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What is a Megillah?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein


Library » Holidays » Purim | Subscribe | What is RSS?


The word Megillah literally means scroll.

The Holy Megillah

In its most common context the word Megillah is used to describe the Scroll of Esther which contains the Purim story and is read twice on that Holiday.

In the Tanach there are four other books referred to as a Megillah: Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs), Rut (Ruth), Eichah (Lamentations), and Kohelet (Ecclesiastes).

The name Megillah (rather than Sefer/book) distinguishes these five volumes from all the others of Neviim (the Prophets) and Ketuvim (the Holy Writings), as they are the only ones officially read in their entirety in public on a specific Holiday.

The Whole Megillah

The word Megillah is also used as a common folk expression to describe something lengthy and detailed. Eg. "Tell me about cousin Mildred's wedding, and I want to hear the whole Megillah".

See also When do we read the Megillah?


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Holidays » Purim » About
Torah » The Bible » About

A one-day holiday celebrated in late winter commemorating the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from a decree of annihilation issued by Persian King Ahasuerus in the year 356 BCE.
A scroll. Usually a reference to the Book of Esther, one of the books of the "Written Torah", which is read--from a scroll--on the holiday of Purim.
1. Jewish wife of Persian King Ahasuerus in the 4th century BCE. Foiled the plot of Haman, the prime minister, to exterminate all the Jews. The holiday of Purim commemorates this miraculous salvation. 2. One of the 24 Books of the Bible, which chronicles the abovementioned story.
Acronym for Torah, Nevi'm (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Holy Writings). Tanach refers to the 24 books of the Bible: the 5 books of Moses, the 8 books of the Prophets, and the 11 books of Holy Writings.
Song of Songs
One of the 24 books of the Bible, authored by King Solomon. This book, which ostensibly is a love poem, is an analogy meant to depict the love between G-d and His bride, the Jewish Nation.
1. A Moabite woman who accompanied Naomi, the Jewish mother of her deceased husband, back to Israel. She converted, married, and was the ancestor of King David. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which chronicles the events of Naomi's life.
One of the 24 books of the Bible, this poetic scripture, authored by Jeremiah, prophetically details the destruction of Jerusalem.
One of the 24 books of the Bible. This book of wise sayings was authored by King Solomon.
1. Prophets. 2. A collective name for eight of the books of the Bible: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of Twelve Prophets.
The eleven books of Holy Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra (and Nehemiah), and Chronicles.