Joseph Aviram/The Hebrew University and the Israel Exploration Society

FLEEING Mahoza in Arabia, Babatha, the second wife of a man named Judah, grabbed her most prized possessions and important documents to take with her to protect her rights when she returned. With her she carried her step-daughter’s marriage contract, a document signed by five witnesses (in four different languages) and 33 other legal papers. This archive was discovered in the so-called Cave of Letters, near Ein-Gedi.

Babatha was from Mahoza on the southeastern shore of the Dead Sea in Provincia Arabia, which was governed by Haterius Nepos. Nepos’s participation in the fight against the rebels is attested by the fact that he was awarded the ornamenta triumphalia, showing that the fighting was not restricted to Judea proper, but had spread into other provinces as well.