Tax Receipt

Language: Aramaic
Medium: Potsherd
(pottery fragment)
Size: 4.5 centimeters high
7.5 centimeters wide
Length: 4 lines of writing
Date: 7 July, 355 BCE
Place of Discovery: probably Idumea
Date of Discovery: unknown
Current Location: Bible Lands Museum
Bible Lands Museum Catalog no.: 3168
Eph'al & Naveh Text no.: Ostraca #13


(Adapted from Ephal & Naveh (1996:26)
by K. C. Hanson
(Adapted from Ephal & Naveh (1996:26)
B||| ||| LTMWZ ŠNT ||||
HLPT Š KR | S || Q |||
H K | S ||||| Q ||||
On the 16th of Tammuz, year 4
of King Artaxerxes, Halfat
brought barley: 1 kor, 12 seah, 3 qab;
wheat: 1 kor, 5 seah, 4 qab.

1. What are the approximate equivalents for the measurements of: kor, seah, and qab? For biblical examples, see:
  • kor: 1 Kgs 4:22; 5:11
  • seah: Gen 18:6; 1 Sam 25:18
  • qab: 2 Kgs 6:25

2.What does the receipt indicate about the dating of ancient calendars?
3. Why would peasant farmers need receipts for their taxes?
4. What is the significance of taxes being paid in grain rather than in "cash"?

Borowski, Oded. Agriculture in Iron Age Israel. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1987.
Eph'al, Israel and Joseph Naveh. Aramaic Ostraca. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1996.
Foxhall, L. and H. A. Forbes. "Sitometreia: The Role of Grain as a Staple Food in Classical Antiquity." Chiron 12 (1982) 41-90.
Kaufman, A. S. "Determining the Length of the Medium Cubit." Palestine Exploration Quarterly 116 (1984) 120-32.
Lemaire, André. "Ostraca, Semitic." In Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by D. N. Freedman, 5:50-51. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Powell, Marvin A. "Weights and Measures." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, Edited by D. N. Freedman, 6:897-908. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Scott, R. B. Y. "The Hebrew Cubit." Journal of Biblical Literature 77 (1958) 205-14.
Turkowski, L. "Peasant Agriculture in the Judean Hills." Palestine Exploration Quarterly 101 (1969) 101-12.

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Last Modified: 3 May 2002