A Gift of One Eunuch and Four Slave Boys: P.Cair.Zen. I 59076 and Historical Constructionby Anna Krautbauer, Stephen Llewelyn, Blake Wassell

Journal for the Study of Judaism

About

Year
2014
DOI
10.1163/15700631-12340058
Subject
History / Literature and Literary Theory / Religious studies

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JOURNAL FOR THE STUDY OF JUDAISM 45 (2014) 305-325 Joumal/or the Study of

Judaism brill.com/jsj

A Gift of One Eunuch and Four Slave Boys:

P.Cair.Zen. 159076 and Historical Construction

Anna Krautbauer

Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia anna.krautbauer@gmail.com

Stephen Llewelyn

Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia stephen.llewetyn@mq.edu.au

Blake Wassell

Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia blakewassell@gmaiL com

Abstract

P.Cair.Zen. 159076 is a letter sent by Toubias, the head of an influential Jewish family in the Transjordan, to Apollonios, an important official of the Ptolemaic king. It concerns the dispatch of a eunuch and four boys to him. The article focuses on the role of the eunuch. It critiques the accepted view that he was the boys’ tutor arguing instead that he was of value in his own right as a personal attendant in an elite household. The role of eunuchs more generally is discussed to bolster the argument. If correct, there must have been a perceived demand for such persons in royal and elite households. This in turn has implications for the possible fate of the four boys, who are all prepubescent.

Though the papyrus illustrates the means by which the Tobiad family was able to main­ tain its powerful position in the Ptolemaic territory of Coele-Syria, the article highlights two responsibilities of modern historiography, both to appreciate the great worth of the

Zenon archive and to carefully remember the marginalized of antiquity.

Keywords eunuch - slavery - papyrology - Zenon - Tobiad family © K0N1NKL1JKE BRILL NV, LEIDEN, 2014 | DOI 10.1163/15700631-12340058 3°6 KRAUTBAUER ET AL.

Introduction

On the period of Ptolemaic administration of Coele-Syria Lester Grabbe regrets that it "is even less known than the Persian; all we have is a few fragments— a keyhole here and there for a brief glimpse into what is otherwise basically closed.”1 Though literary sources such as Qohelet and Josephus’ chronologi­ cally misplaced “Tobiad novel” (Ant. 12.154-236) have also been used to shed light on the third century, it is the forty or so papyri from the Zenon archive which have perhaps provided the most important source of information on the socio-economic situation of the province. As Martin Hengel observes, “By and large the Zeno correspondence, even as far as Palestine is concerned, gives the picture of a very active, almost hectic commercial life, originated by that host of Greek officials, agents and merchants who flooded the land in the tru­ est sense of the word and penetrated into the last village of the country.”2 Yet in spite of the archive’s extent Elias Bickerman observes, “The inner man dis­ creetly and prudently escapes our searching eye. There exist hundreds of papyri from the archive of Zenon, but we never learn whether he was married.”3 One must, however, take care in the questions one asks of documentary evidence and not ask too much. Even so, we perceive that modern treatments of the papyri are frequently found wanting in depth and application. Thus much is left misunderstood and uninvestigated. The present study is not intended as a general critique; rather it is a "thick description” of one letter in the archive and arises from a consideration of the only unnamed individual in it. We will highlight where assumptions may impede reliable interpretation of the text and how both documentary and historical contexts may suggest a plausible historical construction of the circumstances in which the letter was written and received. As an aside, but no less important, we also hope for this study to perpetuate scholarly inquiry into the slaves of antiquity whose silent memory survives, often unobserved, in documents such as that represented here. 1 Lester L. Grabbe, A History o f the Jews andJudaism in the Second Temple Period, Volume 2: The

Coming o f the Greeks: The Early Hellenistic Period (335-175 BCE) (London: T&T Clark, 2008), 268. 2 Martin Hengel Judaism and Hellenism: Studies in their Encounter in Palestine during the Early

Hellenistic Period (trans. J. Bowden; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), 43. 3 Elias J. Bickerman, Thejewsin the Greek Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), 86.

JO URNAL FOR THE STUDY OF JUDAISM 45 (2 0 1 4 ) 3 0 5 -3 2 5

A GIFT OF ONE EUNUCH AND FOUR SLAVE BOYS 307 1 The Papyrus

P.Cair.Zen. 159076 (= C.Pap.Jud. 14, C.Pap. Hengstl 122, C.Ptol.Sklav. 148, C.Zen.

Palestine 30, P.Lond. VII1947, SB III 6790) dated May 13, 257 b.c .e. and dock­ eted June 17,257 B.C.E.

Toußla? ArcjoTXuvlui yalpeiv]. el oii xe 2ppucai xai tot crdt mivxa xai xa Xoutd ao[i xaxck voOv daxlv, TtojXXf] x<xpi? xol; 0 e o i?- >cai auxo? Si uylatvov, aou Suit 7t[avxi>? pvdav raijoiiptevo?, wcitep Slxatov ^v. txniaxoiXxd aoi dyovxa Aivä[av etivoöxov I]va xai 7taiSd[pta. . . .]xixd xe xai xuv eiiyevuv x^craapa, cjv [iaxlv] <wt£plxp)xa Suo. ÜTtoyEypd^apev

Si trot xai xa? elx6va? [aü] xiov rt[aiSap] luv iva slSvji?.

Ippuco. (Ixou?) x0, EavSixoG t.

Alpo? u? (Ixou?) 1 pteXayxpvi? xXaax60pif;

HsXav6cp0aXpio? aiayivE? pelijou? xal (paxot ^7tl cnayivi

SeijuSi atteplxp^xo?. "Axixo? ü? (Jxou?) V] AGSopo? u? (Ixou?) 1 peXlypou? xXao-x60pii;

G>7t6cri[xoi? v)ffux<)t pt£Xav690aXpto? oGXf] U7t’ 6<p0aX(xov

Sei-iiv ÖOTEplxfxv)xo?. ’’Oxaipo? u? (exou?) ? ptsXav690aXpto? xpoyyuXo7rp6a-U7io? xXacrx60pii; Itraipto? yXauxo?

Iffcnpo? Tipoaxopto? mippaxi]? xExavo? oGXr) -reap’ 09puv Ss^uiv oüXv) Ip pexÜ7tui 7t£ptxexpi]plvo?. vTiip 09puv Ss^iav 7t£plX£XpV}p£VO?.

Toußla? 7i£pi aüvoGxou4 AfnoXXuvlut]. xai naiSapluv S xüv draffxaXpIvuv aüx&i. (Ixou?) x0, Apxeptalou 19, Iv AXsi(.

P.Cair.Zen. I 59076 (hereafter pcz 59076) preserves a catalogue of the names and descriptions of four slave boys on the recto of a short letter sent from

Toubias (a member of the influential Jewish Tobiad family5) to Apollonios 4 Read sGvoGxou. The Greek text of PCZ 59076 was downloaded and modified (August 23,2012) to reflect its structure in listing the four boys from http://www.papyri.info/ddbdp/p.cair. zen;i;59076. 5 Toubias figures as the head of a powerful family and of a Ptolemaic cleruchy or settlement of soldiers (see P.Cair.Zen. 159003) situated in the Transjordan region. It is assumed that he is a descendant of the Tobiah whom Nehemiah claims to have evicted from the temple’s rooms (Neh 13:4-9, also see 6:17-19), Toubias’ son Joseph and grandson Hyrcanus figure as the main characters in Josephus’ Tobiad novel (Ant. 12.154-236) where they win the right to collect taxes in Coele-Syria and have established ties to Jerusalem. They intermarried with the high priestly line of the Oniads. Onias II is reported to be Joseph’s maternal uncle (Ant. 12.160) and