Babylonian Talmud Megillah is the tenth treatise in the order Mo'ed, and includes four chapters. Ch. i. 1-4 treats of the portion of the month Adar in which the Megillah is to be read, and, in case of a leap-year containing two months of Adar, it designates which month is to be chosen. The 15th of Adar, or in a leap-year the same day of the second Adar, is the day appointed for walled cities, and the 14th of Adar for unwalled cities and for villages. The inhabitants of the latter, however, when living in districts where they meet weekly in the neighboring city, may read the roll on the 13th, 12th, or 11th of Adar, if the gathering takes place on one of these days. Since this distinction is made between the two months of Adar of a leap-year, while both months are alike in all other respects, ch. i. 5-11 notes several other groups of objects and cases which differ from one another in one point only; one such group, e.g., consists of the sacred books, the tefillin, and the mezuzah, the first two of which may be written in any language and script, but the last only in Hebrew and in square script. Greek is given the preference over all other foreign languages, since, according to R. Gamaliel, even the sacred books may be written in it.
Ch. ii. deals with the proper manner of reading the Megillah; with the language (mishnah 1), stating that those who do not understand Hebrew may read it in their own tongue; and with the problems whether it shall be read in whole or in part, which portions are to be read (mishnah 3) and at what time of the day. The statement that it may be read during the entire day is supplemented by the enumeration of many other regulations and customs which may be observed throughout the day if they are assigned to the daytime, or throughout the night if assigned to the night (mishnayot 5-6). Ch. iii. discusses the sale of sacred objects, the synagogue and its furnishings, and the sacredness which still attaches in many respects to the ruins of a synagogue which has been destroyed (mishnayot 1-3). It further discusses the sections which are to be read on the Sabbaths in Adar in addition to the customary weekly sections, and what is to be read on each feast-day (mishnayot 4-6.). From the stand-point of contents this chapter does not belong to the treatise Megillah, being connected with it only by its fourth paragraph. Ch. iv. begins with certain rules concerning the reading of the Megillah (mishnah 1a); then follow rules referring to other ritual readings from the Law and the Prophets (mishnayot 1b-2). One of these regulations holds that ten persons must be present at each reading; and in this connection many other religious ceremonies are enumerated as requiring the presence of ten persons (mishnah 3). Mishnah 4 defines the relation of the reader to the translator; mishnayot 5-7 determine who may read, who may lead in prayer, and which priest is entitled to lift up his hands for the blessing; mishnah 8 discusses unseemly dress of the prayer-leader and unseemly behavior regarding the tefillin; mishnah 9 enumerates incorrect expressions in prayer, designates the persons who must be silenced in public prayer, and contains various allusions to the views and customs of the sectarians ("minim") of the time; mishnah 10 enumerates the passages in the Torah which may be read but not translated, and the passages in the Prophets which may not be read as haftarot. Shekalim is a treatise of the Mishnah, dealing with the half-shekel tax which was imposed for defraying the expenses of the Temple service (comp. Ex. xxx. 12 et seq.; Neh. x. 33); also with the other institutions of the Temple at Jerusalem. In most of the Mishnah editions the treatise is the fourth in the order Mo'ed, and is divided into eight chapters, containing fifty-one sections in all. (From JE s.v. MEGILLAH)