מכתב: T-S 8J19.27

מכתב T-S 8J19.27



Letter from Yaʿqūb b. Salmān al-Ḥarīrī, in Ramla, to Nahray b. Nissim, in Fusṭāṭ. In Judaeo-Arabic, with the address in both Judaeo-Arabic and Arabic script. Dating: ca. 1066 CE, according to Goitein's estimate. In some respects it is a standard mercantile letter, mentioning various commodities and prices. The sender also mentions being caught in a storm while sailing from Jaffa, the port of Ramla. He asks about the price of wheat and bread in Fusṭāṭ, as it was ravaged by the massive famine (1062–70) and asks about the state of his father and family during these trying times. This letter shows that trade continued even during the famine years. (Information from Goitein, Letters of Medieval Jewish Traders, p. 45.) YU

T-S 8J19.27 1r




S. D. Goitein, Letters of Medieval Jewish Traders (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1973).

I trust in God. Praised be the Lord who resurrects the dead.

My master and lord, may God prolong your life, make your wellbeing and happiness permanent, and keep away from you all evil in his mercy. I am writing from Ramie on the 8th of Teveth (approximately: January), feeling well in body, but being worried in my mind.

I set sail for Jaffa, the port of Ramie. But a wind arose against us from the land. It became a storm, chasing and driving us out to the high sea, where we remained for four days, giving up all hope for life. We were without sails and oars, the steering rudder and the sailyards were broken, and the waves burst into the barge (qarib). We cried: "Allah, Allah," for our ship was a mere riverboat (ushari), small as a ferry (ma'diya). We threw part of the cargo overboard, and I gave up all hope for my life and my goods. I vowed 1 dinar from the proceeds of the silk. Finally, God in his glory and majesty granted us to reach Caesarea, but my clothes and goods were completely soaked. I did not find a place to stay and to spread out my things. So I took domicile in the synagogue, where I remained for five days.

When I arrived in Ramie, I had to pay customs to a degree I am unable to describe. The price in Ramie of the Cyprus silk, which I carry with me, is 2 dinars per little pound. Please inform me of its price and advise me whether I should sell it here or carry it with me to you in Misr (Fustat), in case it is fetching a good price there. By God, answer me quickly, I have no other business here in Ramie except awaiting answers to my letters. About 3 dinars worth of goods of mine were jettisoned from the barge; may God, the exalted, restore the loss. If you want me to carry the silk with me, instruct Makhluf b. Muhsina (write him!) to pay me 2-3 dinars, or have Abū Barhun write to his brother Ya'qub (Jacob) to give me this sum so that I do not have to sell my clothing or the silk. A man like you does not need to be urged. I know that my money and yours are one. Moreover, you have a share in this. I need not stress the urgency of a reply concerning the price of silk from Sham (Syria-Lebanon) and from Cyprus, and whether I should sell it here or carry it with me.

I wrote you from Tripoli and informed you that I had sent four bundles of cotton and twenty-one pieces of figs to Alexandria. I wrote to M. Marduk, asking him to receive this shipment. With Yahya b. al-Zaffat sent two bags and one basket with wheat, red earth, and two baskets with raisins and figs. I instructed him to deliver these to Marduk. Your share in the basket (of wheat) and the figs is 8 dinars, and your share in the silk also 8 dinars. I hope you have written to Alexandria instructing Marduk to take care of the matter, and also to attend to the sacking (khaysh). Also write him to send you either the proceeds, or the goods to be bought for them, or broken dinars. And by God, answer. I have no business other than waiting for your letter. By God, do not neglect this. By the bread (we have eaten together), as soon as this letter arrives, send the answer to the warehouse of the representative of the merchants, Abu Ί-Barakat Ibn al-Hulaybi. A man like you needs no urging.

Describe to me the prices in the city (Fustat), and especially with regard to wheat and bread—I need not urge you to write me about this—as well as concerning the state of my father and the family. Special regards to you, and also to those who ask about me. Please honor me with any concern you might have. Regards also to Joseph and his mother. How are they ? Regards also to our friends. And Peace.


To my lord and master Abu Yahya Nahray, son of Nisslm, (may he) r(est in) E(den), may God prolong his life and make permanent his honored position, strength, and happiness. From Ya'qub (Jacob) b. Salman al-Hariri (Repeated in Arabic characters. What follows is also in Arabic characters:)

To Fustat, the House of Exchange, the office of Ibrahim b. Ishaq, the Jewish banker.

(Note of the mail agency; in another pen and script:)

To my lord, the shaykh Abii 'Ali al-Husayn b. Mufrij, from 'Abd b. Muhammad b. Qaysar. Fustat, if God will. Deliver and receive reward.

T-S 8J19.27 1v

תנאי היתר שימוש בתצלום
  • T-S 8J19.27: 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.