20. Zeri Maḥbūb, 18th-Century CE

The draft of the engagement contract between Yosef b. Yaʿaqov Najjār and Ḥannah bt. Hillel al-Ḥedef includes the stipulation in Hebrew that each party will pay a sum of zeri maḥbūb in the event that either breaks off the engagement. The bifolium was used by a different scribe to draft another engagement document, a trousseau list in Judaeo-Spanish, but neither is dated. Fortunately, the mention of maḥbūbīm/maḥbūbes makes it possible to estimate the earliest possible year of recording as 1703 CE– the year in which the coinage type was first produced in the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Aḥmed III [1].

[1] Kaan Uslu et. al., Osmanlı İmparatorluğu Madeni Paraları - Ottoman Empire Coins 1687 -1839 (AH 1099 -1255) (Istanbul: Anka Press, 2010), 69.

"Engagement Contract Draft," JTS ENA NS 29.9r, 18th-century CE, Hebrew.

Images provided by the Jewish Theological Seminary Library (JTSL)

1 By [the assistance of The Name], | ב׳׳

2 by a good sign [may there be] success, children, prosperity, and comfort. Great will the honor of this house be | בסימן טוב והצלחה ובנים ועושר והרוחה גדול יהיה כבוד הבית

3 "the last more than first," [may this be God’s will, Amen.] | הזה האחרון מן הראשון כיר׳׳א

4 Before us the undersigned witnesses, the respectable, wise, and noble master, by the good name, | בפעח׳׳מ שידך היקר נבון נשא ונעלה לשט׳׳ו ה׳׳ן גביר

5 the honorable Yosef son of Yaʿaqov Najjār, may his soul rest in Eden, engaged the honorable | כמה׳׳ר יוסף בכ׳׳ר ה׳׳מ יעקב נגאר נ׳׳ע את היקרה

6 modest, previously widowed, Ḥannah, "blessed be the women of the tent," | וצנועה דהוות ארמלתא מן קדמת דנא מב׳׳ת חנה

7 daughter of the respectable, wise, noble, and lofty, the honorable Hillel | בת היקר ונבון נשא ורם ע׳׳כ מעלה רמה כמה׳׳ר הלל אל

8 al-Ḥedef, may His Rock keep him and grant him life, a complete engagement in accordance with the law of Moses and Israel…. | חידף יצ׳׳ו שידוכין גמורין כדת משה וישראל

18 and the groom's fine (for breaking the engagement) | הקנס אם מצד החתן

19 he will pay thirty maḥbūbīm and for the honorable [bride] as such | יפרע סך שלשים מחבובים ואם מצד היקרה וכך

20 she will pay twenty maḥbūbes… | ...יפרע סך עשרים מחבוביס

Note on line 3: "The last more than first" is a reference to Ruth 3:10.

Note on line 6: "Blessed be the women of the tent" or "מב׳׳ת" is a reference to Judges 5:24.

(eds. Matthew Dudley and Alan Elbaum)

Zeri Maḥbūb from the Princeton Numismatic Collection (Coin: 16606)

Denomination: zer-i maḥbūb

Metal: Gold

Region: Ottoman Empire

State: Egypt

City: Misr

Date: 1785 to 1786

Reverse Figure Description: 4 registers of legend

Size: 22mm

Die Axis: 12

Weight: 2.62 grams

Shape: round

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