The Scroll of Esther does not mention God, and some might even identify pagan elements in the text. However, its inclusion in the bible makes it both divine and eternal, and thus my artistic interpretation of it is infused with a sacred eternity. I am proud to have contributed to the Jewish library, in honor of all generations past and future.  Jewish tradition and its texts belong to all those seeking to study and be inspired.

The Ganze Megillah

Earlier Scrolls of Esther

Scroll I
Artist Avner Moriah; calligrapher Avraham-Hersh Borschevsky. Watercolor on parchment.

Scroll II
Artist Avner Moriah; calligrapher Sharon Binder. Watercolor on parchment.

Scroll III
Artist Avner Moriah; calligrapher Sharon Binder. Watercolor on parchment.

Scroll IV
Artist Avner Moriah; calligrapher Izzy Pludwinski. Watercolor on parchment.