Mid-15th century Esther scroll from the Spanish Empire finds a home in Israel

A mid-15th-century Iberian meguila of Esther – also known as the Esther Scrolls – was donated to the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. noble destiny to save the Jewish people from evil Haman. Experts have determined that the mid-15th century scroll was written by a Jewish archivist around 1465, before the expulsion of Jewish populations from Spain and Portugal at the turn of the century.

A mid-15th century Sephardic Esther scroll that was donated to the National Library of Israel. (National Library of Israel)It was the only complete 15th century meguila currently owned by individuals before the donation. There are only a few of these complete meguila in the world, and those from the pre-deportation period to Spain and Portugal are “even rarer, with only a small handful known to exist,” said the National Library. It was written on leather in ink brown representing the characteristics of Sephardic writing. The section that appears just before the text of the Purim tale contains a traditional blessing recited before and after the reading of the megillah, which corresponds to the traditional uses of this scroll in Iberian Jewish communities before their expulsion. The scroll was donated by Michael Jesselson and his family. Jesselson’s father, Ludwig Jesselson, was the founding president of the International Library Council. National Library curator Dr Yoel Finkelman said the gifted parchment was “an incredibly rare testimony to the rich material culture of the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula. “It is one of the earliest extant manuscripts of Esther and one of the few 15th-century megillotes in the world,” Finkelman added. “The library has the privilege of housing this treasure and preserving the heritage of the Iberian Jews before the expulsion to the Jewish people and the world. The Scrolls of Esther detail the miraculous events that took place in Persia 2,300 years ago when the Jewish people were saved by the actions of Mordecai and Esther of Haman and King Ahasuerus’ decree to exterminate the population. Jewish. Purim by reading the megillah, sending gifts to friends (mishloach manot), give charity to the poor (matanot la’evyonim) and finally, at the end of the holidays, participate in a happy festive meal (mishteh).Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

Edward K. Thompson