This volume surveys the agrarian history of Palestine during the third and fourth centuries CE. It describes the various phases of transition from a rural economy based primarily on small peasant proprietorship to one dominated by the large estate, owned by wealthy and often ruthless "barons," worked on a crop-sharing basis. The various factors contributing to this change are analysed, factors both climatic, economic, social and political. The character of the new class of nouveaux-riches is described, as is the plight of the poor farm-hand, and the relationship between them is examined. This study draws upon largely contemporary Palestinian Rabbinic sources, thus opening before the classicist a whole new body of material bearing upon almost every aspect of everyday life. It is demonstrated that the Rabbis, keenly aware of the economic pressures of the times, sought to alleviate the lot of the small peasant proprietor through a variety of legislative measures. And so too did the Emperors, though they were motivated mainly by an interest in protecting their own fiscal revenue. The various conclusions are, wherever possible, checked against the rich comparative material found in classical, patristic, papyrological and epigraphic sources. The result is not merely to write a new chapter in Palestinian agrarian history, but also to give new perspective to the social history of the Eastern Roman Empire during these two very crucial centuries.
Daniel דניאל Sperber שפרבר — Prof. Daniel Sperber is the Milan Roven Professor of Talmudic Studies and former Dean of the Faculty of Jewish Studies, Bar-Ilan University. He is currently President of the Ludwig and Erica Jeshelson Institute of Advanced Torah Studies at Bar-Ilan University. He is the author of over twenty five works on various aspects of Rabbinic research, has edited and commented on Talmudic texts, and has written on Rabbinic law, customs, history and philology. Among his books published by Bar-Ilan University Press: Roman Palestine 200-400 – Money and Prices (1974, 1991); Roman Palestine 200-400 – The Land (1978); A Dictionary of Greek and Latin Legal Terms in Rabbinic Literature (1984); Nautica Talmudica (1986); Material Culture in Eretz Israel during the Talmudic Period (1993, 1995); Magic and Folklore in Rabbinic Literature (1994). Professor Sperber was awarded the ``Israel Prize`` in Jewish studies, 1992.
פרופ` דניאל שפרבר, חתן פרס ישראל, המשמש כיום כנשיא המכון הגבוה לתורה באוניברסיטת בר-אילן. משנת 1992 הוא בעל הקתדרה לתלמוד ע``ש מילן רובן. בעבר שימש כדיקן הפקולטה למדעי היהדות. פרסם ספרים רבים בחקר ההלכה , התלמוד והספרות הרבנית גם מן ההיבט הפילולוגי והארכיאולוגי. ביניהם בהוצאת אוניברסיטת בר-אילן: Roman Palestine 200-400 – Money and Prices (1974, 1991); Roman Palestine 200-400 – The Land (1978); A Dictionary of Greek and Latin Legal Terms in Rabbinic Literature (1984); Nautica Talmudica (1986); Material Culture in Eretz Israel during the Talmudic Period (1993, 1995); Magic and Folklore in Rabbinic Literature (1994