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The Growth and Impact of Agricultural Tenancy in Jewish Palestine (III BCE-I CE)

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Although there is little evidence of private farm tenancy in the Tanak, examination of documents from the third century BCE to the early second century CE suggests that this economic system became an important instrument of agricultural exploitation in Jewish Palestine sometime in the third or second century BCE. The growth of large estates, the implementation of tenancy, and shifts from polyculture to export-oriented monoculture had important effects on the structure of labor, creating classes of underemployed day laborers (ergatai) and 'free' tenants, who made their first literary appearances in the Septuagint, the parables of Jesus, and the Mishnah. Il n'existe guère dans le Tanak d'attestations de 'métayage agricole indépendant'. Néanmoins, l'examen de documents datant du IIIe siècle av. J.-C. jusqu'au début du IIe après, suggère que ce système économique devint un important instrument dans l'exploitation des campagnes en Palestine juive au cours du IIIe ou IIe siècle av. J.-C. L'accroissement des grands domaines au détriment des petites exploitations, l'établissement de métairies et le passage d'une polyculture à une monoculture orientée vers l'exportation eurent des conséquences notables sur la structure du travail. Des catégories de journaliers sous-employés (ergatai) et de métayers 'libres' furent ainsi générées, dont les premières mentions apparaissent dans la version des Septante, les Paraboles de Jésus et la Mishnah.

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto, Canada;, Email:


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