Ancient Tombstones Shed Light on Rabbinic Life in the Galilee

February 1, 2016 | Israel Antiquities Authority
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In the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, the Galilean city of Sepphoris (Tsippori) was one of the most important centers of Jewish religious and intellectual life. Archaeologists have recently discovered three 1,700-year-old tombstones there, as the Israel Antiquities Authority reports:

The two Aramaic inscriptions mention individuals referred to as “rabbis” who were buried in the western cemetery of Sepphoris; their names have not yet been deciphered.

According to Motti Aviam of the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology, the importance of the epitaphs lies in the fact that they reflect the everyday life of the Jews of Sepphoris and their cultural world. Researchers are uncertain as to the meaning of the term “rabbi” at the time. . . Both inscriptions end with the Hebrew blessing shalom.

The Greek inscription mentions the name Yose, which was very common among Jews living in Israel and abroad.

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