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A Greco-Jewish Epigram from Beth Shearim (concl.) / אפיגרמה יוונית — יהודית מבית שערים
מ. שובה and M. Schwabe
Bulletin of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society / ידיעות החברה העברית לחקירת ארץ-ישראל ועתיקותיה
Vol. ז', No. א' (תשרי-כסלו ת"ש), pp. 17-21
Published by: Israel Exploration Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23724973
Page Count: 5
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The v. 1, which is typical, contains metrical irregularities caused by the insertion of three names. The σοφία emphasized in v. 2 has parallels in Greek epigrams, especially in those from the Hellenized East. Σοφία means here knowledge of litterature, poetry and rhetorics, of medicine or of law. In the Bible and in other Jewish texts σοφία is compared to a fruit-tree (Gen. 2, 9; Sira 6, 19 sq; 1, 20). The expression πᾶσα σοφία is also Jewish (Sira 1, 1; 19, 20; NT Act. Ap. 7, 22, Eph 1,7 sq.). Accordingly, the Greek reader would find in this verse Greek affinities, whereas a Jew was likely to note the Jewish ones. That is what the author intended. V. 3. and the first half of v. 4 belong to the usual topoi of sepulchral epigrams. The metrical error in ἀκαχημένους shows the authors thorough knowledge of Homer. The unusual mention of the place name in connexion with the pronomen possessivum reflexivum, ἐ[ν ἑοῖς B]εσάϱ[οις can be explained by a Homeric reminiscence: the much used ἐν μεγάϱοισιν appears there as a rule with a pronoun — a reflexive pronoun e.g. in o 354 (οἷς ἑν μεγάϱοισιν). The sound-equivalent usual among the Jews in proper nouns has here been transferred to a place name Hades is the usual equivalent for the underworld in the LXX. The σὺν πολλοῖσιν ἑοῖς in v. 6 is apparently without parallel in Greek funerary epigrams. Jews want to be buried near their parents. Σὺν πολλοῖσιν ἑοῖς has its parallel in the Jerusalem Talmud Kil. 32b. The Jewish poet is not troubled by the Mοῖϱα. His orthography is to a certain extent vulgar and his knowledge of literature in general seems incomplete. The date of the inscription may be established by comparison with the numerous inscriptions published by Prof. Welles in Gerasa. The form of the letters points to a date in the first half of the 3rd century A.D. This date agrees with the archaeological evidence of the site. Our epigram shows the considerable Hellenization not only of this family but of Beth Shearim in general. The author of this inscription was a local poet. — All that seems individual in this epigram, is of Jewish inspiration.
Bulletin of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society / ידיעות החברה העברית לחקירת ארץ-ישראל ועתיקותיה © 1939 Israel Exploration Society