Sitt al-Ahl, daughter of Tzadoq b. Mevorakh Rosh ha-Qehillot: Cairo, 1137

Dublin Core


Sitt al-Ahl, daughter of Tzadoq b. Mevorakh Rosh ha-Qehillot: Cairo, 1137


Sitt al-Ahl, daughter of Tzadoq b. Mevorakh Rosh ha-Qehillot


Sitt al-Ahl, a married woman, testates while pregnant. The will is recorded by Halfon b. Menashe, a well-known court clerk/scribe, in Judeo-Arabic.


Will of a pregnant woman. In the hand of Ḥalfon b. Menashshe. Location: New Cairo. Dated: Tishrei 1449 Seleucid, which is 1137 CE. Testator: Sitt al-Ahl bt. Ṣadoq b. Mevorakh Rosh ha-Qehillot. Sitt al-Ahl is the wife of Abū l-Faraj Yeshuʿa b. Yehuda. Sitt al-Ahl's mother is Ḥasana bt. Shelomo ha-Kohen, the sister of the well-known judge Natan b. Shelomo. She is close to giving birth and contemplating dying during childbirth and seeks to provide for the child “male or female” who would survive the mother. The woman bequeaths generously to relatives and charities, including “forty dinars to the "mastūrīn" poor in Cairo and Fustat. "The woman's husband had children from a previous marriage, and she was, therefore particularly eager to safeguard the future of the child she was expecting. This had already been done to a large extent in her marriage contract, where it was stipulated that the dowry which she brought in, as well as payments due to her, would go to her children, to the exclusion of other heirs of her husband. In addition, she now wants half of a house, given by her to her mother prior to her marriage, to revert to her future child. The other half belonged to her, and both she and her husband were eager that the whole should become the property of the expected newborn. The old lady, however, had earmarked 60% of her share for her brother and nieces and 40% for charitable purposes. In view of this, our document stipulates that the gifts intended by the old woman will be made by her son-in-law in case after her death, while the half of the house referred to will be registered as property of the newborn. The expecting mother belonged to one of the leading families of the community, as her grandfather was Mevorakh Rosh ha-Qehillot, a man prominent in the politics of the community in the middle of the 11th century. On the other hand, her maternal uncle, the judge Natan ha-Kohen b. Shelomo, signatory of many documents in Fustat during the years 1122–48, was a refugee from Palestine, which was occupied at that time by the crusaders. It stands to reason that her mother, too, had come from Palestine and had, therefore, no possessions of her own in Cairo. This explains why she was given in her old age, one-half of a house by her daughter, who had inherited or received it as a gift from her father's family, or perhaps left to her by a former husband." (Information from Goitein's attached notes and from Mark Cohen, Poverty and Charity in the Jewish Community of Medieval Egypt, 196; S. D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, 3: 232, 475) EMS. ASE.




Cairo, Egypt


Tishrei 1137


Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Papyrussammlung und Papyrusmuseum, Vienna
PER H 89
S. D. Goitein, "Wills and Deathbed Declarations from the Cairo Geniza‎" (in Hebrew), Sefunot‎ 8 (Jerusalem, Israel: Yad Izhak Ben Zvi, 1964): 105-126. (Edition and translation in Hebrew at pp. 119-121)
Gershon Weiss, "Legal Documents Written by the Court Clerk Halfon Ben Manasse (Dated 1100-1138)" (PhD diss., n.p., 1970), doc. 13.




Cairo Geniza


Princeton Geniza Project