A Treasury of Jewish Letters: Letters from the Famous and the Humble - Vol. 1

By Franz Kobler | Go to book overview

23
A Jewish Diplomat of the Moslem King of Sicily passes through Alexandria

WHEN Samsam ad-Daula, the Moslem king of Sicily, sent an embassy to Egypt, probably to secure assistance in the civil war which had raged in his island since 1033, a Jew, Moses son of Joseph the Spaniard, was a member of the diplomatic mission. In Alexandria, where he arrived before the New Year, a prominent member of the Jewish community invited him to be his guest during the holy day. The letter of introduction handed to the Jewish diplomat by his host before his departure from Alexandria - also a find from the Cairo Genizah - is our only source of knowledge of this interesting personality. The addressee, Ali ben Amram, was the spiritual head of the Palestinian community in Fostat.


AN UNKNOWN WRITER TO ALI BEN AMRAM IN FOSTAT (CAIRO)

'I have searched his mind, and found it full of knowledge, learning, and wisdom like a pomegranate'

[ Alexandria, between 1033 and 1061]

To the companion of my peace, the noble and great Ali, the Haber of the community, may the Lord of heaven, in His mercy, bestow favour and grace upon him, the son of Amram, blessed be his memory! Praised be the most High, may he dwell under the shadow of His shield! Much help!

I approach my great master, the Haber, with two lines in order to inform his Excellency that a Spaniard called Moses son of Joseph, may the Lord protect him, arrived in our country, in company of the ambassador of the Sicilian king Samsam adDaula. He stayed on board ship and waited until the news of his arrival reached me. Then I went to him, and asked him to disembark from the ship and to spend the feast with us. He acceded

-139-

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