Ptolemy IIThis papyrus is an important source for our understanding of the Land of Israel in Ptolemaic times. Especially noteworthy are the technical administrative terms. The document contains two royal edicts pertaining to registration of cattle and slaves. It is dated to the twenty-fifth year of an Egyptian king, generally accepted to be Ptolemy II Philadelphus, whose twenty-fifth year was 261 B.C.E- Note especially the explicit mention of soldiers and colonists in Syria and Palestine who had married native women.

…and those tax collectors, 77 having leased villages, and the heads of the villages are to register at the same time the cattle in the villages, and their fathers’ names and their home district and by whom it is pastured, and likewise also as much (cattle) as they know is unregistered and (in the village), until Dustron 78 of the twenty-fifth year as per the written command of the king. And they will make registrations annually at the same times, and they will pay dues, just as it has been made clear in the letter from the king in the appropriate months according to the decree.

Those who do not comply with some aspect of the public notices, such as those who register their own cattle by another name, will be liable to the penalties thereof. Whoever is willing to inform will receive of the penalties being exacted according to the decree, just as it has been declared in the decree, (he will receive) one-third of the property which is confiscated to the royal treasury.

By order of the king- If some of those in Syria and Phoenicia have bought a free native person, or have kidnapped or detained (him) or acquired one by any another means… person… someone… before the administrator who is appointed in each district, within twenty days from the time that the order has been displayed in public. If someone doesnot register or does not pay taxes for a slave, the slave will be confiscated and payment of 6000 drachmae per slave will be exacted for the royal treasury, and the king will judge him. If they prove that they have bought, as for actual slaves, any of the persons registered and taken… [they] will be returned to them.

But those who had been sold in the royal auctions, if somebody alleges them to be free, the purchasers are (nevertheless) entitled to their possessions. Those of the soldiers and of the other colonists in Syria and Phoenicia who cohabit with native women they have taken up with, shall not register (these). Hereafter, it will not be lawful to buy or mortgage free native people, or under any pretense except by approaching those given up in a bankruptcy sale by the economic manager of Syria and Phoenicia, and submitting an application, as per established practice, according to the manner recorded in the law concerning lease. Otherwise, they will be liable to the same penalties, and likewise also those selling and mortgaging. But to the informers, 300 drachmae ought to be given from the money collected for each person.

76. Trans. S. Berrin from the Greek text in Sammelbuch griechischer Urkunden aus Agypten, ed. F. Preisigke, F. Bilabel, E. Kiessling (=SB-8008), (Heidelberg and Wiesbaden- vol 5), pp. 156-8. The translation of this difficult text must be considered tentative.

77. Probably tax farmers.

78. Dystrus, the Macedonian name for the month of March.