The Cover Page of the 1558 Cremona Book of the Zohar

This page describes and translates the cover page of the Zohar printed in Cremona, Italy in 1558 by the Christian publisher Vincenzo Conti. See Cremona and Conti for more about the publisher. A higher resolution image of this page is available here.

See here for an image and notes on the 1560 Cremona Zohar.


on the Torah, from the man of God, holy and most awesome, the Tana Rabbi Simon ben Yochai Z"L (of blessed memory),
with many new features, including Sitrei Torah (Secrets of the Torah), Midrash HaNeelam ( The Hidden Midrash) and Tosefta (Addenda) on some of the chapters. (These are subsections of the Zohar.)

We also added the following items not found in the other (edition of the Zohar, published in Mantua): the entire Raya Mehemna, including the portions on Genesis, the Bahir Commentary, the Midrash on Ruth, (known as) the Midrash Hazita, the treatise (beginning with the Aramaic words) Ta - Chazi (come and see), (the treatise known as) the Hechalot ( the Palaces), and Bible verse notes, (indicating the chapter and verse of the Biblical quotations.)

Printed with great care in: CREMONA

the city of the Great King , our Lord King Filippo, may his glory be exalted, Amen.


It's hard to say for sure, but maybe the cover page text is being shaped to represent an antique menorah. This image shows a drawing, made by Maimonides himself, of a menorah from the Oxford manuscript of Maimonides’ Commentary to the Mishnah. Or, perhaps it is being shaped as a wine glass.

The frame is magnificent but not particularly Jewish. The text uses little raised periods, the same way we might use commas.

Our image seems to have belonged to the Mezzofanti Library at the Vatican. Find out more about this interesting man here. Cardinal Mezzofantia.

See here for an image and notes on the 1560 Cremona Zohar.

Sefer Ha-Zohar – The Battle For Editio Princeps Jan Doktór & Magdalena Bendowska

Since March 3, 2015
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