Center for Israel Studies



The CIS is dedicated to disseminating the knowledge cultivated by our affiliated faculty, conferences and programming


The newest publication of the CIS, based upon our 2011 conference:

Talmuda de-Eretz Israel: Archaeology and the Rabbis in Late Antique Palestine brings together an international community of historians, literature scholars and archaeologists to explorehow the integrated study of rabbinic texts and archaeology increases our understanding of both types of evidence, and of the complex culture which they together reflect. This volume reflects a growing consensus that rabbinic culture was an “embodied” culture, presenting a series of case studies that demonstrate the value of archaeology for the contextualization of rabbinic literature. It steers away from later twentieth-century trends, particularly in North America, that stressed disjunction between archaeology and rabbinic literature, and seeks a more holistic approach. 


Table of Contents


 Steven Fine and Aaron Koller 

 Preface v

 Shawn Zelig Aster 

 Mishnah Baba Metsia 7:7 and the Relationship of Mishnaic Hebrew to

 Northern Biblical Hebrew 1

 Jonathan Milgram 

 Mishnah Baba Batra 8:5 – The Transformation of the Firstborn Son from

 Family Leader to Family Member 19

 Noa Yuval-Hacham 

 Mishnah Avodah Zarah 4:5 – The Faces of Effacement: Between Textual and

 Artistic Evidence 29

 Joshua Weistuch and Ben Zion Rosenfeld 

 Tosefta Ma‘aser Sheni 1:4 – The Rabbis and Roman Civic Coinage in Late

 Antique Palestine 53

 Yonatan Adler 

 Tosefta Shabbat 1:14 – “Come and See the Extent to Which Purity Had Spread”

 An Archaeological Perspective on the Historical Background to a Late

 Tannaitic Passage 63

 Uzi Leibner 

 An Illustrated Midrash of Mekilta de R. Ishmael, Vayehi Beshalah, 1 –

 Rabbis and the Jewish Community Revisited 83

 Lawrence H. Schiffman 

 Jerusalem Talmud Megillah 1 (71b–72a) – “Of the Making of Books”:

 Rabbinic Scribal Arts in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls 97

 Alexei Sivertsev 

 Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin 2,6 (20c) – The Demise of King Solomon and

 Roman Imperial Propaganda in Late Antiquity 111

 Burton L. Visotzky 

 Genesis Rabbah 1:1 – Mosaic Torah as the Blueprint of the Universe –

 Insights from the Roman World 127

 R. Steven Notley 

 Genesis Rabbah 98:17 – “And Why Is It Called Gennosar?” Recent

 Discoveries at Magdala and Jewish Life on the Plain of Gennosar in the Early

 Roman Period. 141

 Galit Hasan-Rokem 

 Leviticus Rabbah 16:1 – “Odysseus and the Sirens” in the Beit Leontis

 Mosaic from Beit She’an 159

 Steven Fine 

 Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 51b – Coloring the Temple: Polychromy and the

 Jerusalem Temple in Late Antiquity 191

 Sacha Stern 

 Babylonian Talmud, Avodah Zarah 16a – Jews and Pagan Cults in Third-

 Century Sepphoris 205

 Steven D. Fraade 

 The Rehov Inscriptions and Rabbinic Literature: Matters of

 Language 225

 Stuart S. Miller 

 “This Is the Beit Midrash of Rabbi Eliezer ha-Qappar” (Dabbura Inscription)

 Were Epigraphical Rabbis Real Sages, or Nothing More Than Donors and

 Honored Deceased? 239

 Laura S. Lieber 

 The Piyyutim le-Hatan of Qallir and Amittai: Jewish Marriage Customs in

 Early Byzantium 275


 Eric Meyers 

 The Use of Archaeology in Understanding Rabbinic Materials:

 An Archaeological Perspective 303

 Daniel Sperber 

 The Use of Archaeology in Understanding Rabbinic Materials: A Talmudic Perspective