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(334 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] Nasi, Hebrew נָשִׂיא, “leader,” “prince.” In Numbers nasi is the title of a leader or the head of a family or tribe (Num 3:24, 30, 35; also Num 2:3–39 and passim); in Ezek 34:24 and 37:25 it represents an eschatological enhancement of the king's title. The “ nasi of the whole community” mentioned in the Damascus Document and elsewhere (CD VII 18–21) plays a special ¶ role in the war of the end time. A similar understanding underlies the coins and documents that name Bar Kosiba (Bar Kokhba Revolt) the “ nasi of Israel.” There is no evidence for the use of nasi as the title of a rabb…

Resh Galuta

(282 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] The Aramaic title רֵישׁ גַלוּתָא, “head of the Diaspora” (Diaspora: II, 1; also called exilarch), and its Hebrew equivalent rosh ha-gola denoted the official representative of Babylonian Judaism. As in the case of the nasi, his rival, the office was dynastic and was associated with a claimed descent from David (III). In the Babylonian Diaspora, the resh galuta was considered the highest legal authority and the supreme authority for appointment to office. His competence was nevertheless challenged by competing claims, for example those o…


(271 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] Sanhedrin, Hebrew (and Aram.) ןירִדהַנְסַ, loanword from Greek συνέδριον/ synédrion, “assembly, tribunal, ¶ council.” Earlier scholarship saw in the Sanhedrin the highest legislative and judicial body of Palestinian Judaism (I), established in the Hellenistic period and continued by the rabbis (II, 1) into the 5th century after the destruction of the second temple (II, 4); initially it was headed by the high priest, later by the nasi. This picture is a harmonization of statements in Flavius Jo…

Judah ha-Nasi

(304 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] (Yehudah; Judah I, “Rabbi” [late 2nd/early 3rd cent. ce]), was a Palestinian patriarch (Nasi). Judah is said to be a descendant of Hillel ¶ ( y. Ketub. 12:3 [35a]) and claimed, furthermore, a genealogy tracing back to David. He was the most important representative of the dynasty of Jewish patriarchs and resided in Beth-Shearim and Sepphoris. Since he combined wealth, political prestige, and religious authority, he had decisive influence on the increasing institutionalization of the rabbinic movement and t…


(175 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] The Greek title ethnárchēs (ἐϑνάρχης) refers to a ruler of a tribe or a people with no indication of the scope of his authority. It is attested with this unspecific meaning in the Hellenistic-Roman eastern Mediterranean for both Jewish and non-Jewish representatives. The first Jewish ruler recognized as ethnarch by the Seleucids was the Maccabeean Simon (Maccabees), who also held the offices of general and high priest (1 Macc 14:47; 15:1ff.). Later, Hyrcanus I and II were called ethnarchs (Jos. Ant. XIV 148, 151, 191, etc.). Archelaus, the …

Akiba ben Joseph

(273 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] was one of the most important Palestinian rabbinic scholars in the period between the destruction of the second temple (70 ce) and the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–135 ce). His person is surrounded by legends whose historicity can hardly be tested. He is said, for example, to have come from a simple background and turned to study only late in life. He then became the teacher of some of the most important tannaim, including Rabbi Meir. The tradition that he saw a reference to Bar Kokhba in Num 24:7 ( y. Taʾan. 4.8.68d) suggests that he may have ass…

Qohelet Rabbah

(239 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] is an exegetical midrash on Qohelet. The first printed edition (1519) divided it into three major sections ( sedarim); later editions have 12 chapters, corresponding to the chapters of the biblical book. It begins with an anonymous proem ( peticha; preaching: VII) on a verse from the book of Proverbs, which is then used to introduce the initial words of Qohelet. The midrash then follows the structure of Qohelet, with an interpretation of all but a few verses. The work compiled numerous proems of earlier midrashim (Bere…


(253 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] ancient settlement in lower Galilee, which became an important rabbinic center in the 2nd century ce. Earlier scholarship spoke of an “Usha period” during which the central rabbinic institutions – the “patriarch” (Nasi) Shimʿon ben Gamaliel II and the Sanhedrin – were located in Usha. The theory was that the third generation of the Tannaim, identified with the pupils of Akiba ben Joseph, settled in Usha after the catastrophe of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Today scholars believe instead that Usha was …

Wayyiqra Rabba

(166 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] Wayyiqra Rabba, a homiletic midrash on Leviticus. It comments only on the initial verses of the individual pericopes in Leviticus. It also compiles various literary homilies (proems or petichot) on the same verse, drawing a thematic arc from a quotation from the hagiographa to the verse in Leviticus being interpreted. At the same time, the composition of individual sections seeks to establish a unity of content. The midrash was probably compiled in Palestine during the 5th century; it exhibits parallels to Bereshit Rabbah and the Talmud (III) Yerushalmi. Martin Jacob…


(80 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] rabbinic scholar in Palestinian Lydda c. 200 ce. Tarfon belonged to a priestly family and is assigned to the second generation of Tannaim. Rabbinic literature preserves most of his teachings in discussions with Akiba ben Joseph. He should probably not be identified with the Trypho mentioned by Justin Martyr. Martin Jacobs Bibliography J.D. Gereboff, Rabbi Tarfon: The Tradition, the Man and Early Rabbinic Judaism, 1979 F.G. Willems, “Le juif Tryfon et rabbi Tarfon,” Bijdr. 50/3, 1989, 278–292.


(595 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] I. Pesiqta Rabbati The name Pesiqta, Aramaic for “section” or “chapter,” is used for two homiletic Midrashim, the Pesiqta Rabbati ( Pesiq. Rab.) and the Pesiqta deRab Kahana ( Pesiq. Rab Kah.; see II below). The Pesiqta Rabbati is a collection of homilies on the Jewish festivals and selected Sabbaths; its scope was finally determined by the various printed editions. While the first edition (1653 or 1656) contained 47 sections, later editions and the English translation contain up 53 chapters. Individual manuscripts c…

Yohanan ben Zakkai

(270 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] (1st cent. ce), eminent Palestinian rabbi after the destruction of the second temple (II, 4.a). Rabbinic literature sometimes gives him the title Rabban (ןבָּרַ, “Our Master”). During the Judeo-Roman war (Jewish Revolt, First) according to rabbinic legend, he fled from Jerusalem besieged by the Romans to Yavne, where he prophesied that Vespasian (reigned 69–79 bce) would become emperor. Thereupon he is said to have been given permission to establish a school in Yavne. There are several variants of the tradition ( ARN A 4.22f.; ARN B 6.19; b. Giṭ. 56a–b; Lam. Rab. on Lam…

Scribes (Soferim)

(178 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] The office of a scribe in the sense of legal scholar is already attested in ancient Near Eastern sources. In Judaism the development of the scribes is associated with the central role the Torah came to play in the postexilic period. Like Ezra (Ezra 7:6, 11; cf. Neh 8:1ff.), many scribes were priests. Even though the Pharisees shared the ideal of Torah erudition with the scribes, some of the scribes appear to have been Sadducees. With the Pharisees, the scribes were among the group…


(371 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] The Aramaic term תַּנָּא/ tannāʾ, “reciter, teacher” (pl. תַּנָּאִים/ tannāʾîm) is generally applied to the Palestinian rabbis (II, 1) of the 1st–3rd centuries ce, i.e. before the compilation of the Mishnah; their teaching, considered authoritative, was originally preserved through oral recitation. As representatives of the formative phase of rabbinic Judaism, the Tannaim are distinguished from the Amoraim, their successors, the authorities of the Talmud. In the Talmud, however, the title Tanna can also be given to a “reciter” in the Amoraic academy…

Ten Lost Tribes of Israel

(272 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] Since the tribal territories of Judah (Judah/Judea) and Benjamin lay within the biblical Southern Kingdom, it is generally assumed that ¶ ten of the 12 tribes of Israel lived in the Northern Kingdom. We read in 2 Kgs 17:6 and 18:11 that Sargon II deported the population of the Northern Kingdom in 722 bce and settled its members in various places in Assyria. According to the version of Chronicles (Chronicles, Books of; 1 Chr 5:26), in 733 bce Tiglath Pileser III had already carried off some tribes to the same places, where they lived “to this day.” Since Ez…

Molko, Solomon

(141 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] (born Dioguo Pirez; c. 1500, Lisbon? – 1532, Mantua). As a son of Conversos (Anusim), Molko was first a royal official in Lisbon. In connection with the messianic expectations (Messiah/Messianism: II, 2) aroused by D. Reuveni in 1525 among the Conversos in Portugal, he circumcised himself and declared his faith in Judaism. He produced kabbalistic writings (Kabbalah: II) and caused a sensation as a magician and as a visionary messianic personality. In Italy, he enjoyed the protecti…


(576 words)

Author(s): Schaper, Joachim | Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] I. Old Testament - II. Early Judaism I. Old Testament The origin of the name is uncertain. In the Old Testament Aaron is the brother of Mose and his spokesman (Exod 4:14f.). He was reputed to be a “Levite” (priest; Exod 4:14), and the traveling companion and deputy of Moses (Exod 7:1–7), a miracle-worker (Exod 8:1f.), a charismatic leader (Exod 17:10–12…

Aaronic Blessing

(431 words)

Author(s): Seybold, Klaus | Jacobs, Martin | Saliers, Don E.
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. Early Judaism – III. Liturgy I. Old Testament The priestly Blessing, transmitted within the framework of the so-called Priestly Source (Pentateuch) in Num 6:23-26, which is also attested in some inscriptions (e.g. in Ketef Hinnom near Jerusalem), consist of traditional blessing formulae, linked together in three stair-stepped lines. …


(1,285 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Martin | Wilke, Carsten | Schaller, Berndt
[German Version] I. Terminology The Hebrew title רַבִּי/ rabbî is derived from the nominalized adjective רַב/ rab, “great, of high rank,” which in postbiblical Hebrew took on the meaning “master” (Rav) in contrast to a slave or student/disciple ( m. Sukk. 2:9; m. Giṭ. 4:4; m. ʾAbot 1:3). The honorific rabbi (“my master/teacher”) became a title, associated with the names of Palestinian men of learning (e.g. Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph), while Rav was used for Babylonian rabbis. Rabbi is also found as a name for Judah ha-Nasi. The Aramaic form rabban (“our master”) is associated with some…


(3,786 words)

Author(s): Dietrich, Walter | Klauck, Hans-Josef | Leeb, Rudolf | Jacobs, Martin | Dan, Joseph | Et al.
[German Version] I. Bible – II. Christianity – III. Judaism – IV. Islam I. Bible 1. Old Testament From the biblical perspective, David, whose name means “darling, beloved,” is the embodiment of the ideal ruler. He governed in the early 10th century bce, allegedly for 40 years, of which seven and a half were in Hebron, the rest in Jerusalem (2 Sam 5:4f.). Although he is the king of whom the Bible has most to tell (Kingship in Israel), he remains a …