Letter: Bodl. MS heb. b 13/45

Letter Bodl. MS heb. b 13/45

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In PGP since 2020

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Letter from Yosef b. Ezra to Yiṣḥaq Ashkenazi (not necessarily Luria, as more than one Yiṣḥaq Ashkenazi was active in trade at this time). In Hebrew. Dating: 16th century, based on Avraham David's assessment. The contents of the letter are quite difficult and merit further examination; there are a handful of words that do not appear to be Hebrew or Arabic and many place names, some obscure. The writer's father-in-law Avraham Sūsī arrived with the two documents (ma'marim) from the addressee, but these documents are useless. The first because it is for the Amir ʿĪsā, with whom relations are not good. The second is an order involving Rashid (the city?) and the slave trade but is missing some key feature. He then gives detailed instructions regarding documents to be sent to him, chiefly involving the trade in slaves "from the West" (1–11, 15–26). In particular, he writes that in Buḥayra, slaves from ״חריב״ are brought only once a year, in Elul, whereas slaves from the West, i.e., Awjila in Libya (אוגֿלה) arrive every month. During the year and 9 months that the writer lived in Buḥayra, not 30 or 40 days passed without Bedouin caravans arriving to trade slaves from the West for horses. In the remainder of the letter, the writer mentions various European currencies including peraḥim and coronas. In the margin he mentions trade in raisins (margin, 1, 6) and sulfur (margin, 5). Information largely from Avraham David, FGP. This document was also edited by Simha Assaf (see FGP for bibliography).