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a Sot. 49 b
of those times throws light is, how the debtors could so easily alter the sum mentioned in their respective bonds. For, the text implies that this, and not the writing of a new bond, is intended; since in that case the old one would have been destroyed, and not given back for alteration. It would be impossible, within the present limits, to enter fully on the interesting subject of writing, writing-materials, and written documents among the ancient Jews.! Suffice it to give here the briefest notices.
The materials on which the Jews wrote were of the most divers kind : leaves, as of olives, palms, the carob, &c.; the rind of the pomegranate, the shell of walnuts, &c.; the prepared skins of animals (leather and parchment); and the product of the papyrus, used even before the time of Alexander the Great for the manufacture of paper, and known in Talmudic writings by the same name, as
Papira or Apipeir, but more frequently by that of Najjar-probably kel. ix.in; from the stripes (Nirin) of the plant of which it was made. But
what interests us more, as we remember the tablet' (TrivaKídlov) on which Zacharias wrote the name of the future Baptist, is the circumstance that it not only bears the same name, Pinakes or Pinkesa, but that it seems to have been of such common use in Palestine. It
consisted of thin pieces of wood (the Luach) fastened or strung 4 Chel: xxiv. together. The Mishnah d enumerates three kinds of them : those
where the wood was covered with papyrus, those where it was covered with wax, and those where the wood was left plain to be written on with ink. The latter was of different kinds. Black ink was prepared of soot (the Deyo), or of vegetable or mineral substances.
Gum Arabic and Egyptian (Kumos and Kuma) and vitriol (KanShabb. xii. kanthom) seem also to have been used e in writing. It is curious
to read of writing in colours and with red ink or Sikra,' and even of
a kind of sympathetic ink, made from the bark of the ash, and brought 5 Jer. Shabb. out by a mixture of vitriol and gum. We also read of a gold-ink, as
that in which the copy of the Law was written which, according to the legend, the High-Priest had sent to Ptolemy Philadelphus for the purpose of being translated into Greek by the LXX. But the
c St. Luke i. 63
13 d, about the middle
h Jos. Ant. xii. 2. 10
II must here refer generally to the monograph of Löw (Graphische Requis. u. Erzeugn., 2 vols.) Its statements require, however, occasionally to be rectified. See also Herzfeld, Handelsgesch. pp. 113 &c., and Note 17.
? Löw, u. s. vol. i. pp. 97, 98. It is curious to learn that in those days also waste paper went to the grocer. (Baba
M. 56 b.)
* So Sachs, Beitr. z. Sprach u. Alterth. Forsch. vol. i. p. 165 ; but Lör (u. s.) seems of different opinion.
* The Deyo seems to have been a dry substance which was made into black ink. Ink from gall-nuts appears to be of later invention.
BONDS AND OTHER WRITTEN DOCUMENTS.
Shabb. i. 3
Talmud prohibits copies of the Law in gold letters,' or more probably where the Divine Name was written in gold letters.aIn writing, a pen, Kolemos, made of reed (Kanch) was used, and the refer- Shabb. ence in an Apostolic Epistle c to writing with ink and pen' (dià Sopher. i. 9 uélavos kai kalájov) finds even its verbal counterpart in the Mid- Shabb. viii. rash, which speaks of Milanin and Kolemin (ink and pens). Indeed, 3 John 13 the public writer'-a trade very common in the East 3—went about with a Kolemos, or reed-pen, behind his ear, as badge of his employment. With the reed-pen we ought to mention its neces- a Jer. sary accompaniments: the penknife,e the inkstand (which, when double, for black and red ink, was sometimes made of earthenware, mentioned Kalamarim f), and the ruler 8—it being regarded by the stricter xxxvi. 23, set as unlawful to write any words of Holy Writ on any unlined Mishnah material, no doubt to ensure correct writing and reading.h 5 In all this we have not referred to the practice of writing on Chel
. xii. 8 leather specially prepared with salt and flour, nor to the Kelaph, or parchment in the stricter sense. For we are here chiefly interested in the common mode of writing, that on the Pinakes, or “tablet,' Meg. 17 a ; and especially on that covered with wax. Indeed, a little vessel holding wax was generally attached to it (Pinakes shayesh bo beth Kibbul shaavah m). On such a tablet they wrote, of course, not with a reed-pen, but with a stylus, generally of iron. This instrument consisted of two parts, which might be detached from each other:
i Chel. ii. 7
19 a * Shabb. viii, 3
m Chel. xvii. 17
But the learned Relandus asserts that there were in his country such texts written in gold letters, and that hence the Talmudic prohibition could have only applied to the copies used in the Synagogues (Harercamp's ed. of Josephus, vol. i. p. 593, Note e).
? Not to make a distinction between any portions of Scripture, and also from the curious Kabbalistic idea that somehow every word in the Bible contained the Divine Name.
* We read of one, Ben Kamzar, who wrote four letters (the Tetragram) at once, holding four reeds (Kolemosin) at the same time between his four fingers (Yoma 38 b). The great R. Meir was celebrated as a copyist, specially of the Bible, at which work he is said to have made about 88. weekly, of which, it is stated, he spent a third on his living, a third on his dress, and a third on charity to Rabbis (Midr. on Eccles. ij. 18, ed. Warsh. p. 83 b, last two lines). The codices of R. Meir seem to have embodied some variations of the common text.
Thus, in the Psalms he wrote Hallelujah
+ Similarly, the carpenter carried a
s Letters, other documents, or bales of merchandise, were sealed with a kind of red clay.
a Chel. xiii. 2
e Baba B. 161 6
6; 164 a
the hard pointed 'writer' (Cothebh), and the blotier' (Mochek), which was flat and thick for smoothing out letters and words which had been written or rather graven in the wax. There can be no question that acknowledgments of debt, and other transactions, were
ordinarily written down on such wax-covered tablets ; for not only is Ab. ii. 16 direct reference made to it, but there are special provisions in re
gard to documents where there are such erasures, or rather effacements : such as, that they require to be noted in the document,
under what conditions and how the witnesses are in such cases to 40. s. 163 a, affix their signatures,d just as there are particular injunctions how
witnesses who could not write are to affix their mark.
But although we have thus ascertained that the bonds' in the Parable must have been written on wax--or else, possibly, on parchment-where the Mochek, or blotter, could easily efface the numbers, we have also evidence that they were not, as so often, written on tablets' (the Pinakes). For, the Greek term, by which these bonds' or writings' are designated in the Parable (ypájjata "), is the same as is sometimes used in Rabbinic writings (Gerammation) for an acknowledgment of debt ;fi the Hebraised Greek word corresponding to the more commonly used (Syriac) term Shitre (Shetar), which also primarily denotes 'writings, and is used specifically for such acknowledgments.82 Of these there were two kinds. The most formal Shetar was not signed by the debtor at all, but only by the witnesses, who were to write their names (or marks) immediately (not more than two lines) below the text of the document to prevent fraud. Otherwise, the document would not possess legal validity. Generally, it was further attested by the Sanhedrin 3 of three, who signed in such manner as not to leave even one line vacant. Such a document contained the names of creditor and debtor, the amount owing, and the date, together with a clause attaching the property of the debtor. In fact, it was a kind of mortgage; all sale of pro
e St. Luke xvi, 7
Shem. R. 15
& Baba M. i. 8
h Baba B. 1634,6
| The designations for the general formulary ( Tophos, or l'iphos (Gitt. iii. 2), = typos), and for the special clauses (Thoreph Tropos) were of Greek derivation. For the full draft of the various legal documents we refer the reader to Note ix. at the end of Sammter's edition of Baba Mez. pp. 144-148. How many documents of this kind Jewish legalism must have invented, may be gathered from the circumstance that Herzfeld (u, s. p. 314) enumerates not fewer than thirtyeight different kinds of them! It appears that there were certain forms of these
and similar documents, prepared with spaces left blank to be filled in (Gitt. üi. 2).
? The more full designation was Shetar Chobh, a writing of debt (u. s. i. 6), or Shetar Milrah (Gitt. iii. 2), a writing of loan.
3 The attestation of the court was called Kiyum Beth Din, the establishment of the court,' ashra, or asharta, strengthening, or Henphek (Baba Mez. 7.b), literally, the production, viz. before the court.
THE MORAL OF THE PARABLE.
b Baba M. 7
perty being, as with us, subject to such a mortgage, which bore the name Acharajuth (probably, "guarantee''). When the debt was paid, the legal obligation was simply returned to the debtor ; if paid - Baba B. x. in part, either a new bond was written, or a receipt given, which was called Shobher or Thebhara, because it broke’ the debt.
But in many respects different were those bonds which were acknowledgments of debt for purchases made, such as we suppose those to have been which are mentioned in the Parable. In such cases it was not uncommon to dispense altogether with witnesses, and the document was signed by the debtor himself. In bonds of this kind, the creditor had not the benefit of a mortgage in case of sale. We have expressed our belief that the Parable refers to such documents, and we are confirmed in this by the circumstance that they not only bear a different name from the more formal bonds (the Shitre), but one which is perhaps the most exact rendering of the Greek term (17) ana, a 'writing of hand,''note of hand’?). For completeness' sake we add, in regard to the farming of land, that two kinds of leases were in use. Under the first, called Shetar Arisuth, the lessee (Aris=oŮpos :) received a certain portion of the produce. He might be a lessee for life, for a specified number of years, or even a hereditary tiller of the ground; or he might sub-let it to another person. Under the second kind of lease, the farmer-or Mekabbel Baba B. -entered into a contract for payment either in kind, when he undertook to pay a stipulated and unvarying amount of produce, in which case he was called a Chocher (Chachur or Chachira 4), or else a certain annual rental in money, when he was called a Socher.5
2. From this somewhat lengthened digression, we return to notice the moral of the Parable.e It is put in these words: “Make «St. Luke to yourselves friends out of [by means of] the Mamon of unrighteousness, that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting tabernacles.' From what has been previously stated, the meaning of these words offers little serious difficulty. We must
c Baba B. x. 8
· For the derivation and legal bearing of the term, see Löw, vol. ii. p. 82.
. Although it is certain that letters of credit were used by the Jews of old, there is sufficient reason for believing that .bills' were first introduced into commerce by the Italians, and not by Jews.
: But Guisius (in Surenhusius' Mishna, vol. i. pp. 56, 57) gives a different deri. vation and interpretation, which the learned reader may consult for himself.
* The difference between the Aris and VOL. II.
the Chocher is stated in Jer. Biccur. 64 b.
5 The difference between the Chocher and the Socher is expressed in Tos. Demai vi. 2. Ugolini (Thes. vol. xx. pp. cxix., cxx.) not only renders but copies this passage 'wrongly. A more composite bargain of letting land and lending money for its better cultivation is mentioned in B. Mez. 69 b.
6 This, and not they shall fail,' is the correct reading
Ps. xv. i. ; xxvii. 5, the latter being realistically un lerstood in Siplıra
again recall the circumstance, that they were primarily addressed to converted publicans and sinners, to whom the expression Mamon of unrighteousness -of which there are close analogies, and even an exact transcript' in the Targum-would have an obvious meaning. Among us, also, there are not a few who may feel its aptness as they look back on the past, while to all it carries a much needed warning. Again, the addition of the definite article leaves no doubt, that the everlasting tabernacles’ are the well-known heavenly home; in which sense the term tabernacle' is, indeed, already used in the Old Testament a 2 But as a whole we regard it (as previously hinted) as an adaptation to the Parable of the well-known Rabbinic saying, that there were certain graces of which a man enjoyed the benefit here, while the capital, so to speak, remained for the next world. And if a more literal interpretation were demanded, we cannot but feel the duty incumbent on those converted publicans, nay, in a sense, on us all, to seek to make for ourselves of the Mamon—be it of money, of intellect, of strength, or opportunities, which to many has, and to all may so easily, become that of unrighteousness'-such lasting and spiritual application : gain such friends by means of it, that, 'when it fails,' as fail it must when we die, all may not be lost, but rather meet us in heaven. Thus would each deed done for God with this Mamon become a friend to greet us as we enter the eternal world.
3. The suitableness both of the Parable and of its application to the audience of Christ appears from its similarity to what occurs in Jewish writings. Thus, the reasoning that the Law could not have been given to the nations of the world, since they had not observed the seven Noachic commandments (which Rabbinism supposes to have been given to the Gentiles), is illustrated by a Parable in which a king is represented as having employed two administrators (Apiteropin); one over the gold and silver, and the other over the straw. The latter rendered himself suspected, and—continues the Parable —when he complained that he had not been set over the gold and silver, they said unto him: Thou fool, if thou hast rendered thyself
suspected in regard to the straw, shall they commit to thee the treaYalkut, vol. sure of gold and silver ? b And we almost seem to hear the
very words of Christ : “He that is faithful 3 in that which is least, is faithful also in much,' in this of the Midrash : “ The Holy One, blessed be His Name, does not give great things to a man until he has been
i. p. 81 a, lines 19 &c. from top
i So in the Targ. on Hab. ii. 9, 3100
: No doubt the equivalent for the Rabbinic 10x), accreditus, and used in the same sense.