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Textbook of Aramaic Ostraca from Idumea, Vol. 1
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Textbook of Aramaic Ostraca from Idumea, Vol. 1

Dossiers 1–10: 401 Commodity Chits

by Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni

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Some 340 Aramaic ostraca of the Persian and Hellenistic periods have been excavated at 32 sites in Israel, from Yokneam in the north to Eilat in the south, with Arad and Beersheba being the main contributory sites. By far, however, the largest cache of texts is what has come to be known as “the Idumean ostraca.” These did not come from formal excavations but began to appear on the antiquities market in 1991. Since then, some 2,000 ostraca have reached 9 museums and libraries and 21 private collections. Of these, the majority are still not formally published, and in this volume (and those to follow), Bezalel Porten undertakes to provide a comprehensive edition of all these texts, in many cases as an editio princeps. Porten, with the expert epigraphic assistance of Ada Yardeni and hand-copies by her as well, here provides the first volume of texts, organized by "dossier" based on the primary personage cited in the text. Color photographs (where available), ceramic descriptions, hand-copies, transcription, translation, and commentary are provided for each text, along with figures and tables, and introductions and summaries of each dossier. An included CD contains a catalogue of all the texts and three color key-word-in-context concordances, for words, personal names, and months for the entire corpus. This publication will become the primary resource for information on these texts.

UPDATE: After the volume was sent to press, a number of updates were made to the electronic files available on the enclosed CD. Those three updated files may be downloaded here, here, and here.

Product Details

Publisher: Eisenbrauns
Publication date: 2014
Bibliographic info: Pp. liv + 472 + CD
Language(s): English


Cover: Cloth
Trim Size: 8.5 x 11 inches



The authors are to be commended for this important work, which at first was no doubt thankless. The results obtained are significant: even though the precise meaning of certain words could not be determined, they provided a number of needed corrections to the first publications, many of which left much to be desired. We eagerly anticipate the publication of other volumes in the series to complete this rich harvest of administrative documents from Khirbet el-Qôm/Maqqedah, with all the necessary indexes that will permit us to study various groupings of texts, hoping that they will thus contribute to our study of the Aramaic letters of the Persian period discovered in Arad, Beersheba, and other localities. . . . This corpus has revealed its importance for our knowledge of the history of this period and takes its place alongside the finds at Elephantine, the Wadi ed-Daliyeh, and Mereshah and the Mt. Gerizim inscriptions. — Émile Puech, Revue Biblique 122 (2015).

This excellent volume will be of interest to members of the SBL for the way it illuminates the social and economic history of the southern Levant in the Persian and Hellenistic periods. Perhaps the most interesting aspect will be the onomastic data these documents provide, with the use of theophoric elements and “some 70 predicative elements that are shared by the Hebrew and Idumean theophorous names” that allows the authors “to speak of a Judeo-Idumean piety, more than two centuries before the arrival of King Herod.” The calendrical data are also interesting, with evidence for the intercalatory month of Adar II and the use of the Babylonian month names. . . . The excellent treatment of each text, the well-designed layout, and the high-quality production make this volume an example of best practice. All those associated with this volume, from the authors and other contributors through to the publishers, should be congratulated. — Siam Bhayro, University of Exeter, in Review of Biblical Literature 2016

Congratulations on an exceptional publication! Exceptional both in terms of the amount of detailed work put in to it and on the presentation itself. — Stephen Kaufman, Hebrew Union College

Thanks for this most important and monumental work. It will be used by generations of scholars, and I look forward to [additional volumes]. — Raz Kletter, University of Helsinki

The present volume together with the accompanying materials on the disc is a very important source for information about the Aramaic language in Palestine in the fourth century BCE. Without doubt it (presumably together with the next volumes) will become the standard edition of the corpus. The edition will allow further research on the rich onomastics, lexical novelties, economic and social reality as it is represented in the ostraca.—Tania Notarius, Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Journal of Semitic Studies 62 (2017): 263—65

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