The laws of siqriqon
This tosefta discusses the status of three types of offerings – the heave-offering (terumah) which was given to the priests; tithes that could be allocated for Levites, the poor or purchases made in Jerusalem; and, dedications to the Temple – given by individuals whose claims to their fields or assets were considered illegitimate since that property had been seized illegally according to rabbinic law. While section A discusses three categories of persons who stole property, section B discusses householders of siqriqon.
Though the exact origin of the word siqriqon (;סיקריקון also spelled siqariqon) is unclear (see suggestions in Lieberman, Tosefta Ki-Feshutah, vol. 8, p. 841; Safrai, “Sikarikon,” p. 60-61). In rabbinic texts, the term siqriqon can refer to property that was confiscated by the Romans or to laws regarding lands that had originally been owned by Jews, were confiscated by Rome, and later given or sold to other Jews. The holder of such land is also called a siqriqon (irrespective of whether he confiscated the land himself or whether he purchased or received it from the confiscator). These laws were implemented in response to “anti-Roman political activities” (Shahar, "Why a Quarter?,” p. 195) since, as Yuval Shahar has shown, they were not applied to Roman confiscations of land in the context of economic misconduct, such as failure to pay taxes. Scholars have long associated the inception of these laws with the years immediately after the destruction of the Temple (70 CE). More recent research, however, suggests that the siqriqon laws may have originated during the period following the Bar Kokhba revolt, when large-scale land confiscations took place in Judea (Safrai, “Sikarikon,” p. 63). It is also feasible that this law reflects an earlier time (prior to 66 CE), which was characterized by Jewish resistance to Rome.
In the case of this tosefta, a siqriqon (probably the confiscator) sold or gave land to Jewish householders; thus, this text discusses the status of their heave-offerings, tithes and dedications. According to Lieberman, (Tosefta Ki-Feshutah, vol. 1, p. 297), in contrast to the three categories mentioned in section A – namely, a thief, one who violently took possession of a field, and a robber – in the case of householders of siqriqon,their heave-offerings, tithes, and their dedications [to the Temple] are considered valid, even if the original owners contest the claims of these new owners, since they are permitted to buy the land according to the conditions detailed in Mishnah Gittin5:6-7 and Tosefta Gittin3:10.
This text places this ruling regarding householders of siqriqon immediately following its consideration of criminals who obtained land by force. However, this tosefta distinguishes these householders from the three unlawful categories by mentioning them separately; and, the Tosefta does not deem their heave-offering, tithes and dedication invalid, even if the original owner pursues these new owners. Thus, in the case of those who farm property designated as siqriqon, the Tosefta does not contemplate the possibility that the previous owners might assert a claim for their land to be returned. Yet this source demonstrates that the householders of siqriqon are understood in the context of those who illegitimately took possession of land, even though they probably did not use force to obtain it; rather, they likely received or bought land that had previously been confiscated by Romans on account of the political activities of its original owner. As Yuval Shahar noted (in personal correspondence), if this text refers to conditions that existed before 70 CE, the new holders of the land (namely, the “householders of siqriqon”) may have been members of the Herodian aristocracy. If that were the case, it would have been obvious why the original owners were unable to “pursue them.”
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