Scroll of Esther

scroll of esther

This Hebrew Scroll (Megillha) of the Book of Esther was made in the late 15th or early 16th century, and was intended to be read aloud in the synagogue on the Eve of Purim, a festival which celebrates the delivery of the Persian Jews from annihilation at the hand of Haman, King Ahasuerus’ vizier. When the name of Haman is read the congregants hiss or use rattles to drown out his name. Scroll’s used in synagogue ritual should be unadorned, as is this copy, which, unfortunately, lacks the benedictions recited before and after reading the scroll.

The scroll was given to St David’s College, Lampeter in 1840 by Thomas Phillips (1760-1851) and was probably purchased by him on the London antiquarian book market with the specific intention of giving it to St David’s College. Little is known of its history except that it has a small circular sticker on the reverse which reads ‘Ecclesiastical Art Exhibition, No 318’.

We assume that this exhibition took place before the scroll came to Lampeter. The text was copied in a Hebrew square Sephardi script. There are 3 Tagin (crowns) on the Hebrew letters Shin, Ayin, Tet, Nun, Zayin, Gimel, and final Tsade, and there is one Tag (crown) on the Hebrew letters Bet, Daled, He, Het, Yod and Kof. The names of the sons of Haman are arranged in eleven lines. There are minuscular letters in the names of three of Haman’s sons: Tav in the name Parshandata, Shin in the name Parmashata, and Zayin in the name Vaizata.