Literary text: ENA 3668.15

Literary text ENA 3668.15


Input date

In PGP since 2017


A tale from Kalīla wa-Dimna in Judaeo-Arabic. In the hand of Yosef b. Yaʿaqov Rosh ha-Seder ha-Bavli (active late 12th and early 13th century). A goldsmith fell into a pitfall (zibya) together with a monkey, a snake, and a tiger. A traveler passed by and peered in and lowered a rope to save the man, but each time he lowered the rope, one of the animals came up instead. The animals instructed him not to save the goldsmith, because they would be sincere in their gratitude whereas the goldsmith would not. The traveler doesn't heed their advice and saves the man. All the animals and the man honor the traveler and tell him that they will help him if he ever comes through their city, Nawārjūr. The Geniza fragment ends here but the continuation can be read in the versions of Kalīla wa-Dimna available online (e.g., or Bodleian Library MS. Pococke 400, fol. 143a at When the man comes to the city, the monkey welcomes him by bringing him fresh fruit. The tiger welcomes him by killing the king's daughter and bringing him her jewels. The traveler brings the jewels to the goldsmith intending to have him sell the jewels on his behalf. The goldsmith betrays him and goes to the king and says that he's captured the man who murdered his daughter. Ultimately the snake cunningly manages to save the traveler from execution, and the king executes the goldsmith in his place as punishment for betraying a benefaction. Interestingly, in the published editions of Kalīla wa-Dimna and in the Arabic manuscripts, the third animal is a babr (tiger/leopard/lion) whereas in this fragment it is spelled "nabr," which does not refer to any large cats according to the Arabic dictionaries. Presumably the letter was undotted in the Arabic manuscript which Yosef used as a template and he mistakenly read it as a nūn, or else "nabr" was a dialectal variant. Another interesting discrepancy is that the name of the city seems to have as many spellings as there are manuscripts: here it is spelled Nawārjūr/נוארגור/نوارجور. You can compare ~25 different editions of this story in ~10 different languages with the Kalīla Reader app: On verso there is additional (unrelated?) text also in the hand of Yosef Rosh ha-Seder. It is fragmentary and difficult to understand; needs examination. ASE

ENA 3668.15 recto




ENA 3668.15 verso

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