Letter: CUL Or.1080 J31

Letter CUL Or.1080 J31



Letter from a man from the land of the Persians, who, after the loss of his fortune, had come to Egypt to seek a post as teacher. He asks for help, as he was unable to work owing to an illness of smallpox. He is living in the synagogue (this is written above the line; the scribe first wrote "living with [???]" and then crossed it out). "I came to this city empty-handed, intending to support myself by serving the people, but I fell sick with smallpox. Now I cannot work and I possess nothing." Information from Goitein's index card.

CUL Or.1080 J31 1r




Mark Cohen, The Voice of the Poor in the Middle Ages (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2005).


"For the Lord will be your trust; He will keep your feet from being caught"(Proverbs 3:26). 

"The Lord will guard you from all harm; He will guard your life" (Psalm 121:7). 


O my master, may God sustain your might and strength and not depose you from our high rank. I am from the land of Persia and I live in the synagogue. I had enough to live on (lit., "to cover myself with"), but I lost it, and I remain without a pittance. I came to this city empty-handed, intending that I would support myself by serving the people, but I fell sick with smallpox. Now I cannot function and I possess nothing. So I have written this petition to your excellency my master, hoping you would help me out with something. I am singling you out with this request and no one else because of your renown and repute (for generosity). May God never terminate your position. By my brother, I have never uncovered myself and would not have had to had not necessity brought this about. I am looking forward to the favor of God the exalted and to the favor of my master. May God never put my master in need or humble him. O master, do not turn me away disappointed but do for me as you do with others and "let not the downtrodden turn away disappointed," etc. (Psalm 74:21). May the welfare of our lord increase forever, Amen. 


CUL Or.1080 J31 1v

Image Permissions Statement
  • CUL Or.1080 J31: Provided by Cambridge University Library. Zooming image © Cambridge University Library, All rights reserved. This image may be used in accord with fair use and fair dealing provisions, including teaching and research. If you wish to reproduce it within publications or on the public web, please contact genizah@lib.cam.ac.uk.