Letter: T-S AS 181.72

Letter T-S AS 181.72


Input date

In PGP since 2020


Letter in Arabic script, with several phrases in Hebrew mixed in. The writer may be named Abū l-Faraj (upper right of recto, although this is an unusual place to sign one's name), and the addressee is his paternal uncle (or at least addressed ʿammī), probably a merchant. The writer's father recently died (first line of recto margin), and it seems there is an inheritance dispute between the writer and a woman, perhaps his sister (e.g. "may God judge between me and her," antepenultimate line of recto). The writer excuses himself for not having come in person (five lines from the bottom of recto) and then mentions someone or something coming to Fustat. Starting in the margin of recto and continuing for the remainder of verso, the writer exhorts his uncle to send him money, for which he will reap a great reward from God for supporting a Torah scholar. The margin also contains these curious sentences in a mixture of Arabic and Hebrew, "O my uncle, see that the Goyim, how will they know (yadrūna?), what they know (yaʿlamū) is that I am (? or he is?) an imām in a jāmiʿ (typically meaning mosque) or in a zāwiya (typically meaning Sufi lodge). I occupy myself in the house of God and with His holy Torah" (this reading is tentative). Much of verso is devoted to the exegesis of Deuteronomy 33:18, in which the tribe of Zebulun is understood as a tribe of searfaring merchants who support the tribe of Issachar, Torah scholars in their tents. In the version in this letter, the writer adds that whenever the ships of Zebulun were on the verge of capsizing, the prayers of Issachar would save them. (Throughout the letter the writer has emphasized his copious prayers for his uncle.) In the margin he reveals his intention of making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. ASE.