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The Social and Economic Status of the Jews in the Diaspora

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Chapter Summary

Within the Roman Empire a drastic change in the Jewish economic position took place under Trajan in Egypt, Cyrenaica and Cyprus, and repercussions of this upheaval may also have been felt in Syria. Trajan's invasion of Mesopotamia and Babylonia, caused the Jewish communities there considerable losses and can hardly have left their economies unscathed. The chapter follows the method of Herzfeld, who, having established the branches of trade in a given land of the Diaspora in ancient times, and the contemporary presence of Jewish communities there, assumes, with the occasional assistance of the somewhat meager Jewish evidence, that these were the branches in which Jews engaged. Jews took their share in government service, among them being, besides high-ranking commanders and other officers such as district governors, tax-collectors, tax-farmers, managers of governmental storehouses and banks. These, however, were a minority; Jews were numerous in agriculture, whether as landowners, tenants or labourers.

Keywords: Cyprus; Cyrenaica; Diaspora land; Herzfeld method; Jewish economic position; Roman empire; Trajan

10.1163/9789004275096_004
/content/books/b9789004275096s004
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