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Rabbinical literature

(1,703 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] I. Definition Collective term for the literature of rabbinical Judaism (AD 70 to 1040), traditionally considered the 'oral Torah' ( tōrā šæ-be-al-pæ) revealed to Moses [1] on Mount Sinai (mAb 1,1). In terms of content, a distinction is made between Halakhah, i.e. the legal-judicial tradition, and Haggadah, which contains narrative elements. The essential literary works of this transmitted corpus are the Mishnah, Tosefta, Talmud, various Midrash works and the Targumim (Targum). RL is not the work of i…

Šekinā

(271 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (literally the 'inhabitation [of God]' from Hebrew šāḵan, 'dwell, inhabit'). Rabbinical term for the presence of God in the world; follows notionally from the description of God's dwelling in the Temple (Jes 8,18; Ez 43,7-9) or in his people (Ex 29,45) (cf. also the comparable reception of the concept in John's theology of incarnation, Jo 1,14). The concept of Šekinā is used to describe the immanence of an intrinsically transcendental deity. Proceeding from the idea of the continuous presence of the Šekinā in the Temple (according to [1] …

Nehardea

(122 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] City on the Euphrates in Babylonia which, even before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70, showed a Jewish settlement (Jos. Ant. Iud. 18,311). According to rabbinical tradition, an important Talmud school (Judaic law) was situated there as well as the headquarters of the Babylonian exilarchs (Exilarch). The city's heyday was in the middle of the 3rd cent. After it had been destroyed by the Palmyrenes in AD 259 - probably in order to break its economic strength - the centre of Babylonian Judaism moved to Pumbedita. Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) Bibliography Y.D. Gi…

Pesah

(491 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew psḥ; Greek πάσχα, LXX, explained in Phil. De sacrificiis Abelis et Caini 63 and Phil. Legum allegoria 3 as διάβασις/ diábasis; German Passah; English Passover). Annual spring celebration from 15 to 22 Nisan according to the Jewish calendar. It is one of the most important Jewish festivals and commemorates the Exodus and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt (cf. Ex 7-14). A central symbol is unleavened bread (Hebrew maṣṣōt), which is supposed to recall the haste of the Exodus (Ex 12:34; 14:39). Hence any leavened bread has to be remov…

Exegesis

(725 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Rist, Josef (Würzburg)
(εξήγησις; exḗgēsis) [German version] A. Judaism The Jewish exegesis, which started within the biblical texts themselves in the form of explanatory glossaries and extrapolations in antiquity served to bring up to date the traditions of the sacred scriptures ( Bible). In early Judaism, biblical stories were retold (known as the ‘Rewritten Bible’), e.g. the ‘Book of Jubilees’ ( c. mid 2nd cent. BC) or the Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum ( c. end of the 1st cent. AD). These retellings fill in narrative gaps in the biblical text, reconcile contradictions, and also add…

Synhedrion

(598 words)

Author(s): Rhodes, Peter J. (Durham) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
(συνέδριον/ syn(h)édrion, lit. 'sitting together'). [German version] I. Greek Term used for various kinds of meetings and of bodies capable of holding meetings. Thus in Athens it can be used of the Areopagus and the Council (Boule) of Five Hundred (Aeschin. In Ctes. 19–20), of the archons (Archontes) and their paredroi (Dem. Or. 59,83), or of any official doing business in his place of business (Lys. 9,6; 9,9). There are several particular uses of the term. Many individual states called their council synhedrion (e.g. Corinth 4th cent., Diod. Sic.16,65,6–8; Elate…

Adiabene

(280 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Oelsner, Joachim (Leipzig)
[German version] Term for the region between the upper and lower Zab, but also the adjacent northern regions (referred to in oriental sources as Hadjab). A. comprises essentially the old territory of Assyria along with  Arbela (Plin. HN. 5,66; 6,25 ff.; Amm. Marc. 23,6; SHA Sev. 9,18; Str. 11,503; 530; 16,736; 745; Ptol. 6,1,2). As a Parthian feudal state ruled by a local dynasty that professed its faith in Judaism in the 1st cent. AD, A. gets involved in the battles between Rome and the Parthians…

Edom

(724 words)

Author(s): Bieberstein, Klaus (Fribourg) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] A. Historical Development up to the 4th cent. ‘The Red One’ primarily refers to the mountain region east of the Wādı̄ al-Arabā, to its population only secondarily. Under Merenptah, a report emerged that the ‘Schasu ( Šśw) of E.’ were received in Egypt (ANET 259). Their settlement began in the 12th/11th cents. BC from the north and reached its peak in the 8th-6th cents. BC. The Esau-Jacob cycle (Gen. 25*, 27*, 32-33) demonstrates a special relationship to E., at least from an israelitic perspective. David achieved …

Nehemiah

(342 words)

Author(s): Liwak, Rüdiger (Berlin) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
(Νεεμιας/ Neemias, hebräisch Nehæmjāh). [German version] I. Old Testament According to the book of the same name, of which the so-called ‘Nehemiah-Memoir’ in Neh 1-7 and 11-13 forms the historical basis, Nehemiah is the cupbearer of the great king of Persia (Neh 1:11). In 445 BC (Neh 1:1; 2:1ff.), he came to Jerusalem on the instructions of Artaxerxes' [1] I. Amidst opposition (e.g. Ezr 4:8ff.), he supervised the rebuilding of the walls, which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II,  in only 52 days (Neh 6:15). He administered the settlement in Jerusalem in accordance with a type of syn…

Gerousia

(995 words)

Author(s): Welwei, Karl-Wilhelm (Bochum) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
(γερουσία; gerousía, ‘Council of Elders’). [German version] I. Graeco-Roman In Sparta the gerousia was probably originally an assembly of representatives from leading families. There it gained its institutional character from early on and consisted of the two kings and 28   gérontes (γέροντες), who were appointed for life and were at least 60 years old. Election took place on the basis of the volume of the acclamation in the   apélla (ἀπέλλα), with ‘electoral officials’ in a closed room deciding who got the strongest applause (Plut. Lycurgus …

Gabriel

(320 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Albiani, Maria Grazia (Bologna)
[German version] [1] (Archangel) Archangel In the Jewish tradition, the angel G. (‘man of God’) is one of the six archangels, together with Uriel, Rafael, Raguel, Michael, and Sariel (1 Enoch, 20:1-7; for seven archangels cf. Tob 12:12-15; for four archangels: 1 Enoch 9-10; 40:9f.). In the biblical tradition, G. appears already together with Michael in the role of angelus interpres, who interprets the seer's visions (Dan 8:16; 9:21), and who announces the births of John the Baptist and Jesus (Lc 1:19.26). According to 1 Enoch 20:7, G. is placed above the…

Eleazarus

(771 words)

Author(s): Schwemer, Anna Maria (Tübingen) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
(Hebrew ælāzār, ‘God has helped’; Greek Ἐλεάζαρος; Eleázaros, Λάζαρος; Lázaros). A name that is particularly common in priestly Jewish families (cf. 2 Macc 6,18-31; 4 Macc 5,1-7,23). [German version] [1] Son of Aaran and father of Pinhas Son of  Aaron and father of Pinhas. In the OT genealogy the ancestor of the Sadducean high priests (Ex 6,23; 28,1; Lev 8ff; Nm 20,25-28; Dt 10,6; 1 Chr 5,29); grave in Gibea (Jos 24,33); considered an ancestor of  Ezra [1] (Ezra 7,5). Schwemer, Anna Maria (Tübingen) [German version] [2] Guardian of the Ark of the Covenant in Kiryat-Yearim Guardian of the…

Psalms

(1,308 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Klöckener, Martin (Fribourg)
[German version] I. Old Testament, Judaism The Book of Psalms (from Greek ψαλμός/ psalmós for the Hebrew mizmōr, 'string playing'; Lat. psalmus; title found in the heading of 57 psalms; Hebrew tehilı̄m, 'songs of praise'), also called the Psalter (cf. ψαλτήριον/ psaltḗrion as a title in the Codex Alexandrinus, 5th cent.) contains 150 individual songs and in the Jewish tradition belongs to the third portion of the canon, the so-called Ketuḇīm ('Writings'); in the Christian tradition the Psalms precede the prophetic writings. The Septuagint, unlike the Masoretic te…

Messiah

(1,210 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Kundert, Lukas (Basle)
(griech. Μεσσίας; Messías, from Aramaic. mešiḥa and Hebrew. mašiaḥ, 'the Anointed'; Greek. χριστός/ christós, vgl. Jo 1,41). [German version] I. Judaism Whereas in the pre-Exile period this term was used primarily for reigning kings of the dynasty of David (before David for Saul 1 Sam. 24:7 etc., for the dynasty of David cf. the Psalms of David Ps. 2,2; 18,51; 132,10 et passim; for David: 2 Sam. 19:22, 23:1 et passim), who were enthroned by anointing (e.g. 1 Sam. 16:1-13, 1 Kgs. 1:28-40), Exile and post-Exile Israel and early Judaism linked it with the expectation…

Zacharias

(658 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Rist, Josef (Würzburg)
(Ζαχαρίας/ Zacharías, Graecised form of the Hebrew Zacharyah, 'Yahweh remembers'). [German version] [1] Stoned to death at the command of the king Joash, 9th cent. BC According to 2 Chr 24:17-22, Zechariah bar Jehoiada was stoned to death in the Temple at the command of the king Joash (840-801 BC), for having reproached the people for practicing idolatry and hence abandoning their god. The Jewish Haggada developed this story: the blood of the murdered one boils on the floor of the Temple and does not come to rest (ultima…

David

(1,100 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Mahé, J. P. (Paris)
[German version] [1] King David In the biblical tradition, the figure of D. appears as a singer and musician (1 Sam 16,23), as a talented fighter (1 Sam 17; 30; cf. also his life as an irregular soldier in 1 Sam 22,1-5; 23) and finally as king of Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem (2 Sam 2,-5,10), who also subjugates the neighbouring states of Aram, Moab and  Edom [1] as well as Ammon (cf. 2 Sam. 8; 10; 12,26-31). His dynasty is promised eternal royal rule by god (cf. the so-called Nathan's prophecy 2 Sam.…

Abraham

(625 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Müller, Walter W. (Marburg/Lahn)
[German version] [1] Biblical figure The biblical A. figure is subject to various interpretations during the early Jewish and rabbinical periods. To traditionally devout circles, A. represents the law-abiding patriarch, who, owing to the timeless nature of Jewish law, was able to observe the Halachic commandments previous to their revelation on Sinai (cf. i.a. Sir 44,19; Jub 15,1; 16,21; 21,5; syrBar 57,2; mQid 4,14; bYom 28b). As A. destroyed his father's graven images, he is regarded as the first r…

Succession, laws of

(1,791 words)

Author(s): Thür, Gerhard (Graz) | Manthe, Ulrich (Passau) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East see Cuneiform, legal texts in Thür, Gerhard (Graz) [German version] II. Greek Succession laws in Greece primarily followed the concept of family succession. Greek law therefore contained several provisions to secure succession within the family group even where there were no legitimate sons ( gnesioi). For example, eispoíēsis allowed the nomination of a non-testamentary heir, a process akin to adoption. Where such a replacement heir was also absent, the inheritance ( klḗros ) either passed to lateral kin ( anchisteía ) o…

Moses

(1,439 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel (Berne) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Rist, Josef (Würzburg)
(Hebrew Mošæh, Greek Μω(υ)σῆς; Mō(y)sȇs). [1] Israelite religious founder [German version] I. Biblical tradition According to tradition, M. was a Levite who grew up as an Egyptian prince, was forced to flee to Midian, was called there by the god Yahweh to lead the enslaved Hebrew people out of Egypt; Biblical cultic and moral law were revealed to him on Mt. Sinai, and he led the Hebrew people through the desert to the edge of the Promised Land, where he died on Mount Nebo, across from Jericho (Ex 2 - Dt 34). …

Elias

(842 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Hadot, Pierre (Limours) | Brock, Sebastian P. (Oxford)
[German version] [1] The prophet Elijah (Elijah, prophet). The biblical character of E., according to the evidence of the Deuteronomic History, appears as a prophet of the northern kingdom at the time of king Ahab (871-852 BC) (cf. the E. traditions in 1 Kgs 17-19; 21; 2 Kgs 1-2); probably because of his miraculous translation to heaven (2 Kgs 2), E. comes to play a very important role in post-biblical Judaism. Thus, even in early Judaism, the notion arose of E.'s eschatological return (cf. Mal 3,23; …
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