The article deals with the understanding of the historical and legal components of the law prohibiting fraud (honayah) as appears from the Bible to Rabbinic literature. The first section reviews this law and its understanding from Biblical times until the destruction of the Second Temple. Then follows a discussion of the changes that arose after this period, based on the information gleaned from the rabbinic literature, on fraud, its development, and its structure. The law declares that every deviation of one sixth of an accepted price is called fraud. The article analyzes the main issues of the law such as: is this sixth of the gross price or of the net price? How can one set the legal definitions of profit and fraud for an object that was resold several times. The authors analyze cases in which it is difficult to set a price due to various reasons, or items that both the buyer and seller cannot complain of fraud. The rabbinic law is compared and contrasted to the contemporary Roman law.
The book presents a variety of topics relating to the market in Roman Palestine. The book deals with the main elements of commercial life – the different types of markets and the entities and figures that played a part in it. It portrays the process by which the flow of goods in the market occurs – from the end of the production process, via the entire range of middlemen, to the end user.
A chapter is devoted to the pricing of merchandise in the economy of Roman Palestine. It offers a comprehensive framework which includes the techniques by which prices were determined and enforced. Other chapters deal with the image of the different market vendors, as viewed by the public and by the Jewish sages, and the commercial activity that took place in and around the synagogues.
The book is based on a combination of rabbinic, literary and archaeological sources as well as epigraphic findings. It depicts the economy of Roman Palestine against the backdrop of the Roman Empire.