Legal document: Moss. Ia,1.2

Legal document Moss. Ia,1.2


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Legal document. Karaite court record in Judaeo-Persian from 951 CE signed by [...] b. Ismāʿīl, Abraham b. Padāwī (פדאוי) and Saʿīd ha-Le[vi]. "The present document derives, like the legal deed from Ahwāz of 1020, from the Cairo Geniza. It is earlier by 70 years than the Ahwāz document, being dated to 951 C.E. Its special interest lies in the fact that it is the first Judaeo-Persian document that is explicitly identified as Karaite. A text published not long ago by D. N. MacKenzie (BSOAS, XXXI, 1968, pp. 249—269) has been identified by J. Rosenwasser (The British Museum, Handlist of Persian Manuscripts 1896—1966, London 1969, p. 41) as being a fragment from a Karaite Sefer Miẕvot. This identification seems substantiated by parallels in Anan's Book of Precepts. The new document, which positively shows the use of Judaeo-Persian by Karaites, may help to remove whatever other doubts could be felt on the subject. The present text is also a legal document, and contains a number of features which are common to early Judaeo-Persian texts. It shares with the British Museum fragment of Sefer Miẕvot the peculiarity of using zayin to express j; it also uses gimel for the same purpose, whereas the British Museum fragment employs ṣade as an alternative letter to express j. These observations somewhat complicate the picture drawn by G. Lazard in a table showing how Persian phonemes are represented in different Judaeo-Persian texts (Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, VIII, 1968, p. 83), but in the absence of geographical indications with regard to the Karaite documents no conclusion can be drawn from this peculiarity. Features which occur in this document and which are shared by other Judaeo-Persian texts of the early period are the following: the prepositions ō (written either '-, 'w, or w-), 'zmr (usually followed by r' as postposition), mr (?). It may be observed that these prepositions have an original dative meaning, but tend also to be used for the accusative, and that 'zmr is attested in the Jewish-Persian colophons from K'aifeng (D. Leslie, Abr-Nahrain, VIII, 1969, pp. 1—35) as a postposition with a genitive effect. The expression gan 'eden ba(h)r 'who has a share in Paradise' occurs as a constant epithet for the deceased, and is reminiscent of the epithets 'eden bereḵ, 'edenī (or 'adanī), employed in a similar manner in the Judaeo-Persian tomb-stones from Ghūr (Afghanistan), published by G. Gnoli (Le iscrizioni giudeo-persiane del Gūr (Afghanistan), Rome 1964) and E. Rapp (Die jüdischpersisch-hebräischen Inschriften aus Afghanistan, Munich 1965). One may point out the words 'by, tys, zwyšt, pzyšt and the interesting use of zyst=Classical and Middle Persian jastan 'to jump', hence 'to occur, happen' and here in a sense like 'to accrue, to be added to an account'. (The Ahwāz document may also be Karaitic: it concerns the Tustarī brothers, according to Professor Goitein, and they are known to have been Karaites.) Translation of the document: "There were present [at the court of] the Karaites at this time(?) Samuel, Ḥayyim and Aharon, and they put a question before us (??) for admonition (?) on the 16th of Ab in the year 1262 Sel. The said Samuel made a petition to Ḥayyim and Aharon, trustees of Ḥasan the Custodian, whose share be in Paradise, their maternal uncle, and he said: 'He made a thing which accrued to me, who am Samuel, and which was to be debited to Ḥasan the Custodian, may the spirit of God put him to rest.' We said to them: 'We draw (an agreement) between you, so that we make a settlement incumbent upon you, (by the terms of which) whatever we do to your persons or for your sake, you should accept and should not act otherwise, and should not go to court other than this for (any) demand.' They agreed to this pact and condition, and the said Samuel took (?) this condition, and confirmed it upon himself by oath to wit, if (he does) otherwise than what they tell him in this court of the Karaites [the oath is left uncompleted]. Then we said to the said Ḥayyim and Aharon: 'Just as this Samuel undertook it upon himself, it should also be incumbent upon you.' They said: 'Yes, it is incumbent upon us.' And then the said Samuel made a petition concerning (the property of) Ḥasan the Custodian, whose share be in Paradise. Much talk went on between the three of them in this matter, and the said Ḥayyim and Aharon presented the books of Ḥasan the Custodian, whose share be in Paradise, and we saw that there resulted for us by research into it nothing, viz. that there would accrue anything to Samuel's credit against the said Ḥasan. Finally, the said Samuel consented and was agreeable thus, by his own choice, and said: 'I consent and am agreeable that these Ḥayyim and Aharon, my brothers, make by themselves a search in our uncle's account-books, and whatever they say they have found there, whether it is for me or against me, their word will be true and accepted, and they are trustworthy in whatever they say concerning which they are well informed and which they have found in our uncle's books of that I owe. If they say that they have found some thing in his book which I owe, I shall pay it without refusal and without delay and without excuse.' The said Samuel gave an extension to Ḥayyim and Aharon his brothers to make a search in those books till the month of Marḥeshvan in the year 1263 by his own will. The said Ḥayyim and Aharon were also agreeable to this manner and departed from the court of the Karaites (with agreement) as to this manner. We made it two parts, and gave one to Samuel and two to Ḥayyim and Aharon, so that it should come to the hand of each one of them as memory, choice and proof. ... ʿAlī . . . Bū Ismā'īl ... Sa'īd... Abraham b. Pādōy, witness." The letter is labeled "L16" in Shaul Shaked's (unpublished) classification of Early Judeo-Persian texts.

Moss. Ia,1.2 1r




Moss. Ia,1.2 1v

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