Israel in Egypt: The Land of Egypt as Concept and Reality for Jews in Antiquity and the Early Medieval Period


In Israel in Egypt scholars in different fields explore what can be known of the experiences of the many and varied Jewish communities in Egypt, from biblical sources to the medieval world. For generations of Jews from antiquity to the medieval period, the land of Egypt represented both a place of danger to their communal religious identity and also a haven with opportunities for prosperity and growth. A volume of collected essays from scholars in fields ranging from biblical studies and classics to papyrology and archaeology, Israel in Egypt explores what can be known of the experiences of the many and varied Jewish communities in Egypt, from biblical sources to the medieval world.

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Alison Salvesen (DPhil Oxford 1988) is Professor of Early Judaism and Christianity at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, and Polonsky Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Her main research interests lie in early biblical translation and interpretation.

Sarah Pearce (DPhil Oxford 1995) is Ian Karten Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Southampton. Her research interests lie in the history and literature of Jews in the Graeco-Roman world, with a particular focus on the works of Philo of Alexandria.

Miriam Frenkel (PhD Hebrew University of Jerusalem 2001) is Professor of Jewish history at the University of Jerusalem. Her main research interests lie in Jewish medieval history and culture in the lands of Islam and in Geniza studies.


Ancient Part 1: 750–300 BCE before Alexander

1 Egypt in the Book of Isaiah
Hugh G. M. Williamson

2 Arameans and Judaeans: Ethnography and Identity at Elephantine
Reinhard G. Kratz

Ancient Part 2: 300 BCE–100 CE Qumran and LXX

3 “Egypt” and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dorothy M. Peters

4 Dating and Locating the Septuagint of Proverbs in Its Jewish-Hellenistic Cultural Context
Lorenzo G. A. Cuppi

5 “They Did Not Settle in the Land of the Lord: Ephraim Settled in Egypt” (Hos 9:3): Returning to Egypt in the Septuagint and Other Hellenistic Jewish Works
Alison Salvesen

6 Hidden and Public Transcript: Jews and Non-Jews in 3 Maccabees
Noah Hacham

Ancient Part 3: 300 BCE–100 CE Writers and Their Writings

7 Along the Banks of the Egyptian River: Representations of the Nile in Early Jewish Literature
Nathalie LaCoste

8 Philo of Alexandria and the Memory of Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Sarah Pearce

9 “Pre-eminent in Family and Wealth”: Gaius Julius Alexander and the Alexandrian Jewish Community
Gregory E. Sterling

10 The Metaphor of the Plague: Apion and the Image of Egyptians and Jews under Tiberius
Livia Capponi

Ancient Part 4: 300 BCE–100 CE Archaeology and Evidence

11 The Jewish Presence in Greco-Roman Egypt: The Evidence of the Papyri since the Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum
Willy Clarysse

12 The Jews of Apollinopolis Magna/Edfu — a Late-First-Century CE Jewish Community in Upper Egypt Re-examined
Margaret Williams

Ancient Part 5: 100–400 CE after Trajan

13 Jewish Egypt in the Light of the Risings under Trajan
William Horbury

14 Alexandria in the Literary Memory of the Rabbis: The Failure of Cultural Translation and the Textual Powers of Women
Galit Hasan-Rokem

15 An Addendum to Bagnall and Cribiore, Women’s Letters from Ancient Egypt: Two Aramaic Letters from Jewish Women
Tal Ilan

Medieval Part 1: History and Society

Introduction to the Medieval Section
Mark Cohen

16 Visible Identities: In Search of Egypt’s Jews in Early Islamic Egypt
Petra Sijpesteijn

17 From Egypt to Palestine and Back: Links and Channels in Medieval Judaism
Miriam Frenkel

18 Mastery, Power, and Competition: Jewish Slave Owners in Medieval Egypt
Craig Perry

Medieval Part 2: Language and Script

19 On the Graphic Cultures of the beth din: Hebrew Script in Legal Documents from Fustat in the Early Fatimid Period
Judith Olszowy-Schlanger

20 Language and Identity in the Cairo Genizah
Esther-Miriam Wagner

Medieval Part 3: In the Eyes of Poets and Travellers

21 The Mixed Blessings of the Western Wind: Ambiguous Longings in Ha-Levi’s Alexandrian Poems of Welcome and Farewell
Yehoshua Granat

22 An Andalusian Poet in the Land of the Pharaohs: Judah al-Ḥarīzī’s Account of His Visit to the Jewish Communities of Egypt (circa 1216)
Paul B. Fenton

Medieval Part 4: The Image and Concept of Egypt

23 The Concept of Egypt in Medieval Karaite Bible Exegesis
Marzena Zawanowska

24 Living in Egypt — a Maimonidean Predicament
Joanna Weinberg

25 “In the Wilderness of Their Enemies” — Jewish Attitudes toward the Muslim Space in Light of a Fifteenth-Century Genizah Letter
Dotan Arad

Those interested in biblical studies; history of Jewish communities in Egypt; the Cairo Geniza; the history of Egypt in Graeco-Roman and late Antiquity and medieval periods.