MIRIAM BAT BENAYAH

MIRIAM BAT BENAYAH
MIRIAM BAT BENAYAH, scribe who lived in San'a , yemen , during the late fifteenth and into the early sixteenth century and followed her family's profession. Her education, which included, at a minimum, the skills of reading and writing in Hebrew, as well as the special prayers and procedures required of a Torah scribe, was highly unusual for a woman of her time and place. Miriam worked with her father, Safra (scribe) Benayah ben Sa'adiah ben Zekhariah, and her two brothers David and Joseph. Together, the family is credited with copying 400 books, including prayer books and collections of haftarot as well as copies of the Torah. Only a few examples of their work are still in existence, and most may have represented joint efforts, because not all are signed by a single family member. However, one Torah scroll, whose existence was first reported to the wider world in 1859 by a Jewish traveler to Yemen, is unmistakably the work of Miriam. Its colophon reads: "Do not condemn me for any errors that you may find, as I am a nursing woman," an apparent indication that Miriam continued her scribal work after she married and had a family. No information about her husband or her offspring is known. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S.D. Goitein, Jews and Arabs: Their Contacts Through the Ages (19943), 86; E. Taitz, S. Henry, and C. Tallan, The JPS Guide to Jewish Women: 600 B.C.E.–1900 C.E. (2003). (Emily Taitz (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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