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Prayer

(2,863 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Jansen-Winkeln, Karl (Berlin) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Graf, Fritz (Columbus, OH)
I. Ancient Orient [German version] A. General remarks Several hundred prayers have been preserved from the ancient Orient, dating from as far back as the 3rd millennium BC. In some cases, the history of their texts can be traced back for several centuries. A variety of genres usually classified as lamentations, hymns, etc., are actually prayers, since lamentations or hymns of praise to a deity simply represent the occasion for a following prayer, which constitutes the underlying reason for that hymn or lamentation. Renger, Johannes (Berlin) [German version] B. Egypt Invocations of th…

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…

Karaites

(286 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The K. are a group within Judaism which emerged in the 2nd half of the 8th cent. AD under the leadership of Anan, a member of the exilarch family ( Exilarch), who was passed over when the exilarch was appointed in the year 767. The basis of Karaite beliefs (the K. being split up into subgroups) is the recognition of the Jewish Bible (Hebrew miqra) as the only foundation of the faith (hence, the term K. which is derived from Hebr. qaraʾim or bne/ baʿale-ha-miqra). In so doing, the K. called into question the validity of the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism, the so-c…

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). …

Levites

(434 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] According to the Chronistic History ( Bible), the Levites - clearly distinguished from the priests - form a type of clerus minor who are entrusted with the supervision of the Temple courtyards, provision rooms with cult equipment, sacrifices and offerings as well as being active as singers, musicians and gatekeepers and assisting the priests in the sacrificial service. Various genealogies document internal disputes and rivalries. The details of the history of the Levites can be clarified only with dif…

Amoraim

(84 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The term Amoraim (from Hebr. amar, ‘to say, comment’) describes in the traditional periodization those rabbinic teachers who worked both in Palestine and Babylon in the period from the finalization of the Mishna ( c. AD 200) to the time when the Babylonian Talmud was essentially completed, except for a few final revisions ( c. AD 500). They commented on the interpretations of the early  Tannaites, who have more authority in tradition. Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) Bibliography G. Stemberger, Einleitung in Talmud und Midrasch, 81992.

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…

Masorah, Masoretes

(494 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Since the Hebrew alphabet is a consonantal alphabet and thus does not write any vowels, written words can often be pronounced and interpreted in various ways. In order to solve this problem, individual consonant letters were used also as vowel letters ( matres lectionis) from early on (so called plene writing; cf. Aramaic documents from as early as the 9th century BC or the Shiloah inscription from the 7th century BC). Furthermore, in order to secure the pronunciation of the holy text definitively, the so-called Masorah (‘tradition’, from Hebrew msr, ‘to pass down’) w…

Sura

(441 words)

Author(s): Elvers, Karl-Ludwig (Bochum) | Eigler, Ulrich (Zürich) | Kessler, Karlheinz (Emskirchen) | Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) | Wiegels, Rainer (Osnabrück)
[German version] [1] Roman cognomen Roman cognomen ('calf bone'), recorded for L. Cornelius [I 56] Lentulus S. etc. Elvers, Karl-Ludwig (Bochum) Bibliography Degrassi, FCIR, 269  Kajanto, Cognomina, 63; 226. [German version] [2] Aemilius S. Author of a work of history In a gloss on Vell. Pat. 1,6,6, an excerpt from a work by a certain Aemilius S. with the title De annis populi Romani is cited as a supplement to Velleius' presentation of the genealogical derivation of the Macedonian royal house. The excerpt contains an account of the successive five empires…

Death, angel of

(231 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew Malakh ha-mawet). Figure of Rabbinical angelology, can be identified with  Sammael or  Satan (e.g. bBB 16a). The angel of death, given by God the power over life and death, stands at the side of someone who is dying. If that person opens his or her mouth in fright, the angel casts a drop of gall from his sword into the open mouth, whereupon death occurs (bAZ 20b). Up until the sin of the golden calf (Ex 32,1-24), the angel was intended only for the peoples of the world, beca…

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 …

Elisha ben Abuja

(158 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Eliša b. Abuja). Jewish scholar of the first half of the 2nd cent. AD, in the Rabbinic literature considered a prototypical apostate and probably therefore bearing the name Aḥer (Hebrew ‘the Other’). However, Rabbinic legendary tradition attributes to him a number of very different heresies: the reference in bHag 15a, according to which he believed in the existence of two heavenly powers, seems to point to Gnostic ideas ( Gnostics); according to yHag 2,1 (77b), he is supposed to …

Diaspora

(418 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The term diaspora (Greek διασπορά; diasporá, ‘scattering’) refers to Israelite or rather Jewish settlements outside Palestine. The main reason for their formation was the  deportation of the population as a consequence of military conquest; but alongside that, flight for political reasons, emigration in response to economic hardships, as well as expansion of trade also played a part. Despite considerable cultural differences, the country of Israel and in particular the temple in Jerusa…

Aqiba

(149 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Rabbi A. ( c. AD 50-135), an important Jewish teacher in the time of  Jabne, often appears as an opponent of rabbi Yishmael in discussions on the interpretation of Scriptures. He plays a significant role in the context of early esoteric traditions (see the tale of the four who entered Paradise; bHag 14b par.). He allegedly proclaimed Bar Kochba the Messiah of Israel (‘Star of Jacob’; cf. Num 24,5), which provoked objections because of the primarily anti-apocalyptic tendency of the ea…

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…

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…

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…

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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