Papierblatt mit dem Brief der Safra an ihren Ehemann

Letter from Safra to her husband Khidr

Arabic, 12th century AD, papyrus
ACh 10678

I am a pregnant woman while you laugh ... and play a faithless game with me.

This letter from Safra to her unfaithful husband is full of emotions. Safra is deeply hurt when she learns that her husband has had a mistress for two years. From her letter we learn the unpleasant details: her husband Khidr and his mistress have publicly mocked Safra and stolen the furniture from their shared home. Bitterly, she accuses her rival of sowing discord between the couple.

Back then, no postal system for private correspondence existed like the one we have today. People had to find their own ways of getting their letters delivered to the recipient. The letters were usually given to traders who were travelling to the recepiants anyway, or a relative or servant was sent.

At the end of Safra's letter, we learn the details: a camel driver travelling to her husband's place of residence takes the letter and at an agreed meeting point hands it over to Khidr personally.

Until now, Safra has put up with the abuse and waived her rights as a wife out of kindness and because of her good relationship with her mother-in-law. But her patience is exhausted and she is no longer prepared to put up with her husband's antics. In order to assert her rights, she has already presented her case to the chief magistrate and his offences are now on record

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