Collections of the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums/Photo: Israel Museum, Jerusalem/Moshe Caine

Celebrants of Sukkot (compare with photo of modern celebrant), the Festival of Booths, strike similar poses despite the centuries that separate them, This illumination comes from a prayer book included in the Rothschild Miscellany, a compilation, produced in Italy in about 1470, of Jewish religious and secular works, The celebrant wears a tallit, or prayer shawl, and holds out a lulav (palm branch), aravot (willows of the brook) and an etrog (citron, a type of fruit), seen from top to bottom respectively. A fourth plant used in the ceremony, the hadassim (myrtle sprigs) is presumably obscured by the others in this profile view. The hadassim and aravot are bound to the lulav by strips of palm and are held together in the right hand, while the etrog is held alone in the left hand. The large Hebrew word says “hosanna.”

Originally an agricultural ritual to insure rain, the Sukkot festival was later adapted at the Hanukkah celebration, which marks the victory in 163 B.C. the Jewish revolt, led by Judas Maccabeus, against the Seleucid overlord Antiochus IV. The welcome given to Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem emulated this Maccabean liberation with the use of palm fronds and cries of “hosanna,” “help, please.” Used as a pea for rain in the Sukkot festival, “hosanna” in this new context became a plea for salvation and also suggested a political liberation like Hanukkah.