Israel Museum Exhibit Reveals Wife and Mother from Bar Kochba Period
An exhibit of documents owned by the redoubtable Babata, a Jewish wife and mother of the second century A.D., and discovered in 1961 in a cave near the Dead Sea by Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin, will be on display through August at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Babata was among a group of Jews who fled from the oasis of Ein Gedi on the shore of the Dead Sea during the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome (132 A.D.–135 A.D.). The uprising is also known as the Bar Kochba revolt after its famous leader. When she fled, Babata took with her all of her important family documents. The Romans eventually found the refugees in the cave and murdered them. But Babata’s archive, each document carefully wrapped, tied, and then placed in a leather purse, survived.
The documents include deeds, one of Babata’s marriage contracts, agreements, court documents, affidavits and receipts. Twice—(and perhaps thrice)—married, brilliant (by her own account), wealthy and litigious, Babata is revealed in these documents with an intimacy and detail that easily allows us to appreciate her as a contemporary rather than as a woman who lived by the Dead Sea nearly two thousand years ago.