He is also known as Bar-Kokhba, but letters to and from him found in the 1960s indicate that his name was more likely to have been Bar Kosiba.


See Tal Ilan’s article, “How Women Differed,” in this issue.


Nabatea was the area located south and east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River and settled by Arabs from northwest Arabia from the sixth century B.C.E. on. These Arabs gradually adopted a dialect of Aramaic (now called Nabatean) as their language.


Halakhah is Jewish religious law.


The Mishnah is the early rabbinic legal code compiled by Judah ha-Nasi.


The Talmud is the record of Jewish law consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara (a commentary on and supplement to the Mishnah). There are two Talmuds—the Babylonian Talmud and the Palestinian (or Jerusalem) Talmud. Originally transmitted as oral law, both Talmuds were written down between 200 and 500 C.E.



See “Greek Papyri,” Naphtali Lewis, ed., in The Documents from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters, Judean Desert Studies (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1989), P. (Papyrus) Yadin 11, pp. 41–46 (all citations of P. Yadin herein refer to this volume unless otherwise indicated).


For a popular account of the discoveries in the caves, see Yigael Yadin, Bar-Kokhba (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971). The complete report on the finds from the Cave of Letters (excluding the documents) is in Yadin, Finds from the Bar-Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1963). Preliminary reports on other caves are in various articles in the Israel Exploration Journal (IEJ) published between 1961 and 1962.


P. Yadin 12, pp. 47–50.


P. Yadin 18, pp. 76–82.


P. Yadin 11, pp. 41–46.


P. Yadin 11 and P. Yadin 37, pp. 41–46, 130–133. John Hyrcanus and Alexander Jannaeus are perhaps the most famous Jewish leaders with double names.


P. Yadin 12, pp. 47–50.


P. Yadin 23, pp. 102–104.


P. Yadin 22, pp. 98–101.


P. Yadin 12, pp. 47–50.


In a much earlier Aramaic divorce document (Mur 19), the man leaves the woman free to marry a gever jehudi. This document was published in Pierre Benoit, J.T. Milik and Roland de Vaux, Les Grottes de Murabba‘ât: Textes, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961). Documents from this find are identified by the abbreviation “Mur” plus the number assigned to them on the official excavation list. (They were numbered in the order they were found.) Also appearing in Joseph Fitzmyer, A Manual of Palestinian Aramaic Texts (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1978), no. 40, pp. 138–141, this document dates to the sixth year either of the First Jewish Revolt, thus 71–72 C.E., or more likely, of the existence of the Roman province of Arabia, thus 112 C.E.


In the Ptolemaic period in Egypt, the Greek rulers used terms like “Jew” and “Macedonian” to label the definitive geographical and ethnic origin of a person’s ancestors and to mark certain people as superior in status to native Egyptians, who were identified by their villages (Joseph Mélèze Modrzejewski, The Jews of Egypt from Ramses II to Emperor Hadrian [Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1995], pp. 80–81). However, this usage of Ioudaios is not pertinent here because the Romans abolished such distinctions (pp. 161–165). Jews, Nabateans and other inhabitants of the Dead Sea area were afterward identified by villages.


Ross S. Kraemer, “On the Meaning of the Term ‘Jew’ in Greco-Roman Inscriptions,” Harvard Theological Review 82 (1989), pp. 37–38.


Kraemer, “Inscriptions,” pp. 38–41. The inscription also uses the epithets “proselyte” and “Israelite,” but it is unclear which epithets refer to which people.


Kraemer, “Inscriptions,” pp. 41–42.


Kraemer, “Inscriptions,” pp. 48–50.


Babatha’s Aramaic marriage contract was written by her husband, Judah, who also wrote parts of her other Aramaic documents. See Yadin, Jonas C. Greenfield and Ada Yardeni, “Babatha’s Ketubba,” IEJ 44 (1994), p. 76.


P. Yadin 14.14 and P. Yadin 33, pp. 54–57, 125–126.


P. Yadin 17–18, 20–22 and 37; pp. 71–82, 88–101, 130–133.


P. Yadin 16, pp. 65–70.


Kraemer, “Inscriptions,” pp. 41–42.


Hannah Cotton, “Guardianship of Jesus Son of Babatha: Roman and Local Law in the Province of Arabia,” Journal of Roman Studies 83 (1993), pp. 94–108, esp. 102–107.


P. Yadin 12, pp. 47–50.


Cotton, “Guardianship,” pp. 97–102.


P. Yadin 13, pp. 51–53.


P. Yadin 14, pp. 54–57.


P. Yadin 15, pp. 58–64.


P. Yadin 27, pp. 116–117.


P. Yadin 18.51, pp. 76–82.


P. Yadin 37.9–10, pp. 130–133.


The contract (P. Yadin 10) has been published with commentary in Yadin, Greenfield and Yardeni, “Babatha’s Ketubba.” Just a few phrases and a brief description of the contract are given in the original publication by Yadin, “Expedition D,” IEJ 12 (1962), pp. 244–245. Later Mishnaic law bears some similarities to these early-second-century C.E. marriage contracts, showing both the variety and continuity of Jewish practices. For example, “according to the law of Moses and the Jews” in Babatha’s documents later became “according to the law of Moses and Israel” in Ketubot 26. Hayim Lapin (“Early Rabbinic Civil Law and the Literature of the Second Temple Period,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 2 [1995], p. 171, n. 67) suggests that the Greek equivalent of the Aramaic “according to the law of Moses and the Jews” is in lines 7 and 39 of the Greek marriage contract (P. Yadin 18). There the father, Judah son of Elazar, gives his daughter Shelamzion to Judah Cimber “for the partnership of marriage according to the laws (nomous).” Even if Lapin is correct, “the laws” governing the marriage are amorphous enough or accepted and understood well enough not to require specification.


The end of the line in Mur 20 (Benoit, Milik and de Vaux, Murabba’ât; Fitzmyer, Manual, no. 41, pp. 140–143) is missing, so the full phrase may have been “according to the law of Moses and the Jews.”


The suggestion that the marriage contracts of the younger generation (Judah’s daughter Shelamzion in P. Yadin 18 and Salome in P. Yadin 37), which were in Greek, bespeak a social trend toward gentile ways is very doubtful. See Lewis, Ranon Katzoff and Greenfield, “Papyrus Yadin 18, ” IEJ 37 (1987), p. 231. The time difference is slight, and the interpenetration of Aramaic and Greek in Jewish culture is extensive and long lived. Many other circumstances could have dictated the language of the marriage contract, or it might have been a matter of indifference.


P. Yadin 18, pp. 76–82.


For the expression “Greek custom,” see Lewis, Katzoff and Greenfield, “Papyrus Yadin 18, ” pp. 239–241.


P. Yadin 16, pp. 65–70.


See Yadin, Greenfield and Yardeni, “Babatha’s Ketubba,” pp. 78–79, lines 14–17.


Palestinian Talmud, Ketubbot 4.12.


See Yadin, Greenfield and Yardeni, “Babatha’s Ketubba,” p. 94. The other, Galilean custom, allows the widow to remain and be maintained in her late husband’s house unless she remarries. The Palestinian Talmud, Ketubbot 4.15 (29a), approves of the Galilean practice as honorable and disdains the Judean as mercenary.


Flavius Josephus (The Jewish War, 3.3.5) lists the Roman province of Arabia among the toparchies just before the war with Rome. For other references, see Emil Schürer, Geza Vermes and Fergus Millar, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, 4 vols. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1973–1987), vol. 2, pp. 190–194.


P. Yadin 18, pp. 76–82.


P. Yadin 37, pp. 130–133.


Lewis, Katzoff and Greenfield, “Papyrus Yadin 18, ” pp. 236–247. For a study of marriage contracts, see M.A. Friedman, Jewish Marriage in Palestine: A Cairo Geniza Study, 2 vols. (Tel Aviv and New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1979–1980). A briefer treatment can be found in Léonie J. Archer, Her Price Is Beyond Rubies: The Jewish Woman in Graeco-Roman Palestine, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament supp. ser. 60 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990). As P. Yadin 18 and 37, the two Greek marriage contracts, have nothing explicitly Jewish about them, some have disputed their Jewishness, including A. Wasserstein (“A Marriage Contract from the Province of Arabia Nova: Notes on Papyrus Yadin 18, ” JQR 80 [1989], pp. 105–130) and others. Katzoff has responded in “Papyrus Yadin 18 Again: A Rejoinder,” Jewish Quarterly Review 82 (1991), pp. 171–176, and elsewhere.


Cotton, “Guardianship,” p. 101.


Gary Porton, Goyim: Gentiles and Israelites in Mishnah-Tosefta, Brown Judaic Studies 155 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988). Gary Porton, The Stranger Within Your Gates: Converts and Conversion in Rabbinic Literature, Chicago Studies in the History of Judaism (Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press, 1994), traces the tensions and paradoxes that the Mishnaic system caused in interactions with gentiles. The rabbis used a variety of strategies for marginalizing all outsiders in favor of an integral, divinely mandated, well-structured Israel. The rabbis’ view of Israel in relation to non-Jews was an ideal seldom experienced. It certainly does not describe, but may have been a response to, the kind of web of relationships mirrored in the Dead Sea documents.


See Yadin, “Expedition D,” IEJ 11 (1961), pp. 38–52, for preliminary publication of some passages and a description. Yadin (Bar-Kokhba, chaps. 10, 12) describes the contents of the letters; Fitzmyer (Manual, nos. 53–60) provides translations for the Aramaic letters. For a list of all the documents from the Bar Kosiba war, see Millar, The Roman Near East, 31 B.C.–A.D. 337 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1993), app. B., pp. 545–552.