296 ROBERT J. LITTMAN An Error in the Menetekel Inscription in Rembrandt's Belshazzar's Feast in the National Gallery in London. In Fea.rt Rembrandt depicts the hand?z?riting <>n the wall from the Book of Daniel (Fig, i ) . The inscription, like certain parts of the Book of Daniel, is written in Aramaic. Rembrandt painted several works on biblical themes, possibly for Jewish patrons. He knew Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel and etched his por- trait.' Menasseh ben Israel published the Aramaic inscription, and an explanation of its interpretation. Presumably, from this printed inscription, or possibly on Menassch ben Israel's advice, he paintcd the inscription in the painting. It is most likely that Rembrandt borrowed the formula from Menasseh ben Israel be- cause this was a rabbinic rather than Christian interpretation of the solution to the handwriting on the wall. On the basis of this Hausherr suggests that the painting was ordered bv one of the circle of learned Amsterdam Jews.-, In fact, there is an error in the Aramaic of Rembrandt's painting, an error that has gone unnoticed in the literature. Rembrandt is gcncrally reliable in his Hebrew I Aramaic orthography., For example, in his Mo.re.r breaking the Tablets,
Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1993
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