By Marcus Arkin
Original 12 months of publication: 1975
The Jewish contribution to monetary growth has been far-ranging, however it has got inadequate cognizance from historians, owing doubtless to the designated problems inquisitive about addressing so complicated an inquiry. elements of Jewish fiscal historical past represents an try – one of many few heretofore – to survey what the writer calls “this significant and bold subject.”
By technique of a chain of interconnected essays Professor Arkin, a long-time pupil of monetary background, first takes the reader from biblical and postbiblical occasions via the various major facilities of Jewish monetary existence within the center a while. He then discusses the underlying good points of West ecu Jewry in the course of the early glossy interval of mercantilism, bargains stimulating new viewpoints at the attitudes of Shakespeare, Sombart, and Mark, evaluates the careers of a few of the good monetary households just like the Rothschilds, and concludes with a reassessment of Jewish fiscal task in glossy groups as diverse from each other because the usa, South Africa, and Israel. An annotated bibliography presents counsel for additional study.
Few ventures into the sphere of Jewish fiscal heritage have made critical makes an attempt at objectivity. Such stories as there are were principally an issue of hit-or-miss: in response to the existing weather of professional- or anti-Semitism, it used to be argued – no matter if offensively or defensively – that the half performed by way of the Jewish humans in financial improvement were all-embracing, or that when all it used to be insignificant. Professor Arkin doesn't purport to hide the complete gamut of the topic, yet within the subject matters chosen for dialogue, he has attempted to maneuver clear of the normal stance of the model-builders and avoids the seize of trying to draw too many classes from historical past. he's additionally aware of a few of the problems in selecting the connection among Jewish corporation and the “dismal science” of economics.
“Within the prior few decades,” the writer notes, “a variety of vital monographs have seemed, in keeping with unique manuscript resources, that are in particular dedicated to specific points (some of them very slender certainly) of [Jewish monetary history]. those will give the opportunity to regard nice elements of the sector anew and in a way more medical manner.”
In the meantime it really is his desire that “the current paintings may well serve to chop a few slender channel that may hyperlink the emerging lake of the expert probings with the extensive ocean of Jewish historic learn, which typically has passed over financial developments, allowing the waters of every to circulation extra simply into the other.”
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Extra resources for Aspects of Jewish Economic History
The more venturesome would then proceed by caravan across the Fertile Crescent and sail from the Persian Gulf for India and China, to return with “musk, aloe, wood, camphor, cinnamon, and other products of the eastern countries” for distribution in the lands of the West. ” In the remoter hinterlands of the Mediterranean, such as the interior provinces of France, these traders appear to have held almost a monopoly of international commerce—so much so that the words “Judaeus” and “mercator” appear as synonyms in Carolingian documents.
The Cairo geniza, originally an annex of the Old Cairo synagogue, became a priceless archive after its rediscovery during renovations in 1890, and the bulk of its contents have now been acquired by libraries in Israel, Europe, and the United States. Its earliest manuscripts are ninth- and tenthcentury ones, but the bulk concern the period from the beginning of the eleventh to the middle of the thirteenth centuries. It was during the era of the Fatimid caliphate—centered on Egypt but maintaining close ties with Baghdad and Cordova—that the authorities made copious use of Jewish organizational abilities, and professing Jews were to be found in the highest positions in the Fatimid administration.
Herod himself, widely recognized as one of Rome’s richest vassals, had built palaces and sanctuaries not only in Palestine but all over the eastern Mediterranean, and such splendor was achieved through a fiscal reign of terror. Yet the notoriety of the king’s tax farmers was eclipsed by that of the Roman procurators who followed, although their levies on the users of roads, water, houses, and salt were probably no greater than those extracted from the natives of other countries subject to Rome.
Aspects of Jewish Economic History by Marcus Arkin