The Language of Stones: Roman Milestones on Rabbinic Roads

Joshua Levinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the multi-linguistic reality of late antique Palestine the mixing of languages was also a mixing of cultures. This essay examines how one multilingual artifact, the Roman milestone, functioned as a means of inter-cultural communication both for those who erected them and the rabbis who read them. I suggest that the Roman roads and milestones that signified the power of the empire, were interpreted by means of a rabbinic hermeneutic of resistance that allowed them to create an imaginary landscape and counter-cartography wherein all the roads lead not to Rome, but rather to the sages and their teachings.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)257-276
Number of pages20
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • cultural resistance
  • midrash
  • milestones
  • multilingualism
  • travel


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