A Deed of Loan

Language: Aramaic
Medium: Papyrus
Size: 13.5 cm high
12 cm wide
Length: 12 lines of writing
Date: 54/55 CE
Place of Discovery: caves of Wadi Murabbacat,
Judean desert
Date of Discovery: 1951
Current Location: Rockefeller Museum?
Inventory no.: papMur II 18
(Papyrus Murabbacat II 18)


(Adapted from Milik 1961:100-104)
by K. C. Hanson
(Adapted from Milik 1961:100-104)
1) [. . . . . . N]T TRTYN LNRWN QSR . . . . . . year two of Nero (as) Caesar,
2) BSWYH 'YTWDY 'BLWM BR HNYN MN SWYH in Siwayah, I, Abishalom bar Hanin from Siwayah consent.
3) BNPH MNYH cMY 'NH ZKRYH BAR YHWHNN BR H[. . .] In his presence it was confirmed with me: I, Zekariah bar Yehohanan bar H...
4) YTB BKSLWN KSP ZUZIN cS[RY]N [. . .] residing in Keslon, (having received loan of) tw[en]ty silver zuz.
5) 'NH [. . . .] L' DY ZBYNT cD ZM[N'] I [will repay . . . and if] I do not repay within this term,
6) DNH 'PRWcNK BHM W'PR BTM[YMWT'] it will be repaid to you plus a fifth and it will be repaid in [full],
7) WNT MTH DH WHN KN L' 'cBD TLWM[T'] even though this is a year of release. And if I still do not perform, payment
8) LK MNKSY WDY 'QNH LQWBLYK belongs to you from my property; and whatever I will acquire (is) for your receipt.
9) [ZK]RYH BR YHWH[NN] cL NPH Zekariah bar Yehohanan, on his own.
10) [KT]B YHWSP B[R . . .] M'MRH Yehosef bar [. . . has wr]itten by dictation.
11) YHWNTN BR YHWHN' HD Yehonathan bar Yehohanan, witness.

Transliteration of special characters
  • ' = 'Aleph
  • H = Heth
  • T = Teth
  • c = cAyin
  • S = Sad

  • = in
Yehosef ba[r Ye]hudah, witness.

1. Who is the lender/creditor? Who is the borrower?
2. What are the possible reasons for no term of the loan being stipulated?
3. What is the function of the 1/5?
4. What is the "year of release"? Why does the contract include reference to it?
5. What is the relevance of Deut 15:7-11 to this contract?
6. What is the significance of Jesus' teaching on debt and debt release? See Matt 6:12; 18:27-34; Luke 6:34-36.
7. Compare the rabbinic regulations regarding the prosbul in Mishnah Shebi'ith 10.1-9. How do these regulations relate to this document? What about the regulations in Mishnah Baba Metzia 1.6, 9.13?

Hanson, K. C. and Douglas E. Oakman. Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008 (pp. 111-13, 141-43).
Llewelyn, S. R. (with R. A. Kearsley). New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity. Volume 7: A Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Published in 1982-83. Macquarie University: Ancient History Documentary Research Centre, 1994.
Milik, J. T. Les grottes de Murabba`t. Vol 2. P. Benot, J. T. Milik, and R. de Vaux. With Contributions by G. M. Crowfoot, E. Crowfoot, A. Grohmann. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, 2. Oxford: Clarendon, 1961.
Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome. "Wadi Murabbaat: Archaeology." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 6:863-64. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Oakman, Douglas E. "The Ancient Economy." In The Social Sciences and New Testament Interpretation, edited by Richard L. Rohrbaugh, 126-43. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996.
Oakman, Douglas E. "Jesus and Agrarian Palestine: The Factor of Debt." In SBL 1985 Seminar Papers, 57-73. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1985.
Oakman, Douglas E. Jesus and the Economic Questions of His Day. Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity 8. Lewiston, NY: Mellen, 1986.
O'Brien, Julia M. "Wadi Murabbaat: Texts." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 6:864. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Yaron, R. "The Murabbacat Documents." Journal of Jewish Studies 11 (1960) 158-??.

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Last Modified: 7 October 2008