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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…

Kerub

(322 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew ‎‏בורכ‏‎, from Akkadian karābu, ‘to dedicate, to greet’; pl. kerubs or cherubs/ kerubim). Composite creature with a human head, body of a lion and wings symbolizing the highest power. According to Gn 3:24, kerubim served to guard the garden of Eden (cf. also Ez 28:14 and 16). Particular significance is attached to the kerubim in the Biblical tradition of the arrangement of the Temple of Solomon. In the holy of holies there are two kerubim made of olive wood and plated with gold, each 10 cubits in height. With their wings with a span each of 5 cub…

Sammael

(188 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew Sammāel). Negative angel figure in Jewish tradition, often identified with Satan. S. is mentioned for the first time in Ethiopic Henoch 6, where he is one of a group of angels that rebels against God (cf. the name Σαμμανή/ Sammanḗ or Σαμιήλ/ Samiḗl in the Greek version). According to Greek Baruch 4,9, he planted the vine that led to the fall of Adam; S. was therefore cursed and became Satan. In the 'Ascension of Isaiah', S. is identified with the figure of Beliar (4,11). Rabbinical literature represents S. in the s…

Talmud

(142 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] ('study, learning', from Hebrew lamad, 'learn'). The central work within rabbinical literature, consisting of a) the Mishnah, the oldest authoritative collections of laws of rabbinical Judaism ( c. AD 200) and b) the Gemara, i.e. interpretations of and discussions on the material of the Mishnah. Since in the rabbinical period there were two centres of Jewish scholarship, i.e. Palestine and Babylonia (Sura, Pumbedita), two different Talmudim came into being: the Palestinian (= Jerusalem Talmud; essentially finalized c. AD 450) and the Babylonian (essentiall…

Esther

(340 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Ester). The Hebrew Book of Esther, dated to either the end of the Persian or the beginning of the Hellenistic period, recounts (a) the decision that the Persian King Ahasverus (485-465 BC) is said to have taken (cf. especially 3,13), at the urging of the anti-Jewish Haman, one of his most influential officials, to eliminate his kingdom's Jews, and (b) the salvation of the Jews, in which a major part was played by the Jewish E., who had entered the court without being recognized, …

Pumbedita

(140 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew pwmbdyt). Babylonian (Babylonia) city on the Euphrates. According to rabbinical tradition, it was distinguished by the fertile land around it (cf. bPes 88a), and because of its flax production, it represented an important site for the textile industry (bGit 27a; bBM 18b). The epistle of Rav Šerira Gaon indicates a centre for studying the Torah (Pentateuch) there by the time of the Second Temple (520 BC - AD 70). The destruction of Nehardea by the Palmyrans (Palmyra) in AD…

Adam

(322 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The early Jewish and rabbinic traditions of A., the first man whom God created from the dust of the Earth (Hebr. adama) and gave the breath of life (see the Yahwistic account of creation), mainly revolved around the original sin. Early Jewish writing emphasized A.'s original glory (Wisdom 10,1 f.; Sir 49,16; 4 Ezra 6,53 f.) and beauty (Op 136-142; 145-150; Virt 203-205), occasionally even describing him as an angel (slHen 30,11 f.). However, his sin brought death to his descendants (4 Ezra 3,7,21; 7,…

Adversus Iudaeos

(242 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Title of several patristic treatises that discuss Christianity's relationship to Judaism in apologetic terms ( Tertullianus,  Cyprianus,  Iohannes Chrysostomos,  Augustine) and other works of similar content ( Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistle to  Diognetus,  Justinus' Dialogue, the Passa Homily of  Melito etc.). Instruction within Christianity and religious teaching that attempted to legitimize the content of the Christian faith in the presence of Judaism (which was considered a p…
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