رسالة: T-S NS J7

رسالة T-S NS J7



Letter from Yeḥezqel, probably in Qalyūb, to his brother Ḥalfon in Alexandria. Dated/dating: Iyar 1140. Yeḥezqel complains rather winningly and at great length about his various business problems: "I'm oppressed, but being painted an oppressor" (anā maẓlūm fī ṣūrat ẓālim), i.e., I’m being blamed for things that aren’t my fault. The problems in question: their cheese venture (see IB ח69, ח68, ח64) and the legal proceedings related to it, on which the judges were unable to reach a decision; goods delayed in the bayt al-wakīl, about which the judges wanted the parties to reach a compromise; and a legal action related to the sale of a house, with judges unable to reach a decision: should the decision be according to the approach of Hayye Gaʾon or Yiṣḥaq al-Fāsī? One of the judges suggests to Yeḥezqel that Ḥalfon should have solicited a responsum (fatwā) from Ibn Mīgash, which would have strengthened their hand. Also discusses trade in donkeys (sold without tack because otherwise the price would have been higher) and a long story about transporting silk from the village of Banhā in the delta together with a tax-farmer named Abū Saʿd (perhaps the same one who appears as a former tax-farmer 25 years later in T-S 13J2.24 = PGPID 1008). This Abū Saʿd the tax-farmer (ḍāmin) worked as a pair with a ḍāmin from Cairo, and so couldn't just show up in Banhā at the drop of a hat to help Yeḥezqel transport Abū Zikrī Kohen's silk back to Qalyūb (an eight-hour walk according to Google Maps). Moreover, two tax officials — a fellow tax-farmer in the dār al-ṣināʿa, the main customs point entering Fustat (see Med. Soc. .2:360, 606n34) and the tax-collector (mushidd, an Ayyubid term for the tax-collector at ports, on which Friedman cites Cahen, ’Le régime des impôts dans le Fayyūm ayyūbide,’ Arabica 3 [1956], 19), meaning the one working at the dār al-ṣināʿa? — "don't let him take (even) one raṭl (of silk) as a fee (or bribe?), or it's said to him, 'That's not yours!' The injustice is rampant." Unclear whether here we have the striking picture of a tax-farmer deeming it an injustice that his superiors forbid him from taking bribes; he uses the Hebrew word ḥamas, which in this period, according to Friedman, is a technical term for government-imposed injustice, so perhaps this is by comparison to some earlier period, when it was understood that tax-collectors could enrich themselves in kind. Mentions the death of Abū Naṣr b. al-Minqār, who was Ibn Yijū’s cousin, the son of his maternal aunt. Mentions the India trader Abū ʿAlī b. al-Kirnīb, who also appears in Maimonides' responsa. Although the names of the writer and addressee aren't stated explicitly because the letter has no address (it was probably hand-delivered), Goitein and Friedman identified them based on content and paleography. (Information from Goitein and Friedman, India Book) IB ח70 (ד60)

T-S NS J7 1r


النصوص المفرّغة

S. D. Goitein and Mordechai Akiva Friedman, Ḥalfon the Traveling Merchant Scholar : Cairo Geniza Documents‎ (in Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Ben Zvi Institute, 2013), vol. 4.


  1. כתבת הדה אלאחרף אלי מולאי ואכי ומן
  2. געלת פדאה עלי עגלה מן אלרסול
  3. גואב כתאבה אלכרים אלואצל עלי יד
  4. אבו סעד ולד אלשיך אבו עלי אבן אלכרניב
  5. אללה יעלם מסרתי בעאפיתה וסלאמתה
  6. לכן הדה אלאשיאה (!) אלתי תסבב עליה
  7. ועלי וקטועי לא חילה וגם זה לטובה
  8. אללה יעלם באנני אנא פי אלנאר מן גמיע
  9. אלמוא̇צע לכן מא אעלמה פאשגל קלבה
  10. [וא]נִא מ̇צלום פי צורה ̇צאלם ודלך באן
  11. הדא אלגבן מא תחצל לי מנה שי וקד
  12. תגרגרת מע אלנאס פי אלאחכאם פיה ומא
  13. ינקטע פיה חכם ומן כנת קד עאמלתה
  14. פיה בלא שהאדה אנכרני וחלף ואמור
  15. מישומה כלהא וליס חכאם ינקטעו אמר
  16. ולא אלרייס יתפרג יגלס ואן גלסו אלחכאם
  17. וחודהם ליס יקבל מנהם ואמא אלדי פי דאר
  18. אלוכיל פמא אגִבִרִ מנה אללה יעלם מן חית
  19. תוגהת מן אלתגר ולא דרהם ואחד ולא
  20. אלחכאם יקטעו פיה אמר ולא יכרגו ען
  21. אלמצאלחה וקד קטעת מן כל מכאן וקמת
  22. לאבן אלאמשאטי בסבעה עשר דינאר
  23. ואכדת כטה ואשהדת עליה אלנזר
  24. ופ̇צל בן בניאם ואכוה באלאסכנדריה
  25. ישהד עלי כטה וקד אנפדת אלגמיע עלי
  26. יד אלשיך אבי אלמכארם אבן קסאסה
  27. ואעלמני מולאי באן אלשיך אבי אלחסן אבן

Recto - right margin

  1. אבן (!) כליף
  2. קאל אנה לם יקב̇ץ
  3. אלא תמאניה דנאניר
  4. חאשאה מן דלך ודלך
  5. באן אלרגל קד קב̇ץ מני
  6. דינאר דראהם קדים
  7. ותמאניה מסתגד
  8. כמסה דראהם ותלאתה
  9. דהב ואמא כבר אלחמאר
  10. לקד כאן אלצואב באן
  11. ינבאע בדינארין
  12. ערי בלא עדה לאן
  13. אלעדה תסוא עשרין
  14. דרהם ומא כנת שריתה
  15. מנהם אלא בתלתה
  16. וקיראטין וכנת קד אנפדת
  17. תלתה דנאניר ברסם
  18. תפאותה וכסארת אלחמאר
  19. אל̇צאיע ואמא עמראן
  20. קאל לי מא נכסרך פיה
  21. שי לאנך קד עמלת
  22. מענא גמיל ואמא
  23. מא קאל מולאי מן
  24. כלאם מולאי אלשיך
  25. אבי סעיד מכלוף
  26. אליתים אלבארי עלם
  27. ליס כאן קצדי אלא
  28. ק̇צא חאגתה ודלך

Recto - top margin

  1. אן אלי אכר אלסאעה
  2. לם אתצרף פיה
  3. ודלך באן לם
  4. נתוגה אלי
  5. בנהא אלא
  6. פי מסתהל
  7. אייר וכִאִן
  8. אבו סעִד
  9. אלחריריִ
  10. מעי


Marina Rustow, [طبعة وثيقة جينيزا رقمية].


  1. I am writing this lines to my lord and brother and the one for whom
  2. I would sacrifice myself in haste because of the messenger,
  3. in response to his kind letter, which arrived in the hands of
  4. Abū Saʿd, son of the elder Abū ʿAlī b. al-Kirnīb.
  5. God knows my happiness at his health and wellbeing.
  6. But these things that have been set in motion against him
  7. and me, and my break — there is nothing to be done. "This, too, is for the best" (b.Taʿanit 21a and parallels).
  8. God knows that I myself am in hell because of all 
  9. these issues. But I won't tell you and worry you.
  10. I'm oppressed, but being painted as an oppressor because
  11. of this cheese — nothing has arrived from him. I've
  12. already dragged people through legal proceedings because of it. A decision
  13. hasn't been reached about it. The person I was negotiating with
  14. over it without involving witnesses has refused me and sworn (Goitein: falsely), and all manner of 
  15. sinister things. The judges aren't deciding the matter,
  16. the rayyis isn't free to sit in session, and if the judges sit
  17. on their own, (the decision) they (make) won't be accepted. As for what's in the dār
  18. al-wakīl, God knows that since I left the port,
  19.  I haven't paid a single dirham of what I owe on it.
  20. The judges haven't come to a decision and they haven't set out 
  21. a settlement. I'm being cut off from every place. I repaid 
  22. Ibn al-Amshāṭī the seventeen dīnārs
  23. and took his signature (on a quittance) and had the Nezer witness it,
  24. and Faḍl b. Binyām and his brother in Alexandria
  25. signed their attestations on his signature. I sent everything with
  26. the elder Abū l-Makārim b. Qassāsa.
  27. Let me know, my lord, whether the elder Abū l-Ḥasan b. 

Recto, right margin

  1. {Ibn} Khulayf
  2. said that he's collected
  3. only eight dīnārs.
  4. God forbid this is the case, 
  5. since the man had already collected from me
  6. a dinar's worth of dirhams earlier,
  7. whereas the eight happened recently,
  8. five in dirhams and three
  9. in gold coins. As for the news about the donkey,
  10. the right thing to do would have been
  11. for it to be sold for two dīnārs
  12. bare, with no tack, since
  13. the tack would have cost twenty
  14. dirhams and I would only have bought it
  15. from them for three
  16. and two qīrāṭs. I already sent 
  17. three dīnārs in
  18. change and the difference due to the lost donkey.
  19. As for ʿImrān,
  20. he told me, "We won't cause you any losses,
  21. since you're already doing
  22. a favor for us. But as to
  23. what my lord reported about
  24. what my lord the elder
  25. Abū Saʿīd Makhlūf 
  26. al-Yatīm said: the Creator knows
  27. that my intention was only
  28. to meet his need. Because

Recto, top margin

  1. up until this moment,
  2. I haven't done business with him,
  3. because I
  4. traveled to
  5. Banhā only 
  6. at the beginning of
  7. Iyyar, and
  8. Abū Saʿd
  9. the silker was
  10. with me.

T-S NS J7 1v



  1. וליס אללה עאלם קדר אבו סעד אלמדכור
  2. ועלי אנה ̇צאמן קדר יטלע באלחריר
  3. אלדי ללשיך אבי זכרי אלכהן והדא
  4. אלחריר לאן לה פי אלואגב שריך
  5. ̇צאמן אלקאהרה וליס יקדר יכרג אלי
  6. ענדי פי כל וקת יאכד חריר אלא
  7. סרקה ולולא אנא מא קדר עלי דלך
  8. ואי̇צא ̇צמאן אלצנאעה ואלמשדّ
  9. ליס ימכנוה מן רטל ואחד מן גהה
  10. אלעמאלה ויקאל לה הדא מא הו לך ואלחמס
  11. ואלחמס (!) הרבה ודלך ענד וצולנא אנא
  12. אלי קליוב וחדי ולחקני אבו סעד וכאן
  13. מעה אבו אלחסן אלאסמר אלמערוף
  14. באבן בתינה ונִזִלת אלחריר בח̇צרתהם
  15. ואח̇צרת אלמיזאן [ו]וזנוה נקץ ען
  16. אלכמייّה רטלין וחסבו חסאבה
  17. וקע בכמסה עשר ונצף אלעשרה

Verso - right margin

  1. קאל אבו סעד
  2. הדא ליס יסוא לי אלא
  3. ארבעה עשר אלעשרה
  4. ופיה שי יסוא תלאת
  5. עשר אלעשרה לאנני
  6. אריד ארפע עליה
  7. דינאר וכסר עמאלה
  8. ו̇צמאן ואגב וכררת
  9. אללה עאלם אלכטאב
  10. עדה טרק וליס
  11. יכר̇ג ען כלמתה
  12. ויקול ליס
  13. ארידה

Verso - bottom

  1. חין אדן אכדתה אנא חשמה
  2. ובעד דלך לו אכדה אנעאק
  3. ענדה לאן אל̇צמאן קד כרג מנה
  4. וחרירהם כלה מעאק והו ואכוה
  5. פי חאל מקארב ואנא אן שא אללה
  6. אגברה פי סיון ואוצלה לה עלי
  7. אלכמאל ושלום וקד קב̇צת מן אלרסול
  8. ער̇ציין ופוטה ויכון למולאי טול
  9. אלעמר תופי אבי נצר אבן אלמנקאר
  10. ואמא חאל חכמי אנא ח̇צרת וחכמו
  11. עלי ראי רבנו האיי ותקדמו בביע
  12. אלדאר ואמהלת שהר ורגעו ען דלך
  13. ולם יבקא עלי הדא אלראי אלא ̇ר נתן
  14. ואלרב ואלשיך אבו אלפרג אלדיין ואלחבר
  15. אבו סהל עלי ראי רבי יצחק ורגע
  16. אלחכם וקף ואלרב יקול לו אנפד אכוך
  17. אלפתוא אלדי ללרב רבנו יוסף
  18. שדִת מנא כתיר ושלום


  1. God knows that the aforementioned Abū Saʿd isn't able
  2. — even though he's a tax-farmer — {able} to bring
  3. Abū Zikrī al-Kohen's silk back (to Fustat). This
  4. silk(er?) — since he has a partner in the obligation,
  5. the tax-farmer of Cairo, he can't come to
  6. me any time to take silk unless 
  7. he's stealing it. If it weren't for me, he couldn't have done it.
  8. Also, the tax-farm of the (dār) al-ṣināʿa and the tax-collector (mushidd)
  9. don't let him take one raṭl as
  10. a fee, or it's said to him, That's not yours! The injustice
  11. {the injustice} is rampant. So from the moment I
  12. arrived in Qalyūb, I've been by myself, and Abū Saʿd has caught up with me
  13. accompanied by Abū l-Ḥasan al-Asmar ("the swarthy"), known 
  14. as Ibn Buthayna. I brought the silk down when they were with me,
  15. and I brought the scales and they weighed it, minus
  16. a quantity of two raṭls, and added up the total,
  17. which came to 15½ (dīnārs) per 10 (raṭls).

Verso, right margin

  1. So Abū Saʿd said:
  2. "To me this is only worth
  3. 14 (dīnārs) per 10 (raṭls),
  4. and there is something in it (that makes it) worth
  5. 13 (dīnārs) per 10 (raṭls), because I 
  6. want to raise (the price) by
  7. a dīnār and subtract the commission (?)
  8. and the tax obligation." I came back,
  9. God knows, to this speech
  10. from a number of angles, but he
  11. didn't deviate from his words.
  12. He said: I don't
  13. want it.

Verso, bottom

  1. So then I took it myself out of shame.
  2. Then it turned out, if had he taken it, it would have been detained
  3. witih him (coming back to Fustat), since he's lost his tax-farm 
  4. and all their silk has been detained. He and his brother
  5. are in a bad situation, and if God wills, I
  6. will pay them in Sivan and bring him (you) 
  7. the entirety of it, and it will be over. I collected from the messenger
  8. two wraps (ʿarḍī) and a fūṭa. May my lord have a long
  9. life — Abū Naṣr b. al-Minqār died. 
  10. As for the situation of my legal judgment — I showed up and they rendered a decision
  11. on me according to the opinion of Rabbenu Hayye, and ordered the sale
  12. of the house, granting me a month's delay, but then they retracted it
  13. and didn't stand by this opinion, but rather Rabbi Natan (ha-Kohen bar Shelomo)
  14. and the Rav (Elʿazar b. al-Qaṣabī) and the elder Abū l-Faraj the dayyan and the ḥaver
  15. Abū Sahl followed the opinion of Rabbi Yiṣḥaq (al-Fāsī), and (then) the decision
  16. was pending and (then) stood. The Rav was saying, If only you had sent your brother 
  17. the fatwā of the rav Rabbenu Yosef (Ibn Mīgash) — 
  18. it would have strengthened our (position) a lot. Peace.
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