‘she has the status of two trustworthy witnesses and no oath, grave or light may be imposed on her’

This is the earliest known Jewish engagement deed. Traditionally, the first step in a Jewish marriage was an oral agreement between two families that their children would marry. A written agreement would only follow when the couple became formally betrothed. In the 12th century the Jewish community began to issue written engagement contracts too, in order to protect the rights of engaged women, who might be very young. The contracts prevented them being abandoned with no legal rights if their husbands-to-be found someone better or just vanished.

Fustat, 1119 CE

Judaeo-Arabic, paper

Lewis-Gibson Misc. 42

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