Nahman Harris

A double deed from Avroman in Kurdistan (third century B.C.), probably similar to the one Jeremiah used when he bought a field in Anathoth from his cousin Hanamel (Jeremiah 32). As Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, Zedekiah, king of Judah, arrested Jeremiah for prophesying the fall of the city. In this time of little hope, God told Jeremiah that the despairing Hanamel would offer to sell him the field in Anathoth. When this came to pass, Jeremiah bought the land as a symbol of his faith and hope for the future. The Bible refers to “copies of the deed of purchase, the sealed and the unsealed” (Jeremiah 32:14), which Baruch deposited in a jar. This may indicate a double deed. One text on the scroll would be rolled up and sealed with strings and bullae, to be opened in the event of a legal dispute; and a copy or abstract of the deed would be written on the scroll’s unsealed portion for the purpose of casual consultation. Or, as Professor Avigad suggests, in Jeremiah’s case, the two copies may have been written on separate sheets.