A reaper's plea

UnknownIron Age II, 7th century BCE

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

A glimpse into the biblical justice system is provided by this letter that presents a reaper's plea to the governor to have his personal property (a cloak) returned.

"May the official, my lord, hear the plea of his servant. Your servant is working in the harvest; your servant was at Hasar-Asam (when the following incident occurred). Your servant did his reaping, finished, and stored (the grain) a few days ago before stopping (work). When your servant had finished (his) reaping and had stored it a few days ago, Hoshayahu ben Shabay came and took your servant's garment. When I had finished my reaping, at that time, a few days ago, he took your servant's garment. All my companions will vouch for me, all who were reaping with me in the heat of the sun: my companions will vouch for me (that) truly I am guiltless of any in[fraction]. [(So) please return] my garment. If the official does not consider it an obligation to return [your servant's garment, then have] pity upon him [and return] your servant's [garment] from that motivation. You must not remain silent [when your servant is without his garment]."

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  • Title: A reaper's plea
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Iron Age II, 7th century BCE
  • Location: Mezad Hashavyahu
  • Type: Ostracon
  • Rights: Israel Antiquities Authority, Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
  • External Link: Israel Museum, Jerusalem
  • Medium: Ink on pottery
  • Dimensions: H: 21; W: 16 cm
  • Curator: Dayagi-Mendels, Michal