Generic lines:

Have you signed the census, yet?

Shalom, welcome weary traveler. Have you journeyed far?

Do not forget to pay your taxes.

I have seen the Roman soldiers carrying off those who refused to pay their taxes.

Beware of the Roman soldiers they are in a foul mood this night.

Keep your valuables and children close to you. There are rumors that the Romans sell small children to the Phoenicians as slaves.

I do not know the answer to that question. Perhaps the rabbi would know. He is in the synagogue and is a wise and learned man.

Shop Specific Lines

“Take a scroll to read on your long visit home and to remember your visit to Bethlehem.” (Use this line as you hand the visitor a roll – this is about all you can say when the peak flow of visitors occurs.)

(If you have youth helping) These are my apprentices. I am one of few who can read and write in Bethlehem. I take apprentices, teaching to read and write so someone will continue with the record keeping. These are my apprentices.

Talk about the writing and recording of contracts;

a.) Ink made from plant roots, soot, berries, and water

b) Pens made from reeds from the river, dried and sharpened

c) Paper made from

d) Scrolls rolled, write from right to left in columns, roll paper

e) Rolls stored on rack hanging – contains records of the city

(Dip quill into bottle of ink and write)

Tell visitors that you are record keeper as educated person recording the events of the town. Go on telling of contracts for property transfers, births, deaths, marriages, etc.

Marriages were contracted at age 12 so I would pick out a middle school girl from visitors. As I would discuss the many documents and contracts I’d prepare, I’d look directly to her and say: A marriage contract or ketubah, for someone like you, you are ready for marriage, right? You know you get married at 12 years old here in Bethlehem? If you have a betrothed, I will write a very good contract to protect you in your married life.” This brings many different responses: mothers grabbing child and say “Not this girl!” or the girl having a shocked look, or her responding, “No, but where can I find a man?” My response: There is a matchmaker in the city. Find her and she will take care of that detail.” (The ketubah is like a prenuptial agreement establishing terms of marriage obligations.)

You can ‘hide’ money from tax collector. Place a ceramic dish on desk with some coins, hide others beneath the scroll so tax collector can find and scream at you for being dishonest. If tax collector does not find them but demands payment of taxes, you can always reply “I’m waiting for payment for contracts so I can pay my taxes.” If he finds, be contrite and bow head as he takes the coins. After he leaves, show visitors the other coins still buried under something. State “Those thieving Romans…”

Bethlehem Walk Scribe Role

Things to remember:

1. You are educated: few were and you read and write so you are record keeper for town

2. Records include property sale: land, cattle, camels, sheep, and similar items

3. Documents recorded:, births, deaths, marriages, contracts

4. Contracts include those connected with #2 and contracts of marriage

5. Remember how much money was made: set your prices accordingly. Denarii was a day’s labor – so for you to request a denarii for a contract was not out of line.

6. You only need a couple spiels: people are with you for a few minutes (seconds in heavy flow times)

7. My name was always “Abraham” for many people knew me and would ask for scribe John, I would reply with:”I know not scribe John, my name is Abraham.”

8. People will ask you what language you are writing: Aramaic is my standard reply.

9. Ink freezes- drain the white ceramic ink bottle into the small glass one provided each night.

10. Have incense to burn each night to add to aromas of the city. Incense burners and holders are in the”Watkins” toolbox with lighters, and other supplies.

About The Scribes

The scribes were the writers, copyists, 'bookmen' and consequently the interpreters of the sacred writings of the Old Testament, as their professional occupation gave them unusual familiarity with these books. Among the forerunners of the scribes were also to be reckoned 'wise' teachers of Israel who produced and handed on a body of oral teaching and eventually created the Jewish Wisdom Literature

After the Exile, the scribe tended to take the place of the priest as teacher of the Law. In the Gospels the scribes are sometimes referred to as 'lawyers', i.e. Experts in the sacred Mosaic Law, which was in theory the sole legislation, civil and religious, governing the Jewish people. They were usually associated with the Pharisees. Many of the scribes became members of the Sanhedrin, the highest legal administration body in the Jewish theocratic state. Among them were Gamaliel in Ac 5, Nicodemus in Jn 3 and 7. They sat 'on Moses' seat' (Mt 23:2) as official interpreters of the Law. They had the power of 'binding and loosing,' i.e. Of issuing authoritative judgments or decisions upon the legality or illegality of actions.

Their services, both educational and judicial, were rendered freely and without compensation. Unless he possessed independent means the scribe had to earn a livelihood in other ways and then teach as an avocation. It has been suggested that the rule grew out of the danger of bribery, cited in Ex 23; 8, Dt 16:19 where 'judges' were ordered not to accept fees or gifts.

Ketubot--Jewish Marriage Contracts

A modern Ketubah based on a design from Ancona, Italy

  • What is a ketubah?

To protect the rights of a woman, Jewish men have obligated themselves to provide both financial support and possessions in a document signed at the couple's wedding. This document, the Ketubah (plural: Ketubot) is considered binding in any court of Jewish law, and some civil courts also recognize its provisions as legally binding.

Because the wife is required to be aware of its location, Jews have traditionally decorated the contract, transforming it from a dry legal document into a stunning work of art.

  • Are all Ketubot the same?

There are variations between Ketubot. Though there is a standard Aramaic text for use outside Israel and a Hebrew text issued by the Rabbinate for use in Israel, couples may write their own provisions into the Ketubah. Some couples choose an egalitarian version, in which both spouses promise to support each other. Some couples set a higher sum to be awarded the wife in case of widowhood or divorce. Some include provisions dictating in which court of Jewish law any divorce proceedings will be arbitrated. In this, the Ketubah is like a prenuptual agreement--it sets out the obligations not only for the duration of the marriage but beyond, as well.

The Mezuzah

A mezuzah (plural mezuzot) is not that lovely case which adorns the doorposts of many Jewish homes--it is the parchment inside.

On the parchment is written the words of the Shema prayer, found in Deuteronomy, which contains the basic tenants of the Jewish faith and is the source of the mezuzah commandment.

Each doorway in a Jewish home should have a mezuzah on its right hand side (as viewed from the main entrance to the room). Bathrooms are the only exception to this rule.