Babatha’s Final Days: New Light from Papyrus Starcky

Esler, Philip F ORCID: 0000-0002-4889-4889 (2022) Babatha’s Final Days: New Light from Papyrus Starcky. Journal of Biblical Literature, 141 (3). pp. 491-512. doi:10.15699/jbl.1413.2022.5

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Babatha, a Judean woman from the early second century CE, hid a satchel of thirty-five legal papyri in a cave in Wadi Ḥever on the Dead Sea around 135 CE. This article argues that she brought two other papyri, in Nabatean Aramaic, into the cave (P.XḤev/Se Nab 1, also called “P.Starcky,” and P.XḤev/Se Nab 2), but culled her documents, hiding most in the satchel, while discarding these two. Initially, P.Starcky is analyzed as a title document relating to a date orchard in her hometown of Maoza in Arabia that passed by patrilineal succession to Judah, Babatha’s second husband. I then explain the relevance of P.Starcky to Babatha in relation to her seizing that orchard after Judah’s death, in spite of the claim of his orphaned nephews to the property. The nephews’ close connection with an elite woman of Roman citizenship explains why, at the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt, it was Babatha and not the nephews who carried P.Starcky into the cave. I argue further that Babatha also brought P.XḤev/Se Nab 2 into the cave but discarded it as irrelevant to her legal situation.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2022 15:14
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2024 04:15

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