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Loan of Grain (3.81)

(1,367 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary This is the only loan document for grain and we cannot tell for certain whether it was drawn up after Anani son of Haggai bought his in-laws’ apartment or before (COSB.3.80), since it lacked day date. In the middle of December, in the first month of the Egyptian year, Anani went to Syene to borrow from the Egyptian-named Aramean, Pakhnum son of Besa, 2 peras 3 seah of emmer (approximately …

Document of Wifehood (3.76)

(3,029 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary At forty-five lines, this is the longest contract in our collection. Emancipated and adopted seven years earlier (COSB.3.74), Jehoishma was given away not by her father Anani but by her adoptive brother Zaccur, who furnished her with a handsome dowry of 78.125 shekels plus seventeen unevaluated items (lines 4–21). This included a mohar of one karsh paid by the groom Anani son of Haggai. Th…

Document of Wifehood (3.71)

(2,087 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary This record of a free man-handmaiden marriage presents a unique opportunity to reconstruct the haggling that went on between groom and master regarding the status of the bride and the rights of the parties to the contract. Tamet’s status may be described as comparable to the biblical “slave woman designated for a man” for the purpose of marriage (Lev 19:20). In rabbinic terms she was “part slave and part free.” Not yet manumitted, she was not enti…

Withdrawal from Goods (3.66)

(2,062 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary It must have been shortly after the death of Esḥor that the brothers Menahem and Ananiah, grandsons of Shelomam, sued Jedaniah and Mahseiah before the Chief and the Troop Commander, claiming that Shelomam had deposited assorted goods with Esḥor, who never returned them. The brothers were interrogated and satisfied the claimants by returning the goods. They then drew up the present docume…

Grant of House to Daughter (3.64)

(2,228 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Much as this document is compositionally rife with spelling errors and inconsistencies, it is nonetheless aesthetically structured. The Transfer clauses (lines 2–7) are chiastically arranged with the key word “gave” (yhb) recurring seven times: a I gave you the house which Meshullam son of Zaccur son of Ater, Aramean of Syene, gave me b and a document he wrote for me about it. c And I gave it to Miptahiah in exchange for her goods which she gave me. d I consumed them …

A Life Estate of Usufruct (3.75)

(1,337 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Written by an unknown scribe, this document was much corrected and bore unique terms and formulae.1 It was the first of three deeds drawn up by Anani for the bequest of room(s) in his house which he was bestowing upon his daughter Jehoishma. This one was in contemplation of her marriage, which was to be recorded in a document of wifehood drawn up three months later (COSB.3.76:1). Absence of certain prov…

Loan of Silver (3.69)

(1,423 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary This was the only Aramaic document found intact by Otto Rubensohn in excavation. The otherwise unknown woman Jehoḥen borrowed the small sum of four shekels from the well-known Meshullam son of Zaccur at a 5% monthly interest rate (lines 2–5). If the interest went unpaid in any month it became capitalized and bore interest like the principal (lines 5–7). If interest and principal were not …

Document of Wifehood (3.63)

(4,201 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Although widowed, Mibtahiah may not be courted directly but only through her father. As a suppliant for a loan or for building rights approached his prospective lender or neighbor, the Egyptian royal builder Esḥor approached the father of his desired bride. Granted his request in exchange for a ten-shekel mohar, he invested her in her new status (lines 3–6), again like a petitioner, but w…

The Ananiah Archive (456–402 bce) (3.P168)

(453 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary In the early part of 1893 the American traveler and collector, Charles Edwin Wilbour acquired at Aswan over a dozen Aramaic papyri that went into storage in Brooklyn, New York, after his death in 1896. Upon the demise of his daughter Theodora in 1947, they were bequeathed to the Brooklyn Museum and were published in 1953 by Emil G. Kraeling. Unprofessional attempts to open three of the int…

Sale of Abandoned Property (3.72)

(1,734 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Twelve years after the redaction of his document of wifehood (COSB.3.71), Anani paid fourteen shekels for the run-down house of the Caspian ʾpwly which was held in adverse possession by the Caspian couple Bagazushta and Wbyl. It lay across from the Temple on one side and next to the house of Wbyl’s father, Shatibara, who may have facilitated the couple’s occupation of the property (lines 2…

Sale of Apartment to Son-in-Law (3.80)

(3,158 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Barely nine months after Anani’s final bequest to his daughter Jehoishma, he and his wife sold their remaining share in the house (the large room plus appurtenances [1511/3 square cubits]) to their son-in-law Anani son of Haggai for thirteen shekels (also denominated in Ionian staters), a price that took into account the father’s building improvements. The document was remarkable for the f…

Grant of a Built Wall (3.59)

(3,193 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Mahseiah had a run-down house plot (COSB.3.61:3; COSB.3.62:3–5) in the midst of well-established neighbors, who inherited their property from their fathers and passed it on to their children (the Egyptian Pefṭuauneit to his son Espmet [line 13; COSB.3.61:7] and the brothers Jezaniah and Hosea from their father Uriah [COSB.3.61:6–7; COSB.3.67:5]). He was apparently saving it for his daught…

Dowry Addendum (3.79)

(2,028 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Less than a year and one-half after Anani had written for his daughter a bequest in contemplation of death, he upgraded it to one to take effect immediately. Assigning title to courtyard and stairway, Anani had no need to spell out specific rights, as earlier (COSB.3.78:13–15). Omission of the right of alienation to anyone other than her own children, however (lines 8–9), indicated that An…

Bequest of Apartment to Wife (3.73)

(2,058 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Anani refurbished the house of ʾpwly which he had bought from the Caspians Bagazushta and Wbyl. Three years after purchase date, the requisite period according to Egyptian law for establishing right to abandoned property, he bestowed a room therein (measuring ×1/3 cubits = 81 square cubits, see note 1 below) upon his wife Tamet, perhaps on the occasion of the birth of their daughter Jehoishma (lines 2–12). The Investiture clause did no…

Bequest of House to Daughter (3.61)

(3,710 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary On the occasion of Mibtahiah’s marriage in 459 bce to Jezaniah, one of Mahseiah’s neighbors, her father gave her the plot which in 464 had been disputed by another neighbor Dargamana (COSB.3.60). In 471 he had allowed a third neighbor, Konaiah, to build a wall along the property (COSB.3.59). The fourth neighbor was an Egyptian boatman Pefṭtuauneit who lived across the street (COSB.3.59:13) and ha…

Adoption (3.77)

(1,016 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Somehow a document made out to Zaccur, Jehoishma’s adoptive brother, found its way into her archive. He had “given,” together with written contract, a houseborn slave to Uriah, though under what circumstances was not indicated (lines 3–4) and Zaccur’s contract was not found. Uriah then made a fourfold declaration that Jedaniah was to be his son and that neither he nor his heirs, beneficiar…

Withdrawal from Goods (3.65)

(1,282 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Mibtahiah (here called Miptahiah) and the Egyptian builder Peu engaged in litigation in Syene regarding silver, grain, clothing, vessels, and a document of wifehood. Mibtahiah won her claim through an oath by the Egyptian goddess Sati and Peu drew up this document of withdrawal, supporting his waiver of all future suit by a standard five karsh penalty. We may conjecture that the dispute in…

Withdrawal from House (3.67)

(1,849 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Like the preceding document, this too was drawn up in the presence of the Troop Commander. But unlike that one, there is no mention here of a suit. A nephew of Jezaniah, Mibtahiah’s first husband, withdrew from Jezaniah’s house in favor of Mibtahiah’s children from her second husband, here named Nathan (lines 2–9). Upon Jezaniah’s premature death, his house must have passed to his wife. Sh…

Apportionment of Slaves (3.68)

(1,591 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Just over five years after the brothers Jedaniah and Mahseiah received clear title to the house of their mother’s first husband (COSB.3.67), they decided to divide between them two of Mibtahiah’s four Egyptian slaves. Both were branded with their mother’s name. The present document was drawn up by Mahseiah for his elder brother and he assigned him Peṭosiri, taking Bela for himself (lines …

Withdrawal from Land (3.60)

(2,731 words)

Author(s): Porten, Bezalel
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; West Semitic Archival Documents; Letters; Egyptian Aramaic Commentary Six and one-half years after Mahseiah had allowed Konaiah to add a wall to his house (COSB.3.59), the Khwarezmian Dargamana showed up on Mahseiah’s eastern border and complained that Mahseiah had taken his property. It was in evident disrepair and apparently neither party could produce a document of title. The court, headed by the Persian Damidata, settled the dispute by imposing an oath o…
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