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The Chosen Few by Zvi Eckstein, Maristella Botticini

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CHAPTER 3

The People of the Book, 200 BCE–200 CE

Make the study of the Torah your chief occupation.

—Shammai, c. 10 BCE

The Jews consider the birth of a child to be no occasion for festivity or an excuse for drinking to excess. The law . . . orders that they shall be taught to read, and shall learn both the laws and the deeds of their forefathers, in order that they may imitate the latter, and, being grounded in the former, may neither transgress nor have any excuse for being ignorant of them.

—Flavius Josephus, c. 96 CE

THE JEWS LOOKED, DRESSED, SPOKE, AND EARNED THEIR LIVING MAINLY from agriculture like the rest of the population in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Persian empires.1 The key difference between Jews and non-Jews was their religion. ...

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