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I was reading Rav Melamed's Peninei Halacha, the Shabbat volume, and on page 5 he mentions that when the Jews were slaves in Egypt they had scrolls (megillot) in their possession telling of the forthcoming redemption that they would read on shabbat.

The source is from Shemot Rabbah 5:18:

מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהָיוּ בְיָדָם מְגִלּוֹת שֶׁהָיוּ מִשְׁתַּעְשְׁעִין בָּהֶם מִשַּׁבָּת לְשַׁבָּת, לוֹמַר שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא גּוֹאֲלָן, לְפִי שֶׁהָיוּ נָחִין בְּשַׁבָּת, אָמַר לָהֶן פַּרְעֹה, תִּכְבַּד הָעֲבוֹדָה עַל הָאֲנָשִׁים וְיַעֲשׂוּ בָהּ וְאַל יִשְׁעוּ וגו', אַל יְהוּ מִשְׁתַּעַשְׁעִין וְאַל יְהוּ נְפִישִׁין בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת.

Is there any more information about who would have written these scrolls, what they contained and who transmitted them through the years in Egypt? Is there any other mention of this in scripture?

  • It’s not a scroll per se, but they had a tradition from Yosef (פקד יפקד אתכם) to this effect. Maybe they wrote it down so that it would be more tangible? – DonielF Oct 16 '18 at 8:43
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    "I was reading Rav Melamed's Peninei Halacha on Shabbat. On page 5 ..." Do you mean in "יציאת מצרים לחירות והשבת" (or, in English: "The Link Between the Exodus and Shabbat")? – Tamir Evan Oct 16 '18 at 14:06
  • I'm pretty sure if such scrolls existed, they would have been written by Ya'akov Avinu. – ezra Oct 16 '18 at 14:31
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Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky in “Emes LeYaakov” on Shemos 8 (9) quotes the medrash and suggests that Tehillim 92 (מִזְמ֥וֹר שִׁ֜֗יר לְי֣וֹם הַשַּׁבָּֽת) was one of the megillos. He quotes from Bovo Basro 14b that Tehillim 90 and the next 12 psalms were authored by Moshe.

In Egypt there was no doubt that

verse 8 -

“When the wicked flourish like grass, and all workers of violence blossom,....”

but Moshe sustained them with the hope that it was only so that they would be

….."only to be destroyed to eternity.”

They would then be able to say

verse 10 -

“For behold Your enemies, O Lord, for behold Your enemies will perish; all workers of violence will scatter.”

Even in the midst of exile they could trust in Hashem and proclaim

verse 6 -

“How great are Your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep.

And at the end they could proclaim

verse 16 -

“To declare that the Lord is upright, my rock in Whom there is no injustice.”

Rav Kaminetzky refers to the opinion in the gemoro in Bovo Basro that the book of Job was also authored by Moshe and also deals with the issue of why the righteous suffer and therefore may have been another of the texts studied by our ancestors in Egypt.

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    Interesting. The problem with claiming that the 'Megillos' were authored by Moshe is that it limits the existence of these scrolls to the last 80 years of the exile (since that was when Moshe was alive), and makes it a somewhat sticky situation where the person who is leading the exodus is the one who supplied the books telling the people that the exous will occur (although to be fair, there are no limitations in the wording of the Midrash saying how long they had the scrolls). But fascinating nonetheless, and a +1 from me. – Salmononius2 Oct 16 '18 at 17:06
  • @Salmononius2 According to Shemot Rabah 1:28, it was Moshe who established the Shabbat for them in Egypt in the first place. (Got that from "הרחבות לפניני הלכה" here) – Tamir Evan Oct 16 '18 at 17:36

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