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Jewish Slavery in Antiquity$
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Catherine Hezser

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280865

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280865.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Jewish Slavery in Antiquity

Catherine Hezser (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This book examines ancient Jewish discourse on slavery in the context of Graeco-Roman literary, legal, and documentary writings and on the basis of the social, economic, and political circumstances under which Jews lived. It shows that for ancient Jews just as for Greeks and Romans, slavery was an everyday experience whose existence was taken for granted, whose practicalities were discussed by legal scholars, and which was repeatedly alluded to in literary, philosophical, and historiographic works. In late antiquity, when the employment of slaves in agriculture was supplemented by other types of labour, domestic slavery prevailed. The image, function, and treatment of slaves within the ancient Jewish household are analysed alongside slavery's role within the ancient Jewish economy. Slavery also had a large symbolic significance in antiquity. The particular ways in which Jews used slave metaphors are very revealing with regard to the religious, social, and political concerns of ancient Jewish society.

Keywords:   Jews, slavery, antiquity, Graeco-Roman, politics, sociology, history

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