Babatha

Spirited and determined, Babatha repeatedly fought for her rights in court, showing the differences between the ideal world of the Mishnah and the real lives of second century Jews. The daughter of Shim’on, a Jewish landowner, Babatha grew up during the Roman occupation and inherited her father’s date orchards when he died in 120 CE. In 124 the widowed Babatha took her son Yeshua’s guardians to court, complaining that they had not invested his property wisely and were depriving him of his rightful income. In 127 she remarried a man who had another wife, and the following year she loaned him money to cover a gift he made to his daughter for her wedding. By 130 she was widowed again, and fought another legal battle because when her late husband’s family didn’t return her dowry, she took his date crop to cover the debt. Her inheritance troubles continued for another year, as she argued with her co-wife over their late husband’s property. Babatha is presumed to have fled with the rest of her village to a cave in Nahal Hever during the upheaval of the Bar Kokhba revolt and died sometime between 132 and 135 CE.

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Registration document for four date orchards owned by Babatha, a second century Jewish woman. One of the 35 separate papyrus scrolls belonging to her that were found in the Cave of Letters.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Date of Birth
2nd Century CE
Birthplace

Mahoza
Israel

Date of Death
2nd Century CE
Occupations
Entrepreneur

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Babatha." (Viewed on September 15, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/babatha>.

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