Letter Attesting
Ownership of a Cow

DESCRIPTION
Language: Hebrew
Medium: Papyrus
Size: ? centimeters high
? centimeters wide
Length: 13 lines of writing
Date: c. 135 CE
Place of Discovery: caves of Wadi Murabbacat,
Judean desert
Date of Discovery: 1951
Current Location: Rockefeller Museum?
Inventory no.: papMur 42
(Papyrus Murabbacat 42)
Pardee's Catalogue no.: 37




TRANSLITERATION

(Adapted from Pardee (1996:123)

TRANSLATION
by K. C. Hanson
(Adapted from Pardee (1982:124)
MN HPRNSYN ŠL BYT MŠKW
MN YŠWc WMN 'L cZR
1 From: the stewards of Beth-Mashko—Yeshua and Eleazar
LYŠWc BN GLGWL' RWŠ
HMHNYN ŠLWM ŠYDc
2 To: Yeshua son of Galgula, camp commander.
Peace. We (want to) apprise
YHY LK ŠHPRH ŠLQH YHWSP
BN 'RSTWN MN Y cQB
3 you that the cow which Yehosef son of Ariston took from Yaaqov
BN YHWDH ŠYWŠB 'BYT MŠKW
ŠHY ŠLW BN BNWT
4 son of Yehudah, whose house is in Beth-Mashko, belongs to him.
W'P 'LLY ŠHGYYM QRBYM 'LNW
'ZY cLTY WHPS
5 And if the foreigners were not so close upon us, I would have gone up
WHPSTYK cL KKH ŠL' THY
'MWR MN BŠRWN
6 and declared you free of obligation on this account. For I do not want you to say that it is through neglect that
L' cLTY 'SLK 'HWH ŠLWM
WKL BYT YŠR'L
7 I have not come up to see you. Peace (to you) and all the house of Israel.
YŠWc BN 'LcZR KTBH 8 Yeshua son of Eleazar, writer
'Lc ZR BN YHWSP KTBH 9 Eleazar son of Yehosef, writer
YcQWB BN YHWDH cL NPŠH 10 Yaaqov son of Yehudah, "subject"
Š'WL BN 'L cZR 'D 11 Shaul son of Eleazar, witness
YHWSP BN YHWSP cD 12 Yehosef son of Yehosef, witness
YcQWB BN YHWSP M cYD


Transliteration of special characters
  • ' = 'Aleph
  • H = Heth
  • T = Teth
  • c = c Ayin
  • S = Sadê

  • Š = Šin
13 Yaaqov son of Yehosef, notary.





DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. What circumstances would have prompted such a letter?
2. Who are the "foreigners" referred to in line 5?
3. What war was going on in Judea in 132–135 that would account for reference to a "camp commander" and the encroaching "foreigners"?
4. What social role does the designation "stewards" (Heb. HPRNSYN) probably indicate?





SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
Borowski, Oded. Agriculture in Iron Age Israel. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1987.
Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome. "Wadi Murabbaat: Archaeology." In Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by D. N. Freedman, 6.863-64. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
O'Brien, Julia M. "Wadi Murabbaat: Texts." In Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by D. N. Freedman, 6.864. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Pardee, Dennis. Handbook of Ancient Hebrew Letters: A Study Edition. SBL Sources for Biblical Study 15. Chico, Calif.: Scholars, 1982.
Turkowski, L. "Peasant Agriculture in the Judean Hills." Palestine Exploration Quarterly 101 (1969) 101-12.
Yadin, Yigael. Bar Kokhba: The Rediscovery of the Legendary Hero of the Second Jewish Revolt Against Rome. New York: Random, 1971.
Yaron, R. "The Mrabbacat Documents." Journal of Jewish Studies 11 (1960) 158ff.




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Last Modified: 9 September 2002