Letter: DK 353

Letter DK 353


Input date

In PGP since 2021


Letter in Judaeo-Arabic. The sender is probably Maḥrūz b. Yaʿaqov, an India trader and shipowner (nākhudā) known from documents dating from 1131/32 to c.1150 CE. (This identification was made by Amir Ashur and Mordechai Akiva Friedman.) The sender was previously in Qūṣ and is now in some town in the Egyptian Rīf or the Levant, as he asks for news about shipments for him from Aden. On this fragment, the lower part of recto and the upper part of verso are preserved. The sender complains about how the wālī squeezed money out of him this year for paying half of Hiba's capitation tax. He reports that a Maghribī arrived from Damascus, and the community contracted with him to teach their children and lead their prayers for one year, and they will pay him 9 qirṭāses(?) and two fulūs monthly and perhaps 2 dirhams toward his capitation tax. The sender quotes Avot 4:9 ('whoever fulfills the Torah in poverty will ultimately fulfill it in prosperity'). The sender is very pleased about the addressee's apology and gift (of 20 dirhams?) and reiterates that he didn't have to do that. The sender is abashed to send letters to his cousins (abnā' khāla) because he doesn't have any gifts to send them. In the margin of recto there is a request for something (קרכה?) made of white flax (here there seems to be a Judaeo-Persian word, bābat, used in a similar context as in T-S 8J19.28 -- see Shaked's article on Persian-Arabic Bilingualism in From a Sacred Source). The bulk of the text on verso is taken up with the shipment of cloves that never reached the sender. This may be the fault of a certain Sulaymān and the sender seems intimidated by him ('no one sues him except God'?). It may be deposited with the untrustworthy children of Abū Saʿd. The addressee is asked to help. The sender complains that no one will lend him money or borrow money from him. He asks the addressee to put in a good word with the latter's cousin (ibn ʿamm), 'who knows the Levant well.' The sender claims that he can turn dirhams into dinars. He asks for a scroll on parchment (gevil) and the laws of slaughter in Arabic (as the addressee had promised), and he wants the addressee to sell a volume of the Torah for him. The last preserved line of the letter (verso margin) mentions the Levant and yarn and sal ammoniac and "the saliva of m[...]." ASE