Babatha and P. Starcky: New Light on Her Final Days

Esler, Philip F ORCID: 0000-0002-4889-4889 (2022) Babatha and P. Starcky: New Light on Her Final Days. Journal of Biblical Literature. (In Press)

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Like many modern refugees, Babatha sought refuge in a cave in a time of crisis. This article argues that when she did so she brought more legal papyri into the cave than the thirty-five included in the satchel she hid under the cave floor. The case for this is strongest for P. XḤev/Se Nab 1 (P. Starcky), while a plausible argument can also be made for P. XḤev/Se Nab 2. The article further argues that Babatha undertook a cull of the documents she carried into the cave, hiding the ones that still mattered to her in the satchel, and discarding others on the cave floor. The argument proceeds initially via an analysis of P. Starcky, in particular, its relevance as a continuing title document relating to property in Maoza known as the grove of Nikarchos that passed, along with ownership of the grove, by patrilineal succession to Judah, Babatha’s second husband. The relevance of P. Starcky to Babatha is then explained in relation to Babatha’s seizure of that grove after Judah’s death, in spite of the claim of Judah’s orphaned nephews to the property. The nephews’ close connection with an elite woman of Roman citizenship is proposed as the reason why, at the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt, it was Babatha and not the nephews who carried P. Starcky to the cave in Wadi Ḥever. It is further argued that Babatha also brought into the cave P. XḤev/Se Nab 2, which has a direct connection of scribal authorship with P. Yadin 2, 3 and 4, but discarded it as not relevant to her legal situation. The circumstance that Babatha undertook a cull of her legal documents reveals her character and ultimately contributed to the discovery of her precious satchel.

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 Education & Humanities > Humanities
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2022 15:14
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2022 15:14

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