‘We inform him of our discovery that these three people were taken from a ship and were robbed of everything’

Human trafficking in the Mediterranean is not a recent phenomenon. Muslim and Christian pirates controlled the lucrative trade. When Jewish captives were taken by pirates, Jews in port cities like Alexandria tried to buy them back. In this letter, Yeshua son of Joseph, an official in Alexandria, is raising money to free three Jews held by Italian merchants. The merchants had acquired their human cargo from Rum (Byzantine) pirates. The pirates had beaten and almost killed their captives. Jewish communities in Egyptian port towns bore the brunt of these expenses. Charitable collections were often held throughout the Jewish communities of Egypt to help free co-religionists captured in wartime or in acts of piracy.

Hebrew, paper, Egypt, 1050 CE

T-S 12.338

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