For the last four decades, Mendel Nun has produced a steady stream of articles, monographs and books about the Sea of Galilee. Ancient harbors, water levels and fishing techniques are just a few of the subjects detailed in Nun’s work. His research has focused largely on the lake in late antiquity, and his 1964 book, “Ancient Jewish Fisheries” [in Hebrew], won the prestigious Ben-Zvi Prize.
Jewish sages were called upon constantly by their community to interpret scriptural commands. The Torah forbids working on the Sabbath, for instance, but it does not define what constitutes work. As a result, the sages were required to rule on which activities were permitted on the Sabbath. They “bound,” or prohibited, certain activities, and “loosed” or allowed, others.
Nearly all first-century sages practiced a trade. Despite having a profession, however, a sage was not always able to support himself as he traveled throughout the land. While traveling, a sage could not easily set up a shop due to the shortness of his stay in a given location. Nor would it have been fair when visiting smaller communities to take work away from a local resident in the same profession. Also, work could not readily be found for the large number of disciples who often accompanied a sage. Therefore the sage and his disciples were necessarily dependent upon the hospitality of the communities they visited.
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