Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus: An Investigation into Economic and Social Conditions during the New Testament Period

Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus: An Investigation into Economic and Social Conditions during the New Testament Period

Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus: An Investigation into Economic and Social Conditions during the New Testament Period

Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus: An Investigation into Economic and Social Conditions during the New Testament Period

Excerpt

The typical form of industry of the period was the craftsman's shop; i.e. the producer owned the means of production, put them to use and sold his products directly to the consumer without intermediary.

The crafts were held in high esteem in Judaism at the time: 'He who does not teach his son a craft teaches him brigandage' (b. Kidd. 29a). We have special evidence in the case of Jerusalem: 'R. Johanan said three things in the name of the men of Jerusalem … treat your Sabbath like a week day rather than be dependent upon your fellow men' (b. Pes. 113a and parr.). Theory and practice went together. When M. Bikk. iii.3 describes the entry of the first-fruits into Jerusalem, where the procession was met by the leading priests and Temple officials, special mention is made of the fact that even the craftsmen stood up and greeted the procession as it passed. This was an unusual sign of reverence, for whereas everyone else had to greet scholars by rising to their feet, craftsmen were exempt while engaged in their occupation (b. Kidd. 33a). The high value attributed to craftsmen and their work is above all attested by the fact that most of the scribes of the time plied a trade. Paul, who studied in Jerusalem (Acts 22.3), was a σκηνοποιός (Acts 18.3), a tent-maker (Knopf), or a carpet weaver (Achelis), or a weaver of tent curtains (Leipoldt). A list of the earliest scribes mentioned in the Talmud shows the following professions among others: nail maker, flax trader, baker, miller of pearl barley, currier, scrivener, sandal maker, master builder, asphalt merchant, tailor (Bill. II, 745f.).

This does not mean that there were no despised trades. Weaving, for instance, belonged to that category (p. 5). We have several lists of trades which, for various reasons, were despised. Some were dirty, some notorious for leading to fraud, others had to do with women. These are discussed on pp. 303–12.

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