This manuscript is a handwritten text in Hebrew letters. The words are classic Hebrew and Jewish/Hebrew Aramaic.
The handwritten script incorporates classic Hebrew script together with Rashi script – a printing typeface and hence, this may be written after 1475 when the typeface was first used.
Supporting the antiquity of this parchment we will mention the presence of the acronym „ama” (= people), but also of other lexemes present in the text of this parchment, which are missing in the text of Rabbi Jacob ben Asher (born c. 1269, died c. 1343) , written in the thirteenth century. It is an additional reason why we do not agree with the opinions of some illustrious researchers of the ancient Hebrew language, who claim – based on Rashi’s writing in block letters – that the text on this parchment must have been written after 1475, the year the first bible was printed in Hebrew.
The text itself is used in the Redemption of the First-born Son Ceremony. This manuscript may be the physical text this priest utilizes at every ceremony wherein he participates.
A first-born son of every Jewish woman is redeemed by payment to a Jewish priest of 5 coins of a specific mass of silver. The coin is termed a “shekel” in the bible and a “sela” in later Jewish law texts (hence the 5 coins weigh “5 sela’im” – plural). Each shekel/sela is made up of 20 gerahs (a further measurement of mass, like 1 kg = 1,000g).
This specific text is recorded in the work of Jewish Law, “Arba’ah Turim” by Rabbi Jacob ben Asher. It appears in volume Yoreh De’ah 305 of Arba’ah Turim, but the present manuscript has slight deviances from the script in the Arba’ah Turim. The text used today by Jews the world over is significant in context and relevance, but different in formulation.
For transcription, we used the basic rules of the Academy of the Hebrew
Language (הָאָקָדֶמְיָה לַלָּשׁוֹן הָעִבְרִית), except for:
a. Use of “ch” instead of “h” to denote the Hebrew letter “chet.”
b. The indication of the letter „hei” even when it appears as the final letter of a word.