The Jewish Eye
Jewish Life in Ancient Egypt
Jewish Life in Ancient Egypt
A Family Archive from the Nile Valley
By Edward Bleiberg and Kenneth N. Han
Brooklyn Museum of Art (2002), 44 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - February 9, 2010
The traumatic experience of the Israelites in Egypt as narrated in the Bible is well-known. The slavery and ultimate freedom followed by the revelation of the Torah impacted the Jews to this very day. The exodus from Egypt is part of virtually every Jewish ceremony. Some say that it teaches all humanity to rid itself of any form of slavery, including discrimination of every sort. However, the subsequent history of Jews in Egypt is known by only a few. The Bible itself narrates that many Jews escaped to and settled in Egypt when the Judean Second Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE. They lived there until 1948 when the State of Israel was reestablished, when most of them left, or were driven out, because of Islamic hatred and mistreatment of the Egyptian Jews prompted by the reestablishment. Even the greatest sage of Judaism, Maimonides, lived in Egypt until his death in 1204. Jewish Life in Ancient Egypt is welcome because it translates eight documents of a Jewish family in Egypt who lived in peace with their Egyptian neighbors during the fifth century BCE. We read the story of how they married and raised two children and about their work. We also read, because these are ancient documents, about slavery and animal sacrifices to God. For most people do not know that there was not only a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, but also in Egypt.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of seventeen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides. The Orthodox Union (OU) and Yeshiva University publish weekly chapters of Drazin and Wagner's book Let's Study Onkelos on www.ou.org/torah and on firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is http://booksnthoughts.com.
The views expressed in this review/article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jewish Eye.
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- Jews in a Graeco-Roman World, by Martin Goodman.
Unlike other minority groups which became intertwined with the Roman apparatus, the Jews not only maintained their own cultural identity and practices, but they also left behind written and archeological records of their existence and life under Roman rule. In Jews in a Graeco-Roman World, Martin Goodman, has brought together a series of essays on the topic of Jewish life in the Graeco-Roman world.
- Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora, by John M. G. Barclay.
From Alexander to Trajan (323 BCE - 117 CE). Academic study of Jewish history during the Graeco-Roman period is usually focused on Jewish life in Judea. Often overlooked are the far flung and substantial Jewish communities that were scattered around the Mediterranean. Until recently, if a reader had a desire to study this period of the Jewish diaspora, they quickly found that a basic text on this subject did not exist. This oversight has been corrected with the publication of Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora.
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