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Apocrypha and Falsely Dated “Medieval” Seals

7. Ritual Hebrew Marker: Kasher

Dimensions: 85 × 86 mm. Matrix.

Location: Beth Tzedec Synagogue Museum, Toronto.

Bibliography: Roth, 1951–52; Victoria and Albert Museum, 1956, No. 15 (c).

Reduced in size.

This heart-shaped lead seal, inscribed with the word to indicate ritual purity, was found in England and acquired by the late Cecil Roth. The letters ϒBϒ (yod-bet-yod, in Hebrew) with which it is marked may stand for several pious phrases: “May He bless Israel,” “May He build Jerusalem,” “May the House of Israel be strengthened,” “May they multiply in Israel.” The letters could even refer to a proper name. The seal may have been used to stamp objects, perhaps wine jars or Passover bread, in the medieval Jewish community. Cecil Roth was inclined to believe that it was used for marking earthenware wine jars.

The lead of this seal is weathered and patinated. It is odd that the letters are cut through the soft metal, which may mean that it was used as a display badge rather than a seal for stamping. With no definite provenance, and given the soft metal, it may also be either a late forgery or a post-medieval object.

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