Megilat Mitsrayim (The Scroll of Egypt)


ca. 1524

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This text recounts acts of violence. The text provides insight into Jewish history; however, The Posen Library does not condone or promote violence or oppression of any kind.

After these things, Ahmed Shaitan desired of the Jews a hundred and fifty thousand great gold pieces, and he also said, If ye bring them not quickly, I shall kill you with the sword. And when the Jews heard this evil thing, they mourned, and could not answer him, for they were terrified before him. And it came to pass, when the children of Israel saw that the hand of the Holy One had touched them, that they threw earth upon their heads and blew the trumpet, and they convoked an assembly, and every one returned from his evil way, and they cried unto the Holy One with a loud voice and with weeping. And whilst they were weeping and making supplication before the Almighty, some men from amongst them went up, and fell down to the ground before Ahmed Shaitan, but he listened not to them.

And Ahmed Shaitan imposed a tax upon the land, and upon the people of Egypt, and upon the merchants, and he said unto them, Bring unto me silver and gold without number. And Ahmed Shaitan took from the Jews of Cairo much money, and they were being seized by the hand of their enemies to smite them very sorely. And when the tribulation and the evil decree pressed heavily upon them, some of the Jews hid themselves, and the command was given to all the people of Cairo that they should hang every Jew, who should hide himself, on the door of his house. And every day the task-masters stretched out their hands against the Jews to smite them very sorely.

And certain men of Ahmed Shaitan’s force came, and seized the Jews, to take from them their silver and their gold and everything that belonged to them. And they cried to the Holy One in their trouble, and that [H]e may save them out of their distresses. And they made supplication before the Holy One with a loud voice, and the Holy One heard their groaning, and there was not a house in Cairo in which there was not weeping, and lamentation, and sobbing. And on the nineteenth day of the month Adar, Ahmed Shaitan sought to destroy all the Jews that were in Cairo, both young and old, little children and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.

And on the eighteenth day of the month of Adar, the Jews assembled themselves to stand for their life in prayer and supplication, and great crying, and in fasting and weeping; and sackcloth and ashes were spread under many. And the cry of the children of Israel went up to the Holy One, and he heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with them. And God saw their works, and their fasting, and their sackcloth, and He did not despise their humiliation, and He sent them help suddenly, and He saved them from the hands of their enemies and of those who sought their hurt.

In that night our cry went up before God, and our prayers were written in the book of remembrances, and they were read before the king. And he said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt and have heard their cry by reason of their task-masters, for I know their sorrows.

On that day was a council held by the chiefs who remained of King Soliman’s force, and who had been addressing Ahmed Shaitan with a double heart. And they agreed to seize Ahmed Shaitan, and they took with them thirty men of those who remained of King Soliman’s force. And they went up to the citadel, but they found not Ahmed Shaitan in the citadel, for he was in the bath. And it was told to them, saying, Behold, he is in the bath, and they went to him, in order to seize him; but he heard of it, and fled before them. (And King Soliman’s force pursued Ahmed Shaitan, and he heard of it, and fled before them); and they went up and found him not.

And it came to pass, when Sultan Soliman’s chiefs saw that Ahmed Shaitan had fled, that they went up into the citadel, and dwelt therein. And they hastened and proclaimed in all the streets of Cairo: Peace and quietness be unto you, and be ye not afraid. And they said, May our lord, the King Soliman, live for ever; and there was very much joy, and Cairo rejoiced and was glad. The Jews had light, and gladness and joy and honour. [ . . . ]

And on the twenty-eighth day of the month Adar, King Soliman’s force pursued Ahmed Shaitan, and they overtook him, and seized him, and cut off his head. And King Soliman’s force brought Ahmed Shaitan’s head fixed upon a spear, and they hung it up on the gate of Zuwailah before the eyes of all the people. And it came to pass, when King Soliman’s force entered Cairo, [carrying] with them the head of Ahmed Shaitan, that the people of Cairo rejoiced with a great rejoicing. And when the Jews saw the salvation of the Holy One, and the wonders which were done to them, as in the days of Haman the Agagite, who had sought to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey—for as the Amalekite had counselled, thus counselled also Ahmed Shaitan to do; but the Holy One brought their counsel to nought, and caused their thoughts to perish, and their violent dealing came down upon their own pate—the Jews were assembled, and agreed to fast on the twenty-seventh day of the month Adar, and to make the twenty-eighth day a feast and rejoicing and for sending portions one to another and gifts to the poor. Because the Holy One had done to them marvels and wonderful things, and had helped them out of the hands of those who had sought their life. The Jews, therefore, who dwell in Cairo ordained and took upon them, and upon their children, and upon all who join themselves to them, to fast on the twenty-seventh day of the month Adar, and to read this scroll on the twenty-eighth day of it, and to make it a day of feasting and rejoicing.

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Words in brackets appear in the original translation.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 5.

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