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Papyrus Yadin 18: Jewish Marriage Contract in Greek

Greco-Roman Period
Some Jews, even in the tannaitic period, still made use of non-Jewish legal instruments. This marriage contract, from the Bar Kokhba caves, was executed in Hellenistic style. Note that the two contracting parties are not the bride and groom but the groom and the bride’s father.

In the consulship of Publius Metilius Nepos for the 2nd time and Marcus Annius Libo
on the nones of April, and by the compute of the new province of Arabia 149 year twenty-
third on the fifteenth month Xandikos, 150 in Maoza, Zoara district, 151 Judah son of
Eleazar also known as Khthusion, gave over Shelamzion, his very own daughter, a virgin,
to Judah surnamed Cimber son of Ananias son of Somalas, both of the village of En-gedi
in Judea residing here, for Shelamzion to be a wedded wife to Judah Cimber for the
partnership of marriage according to the laws, she bringing to him on account of bridal
gift feminine adornment silver and gold and clothing appraised by mutual agreement, as
they both say, to be worth two hundred denarii of silver, which appraised value the
bridegroom Judah called Cimber acknowledged that he has received from her by hand
forthwith from Judah her father and that he owes to the said Shelamzion his wife together
with another three hundred denarii which he promised to give to her in addition to the
sum of her aforesaid bridal gift, all accounted toward her dowry, pursuant to his
undertaking of feeding and clothing both her and the children to come in accordance with
Greek custom upon the said Judah Cimber’s good faith and peril and [the security of] all
his possessions, both those which he now possesses in his said home village and here and
all those which he may in addition validly acquire everywhere, in whatever manner his
wife Shelamzion may choose, or whoever acts through her or for her may choose, to
carry out the execution. Judah called Cimber shall redeem this contract for his wife
Shelamzion, whenever she may demand it of him, in silver secured in due form, at his
own expense interposing no objection. If not, he shall pay to her all the aforestated
denarii twofold, she having the right of execution, both from Judah Cimber her husband
and upon the possessions validly his, in whatever manner Shelamzion or whoever acts
through her or for her may choose to carry out the execution. In good faith the formal
question was asked and it was acknowledged in reply that this is thus rightly done.
[2nd hand, Aramaic] 152 Yehudah son of Elazar Khthousion- I have given my daughter
Shelamzion, a virgin, in marriage to Yehudah Cimber son of Hananiah son of Somala,
according to what is written above. Yehudah wrote it.

[3rd hand, Aramaic] Yehudah Cimber son of Hananiah son of Somala- I acknowledge
the debt of silver denarii five hundred, the dowry of Shelamzion my wife, according to
what they wrote above. Yehudah wrote it.

[1st hand] I, Theenas son of Simon, librarius, wrote [this].

on the back, individual signatures

Yehudah son of Eleazar wrote it.

Yehudah son of Hananiah [wrote it].

son of
, the hand?

Shim‘on son of ____,witness

Eliezer son of Hilqiah, witness

Yohsef son of Hananiah, witness

Wanah son of ____, for himself.

148. Trans. N. Lewis, The Documents from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters- Greek Papyri
(Jerusalem- Israel Exploration Society, The Hebrew University, The Shrine of the Book, 1989), pp. 80-81.
Blank lines below indicate breaks in the manuscript that cannot be restored.

149. The Roman province of Arabia was inaugurated in 106 C.E.

150. April 5, 128.

151. At the south end of the Dead Sea.
152. Aramaic subscriptions were used since these Jews apparently could not write Greek.

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