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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

17 - The material realities of Jewish life in the Land of Israel, C. 235–638

This chapter provides a brief presentation of the material realities of Jewish life in the Land of Israel in the Late Roman period. Jewish society in Roman-period Palestine was rural and agricultural. The chapter describes the elements of everyday life relevant to those who lived and worked in rural Palestine. The absence of social stratification produced villages belonging to the lower classes of the socio-economic spectrum. The realities of urban life, much different from those that governed life in the countryside, exerted a significant impact on the lives of city Jews. The cities were more crowded than villages and the population density was greater. In Roman Palestine, the cities were still pagan and the urban Jews came into contact with non-Jews and their urban religious institutions, which presented challenges for urban Jews. The material reality of the Jews reflects their openness to influences outside the immediate confines of Jewish society.
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The Cambridge History of Judaism
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