Skip to main content

Yavneh-Yam, Legal Document From


YAVNEH-YAM, LEGAL DOCUMENT FROM , an inscribed potsherd (maximal measures: 8 × 6 in., or 20 × 16 cm.) containing a Hebrew letter of 14 lines, found in the guardroom of an ancient fortress excavated at Meẓad Ḥashavyahu by J. Naveh (1960), about one mile south of Yavneh-Yam (Minat-Rubin). The examination of the pottery found on the site (partly East Greek sherds of the Middle Wild Goat Style from 630–600 b.c.e.), the historical and geographic considerations, as well as the paleographic evidence indicate that the fortress was built by *Josiah king of Judah (640–609 b.c.e.).

The letter begins with the following phrase: "Let my lord the governor hear the word of his servant." The addressee apparently was Josiah's military governor in the newly conquered coastal area which formerly belonged to the Philistines. In the letter, written by a local scribe, a reaper, who was employed in harvesting at a royal estate named Ḥaẓar-Asam, complains of the confiscation of his coat by a man named Hoshaiahu the son of Shobai, evidently the governor's official. It seems that the charge in question was one of idling. The reaper requests the governor to return his garment, because he has finished his quota and his fellow reapers are prepared to testify his innocence.

This document sheds light on laws concerning negligence in the biblical period, well known from cuneiform sources (see Driver-Miles in bibl.). Exodus 22:25–26, which admonishes the creditor to give back the debtor's garment "before the sun goes down," reflects a similar situation, and was instituted to protect the debtor.


G.R. Driver and C. Miles, Babylonian Laws, 1 (1952), 461ff.; J. Naveh, in: iej, 10 (1960), 129–39; 14 (1964), 158–59; idem, in: Leshonenu, 30 (1965), 69–71; S. Yeivin, in: Bibliotheca Orientalis, 29 (1962), 3–10; F.M. Gross in: basor, 165 (1962), 34–46; I. Sh. Shifman, Epigrafika Vostoka, 16 (1963), 21–28; Sh. Talmon, in: basor, 176 (1964), 29–38; J.D. Amusin and M.L. Heltzer, in: iej, 14 (1964), 148–57; Pritchard, Texts3, 568; L. Delekat, in: Biblica, 51 (1970), 453–70 (includes an extensive bibliography).

[Joseph Naveh]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Yavneh-Yam, Legal Document From." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 19 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Yavneh-Yam, Legal Document From." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (January 19, 2019).

"Yavneh-Yam, Legal Document From." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved January 19, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.