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THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY IN PALESTINE UNDER ROMAN RULE

BY

MOSHE GIL*
Abstract Five main problems constitute the background for the decline of Palestine’s agrarian economy under the Romans. A considerable part of the land was held by the Roman state, a situation that became more extensive than can be documented under previous regimes. Taxation, as described in talmudic sources, pressed heavily on the cultivators. Usury, a matter contrary to sacrosanct ancient prescriptions, was burdening the agrarian population by stratagems and cover-ups. Expropriation became frequent and there were instances of flight of both owners and sharecroppers. Finally, marriage and inheritance laws and customs brought about a far-reaching parceling of estates. It is shown that the decline was caused not only by Roman oppression, but also by internal factors, which together caused urbanization on the one hand, and emigration on the other. Cinq problèmes principaux constituent l’arrière-plan pour le déclin de l’économie agraire de la Palestine sous les Romains. Une partie considérable de la terre a été tenue par l’état romain, une situation qui est devenue plus étendue que peut être documentée sous des régimes précédents. L’imposition, comme décrite dans des sources talmudiques, oppressait fortement sur les cultivateurs. L’usure, qui contredit les prescriptions antiques sacro-saintes, accablait la population agraire par des stratagèmes et dissimulations. L’expropriation est devenue fréquente et il y avait des exemples de fuite des propriétaires et des métayers. Finalement, le mariage et les lois et coutumes de l’héritage ont produit un morcellement excessif des domaines. Y est montré que le déclin a été produit non seulement par l’oppression romaine, mais également par des facteurs internes, qui ensemble ont causé l’urbanisation d’une part, et l’émigration de l’autre. Keywords: Economic history; Jewish history; Judaica; Roman history; history of Palestine

1. THE KING’S LAND Rome did not usually adopt a policy of damaging agriculture; nor is it conceivable that they would adopt a consistent policy of drastic measures such as decimating the populace, relocating it, or destroying an entire city. Rome did not follow the Assyrian and Babylonian examples of exiling entire populations.
* The Diaspora Research Center, Tel Aviv University. mogil@tau.ac.il In the references to the Palestinian Talmud, Jer. indicates the new Jerusalem edition.
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2006 Also available online – www.brill.nl JESHO 49,3

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Rome’s role in the difficulties besetting agriculture in Palestine was mainly that of settling the land with discharged soldiers. I will show that the agricultural decline in Palestine was primarily caused by internal processes, especially the laws of inheritance. It was, indeed, expected that a population that revolted against Rome would be sold into slavery. Yet the period of the revolt spread only over a few years of the hundreds of years of Roman rule in Palestine. By law, the lands of the conquered peoples, the dediticii, were transferred to the state, but it seems that in actuality this was often no more than an abstract legal rule. Rather, normally the vectigalia that grew out of a lease of land from the regime were absorbed into a long list of taxes that were already a burden on the population. Rostovtzev viewed Roman agrarian policy as a process of the development of a class of private agricultural proprietors, who were heavily taxed, as well as required to work state lands, i.e., “royal lands,” and to fulfill all sorts of personal services, liturgies. It may be that these added obligations evolved as an alternative, or transformation of lease payment for a domain originally private property.1 Rostovtzev compiled a general survey about the types of lands developed in Roman law, based on what is recorded mainly in Egyptian inscriptions and papyri. In general, in the conquered territories, Rome sought to maintain the large estates, especially if they were in the state’s domain before the conquest. In Egypt, this was expressed in the preservation of the judicial status of “royal lands,” the g∞ basilikÆ, i.e., belonging to the king or emperor. The possession of private land passed on through generations was subject to expropriation. Roman policy led to the development of large estates, by way of leasing tracts of land to the Roman cream of society, called “lands bestowed”: g∞ §n dvreò or §n suntãjei (literally: “regulated lands”, actually, the right to receive income from land worked by others). This was a kind of reversion, perhaps unawares, to the system that existed in the third century BC, when huge farms and even entire villages were granted to those close to the king.2 In a papyrus from 47 BC, there is mention of pleonasmo¤ basilikÆw, apparently denoting vast, rich estates with a great many slaves and beasts, worked by tenants with small holdings nearby which were theoretically leased: misyoforikØ g∞, the right to hold them entailing the obligation to work in the large estate.3 It is still possible to

Rostovtzev (1910: 199, 203). Ibid. (3, 42. 87). See also the article of Jones (1941: 26-31). 3 Ibid. (93). See also: Millar (1977: 185), who writes about the large number of oÈs¤ai owned by the emperor in Egypt which are cultivated by sharecroppers; see: ibid. 185, on the ager publicus, meaning “land that belonged to the Roman people”, in North Africa and Sicily.
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find information about an intensive policy of estate sales, a policy perhaps meant to remove the previous regime’s concessionaires, higher officials and army commanders. Indeed, this policy was not comprehensive and absolute, because Rome required the services of a section of the officials of the previous regime. It may be that these sales were mainly of desolate lands abandoned by their owners.4 The purchasers of these estates were required to make perennial payments, the anpar¨t in talmudic sources;5 if they did not pay, the praefectus would sell the land. In Egypt, a system of oppression and exploitation developed, which led Rome to enact laws to alleviate the difficult situation of small farmers; the administration was empowered to demand only the regular taxes, the kayÆkonta, from them, and to relinquish the leasing fees, the §kfÒrion. While the land was definitely considered to belong to the state under the Ptolemies, the Romans did not long continue this system of lease payments, and the relationship between the tenants and the regime was expressed in a land tax embedded within the general tax system. It appears that Rome developed a more positive policy towards the cultivators with the intent of giving these farmers a sense of direct ownership.6 On the other hand, it was easy for the rich to buy the large estates.7 Romans who settled in Egypt became owners of large estates (patrimonia, oÈs¤ai), which were administered by loyal procurators. Rostovtzev presents a list of 30 such large estates whose owners had Roman names, including members of emperors’ families such as Antonia daughter of Claudius; Agrippa—apparently Postumus, Augustus’ friend; Titus; and families of senators, such as Petronius, Seneca, Maecenas and other protégés of the emperors also owned such estates. There are no Egyptian names among these estate owners.8 Thus Rome sought to maintain the vast estates, but with a change of ownership. In a similar way, the status of the g∞ fl°ra, vast tracts of temple land held in Egypt, was also maintained. The matter of the Temple in Jerusalem has not

Rostovtzev (1910: 112f.). Anp®r¨t: from énaforã, payment, or perhaps from: §kfÒria. See: PT Ketubb¨t x, 34a (Jer. 1004), where the meaning is shown. See also below, 296. Cf. Gulak (1938: 97f.). The talmudic sources distinguish, from a juridical point of view, between regular taxes owed to the treasury, as listed in official documents, and the land tax, the anp®r¨t: “if one’s granary was confiscated by ‘the king’s house’: if for his debt—he (still) owes the tithe (maÆas∂r); if for anp®r¨t, he is exempt from the tithe” (BT Giflfl¬n 44a; ºull¬n 131a). 6 Rostovtzev (1910: 114). When Egypt was conquered by the Arabs, they did not find payments for leases made to the authorities there. Instead, they found taxes imposed as a bulk sum on the village, assessed in proportion to the amount of land owned by each villager. See: Ibn ÆAbd al-ºakam, Fut‚Ω mi◊r, 152; cf. Gil (1992: 144-146). 7 See: P. Amherst 79. Cf. Partsch (1916: 9). 8 Rostovtzev (1910: 120-124).
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been clarified; it may not have had lands, and if there were lands dedicated to the Temple they would have had to be sold, though there is mention of a “field” of heqd∂sh, i.e., consecrated to the Temple. It may be that the Temple treasurers were the first to buy consecrated land.9 In Roman times, the great estates, the oÈs¤as, were composed of different types of land. From the time of Nero, there was a continuous expropriation of large estates by the oÈsiakÚw lÒgow, the emperor’s estate administration. The estate was administered by the custodian, the §p¤tropow oÈsiakÒw. Later titles were the frontista¤ and pronohta¤. An important function of the estate custodian, in an earlier time, was collecting the land rent, the prÒsodow.10 The share of land owned by the emperors thus kept growing. As prophesied to Vespasian by the priest Basilides: “Be your plans what they may, Vespasian. Be it building a house, increasing your holdings, or increasing the number of slaves, a great house will be given to you, vast borders, many people.” The best of the fertile lands belonged to the Roman state, or the emperor, and were available for lease.11 The emperor could obtain estates in various ways: by expropriating lands in the provinces, by new conquests, and through inheritance. Thus did Augustus obtain lands in occupied Egypt after his victory, lands that had been the property of Cleopatra, but also land that he wanted to have, such as derelict land. At first they were registered under his wife’s name, or the names of his close underlings during the war, but he later inherited them. Tiberius continued in this vein, and all the succeeding emperors also had lands in Egypt, as well as in other provinces. Mainly, these were lands that had previously belonged to local rulers.12 State lands and their administration belonged to the emperor; they were considered manubia, booty property. The mines were most important in this process as an important source of the empire’s income. The main instrument in concentrating this property was the treasury. This institution was founded by Augustus (apparently in 21-20 BC), and entrusted with managing the property of the emperor and of the state. According to Seneca, who formulated these facts in the form of a paradox, the two became gradually identical: the emperor had ownership of his private property, but even that which was not in his pos-

9 Schürer (1910: II, 324), compared with Mishn®, MeÆill® iii: 6; BT, B®v® batr®, 71b; B®v® me◊¬Æ® 57a; Ber®kh¨t 47b. 10 Rostovtzev (1910: 129, 136; 1953: 7, note 30). 11 Lewis (1983: 74); Tacitus, Hist., II.78. 12 Crawford (1976: 40, 43).

the agrarian conditions before the Roman conquest included estates that had belonged to previous occupying powers.). VII. the reality in Palestine was unique. 1. the tax collectors in the provinces. the policy was influenced by specific circumstances and the political and military considerations connected to the resistance against Rome and the revolts that took place in Palestine. Much money was with the publicani.17 As for the emperor’s property. cf.16 The emperor’s authorized trustee had permission to prevent entry to the emperor’s property by any trouble-maker. It has been conjectured that the emperor had formal ownership. Of course. 177). or half the property of manumitted slaves. and it was worthwhile to employ a special administration to collect taxes for him and administer his properties. and the rules regarding these institutions were still meticulously kept.15 In that period the emperors had not yet succeeded in concentrating all the properties in the fiscus and a great part of Rome’s property was kept by an early institution. and Palestine. Buckland (1932: 175. 13 14 15 16 17 18 Seneca. for example. The fiscus.19. Clausing (1925: 146f. the aerarium. according to what Emperor Antoninus Pius (mid-second century AD) had introduced. were sources of enrichment for the emperor. De beneficiis.18 However. First. such as Alexandria. Rostovtzev notes that the emperor’s many estates in Syria included consecrated land (pagan. there is not sufficient evidence to afford us a comprehensive picture regarding Palestine. such as properties of those who were enslaved. as were any vacant properties. the g∞ fl°ra.6. or the privata res Caesaris.e. See the article by Jones (1950: 22). It is clear that the regions Rome held. the Ptolemies. It should not be presumed that Rome had a different policy in Palestine than in Egypt. Pompey. was the legal heir of various properties that were supposed to be transferred to the public. the central treasury of the Roman people. something along the lines of the British system of filing suits in the name of the Crown.3. During the early days of the empire there was great zeal to increase the general public properties in the hands of the emperor via the fiscus. the fiscus. i. Dig.).THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 289 session was also his property. Rostovtzev (1953: 7. Millar (1963: 33f. of course) of great proportions. in the sources there is confusion between the properties of this institution and the patrimonium.14 It is difficult to arrive at a comprehensive and exact definition of the fiscus.3.. was entirely the emperor’s. note 30). bona vacantia.13 Among other things the treasury. on the other hand. . received approval for taking money from the provincial treasuries and the tax collectors. those properties considered the private holdings of the emperor.

Julius Caesar’s order granting rights to the Jews and especially to the Hasmonaean dynasty. basing himself on the Zenon papyri. which from Assyrian times belonged to the different royal houses that ruled Palestine. who had to pay the rental fee in the second year after the rental. some of the income was certainly meant to reach the emperor’s treasury. Büchler (1956: 1-24. the overseer (§p¤tropow) of the king to the Roman area (perhaps Caesarea).36-38.” megãlon ped¤on. plus the fact that the Jezreel Valley was found to have so few of the habitations that existed in Roman times. and one may indeed suppose that what changed over generations were only the owners.19 Herz. turned Judaea into the property of the Roman people.. 12). The senate decision (the senatus consultum) upon which Julius Caesar based his action released the tenants from payment in the sabbatical year. and the Hasmonaean dynasty afterwards. While passing through “the Great Plain. p. leads us to think that this was an area of “the king’s land” (g∞ basilikÆ). I. Judaea. This area paid taxes to the king. but required them to bring a fourth Alt (1937: 65-76). lists a number of large estates that existed during Ptolemaic times in the coastal region. According to him this was the king’s land and remained as such under Rome. cf. 22 Antiquitates. the Roman regime expropriated land during the time of the revolts and afterwards. Hulata. See: Herz (1928: 100).202ff. esp.290 MOSHE GIL Seleucids. Galilee. this was not an administrative appointment.. when conquering Jerusalem. Alt noted especially the area of Megiddo. see ibid. also: 190-195.398ff.21 Herod Antipas (“the tetrarch”) also granted parcels of land to new settlers when about to found Tiberias. Antiquitates. the Bashan and the Hauran. but the actual granting of estates. Bellum Jud.. XVIII. shows that land as leased to the inhabitants. Pompey. 21 Vita Josephi. she was waylaid by young men from D®ver®t (Dabar¤tta). Banias (Paneas) and their environs). The very fact of actually defining this area as that of paying taxes to the king. Second.20 Augustus gave Herod the Trachonitis. It is difficult to determine the extent to which those great estates in Palestine in Roman hands were the result of expropriating rural dwellers during the war and afterwards. Josephus Flavius describes the journey of the wife of Ptolemy. who calculated the dimensions of the possessions in the parable of the steward who wasted the owner’s goods.22 Büchler has already dealt with the Pompey-Julius Caesar period. 20 19 . In all probability. the decree of Caesar and the Senate to the people of Sidon. perhaps the Jezreel Valley. XIV. Trans-Jordan. which were taken from Zenodoros as punishment for acts of robbery in the area of his rule (the land of Itur. the debt being 100 measures (bãtoi) of oil and 100 (kÒroi) of wheat. 126. but naturally such data have no historical relevance.

In accordance with a system that would be perpetuated for hundreds of years. sister of Agrippa II. a quarter of the harvest is meant. Josephus Flavius received from Titus land in the coastal plain.188.23 Josephus Flavius relates how Y¨Ω®n®n of G‚sh º®l®v asked him to be allowed to expropriate the emperor’s wheat. Vita Josephi. as we have seen above with the balsam. I..000 discharged troops. one may learn (according to Josephus Flavius) that those great royal estates did Büchler (1956: 20ff.31. bequeathed Yavne along with Phasaëlis and Archelaïs to Julia.25 Salomé. who had a large vineyard . XIV.98. 28 Vita Josephi.167. 18 miles by 18 miles. Hirschfeld (1902: 305) on some of these estates. one may also find validation for this in the talmudic sources: “the wicked Hadrian. which her brother had bequeathed to her in his will. and 321. 30 Vita Josephi. 26 Antiquitates. . Isaac (1984: 35).28 This grant should be understood against the background of Vespasian’s order to divide the land of Emmaus among 8. 27 Plinius. See also: Bellum Jud.. apparently the base of the Roman stores. ibid. in her will. cf. The nature of these changed over time.26 Pliny the Elder. 29 Bellum Jud.30 In Palestine the term “king’s land” could include all types of land.216-217. and Phasaëlis. he writes of the estates the emperor gave Salomé. Augustus’ wife. Ashdod. However. . and which was surrounded by a fence made of those killed in Betar.111-112. 734).). Herod’s sister: a palace in Ashkelon.. like [the distance] from Tiberias to —ipp¨r¬.). no. this was an agricultural tax at the beginning of Rome’s rule in Palestine. v: 5 and note 13. 71. including plantation land. in writing about balsam. See on Archelaïs and Phasaëlis: Avi-Yonah (1984: 109f. XII. there. kept in the rural granaries of Upper Galilee. and not of the seeds. cf. 25 Antiquitates. 31 PT TaÆaniy¨t.). held—as it seems—villages in the area of B∂t SheÆ®r¬m (Besãra). II. iv:69a (Jer. XVII. and see: Antiquitates. XVIII. Hist. 422.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 291 of the grains in the second year to Sidon. following Grätz. that this was the annona militaris added to the lease of the land.27 When he became a Roman citizen. Büchler (1912: 29f. etc. VII. as well as Yavne.29 Berenice... These were transferred to Roman ownership and in Pliny’s day were administered by the fiscus. and when his lands near Jerusalem were about to serve as a camp for the Roman guard. to the north of Jericho. Büchler believed. grants to Salomé. Nat. Bellum Jud. notes that it only grew in two gardens in the land of Judaea. the article by Alt (1937).”31 From what Titus said to the rebels in Jerusalem. Gil (2005). in that period the annona militaris had not yet been developed. cf. which belonged to the king. with additional details about land granted by Herod to the emperor in his testament.24 Elsewhere. Rome would not collect the taxes directly. as it is usually interpreted.203. Rather. but through local corporations and rulers. 119. 24 23 .

). they even ruled in Damascus. and see the editor’s note on p. a record of Babatha’s property was made in the context of a census. the kel¬l® tax of the talmudic sources (below. Lewis 16. Ein Gedi is referred to as a village of the emperor. land of the balsam.. See: 2Cor. 11:32 (“Aretas the King”). 2 and no.33 Two and a half years later. 34 P.”32 In the Judaean Desert papyri. We therefore find adjacent imperial lands and private tax-paying lots. in relation to Julia Crispina: P. where an entire area is declared the emperor’s property. the filanyrvp¤a. Yadin no. P. See: Bowersock (1991: 338). Eleazar. see on Ein Gedi and balsam: Safrai (1994: 147ff.”34 A reflection of this reality in talmudic sources was studied in depth by S. mentioned there is also the stefanikÒn. and see the preamble to this document. There. and of Hirschfeld (2000: 29f. and as pledge pawned to him his father’s apartment house in Ein Gedi. 33 32 . The estate of Mar®n® rabæ∂l malk® is mentioned by Yadin (1962: 240f. and that parcel tenants continued to hold them as if they were their property in every respect. see the document also in: Cotton-Yardeni (1997: 181-194). “To begin with.. Lewis 11. Lewis 16. Titus speaks about the Romans’ humanity. Ein Gedi is there referred to as “the village of our lord the emperor”: k≈mh kur¤ou Ka¤sarow. Lewis 25 (of 9 July. and the rental fees mentioned in the documents belonging to Babatha’s “archive” were actually a kind of tax. 3. AD 130). P. 1999: 229). Lewis 11. we allowed you to keep this land.). Lewis 20 (of 19 June. P. the latter providing a geographic analysis of the sources. Bellum Jud.). and see: Isaac (1992: 62). Lewis 11 is a document dealing with a loan on mortgage. king of the Nabataeans. from AD 99. Klein. from 6 May 124.333. to line 24. However. It seems the Romans left the land under Jewish ownership.). Babatha’s private lands (fid¤oi) are mentioned. See: Müller (1984: 126): The Nabataean Kingdom reached its apogee under º®rith (9 BC-40 AD). AD 131). See also: Lewis (1994: 244). Babatha’s second husband. see: Mazar et alii (1966: 5). 70. AD 70. 2 and 4 December 127. p. documented in P. Rabæel II was the last Nabataean king. the property of mar®n® rabæ∂l malk®. there is mention of the sale of a date grove. VI. in close proximity to them is a royal plant nursery (as I interpret mosxantikÆ). for a period of eight months. thus displaying the duality of the land situation. See the articles by Cotton (1997: 2-8ff. borrowed 60 dinars from the centurion.292 MOSHE GIL not include all the lands of Palestine. On Ein Gedi having been the property of the Hasmonaean kings and thereafter of Herod and his successors. Cotton even assumes that one of Bar Kokhba’s acts was expropriating “the lands of the emperor. see also: P.. Ilan (1991/92: 332f. Cotton mentioned the continuity of ownership in the area by royal houses prior to Roman rule. From these it is clear that even land considered the king’s property was sold and even willed. 301). Judah b. Magonios Valens. and ruled from ca. Krauss and S. In two as yet unpublished papyri. See more on the problem of ownership of the estates in Ein Gedi.

. see ibid. but since I do not find any foothold for explaining this name. 36 Applebaum (1967: 284f. 530-536). g∞ basilikÆ.37 In har ha-melekh there were “10. that the term har ha-melekh already existed at the time of the Hasmonaean dynasty. 1). I shall rather give it up”. a term often found in talmudic literature. or the southern shef∂l® (has the same halacha) as har ha-melekh”. Rapoport (1843: 225). in the Ephraim hills. or in the faraway south. p. and the talmudic sources. the latter even connected Gabalena with the Arabic jabal (mountain). 25). . . See the discussion on har ha-melekh in Mor (1986: 96ff. in the Mishn®: ix:2. also his appendix. he discussed lands “granted” by the emperor Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161) to Rabbi. Grätz (1885: 441. the term which we find in the papyri is. 57b.). n. who endeavoured to find connections between details in the Zenon Papyri and the information on the estates of Toubias. S. x≈ra basilikÆ. whether in Jerusalem. and it may be that Jews there became a minority.000 townships . ºarsom had a thousand of them all”. ‘the king’s mountain’. who discussed the various readings of the toponyms mentioned in connection with such estates. 297). 210). for example: “what is the name of the mountain in Judaea: it is har ha-melekh . supported by other sources as well (above. 1936. see the studies of Klein (1934. Many scholars have dealt with it. which may be evidence of the fact. . Estates of Rabbi are mentioned also in PT MaÆas∂r sh∂n¬ iv:54d (Jer. d: 109). c: 3. . In 35 Krauss (1910: 17ff. 246) with additional references.). It is worth quoting Klein (1930: 143). 289). which might date even from the period of the First Temple (although there is no trace of it in the Bible). 199).THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 293 In a 1912 article. 735).38 The second type of source involves the many non-Jewish settlers in properties of the Roman state. but there the owner is said to have been King Yannai.). BT Giflfl¬n. the Tosefta: vii:10. . a similar version is in the barayt® of the Babylonian Talmud. The first is topographic. According to a source in the Palestinian Talmud. Let us now clarify the meaning of har ha-melekh. Applebaum (1967: 284 and n. 38 PT TaÆaniy¨t iv:69a (Jer.35 In 1967 Applebaum already expressed the opinion that ‘the king’s mountain’ means royal lands.). Krauss (1910: 17ff.). or to at least propose some conjecture about when and why this appellation was given to a mountain and citadel in the land of Judaea even before the Hasmonaeans. an idea accepted by Grätz and Krauss. and the mountain (in the Lydda shef∂l® (lowland).36 There are three types of relevant references. cf. PT Shev¬Æ¬t vi:36d (Jer.Y. Klein (1912: 545ff. “Antoninus gave Rabbi two thousand desh®n¬m as lease. see: Lieberman (1956: II. See: Alon (1961: II. 37 See: the tractate shev¬Æ¬t. Also: “The valley of har ha-melekh (extends) from Ein Gedi until Jericho. as I mentioned above.” Apparently this matter is connected to the place name Yablona mentioned shortly before this sentence. trying to find the defined place of this mountain. and Rabbi Eliezer b. “I know that I am expected to still explain the terms har ha-melekh and b∂t ha-melekh. Rapoport has already suggested that Yablona be read: Gabalena. In fact. the PT: ix:38d (Jer.

by both phonetic and semantic similarity. ii: 158-162.” one of whom had to escape (one version has “NeΩ‚ny¨n. border marker. It is reasonable to think that har ha-melekh is parallel. no.39 Regarding the increase in numbers of gentiles and the gradually reduced Jewish character of those areas where the emperor’s great estates were.294 MOSHE GIL these sources there are matters dealing with tithes and priestly gifts. between B∂t ∂l and Caesarea. PT MaÆas∂r sh∂n¬ i:52d (Jer. He escaped to Alexandria by way of har ha-melekh. 139). Oppenheimer (1978: 282). In light of the above. and cf. h¨d®yat hamaÆas∂r. har ha-melekh was part of the Land of Israel and tithes and priestly gifts were mandatory. Lieberman ad locum (1956: 199). but apparently not always properly collected. to ˜row basilikÒw. like the story of R. then the language of the authorities. Yos∂ b. there is the tradition about the two sons of Simeon the Just (ha-◊add¬q). See also: PT Dem®y iv:24d (Jer. there are traditions linking the har ha-melekh to the struggle against the transfer of lands to gentiles. This spectrum also exists in Greek. oËrow. wad®y. border.e. Mishn® MaÆas∂r sh∂n¬ i:2. Joshua b. 134). dem®y. Simeon. consider a statement ascribed to R. in note 29 he discusses the term har ha-melekh. there are about it variae lectiones. and comes to the conclusion that it was a mountainous area in Judaea. ˜rion. 40 PT Y¨m® v:43c-d (Jer. and mountain. But oËrow also means mountain.). which made the produce ritually forbidden. and a similar version: ÆAv¨d® z®r® i:40b (Jer. Levi permitted it. whereas the Tosefta MaÆas∂r sh∂n¬ i:6. 287).” It is also well-known that the words har. who had “fields in har ha-melekh. PT Shabb®t i:3d (Jer. Finally. See on the terms: widd‚y. kulkus¬n. Variorum. where the version is: “it may be used for redeeming” (the tithe).40 39 PT Dem®y ii:22c (Jer. Sperber (1978: 168f. I believe that it usually meant “the king’s lands. and PT Dem®y vi:25a-b (Jer. sad∂. fl‚r. Abahu. ˜row.” and one reads “Simeon”) because he adorned himself with objects of the Temple. who “for 40 years served the Jews in the high priesthood. 246). 121). i. Dozy (1927: I. and see his sources and references to contemporary studies. 108). but referred to a number of areas in Palestine.” R. Arabic bulb‚s is ‘the wolf’s onion’. reasoning that the law regarding har ha-melekh was identical with the laws regarding lands in Syria. 1382). cf. mean border. see Meyerhof (1940: 54 n. Tosefta Dem®y i:11. ºan¬na. has “it may not”. kupp®: Gil.. should perhaps be bulbus¬n. Border stones found on the shore of the Sea of Marmara. 61).” R. 590). the har ha-melekh. 372) and ÆAv¨d® z®r® ii:41d (Jer. only do not rent them to a gentile. contain the inscription: the border of the royal estates of Sosandra: ˜row basileik«n Svsãndrvn. that “kulkus¬n sold in Caesarea are forbidden. I conclude that the term har ha-melekh did not specify a precise location. 135). ˆrow means mountain. As can be . Alon (1961: II. cf. Y¨Ω®n®n said to him: “leave them desolate. perhaps because it was in an area where the population was gentile. and gev‚l represent a semantic spectrum in Semitic languages swinging between field. since most of them come from har ha-melekh”. quoting R. cf.

) on the attitude of Rabbi towards the Greco-Roman cities in Palestine. as one would expect. See also the article by Applebaum (1986: 78f. 79). 42 See: the general survey of Gulak (1938: 97ff. Rabbi’s policy apparently tended towards leniency. lands. cf. ÆAv¨d® z®r® iv:44b (Jer. . Oppenheimer (1978: 273f.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 295 The issue of har ha-melekh serves to illustrate the conflict between the two opposing laws. The lands of har ha-melekh. I disagree with him in this matter. whereas Rome considered the lands of Palestine conquered lands. the Almighty will guard you of payyis¬n and zimiy¨t and gulgoliy¨t and arn¨n¨t ”. without any actual application. a comment of R.. See also the documents of lease in: Benoit et al. who also pointed out that it is impossible to geographically define the har ha-melekh. from the same period. as were the Ban‚ Quray˙a.41 2. II. Wa-yiqr® rabb® (Margaliot) xxxiii:6 (768-770). 122). Taær¬kh. the use of jabal (mountain) with the meaning of patrimonium. i. the editor’s note. who were subjected to a heavy tax burden. See: YaÆq‚b¬. 41 PT Dem®y ii:22d (Jer. of Bar Kokhba. Papa: “the world gets all blessings for our sake. 191). TAXATION The conquest included. in agrarian matters in Palestine. Jewish law continued to consider the lands the property of the Jewish people. the Roman and the Jewish. 52. can be found in the Arab traditions about the origin of the Jewish tribes of al-Mad¬na. who issued five-year leases under the obligation to pay the tithes. still.42 or. See also: Shahar (2000: 275-306) who tries to locate the har ha-melekh in Western Samaria. no. 49. those of the emperor.e.)..). such as this statement of R. (1961: 122-134. We do not know if Rabbi intended to make matters easier for the farmers. 43 PT Shev¬Æ¬t iv:35b (Jer. Abba (towards the end of the third century): “if you pay for charity. 24).) on the taxes imposed by the Romans. Parallel to Hebrew har. The Ban‚ Na¥¬r were named after a jabal called Na¥¬r. xxxiv:1 (771). and see ibid. more than that. or whether the ruling was a strictly theoretical one. and also the article by Safrai (1967: 1). Gil (2004: 11). you do not say to us: come and take some of these blessings for yourself.. Dalman (1924: 57) related the term har ha-melekh to ÙreinÆ (the mountainous area of Jerusalem). were taken during the Bar Kokhba rebellion and became lands of the n®s¬. in note 10. Gris. The official he appointed to represent him was Hillel b. In a number of sources we find mention of the types of taxes. see the insightful discussion of Büchler (1956: 179ff.43 seen from what was said above. you impose on us payyis¬m and zimy¨n¨t and gulg¨liy¨t and arn¨niy¨t”. See PT P∂æ® i:16b (Jer. i. and singles out the Hasmonaean era (King Yannai) as the period in which the term was born.e. from an economic standpoint. 1079). after a jabal named Quray˙a. See: Rostovtzev (1910: 287). cf. 1405. ºan¬n® b. The same disregard for alien law may be seen in discussions about the sabbatical year. with more references ibid. Giflfl¬n vi:47c (Jer. a heavy tax burden paid to the foreign regime.

). This was the “didrachmon” tax. See: Marquardt (1885: 233). or.. Roman citizens in the colonies were exempt from the tax. The standard measure of tax calculation included five iugera (sing. the Romans carried out intensive land and cartographical surveys. Gulak (1938: 98) assumed that in Palestine one used to collect the didrachm as well.e. not pledged) properties. 45 44 . 60 of poor quality. iugatio).296 MOSHE GIL C. 27ff. his base was in Yavne. the land tax. Clausing (1925: 110f. Alon (1961: II. 210-213). A basic tax reform was introduced under Diocletian in the fourth quarter of the third century AD. A survey operation in the eastern provinces lasted 13 years.46 The land tax. Gil (2002: 37). from 44 to 30 BC. Rabbi ruled that in arn¨na. Herennius Capito was Livia’s (Augustus’ wife) procurator. half a sheqel (two denarii) that the Jews were required to pay to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Ishmael. In his time the division by caput (capitatio. Haywood (1959: 44). 225 olive trees. 20 iugera of rich soil land.). i. in addition to the local poll tax. and was in charge of tax collection in Judaea. it was apparently instituted at the time of Vespasian. about an acre) of vineyard. to eight drachmas (two sheqels) and was also applied to slaves. were introduced. 450 planted trees of inferior quality. cf. and increased four fold. There is no source pointing to any involvement of the fiscus judaicus in taxes in Palestine.). the anparaæ¨t. Frank (1959: 271). one of three major taxes. 40 of semi-rich. poll tax) and the iugum (a measure of land. Nann®s when challenging the accepted halacha regarding guarantors (when the receiver of the guarantee does not make good his pledge): “one has to collect it from free (i. if we can rely on the Palestinian Talmud. and it is virtually certain that it dealt with the taxes of diaspora Jews. 46 See: Jones (1950: 26f. then of Tiberius and of Caius Caligula.44 The taxes in the provinces were not divided uniformly. Later the tax was applied to women and children as well. The state’s income was collected from the provinces by stipendium. said R. one should follow Ben Nann®s.e.45 The particular treasury responsible for the taxes of Jews (the fiscus judaicus) dealt with the special tax cast on the diaspora. Held (1974: 149). gulg¨let and anparaæ¨t.. 170-176). This apparently referred to the view expressed by b. Lewis (1983: 30).” The essence of the matter is apparently See: Pflaum (1960: I.: iugum. was at the time of the sages of the Mishn®. and was in principle collected in the form of tributum capitis (poll tax) and tributum soli (land tax). Wallace (1969: 111. In order to properly collect the tax. the sum of taxes from every province. and the division was a consequence of the circumstances of the conquest and the influence of policies developed over the years. whereas Ben Nann®s: one does not collect from pledged nor from free (properties).

the rules of Simeon Ben Nann®s: Mishn®. 1004). XVII.50 Alongside the great estates discussed above. . Broshi (1992: 236). Even when the Temple existed. “does a man put his money into anparaæ¨t?”48 The gulg¨let. is rarely mentioned with this term. 30. 50 Antiquitates. 1013).THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 297 how much one has to compensate somebody who lost his land for not paying the taxes.. 324). xxix:2 (which is not in the Margaliot edition): “and now. poll) tax greater than that of any other area. 118.47 Later.28. what was most oppressive to you under the burden of slavery was your being subject to new taxes without any forewarning. in the future your sons will be enslaved by your kingdoms in this world. In no peacetime period was there a general attempt to uproot this population. . 52 Jones (1964: 469). 50. 48 BT Shabb®t 80b. or money spent for nothing. Alon (1961: II. 184) considered it to be “common responsibility for collection of taxes”. Juliani Epist. It appears that it was very oppressive for the Jews of Palestine. those in charge of tax collection made a fortune in Judaea. In the fourth century (around 362). since you did not believe . Syriak∂. Finley (1985: 90). . Rome was interested in agricultural production. and see the comments of Smallwood (1970: 261). where one speaks about arn¨n(!) (annona) and gulg¨let (poll tax). 51 Philo. no one was better at money-squeezing than the Romans. in the Bashan. They benefited from a tax exemption during the time of Herod and his successors. explains that it is the revolts that were the reason why all the Jews had to pay a “body” (i. Certainly. p. see a similar discussion concerning intransigence in collecting debts caused by payment of taxes: PT Ketubb¨t xiii:35d (Jer. taxes in the late empire reached between one fourth and one third of the gross yield of agriculture in the empire (by Justinian’s reign). in the third century. and your having to present the treasury with untold quantities of gold. by taxes and arn¨niy¨t and d¬miy¨t and z¬miy¨t and gulg¨liy¨t”.e. Legatio ad Gaium.199. especially beginning with the Bar Kokhba revolt. whereas as Broshi conjectures: even more.49 The bitter fate of anyone forced to pay tax to the Romans is also attested by Josephus’ information regarding Babylonian Jews who settled in Betira. Rome found a deeply-rooted Jewish agricultural population (below. 49 Appianus..52 A description of the suffering is preserved in a 47 PT Ketubb¨t x:34a (Jer.”51 According to one estimate. anparaæ¨t served as a metaphor meaning property. this ability was described by Emperor Julian (the Apostate): “In the past. and the contribution of Palestine’s agriculture—whether in terms of taxes or otherwise—for its own income. x:8. perhaps exaggerated. usually half the produce. Appianus. See also: wa-yiqr® rabb®. B®v® batr®. 396D. who lived apparently just shortly after the revolt. but suffered economically after Rome began ruling there directly. the poll tax.

or rather as it is written: ‘Ask ye now. i. as a woman in travail. The regime was perceived as monstrous where a person’s life had absolutely no worth: “just as the snake coils up to strike. as above: The kingdom did not mean to drive them towards abandoning their religion. that is like being struck by snake. in food products. cf. with a sword. or he went into the house. and a bear met him. he goes home and finds his sons and daughters wasting away from hunger. Safrai (1966: 14). a good or a bad person: and he says: I’m a good person. apparently referring to the pressures of taxation. p. 56 See the comprehensive article by Safrai (1967) on the matter of the Sabbatical year during the period with which we are dealing.e. Lampe (1961: 1341). Yannai allowed it to be done “at the time when there was compulsion by the kingdom”.54 In the fourth century we see an attempt to confront the problem of whether to pay the priestly gifts before calculating the arn¨na or after its deduction. In the PT Shev¬Æ¬t iv:35a (Jer. .298 MOSHE GIL barayt® in the Babylonian Talmud. it only intended collecting the arn¨na. and who was with you and how did you kill him. and the farmer was 53 BT Sanhedrin 98b. sinfl∂r. “as R..53 From here one can understand the wish to run away that is noted in various places in the sources (below. so are the ways of the regime coiled. 189).55 Some Sages believed that the tax burden made farmers plant even in sabbatical years. 54 Ber∂sh¬t rabb® xxxviii:2 (345). sunthrhtikÒw. and a serpent bit him (Amos 5:19). probably sunthrhtÆw. apparently: a decision that he is suspect) and kills him”. Sanhedrin iii:2b (Jer. As has already been clarified. 1281). they ask: how many people have you killed: and he says: I haven’t killed. The matter at hand was “the domestic animal of the arn¨na”. and see whether a man doth travel with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins. 313f). it is like being attacked by the bear. Yannai said: go out and sow on the seventh (year. in the name of Resh Laqish: “As if a man did flee from a lion. p. and leaned his hand on the wall. collected in natura. the sabbatical). 30:6). whether one is obliged to hand the firstborn over to a priest or whether there was an exemption. or a stick. or a stone? He doesn’t give up until he gives him an aporesia (épÒrhsiw.56 Leading the taxes in the talmudic sources is the arn¨na. the arn¨na is nothing but the annona. Krauss (1899: 403). the PT elaborated further on the matter: Shev¬Æ¬t. The arn¨na was the agricultural tax par excellence. R. and all faces are turned into paleness?’” (Jer. 55 BT Pes®Ω¬m 26a. he goes to town and is attacked by a tax collector. because of the arn¨na”. it is like being attacked by a lion. what is said there fits what Lactantius wrote concerning the days of Diocletian (below. 314). So he says to him. now I’ll give you a contemporary example: when a man goes out to his field and is struck by a sinfl∂r (a guardian). we read (while comparing the two versions) about a query regarding plowing before the Sabbatical year. It tells someone: what are you.

When this word became a synonym for annona. and he needs their lives. .58 Augustus renewed the post of general commissioner of the annona. or a special treasury. Shalit) had the impossible idea that the word stems from ¶ranow. and a fund. to its citizens. which is an ancient Egyptian institution. CPJ 149. the fiscus frumentarius as well as food stores: horrea. Bread would be baked in a kind of public operation. 57 Marquardt (1885: 110). P.v. seeing ’vflynyh as a garbled form of pÒliw is not plausible. 58 The interpretation of Krauss (1899: 5). this became a difficult economic and political problem. when wanting to say: the commodity index. who was aided by a special apparatus. The main meaning of annona was distribution of consumer goods. At first it was only wheat. its author (A. but this means a society for mutual help. extant among Jews in Egypt as well. coctio. his commissioner dealt also both in organizing the collection of consumer goods and their distribution. the cura annonae. ’vfllyt. which were under the supervision of a special apparatus. See a detailed discussion of the annona in Oehler’s articles. insertion of the r instead of the first n in the annona (while probably feeling there the double n) is common in Aramaic. Caius Gracchus was the first to introduce the lex frumentaria. the praefectus annonae.2. in RE. in Palestine it was apparently pronounced: avtinia.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 299 therefore required to directly set aside the fruit of his just-gathered labor. district. to regulate the obligatory distribution of food for a small sum of money. but if they rebel against him he needs nothing at all.e. meaning the annual supplying of consumer goods to Rome developed. annona and annona militaris. In the article arn¨na in the Hebrew Encyclopaedia. all the inhabitants of Italy were exempt from taxes. I. This meaning of annona was preserved for generations. The Greek equivalent to annona was eÈthn¤a. as long as people pay him is required to give them the donativa. one would say: modus annonae.. by the fact that it was implemented by a special district tax collecting apparatus. grants) in Rome. The annona then had a dual meaning: collection of commodities in the occupied provinces. see the interesting document of Alexandria. a word whose primary meaning was: welfare. as the midrash states: (quoting Simeon b. It is appropriate to survey the development of this tax and the impression it left in the talmudic sources. but also: distribution of consumer goods: (donativa. There were the annonae publicae.57 Here is where the institution of the annona. were at his disposal. abundant. distribute annonae. human) king. but stops their annonae. The burden of financing the state apparatus and the army was transferred to the conquered countries. ÆAzai: beginning of the second century AD): “a flesh and blood (i. the number of recipients of the frumentum reached into the hundreds of thousands. Eventually. frumentum. its office-holders. soldiers. a word which came to mean. The rhotacism. As early as 89 BC. proper supply. s.

the prerogative of the praefectus annonae in accordance with lex Julia.59 Also: R. came to mean among the people the official who collected the tax. xlvii:5 (Theodor and Albeck. 63 Ensslin. Yehuda bar Simeon (second half of the third century AD): “this is like someone who loves the king.. Since an abundance of goods was amassed. Ber∂sh¬t rabb®. cf..). what does ann®s¬m mean? arn¨na”.216-218. the statement of R. 8a. and used false accusations and executions in order to expropriate especially fertile land. whom the king would give the annona. 473). farmers became mired in debt. It may be assumed that it was during his reign when the economy began a general decline. 154f. said the king. It would appear that the term ann®s. 64 See: Josephus. and especially cols. who according to Lactantius. see: Lactantius. one used to sell part of them to the highest bidder. see also his list of pertinent papyri on p. 7:24) means arn¨na”. he was the major commissioner of the annona. Pavis d’Escurac (1976: 325). ann®s¬m (the root ’ns is found in the Bible in the Book of Esther only). when L. 66 BT Sanhedrin 26a.62 The annona underwent reorganization and accelerated development under Diocletian (AD 284-305). xli:4.300 MOSHE GIL why? Because they denied his kingship”. Bellum Jud. Apparently. which was meant to express violence.60 Special rented boats were used to transport the annona goods to Rome through the first two centuries AD. Yehuda b. and turned into tenants who became more and more land-bound. VII. 275. and there is more than just a hint of this in the sources. 62 Marquardt (1885: 230-233). there the terms mes¬q¬n and 60 59 . in the third. Yudan in the name of R. the article on Valerius Diocletianus in RE VII. and see ibid. 2464-2468. 65 BT B®v® batr®.63 The annona’s history in Palestine began after the great revolt. see details in the law. Wallace (1969: 23-25. see also: Walbank (1953: 17f.64 The annona (arn¨na) is often mentioned in the talmudic literature and it may be assumed that this was the most burdensome of the many taxes pressing upon the people of Palestine. 61 Frank (1959: 271). cf.65 “as the ann®s¬m became numerous. He divided the provinces into small units for the purpose of tax collection and increased the number of appointed officials to supervise and manage the collection accounts.66 Shem¨t rabb®. fields became desolated and cultivated land reverted to forest. I wish to double your annona”.) and see there his examples of annona documents. 7. 365. 261 on the supervision over the prices of wheat and oil. Safrai (1967: 15). special boats were even built for this hauling need.61 In the fourth century it became common to replace the annona by a cash payment. etc. was especially oppressive to farmers and wiped them out with expropriations. ibid. IlÆai: “h∂lekh (Ezra 4:13. De mortibus persecutorum. Laberius Maximus was appointed procurator of Judaea (AD 71). the annona.

cf. Just. in a declaration in the Babatha’ archive. where she assumes that this tax was inherited by the Romans from the Nabataeans. the aurum coronarium. to carry myrtle to the palace. Such was the case of R.69 Other taxes are mentioned. Alon (1961: I 20. which has bsylqy. Tosefta B®v® me◊¬Æ® vii:7-8. lines 20. 71 Cod.). In this case. which is the st°fanow. this is a case in which the authorities seized the donkey while it was working in angariy®. regime-demanded forced labor. 70 Rostovtzev (1910: 304). of which there is documentation. 27.”67 It is not clear whether he was apprehended because he owed the angariy®. while the word’s proper meaning is a state building. was another tax. the authorities are meant here. Wallace (1969: 70) and see more references in: Krauss (1899: 313).68 The gentiles built big cities not for the sake of the Jews that they study Torah. In the Palestinian Talmud there is a discussion about a donkey taken for the angariy®: “if somebody hires a donkey from his fellow to work in angariy®. “but to do angariy® in them”. 41). and the kel¬l® tax paid in coin.70 A law of May 429. but this may also be the labor and services tenants of small holdings were required to perform on nearby large estates. In other words.71 This tax began in Claudius’ time (about AD 50) and became a fixed tax at the end of the second century. the crown tax. cf. birthdays of the empire’s notabilities. 32. and see: Lieberman (1956: 251253) ad locum. in the name of the emperors Theodosius II and Valentinianus III. 16. Theod. In the third century it became a tax on land. B®v® me◊¬Æ® vi:3. 1. or he was detained arbitrarily. but that does not exclude the fact that the principal meaning of ann®s was a tax collector. See also: Lewis (1983: 181f. Babatha declared that she had four date plantations and notes the regular tax (t°low) paid for each plantation. Juster (1914: II 287f). 1231). cf. ZeƬr®: “I was caught for angariy®. about the complaints of the residents of Phrygia and Pisidiya in Asia Minor. Cod. or died.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 301 The angariy®. the hirer is required to give him a donkey instead”. that of the patrocinium. See PT Ber®kh¨t i. Its origins lay in the sums demanded of the population on special occasions. 2d (Jer. Safrai (1963: 69 n. See also BT B®v® batr® 183a. vi:11a (Jer.73 ann®s¬m were sometimes used interchangeably. or stefanikÒn. the kel¬l®. etc. 67 Krauss (1899: 63). in BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 78b: “by the order of the kingdom”.17. 68 Mishn®. PT B®v® me◊¬Æ®. 73 See: P.72 It is mentioned in a Judaean Desert document of December AD 127. ordered that the monies the nes¬æ¬m of the Jews (the patriarchae) used to collect.). but per- . and cf. he has to return another donkey. 5). now had to be turned directly over to the treasury. 72 Wallace (1969: 281ff. its synonym was leitourgikÒn. if the donkey was expropriated. 12).9. Cotton (ZPE 1994: 553 and 1995: 203). Lewis 16.29. The emperor Severus Alexander (about AD 230) promised he would annul this tax (but he did not). called aurum coronarium. and this was apparently in a later period.8. By basilikÆ. such as a victory. 69 BT ÆAv¨d® z®r® 2b.

Hist. from which one should not deduce that peys means charity (◊ed®q®). In the imperial period the official legal interest rate was usually to 12%. to Shev¬Æ¬t). 1079). let us first survey the laws and customs prevailing in this area. A far-reaching reform took place under Justinian who lowered the permitted rate to 6% on regular loans. n. a law existed regarding interest. in general. 111). See more mentions of these taxes: PT B®v® batr® i:12d (Jer. see: MPG 5. A special contract was required delineating the conditions of the interest. 77 Buckland (1932: 464). 1239).. perhaps from pe¤siw. and see his note there). had been imposed since the days of Claudius. 240. This evidence should be added to what Safrai wrote (1963: 69f. Lewis (1983: 174). See more on various types of taxes: PT Giflfl¬n vi:47c (Jer. p. where even a haps what occurred was rather the opposite.74 Also mentioned are Roman soldiers residing with Jews by order of the regime. Dio Cassius writes about the soldiers of Caracala who used to spend the winter in houses of quartering residents (the jenodÒkoi) and to consume whatever the owners had as if it was theirs (in the winter of AD 216/217). referring to the Mishn® mentioned above. It would appear that conditions for borrowers were easier in Roman times than under the Ptolemies. cf.. CREDIT. Tosefta Shev¬Æ¬t v:21.302 MOSHE GIL Additionally. as I already noted above. 76. Dem®y iii:23b (Jer. 74 Sifr∂ dev®r¬m par. 191). a fine. Mishn® Dem®y iii:1. who assumed that our first knowledge about this tax came from the days of Aurelianus (270-275).76 There were legal restrictions on the rate of interest allowed. and 4% on loans for senators. INTEREST. 557C: tØn fid¤an kapitatiÒna ka‹ tÚ dhmÒsion. zimy¨n¨t. 1405). 320 (Ish Shalom 137. ÆAv¨d® z®r® iv:44b (Jer. Rom. . a kind of tax”.77 all indications are that these laws were not usually honored. See: LiddellScott and Lampe s. there was the aks®niy®. “zemia. 12). see ibid. 367. since this tax.4.75 3. see the decision of the synod in Laodicea as preserved by Photius. in: Wa-yiqr® rabb® xxx:6 (Margoliot 702). on zimy¨n¨t also: Sperber (1974: 97). which speaks about gentiles living in an aks®niy®. cf. in connection with permission to eat from the dem®y food. in the Roman Empire.3. Finkelstein.v. and it may be counted among the causes of Bar-Kokhba’s revolt. cf. perhaps from zhm¤a. Roman law sanctioned interest. although there were cases where the legal framework was indeed maintained. P∂æ® viii:21a (Jer. the lex de credita pecunia faenebris (“the law of interest-bearing monetary credit”). PT Ƶr‚v¬n vi:23b (Jer. clearly comes from the Greek j°now. 79. That document from Babatha’s archive is authentic evidence about the burden of taxation imposed on the Jews of Palestine. 75 Dio Cassius. also meaning inn. see also: Lieberman (1956: 560. Payys¬m. 76 Festus. ROBBED LAND Before dealing with interest issues in Palestinian agriculture. suffering. 478). 125). set aside for priests. the obligation to vacate premises in order to provide billeting for soldiers. Alon (1961: II 124). See also dem¨siy∂. for more references. 8% on business loans. this word. Shev¬Æ¬t iv:35b (Jer.

an annual interest of 12%.500 drachmas. however. See other versions where instead of R. 11. What the Torah states about it undoubtedly belongs to a much earlier time. on 100 dinars. 80 Plinius. or R. also: Ned®r¬m 49b. IlÆ®y we find R. Tosefta B®v® me◊¬Æ® vi:14. farmers. nevertheless. such as the lady who saw R. especially seeds and tools. v:1. . Epist. which would contradict the “justice of our time”. when money from private sources could be obtained at the same rate. see Ratner (1901-1917) ad locum. doc. the emperor writes. i. with an addition which does not belong to this subject. Talmudic sources show a stubborn struggle against giving way to the customs of the surrounding peoples in this regard.54-55.e. Yonah. or his help. when could they be accepted back? As soon as they tear their bills and thoroughly repent”. for example. and was part of a matrix of social norms underlying the desire for justice in the context of the concepts of warring semi-nomadic tribes. who when he was governor of Bithynia. P. The talmudic scholars interpreted the Torah and added their own dicta.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 303 rate of 2% a month was acceptable. sought advice from Trajan about what may be done when there was no demand for the public funds available to citizens at 12% interest. 16). The halacha forbade fictitious transactions devised to circumvent the ban on interest. 78 . 414). The scholars reformulated and elaborated on the interdiction against interest in the new conditions of an agricultural society where income came from intensive farming.79 we have before us Pliny the Younger. Wolff (1980: 770. BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 61b. n. Sanhedr¬n iii:3.78 there are also documents showing that such interest rates were honored. such as defining interest and the difference between interest and usury. 82 PT Shabb®t viii:11a (Jer. 13. Yeh‚d® b. which is 18% for a year. both the lender and the borrower.. Babatha paid one dinar and a half. and Trajan agreed. Oxy. B®v® me◊¬Æ® iii:4.. Sanhedr¬n 25b: “. as interest. in October AD 125. required relatively large sums of money and a steady supply of various materials. one should not force people who do not want the money. of AD 94. Thus. no. Mana. see a similar fragment in BT Ber®kh¨t 55a. see Polotsky (1967: 47. Hunt-Edgar 57. 667). PT R¨sh ha-sh®n® i:57c (Jer. contains information about an agreement regarding a loan of 3. 81 Mishn®: R¨sh ha-sh®n® i:8. he suggested lowering the rate.81 Usurers were placed in the category of those disqualified as court witnesses. Yehuda b. and also viewed someone’s making additional profit when his fellow needed his service. The usurer was considered loathsome. 10. IlÆai after he drank four cups of wine and his face was sparkling. 79 P.82 There are four reasons why Jews Taubenschlag (1955: 342f. and suspected him of being either a pig farmer or a usurer. apparently monthly. with interest of one drachma per month for each mnç (100 drachmas). a document from Egypt. 12).). . 270.80 There is no doubt that a total ban on interest was a hallmark of Jewish life in ancient times.

However.87 Only orphans were absolved from returning properties acquired by their father from “money gained from interest. a desire for monetary transactions to be made only according to accepted legal practice and not by mere personal contact between Tosefta Sukk® ii:5. plasfleran (also: plasfl∂r). as were actions devised to directly circumvent the prohibition on usury. ÆOrl® i:61a (Jer. they even falsify the Torah. and idem (1956. plastourg¤a. how is that? If a man says: lend me a man∂ (=25 selaÆs). by wealth-accumulating usurers. 84 83 . because they promise (to donate) but do not give. 333). and also: BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 71a.86 This echoes real matters.e. R. (the other) replies: I do not have a man∂. because they lent money at interest. of course. 349f.. cf. Eleazar says: they not only are heretics. 1230). he gave him a man∂ of wheat and bought it back from him for 24 selaÆs.84 “The usurers are heretics. which reflects the state of mind during the centuries of Roman rule. to cast (a metal) but also: to falsify.”85 A way of cheating the law was by the legal fiction of the transaction being carried out as it were by a gentile: “The Holy Blessed One said: it is I who in Egypt distinguished between a drop of a firstborn and the drop of he who was not a firstborn.”88 There was.” who did not know the source of the money. 856). robbery. is it permitted? it is forbidden to do so because it circumvents interest. 53c (Jer.. 1073f. 88 BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 94b. where properties were fictitiously attributed to gentile ownership in order to lend them out. 87 BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 75b. in the Torah). which led to their loss. Simeon b. The idea that dispossessing a man of his land can be an act of robbery (gezel) is common mainly in the Palestinian Talmud. after they were repaid).83 The term gezel.” A number of Babylonian Talmud barayt®s shed light on the attitude towards interest. saying: had Moses known that this is how people would make a profit he would not have written it (i. ºiyy® said: there are matters that are permitted. was used specifically for matters of property expropriation. but nonetheless forbidden because they circumvent usury. “R. 85 PT B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:10d (Jer.304 MOSHE GIL were delivered to the regime: because of withholding bills (i. an act of falsification. 86 BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 61b. and because they are in a position to disapprove but do not. whose worldview was in diametric opposition to that of the scholars. Acts with even the taint of usury were forbidden. see also: Sukk® iii. See on robbers of land: mainly in PT Giflfl¬n v:46d (Jer. it is I who in the future will exact retribution from whoever makes his money seem to be of a gentile and then lends it for interest to a Jew”. 645). make it plasfleran and declare Moses a fool. Bikk‚r¬m I:63d (Jer. as we shall see. I have a man∂ worth of wheat that I will sell you. they had to return it for the sake of their father’s honor. See also: BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 62b.). probably from the Greek plassv.e. the Lieberman edition. 262. especially land. if their father “left them a cow or a garment or any other thing.).

transfer of property. we find R. cf. Sperber (1978: 193). it was permitted.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 305 the parties.90 when tax pressure ran wild. A method of preventing such practices was also the refusal to recognize the fictitious nature of the transaction and considering it as valid. see the Mishn® B®v® me◊¬Æ® i:6. and also idem ad locum (1956: 237f. Heichelheim (1938: 219ff. Yannai defining usury thus: “it is interest that can be retracted by the judges. for eating (to be returned from the prospective harvest). what is clear is that the halacha meant to obviate a price differential in the owner’s favor. where the barayt® fits the Tosefta B®v® me◊¬Æ® vi:8. with the reality being that the lenders at interest did what they wanted and grew in wealth. The apprehension that interest would be charged also dictated the rules of the relations between the land owner and the tenants. contrasts developed that only grew between the idea and its implementation. The social polarization that occurred in Palestine inexorably drove the smallholders and tenants into the clutches of poverty and a dependency upon the wealthy and powerful. 90 PT B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:10a (Jer. 94. it was forbidden to lend the tenant wheat that he needed for himself. On the other hand. There is no doubt that this capacity of the state had dubious pride of place in the economic decline of agriculture. those with property were caught up in a struggle BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 16b. distinguished between two situations. but it was forbidden to lend it to him after he began working. If the wheat was given before the tenant began sowing. Even the halacha had to execute an about-face. A farmer faced with the choice of not sowing his field because he lacked seeds. would of necessity look for some loophole in the halacha to save his farm and his life. At the beginning of the third century AD. This was certainly a widespread phenomenon. when economic straits grew narrower during the days of the inflation. A major factor in this approach was certainly also the desire to prevent circumventing the ban on interest by imparting to the monetary transaction the form of a land sale. reaching its apogee by Diocletian’s reform which regulated and even perpetuated the systematic skinning of tenants by fiscal means. with a fictitious contract of adrakht®. or even go to jail because of nonpayment of taxes. the dissentient scholar. p. Gulak (1930: 81) who explains that by “coverage in properties” land is meant. in case the wheat rate changed to the tenant’s detriment. and see the comments of Lieberman in his edition of the Tosefta. for that would be interest. See also: Mishn® B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:8: BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 74b. or of paying his taxes and all the rest of his debts lest he lose his field. 1226).). cf. but it was permitted for sowing. 89 . and economic circumstances were merciless. according to the Mishn®. though not without a fight.” The scholars operated in a hostile environment.). as we shall see.89 As in many other areas. Here the tann® b®r®. especially from the mid-third century AD.

Yehuda. 1069). A wealthy class developed whose wealth was acquired through interest.g.” At the same time. the lender. R. who. ÆAzariah the buyer was enjoying the produce. 94 BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 63a. which became absolute if the debt was not paid. became the owner and the borrower his tenant. said R. which proves (our point). Oxy. it is his. for which the (latter’s) field was (proclaimed) as sold to him: if the seller eats (= enjoys) the produce. Yehuda said: if the buyer enjoys the produce it is also permitted. Gamliel: “(One may) profit from the field. and does not collect the capital or the interest. and according to R. the first retreat in the area of halacha occurred. to prevent the receipt of interest by enjoying the produce of the field that was fictitiously sold. fictitious in nature. i.”91 The earliest form of circumventing the ban on interest was mortgaging one’s field to the lender. was blurred: Shemuel said: this (opinion) comes from R. The act of mortgaging was done not by a deed (ap¨t¬q¬—hypothecation. but was given the form of a sale. Aelius Maximus. based on the scholars. whether the prohibition of using the produce does indeed apply to the buyer-lender. P.e. One can find that in Egypt. until payment was due.”93 From this point on we find discussion on whether the fictitious buyer. since we have been taught: if he lent his fellow a man∂. 92 91 . Meir. Yehuda): (that case was the opposite). they said (to R. for example: “A deed stipulating charging interest is to be levied with a fine. Z‚n¬n who declared his field as sold. it is the seller who enjoyed the produce. there is no explanation for this phenomenon. Tosefta B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:22. see e. Yehuda said: there is the case of Baitus b.92 In this regard.94 A certain deviation from the hal®kh¨t preventing interest is found in the Tosefta. if the buyer enjoys the produce. and in Babylonian Aramaic: mashkant®). these are those referred to as “the big ones of Palestine. it appears that there were many who did not resist the temptation of engaging in interdicted shady dealings. it is the lender’s. Simeon b.) has a detailed discussion on the sources of this legislation concerning land mortgaged by means of a short-term sale. who said: there is one party that may (enjoy) the interest. And in the barayt® in the Babylonian Talmud we already see a lack of clarity. Z‚n¬n did. how PT Pes®Ω¬m ii:29a (Jer. This is what Baitus b. there is a halacha in the Mishn®: “if a man was given a loan with the field as mortgage and told that if he does not give the money back between now and three years hence. 1634: an act of handing over of a house and a land that were mortgaged to the lender. Eleazar b. until the debt was paid. quoting R. it is forbidden. 93 Mishn® B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:3.306 MOSHE GIL for survival. was permitted to use the produce. or to the seller-borrower. R. discussing the mishn® mentioned in the previous note.. Gulak (1930: 81ff. 508). it is permitted. except that the original intent of the halacha. And the scholars say: the capital is collected but not the interest. Giflfl¬n iv:46a (Jer. the transfer of mortgaged estates was done through formulae of sale. for it was like collecting interest.

Possibly as a result of what was said in that barayt® and the outstanding interpretation of R. but within the special context of the relations between the land owners and the tenant.e. it gnawed away at the heart of agriculture. 96 PT B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:10b-c (Jer.”99 Also: “Can money be collected (by the court) for an absent person? R. that the interest on the deed was growing.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 307 so? a man received a field from his fellow for ten k‚rs of wheat and said to him. see above. it would appear that interest was widespread. with the scholars in all innocence believing that this was not interest. 95 PT B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:10b (Jer. give me 200 dinar and I will cultivate it and give you twelve k‚rs. as it were (as mortgage. .”100 Whether by this sort of circumventing the ban on interest or by directly infringing the rule. 98 Sinfl∂r. where he also cites commentaries to this passage. also: ÆAr®kh¬n 21a. The commentary in the name of two of the pillars of halacha in the third century. “If a Jew appointed a gentile as his trustee or his sinfl∂r. folklore singled him out in the matter of usury (above. The Babylonian am¨raæ¬m understood that this was actually interest. 303). honest and humble people. adding explanations. a gentile’s money deposited with a Jew cannot be loaned with interest. provides a kind of roundabout justification for taking interest. BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 63a. 1000f.”97 Employing a gentile to intermediate interest carrying transactions. but does a court collect interest? the answer is that it had a gentile as guarantor. 1226f.. but “interest with the intention of returning it. 99 PT B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:10c (Jer. p. R. thus a Jew could operate a money business with a gentile to his heart’s content. he fictitiously sold his field.). “You can borrow from them (from the gentiles) and lend to them with interest. as they are described in the sources. Jeremiah (a Babylonian am¨r®. 306). this is a case of a tenancy agreement where the tenant receives 200 dinar. . The Palestinian Talmud presents the issue in a slightly different version. 100 PT Ketubb¨t ix:33b (Jer. those pious. Y¨Ω®n®n and Resh Laqish. The fruit of the labor of myriad farmers.98 interest may be collected from him . and pays the (fictitious) buyer a greater quantity of wheat. as above) for a quantity of wheat and the above money.”96 The interest ban did not apply to gentiles.). p.). by Rashi and others. Megill® 27b. see Lieberman ad locum (1956: 216). note 69: a guardian. beginning of the third century) said: the answer is. A Jew’s money deposited with a gentile may be loaned at interest.95 Clearly. i. 97 Mishn® B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:6. as well as the text of the PT that follows. was something crying out to be done. this is permitted”. moreover. with the question in the background of whether this is interest. indeed there is a fine distinction. 1228f. Yehuda bar IlÆay for the case of Baitus ben Z‚n¬n (above. Tosefta B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:13. 1226-1229). .

who . The halacha here was meant to protect the lender who had the deed (with proper documentation of his properties. In this matter. where a similar conjecture could be applied. 8 and 50. and Roman law recognized these mortgages. However. the Mishn® states: “if a man was given a loan with the field as mortgage and told that if he does not give the money back between now and three months hence. This matter came before R. see his opinion. N¬s¬ and he disproved it: “one says the house was mortgaged to a Roman.e. on the other. became more and more concentrated in the coffers and warehouses of the treasury. 9. As mentioned above. of its being in fact. it is the lender’s. used also in the discussions of the Babylonian am¨r®æ¬m. it is worth considering documents from the Judaean Desert. which proves it to be a real sale. From this one may learn that the arrangements in the area of court validations may not have been sufficiently rooted. Did all those deliberations in the talmudic literature regarding actual land expropriation from debtors have a real legal basis? Without such legal validity it is doubtful whether those negotiations over credit transactions guaranteed by land properties would have developed. see: P. on the one hand. 119f.”101 I. according to what the borrower and lender agreed upon is expropriated. Cot. 102 Gulak (1939: 118f. show evidence of Palestinian influence in Babylonia..e.. via a sale valid until Jacob repays the money. therefore he decided like R.. But it seems that the legal basis was the custom. a degree of clemency existed towards proprietors of land who were forced to borrow money. See also: P. Eleazar. the deed had to be “held”—literally—by the lender. Cot. Those caught up in this process itself certainly did not estimate its total scope. He finds that these terms. Yard. or to lease their property. and in the pockets of the interest-taking operators. an act of mortgaging. Yehuda to Eleazar b. i. land registered as coverage vis-à-vis a loan. it is his. and see the opposite view of Alon (1958: II 296f. aΩar®y‚t nekh®s¬m). that were not validated by the court. Imi” (i.). It was the scholars who grasped the danger of destruction inherent in interest-taking and struggled against it for generations. like the deed of sale of land by Jacob ben Simeon to Yehuda for 7 selaÆs. There was a general prohibition against using deeds “that were not fortified”.e. The discussion over this issue developed in connection with the prohibition about collecting from mortgaged properties. it is unconceivable that he should die of starvation). sale of a house by ºadad b. against any tricky attempts to mortgage the land again to another party.308 MOSHE GIL who would usually respect the Torah and be knowledgeable in it.) and see his references. Yard. also: 8a. while on the other hand. ibid. and that there were cases of remortgaging of land. it might have been an act of mortgaging.102 101 Mishn® B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:3. but here the buyer is said to be allowed to change the entrance to the house so that it be into his own house instead of the seller’s one. for two selaÆs. that is.

Shemuel YarΩ¬n®æa was the one who presented the difficult problem (what if) “the gift was written up in the wording of a sale of property deed? If it is sale there is mortgage and if a gift— there is no mortgage. in the talmudic sources a modern meaning: a robbery with the use of violence and even weapons. Just as a lender cannot collect a mortgage basing on witnesses only.e. the parcel’s owner. it was possible. We do not know how all this was actually carried out. 212). For the divine (Antoninus) Pius had already set a law according to which matching rights of defense had to be given to the buyer as well. according to one view. 1235). in the name of justice.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 309 Another matter that may be learned from the sources concerns the power of the deed. PT Shev¬Æ¬t. both were legal proprietors. 2. a deed of gift is the one which has added validity regarding mortgaged properties. It appears that the Roman legislation in the mid-second century rather related to the defense of the buyer. Mishn®. see the discussion in the PT Yev®m¨t. as the intent may have been to protect the wealthy buyer. .104 One might impart to the term gezel. “R®v stated: a heir is like a mortgage. Elon (1988: 485f.” Hence the conclusion that a distinction must be made between a gift deed and a deed of sale. 103 PT B®v® qamm® x:7b (1211).. B®v® batr® x:8. robbery. which allowed a fraud accusation against the seller: “if an agreement was reached with the parcel buyer (possibly: the lender) and the seller (i. the heirs or the creditrs. that there was fraudulence on the part of the seller of the parcel. 104 Dig.. 1 489).16: utiles actiones emptori hereditatis dandas. his daughter (was mortgaged with a Roman) but this cannot be anything but a mistake. it is more elaborate and centers on the problem of who has priority. because a gift includes everything. and since then the buyer may argue.103 A real difficulty came up when the land had been given as a gift to a third party: if the deed was written as a bill of sale. However. mortgaged land could not be included in the gift. According to Ulpianus (beginning of the third century) Antoninus Pius enacted a law in this regard.14. the contention of fraud may be used against him. claims that the influence of the Greek law reached Babylonia independently. A similar discussion can be found in BT Ketubb¨t 92a-b. to collect even from properties mortgaged to another party. See Mishn® Shev¬Æ¬t x:6. cf. The printed text has brtyh. The Babylonian halacha does not contain any differences of principle in this matter. See PT Pes®h¬m iv. possibly the borrower) appeals. If the lender had a properly executed deed with documentation of properties. 31b (Jer. One may learn about the strength of the mortgage even from the fact that when only witnesses could confirm the claim. 521). or the lender (as against a fictitious sale). he does not collect from heirs” (except when he has a deed). x:39d (Jer. also: PT B®v® me◊¬Æ® viii:11d (Jer. the rights of a borrower were compared to those of heirs.

Miny®m¬n. Tosefta Ketubb¨t viii:3. and the answer was negative. the lender “enjoyed its produce. as a gift. 1230). there was cause for examining whether he took possession of the land (i. Here. R®v. And this is how the scholars of Babylonia understood it: “what means gazl®n¬m? Those who lend for interest.” The continuation of the quotation shows that at issue was someone who took a loan with a mortgage of land for three years. 1244). In a case that occurred regarding Gidal b.107 105 See the barayt®: BT B®v® qamm® 94b. during which the borrower had tenant status on his land. it even considered interest as being forbidden by the Torah and a grievous transgression. After three years. referring to the Mishn® B®v® batr® iii:3. “the big ones of Palestine will be left with nothing. the talmudic sources give this term a special meaning. enjoys its produce. R.310 MOSHE GIL as we shall see. had said: “If one appeals during the first three years there is no longer a need to appeal again. Until this point we learn from the sources that when they speak of the gazl®n. if he contends that he purchased the land. Y¨Ω®n®n. It appears that the concept of gazl®n is linked to two factors: interest and the seizure of derelict lands. cf. cultivated it according to the rules of Ωaz®q®). also in the name of R. that if all property acquired by interest would be seized. land that passed out of the property of its owners because of interest debts was considered robbed land. or through sale. R. 106 Gulak (1939: 102). and the owners transferred the land in a proper manner. which is positive. in a way the halacha does not recognize. Alon (1961: II 156). the land was considered the property of those who had replaced them.106 Along with the issues concerning gezel of land. Y¨Ω®n®n whether the appeal had to be before a court. when more and more people infringed the halacha. ºiyy® bar R®v announced that his father. there was no doubt that he was a gazl®n. ºiyy®’s opposing view. . Sperber (1978: 111). 107 PT B®v® batr® iii:14a (Jer. we see that the borrower and the victim of the robbery were obligated to appeal. ºan¬n® asked R.” which was tantamount to collecting interest. Gezel of land means appropriating a person’s right to his land. they mean Jewish gazl®n¬m.” If more than three years had passed and the ousted owners did not appeal.e. PT B®v® me◊¬Æ® v:10d (Jer. and not necessarily involving violence. but the court will never recognize his right of ownership. see a parallel version: BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 62a. During that time. The gazl®n holds it. R. see: Lieberman. In any case. Y¨Ω®n®n’s formula recurs. cf.”105 I believe that this mainly suits the ever more severe economic reality from the middle of the third century on. Y¨s∂ b. if the lender argued that he received the land as a gift. The halacha did not recognize the legality of interest. though there is R. which is the Æar®r in the talmudic texts.

15. Gulak (1939: 12f.6 (p. 108 Kaser (1955-59: I 329). This process grew by degrees until the end of the second century.113 ad locum (1956: 318). 110 Kaser (1955-59: I 547). and under convenient conditions: certa condicione custodiendum reddedumque. or bought it from a robber) is obliged to procure another field for him”. which fits what is said in the Mishn® (B®v® qamm® x:5): “Whoever robbed a field from his fellow . and see on the severity of Roman law concerning non-payment of debts: Finley (1985: 40).e. 16. FLIGHT From the second century.110 This granted him right of use over properties where the possession of the owner was terminated. .1. Court orders no longer referred to all property (concursus bonorum). left the borrower an equal chance of recouping or not recouping his land. which was done by force. who deposited and willingly mortgaged his property. 113 Dig. Only infrequently did collection involve any violence. Roman law bestowed upon the cessionarius (the official entrusted with receivership. See similar opinions in: PT Sheq®l¬m vii:50c (Jer. cf.109 From the mid-second century. . Paulus emphasized the public character of the sequester. 342 in the Heidelberg 1999 edition). but only to mortgaged properties. Ulpianus and Calistratus. The same increase in the power of the seizing apparatus in that period parallels the abrogation of the distinction between relative ownership and absolute ownership. usually the sequester) to carry out the transfer of ownership in a way independent of the judicial process. 629). this distinction was referred to as distractio bonorum. 42. The real meaning of a deposit with the sequester is reliable keeping and correct return. who would receive the land in dispute until a judicial ruling was issued. see also: in his comments regarding B®v® qamm® (1956: 127). see also: PT B®v® qamm® x:7c: the halacha will never give up the demand for the return of “robbed” land. the PT is looking for an exact explanation of R. LAND EXPROPRIATION.). Bearing this in mind.108 The status and importance of the sequester expanded along with the improvements in the property-seizing apparatus during the late empire. while a deposit with the sequester. we encounter in Roman law the term sequester. ownership remained with the depositor.3. In a direct deposit. . Y¨Ω®n®n’s opinion. 112 Beseler (1948: 349). from the time of Antoninus Pius. 111 Kaser (1944: 389f. the official in charge of seizure.111 It should be noted that from the start depositing with the sequester entailed a deterioration in the status of the borrower.).THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 311 4. if through a robber (i. 109 Kaser (1955-59: II 241).112 We find information about the sequester in the writings of Paulus. The public character of the institution is emphasized.

the judges were given the authority to add to the price. 42. P. the papyrus data show that in Egypt the krita‹ ka‹ mes¤tai usually dealt with the implementation of the wills deposited legally. Hombert (1925: 645f. Festus. 10. Violent expropriations certainly occurred during the period under discussion because of political and military events and also as a consequence of tax debt. qui apud Graecos ı m°sow dicitur. There were exceptional cases where the system of selling the land by proclamation by the court was preserved: the sale of consecrated land of the heqd∂sh. it emerged from the permission given for cattle to enter a field and graze on the stubble left after the harvest. 456. 118 Mishn® Ketubb¨t xi:5.114 About the post of sequester being given to a judge. we may assume that the regime gave backing to the expropriation of mortgaged land. Until now we have discussed the expropriation of land for debt. the land of orphans would be proclaimed for 30 days. inv. Etym. no. Mitteis-Wilcken (1912: 31). 115 114 . As can be seen in the root of the term. the halacha and the customs in Palestine were totally different from those in Roman law.115 This is how the sequester was defined by Isidor of Seville (beginning of the seventh century): sequester dicitur qui certantibus medius intervenit. or to reduce it. 8 (Preisigke et al. 117 BT Shev¬Æ¬t 31a: on the status of the court in the matter of deposits. and that belonging to the Temple for 60 days. no.260. apud quem pignera deponi solent (sequester was how the mediator between the rival sides was called. there is the evidence in a papyrus of the second century AD from the Fayy‚m. or of orphans. is “the field which is hevq∂r” (or hefq∂r). the return of property. in the Palestinian sources. and sell under its auspices by proclamation. 7264). We do not encounter cases where land is deposited with the court because of disputes. According to Mitteis.1. bqr.118 In all events.31. the Mishn® uses general statements and one may get the impression that all kinds of creditors could also receive the equivalent of the land by court expropriation. 116 Isidorus. the Temple. A term found in the talmudic sources in the period under discussion. “At first one would uproot and throw it to them (to the cattle).).117 In such cases.312 MOSHE GIL Calistratus adds that the purpose of this deposit was sale—if the debt was not made good after an additional extension—of the mortgaged properties. known by the Greeks as ı m°sow with whom they would deposit mortgages). one would uproot it Dig. when the numbers of infractors increased. Even though we have no outright proof. and the jailing of the debtors. Gent.116 Such legal arrangements are not mentioned in the talmudic hal®kh¨t.

THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 313 and throw it on the roads. gaon of Sura (around 872-879). was certainly not difficult in Palestine. Jones (1959). “our Lord Gamliel and his court are the father of the orphans”. 11. involved great difficulties. ab aliis occupatur (an occupaticius field is called a field abandoned by its owners. and the proprietors had double enjoyment. In the times of the geonim. and see ibid.”119 Also relevant to the issue at hand is hefq∂r ann®s¬m. The verb is generally in the causative form. Recounted are a number of honored positions he held before and after Palestine. 118f. Sperber (1978: 109). 121 Festus. In the words of Festus: occupaticius ager dicitur. Gulak (1939: 122).”120 The idea of a derelict field was unacceptable to the regime. We may assume. ibid. since it was the poor who were the main object of heqd∂sh. “since we do not give legal rights to swindlers. the regime sought to have abandoned land settled and cultivated. it was the courts that dealt with the property of orphans. 649). Sukk® iv:54b (Jer. see: BT B®v® qamm® 37a. cf. I think. Gil (1976: 79): lease of agricultural properties by the court. Of course. the councils would have to pay the tax on this land. and the other that one fed their cattle”. and tried to assure that each parcel of land in the provinces be cultivated and. BT Ketubb¨t 100b. the one that one weeded their fields for them. Some most important personages of the Roman aristocracy were appointed as overseers of its collection in Palestine. the poor were added to the list of those who would have their sales made by the court. that in Egypt.1.58. and if the owners did not return within three years. such as what we find at the time of Severus Alexander (222-235). Furius Sabinus Aquila Timesitheus was procurator in charge of the collection of the annona remainders of the holy campaign. 120 PT MaÆas∂r sh∂n¬ v:55d (Jer. Mishn® Sheq®l¬m i:2. as such. see his detailed discussion on this subject. and due to phonetical reasons. and Palestine. and which was taken by others).122 It would appear that the main reason for abandoning land was tax collection. North Africa. see the presentation in BT MoÆ∂d q®fl®n 6b: “at the beginning. 353: the text of Rav NaΩsh¨n. hivq¬r became hifq¬r and hevq∂r became hefq∂r. this dereliction is not recognized. which. which in Egypt. . wanted abandoned land to be settled. So doing. 304). either directly of through a trustee. 122 Cod. by way of analogy. qui desertus a cultoribus propriis. cf. 1007). 119 PT Ketubb¨t xi:34c (Jer. with its relatively high density and assiduous agricultural population. C. one used to eradicate and throw it to the cattle. and whose farms were less dependent on slave work. for a case. a great number of documents referring to real estate of the heqd∂sh (the pious foundations) dealt with by the court or its trustees. 193. should be interpreted: dereliction of land because of the pressure applied by the annona (arn¨na) collectors. at last one made a rule that the entire field be (considered) hefq∂r. consecration of properties. see also. for Rome was interested in the production of the food it needed. and 14.121 To the emperor Aurelianus (270-275) is ascribed the order by which the local councils receive all derelict land. or North Africa. See: ´◊ar ha-geæ¨n¬m to Ketubb¨t. Just.

when suffering from years of drought without water to irrigate their fields. in the wake of which the farmers (coloni = tenants. De mort. such as this order of Emperor Constantine I (7 October 325): “Since there are people who escape from (serving on) the councils (ad militiae praesidia confugiunt) and seek refuge in army units. “and we will head towards a place were we may live as free people. . Rostovtzev (1910: 375). 12336: libere morari possimus. Lactantius. “In order for me to be able to stay on my land with my wife and children and work the land of the state as has been determined for me.124 Because of the tax pressure. and they threaten to emigrate and attempt to sell the land. apparently.314 MOSHE GIL the sacra expeditio.1. Only those appointed in charge of supply are to remain in the army.”126 The petition of the residents of Scaptopara (today in Bulgaria) to Emperor Gordianus III.”125 In an inscription from Gasr Mizwar(?) farmers threaten to abandon their location. the region of the bank of the Nile. The residents of the island Soknopaios leave their village because of the difficult conditions. as can be gleaned from a number of Egyptian papyri. SIG 888. Furius Sabinius). In their place appeared a certain ÉOrs°ouw with his family.1. desererentur agri et culturae verterentur in silvam. cf. in their status and rank. CIL no. and making their living from pasture only. lines 86-87. be fired from the army and return to the council. says: “we shall run away from our homes and great harm will be done to the treasury”.”129 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 Stein. Cod. 14428.123 Tax collection was of a centralized nature. Rostovtzev (1910: 166-168). farmers tried to get off their land. the fields were abandoned and cultivated land reverted to forest”. in the afigialÒw. see ILS 1330. Theod. 365 (on C. the taxes (dhmÒsia) set for me must be abrogated.11. col. 12. which was a factor in their enslavement. 7. the holy campaign was. Rostovtzev (1910: 375). RE VII. The flight of farmers from their villages was a widespread phenomenon in the Roman world. Severus’ war against Persia. this was in the time of Diocletian (284-305).128 This reality of distress and flight is also reflected in the laws of the late empire.. but it seems that he meant farmers in general) were bereft of means. who took it upon himself to lease all the village lands (end of the second and beginning of the third century). These were the bouleÊtai (= curiales) and the decemprimi in the big towns. and the local leaders were responsible for orderly and full payment. cf. we command that all offenders as yet not uncovered by the commander of the unit.127 And the text of Lactantius reads: “Because of the enormity of the expropriations. in 238. persec. CIL no. Rostovtzev (1910: 205).

was of concern to the central authority. but is implied in the rule concerning sexual relations without any obligation on the man’s side. both of serfs and tenants.131 The phenomenon of flight raised. sit (and discuss) this matter. apparently: those who are permanent) and the temporary. they impose on him. so that the tax would have been (only) half. and from the laws of inheritance to which those properties were subject.e. of course. 5. and we now see the abyss separating Roman law and halacha. half of them fled.6. all fled. except one fuller (k¨v∂s). aurum coronarium. The flight of the men of Tiberias and environs. Epstein (1962: 215). or status. we have seen to what extent the problem of abandonment.130 Up to now. split. MARRIAGE LAWS AND INHERITANCE. he said to them: no. but also of members of the local councils.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 315 The emperors Valentinianus I and Valens (in 366) decreed: “All the governors of the provinces will require all the serfs.. difficult halachic problems. then that half came to Rabbi and said to him: may (you) our Lords sit (and discuss) this matter. It is clear that this split derived from the way family property was constituted. perhaps so that their lands not be considered deserted and seized by others with no possibility of appeal.133 Cod. was hoisted upon them is in a barayt® in the Babylonian Talmud: A sum of kel¬l® was imposed on Tiberias. Sperber (1978: 105). which is actually the groom’s investment in his new family. Safrai (1963: 69). Just.132 At the base of the economic relations that grew about the institution of marriage. he said: flee. who translated (instead of: sit [and discuss]): Let the Rabbis also contribute. This general reality was reflected in the talmudic sources. so they (the People of Tiberias) came to Rabbi and said to him: may (you) our Lords. we flee. who ran away. 11. holdings. He said to them: no. 133 The bride-money (m¨har) is not mentioned explicitly in the Pentateuch. when the crown tax. Below we shall see that this reality is most authentically reflected in the Judaean Desert papyri. where they were listed in the census and where they were born and raised”. without differences in gender. 22:16) m®h¨r yimh®renn®h l¨ le-ishsh®. to return to their previous location.48(47). they should not cross to the other bank of the Jordan. 132 See the discussion on the inheritance rules: Baer (1962: 132-137). R. in the KJV: “he shall surely endow her to be his 131 130 . i. it says (Ex. BT B®v® batr® 8a. the fuller fled and the kel¬l® was abolished. there was the bride-money. At issue is seizure of derelict land. both tenants (coloni. Cf. a kind of recompense paid by the groom to the bride’s family. DIVIDING ESTATES The reigning picture in the talmudic sources regarding the pattern of agriculture in Palestine in this period is that of small. occupation. then they said: we flee. Y¨Ω®n®n issues a warning that even if they do abandon.

e. 134 Cohen (1966: I 353ff. 5. The wife’s property (the peculium). for his part.12. for the use of the produce. When his wife died. 138 Buckland (1932: 224). He did not have ownership of the properties. meaning use of the income of the properties to support his family. This was explicitly written down towards the end of the third century (AD 294). 137 Cod. he shall pay the father an indemnity (m¨har). The emperors ruled in the husband’s favor. a comprehensive document that includes all of the couple’s properties. However. Just. the daughter was thus considered her mother’s tenant. the husband sought to preserve the right of ownership over the produce. But by the right to use and consume the produce the husband could use it as any other property and even sell it. cf. There was a case where the husband sought to effect possession of land that was part of his wife’s estate. 135 PT Ketubb¨t viii:32b (Jer. this issue is the focus of the agrarian reality in Palestine. It is clear that there was a pervasive tendency to preserve the property of the wife’s paternal family. to enjoy the produce of the estate brought by the wife. possessio. Kehoe (1997: 105). was a basic right in Roman law. conductrix. but his rights were protected if his wife died. Even though nowhere explicitly stated. but not the right to the produce.).316 MOSHE GIL From here the ketubb® developed. 1245). 996).137 This right. in a ruling of the emperors Diocletian and Maximianus. as was his right of possession in regards to the consumption of the produce. if the father of the woman refuses to give her to him into marriage..18. and the mother added the right to the produce. the husband did not receive ownership of the estate. had a kind of tenant status and received the Ωaz®q®.136 The stability of this right was also recognized in Roman law.138 The extent of the desire to preserve the father’s family property and not deplete it when the daughters married was so pervasive that they could not be relinquished even when the wife’s family had to pay compensation of any sort wife”). when the mother-in-law demanded that the right over the produce revert to her. 136 PT B®v® batr® iii:14a (Jer. The daughter granted ownership to her husband in the dowry. This right was given by the mother to her daughter in lease. his wife had first received the ownership from her mother. . i. This was protected against any mortgage and it was impossible to collect it for covering the husband’s debts.135 The husband.134 The central issue is the wife’s property. and granted as a matter of course in the marriage contract. was at the husband’s disposal. lease the land as a sublet. in lieu of a yearly payment.

145 See the article by Yadin. of the father’s family being the inheritors only if she dies without having sons: “one may write: if she died without having sons whatever she had will revert to her father”. the bride-money). it only was permitted to collect them from the bride-money. another version.e. who are her inheritors? Her brothers inherit her”. from the time of the Temple.139 There is also the explicit restriction.e. it was forbidden to collect debts on account of the alimony. “neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe” (Num. 1255).. The sum of the bride-money is preserved. 22:16. has mefarn® yifran. corresponding to: m®h¨r yimh®renn®h of Ex.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 317 to the husband: if a man inherited from his wife.”143 Now let us see the components of the ketubb® as developed through the generations.140 The bride-money (the m¨har) is under the Ωaz®q® of her husband’s heirs. for example.142 Thus we see how a clear division was maintained between properties brought by the husband and those brought by the wife. The division between the components when the wife collects the ketubb® is preserved: “of the properties she brought with her for him in her kettub® (i. the fernÆ (garbled as: parn®s®). Ketubb¨t ix:33a (Jer. 36:9). And he set the rule of “all his properties are responsible for her ketubb®”. but “properties which she brought with her and she can take them with her” are under the Ωaz®q® of her heirs. obviously the root is Greek fernÆ. only part of the ketubb® data is available. The dowry was under protection. in Greek. An example of all properties as guarantee for what was due to the wife can be found in a ketubb® from the Judaean Desert. the details were not preserved. 141 Mishn® Ketubb¨t viii:6. Yehuda: Mishn® Ketubb¨t viii:5. of Tyre. 998). see: Benoit et alii (1961: 249). 10. Greenfield and Yardeni (1996: 75). as gift. BT Ketubb¨t 82b. her family would give him money and take properties from under his hand. ibid. 997). the m¨har. from the tann®iæ¬m.. she collects from the last property but of the properties she brought for him as parafern¨n (i. the Targum.144 An example of a ketubb® belonging to this period is a papyrus among the Judaean Desert findings. in the dowry) she collects from any one she wants. there are a number of papyri belonging to her and her affairs: of Babatha daughter of Simeon. this is the ketubb® of Babatha bat Simeon. which is “400 zuz. 143 Ber∂sh¬t rabb® lxxx:8 (Theodor and Albeck 960). no.. 142 PT Ketubb¨t ix:32d (Jer. 144 PT Ketubb¨t viii:32b-c (Jer. Shaflfl®Ω set three things that a man would negotiate about his wife’s ketubb®”.”145 So said R. Because of the poor state of preservation. in Ginsburger (1899: 42): mefarnes® yifarnas.141 Also: “if she died. 140 PT B®v® batr® viii:16b (Jer. line 17. cf. Shaflfl®Ω was the one about whom it was said that he was particularly involved in the formulation of the ketubb® and its conditions: “Simeon b. 996). 139 . Yadin no. 115. Simeon b.

“iron sheep. “iron sheep.). 237 (vol. . even though the ketubb®’s primary meaning is a deed listing only the bride-money. pp. I doubt whether mortmain. 147 P. in the Greek papyri found in Egypt and also in the Judaean Desert. The other part are properties called ◊oæn barzel. esp. 905. property.v. pp. composed of gold coins of one man∂ (mnaa›on) and the parãferna composed of apparel are mentioned. on p. whereas the properties of her husband are inherited by all his children. and the m¨har within 60 days. 433.149 Levy thought that the meaning of the root was perhaps milking or perhaps molgÒw. which is the fernÆ or pro¤j. 302).” properties of unchanging value. she brings them as m®l¨g properties. which is written in the ketubb®. the note to this line. Maimonides summarized the division: whatever the woman brings is the dowry. 150 Levy (1924) s.318 MOSHE GIL Thus the ketubb® was already known to have been divided into a number of components from ancient times. as in the expression. Code.). we find the m¨har. is really corresponding to ◊¨æn barzel. the husband shall return the dowry immediately. II. 460. (apparently) a sack where deeds were kept. which I see in dictionaries. “iron sheep”.147 The wife then activates her right of mortgaging all the properties held by the husband in order to cover what she has coming to her according to the marriage contract (AD 186). 453. Below I will elaborate on these terms. Oxy. The accepted view is that it means properties given to the husband to activate and receive their produce as he wishes. If the properties belonged to the woman. mel¨g® de-shefl®r∂. 149 Krauss (1899: 339). cf.151 146 Maimonides. see also: Friedman (1980/81: I 291ff. which is a cattle hide sack. this in contradistinction to ◊¨æn barzel. ¡sh‚t xvi:1-2. the prosforã (or prÒdosiw) which is a special addition to the dowry. Krauss assumed that the origin of the word m®l¨g was from moÊlkion. line 47. Liddell and Scott (1968: 1141). See concerning the comprehensive nature of the ketubb®: Cohen (1966: I 353). the article by Gans (1823: 419).148 Now let us turn to the meaning of the term m®l¨g. Cotton and Yardeni (1997: 205f. interpreted by them as dowry. 141f.” over which she and her father’s house have full ownership and which she bequests to her own children. where the fernÆ.. indeed no such word is mentioned in the dictionaries. in the event of divorce. and see ibid. i. that are preserved in their entirety for the wife or for her paternal family. 148 P.150 Gordon and Rin attributed it to the Akkadian and Ugaritic mlg.e. 151 Gordon (1965: 433).146 We have a marriage contract from Oxyrhynchus. who added two question marks. Rin (1996: 426). Oxy.. the parãferna which is the dowry. cf.

even receiving the meaning of a deed of debt the husband gives his wife as against her properties. 16:1).THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 319 In the talmudic sources there are attempts to explain the term using straight logic: “‘and she had a handmaid. he said: pluck as much as you can” (mlg. I believe the term m®l¨g is but a corruption of the word ımolog¤a. agreement. the term is: ¨m¨l¨giyy®. the true linguistic derivation was then clear to the contemporaries and the interpretations offered were a kind of play on words. 153 PT MoÆ∂d q®fl®n iii:82a (Jer. “A husband or a wife who sold m®l¨g properties had not actually carried out any transaction. also as a verb. had agreed (or her father’s family had agreed) that they should be placed at the husband’s disposal. 154 Häge (1968: 116). she was a m®l¨g handmaid and he was obligated to supply her food. receipt. m®l¨g slave. where the saying is ascribed to R. 30. after all. also known as sh¨v∂r. the Almighty would write a tough aml‚g¬n and change it into something easy. and—as stated above (p.e. the husband was required to have a written approval from his wife. Ketubb¨t ix:33c (Jer. Shalom. which we come across. 316) the husband had the status of a tenant as regards the properties which his wife had placed under his control. 156 Benoit et alii (1961: 148) referring to no. Thus we find a bill of land sale in the Judaean Desert documents. ımolog°v. “R. Pes¬q®t® rabb®t¬ (Ish Shalom).. The talmudic scholars emphasized the wife’s exclusive ownership of the m®l¨g properties. daughter of º¨n¬ bar Yeh¨n®t®n confirms: “. and he was not permitted to sell her” (i. see: Preisigke (1915: 134). Simeon b.” It may be assumed that despite the popular interpretations I cited above.” in other words. 183a. Dostes the son of Eleazer sells land in AD 134. . Gulak (1935: 2-11) discussed the term (die Homologie) but did not relate it to m®l¨g. this is what marriage contracts were called. “I agree. not by the wife who. nor by the husband. In these places. 812). His wife.”154 The m®l¨g properties had an absolutely set status.155 As for the sale of land. In the words of the Midrash: “The behaviour of the Almighty is like the behaviour of a man. and could not be sold.153 However. I have nothing against this sale. PT Yev®m¨t vii:8a (Jer. . [instead of mlq] having the meaning of plucking). 155 BT B®v® qamm® 90a. she was the wife’s property). the term ımologo¤ was also used to mean land tenants. for the ownership was his wife’s.”156 On the 152 Ber∂sh¬t rabb® xlv:16 (Theodor and Albeck 447). BT Ketubb¨t 79a. . an Egyptian’ (Gen.152 The term m®l¨g was in daily use. 1001). it was an invalid sale. Laqish was asked: what does it mean. 861). and the term is found in almost every Greek contract. a man would write a tough aml‚g¬n and would change it into something easy. Mana. The main use of the term was in: tenancy deeds. lines 25-28.

stating that in the event of divorce the husband will immediately complete payment of the bride-money. especially when he also received with the dowry (in dotem) animals.). for instance. cf. thus either profit or loss is the wife’s. before being allowed to use the produce of the properties. the parãferna was said to correspond to the Latin term peculium. 243-245).158 At the beginning of the third century AD. in their entirety. also in: Milligan (1910: 85ff. PT Giflfl¬n viii:49b (Jer. Ulpianus (beginning of the third century AD) attributed to Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) the opinion that “what the Greeks (another version: the properties outside of the dowry) refer to as parãferna. therefore. for any reason. Daube (1952: 391). See Mishn® Giflfl¬n viii:1. VI. 1087). that he declare that he had no claims of property regarding the properties brought by his wife. The value should. is what the Gauls (another version: others) call peculium”. Ulpianus writes: “Frequently.) and those of Abramson and Ginsberg (1954: 17-19). the parãferna. be determined (at the outset) so that even if the item of clothing became tattered. . the husband would still be responsible for the value determined. . while the dowry. .157 In light of all that was quoted. in a marriage agreement from AD 170. the husband is not interested in calculating the value of his property. the wife is permitted to receive her dowry and also the bride-money. 23. and also half of the offspring born from this cattle and half the wool from the shearing and 157 See the article by Milik (1954: 182-192). Oxy. This is explicitly stated regarding the dowry.). 905 (vol. the etymology of parãferna is: an addition to the bride-money (m¨har). However. such as. The early documents of the Hellenistic world also display the custom of inheritance properties reverting to the paternal family of the wife. The husband’s father will be guarantor of the fernÆ payment. “I will have no account or argument over your properties”. the fernÆ. the parãferna. would be returned within 60 days. “If. divorce took place between the husband and his wife. 158 P.”159 Similar statements are in the Syrian Books of Law. she receives them as she brought them and in the same quantity. the husband was given a condition. so that he not be responsible for their value. it is clear that m®l¨g properties were those known as parãferna. just as she had brought from her father’s house. and the papyrus he edited there. she takes them as they were.3.320 MOSHE GIL other hand. if she brought cattle or sheep or camels and part of them was sold. if she brought gold or dinars or if she had land. she will receive the price of the sale. and also coming to her . often along with the dowry unvalued property was also given. or apparel for her (the wife’s) use. Indeed. 159 Dig. see also the remarks of Rabinowitz (1954: 15f. if nothing of it was sold and they are alive.10 (introd.

). such as the case of R. lines 8ff. 103. since the fodder they received was from his money. Pes¬q®t® de-rav kah®n® (Mandelbaum). 84) and the Syriac parallels MS BL 123 (p. The lessee is bound to return them in fine condition and protect the lessor against losses by guaranteeing replacement of any that might have died in the interim.”.160 The term “iron sheep” has ancient roots. the supplement to the dowry (prosforã). whether as m®l¨g. There were. cases where the owners of the estates were forced to sell part of their land.162 It appears that the relatively high mobility of the wife’s properties. attested in Babylonian sources from as early as the 6th century BC. olive plantations. or as ◊¨æn barzel. this and terms parallel to it were contractual nomenclature used to define the lease conditions of certain beasts. The term “peculium” in Roman law. 161 See: P.. ch. Information about the prosforã may be garnered from some papyri from the Bar Kokhba period.161 However. Y¨Ω®n®n who sold estates of his between Tiberias and —ipp¨r¬: field crops land.THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 321 what was produced from it. and also 300 dinar in currency. 38. was one of the main factors in the extreme division of the estates.” like “peculium. they raised them all. itself derived from “pecus” (cattle or sheep) which applied to the wife’s own property taken from her father’s house provides a useful parallel. by which the properties were divided among the sons (with the eldest receiving a double share). just as one should not conclude that it was always all in land. Eleazar. the dowry (parãferna). jewelry. 66. of course. and the remaining half is for her husband. is required to add as additional prosphora. of course. the laws of inheritance. silver and apparel valued at 200 silver dinar. and unlike other ancient peoples. ºiyy® asked him: and from the entire oÈs¤a (farmyard). families had many children. . Mil. See this papyrus. 59). The original referent of the phrase “iron sheep. and the translations: pp. According to the papyri. Yehuda b. so that he be able to learn Torah. etc. Lewis 18 and the matter of the prosforã there. R. such as clothing. vineyards. which the father. . in which the prosforã refers to jewellery and clothing.-Vogliano 71. 162 See: Cotton (1994: 70). . . 163 See: Wa-yiqr® rabb® (Margaliot) xxx:1 (688f. In April AD 128. and the different opinion held by Häge (1968: 252ff. perfume. A no less important factor was. P. money.). one should not therefore draw the conclusion that what was deposited with the husband by the wife’s paternal family was entirely in moveable goods. 34) and MS Paris 63 (p. wasn’t there anything left for your old age?163 In this there is the barayt® in the Babylonian 160 See the Arabic text (MS Oxford) in Bruns-Sachau (1880: 103.” continued to be used even after animals were no longer the major liquid asset in use. the prosforã contained gold. because of distress. who mentions a papyrus from the time of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD).

164 As we saw (above. Kehoe (1997: 73 and note 10). with many more examples. or captured.. 168 Rostovtzev (1910: 381). 189) and see there his discussion on the h¨n®æ®. 194f. In November AD 129. one taking a vineyard and the other a white field” (i. of December. 167 Cotton (1995: 183ff.. See also the document in Cotton and Yardeni (1997: 195-202. p. Sperber (1978: 142. wrote: he instructed 402f. small parcels of land that could be irrigated instead of large estates for growing grains.. a matter of a parcel whose surface is roughly a fourth of an acre. about “two brothers who divided the land between them.e. such as Pliny’s intention to buy another estate near the one he owned. cf. on Wednesdays. whose area was about a fourth of an acre and even less. This was certainly also influenced by the lack of slaves. no.. field crops land). 150f. see his epistle no. thus this was usually irrigated land. Thus evolved more units to tax.167 The development of intensive rather than extensive farms. see: Mitteis-Wilcken (1912: I. It may be that settlement of coloni on a vast scale took place at the time of the emperor Pertinax (AD 193) about whom Herodianus. 136f. about two generations later. or fled..168 Because of the oppressive tax burden the phenomenon of dereliction of the small holding farms occurred and recurred.e.): printed in full: idem (1989: 65ff. Sh¬r ha-sh¬r¬m rabb® viii:7. It appears that in Palestine the major dereliction cascaded after the Bar Kokhba revolt. i. 19. the main workforce of the large agricultural estates throughout the empire.. and more references. xix (Buber. 310) at the same time there was the phenomenon of the seizure of estates by the strong-arm people. k¬ tiss®. In the talmudic sources there is mention of small parcels of land. 316). It is self-evident that ‘the potentates’ ‘the big ones of Palestine’ (baÆal∂ ha-zer¨Æ®.). 166 Safrai and Linn (1988: 147). when many farmers were killed.). Shem¨t rabb® xlvii:5.) and see ibid. see: Lewis (1985/88: 132ff. was part of the empire’s policy.165 Safrai and Linn found. from the Judaean Desert documents and others. 164 BT B®v® batr® 7b. which is a universally known fact. An example of landed property found in seven different districts is that of Pinution.). Lewis 16. 63). on the matter of irrigation. ged¨l∂ ere◊ isr®æ∂l). A similar situation is reflected in P. these are the mes¬q¬n of the talmudic sources. cf. in digs they carried out at Geva (near Mishmar haÆEmeq) that the average size of the parcels ranged between seven to ten dunams (one and 3/4ths to two and 1/2 acres). AD 127. see on the size of land parcels in Palestine also: Tsafrir (1986: 347ff. 165 Feliks (1963: 131f. . 1.322 MOSHE GIL Talmud. One may assume that after these events the Roman regime settled many army veterans on vacant farms. TanΩ‚m®. Salomé daughter of Levi confirmed that she received as a gift a date plantation together with water rights of half an hour once a week. cancellation of a purchase due to an unacceptable price.166 It may be surmised that in order to make a living from such small tracts of land it was necessary to irrigate them. endeavoured to concentrate in their hands as much land as they could. ibid. 119).

e. Yehuda says: nine and a half for this party and nine and a half for the other (nine kab: slightly more than a fourth of an acre). and is able to cultivate it. with full ownership and with security. printed: dybny. 171 Tosefta Bikk‚r¬m i:2. in all of Italy and all of the rest of the nations. R. 174 Mishn® Kilæ®y¬m vi:1. PT Kilæ®y¬m iv:29b (Jer. . to the extent that they had to buy grains “from the stores de-yawn®æ∂.4. king’s mountain. even isolated trees: “a man who buys a tree in a plantation of his fellow.175 There was also a tendency to buy “gentile bread”. 293. Ownership will be of the person tending and cultivating it”. where such is the custom. ¨◊ar yavn∂ in Tosefta Dem®y i:13-14. something that may indicate a crisis in Jewish farming. as lectio difficilior. one does not lease”. 169 . even if it is royal land (har ha-melekh. it appears that Roman rulers owned plantations as well. that he wishes. 172 BT B®v® me◊¬Æ® 103b. the citation printed here in the main text is to be preferred. . the discussion on har ha-melekh. as might be assumed by what is said of “Hadrianus..170 The cultivation of plantation land was mainly carried out by tenants. which is entirely untilled. no. Tosefta Makhsh¬r¬n iii:16.169 One may assume that as opposed to what Rome sought to achieve with its policy.171 Also: “our scholars taught that one may lease trees in estates. 157). The owners of the small estates had plantations. 26:3-5) as he does not own land”. when it is divided (among partners. Variorum. but he does not read (the section to be read when he presents: Deut.173 Also: “what is a vineyard? One of five vines. See above. such as olives in Galilee and dates in the south. and they had no compunctions about leasing or buying small tracts. the reality was that the royal lands were mainly estates where field crops were grown. who had a big vineyard . cf. i.174 In a number of places there are discussions about the purchase of food products from gentiles. A qab is a little more than two liters. it may have been mainly a shortage of field crops. if there is no such custom. of the Greeks” (about AD 200). as we have taught: who is a tenant? He who plants five vines”. extensive farms. presents (the first fruits).THE DECLINE OF THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY 323 “that each person take as much uncultivated land. p.172 The question was even discussed of: what is the measure of the smallest land (parcel). see the article Mes¬q¬n.6. He also instructed that the land be free of all taxes for the cultivators for ten years. 175 Ber∂sh¬t rabb® lxxvi:19 (Theodor and Albeck 906). 170 However. 18 miles by 18 miles. Gil. the wicked. 173 Mishn® B®v® me◊¬Æ® i:6. 734). in the Jewish sources). “to save lives” (about Herodianus 2. v. or among heirs): “the land is not divided by more than there being nine kab for one party and nine kab for the other party. The indicated measures of capacity intend to show the surface sown by such a quantity. like from Tiberias to —ipp¨r¬”: PT TaÆaniy¨t iv:69a (Jer.

1958. missicii-mes¬q¬n). 178 BT Ketubb¨t 111b. 136: 17-19 Alon. those dates of Alexandria are small. Tel Aviv: Ha-qibb‚◊ hameæ‚Ω®d PT MaÆas∂r sh∂n¬ iii:54a (Jer. the gradual taking over of estates by the imperial authorities. On the Aramaic Deed of Sale of the Third Year of the Second Jewish Revolt. some scholars say: let him pay 100 m®n∂ and buy a road. The result was internal emigration. mainly by declaring them “of the emperor” (har ha-melekh. that cumin of Cyprus is distorted”. 120). Rami bar YeΩezq’el chanced to be in Ben∂ Ber®q and saw goats eating beneath the fig trees where honey was dripping from the figs and milk (from the goats) was flowing. even buying gentile oil was allowed. as well as to cities around the Mediterranean and in Asia Minor. and also emigration to Babylonia. 353). especially for the orchards and their fruit. g∞ basilikÆ) or by settling veterans on them (coloni. that rice of º‚l®t® (Antioch?) is slashed and reddish. and the extreme division of estates caused by marriage customs and by inheritance laws all brought about the decline of the agriculture in Palestine. CONCLUSION In sum. Perhaps because of some crisis. carobs of Biy®r¬(?) are rubbish(?). or perhaps because Jewish agriculture was concentrated in irrigated farming.179 A man who traveled overseas (in a far country. 1015f. 293). 1961. and they were mixing together.180 6.). xiii. the confiscation of land for debts caused by usury.L. Ha-qibb‚◊ ha-meæ‚Ω®d — —. Shraga and H. let him find the shortest way. BIBLIOGRAPHY Abramson. with exaggerations. 36b (Jer. Ginsberg. MeΩq®r¬m be-t¨led¨t isr®æ∂l. 179 PT Dem®y ii:22b (Jer. PT ÆAv¨d® z®r® ii:41d (Jer. the burden of taxation. Then he said: “This is (the land) flowing with milk and honey”. 1954. and the corresponding PT. See a similar tradition. 177 176 .324 MOSHE GIL AD 300). with more skepticism: PT Bikk‚r¬m i:64b (Jer. Gedalia.178 Fruit from abroad was not of the same quality of Palestinian fruit: “Those figs of Bu◊r® are meager. perhaps in a year with a low olive yield.176 And sometimes. med¬nat ha-yam) and (as he returned) the road to his field was canceled out. 180 Mishn® Ketubb¨t xiii:7.177 There are expressions of praise. T¨led¨t ha-yeh‚d¬m bi-teq‚fat ha-mishn® we-ha-talm‚d2. 1391). for Jewish agriculture of Palestine. from the villages to the cities. Tel Aviv. or let him fly in the air. urbanization. BASOR.

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