Who Was Babatha? Jewish Biography as History Dr. Henry Abramson

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Rolling her precious documents and carefully wrapping them in a leather pouch tied with twine, Babatha buried her entire legal history in the floor of the cave she shared with Bar Kochba’s rebels. They would remain entombed in that desolate refuge for 1800 years until their discovery by archaeologist Yigael Yadin, and then the life of an otherwise forgotten 2nd-century woman suddenly came to light: her marriages, custody battles for her son, property disputes, and much more. The Babatha archive constitutes an amazing source of information for the history of Jewish women in ancient Israel.


8 thoughts on “Who Was Babatha? Jewish Biography as History Dr. Henry Abramson

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  1. I’m glad you brought up the point that the Jewish people were very diverse in their beliefs and religious associations in the first and second century CE. In the First century CE there were multiple competing sects mad the Pharisees were although small in number were highly respected by the masses for their piety.
    The Temple cult system was dominated by the Saducees, the Essenes were not only a separate community in the wilderness, but also found in towns and cities. The Hellenistic Jews were everywhere and all of these groups were also followers of Ye’shua in His lifetime and after. Although the Sadducees would not have been as attracted to His teachings as the other groups. The history of taking divorces and other matters to the secular courts are quite abundant, but mostly by wealthier people. The poor had little chance of receiving a fair hearing outside of their community and only the tight knit community could enforce Rabbinic rulings. Such as in a divorce a man must go willingly, but if he placed odious terms on allowing a woman to obtain a Get, there were means available to try and bend his arm.

    As always I appreciate the lectures and look forward to them every week. Without a doubt it takes the power of orthodoxy to declare another believer in the One G-d a heretic. This is true in all forms of religion.

    Thank you again for the informative and well researched lecture.


  2. I appreciated the information you relayed. However, constructively, it would sound better if you laid off the jokes. It seems as if half of the time in the video is taken up by jokes and laughter, and for a 45 minute video, it would seem to behoove you as a speaker to just relay information without repetition of jesus’s name say 10 times and awaiting for laughter each time. I tuned in to hear intelligent information. Pay attention to an informative professor/speaker who gets paid for his/her time and you’ll see a difference – emulate it and I think you’ll be closer to perfection. 🙂

    Second note: It seems that you, as many orthodox people, in my experience do (coming from an ortho background), rationalize how Babatha lived in order to justify your way of life. Today’s ortho judaism seems to be wayyy off from what true jewish way of life was meant to be lived acc to the Torah. Small examples are the suits, the black attire, the ‘sa’ sound instead of the ‘ta or tha’ sounds in vocab. Today’s Ashkenaz ortho rabbis seem to make a huge deal out of really small things. Ex: Babatha had a non-jewish guardian for her son, so if she would take him to Jewish court would he come? No. Would he abide by any ruling? No. So This Plain and simply means that she go to non-jewish court – which she did and it’s no big deal, however, you find it an issue and discuss it back and forth like youre studying gemara and make a big deal of it – why? it’s a non-issue, and IMO ashky mainstream ortho would make an issue of a non-issue, unless they got paid for it, like placing a kosher symbol on a dish-scrub or dishwashing liquid soap.

  3. In christian bible,my I understanding is that Scribe were part of jewish leaders category.why excluded in most of your lecture Dr?

  4. I always find it fascinating to learn what ancient lives were like. Thank you so much for sharing the information on Babatha. Your insight into how she lived her beliefs in the second century and how we live ours today makes a lot of sense to me. Perhaps human nature has not changed much over the ages.

    Re: Jesus. I remember hearing some while back that the Christian bible is based on the oldest writings available which for the New Testament were in Greek. Before I learned that, it had bothered me that there were so few Old Testament names in the New Testament. When I learned that “Jesus” was the Greek word for “Joshua” I was overjoyed! That was a name I knew very well. 🙂

  5. From most history books, I get the impression of the 2nd century being a time of everyone keeping the Torah. Now I know otherwise. Thanks so much

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