“Tzedakah” in the sense of communal charity, civic benefaction, and an individual form of giving came into being during the tannaitic period, with the help of the Greeks and a little-known king named Munbaz.Munbaz was a real king: Monobazus, the son of Queen Helena of Adiabene. The Kingdom of Adiabene was located at the site of Erbil in modern Iraq. Helena and her family converted to Judaism in the first century CE. The story about Munbaz in the Tosefta is presumably legendary, but it is instructive in some ways nonetheless.
For past posts on Erbil and the House of Adiabene, see here and links.
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