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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…

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: …

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…

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), …

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…

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.

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…

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…

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.

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…

Theodotion

(133 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Θεωδοτίων/ Theodotíōn; according to Epiphanius, De mensuris et ponderibus 17; 2nd cent. AD), in the view of the ancient Church a proselyte from Ephesus (Iren. Adversus haereses 3,21). T. did not produce (in contrast to Aquila [3] and Symmachus [2]) a new Greek translation of the Old Testament, rather he revised a Greek translation in accordance with the Hebrew text. Whether his model was identical with the Septuaginta is debatable, since there are also 'Theodotionic' readings in texts earlier than T. [1] identified T. with the author of the k aige- or Palestinian rece…

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…

Sirach

(369 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Σοφία Σιραχ/ Sophía Sirach). The apocryphal book of Jesus son of Sirach (Hebrew Ben Sîrâ), one of the most significant works of wisdom literature, was written in Hebrew in about 190 BC by S., a Jewish scribe from Jerusalem, and later translated into Greek by his grandson (cf. the preface). The earliest Hebrew fragments were found in Qumran and Masada; two thirds of the Hebrew text were discovered in MSS of the Cairo Genizah. Although not adopted into the canon of the Jewish tradition, S. is cited in the Talmud (Rabbinical literature) as a canonical book. S. consists of indi…

Jezira, Sefer ha-

(259 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew ‘Book of creation’). Attempt at a systematic description of the fundamental principles of the world order. This Hebrew text, comprising only a few pages and extant in three different recensions, was probably written between the 3rd and 6th cent. and thus is one of the oldest texts of Jewish esoteric writing. In the first part, the ten original numbers, and in the second part the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet are presented as elements of creation through whose c…

Raphael

(177 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Literally 'God heals', Gr. Ραφαήλ/ Rhaphaḗl; cf. the personal name in 1 Chr 26:7). In Jewish angelology, one of the four (or seven) archangels who have a special role in the celestial hierarchy for their praise and glorification of God before His throne (1 Enoch 9,1; 20,3; 40,9). True to his name, R. is the angel of healing (cf. Hebr. rāfā, 'to heal'), ruling over "all illnesses and all torments of the children of men" (1 Enoch 40,9). He plays a significant role in the Book of Tobit, where, disguised as Tobias' travelling companion, he d…

Halakhah

(727 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The term (derived from the Hebrew root hlk, ‘to go’) describes both a particular Jewish legal requirement or fixed regulation as well as the entire system of legal requirements dictated by Jewish tradition. The fundamental principles of these requirements, traditionally considered to be the ‘Oral Torah’ ( Tora she-be-al-peh) and the revelations to Moses on Mt. Sinai, form the legal corpora of the Pentateuch (e.g., the so-called ‘Book of the Covenant’ [ Ex 20,22-23,19], Deuteronomic law [Dt 12,1-26,15] or the Holiness Code [Lv 1…

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] …

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 …

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…

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…

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…

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…

Circumcisio

(346 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Circumcision (Hebrew mûla, mîla; Greek περιτομή; peritomḗ; Latin circumcisio), the removal of the foreskin of the male member, was originally an apotropaic rite widespread amongst western Semitic peoples that was performed at the onset of puberty or prior to the wedding (cf. Exodus 4,26 Is. 9,24f; Jos. 5,4-9; Hdt. 2,104,1-3). As this custom was not known in Mesopotamia, circumcision became a distinguishing feature between the exiled people and the Babylonians during the time of Babylonian…

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…

Jabne

(183 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Ἰάμνια; Iámnia). City, situated south of modern Tel Aviv. After the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in AD 70, it became the new centre in which Judaism reconstituted itself as rabbinic Judaism, initially under Rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkai and later under Gamaliel [2] II. A first formulation of the material which was later to be incorporated into the Mišna was undertaken here, whereby the aspect of an ordering of the religious life without temple cult and priests, as well as th…

Saboraeans

(71 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (from Hebrew śābar, 'consider', 'verify', 'reason' ). Term for those Jewish Talmud scholars of the 6th/7th cents. AD who carried out the final editing of the Babylonian Talmud (Rabbinical literature) and copiously amplified it with more extensive chapters. The Saboraeans followed the Tannaites (late 1st - early 3rd cents. AD) and the Amoraim (3rd-5th cents. AD). Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) Bibliography G. Stemberger, Einleitung in Talmud und Midrasch, 81992, 205-207.

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Adonai

(107 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Literally: ‘my Lords’. The plural suffix presumably recurs as an adjustment to the Hebrew word for God, Elohim, which is grammatically a plural form. When early Judaism tabooed the divine name Yahweh for fear of an abuse of its utterance (cf. i.a. Ex 20.7), adonai became a substitute. Thus, the Septuagint expresses the name ‘Yahweh’ as the divine predicate ‘Lord’ (κύριος; kýrios). The  Masoretes ( c. 7th-9th cents. AD), who initially set the text of the Hebrew Bible which only consisted of consonants and supplied its vowels, vocalized the tetra…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Baruch

(193 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] According to Biblical tradition, he was Jeremiah's companion and scribe. A highly significant figure in early Jewish tradition. In the apocryphal Book of B., he appears foremost as a preacher who calls Israel to penance but also promises consolation. In the B. writings (for instance in SyrBar and GrBar, Ethiop. B. apocalypse), B. predominantly acts as a prophetic recipient of revelation, who can even be superior to Jeremiah when telling him about God's decision (SyrBar 10,1ff). B.…

Exilarch

(195 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The Exilarch (Aramaic rēš alūṯā, ‘Head of the diaspora’) was the leader of the Babylonian Jews and the official representative at the court of the Parthian king in the Talmudic and Gaonic periods ( c. 3rd-10th cents. AD). This institution, which claimed its origins in the House of David, was probably introduced during the administrative reforms of Vologaeses. I. (AD 51-79) [3]. The first certain details about the office date from the 3rd cent. (cf. yKil 9,4ff [32b]). The Exilarch had authority primarily in juridic…

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…

Gamaliel

(279 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] [1] G. I. »The Old Man«; grandson of Hillel Also called ‘the Old Man’ (died c. AD 50), a grandson of Hillel. G. was a Pharisee ( Pharisaei) and member of the Sanhedrin ( Synhedrion). G., about whom little is known historically (for discussion of the problem, cf. [1]), is thought to have been  Paulus' teacher prior to his conversion to Christianity (Acts 22:3). According to Acts 5:34-39 his intervention saved Peter and other apostles from prosecution by the Sanhedrin. Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) [German version] [2] G. II. Successor to Jochanan ben Zakkai Grandson of [1], a…

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, …

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,…

Pentateuch

(576 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (ἡ Πεντάτευχος sc. βίβλος/ hē Pentáteuchos sc. bíblos, literally 'book of five scrolls', Orig. comm. in Jo 4,25; cf. Hippolytus 193 Lagarde; Latin Pentateuchus, Tert. in Isid. orig. 6,2,2). In the Christian tradition, a collective term for the the books Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy at the beginning of the Hebrew Bible. The Jewish tradition, however, refers instead to the spr htwrh, 'book of instruction' (cf. also the NT term νόμος/ nómos, Luke 10:26, or νόμος Μωϋσέως/ n. Mōÿséōs, Acts 28:23) or to ḥmyšh ḥwmšy twrh (literally 'five-fifths of t…

Hekhalot literature

(365 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Hekhalot literature (HL), to which belong, as the most important types, Hekaloth Rabbati (‘the great palaces’), Hekaloth zuṭarti (‘the small palaces’), Maʿase Merkabah (‘the work of the throne chariot’), Merkabah Rabbah (‘the great throne chariot’), Reʾuyyot Yeḥeqkel (‘the visions of Ezechiel’), Massekhet Hekaloth (‘treatise of the palaces’) and the 3rd Henoch, is a testimony to early Jewish mysticism constituted by an ‘experimental knowledge of God won through lively experience’ [4. 4]. One of the most significant motifs…

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…

Aaron

(228 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Post-Biblical traditions of A. are designed to idealize this figure, who appears ambivalent in the Biblical tradition (e.g. the Golden Calf episode), against a background of disputes starting with  Menelaus over the office of High Priest, which had abandoned hereditary succession, and thus affirming that A. (and his successors) were worthy of the office. The  Qumran community, which broke with the Jerusalem community of worship in protest over the progressive desacralization of th…

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…

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 …
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