“Who is rich”?

Ben Zion Rosenfeld, Haim Perlmutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This article analyzes the wealthy strata of Jewish society in Roman Palestine in the first centuries after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C. E. It examines the use of the term “wealthy” in Jewish literature of the time, demonstrating that the authors of this literature used it differently than modern use. “Rich” for them is primarily “not poor,” and may reflect differing levels of property possession. One level is a person who is wealthy compared to his neighbors. Another use of the word relates to those perceived to be objectively wealthy. The use of the term in the Hebrew Bible and the Second Temple literature serves as a background for discussion of its use in the New Testament and in rabbinic literature. In addition, this article surveys the archaeological finds that help to determine the various kinds of “wealth” in contemporary society. This analysis aids in our understanding of the distribution of wealth in Roman Palestine and can even serve as a paradigm for wealth distribution elsewhere in the Roman East.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-299
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Ancient Judaism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2015


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