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725[XTalk] Re: Re:Jubilee

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  • James R. Davila
    Jul 1, 1999
      Jim West wrote:
      >Commonality of practice in literary sources does not mean, necessarily, that
      >the jubilee was actually practiced in fact. As a literary trope it sounds
      >wonderfully nice to say that so and so cancelled debt. But getting actual
      >creditors to agree, wholesale, to forgive every debt owed them would put
      >them out of business. It simply makes no practical sense. Do we have any
      >evidence, textual or otherwise, from a debtor saying his creditor forgave him?


      This point is always good to keep in mind, but there is lots of evidence
      that the Sabbatical year was kept by Jews from the Hellenistic period until
      at least the high middle ages. Besides Josephus and 1 Maccabees, there are
      Judean Desert legal texts which date themselves in the Sabbatical year,
      sometimes cross-dating with another system to give us an exact date. The
      prosbul was set up to mitigate the impact of this institution. And some of
      the Cairo Geniza Kettubot of the 9th and 10th centuries are dated in
      Sabbatical years. I don't know of any legal or economic texts which
      mention the Jubilee explicitly, but it would be odd to hold onto the
      Sabbatical year and try to get away with neglecting its culmination,
      wouldn't it? The following article discusses some (not all) of the
      evidence I mentioned above:

      Ben Zion Wacholder, "The Calendar of Sabbatical Cycles during the Second
      Temple and Early Rabbinic Period," HUCA 44 (1973) 153-96

      Jim Davila
      University of St. Andrews

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