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 (1982:123)
TRANSLATION
by K. C. Hanson
(Adapted from Pardee (1982:124)
MN HPRNSYN L BYT MKW
MN YWc WMN 'LcZR
1 From: the stewards of Beth-Mashko—Yeshuac and Eleazar
LYWc BN GLGWL' RW
HMHNYN LWM YDc
2 To: Yeshuac ben-Galgul'a, camp commander.
Peace. We (want to) apprise
YHY LK HPRH LQH YHWSP
BN 'RSTWN MN YcQB
3 you that the cow which Yehosef ben-'Ariston took from Yacaqov
BN YHWDH YWB 'BYT MKW
HY LW BN BNWT
4 ben-Yehudah, whose house is in Beth-Mashko, belongs to him
W'P 'LLY HGYYM QRBYM 'LNW
'ZY cLTY WHPS
5 And if the foreigners were not so close upon us, I would have gone up
WHPSTYK cL KKH L' THY
'MWR MN BRWN
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 LWM
WKL BYT YR'L
7 I have not come up to see you. Peace (to you) and all the house of Israel
YWc BN 'LcZR KTBH 8 Yeshuac ben-'Elecazar, writer
'LcZR BN YHWSP KTBH 9 'Elecazar ben-Yehosef, writer
YcQWB BN YHWDH cL NPH 10 Yacaqov ben-Yehudah, "subject"
'WL BN 'LcZR 'D 11 Sh'aul ben-'Elecazar, witness
YHWSP BN YHWSP cD 12 Yehosef ben-Yehosef, witness
YcQWB BN YHWSP McYD


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

  • = in
13 Yacaqov ben-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 6:863-64. Ed. D. N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
O'Brien, Julia M. "Wadi Murabbaat: Texts." In Anchor Bible Dictionary 6:864. Ed. D. N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Pardee, Dennis. Handbook of Ancient Hebrew Letters: A Study Edition. SBL Sources for Biblical Study 15. Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 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):158-??.




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Last Modified: 25 April 2002