Letter: T-S 12.392

Letter T-S 12.392


Input date

In PGP since 2017


Letter from a novice India trader, ʿAydhāb, to his brother, Libya. Dating: 1103. Complains about the hardships of travel from Fustat to ʿAydhāb. He had run into Makhlūf b. Moshe, known as ʿAyn Sarra (Goitein's rendering of the name, "the son of the man with the gladdening eye(s)," missed the interlinear addition; Elbaum and Rustow render it "Happy Eyes"), who told him about how pleasant life was in India, and at least as the writer represents the situation to his brother-in-law — guiltily, as he had left home without saying goodbye — he somewhat spontaneously decided to travel to India. It would be significant if the barriers to entering the Indian Ocean trade were as low as they seem here. Yet he also complains — with puns — about various locations in the Red Sea (ʿAydhāb/ʿadhāb, Dahlak/muhlik, etc), again presumably in order to reassure his brother-in-law that he wasn't actually enjoying himself. On Happy Eyes, Goitein writes that this man had settled in Alexandria, Egypt, where he possessed a valuable house. He also possessed a house in Barqa, eastern Libya. Cf. T-S NS J241. (Goitein, Med. Soc., x, B, 2, 136) On verso, line 1, there is a phrase from Isaiah (25:1), "emuna omen," “steadfast faith,” which seems to be the equivalent of "burn after reading". It appears on 13 other geniza letters, usually at the end of the address, but it's only in this letter that its meaning becomes totally clear: it seems to have served as a code-word indicating a confidential letter, absolutely not to be shared with others. Its other appearances: Bodl. MS Heb. a 2/16, Bodl. MS Heb. b 11/22, Bodl. MS Heb. c 28/56, CUL Or.1080 J38, T-S 10J10.15, T-S 10J16.7, T-S 10J17.9, T-S 10J25.3, T-S 13J27.11, T-S 8J13.13, T-S 8J17.3, T-S 8J20.14 and T-S 8J23.12.

T-S 12.392 1r



T-S 12.392 1v

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