Traces of Feldgemeinschaft (Field Alliance) in Roman Egypt Law System and in Jewish Law

In P. Oxy. XLI 2954 verso ii.12–25 we find several documents at least two of which discuss the same matter — sale of a property by one side in a partnership. The first document is an edict of the governor of Egypt C. Avidius Heliodorus and the second one is a court decision, apparently from a later date. The governor’s decision has no parallel in Roman law; Herrmann and Rupprecht come to the conclusion that it was based on the local Egyptian law, by which neighboring owners have preferential rights to buy a property. More evidence for the presumed Egyptian law is found in a letter from one brother to another, in PSI XII 1259 (= SB V5997) from the second or third century C. E.; and P. Madrid 11 (= SB VI 9621), from the third century C. E., which Youtie sees as additional evidence for this law, in my opinion contradicts it and requires an alternative explanation. Three more documents discussing the same matter are found in SB XIV 12139 from the second century C. E. In each of them we can see additional details of the practice of the law in question under Roman rule in Egypt. It seems that the Egyptian law in question has a parallel in the rabbinic law of dina de-bar mitsra (law of a neighboring owner), which asserts a preferable right of neighbors in buying property (BT Bava Metsia 108a). The common basis of both the Egyptian and the Jewish laws seems to be an archaic Feldgemeinschaft (field alliance). Maybe another level in the development of the same idea is represented by the Greek law concerning the “border-money” (amphourion). An interesting point, as Albeck says, is that the Jewish sources for this law are Babylonian only, which may indicate a deeper influence of the Roman law on the Palestinian Jewish law than on the Babylonian one.

Korzakova H.B._Traces of Feldgemeinschaft (Field Alliance) in Roman Egypt Law System and in Jewish Law