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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…

Priestly document

(542 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] Based on its choice of words, style and motifs, Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) was able to identify a certain segment of the OT Pentateuch as distinct from the other documents that have been preserved, using the findings of older Pentateuchal criticism in the context of the 'Documentary Hypothesis' (1876 f.). Characteristic of this document are not only certain concepts and phrases (e. g. ēdā, 'assembly', 'community'; megūrīm, 'sojourning'; berīt ōlām, 'everlasting covenant'), but also numbers, lists and genealogies as well as an emphasis on the …

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…

Sabbath

(537 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew šabbat; Greek σάββατον/ sábbaton; Lat. sabbata). Seventh day of the Jewish week and day of rest observed weekly; its origin is unclear (cf. suggestions of a connection with the Akkadian šapattu, the day of the full moon). It is likely that it developed in ancient Israel as an expression of Yahweh's prerogative, based on the commandment to let the land lie unplowed during the seventh year (Ex 23:10 f.). The Sabbath was explained in two ways in the Biblical tradition. In the version contained in the Deute…

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…

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.

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…

Ethnarchos

(155 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] The title ethnarchos was given by the Romans to both Hyrcanus II (63-40 BC) and the son of Herod, Archelaus (4 BC-AD 6) (Hyrcanus II by Caesar 47 BC cf. Jos. Ant. Iud. 14,192ff.; Archelaus by Augustus after Herod's death, cf. Jos. Ant. Iud. 17,317). Formal expression was thus given to the designated person's rule over the Jewish people, while at the same time deliberately avoiding the title of king (cf. Jos. Ant. Iud. 20,244). The head of the Jewish community in Alexandria, who is s…

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…

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.

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Nazirite, Nazir

(226 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] According to biblical records (Nm 6:1-21), a male or female (cf. Jos. BI 2,313: Berenice) nazirite vowed - normally for a limited period of time - to take up certain ascetic rules of behaviour: abstention from vine products and haircutting, ban on getting impure by touching a dead person (Nm 6:3-12; cf. also the rules in the Mishnah, or Talmud and Tosefta tract Nazir). If the nazirite vow was not, as in the case of Samson (Judges 13,5), taken for life, then it ended, after the deadline set in the vow, with offers of various sacrifices (cf. Ac…

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…

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…

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…

Sambation

(177 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (also Sanbation or Sabbation; Greek Σαββατικός/ Sabbatikós, Jos. BI 7,5). Mythical river, behind which the ten tribes of Israel (Judah and Israel) were said to have been exiled by the Assyrian king Salmanassar. According to Jewish legend, this river had the miraculous property of resting on the Sabbath, while on all other days its current was so strong that it hurled stones (among others, BerR 11,5; cf. already Plin. HN 31,24). Iosephus [4] Flavius describes the river, which according t…

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…

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…

Sandalphon

(187 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] (Hebrew sandālfōn). Name of one of the most important angels in rabbinic angelology. S.'s size spans from earth into the heavenly realm and he surmounts his angel companions by 500 years 'while making wreaths for his creator' (bHag 13b with the interpretation of Ez 1:15; PesR 20 [97a]). Related traditions identified these wreaths with the prayers of Israel that S. presents to God (Bet ha-Midrasch 2,26 Jellinek). It is highly probably that his name is derived from the Greek συνάδελφος/ synádelphos, 'fellow brother' (in the community of angels or specifically o…

Archiereus

(279 words)

Author(s): Ego, Beate (Osnabrück)
[German version] [1] Greek see  Priests Ego, Beate (Osnabrück) [German version] [2] Jewish Already during the pre-Maccabean period, the High Priest (Hebr. kohen ha-gadol; Greek archiereus) was the highest religious and political authority (cf. Sir 50,1 ff.), heading a hierarchically structured priesthood comprising several thousand individuals. Holding the status of ‘eternal holiness’ (mNaz 7,1), it was his responsibility to preserve certain rules of purity with regard to marriage and dealings with the dead. During the …

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…
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