A Jewish marriage deed from nineteenth-century Yemen

17 Jul 2018

The article presents a Jewish marriage deed, a ketubba, which was written in Ṣanʿāʾ in 1899 CE and later found among the Genizah manuscripts brought out of Egypt. It was written in Aramaic, Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic by a skilled scribe, and is, in fact, a replacement deed, written instead of one that had previously been lost by the couple. On the back it includes arrangements for paying back money that the husband owes his wife. The contract is evidence of the skill of its scribe and the pious adherence of the Jewish community of Yemen to all the legal and traditional aspects of marriage, passed down to them over the centuries. The couple must have left Yemen for Egypt sometime after 1899 and before 1912, when the deed was acquired by Jack Mosseri, an Egyptian Jewish collector of manuscripts.