The Daily Heller: Mythic Beasts and the Festival of Light

Posted inThe Daily Heller

Just in time for Chanukah and Hanukkah gifting, Mark Podwal’s latest volume of myth and lore, A Jewish Bestiary: Fabulous Creatures From Hebraic Legend & Lore (The Pennsylvania State University Press), is a menagerie between covers. “The world of the animal kingdom is deeply engrained in the Jewish consciousness,” Podwal writes, “no doubt prompted by the majestic account of Creation.” There’s the serpent from the Garden of Eden; Noah’s Arc and its storied pairs; the lion of Judah; and the fabulous creatures depicted in the Book of Job. Moreover, “only after Moses had shown kindness to a lamb did God entrust him” with leading his human flock.

Below is an array of the many real and imagined beasts drawn from scripture and parable, with some reinterpreted from medieval literature. All are illuminated in word and watercolor in this gift for all seasons. And if you like birds, there are plenty.