IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL
From the Beginning of the Bronze Age to the Conquest of Joshua
The Period of the First Temple
The Period of the Return and the Second Temple
The Hasmonean Period
The Mishnaic and Talmudic Period
The Byzantine-Muslim Period
IN THE MIDDLE AGES
TRADE IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS: MIDDLE AGES AND MODERN TIMES
IN MODERN EUROPE
IN THE UNITED STATES
IN LATIN AMERICA
AGRICULTURE. This entry is arranged according to the following outline:
The study of the history of ancient agriculture in the Land of Israel has been the focus of a great amount of research in recent decades. Much more data is now available as a result of an intensification of data-collection and the use of new methodologies during archaeological excavations and surveys, especially in regard to the development of rural settlements (villages, hamlets and farms) and their landscapes (fields, terraces, access routes to markets), and the technology of agricultural implements (digging tools, ground stone objects) and installations (wine and oil presses). The intensive gathering of plant and wood remains at sites using flotation procedures has helped to enlarge knowledge about the variety of cultivations and fruits trees available during different archaeological periods. Botanical remains are frequently found on the floors of houses and storage buildings, on the surfaces of courtyards, in fire-pits and in silos. Inventories of crops are thus produced and this helps towards a reconstruction of agrarian practices and dietary patterns. Further insights into the history of agriculture have also emerged as a result of inter-disciplinary work with geomorphologists, agronomists, and botanists. The analysis of Phytoliths – fossilized mineral particles produced biogenetically within plants – under microscope, has been
For a survey of agricultural methods and the conclusions of recent archaeological research, see preceding entry.
[Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]
Some archaeologists date the beginnings of agriculture in Palestine to the Mesolithic period, when the Natufian culture made its appearance with its bone and flint artifacts, some of which have survived to the present day. In the Kabara caves on Mt. Carmel, a flint sickle with its handle shaped to represent a fawn's head has been found. To that same period belong the sickles, mortars, and pestles which have been discovered in other localities in Palestine. According to these scholars, all these artifacts indicate the cultivation of cereals. According to others, however, these utensils were used merely to reap and mill wild grain. Archaeological finds testifying to soil cultivation and cattle raising become more numerous in the Neolithic Age, the period of caves and huts, agricultural implements, and cleaving tools. All these are evidence of settled communities which produced and stored food. To this period, likewise, belong excavated, prehistoric locations such as the Abu Uzbah cave on Mt. Carmel, the Neolithic cave near Sha'ar ha-Golan in the Jordan Valley and the lower strata of Jericho. In the Chalcolithic period, the transition between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age (4000 B.C.E.), agricultural settlements in the valleys, especially in the proximity of water sources, increased. Settlements were established in the plains of Moab (N.E. of the Dead Sea) where the Telleilat el-Asul (Ghassul) were found – mounds covering simple buildings, grain storages, agricultural implements, and artisans' tools made of calcareous or flint stone. By the later Chalcolithic period copper vessels like those found in Tel Abu-Matar near Beersheba appeared. In this area and at nearby Khirbet al-Bitar, excavations have unearthed ricewheat (Triticum dicoccum), einkorn (Triticum monococcum), two-rowed barley (Hordeum distichum), and lentils (Lens esculenta Moench). Elsewhere, olive and date kernels, grape seeds, and pomegranate rinds have been discovered.
This period includes the early (3000 B.C.E.), middle (until 1550 B.C.E.), and part of the late Bronze Age. The earliest literary evidence of local agricultural activity is provided by an inscription on the grave of the Egyptian officer Weni, who conducted a military expedition in Palestine during the reign of Pepi I (beginning of 24th century B.C.E.) "The army returned in peace after smiting the country of the sand dwellers [the inhabitants of the coastal plain]… after he had cut down its figs and vines." At that time the King's Highway running along the coastal plain and through the Jezreel and Jordan valleys became increasingly important, and many settlements were established along its length. Settlements were also founded in the south of the Judean mountains, for example at Tell Beit-Mirsim, apparently the biblical Debir. The Sanehat Scroll (20th century B.C.E.) described the travels in Palestine of this Egyptian officer and the document proves that, in the southern regions of the country, there were settlements which supported themselves by farming and cattle raising. Evidence of many settlements during the 18th century B.C.E. is furnished by the Egyptian "Execration Texts." During the Hyksos occupation, the Habiru, apparently the Hebrew tribes of the patriarchal era, are first mentioned. They were nomads who did not establish any permanent settlements. Some occupied the marginal grasslands and occasionally sowed there. Thus Isaac planted in the Naḥal Gerar region "in that year," and, as a result of plentiful rain fall, reaped a "hundredfold" harvest (Gen. 26:12). Other scriptural references suggest that the land was closely settled and highly valued at this time. Abraham's and Lot's shepherds quarreled with each other while the "Canaanite and Perizzite dwelt then in the land" (Gen. 13:7). For a burial plot he wanted to purchase, Abraham had to pay Ephron, the Hittite, the full price (ibid., ch. 23), and Jacob similarly had to pay a large sum for the section of the field in Shechem where he pitched his tents (ibid., 33:19). The depiction at the Temple of Amon of Thutmose's expeditions in Palestine (c. 1478 B.C.E.) and his famous victory at Megiddo includes reliefs of the plants he brought from Palestine (the Karnak "Botanical Garden"). An inscription states that "the amount of harvest brought… from the Maket [plain of Jezreel] was 280,000 heqt of corn [150,000 bushels] beside what was reaped and taken by the king's soldiers."
In contrast to scriptural references, external evidence on the state of local agriculture just before and after the Israelite conquest is rather meager. Yet from all sources, the incontrovertible fact emerges that no radical climatic changes occurred. Huntington's theory of the country becoming increasingly arid from the biblical time until today must, therefore, be rejected. It is not supported by any examination of the sources or archaeological discovery. These indicate that the areas sown and planted then coincide with the regions watered by rain or irrigation today. An intensively farmed, settled area existed in the irrigated regions of the Jordan Valley and another along the Mediterranean coast (where the annual precipitation exceeds 300 mm.), but there were no stable agricultural settlements in the northern Negev. The land there was cultivated once in several years, when plentiful rainfall would yield abundant harvests. The southern Negev and Arabah were waste, except for desert oases and irrigation projects where waters flowing down from the mountains were collected in dams. Such projects were limited during the kingdom, but increased in
During the transition period, the children of Israel, presumably, were primarily engaged in tending flocks, as in patriarchal days. The Song of Deborah yields no trace of extensive occupation with agriculture, even though the soil was tilled. The tribe of Reuben is described as living "among the sheep-folds, to hear the pipings of the flocks" (Judg. 5:16). Scripture also testifies to the existence of broad grazing lands in Gilead, and Bashan in Transjordan, the areas settled by the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh, all of whom owned much livestock (Num. 32; Deut. 3:19; Josh. 1:14). Although the Bible does portray the land of Canaan as "flowing with milk and honey" (date syrup), no conclusions can be drawn from this expression as to the relative importance of grazing land ("milk") as opposed to soil cultivation ("honey"). Livestock was raised to a limited extent in the border grassland regions and deserts, or was fed on the stubble of the grain fields and the stalks of the vegetable gardens. During the period of the conquest, sheep and cattle were also grazed in the forests which had covered the farm lands. The talmudic sages undoubtedly relied on an ancient tradition when they included, among the ordinances enacted by *Joshua, one permitting the grazing of flocks in the wooded areas (BK 81a).
The agricultural prosperity of Israel, however, is determined by the rainfall. This fact is emphasized already in the Bible which praises the country as a land that "drinketh water as the rain of heaven cometh down" (Deut. 11:10–11), in contrast to Egypt which was irrigated. This blessing, however, also entails the danger, repeated several times in the Bible and rabbinical literature, that, on account of sin, rainfall could be withheld, with drought and famine resulting. Although the country is described as "a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths springing forth in valleys and hills" (ibid., 8:7), there is no evidence that in ancient times there were more than the hundreds of small springs and the few moderate and large fountains which now exist. Scripture praises the plain of the Jordan as "well watered," and so it is, even today (Gen. 14:10).
Either through experience or by borrowing the agricultural skills of the indigenous population, the Israelites gradually mastered the cultivation of the soil. The Talmud describes their predecessors as "well versed in the cultivation of the land," saying, "Fill this amount with olives; fill this amount with vines," and interprets their names accordingly: "Hori they that smelled the earth; Hivi they that tasted the earth like a serpent" (Shab. 85a). Even the spies admitted that Israel was a land "flowing with milk and honey and this is its fruit" (Num. 13). The Pentateuch states that the conquerors would enter a land with a highly developed agriculture, fertile soil, and established agricultural installations (Deut. 6:11). Special reference is made to hill cultivation where terraced fields were planted with vines and fruit trees and contained water cisterns, oil and wine presses, and tanks. Since the Canaanites had not yet been ousted from the fertile valleys, the wheat fields were not available to the Israelites (Judg. 1:19, 27–36).
Hill cultivation is intensive by nature; land holdings are small, and knowledge and experience are needed for such farming to yield a livelihood. These conditions apparently explain why the descendants of Joseph (Ephraim and half the tribe of Manasseh) complained to Joshua that the mountain of Ephraim was too small to maintain them. Joshua advised them to go to the forests of Gilead and Bashan (the land of the Perizzites and Rephaim), fell the trees, and settle there; upon the assumption that in securing the dominating heights, they would succeed in dislodging the Canaanites from the valleys (Josh. 17:14–18). Clearing the forests was by no means easy, and was not yet completed in the reign of David, for this region included the "Forest of Ephraim" where the armies of David and Absalom fought each other (II Sam. 18:6–8). The Israelites did gradually succeed not only in mastering agricultural skills but also in organizing permanent town and village settlements. The nomads, enemies of the Israelites from the desert period, now envied the successful Israelite colonization. Together with their flocks, they raided Israelite territory and plundered the fields. Between each wave, the Israelites harvested their fields in haste and stored the produce in hidden receptacles (Judg. 6:2). Rather than use an exposed threshing floor, Gideon was forced to thresh his harvested wheat in a barn where fleeces were dried (ibid., 6:37–40). He was a well-to-do farmer, owning cattle and sheep, vines, and wheat fields. The ordinary Israelite farmer, however, seems to have been poor. His main diet consisted of barley, and consequently
The state of agriculture at this time may be deduced from the laws of land inheritance in the Pentateuch, and the descriptions of the settlement of the tribes, the divisions of parcels of land among the various families, and the procedure of redeeming estates recounted in the Book of Ruth. These sources reveal Hebrew agriculture as based on the small single family holding. It depicts an idyllic prosperous village life, although workers were only hired at harvest time, and even the wealthy Boaz personally supervised the stacking of the grain after the winnowing. In the course of time, however, a poor, landless class arose – as Scripture itself had foreseen: "the poor shall never cease out of the land" (Deut. 25:11). The unfortunates were the recipients of the gifts to the poor: the gleanings, the forgotten sheaves, the corners of the fields, the poor tithe. To the priests and levites, the heave offerings and tithes were given. The Book of Ruth reflects this, as well as the redeeming of fields to insure the continuity of family ties with the land. This almost sacred bond tying the Hebrew farmer to his inherited land was characteristic of Israel agriculture in every period. Here, too, is a reason for the speedy recovery of the local agriculture after every period of desolation. It should also be noted that the Israelite farmer always maintained a distinctly high cultural level. This fact is attested to by the "*Gezer Calendar", which gives a succinct but comprehensive account of the annual cycle of seasonal agricultural occupations. If the conjecture is correct that this calendar was a lesson transcribed by a boy, it is evidence that formal instruction in agriculture was imparted during the period of the Judges. The Hebrews also acquired agricultural techniques from their neighbors, as may be deduced from Shamgar the son of Anath's smiting the Philistines with an ox goad (Judg. 3:31) – not the primitive implement made entirely of wood, but one with a metal nail knocked through one end, and a metal spade attached to the other. In later sources, the dorban (also an ox goad) is mentioned as one of the few metal implements the Hebrews were allowed to take to the Philistines to be repaired and sharpened, metal work being prohibited to the Israelites lest they fashion arms to war upon their Philistine overlords (I Sam. 13:19–22). It appears that the children of Israel adopted agricultural skills and the use of the new types of implements brought by the Philistines who invaded the country in the 13th century from the Aegean islands, and who settled in the southern coastal region and the lowlands of Judah. Their main gainful occupation was farming. Although they were the enemies of the Hebrews, they nevertheless refrained from attacking the farms on the hills and in the valleys. A period of agricultural stability ensued. This period provides the background for the Book of Ruth.
Israelite agriculture was based, as has been shown, on the autarchic family farm. With the rise of the monarchy, this order was threatened with collapse. Samuel warned the assembled people: "He (the king) will take your fields and your vineyards, and your olive yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants" (I Sam. 8–14), but it is doubtful if the prediction came true. Although David owned royal estates over which he appointed officials (I Chron. 27:26–29), they were apparently conquered and annexed territories, or else previously unworked areas which were developed by royal initiative. In the days of Solomon, boundaries were extended, and officials "who provided victuals for the king and his household" (I Kings 4:7) administered the royal estates. Agriculture prospered, and the memory of that condition was perpetuated in Scripture: "Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and fig tree from Dan to Beer-Sheba…" (ibid., 5:5). Uzziah, king of Judah, is called "lover of husbandry," and was noted for owning fields and vineyards, and for building "towers in the wilderness and hewing out many cisterns" (II Chron. 26:10). Evidence corroborating this statement has been found in recent times through the excavation in the Negev hill region of an agricultural settlement, irrigated by an accumulation of rain water flowing down from the mountains. Settlements of this type were, apparently, guard posts and supply stations along the Negev caravan routes. In those days agriculture and agronomy reached their peak and were described by Isaiah as wisdom emanating from God, Who had taught the sons of man excellent methods of plowing and reaping (Isa. 28:23–29). It is noteworthy that these verses mention threshing implements which appeared only many generations later in Egypt and Rome. After the death of Uzziah security deteriorated and a decline set in among the Hebrew settlements in the lowlands. Against this background, Isaiah prophesied better days to come, when settlements would extend through the lowlands, when the farmer would sow his irrigated fields near the springs, and the shepherd tend his flocks without interference (ibid., 32:19–20).
The story of Naboth's vineyard, which was coveted by King Ahab, who wished to convert it into a vegetable garden, reflects agricultural conditions in the Northern Kingdom. Whereas the Jewish king respected the sanctity of a paternal inheritance to an Israel farmer, Queen Jezebel, a Sidonian princess, could not appreciate it (I Kings 21). With the passage of time, apparently, the poor and its widows and orphans were, in increasing numbers, likewise evicted from their holdings, and the prophet denounced those "who join house to house, that lay field to field" (Isa. 5:68). Nevertheless, in the main, the right of inheritance to patriarchal estates was upheld. When Jerusalem was actually under siege, Jeremiah, exercising his right of redemption, bought a plot of land (32:7–12). The remarkable agricultural prosperity of the land of Israel during the First Temple period is indicated in Ezekiel 27:17, which lists the exports of Judah and Israel to the market of Tyre as wheat of Minnith (probably a place in Transjordan), "pannag" (which cannot be clearly identified), honey, oil, and balm. With the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel at the end of the eighth century B.C.E. Samaria
Having destroyed the Temple, Nebuzaradan left "the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen" (II Kings 25:12), apparently tenant farmers or hired workers of the royal estates. He may also have left behind those familiar with local methods in order to prevent the further deterioration of the farms by unskilled and inexperienced labor. The impoverished Jews and the foreigners who settled in abandoned Jewish territory could not, however, maintain the terraced hill farms and orchards. When the exiles returned, they found the land forsaken and desolate. They proceeded to repair the terraces, to restore the agricultural installations and to plant vines and fruit trees. Yet, due to their ignorance of how to exploit the rain water for hill cultivation, they failed to establish viable farms. Somewhat later, conditions improved. Farming prospered, and the prophet Malachi regarded the changed situation as a manifestation of God's love for His people. Desolate Edom is contrasted with prospering Judah (1:2–3). From the books of Ezra and Nehemiah it appears, however, that this optimism was premature, particularly in view of the ensuing moral degeneration. Poor farmers were evicted from their lands by the rich, and a new landowning class emerged. The new conditions loosened the bonds of devotion tying the farmer to his patrimony, and Jewish agriculture suffered. Now the foreigners, who had been forced to restore the lands seized from the Israelites, began to raise their heads. They obtained employment from the new owners and were often able to buy back the lands they had forfeited. Fields, vineyards, and orchards were neglected, and the woods again spread. From these trees, the Jews were enjoined to cut branches and build tabernacles (Neh. 8:15). As a result of the social and agrarian reforms instituted by Ezra and Nehemiah the Jewish population became more securely settled. Although a significant portion of the land still belonged to the king of Persia, the Jewish settlement broke through its boundaries by extending northward toward Galilee. The meager historical source material for the period includes the Book of Judith, assigned to the early fourth century (the period of Artaxerxes II, 404–359 B.C.E.). The setting of the hook is the hills overlooking Jezreel, and the Jewish settlements mentioned as existing in the vicinity (Judith 7:3–13) apparently formed the link between the inhabited areas of Judea and the colonies that flourished in Galilee in later generations.
The level of Jewish agriculture in the Hellenistic period is not altogether clear. The author of the Letter of *Aristeas (pars. 112–118: early third century B.C.E.) praised the agricultural productivity of the country and the great "diligence of its farmers. The country is plentifully wooded with numerous olive trees and rich in cereals and vegetables and also in vines and honey. Date palms and other fruit trees are beyond reckoning among them." He apparently exaggerated the extent of the irrigated areas and the importance of the Jordan River as a water source. He similarly referred to large parcels of land – "each a holder of one hundred auroura lots" – about 275,000 square meters. Perhaps he wanted to draw an analogy between the Nile and the Jordan, comparing the small lots of Judah with the large holdings of Egypt. Had Ereẓ Israel been as densely populated as he claimed, the landholding of each family must have been much smaller than he estimated. His assertion might, however, indicate the growth of the landowning class on the one hand and a landless class on the other, conditions that arose soon after the return of the Babylonian exiles. The book of Ben Sira stresses such a contrast between the classes. In the *Zeno papyri (259 B.C.E.), Syria and Palestine are described as exporters of agricultural produce: grain, oil, and wine.
A period of further consolidation and expansion of Jewish settlement. The Hasmonean revolt relied mainly on the farmers, who received their just reward once the war had been won when many Gentile holdings fell into their hands. The farmers adhered closely to the Torah, especially to the precepts pertaining to the land, such as the year of release. Josephus relates (Wars, 1:54–66) that John Hyrcanus was forced to raise his siege of Ptolemy's stronghold because of the scarcity of food occasioned by the sabbatical year. During the reign of Alexander Yannai the Hasmonean kingdom reached the peak of its expansion, Jewish colonization of Galilee increased, and it became the largest center of Jewish population outside of Judea.
Began a generation before the destruction of the Temple and ends at the time of the division of the Roman empire. Josephus describes an abundance and fertility in the land at the end of the Second Temple period. He lavishes praise on Galilee in particular where "the land is so rich in soil and pasturage and produces such a variety of trees, that even the most indolent are tempted by these facilities to devote themselves to agriculture. In fact every inch of soil has been cultivated by the inhabitants; there is not a parcel of wasteland. The towns, too, are thickly distributed and even the villages, thanks to the fertility of the soil, are all so densely populated that the smallest of them contains above fifteen thousand inhabitants" (Jos., Wars, 3:42–43). The last number is an obvious exaggeration, especially in view of the number of villages in Galilee, which
On account of the density of the population, holdings were quite small. The typical size may be estimated from Eusebius's account (Historiae Eccleseastiea, 3:20, 1ff.) of the two grandsons of Judah, brother of Jesus, who declared to the Roman government that they derived their sustenance from an area of 39 plethra (34,000 m2.) which they cultivated with their own hands, from which it follows that the average family derived its livelihood from 17,000 m2. Several passages in talmudic literature refer to the unit bet kor or 30 se'ah (about 23,000 m2 in area) as a large field and a substantial inheritance (e.g., Mekh., Be-Shallaḥ, 87–88). On the other hand, some individuals at the close of the Second Temple period possessed immense fortunes. Among them was the almost legendary R. Eleazar b. Ḥarsum (Kid. 49b), a high priest, "of whom it was said that his father had left him 1,000 cities, yet he would wander from place to place to study Torah" (Yoma 35b). These cities were razed during the Bar Kokhba War (TJ, Ta'an. 4:8, 69a)
In those times, the state of agriculture fluctuated constantly in accordance with the policies of the Roman conquerors. Josephus relates that, after the destruction, Titus issued a decree expropriating Jewish landholdings which he ordered sold or leased out (Wars, 5:421). At first these lands were acquired mainly by Gentiles who leased the plots to the former Jewish owners, and these later tried to buy back their land. To assure the restoration of the lands to their former Jewish owners, the talmudic sages enacted ordinances forbidding competition and speculation in land (BB 9:4; TJ, Ket. 2:1, 26b; Git. 52a, et al.). On the other hand, a class of extremely wealthy landowners emerged at that time like the nasi dynasty, R. Eliezer b. Azariah, and others, who had acquired heirless estates from the Roman government. Asked what constituted a wealthy person, their contemporary R. Tarfon answered: "Whoever owns 100 vineyards, 100 fields, and 100 slaves to work them" (Shab. 25b). The response, it should be noted, is one of the isolated instances in rabbinic literature which refers to the employment of slave labor in agriculture (see also TJ, Yev. 8:1, 8d). Gentile (there were no Jewish) slaves were chiefly employed in housework and urban domestic services, whereas agriculture was the province of farmers, tenants, lessors, and hired workers. In the first years following the destruction, Gentiles still possessed and also worked many former Jewish farms. Rabbinic literature alludes to this situation in the gloomy baraita: "For seven years the Gentiles held vintage in the vineyards soaked with Israel's blood without fertilizing" (Git. 57a). With the passage of time, however, the Jewish population resettled on the farms and regained ownership. Natural increase forced the size of each family's holding to decrease, the average now being four-five bet se'ah, i.e., 3,000–3,500 m2. of field crops, the area known as bet ha-peras (Oho. 17:2 – in Latin: forus). Plots of this size are mentioned in deeds of sale dating from the time of Bar Kokhba, found in Wadi Murabbaʿat in the desert of Judah (Benoit, Milik, de Vaux, Les grottes de Murabaat, pp. 155ff.). These documents speak of the sale of "an area where five se'ah of wheat can be sown." Presumably an area of 3,500 m2 sufficed to supply the cereal needs of a family. In addition the farmer owned vines and orchards. Executed during Bar Kokhba's rebellion, these deeds prove that even in the thick of war, Jews continued to buy and sell land.
The rebellion and its aftermath seriously affected Jewish agriculture. Certain localities were utterly devastated, "since Hadrian had come and destroyed the country" (TJ, Pe'ah 7:1, 20a). Especially in Judea, where the Roman government took possession of the lands of the thousands of war dead, the desolation was great. In the words of the aggadah: "Hadrian owned a large vineyard, 18 mil square, and he surrounded it with a fence of the slain of Bethar" (Lam. R. 2:2, no. 4). Galilee, too, sustained heavy damage. Before "the times became troubled," the area had been so densely populated that R. Simeon b. Yoḥai found a way of measuring the distances between the villages
Further increases in population led to further decrease in the size of family holdings. In the next generation there is a conflict of opinion as to what constituted the minimum size of land divisible among heirs. The majority of sages held it to be a plot large enough to provide each heir with one and a half bet se'ah (1,176 m2.) while Judah regarded a field even half that size as divisible among heirs (BB 7:6; Tosef., BM 11:9). Normally a single owner would have several fields of this size, yet there were cases where an individual farmer had to subsist on an even smaller plot of land. A certain Samaritan reportedly drew his sustenance from a field a bet se'ah in area (784 m2; Ket. 112a).
The period from the disciples of Akiva until the third amoraic generation (middle of second century to end of third century C.E.), was both spiritually and physically one of the most productive periods of all times. It saw an unprecedented progress in agriculture. Highly cultured, the Jewish farmer did not allow himself to stagnate and he was always ready to adopt new techniques and to experiment with new strains (see *Agricultural Methods). Many aggadot celebrate the abundance and fertility of the land of Israel at the time, and mention grape clusters as large as oxen; mustard as tall as fig trees; two radishes being a full load for a camel; turnips large enough to constitute a fox's den; a peach large enough to feed a man and his animal to satiety, etc. Certain localities were designated as the referent in "the land of milk and honey," as for instance, sixteen mil around Sepphoris in Galilee and the vicinities of Lydda and Ono (see Meg. 6a; Ket. 111b; TJ, Pe'ah 7:4, 20a–b).
Depression set in at the end of R. Johanan's lifetime. "In his days, the world changed" (TJ, Pe'ah 7:4, 20a), either through natural causes (BM 105h) or else through Roman taxation. In any event the lot of the farmer became progressively worse. Farmers had, in earlier times, most strictly observed the prescriptions of the sabbatical year; now they became more lax (Sanh. 26a). Previously "one was not supposed to raise sheep and goats" in the land of Israel; now Johanan advocated sheep raising (Ḥul. 84a). It had obviously become increasingly difficult for the Jewish farmer to be self-supporting. In principle, R. Eliezer, who had previously laid down that whoever did not own land was no man, now came to the cruel realization that there was no occupation less distinguished than agriculture. Only those farmers close to the rulers could maintain themselves, and he therefore concluded: "Land was only given to the powerful" (Yev. 63a; Sanh. 58b).
An exodus from village to city ensued in which the process of the displacement of the Jewish farmer began. Gentiles replaced them to such an extent, that the question arose as to whether most of the land of Palestine was in Gentile or Jewish hands. The new owners neither felt an attachment to the land nor possessed the skills of their predecessors. Especially in the hill regions, lands were now abandoned or turned into pastures, and once more the forests began to encroach on the deserted farms.
Under Byzantine rule, the situation hardly improved. However there is evidence, even for that time, of the existence of Jewish settlements in the Valley of Jezreel and in the Negev, as well, where remains of exquisite ancient synagogues are visible (Bet Alfa, Nirim, etc.). The Nabatean agriculture which flourished in the Negev mountain area is also noteworthy. This people had developed a highly perfected system of gathering runoff water and so irrigating arid, desolate regions. With the Moslem conquest, many Byzantine lands were laid waste, the owners fleeing or killed. These lands became state property and were leased out to tenant farmers. The Muhammadan rulers were totally ignorant of agriculture and their heavy taxes drove the owners from the land. Here and there, especially in Galilee, some Jewish settlements persevered. Later, there was an improvement. By the 11th century Ramleh figs had become an important export item, and cotton, sugar cane, and indigo plants were cultivated.
The Crusader conquest wreaked further damage on local agriculture. The Franks, who took possession, farmed large tracts extensively, using a combination of European and local techniques. The village population became serfs indentured to the land. There is almost no information available on Judea at that time. It is known, however, that Jews suffered less than the Muslim population at the hands of the crusaders. There is mention of Jewish settlements in Galilee (Gischala (Gush Ḥalav), Alma, Kefar Baram, etc.) where the population engaged mainly in handicrafts and trade. Little is known of Jews in Palestine in the time of the Mamluks. At the end of the 14th century, Jews expelled from France settled in Ereẓ Israel, among them Estori Parḥi, whose work Kaftor va-Feraḥ describes the country and its agriculture. The author made his home in Beth-Shean, an area where Jews were living, as they did too, in Safed, Gischala, Lydda, Ramleh, and Gaza.
A marked improvement in agriculture and an increase in population occurred under Ottoman rule, at the end of the 16th century. Jews were engaged in the manufacture of finished products from agricultural raw materials: wine, textiles, and dyeing. They lived in Ein Zeitim, Biriyyah, Peki'in, Kefar Kanna, and elsewhere. In the 17th century the Jews in
The Jews in Babylonia enjoyed a considerable measure of internal autonomy under the rule of the *Exilarch, who was almost a tributary monarch; consequently the agricultural customs and usages appertaining to the land of Israel obtained in Jewish Babylonia and it is specifically stated that the ten enactments traditionally attributed to Joshua to protect the sometimes conflicting rights of cattle owners, farmers, and the ordinary public, obtained also in Babylon (BK 81b). On the other hand it was clearly laid down that when the civil law conflicted with Jewish law in these matters the former prevailed (cf. BB 55a). During the whole of the period of the amoraim and their successors the *savoraim, i.e., from the third to the eighth centuries, the economy of Babylonia was essentially an agricultural one. From the end of the fifth century onward however, that agricultural economy gradually changed to a money one, and by the eighth century the latter prevailed. This important change is reflected in the *takkanah enacted by R. Huna ha-Levi b. Isaac and R. Manasseh b. Joseph, the geonim of Pumbedita, together with their colleague Bebai of Sura, between 785 and 788 C.E. whereby the previous law that a widow could claim her ketubbah only on the landed property of her husband was changed to enable her to claim on his movable property also. Generally speaking the agricultural conditions in Babylonia were similar to those of Ereẓ Israel, with the result that the Babylonian amoraim found little difficulty in applying the rules laid down in the Mishnah, which reflects conditions in Ereẓ Israel, to those of their own country. Nevertheless, there were distinct differences, some of which are herewith noted. The land was more fertile than that of Ereẓ Israel. Situated between the Euphrates and the Tigris, and intersected with numerous tributaries and man-made canals, there was an abundant water supply which was largely independent of rain, and on the verse of Jeremiah 51:13 "thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures" the Palestinian amora *Hoshaiah commented "Why are the granaries of Babylonia always filled with grain? Because there is an abundance of water," while the Babylonian Rav commented, "Babylonia is rich, because the harvest is gathered even when there is no rain" (Ta'an. 10a). Where in Ereẓ Israel prayers for the relief of drought were characteristic, in Babylonia public prayers were offered against the peril of floods, and were even offered up on their behalf by their coreligionists in Ereẓ Israel (Ta'an. 22b). The climate was also distinctly better than in Ereẓ Israel (RH 20a). As a result Jewish Babylonia enjoyed exceptional fertility and the Euphrates is made to say "I cause plants to grow in 30 days and vegetables in three days" (Gen. R. 16:3). The date palm was the most characteristic of the trees of Babylonia. It grew luxuriously and extensively. Rav stated that their abundance enabled the Jews of Babylonia to find an easy livelihood there (Ta'an. 29b) and Ulla, of Ereẓ Israel on a visit to Babylon, remarked that "the reason God exiled the Jews to Babylonia was that, having plentiful dates for food, they could devote themselves to the study of Torah" (Pes. 87b). At the time of the emperor Julian (361–63 C.E.) the whole of Mesene as far as the Persian Gulf was like one huge palm grove. The olive, which was one of the staple commodities of Ereẓ Israel, did not flourish to any large extent in Babylonia. From a non-talmudic source it is learnt that it began to be more extensively cultivated in the fourth century but in the early period its place, both for lighting and for food, was taken by sesame oil. Thus when R. Tarfon wished to limit the oil for the Sabbath lamp to olive oil (Shab. 2:2) Johanan b. Nuri protested, "lf so, what shall the Babylonians do, who have only sesame oil" (Shab. 26a), and so characteristic was this difference that whereas "oil" without any qualification was taken in Ereẓ Israel to refer to olive oil, in Babylonia it was taken to refer to sesame (Ned. 53a). Cotton seed oil was also in common use (Shab. 21a). Hemp, which had to be imported into Ereẓ Israel (Kil. 9:7), at least in mishnaic times (in the amoraic period it seems to have been successfully cultivated; cf. TJ, Kil. 32d) was grown extensively in Babylonia and cloth made from it was common and cheaper than linen (BM 51a). It was also used for ropes (Ket. 67a). A plant unique in Babylonia, as compared with Israel, was the cuscuta from which beer was manufactured. In some parts of the country it was regarded as the national drink as wine was in Ereẓ Israel (Pes. 8a); R. Papa was a brewer (Pes. 113a). Where pepper was regarded as the most exotic of plants in Ereẓ Israel (cf. Suk. 35a), it was freely grown in Babylonia, as was ginger (Ber. 36b; Shab. 141a).
Despite the agricultural fertility of Babylonia, it would appear that the rearing and breeding of "small cattle"; sheep and goats, was even more profitable in Babylonia. Thus it is given as good counsel that one should sell one's fields to invest the proceeds in flocks, but not vice versa, and R. Ḥisda refers to the wealth this occupation brings to those who engage in it (Ḥul. 84a–b). From a statement that one should clothe himself with the wool of his own sheep and drink the milk of his own sheep and
[Louis Isaac Rabinowitz]
The transition of the Jews in the Diaspora to an urban population mainly constituted of merchants and artisans began from about the end of the eighth century. Yet Jews continued to regard agriculture as the ideal and most important Jewish occupation, the basis of the way of life and social ethics emerging from the Bible and permeating the whole of talmudic literature. In 13th-century Germany the Jewish moralist *Eleazar b. Judah b. Kalonymus of Worms, in describing the primary, divinely ordained state of society, relates that God "created the world so that all shall live in pleasantness, that all shall be equal, that one shall not lord it over the other, that all shall cultivate the land …" However, "when warriors multiplied, and every man relied on his might, when they left off cultivating the land and turned to robbery, He brought down on them the Flood" (Ḥokhmat ha-Nefefesh, 22b). The utopian agricultural society is here described as being destroyed by knightly feudal behavior which brought divine retribution on the world. Ideals of this kind continued to persist and have inspired the return to the soil in Zionism and related attempts at Jewish colonization in modern times.
The place of agriculture in Jewish economic and social life steadily diminished from the fourth century. Increasingly severe edicts were issued by Christian emperors prohibiting Jews from keeping slaves, first applying to Christian slaves only and then to all slaves. These restrictions obviated any large-scale Jewish agricultural undertakings by depriving them of workers. The church also developed the conception that Jews should be denied any positions of authority or honor. This attitude later automatically excluded Jews from the feudal structure based on land ownership and the social structure which it combined. In these conditions, Jews were only fit for the lowest rank of serfs, but the religious and moral aspects of such a position made this impossible for all practical purposes.
Under Islamic administrations, both Jewish and Christian farmers bore the additional burden of a special land tax, the Kharaj, and suffered from a policy by which the produce delivered in land taxes was excessively undervalued. In Iraq, where there was a large concentration of Jews engaged in agriculture, they suffered from the general neglect of irrigation in the first two generations of Muslim rule. On the other hand, urban life and trading as an occupation were respected in Islamic society; they were a powerful attraction in the Caliphate, in particular to the Jew who wanted to escape oppressive discrimination in the villages. From the second half of the ninth century, the cultural milieux of the great Muslim cities like Baghdad drew increasing numbers of the population. The expansion of the Caliphate and the diversification of its economy provided growing opportunities for Jews in urban occupations. Additionally, the requirements of organized religion formed a further incentive to urbanization for the majority of Jews.
Thus from the end of the eighth century agriculture became a marginal Jewish occupation in both Christian and Muslim lands. However, Jews continued as farmers wherever legal and social conditions permitted. Large groups of Jewish farmers are known in North Africa in the ninth century. They are mentioned in connection with irrigation, gardening, viticulture, and the commercial production of cheese (which is known to have been stamped with the word berakhah, "blessing"). Livestock breeding was apparently an unimportant branch in Jewish agriculture. In Egypt in the 12th century Jews entrusted cattle or sheep to non-Jews to be raised for meat. Similarly, they frequently handed over fields, vineyards, orchards, and gardens to Gentile sharecroppers, although Jewish bustāni (gardeners) are mentioned in documents of the Cairo *Genizah. They perhaps worked in "the orchard of the synagogue of the Palestinians" in Old Cairo (Fostat). While cheese making and beekeeping by Jews have a large place in the Genizah records, they are overshadowed by the production of wine. Naturally "pressers" of grapes are mentioned, although these probably worked only on a seasonal basis. Another agricultural specialist frequently mentioned in the Genizah from the 11th to the 13th centuries was the sukkari, the manufacturer and seller of sugar, which was produced mostly from cane but sometimes from raisins or dates. In western North Africa (the Maghreb) Jews owned cultivated land in the villages and city outskirts. Some of the tales of R. *Nissim b. Jacob of Kairouan (first half of the 11th century) have a rural or semirural setting and are probably located in North Africa (cf. Hirschberg in bibliography).
After the Muslim conquest of Spain in 711, Jews there gradually entered the agrarian sphere taking advantage of changes such as the apportionment of land, liquidation sales, or the expropriation of rebels. Andalusia attracted a stream of immigrants from North Africa, including numerous Jews who were often skilled farmers. These possibly constituted the majority of Jewish landowners and peasants mentioned there in tenth-century records. Problems concerning cornfields and orchards are dealt with at length in the Spanish rabbinical responsa of the period, which also mention technical innovations,
In Italy, Jewish economic activity was not subjected to legal restrictions until the 16th century, but the majority of Jews there lived in the cities. However, their (probably uninterrupted) presence in rural areas, particularly in central and southern Italy, is evidenced. Jews were among the first to cultivate the mulberry in Italy, and the flourishing silk industry was largely controlled by Jews. In Sicily Jews owned and cultivated vineyards and olive groves. Some excelled in cultivating the date palm; Frederick II gave certain Jews the stewardship of his private grove. Beside these farmers there were Jewish fishermen. Sicilian Jews also owned land or herds which were looked after by non-Jews on a sharecropping basis. Many Jews in Sicily in the 13th and 14th centuries were engaged in commerce or crafts based on agriculture.
In southern France, especially in Provence, conditions were similar to those in Spain and Italy. Great Jewish allodia are mentioned in the early Middle Ages, some near Narbonne are recalled in a legendary context. In the greater part of medieval France and Germany, however, the Jews who engaged in agriculture were the exception rather than the rule. In the time of Charlemagne (eighth–ninth centuries), some Jews still farmed large tracts of land. In suitable regions Jews are found specializing in viticulture, fruit growing, and dairy farming. These capital intensive and semi urban branches of agriculture could be combined with commercial activities. In addition, while vineyards or orchards required expert supervision, they did not demand continual labor, so that even scholars like *Rashi and Jacob *Tam could grow grapes for a living while devoting time to study.
In the Balkans and Greece, *Benjamin of Tudela (mid-12th century) found a Jewish community of 200 (families?) in Crissa, engaged in agriculture, and another near Mount Parnassus. Further east, Jewish farmers were already found in the tenth century. On the northern shores of the Black Sea they introduced advanced techniques of plowing and perhaps also new irrigation methods, and rice growing. Rice was in fact widely grown in the Volga region under the *Khazars, but was discontinued after their downfall.
In Eastern Europe, Jews turned to the countryside more frequently from the 14th century. When expelled from many of the cities, they settled on the estates of the nobility and in villages. The transition was also due to their increasing connection with the growing and sale of wine (see *Wine and Liquor Trade). In Lithuania, Jewish settlement in the towns was early combined with agricultural activity. Thus Grand Duke Witold granted the Jews of Grodno in 1389 the right to "use the sown pasture land which they hold now or may acquire in the future, paying to our treasury the same as the gentile citizens." With the development of the *arenda ("leasehold") system and trade in agricultural products, the Jews in Poland-Lithuania became increasingly involved in agriculture as leaseholders of agricultural assets, for instance of distilleries or mills, or as administrators of the rural estates; they also dealt in everything pertaining to agriculture and supplied the needs of both peasants and landlords. The Jewish leaseholder (arendar) of agricultural assets on a large scale gradually developed into a kind of capitalist farmer, entering agriculture by providing capital and business management. The large number of small-scale arendars also became increasingly involved in village life and affairs. Not only the many Jews living near or in the villages, but also those in the small Jewish townships that became characteristic of Polish and Lithuanian Jewry owned vegetable gardens and orchards near their houses. Their livelihood and way of life was closely bound up with peasant life and activities. However, the number of Jews who may be classified as belonging to the agricultural sector at any given time in the period remains a moot point. These connections to a certain degree enabled the renewal of Jewish agriculture in modern times. It is safe to generalize that the greater part of Eastern European Jewry was conditioned by semirural environment until well into the 19th century.
In the early Middle Ages Jewish international trade mainly consisted of commerce in agricultural products from the Far and Middle East destined for luxury consumption in Western Europe. Jewish merchants traded in *spices at least from the sixth century (see *Radanites), and also in dyestuffs (see *Dyeing). Conducted on a large scale, this trade was naturally based on the contacts established by Jews in the Orient with local producers and merchants. Information from the end of the tenth century shows extensive activity in this sphere by Jewish merchants from Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria. During the 11th and 12th centuries trading in agricultural products was carried on by Jews in all the Mediterranean countries, either as individual enterprises or, when on a larger scale, frequently in partnerships, which sometimes also included Muslim merchants. The trade included sugar exported from Egypt, and dried fruits, especially from Syria, as well as condiments, dyes, oil, cheese, and wines throughout the area.
The small Jewish merchants at that time included peddlers who acted as intermediaries between the rural producers and the city. In the Near East as well as in the more backward European countries they traded their goods for agricultural products which they sold at the urban markets. Jews living in the Aegean islands of Byzantium sometimes leased the state revenues from the trade in grain and wines. Attempts to oust Jews from dealing in wines, grain, and other foodstuffs were made in France and Germany in the eighth and ninth centuries, for instance by the Synod of Frankfurt in 794. Bishop *Agobard complained that the Jews of Lyons in his day dealt in wines and meat. Jews owned vineyards and dealt in wines in France up to the 12th century. In England, the Statutum de judeismo of 1275, after forbidding the Jews to engage in moneylending, authorized them to practice trades and crafts. A large number of wealthy Jews therefore turned to trade in grain and wool. While the Jewish merchants of Bristol, Canterbury, Exeter, and Hereford mainly dealt in grain, those of Lincoln, Norwich, and Oxford were wool merchants. In the states of Christian Spain, the Jewish trade in agricultural products was widely developed, and in some places ordinances regulating this trade were issued by the local communities. In Portugal in the 14th century the authorities restricted the activities of Jewish peddlers and traders who bought honey, oil, and wax from the mountain villages and sold these commodities in the cities.
Even when moneylending became the paramount Jewish economic activity in Western Europe the Jews in the West continued to deal in agricultural products, in particular in wines, wool, and grain, frequently in combination with their loan activities. This is attested in the responsa literature of the period. In the 15th century many Jews in the southeastern parts of the German Empire acted as middlemen in buying the products of the villages and landed estates (Gut) and selling them to the towns. Buying up, and especially horse-trading, became the specialties of Jews in *Bavaria and Franconia, in which they continued to engage well into modern times. The Jewish peddler later found in the United States was continuing a traditional Jewish occupation in Germany and Eastern Europe. However, the anti-Jewish enactments passed by the church frequently succeeded in preventing Jews from trading in agricultural products. The bull issued by Pope Paul IV in 1555 included a provision prohibiting Jews from dealing in grain. In Venice the ricondotta of 1777 prohibited Jews from trading in grain and foodstuffs. With the economic development of Western Europe after the great geographical discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries, *Poland-*Lithuania became the chief supplier of agricultural products, cattle, and forest produce to the West. Up to the time of the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century Jews took a considerable part in the extraction and sale of the agricultural produce on which the arenda system was based, and thus became associated with the export trade to the West, using both the river and land routes. In the late 17th and during the 18th centuries the role of the *Court Jews as victuallers to the armies of the Hapsburg Empire and princes of Germany was largely facilitated by their contacts with Jews in Poland-Lithuania who provided the necessary supplies. The financial success of Jews in this field often became the basis for the accumulation of large capital, as instanced by the career of S. *Zbitkower. Trade in cattle, and especially oxen, was one of the most important branches of the export trade in which Jews took part from the 16th century. It entailed the driving of cattle from Eastern Europe to the West, then the best way of transporting meat. The major part of the herd was bought in Moldavia; the cattle were fattened for a time in the Ukraine, and with the additions bought there were driven to Silesia, West Germany, and France. Jewish dealers sold part of their cattle at the large fairs in Brzeg on the Oder. After the partitions of Poland and up to the present century, the traditional Jewish trade in agricultural products continued, despite attempts by the Russian authorities to expel the Jews from the villages. In the *shtetls of the *Pale of Settlement in *Belorussia, *Volhynia, and the *Ukraine the small-scale Jewish trader would buy goods from the peasants on market days, or through itinerant peddlers and dealers, and sell the village products in bulk to the larger Jewish merchants, who then exported them to Germany. In consequence, trade in essential agricultural products used in industry, such as bristles, flax, and hemp, was almost a Jewish monopoly in this area during the period. Identical in structure was the grain trade in Galicia and Poland in the 19th century, in which the Dorfgaenger or Dorfgeher were engaged. The Jewish traders traveled from village to village, visiting markets and fairs in the small towns where they bought grain and also cattle, despite official attempts to prohibit them from doing so.
The grain trade of Poland became almost exclusively a Jewish preserve during the 19th century. Many Jewish firms dealt in grain, and Jews also acted as the agents for German and French firms, some also in Jewish ownership. There were 36,907 Jews occupied in the grain trade in Poland in 1897, i.e., 6.9% of the Jewish merchants living in this area. Of the 224 grain merchants in business in Warsaw in 1867, 214 were Jews. In 1873, five Jews became members of the constituent committee of the Corn Exchange in Warsaw. Jewish grain dealers were also prominent during the establishment of the state grain stores in Prussia, Silesia, and Galicia in the 18th century. Jewish contractors undertook to provide approximately 74% of the grain during the shortage in Galicia in 1785–86. Several communities in East Prussia and Latvia, such as those of Koenigsberg and Riga, owe their origin and development to the expansion of Jewish interests in the grain trade. In the 18th century the bulk of the grain exported by the land route from Poland to Silesia was concentrated in Jewish hands. In Lithuania, Jews who exported grain to Silesia bought colonial goods in Breslau, which they supplied to the Lithuanian towns. A large part of the wine export trade of Hungary, which in the 18th and 19th centuries went largely to Poland, Ukraine, and Czechoslovakia, was in Jewish hands. The wine merchants sometimes organized armed caravans to defend the transports from marauders. Between the two world wars a large
In the modern period, Jews in Europe developed direct contact with agriculture in various ways. Jewish businessmen in Western Europe entered the agricultural sphere as part of their share in the development of capitalist economy. Many of the merchants owning plantations in the West Indies, especially of sugar cane, were Jews. In continental Europe from the late 18th century Jewish merchant bankers frequently branched out into mining and industry, and also into forestry and capitalist farming. This type of activity, chiefly financial and commercial at least in origin, for example sugar beet growing, was developed by a significant number of Jews in southern Germany in the first half of the 19th century and in Russia in the second half of the century. The number of such pioneer businessmen who were actively involved in farm management by the end of the 19th century cannot be ascertained. Apparently at least in Galicia, Slovakia, and Romania, the class of Jewish capitalist owners or tenants of agricultural lands or assets had become quite large by 1900, and was directly concerned with farming.
It was in Eastern Europe that the movement to settle numbers of Jews on the land took place. From the middle of the 19th century the rapid growth of population and deteriorating economic conditions in Russia forced many of the Jews there out of their traditional occupations. A large minority turned to agriculture, chiefly the suburban type of dairy and truck farming. By doing so, the small-scale Jewish farmer could remain in the same locality, avoid the difficulties of obtaining larger areas of land, and concentrate on intensive cultivation of commercial crops.
Already from the 18th century the population increase and economic impoverishment combined with new ideologies which envisioned a more "natural" mode of existence for the Jews to press for changes in Jewish social life. The theoreticians proposed alterations in the Jewish occupational structure with the aim of achieving a more balanced Jewish social stratification. This, they considered, would make Jews less open to the attacks of antisemites who condemned Jews for their pursuit of "non-productive" economic activities (see *History, Jewish Medieval and Modern; *Haskalah, *Antisemitism; *Zionism). Various schemes were proposed on both governmental and private initiative for the "productivization" of the Jewish masses and included plans for Jewish agricultural settlement. These were either confined to the country concerned, or combined programs for emigration and colonization with broader social and political issues. Among these the most notable are the Zionist movement and the projects of Baron *Hirsch, as well as the *Birobidzhan scheme.
Jewish researchers estimate that the number of Jewish agriculturalists of all types in Eastern Europe reached a maximum of between 400,000 and 500,000 in the early 1930s, i.e., forming up to 6% of the total Jewish population there. They varied both in the form of agricultural organization and the type of farming undertaken. They included the Jewish shepherds in the Carpathian mountains, beekeepers, owners of milch cows, or vegetable growers in the small Galician and Bessarabian towns, and the mixed farming colonists in Ukraine. Although the Jewish output was insignificant in the total agricultural sector, Jews took an important part and even predominated in certain branches. In northern Poland, Jewish farmers predominated in vegetable growing, including hotbed crops, notably cucumbers. In certain districts in Poland and Bessarabia, tobacco was practically a Jewish speciality.
The recent development of a Jewish agricultural sector has undergone many vicissitudes both in direction and scope, through ideological and political changes, both within Jewish society and in the attitudes of the environing societies and states. These are revealed in the history of the Zionist movement in Ereẓ Israel and of the settlements in *Crimea and Birobidzhan. The greatest interruptions were caused by the Russian revolution of 1917 and the British Mandate in Palestine.
Although proposals for Jewish agricultural colonization were aired in Austria and Prussia at the end of the 18th century, the first substantial attempts to carry out such a scheme were initiated by the czarist government in 1807. They were commenced in the governments of Kherson and Yekaterinoslav as part of renewed efforts by the government to colonize the steppe and at the same time to assimilate the Jews, to remove them from the villages and townships of the Ukraine Pale of Settlement, and to make them less "parasitical." A total of 38 villages, each with 100 to 300 family farms were founded in these areas. Some were given Hebrew names, such as Nahar-Tov and Sedei Menuḥah. According to Russian official data, these 38 villages included almost 7,000 farms with 42,000 inhabitants in 1913. The average area of the holding was 11.8 desyatines (about 32 acres).
The Jewish settlements in the Ukraine suffered severely after World War I during the revolution and the civil war, but most were reconstructed with aid from Jewish organizations such as ORT and ICA. In 1924 additional villages, now with Yiddish names such as Blumenfeld and Frayland, were founded, partly by younger members of the old settlements. In 1927 there were 35,000 Jews living in 48 villages in the Ukraine, farming a total of about 250,000 acres.
At first confined to grain production, the colonies in the Ukraine later diversified their output by introducing livestock and fodder, vegetables, and fruits. After the war the production of irrigated crops, notably grapes, was much increased, and cooperative dairies were set up. Loans and instructors supplied by ICA and ORT assisted these developments, which resulted in well established prosperous communities of a pronounced Jewish and rural character. In the late 1920s the Soviet government allocated additional land for Jewish settlements. Around the existing core there developed three administrative districts with a majority of Jewish farmers: Kalinindorf, Nay-Zlatopol, and Stalindorf. The Ukraine thus harbored the largest concentration of Jewish agriculturalists in Europe, who had their own schools, a newspaper (Der Stalindorfer Emes), and a Yiddish theater. The new villages, numbering over 50, were based on mechanized cooperative farming, with more livestock and acreage per family than previously. Machinery and instruction were supplied partly by the government and partly by ICA. Two further sections of Jewish settlement developed in the Ukraine in the 1920s, in the vicinity of Odessa and in the district of Pervomaysk. After economic changes villages and agricultural suburbs comprising several thousands of Jewish families grew up in these two districts. The movement of Jews to the soil in the southern Ukraine received a renewed impetus in 1928–30 with the Soviet drive for collectivization.
The czarist regulations of 1835 provided a legal basis for Jewish colonies within the Pale of Settlement. These western Russian provinces, which then included Lithuania and Volhynia, provided many of the settlers of the Ukraine and also saw the growth of a similar Jewish agricultural sector themselves. However the climate and soil in the west were much less favorable. Settlement was more scattered and land tenure less uniform. At the beginning of the 20th century there were 258 Jewish settlements in the western provinces, with almost 6,000 farms and 36,000 inhabitants. These villages each had a maximum of 40 family units, farming an average of 18 acres. On government land a unit might comprise 30 acres, but on land privately leased or purchased they ranged from 5 to 13 acres. This compelled intensification (an average of two cows per unit was high for these regions) and search for supplementary employment. Tillage remained according to local technique on a three-year rotation. Technical and living standards improved from the beginning of the 20th century, due to the aid furnished by ORT and ICA. In these conditions, the settlers in the area who overcame the initial hardships never reached prosperity, but developed a specific Jewish rural way of life in which they took pride.
After the war most of these villages remained in the USSR. All had suffered severely from the years of fighting in World War I and the revolution of 1917. In the early 1920s thousands of Belorussians, including Jews, were driven by hunger to become farmers. The Jews tended to prefer suburban lots, but collectives received higher land quotas. In the collective, it was also easier to maintain Jewish cohesion and cling to some vestiges of Jewish religious life. Thus, about 40% of the 2,300 families who settled on the land before 1925 were members of collective groups. The movement, encouraged by allocation of public land, continued until 1929. There was then a total of 9,100 Jewish farmer families in Belorussia, with 58,500 members and 170,000 acres. Most of these specialized in dairy farming, preferring fodder crops to grains, and many kept orchards and gardens. The introduction of tractors facilitated the replacement of draft horses by dairy cattle. In the Mogilev and Bobruisk districts the majority of Jewish agriculturalists were individual farmers living on the fringes of the small towns, receiving aid from ORT. Collectives predominated in the Minsk district; they received government assistance and later became kolkhozes. Many of the Jewish kolkhozes eventually merged with non-Jewish ones and lost their Jewish identity (see also *Birobidzhan and *Crimea).
The dissolution of the state toward the end of the 18th century, combined with efforts to reform Polish society and political life, invested the attempts to turn Jews to agriculture with an importance and attention far beyond their real scope. Even so, there were considerable achievements, for which the initiative came from various sources, including the upper circles of Jewish society, enlightened members of the Polish gentry, and Russian governmental circles. They succeeded in bringing the movement for settling Jews on the land to public attention, and in developing Jewish village life. By the middle of the 19th century there were about 30,000 Jews living from agriculture in the central districts of Poland. Ten Jewish villages were considered models for the surrounding areas.
After World War I, Poland inherited the Lithuanian and Volhynian areas of Belorussia, where there were 1,400 Jewish farms. About half were in the northern section, only one-third of the farms had less than 15 acres each; in the more fertile south the majority were small-scale units. Especially in the early 1920s, additional Jewish families turned to farming in northern Poland, settling in areas adjacent to established units as well as in new locations. The new settlers were all tenants, and in this respect were worse off economically than their forerunners. They concentrated in the small towns and city suburbs rather than in the villages, specializing in truck farming, notably of cucumbers; from the suburbs of Vilna and other cities they marketed hotbed vegetables as far as Warsaw. Near Grodno, Jews specialized in tobacco growing. In the mid-1930s there were close to 2,900 Jewish farm units in 142 locations in northeastern Poland, with approximately 60,000 acres. In Volhynia, 940 units in 20-odd locations farmed an additional 11,000 acres.
In Galicia, entirely different conditions had prevailed under Austrian rule. Here the Jewish agricultural sector comprised three classes: large landlords; tenants and agents; farm hands and smallholders. According to Austrian data of 1902, out of 2,430 large land- and forest-owners, 438 Jews owned
Developments in the interwar period, particularly after 1929, caused a renewed movement of Galician Jews to agriculture. In 1932 ICA opened a central agency in Lvov, and at the same time grass root initiative culminated in the foundation of YILAG ("Yidishe Landvirtshaftlikhe Gezelshaft": Jewish Agricultural Society). The credit facilities, education, and instruction provided by these two organizations encouraged modernization and cooperation. YILAG published the monthly Der Yidisher Landvirt from 1933 to 1939. In 1933 there were already eight Jewish farming cooperatives and 12 cooperative dairies in Galicia, with a total membership of 1,400. The dairies processed 4½ million liters of milk annually. Dairy farming was quite profitable in the hill regions, where natural pasture enabled a family to keep up to five milch cows if the problems of marketing could be solved. The cooperatives therefore developed transportation as well as processing facilities, and branched out into retailing. Eventually six shops (four in Lvov alone) for dairy and poultry products under the name "Ḥemah" ("butter" in Hebrew) became very popular with the Jewish urban customer.
After World War II, Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, of whom some had been farmers before the war, settled in villages in the districts formerly in Germany. ORT renewed its activity in Poland and undertook the vocational guidance of the new farmers. Various educational projects were started. However, the whole movement was short-lived, and most participants soon left the soil (and the country).
The various sections of Romania differ greatly in their geography and history. In Bukovina, Austrian rule created social and political conditions similar to those of Galicia, with an accordingly similar structure of the Jewish agricultural sector. Of the small-scale farmers, who numbered 2,000 families before 1914, many owned their holdings, which averaged five to 25 acres. However, only approximately 500 families survived on the land after World War I, and these were completely impoverished. In the 1930s their reconstruction was planned and financed by ICA, based on dairy or sugar-beet farming. In Bessarabia, early settlements had been part of the czarist projects, especially from 1850. Additional villages and scattered farms brought the number of Jewish farmers up to perhaps 5,500 families in the late 1920s. Of special interest in this region were the tobacco growers, who worked diminutive plots with effort and skill. Although well known for the high yield of their land and the quality of the leaves they produced, the Jewish tobacco growers could still barely subsist because of high rents and fluctuating prices. Before 1914, over 90% of the tobacco growers in Bessarabia had been Jews; they continued to predominate in the inter-war period. There were also many Jewish winegrowers in Bessarabia working under similar conditions, and with like success. Mixed farming, with much maize, was also represented in the Jewish sector. In the Carpathian Maramures, part of which belonged to Romania and part to Czechoslovakia in the inter-war period, numerous extremely poor Jews, perhaps numbering up to 60,000, gained a subsistence from cattle and sheep, with some supplementary orchards and beehives. Dairies were set up there by ICA in the 1930s.
The process of the return of Jews in Europe to the countryside and villages from the towns is in part due to an intensification of the historical and economic trends which began in the later Middle Ages. However, the driving forces both from within Jewry itself and outside it have been mainly ideological and political.
As indicated in colonial records, there were individual Jewish landowners and farmers early in the 18th century. The first attempt to establish a Jewish farm community, however, dates back to the 1820s, when Mordecai Manuel *Noah received permission to found his model community of Ararat in the Niagara River region of New York. During the same period, Moses Elias *Levy settled Jews on a Florida tract, and by 1837, 13 families launched the Sholem farm colony in Wawarsing, New York. Within five years the last were forced to disperse, partly because of depressed economic conditions. There were other isolated instances of Jewish farmers, including some in California, throughout the century.
By 1881, however, with the beginning of massive Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe, group settlement received a major impetus. Many of the newcomers were imbued with the agrarian idealism of the *Am Olam, stressing the nobility of farm labor as the most honest of occupations; a few had experience as agriculturalists in Russia. At the same time, the relatively small American Jewish community hoped to develop among the immigrants a healthy yeoman class, away from the cities; it became increasingly sensitive also to anti-immigration sentiment stemming not only from nativist elements, but also from the new urban working class. In a rural setting, philanthropy would combine with self help to absorb the newcomers.
Early in the 20th century, both Vineland and Woodbine unfurled the banner of "Chickenville," joined later by Jewish farm communities in Toms River and Farmingdale, N.J. Thereby, the poultry industry was able to absorb Jewish immigrants in the 1930s, and beyond World War II, with new centers in the Lakewood, N.J. area, Colchester, Manchester, and Danielson, Conn., and Petaluma, Calif. (north of San Francisco). New York's Jewish farmers, especially throughout Sullivan and Ulster counties, have been well represented since the turn of the century in the poultry industry, dairying, vegetables, and resort facilities. In Connecticut, Jewish farmers specialized in dairying also, as well as tobacco and potatoes; others pioneered in the famed potato industry of Aroostook County, Maine.
Some notable contributions stand out: in the area of education, the Baron de Hirsch Agricultural School (Woodbine, N.J.) and the National Farm School (Doylestown, P.A.), both pioneering institutions. Also, Jewish farmers founded cooperatives for joint marketing, especially of poultry and eggs, purchase of feed and fertilizer, insurance, and comprehensive community service programs.
At the end of World War II, there were about 20,000 Jewish farm families with perhaps fewer than half that number by the late 1960s, mainly because of trends which led to a decline of American agriculture generally down to only five percent of the total population. Jews continued to be represented in all branches of American agriculture, whether citrus in Florida or vegetables in California's Imperial Valley, but the number of Jews in agriculture continued to decline in the last third of the 20th century as the overall number of Americans engaged in agriculture dropped further to fewer than 2.5 percent.
Canada's vast and underpopulated expanses of fertile land were hardly known to the Jews in czarist Russia and other countries who were seeking asylum. Thus, despite Canada's favorable attitude to immigration, only a small segment of the Jewish emigrants from Europe went to Canada. The first attempt to establish Jewish agricultural settlement in Canada was made in 1884 (after a two year delay mainly due to the government's refusal to assign land for the Jews when they first arrived) when a small group tried to farm 560 acres mear Moosomin, Saskatchewan. Their experiment ended in failure after five years of struggle. A few years later, the Young Men's Hebrew Benevolent Society of Montreal approached Baron de Hirsch to assist Jewish immigrants in Canada, as he did the immigrants in the U.S.A., and soon afterward the *Jewish Colonization Association (ICA) established a special Canadian committee for the promotion of agricultural settlement among the Jewish immigrants. With the beginning of large-scale Jewish immigration to Canada in the 1880s some Jews wished to become farmers under the government's homestead policy. Because of the belief that Jews would not make good farmers the government tended to discourage Jewish group-land settlement. Nevertheless between 1884 and 1910 some 17 Jewish farm settlements were started, mostly in western Canada with the help of the Jewish Colonization Association. Among the best known are Oxbow and Wapella (1888), Hirsch (1892), Lipton (1901), Edinbridge and Sonnenfeld (1906), and Rumsey (1908). Five or six of these settlements lasted for half a century or longer.
By 1920 the population in those settlements reached 3,500, while their annual produce totaled over $1,000,000 It has been estimated that Jewish farmers in Canada produced enough wheat in the 1930s to feed the entire population of Canada. Some 200,000 acres were allocated for grain and the farmers' assets were valued at $7,000,000. The Jewish settlers, new arrivals from Ukraine, Romania, or Lithuania, had almost no training in agriculture, nor any knowledge of the environment, so that their achievement was considerable. Despite the extremely difficult climatic conditions in the prairies, which are covered with snow for eight or nine months of the year, the small and isolated communities maintained strong Jewish cultural activity, often using their last means to bring over itinerant Hebrew teachers for the homesteads. Sometimes a teacher would stay with one family for a whole winter. The younger generation went to study at the colleges of the prairie cities of Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Calgary. In time, they became doctors, lawyers, agronomists, and businessmen and settled in town. When the government imposed immigration quotas, the settlements began to suffer manpower shortages and the aging parents, no longer able to carry the burden of isolation, loneliness, and hard work, gradually joined their children in the cities. Some farm-steads fell into decay and were sold; others are still owned by the descendants of the original settlers. Only individual Jewish families have remained on farms, especially those in the proximity of the cities.
Jewish agriculture in Latin America was concentrated in three separate regions during various periods. The first region, the plantation area, was located in the northeast of the continent
In the wake of mass immigration by Russian Jews toward the end of the 19th century, new and large agricultural settlements were established in the grain and beef areas of southeastern Latin America. The widespread development of agriculture in the Argentinean pampas and the large-scale immigration campaign that the government conducted in Europe brought the settlement project of Baron de Hirsch to Argentina. Even though the Hirsch project did not fulfill the expectations of its founder, i.e., to concentrate hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers in a compact and autonomous area, the total area of the project's agricultural land amounted during its peak period (1925) to 617,468 hectares (1,525,146 acres). The total Jewish agricultural population in the five provinces reached 33,135, of whom 20,382 were farmers and their families and the rest were hired laborers and artisans etc. in 1925 (see *Argentina, Agricultural Settlement).
In 1903 the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA) began to develop additional agricultural settlements in Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil. One hundred thousand hectares (247,000 acres) were acquired and two settlements were established that encompassed several agricultural centers. This Brazilian project was never consolidated (see *Brazil, Agricultural Settlement). Attempts at agricultural settlement in Uruguay on government-owned land in 1914 and on private land in 1938–39 were also unsuccessful (see *Uruguay).
The persecution of the Jews in Germany during the 1930s and the limitations imposed upon immigration by the governments of Argentina and Brazil led to additional experiments in Jewish agricultural settlement in other geographical areas, mainly in the Andes. Of all these attempts only one, the settlement of Sosua, which was established with the support of the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in the Dominican Republic, partially succeeded.
J. Schwarz, Tevu'ot ha-Areẓ (19003); M. Zagorodsky, Avodat Avoteinu (1949); B. Cizik, Oẓar ha-Ẓemaḥim (1952); Alon, Toledot; S.D. Jaffe, Ha-Ḥakla'ut ha-Ivrit ha-Kedumah be-Ereẓ Yisrael (1959); S. Hurwitz, Torat ha-Sadeh, 3 (1959); Y. Feliks, Olam ha-Zome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (1968); idem, Ha-Ḥakla'ut be-Ereẓ Yisrael bi-Tekufat ha-Mishnah ve-ha-Talmud (1963), incl. bibl.; idem, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967); idem, in: Sefer ha-Emek (1957), 123–33; Aharoni, ibid., 107–14; Yeivin, ibid., 115–22; H. Vogelstein, Die Landwirtschaft in der Zeit der Mischna (1894); Krauss, Tal Arch 2 (1911); Loew, Flora; Dalman, Arbeit; A.L.E. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Horowitz, "Pollen: Key to Negev Climate in Prehistoric Times," in: ILN, 4 (1978–79), 62–63; A. Horowitz, The Quaternary of Israel. (1979); U. Baruch, "The Late Holocene Vegetational History of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), Israel," in: Paleorient, 12 (1986), 37–48; R. Gophna, N. Liphshitz, and S. Lev-Yadun, "Man's Impact on the Natural Vegetation of the Central Coastal Plain of Israel during the Chalcolithic Period and the Bronze Age," in: Tel Aviv, 13–14 (1986–87), 71–84; Y. Weisel, N. Liphschitz, and S. Lev-Yadun, "Flora in Ancient Eretz-Israel," in: A. Kasher et al. (eds.), Man and Land in Eretz – Israel in Antiquity. (1986); A. Rosen, "Environmental Change and Settlement at Tel Lachish, Israel," in: BASOR, 263 (1986), 55–60; A. Rosen, Cities of Clay: The Geoarchaeology of Tells. (1986); idem, "Phytolith Studies at Shiqmim," in: T.E. Levi (ed.), Shiqmim I: Studies Concerning Chalcolithic Societies in the Northern Negev Desert, Israel (1982–1984). BAR International Series (1987), 243–49; D. Zohary and M. Hopf, Domestication of Plants in the Old World (1988); I. Drori and A. Horowitz, "Tel Lachish: Environment and Subsistence During the Middle Bronze, Late Bronze and Iron Age," Tel Aviv, 15–16 (1988–89), 206–11; I. Rovner, "Fine-Tuning Floral History with Plant Poal Phytolith Analysis," in: W.M. Kelso and R. Most (eds.), Earth Patterns: Essays in Landscape Archaeology (1990), 297–308; U. Baruch, "Palynological Evidence for Human Impact Upon the Flora of the Land of Israel in Antiquity," Qadmoniot, 27 (1994), 47–63. BABYLON: J. Newman, Agricultural Life of the Jews in Babylonia (1933), 136–40. MIDDLE AGES: S.D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, 1 (1967), 116–27, 425–30; G. Caro, Sozialund Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Juden im Mittelalter und der Neuzeit, 2 vols. (1920–24); Ashtor, Korot; Baer, Spain; Baron, Social; B. Blumenkranz, Juifs et Chretiens dans le monde occidental (1960); H.Z. Hirschberg, Yisrael be-Arav (1946); Hirschberg, Afrikah; A. Milano, Vicende economiche degli Ebret nell Italia meridionale ed insulare durante il Medioevo (1954); Neuman, Spain; S. Saige, Les Juifs du Languedoc (1881); O. Stobbe, Die Juden in Deutschland (1866). TRADE IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS: Baer, Spain, index, s.v. Commerce; G. Caro, Sozial-und Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Juden im Mittelalter und in der Neuzeit, 2 vols. (1908–20); Kosover, in: YIVO Bleter, 12 (1937), 533–45; I. Schipper (ed.), Dziee handlu źydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (1938); Roth, England, 73, 115; H.G. Richardson, English Jewry under Angevin Kings (1960), index, s.v. Corn dealing: S.D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society (1967), 116–26, 265. MODERN EUROPE: V. Niktin, Yevreyskiya poseleniya severo i yugozapadnogo kraya (1894); Yevreyskoye kolonizatsionnoye obshchestvo, Sbornik ob ekonomicheskom polozheniyu Yevreyev v Rossii (1904); S.Y. Borovoi, Yevreyskaya zemledelcheskaya kolonizatsiya v staroy Rossii (1928); B. Brutzkus, Di Yidishe Landvirtshaft in Mizrakh-Erope (1926); Jewish Agricultural Society, Der Yidisher Landvirt (1932–39); S. Tapuach, in: YIVO Bleter, 10 (1936), 19–25; idem, in: Przeglǎd Socjologiczny; 5 (1937); I. Schipper et al. (eds.), Żydzi w Polsce odrodzone, 2 vols. (1932–33), index; J. Babicki, Yidishe Landvirtshaft in Stanislaver Voyevodshaft (19482); idem, in: Yidishe Ekonomik, 1–3 (1937–39); L. Babicki, in: Sprawy Narodowościowe, no. 4–5 (1932); Bartis, in: Zion. 32 (1967), 46–75; A. Tartakower, Megillat ha-Hityashevut (1958); Kh. Schmeruk, Ha-Kibbutz ha-Yehudi ve-ha-Hityashevut ha-Ḥakla'it be-Byelorusyah ha-Sovyetit 1918–32 (1961); Ḥakla'im Yehudim be-Arvot Rusyah (1965). UNITED STATES: H.J. Levine and B. Miller, American Jewish Farmer in Changing Times (1966); E. Lifshutz, in: AJHSQ, 56 (1966), 151–62. CANADA: Belkin, in: A.D. Hart (ed.), Jew in Canada (1926); Sack,
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