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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, towards which he demonstrated his power, particularly through the determination of the calendar. The reference to J.'s descent from the house of  David likewise served to secure and legitimize his rule. J. moved the seat of the patriarchate from Uša (Lower Galilee, close to modern Haifa) to  Beth Shearim (from c. 175) and later - c. around 200 - to the more important  Sepphoris, which was strongly influenced by Graeco-Roman lifestyle and …

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…

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…

Abbahu

(93 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Jewish teacher and rabbi ( c. AD 250-320), head of the school in Caesarea [3]. A., who knew Greek language and culture, is famous because of his disputations with the so-called ‘Minim’ (heretics). It is a matter of controversy whether Christians were among A.'s discussion partners. Furthermore, he supposedly kept his city's Samaritan priests away from the Jewish community and in ritual matters equated the Samaritans with gentiles. Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) Bibliography L. J. Levine, Caesarea under Roman Rule, SJLA 7, 1975 S.T. Lachs, Rabbi A. and the Minim, in: …

Seder Olam Rabba

(197 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew/Aramaic, literally 'great world order' in contrast to the less comprehensive work Seder ôlām zuṭâ , 'small word order'). Midrash work presenting a chronological record of dates from the creation of the world to the Bar Kochba revolt (AD 132-135;; Bar Kochba). The Persian Period conspicuously comprises no more than 34 years, and the dates of Alexander [4] the Great to Bar Kochba are presented in summary only. The work, attributed to the Rabbinic scholar Jose ben Ḫalaftâ (c…

Tannaites

(157 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (from Aramaic  tenâ = Hebrew šānāh 'repeat, teach, learn',  cf. also the technical term  Mishnah). In the traditional periodization of rabbinical literature, a term for the rabbinical teachers who worked in the period of the edition of the Mishnah, and therefore between Hillel and Shami (around the beginning of the Common Era), up to Yehudah ha-Nasi (Jehuda ha-Nasi) and his sons (beginning of the 3rd cent. AD). According to Joseph ibn Aqnin, a pupil of Maimonides (who died in 1204), the era of …

Bar Pandera

(92 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Figure who is mentioned in connection with magic and idolatry (bShab 104b; bSanh 67b); name of Jesus in rabbinical literature (KohR 1.1,8; tHul 2,22f.; yAZ 2,2 [40d], ySab 14,4 [14d]; KohR 10,5). Detailed research of the various traditions was able to show that B. did not originally belong to the context of anti-Christian polemics, but was only identified secondarily with Jesus during the repressive Byzantine religious politics before the Arabic conquest.  Adversos Judaeos;  Anti-Semitism Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) Bibliography J. Maier, Jesus von Nazareth in d…

Magog

(240 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] In Ez 38:2 M. is the name of the country of the grand duke Gog, whom God has advance together with his armed forces against Israel to attack it; in doing so, however, he will die (for the text Ez 38:1-39:29 and its individual layers cf. [1]; see also Gn 10:2 where M. is counted among the sons of Japheth). Experts have raised the question whether Gog is to be associated with a historical figure, e.g. the Lydian king Gyges, who appears in documents of Assurbanipal under the name Gug(g)u. M. would then be identifiable with Lydia. The episode was diversely interpreted: Iosephus s…

Genizah

(356 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] In Judaism, a genizah (‘safekeeping’, from Aramaic gnaz, ‘to hide’) is a repository for books which are no longer in use but which contain the name of God, or for ritual objects, in order to prevent misuse or profanation. Such rooms were frequently found in synagogues; if the synagogue itself was demolished, the books and objects were ‘interred’ in the cemetery. Of particular importance amongst the multitude of genizahs in the Jewish world is the genizah of the Esra synagogue in Fusṭāṭ (Old Cairo), whose academic evaluation was due mainly to the British…

Mamre

(392 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Mentioned in the Bible (probably from the Hebrew root mr, ‘become fat, fatten’, as ‘place that is fat/fattens’; Greek Μάμβρη/ Mámbrē; Latin Mambre) as an oak grove where Abraham [1] built an altar (Gn 13:18), and where, as he played host to three men, interpreted as a divine apparition, the birth of his son Isaac [1] was announced to him (Gn 18). According to Biblical indications, the place is identical with Hebron (thus Gn 23:17 etc.; but cf. Gn 13:18: ‘in’ or ‘near Hebron’). M. has been located in t…

Eliezer ben Hyrkanos

(214 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrkanos ( c. end 1st/early 2nd cent.) is one of the most frequently mentioned Tannaites in the Mishnah and Talmud. Records of his life have survived in numerous legends: he only found his way to the Torah after the age of twenty and left the home of his wealthy parents to devote himself to studying the Torah as one of the disciples of Rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkais. There he was noted because of his outstanding exegetical abilities, which were so remarkable that they eve…

Archisynagogos

(93 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebr. rosh ha-knesset). Title of the head of the synagogue who was responsible for the conduct of services. There is literary (i.a. Mk 5,21-43; Lk 13,14; Acts 18,8) and epigraphic (i.a. CIJ II 991; 1404; 741; 766; CIJ I 265; 336; 383) documentation for the office from Palestine and the diaspora. Since the title was later applied to women and children as well, there is some discussion if women could hold the office or if the designation was merely an honorary title. Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) Bibliography Schürer, vol. 2, 434-436.

Haggadah

(396 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The term Haggadah (the Hif'il of the Hebrew root ngd ‘say, tell’) or its Aramaic equivalent Aggada refers to all non-Halachic traditions from Rabbinic literature and is therefore a collective term for all in the widest sense narrative materials in this extensive corpus of literature. Such a negative definition of the term can already be found in the Middle Ages in Šmuel ha-Nagid (993-1055): ‘Haggadah is any interpretation in the Talmud on any topic which is not a commandment.’ Quite particular im…

Apocalypses

(490 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Beginning with the self-attribution of the Revelations of John as ἀποκάλυψις ( apokálypsis; Rev 1,1), the term Apocalypses became the generic name for this and related works. A chosen recipient of revelations is informed by visions, ecstatic experiences, dreams of honourable founders (Enoch, Moses, a prophet, an apostle), heavenly journeys or instruction by angels about the course of history (past, future and esp. the end of the world) or the afterlife with its entire geography (Heavenly Jeru…

Noah

(340 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Νῶε/ Nôe, Lat. Noa, Noe; Hebr. Nōaḥ). In the Bible, Noah is the main character in the story of the Flood in Gn 6,5-9,29. This story originated in Mesopotamia (cf. the Gilgamesh Epic and the Atraḫasis Epic; legend of the Flood). As a righteous man Noah is spared God's punishment and thus he became the father of mankind, as father of Shem, Ham und Japheth (Gn 6,10; 9,18), who represent the three continents. According to the traditional interpretation of the Pentateuch, the Biblical story…

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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