Single leaf (9 3/4 x 6 in.; 250 x 150 mm).Written on parchment in brown ink, Judeo-Arabic in square Hebrew Oriental script, 25 lines. Cropped, shaving top line and inner margin, affecting some text. Creased with minor losses at edges. A few letters lost to ink biting. Text comprises: Seder Tohorot, Massekhet Keilim, Chapter 18, Mishna 3-5, including an illustration to the commentary at the end of mishna 3, depicting a bed-frame of the type taken by Levites when traveling to Jerusalem to serve in the Temple.
Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) composed his comprehensive commentary on the Mishnah approximately between the years 1158-1165 CE. It was originally written in Judeo-Arabic (transliterated Arabic written in Hebrew characters) and was later translated into Hebrew to make it accesible to a broader Jewish audience.
Surviving fragments of Maimonides' Commentary to the Mishnah, written in the Judeo-Arabic of the original are not only exceedingly scarce, they signify an order of proximity to the original Maimonidean text unmatched by almost all later Hebrew copies. In light of the characteristic 13th century Oriental script, common to both the temporal and geographical milieu in which Maimonides lived, we should not discount the possibility that this fragment could conceivably have been written during his lifetime. At the very least, the present lot is likely to be only one or two generations removed from the original text of the author, Moses ben Maimon.
Literature: Yosef Kapach, Mishnah, 'im Perush Rabbenu Moshe ben Maimon: Mekor ve-Targum, Volume 6(1), 1968: Mossad ha-Rav Kook, pp. 169-171.
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