Centered on the opening scene of reading staged by Giorgio Agamben in his study of reading machines, The Open: Man and Animal, this article considers how Agamben’s own messianic reading of an illuminated page from a medieval Ashkenazi Bible (Biblioteca Ambrosiana MSS B 30–32) erases the entangled biopolitical histories of medieval Ashkenazi Jews and their Christian sovereigns. What happens if we read the distinctive animal-headed Jews peopling medieval Ashkenazi manuscripts of Bibles and Haggadot dated to the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, not in a messianic mode but in the temporal mode of biopolitical bare life? What is the temporal structure of precarious life? Furthermore, how does this Ashkenazi figural tradition of animal-headed Jews point to forms of resistance to the biopolitics of medieval Christendom? How is messianic theory now unconsciously entangled in modes of temporality of precarious life, then?