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Zion

(288 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Ζιών/Ziṓn or Σιών/Siṓn, fem.; Lat. Zion, masc., fem. or neutr.). The Hebrew proper noun Z. was originally the name for the citadel of the Jebusite city of Jerusalem on the southeastern karst hill above the source of the Gihon, which was conquered by David [1]. The Hebrew text explains the phrase 'Fortress of Z.' ( meṣudat ṣijjōn) as 'David's City' (2 Sam 5:7; cf. 1 Kg 8:1; for the distinction from the remainder of the city cf. 2 Sam 6:10; 6:12; 6:16). After the expansion of Jerusalem under Solomon the name could also be applied to th…

Judith

(331 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Ιουδιθ, Iudith, Iudit). The Book of J., which has come down to us only in Greek and (dependent on it) in Latin and belongs to the Apocrypha ( Apocryphal literature), goes back to a Hebrew original. In a politically and militarily difficult situation, with the inhabitants of the mountain city of Betylia besieged by Nebuchadnezzar's commander  Holofernes, and consequently suffering from lack of water, Judith, a young, rich and pious widow, appears. After admonishing the people to tru…

Hillel

(170 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] the elder, of Babylonian descent, lived at the time of  Herodes [1] the Great (end 1st cent. BC/beginning 1st cent. AD); pupil of the Pharisees Shemaya and Abtalion. H. was one of the most important ‘rabbinic’ authorities from the period before the destruction of the temple of  Jerusalem (AD 70). Tradition ascribes to him the seven rules of interpretation ( Middot), strongly influenced by Greek rhetoric, as well as the introduction of the so-called prosbul: according to this a creditor could demand payment of his debt even after a sabbat…

Jehuda ha-Nasi

(292 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Most often simply called ‘rabbi’ or ‘our holy rabbi’, c. AD 175-217; son and successor of Simeon ben Gamaliel [2] II, the most important of the Jewish Patriarchs, under whose rule the office was at its most powerful. He was officially acknowledged by the Romans as the representative of Judaism and in addition acted as the head of the Sanhedrin ( Bēt Dīn;  Synhedrion), being the highest authority in questions of teachings ( Ḥakham). J. had at his disposal a solid financial basis, and maintained extensive trading relations and contacts with the  Diaspora…

Targum

(402 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew targûm, 'translation'). Name of the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible since the Tannaitic Period ( c. 2nd cent. AD). Of the Pentateuch, several Targum versions exist: a) Targum Onqelos, probably based on a Palestinian text ( c. late 1st/early 2nd cents. AD) and revised in Babylonia presumably between the 3rd and the 5th cents. AD, is largely a literal translation of the Hebrew text; b) Targum Neofiti, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (= Targum Jerushalmi I) as well as the Fragment Targum (= Targum Jerushalmi II), …

Gaon

(240 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew gāōn, ‘Eminence’, later ‘Excellency’; pl.: Gōnı̄m). Official title of the head of the Rabbinic academies in Babylonian  Sura and  Pumbedita. There the gaons functioned from the 6th cent. AD to the end of the academies in the 11th cent. as the highest teaching authorities (cf. the name of this period as the ‘Gaonic period’). The most important representatives of this office were Amram ben Sheshna (died about AD 875; author of the earliest preserved prayer book), Saadiah be…

Sambation

(177 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (also Sanbation or Sabbation; Greek Σαββατικός/ Sabbatikós, Jos. BI 7,5). Mythical river, behind which the ten tribes of Israel (Judah and Israel) were said to have been exiled by the Assyrian king Salmanassar. According to Jewish legend, this river had the miraculous property of resting on the Sabbath, while on all other days its current was so strong that it hurled stones (among others, BerR 11,5; cf. already Plin. HN 31,24). Iosephus [4] Flavius describes the river, which according t…

Responsa (rabbinical)

(201 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew šeēlōt u-tešūḇōt, literally 'questions and answers'; plural 'responses'). Rabbinical genre name; correspondence, in which one party consults the other on a difficult question of Halakha. While the Talmudic literature (Rabbinical literature) already indicates the existence of this genre (cf. bYebamot 105a), a scope more significant to responsa literature only developed in the Gaonic period (Gaon, 6th-11th cents. AD), when Jews from the widespread diaspora turned to the halak…

Armilus

(179 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Legendary name of an anti-Messiah, who appears in late 7th cent. apocalyptic Midrashim (e.g. Midrash Wa-yosha, Sefer Serubbabel, Nistarot shel R. Shimon ben Joháai). The etymological source is assumed to be ‘Remulus’, symbol of Roman rulership as such. The legend holds that A., son of a marble statue, will march to Jerusalem with ten kings, defeat the true Messiah and send Israel into exile in the desert, whereupon the pagans will worship the stone that gave birth to A. as a godde…

Sandalphon

(187 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew sandālfōn). Name of one of the most important angels in rabbinic angelology. S.'s size spans from earth into the heavenly realm and he surmounts his angel companions by 500 years 'while making wreaths for his creator' (bHag 13b with the interpretation of Ez 1:15; PesR 20 [97a]). Related traditions identified these wreaths with the prayers of Israel that S. presents to God (Bet ha-Midrasch 2,26 Jellinek). It is highly probably that his name is derived from the Greek συνάδελφος/ synádelphos, 'fellow brother' (in the community of angels or specifically o…

Archiereus

(279 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] [1] Greek see  Priests Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) [German version] [2] Jewish Already during the pre-Maccabean period, the High Priest (Hebr. kohen ha-gadol; Greek archiereus) was the highest religious and political authority (cf. Sir 50,1 ff.), heading a hierarchically structured priesthood comprising several thousand individuals. Holding the status of ‘eternal holiness’ (mNaz 7,1), it was his responsibility to preserve certain rules of purity with regard to marriage and dealings with the dead. During the …

Sammai, Shammai

(150 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] ( c. 50 BC-AD 30). Significant representative of Pharisaic Judaism (Pharisaei). Š. figures in the traditional rabbinical chain from the revelation of the Torah of Moses (Pentateuch) to the 'Five Pairs' ( zugot; cf. mAvot 1,15); his counterpart is Hillel, to whom Š. is opposed in a cliché fashion in rabbinical literature: in questions of law, whereas Hillel made rather lenient decisions, Š. is characterized by strictness and rigour (cf. bShab 31a). Rabbinical tradition sees Š. as the founder of a school of scholars (Hebrew bēt-Šammai) that is likewise contrasted wi…

Seraph(im)

(187 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew sārāf, plural serāfîm, from the verb srf, 'burn'; Greek σεραφιν/ seraphin, Latin seraphin). Old Testament term for the cobra (cf. Egyptian Uraeus). Apart from the natural threat from this animal (Dtn 8,15; Nm 21,9) an apotropaic aspect plays a particular role in the Old Testament tradition: a seraph attached to a pole repels a plague of snakes in the Israelites' camp (Nm 21,7-10) {{6-9 in AV, but not saying this}}. Finds of numerous seals, primarily from the 8th century BC, indicate th…

Halakhah

(727 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The term (derived from the Hebrew root hlk, ‘to go’) describes both a particular Jewish legal requirement or fixed regulation as well as the entire system of legal requirements dictated by Jewish tradition. The fundamental principles of these requirements, traditionally considered to be the ‘Oral Torah’ ( Tora she-be-al-peh) and the revelations to Moses on Mt. Sinai, form the legal corpora of the Pentateuch (e.g., the so-called ‘Book of the Covenant’ [ Ex 20,22-23,19], Deuteronomic law [Dt 12,1-26,15] or the Holiness Code [Lv 1…

Priestly document

(542 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Based on its choice of words, style and motifs, Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) was able to identify a certain segment of the OT Pentateuch as distinct from the other documents that have been preserved, using the findings of older Pentateuchal criticism in the context of the 'Documentary Hypothesis' (1876 f.). Characteristic of this document are not only certain concepts and phrases (e. g. ēdā, 'assembly', 'community'; megūrīm, 'sojourning'; berīt ōlām, 'everlasting covenant'), but also numbers, lists and genealogies as well as an emphasis on the …

Gamaliel

(279 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] [1] G. I. »The Old Man«; grandson of Hillel Also called ‘the Old Man’ (died c. AD 50), a grandson of Hillel. G. was a Pharisee ( Pharisaei) and member of the Sanhedrin ( Synhedrion). G., about whom little is known historically (for discussion of the problem, cf. [1]), is thought to have been  Paulus' teacher prior to his conversion to Christianity (Acts 22:3). According to Acts 5:34-39 his intervention saved Peter and other apostles from prosecution by the Sanhedrin. Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) [German version] [2] G. II. Successor to Jochanan ben Zakkai Grandson of [1], a…

Sabbath

(537 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew šabbat; Greek σάββατον/ sábbaton; Lat. sabbata). Seventh day of the Jewish week and day of rest observed weekly; its origin is unclear (cf. suggestions of a connection with the Akkadian šapattu, the day of the full moon). It is likely that it developed in ancient Israel as an expression of Yahweh's prerogative, based on the commandment to let the land lie unplowed during the seventh year (Ex 23:10 f.). The Sabbath was explained in two ways in the Biblical tradition. In the version contained in the Deute…

Sirach

(369 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Σοφία Σιραχ/ Sophía Sirach). The apocryphal book of Jesus son of Sirach (Hebrew Ben Sîrâ), one of the most significant works of wisdom literature, was written in Hebrew in about 190 BC by S., a Jewish scribe from Jerusalem, and later translated into Greek by his grandson (cf. the preface). The earliest Hebrew fragments were found in Qumran and Masada; two thirds of the Hebrew text were discovered in MSS of the Cairo Genizah. Although not adopted into the canon of the Jewish tradition, S. is cited in the Talmud (Rabbinical literature) as a canonical book. S. consists of indi…

Raphael

(177 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Literally 'God heals', Gr. Ραφαήλ/ Rhaphaḗl; cf. the personal name in 1 Chr 26:7). In Jewish angelology, one of the four (or seven) archangels who have a special role in the celestial hierarchy for their praise and glorification of God before His throne (1 Enoch 9,1; 20,3; 40,9). True to his name, R. is the angel of healing (cf. Hebr. rāfā, 'to heal'), ruling over "all illnesses and all torments of the children of men" (1 Enoch 40,9). He plays a significant role in the Book of Tobit, where, disguised as Tobias' travelling companion, he d…

Toledot Yeshu

(239 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew for ‘Life of Jesus’), a Jewish popular pseudo-history of the life of Jesus (A.1.), describing his birth, life and death in a satirical and polemic manner. The mediaeval compilation, which was in circulation in numerous different versions in several languages (including Hebrew, Yiddish, Judaeo-Arabic and Judaeo-Persian) and whose roots can be traced back as far as Talmudic tradition (cf. e.g. bSot 47a; bSan 43a; 67a; 107b), tells e.g. of Jesus's ignominious origin, since hi…
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