57. Seal of the Holy Jewish Community of Seville
*Hakehai Hakadosh Kehal Ishbiliah Yod-Shin-Tsadi-Vav
*The Holy Community Seville Community, May the Lord Protect Us and Redeem Us
Dimensions: 31 mm. Impression.
Location: British Library, London, No. 1.10.†
Bibliography: Levy, 1861; Jacobs and Wolf, 1887, No. 45; Birch, 1900, No. 23,201; Jewish Encyclopedia, 1907, s.v. “Seal,” Pl. II, No. 27; Cantera y Burgos and Millás Vallicrosa, 1956, No. 250.
This community seal of the Jews of Seville probably dates from the fourteenth century. In the center there is a building—a casde or fortress entrance—with three towers. Above, the lettering commences with a rosette. Around the device in Hebrew is the inscription, the double use of the word kehal (not kehillah) referring to a community and not a congregation. The contraction at the end is relatively rare. The Hebrew letters are enclosed within two fine circular lines. The name Ishbiliah is the old Arab name for Seville.
One study of this seal presumes the building shown to be a city gate, perhaps a gate to the Jewish quarter. However, city seals from this period show many castles and gates, the castles often with three towers.
The impression shown here comes from the British Library in London, and it is unclear how or where it was found. The Jews of Seville were almost obliterated by the riots in 1391 (Isaac Abravaneľs grandfather was forced to convert at that time), and the seal must date from the period preceding that event.
One can state that this is the only incontrovertible Jewish community seal in the sense that it was made by Jews, used for Jewish purposes, and does not seem to arise from a commercial transaction involving Christians.