Monday, 23 November 2015
Here, Cohen starts by pointing out that in modern societies, there are certain professions and trades that have attracted disproportionately large numbers of Jews. During the Middle Ages and Mediaeval years, Jews were only allowed a very small number of occupations - but was that true in antiquity?
In antiquity, Jews did not segregate themselves, and were not segregated by general society, in their occupations. The economic profile of the Jews of antiquity seems to have been identical to that of their gentile neighbours, whether in the diaspora or in the land of Israel.
An interesting side comment, based on a report that the Jews in Rome were beggars, observes that there is no ancieny source suggesting that all beggars were Jews or that all Jews were beggars. All of the above said, however, Cohen adds:
Jews perhaps abstained from certain occupations that would have brought them into contact with the gods and religious ceremonies of the gentiles, but, as far as is known, they did not concentrate in particular professions or devote themselves to particular trades. There were no 'Jewish' occupations in antiquity.