Theodore H. Feder, “Solomon, Socrates and Aristotle,BAR 34:05.



Jewish War, 6.244, 250, notes, tr. H. St. J. Thackeray.


Dio Cassius, Roman History, 66.22.3–23.5.


Pliny the Younger, Letters, 6.16, 6.20.


Pliny the Younger, Letters, 6.20.


See John J. Collins, “Sibylline Oracles,” Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992).


[vv. 115–116, 125–127, 130–135] John J. Collins, “Sibylline Oracles—A New Translation and Introduction,” in James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (New York: Doubleday, 1983), p. 387. Collins makes explicit in a footnote the clearly implied connection between the two events.


See Carlo Giordano and Isidoro Kahn, The Jews in Pompeii Heculaneum, Stabiae and in the Cities of Campania Felix 3rd ed., Wilhelmina F. Jashemski, trans. (Rome: Bardi Editore, 2003), pp. 75–76.


Another more ambiguous inscription was also found in the destruction of Pompeii, in Region 9, Insula 11, House 14, reading in Latin letters “Poinium Cherem.” Cherem could mean “excommunication” or “destruction” if the first letter is a het in Hebrew. But even cherem with a het could also mean consecrated to God, or holy. If the first meaning of cherem with a het was intended, this inscription, too, could refer to the destruction of Pompeii as God’s absolute condemnation of Pompeii for the prior Roman destruction of his Temple. The preceding Poinium presents a problem, however. Poinium could be the Latin form of a Greek noun ending in –nion, that is, poimnion, meaning “flock.” And the ch in cherem could also be a Latin transcription of Hebrew chaf as well as het, in which case cherem would mean “vineyard.” The writer of the inscription may have been using the imagery of the prophet Isaiah: Israel is “the flock of the Lord” (Isaiah 40:11); similarly, “the vineyard (cherem) of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel” (Isaiah 5:7). “In this sense the cherem of the inscription could be understood as the name of the Jewish community at Pompeii …” (Giordano and Kahn, The Jews in Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae and in the Cities of Campania Felix, p. 99). On the other hand, poinium could also be understood as Greek poine, similar in meaning to the Latin poena; that is, punishment, which would fit nicely with the meaning of cherem as “destruction” or “excommunication.” See Giordano and Kahn, pp. 89–103, for an extended discussion of these issues.


Natural History, Book XXXI, pp. 931ff.


I am indebted to Philip King for these translations from the Latin.


Mary Beard, The Fires of Vesuvius (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 2008), p. 24. See also p. 302.


Masada II, The Latin and Greek Documents, (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1989), p. 166.


We have posted the full text of Professor Curtis’s response to me online at


Professor Cotton also cites in support of her contention J.B. Frey, “Les Juifs a Pompei,” Revue Biblique 32 (1933), p. 365. Frey makes similar arguments to that of Curtis. Moreover, he is unwilling even to admit that there were Jews in Pompeii or even that the quotation from Pliny demonstrates that the Jews had a special kosher garum. His argument decisif is that “aucune garantie donee par des paiens n’aurait suffi a des Juifs, car en pareille matiere la parole des Gentils ne pouvait faire foi” (at p. 373).