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"Bring us wine and must"

Eighth chapter in the series on the economic situation in ancient Israel. This time - about the production of wine in Judea and the Galilee during the period from the end of the Second Temple onwards. Wine played a dominant role, next to oil, of course, in the agricultural field of Palestine. Let's not forget that the vine is one of the seven species and the mitzvah of drinking wine is an inseparable part of various rituals in Judaism, especially in joyous occasions and it is not for nothing that the Babylonian Talmud says "there is no joy except in meat and wine".

The vine is one of the seven species and the mitzvah of drinking wine is a separate part of various rituals in Judaism. Illustration: pixabay.
The vine is one of the seven species and the mitzvah of drinking wine is a separate part of various ceremonies in Judaism. Illustration: pixabay.

See previous episodes in the series:

Before we start looking at the current topic, we will emphasize a few points in relation to the ancient economy in Judah. Well, there were no significant differences between Judea under Hellenistic rule and the Roman one. These authorities relied on two economic parameters - relying on the almost autonomous polis cities to ensure that the tax money was transferred to them in an orderly manner, such as were collected from the various villages that were under the control of those cities on the one hand and relying on the local government to do the work of collecting taxes and other factors for them on the other hand. Under the umbrella of the local government we found royal houses such as the Hasmonean kings (until the time of Alexander the Great) in the Hellenistic period and the House of Herod in the Roman period. Likewise, the presidency of the Sanhedrin and the leadership of the temple functioned equally.

Sometimes, in times of crisis, the external authorities used to use unusual collection measures under military and other pressures.

We find a certain return for those taxation funds, and especially in the Roman period, a kind of reward and commitment, such as the building of bridges, port cities, markets, roads and security protection of the existing. We find an interesting expression of this in a trivial discussion between the sages of the Sanhedrin in the second century AD regarding the Roman economic involvement and its causes/results: "Rabbi Yehuda opened and said: How evil are the actions of this nation (and referring to Rome)! Buy markets, buy bridges, buy baths. Rabbi Yossi was silent. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (the extreme zealot) responded and said: Everything you buy you will not buy except for your own needs. Buy markets, put prostitutes in them. Baths, to pamper themselves. Bridges to collect tolls from them" (Talmud Babli Shabbat 4 p. XNUMX). Rabbi Yehuda Maton presented the facts without drawing any conclusions, which in his opinion are probably positive, while the fanatical approach represented by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai rejected any advantage or merit for the Roman investments in Judah and presented a marginal and extreme aspect, and in any case he did not ignore the Roman investments in Judah, but saw them as harming the reader to protest And the bottom line is that any Roman investment in the empire contributed to the economy of the controlled area.

In any case, no evidence was found that a centralized, tactical and strategic economic policy was employed, and the local residents produced and created according to their needs and discretion.

However, various factors operated in the area which affected various economic directions such as Roman influences in general which caused the growth of those agricultural-artisanal-family farms called villas; Local policies of urban leaders such as the network of polis cities which has been deployed since the beginning of Hellenistic rule in Judea; Involvement of the Sanhedrin, and especially the House of the Presidency and especially the house of Rabbi Yehuda the President, who in their laws/legislations determined certain economic directions; The location and function of the temple in Jerusalem which was a highly respected consumer of various products such as oil, wine, fruits, animal sacrifices, various utensils and more; The layout of various synagogues, especially in the Galilee, which also served as a significant consumer of economic products.

However, there is nothing to talk about in the ancient era about a centralized economy, one that is planned from above, and mainly of a binding enforcement nature. The governmental enforcement capacity in the periphery was almost nil and including the overall connection of the periphery with the center, it is said that even during the Second Temple period it was almost void in the XNUMXs, and let's not get confused - when we say periphery we mean that very wide ring that was at least a day's walk away from the center and we mean most of the Judean territories. This situation resulted in the ability of the Sanhedrin in the center to control the settlements of the envelope was weak if at all, and we hear about the trips of the presidents of Judah to the various points of the settlement in the "periphery", who were accompanied by famous Sanhedrin sages in almost feeble attempts to impose their opinion on the Jewish settlements in the large and extensive envelope.

Wine played a dominant role, next to oil, of course, in the agricultural field of Palestine. Let's not forget that the vine is one of the seven species and the mitzvah of drinking wine was an inseparable part of various rituals in Judaism, especially in joyous occasions and it is not for nothing that the Babylonian Talmud says "there is no joy except in meat and wine".

Let us take a look at the production of wine in Judea and the Galilee during the late second temple period and beyond.

There is a clear connection between the characteristics of wine production and those of oil and all that this implies, such as: First - the development of settlements in the style of the Roman villa and with them the production of wine on a large scale. The Mishnah tells us near the sale of the "city", is it the villa rustica, which we dealt with in the previous chapters, about the sale of the field in this language: "He sold ... but he did not sell the stones that are not for use ... nor the fence (sukket ha-shomer) nor the pit nor the Hagat..." (Bava Batra 9:4), when we will deal with the matter of the "bor" and the "gath" later on. And the Tosefta emphasizes as follows: "He who sells the field, has not sold either the get or the guard, even though they (belong to) the vineyard. Abba Shaul says: Not even the partition of the reeds" (Tosefta Baba in Tera XNUMX:XNUMX). And this is to teach us about the importance of wine production within the family framework.

It is known that the Byzantine farms in Israel partially overlap the area of ​​the Roman farms. In the area of ​​Beit al-Hasita, for the sake of a parable, wine cellar facilities were preserved in the southwestern part and according to their description, they were built in the style of the Roman wine cellar, and as evidence - the finds of the villas in Roman Pompeii.

Second - entire villages have specialized in producing wine on a large scale, which requires orderly organization and administration. Some of them were still used while the temple was still standing and functioning, and we would have expected that following the destruction those centers would dwindle, but they have maintained similar volumes of production quantities, and this is due to the increased local demand, partly due to the growth of synagogues as a kind of substitute for the temple.

Thirdly - along with the use of the Roman army and the Roman administration as important consumers of wine production, the production of wine increased greatly among foreign settlements, that is Hellenistic mainly as a result of the economic growth in the region. Indeed, in Greek-Hellenistic worship (in honor of the god associated with the production and drinking of wine, aka the Greek Dionysus and the Roman Bacchus) and despite the problematic issues arising in the field of foreign labor laws, the sages of the Mishnah and the Talmud adopted a somewhat liberal attitude towards foreigners, in accordance with the same liberal, general policy, towards the Roman government and half From the second century CE onward, the evidence regarding those foreigners who live in the villages and deal with everything related to agriculture issues proliferates. For example, Rabbi Ishmael told Rabbi Yossi about a foreigner who had in his possession three hundred apple wine socks (that is, 300 wine cellars) and that these were kept for a long time, that is, seventy years. Even if we ignore this legendary and exaggerated character, we will undoubtedly learn about both the scope of the produce and the methods of preserving the liquid at that time.

Between those Gentiles and the Jews, a fairly close mask of relations was woven and woven, and thus, for example, the sub-testimony: "Taking a cup of wine from the Gentile, even though he takes it in his hand and lets it grow, does not become Nesech wine (for foreign, idolatrous worship) until it goes into the pit (the storage). He went down to the pit, what is in the pit is forbidden and the rest is permitted" (Avodah Zerah 8:4). In this context, sages debated whether it is permissible or not to gather the grapes together with the foreigners and/or to participate with them in pressing the grapes. Finally, it was agreed to work together with the foreigners regarding cooperation in the production of wine. We have also heard about "the vagaries of the foreigners and their jugs and the wine of Israel is gathered (found) in them..." (Mishnat Avoda Zerah 11:XNUMX) and "the purifier is the wine of a foreigner" (Im. XNUMX:XNUMX).

It should be noted that a prominent consumer of the wine product was a member of the Christian religion for the purposes of worship. It is true that Christianity was persecuted by the Romans, those who declared it as religio ilicita - that is, as an intolerable religion/belief. However, quite a few Christian classes operated in the country, some of them in clear disguise.

Fourth - some of the taxes to the authorities were paid in kind", that is, in agricultural, artisanal-economic produce, and due to the aforementioned increase in taxation mainly from the second half of the second century CE, Rabbi Yochanan declared as follows: purchase) and even on Saturday. Rabbi Yochanan said: Like linen vessels in Babylon and wine and oil in the Land of Israel" (Talmud Babyloni Baba Batra Tsa p. XNUMX). And this is to promote the supply in the face of the demand. A late midrash testifies to wine sellers who had to unload their goods in the cemetery because they learned that an "angria" (a tax in the form of forced labor and goods) had been imposed on the city.

A seemingly puzzling passage appears in Avot Darbi Natan (XNUMXnd edition of Shechter Lu, p. XNUMX) in this language: "And you served your enemies, whom the Lord will send us through you with hunger and thirst... (from the Bible and from here on in the Midrash) and thirsty how? That when a person longs to drink a drop of vinegar, a drop of wine and cannot find it, the nations of the world ask him for the finest wine in all countries...". Whether it is a protest in view of the result of heavy and high taxation or whether it is a fine product that is in demand outside the country's borders is unknown. In any case, the passage implies a demand for wine.

Fifth - wine production was cultivated in the large estates, such as those of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, which were leased to him from the Roman Empire, in terms of capital and power.

Sixth - several industries were used as secondary services for the production of wine such as ceramics, glass and mainly weaving/weaving.

Seventh - the involvement of the sages of the Sanhedrin in the field of wine production, such as the prohibition to export outside of the Land of Israel "things that have life in them, such as wines, oils, and salots" (Talmud Babli Baba Batra Ch. 2), which reflects a problematic economic situation, and with the recovery of the economy the recommendation changes As the Jerusalem Talmud testifies: "In the beginning (referring to the end of the second century AD) there were many grapes (so in the text), and there were no important winemakers (as above). And now, that there are no more grapes, important grapes" (Yerushalmi Talmud Damai chapter XNUMX XNUMX p. XNUMX). And in the Tosefta (Avodah Zera XNUMX (XNUMX) XNUMX) which was already mentioned above, it is said that "no one takes out of Syria (and Syria is meant according to the editing) things that have soul in them, such as wines, oils and salots." And Rabbi (Yehuda the President) says: (in consideration of an exceptional permit) I say (with emphasis and emphasis) that we export wine to Syria." And it is difficult not to hold back and emphasize that despite the president's many economic assets (capital and power) he decided to intervene in the Sanhedrin legislation and exclude wine from the aforementioned prohibition, although it should be emphasized that on the one hand there was an apparent offense due to the fear that this wine would be used for pagan worship and on the other hand there was a desire for mediation between Jews and Gentiles. In any case, let's not forget that Judah was an integral part of the Roman Syrian province.

In this context, an interesting picture emerges from Rabbi Avhu's testimony that "in those days I saw in Judea walking through the streets on Shabbat and loading donkeys, and they were forbidden everything because they were fenced off, they would permit them and go until they allowed them everything" (Talmud Yerushalmi Shabbat Chapter XNUMX XNUMX p. XNUMX) . The text is very interesting because it points to a historical development that led to a change in legislation. Working on Shabbat and transporting the produce was a necessity due to economic circumstances, and over time the Sages allowed it both due to the lack of desire to harm the workers and not to be portrayed as offending the public opinion in terms of "no decree is imposed on the public that it cannot comply with", and on the other hand, for the benefit of the economic field, the Sages were willing to bend no A little of the law. Moreover, and this conclusion is beautiful and equal to the approval of many of the sages of the Sanhedrin - in light of an existing, somewhat prevalent reality, the members of the Sanhedrin should, given no other choice, take the awl out of the bag and confirm and ratify an existing reality and even base it in legislation.

Gath remains. Source: RevolutioNine, Wikipedia.
Gath remains. source: RevolutioNine, Wikipedia.

The wine was produced in different places in the country, and this is evidenced by the remains of the ghettos, hundreds of them in number, which were uncovered mainly in the north such as: Beit Shan, Tiberias, Zipori, Acre, Caesarea, Beit Shaarim and more and even in Judea such as Ein Gedi, on which it is said that "carmia are made (producers) four Or five times a year" (Song of Songs Rabbah Greenhot edition XNUMX p. XNUMX), Mount Hamelech (in connection with the demand of Roman officials and Roman military camps) as well as Ashkelon and Gaza, and this teaches us that Jews produced large quantities of wine for pagan and partly Christian consumption, including, As expected, in favor of foreign work, indirectly of course. Apart from that, this indicates a correct structure of relations between the two religions.

In connection with this, President Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi declares the level of achievement in production such as: "Krutim and Tolim Alpha (first place) for wine. Second to them is Beit Rima and Beit Laban in the mountain" (Minachot 6:XNUMX).

Quite a few quantities of wine were produced within the quasi-family framework, i.e. in the country villas as well as in the tiny farms, and in this context it is worth noting the family growth when, near the place of residence, the grapes extended from the ground to the roofs of the houses, where a special sukkah was built to "receive" them.

The wine produced in Israel had a reputation all over the world as evidenced by the Midrash. Admittedly, the midrashic character, such as in the Yalkot Shimoni midrash, was of course steeped in legends and exaggerations. However, it is possible to extract from these Midrasims, after much separation between the flesh of reality and its shell, I say, an interesting conclusion, albeit in its shriveled but probably true nature.

It is appropriate to present in this context the expression "Adrian's vineyard", which appears many times in the Talmud and the Midrash, which is 18 mil by 18 mil, and compared to the Midrash "Shemoni Nutra the Vineyards" (Song of Songs Zota, Bover Yad edition). The area of ​​the aforementioned vineyard is mathematically calculated to be two or three times the classical area that appears in the book of the Roman historian Cato, and this is to teach about the areas of production.

It is true that it is customary to see the phrase "Hadrian's vineyard" in the context of the suppression of Ben Kusaba's rebellion in the "three shifts" established by the emperor in Judea in terms of the military siege that surrounded the sector of the rebellion as well as the large area "surrounded (by Hadrian) by the dead of Bethar (this is the spelling) (we were the last stronghold of Ben Kusaba), full stature and simple hands" (Yerushalmi Talmud Ta'aniyot chapter XNUMX set p. XNUMX). That is, "Adrian's vineyard could have been, as some believe, a borrowed phrase from the Latin that means a siege (circumvallatio) or another phrase in the peripheral context such as circus and from that firmly rooted in the suppression of the rebellion.

However, it would not be far from assuming that this is an allusion to a huge area of ​​a vineyard (or an estate of several vineyards), as is customary in huge Roman estates, which were not addressed in the land accounts of the Roman Cato, such as in the area of ​​the King's Mountain, where several Roman military camps were deployed. And let's not forget that the word "vineyard" was well used in the Hebrew language of that time, such as "vineyard planters" who functioned under the management of Rabbi Simon, and where? In Har Hamelech, when it was written in Greek as "Gay Basilikei" (royal lands) and in Latin as "Praeidium Caesaris" (imperial estate).

It should be noted that following the Roman occupation of Judea from 63 BC onwards, there was a great deal of Roman influence on economic productions, including winemaking. This is how, for example, the interesting phenomenon of assembling vines in the Roman method was born. That is, the place of assembly was smeared with tar or asphalt mined from the Dead Sea and in this way improved the produce of the vines so that they would not be damaged by mildew and fungi.

The degree of treatment of the vines testified to their value and the importance of the wine produced from them. It is interesting to examine the comparison of the various actions involved in the subject between the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and the Jerusalem Talmud in order to point out the technological development that has occurred in the processes of time in relation to the subject under discussion, such as pruning, blessing, pruning, the daliya (such as Rabbi Yossi who says that "I will eat grapes until they eat the daliyos of mourning" (in terms of A well-known site for wine production - Tosefta Sheviyat 15:XNUMX), Masheh and Zinov.

Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, the owner of many land assets, including vineyards, ruled in an unprecedented permit review, namely to allow the purchase of wine that was loaded in the storage and transportation of foreigners ("in the carts of Ak'om" (Talmud Babli Shabbat Kekab p. XNUMX).

Along with the cultivation of the grapevine on the small farms, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi oversaw the cultivation of the grapevine on his estates, such as Rabbi Fridi's vineyard in Bnei Brak, from the area of ​​the Jezreel Valley, and this against the background of his numerous connections with the Jews of the "South" (the extensive Lod Plain to the south and east of Vacha).

The production of wine from the fruit of the vine was done in several ways, and in each case the production was carried out in the Keri vineyard from a tread surface, the likes of which have been uncovered in Israel several hundreds, small and large, public as well as private-family, and the Tosefta knew how to distinguish between them as its article states: pooling cisterns, which were sometimes connected by several cisterns), or two cisterns for one cistern, and two cisterns for two cisterns" (Tosefta Teromot 7:XNUMX). From the winery, it should be noted, the liquid that was "drained" was flowed through a channel or pipe to a collection pit through cloths or mats known as "sudrin" or "wine shift", and this for the purpose of filtering the must from jars and the skins of the grapes (from the "zegs").

After the pooling, the wine was collected into large barrels sealed with clay, the famous ones of which were named after the location of production, such as "Lodiat" from the Lod region in the Lowlands, or "Lahimots" from Bethlehem in the Galilee, and smaller storage and preservation vessels such as "Galilim Pechin" were also known. And the passage in the Mishnah (Tashkat Kilim 2, XNUMX) when the Sanhedrin sages argue among themselves about the sizes of the barrels, pitchers, nakadiris, the large and small stones and, of course, the opposites, is very interesting. The reference concerns the volume of the vessels and there is also a reference to the thickness of the sides of the storage vessels. All of this taught us to what extent the subject of storage, both of oil and of wine in particular, gained importance in the Sanhedrin's laws and this had interesting implications regarding the halachic treatment of various economic issues, both within the framework of the individual user and in relation to wholesale and retail.

  • Treading - this was carried out in the Geth, as mentioned, a treading surface to which the grapes were brought after they were fortified in the vineyards), when it is sealed with tar to prevent seepage. The treading was done with bare feet, otherwise a foot locked in a sandal could have crushed the kernels/stones into the wine and made it bitter. For the treading operation, special and skilled ad hoc workers were hired for this purpose called "Drochot".
  • Pressing in a special facility, a get, found in a vineyard belonging to the "city" (Villa Rustica) for example, and its size is similar and very appropriate to the dimensions of the Roman get, and this teaches us, as in many other cases, about the extent of the influence of the Roman economy on the Jewish-Galilean one. Both here and there - in the writings of Roman agriculture (Scripturas rustici) - we found the "beam" (similar to its function in the house of the cloth) the "rihaiim" (as above), the "rounds" (we were round and heavy millstones that crushed the grapes and so on From this operation was produced the must which was of lower quality), the "Lulbin", the "Ekel" (a structure, just like in the cloth house, which was designed to squeeze the pulp well and produce a clean liquid), the "Goth's Funnel" (for the flow of the must into the storage vessel) which is also called "Pipe", "Depin", a pooling pit, into which the produced wine was poured and from which jars were poured.

Testimonies about these facilities and accessories are enough to clarify the many activities involved in the production of the wine and to learn about the various technical measures and aids/accessories that made the production more efficient. Thus, for example, the wine cellar, which stands out for its mention in the Sage literature and is supported by interesting archaeological findings, bears witness to the production also in the small farms, in the country villas, and to the technical ability in its preservation, especially in the era of the development of commerce, that is, in relation to the marketing of wine, or in accordance with the requirements of the Roman government and military units Roman in Judea.

The pottery industry was used as a suspicious side industry for everything related to the production of liquids such as oil and wine. In the pottery jar, the important process in the production of wine was carried out, which is the fermentation of the liquid and its transformation into a fine wine.

The jugs were smeared with a special resin, as the Roman sources inform us and even in the Sage literature, and due to the multiple needs for the wine product, as we have seen above, great care was taken to preserve the wine of proper quality.

Certain names were known for the fruit of the wine such as "conditon wine" which is derived from the Latin (vinum conditum), and it refers to wine kept in a cellar, or "anomalin", which, like its Roman counterpart (vinum malum), is apple wine, as well as an Italian wine that was probably produced in a Roman style.

As in the production of oil, evidence was found of an important cooperation between Jews and Gentiles in the production of wine, and in this context Rabbi Yehuda differentiates between "in the beginning", that is, before the rebellion of Ben Khosba (135-132 CE), and "they returned", that is, after the end of the rebellion and onwards, in relation to Harvesting operations are shared between Jews and Gentiles, and since then the sages of the Sanhedrin have permitted the sale of wine on a large scale to Gentiles without even fearing "neshach wine".

In conclusion, similar to oil, wine was a significant product in the production of agricultural crops in the ancient Land of Israel, based on various purely economic and compulsive demands. Similar to oil, a chronological dividing line can be drawn between the days of the Second Temple and the era after its destruction, considering the loss of a clear consumer base. Another dividing line can be drawn between the pre-rebellious era (rebellion of Ben Khosba: 135-132 AD) and the one after it when the economic center, as well as the settlement, migrated north towards the Galilee.

The wine production processes went through interesting stages of refinement and upgrading and not in the least in relation to Roman technological influences. These were also associated with side industries such as ceramics, weaving and asphalt mining.

The sages of the Sanhedrin understood the economic value of wine production and from this became involved in various areas of its production and marketing.

On the one hand, the wine was produced from the vineyards in the huge estates, such as those of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, and on the other hand, the wine was produced in the small farms, that is, in the "rustic villas", or the "city" in the language of the Sages

2 תגובות

  1. Your article is interesting regardless of what I write now. To Tali Gottlieb that apparently the hardships of life made her so resentful and her comment about Yonatan Gefen. The son lives in a kibbutz, which means she probably didn't raise him as usual. Alcoholism and genius have been scientifically studied. There is a connection. Here you brought Yehiam rabbis who were involved in the financial field.
    In my personal opinion, the problem is only in Jewish morality, which is a bit narrow-minded, and not a bit cruel in rulings. Nevertheless, I am a traditionalist but think that the situation today is unbalanced. Examples of the cruelty of rulings against rabbis. Rabbi Eliezer Horkanos, who Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakhai defined as a secret pit that does not lose a drop - it was confiscated against the background of Aknai's furnace and more. Elisha ben Abuya who profaned Shabbat and Yom Kippur - was confiscated and called another. About Meir, the owner of the miracle, it was said in the context of Elisha: He found a pomegranate inside and ate it and threw away its shell, and even though he went against the heavenly ruling not to accept Elisha into heaven, the heavens will protect him and I will protect him with my body. Yeshua was a student of Rabbi Hanina ben Theradion - from whom he did not receive his rabbi's forgiveness. Could not the teachings of Jesus and loving your neighbor like yourself find a place in Judaism. In general, Meir Ba'al Hans Hagar, from the seed of Nero Caesar, was very new
    In the context of women's equality, the year is 60 AD. His wife put on a tefillin and stopped walking. Rescued her sister from Z...at's cuba, and allowed the woman to spit in his face twenty times for peace at home with her husband.
    Cases of geniuses from history who were alcoholics: Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, Howard Hughes, an airplane developer, Gohan Lilly, a mind researcher who dealt with drugs and alcohol, Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe, Tchaikovsky, Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man, Samuel Coleridge President, Sigmund Freud We are not a Jew and the father of psychoanalysis, Van Gogh, William Wilberforce, the famous fighter against slavery in Great Britain, Winston Churchill - the fighter for democracy, Sherlock Holmes, Gregory House, the doctor in the series whose character is based on a real doctor, Alexander the Great, Ulysses Grant, a soldier and president.

  2. Interesting, but, unfortunately, it is written in ancient Hebrew, which is sometimes very difficult to understand.

    It would have been much more interesting if the material had been written in contemporary language that was easier to understand.

    Thanks and cheers!!!

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