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Appendix: Marriage Gifts Among Judeans Living in Babylonia During the Sixth Century BCE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2010

T. M. Lemos
Affiliation:
Rhodes College, Memphis
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Summary

Relevant to this work, but in many ways difficult to interpret, are several marriage contracts that were written in Babylonia during the exilic period. These texts involve or name Judeans and date to the second half of the sixth century bce. More specifically, the earliest of the contracts dates to 542 BCE (BMA no. 17), two others date to 534 and 535 bce (fNanaya-kānat's marriage contract and BMA no. 26/BM 68921, respectively), and a fourth cannot be dated because of its fragmentary state of preservation (BaAr 2, no. 5). These documents, then, were written scarcely 100 years prior to the marriage contracts from Elephantine. Yet unfortunately, we know far less about the Judean community living in Babylonia at that time than we do about that in Elephantine, and what we do know has led me cautiously to bracket off these documents from a larger discussion of Judean marriage and Judean marriage gifts. Nonetheless, some discussion of the contents of these marriage documents, and especially of what they evidence regarding marital gift exchange, is certainly warranted.

Unlike the Elephantine texts, the marriage documents from Babylonia involving Judeans were written not in Aramaic, but in cuneiform. For the most part, the latter texts closely resemble the other cuneiform marriage documents extant from first millennium bce Babylonia. As Kathleen Abraham writes of one contract, “The West-Semitic ethnic background of the bride, her family, and her circle of acquaintances … does not seem to have influenced the formulary or the content in any significant way.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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