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Entries Inz-Iz 


General Abbreviations 


Abbreviations used in Rabbinical Literature 


Bibliographical Abbreviations 


Transliteration Rules 






tuDtcts cjuanOo jtiDices 

p 71 A € e R A MT p A CTA € p A 

urpeRecRiNAReTUR jk 


Jr pwf; CJ t*xA*tf£perurrr a vc?-ef *r*cxi»f *ulvf? 



Initial letter "I" of the phrase In diebus 
unius iudicis at the beginning of the 
Book of Ruth from the Latin Bible 
of Charles the Bald, Rheims, ninth 
century. The illumination shows Ruth 
and Boaz above the letter and Naomi 
seated in the middle of it. Paris, Bib- 
liotheque Nationale, Ms. Lat. i-88v. 


IN-ZIKH, the Introspectivist movement in American Yid- 
dish poetry, arose in 1919 and centered on the literary organ 
In Zikh ("In the Self," 1920-40). The founders of the move- 
ment included A. *Glanz-Leyeles, Jacob *Glatstein, and N.B. 
*Minkoff, who in their first volume declared: "The world ex- 
ists and we are part of it. But for us, the world exists only as it 
is mirrored in us, as it touches us. The world is a nonexistent 
category, a lie, if it is not related to us. It becomes an actuality 
only in and through us." In contrast to *Di Yunge, the Inzikh- 
ists espoused all themes, rhythms, and vocabulary, so long as 
the poetry reflected the poet's individuality. They declared that 
free verse and social realities must be combined, that poetry 
required the poet to look into the self (in zikh) and thus pres- 
ent a truer image of the psyche and the world. Urbane mod- 
ernists, the Inzikhists considered associations and allusions as 
the two most important elements of poetic expression. Dedi- 
cating themselves to the Yiddish language and poetry, they 
published some of the most important poets and prose writ- 
ers of the 20 th century. 

bibliography: B. Rivkin, Grunt-Tendentsn fun der Yidisher 
Literatur in Amerike (1948); N.B. Minkoff, Literarishe Vegn (1955); A. 
Glanz-Leyeles, Velt un Vort (1958); N.B. Minkof-Bukh (1959); C. Madi- 
son, Yiddish Literature (1968), 306-11; S. Liptzin, Maturing of Yiddish 
Literature (1970), 40-65. add. bibliography: B. Harshav, Ameri- 
can-Yiddish Poetry (1986). 

[Sol Liptzin / Anita Norich (2 nd ed.)] 

IOANNINA (Janina), name of town and region in Greece, 
N.W. of Athens. According to an old tradition, there was a 
Jewish community in Ioannina as early as the ninth century; 
the archaic Greek spoken by the Jewish inhabitants suggests 
that this may be true. During the first half of the 13 th century 
the town was part of the despotate of *Epirus and the Jewish 
community suffered from persecutions. Jewish serfs are men- 
tioned in two bulls, dated 1319 and 1321 respectively, issued 
by Emperor Andronicus 11 Palaeologus (1282-1328). During 
his reign the emperor placed the Jews under his direct pro- 
tection. In 1431 when the town was taken by the Turks, there 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


was a sizable Jewish community, which continued to grow in 
succeeding generations. When Jewish refugees from Spain 
settled there, they assimilated into the local Romaniot popu- 
lation and adopted their Greek dialect. There were two syna- 
gogues, one known as the "old community," the other as the 
"new." Apulian and Sicilian Jews also settled in Ioannina and 
retained special circumcision and Purim customs. In 1612 
the Jews were falsely accused of having handed Bishop Di- 
onysios, the leader of a revolt, over to the Turkish authori- 
ties, who executed him. Ali Pasha, who was governor of the 
area from 1788 to 1822, imposed a heavy tax burden on the 
wealthy Jews. In 1821 when the Greek rebellion broke out, 
some Jews found refuge in Ioannina. In 1851, the commu- 
nity suffered a major blood libel. The 1869 fire ruined half the 
Jewish shops in the market. In 1872 there were anti-Jewish ri- 
ots in the town. The local wealthy banker Effendi Davitchon 
Levy was one of four Jews in the Ottoman Empire elected 
to the first national assembly in 1876. The Hebron emissary 
Rabbi Hayyim Shemuel Halevy (Ha-Hasmal) remained in 
Ioannina for more than three decades (1848-81) and proph- 
esied that the redemption of Israel would take place in the 
year 5708 (1948). Ioannina Jews maintained trade relations 
with Europe and the East, and also engaged in silk weav- 
ing and the manufacture of scarves, veils, and silver belts for 
sale to the Albanians; there were also goldsmiths, dyers, gla- 
ziers, tinsmiths, fishermen, and coachmen among them. The 
wealthy merchant Meir Gani moved to Jerusalem in 1880 and 
initiated Jewish settlement in the Christian Quarter of the 
Old City of Jerusalem owing to his close connections to the 
Greek Orthodox Church, and he also purchased much land 
from the latter for the Jewish National Fund in Jerusalem in 
the Rehavia neighborhood as well the site of the present-day 
Israel Museum and land in the Dead Sea region (where Kib- 
butz Bet ha-Aravah was located). At the beginning of the 
20 th century, there were 7,000 Jews in Ioannina, but due to 
fear of political instability, compulsory military service, and 
economic decline, several thousand Jews began emigrating, 
heading to New York City. In 1910 the Jewish population was 
3,000 and on the eve of the Holocaust it was 1,950. In the De- 
pression of the early 1930s, many Ioanniote Jews migrated to 
Athens for economic betterment. The local Jewish poet, phi- 
lologist, and teacher Joseph *Eliyia (1901-1931) is remembered 
and highly revered in contemporary Greece for his prose and 
poetry. On March 24, 1944, 1,860 Jews were seized by the Nazis 
and deported to Auschwitz. In 1948 there were 170 Jews liv- 
ing in the town, and by 1967 their number had dwindled to 
92. The Ioannina community has continued to maintain the 
Romaniot prayer rite. A Ioannina synagogue, Bet Avraham 
ve-Ohel Sarah, exists in Jerusalem in the Mahaneh Yehudah 

bibliography: J.M. Toledano, Sarid u-Falit (1945), 32-35; 
Bees, in: Byzantinisch-neugriechische Jahrbuecher, 2 (1921), 159-77. 
add. bibliography: R. Dalven, The Jews of Ioannina (1990); B. 
Rivlin, "Ioannina," in: Pinkas Kehillot Yavan (1999), 131-43. 

[Simon Marcus / Yitzchak Kerem (2 nd ed.)] 

IONESCO, EUGENE (1912-1994), Romanian-born French 
playwright. Ionesco's mother, Therese Icard, was a French 
Jewess who, while teaching in Romania, married a non- Jew- 
ish lawyer, Eugene Ionesco. In 1913 the family moved to Paris, 
returning to Romania in 1925, and a few years later the father 
abandoned his wife and two children. The young Eugene spe- 
cialized in French studies. He became a teacher and literary 
critic, studying in Paris (1938-40). When he returned to Ro- 
mania he encountered the Fascism which he was later to at- 
tack in the bitterest terms, and in 1942 he fled back to France 
with his wife. 

Ionesco's first two books, written in Romanian and pub- 
lished in 1934, were a volume of lyrical poems, Elegii pentru 
fiintele mici ("Elegies for Little Souls"), and Nu ("No"), a col- 
lection of essays criticizing established Romanian authors. Io- 
nesco's plays, which reveal the influence of * Kafka and of the 
important Romanian dramatist Ion Luca Caragiale, are mostly 
one-act caricatures of middle -class smugness and philistinism. 
A mixture of comedy and tragedy, surrealistic and grotesque, 
they attack what Ionesco terms "the universal petty bourgeoi- 
sie ... the personification of accepted ideas and slogans, the 
ubiquitous conformist." This "Theater of the Absurd" (Ionesco 
himself preferred the designation "Theater of Derision") had its 
birth in the highly successful play La Cantatrice chauve (1949; 
The Bald Soprano, 1958). The best known of the many plays that 
helped to consolidate Ionesco's reputation were La Lyqon (1950; 
The Lesson, 1958), Les Chaises (1951; The Chairs, 1958), 
du devoir (1952; Victims of Duty, 1958), Le Nouveau Locataire 
(1953; The New Tenant, 1958), Tueur sans gages (1957; The Killer, 
i960), Rhinoceros (1959), which appeared in an English trans- 
lation in i960, and Le Roi se meurt (1962; Exit the King, 1963). 
Ionesco's plays were collected in four volumes (1954-66) and 
have been translated into nearly 30 languages. A series of essays 
appeared in book form as Notes et Contrenotes (1962; Notes and 
Counternotes, 1964), and he also wrote the scripts for several 
distinguished films. Later plays included Macbeth (1973), Man 
with Bags (1975), and Journey Among the Dead (1980). 

He visited Israel and made declarations in favor of the 
state on the eve of the Six- Day War. After it was over he wrote 
about his family history for the first time in the second volume 
of his memoirs, Present Passe, Passe Present (1968), a sequel to 
Le Journal en Miettes (1957, Fragments of a Journal, 1968), ex- 
pressing a new awareness of his Jewish origin. Ionesco, whose 
qualities of wit and mordant satire had led to his being referred 
to as "the Moliere of the Twentieth Century," was elected to 
the French Academy in 1970. 

bibliography: R.N. Coe, Ionesco (Eng., 1961); P. Senart, Io- 
nesco (Fr., 1964); F. Bradesco, Le monde etrange de Ionesco (1967); C. 
Bonnefoy, Entretiens avec Eugene Ionesco (1966); Ben-Jacob, in: Amer- 
ican Zionist, 59:3 (1968), 19-21; Le Figaro Litteraire (July 29, Aug. 5, 12, 
i968);Davidowitz, in: Ariel, 4 (1963), 18-21. add. bibliography: 
R.J. North, Eugene Ionesco: an inaugural lecture delivered at the Uni- 
versity of Birmingham (1970); R. Hayman, Eugene Ionesco (1972); R.N. 
Coe, Ionesco: A Study of His Plays (1971); A. Lewis, Ionesco (1972); R. 
Lamont (ed.), Ionesco: A Collection of Critical Essays (1973); E. Kern, 
The Works of Ionesco (1974); S. Cavarra, Ionesco: de Vabsurde a la quete 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


(1976); A. Kamyabi Mask, Ionesco et son theatre (1987); M.C. Hubert, 
Eugene Ionesco (Fr., 1990); A. Hayman, Ionesco avant Ionesco: portrait 
de V artiste en jeune homme (1993); G. Plazy, Eugene Ionesco: le rire 
et Vesperance: une biographie (1994); N. Lane, Understanding Eugene 
Ionesco (1994); D.B. Gaensbauer, Eugene Ionesco Revisited (1996); H. 
Bloom (ed.), Eugene Ionesco (2003). 

[Claude Gandelman / Rohan Saxena and 
Dror Franck Sullaper (2 nd ed.)] 

IOSIFESCU, SILVIAN (1917- ), Romanian literary historian 
and critic. A former illegal Communist, he decided in favor 
of an academic career and was, from 1948, professor of Liter- 
ary Theory at the Bucharest University. He wrote on the Ro- 
manian classics and problems of aesthetics, and, after a short 
period of dogmatic Marxist esthetic, Iosifescu became an 
eminent literary analyst of modern prose. His works include 
Drumuri literare ("Literary Paths," 1957), In jurul romanului 
("On the Novel," 1959), Literatura de frontier a ("The Frontier 
Literature," 1969), Mobilitatea privirii ("The Mobility of Sight" 
1976), Trepte ("Steps," 1988). Iosifescu translated (partially 
in collaboration with Vera Calin) from Romain Rolland, H. 
Taine, John Steinbeck, Robert Graves, and published antholo- 
gies of French and English humor. 

add. bibliography: Dictionarul scriitorilor romdni, D-L 
(1998), 629-31; M. Martin and N. Rata-Dumitriu, in: Observator cul- 
tural, 157 (2003). 

IOWA, state in midwestern U.S. In 2005 Iowa had a Jewish 
population of 6,100 out of a total of 2,944,000. The largest 
Jewish community was in Des Moines (3,500), the state capi- 
tal, where there were four synagogues - Orthodox, Conser- 
vative, Reform and Chabad - a Jewish Federation which is 
situated on the community campus and includes Iowa Jew- 
ish Senior Life Center, a synagogue, and the Community He- 
brew School. There were also organized Jewish communities 
with one or more synagogues in Ames, Cedar Rapids, Water- 
loo, Council Bluffs; Davenport (450); Dubuque (105); Iowa 
City (200), Sioux City (300), and Postville, now home to 450 
Jews, most associated with the kosher meat processing plant, 

The first mention of Jews in connection with Iowa ap- 
peared in a memoir published in London in 1819 by William 
Robinson, a non- Jewish adventurer and land speculator, who 
proposed mass colonization of European Jews in Iowa and 
Missouri. The first known Jewish settler was Alexander Levi, 
a native of France who arrived from New Orleans in 1833 and 
established himself in Dubuque in the year the town was laid 
out. Credited with being the first foreigner naturalized in 
Iowa (1837), Levi helped develop the lead mines first worked 
by Julien Dubuque, for whom the town was named. One of 
Dubuque's leading citizens for 60 years, Levi was elected jus- 
tice of the peace in 1846. In the late 1830s and early 1840s Jew- 
ish peddlers from Germany and Poland reached Dubuque 
and McGregor, key points for traffic across the Mississippi, in 
eastern Iowa, as the immigrant tide began pushing westward. 

Solomon Fine and Nathan Louis were doing business at Fort 
Madison in 1842. In that year Joseph Newmark opened a store 
at Dubuque. Among the early settlers in McGregor were the 
parents of Leo S. Rowe (1871-1946), director-general of the 
Pan-American Union (1920-46), who was born there. Samuel 
Jacobs was surveyor of Jefferson County in 1845. In the 1850s 
Jews were also settled at Davenport, Burlington, and Keokuk. 
William Krause, the first Jew in Des Moines, arrived with 
his wife in 1846, when it was still known as Raccoon Forks. 
His brother Robert came to Davenport about the same time. 
Krause opened Des Moines' first store in 1848, a year before 
Joseph and Isaac Kuhn arrived there. Krause was one of the 
incorporators of Des Moines, helped found the town's first 
public school, contributed toward the building of Christian 
churches, and was a leading figure in having the state capital 
moved from Iowa City to Des Moines. Other pioneer Jews 
were Michael Raphael, paymaster of the Northwestern Rail- 
road while it was building west from Davenport; Abraham 
Kuhn, who went to Council Bluffs in 1853; Leopold Sheuer- 
man, who had a store at Muscatine in 1858; and Solomon Hess, 
who represented Johnson City at the 1856 convention at which 
the Iowa Republican Party was organized. 

The first organized Jewish community was formed at 
Keokuk in 1855 in the home of S. Gerstle under the name of 
the Benevolent Children of Israel. This society maintained a 
cemetery from 1859 on and four years later was incorporated 
as Congregation B'nai Israel. In 1877 it erected Iowa's first syn- 
agogue. Other communities grew up in Dubuque and Burl- 
ington in 1857 and in Davenport in 1861. There was a hand- 
ful of Jews in Sioux City on the banks of the Missouri River 
in the 1860s, but no congregation was formed until 1884. The 
Council Bluffs community dates from the late 1870s and that 
in Ottumwa from 1876. Davenport's Temple Emanuel is the 
oldest existing congregation (the one in Keokuk went out of 
existence in the 1920s). Des Moines' pioneer congregation, 
B'nai Jeshurun, was founded in 1870 and erected the state's 
second synagogue in 1878. 

The best-known Jews in Iowa in the 1880s were Abraham 
Slimmer, of Waverly, and Moses Bloom, of Iowa City. Slim- 
mer, a recluse, endowed hospitals, schools, and orphanages 
throughout Iowa and other states and was a generous contrib- 
utor to synagogues. Bloom was elected mayor of Iowa City in 
1869 and 1874 and served in both houses of the state legisla- 
ture in the 1880s. Benjamin Salinger served on the Iowa State 
Supreme Court from 1915 to 1921. Joe Katelman was elected 
mayor of Council Bluffs in 1966. David Henstein was mayor 
of Glenwood (1892) and Sam Polonetzky was mayor of Val- 
ley Junction (1934). rc ._ ¥ n 

[Bernard Postal] 

Des Moines remains the largest center of Jewish life in 
Iowa. Its Federation, located on a community campus which 
includes the Jewish Community Relations Commission, the 
Greater Des Moines Jewish Press, Jewish Family Services, the 
Iowa Jewish Senior Life Center, and Tifereth Israel, the Con- 
servative synagogue which houses the Federation-run com- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 




A- 500-1 ,000 


Total Jewish 
population of Iowa 


% of Jews in general 
population of Iowa 


% of Iowa Jews 

in Jewish population 

of U.S. 


Jewish communities in Iowa, with dates of establishment of first synagogue. 
Population figures for 2001. 

munity Hebrew School, is very active and influential. The Des 
Moines Jewish Academy, a day school started in 1977 by three 
families, merged in 2004 with a secular private school to be- 
come The Academy, Des Moines' only secular private school. 
The Academy offers an after-school Jewish curriculum. An 
additional Federation facility for social, cultural, and recre- 
ational activities, the Caspe Terrace, located in nearby Wau- 
kee, Iowa, is the site of the children's camp, Camp Shalom, as 
well as the museum of the Iowa Jewish Historical Society, a 
committee of the Federation founded in 1989. 

Des Moines boasts four synagogues, and ritual practice 
in most has become more traditional over time. The Reform 
Temple, B'nai Jeshurun, has the largest membership with 
Shabbat services now held on both Friday night and Satur- 
day morning. Ritual at the Conservative synagogue, Tifereth 
Israel, has remained largely unchanged. Beth El Jacob, the 
Orthodox synagogue which allowed mixed seating beginning 
in the 1950s, now has a mehizah in both its small chapel and 
its main sanctuary. Lubavitch of Iowa/ Jewish Resource Cen- 
ter, operating with its current rabbi since 1992, holds Shabbat 
services and publishes a monthly magazine, The Jewish Spark, 
and contains a mikveh y as does Beth El Jacob synagogue, less 
than half a mile away. Beth El Jacob synagogue and Lubavitch 
of Iowa clashed over a bequest, which resulted in a civil law 
suit. The resulting settlement led to the establishment of a 
Chabad-run kosher deli, Maccabee. The Jewish population in 
Des Moines has moved westward. With the purchase of land 
west of Des Moines, plans are under discussion for moving 
the campus that contains both the Federation and Tifereth 
Israel synagogue. 

Perhaps the most interesting development in Iowa has 
been the growth of an ultra-Orthodox community in ru- 
ral Postville, where once there were only Christians. Heshy 
Rubashkin moved to this town of 2300 in 1989 to set up 
AgriProcessors, a kosher meat processing plant. Five years 
later, when they opened a Jewish school, more hasidic fami- 
lies followed. Today 75 hasidic families live in Postville, which 
offers k-8 Jewish education for girls and K-11 Jewish educa- 
tion for boys. The Postville Jewish community boasts a Jewish 
doctor, a family- run kosher cheese manufacturing business, 
Mitzvah Farms, and a kosher grocery store and adjacent res- 
taurant. Tensions developed between the hasidic newcom- 

ers and their Christian neighbors. The cross cultural conflict 
became the subject of much national press coverage, a best- 
selling book, and a pbs movie. Though tensions still persist, 
Jews and non-Jews are learning to live with each other. One 
member of the hasidic community was elected to a term on 
the Postville City Council. Recently the Lubavitch commu- 
nity, which houses Postville's only synagogue where all types 
of Hasidim pray together, including those of Ger and Bobov, 
opened a Jewish Resource Center. The jrc, open to all comers 
including non-Jews, contains a Jewish library, meeting room, 
gift shop and offers Jewish tutorials for the few non-observant 
Jews in Postville. 

One Postville resident, observing the harmony among 
diverse Hasidim described life in Jewish Postville as "mos- 
chiah time." 

Sioux City, which was at one time Iowa's second largest 
Jewish community, now numbers only 300. To address the 
crisis of a Jewish population decreasing through death and 
not replenishing with new families, the Conservative and Re- 
form synagogues merged in 1994, maintaining in congrega- 
tion Beth Shalom affiliation with both the Conservative and 
Reform movements. Ritual observance at Beth Shalom gen- 
erally follows the Reform tradition, though Conservative tra- 
ditions apply to both Shabbat morning and second day holi- 
day prayer. Beth Shalom maintains a K-12 religious school 
and employs a full-time rabbi, ordained at a trans-denomi- 
national seminary. 

In Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, the Reform 
and Conservative synagogues also merged, and congregation 
Agudas Achim, with a membership of 200 families, is affiliated 
with both the Reform and Conservative movements. Services, 
led by a Conservative-ordained Rabbi, generally follow the 
Conservative ritual, though once each month Reform services 
are held. The University of Iowa with a Jewish population of 
roughly 600 undergraduates and 200 graduate students runs 
a Hillel in which about 10% of the students are active. 

Nearby, Temple Judah of Cedar Rapids, a Reform Con- 
gregation, has maintained a stable Jewish community with 125 
families and a school enrollment of 53 students. 

Davenport, one of the Quad Cities, has a Jewish pop- 
ulation of about 450 people, most affiliated with either the 
Reform Congregation, Temple Emanuel, or a Conservative 
synagogue across the river in Rock Island, Illinois. An Israeli 
shaliah sent to Davenport's Federation for one year, has helped 
revitalize Jewish life and promote outreach to the non-Jew- 
ish community. 

Ames, the home of Iowa State University, maintains the 
Ames Jewish Congregation, a community of 62 families, affili- 
ated with the Reform Movement since 1962. 

bibliography: J.S. Wolfe, A Century with Iowa Jewry (1941); 
S. Glazer, Jews of Iowa (1904); B. Postal and L. Koppman, A Jewish 
Tourists Guide to the U.S. (1954), 171-77. Steven Bloom, Postville: A 
Clash of Cultures in Heartland America (2001); Yiddl in Middle: Grow- 
ing Up Jewish in Iowa, a film by Marlene Booth. 

[Marlene Booth (2 nd ed.)] 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


IPSWICH, town in southeastern England. A medieval com- 
munity existed there until 1290 with its own *archa. However, 
relatively little is known about it. Jews began to resettle in the 
mid-i8 th century. A synagogue was built in 1792 and a ceme- 
tery acquired in 1796. During the French Revolution, the Jews 
were suspected of Jacobin sympathies and the magistrates had 
to intervene to save them from attack. The community ceased 
to exist during the 19 th century. At the outset of the 21 st cen- 
tury, no Jewish institutions existed in Ipswich. 

bibliography: Abrahams, in: jhset, 2 (1894-95), index; Da- 
vis, in: East Anglian, 3 (1889-90), 89-93, 105 f.> 123-7; C. Roth, Rise of 
Provincial Jewry (1950), 71-4; Roth, England, index, add bibliog- 
raphy: M. Brown, "The Jews of Norfolk and Sufflok Before 1840" 
in: jhset, 32 (1990-92), 219-36; idem, "An Ipswich Worthy Portrayed 
by John Constable," in: jhset, 33 (1992-4), 137-40. 

[Cecil Roth] 

IQUITOS, city in Peru. Surrounded by the Amazon River 
and two of its tributaries, and separated from other cities by 
the vast tropical rain forest and the high Andean summits, 
Iquitos, located 1,200 miles from Lima, was the most iso- 
lated city in South America until the coming of the airplane. 
Nevertheless, like Manaus and Belen do Para, it was the hub 
from which representatives of foreign industries administered 
their businesses during the rubber boom of the 19 th century. 
Hence, starting in 1870, around 150 Sephardi Jews, mainly 
from Morocco but also from places such as Gibraltar, Malta, 
Alsace, and the city of Manchester, made their way to Iquitos 
in search of quick fortunes working as traders and owners of 
commercial houses that provided services to the people who 
exploited rubber in the jungle. In a few years the little town 
founded by Jesuits became a cosmopolitan city that boasted 
the only organized Jewish community in Peru besides the one 
in the capital city of Lima. 

In 1905 the Jewish immigrants, who initially had no 
intention of staying long in the city, built a cemetery to ac- 
commodate the inevitable loss of life in a frontier area while 
refraining from building such permanent structures as a syn- 
agogue or a school. By 1909, they had founded and formally 
registered with the local authorities of the city the Israelite So- 
ciety of Beneficence of Iquitos in order to provide assistance to 
fellow Jews, although, they only met for the Jewish high holi- 
days and scarcely developed a Jewish life. Most of the Jews, 
like all the immigrants, married or had children with local 
Amazonian women. During the 1910s, with the decline of rub- 
ber prices, most of the Jews left the city. The few who stayed, 
together with the first generation of their descendants, met 
occasionally for Sabbath services in private homes. Though 
they continued to intermarry with local Christian natives, the 
descendants of Jews preserved a strong sense of Jewishness, 
kept up some Jewish traditions, and made several attempts to 
sustain a fragile community, which made its first contacts with 
Lima's Jews during the 1950s, especially after the visit of the 
Jewish Peruvian geologist Alfredo Rosenzweig, who in 1948 
got to know the first generation of Jewish descendants during 

a trip to the Amazon region. In an article published in 1967 
Rosenzweig provided the first detailed account of the presence 
of Jews in Iquitos, telling about the economic contribution 
of the big and famous Kahn, Israel, and Cohen commercial 
houses, among others, and obtaining a copy of the statutes of 
the Israelite Society and a list with 29 documents concerning 
community members buried at the Israelite cemetery, where 
"Israelite," "Hebrew," or "Jewish" is explicitly written as the 
faith of the deceased. 

In 1995 Dr. Ariel Segal visited Iquitos in order to research 
the syncretic identity of the Jewish descendants of the city af- 
ter learning that there was still an organized community of 
self-proclaimed Jews who celebrated the main Jewish holi- 
days. These had been visited twice by Rabbi Guillermo Bron- 
stein of the Conservative Jewish congregation of Lima and 
by officials of the Jewish Agency who helped those members 
who expressed an interest in learning about Judaism and im- 
migrating to the State of Israel and whose cases fell under the 
Law of Return, to make ally ah. Their Judaism has been also 
debated in Orthodox circles after they were visited by a mem- 
ber of Israel's Rabbinate. 

Iquitos descendants of Jews still bury members of their 
congregation in the Israelite cemetery, they celebrate Kab- 
balat Shabbat services - although some of them also attend 
churches - and speak proudly of their Jewish heritage while 
a few of them practice some local Amazonian and Christian 
rituals. They define themselves as members of the "chosen 
people" with Jewish blood. This sense of lineage and identity 
is part of the fascinating historical consciousness that Dr. Se- 
gal, in the book Jews of the Amazon, categorized as Marranic, 
claiming that the identity of the "Jewish Mestizos' - Mestizaje 
is understood as biological and cultural miscegenation - re- 
sembles the identity of many descendants of Jews forced to 
convert to Christianity in the Iberian Peninsula, and of other 
communities that combined Judaism and another religion, 
such the *Bene Israel of Bombay. 

Defining Marranism also as an identity, a product of iso- 
lation rather than exclusively a result of compulsory conver- 
sion to another religion, is, however controversial, useful in 
understanding the sense of peoplehood of the Iquitos com- 
munity after living almost 100 years without a rabbi, a syna- 
gogue, or a Jewish school. 

bibliography: A. Rosenzweig, "Judios en j a Amazonia Pe- 
ruana, 1870-1949," in: MajShavot 12 (June 1967); A. Segal, Jews of the 
Amazon: Self-Exile in Earthly Paradise (1999); M. Freund, "Exodus 
from the Amazon," in The Jerusalem Post (Sept. 12, 2003). 

[Ariel Segal (2 nd ed.)] 

IRAN (official name: Islamic Republic of Iran), country in 
S.W. Asia, before 1935 known as Persia. Iran covers an area of 
1,648,195 square km and includes 28 provinces, 714 districts, 
718 towns, and 2,258 villages. Up to 1948 Jews were scattered 
in about 100 towns and villages, their number was then esti- 
mated at between 100,000 and 120,000. 

The name Iran for the entire Iranian plateau has been in 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


usage since the Sasanian period (224-650 c.e.) and also in 
classical literature, e.g., in the Shdhndmeh of Ferdawsi (about 
10 th century). Persia as a name for the country was used by 
foreigners; geographically it referred to the Province of Fars 
in the south from which the Achaemenian kingdom of Cyrus 
the Great emerged. It was officially changed to Iran in 1935, 
most probably under the influence of strong German-Iranian 
relations during the 1930s. The many German agents in Iran 
emphasized the so-called Aryan origin of the Iranians, which 
appealed to the nationalist mood of the time. This type of na- 
tionalism in Iran did not allow any social and political activi- 
ties with ties to foreign countries, and thus Communist and 
Zionist activities were forbidden in Iran during Reza Shahs 
reign (1925-41). There were also difficulties faced by Jews who 
wanted to immigrate to the Land of Israel. However, it must 
be said that Reza Shah's reign proved to be the beginning of 
an era of relative freedom and socioeconomic opportunities 
for Jews and other non- Muslim communities. In this period, 
Jews were active in trade, industry, and tourism. Several Jews 
reached the highest levels of fame and prosperity in the mod- 
ern history of Iran. Among them were Haim Moreh, Morteza 
Mo'allem, and Soleiman Haim in education and scholarship; 
Iraj Lalehzari and Shemooil Rahbar in science; Morteza Ney- 
Davoud and Yonah Dardashti in music; Morad Ariyeh, Habib 
Elghanaian, Ebrahim Rad, and many others in economics. 

With the occupation of Iran by Russia and Britain in Au- 
gust 1941 and the abdication of Reza Shah in September, Iran 
experienced a new era of relative democracy and freedom such 
as it had never had before. Jews began to take advantage of the 
situation and from 1942 on they started to renew their Zionist 
and social activities. During the 1940s, a dozen Jewish organi- 
zations emerged in *Teheran and in other major cities, such 
as *Shiraz, ^Isfahan, *Hamadan, *Kermanshah, and Sanan- 
daj. Among these organizations were the following: several 
youth organizations named Kanun-e Javanan; Ha-Histadrut 
ha-Ziyyonit; the Halutz Movement; the Jewish Hospital; the 
Ozar ha-Torah Educational Schools; the Women's Organiza- 
tion; ort Schools; newspapers, such as 'Alam-e Yahud, Yisrdel, 
Sind, and so on. State universities, colleges, elementary and 
high schools became more accessible to Jewish students and 
teachers. Jews were able to find employment in governmental 
offices with less difficulty than before. This relative freedom 
also gave rise to fascist parties such as the Pan-Iranism Party 
that regarded the Jews as an undesirable Semitic foreign ele- 
ment in Iran. The Tudeh Party favored the Jews, whose intel- 
lectuals, in general, were sympathetic to it, and a few hundred 
of them became active members of the party. 


The earliest report of a Jewish population in Iran goes back to 
the 12 th century. It was ^Benjamin of Tudela who claimed that 
there was a population of about 600,000 Jews. This number 
was later reduced to 100,000 in the Safavid period (1501-1736), 
and it further diminished to 50,000 at the beginning of the 
20 th century, as reported by the * Alliance Israelite Universelle 





s Sanandaj ■ Teheran 

/ A Hamadan u 

• A 



r- 1 Isfahan 

^ Borujerd 


^Abadan A m • 
>*>/ r- 1 Shiraz 


> / 








over 40,000 

□ 1,000-7,000 
O 25,000 

Jewish settlements in Iran, l$)6j and 2001. 19 6 j data based on E. Spicehan- 
dler, Yahadut Iran, Jerusalem, 1970. 

(aiu) emissaries in Iran. The drastic decrease in number was 
the result of persecution, forced conversions, Muslim laws of 
inheritance (which encouraged conversion and allowed the 
convert to inherit the properties of his Jewish family), and 
massacres. These problems continued at least up to the Con- 
stitutional Revolution in Iran (1905-09). According to unoffi- 
cial statistics released by the Jewish Agency in Teheran, there 
were between 100,000 to 120,000 Jews living in Iran in 1948. 
The following numbers, with some variation, were reported for 
the Jews of major cities: Teheran, about 50,000 Jews; all Iranian 
Kurdistan, between 15,000 to 20,000; Shiraz, 17,000; Isfahan, 
10,000; Hamadan, 3,000; Kashan, 1,200; *Meshed, 2,500; Ker- 
manshah, 2,864; Yazd/Yezd, 2,000 (uncertain). There are no re- 
liable statistics for other communities scattered in many small 
towns and villages, such as Borujerd, Darab, Fasa, Golpaygan, 
Gorgan, Kazrun, Khunsar, Lahijan, Malayer, Nowbandegan, 
Rasht, and many more. There were also censuses carried out 
once every 10 years by the government, beginning in 1956. 
These censuses usually were not reliable as far as the Jewish 
communities were concerned, since Jews were not enthusiastic 
about being identified as such. For example, the official census 
of 1966 cites 60,683 Jews in Iran, but the Jewish sources put the 
number much higher than 70,000. The data provided by differ- 
ent sources, especially by those involved or interested in Iran's 
Jewish community affairs, differ greatly from one another. 


We do not possess a reliable source regarding the occupations 
of the Jews in different towns and settlements in Iran. The data 
varies in time and place, but one may nevertheless find simi- 
larities in the reports. We have more reliable statistics concern- 
ing the second largest community in Iran, the Jews of Shiraz 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


which may, to some degree, represent the Jewish occupations 
in other major cities - with the exception of the goldsmiths 
and musicians who made Shirazi Jews famous. The following 
was reported by Dr. Laurence Loeb, who resided in Shiraz 
from August 1967 through December 1968, as investigated 
and reported on the distribution of occupations. (See table: 
Occupations in Shiraz.) 

Table 1 . Occupations in Shiraz, 1 967-1 968 







Cloth store 












Nurse, hospital worker 



Teacher, principal 









Liquor seller 









Merchant of gum tragacanth 









Fruit and vegetables 












Office worker 



Real estate 












JDC worker 



Industrial worker 



Household goods shop 



School janitor 



In addition to what was reported above, Loeb found in Shiraz 
41 persons who were dentists, cooks, carpenters, barbers, seed 
merchants, laborers, librarians, mullas, restaurant workers, 
bath attendants, leather tanners, photographers, beauty par- 
lor attendants, appliance store clerks, lambswool merchants 
or dairy store attendants. They constituted 10.12 percent of the 
work force of the community. There were also 8 unemployed 
persons (1.98%). 


Modern Jewish education in Iran was in general in the hands 
of the Alliance Israelite Universelle (aiu) from 1898. The aiu 
was active only in major cities such as Teheran (from 1898), 
Hamadan (1900), Isfahan (1901), Shiraz (1903), Sanandaj 
(1903), and Kermanshah (1904). In the second decade of the 
20 th century it opened schools in Kashan and Yazd, and also 
in some small towns close to Hamadan, such as Tuyserkan, 
Borujerd, and Nehavand. Parallel to the aiu schools, commu- 
nity schools were established in a few towns, such as Koresh 

in Teheran and Koresh in Rasht. During the Pahlavi regime, 
some Jews also studied in non- Jewish schools. 

In 1946/47, the Ozar ha-Torah schools were opened in 
Teheran and other cities. Rabbi Isaac Meir Levi, a Polish Jew 
who had come to Iran in 1941 to organize the dispatch of par- 
cels to rabbis and synagogues in Russia, was appointed by the 
Ozar ha-Torah center in New York to establish a network of 
schools in Iran. 

Given the great wave of immigration to Israel which 
swept the Jews of Iran in the 1950s, most immigrants being 
poor and unskilled, the economic prosperity which Iran en- 
joyed in the 1960s and 1970s, and the rise to wealth of a large 
segment of the remaining Jewish community, more attention 
was devoted to education. In 1977/78 there were in Teheran 
11 Ozar ha-Torah schools, 7 aiu schools, and 6 community 
schools, including one ort vocational school and the Ettefaq 
school belonging to Iraqi Jews resident in Teheran. This pic- 
ture changed drastically with the mass exodus of Jews result- 
ing from the Islamic revolution. Prior to the Islamic Republic 
of Iran (= iri) there were three Jewish schools in Shiraz and 
one Jewish school in each major city. By the end of the 20th 
century there were generally three Jewish schools in Teheran, 
one in Shiraz, and one in Isfahan. Most of these schools were 
funded and sponsored by Ozar ha-Torah (Netzer, 1996). 


Immigration to Israel was facilitated and accelerated through 
the Zionist Association in Teheran (founded in 1918) and its 
branches in 18 major cities. The following official statistics 
published by the Government of Israel show the rate of Ira- 
nian Jewish immigration to Israel (the number 3,536 below for 
the years 1919-1948 does not accurately reflect reality, since 
thousands of Iranian Jews immigrated to Israel illegally and 
were consequently not registered by the British Mandate or the 
Jewish Agency). It is believed that on the eve of independence 
there were about 20,000 Iranian Jews living in Israel. 

Table 2. Immigration of Iranian Jews to Israel, 1 91 9-2001 


Number of Immigrants 



















In the past, the majority of Iranian Jews lived in Jerusalem, 
while at the beginning of the 21 st century they were to be found 
primarily in Tel Aviv, Holon, Bat-Yam, Rishon le-Zion, Kefar 
Saba, Nes Ziyyonah, and Rehovot. A smaller number chose to 
reside in Jerusalem, Netanyah, Haifa, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and 
Beersheba. Since 1948, the Jews of Iran have founded several 
moshavim: Agur, Amishav (now a quarter in Petah Tikvah), 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Avdon, Dovev, Eshbol, Givati, Givolim, Hodayah, Margali- 
yyot, Maslul, Melilot, Nes-Harim, Netivha-Shayarah, Neveh 
Yamin, Nogah, Pa'mei TaShaZ, Patish, Kadimah, Talmei Bilu, 
Zerufah, and others. 

With the change of the regime and ^Khomeini s rise to 
power, about three-quarters of Iran's 80,000 Jews left. Many 
immigrated to Israel and the United States, but a part preferred 
to settle in European countries. The official statistics of Israel 
show that in 2001 there were 135,200 Jews who were considered 
Iranian either as olim or as individuals one of whose parents 
was Iranian- Jewish. The above figure includes 51,300 who were 
born in Iran and 83,900 who were born in Israel. Iranian Jews 
in Israel became active and reached high ranks in academic 
life, in the socioeconomic realm, politics, and the military. 
Since 1955, they have had about a score of university teachers; 
Rabbi Ezra Zion *Melamed, professor of Talmud at the Hebrew 
University of Jerusalem was granted the Israel Prize. There 
have been several Knesset members, two chief commanders 
of the Air Force (General Eitan Ben-Eliyahu and General Dan 
Haluz), two army chiefs of staff (Major- General Shaul *Mofaz 
and Major- General Dan Haluz); one defense minister, Shaul 
Mofaz; one Sephardi chief rabbi (Rabbi *Bakshi Doron); and 
the president of the State of Israel, Moshe *Katzav. 

Jewish Representation in the Majles 

The Jewish representatives in the Iranian Parliament (Majles) 
since its inception (1907) were the following: Azizollah Simani, 
a merchant (replaced by Ayatollah Behbahni after only a few 
months); Dr. Loqman Nehoray, a physician (1909-23); Shemuel 
Haim, a journalist (1923-26); Dr. Loqman Nehoray (1926-43), 
Morad Ariyeh, a merchant (1945-56); Dr. Mussa Beral, a phar- 
macologist (1956-1960), Morad Ariyeh, (1960-64), Jamshid 
Kashfi, a merchant (1964-68), Lotfollah Hay, a merchant 
(1968-75), and Yosef Cohen, a lawyer (1975-79). 

Iran-Israel Relations 

Relations between the Yishuv and Iran began in 1942, when 
the Jewish Agency opened a Palestine Office in Teheran, with 
the aim of assisting the Jewish- Polish refugees from Russia and 
arranging for their immigration to the Land of Israel. This of- 
fice continued to function until 1979. Iran voted, together with 
the Muslim and Arab states in the un against the partition of 
Palestine (November 29, 1947). In the Israel- Arab conflict, Iran 
sided with the Arabs. However, Iran's need for socioeconomic 
reforms drove it to establish closer relations with the West, es- 
pecially with the U.S. Consequently, after the Shahs trip to the 
U.S. in 1949, Iran recognized Israel de-facto in March 1950. The 
relations between the two countries remained "discreetly un- 
official," even though diplomatic missions were operating in 
Teheran and Tel Aviv. These continued to function until early 
1979. Practical relations between the two states existed in a 
variety of fields such as trade, export- import, regular El-Al 
flights to Teheran, supply of Iranian oil to Israel, and student 
exchanges. They developed especially strong relations in three 
major fields: agriculture, medicine, and the military. Israeli ex- 
perts assisted Iran in various development projects such as the 

Qazvin project in the 1960s. The Six-Day War is regarded as 
the high point of friendly Israel-Iran relations, particularly in 
the area of the Intelligence Service. The Shah and his military 
were surprised by the swift Israeli victory over *Syria, * Jordan, 
and *Egypt. Likewise, the Israeli setback in the Yom Kippur 
War (1973) induced the Shah's pragmatic diplomacy to develop 
amicable relations with Anwar *Sadat of Egypt. It has been 
said that it was this policy of the Shah that encouraged Sadat 
to make peace with Israel. With the coming to power of Kho- 
meini in February 1979, the friendly relations between the two 
states changed into strong enmity. In 2006 the growing Iranian 
nuclear threat and President Ahmadinejad's declaration that 
Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth led to increas- 
ing talk of a preemptive military strike against Iran. 

Jews in the Last Year of the Pahlavi Regime 

The economic boom of the 1960s and the 1970s in Iran bene- 
fited the Jews too. Many Jews became rich, which enabled them 
to provide higher education for their children. In 1978 there 
were about 80,000 Jews in the country, constituting one-quar- 
ter of one percent of the general population. Of these Jews, 10 
percent were very rich, the same percentage were poor (aided 
by the Joint Distribution Committee) and the rest were classi- 
fied as from middle class to rich. Approximately, 70 out of 4,000 
academicians teaching at Iran's universities were Jews; 600 Jew- 
ish physicians constituted six percent of the country's medical 
doctors. There were 4,000 Jewish students studying in all the 
universities, representing four percent of the total number of 
students. Never in their history were the Jews of Iran elevated to 
such a degree of affluence, education, and professionally as they 
were in the last decade of the Shah's regime. All this changed 
with the emergence of the Islamic Republic of Iran (iri). 

Iranian Jews in the iri 

On January 16, 1979, the Shah was forced to leave Iran. Two 
weeks later Ayatollah Khomeini entered Teheran to assume 
power, after having lived in exile for almost 15 years. On Feb- 
ruary 11, 1979, for the first time in the history of Iran, the gov- 
ernment of the Ayatollahs came into being, and the kingdom 
of Iran turned into the Islamic Republic of Iran (iri). This 
political phenomenon has significantly changed the demo- 
graphic map of the Jewish community of Iran. By the end of 
20 th century - that is to say, at the end of 20 years of the Islamic 
regime in Iran - taking into consideration the birthrate, there 
were about 30,000 Jews in Iran, of which 25,000 lived in Tehe- 
ran, 3,000 in Shiraz, 1,500 in Isfahan, while the rest were scat- 
tered in other cities and settlements. In the iri, Jews as well 
as other religious minorities were regarded as the supporters 
of the royal regime, because it was under the Pahlavi dynasty 
that they had enjoyed prosperity and some measure of relative 
freedom. When the revolution broke out, Israel-Iran relations 
and the diplomatic, economic, and military cooperation be- 
tween the countries were markedly strong. Consequently the 
situation of the Jews became precarious, because of the anti- 
Zionist attitude and character of the revolution. The Jews of 
Iran were accused of being the supporters of the Shah, Israel, 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


the Mossad, the cia and the U.S. All were denned as "Satan." 
A few wealthy Jews, among them the former head of the Jew- 
ish Community of Teheran, Habib Elghanian, were tried by 
the revolutionary courts and sentenced to death (May 9, 1979). 
Jewish-owned property worth at least one billion dollars was 
confiscated by the regime. This alarming situation caused 
many Jews to leave Iran. 

Under the Islamic Republic of Iran, the following per- 
sons represented the Jewish community in the Majles: Eshaq 
Farahmandpour, a teacher (a few months in 1979 and then 
Jews had no representative until 1982); Khosrow Naqi, a law- 
yer (1982-84); Dr. Manouchehr Nikruz (1984-92); Dr. Kuros 
Keyvani (1992-96); Dr. Manouchehr Elyasi (1996-2000); Mo- 
ris Mo'tamed, an engineer (2000- ). 

Iranian Jews Abroad 

It is estimated that during the first 10 years of the Islamic re- 
gime about 60,000 Jews left Iran; the rest, some 20,000, re- 
mained in Teheran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and other provincial cit- 
ies. Of the 60,000 Jews who emigrated, about 35,000 preferred 
to immigrate to the U.S.; some 20,000 left for Israel, and the 
remaining 5,000 chose to live in Europe, mainly in England, 
France, Germany, Italy, or Switzerland. The spread of the Ira- 
nian Jews in the U.S. provides us with the following demo- 
graphic map: of the total 35,000, some 25,000 live in Califor- 
nia, of whom about 20,000 prefer to dwell in Los Angeles; 
8,000 Iranian Jews live in the city of New York and on Long 
Island; the remaining 2,000 live in other cities, mainly in Bos- 
ton, Baltimore, Washington, Detroit, or Chicago. 

In every city abroad, the Jews of Iran tried to establish 
themselves in their own newly founded organizations and 
synagogues. In Los Angeles alone, they set up more than 40 
organizations, 10 synagogues, about 6 magazines, and one tele- 
vision station. The Iranian Jewish community in the U.S. is, 
for the most part, well-educated and financially stable. Educa- 
tion is one of the strongest values stressed by the Iranian Jew- 
ish community, which considers itself the cream of all immi- 
grant groups in the U.S. The Iranian Jews brought with them 
money, doctors, engineers, upper-class educated businessmen, 
and professionals in almost all fields. Many of them became 
wealthy in their new homes in the U.S., Europe, and Israel. 

[Amnon Netzer (2 nd ed.)] 

Musical Tradition 

The musical patrimony of the Iranian Jews contains several 
different styles. The nature of their non-synagogal music, and 
the general approach to music and the way it is performed, 
are identical with those of their non- Jewish neighbors. The at- 
tachment to poetry and music which has been characteristic 
of Iranian culture from its earliest days is also found among 
the Jews, with similar attention devoted to the cultivation of 
these arts, the special connection of music with the expres- 
sions of sorrow, meditation, and mystical exaltation, and the 
same ideal of voice color and voice production. Some of these 
characteristics have of course been transposed in order to suit 
the specific conditions of a Jewish culture. The tendency to- 

ward mysticism finds its fullest expression in a predilection 
for the *Zohar, which is recited with a special musical intona- 
tion. The great importance attached to lamentations for the 
dead, which constitute a rich and interesting repertoire, may 
be analogous with the taziya-t of the Persian Shi'ites, which 
are a kind of vernacular religious drama commemorating the 
tragedies which marked the birth of the Shi a sect. 

Notwithstanding some analogies in style and form, the Ira- 
nian influence is, however, hardly traceable in the Iranian syna- 
gogal tradition. In the structure of the melodies of free rhyth- 
mical or recitative character, A.Z. *Idelsohn found a strong 
resemblance to the synagogal tradition of the Yemenite Jews. 
Their tradition of Pentateuch cantillation is among the more 
archaic ones, being centered almost exclusively on the major di- 
visive accents (see *Masoretic Accents, Musical Rendition). On 
the other hand, most of the metrical *piyyutim, mainly those of 
the High Holidays, are sung to melodies common to all Near 
Eastern, i.e. "Eastern Sephardi," communities. 

In the paraliturgical and secular domain, the poetry and 
music of the Iranian Jews are simply a part of the general cul- 
ture, with a few exceptions. Among these are the works of 
non-Persian Jewish poets, such as Israel *Najara, of which a 
Judeo- Persian translation is in wide use, and which are sung 
on such occasions as seudah shlishit and *bakkashot (among 
Persians Jews, contrary to other communities, these are per- 
formed at home and not in the synagogue). 

The most impressive production was in the domain of 
epic songs. Here, the Persian Jews closely followed the Persian 
model in language, meter, and musical rendition, though the 
Jewish poets and musicians naturally sang of the achievements 
and history of their own people. The chief representative of 
epic poetry is *Shahin, a Persian Jewish poet of the 14 th cen- 
tury. His poetic paraphrase of the narrative parts of the Pen- 
tateuch, called in brief Shahin, is sung in public on Sabbath 
afternoons and at festive gatherings by specialized "epic sing- 
ers." The public, although knowing every word by memory, 
expresses its enthusiasm anew each time. The Shahin also be- 
came a favorite in Bukhara, which was considered a cultural 
province of Persian Jewry. Shahin himself and after him other 
poets, especially Amrani, wrote other epic songs on Jewish 
topics which also attained great popularity. 

Another branch of poetry, but one of a more folkloristic 
nature, consists of the songs which are improvised in an im- 
promptu competition of poets. These are performed at fam- 
ily celebrations, after wine-drinking bouts, and the competi- 
tion between the two singer-poets adds to the atmosphere of 
good cheer. (For the music of the Kurdistan region of Iran 

see * Kurdistan.) . ,111 

[Amnon ShiloahJ 

bibliography: E. Abrahamian, Iran Between the Two Rev- 
olutions (1982); P. Avery, Modern Iran (1965); Bulletin de VAlliance 
Israelite Universelle, Paris; I. Ben-Zvi (1935), Nidhei Yisrael (1935, 
1965); Sh. Bakhash, The Reign of the Ayatollas: Iran and the Islamic 
Revolution (1984); A. Banani, The Modernization of Iran: 1921-1941 
(1961); U. Bialer, "The Iranian Connection in Israels Foreign Policy" 
in: The Middle East Journal, 39 (Spring 1985), 292-315; G.N. Curzon, 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Persia and the Persian Question, 1-2 (1892), index; R. Graham, Iran: 
The Illusion of Power (1979); F. Halliday, Iran: Dictatorship and De- 
velopment (1979); Sh. Hillel, Ruah Qadim (1985); S. Landshut, Jew- 
ish Communities in the Muslim Countries of the Middle East (1950), 
61-6; G. Lenczowski, Russia and the West in Iran, 1918-1948 (1949); 
idem, Iran under the Pahlavis (1978); H. Levy, History of the Jews of 
Iran, vol.3, (i960); A. Netzer, "Beayot ha-Integrazya ha-Tarbutit, ha- 
Hevratit ve-ha-Politit shel Yehudei Iran" in: Gesher, 25:1-2 (1979), 
69-83; idem, "Yehudei Iran, Israel, ve-ha-Republikah ha-Islamit shel 
Iran; in: ibid., 26:1-2 (1980), 45-57; idem, "Iran ve-Yehudeha be-Para- 
shat Derakhim Historit" in: ibid., 1/106 (1982), 96-111; idem, "Tekufot 
u-Shelavim be-Mazav ha-Yehudim ve-ha-Pe'ilut ha-Ziyyonit be-Iran" 
in: Yahdut Zemanenu, 1 (1983), 139-62; idem, "Yehudei Iran be-Arzot 
ha-Berit" in: Gesher, 1/110 (1984), 79-90; idem, "Anti-Semitism be- 
Iran, 1925-1950," in: Peamim, 29 (1986), 5-31; idem, "Jewish Educa- 
tion in Iran," in: H.S. Himmelfarb and S. DellaPergola (eds.), Jewish 
Education Worldwide, (1989), 447-61; idem, "Immigration, Iranian," 
in: J. Fischel and S. Pinsker (eds.), Jewish-American History and Cul- 
ture (1992), 265-67; idem, "Persian Jewry and Literature: A Socio- 
cultural View," in: H.E. Goldberg (ed.), Sephardi and Middle Eastern 
Jewries (1996), 240-55; J. Nimrodi, Massa Hayyay, 1-2 (2003); The 
Palestine Year Book, 3 (1947-1948), 77; R.K. Ramazani, Revolution- 
ary Iran (1986), 282-5; idem, The Foreign Policy of Iran: 1500-1941 
(1966); Sh. Segev, Ha-Meshullash ha-Irani (1981); Ha-Shenaton ha- 
Statisti le-Israel (2002); Shofar (Jewish monthly in Persian published 
on Long Island), 243 (May 2001), 22 ff.; B. Souresrafil, Khomeini and 
Israel (1988); J. Upton, The History of Modern Iran: An Interpretation 
(1968); D.N. Wilbur, Iran, Past and Present (1948); M. Yazdani, Re- 
cords on Iranian Jews Immigration to Palestine (1921-1951) (1996), 61, 
67, 110; Idelson, Melodien, 3 (1922). 

IRAQ, country in S.W. Asia (for period prior to 634 c.e. see 
^Mesopotamia and ^Babylonia). 

The Diaspora of Iraq was one of the most ancient of the 
Jewish people. The Jews came to Babylon after the destruc- 
tion of the First Temple (586 b.c.e.), or even 10 years earlier, 
with the exile of Jehoiachin. They integrated into their land 
of captivity and took part in its economic and cultural de- 

The contribution of Babylonian Jewry to molding the 
spirit and character of the Jewish people in the Diaspora was 
channeled through its famous academies (yeshivot) of * Sura 
and *Pumpedita. There, the Babylonian Talmud was com- 
posed and sealed. The heads of those academies functioned 
as the leaders of Babylonian Jewry and of other Jews. They 
continued to do so until the conquest of the country by the 
^Mongols in 1258 c.e. The decline of the Jewish communities 
of ^Baghdad and *Basra continued for many generations. Only 
at the end of the 18 th and the beginning of the 19 th centuries 
did Baghdad begin to recover economically and culturally and 
start to function again as a religious center for the Jewish com- 
munities of * Kurdistan, * Persia, * India, and * Aden. 

Under Islamic Rule 

The Jews of Babylonia, who had suffered from persecutions 
at the end of the rule of the Persian Sasanid dynasty, wel- 
comed the Arab conquest of the land, which became known 
as Iraq. 

The legal status of the Jews, as *dhimmis, was defined by 
the Sharia (the Islamic Law), under which they had certain 
rights including the right to worship and to administer their 
own religious law. On the other hand they were required to 
pay the jizya (poll tax) in exchange for protection by the Is- 
lamic rulers. They were also exempted from serving in the 
Muslim armies. 

UNDER THE UMAYYAD CALIPHATE (661-750). The extant 

information on the attitude of the caliphs of the * Umayyad 
dynasty (661-750) toward the Jews is very limited. During this 
period the Jews suffered from the political disputes and con- 
troversies which took place in Iraq. In the times of the caliph 
Omar 11 ibn 'Abd al-Aziz (717-720) the Jews suffered, with 
other dhimmiSy intolerance toward their religion. He forbade 
the governors to appoint members of non-Muslims as tax 
collectors and scribes; he also prohibited the dhimmis from 
dressing like Muslims and sought to degrade them socially 
(The Covenant of *Omar). 

UNDER THE ABBASID CALIPHATE (750-1258). The situation 

of the Jews during the *Abbasid period was not stable. Some of 
the rulers were tolerant to them while others oppressed them 
variously. The caliph Harun al-Rashid (786-809) persecuted 
the Jews and sought to humiliate them. He imposed heavy 
taxes and discriminated against them in regard to their dress, 
commerce, and other matters. The attitude changed under his 
son, the caliph al-Ma'mun (813-833), who was a devotee of the 
sciences. At the beginning of his rule he revealed a tolerant 
attitude toward the Jews, but at its end he changed this policy 
for the worse as a result of his advisers' influence. During the 
reign of the caliph al-Mutawakkil (847-861) the Jewish situ- 
ation was severely aggravated. This caliph issued, in 850, de- 
crees which degraded the Jews and other non- Muslims. He 
instituted a yellow head covering and, for the servants and the 
poor, a yellow patch to be prominently worn on their clothes, 
on the chest or on the back. Four years later he added some 
new decrees on the color of clothes and on women's clothing. 
Various restrictions concerned with living quarters, taxes, 
and other matters are also attributed to him (see Covenant of 
*Omar). It maybe assumed that not all these decrees were ap- 
plied. In spite of all the restrictions, many Jews adapted them- 
selves to the values of the Muslim culture. They distinguished 
themselves as physicians and writers, played important roles 
in the economic life and held government positions. The fact 
that it was necessary from time to time to renew the decrees 
on clothing proves that they were not generally enforced. 

During the terms of office of the gaon *Aharon b. Joseph 
ha- Cohen Sargado, Baghdad was conquered by the Buway- 
hid emirs who ruled Iraq for more than a century (945-1055). 
This Persian Shi'ite dynasty was extremely fanatic and cruelly 
persecuted the Sunni Muslims, the Jews, and the Christians. 
They abolished the former rights of the exilarch to collect the 
poll tax, and the Jews were compelled to pay it to Muslim col- 
lectors who oppressed them severely. The situation of the Jews 
improved during the rule of the *Seljuks (1055-1150). After the 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Seljuks the Abbasid caliphs restored their power, and a change 
for the worse occurred during the reign of caliph al-Muqtadi 
(1075-1094), who adopted a harsh attitude toward both the Jews 
and the Christians. He imposed heavy taxes upon them and 
compelled them to live according the discriminatory decrees 
issued by the caliph al-Mutwwakil. After him the situation of 
the Jews improved and their former autonomy was restored. 

^Baghdad was founded by the caliph al-Mansur (754- 
775) and became the capital of the Abbasids. The Jewish com- 
munity begin to expand until it became the largest one in Iraq 
and the seat of the * exilarch. 

Under Muslim rule the academies of *Sura and *Pumbe- 
dita began to prosper. The heads of these academies were 
known, from then on, as *geonim. The golden age of the geonim 
parallels the days of splendor of the Abbasid caliphate. 

According to the traveler *Benjamin of Tudela, who vis- 
ited Iraq in about 1170, the caliph was most favorable to the 
Jews; there were many Jewish officials in his service. The trav- 
eler R. *Pethahiah of Regensburg, who visited Iraq at the be- 
ginning of the reign of the caliph al-Nasir (1180-1225) greatly 
admired the erudition of the Jews of Babylonia: ". . . Babylonia 
is an entirely different world, their occupation consisting of 
To rah study and the fear of heaven, even the Ishmaelites are 
trustworthy ... in Babylon there are 30 synagogues in addition 
to that of Daniel ..." (Sibbuv Rabbi Petahyah (1905), 8, 24). 

After the death of R. Hai the offices of the head of the 
academy (rosh yeshivah) and the exilarch (resh galuta) were 
both held by *Hezekiah b. David (1038-1058). 

The academies of Sura and Pumbedita had been trans- 
ferred to Baghdad during the 9 th and the 10 th century. In the 
middle of the 11 th century they ceased to exist and were re- 
placed by the Academy of Baghdad. 

Under Mongol Rule (1258-1335) 

Following ^Mongols' occupation of Iraq in 1258, which caused 
total destruction and disaster all over the south and the cen- 
ter of the land, the Jewish communities of Baghdad and Basra 
did not recover for many generations. The attitude of the 
new rulers toward the Jews at the beginning of their reign 
changed for the better. Some of them advanced to high posi- 
tions of state. The first of these was *Sa c d al-Dawla who was 
appointed a physician of the sultan Arghun Khan (1284-91) 
and then as a finance minister of the Il-khan kingdom. How- 
ever, in 1291, when the sultan was in his sickbed, Sad al-Dawla 
was executed. The same fate was met 27 years later by another 
Jewish personality, *Rashid al-Dawla (1247-1318), who was a 
physician, capable financier, historian, and philosopher. He at- 
tained high rank and was appointed as physician of the khan 
and the chief minister (vizir); his enemies accused him of hav- 
ing poisoned the khan and had him executed. The situation 
of the Jews began to worsen when Ghazan Khan (1295-1304) 
converted to Islam. At that time a number of Jews were com- 
pelled to follow suit. In 1333 and 1334 the synagogues of Bagh- 
dad were destroyed, Jewish property was looted and, again, a 
number of Jews converted to Islam. 

The occupation of the country by Tamerlane in 1393 
caused destruction of a large part of Baghdad and other towns. 
The Baghdad community did not recover until the end of the 
18 th and the beginning of the 19 th century. 

Under Ottoman Rule 

The Ottomans occupied Baghdad in 1534; their rule continued 
until 1917, except for 15 years (1623-38) when the Persians ruled 
the country and dealt very harshly with the Jews. 

The sharfa (the Islamic Code) was the law of the ^Otto- 
man Empire, so the dhimmis were treated according to this 
religious code. Jews suffered from minor discrimination un- 
der the Ottomans, and the Iraqi Jews, in general, lived under 
a tolerant regime. They paid a moderate poll tax and enjoyed 
relative freedom. Nevertheless, anti-Jewish crime or agitation 
on a petty scale was ready to appear. At times the Turkish gov- 
ernors oppressed the Jews and the poll tax was collected with 
many abuses by the highest bidder. 

From 1830 to 1917, 42 Turkish valis governed Iraq. Mus- 
tafa Nuri Pasha (1860-61) tried to confiscate the shrine of the 
prophet *Ezekiel (traditionally considered buried in the vil- 
lage of Kifil) from the Jews; and Mustafa 'Asim Pasha (1887-89) 
made false accusations against the Jews. In the time of the last 
vali, Khalil Pasha, 17 Jewish notables of Baghdad were accused 
of having engaged in illegal commerce. They were cruelly 
tortured and then executed. Conversely, there were some en- 
lightened officials who restored order and brought peace to 
the country. The most prominent of these were Midhat Pasha 
(1869-72) and Huseyin Nazim Pasha (1910-11). During their 
rule the Jews enjoyed security and tranquility. 

demographic changes. The Jewish population of Baghdad 
in 1824 was estimated at about 1,500 Jewish families. In 1831 it 
was reported that about 7,000 Jews were dwelling in a special 
quarter of the city and that they were employed in various gov- 
ernmental jobs. In 1845 the population of Baghdad was esti- 
mated at about 16,000 Jews, 40,000 Muslims, and 4,000 Chris- 
tians. The traveler R. ^Benjamin 11 (1848) put the number of the 
Jewish families in Baghdad at 3,000 with nine synagogues. 

Scores of small Jewish communities were scattered 
throughout northern Iraq. The largest was in Mosul, which 
in 1848 had about 450 Jewish families. The figure of 3,000 Jews 
in this city remained stable until approximately the begin- 
ning the 20 th century. The decline of the economic standing of 
Mosul seems to have contributed to the departure of Jews for 
Baghdad. According to official figures, there were in 1919 in all 
the northern districts (Mosul, Arbil, Suleimania, and Kirkuk) 
!3>835 Jews. According to the census of 1947 there were in the 
northern districts 19,767 Jews. 

The main demographic changes occurred from the mid- 
19 th century on. A considerable internal emigration from north 
to south followed the opening of the Suez-Canal (1869), which 
shifted the commercial pathway from the overland route (from 
Europe to India via * Aleppo in *Syria and Mosul in northern 
Iraq) to the naval route, thus favoring the Iraqi port of Basra. 
Economic conditions in the north begin to deteriorate. The 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Jews, like others, started to move southward. North to south 
emigration was also encouraged by changes introduced during 
the reign of the Vali Midhat Pasha (1869-72), who succeeded 
in pacifying the tribes of central and southern Iraq and pro- 
tecting the cities from their attacks. The two small Jewish com- 
munities in southern Iraq (Basra and Hilla) had grown larger, 
and additional communities settled in 'Amara, Qal'at Salih. 'Ali 
al-Gharbi, and Musyab. The Jewish movement to the south, 
however, declined after World War 1, except for Basra. 

The Jewish community of Baghdad continued to in- 
crease. In the year i860 there lived in Baghdad about 20,000 
Jews among 70,000 non-Jews. In 1889, they were estimated 
at about 25,000 among a population of 100,000 Muslims and 
5,000 Christians. An account by the British Consul in Baghdad, 
in February 1910 stated, "The Jewish community at Baghdad 
is, after that of Salonica, the most numerous, important, and 
prosperous in Turkey." At the beginning of the 20 th century the 
Jewish community of Baghdad numbered about 45,000, In 1919 
the British put the figures of Iraqi Jews at 87,488 among a total 
population of 2,849,283; that is to say 3.1%. In the Baghdad dis- 
trict there were about 50,000 Jews in a total of 250,000 inhabit- 
ants. Official Iraqi statistics, based on the 1947 census, put the 
total number of Iraqi Jews at 118,000 or 2.6% of the total popu- 
lation of 4.5 million. In spite of this official census, some stud- 
ies suggest that the real number of Jews in the late 1940s was 
higher. During the years 1948-51, 123,500 Jews immigrated to 
Israel, with several thousand others leaving during this period 
for other countries. About 6,000 Jews remained in Iraq after 
the mass immigration. This led to the conclusion that the total 
number of Jews in Iraq in the late 1940s was about 135,000. 

Major Jewish Settlements in Iraq, based on the official census of 




































c. 4,226 





c. 4,025 








c. 8,696 








c. 2,256 





social change. The reforms in the Ottoman Empire that 
took place in the second half of the 19 th century (Tanzimat) 
improved the legal status of the Jews. Theoretically they be- 
came equal in rights and obligations. The traditional poll tax 
(jizya) y which symbolized the inferiority of the dhimmis and 
their subject status, was rescinded. The fiscal change was, 

however, cosmetic in a sense, since the jizya was replaced in 
1855 by a new levy, Bedel-i 'Askari or military substitution tax, 
which exempted the non-Muslims from military service, for 
which they had become technically liable with the granting 
of civil equality. In 1909, shortly after the Young Turks' coup, 
this tax was canceled, and about 100 young Baghdadi Jews ap- 
plied for admission to officers training school. 

When World War 1 broke out, several thousands of Iraqi 
Jews were drafted into the Ottoman Army and sent to distant 
fronts, from which many of them did not return. 

The most far-reaching of the reforms came in the reor- 
ganization of the millet all over the Empire. In Baghdad the 
post of the Nasi (the leader of the Jewish community) was 
suppressed in 1849, and the community was recognized as 
a millet. Its leadership was vested in a religious personality 
(the hakham bashi) y "the chief rabbi." Later on, in 1931, un- 
der the British Mandate a new law was enacted to replace the 
Ottoman one. This law permitted the vesting of the leader- 
ship of Baghdad's Jewish community in a secular personality. 
Relying upon this law, it was possible in 1949 to replace Chief 
Rabbi *Sassoon Kadoorie with Heskel Shemtov. 

As a result of the improvement in their civil status deriv- 
ing from the reforms, the Jews were appointed to positions of 
judges, lecturers in the universities, officials in governmental 
service, and police officers. They also were appointed as mem- 
bers of city councils. 

In 1869, when Midhat Pasha carried out the vilayet system, 
he appointed a leading Jewish notable, Menahem *Daniel, as 
council member of the Baghdad vilayet (Majlis al-Idara). Dan- 
iel was also elected to parliament, which was opened in 1877 
in Istanbul. This was a precedent which was followed in 1908 
by the election of Heskel *Sassoon (1860-1932) to parliament. 

The changes in the status of the dhimmis did not sit well 
with the traditionally minded Muslims. Anti- Christian vio- 
lence erupted in many places in the Middle East, but not in 
Iraq. However, when the Young Turks tried to bring into force 
their notions of liberty, equality, and justice in Iraq, the Mus- 
lims greeted them with shock and dismay. They reacted on 
October 15, 1908, with violence against the Jews of Baghdad, 
which resulted in 40 wounded Jews. This event disabused the 
Jews of Baghdad of any illusions of equality. 

Education and Literature 

religious education. In 1832 Midrash Talmud Torah was 
founded in Baghdad, which continued its activity until the 
mass immigration in the mid-20 th century. In 1840 a religious 
academy, "Yeshivat Bet Zilkha," was founded after 100 years 
during which there was no such institution. This yeshivah 
educated rabbis for the Iraqi communities and those of its 
neighboring countries. 

The founding of modern schools accelerated the secular 
trend in education among Iraqi Jews. The role of the bet mi- 
drash and the yeshivah was steadily undermined and became 
insignificant by the 1940s. 

secular education. The first school of the ^Alliance 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Israelite Universelle for boys was founded in Baghdad in 
1865 and for girls in 1883. More elementary schools were later 
opened in the provincial towns of Iraq. Those schools intro- 
duced modern methods of teaching and included foreign lan- 
guages in the curriculum alongside Arabic, French, English, 
and Turkish. It created a real gap between the educational level 
of the Jews and that of the non- Jews. It qualified the Jews to 
be businessmen, clerks, and employees in the governmental 
offices and banks. This gap prevailed until the mass emigra- 
tion and aroused the jealousy of the non- Jews in the country, 
causing friction between the Jews and their neighbors. 

By the 1920s numerous schools had been established, 
mostly by Jewish philanthropists, and maintained by both 
Jewish community funds and regular contributions by the 
Iraqi government. 

The number of the schools supervised by the Jewish 
community in Baghdad continued to rise, reaching 20 at the 
time of the mass exodus of 1950-51. In addition to the regular 
schools, a number of other institutes were established, includ- 
ing a school for the blind, orphanages, a music school, voca- 
tional centers, and charitable organizations. 

Jewish students began attending universities in Iraq and 
abroad after World War 1, and government schools were open 
to Jews as well as to other religious and ethnic minorities. In 
the 1930s there was no restriction on the number of Jewish 
students in governmental schools and colleges. Later, in the 
1940s, a preferential quota introduced for scientific and medi- 
cal colleges affected Jews' chances of entering these colleges. 

The liberal and secular trend brought about a stronger 
association of Iraqi Jews and Arab culture and led Jews to 
take a more active role in public and cultural life. A consider- 
able number of prominent Jewish writers and poets emerged, 
whose works in Arabic were both well known and well re- 
garded; among them were the poet and historian Meir *Basri 
(1911- ) and the poet Anwar *Sha c ul (1904-1984). Jewish jour- 
nalists founded a number of newspapers and magazines in Ar- 
abic, such as al-Misbah (1924-1929) and al-Hasid (1929-1937). 
Jewish journalists contributed to the Iraqi press and occasion- 
ally wrote for the Arabic press outside Iraq. 

From the 1920s a number of Jews were also prominent in 
the Iraqi theater and performed in Arabic. Many Jews in Iraq 
distinguished themselves in music as singers, composers, and 
players of traditional instruments. 

Some works by the Jewish intelligentsia were Arabic in 
essence and expressed the cultural life of the country. 

[Abraham Ben-Yaacob and Hayyim J. Cohen / 

Nissim Kazzaz (2 nd ed.)] 

British Occupation and Mandate (1917-1932) 

The Jews under the British occupation (1917-21) enjoyed full 
rights of equality and freedom as well as a feeling of security. 
The majority of the Jews considered themselves as British citi- 
zens. Some grew rich, others were employed in the British ad- 
ministration, especially in Baghdad and Basra. They were in- 
terested in the continuation of British rule, and they expressed 

this in 1918, only a week after the armistice went into effect, 
when the Jewish community of Baghdad presented a petition 
to the civil commissioner of Baghdad, asking him to make 
them British subjects. Twice again, in 1919 and 1920, the Jews 
of Iraq appealed to the British high commissioner and asked 
him not to allow an Arab government to come to power or at 
least to grant British citizenship to the Jewish community en 
masse. The British authorities rejected this request, and the 
Jews were eventually appeased by personal assurances that 
ample guaranties would be afforded. However, when in April 
1930 the League of Nations decided to adopt the mandate, the 
Jewish leaders decided to support the establishment of an Iraqi 
state under the British Mandate. 

The Jews were given further assurances by Amir Faysal 
(1883-1933), who was the leading British candidate for the Iraqi 
throne. The new monarch-to-be made numerous speeches, in- 
cluding one before the Jewish community of Baghdad on July 
18, 1921, one month before his coronation, in which he empha- 
sized the equality of all Iraqis, irrespective of religion. 

King Faysal continued to maintain cordial personal re- 
lations with individual members of the Jewish elite through 
his 12-year reign. As his first finance minister, he appointed 
Sir Sasson *Heskel, the only Jew who ever held cabinet rank 
in Iraq. Four members represented the Jews in the Iraqi par- 
liament. In 1946 their number increased to six. In the Senate 
Menahem Salih *Daniel represented them and after him his 
son, Ezra *Daniel. 

Because of their generally superior educational qualifica- 
tions, Jews and Christians could be found in the civil service 
during the first decade of the kingdom while it was still under 
the British Mandate. However, as early as 1921, a strong Arab 
nationalist element rejected the employment of foreigners 
and non-Muslims. This opposition intensified after Iraq had 
gained full independence in 1932 and became even stronger 
after the death of Faysal the following year. 

onist activity resumed in Iraq about a year after World War 1 
ended; though still unorganized, serious fundraising was un- 
dertaken through the initiatives of a few individuals. Despite 
the substantial sums donated by a few wealthy philanthropists 
for development projects in the Holy Land, most of the Jewish 
mercantile elite of Iraq remained unattracted by Zionism. The 
first organized Zionist group in the postwar period included a 
schoolteacher, a law student, and a police officer. In 1920 they 
founded an association in Baghdad with the innocuous name 
of "Jarniyya Adabiyya Isra'iliyya" ("Jewish Literary Society"), 
which published a short-lived journal in Hebrew and Judeo- 
Arabic, Yeshurun. In early 1921, a group within the Jewish Liter- 
ary Society founded a separate Zionist society, "Al-Jam c iyya al- 
Sahyuniyya li-Bilad al-Rafidayn" ("The Mesopotamian Zionist 
Society) under the presidency of Aaron Sassoon b. Eliahu *Na- 
hum, who was also known as "ha-Moreh" (the teacher). The 
society received a permit from the government. Ha-Moreh was 
very active together with his deputy, the lawyer Joseph Elias 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Gabbai, and others. The organizations headquarters were in 
Baghdad and branches existed in Basra, Khanaqin, Amara and 
Arbil. Fundraising was the principal object of the Zionists in 
Iraq during the 1920s. Emissaries from the Holy Land were well 
received and helped by the authorities of the British Mandate 
and senior Iraqi officials. The Zionists enjoyed considerable 
sympathy from the poorer Jewish masses, who demonstrated 
their support in vocal public gatherings, which offended Arab 
public opinion, but failed to attract any influential community 
figures. The unrestrained behavior of the Zionists caused anxi- 
ety among members of the upper class such as Menahem Salih 
Daniel, a leading Baghdadi Jewish notable and later, as noted 
above, a senator in the Iraqi Senate. In reacting to the request 
for help in promoting Zionist activities in Iraq, he foresaw 
the danger to the community because of the political style the 
Zionists endorsed. Zionist ideology was attacked by another 
prominent figure, Joseph al-*Kabir, a Baghdadi Jewish lawyer, 
in a letter published in the Iraq Times in November 1938. 

British officials and the native Arab authorities also 
warned both the Zionists and the visiting representative of 
the movement against public activities and indiscreet state- 
ments. The nationalist press was more emphatic in this regard. 
Therefore, even though no actual ban was imposed upon their 
activities in Iraq until 1929, the need to maintain a low pro- 
file increased when the Zionist committee found it could not 
renew its permit in 1922, although it was allowed to continue 
operating unofficially until 1929. 

In 1923 a "Keren Hayesod" committee was founded in 
Baghdad; contributions to the national funds passed through 
this committee. The size of contributions increased during the 
early years of British rule (1920-1924), but declined steadily 
afterwards, and Iraqi Jews were not represented at any inter- 
national Zionist Congress after 1927. Evidence also shows that 
Congress representatives of the community before that date 
were actually foreigners who had succeeded in selling in Iraq 
the number of shekels required for representation by Zionist 
Congress rulers. 

Short-lived Zionist societies were established at the end 
of the British Mandate, such as "Agudat Ahi'ever" (1929), 
whose aim was to spread the Hebrew book; the "Maccabi" 
sport society (1929-1930); "Histadrutha-No c ar ha-Ivri" (1929) 
and others. Hebrew teachers from the Holy Land were invited 
to teach Hebrew and Jewish history. 

The visit of Sir Alfred Mond (a well-known Zionist) to 
Baghdad, in February 1928, marked the first anti-Zionist dem- 
onstration in the city. Some Jews who passed by were beaten. 

The Palestine disturbances, which erupted in August 1929, 
aroused a widespread and highly vocal reaction in Iraq. The 
press published exaggerated reports placing the Arab casual- 
ties in the thousands. A leading national paper claimed that the 
Jews had thrown a bomb into a mosque, killing 70 worshipers 
at Friday prayers. On August 30 some 10,000 Arabs gathered in 
a Baghdad mosque, where prayers were recited for the victims 
of British and Zionist aggression. After the speeches, the crowd 
poured out into the streets for a demonstration march, which 

turned into violent clashes with the police. Some of the speakers 
did not differentiate between Zionists and other Iraqi Jews. 

From that time the Iraqi government began to persecute 
Zionism, Palestinian Jewish teachers were expelled. In 1935 
ha-Moreh was arrested and forced to leave Iraq for Palestine. 
After that there was no legal Zionist activity in Iraq. 

Fascism and Antisemitism (1933-1941) 

Iraqi Jews did not know the kind of ^antisemitism that prevailed 
in some Christian states of Europe. The first attempt to copy 
modern European antisemitic libels was made in 1924 by Sadiq 
Rasul al-Qadiri, a former officer in the White Russian Army. 
He published his views, particularly that of worldwide conspir- 
acy, in a Baghdadi newspaper. The Jewish response in its own 
weekly newspaper, al-Misbah, compelled al-Qadiri to apolo- 
gize, although he later published his antisemitic memoirs. 

At that time the press drew a clear dividing line between 
Judaism and Zionism. This line became blurred in the 1930s, 
along with the demand to remove Jews from the genealogical 
tree of the Semitic peoples. This anti- Jewish trend coincided 
with Faysal's death in 1933, which brought about a noticeable 
change for the Jewish community. His death also came at the 
same time as the Assyrian massacre, which created a climate 
of insecurity among the minorities. Iraqi Jewry at that time 
had been subject to threats and invectives emanating not only 
from extremist elements, but also from official state institu- 
tions as well. Dr. Sami Shawkat, a high official in the Ministry 
of Education in the pre-war years and for a while its director 
general, was the head of "al-Futuwwa," an imitation of Hit- 
ler's Youth. In one of his addresses, "The Profession of Death," 
he called on Iraqi youth to adopt the way of life of Nazi Fas- 
cists. In another speech he branded the Jews as the enemy 
from within, who should be treated accordingly. In another, 
he praised Hitler and Mussolini for eradicating their internal 
enemies (the Jews). Syrian and Palestinian teachers often sup- 
ported Shawkat in his preaching. 

The German ambassador, Dr. F. Grobba, distributed 
funds and Nazi films, books, and pamphlets in the capital of 
Iraq, mostly sponsoring the anti- British and the nationalists. 
Grobba also serialized Hitlers book Mein Kampf in a daily 
newspaper. He and his German cadre maintained a great 
influence upon the leadership of the state and upon many 
classes of the Iraqi people, especially through the directors of 
the Ministry of Education. 

The first anti-Jewish act occurred in September 1934, 
when 10 Jews were dismissed from their posts in the Ministry 
of Economics and Communications. From then on an unof- 
ficial quota was fixed for the number of Jews to be appointed 
to the civil service. 

Pro-Palestinian, anti-British, anti-Jewish, and anti- 
Zionist sentiments rose to new heights in Iraq in 1936. The 
Arab general strike and the revolt, which erupted in Pales- 
tine that year, gave the conflict a new centrality in Arab pol- 
itics. The atmosphere in Baghdad became highly charged. 
The Committee for the Defense of Palestine circulated anti- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Jewish pamphlets. Over a four- week period, extending from 
mid-September to mid-October, three Jews were murdered in 
Baghdad and in Basra. A bomb, which however failed to ex- 
plode, was thrown into a Baghdadi synagogue on Yom Kippur 
(September 27). Several other bombs were thrown at Jewish 
clubs, and street gangs roughed up a number of Jews. 

The president of the Baghdadi Jewish community, Rabbi 
Sassoon *Kadoorie, who was himself a staunch anti-Zionist, 
issued a public statement, in response to a demand from the 
national press, affirming loyalty to the Arab cause in Palestine 
and dissociating Iraqi Jewry from Zionism. This did not bring 
about any real improvement in the situation and, in August 
1937, incidents against the Jews were renewed, fostered then and 
later by Syrians and Palestinians who had settled in Iraq. 


farhud." On June 1, the first day of Shavuot, which in Iraq 
was traditionally marked by joyous pilgrimages to the tomb 
of holy men and visits of friends and relatives, the Hashem- 
ite regent, 'Abd al-Ilah, returned to the capital from his exile 
in Transjordan. A festive crowd of Jews crossed over the west 
bank of the Tigris River to welcome the returning prince. On 
the way back, a group of soldiers, who were soon joined by 
civilians, turned on the Jews and attacked them, killing one 
and injuring others. Anti-Jewish riots soon spread through- 
out the city, especially on the east bank of the Tigris, where 
most of the Jews lived. By nightfall, a major pogrom was under 
way, led by soldiers and paramilitary youth gangs, followed 
by a mob. The rampage of murder and plunder in the Jewish 
neighborhoods and business districts continued until the af- 
ternoon of the following day, when the regent finally gave or- 
ders for the police to fire upon the rioters and Kurdish troops 
were brought in to maintain order. 

In the "Farhud" 179 Jews of both sexes and all ages were 
killed, 242 children were left orphans, and 586 businesses were 
looted, 911 buildings housing more than 12,000 people were 
pillaged. The total property loss was estimated by the Jew- 
ish community's own investigating committee to be approxi- 
mately 680,000 pounds. 

The "Farhud" dramatically undermined the confidence 
of all Iraqi Jewry and, like the Assyrian massacres of 1933, had 
a highly unsettling effect upon all the Iraqi minorities. Never- 
theless, many Jews tried to convince themselves that the worst 
was over. A factor in this was the commercial boom during 
the war, of which the Jewish business community was the 
prime beneficiary. Another factor was the tranquility which 
prevailed during the next years of the war. But the shadow of 
the "Farhud" continued to hover for years. 

The pogrom caused a split between the youth of the Jew- 
ish community and its traditional leadership. The new genera- 
tion turned to two separate directions: the Communist and the 
Zionist movements, the activity of both being underground. 

The Jewish Youth Between Zionism and Communism 

in the communist party. The Communist underground 
was joined by some young Jewish intellectuals who believed 

that by changing the regime of the state salvation would come 
to them as a minority. During the 1940s they played an impor- 
tant part in organizing demonstrations and anti- government 
activities. Two of them reached the top ranks of the party and 
were hanged in 1949. In 1946 'Usbat Mukafahat al-Sahyuniyya 
(the Anti-Zionist League) was authorized by the Iraqi govern- 
ment. This League succeeded in attracting many intellectuals. 
Its meetings were well attended and its daily newspaper, l al- 
'Usba'y was widely read. The League soon established itself as 
an outspoken representative of the Iraqi Jewish community 
on the issue of Palestine. It distinguished between Judaism 
and Zionism, terming the latter a "colonialist phenomenon." 
In June 1946 the League organized a large demonstration in 
Baghdad against "the injustice in Palestine." Three months af- 
ter granting permission, the authorities banned 'al-'Usba' and 
closed it. Its leaders were arrested and sentenced to various 
terms of imprisonment. 

The role of Jewish communists was visible in the daily 
demonstrations of February 1948, which erupted against the 
Portsmouth Agreement, endangered the regime, and brought 
down the government. The Jewish communists succeeded in 
convincing many Jews, including the leadership of the Jew- 
ish community, to participate in the demonstrations. By their 
behavior they stirred the anger of the government, which re- 
moved its protection from its Jewish subjects and began to 
display an official antisemitic policy. 

the Zionist underground. The Zionist Movement re- 
newed its activity in March 1942 by forming the youth orga- 
nization called Tenu'at he-Halutz (the Pioneer Movement) 
and paramilitary youth, Haganah, among Iraqi Jews. Con- 
trary to the Communist underground, the Zionists did not 
work against the regime. They concentrated on teaching He- 
brew and educating the young generation to Zionism and pi- 
oneering. A main purpose was to convince the Jews, mainly 
the youth, to immigrate to Erez Israel. 

The ranks of the Zionist movement in Iraq increased 
when World War 11 was over, and the Iraqi press began to ad- 
dress the Palestine question. The Zionist underground orga- 
nizations in Iraq, despite some crises, were flooded, from 1945 
until 1951, with requests for joining. The most dangerous crisis 
was that of October 1949, which nearly wiped out the Zionist 
movement in Iraq. The Iraqi authorities arrested about 50 Jews 
who were accused of Zionism and court-martialed. The sec- 
ond crisis was that of May- June 1951. When the evacuation of 
the Jews was nearing its end, the Iraqi government uncovered 
a spy ring in Baghdad, run by two foreigners, Yehuda Tajir and 
Rodny, who were arrested. The authorities also discovered ex- 
plosives, guns, files, typewriters, presses, and membership lists 
hidden in synagogues or buried in private homes. As a result, 
the police arrested about 80 Jews, 13 of them were sentenced 
to long terms of imprisonment, two others (Yosef Basri and 
Shalom Saleh) were sentenced to death and hanged on Janu- 
ary 19, 1952. By June 15, 1951, the order was given to the Zionist 
underground to cease its activity in Iraq. 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Official Antisemitism 

When World War 1 1 was over the former pro -Nazi follow- 
ers were released and began anew their activities and incite- 
ment against the Jews. The General Assembly vote in favor 
of the partition of Palestine on November 29, 1947, increased 
tensions between Arabs and Jews in Iraq and the authorities 
started to oppress the Jews. 

The declaration of martial law, before sending Iraqi 
troops to Palestine, marked the beginning of official anti- 
semitism. At first it was directed mainly against Communists 
but soon was used against Jews, when it became clear that the 
Arab offensive in Palestine was encountering serious difficul- 
ties. Now the Iraqi authorities seemed increasingly willing to 
accommodate anti- Jewish demands as a mean of diverting the 
attention of the Iraqi population from the failure in Palestine 
and from concern with social and political reforms. From now 
on, abuses and restrictions characterized the life of the Jews 
in Iraq. Restrictions were imposed on travel abroad and dis- 
posal of property. Hundreds of Jews were dismissed from pub- 
lic service; efforts were made to eliminate Jews from the army 
and the police; they were prohibited from buying and selling 
property; they were also discriminated against in obtaining the 
necessary licenses granting access to some professions. 

At the same time the nationalist press opened with ag- 
gressive attacks against the Jews, practically daily. The long- 
standing distinction between Judaism and Zionism was fast 
becoming blurred, The Jews were held responsible for the 
economic hardship faced by Iraq in 1948-49, and their lead- 
ers were threatened by the national press. The most impor- 
tant effect, which shook the Jewish community to the core, 
was the hanging of Shafiq Adas, one of the wealthiest Jews in 
the country, in front of his house in Basra on September 23, 
1948. Adas was condemned on the unlikely charge of having 
supplied scrap metal to the Zionist state. 

When Adas was executed about 450 Jews were in the 
jails; added to these were those arrested the following year, in 
early October 1949. The detainees were sentenced to terms of 
imprisonment ranging from 2 to 10 years. In carrying out the 
arrests the police also arrested another 700 Jews and released 
them after investigation, most of them were relatives of those 
who were brought before martial courts. 

The Exodus - Operation Ezra and Nehemiah 

Throughout 1949, the general disaffection of Iraqi Jewry was 
exacerbated. With this atmosphere Jewish youths were flee- 
ing the country. The clandestine crossing of the Iranian bor- 
der began to assume major proportions. Within a few months 
in 1950, about 10,000 Jews fled Iraq in this way. Once in Iran, 
most Iraqi Jews were directed to the large refugee camp ad- 
ministered by the Joint Distribution Committee near Teheran, 
and from there they were airlifted to Israel. 

In an attempt to stabilize the situation and to solve the 
Jewish problem, the government introduced a bill in the Iraqi 
Parliament at the beginning of March 1950 that would in effect 
permit Jews who desired to leave the country for good to do 

so after renouncing their Iraqi citizenship. The bill also pro- 
vided for the denaturalization of those Jews who had already 
left the country. The bill was duly passed in the Chamber of 
Deputies and the Senate as Law No. 1 of 1950. 

Iraqi government officials thought that only about 6,000- 
7,000 and at most 10,000 Jews would take advantage of the 
new law. The British diplomats in Baghdad and the Israelis 
shared this view as well. They were all mistaken. The Jews 
were tired of life in Iraq. And when the Zionist organization 
in Iraq issued a call at the end of Passover (April 8, 1950) for 
Jews to come forward and register for emigration in the cen- 
ters which had been set up at the major synagogues, the call 
was highly effective. The overwhelming majority of the Jew- 
ish community preferred to leave their birthplace. By July 5, 
1951, about 105,000 had arrived in Israel. 

On March 10, 1951, only one day after the registration 
deadline had passed, while nearly 65,000 Jews were waiting 
for departure, the authorities enacted a law which froze the 
assets of all departing Jews and placed them under the con- 
trol of a government bureau. Parliament passed a second law, 
which declared that those Iraqi Jews who were abroad and did 
not return home within a specific period would forfeit both 
their nationality and their property. Although some individu- 
als succeeded in smuggling out some money after March 10, 
1951, many more were reduced to paupers, being allowed to 
take out only 50 dinars ($140) per adult and 20 to 30 dinars 
($56 to $84) per minor, depending upon the age. 

After the Mass Emigration 

About 6,000 Jews preferred to remain in Iraq after the mass 
emigration. Over the years this number fell to about 4,700 in 
1957 and about 3,000 in 1968 when the Ba c th Party came to 
power in Iraq. Their number continued to decline and in the 
early 21 st century there were only a handful of Jews still living 
in Iraq. Most of those remaining were from the elite and the 
rich families, who believed that the violent storm which had 
marked the life of the Jews in Iraq before and during the mass 
emigration would pass. 

The Jewish community, which consisted before the mass 
emigration of about one quarter of the population of Bagh- 
dad, now became a small and unimportant one. These Jews 
no longer dominated the economic and the financial life of 
the country, and Jewish youth posed no danger to the regime 
through activities in the communist underground. So the re- 
gime removed some of the restrictions, and the pressure upon 
them was lightened to some degree. But in principle, the an- 
tagonistic attitude to them remained. Still in force were the 
restrictions on Jews registering in the universities and the 
sanction of taking away Iraqi nationality from those who did 
not return to the country within a limited time, which was 
marked in their passports. In 1954 the authorities national- 
ized the Jewish Meir Elias Hospital, which was the most mod- 
ern and largest in Iraq. The Iraqi government also expropri- 
ated from the Jewish community the Rima Kheduri Hospital, 
which treated eye diseases. 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Relief came under Brigadier 'Abd al-Karim Qasim (1958- 
1963), who toppled the monarchy by a military revolution on 
July 14, 1958. Qasim canceled all the restrictions against the 
Jews. He also released Yehuda Tajir and let him go back to 
Israel. The Jewish golden age under Qasim was affected how- 
ever by the confiscation and destruction of the Jewish cem- 
etery, located in the middle of the capital, in order to build a 
tower to immortalize his name. 

Qasim was assassinated by Colonel 'Abd al-Salam 'Arif, 
who carried out a successful coup on February 13, 1963. The 
new rulers reinstated all the restrictions which had been in 
force before Qasim, and added others: Passports were not to be 
issued to Jews; the Jews were prevented from discounting their 
promissory notes and it was prohibited to grant them credit in 
the then-nationalized banks; again, Jewish students were not 
to be admitted to government colleges; a warning was issued 
to all Jews abroad to return to Iraq within three months, oth- 
erwise they would be denationalized and their movable and 
immovable property in Iraq would be sequestrated; Jews were 
not allowed to sell their landed property. 

After the Six-Day War, the situation of the Iraqi Jews wors- 
ened more. They were terrorized and cruelly persecuted. The 
government opened with a series of detentions, enacted laws, 
and issued instructions which brought the Jewish community 
to the threshold of starvation. The measures taken against the 
small isolated Jewish community of Baghdad after the Six- Day 
War included: warning the public not to cooperate with them; 
expelling them from all social clubs; depriving Jewish import- 
ers and pharmacists of their licenses; forbidding all transactions 
with Jews (including access to the banks); prohibiting them 
from selling their cars and furniture; and cutting off all tele- 
phone communications from their homes, offices, or stores. 

Under the Ba c th regime (1968-2003), persecution in- 
creased and many Jews reached starvation level. Some were 
jailed, accused of spying or held without any formal charge. 
Within one year (January 1969- January 1970), 13 were hanged; 
up to April 1973 the total number of Jews hanged, murdered, 
kidnapped, or who simply disappeared reached 46; dozens 
more were jailed. 

The shock following the executions of the innocent Jews 
caused repercussions throughout the world and the world con- 
science was aroused. The Iraqi government responded to the 
world reaction by relaxing, for a while, some of its anti- Jew- 
ish discriminatory measures, including those limiting travel in 
Baghdad and throughout Iraq, too. At the same time a peace 
treaty was signed (March 1970) between the Iraqi government 
and the Kurdish rebels. Some Jews seized the opportunity and 
escaped across the Kurdish Mountains, in the summer of 1970, 
to the Iranian frontier. Up to 300 Jews fled the country in this 
way. In September 1971 the authorities began to issue pass- 
ports to the Jews, and about 1,300 Jews left Iraq legally. They 
sought refuge mainly in England, Canada, the United States, 
and Israel. In 1975 the Jews in Iraq numbered about 350; over 
time this figure declined further, reaching c. 120 in 1996. At 
the beginning of the 21 st century, as stated, there were only a 

handful of Jews there. Thus came to its end the most ancient 

Diaspora of the Jewish people. 

[Nissim Kazzaz (2 nd ed.)] 

Iraq and Israel 

* Jordan and *Syria, including 440 mi. (700 km.) of desert and 
steppe, come between Iraq and Israel, making Iraq's interests 
and fears vis-a-vis Israel less realistic than those of the Arab 
states that border directly upon the latter. Iraq has no terri- 
torial questions to settle with Israel, and its own internal and 
foreign problems (the Kurds, the Persian Gulf, conflicts with 
*Iran, social and economic unrest, the absence of a stable and 
representative government) are more pressing and important 
than the conflict with Israel. The position taken by Iraq to- 
ward Israel has been a function of its inter- Arab aspirations 
and relations; the importance of the Pan- Arab factor among 
active Iraqi circles, especially the Sunnis, who, under Saddam, 
were the basic support of the Iraqi authorities; and its interest 
in an outlet on the Mediterranean Sea. Under both Hashem- 
ite and republican rule, Iraq nonetheless displayed active and 
extreme hostility toward Israel. 

There were, however, certain differences in Iraqi policy 
toward Israel between the Hashemite period and the revolu- 
tionary republic established in 1958. During the Hashemite 
monarchy and Nuri al-Sa c Ids rule, the latter proposed (in his 
"Blue Book" of 1943) a certain degree of autonomy for the Jew- 
ish community in Palestine in the framework of his plan for a 
federation of the Fertile Crescent. This period was also charac- 
terized by the special ties between Hashemite Iraq and Jordan 
and the need to justify the alliance between Iraq and Britain 
by displays of anti- Israel extremism and anti-Israel influence 
on Britain. On the other hand, in his contacts with the British, 
Nuri al-Sa c id was willing to discuss a compromise solution in 
Palestine on the basis of the un partition plan. At the time leftist 
circles in Iraq did not show any special hostility toward Israel. 
c Abd al-Karim Qasim (July 195 8-February 1963) exploited anti- 
Israel positions and support for the Palestinians in his inter- 
Arab struggles, but he did not actually turn his attention to a 
struggle against Israel and personally was not particularly ex- 
treme in relation to this subject. After Qasim's fall the combi- 
nation of a military government and the Pan- Arab ideology of 
the ruling Ba c th Party exacerbated hostility toward Israel. 

Iraq became increasingly one of the most extreme forces 
in Arab deliberations and often called for the destruction of 
Israel. This extremism was motivated by Iraq's competition 
with *Egypt for supremacy in the Arab world and the desire to 
place Egypt in an untenable position by proposing initiatives 
that Egypt could not accept and thus making the latter seem 
to be weak and hesitant. Anti-Israel extremism also served the 
Iraqi regimes as (a) a pretext for initiatives and intervention 
in the countries of the Fertile Crescent and competition with 
Syria, one of the most outspoken of Israel's enemies; (b) in the 
struggle with the opposition nationalist factors within Iraq, 
which tend toward Pan-Arabism and hostility toward Israel; 
(c) as a justification of government policy among the Iraqi 
public and to deflect attention from more pressing internal 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



problems. It was also motivated by feelings of injured pres- 
tige and the longing for revenge, especially among the army 
following the defeats in the wars against Israel. 

Despite the logistical difficulties, Iraq participated in two 
wars against Israel (1948, 1967), and during the Sinai Cam- 
paign (1956) sent troops into Jordan. As early as December 
1947, it demanded that regular Arab troops invade that coun- 
try, following the un decision to partition Palestine. When 
irregular Arab forces were waging war in Palestine (end of 
1947-May 14, 1948), Iraqis stood out among the officers and 
soldiers of the Arab "rescue force." The Iraqi deputy chief of 
staff, General Isma c il Safwat, was appointed head of the Pal- 
estinian forces and volunteers, and Taha al-Hashimi was ap- 
pointed inspector general of the "rescue force." With the in- 
vasion of Palestine by regular Arab forces (May 15, 1948), the 
Iraqi general Nur-Din Mahmud was appointed acting com- 
mander. The Iraqi force that invaded Palestine waged hard- 
fought battles against the Israel Defense Forces in the Jenin 
area at the beginning of June 1948. Just before the Six-Day 
War a token force came from Iraq to Egypt (May 31) and after 
hostilities broke out an Iraqi brigade entered Jordan (June 5) 
and an Iraqi plane bombed Netanyah (June 6). The Iraqi bri- 
gade that entered Jordan at the beginning of the war was not 
withdrawn with the cease-fire and was added to later on until 
the Iraqi expedition force reached 12,000 soldiers. In March 
1969 an Iraqi force of 6,000 men entered southern Syria in the 
framework of the Eastern Arab Command against Israel. The 
Iraqi contingent in Jordan participated in bombardments of 
Israel territory a number of times after the Six-Day War. 

Iraq objected to the cease-fires of June and July 1948, and 
refused to conduct negotiations on an armistice with Israel (as 
Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon did). In June 1949 Iraq with- 
drew its forces from the "triangle" sector (Shechem-Jenin-Tul- 
Karm). It also avoided expressly agreeing to the 1967 cease- 
fire, replying on June 15, 1967, that its forces were under joint 
command with Jordan, which agreed to the cease-fire. Iraq 
strongly opposed the Security Council resolution of Nov. 22, 
1967 and any political settlement in Palestine. 

Except for times of war there has been a large gap be- 
tween the ostensible extremism of Iraq and its actual con- 
tributions to Arab belligerence against Israel. Among the 
factors that precluded more active Iraqi participation were 
internal struggles and difficulties, the extended battles against 
the Kurds, and tension regarding Iran and the Persian Gulf. 
Iraqi propaganda also accused Israel of lending support to the 
Kurds. Iraqi hostility to Israel continued unabated; a symp- 
tom was its firing 39 scud missiles into Israel in the 1991 first 
Gulf War (although Israel was not a participant in that war). 
The downfall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 did not produce any 
normalization of Israel-Iraq relations. 

Iraq was one of the leading forces in the Arab economic 
boycott of Israel. On the eve of the un resolution to partition 
Palestine, it demanded that the Arab states cancel all West- 
ern oil rights. In April 1948, it closed off the ipc oil pipeline 
to Haifa, and its consequent losses in the period 1948 to 1958 

were estimated at more than $400,000,000. In 1967 Iraq was 

again among the more extreme forces in its desire to use oil as 

a weapon in order to prevent Western support for Israel (see 

also *Arab Boycott). 

[Asher Goren] 

Musical Traditions 

In view of the antiquity of the community, one could assume 
that ancient elements have been preserved in their traditional 
music. A long period of cultural decline, however, and contact 
with the powerful and flourishing music of the Muslim world, 
of which Iraq was for a long time an influential center, deeply 
marked their music and somehow altered their pre-Islamic 
heritage. Although it is difficult to trace a borderline between 
the older and the more recent elements, it would appear that 
older elements have been preserved only in the biblical can- 
tillations and some of the synagogal melodies. 

The second volume of A.Z. *Idelsohns Thesaurus of He- 
brew-Oriental Melodies (1923) contains the Babylonian tradi- 
tions. Idelsohn classified the synagogal melodies according to 
13 basic "modes," but these are fairly common to many of the 
Near Eastern communities. However, the Babylonians also 
had a number of melodic patterns peculiarly their own. One 
of these is the "lamentations mode," for which Idelsohn could 
find an analogy only in the chants of the Syrian Jacobites and 
the Copts (cf. Thesaurus 11, no. 17). It has become possible to 
identify still another Babylonian "lamentations mode," which 
shows similar archaic features (see A. Herzog and A. Hajdu 
in: Yuval 1, 1968, pp. 194-203). In this context it is surely sig- 
nificant that *A1-Harizi in his Tahkemoni (ch. 18) emphasized 
the mournful character of their songs, while denigrating the 
Babylonian poets. 

From the early Middle Ages the Babylonian rabbinic au- 
thorities were known for their strict adherence to traditional 
liturgical chant. One of the oldest masters of post-talmu- 
dic synagogal chant was *Yehudai b. Nahman Gaon of Sura 
(eighth century), whose tradition was supposed to go back to 
the talmudic period. Two of the earliest documents concern- 
ing Jewish music come to us from Babylonian Gaonic circles. 
The first is a paragraph in *Saadiah Gaon's Sefer ha-Emunot 
ve-ha-Debt ("Book of Beliefs and Opinions") where he speaks 
of the influence of the rhythmic modes on the soul; the sec- 
ond is by R. Hai Gaon and it proposes an answer to a ques- 
tion put by the Jews of Gabes (Tunisia) concerning the use of 
singing and playing during the marriage ceremony. A vivid 
description of responsorial and even choral singing in tenth- 
century Baghdad is given in *Nathan b. Isaac ha-Bavli's de- 
scription of the installation of the Exilarch Oukba, who was 
himself a poet-musician having composed and performed 
songs in honor of the caliph. Benjamin of Tudela reports from 
his travels (c. 1160-80) that Eleazar b. Zemah, the head of one 
of the ten rabbinical academies of Baghdad, and his brothers 
"know how to sing the hymns according to the manner of the 
singers of the Temple." Another traveler of the same period, 
*Pethahiah of Regensburg, gives a most picturesque descrip- 
tion of the simultaneous talmudic chanting of the 2,000 pu- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


pils of Samuel b. Ali's Yeshivah at Baghdad. He also reports 
that the Jews there "know a certain number of traditional 
melodies for each psalm," and on intermediate days (hoi ha- 
mo'ed) "the psalms are performed with instrumental accom- 
paniment." The instrumental skill went side by side with the 
creation of a rich repertoire of folk and para-liturgical song in 
Judeo-Arabic by Babylonian poets. A great number of talented 
instrumentalists and singers rose to prominent positions in 
the musical life of the surrounding culture. The best known 
of these, in the 19 th and 20 th centuries, were the kamdn player 
Biddun, the singers Reuben Michael Rajwan and Salman 
Moshi, the santour player Salih Rahmun Fataw and his son, 
and the composer and W player Ezra *Aharon. All of them 
were highly proficient in the performance of the prestigious 
classical genre known as the Iraki maqam. Ezra Aharon led 
the official group of such distinguished specialist performers 
who represented Iraq in the first International Congress on 
Arab music held in Cairo in 1932. This group comprised six 
Jewish instrumentalists and an Arab vocalist. Not long after 
this congress, in 1936, composer and violinist Saleh * Kuwaiti 
and his brother ( W player) founded the first official musical 
ensemble, that of the Iraq Broadcasting service. Among the 
finest executants of S. Kuwaiti s works was the famous Umm 
Kulthum who sang his compositions. 

folk music. Folk music was an inseparable part of all events 
including two main categories: (1) Events connected with the 
annual cycle (especially those concerning the general religious 
life affairs of the community); (2) Those connected with life 
cycle (events chiefly concerning the life of the individual). 
The rich repertory of folk music comprises men's songs and 
women's songs whose texts are in Hebrew and in Judeo-Ara- 
bic dialect and they are performed either by amateurs or by 
professionals accompanied by various musical instruments. 
A special genre held in great favor among Jews is the group 
of Station's songs in Judeo-Arabic called Kunag sung at the 
pilgrimage to the Ezekiel and Ezra graves. Jews from many 
parts of the country were accustomed to spend several days 
there, during which time music and dance played a promi- 
nent role. Since the Kunags are religious in content they were 
accepted into the category of piyyutim and were accorded the 
status of sacred songs. 

Another two popular Hebrew pilgrimage songs to the 
mentioned graves and another one for Lag ba'Omer were com- 
posed by the venerable religious authority R. Yoseph Hayyim 
(1839-1909). His Lag ba'Omer song (we-amartem ko lehay) 
and two songs for Simhat To rah were introduced into the rep- 
ertory of Israeli songs and published by Idelsohn. 

Until 1950 there existed in Baghdad a famous group of 
four or five woman singers and players on various drums 
called Daqaqdt (Drummers), who performed at Jewish and 
non- Jewish family rejoicings and festivities. There were also 
the woman wailers, both professional and private. Their most 
notable appearances were at the mourning ceremonies for 
young people not yet married: two groups of women chanted 

antiphonally, first wedding songs and then lamentations, beat- 
ing their breasts and scratching their faces. 

Many folk songs were written down and are to be found 
in manuscripts with musical indications, such as the *maqdma 
or the name of the song to the melody of which the poem has 
to be sung (see especially Ms. Sassoon 485). Sometimes the po- 
ets composed according to the rhythm, rhyme, and even used 
the first verse of a given song with slight changes. A number 
of the songs in Judeo-Arabic have an introduction in Hebrew 
in the form of a prayer or of a laudatory nature. The public as 
a refrain usually sings this introduction after each verse sung 
by a soloist. Almost all the folk songs are performed in this 
sort of responsorial style. 

For the musical traditions of Iraqi Kurdistan, see *Kurd- 
istan, musical tradition. 

[Amnon Shiloah (2 nd ed)]] 

bibliography: S.A. Poznariki, Babylonische Geonim im 
nachgaonaeischen Zeitalter (1914); B.M. Levin (ed.), Iggeret Rav 
Sherira Gabn (1921); J. Obermeyer, Die Landschaft Babylonien (1929); 
C. Roth, Sassoon Dynasty (1941); A. Ben-Jacob, Toledot ha-Rav Ab- 
dallah Somekh (1949); idem, Kehillot Yehudei Kurdistan (1961); idem, 
Yehudei Bavel (1965), with extensive bibliography; idem, Shirah u-Fi- 
yyut shel Yehudei Bavel ba-Dorot ha-Aharonim (1970); idem, Kizzur 
Toledot Yehudei Bavel (1970); D. Sassoon, History of the Jews in Bagh- 
dad (1949); idem, Massa Bavel (1955); S. Landshut, Jewish Commu- 
nities in the Muslim Countries of the Middle East (1950); S. Shinah, 
Mi-Bavel le-Ziyyon (1955); M. Sicron, Immigration to Israel, 1948-1953 
(1957); A. Agasi, 20 Shanah la-Perabt bi-Yhudei Baghdad (1961); S. 
Jackson, The Sassoons (1968); H.J. Cohen, Ha-Pe'ilut ha-Ziyyonit be- 
Iraq (1969); idem, in: jjso, 11 (1969), 59-66, Y. Atlas, Ad Ammud ha- 
Teliyyah (1969). contemporary period: Yalkut ha-Mizrah ha- 
Tikhon, 1-3 (1949-51); R. Alan, in: Commentary, 28 (1959), 185-92; 
J. Caspar, ibid., 193-201; The Baghdad daily newspapers Al-Zamdn 
and Al-Bitdd; N. Rokarion, in: J. Freid (ed.), Jews in Modern World 
(1962), 50-90. add. bibliography: N. Rejwan, The Jews of Iraq: 
300 Years... (1985); Y. Bar-Moshe, al-Khuruj min al-'Iraq (1975); F. 
al-Barak, al-Madaris al-Yahudiyya fi al-'Iraq (1985); M. Basri, 'Alam 
al-Yahud fi al-'Iraq al-Hadlth (1993); M. Ben-Porat, le-Bagdad ve- 
Hazarah (1996); G. Bekhor, Fascinating life and Sensational Death 
(1990); A. Ben-Yaakov, Yehudei Bavel ba-Tekufot ha-Aharonot (1980); 
special issue of Peamim, 8 (1981) on Iraq's Jews; H. Cohen, "The Anti- 
Jewish Farhud in: Baghdad," in: MES, 3 (1966), 2-17; idem, Ha-Yehu- 
dim be-Arzot ha-Mizrah ha-Tikhon be-Yameinu (1973); M. Gat, Ke- 
hillah Yehudit be-Mashber (1989); Y. Ghanima, Nuzhat al-Mushtaqfl 
Ta'rikh Yahiid al-'Iraq (1924); K. Grunwald, "Ha-Bankaim ha-Yehu- 
dim be-Irak" in: Ha-Mizrah he-Hadash, 9 (1961), 159-169; Iraqi Jews 
Speak for Themselves (1969); N. Kattan, Farewell Babylon (1976); N. 
Kazzaz, "Hashpa'at ha-Nazizm be-Irak ve-ha-Pe'ilut ha-Anti-Yehudit 
1933-19417 in: Peamim, 29 (1986), 48-71; idem, "Ha-PeHlut ha-Politit 
shel Yehudei Irak be-Shilhei ha-Tekufah ha-Otomanit" in: Peamim, 
36 (1988), 35-51; idem, "Hamarot Dat be-Kerev ha-Yehudim be-Irak 
ba-Et ha-Hadashah" in: Peamim, 42 (1990), 157-166; idem, Yehudei 
Irak ba-Meah ha-Esrim (1991); idem, "Ha-Yehudim be-Irak bi-Teku- 
fat ha-General 'Abd al-Karim Qasim? in: Peamim, 71 (1997), 55-82; 
idem, Sofah shel Golah (2002); E. Kedourie, "The Jews of Baghdad in 
1910," in: mes, 3 (1970), 355-61; idem, "The Sack of Basra and the Far- 
hud in Baghdad," in: E. Kedourie, Arabic Political Memoirs and other 
Studies (1974), 283-314; K. N. Ma ruf, al-Aqalliyya al-Yahudiyya fi al- 
'Iraq bayna Sanat 1921 wa-1952 (1975, 1976); E. Meir, Ha-Tenu'ah ha- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Ziyyonit ve-Yehudei Irak (1994); idem, "Ha-Sikhsukh al Erez Yisrael ve- 
Yahasei Yehudim-Muslemim be-Irak," in: Peamim, 62 (1995), 111-131; 
Y. Meir, Me ever la-Midbar (1973); idem, Hitpattehut Hevratit-Tarbutit 
shel Yehudei Irak (1989); idem, Be-Ikar ba-Mahteret (1993); A. Sha'ul, 
Qissat Hayatii ft Wddi al-Rdfidain (1980); M. Sawdayee, All Waiting 
To Be Hanged (1974); A. Shiblak, The Lure ofZion (1986); M. Shohet, 
Benei Adat Moshe (1979); G. Strasman, Ba-Hazarah min ha-Gardom 
(1992); R. Shnir, "Yahasei Yehudim-Muslemim ba-Sifrut u-va-Ittonut 
shel Yehudei Irak" in: Peamim 63 (1995), 5-40; S. G. Haim, "Aspects 
of Jewish Life in Baghdad under the Monarchy," in: mes, 12 (1976), 
188-208; Z. Yehuda (ed.),Mi-Bavel le-Yerushalayim (1980). iraq and 
Israel: E. Berger, The Covenant and the Sword, 1948-56 (1965). musi- 
cal tradition: A. Idelsohn, Thesaurus of Oriental Hebrew Melodies, 
2 (1923); J. al-Hanafl, al-Mughanun al-Baghdadiyun (1964), a directory 
of Baghdad - including Jewish - musicians, add. bibliography: 
A. Shiloah, The Musical Tradition of Iraqi Jews (1983); Avishur, Shirat 
ha-Nashim shel Yehudei Iraq (1987); S. Manasseh, "Daqqaqat: Jew- 
ish Women Musicians from Iraq," in: International Council for Tra- 
ditional Music (UK Chapter), 25 (1990), 7-15; idem, "A Song To Heal 
Your Wounds. Traditional Lullabies in the Repertoire of the Jews of 
Iraq," in: Musica Judaica, 10 (1991/2), 1-29. 

Yemenite- ^Indian scholar and printer. Though born in Co- 
chin, India, before 1816, Iraqi was of Yemenite parentage. He 
spent most of his life in Calcutta where he served as teacher, 
hazzan, and shohet in the new Jewish community. He opened 
a printing press in Calcutta in 1841, becoming the first Jew- 
ish printer in India; during the next 16 years he printed 25 
ritual books for the use of the Jewish communities of India 
and the East. He made special efforts to print the works of Ye- 
menite scholars and poets. In the Sefer ha-Pizmonim ("Book 
of Hymns," 1842) which he printed, some of his own poems 
are also included. 

bibliography: A. Yaari, Ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Arzot ha- 

Mizrah (1940), 9-13. 

[Yehuda Ratzaby] 

IRAQI, SHALOM HA-KOHEN (al-Usta; 18 th century), com- 
munity leader in * Yemen. His family originated in *Egypt. He 
was appointed governor of the mint and he also supervised 
the collection of taxes and the royal properties at the courts 
of the Imam al-Mahdi and his successor Imam al-Mansur 
(1731-61). During his period of office, the Jewish commu- 
nity enjoyed a brief period of peace and tranquility; this was 
due partly to his personality and status, and partly to his si- 
lencing slanderers by means of bribes. He built synagogues 
in several towns. The best known was the beautiful Kanisat 
al-Usta synagogue in *Sana, the capital of Yemen, which was 
in use until the dissolution of the Yemenite community. He 
also made use of his political status to influence decisions in 
religious and communal affairs. The spread of the Sephardi 
version of prayer (Shdmi) in the communities of Yemen was 
caused by his generous distribution of printed prayer books 
to replace the handwritten mahzorim which were in use until 
then. Iraqi lost his influence in 1761 when the new imam re- 
moved him from office, imprisoned him, and levied a heavy 

fine on him, while at the same time the Jewish community 
was attacked by the Muslims. 

bibliography: H. Habashush, in: Sefunot, 2 (1958), 267-71; 
S. Geridi, Mi-Teiman le-Ziyyon (1938), 129-31; A. Kareah, Saarat Tei- 
man (1954), 16; M. Zadoc, Yehudei Teiman (1967), 75-6. 

[Yehuda Ratzaby] 

IRAQI, SHALOM JOSEPH (1843-1917), leader of the Ye- 
menite community in Jerusalem. Born in Sana (Yemen), in 
1882 Iraqi immigrated to Palestine, together with all his fam- 
ily. In Jerusalem he earned his living as a goldsmith, at the 
same time devoting himself to study in the Sephardi yeshivah 
of the Old City, and acting as rabbi and leader of the Yemenite 
community. Because of his relationship with the Iraqi fam- 
ily in India, he was sent to India, together with R. Meyuhas, 
as an emissary of the Sephardi kolel (congregation). With the 
separation of the Yemenites from the Sephardi kolel in 1908, 
he was appointed as one of the three leaders of the indepen- 
dent congregation. 

[Yehuda Ratzaby] 

IRBIL (or Erbil; formerly Arbil), one of the four important 
towns of Assyria and now situated in Iraq to the E. of *Mosul, 
in the fertile plain between the Great Zab and the Small Zab. 
A Jewish community existed in Irbil continuously from the 
end of the Second Temple period when it was the capital of 
the *Adiabene kingdom until the 1950s. At the end of the 12 th 
century and during the first half of the 13 th century, Irbil was 
the capital of an independent principality. During that period 
there was a large community there; it was considered as one 
of the most important in northern ^Babylonia. In the dispute 
between the exilarch Samuel and the famous rosh yeshivah 
*Samuel b. Ali at the end of the 12 th century the community 
of Irbil supported the exilarch. At that time there was no lack 
of intellectuals in the community. Judah *al-Harizi, who vis- 
ited Iraq at the beginning of the 13 th century, mentions poets 
among the Jews of the town, as well as the "noblemen of Irbil." 
During the middle of the century the Gaon Eli b. Zechariah, 
the Irbilite, lived in the town. In 1275 *Maimonides' Guide of 
the Perplexed was copied from its Arabic original by Joseph 
ha-Kohen b. Eli b. Aaron in Irbil (Neubauer, 1237). 

There was also an important community in Irbil under 
the Turkish rule. During the second half of the 16 th century 
Irbil was mentioned by the author- traveler Zakariyya al- 
Zahiri, in his Sefer ha-Musar ("Book of Ethics"); information 
on the community during subsequent generations has been 
preserved in the letters of the Erez Israel emissaries who fre- 
quently visited the town. In 1767 the emissary of Tiberias, R. 
Solomon Aznati, stayed in Irbil. In 1848 the Jerusalemite em- 
issary, R. Pethahiah, died in Irbil, and the Kurds who resented 
the respect shown to him by the Jews exhumed his body and 
abused it. However, the Jews also suffered numerous times 
at the hands of Turkish soldiers. After one such case in 1895 
the matter was taken up by R. Isaac Abraham Solomon, the 
hakham bashi y with. the commander of the army in ^Baghdad, 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


where due justice was executed in favor of the Jews of Irbil. 
The Jews of the town were engaged in commerce and crafts: 
dyeing, shoemaking, building, and porterage. According to 
an official estimate made in 1919 some 4,800 Jews lived in the 
district of Irbil of whom about 250 spoke *Aramaic. This num- 
ber dwindled to 3,109 in the first census of population taken 
in 1947. Out of this last number 1,300 lived in the city of Irbil 
and in 1951 all the Jews of the town emigrated to Israel, in the 
great exodus of Iraqi Jewry 

bibliography: S. Schechter, Saadyana (1903), 134; Mann, 
in: re j, 73 (1921), 106 f.; Yaari, Sheluhei, index; A. Ben-Jacob, Yehudei 
Bavel (1965), index; Z. Al-Zahiri, Sefer ha-Musar, ed. by Y. Ratzaby 
(1965), 29, 77. 

[Eliyahu Ashtor] 

IRELAND, island W. of Britain comprising the Republic of 
Ireland (Eire, 26 counties) and Northern Ireland or Ulster (part 
of the United Kingdom, six counties). The Annals of Inisf alien 
record that in 1079 five Jews (apparently a delegation to secure 
the admission of Jews) went to Ireland bringing gifts for King 
Toirdelbach of Munster, but were sent back. The beginning of 
a Jewish settlement dates from the 12 th and 13 th centuries. The 
few Jews who established themselves there as merchants and 
financiers probably had to leave on the expulsion from England 
(1290). Some refugees from Spain and Portugal settled in Ire- 
land at the close of the 15 th century. In the 16 th and 17 th centuries, 
persons of Jewish origin held office in Ireland under the English 
crown. The founding of Trinity College, in its capital ^Dublin, 
in 1591 witnessed the birth of Hebrew studies in the city. 

Five or six years after the resettlement in England (1656), 
a handful of ex-Marranos from Holland, who were engaged 
in the export trade, went to Dublin as "foreign Protestants." A 
synagogue is said to have been established in 1661. England's 
Glorious Revolution (1688) gave a considerable impetus to the 
tiny community of Dublin. In 1690 Isaac Pereira, a London 
Sephardi, was appointed commissary general to William in s 
expeditionary force and employed in his commissariat other 
Jews who later established themselves in Dublin. At the turn 
of the 18 th century, some Ashkenazi families from Poland and 
Germany settled in Dublin. During the second half of the 18 th 
century, further Jewish immigrants arrived from Germany, Po- 
land, Holland, Bohemia, France, and England, and the Dublin 
community increased to approximately 40 families, engaged 
largely in the jewelry trade, with a few pencil-makers. Some 
richer Jews were accepted into Christian society, while Freema- 
sonry provided an important sphere for contacts between Jews 
and the Protestant minority. A number of Jews also established 
themselves outside Dublin. As early as 1702 a Sephardi Jew was 
granted the freedom of the city of Waterford. A congregation 
was established in Cork, as an offshoot of the Dublin commu- 
nity, in about 1725, with its burial ground in Kemp Street. In the 
18 th century, Cork Jews imported wines and merchandise from 
Spain and Portugal in their own ships, while others exported 
preserved meat, certified by the local shohet y to England and 
the West Indies. By 1796 the Cork community was defunct, to 

Minor Community 
Major Community 

Modern Jewish communities in Ireland. 

be revived only some 60 years later. In the latter half of the 18 th 
century, an organized community may have existed in ^Bel- 
fast where the presence of individual Jews is attested already 
in the second half of the 17 th century. Throughout the 18 th cen- 
tury, missionaries were active among the Dublin Jews, some 
of whom became converted to Christianity. By 1791 the Jewish 
population had decreased to such an extent that the synagogue 
had to be closed. Abraham Jacobs (1656-1725?), "priest" of the 
Dublin Jews, who was baptized in 1706, translated the Angli- 
can Book of Common Prayer into Hebrew in 1717. 

From 1743 to 1748 four bills were introduced in the Irish 
parliament to facilitate the naturalization of foreign Jews, but 
all were rejected because of the hostility of the peers. Acts of 
parliament passed in 1780 and 1783, granting aliens the right 
of naturalization, expressly excluded the Jews. It was not un- 
til 1816, when there were only three Jewish families in Dub- 
lin and a few others in the rest of the country, that the Irish 
Naturalization Act of 1783 was repealed. 

In 1822, with the arrival of Jews from Germany, Poland, 
and England, the Jewish community in Dublin was reestab- 
lished. By 1881, the number of Jews in the country had grown 
from a mere handful to about 450, rising by 1901 to 3,769, the 
majority living in Dublin. This increase was the result of the 
immigration of Russian Jews after 1881, reinforcing the Dub- 
lin, Belfast, and Cork communities and leading to the estab- 
lishment of new ones such as *Limerick, Waterford, and Lon- 
donderry. In 1901 the Jews of Dublin were mainly occupied as 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



petty traders and moneylenders, but they have since played a 
leading role in the manufacture of clothing, furniture, and jew- 
elry Apart from some anti- Jewish rioting in Limerick in 1884 
and in Cork in 1894 (jc, April 11, 1894), the most serious anti- 
Jewish agitation took place in Limerick in 1904, when a Catho- 
lic priest attacked the local Jews from the pulpit. This resulted 
in an economic boycott, which remained in force until 1906, 
and led to the decline of the Jewish community there from 200 
to less than 40 people. The antisemitic campaign ceased only 
with the removal of the priest. During World War 1, Limerick 
had again a congregation of about 40 families. 

Modern Period 

When in 1921 Southern Ireland became independent of Brit- 
ain, first as the Irish Free State and later as the Republic of 
Ireland, the majority of its Jews became, at least de jure> in- 
dependent of the Anglo- Jewish community, under their own 
chief rabbi and with their own representative council (1938). 
The 1937 Constitution of the Republic recognized Judaism 
as a minority faith and guaranteed Jews complete freedom 
from discrimination. In 1968 the Jewish population num- 
bered 4,000 out of a total population of 2,800,000, of whom 
95% were Roman Catholics. There were three main Dublin 
congregations and four smaller synagogues at the time, and 
all other Jewish institutions were unified under the Orthodox 
auspices of the chief rabbi. The Jewish Progressive Congre- 
gation of Dublin, comprising about 60 families, functioned 
independently. The chief rabbinate has been held by Isaac 
*Herzog (c. 1926-37), Immanuel *Jakobovits (1949-58), Isaac 
Cohen (1959-79), David Rosen (1979-84), Ephraim Yitzhak 
Mirvis (1984-92), Gavin Broder (1996-2000), and Yaakov 
Parlman (from 2002). Community affairs were coordinated 
by the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, which was 
established in 1938 and is responsible for the appointment 
of the chief rabbi and the bet din. The council represents the 
views of the Jewish community in government departments 
and in the general public. Autonomous bodies in Dublin ad- 
minister shehitahy Hebrew education, welfare, burial, Zionist 
affairs, youth activities, and student societies. In 1968, 400 pu- 
pils, constituting 90% of all Jewish schoolchildren, received 
Hebrew education in Jewish day schools (primary and second- 
ary) and afternoon classes. In Cork, a rapidly dwindling com- 
munity of about 50 Jews existed in 1970, dropping to just 21 
in the late 1980s. Although friendly relations existed between 
the Jewish communities of Northern Ireland (see below) and 
Eire, there was no common activity between them, the for- 
mer regarding themselves as part of English Jewry, under the 
authority of the chief rabbi of Great Britain, while the latter 
operate as an independent body. 

The salient feature of Irish Jewish life in the modern pe- 
riod has been the decline of the Jewish population, due both 
to a fall in the birth rate and to emigration, from 3,255 in 1961 
to 2,633 m 1971, 2,127 m 1981, and around 1,300 in the mid- 
1990s, though in 2004, about 1,790 Jews were recorded, with 
1,500 in Dublin. At the turn of the 20 th century there were five 

Orthodox synagogues and one Liberal in Ireland, with four 
in Dublin and one each in Belfast and Cork. The two major 
Orthodox synagogues in Dublin were Adelaide Road (which 
celebrated its centenary in 1992) and Terenure; the two smaller 
congregations were Machzikei Hadass (formerly St. Kevins 
Parade, which celebrated its centenary in 1983) and the Abra- 
ham Gittleson synagogue in the Jewish Home for the Aged, 
opened in 1991. The Dublin Jewish Progressive congregation 
marked its 40 th anniversary in 1986. The Greenville Hall syn- 
agogue was sold in 1986 but the developers have retained the 
original perimeter walls, windows and cupola, and welcome 
visitors. The mikveh was restored in 1984. 

The main educational facility, Stratford College, was re- 
built after an arson attack in 1983, and its three- tier educational 
complex remained in full operation. It was awarded the Jeru- 
salem Prize for Jewish education in 1989. The Edmonstown 
Golf Club built a new 6,000 -square- foot clubhouse, opened 
in 1990. The old Jewish cemetery at Ballybough, which was 
in use from 1718 to 1890, was reopened to the public in 1990. 
An extension to the Jewish Home for the Aged was opened 
by the Irish president, Mary Robinson, in 1992. The old head- 
quarters of the Board of Guardians and former Talmud To rah 
premises in Bloomfield Avenue were sold in 1983. 

A number of new organizations were founded in the 
1980s and 1990s: the Irish Council of Christians and Jews in 
1983; the Ireland- Israel Economic and Business Association 
in 1992; while the Irish-Israel Friendship Association was re- 
vived in 1989. 

A number of international conferences of Jewish inter- 
est were held in Dublin. These included the International 
Council of Jewish Women (1985); the International Council 
of Christians and Jews (1985); the International James Joyce 
Symposium in 1991, which held a session at the Irish Jewish 
Museum; while the first Irish Genealogical Congress in 1991 
held a workshop on Irish Jewry. 

Relationships with the authorities continued to be cor- 
dial. The president of Ireland, the lord mayor of Dublin, and 
many dignitaries were guests of honor at Jewish occasions 
and delegations from the Jewish Representative Council of 
Ireland have reciprocated with courtesy visits. The chief rab- 
bis continued to make tv appearances on major Jewish fes- 

There has also been a rise in Jewish participation in the 
top sectors of public life. Throughout various general elections, 
three Jewish tds (members of the Dail, the Irish parliament) 
retained their seats - one for each of the main parties. Ben 
Briscoe, who represented Fianna Fail, was also lord mayor of 
Dublin in the city's millennium year (1988), following in the 
footsteps of his father, Robert *Briscoe. Gerald Goldberg was 
lord mayor of Cork in 1977. Alan Shatter of Fine Gael was also 
appointed his party's environment spokesman. Mervyn Tay- 
lor of the Labour Party in 1993 became Ireland's first Jewish 
cabinet minister. 

Antisemitism was very low-key, although occasionally 
exacerbated by casualties suffered by Irish troops serving in 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


un units in Lebanon. The tiny Nationalist Socialist Irish Work- 
ers' party, which exported anti- Jewish pamphlets to the United 
Kingdom in 1984, has not surfaced for years. Nevertheless, Ire- 
land has taken high-profile positions at international bodies 
like the un which have seen it come into conflict with Israel. 
A survey by St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, found only 40% 
of the respondents would marry or welcome Jews into their 
family (which should be seen partly against religious back- 
grounds) while 13% did not welcome them as Irish citizens. 

Apart from Dublin, the only other community that still 
exists in the Republic of Ireland is in Cork, which has a burial 
ground and synagogue. However, services take place only dur- 
ing the High Holy Days when the minyan is brought up to 
strength by volunteers from Dublin. Park Shalom was dedi- 
cated by Cork Corporation and the Irish Gas Board, 1989, in 
fond memory of the city's Jewish community, and is appro- 
priately situated in the area where they lived. 

The disused Limerick Jewish cemetery (early 20 th cen- 
tury) was restored in 1990 by the Limerick Civic Trust. 
The ceremony was attended by many church and civic lead- 

[Asher Benson] 

In recent years there has been a good deal of interest in 
the history of the Jews of Ireland, with such works as Dermot 
Keogh's Jews in Twentieth- Century Ireland (1998) and Ray 
Rivlin's Shalom Ireland: A Social History of the Jews of Mod- 
ern Ireland (2003). 

Relations with Israel 

Ireland accorded de facto recognition to Israel on Feb. 12, 
1949 > but only established full diplomatic relations with Israel 
in 1975 and a residential embassy in 1996. Relations between 
the two states have been friendly, and Ireland has frequently 
supported Israel at the United Nations. Trade relations devel- 
oped satisfactorily; in 1969 Israel exported $800,000 worth of 
goods to Ireland and imported $700,000 worth. 

Israel's president Chaim *Herzog, who was born in Bel- 
fast and educated in Dublin, paid a state visit to Ireland in 1985. 
On this occasion he opened the Irish Jewish Museum in the 
former Walworth Road Synagogue. A pro-PL o Palestine In- 
formation Office was established in Dublin in 1986. 

Northern Ireland 

By the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 the six northwestern coun- 
ties of Ireland (Ulster) became a self-governing province of 
the British Crown under the name of Northern Ireland, with 
the Jewish community recognizing the authority of the Brit- 
ish chief rabbi. 

The Jewish population was mainly concentrated in its 
capital, Belfast; a smaller community existed in Londonderry 
from the 1880s to World War 11. The 1964 census recorded 
about 1,200 Jews living in Northern Ireland. The decrease to 
968 recorded in 1971 can be linked to the outbreak of distur- 
bances between the Catholics and Protestants and has contin- 
ued, with quiet but steady emigration to Australia, Britain, the 

United States, and Israel. The community is now estimated at 
about 200 families, maintaining an active communal life. 

[Louis Hyman and Isaac Cohen] 

bibliography: B. Shillman, Short History of the Jews in Ire- 
land (1945); idem (with L. Wolf), in: hset, 11 (1924-27), 143-67; I. 
Cohen (ed.), Irish-Jewish Year Book (1951- ); C. Roth, The Rise of 
Provincial Jewry (1950), 56-57; L. Hyman, History of the Jews in Ire- 
land (until 1910), (1972). 

IRGUN ZEVA'I LE'UMMI (Heb. "National Military Orga- 
nization" - I.Z.L., Ezel, or the Irgun], a Jewish underground 
armed organization founded in Jerusalem in the spring of 
1931 by a group of *Haganah commanders, headed by Abra- 
ham Tehomi, who had left the Haganah in protest against its 
defensive character. Joining forces with a clandestine armed 
group of * Betar members from Tel Aviv, they formed a paral- 
lel, more activist defense organization. 

In April 1937, during the Arab riots, the organization split 
over the question of how to react against Arab terrorism, and 
about half its three thousand members returned to the Haga- 
nah, which was controlled by the * Jewish Agency. The rest 
formed a new Irgun Zeva'i Le'ummi, which was ideologically 
linked with the Revisionist movement and accepted the au- 
thority of its leader, Vladimir * Jabotinsky. Rejecting the "re- 
straint" (Heb. havlagah) policy of the Jewish Agency and the 
Haganah, the organization carried out armed reprisals against 
Arabs, which were condemned by the Jewish Agency as "blem- 
ishing the moral achievements of the Jews of Erez Israel, hin- 
dering the political struggle, and undermining security." Many 
members and sympathizers were arrested and one of them, 
Shelomo *Ben-Yosef, was hanged for shooting at an Arab bus, 
but izl intensified its activities. It also cooperated with the Re- 
visionist movement in ^"illegal" immigration, succeeding in 
smuggling many thousands of Jews into Palestine. 

After the publication of the *White Paper in May 1939, 
izl directed its activities against the British Mandatory au- 
thorities, sabotaging government property and attacking se- 
curity officers. The British retaliated with widespread arrests, 
and at the outbreak of World War 11, when hundreds of Re- 
visionists and members of izl (including its commander 
David *Raziel and his staff commanders) were in prison, izl 
declared a truce, which led to a second split (June 1940) and 
the formation of a new underground group (*Lohamei Herut 
Israel, or Lehi) led by Avraham *Stern. izl members contrib- 
uted to the war effort against the Nazis by joining the British 
Army's Palestinian units and later the Jewish Brigade. During 
a clandestine operation by an izl unit, in cooperation with 
British Intelligence, against the pro-Nazi regime of Rashid 
Ali in Iraq, David Raziel fell at Habbaniya, near Baghdad, on 
May 20, 1941. Yaakov Meridor took command, and was suc- 
ceeded in December 1943 by Menahem * Begin. By this time, 
the full extent of the Holocaust in the Nazi-occupied territo- 
ries had become known, and in February 1944 izl declared 
war against the British administration, which continued to 
implement the White Paper. It attacked and blew up govern- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



ment offices, several cid headquarters, and four police sta- 
tions, also capturing weapons and ammunition. 

The British authorities made many arrests, and 251 pris- 
oners (including Lehi members) were deported to Eritrea on 
Oct. 20, 1944. No organized reaction to the deportation was 
possible because of the repercussions following the assassi- 
nation of Lord Moyne by Lehi in Cairo (Nov. 6, 1944). The 
Jewish Agency and the Haganah moved against the izl in a 
campaign nicknamed by the underground the "saison" ("hunt- 
ing season"), during which some of izls members (includ- 
ing several leaders) were kidnapped and handed over to the 
British authorities. The "saison" limited the scope of izls ac- 
tivities, but did not halt them; after the war it began attacking 
military installations, bridges, and the vital Kirkuk- Haifa oil 
pipeline (May 25, 1945). 

When the British Labour government s anti-Zionist pol- 
icy disappointed post-war hopes, Haganah, izl, and Lehi 
formed a united front, sabotaging bridges, railways, and pa- 
trol boats, izl again attacked cid and police stations, as well 
as seven army camps, gaining control of their ammunition 
stores, and damaged planes at two military airfields. The izl 
attacks culminated in blowing up a wing of the King David 
Hotel in Jerusalem, headquarters of the Palestine government 
and the military command, on July 22, 1946. 

The united fighting front disintegrated in August 1946, 
after the arrest of the Jewish Agency leaders, but izl and 
Lehi continued their attacks on military and governmental 
objectives. The British increased their military strength to a 
hundred thousand men and reacted with increased ferocity: 
curfews, arrests, deportations, floggings, and hangings, izl 
reacted by flogging British officers and kidnapping hostages. 
It also extended its activities abroad, the most striking act be- 
ing the bombing of the British embassy in Rome on Oct. 31, 

1946. Four members of izl - Dov Gruner, Yehiel Drezner, 
Mordekhai Alkahi, and Eliezer Kashani - were hanged in Acre 
prison on April 16, 1947, and another two - Meir Feinstein 
and the Lehi member Moshe Barazani - who were due to be 
hanged in Jerusalem, blew themselves up in the condemned 
cell on April 27. izl broke into the fortress at Acre on May 4, 
and freed 41 izl and Lehi prisoners. Under the pressure of the 
continual attacks, the British retreated to security zones where 
they lived in a state of siege. When three other izl members, 
Meir Nakar, Ya'akov Weiss, and Avshalom Haviv, were con- 
demned to death by the British, izl kidnapped two British 
sergeants and hanged them in July, when the three were ex- 
ecuted. The izl revolt was given wide publicity in the United 
States, where the Hebrew Committee for National Liberation, 
led by Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook), was established. In Pal- 
estine publicity was conducted through a clandestine radio 
station, newspapers, and leaflets bearing the izl emblem, a 
hand holding a rifle on the background of a map of Erez Israel 
including Transjordan. 

After the United Nations resolution of November 29, 

1947, on the partition of Palestine, izl gradually came out of 
hiding, helped to repulse the Arab attacks, and continued to 

attack British army camps in order to capture weapons. On 
April 25, 1948, it began a large-scale attack on Arab Jaffa; the 
capture of the town was completed by the Haganah. After the 
Declaration of Independence, the high command of izl of- 
fered to disband the organization and integrate its members 
into the army of the new Jewish state, but, until integration 
was achieved, it acted independently in various sectors, par- 
ticularly in Jerusalem, where its activities were loosely coor- 
dinated with the Haganah. Its attack on the Arab village of 
Deir Yasin near Jerusalem, which caused many civilian casu- 
alties and led to panic among the Arabs, was denounced by 
the Jewish Agency. On June 20, during the first Arab-Israel 
cease fire, an izl ship, Altalena, clandestinely reached the 
shores of Israel, carrying a huge quantity of weapons and 
ammunition and about eight hundred young people, some 
of whom had received military training. During negotiations 
with the newly established provisional government of Israel, 
izl demanded 20% of the arms for the use of its units in 


Jerusalem. iZLrejected a government ultimatum to hand 
over the ship, and when it appeared off the shore of Tel Aviv 
it was blown up by Israel artillery. The Jerusalem units of izl 
fought in most sectors of the city and joined the national 
army on Sept. 21, 1948, on the orders of the provisional gov- 

bibliography: M. Begin, The Revolt (1964); Irgun Zeva'i 

Le'ummi, Hebrew Struggle for National Liberation (1947); J.B. Schecht- 

man, Vladimir Jab otinsky Story..., 2 vols. (1956-61); D. Niv,Maarkhot 

ha-Irgun ha-Zeva'i ha-Leummi, 3 vols. (1965-67); S. Katz, Days of 

Fire (1968); E. Lankin, Sippuro shel Mefakked Altalena (1967); Dinur, 

Haganah, 2 pt. 3 (1963), index; D. Ben-Gurion, Bi-Medinat Yisrael ha- 

Mehuddeshety 1 (1969), 175-91, 281-5. 

[David Niv] 

IR HA-NIDDAHAT (Heb. nrmn TJ7, the "subverted" or 
"apostate" city). Deuteronomy 13:131!. enjoins the utter de- 
struction of a city, including its inhabitants, its animals, and 
its inanimate contents, the citizens of which have been "sub- 
verted" (va-yadihu) by "scoundrels" (sons of Belial). In essence 
it is an extreme example of the *Herem but in the Talmud it is 
regarded as belonging to a special category. The punishment 
meted out to an Ir ha-Niddahat was never applied in practice 
in talmudic times, and in fact the Tosefta (Sanh. 14:1) enumer- 
ates it as one of those things that "never was and never will be," 
but which was enjoined only so that one should receive the re- 
ward for its study. The discussion on it (Sanh. 10:4-6 and the 
Gemara on these passages) is therefore purely theoretical. A 
city could be declared an Ir ha-Niddahat only if the majority 
of its male inhabitants were found guilty of collective apos- 
tasy and only the Great Sanhedrin could make the declaration 
(Sanh. 16a). Jerusalem, however, could never be declared an Ir 
ha-Niddahat. The destruction of Jericho and the ban against 
its rebuilding (Josh. 6:26) were taken as the model. There is a 
difference of opinion as to whether the verse "it shall not be 
built again" (Deut. 13:17) meant that it was to be left completely 
waste, or whether the prohibition of rebuilding referred only 
to a city, but the site could be turned into gardens and or- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


chards. The wholesale destruction applied to all the property 
of the transgressors, whether it was in the city or beyond its 
borders, and to the property of the innocent residents within 
the city only. With regard to consecrated objects a distinction 
was made. Animals dedicated to the altar and *terumah and 
second tithe were left to rot. Dedications for the repair of the 
Temple, first fruits, and the first tithe could be redeemed. R. 
Simeon explains the destruction of the property of the inno- 
cent ("righteous") inhabitants of the city by pointing out that 
since it was the desire for wealth which brought them to re- 
side there, that wealth is destroyed (Sanh. 112a). 

bibliography: J.N.Epstein, in: Abhandlungen... H.P. Chajes 
(!933)> 7 2- 5> C. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Halakhah, 1 pt. 1 (1934), 37. 

[Louis Isaac Rabinowitz] 

IRKUTSK, city in Russia. Several Jews settled in Irkutsk at the 
beginning of the 19 th century, of whom the majority were sent 
there as prisoners or exiles. Subsequently, Jewish soldiers dis- 
charged from the army of Nicholas 1 (see *Cantonists) settled 
in the city. The Jewish population grew from 1,000 in 1875, to 
3,610 in 1897 (7.1% of the total), and 6,100 in 1909 (5.6%). Jews 
played a considerable role in the city's commerce and industry 
and in the development of the gold mines in the vicinity. After 
the 1917 Revolution, a Jewish political exile, RM. Rubinstein, 
was appointed president of the newly founded Irkutsk Univer- 
sity. There were 7,159 Jews in Irkutsk in 1926 (7.2% of the total 
population), 7,100 (2.8%) in 1939, and 10,313 in Irkutsk oblast 
in 1959. In 1970 the city's Jewish population was estimated at 
about 15,000. There was one synagogue, but no rabbi or can- 
tor. In the early 21 st century there were an estimated 5,000 
Jews still in the city, with community life revolving around the 
synagogue and Chabad rabbi Aaron Wagner. 

bibliography: V. Voitinsky, Yevrei v Irkutske (1915). 

[Yehuda Slutsky] 

IR-NAHASH (Heb. ttflj) TV), biblical locality in Judah estab- 
lished by Tehinnah, son of Eshton (1 Chron. 4:12). Ir-Nahash 
("Serpent City") was probably originally called Ir Nehoshet 
("Copper City") after Tehinnah's craft - brass artisan. It has 
been tentatively identified with the village of Deir (Dayr) 
Nahhas, 2 mi. (3 km.) northeast of Bet Guvrin, but only re- 
mains from the Roman period and later have been discovered 
there. These include cisterns, remains of a pool, and a tomb 
with loculi. Leases drawn up in the name of Bar Kokhba and 
dated to 133, which were found in the Murabba c at caves in the 
Judean Desert, mention that Eleazar the Shilonite, Halifa, son 
of Joseph, and Judah, son of Rabba, leased land in Ir-Nahash 
from Hillel, son of Garis, the representative of Bar Kokhba 
at Herodium. These leases indicate that Ir-Nahash was situ- 
ated in a crown domain; rent for the land was to be paid in 

bibliography: Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 351; Barthelemy-Mi- 

lik, 2 (1961), 12/fF. 

[Michael Avi-Yonah] 

IRON (Heb. ]iNT), city in the territory of Naphtali mentio- 
ned in the Bible only in Joshua 19:38. It may possibly occur in 
the inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser in, among the cities con- 
quered in his campaign of 733 b.c.e., in the fragmentary form 
Ir-ru-[na], but the reading is uncertain. The Arab village of 
Yarun on the Israel- Lebanon border is situated near an an- 
cient mound containing Iron Age and later pottery. Iron was 
apparently one of the cities founded by the Israelites in the 
mountainous and wooded area of Galilee. 

bibliography: Maisler (Mazar), in: bjpes, 1 (1933/34), 3; J. 

Garstang, Joshua-Judges (1931), 102, n. 1; Y. Aharoni, Hitnahalut Shiv- 

tei Yisrael ba-Galil ha-Elyon (1957), 130-2; Tadmor, in: H. Hirshberg 

(ed.), Kol Erez Naftali (1967), 63 ff. 

[Michael Avi-Yonah] 

IRON GUARD, right-wing, antisemitic movement and party 
in Romania. In 1927 nationalist students, headed by Corneliu 
Zelea Codreanu, founded the Legion of Archangel Michael, 
which fostered the Iron Guard mass movement in 1930 and 
merged with it. The Iron Guard became a political party with a 
Christian- nationalist and totalitarian platform combining ele- 
ments of fascism, Nazism, and Christian- Orthodox mysticism 
and symbolism. The Iron Guard press, Buna Vestire ("The An- 
nunciation"), and the press under its influence, Porunca Vremii 
("The Command of Our Times"), instigated antisemitism in 
the vein of Der Stuermer. The Iron Guard held conferences 
and student rallies that were often accompanied by anti-Jewish 
riots in which synagogues and Jewish newspapers and shops 
were destroyed, as in Oradea-Mare and Cluj (1927), and in 
Timi§oara (1938). In the mid-i930s, the Iron Guard, known as 
Totul pentru Tard ("All for the Fatherland"), became the third 
largest party in Romania; but it was temporarily dissolved in 
1938 by King Carol. On the eve of the dissolution of Greater 
Romania, the Iron Guard, reconciled for the time being with 
King Carol, carried out mass slaughters of Jews, especially in 
Moldavia (June-September 1940). On September 6, the Iron 
Guard proclaimed a National- Legionary State under joint rule 
with Ion * Antonescu. Anti-Jewish legislation was enacted to 
eliminate the Jews of Romania from economic, political, and 
cultural life. The final goal of Iron Guard policy was the de- 
portation of the Jews (see * Romania, Holocaust). 

A struggle for hegemony led to the Legionnaire rebel- 
lion in Jan. 19-20, 1941, in which 120 Jews were killed in Bu- 
charest and some 30 in the countryside (notably in *Ploie§ti 
and *Constanta). The rebellion was quashed by Antonescu; 
Horia *Sima and other leaders of the rebellion fled the coun- 
try. Following the outbreak of war against the Soviet Union 
(June 1941) the German forces and Antonescu's police, joined 
by Iron Guard elements, committed anti- Jewish outrages, in- 
cluding the *Jassy pogrom (June 29, 1941) and "death train," 
and other such attacks in Moldavia with thousands of victims. 
The Romanian anti-Nazi coup of August 1944 put an end to 
the Iron Guard in Romania, and the Germans set up in De- 
cember 1944 a Legionnaire government -in-exile in Vienna 
led by Sima. For more than 25 years after the liquidation 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



of the Iron Guard, Legionnaire emigrant groups were still in 
existence in some western countries, and post-Communist 

bibliography: E. Weber, "The Man of the Archangel," in: 
G.L. Mosse (ed.), International Fascism (1979); Z. Barbu, in: S.J. Woolf 
(ed.), Fascism in Europe (1981); A.Heinen, Die Legion "Erzengel Mi- 
chael" in Rumanien (1986); F. Veiga, La mistica del ultranacionalismo. 
Historia de la Guardia de Hierro (1989); R. Ioanid, The Sword of the 
Archangel: Fascist Ideology in Romania (1990); L.Volovici, Nationalist 

Ideology and Antisemitism (1991). 

[Bela Adalbert Vago] 

IRVING, AMY (1953- ), U.S. actress. Irving was born in Palo 
Alto, California, the daughter of influential stage director/ 
producer Jules Irving and actress Priscilla Pointer. Although 
her father was Jewish, Amy was raised a Christian Scientist 
like her mother. As a young woman she trained at the Amer- 
ican Conservatory Theater in San Francisco before moving 
to England to study at the prestigious London Academy of 
Music and Dramatic Art. When Irving was only 17, she made 
her off-Broadway debut. She appeared in guest roles on sev- 
eral tv shows before landing the role of Sue Snell, the sympa- 
thetic supporting character in Brian De Palma's supernatural 
thriller Carrie (1976), launching her career. Romantic leads 
in such films as Voices (1979), Honeysuckle Rose (1979), and 
The Competition (1980), not to mention her deep blue eyes and 
long curly locks, made Irving the idol of young men around 
the globe. Irving went on to star in mostly mature and inde- 
pendent productions such as Crossing Delancey (1988), De- 
constructing Harry (1997), and Yentl (1983), for which she 
won the Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Ac- 
tress. All are popular films that addressed Jewish identity in 
their own way. Irving remained loyal to the stage, appearing 
in many acclaimed Broadway productions, most notably The 
Heidi Chronicles, Amadeus, and The Road to Mecca, for which 
she won an Obie Award in 1988. After several years of court- 
ship, Irving married film director Steven ^Spielberg in 1985 
and had one child with him before their marriage ended in 


[Max Joseph (2 nd ed.)] 

°IRVING, JULES (Jules Israel; 1925-1979), U.S. theatrical 
director. Born in New York, Irving was professor of drama at 
San Francisco State College. In the early 1950s he co-founded - 
with his wife, actress Priscilla Pointer, Beatrice Manley, and 
Herbert *Blau - the Actors' Workshop, which represented the 
United States at the Brussels Exposition of 1958. In 1965 he and 
Blau were named directors of the Lincoln Center Repertory 
Theater, New York. When Blau resigned in 1967, Irving con- 
tinued as sole director until 1973. 

On Broadway, Irving directed such plays as The Coun- 
try Wife (1966); The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1966); Galileo 
(1967); The Little Foxes (1967); Tiger at the Gates (1968); A Cry 
of Players (1968); Camino Real (1970); An Enemy of the People 
(1971); Man of La Mancha (1972); and A Streetcar Named De- 
sire (1973). He was the father of actress Amy * Irving, director 

David Irving, and singer Katie Irving, and the brother of pro- 
ducer/director Richard Irving. 

[Ruth Beloff (2 nd ed.)] 

IRVING V. LIPSTADT, legal case initiated by Holocaust 
denier David Irving against defendants Deborah Lipstadt 
and Penguin Books, tried in a London court from January 
to March 2001, and resulting in the defeat of Irving. At stake 
was not the truth of the Holocaust but the quality and nature 
of Irving s historiography. 

David Irving was a Holocaust denier who had written 
many books on the Third Reich. Deborah Lipstadt was a his- 
tory professor who had written, among other works, a book 
about Holocaust denial, Denying the Holocaust. It described 
Irving as a Holocaust denier. He did not care for the descrip- 
tion, because he understood it to mean that he was something 
less than a reputable historian. Therefore he sued Lipstadt and 
her publishers, Penguin Books, for defamation. He might have 
sued in the United States, where the book was first published, 
but then Irving would have had to prove a reckless disregard 
of truth by Lipstadt. Instead he chose to sue in England be- 
cause English law gives certain advantages to libel claimants. 
The defendant must prove the truth of their statements. The 
case came to trial on January 11, 2000, and lasted five weeks. 
The evidence of expert witnesses dominated the proceedings. 
In accordance with defense decisions: no Holocaust survivors 
were called, for the Holocaust was not on trial; Lipstadt her- 
self did not testify. The case was heard without a jury by Mr. 
Justice Charles Gray. A 335 -page judgment was delivered on 
April 11, 2000. 

The judge decided the case in favor of the defendants, 
Lipstadt and Penguin. Irving s falsifications and distortions 
were so egregious, and his animus towards Jews so plain that 
he won the case for them. They had proved the truth of their 
allegations against Irving by demonstrating Irving s manipu- 
lation of the historical record (which became the issue in the 
case). The multiple concessions made by Irving during the 
course of the trial did not save him from the judgment that 
he was indeed a Holocaust denier. The judge also decided that 
he was an antisemite, a racist, and a falsifier of the historical 
record. Penguin Books published the judgment, and donated 
the sale proceeds to a hospital specializing in the treatment 
of cancer patients. An interim costs order was made against 
Irving in the sum of £150,000. 

Irving, who had represented himself at the trial, in- 
structed lawyers to represent him on his appeal. The appeal 
was heard in June 2001 and dismissed. Penguin then enforced 
the costs order and when Irving did not pay, bankrupted 
him. After the trial, he was asked, "Will you stop denying the 
Holocaust on the basis of this judgment?" Irving replied, 
"Good Lord, no." The case attracted a great deal of attention, 
and large claims continue to be made for its significance. De- 
niers dismissed it. "Gray's verdict," said a denier, "was pre- 
dictable, given the display of naked Jewish power during the 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


David Irving 

David Irving (b. 1938) had been writing history books for 
over 40 years. His first book, published in 1963, was about 
the bombing of Dresden in February 1945. It wildly overstated 
the numbers killed, relying in later and foreign editions on a 
document known by Irving to be a forgery The intended ef- 
fect of the book was to narrow the moral distance between 
the Allied and Axis powers. It introduced into the historio- 
graphy of World War 11 the novel concept of the German na- 
tion as victim. His principal work, Hitlers War (1977; 1991), 
told the story of World War 11 from what Irving supposed to 
be Hitlers perspective, and it thereby made a case for him as 
an intelligent and even estimable leader. Irving has always 
been protective of Hitler, and in the earlier part of his career 
as a writer tended to put the responsibility for the regimes 
crimes on Hitlers subordinates. He proposed that the Holo- 
caust was executed behind Hitlers back. Irving thus ignored, 
or explained away, Hitler's own statements about the Jews, the 
reports on the killings destined for him, and the statements 
of subordinates that the policy of genocide was determined 
at the highest level. This special pleading has its own momen- 
tum and in due course Irving came to embrace Holocaust de- 
nial (among other places, evident in the 1991 edition of Hitlers 
War). Irving came to denial, and then persisted in it, out of 
tenderness for Hitler and hostility to Jews, and out of a mis- 
placed bravado and a deficient moral sense. 

Holocaust Denial 

Irving had at various times asserted that the number of Jews 
killed by the Nazis was far lower than commonly asserted, 
that gas chambers were not used or used on only an experi- 
mental and limited basis, that the killing of the Jews was not 
systematic, that the Holocaust was an invention of the Allies 
and that it was then exploited by the Jews to swindle the Ger- 
mans, to procure a state, and to distract attention from their 
own crimes. In advancing these theses, he joined a small, ig- 
nominious group of published deniers - charlatans, cranks, 
dedicated haters of Jews. The object of these deniers, or "ne- 
gationists," is to unwrite the history of the Holocaust. 

Deborah Lipstadt 

Deborah Lipstadt (b. 1947), a professor at Emory University, 
Atlanta, was not the first to write about Holocaust denial. She 
was not even the first to write about Irving's career as a denier, 
but was the first defendant in a denial libel trial. Denying the 
Holocaust described Irving as a writer of popular historical 
works. He believed that Britain made a mistake, Lipstadt said, 
in going to war against Germany, and he regarded the Allies 
and the Nazis as equally at fault. It was a "disturbing new de- 
velopment," she proposed, that he had "joined the ranks of 
the deniers." Lipstadt summarized criticisms of his use of ev- 
idence and assessed him as being "one of the most dangerous 
spokespersons for Holocaust denial." She did not allege that 
Irving was an antisemite, though the charge was implied in 
the libel proceedings and the defense expressly pleaded his 

The Legal Proceedings 

In September 1996 David Irving issued a writ against the au- 
thor and her U.K. publishers, Penguin. He complained that 
the book represented him to be a Nazi apologist, a manipula- 
tor of the historical record, a Holocaust denier, a racist, and an 
antisemite, and a consorter with racists and antisemites. The 
defendants broadly agreed that that was indeed what the book 
maintained, and they insisted that this was the truth about 
him. The bad history was a consequence of his bad politics, 
his alliance with the Far Right and his assumed role as apolo- 
gist for Hitler and the Nazi project. Irving also claimed that 
he was the victim of an international Jewish conspiracy to si- 
lence and discredit him. Here the defendants did not agree, 
nor did the judge. 

In the sVi years between the start of the legal action 
and the trial, Irving lost control of his claim. Required to dis- 
close his library of speeches, diaries, and other written mate- 
rials, he thereby secured the defendants' case against his poli- 
tics. Confronted by expert reports by scholars such as Richard 
Evans, Christopher ^Browning, Peter Longerich, and Robert 
Jan Van Pelt that he was unable to counter, he thereby con- 
ceded their case against his historiography. The disclosure 
hanged him; the expert evidence hanged him a second time 
over. The contribution made by the experts to the defendants' 
case was considerable, though not in itself determinative of 
the outcome. 

While the disclosure was plainly objectionable, proving 
the sin of his books required experts. This was hard work, but 
not difficult work. It needed much checking of sources. The 
experts demonstrated that Irving mistranslated documents, 
disputed, overstated or ignored or dismissed adverse, impec- 
cable witnesses and relied upon unreliable witnesses, all to 
one end. The pattern of deceit was clear: the only witnesses 
to the Holocaust Irving accepted were those who saw noth- 
ing. Euphemistic or otherwise evasive documents were taken 
at face value; documents that were candid about the extermi- 
nation process were dismissed as forgeries or otherwise ex- 
plained away or ignored. An unattainable standard of proof 
was demanded to "prove" the Holocaust; yet anything, how- 
ever flimsy and unreliable, was accepted to "disprove" it. There 
was no consistency to his methodology, only to his politics. It 
was by the systematic application of "double standards" that 
Irving honored Hitler's memory. 

The Nature of Irving's Antisemitism 

The trial exposed the nature of Irving's antisemitism. It was 
evident both in his performance at the trial itself and in the 
materials obtained from him in consequence of pre-trial hear- 
ings. There was, of course, the desire to rehabilitate Hitler and 
the Third Reich, and there was the fantasy of a Jewish con- 
spiracy. Irving made wild allegations - Churchill was in the 
pay of the Jews, the Jews dragged Britain into the war, Jews 
dominated many of the postwar Communist regimes, the 
world is in great measure controlled by Jews. There were also 
lies, including lies told to the judge. 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



However, so short is the memory, so limited is the under- 
standing, of English newspapers that within a short while of 
the trial Irving was being referred to by them once again as a 
historian, his opinions solicited on matters of current contro- 
versy Still, the judgment diminished, though it did not elimi- 
nate, Holocaust denial. For the duration of the trial and es- 
pecially upon the decisive and stinging judgment, the morale 
of some survivors was lifted. There was the sense that battle 
had been joined with an antisemite in which the oppressor, 
for once, did not have the upper hand. Jews and non-Jews of 
good will came together in defense of the historical truth of the 
Holocaust, and thereby repelled the attack of an antisemite. It 
was an act of resistance. And though it was merely one among 
countless others, it had its own, distinctive merit. 

In 2006 an Austrian court sentenced Irving to three 
years' imprisonment for Holocaust denial. 

See also ^Holocaust Denial. 

[Anthony Julius (2 nd ed.)] 

ISAAC (Heb. p$p.> PW'X son of "Abraham and *Sarah, sec- 
ond of the ^patriarchs of the people of Israel. Isaac was born 
when Abraham was 100 years old (Gen. 21:5) and Sarah 90 
(17:17), exactly a quarter of a century after the family had mi- 
grated from Haran, its ancestral homeland, in response to di- 
vine prompting and promise of offspring (12:4). By his birth, 
which took place long after his mother had passed the normal 
childbearing age (18:11), and in his very person, Isaac repre- 
sented the fulfillment of the oft-repeated divine assurances of 
posterity. He alone was the true heir of the Abrahamic tradi- 
tion and covenant (17:19, 21; 21:12). His name had been preor- 
dained by God (17:19), and at the age of eight days he became 
the first to be circumcised (21:4) in accordance with the divine 
command (17:12). Further emphasis is given to Isaac's role as 
Abrahams sole heir by the expulsion of his half-brother *Ish- 
mael in resolution of the domestic crisis which Isaac's birth 
precipitated (21:9-14). 

Nothing is related of Isaac's childhood except the cele- 
bration held on the day of his weaning (21:8). Not mentioned 
as having participated in the burial of Sarah (chapter 23), the 
only other recorded incident of Isaac's life prior to his mar- 
riage is the episode known as "the binding of Isaac" (*Akedah, 
Aqedah; chapter 22), where he is the potential victim of child 
sacrifice. His age at this time is not given, but since he was able 
to recognize a sacrifice and to ask an intelligent question, he 
must have been a lad (cf. 22:5). 

God ordered Abraham, in a test of his constancy, to sacri- 
fice Isaac, his favored son, the object of his love (22:2; cf. 22:12, 
16), as a burnt offering on one of the heights in the land of Mo- 
riah. Observing the firestone and the knife in his father's hand, 
while he himself carried the wood, Isaac asked, "Where is the 
sheep for the burnt offering?" (22:7-8). From Abraham's evasive 
reply, "God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering, my son," 
Isaac must surely have sensed the truth. Although the Aqedah 
was the climactic event in the tales of Abraham, who demon- 
strated his willingness to obey God even when God contra- 

dicted himself (see Rashi to Gen. 22:12), the fact that "the two 
of them walked on together" (22:8; cf. 22:6), and that Isaac fell 
completely silent, must be taken as an implication of the lad's 
surrender to God's purposes. As it is, the narrative closes with 
a reaffirmation of the divine blessings. Isaac is thus inextricably 
bound up with God's promises and their fulfillment. 

At the age of 40 (25:20), Isaac married * Rebekah, daugh- 
ter of Bethuel, nephew of Abraham. The story of the marriage, 
arranged by Abraham who had sent his servant to Haran to 
bring back a suitable wife, is told in extraordinary detail (chap- 
ter 24) and in a manner calculated to show the intervention 
of Divine Providence in the sequence of events. 

Unique among the patriarchs, Isaac remained monog- 
amous, and he was also exceptional in that he did not have 
concubines (see * Patriarchs) even though Rebekah was barren 
during the first 20 years of their marriage (25:20, 21, 26). After 
"Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife" (25:21), Re- 
bekah gave birth to twins, *Esau and * Jacob, who early became 
rivals (verses 25-34). During her pregnancy, which was very 
difficult, Rebekah received an oracle from God concerning 
the destiny of her progeny (verses 21-23). 

Isaac's wanderings were restricted to the area around 
Gerar (26:1, 17), Beer-Sheba (21:32; 22:19; 26:23, 33; 28:10), and 
Beer-Lahai-Roi (24:62; 25:11). He had wanted to go down to 
Egypt in time of famine, but was forbidden to do so by God 
(26:1-2) and, in fact, he never left the land of Canaan (cf. 24:5, 
8). At both Gerar and Beer-Sheba he received divine affirma- 
tion of the Lord's promise of protection, numerous progeny, 
and the land (26:3-5, 23-24), and in Beer-Sheba he built an 
altar and invoked the Lord by name (verse 25) just as his father 
had done before him (cf. 21:25-33). Unlike the other patriarchs 
Isaac engaged in agriculture with great success (26:12), becom- 
ing a wealthy man, possessed of flocks and herds and a large 
retinue. On the whole, his relationships with his neighbors 
were peaceful, but he did arouse their envy (26:13-16). On one 
occasion he felt compelled to pass off his beautiful wife as his 
sister, fearing the men of Gerar would murder him in order to 
possess Rebekah (verses 6-11). On another occasion he clashed 
with them over watering rights (verses 15, 18-22; cf. verses 25, 
32-33). His status and power were such that Abimelech, king 
of the Philistines in Gerar, came to Beer-Sheba to conclude a 
pact of mutual nonaggression (verses 28-31). 

The final episode in Isaac's life was the oral testament 
(chapter 27). Old and blind and not knowing how soon he 
would die, he decided to communicate his blessing to Esau 
for whom he had quite early shown partiality (25:28), even 
though Esau had married Canaanite women, of which Isaac 
and Rebekah, like Abraham before them (24:3-4), had dis- 
approved (26:34-35; cf. 27:46; 28:8). At Rebekah's direction, 
however, Jacob deceived his father by assuming the guise 
of Esau and succeeded in gaining the birthright for himself 
(27:1-29), a situation in which Isaac finally acquiesced (verse 
33; cf. 28:3-4). To insure that Jacob would not marry a Canaan- 
ite woman Isaac sent him to the home of his wife's family in 
Paddan-Aram to find a wife (28:1-2). 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Isaac lived on for another 20 years. Like the other patri- 
archs, Isaac lived a fantastically long time, dying in Hebron 
at 180, "a ripe old age" (35:27-29). His two sons buried him in 
the cave of Machpelah beside his wife (49:31). 

The biblical data concerning Isaac are relatively sparse, 
and followers of the documentary theory regard them as an 
amalgam of J and E with an admixture of P (see * Pentateuch). 
In any event, it appears likely that numerous traditions have 
been lost. Thus, in treaty negotiations with Laban, the fact 
that Jacob employed a divine name, Pahad Yizhak ("Fear [or 
"Kinsman"?] of Isaac"; 31:42), not otherwise attested, implies 
that there once existed some historic framework in which this 
epithet had special meaning. Although the narratives of Isaac 
are set in a time that would in our chronology correspond to 
the early or mid-second millennium, individual markers such 
as the encounters with the Philistines, marriage ties with Ar- 
ameans, and the founding of the city of Beersheba indicate 
that the oldest Isaac traditions cannot be earlier than the late 
second millennium, and are probably later. No independent 
traditions about Isaac have been preserved outside of the Pen- 
tateuch. In some respects, Isaac, like Abraham and Jacob, is an 
allegorical figure whose actions reflect historical personalities 
and situations of the monarchic period (Sperling). 

The triad of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob appears with great 
frequency throughout the Pentateuch, and became enshrined 
in the cultic traditions of Israel. Amos actually employs "Isaac" 
as a synonym for Israel (7:9, 16), though it is uncertain whether 
this is the sole biblical remnant of a once more extensive us- 
age, or an oratorical device invented by the prophet for pur- 
poses of wordplay. 

Although no explanation for Isaacs name is given in 
Genesis (cf. Gen. 17:19; 21:3), the recurrent association of the 
laughter of the aged Abraham and Sarah when foretold of the 
birth of a son (17:17; 18:12-15; 21:6) has suggested the popular 
etymology that the name comes from sahak (sahaq, "laugh"). 
In actuality, the name is a verbal form, probably originally 
accompanied by a divine subject and meaning, "may (God) 
laugh," i.e., look benevolently upon. 

[Nahum M. Sarna / S. David Sperling (2 nd ed.)] 

In the Aggadah 

Isaac was born on the first day of Passover (rh 11a). At his 
birth, many other barren women were also blessed with chil- 
dren. The sun shone with unparalleled splendor, the like of 
which will only be seen again in the messianic age (Tanh. B, 
Gen. 107; pr 42:i77a-i77b). To silence the accusations of slan- 
derers who questioned Abraham's paternity, which they as- 
cribed to Abimelech, Isaac was given the exact appearance of 
his father (bm 87a). As his name was given by God before his 
birth (Gen. 17:19), he was the only one of the patriarchs whose 
name was not later changed (tj, Ber. 1:9, 4a). 

The Akedah of Isaac was the result of Satan's complaint 
after Abraham's celebration of the weaning of Isaac. Satan 
said to the Almighty: "Sovereign of the Universe! To this old 
man Thou didst graciously vouchsafe the fruit of the womb 

at the age of a hundred, yet of all that banquet which he pre- 
pared, he did not sacrifice one dove or pigeon to thee!" God 
therefore decided to show Satan that Abraham would offer 
up even Isaac to Him. According to another tradition, it was 
Isaac, then 37 years old, who himself suggested the Akedah in 
response to Ishmael's claim that he was more virtuous since 
Isaac was circumcised at eight days, whereas he was 13 years 
of age at the time and could have refused (Sanh. 89b; Gen. 
R. 55:4). On the way to the Akedah, Satan unsuccessfully at- 
tempted to dissuade Isaac from obeying his father and, when 
he failed, tried to impede their journey (Sefer ha-Yashar, Va- 
Yera, 77-78; Gen. R. 56:4). Isaac cooperated fully with his fa- 
ther in the proposed sacrifice, even begging him to bind him 
tightly lest he might involuntarily struggle and render the sac- 
rifice invalid (Gen. R. 56:8). When Abraham lifted up his knife, 
the angels cried for Isaac. Their tears fell into Isaac's eyes and 
they caused his subsequent blindness, which was also attrib- 
uted to his having looked directly at the Shekhinah while on 
the altar (Gen. R. 65:10). Others attribute it to his constantly 
looking at his wicked son, Esau. His lack of vision later kept 
him at home and spared him from hearing people say, "there 
goes the father of the wicked Esau" (Gen. R. 65:10. Accord- 
ing to one tradition, during the Akedah Abraham drew one 
fourth of a log of blood from Isaac which symbolized the 
essence of life (Mekh. SbY, p. 4). According to another ver- 
sion, Isaac actually lost his life as a result of the terror he ex- 
perienced when Abraham lifted his knife. He was revived by 
the heavenly voice admonishing Abraham not to slaughter 
his son, and he then pronounced the benediction, "Blessed 
are Thou, O Lord, who quickenest the dead" (pdRE 31). God 
therefore accounted Isaac's deed as an actual sacrifice, and his 
harsh judgments against Israel are constantly mitigated when 
he recalls "Isaac's ashes heaped up upon the altar" (Lev. R. 36:5; 
Ta'an. 16a). Abraham also prayed that God should mercifully 
recall his binding Isaac whenever the children of Isaac give 
way to transgressions and evil deeds (Lev. R. 29:9). The Ake- 
dah therefore became a central theme in all penitential and 
*selihot prayers. Isaac is also depicted as the patriarch pos- 
sessing the deepest feelings and compassion for his descen- 
dants. He pleads for them even when they are sinful, and the 
verse "For thou art our father, for Abraham knoweth us not, 
and Israel doth not acknowledge us" (Isa. 63:16) is applied to 
him (Shab. 89b). The institution of the *Minhah prayer is at- 
tributed to Isaac (Ber. 26b). Like Abraham, he observed the 
Commandments (pr 25, p. 127b) and made God known in the 
world (Men. 53a). He was one of three who had a foretaste of 
the future world while in this world; one of six over whom 
the angel of death had no power; one of seven whose bodies 
were not devoured by worms; and one of three upon whom 
the "evil inclination" had no influence (bb 17a). 

[Aaron Rothkoff ] 

In Christian Tradition 

Isaac appears in the New Testament as a type and prefiguration 
of Christ: "Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of 
one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (Gal. 3:16). In the same 
epistle, Paul also explains that Isaac and Ishmael symbolize the 
old and the new covenants and thus represent Christians and 
Jews respectively. Isaac is the heir of the spiritual inheritance 
and messianic blessing implied in God's promise while Ishmael, 
the son of the slave, is turned out of his father's house. In the 
same way, the Christians are delivered from the fetters of the 
Old Testament commandments and enjoy the freedom granted 
to God's children (ibid. 4:22-31). Isaac's sacrifice, which is inter- 
preted typologically in the Epistle to the Hebrews, prefigures 
both the Passion by offering, and the resurrection of Jesus. 

The Church Fathers developed this typology further: 
Isaac's miraculous birth by a sterile woman is a prefiguration 
of the virginal maternity. They also drew more detailed par- 
allels between the sacrifice of Isaac and Jesus on the Cross: in 
the same way as Isaac was offered by his father Abraham and 
carried the sacrificial wood, so Jesus was offered by his Father 
and bore the Cross. Both obey the divine order of death and, 
because of that, triumph over death. The vicarious death of 
Jesus is compared to the substitution of the ram for Isaac. The 
ram represents the visible sacrifice of the flesh and Isaac pre- 
figures the Eternal Word (Christ). Like Philo before them, the 
Church Fathers also interpreted the marriage of Isaac and Re- 
bekah symbolically, though they did so in a specifically Chris- 
tian manner. Rebekah symbolizes the Church waiting for a long 
time; she sees Isaac (i.e., the Messiah) coming toward her as 
announced by the prophets, and their union is consecrated. 

In Islam 

Ishaq (Isaac) and Ya c qub (Jacob) were the descendants of 
Ibrahim (Abraham) and both were prophets and righteous 
men (Koran, Sura 19:50-51; 21:72-73; and in other places such 
as 6:84). The tale of the binding (37:99-110) does not mention 
the name of the one destined to be the sacrifice. According to 
the Hadith which is quoted by al-Tabari (Tdrlkh, 1 (1357 a.h.), 
184-5), Muhammad himself declared that the intended one 
was Isaac. This is also the opinion of Muhammad's colleagues: 
the caliphs Omar ibn al-Khattab and Ali ibn Abi Talib and 
the members of the second generation (tabi c un), e.g., *Ka c b 
al- Ahbar (ThaTabi, 76). In his Tdrlkh (history) and his Tafsir 
(commentary) Tabari quotes the Hadiths of all the Arab mas- 
oretes and exegetes, who were divided as to whether the ob- 
ject of the binding was Isaac or Ishmael. Umayya ibn Abi al- 
Salt, a contemporary of Muhammad, gives a description of 
the binding (29:9-21) as it is told in the Bible and in the Mi- 
drashim (Hirschberg, in bibl.,pp. 58-61, 124-9). I n spite of its 
similarity to the Koran, it is definitely an original poem. In a 
fragment of the *genizah of al-Samawal al-Kurazi there is the 
mention of the dhabih ("the bound one") as he is also referred 
to in Arab legend; he was redeemed for a lamb, specially cre- 
ated for this purpose. 

[Ha'im Zew Hirschberg] 

In the Arts 

In most literary treatments of the patriarch Isaac the theme of 

the binding of Isaac predominates (see *Akedah). This is the 
case with the medieval English miracle plays (Chester, York, 
Towneley, Dublin, Brome cycles; the many religious autos of 
the Spanish Renaissance; Metastasio's Isacco figura del Re- 
dentore (1740); and Laurence Housman's Abraham and Isaac, 
one of the English writer's fiercely anti- biblical Old Testament 
Plays (1950)). The Akedah theme inspired a drama in the Az- 
tec language of Mexico (1678), which was later translated into 
Spanish; and two Italian plays of the 18 th century, Pietro van 
Ghelen's Isacco, figura del Redentore (Vienna, 1740) and Isacco 
al monte (Padoya, 1766), a sacra rappresentazione in verse by 
Ferdinando degli Obizzi. 

In other works dating from the Middle Ages onward the 
Sacrifice of Isaac is incidental or omitted. The i2 th -century 
Or do de Ysaac et Rebecca et Filiis Eorum makes Esau the rep- 
resentative of "pharisaical Judaism" and Jacob the spokesman 
of Christianity. Dramatic works of the i6 th -i8 th centuries in- 
clude a Farsa de Isaac by Diego Sanchez (c. 1530); Francesco 
Contarini's tragedy Isaccio (Venice, 1615); Izsdk hdzassdga 
("The Marriage of Isaac," 1703), a Hungarian play by Ferenc 
Papai Pariz; a drama by the Spanish Marrano writer Felipe 
*Godinez; and Isaac (1779?; Eng. 1807), a comedy for young 
people by the French author Felicite Ducrest de Saint- Aubin, 
countess de Genlis. The subject declined in importance dur- 
ing the 19 th century, an exception being Julius *Zeyer's Czech 
drama Z dob ruzoveho jitra ("From the Times of the Rosy 
Dawn," 1888), based on Gen. 26, the first of several fresh treat- 
ments by Jewish writers. Thus, Edmond * Fleg's poem "La Vi- 
sion d'lsaac" (in Ecoute Israel, 1913-21) dealt with Isaac's tra- 
ditional plea to God for Israel's preservation. A 20 th -century 
treatment is in Soviet writer Yosif *Brodski's a Isaak iAvraam" 
which only appeared in the West in the verse collection Stik- 
hotvoreniya ipoemy (1965). 

In art, the chief episodes represented are the Akedah, the 
meeting of Eliezer and Rebekah, the marriage of Isaac and 
Rebekah, and the blessing of Jacob and Esau. The meeting of 
Eliezer and Rebekah (Gen. 24:15-28) has generally been more 
popular with artists than the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. 
In medieval Christian iconography Isaac was equated with 
Jesus, and Rebekah with the Virgin Mary, who symbolized the 
Church. There is a charming early representation of the meet- 
ing of Eliezer and Rebekah in the sixth-century Vienna Gene- 
sis. It is later found in i2 th -century mosaics in the Capella Pala- 
tina at Palermo and the cathedral of Monreale, in Sicily; in the 
St. Louis Psalter (c. 1256); and in the i4 th -century English Queen 
Mary Psalter. There are Renaissance and later paintings of the 
subject by Paolo Veronese at Versailles, by Nicolas Poussin in 
the Louvre, and by Bartolome Murillo in the Prado, Madrid. 
The marriage of Isaac and Rebekah (Gen. 24:63ff.) occurs in an 
illumination in the St. Louis Psalter. A noteworthy representa- 
tion is the spacious landscape ("The Mill") by Claude Lorrain 
(1648 National Gallery, London). In the Raphael Loggia in the 
Vatican there is a representation of Isaac and Rebekah inter- 
cepted in their lovemaking by Abimelech (Gen. 26:8-11). 

The lyrical subject of Isaac's marriage with Rebekah, pre- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


ceded by Eliezer s mission, has been treated in several musical 
works, mainly oratorios. Some examples are G.C. Arresti's Lo 
sposalizio di Rebecca (1675); A. Sacchini's Lo sposalizio dlsaaco 
con Rebecca (1739); Michael Haydn's Rebecca als Braut (also 
called Eliezer) y a "Singspiel," i.e., a kind of operetta (1766); Fer- 
dinand *Hiller's Rebekka, an "idyll" for solo choir, opus 182 
(date unknown); Cesar Franck's Rebecca, produced as an ora- 
torio in 1881 and as a one-act "sacred opera" in 1918; and Mau- 
rice Jacobsoris Rebeccas Hymn for choir and orchestra (1930). 
The meeting of Eliezer and Rebekah at the well was set as a 
simple children's dialogue song by the Israel composer Yedidya 
*Admon-Gorochovin the early 1930s (Naarah tovah, yefat ein- 
ayim), and has remained popular with Israel children. 

bibliography: For Isaac in the Bible see bibliography to 
^Abraham and ^Patriarchs, and N.M. Sarna, Understanding Gen- 
esis (1966), 154-165, 170-180. in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Leg- 
ends, 1 (1942 2 ), 261-6, 271-86, 291-9, 321-36; A. A. Halevy, Shaarei 
ha-Aggadah (1963), 20-23, 35> 37> i°3 _ 5; G. Vermes, Scripture and 
Tradition in Judaism (1961), 193-227. in the christian tradi- 
tion: J. Danielou, Sacramentum Futuri (1950), 97-128; idem, in: 
Biblica, 28 (1947), 363-93 (Fr.); Schoeps, in: jbl, 65 (1946), 385-92. 
in islam: Tabari, Tarikh, 1 (1357 a.h.), 184-9; idem, Tafsir, 23 (1329 
a.h.), 51-54; Tha'labi, Qisas (1356 a.h. 76-81; Kisa 1, Qisas, ed. by I. 
Eisenberg (1922), 150-3; H.Z. (J.W.) Hirschberg, Der Diwdn des As- 
Samual ibn c Adija... (1931), 33, 631.; idem, Juedische und christliche 
Lehren (1939), 58-61, 124-9. add. bibliography: R. Martin- 
Achard, in: abd, 3:462-70 (incl. bibl.); J. Levenson, The Death and 
Resurrection of the Beloved Son (1993); S.D. Sperling, The Original 
Torah (1998). in islam: W.M. Watt, "Ishak," in: eis 2 , 4 (1978), 109-110 
(incl. bibl.). 

ISAAC (middle of the second century), tanna. He is not men- 
tioned in the Mishnah but is often cited in beraitot y especially 
those dealing with halakhic exegesis in the Talmuds, and in 
the halakhic Midrashim of the school of R. Ishmael: Mekh- 
ilta, Sifrei Numbers, and Sifrei Deuteronomy It appears that he 
was a Babylonian, and if so he was one of the earliest known 
tannaim hailing from Babylonia. During the period of per- 
secution following the Bar Kokhba War, when Hananiah, the 
nephew of R. Joshua b. Hananiah, attempted to proclaim leap 
years and to sanctify new moons in Babylonia, and thereby 
make Babylonia independent of Erez Israel, Rabbi (the nasi 
at the time, perhaps *Simeon b. Gamaliel) sent him "three 
communications through R. Isaac and R. Nathan" so as to re- 
strain the Diaspora from taking this step (t j, Sanh. 1:2). Isaac 
moved to Erez Israel, where he debated halakhic matters, par- 
ticularly with the disciples of R. Ishmael. He also associated 
with R. *Simeon b. Yohai (Gen. R. 35:16), and engaged in dis- 
pute with Judah ha-Nasi and others (Ber. 48b, Git. 27b, etc.). 
Among his expositions of biblical verses some are of an ag- 
gadic character: "Remember the Sabbath day, i.e., count not 
[the days of the week] as others count them, but count them 
with reference to the Sabbath" (Mekh., Jethro, 7). He also en- 
gaged in mystical studies (Hag. 13a). 

bibliography: Bacher, Tann; Hyman, Toledot, 78ff.; Ep- 
stein, Tanna'im, 570. 

[Zvi Kaplan and Shmuel Safrai] 

ISAAC (seventh century), gaon, head of the academy in Firuz- 
Shapur in Babylonia. In 658 the city was captured by Caliph 
Ali. Isaac, together with other Jewish notables, at the head of 
90,000 Jews, welcomed the caliph upon his entry; the con- 
queror in turn gave the Jewish delegation a cordial reception. 
No responsa or decisions written by this gaon are extant. The 
commentaries and decisions mentioned in the responsa of 
the geonim and other early authorities and attributed to a R. 
Isaac (Shaarei Teshuvah, no. 217; Zedekiah *Anav, Shibbolei ha- 
Leket, no. 225; 'Abraham b. Isaac of Narbonne, Sefer ha-Eshkol, 
2 (1868), 158; Aaron ha-Kohen of Lunel, Orhot Hayyim, ed. by 
M. Schlesinger, 2 (1902), 414, et al.) originated with another R. 
Isaac, a gaon of Sura, who was also known as Isaac Zadok. 

bibliography: A. Harkavy, Zikkaron la-Rishonim ve-gam 

la-Aharonim, 1, Teshuvot ha-Gebnim (1887), 355-6; B.M. Lewin (ed.), 

Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon (1921), 101; Weiss, Dor, 4 (1904), 7-8; J. 

Mueller, Mafteah li-Teshuvot ha-Gebnim (1891), 62; Mann, in: jqr, 

8 (1917/18), 340-1. 

[Simha AssarJ 

ISAAC, Jewish merchant of Aachen, the first Jew in Germany 
to be mentioned by name. In 797 he was appointed by Char- 
lemagne as guide and interpreter to an official delegation to 
Harun al-Rashid, entrusted with a delicate and important mis- 
sion. Charlemagne's ambassadors died on the way and Isaac 
completed the journey and was received in audience when he 
returned four years later. He brought with him precious gifts 
from the caliph, including an elephant. According to one ac- 
count *Machir, the Babylonian scholar credited with found- 
ing a Jewish academy in Narbonne, traveled from the East to 
Europe with Isaac. 

bibliography: Germ Jud, 1 (1963), xxviii; Graetz, Hist, 3 
(1949), 143; M. Steinschneider, Jewish Literature (1965), 81; S. Katz, 
Jews in Visigothic Spain and France (1937), 133; Baron, Social 2 , 4 

(i957)> 45> 257. 

ISAAC (Ishak; late 12 th or early 13 th century), Spanish-Hebrew 
poet. Isaac is only known from his Mishlei Arav or Mishlei 
Musar, a translation of an Arabic text which is no longer ex- 
tant, comprising proverbs, ethical poems, and prose passages. 
The material is divided into 50 sections called "gates." The 
last gate includes admonitions and proverbs in poetic form. 
The most interesting of them is Hidat ha-Nazir ve-ha-Soher 
("The Riddle of the Nazirite and the Merchant"), an allegori- 
cal tale which in character and presentation is reminiscent of 
*Ben ha-Melekh ve-ha-Nazir ("The Prince and the Hermit") of 
Abraham *Ibn Hasdai. These proverbs are of great importance 
for research into the motifs of Hebrew proverbs and poetry, 
and they also shed light upon the literary taste of Isaac's time. 
Several of them are already cited by Menahem b. Solomon 
*Meiri (1249-1316) in his Kiryat Sefer (Smyrna, 1863-1881). 
The proverbs and poems in the supplement to Mivhar ha-Pe- 
ninim of *Jedaiah ha-Penini Bedersi (Venice, 1546) are taken 
in their entirety from the Mishlei Arav. In those poems written 
in the form of an acrostic the name Ishak appears. According 
to Steinschneider, the author of the Mishlei Arav was in fact 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Isaac b. Krispin, author of the Sefer ha-Musar mentioned in 
the Tahkemoni of *al-Harizi, in which case he lived at a much 
earlier date. His book has been published once only in serial 
form by S. Sachs in Ha-Levanon (vols. 2-6, 1865-69). 

bibliography: Steinschneider, Uebersetzungen, 884-7; 
Schirmann, Sefarad, 2 (i960 2 ), 60-66; A.M. Habermann, in: Sinai, 
25 (1945X 288-99; Davidson, Ozar, 4 (1933), 423f. 

[Abraham David] 

ISAAC (Isak), AARON (Aron; 1730-1816), founder of the 
Jewish community in Sweden. Born in Treuenbrietzen, a small 
city in the Duchy of Mecklenburg, Isaac started his career 
as a peddler at the age of 18. Yielding to an artistic impulse, 
he taught himself seal-engraving, achieving some success in 
this craft, and settled in Buetzow. During the Seven Years' 
War (1756-63) he did business with the Prussian and later 
the Swedish armies. Learning from the Swedish soldiers that 
there were no seal -engravers in Sweden, Isaac decided to settle 
in that country, although no Jew had lived there previously. 
When he arrived in Stockholm in June 1774 after a difficult 
journey, he was informed that permission to settle would be 
granted only if he accepted baptism. This he refused to do and 
petitioned the king, whom he impressed by his sobriety and 
persistence. His request was granted and Isaac, his brother, 
and his partner in Germany, with their families, received per- 
mission to settle in Stockholm. After these early struggles the 
fledgling settlement began to flourish, Isaac remaining head 
of the Stockholm community for many years. His memoirs in 
Yiddish, completed in 1804 with an introduction in Hebrew, 
Sjelfbiografi (1897), are important not only historically but also 
for Yiddish philology and have been frequently republished. 

bibliography: N. Stif and Z. Rejzen (eds.), Aaron Isaacs Au- 
tobiografia (Yid., 1922); Z. Holm (ed.), Denkwuerdigkeiten des Aron 
Isak (1930); A. Brody and H. Valentin (eds.), Aaron Isaacs Minnen 
(Swedish, 1932), annotated critical edition; L. Schwarz, Memoirs of 
my People (1963 2 ), 166-81; 299; H. Valentin, Judarnas historia i Sverige 
(1924), index; idem, Judarna i Sverige (1964), index. 

[Hugo Mauritz Valentin] 

ISAAC, JULES MARX (1877-1963), French historian. Born 
in Rennes, he became chief inspector of history teaching at 
the Ministry of Education. Isaac wrote history textbooks for 
French secondary schools; his research works concerned the 
origins of World War 1 and the problem of the origins of su- 
perstitions and popular prejudices. From 1943, traumaticaliy 
influenced by the Nazi persecutions and the deportation and 
death of his close relatives, including his wife and daughter, 
Isaac began to study Christian antisemitism, to which he ded- 
icated the remainder of his life. He did not content himself 
with the publication of the result of his studies and vigorous 
polemics against his critics, but also assumed a militant role 
as founder and member of the executive committee of the 
Amitie Judeo-Chretienne. He took an active part in the Ju- 
deo-Christian meeting of Seelisberg (1947), whose resolutions 
called for a revision of the attitude of the churches toward Ju- 

daism. After the accession of Pope * John xxin, the Vatican 
sought Isaac's advice; upon the request of Cardinal *Bea and 
after an audience with Pope John in i960, he drew up a record 
of the history of the relations between the Catholic Church 
and Judaism. Isaac's writings had a great influence on the de- 
cision to introduce a statement on relations with the Jews at 
the Vatican Council that ended in 1965. 

In his historical works, Isaac points out the falsehood and 
the tendentious intentions of the claim that the dispersion of 
Israel was the result of its rejection of the messianism of Jesus. 
At the same time, he reached the conclusion that there was no 
reason whatsoever to maintain that antisemitism was as old as 
Judaism itself. On the contrary, he showed that the Church pro- 
moted a system of degradation by gradually burdening the Jews 
with a lengthy series of restrictions, exclusions, and humilia- 
tions which were decreed by the secular governments subjected 
to ecclesiastic influence. This system was based on the "teach- 
ing of contempt," which was essentially the work of the Church 
Fathers of the fourth century c.e. and whose most harmful 
thesis was that of describing the Jews as a "deicidal people." 
Isaac developed his arguments in Jesus et Israel (1948; Eng. tr., 
1971), Genese de Vantisemitisme (1956), and L'Enseignement du 
mepris (1962; The Teaching of Contempt, 1964). 

bibliography: C.H. Bishop, in: J. Isaac, The Teaching of Con- 
tempt (1964), introduction, add. bibliography: A. Kaspi, Jules 
Isaac ou la passion de la verite (2002). 

ISAAC, TESTAMENT OF, pseudepigraphical work. There 
is no reference to an apocryphal book of Isaac in the ancient 
lists of *apocrypha, such as that of Nicephorus. The Apostoli- 
cae Constitutiones 6, 16 may, however, refer to it by its men- 
tion of the "apocryphal books of the three Patriarchs." A text 
entitled The Testament of Isaac was published in an English 
translation from the Arabic by M.R. James. Ethiopic and Cop- 
tic texts of the work also exist (see S. Gaselee in bibliography). 
The book opens with a homiletic preface which is followed by 
the story of how an angel, resembling Abraham, announces 
to Isaac his imminent death and commands him to instruct 
his sons. The instruction that follows is similar in tone to that 
encountered in some parts of the Testaments of the Twelve 
Patriarchs, such as those relating Isaac's instructions to Jacob 
(Test. Patr., Levi, ch. 9). Jubilees 21 also contains similar ma- 
terials, as do the Greek fragments of the Testament of * Levi 
and other associated texts. This section of moral instruction 
is followed by an apocalyptic vision which features the pun- 
ishments of hell, and in particular the river of fire which can 
distinguish between the righteous and the wicked. The text 
concludes with an exhortation for the commemoration of 
Isaac. It seems that older material may be embedded in the 
moral instruction, but in its present form the work is probably 
a late imitation of the Testament of Abraham. 

bibliography: M.R. James, Testament of Abraham (1892), 
140-51, 155-61; S. Gaselee, in: G.H. Box, Testament of Abraham (1927); 
J.-B. Frey, in: dbi, Suppl. 1 (1928), 38. 

[Michael E. Stone] 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


ISAAC BAR DORBELO (12 th century), one of the best- 
known pupils of Jacob *Tam. Isaac transmitted details of the 
various personal practices of Jacob Tam and other scholars, 
incorporating them in the *Mahzor Vitry, which he appar- 
ently edited. The book describes the conduct and the teach- 
ings of *Rashi and his school ("de-Vei Rashi") and there is 
no doubt that Isaacs share in it amounted to much more 
than the passages quoted in his name. Many of his "addi- 
tions" do not bear his name at all but are simply signed with 
the letter tav (tosefet, "addition"). Isaac traveled extensively 
in France, Germany (Mahzor Vitry, ed. S. Hurwitz (1923), 
388), Russia, and Bohemia, where he met *Isaac b. Jacob ha- 
Lavan (ibid. y 243). He also visited Worms where he saw the 
text of the two queries sent by the Rhenish scholars to Erez 
Israel - one on the subject of the Messiah, and the other con- 
cerning the question of the ritual implications of a cardiac 
adhesion of the lung in an animal - as well as the replies re- 
ceived. This is the oldest extant German-Jewish document 
of its kind. 

The origin of the name Dorbelo is not certain. It may in- 
dicate that his father came from the town Ourville in northern 
France, but Isaac is not to be identified with the scholar Isaac 
of Ourville - author of the Sefer ha-Menahel> an abridgment 
of which is included in the ritual compendium *Kol Bo. It is 
quite possible that Dorbelo is a personal name, a person of this 
name appearing in the list of the martyrs of Mainz of 1096 (cf. 
also responsa of Meir b. Baruch, ed. Prague (1608), no. 501). 
It may be that both of these are identical with the scholar of 
this name to whom Rashi addressed a responsum in deferen- 
tial terms, or that Isaac is his son. 

bibliography: S.H. Kook, lyyunim u-Mehkarim, 1 (1959), 
292-7; Perles, in: Jubelschrift... Graetz (1887), 31-2. 

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma] 

known in Arabic as Fakhr al-Dawla Abu al-Fath Is haq), head 
of the ^Baghdad academy from 1221 to 1247. Isaac was born in 
Baghdad. In addition to his erudition, Isaac was a prominent 
paytan. He wrote six vidduyim and tokhahot (penitential piy- 
yutim) for the Day of Atonement, which were published in the 
mahzor im of Sephardi rites. According to the testimony of the 
historian Ibn al-Fuwati, he also possessed a wide knowledge of 
astronomy and mathematics. Judah Al-Harizi mentions him 
in his work Tahkemoni (ed. by A. Kaminka (1899), 190) and 
praises his noble character. In a letter to him R. Abraham b. 
Moses b. Maimon refers to him as "the sage of our generation, 
unequaled in our time, the crown of our heads, the head of 
our academy.. . ." In a eulogy written for him by the contem- 
porary poet R. Eleazar ha-Bavli, it is said of him that "he was 
like Koheleth in wisdom." His remains were interred on the 
Mount of Olives. 

bibliography: S. Poznariski, Babylonische Geonim im nach- 
gaonaeischen Zeitalter (1914), index; Mann, Texts, 1 (1931), 225-7; A. 
Ben-Jacob, Yehudei Bavel (1965), 31-3. 

[Abraham Ben-Yaacob] 

ISAAC BAR JOSEPH (first half of fourth century c.e.), Pal- 
estinian amora. Isaac was a pupil of *Abbahu and of * Jeremiah 
who transmitted to him the teachings of * Johanan (Pes. 72a; 
Git. 11b). He may have studied under Johanan himself in his 
youth (cf. Yev. 64b). He was among the *nehutei y the rabbis 
who brought to Babylonia the doctrines, traditions, and cus- 
toms of the Palestinian amoraim (Ber. 9a; rh 30a; Av. Zar. 
73a; et al.). Statements by him are quoted in the Babylonian 
Talmud but he is not mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud. 
Although on one occasion Abbaye relied upon him in an 
important matter (Yev. 64b), he was considered less reliable 
than Rabin, also one of the nehutei. They said: "Rabin is reli- 
able, Isaac sumka ['the red'] is not sumkha ['reliable']; Rabin 
yeshno ba-hazarah ['revises his learning,' so Rashi, ibid.]., Isaac 
sumka does not revise his learning." According to another in- 
terpretation given by Rashi, "Rabin is well acquainted with 
any change [in the view of R. Johanan] but Isaac 'the red' is 
not so acquainted." 

bibliography: Hyman, Toledot, 793-5. 

[Zvi Kaplan] 

ISAAC BAR RAV JUDAH (end of the third and beginning 
of the fourth century), Babylonian amora. Isaac was the son 
of * Judah b. Ezekiel, head of the academy of Pumbedita. He 
studied under his father (Shab. 35b; Pes. 104b; et al.) and was 
already a distinguished scholar during his father's lifetime, be- 
ing appointed by him to preach in the bet ha-midrash (Ta'an. 
13b). He also studied under *Huna (Nid. 17b), *Rabbah b. 
Nahamani, who succeeded his father as head of the yeshivah 
of Pumbedita (Shevu. 36b), *Rami bar Hama, and *Sheshet 
(Zev. 96b). Both halakhic and aggadic statements by him are 
given in the Talmud (Shab. 21a; Er. 84a; et al.). One of his say- 
ings was: "A man should always pray not to fall sick; for if 
he falls sick, he is told, 'Show thy merits and be quit'" (Shab. 
32a). Isaac refrained from marriage in his youth because he 
sought a woman of good family and unsullied descent, for 
which he was rebuked by Ulla (Kid. 71b). His granddaugh- 
ter, a daughter of his son Isi, was the beautiful Homah, wife 
of Abbaye (Yev. 64b). 

bibliography: Hyman, Toledot, 792f. 

[Zvi Kaplan] 

rabbinical scholar in Provence and Spain. Isaac studied un- 
der his father, *Abba Mari b. Isaac, and when only 17 years of 
age composed a work on the laws of *shehitah and forbid- 
den foods, at his father's behest. Later he went to Barcelona, 
where he was received with great honor and, at the request of 
Sheshet *Benveniste, wrote a commentary on chapter 4 of the 
tractate Menahot which deals with the laws concerning *zizit, 
*mezuzah y and *tefillin. He corresponded with the most illus- 
trious figures of his generation, such as 'Abraham b. David of 
Posquieres and Jacob *Tam, whom he frequently mentions 
and quotes. His place in the first rank of rabbinic authorities 
is due to his encyclopedic work, Sefer ha-Ittur y a compilation 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



of the main halakhic laws which are of practical application. 
Part one deals with the various laws of bills, both financial 
and of divorce. It is arranged according to subject matter but 
following a mnemonic acrostic Tashkef be-Geza Hokhmah. 
HttDn ym ^pOTI ("Consider the Root of Wisdom"), each letter 
representing a certain concept. Thus D stands for tenai ("con- 
dition"), ttf for shover ("receipt"), p for kiyyum ("authentica- 
tion"), etc. Part two includes the laws for the preparation of 
meat, shehitah y circumcision, tefillin y marriage benedictions, 
zizity and a separate section entitled "Ten Commandments" 
containing ten positive commands which must be performed 
at specific times. This arrangement is unique in halakhic lit- 
erature. Isaac b. Abba Mari made use of his vast knowledge of 
geonic literature and his work is still an important source for 
that literature. He also made extensive use of Spanish authori- 
ties and those of Germany and northern France. He used the 
Jerusalem Talmud to a considerable extent and also engaged 
in establishing the correct text of the Talmud on the basis of 
ancient sources, some of which are no longer extant. 

The Sefer ha-Ittur was accepted as an authoritative hal- 
akhic treatise by the great rabbinical authorities of Spain and 
Germany and even such renowned talmudic scholars as Nah- 
manides made frequent use of it without specifically mentioning 
it. Both the manuscript and the printed editions (Pt. 1: Venice, 
1608; Warsaw, 1801; Pt. 2: Lemberg, i860) of the text of the Sefer 
ha-Ittur are faulty to the extent of the deletion of entire lines, 
rendering its study difficult. A new edition of the entire work, 
together with a commentary, was prepared and published by 
Meir Jonah (1874-85). Additional fragments, entitled Tashlum 
ha-Ittur were published (from manuscripts) in the Festschrift 
in honor of Dr. Jakob Freimann (1937) by Alfred Freimann. 
Besides this work Isaac b. Abba Mari wrote a short treatise on 
Isaac Alfasi called Meah Shearim (printed at the end of some of 
the talmudic tractates in the Romm-Vilna edition). 

bibliography: Michael, Or, no. 1072; Benedikt, in ks, 25 
(1949), 164-6; Assaf, in: hhy, 6 (1922), 289-309. 

ISAAC BEN ABRAHAM (Rizba; 12 th century), French to- 
safist. Isaac is variously referred to as Rizba, Riba, and Isaac 
ha-Bahur of Dampierre. He was the pupil of Isaac b. Samuel 
ha-Zaken and also studied for a time under Jacob *Tam. He 
was not a pupil of *Judah b. Isaac- Judah, Sir Leon, as a num- 
ber of scholars have thought (see Urbach, Tosafot, 269 n. 29). 
His brother was * Samson of Sens and his maternal grandfa- 
ther, * Samson of Falaise. He succeeded his teacher as head of 
the yeshivah of Dampierre. 

No complete work by him has survived, but his state- 
ments are cited in the tosafot to various tractates, chiefly 
Eruvin, Yoma, Moed Katan, Yevamot, Ketubbot, Kiddushin, 
Nedarim, Bava Kamma, and Zevahim. He wrote numerous 
responsa, some of which are quoted in the Haggahot Maimu- 
niyyot, the Or Zarua and in other works. During the Maimon- 
idean controversy, Meir b. Todros Abulafia, an opponent of 
the books of Maimonides, approached him in 1202 to express 
his opinion. Among those who addressed problems to him 

was Jonathan b. David, the leading scholar of Lunel. There is 
mention of a work by him on the Passover seder \ entitled Ye- 
sod Rabbenu Yizhak b. Avraham be-Leilei Pesah. His pupils 
included Nathan b. Meir and * Judah b. Yakar, the teachers of 
Nahmanides, and Samuel b. Elhanan. 

bibliography: Gross, Gal Jud, 495; Michael, Or, no. 1073; 
Urbach, Tosafot, 219-26, 269 n. 29, 287 n. 14, 484 n. 106. 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

ISAAC BEN ABRAHAM DI MOLINA (d. before 1580), 
Egyptian rabbi. Isaac s surname probably derives from the 
town of Molina in southeast Spain, and it may be assumed 
that he came to Egypt with the Spanish exiles. His father was 
a wealthy person and was on friendly terms with the nagid y 
Isaac *Sholal. Isaac appears to have headed the yeshivah of 
Solomon *Alashkar. R. Isaac himself was wealthy and for a 
time was the head of the Egyptian mint, a position which 
was held by other Jews as well in Egypt in the 16 th century. He 
is mentioned in the responsa of Moses di *Trani (Resp. Ma- 
harit, vol. 2, no. 16) and of Joseph *Caro (Resp. Beit Yosef eh 
Dinei Ketubbot y 14) as being exceptionally strict with regard 
to (* Gershom b. Judah's) ban on bigamy, in contrast to Joseph 
Caro, Moses di Trani, Israel di *Curiel and others, who took 
a more lenient view. Caro complains that Isaac slighted him 
and his work Beit Yosef in stating that it was a mere digest of 
the rulings of his predecessors. Isaac is the author of a com- 
mentary on the Mishnah. One of his responsa was published 
in the Avkat Rokhel (130) of Caro. A number of his responsa 
have remained in manuscript and three of them have been 
published (see bibliography). Isaacs name came to the fore 
during the scandal surrounding the Besamin Rosh (Berlin, 
!793)> by Saul ^Berlin, who falsely claimed the book to con- 
tain responsa by *Asher b. Jehiel and his contemporaries which 
had been collected, annotated, and prepared for publication 
by Isaac di Molina. 

bibliography: A. David, in: ks, 44 (1968/69), 553-9. add. 

bibliography: A. David, in: ks, 46 (1971), 580-2; idem, in: ks, 

61 (1986), 368-70;. Z. Havlin, Shenaton ha-Mishpat ha-Ivri y 2 (1975), 


[Abraham David] 

ISAAC BEN ABRAHAM HAGORNI (13 th century), He- 
brew poet. Born in the city of Aire (i.e., "threshing floor," Heb. 
goreriy hence the name Gorni) in southwestern France, Gorni 
seems to have spent part of his life in Luz (Hautes Pyrenees) 
and Lucq (Basses Pyrenees). From his verses, it seems that he 
led a wandering life and he was constantly dependent on pa- 
trons. He was, among other places, at Aries, Aix-en-Provence, 
Manosque, Carpentras, Draguignan, and Perpignan, com- 
plaining almost constantly about the shallow culture and the 
parsimony of their inhabitants. Because of various love affairs 
he was bitterly persecuted by his compatriots. Several features 
of his poetry could have been taken from troubadour poetry, 
and although he uses the meters and rhymes of classical An- 
dalusian poetry, he is far removed from most of its poetical 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


conventions. According to Neubauer, Gorni was on intimate 
terms in Perpignan in about 1280-90 with Abraham *Be- 
dersi, to whom he addressed many complimentary poems, 
but received an answer only after a long delay Their friend- 
ship does not seem to have lasted long: Bedersi composed a 
series of blunt, poetical lampoons ridiculing Gorni and did 
not consider him worthy of inclusion in his poem, Herev ha- 
Mithappekhet (publ. in Hotem Tokhnit, 1865), in which he lists 
the names of the famous contemporary poets. Their way of 
understanding poetry was too different, and apparently for 
not a few intellectuals of the time Gorni s poetry, far removed 
from Andalusian traditions, was not highly esteemed. Gorni 
was involved in another literary quarrel with Isaiah Debash of 
Aix, whose friend Shiloni he had violently attacked. 

Although in some places his style is uneven and at times 
awkward, Gorni was undoubtedly a poet of unusual talent 
and originality. The poem on his fate after death, a kind of 
"last will and testament," replete with both sarcasm and anxi- 
ety, is unique in the literature of the Middle Ages. Two cen- 
turies later, his fame was still firmly established: Jacob ben 
David ^Provencal names him together with Al-Harizi and 
Sulami as the best Hebrew poets of Provence (Letter of the 
year 1490, ed. by E. Ashkenazi in Divrei Hakhamim (1849), 
70). Gorni s poems were published by M. Steinschneider, H. 
Gross, A.M. Habermann, and J.H. Schirmann, but they de- 
serve a new critical edition. We know today 18 of his prob- 
ably much more numerous poems: praising the generosity or 
fustigating the heartlessness of several Provencal communi- 
ties, invectives against other poets, etc. He represents him- 
self as one of the wandering jongleurs of his time, going from 
place to place with his musical instrument, as shown by J.H. 
Schirmann and A. Brenner. 

bibliography: Steinschneider, in: A. Bedersi, Hotem Tokh- 
nit, pt. 3 (1865), 4-6; Renan, Rabbins, 719-25, 747; Gross, in: mgwj, 
31 (1882), 510-23; Schirmann, Sefarad, 2 (1956), 472-84; idem, in: 
Sefer Yovel Y Baer (i960) 168-72; idem, in: Lettres Romanes, 3 (1949), 
175-200; J. Zinberg, Geschihte fun der Literatur bay Yiden, 2 (1943), 
130-4; Davidson, Ozar, 4 (1933), 420. add. bibliography: A.M. 
Habermann, Shirei Avraham ha-Bedersi ve-Yizhak ha-Gorni ve- 

• • • 

Hugam (1968), 29-44; Carmi, The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse 
(1981), 397-400; A. Brenner, in: Zutot, 1 (2002), 84-90. Schirmann- 
Fleischer, The History of Hebrew Poetry in Christian Spain and South- 
ern France (1997), 484-98 (Heb.). 

[Jefim (Hayyim) Schirmann / Angel Saenz-Badillos (2 nd ed.)] 

halakhist of Provence. Almost no biographical details on him 
are known. He was a pupil (according to some, a colleague - 
disciple) of *Nahmanides and Jonah *Gerondi and one of the 
teachers of Solomon b. Abraham *Adret. Some identify him 
with Isaac of Carcassone, who is mentioned in a work on 
Pesahim ascribed to Yom Tov *Ishbili (Ritba), in novellae to 
Avodah Zarah by the pupils of Jonah Gerondi, in Nimmukei 
Yosef to Ketubboty and in responsa by Simeon b. Zemah *Du- 
ran. There is, however, insufficient evidence to establish this 
identification. Meir (Introduction to Beit ha-Behirah to Avot, 

ed. by B.Z. Prag (1964), 57) states that Isaac compiled com- 
mentaries on halakhot by Isaac *Alfasi. Some scholars have at- 
tempted to ascribe various commentaries preserved in manu- 
script to Isaac, but their evidence is doubtful. Benedikt claims 
that the commentaries ascribed to a pupil of Nahmanides on 
the tractates Bezah, Megillah, Taanit, Pesahim, and Makkot are 
by Isaac; his opinion is shared by Blau and Chavel, but rejected 
by B. Naeh. A manuscript comprising a commentary by Alfasi 
to Hullin has been ascribed to Isaac by Marx, as well as an- 
other manuscript comprising a commentary by the same au- 
thor to Pesahim (by Sassoon). Naeh has raised serious doubts 
about these ascriptions, and they cannot be accepted with cer- 
tainty. Isaac of Carcassone is said to have written commen- 
taries on halakhot by Isaac Alfasi to Pesahim, Avodah Zarah, 
Bava Mezia, and Bava Batra. 

bibliography: Marx, in: rej, 58 (1909), 301-3; D.S. Sassoon, 
Ohel David, 2 (1932), 1075 no. 1050; S. Assaf, Sifran shel Rishonim 
(i935)> 535 Benedikt, in: ks, 29 (1953/54), 413-7; M.Y. Blau (ed.), Pe- 
rush ha-Raah... Massekhet Berakhot (1957), 10 f. (introd.); idem (ed.), 
Shitat ha-Kadmonim... Bava Mezia (1967), introd., 15, 3of.; B. Naeh 
(ed.), in: Gemara Shelemah, 1 (i960). 26 (introd.); Chavel, in: Ha-Da- 
rom, 12 (i960), 32; Hurwitz, ibid., 24 (1967), 43-7. 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

ISAAC BEN ABRAHAM OF POSEN (d. 1685), rabbi and 
author. Isaac was a pupil of Jonah Teomim and Abraham Meir 
of Bar. He was on friendly terms with the kabbalist Moses 
*Zacuto. His first position was as rabbi in Lutsk. In 1664 he 
was appointed rabbi of Vilna and from there he went to Po- 
sen in 1667. His extensive knowledge of the Talmud and Kab- 
balah earned him the title of R. Isaac the Great, his opinion 
on halakhic questions being frequently sought by contempo- 
rary scholars (see Magen Avraham to Sh. Ar., oh, 1:7; 32:35; 
Gaon Zevi of Zevi Hirsch Horowitz (Prague, 1737), 2a-3a). 
His novellae are mentioned in Shaarei Shamayim of Jehiel 
Michael ha-Levi (Prague, 1675), 94b; in Lev Aryeh of Judah 
Aryeh Hotchke (Wilhelmdorf, 1674 - on the weekly portion 
Toledot), 16a; Leket Shemuel of Samuel Feivush Katz (Venice, 
1694); and in Even ha-Shoham u-Meirat Einayim of Eliezer 
Goetz b. Meir (Dyhernfuerth, 1733), nos. 11 and 48. Part of his 
responsa collection was published under the title Beer Yizhak 
(Vienna, 1894), and part of the remainder was published at 
the end of Asher b. Jehiei's commentary to Sukkah (1903). The 
whole collection of responsa was in the possession of R. Spira 
of Munkacs. Isaac died in Posen. 

bibliography: S.J. Fuenn, Kiryah Neemanah (1915 2 ), 97; 
H.N. Maggid-Steinschneider, Ir Vilna (1900), 5-7; Kaufmann, in: 
mgwj, 39 (1895), 38-46, 91-96. 

[Samuel Abba Horodezky] 

ISAAC BEN ASHER HA- LEVI (known as Riba, initials of 
Rabbi Isaac Ben Asher; second half of 11 th and beginning of 12 th 
century), talmudist of Speyer, the first of the German tosafists. 
He was a pupil of *Rashi and the son-in-law of Rashi's col- 
league Eliakim b. Meshullam ha-Levi. Contemporary scholars 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



addressed their problems to him and treated him with great 
respect. His pupils referred to him as "ha-Kadosh" ("the Saint," 
cf. Eliezer b. Nathan, Sefer Rabban (Prague, 1610), 149a; Sim- 
leul-Silvaniei edition, 1926, 298b). This appellation may be 
connected with the manner of his death, it being related that 
he became very ill on the Day of Atonement and on being told 
by the physicians that if he fasted he would certainly die, but 
if he ate he might live, he decided to fast and succumbed to 
his illness (Menahem of Recanati, Sefer Recanati (Piskei Hala- 
khot)y Bologna, 1538, no. 166). He compiled tosafot to most 
tractates of the Talmud, but only extracts included in the later 
collections of tosafot are extant. Some of his statements are 
likewise quoted in subsequent halakhic literature (Sefer ha- 
Yashar of Jacob Tarn, Or Zarua of Isaac b. Moses of Vienna, 
Meir of Rothenburg, and others). He compiled halakhic col- 
lections on loans, on usury, on the tractates Hullin, Bava Ba- 
tra chapter 4, Avodah Zarah, Gittin y and Ketubbot. It is stated 
that before teaching he went over the halakhah by himself four 
times (Aaron Ha-Kohen, Orhot Hayyim, pt. 1, Law of Mondays 
and Thursdays, no. 20, Jerusalem, 1956 ed., 49). It is also stated 
that he and his pupils endeavored to create a *Golem by the 
aid of practical Kabbalah (Commentary to Sefer Yezirah at- 
tributed to Saadiah Gaon, 2:4, Grodno, 1806 ed., 42b). Among 
his pupils were Isaac b. Mordecai (the Rizbam), Moses b. Joel 
Saltman, and Shemariah b. Mordecai. 

Isaac b. Asher had a grandson of the same name (first 
quarter of the 12 th century-1195) who is known as Riba 11, to 
distinguish him from his grandfather. He was also known as 
Riba ha-Bahur ("The Younger"). He was born in Speyer on the 
day his grandfather died and they applied to him the verse (Ec- 
cles. 1:5), "The sun also ariseth and the sun goeth down" (see 
Eccles. R. to 1:5; Daat Zekenim to Ex. 7:25). He studied under 
Shemariah b. Mordecai and Abraham b. Moses of Regensburg. 
He was a member of the bet din among whose other members 
were Meir b. Kalonymus and alternately Meir s brother Judah. 
His signature appears with theirs on a responsum to R. Joel. 
Among his pupils were *Eliezer b. Joel ha- Levi (the Ravyah) 
and Simhah b. Samuel of Speyer. He met a martyr's death in 
1195 after rioters abused the dead body of his daughter (Nar- 
rative of Ephraim of Bonn in Quellen zur Geschichte derjuden 
in Deutschland, 2 (1892), 74 f.). 

bibliography: riba i: Michael, Or, no. 1074; V. Aptowitzer, 
Mavo le-Sefer Ravyah (1938), 259, 369 f.; Urbach, Tosafot, 141-8, 304-5, 
and index s.v.; J. Lipschuetz, Sanhedrei Gedolah (1968), introd.; I. Ta- 
Shema, in: ks, 43 (1968), 573, n. 17. riba ii: Urbach, Tosafot, 304^ 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

ISAAC BEN AVDIMI (late third-early fourth century c.e.), 
Babylonian amora. Almost all Isaacs sayings in the Babylo- 
nian Talmud are in the sphere of biblical exegesis and aggadic 
or halakhic Midrash. His interpretations were regarded as so 
authoritative that in the following generation *Rava stated that 
"any biblical verse not explained by Isaac b. Avdimi remains 
unelucidated" (Zev. 43b). Most of his statements and his dis- 
cussions on biblical exegesis are given together with the differ- 

ing view of *Hisda (Sanh. 56b) on the verse under discussion. 
The main figures of the following generation, such as *Abbaye 
and Rava, transmit his sayings (Zev. 28a, 43b). It would there- 
fore appear that Isaac went from Sura, where Hisda lived, to 
Pumbedita, to the academy of Rabbah, and there Abbaye and 
Rava heard him. Abbaye introduces the statements of Isaac 
with the words: "When Isaac b. Avdimi came, he said" etc. 
(Zev. 28a). The usual meaning of this wording is that he came 
from Erez Israel to Babylonia, but it cannot have this meaning 
in this instance since his name is found neither in the Palestin- 
ian sources nor in connection with Palestinian scholars. The 
reference must be to his arrival in Pumbedita from Sura. 

bibliography: Hyman, Toledot, 786; H. Albeck, Mavo la- 
Talmudim, 1 (1969), 294f. 

[Shmuel Safrai] 

rabbi. To Isaac, as to his contemporaries *Shalom Shachna 
and Kalman of Worms, belongs the credit for the expansion of 
talmudic studies in Poland. He was considered a front-rank- 
ing authority in the halakhic field (cf. resp. Solomon *Luria, 
nos. 1, 15, 35 ff.; resp. She'erit Yosef (Joseph Kohen), 17; resp. 
Moses *Isserles, 91). An opinion of Isaac on an *agunah mat- 
ter is included in the "new" responsa of Joel *Sirkes (no. 4). He 
also wrote annotations to the Talmud, to *Asher b. Jehiel, and 
*Mordecai b. Hillel. Numerous decisions of Isaac are quoted 
by his grandson, *David b. Samuel ha-Levi (Turei Zahav y oh 
no. 153; yd no. 113; eh no. 129; hm no. 3). 

bibliography: H.N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, 1 (1888) 48a- 
49b; Zunz, Ir ha-Zedek, n. 28; Fuenn, Kenesset, 601; Kahana, AnafEz 
Avot y 34; Lewinstein, Dor Dor ve-Doreshav (1900), no. 795. 

[Samuel Abba Horodezky] 

ISAAC BEN ELEAZAR, name of two Palestinian amoraim. 
The first lived during the second half of the second century 
c.e. He was a relative of R. Johanan and an associate of R. Isaac 
and of Hiyya b. Abba. Although referred to in the Babylonian 
Talmud as Isaac b. Eleazar, he is also identical with the Isaac 
Hakola or Ben Hakola mentioned in both the Talmuds (cf. 
Ket. 109a; tj, ibid. 13: 1, 35b); the correct reading in Pesahim 
113b (see Dik. Sof., p. 354, no. 100) is "Isaac b. Hakola is iden- 
tical with Isaac b. Eleazar." 

The second amora of this name lived in the second half 
of the fourth century. He was a native of Caesarea, and several 
of the halakhic and aggadic teachings transmitted by him are 
connected with the town. When R. Mana went to Caesarea 
he turned to him with a halakhic question (t j, Dem. 2:1, 22c). 
Jacob of Kefar Nibburaya, in his sharp criticism of the nasi 
for appointing dayyanim because of their wealth, contrasted 
them with Isaac: "But 'The Lord is in His holy Temple' (Hab. 
2:20), is to be applied to Isaac b. Eleazar in the Maradata [tur- 
bulent] Synagogue of Caesarea" (tj, Bik. 3:3, 656.). The leading 
halakhists and aggadists of the following generation, such as 
Mana and Tanhuma, quote sayings in his name (ibid. y tj, Bik. 
1:3, 63d). His most distinguished pupil was Oshaya b. Sham- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


mai, also a native of Caesarea, who transmitted several hala- 
khot in his name. When Oshaya was about to undertake a sea 
voyage, Isaac instructed him in the halakhah of travel by sea 
during the intermediate days of the festival (tj, mk 2:3, 81b). 
Among his aggadic dicta are "That which wisdom has placed 
as a crown upon its head [i.e., the fear of God] humility has 
made the heel of its shoe" (tj, Shab. 1:5, 3c; cf. Tanh. B. Num. 
52); and "The prophets know that their God is true. Hence 
they do not flatter Him" (tj, Ber. 7:4, 11c). 

bibliography: Hyman, Toledot, s.v.; Epstein, Mishnah, 
167-8; I.W. Rabinowitz, Shaarei Torat Bavel (1961), 457-9; H. Albeck, 
Mavo la-Talmudim (1969), 186-7, 339 _ 4°- 

[Shmuel Safrai] 

ISAAC BEN ELIAKIM OF POSEN (17 th century), Yiddish 
moralist and author. Isaac wrote Lev Tov (Prague, 1620), an ethi- 
cal-religious work in 20 chapters, providing rules for prayer and 
correct observance of mitzvot, and proper behavior for home 
and synagogue. It was reprinted with additions by Hayyim 

b. Jacob Orbach (Cracow, 1641). Unlike other Yiddish ethi- 
cal works, Lev Tov was addressed to both men and women. It 
counseled the men to honor their wives - since they educate the 
children to keep a Jewish home - and, despite a traditional view 
of gender relations, stressed that men and women have equal 
rights. This work became very popular but was criticized in 
the anonymous Yiddish book, Hasoges (Hassagot; Amsterdam, 

c. 1710). Isaac was apparently attracted to Kabbalah. From Ven- 
ice, Moses *Zacuto sent him his treatise on the laws of writing 
Torah scrolls, Tikkun Soferim, for approval (Oxford, Bodleian 
Library, Ms. Opp. 554, which also contains Isaac s reply). 

bibliography: Fuerst, Bibliotheca, 2 (1863), i4of; Zinberg, 
Sifrut, 4 (1958), 82f.; M. Erik, Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Literatur 
(1923), 294-301. add. bibliography: J. Winter and S. Wunsche, 
Juedische Literatur, 3 (1896), 541-2; J.C. Frakes, Early Yiddish Texts: 
1100-1750 (2004), 536-40. 

ISAAC BEN ELIEZER (known as segan Leviyyah - mean- 
ing a levite; d. 1070), one of the great "scholars of Worms" 
and a teacher of * Rashi. Isaac b. Eliezer apparently originated 
from *Vitry (see Asher b. Jehiel, to Hul 4:7). He studied at the 
yeshivah of Mainz under *Eliezer b. Isaac of Worms and there- 
after went to Worms, where he headed the yeshivah and where 
he introduced several regulations into the local liturgy. Of his 
many disciples there, the most noteworthy were Rashi, Elia- 
kim b. Meshullam, and *Meir b. Samuel. Rashi states that "he 
was leader and guide of the generation, nothing being done 
without his approval." Some of his responsa and rulings, writ- 
ten in an unusually terse manner, appear in the books of the 
"School of Rashi" and in the responsa of Rashi and the schol- 
ars of France and Lorraine, along with some of his scriptural 
interpretations. In his commentary on the Talmud, Rashi re- 
fers to him as Leviyyah and elsewhere (Likkutei ha-Pardes, 
Munkaes ed. (1897), 36b) "our holy teacher," apparently in al- 
lusion to his saintliness and asceticism (cf. Sefer Ravyah, ed. 
by V. Aptowitzer (1964 2 ), part 2, 659: no. 886). Piyyutim by him 

are also extant. Of his three sons, whom the rishonim called 
"our levite teachers," the best known is Jacob, called Yavez, 
whose halakhic rulings are included among those of the ris- 
honim and whose elegy on the massacres of 1096, beginning 
"0/ li al shivri" has been preserved. 

bibliography: Davidson, Ozar, 4 (1933), 421; Epstein, in: 

Tarbiz, 4 (1932/33), 167-70; V. Aptowitzer, Mavo le-Sefer Ravyah 

(1938), 367-9; Urbach, Tosafot, index; Roth, Dark Ages, 2 (1966), 


[Israel Moses Ta-Shma] 

Hebrew poet. Isaac left Spain, according to his own testimony, 
in the summer of 1492, together with the exiles from the city 
of Jativa. Later he came to Naples and Apulia. In Adar 1501 he 
was in Constantinople, where in 1503, he composed a parody 
on a marriage contract. Isaac's works Mayan Gannim and Ez 
Hayyim (manuscript in the Bodleian Library) contain, among 
others, a detailed work on prosody, Melekhet ha-Shir, poems 
by himself and by his grandfather, Isaac b. Joseph. 

bibliography: Neubauer, Cat, 2 (1906), 186, no. 2770; M. 
Drechsler, Mekonen Evlenu (1932); Davidson, Ozar, 4 (1933), 420. 

[Jefim (Hayyim) Schirmann] 

ISAAC BEN JACOB HA-KOHEN (second half of 13 th cen- 
tury), Spanish kabbalist. He was born in Soria and was related 
to *Shem Tov b. Abraham ibn Gaon. He traveled through 
Spain and Provence together with his brother * Jacob and also 
on his own and collected the traditions of the elder kabbalists 
there. Isaac was among the leading spokesmen of the Gnos- 
tic circle in Spanish Kabbalah; his books are full of important 
material having no counterpart in his colleagues' works; but 
some of it was incorporated as well as freely edited by his pu- 
pil *Moses b. Solomon of Burgos. 

Isaac's writings include (1) a treatise on azilut ('^emana- 
tion"; Maddaei ha-Yahadut, 2 (1927), 244-64; other excerpts in 
Ha-Zofeh, 13 (1929), 261 and in Kitvei Yad be-Kabbalah (1930), 
69-70). Another edition of this treatise was edited with addi- 
tions and elaborations of several passages by Moses of Bur- 
gos (TarbiZy 5 (1934), 190-6); (2) Perush al Merkevet Yehezkel 
("Commentary on Ezekiel's Chariot," Tarbiz, 2 (1932), 188-218, 
and additions from the elaborations of Moses of Burgos; Tarbiz, 
5 (182-90)). This commentary was mistakenly inserted in the 
commentary of *Moses de Leon on the *Merkabah in his Mish- 
kan ha-Edut in some manuscripts; (3) Taamei ha-Nekuddot ve- 
Taamei ha-Teamim ("On vowels and accents") on which no au- 
thor's name appears but whose content and language prove the 
identity of the author (Maddaei ha-Yahadut, 2 (1927), 265-75); 
(4) Inyan Gadol Mevder Kezat Maaseh Merkavah ("An impor- 
tant theme, which explains part of the mystery of the chariot"; 
ibid., 279-84); (5) a commentary on the Torah seen by Isaac b. 
Samuel of Acre; (6) a speculative work which belonged to Shem 
Tov *Ibn Shem Tov explaining the doctrine of the Sefirot and 
connecting it with neoplatonic ideas; some quotations from it 
are quoted by Shem Tov ibn Shem Tov (ibid., 276-9). 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Isaac *Albalag mentions Isaac among the three most fa- 
mous and most authoritative kabbalists of his generation and 
indeed in several manuscripts of his major treatise he is called 
"Paragon of the Generation." His treatise on emanation con- 
tains the first formulation of the doctrine of left emanation 
(see *Kabbalah) according to pseudepigraphic sources. This 
article is composed of different parts, apparently letters which 
he wrote to his colleagues at different times, and they contain 
parallel and different versions of this doctrine. As can be seen 
from his commentary on Ezekiel 1 and remnants of his theo- 
retical book, he had a complete system on the hierarchy of the 
worlds which came to him from neoplatonic sources in dif- 
ferent channels: olam ha-mitboded ("the transcendent world 
of divine unity"), olam ha-yezirah ("the world of formation") 
which is also called olam ha-madda ("the world of cognition"), 
olam ha-nivdal ("the world of separation," i.e., separate intel- 
ligences) or olam ha-nevuah ("the world of prophecy"), olam 
ha-tekhunah ("the world of astronomy") and olam ha-behinah 
("the world of trial") which is olam ha-shafel ("the terrestrial 
world," Tarbiz, 2 (1939), 436-42). 

bibliography: G. Scholem, in: Maddaei ha-Yahadut, 2 

(1927), 163-293; idem, in: Tarbiz, 2-5 (1931-34); Toledano, in: Ha- 

Zofeh 13 (1931), 261-7; G. Scholem, Les Origines de la Kabbale (1966), 

310-4, 376-82. 

[Gershom Scholem] 

tury), tosafist of Bohemia. It has been maintained by some that 
he was called "ha-Lavan" ("white") because of his white hair 
and by others that the name is derived from the river Elbe. 
He was also known as Isaac of Bohemia and Isaac of Regens- 
burg. He was a brother of the well-known traveler *Pethahiah 
of Regensburg. Isaac lived in Germany and in France, where 
he studied under *Isaac b. Asher ha-Levi, and under Jacob 
b. Meir *Tam. He was the author of tosafot to Ketubbot and 
Yoma which have been published on the basis of various man- 
uscripts - Ketubbot (1954) by P.J. Kohn; Yoma by D. Genach- 
owski (1956) and by P.J. Kohn (i960) in a different reading of 
the manuscript. *Eliezer b. Joel ha-Levi possessed a collection 
of Isaac's responsa. He is known also to have compiled vari- 
ous piyyutim. The Sefer ha-Yashar of Jacob Tarn, containing 
sayings of Tarn preserved by his pupils, also contains tradi- 
tions transmitted by Isaac (Urbach, Tosafot, p. 82 n. 27). Isaac 
is mentioned in the tosafot in the printed editions of the Tal- 
mud to Yevamot, Ketubbot and Zevahim, as well as in the fol- 
lowing works of the posekim: Yihusei Tannaim ve-Amoraim, 
Arugat ha-Bosem, Rokeah (which includes a responsum by 
Isaac to *Judah b. Kalonymus b. Moses), the responsa of Isaac 
Or Zarua, and *Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg (which quotes 
a complete responsum by him), Orhot Hayyim, Kol Bo, and 
others. According to Aptowitzer, Isaac died before 1188 but 
according to Zunz and Tykocinski, after 1193. 

bibliography: Zunz, Lit Poesie, 313, 489; Zunz, Gesch, in- 
dex; Gross, Gal Jud, 168, no. 4; S.D. Luzzatto, in: Kerem Hemed, 7 
(1843), 69; V. Aptowitzer, Mavo le-Sefer Ravyah (1938), 174, 260, 296, 

375 f.; G. Scholem, in: Tarbiz, 3 (1931/32), 276 f.; Tykocinski, in: Germ 
Jud, 1 (1934), 275 f.; and index s.v.; Urbach, Tosafot, index s.v.; D. Gan- 
chowsky, in: Sinai, 38 (1956), 288-311; idem (ed.), TosefotR. Yizhak ben 
Yaakov ha-Lavan le-Massekhet Yoma (1956), introduction. 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

b. 1621), Italian rabbi. He was orphaned at an early age and was 
brought up in the house of his grandfather, Leone *Modena. 
He was a printer, proofreader, cantor, and preacher in his na- 
tive Venice. He was the author of Maasei Hakhamim (Ven- 
ice, 1647), talmudic aggadot based on Jacob ibn *Habib's Ein 
Yaakov, Leone da Modena's Beit Yehudah, with commentaries; 
Medabber Tahpukhot, memoirs (published by L. Blau); Yizhak 
Mezahek, an anthology of poems, apparently no longer extant 
(several of Isaac's poems have been printed in other works, 
e.g., Yom Tov Valvason's Hed Urim, Venice, 1662); extracts 
from Moses *Cordovero's Pardes Rimmonim (Salonika n.d., 
Venice, 1586); and Pesikta Rabbati, a collection of decisions 
(neither of the latter works is extant). Isaac also wrote intro- 
ductions to numerous works by others, including his grand- 
father's Magen va-Herev. He was one of those who took part 
in the inquiry against * Nathan of Gaza (see Samuel *Aboab, 
Devar Shemuel, no. 375). 

bibliography: L. Blau (ed.), Leo Modenas Briefe und Schrift- 
stuecke (1905), 74 (Ger. section), 165 (Heb. section); idem, in: hhy, 
2 (1912), 168-71; 3 (1914), 45~54> 69-96; Scholem, Shabbetai Zevi, 2 
(1957), 417-9; Leone (Judah Aryeh of) Modena, Ziknei Yehudah, ed. 
by S. Simonson (1956), 44 (introd.). 

[Umberto (Moses David) Cassuto] 


before 1698), German rabbi. Isaac's father, eliezer, was called 
Goettingen, a name taken from the city of that name in Ger- 
many. Isaac studied under Isaac b. Abraham, av bet din of 
Vilna and Posen. He served as rabbi of Landsberg an der 
Warthe. From 1687 he was rabbi of Slutsk and then of Olyka. 
While still young, he wrote Nahalat Binyamin, a work in four 
parts; only the first part was published (Amsterdam, 1682). 
The book is a pilpulistic commentary on 147 precepts, posi- 
tive and negative. In the introduction he praises his brother 
judah, known as Judah Kazin ("leader"), one of the heads 
of the Berlin community. Judah assisted him in covering the 
cost of the publication of the first part of the work. Isaac's 
approach is explained in the introduction. He based all his 
works "on what was possible, without coming to any halakhic 
decision. That is why I have reviewed all aspects in the hope 
of arriving at the truth at least in one matter." His novellae to 
Bava Mezia were also published (1686). Of his sons, eliezer, 
lipman goettingen, the rabbi of Coblenz, and Aaron, 
known as arnd benjamin wolf (1670-1721), who was 
born in Landsberg, are known. The latter's uncle and fa- 
ther-in-law, Judah Berlin, founded a bet ha-midrash in Ber- 
lin and appointed Aaron as its head. In 1697 Aaron was ap- 
pointed deputy to the aged rabbi of Berlin, Shemaiah b. 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Abraham Issachar Ber, and when the latter died in 1709 he 
was appointed the official rabbi of Alt-Mittel-Neumark. From 
1713 he served as rabbi of Frankfurt on the Oder and his 
brother-in-law, Michael (Mikhol) Hasid, succeeded him in 

bibliography: E.L. Landshuth, Toledot Anshei ha-Shem u- 

Feulatam ba-Adat Berlin (1884), 1-10; Lassally, in: mgwj, 80 (1936), 

4o8f.; Pinkas Slutsk u-Venoteha (1962), 33 f.; J. Meisl, in: Arim ve-Im- 

mahot be-Yisraely 1 (1946), 100. 

[Yehoshua Horowitz] 

ISAAC BEN JOSEPH OF CORBEIL (known as Semak af- 
ter his main work; d. 1280), one of the great French codifiers 
of the 13 th century; son-in-law of * Jehiel of Paris. Isaac was 
renowned for his piety which is reflected in his Sefer Mitzvot 
Katan (Se-Ma-K) y "Small" Book of Commandments, for which 
he is mainly known. In this work, he provided the masses with 
a compendium of contemporary halakhah, interspersed with 
ethical homilies, parables, and aggadot. He divided the pre- 
cepts into seven "Pillars," corresponding to the seven days of 
the week, apparently intending that the work be read through 
every week. In his enumeration of the precepts and their de- 
tails, though not in his division of the work, Isaac was guided 
by the Sefer Mitzvot Gadol of *Moses of Coucy, but he omit- 
ted the extensive halakhic discussions of that work. The Se- 
mak achieved wide popularity, receiving recognition from 
outstanding scholars of France and Germany and even being 
included by some early authorities in the prayer book "so that 
the precepts could be recited daily. . . in place of supplications 
(see *Tehinnah) and the reading of psalms." *Meir b. Baruch of 
Rothenburg's encomium gained wide circulation for the book 
in Germany, and it soon became an accepted source for the 
posekim ("codifiers"), particularly *Aaron ha-Kohen of Lunel 
and Joseph * Colon. In the course of time many annotations 
(the best known being those of *Perez b. Elijah of Corbeil) 
were added; in later editions, these were sometimes merged 
with the original text and printed as one. The glosses of Moses 
of Zurich were known (but never published) as "The Semak of 
Zurich;" this consists of a selection from the works of German 
and French scholars which were added to the Sefer Mitzvot 
Katan. Sefer Mitzvot Katan was first published in Constanti- 
nople (1510) and many times later. Many manuscripts still ex- 
ist, evidence of its wide popularity. Isaac s other writings in- 
clude his "decisions," collated by one of his disciples from his 
responsa. His tosafot to several tractates are also referred to 
in rabbinic literature. 

bibliography: Urbach, Tosafot, 447-57; Waxman, Litera- 
ture, 2 (i960 2 ) 12 8 f. 

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma] 

ISAAC BEN JUDAH (c. 1080), liturgical poet. While it is 
not known where Isaac flourished, his piyyutim have been 
included for the most part in the Mahzor Romania; for that 
reason Zunz assumed that Isaac must have originally come 
from the Byzantine Empire. Isaac composed yozerot with 
the corresponding zulatot (hymns) for the four special *Sab- 

baths, for Shabbat *ha- Gadol, and for Shabbat *Bereshit. He 
may also have composed an ofan, as well as a selihah, for 
the Fast of *Esther. Content, structure, and stylistic pecu- 
liarities of Isaac's poetry indicate that he belonged to the old 
paytanic school. 

bibliography: Zunz, Lit Poesie, 91, 142-4, 248; Davidson, 
Ozar, 4 (1933), 419. add. bibliography: E. Fleischer, Ha-Yozerot 
be-Hithavutam ve-Hitpattehutam (1984), 616, 624, 690. 

[Jefim (Hayyim) Schirmann] 

ISAAC BEN JUDAH HA-SENIRI (i.e., of Mount Senir; 
end of 12 th century-beginning of 13 th ), Provencal paytan. He 
was one of five sons of the scholar * Judah b. Nethanel of 
Beaucaire whom Judah *Al-Harizi met on his travels. Isaac's 
brother, Samuel b. Judah, was also a liturgical poet. The dates 
1208 and 1220 appear in three of his poems and the poet's pro- 
ductive period can be determined according to them (Zunz, 
Lit Poesie, 472 nos. 1, 8, 9). In the acrostic of one poem he 
speaks of himself as "living on [or "at"] Mount Senir." There 
has been much discussion as to the meaning of Mount Senir, 
but it almost certainly refers to Mount Ventoux in the region 
of Carpentras. 

Isaac is one of the few non-Spanish poets whom Al- 
Harizi praises without reservation ("Isaac makes the stars 
turn pale," Tahkemoni, shaar 46). Similarly, Isaac's poems are 
praised lavishly by his friend *Meshullam de Piera, by Abra- 
ham *Bedersi in Herev ha-Mithappekhet (verse 139), Menahem 
de *Lonzano (16 th century) in Shetei Yadot (Venice 1618). He 
wrote only liturgical poetry. About 59 of his religious poems 
have been preserved; most of them formed part of and were 
printed in the rite of Carpentras and the Comtat Venaissin. 
Individual poems were also used in the rite of Tripoli (Siftei 
Renanot) y Algiers, and others. B. Bar-Tikva (1996) published 
a complete edition of Ha-Seniri's piyyutim. Isaac cultivated 
almost all styles of the piyyut: Bar-Tikva's edition includes 
nine yozerot (mebrah, ofan, zulat, geulah, mi-khamokha), 
three kedushtabt and silluk for the amidah y eight reshuyyot, 
some Spanish preferences, such as four nishmat, kaddish, 
barekhu and three shillum of Provencal style; 20 of his po- 
ems are selihot of different genres, including four tokhahot y 
three mustagdb y three rehutot y one bakashah y one tehinnah; 
two kinot for Tishah be-Av, eight hoshanot for Sukkot (he 
devoted a large composition, preserved in the Carpentras 
Mahzor, to Hoshana Rabba which embodies one of the most 
lengthy and elaborate acrostics on record), and one petirat 
Moshe for Simhat Torah. In some cases, different forms of 
the same poem have been preserved, reflecting the changes 
of the time (Einbinder). Sometimes he drew on halakhic ma- 
terial and converted it to poetic form. He is also a witness of 
the historical conditions of his time and shows in some po- 
ems his perceptions of ritual violence. About half of his po- 
ems use the Spanish meter, in particular the syllabic one; 
not a few take strophic patterns. Other poems are written 
using the language and the technique of the old Palestinian 
piyyut , with stress or word meter. E. Fleischer considers Ha- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Seniri the best and the most representative of the Provencal 


bibliography: Zunz, Poesie, 12, no, 29of.; Zunz, Lit Poe- 
sie, 472-75; Landshuth, Ammudei, 118-20; Renan, Rabbins, 715 n. 
1; Gross, Gal Jud, 120, 36of.; Kahn, in: rej, 65 (1913), i82f.; David- 
son, Ozar, 4 (1933), 424L; Schirmann, Sefarad, 2 (1956), 275-84. 
add. bibliography: B. Bar-Tikva, PiyyuteiR. Yizhak ha-Sheniri 
(1996); Schirmann-Fleischer, The History of Hebrew Poetry in Chris- 
tian Spain and Southern France (1997), 452-64 (Heb.); S. Einbinder, 
in: rej, 163 (2004), 111-35. 

[Angel Saenz-Badillos 2 nd ed.)] 

ISAAC BEN JUDAH OF MAINZ (11 th century), German 
scholar; teacher of *Rashi. Practically no biographical de- 
tails are known of him or his family The description given 
by J.N. Epstein (see bibliography) of the characteristics of the 
yeshivah of Mainz during the period that Isaac was its head, 
and the manner in which it differed from the contemporary 
yeshivah of Worms, has been rejected by Aptowitzer (see bib- 
liography). Isaac was head of the famous yeshivah in Mainz 
founded by his teacher * Gershom b. Judah, to whom he was 
apparently related, as he was to Rashi. He seems to have come 
from France (Zedekiah b. Abraham ha-Rofe, Shibbolei ha- 
Leket ed. by Buber (1886). 66 no. 93). He was also a pupil of 
*Eliezer ha-Gadol of Metz who was also one of the heads of 
the Mainz yeshivah. In addition to Rashi, he numbered Elia- 
kim b. Meshullam among his distinguished pupils. Eliakim 
refers to him as Moreh Zedek ("the righteous teacher") when- 
ever he mentions him in his commentary to Yoma and Rashi 
uses the same title on Yoma 16b and in his responsa. Accord- 
ing to Abraham Epstein, the commentary attributed to Rab- 
benu Gershom in the Romm (Vilna) editions of the Talmud 
to the tractates Menahot, Bekhorot, Arakhin, Temurah, Keritot, 
Meilah, Tamid, Hullin, Taanit, and Bava Batra was compiled 
in Isaac s bet midrash. Eight of his responsa are included in 
the Teshuvot Hakhmei Zarefat ve-Loter (1881), and in the intro- 
duction to this work J. Mueller gives a list of 17 of his responsa 
and novellae which are scattered throughout the literature. I. 
Elfenbein's edition of Rashi s responsa (1943) contains 38 of 
Isaac's, mainly directed to Rashi. 

bibliography: E.M. Lipschuetz, R. Shelomo Yizhaki (1912), 
i8f., 56 f.; Epstein, in: Festschrift... M. Steinschneider (1896), 115-43; S. 
Buber (ed.), Sefer ha-Orah, 1 (1905), introd. 15-6; idem, (ed.) Zedekiah 
b. Abraham ha-Rofe, Shibbolei ha-Leket (1886), introd. 713; J. Muel- 
ler (ed.), Teshuvot Hakhmei Zarefat ve-Loter (1881), introd. 23-5; N. 
Epstein, in: Tarbiz, 4 (1932/33), 167-78; V. Aptowitzer, Mavo le-Sefer 
Ravyah (1938), 260, 296 f., 311, 37if., 406 f.; S. Hurwitz (ed.), Mahzor 
Vitry (1923 2 ), introd. 33-6; D. Genachowski (ed.), Perush R. Elyakim 
le-Massekhet Yoma (1964), 12 f.; I. Elfenbein (ed.), Teshuvot Rashi 
(1943), introd. and index 403; S. Eidelberg (ed.), Teshuvot R. Gershom 
Mebr ha-Golah (1956), introd. 26-33. 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

ISAAC BEN MEIR (Ribam; mid-12 th century), one of the 
first tosafists. Isaac was the brother of *Samuel b. Meir (the 
Rashbam) and of Jacob *Tam, all of them grandsons of Rashi. 

No biographical details are known of him. He died during 
his fathers lifetime and left seven orphans. In a responsum 
to Eliezer b. Nathan, his brother Jacob lamented him: "I cry 
in the bitterness of my spirit. . . because the holy ark has been 
taken" (Sefer ha-Yashar (responsa) by F. Rosenthal (1898), 
71). His widow later married Judah b. Yom Tov, a grandson of 
Judah b. Nathan, Rashi's son-in-law (see Urbach from a Ms.). 
The well-known tosafist *Isaac of Dampierre was his pupil; 
he subsequently married the daughter of Isaac b. Meir's wife 
by her second marriage, and asked his mother-in-law for de- 
tails of various decisions given by her first husband. Tosafot 
written by him on the tractates Yevamot and Nedarim are re- 
ferred to. His opinions are frequently quoted in the tosafot to 
many tractates. His appellation Ribam is the same as that of 
Isaac b. Mordecai, and consequently the two have sometimes 
been confused. 

bibliography: V. Apto witzer, Mavo le-Sefer Ravyah (1938), 

376 f.; Urbach, Tosafot, 52 f. 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

1160), the first Italian commentator on the Mishnah. It is un- 
known whether his commentary covered the whole of the 
Mishnah, since only the commentaries on Zeraim and Tohorot 
are known. The former is printed in the Romm Vilna Talmud, 
while the latter is quoted by the tosafot in the Sefer ha-Makhria 
(Leghorn, 1779) of Isaiah di Trani (nos 62, 86, et al.) and by 
other rabbis. Abraham b. David of Posquieres refers to him as 
"ha-rav ha-Yevani? "the Greek rabbi," part of southern Italy 
being at that time Byzantine. Isaac s commentary is based on 
the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, and he quotes from 
the Tosefta y the Sifra y the *Sifrei Zuta y and mentions R. Nis- 
sim, R. Daniel of Rome (brother of Nathan, the author of the 
Arukh) y the Arukh y and Hai Gaon. He often translates Hebrew 
words into the vernacular, making use of Greek, Italian, and 
Arabic. His commentary is brief and clear, like that of Rashi, 
and he does not give halakhic decisions. 

bibliography: Frankel, Mishnah, index; Ch. Alb eck, Mavo 
la-Mishnah (1959), 245; V. Aptowitzer, Mavo le-Sefer Ravyah (1938), 
261, 283, 377-8; E.E. Urbach, Tosafot, index. 

[Hirsch Jacob Zimmels] 

French scholar of the generation of * Rashi s teachers. In his 
youth Isaac studied in Mainz at the yeshivah of *Eliezer b. 
Isaac of Worms. Later he settled in France and the correspon- 
dence thereafter between Isaac and his teacher shows that the 
two were very closely attached and contains great praise by 
Eliezer for Isaac. Rashi made extensive use of Isaac's teachings, 
both written and oral, particularly in determining the correct 
text of the Talmud. Isaac had apparently copied out in his own 
hand several orders of the Mishnah and the Talmud while still 
in the yeshivah, and Rashi, in at least one case, preferred Isaac's 
text to that of his own teachers and "of all the manuscripts" 
(Suk. 40a). Rashi also made use of Isaac's work to explain dif- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


ficult words (Shab. 67a; bm 7b; et al.). At the same time, Rashi 
did not hesitate to disagree with one of his rulings and to set it 
aside completely (J. Mueller (ed.), Teshuvot Hakhmei Zarefat 
ve-Loter (1881), loa-b, no. 17), and some of Isaacs other rul- 
ings met with opposition from authorities of the time (Tos. to 
Git. 21b; S. Hurwitz (ed.), Mahzor Vitry (1923 2 ), et al.). His text 
and explanation of words were generally relied on by scholars, 
in that they were based on the traditions of the main yeshivah 
in Mainz (Mahzor Vitry, 610, 635). Many scholars accepted as 
authoritative the example of the religious practices of his sister, 
Bella, who apparently grew up in his house and thus learned 

them from him (ibid.). 

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma] 

ISAAC BEN MERWAN HA-LEVI (n th -i2 th centuries), Pro- 
vencal communal leader and halakhist. He headed the bet din 
and the yeshivah in Narbonne. His father, Merwan, was de- 
scribed as a "man of great piety and rich in material things 
and good deeds, who applied his wealth for the benefit of his 
brethren and thus obtained the repeal of several oppressive 
edicts" (addition to the Sefer ha-Kabbalah of Abraham ibn 
Daud, Neubauer, Chronicles, 1 (1887), 83). Isaac studied under 
Judah b. Moses (ha-Darshan of Toulouse?), a pupil of *Ger- 
shom b. Judah of Mainz. In a ruling cited by Menahem b. Sol- 
omon Meiri (Pes. 42a, Beit ha-Behirah al Massekhet Pesahim 
ed. by J. Klein (1964), 142) which bears the signatures of "five 
scholars of world standing," Isaac's is the first. The five scholars 
apparently constituted the bet din of Narbonne (B.Z. Benedikt, 
in Tarbiz, 22 (1951), 107). It is not certain whether Isaac left 
anything in writing; his words are usually quoted as "having 
been heard," but sometimes it is stated that "he wrote." Some 
of his statements were cited by his pupil Abraham b. Isaac, the 
author of the Eshkol; Zerahiah b. Isaac ha- Levi Gerondi in Ha- 
Mabr; Joseph b. Migash in Temim Deim, and Moses ha-Kohen 
in his *hassagot to Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (Shabbat 6:5; S. 
Atlas, in: huca, 27 (1956), 60), in the Shibbolei ha-Leket (Pt. 1, 
no. 48 and 51, ed. by S.K. Mirsky (1966), 256, 260), etc. Among 
his pupils were some of the greatest scholars of Provence in 
the following generation, Moses the son of his brother Joseph, 
Moses b. Todros ha-Nasi, and Abraham b. Isaac "Av Bet Din." 
Joseph studied under him. Isaac left no descendants, and he 
must have died before 1134, since in that year his brother Jo- 
seph lodged a claim in connection with his estate (Isaac ha- 
Sardi, Sefer ha-Terumot, 14:5, Prague 1605, 26a). 

bibliography: Gross, Gal Jud, 4i2f.; Z.B. Auerbach (ed.), 
Abraham b. Isaac of Narbonne, Ha-Eshkol (1968), introd. 9; S. Albeck 
(ed.), Abraham b. Isaac of Narbonne, Ha-Eshkol, 1 (1935X introd. 3; 
B.Z. Benedict, in: Tarbiz, 19 (1948), 19, n.7, 22 (1951), 96, n. 109, 107; 
I. Twersky, Rabad ofPosquieres (1962), 236, 239. 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

ISAAC BEN MORDECAI (known as Ribam, initials of 
Rabbi Isaac Ben Mordecai; 12 th century), German tosafist. 
Isaac was also known as Isaac b. Mordecai of Bohemia and 
Isaac b. Mordecai of Prague. The abbreviated form of his 

name, Ribam, led to his being confused at times with *Isaac 
b. Meir (see Urbach, Tosafot, 170 no. 37). Active in the com- 
munity of Regensburg, he served as head of its bet din and 
was regarded as the greatest scholar of the town and its leader 
(as described by Jacob b. Meir *Tam in Sefer ha-Yashar, part 
of responsa ed. by F. Rosenthal (1898), 178 no. 80). He was a 
pupil of *Isaac b. Asher ha-Levi (Riba 1) of Speyer and of Jacob 
Tarn. He compiled tosafot to most tractates of the Talmud, a 
large part of them while with his teachers. A considerable 
part of his tosafot to Bava Batra are included in the printed 
edition of the Talmud and in the tosafot of * Isaiah di Trani. 
He is known to have written tosafot to the tractates Pesahim, 
Moed Katan, and Bava Kamma compiled before his teacher, 
Isaac, and to Shabbat, Ketubbot, Gittin, Sotah, Nazir, and 
Bava Mezia. He is quoted in the printed tosafot to Yoma, 
Hagigah, Sanhedrin, Zevahim, and Hullin, and in Sefer ha- 
Ravyah and Or Zarua. *Eliezer b. Nathan of Mainz sent his 
book to him and his colleagues *Ephraim b. Isaac and Moses 
b. Joel on the bet din of Regensburg. They criticized many 
of his statements and in his reply Eliezer treated them with 
great respect. He also sent them the well-known responsum 
on hallonot ("windows," i.e., the prohibition against disturb- 
ing the privacy of a neighbor by opening a window facing 
his premises). 

bibliography: Eliezer b. Nathan, Sefer Rabban, ed. by S. 

Albeck (1904), introd. p. xi; V. Aptowitzer, Mavo le-Sefer Ravyah 

(1938), 29, 42f., 288, 378f.; Epstein, in: Tarbiz, 12 (1940/41), 200-2; 

Urbach, Tosafot, 167-70. 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

ISAAC BEN MOSES OF VIENNA (c. 1180-c. i25o),halakhic 
authority of Germany and France. He is usually referred to 
as Isaac Or Zarua, i.e., by the title of his important halakhic 
work. Isaac was born in Bohemia which he usually refers to 
as "the land of Canaan." In his youth he suffered from "pov- 
erty and wanderings" (Or Zarua pt. 1, 6d), but as a result of 
his peregrinations he came in contact with contemporary 
German and French scholars, by whose teaching he was influ- 
enced. Among the scholars of Bohemia under whom he stud- 
ied were Jacob b. Isaac ha-Lavan of Prague and ^Abraham b. 
Azriel, author of Arugat ha-Bosem. In Regensburg he studied 
under Judah ben Samuel he-Hasid and Abraham b. Moses. 
His chief teachers, "on whom he waited," were, according to 
him, *Simhah b. Samuel of Speyer, Eliezer b. Joel ha-Levi (the 
Ravyah), and * Judah b. Isaac Sir Leon of Paris. He noted their 
decisions and learned from their conduct and customs. In 
Wuerzburg he studied under Jonathan b. Isaac, and in France 
was a pupil of Samson of Coucy. He transmitted a ruling in 
the name of Samson of Coucy in connection with the decree 
in 1215 of Pope Innocent in compelling Jews to wear the yel- 
low *badge (ibid., pt. 11 Hilkhot Shabbat 84:3). 

Isaac's monumental work Or Zarua shared the fate of 
similar halakhic works which were apparently not sufficiently 
copied because of their extensive nature, and as a result did not 
achieve large circulation. Only 600 years after his death were 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



the first two parts of the work published (1862) from a manu- 
script in the possession of Akiva *Lehren of Amsterdam (the 
adventures related in connection with the manuscript are pure 
legend). The first part deals with blessings, laws connected 
with the land of Israel, niddah and mikvabt, laws of marriage, 
and a collection of responsa, mostly by the author, but some 
by other scholars. Part 11 contains topics which are now in- 
cluded in the Orah Hayyim section of the Shulhan Arukh. 
Two further parts were published at a later date (1887-90) 
from a manuscript in the British Museum. These contain hal- 
akhic rulings derived from the tractates Bava Kamma, Bava 
Mezia, Bava Batra, Sanhedrin, and Avodah Zarah. A supple- 
ment to this section, comprising decisions based on the trac- 
tate Shevubt, which had not been published in the previous 
collections because they were thought to pertain to tractate 
Sheviit, was published by A. Freimann (in Festschrift zu I. 
Lewy... (1911), Heb. pt. 10-32). A number of abridgments 
have been made of the work, the best known of which is that 
by Isaacs son *Hayyim b. Isaac Or Zarua, entitled Simanei 
Or Zarua which achieved a wide circulation although this 
work too was not at the disposal of all scholars. The quota- 
tions from Isaac Or Zaru a in the Haggahot Asheri of ^Israel 
of Krems are from this abridgment. Although the work did 
not have a wide circulation, later authorities quote his views 
to a considerable extent from secondary sources, such as the 
Mordecai, the Haggahot Maimuniyyot, etc. The complete work 
constitutes a valuable collection of the halakhic rulings of Ger- 
man and French scholars as well as being of great value for the 
history of Jewish communities in Europe during the Middle 
Ages (for instance, he discusses whether "our brothers in Bo- 
hemia" are permitted to carry arms on the Sabbath when they 
have to guard the city). A great part of the work (according to 
Aptowitzer, a third) is derived from his teacher *Eliezer b. Joel 
ha-Levi, whose Ravyah was already available to Isaac. There 
is no definite information as to how the work was composed 
and edited, or the order in which the various parts were writ- 
ten. One reason pointed out by Urbach (Tosafot, 367 n. 61) is 
that an examination of the manuscripts indicate that the ex- 
isting text is not the original. Urbach came to the conclusion 
that copyists made copies of the work in sections, which were 
subsequently combined into a unified book. The book itself 
was compiled over a long period, the author adding various 
supplements. As a result there are mutual cross references be- 
tween passages and it is impossible to determine which was 
written first. Before compiling the book, the author made 
notes and assembled data which were later written up, as he 
himself states (Or Zarua, pt. 11, no. 38). He was still engaged 
in its compilation in 1246 (idem, Av. Zar. no. 107). 

bibliography: Gross, in: mgwj, 20 (1871), 248-64; Wellesz, 
ibid., 48 (1904), 129-44, 209-13, 361-71, 440-56, 710-2; idem, in: jjlg, 
4 (1906), 75-124; Vogelstein, in: mgwj, 49 (1905), 701-6; V. Aptow- 
itzer, Mavo le-Sefer Ravyah (1938), 25-32; Tykocinski, in: mgwj, 55 
(1911), 478-500; idem, in: Germ Jud, 1 (1934), 400-10; Urbach, To- 
safot, 359-70; Samet, in: ks, 43 (1968), 435. 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

ISAAC BEN NOAH KOHEN SHAPIRA (late i6 th -early 17 th 
century), Polish rabbi and author. Isaac received his talmu- 
dic education at the yeshivah of his uncle, Hayyim b. Samuel, 
rabbi in Kremenets. At an early age he was appointed rabbi 
in Gorodnitsa, later serving in Mezhirech. He was the author 
of an alphabetically arranged compendium in rhymed verse 
of the four parts of the Shulhan Arukh under the title Sefer 
Zikkaron (also called Zikhron Dinim or Kizzur Pirkei Dinim, 
Cracow?, 1559?). He further published Petihat ha-Lev (Cra- 
cow, 1645?), kabbalistic homilies on the Pentateuch, consist- 
ing of extracts from his larger unpublished work a Harhavat 

bibliography: Zunz, Gesch, 299; Carmoly, in: Ha-Karmel, 
6 (1866/67), 301-2; Fuenn, Keneset, 666. 

[Jacob Freimann] 

ISAAC BEN SAMSON HA-KOHEN (d. 1624), talmudist of 
Bohemia. Isaac was born in Prague and married the daugh- 
ter of * Judah Loew b. Bezalel of Prague. He served as a rabbi 
in Vienna and Nikolsburg, later becoming dayyan and leader 
of the Prague community. He was renowned both for his ex- 
tensive talmudic knowledge and philanthropic activities. His 
opinions on halakhic questions, as well as his approbation of 
contemporary works, were widely sought. He is believed to 
be the author of a Yiddish translation of the Pentateuch that 
first appeared in Basle in 1583, or to have supplemented this 
work with midrashic explanations appearing for the first time 
in the Prague edition (1610), which contains a poem with his 
name in acrostics. He wrote a supplement to the Hatan Da- 
mim of Solomon *Runkel on the Pentateuch (Prague, 1606); 
published Isaac b. Judah ha- Levi's Pane ah Raza, with his 
own introduction (ibid. y 1607) and commentary on Midrash 
Psalms, Midrash Proverbs, and Midrash Samuel (ibid., 1613). 
He edited the sermon delivered by his father-in-law on the 
festival of Shavuot, in Posen in 1592, entitled Derush al ha- 
Torah, adding to it notes, an index of sources, and three in- 
troductory poems (ibid., 1953). He also wrote introductions 
to *Hayyim b. Bezalels Sefer ha- Hayyim (Cracow, 1593) and to 
Meir of Rothenburg s responsa (Prague, 1608). A work called 
Sidrei Bereshit remained uncompleted. He accompanied his 
father-in-law when he was received in audience by the em- 
peror Rudolph in 1592 and reported on the interview. His sons 
Hayyim and *Naphtali also served as rabbis; his daughter Eva 
married Samuel Bachrach of Worms. 

bibliography: K. Lieben, Ga/£d(i856),no. 84 (Hebrew sec- 
tion); S. Buber (ed.), Midrash Tehillim (Shoher Tov) (1891), introd., 114 
n.4; N. Gruen, Der Hohe Rabbi Loew (1895), 24, 29; E. Schulmann, 
Sefat Yehudit-Ashkenazit ve-Sifrutah (1903), 10 f; I.Z. Kahana, in: Arim 
ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 4 (1950), 262 f. 

[Samuel Abba Horodezky] 

ISAAC BEN SAMUEL HA-LEVI (1580-1646?), Polish tal- 
mudist and grammarian. Isaac was the elder brother and 
teacher of *David b. Samuel ha-Levi. He was born in Ludo- 
mir, and studied under Joshua Talk at Lemberg. He served 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


as rabbi of Chelm and in 1627 was appointed rosh yeshivah in 
Posen. He was one of the leading talmudic scholars and sages 
of his generation and was recognized as a halakhic author- 
ity, linguist, and grammarian. He had a sound knowledge of 
geometry and of German. He was kind and never adopted a 
didactic attitude toward his questioners, not even to his own 
students. Isaac is the author of She'elot u-Teshuvot ve-Hiddushei 


Mahari ha-Levi (Neuwied, 1736). These show him to have been 
considerate, balanced in judgment, and inclining toward leni- 
ency whenever possible. In his novellae he does not hesitate to 
attack the views of such outstanding authorities as Solomon 
*Luria, Samuel *Edels, *Judah Leib b. Bezalel and Levi *Ibn 
Habib. He possessed a concise style and penetrated to the 
very heart of the problems under discussion. In his halakhic 
decisions he takes into consideration the rules of grammar, 
attaching great value to a knowledge of Hebrew and its gram- 
mar. He published Siah Yizhak (Basle, 1627) on the rules of 
grammar and the conjugation of the verb. To it he appended 
Beit ha-Leviy discussing all compound and doubtful words in 
the Bible. In its introduction, Isaac complained of "the lack 
of attention paid to the knowledge of Hebrew. Its study is ne- 
glected and its origins are not investigated." He pointed out 
that the meanings of some words were not known because 
even scholars had no knowledge of the conjugation being 
used. Instead of devoting themselves to a thorough study of 
grammar, they disparaged it as being a mere routine task, re- 
quiring no intelligence. Even were this so, he writes, it is still 
a highly skilled accomplishment, essential for all scholarship, 
and a prerequisite for all sacred study, since, without it, no one 
can write or speak Hebrew correctly. The book carried an ap- 
probation by Yom Tov Lipman Heller, and was highly praised 
by Samuel David *Luzzatto. An abbreviated edition, Derekh 
Siah (Frankfurt, 1693), was published by J.L. Oppenheim. A 
poem of Isaacs, Shir Ge'ulim, commemorating the freeing of 
Lemberg Synagogue from the hands of the Jesuits, was pub- 
lished in 1609. He left an unpublished manuscript, Elleh To- 
ledot Yizhaky a supercommentaryon Rashi. Many of his ideas 
and opinions are incorporated in his brother's Turei Zahav 
and one of his responsa in Bay it Hadash he-Hadash (Korzec, 
1785), no. 78. In the 1646 edition of Turei Zahav he is referred 
to as being no longer alive. 

bibliography: Fuenn, Keneset, 628-9; H.N. Dembitzer, 
Kelilat Yofi, 1 (1888), 50; S. Buber, Anshei Shem (1895), 114-5; S.M. 
Chones, Toledot ha-Posekim (1910), 561; S.D. Luzzatto, Prolegomeni 
ad una grammatica ragionata della lingua ebraica (1836), 60; M. Stein- 
schneider, Jewish Literature (1857), 240. 

[Abram Juda Goldrat] 

ISAAC BEN SAMUEL OF ACRE (late i3 th -mid-i4 th cen- 
tury), kabbalist. In his youth Isaac of Acre studied in the 
yeshivah of Solomon Petit in Acre and he quotes Petit s story 
in which Aristotle is ridiculed by the wife of Alexander the 
Great. In 1291 Isaac left Acre for Italy, traveling from there to 
Spain (where he apparently arrived in 1305). There he met nu- 
merous kabbalists and he quotes many of their writings. Of 

great importance was his meeting with *Moses b. Shem Tov 
de Leon, whom he questioned concerning the *Zohar - asking 
whether it had been written by *Simeon b. Yohai or whether 
it was Moses de Leon's own work. Even after the death of 
Moses de Leon, Isaac continued his investigations, which he 
described in Divrei ha-Yamim (see below). Isaac was close to 
the circle of Solomon b. Abraham *Adret, but his knowledge 
of Adret's kabbalistic writings was vague and his testimony 
should be treated with great reservation. At least three state- 
ments which he attributes to Adret were made by *Ezra and 
*Azriel of Gerona. 

Four of Isaac's works have been preserved: 

(1) Meirat Einayim, a major commentary on Nahmani- 
des' mysticism, incorporating a large collection of writings 
from the Gerona circle and other groups which are not part of 
his explications of Nahmanides. Isaac criticizes commentators 
who discovered ideas in Nahmanides' writings which were far 
from the intention of the author - yet he himself deliberately 
does the same. Meirat Einayim contains references to books 
and personalities otherwise unknown. Many copies of the 
work are in existence. Considerable use was made of it by the 
kabbalists of the 15 th and 16 th centuries and it has also been an 
important source for scholars of the 19 th and 20 th centuries. 

(2) Ozar Hayyirriy a kind of mystical diary of visions and 
revelations; not an intimate diary, but one written with the 
object of describing revelations to the reader. Dealing with 
the zerufim ("combinations") which he considers essential for 
prophecy, he sets store on visions, thoughts, and automatic ut- 
terances. Most of his revelations came while he was in a state 
of trance, and many things were revealed through his dreams. 
Isaac was especially interested in outlining the way to attain 
prophecy, a subject he had already treated at length in Meirat 
Einayim. He notes three states in the ladder of ascent leading 
to the Holy Spirit: 

(a) devotion, which means the performance of two ac- 
tions, one visual. In his mind's eye man sees the letters of 
yh wh "as if they were written before him in a book," while 
at the same time he concentrates his thoughts on the aspect 
of the Divinity, called by the kabbalists *Ein-Sof ("the infi- 
nite"); (b) indifference, i.e., acquiesence in any occurrence in 
earthly life, except that which is concerned with the Divinity. 
Only a man who has reached this level of indifference, who 
is insensitive to the honor or scorn with which men regard 
him, is able to reach the state in which his soul becomes one 
with the Divinity; (c) solitude - a complete emptying of the 
mind of any matter which is not divine. The central focus of 
Isaac's prophetic ideal is individual spirituality. He applies 
sayings from the realm of national redemption to the realm 
of the redemption of the soul, and considers that the public 
mission of the prophet hampers his intimate contact with the 
Divinity. The work remains almost in entirety in Ms. 775 of 
the Guenzburg Collection, Moscow. Selections from it are in 
Leket Shoshannim (Neubauer, Cat, no. 1911). Many extracts 
are found in various manuscripts (Sassoon Ms. 919, Adler 
Ms. 1589, et al.). 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



(3) A commentary on the Sefer *Yezirah (ch. 1 only), pub- 
lished by G. *Scholem (ks, vol. 31, 1955/56). 

(4) A shortened free translation of the Arabic commen- 
tary of Judah b. Nissim ibn Malka on *Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer. 
Isaac s comments occupy the main place in the work, which 
is to be found in Sassoon manuscript 919b. 

There is evidence that other works by Isaac also existed, 
the most important being Sefer ha-Yamim, as it is called in 
Sefer ha-Yuhasin which quotes the large section concerning 
the composition of the Zohar. No other author who quotes 
from Sefer ha-Yamim is known, but there is no doubt that 
such a book did exist, since Isaac himself refers to it in his 
Ozar Hayyim, where he calls it Sefer Divrei ha-Yamim. Sachs' 
description of manuscript 775 in the Guenzburg collection 
led to the belief that this was Sefer ha-Yamim, but apparently 
this is not so. There are no means of knowing from which 
works the author of Reshit Hokhmah took the four quota- 
tions which he cites in the name of Isaac of Acre. Similarly the 
nature of the mystical book mentioned in Novelot Hokhmah 
by Joseph Solomon *Delmedigo of Candia is not known. 
David Azulai writes that he saw treatises of Isaac of Acre, 
according to which he was visited by angels who revealed 
to him secrets and acts of practical Kabbalah. It is possible 
that the reference was to the treatises of Ozar Hayyim, but 
this is not certain. 

bibliography: Graetz-Rabbinowitz, index; A. Jellinek, Be- 
itraege zur Geschichte der Kabbala (1852), 72 (Ger. pt.); vi (Heb. pt.); 
G. Scholem, in: ks, 2 (1926), 102-3; 3 1 ( 1 955/56), 379-96; idem, in: 
Tarbiz, 3 (1931/32), 59-61; idem, Ursprung und Anfaenge der Kabbala 
(1962), index; idem, in: Maddaei ha-Yahadut, 1 (1920), i7ff.; E. Gott- 
lieb, Fourth World Congress of Jewish Studies, 2 (1969), 327-34; idem, 
Ha-Kabbalah be-Khitvei R. Bahya b. Asher (1970), index; G. Vajda, 

in: rej, 115 (1956), 27-71. 

[Efraim Gottlieb] 

to by the initial letters of his name as Ri (initials of Rabbi 
Isaac) or Ri the Elder, or Ri of Dampierre, d. c. 1185), one of 
the most important of the * tosafists and leading authority of 
Franco-German Jewry in the second half of the 12 th century. 
Isaac was the nephew and pupil of Jacob *Tam. His father was 
the son of Simhah b. Samuel of Vitry, and his wife the daugh- 
ter of Judah b. Yom Tov, great-grandson of *Rashi. He was 
thus related to the distinguished Jewish families of scholars 
and communal leaders of his time. He lived in Ramerupt for 
many years, accompanying his teacher, Jacob Tarn, and helping 
him with his ramified correspondence. After R. Tarn left Ram- 
erupt, Isaac went to live in Dampierre. For some time he also 
lived in Joinville. Even after leaving his teacher, Isaac regarded 
himself as completely subordinate to R. Tarn until his death, 
and rarely deviated from his rulings. Together with R. Tarn, 
he is the central pillar of the entire tosafot activity, there being 
hardly a page of the printed tosafot where he is not mentioned. 
His tosafot have not survived in their original form except for 
fragments in some manuscripts and quotations in the works 
of the rishonim. His teachings were interwoven in the pub- 

lished tosafot, being handed down by a line of his pupils. H. J.D. 
*Azulai still had Isaac s tosafot to Kiddushin and quotes them 
in his Petah Einayim. However the commentary published in 
the editions of the Talmud on Kiddushin with the title Perush 
Ri ha-Zaken is not by Isaac but by ^Abraham b. Isaac of Mont - 
pellier. Especially abundant use of Isaacs tosafot was made by 
his pupil, *Samson b. Abraham of Sens, who based his own 
tosafot on them. Another important source for his teachings 
is the Haggahot Asheri of ^Israel of Krems. There are histori- 
cal testimonies (see introduction to the Zeidah la-Derekh of 
*Menahem b. Aaron ibn Zerah, as well as a tradition cited by 
Solomon *Luria in the introduction to his Yam shel Shelomo 
on tractate Hullin) to the effect that the school of Isaac was 
the main creative center in which the tosafot were developed 
as a system of study and as a literary genre, and it was there 
that the system of study whose foundations had been laid by 
Rashis sons-in-law reached its peak. 

Many of Isaac's responsa are preserved in the works of 
the rishonim. These contain historical and cultural material 
of great value for a knowledge of the internal lives of the Jews 
and their relations with their neighbors. Despite his central 
position in the Jewish world of his time, his responsa lack 
the note of polemic, controversy, and vehemence that char- 
acterizes the responsa of the great tosafists, particularly of 
R. Tarn. Great humility and an exceptionally gentle approach 
are especially conspicuous. His piety and uprightness were 
renowned and already in the 14 th century there was a legend 
that he had ascended on high and received information from 
the angels. A tendency toward mysticism is discernible in 
his writings, and it is possible that he was in contact with 
*Samuel, the father of *Judah ben Samuel he-Hasid. *Elhanan 
b. Yakar of London, who wrote a commentary on the Sefer 
Yezirah (published by Vajda in Kovez al Yad, 6 pt. 1 (1966), 
147-97) hi the succeeding generation, quotes statements 
he heard in his name. Among his important pupils were 'Abra- 
ham b. Nathan ha-Yarhi, who acted as the intermediary be- 
tween him and *Asher b. Meshullam of Lunel, and his own son 
*Elhanan who died during his father s lifetime. Noteworthy 
among his other pupils, all of whom were important tosafists, 
are *Baruch b. Isaac of Worms, *Isaac b. Abraham, and the 
above-mentioned Samson of Sens. Isaac s rulings were also 
known to the early scholars and manuscripts of them are still 
extant. His Hilkhot ha-Get, which he apparently composed 
toward the end of his life, has recently been published (Kup- 
fer, in Kovez al-Yad, 6 pt. 1 (1966), 123-44). It is very doubt- 
ful whether he wrote a commentary on the Hilkhot ha-Rif of 
Isaac *Alfasi, its ascription to him being due to a printer s er- 
ror (Responsa of the Rosh (Asher b. Jehiel), Kelal 85, no. 10 
(ed. Zolkiew, 1803), 84b). 

bibliography: A. Apto witzer, Mavo le-Sefer Ravyah (1938), 
379-81; Assaf, in: A. Marx Jubilee Volume (1950), 9-22 (Heb. sec- 
tion); Benedikt, in: ks, 28 (1952-53), 227-9; Urbach, Tosafot, 195-211, 
460 ff.; idem, in: Sefer Assaf (1953), 18-32; Kupfer, in: Kovez al-Yad, 6 
pt. 1 (1966), 123-44. 

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma] 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


ISAAC BEN SHESHET PERFET (known as Ribash from 
the initials of Rabbi Isaac Ben Sheshet; 1326-1408), Spanish 
rabbi and halakhic authority. Perfet was born in Barcelona, 
where he studied under such eminent scholars as * Perez ha- 


Kohen, Hasdai b. Judah Crescas (the grandfather of the phi- 
losopher), and *Nissim b. Reuben Gerondi, and where he 
later acted unofficially as rabbi. In 1370, Isaac, together with 
Nissim and five other Jewish notables, was arrested on a false 
charge and imprisoned for several months. After acquittal, 
he moved to Saragossa, where he accepted the position of 
rabbi, only to be involved in the first of the many controver- 
sies and family tragedies that were to embitter his career. In 
Saragossa he made strenuous efforts to secure the abolition 
of certain objectionable customs. He did not succeed, but 
brought upon himself the opposition of the local scholars. 
Finally he decided to leave for Calatayud but was persuaded 
to change his mind. Faced with continued disharmony in the 
community, he moved to Valencia, where from 1385 he acted 
as rabbi. 

The anti- Jewish riots of 1391 drove him to North Africa. 
A close reading of the Valencia court records reveals that the 
authorities asked Perfet to convert as a way to stop the riots. 
After he refused, they trumped up a charge against him that 
would have resulted in his death unless he converted. This 
time Perfet relented and he converted, thereby becoming a 
Marrano. He was baptized on July 4, 1391, which was the Ninth 
of Av. A year and a half later, he managed to leave Valencia 
for North Africa and resume his life as a Jew. A number of his 
responsa deal with the issue of those compelled to convert to 
Christianity. After a short stay at Miliana, he finally settled 
in Algiers, where he was enthusiastically welcomed. Fresh 
vexations awaited him; however, as another refugee, jealous 
of Isaac's prestige, launched a violent campaign against the 
newcomer in the hope that he would leave Algiers. Thanks to 
the intervention of *Saul Astruc ha- Kohen, the civil authori- 
ties put an end to the conflict by appointing Isaac dayyan or 
communal rabbi. Their action, however, antagonized a cel- 
ebrated refugee from Majorca, Simeon b. Zemah *Duran, 
who declared the appointment invalid, no government hav- 
ing the power of jurisdiction in Jewish communal affairs. Du- 
ran relented when he was convinced that Isaac harbored no 
thoughts of personal aggrandizement, and the latter was left 
free to enjoy general affection and respect in his last years. 
On the anniversary of his death pilgrimages were made to his 
tomb until recent years. 

Perfet s most important work is his responsa (Constan- 
tinople, 1546). They exercised considerable influence on sub- 
sequent halakhah, and were one of the pillars upon which the 
Shulhan Arukh rested. They contain a vast amount of hal- 
akhic material - part derived from sources which are no lon- 
ger extant - together with much valuable information about 
popular customs in Spain and North Africa. The collection 
is of very great importance for knowledge of the history of 
the Jews in those countries in the 14 th century. Perfet was in- 
volved as a halakhist and decisor in the great controversy con- 

nected with the French chief rabbinate (see ^Treves (Trier)); 
he was one of the first to discuss the status of *Marranos from 
the halakhic point of view, which had become one of the 
crucial problems of Spanish and North African Judaism. He 
was one of those who established the minhag of Algiers re- 
garding the financial rights connected with matrimonial law. 
Perfet recognized five categories of minhag: (a) Those acts 
that are halakhically acceptable but deemed prohibited by 
custom, thus creating a defensive "fence" around the Torah; 
(b) those acts that are halakhically acceptable but which cer- 
tain communities deemed prohibited by custom; (c) a pro- 
hibitive custom based on one opinion in a rabbinic dispute; 
(d) those behaviors that are not customs but for which the 
sages avowed that whoever acts in such a way will be blessed; 
and (e) when a person errs thinking that what he does is cor- 
rect. Perfet argued that one cannot change the custom in 
categories (a) through (c). However, the last two categories 
do not constitute minhag and can therefore be changed. On 
three occasions, Perfet accepted customs based on Islamic 
customs (see responsa nos. 94, 158, 102, and 148). In each 
case, the practice was not in violation of halakhah and thus 

Perfet also wrote an extensive commentary on several 
talmudic tractates, and a commentary on the Pentateuch. Po- 
ems and kinot composed by him were published in Zafenat 
Paneah (1895). His work shows some knowledge of philos- 
ophy, even though he opposed its study and regarded the 
philosophical preoccupations of *Maimonides and *Levi b. 
Gershom with misgiving. He also dissociated himself from 
the Kabbalah. The responsa Sheelot u-Teshuvot ha-Ribash ha- 
Hadashot (Munkacs, 1901) are not all his. 

bibliography: A.M. Hershman, Rabbi Isaac bar Sheshet 
Perfet and his Times (1943), Hebrew edition (1956); H.J. Zimmels, 
Marranen in der rabbinischen Literatur (1932), 24, 9ifF.; Baer, Spain, 
index; I. Epstein, Responsa of R. Simon b. Zemach Duran (1930), in- 
dex, add. bibliography: J. Slotnik, "Rabbi Yizhakbar Sheshet - 
ha-Rivash" (diss., Touro, 2001); D. Yarden, in: Sefer Zikaron le-Yi- 
zhak Ben-Zvi 1 (1964); M. Slay, in: Shanah be-Shanah (1971), 226-36; 
idem, in: Mahanayim, 1 (1991), 158-61; Z. Rayrah, in: Sefunot, 17 
(1983), 11-20; M. Kellner, in: Tradition, 15 (1975), 110-18; E. Seroussi, 

[Hirsch Jacob Zimmels / David Derovan (2 nd ed.)] 

ISAAC BEN SOLOMON (1755-1826), prominent ^Karaite 
scholar and spiritual leader from Chufut-Qaleh, a reformer 
of the Karaite calendar system, and authority on religious 
law. He was a disciple of Isaac ben Joseph * Kalfa. At the age 
of 17 he worked for Benjamin *Aga and went with him to St. 
Petersburg. After returning to Chufut-Qaleh he engaged in 
commerce but went bankrupt. In 1776 he was appointed by 
Benjamin Aga to teach at the school in Chufut-Qaleh and 
soon was appointed as a hakham of the community at the age 
of 21. In 1795 he traveled with Benjamin Aga and some other 
community leaders to St. Petersburg with a special mission 
to the government, which achieved exemption for Crimean 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Karaites from the double taxation imposed on all the Jews 
of the Russian Empire, and the attainment of other rights. 
Isaac was a physician, who cured Jews and non- Jews of Chu- 
fut-Qaleh and the surrounding area. He had a wide knowl- 
edge of astronomy, which he studied for six months during 
his stay in St. Petersburg. In 1806 he was one of the found- 
ers of a publishing house in Chufut-Qaleh. He read proofs of 
Karaite books and prayer books that were printed there and 
sometimes added introductions to them. Isaac was a promi- 
nent religious authority in his generation, establishing several 
new regulations of Karaite halakhah: He forbade the ritual pu- 
rification of golden and silver vessels without passing them 
through fire; forbade moving things in the public domain on 
Shabbat; permitted weddings during the Ten Days of Peni- 
tence and so on. His most important innovation was calendar 
reform (1779). It was an attempt to establish a uniform per- 
manent system of calendation among the Karaites, which was 
not based on observation. It was supported by most scholars 
in Crimea and some other communities. His initiative led to 
a fierce dispute among the communities of Constantinople 
and the Crimea that lasted 18 years. The opposition to this 
reform was headed by ^Benjamin ben Elijah Duwan, a Kara- 
ite leader from Evpatoria. In 1781 Benjamin Duwan came to 
Chufut-Qaleh at the head of a group of Karaite worthies of his 
town in order to conduct a debate with Isaac ben Solomon. 
According to Isaac's report, Benjamin was defeated, and Isaac's 
calendar calculation was supported by the majority. His book 
Or ha-Levana (Zhitomir 1872) is a detailed exposition of his 
calendar reform. Isaac also wrote the following works: Iggeret 
Pinnat Yiqrat (Evpatoria 1834), a theological treatise based 
on the ten principles of faith formulated by Elijah *Bashy- 
azi in Adderet Eliyahu (with a Tatar translation of the prin- 
ciples; Nemoy published an English abridged translation of 
the work, with a detailed appraisal [see bibl.]); it includes 
many refutations ("replies") of philosophical positions, in 
which he actually criticized Bashyazi for his theological in- 
novations; Moladot - lunar calculations for 34 years for the 
years 1806-40 (Chufut-Qaleh, 1806) and a commentary on 
the Song of Songs (Ms b 316 at the St. Petersburg Institute 
of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy). He also wrote 
many liturgical poems, which were included in the Karaite 
Siddur. Many letters, responsa, and short treatises by him 
are preserved in manuscripts the St. Petersburg Institute of 
Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy and the Russian 
National Library. 

bibliography: G. Akhiezer, in: M. Polliack (ed.), Karaite 
Judaism (2003), 740-2, and index; E. Deinard, Massa Krim (1878), 
70; R. Fahn, Sefer ha-Kara'im (1929), 79-81; J. Mann, Texts, 2, (1935), 
index; L. Nemoy, in: jqr, 80:1-2 (1989), 49-85. 

[Golda Akhiezer (2 nd ed.)] 

ISAAC BEN TODROS (mid-fourteenth century), known 
as Isaac Tauroci (ben Todros) in Latin; French physician. 
Isaac ben Todros practiced in Carpentras and audited the ac- 
counts of the Jewish community in 1367. He was the pupil of 

the astronomer, Emmanuel b. Jacob *Bonfils, with whom he 
calculated the constellations in Avignon during the month of 
Nisan (April) 1373. Isaac possessed a profound knowledge of 
theology and philosophy. He wrote a work dealing with the 
plague in Avignon entitled Beer la-Hai ("Source of Life"). This 
work included a study of the dietetics and the therapeutics 
of the sick, as well as of the healthy. He declared that there 
were many Jewish victims of the epidemic. This treatise was 
published by Baron David * Guenzburg from the only exist- 
ing Hebrew manuscript on the occasion of the 90 th birthday 
of Leopold *Zunz. Isaac also wrote another medical work on 
facial convulsion (Avit ha-Panim; Oxford, Bodleian Library, 
Heb. Ms. 2141, 31). 

bibliography: E. Wickersheimer, Dictionnaire Biographi- 

que des Medecins en France au Moyen Age (1936), 3iif.; Kaufmann, 

Schriften, 3 (1915), 482-6. 

[Isidore Simon] 


13 th , beginning of the 14 th century), Spanish talmudist, a pupil 
of Nahmanides. Isaac occupied himself with the * Kabbalah 
to a considerable extent. No biographical details of him are 
known. His signature appears on the well-known ban on the 
study of philosophy promulgated in Barcelona in 1305 (Re- 
sponsa Rashba 1, nos. 415-6). He was the author of a com- 
mentary to the mahzor, remnants of which were discovered 
by G. Scholem in manuscript (H. Zotenberg, Catalogues des 
manuscrits (1866), 839:11); a commentary to the *selihot (M. 
Steinschneider, Die hebraeischen Handschriften.. . in Muenchen 
(1895 2 ), 237); a commentary to the *azharot of Solomon ibn 
Gabirol (see bibl. Freimann, introd. 10 (99), n. 45). The work 
Beer la-Hai edited by D. Guenzburg (in: Jubelschrift... L. 
Zunz; 1884) is not by him (see Freimann p. 11). E. Gottlieb 
too has shown that the ascription of the commentary on 
the Ginnat ha-Bitan attributed to Isaac is a forgery. Among 
his pupils were *Shem Tov Gaon b. Abraham who describes 
his relation with his teacher in the introduction to his Keter 
Shem Tov (not in the printed edition but in the Ms., see bibl., 
Loewinger, p. 30 and Gottlieb, p. 65). His kabbalistic teach- 
ings are included in the works of Nahmanides' disciples, e.g., 
*Ibn Shuaib's commentary to the Sodot ha-Ramban, Meir b. 
Solomon Abi *Sahula, Keter Shem Tov, Me'irat Einayim, and 
Maarekhet ha-Elohut. 

bibliography: Nathan b. Judah, Sefer ha-Mahkim, ed. by 

J. Freimann (1909), introd. 9-11 (= Ha-Eshkol, 6 (1909), 98-100); 

Loewinger, in: Sefunot, 7 (1963), 11, 27, 38; Gottlieb, in: Studies in 

Mysticism and Religion Presented to Gershom G. Scholem (1967), 

Heb. pt. 63-86. 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

ISAAC BEN YAKAR (12 th century), pay tan. In two acrostics 
of his selihot Isaac adds to his signature yeled meshusha and 
in two other acrostics, millul. The first designation is probably 
an allusion to his family name (according to Jer. 31:33), while 
the second seems to indicate his place of residence. *Gross 
reads yi?12 (milokh) for ^fa (millul) having in mind a French 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


village, probably Luc in the Pyrenees; Lille could hardly have 
been meant. Six of Isaacs selihot y with the complete acrostic 
of his name, are extant; three have appeared in print, among 
them a very ingeniously constructed selihah, Hatanu y consist- 
ing only of "ring" words. One of the remaining three selihot 
was rendered into German by *Zunz. 

bibliography: Zunz, Poesie, 90, 110, 251, 271; Zunz, Lit Poe- 
sie, 268f., 618; Steinschneider, Kat. Hamburg, 51:134; Ziemlich, in: 
mwj, 12 (1885), 137; Fuenn, Keneset, 1 (1886), 615; Davidson, Ozar, 
4 (!933)> 4!9*> Gross, Gal Jud, 275 f.; D. Goldschmidt, Selihot... Lita 
(1965), 228-31, 247-50. 

ISAAC THE BLIND ("Sagi Nahor"; c. 1160-1235), a central 
figure among early kabbalists, the son of ^Abraham b. David 
of Posquieres. He was usually referred to as "He-Hasid" and 
*Bahya b. Asher called him "the father of Kabbalah." No bio- 
graphical facts or details of his life are available, but apparently 
he lived in Posquieres for a time. His name meant hardly any- 
thing to 19 th century Kabbalah scholars; so little was known of 
his personality or his work that several incorrect conclusions 
were drawn about him; for example, that he was the author of 
Sefer ha-*Bahir (Landauer). In fact, a considerable amount of 
information concerning Isaac can be gleaned from traditions 
preserved among his disciples and their disciples, as well as 
from his pamphlets and those fragments of his other writings 
that have been preserved. 

The question of whether he was born blind remains un- 
decided. His direct disciples do not mention his blindness, but 
a kabbalistic tradition from the 13 th century testifies that "his 
eyes never saw anything during his lifetime" (Me'irat Einayim, 
Munich Ms. 17, 140b). Several fragments of his writings con- 
tain long discussions on the mysticism of lights and colors, 
which might seem to refute the assumption that he was born 
blind, but most of his mysticism is not essentially visual. How- 
ever, as it appears that he was well-versed in books and even 
states, "this I found in an ancient manuscript," it is possible 
that he became blind only after reaching maturity. 

Shem Tov b. Abraham ibn Gaon (1287-1330) mentions 
that Isaac could sense "in the feeling of the air" whether a per- 
son would live or die (Recanati, Perush la-Torah, Ki-Teze), and 
"whether his soul was among the new [meaning that it had 
not undergone transmigration] or among the old" (ibid., Va- 
Yeshev). To his mystical powers should be added testimonies 
that he had received "the revelation of Elijah," and magical 
power in prayer (ibid., Ki-Teze). 

The fragments of his writings about kavvanah ("inten- 
tion") and the various forms of meditation which should be 
employed in different prayers are constructed on a complete 
system of the Sefiroty the attributes of God, which emanated 
from Ancient Divine Thought (Mahashavah) as found in 
Sefer ha-Bahir. Isaac speaks of three levels within the Divine: 
*Ein-Sof, Mahashavah ("Thought"), and Dibbur ("Speech"). 
His views on Ein-Sof or "the Cause of Thought" avoid any 
positive attributes or personal characteristics and are inten- 
tionally couched in unclear, vague language. Ein-Sof is "that 

which cannot be conceived of through thought" or the "an- 
nihilation of thought," a realm which is mysterious and tran- 
scendent even in relation to Divine Thought itself (which is 
a certain kind of revelation). In contrast with his brief dis- 
cussion of the Ein-Sof Isaac deals at length with the first Sefi- 
rah, Mahashavah. It appears that he based his system on the 
theory that Mahashavah should not be included among the 
ten Sefiroty and he adds, in order to complete the number of 
Sefiroty Haskel (the "Intellect") - the hypostasis of the intel- 
lectual act - placed between the levels of Mahashavah and 
Hokhmah ("Wisdom"). The Divine Will, as a force which ac- 
tivates thought and is superior to it, is absent from his sys- 
tem. Thought is the sphere with which every mystic aspires 
to unite and thence derive sustenance, the object of kavvanah 
around which the religious aspiration is centered. Thought is 
the revelation of the hidden God; it is called the Ay in ("Noth- 
ingness," a paradoxical appellation which is used as a symbol 
of the first emanation). Nothingness symbolizes the higher 
existence of the Divine in its most hidden manifestation, as 
well as the annihilation of human thought which desires to 
contemplate it. 

The world of Dibbur begins with the Sefirah Hokhmah. 
Isaac often uses the concept devarim ("words") or dibbu- 
rim ("speeches" or logoi; in the language of Sefer ha-Bahir, 
mdamarot, "sayings") as a synonym for Sefirot. This outlook, 
which underlies Isaacs system, views the development of the 
world as a linguistic development, the Creator's expression in 
His language. He sees the materialization of the Divine Speech 
in all areas of creation. The apparent letters are nothing but a 
manifestation of the inner letters by which the Divine Words 
came into being, and they are the bases of the world. 

The Sefirot are not only attributes of God but are the prin- 
ciples of the world outside the world of the Sefiroty which is 
called the olam ha-nifradim ("world of the separables," in the 
sense of the world of multiple being). There is a continuous 
stream of emanation from the Divine Transcendence to the 
"world of the separables"; Isaac s main aim was to show the 
way (by contemplation, intention, and devotion) to commu- 
nication with the world of the Divine Attributes. This is the 
secret of the whole Torah and of prayer. The internal connec- 
tion between all essences and stages of creation is zepiyyah 
("contemplation"). All things contemplate one another and 
are connected with one another, and there thus exists a uni- 
versal dialectical process of emanation and spreading out to 
the limit of lower existence on the one hand, and contemplat- 
ing upward (teshuvah, "repentance") on the other. The return 
of things to their origins is an ontological process from unity 
to plurality and vice versa which exists in every moment of 
creation and it contains within itself an eschatological signifi- 
cance, for creation is seen as an act of contemplation by God 
within Himself, and finally a return to the source. 

Isaacs writings include commentary to Sefer Yezirah 
(many Mss.; first published by G. Scholem at the end of Ha- 
Kabbalah be-Provence y 1963); a mystic treatise on sacrifice 
(several Mss.); commentary on the beginning of Midr ash 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Konen (Ms.; New York, Jewish Theological Seminary); let- 
ter to Nahmanides and Jonah Gerondi (in Sefer Bialik (1934), 
143-4); detailed instructions on meditation in prayer (Reshit 
ha-Kabbalah (1948), 245-8). 

bibliography: G. Scholem, Reshit ha-Kabbalah (1948), 
99-126; idem, in: Sefer Bialik (1934), 141-55; idem in: ks, 6 (1929/30), 
389, 398-400; idem in: mgwj, 78 (1934), 496-503; idem, Ursprung 
undAnfaenge der Kabbala (1962), index; Scholem, Mysticism, index; 
I. Tishby, in: Zion, 9 (1944), 180-2; idem, Perush ha-Aggadot le-Rabbi 
Azriel (1945), 136; Ch. Wirszubski, in: Tarbiz, 27 (1957/58), 257-64; A. 
Jellinek, Ginzei Hokhmat ha-Kabbalah (1853), 4-5; A.B. Gottlober, To- 
ledot ha-Kabbalah ve-ha-Hasidut (1869), 64-65. 

[Esther (Zweig) Liebes] 

ISAAC FROM OURVILLE (second half of the 13 th cen- 
tury), rabbinic author. No biographical details are known 
of him. According to Gross, he originated from Ourville in 
Normandy, but Schwarzfuchs is of the opinion that the town 
of Orville on the border of the Champagne district north of 
Dijon is more probable. Isaac studied under Hayyim of Blois. 
He wrote a halakhic work called Sefer ha-Menahel which is 
no longer extant; however, extracts from it appear in the Kol 
Bo and the Orhot Hayyim. The Kol Bo has a section (no. 143) 
headed: "The Laws of Isaac, of blessed memory, author of the 
Menahel" There have also been published: "Ancient *haramot 
of Rabbenu *Gershom, copied from the Sefer ha-Menahel of 
Isaac of Ourville" (Schwarzfuchs, see bibl.). Some (including 
Rapoport and Hurwitz) have tried to identify him with the 
Isaac b. Durbal mentioned in the Mahzor Vitry who was a pu- 
pil of Jacob *Tam. However, there is no basis for such identi- 
fication, which would be impossible. 

bibliography: Rapoport, in: Kerem Hemed, 3 (1838), 200 
n.; Jacob Kopel Levy, in: Shomer Ziyyon ha-Neeman, no. 11 (5 Kislev, 
1847), 22; J. Hurwitz (ed.), Mahzor Vitry (1923 2 ), 36 (introd.); Ber- 
liner, ibid., 177; Gross, Gal Jud, 27f.; Schwarzfuchs, in: rej, 115 (1956), 
109-16; idem, in: Bar Ilan, Sefer ha-Shanah, 4-5 (1967), 214. 

[Shlomoh Zalman Havlin] 

ISAAC NAPPAHA (third century), Palestinian amora. A R. 
Isaac, without epithet, is frequently mentioned in the Baby- 
lonian and Palestinian Talmuds and in the Midrashim. There 
was another contemporary scholar called Isaac Nappaha 
(i.e., "the smith") who is mentioned in the Babylonian Tal- 
mud and in the late Midrashim. Many of the sayings quoted 
in one source in the name of Isaac are attributed in the par- 
allel passages to Isaac Nappaha, and most scholars regard 
the Isaac without qualification to be Isaac Nappaha (for the 
name of his father, see the vague tradition at the bottom of 
Pes. 113b, Dik. Sof., ibid., and Rabbenu Hananel and the com- 
mentators). Isaac studied under R. Johanan in Tiberias and 
transmitted many statements in his name in halakhah and in 
aggadah. He was highly regarded by his colleagues and Resh 
Lakish once remarked with reference to the explanation of a 
verse on which R. Johanan and R. Isaac differed: "The inter- 
pretation of the smith [Isaac] is better than that of the son of 

the smith" (i.e., Johanan; Sanh. 96a). He also transmitted say- 
ings in the names of Resh Lakish and R. Eleazar (Av. Zar. 14a, 
70b), and was an older colleague of *Ammi and *Assi (bk 60b). 
He also served as dayyan and halakhic authority in Tiberias 
and Caesarea together with Ammi, *Abbahu and *Hanina b. 
Pappa (bk 117b; Ned. 57b). He was one of the *nehutei who 
brought teachings of Erez Israel to Babylonia (Er. 27a; et al.)> 
and similarly transmitted some of the teachings of the Babylo- 
nian scholars, Ravand R. Judah (Ber. 43a; tj, Shevu. 4:1, 35c). 
There is mention of his preaching in the house of the exilarch 
(mk 24b) and disputing with Nahman b. Jacob (Ber. 7b), R. 
Hisda, and R. Sheshet (Ber. 27a; Shab. 43b). 

Many Babylonian amoraim transmit halakhah and agga- 
dah in his name. On one of his visits to Babylon Isaac was the 
guest of R. Nahman. When he was about to take his departure 
Nahman requested Isaac to bless him. He replied with a par- 
able: "A man was once journeying in the desert. He was hun- 
gry, weary, and thirsty, and chanced across a tree whose fruits 
were sweet, its shade pleasant, and a stream of water flowed be- 
neath it. . . When he was about to resume his journey he said: 
'Tree, with what shall I bless thee?. . . That thy fruits be sweet? 
They are sweet already; that thy shade be pleasant? It is already 
pleasant; that a stream of water should flow beneath thee? It 
already flows beneath thee; I pray that all the shoots planted 
from you be like you'" (Ta'an. 5b). Isaac was renowned both 
as a halakhist and an aggadist, and the following story is told. 
Once Ammi and Assi were sitting before him. One of them 
asked him to expound a halakhah and the other an aggadah. 
"He commenced an aggadah but was prevented by the one, 
and when he commenced a halakhah he was prevented by 
the other. He said to them: This may be compared to a man 
who has two wives, one young and one old. The young one 
used to pluck out the white hairs to make him appear young 
and the old one his black ones, to make him appear old. He 
thus became completely bald" (bk 60b). He devoted himself, 
however, particularly to the aggadah and is numbered among 
the most important aggadists. He saw in it a means of encour- 
aging the people during the difficult period through which 
they were passing, as is evident from his saying (pdRK 101): 
"In the past when money was plentiful people used to crave 
to hear the words of the Mishnah and the Talmud. Now that 
money is in short supply and moreover we suffer from the 
government, people crave to hear the words of Scripture and 
of the aggadah? It was his custom to give an introduction to 
the homilies he delivered in public and the expression, "Isaac 
opened (i.e., "his discourse")" is frequently found (see Gen. R. 
1:7; et al.). He interlaced his homilies with parables and prov- 
erbs and engaged much in biblical exposition. His aggadah 
reflects contemporary events (e.g., Meg. 6a). 

The following are some of Isaac s sayings: "If you see for- 
tune favoring the wicked, do not contend with him" (Ber. 7b); 
"a man should always divide his wealth in three parts, [invest- 
ing] one in land, one in merchandise, and [keeping] one ready 
to hand" (bm 42a); "if a man says to you: T have labored and 
not found,' believe him not; 'I have not labored, yet found,' be- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


lieve him not; 'I have labored and found,' believe him" (Meg. 
6b); "a leader should not be appointed over the community 
without the approval of the community" (Ber. 55a). He was 
opposed to those who took vows to abstain from permitted 
worldly pleasures, saying of them: "Are not those things for- 
bidden by the Torah enough, without you wanting to add to 
them?" (tj, Ned. 9:1, 41b). 

bibliography: Hyman, Toledot, 782-4, 800-2; Bacher, 

Pal Amor, 2 (1896), 205-95; Z.W. Rabinowitz, Shaarei Torat Bavel 

(1961), 457-8. 

[Yitzhak DovGilat] 

ISAAC OF CHERNIGOV (12 th century), one of the first 
rabbinical scholars in Eastern Europe. Originating from 
Chernigov, Ukraine, Isaac toured the Jewish communities in 
Western Europe, and probably also reached England. In rab- 
binical literature he is also mentioned as Isaac (b. Ezekiel) of 
Russia, a disciple of R. *Judah he-Hasid. 

bibliography: hhy, 13 (1929), 224; S.D. Luzzatto, in: Kerem 
Hemed, 7 (1843), 69; A.A. Harkavy, Ha-Yehudim u-Sefat ha-Slavim 
(1867), 14, 62; J. Jacobs (ed.), Jews of Angevin England (1893), 66, 73. 

[Yehuda Slutsky] 

ISAAC OF EVREUX (first half of 13 th century), brother of 
*Moses and Samuel of * Evreux, the three of whom were re- 
ferred to as "the scholars of Evreux." Their well-known school 
in Evreux, Normandy, was attended by students from various 
countries, including Spain; among them were some, such as 
Jonah * Gerondi, who were to become the leading scholars of 
the next generation. Greater freedom in teaching than was 
customary at the time was one of the characteristics of the 
school, the pupils being permitted to study independently and 
even to disagree with their teachers, provided they produced 
proof for their statements. Isaac was apparently the youngest 
of the brothers. His teachings are interwoven with those of 
his brothers in the collections of tosafot that emanated from 
their school, known among early scholars as Shitot me-Evreux 
("Opinions of Evreux"). His commentaries on several tractates 
are also quoted in the printed tosafot. According to Urbach, 
the printed tosafot to tractate Nazir were edited by Isaac, and 
those to Kiddushin by one of his pupils; while those to Nedarim 
are based upon the tosafot of Evreux. 

bibliography: Urbach, Tosafot, 397-8, 493-5, 519-20; Y. 
Lipschitz (ed.), Tosafot Evreux (1969), 32-4. 

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma] 

ISAAC OF SOUTHWARK (d. 1289/90), English lawyer 
and financier. Isaac appears as a possibly professional lawyer, 
speaking on behalf of clients, in the Exchequer of the Jews 
in 1268 and 1270, but later only as a financier lending money. 
In 1285 he was accused of the murder of Maud of Worcester, 
but was subsequently cleared of this charge. Not long before 
his death in 1289/90 he sold his house in Southwark, just south 
of the river Thames opposite London, to Richard Clerk and 
his wife, Alice, but his widow, Zipporah, was able to con- 

tinue living in a house in St Lawrence Jewry in the City of 

bibliography: P. Brand, Plea Roles of the Exchequer of the 
Jews, vi (2005); idem, prome, Parliaments of Edward 1, appendix of 
material related to Roll 2, no. 178; J. Hillaby, "London: The 13 th Cen- 
tury Jewry Revisited," in: jhset, 32 (1990/92). 

[Paul Brand (2 nd ed.)] 

ISAACS, U.S. family prominent in New York City. Founder of 
the family was samuel myer Isaacs, born in Leeuwarden, 
Holland, who immigrated to the United States in 1839 from 
London, where he had been the principal of an orphan asylum. 
He was the first hazzan and preacher of Congregation B'nai 
Jeshurun in New York. After the congregation split in 1847 
Isaacs became rabbi of Congregation Shaarei Tefila, remain- 
ing there until his death. In Jewish Messenger, a weekly news- 
paper which he founded (1857), Isaacs took a stand against 
Reform Judaism, but called for certain minor ritual changes. 
A supporter of the abolition movement, Isaacs lost southern 
subscribers as a result. He was associated with the founding 
of Mount Sinai Hospital in 1852 and became its first vice pres- 
ident. Isaacs also helped found the Hebrew Free School As- 
sociation of New York City in 1864 and Maimonides College 
in Philadelphia, the first, though short-lived, American rab- 
binical school, in 1867. In 1859 he was one of the organizers of 
the Board of Delegates of American Israelites, an organization 
that worked for Jewish civil and religious rights in the U.S. and 
abroad. He helped organize the United Hebrew Charities in 
1873 with his eldest son, myer samuel Isaacs (1841-1904), 
New York lawyer and community leader. Myer Samuel was 
born in New York, graduated from nyu (1859) and nyu Law 
School (1861), and was admitted to the bar in 1862. He then 
started his own office, founding the family firm M.S. and I.S. 
Isaacs. In 1880 Isaacs was appointed judge on the City (then 
Marine) Court to fill an unexpired term. Later he received 
nominations to the Superior Court (1891) and the Supreme 
Court (1895). He lectured on real estate law at New York Uni- 
versity Law School from 1887 to 1897. Active in community af- 
fairs, Isaacs helped his father found the Board of Delegates of 
American Israelites and the Hebrew Free School Association, 
serving in leadership positions in both organizations. In civic 
affairs Isaacs was one of the organizers of the Citizens' Union 
in 1897 and was instrumental in creating Seward Park for the 
crowded East Side of New York City. He was a leader in many 
other Jewish charitable and educational efforts, particularly to 
aid East European Jewish immigrants, and was editor of the 
Jewish Messenger, which he helped his father found. 

abram samuel Isaacs (1852-1920), another son of 
Samuel Myer Isaacs, who was a rabbi, writer, and educator. 
Educated at New York University, the University of Breslau 
(1874-77), and the Breslau rabbinical seminary, Isaacs taught 
Hebrew, German, and postgraduate German literature at nyu 
between 1885 and 1906. He was named professor of Semitic 
languages in 1906, a post which he held until his death. Isaacs 
was also a preacher at the East 86 th Street Synagogue in New 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



York City and rabbi of the B'nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pat- 
terson, n.j. (1896-1906). Following his fathers death in 1878 
he became an editor of the Jewish Messenger until its merger 
in 1903 with the American Hebrew. Isaacs wrote several books 
for adults and children, including A Modern Hebrew Poet: The 
Life and Writings of Moses Chaim Luzzatto (1878) and What 
is Judaism (1912). 

lewis montefiore Isaacs (1877-1944), son of Myer 
Samuel Isaacs, lawyer and musician. Born in New York City, 
Isaacs joined the family law firm in 1903. Isaacs was secretary 
and treasurer of the Beethoven Association, and director of 
the Musicians Foundation and the Edward Macdowell As- 
sociation. He wrote songs and compositions for piano and 
orchestra as well as books about music, notably (with Kurt J. 
Rahlson), Koenigskinder y a Guide to Engelbert Humperdincks 
and Ernst Rosmers Opera (1912) and Haensel und Gretel, A 
Guide to Humperdincks Opera (1913). He was also a trustee of 
the family's West End Synagogue (Congregation Shaarei Tef- 
ila) and a member and officer of several bar associations. His 
wife, edith juliet rich Isaacs (1878-1956), was active in 
the theatrical world. Born in Milwaukee, she became a liter- 
ary editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1903 and wrote drama 
criticism for periodicals. Later she was the editor and busi- 
ness manager of the quarterly Theatre Arts Magazine, which 
became the Theatre Arts Monthly in 1924. Edith Isaacs edited 
Theatre (1927), a collection of essays; Plays of American Life 
and Fantasy (1929); and Architecture for the New Theatre (1935), 
another collection of essays. She wrote American Theatre in 
Social and Educational Life; a Survey of its Needs and Opportu- 
nities (1932) and Negro in the American Theatre (1947). 

Another son was Stanley myer Isaacs (1882-1962), 
lawyer and New York City official, who practiced law from 
1905 until 1919, when he went into the real estate business. A 
longtime member of the Republican Party, Isaacs was a lead- 
ing supporter of municipal reform and was elected president of 
the Borough of Manhattan on the La Guardia fusion ticket in 
1937. Failing to be renominated by his party in 1941 as a result 
of a controversy started when he appointed a Communist to 
the post of confidential examiner, Isaacs ran and was elected 
to the New York City Council, where he served until his death, 
for many years as its only Republican member. An exemplar of 
civic leadership, Isaacs' many progressive causes included slum 
housing improvements, laws prohibiting racial discrimination 
in housing, and the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. He 
was also active in the settlement houses, notably the Educa- 
tional Alliance, and in 1934 was president of the United Neigh- 
borhood Houses. A trustee of the Federation for the Support 
of Jewish Philanthropic Societies, Isaacs worked also for many 
other charitable, civic, and political organizations. 

ISAACS, EDITH JULIET (1878-1956), editor of Theater Arts 
magazine from 1919 to 1945. Isaacs tried to make American 
theatergoers aware of people and movements in the European 
theater and to make them familiar with the London Old Vic 
and the Moscow Art Theater. She printed early plays by Eugene 

O'Neill, Thornton Wilder, and others, and work by American 
designers. Her magazine also encouraged the growth of pio- 
neer progressive groups. Isaacs was active in the Federal The- 
ater Project and supported black culture. She was married to 
lewis montefiore Isaacs (1877-1944), a real estate lawyer 
and accomplished musician who was one of the founders of 
the Musicians Foundation of New York and the MacDowell 
Artists Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. 

Books she edited include Theater: Essays on the Arts of 
the Theater (1927); Plays of American Life and Fantasy (1929); 
and Architecture for the New Theater (1935). She wrote The Ne- 
gro in the American Theater (1947). 

[Ruth Beloff (2 nd ed.)] 

ISAACS, SIR ISAAC ALFRED (1855-1948), Australian law- 
yer and politician who became governor- general and chief 
justice of Australia. Isaacs' father emigrated from Poland to 
England and then to Australia at the time of the gold rush 
(c. 1851). Isaac Isaacs was born in Melbourne. He entered the 
Government Law Department and studied law at Melbourne 
University, graduating in 1880. His legal acumen and astute 
mind soon earned him recognition, and he advanced rapidly. 
In 1892, Isaacs entered politics and was elected as a member to 
the state parliament. In the following year he became solicitor 
general and in 1894 attorney general. He was acting premier 
of Victoria for a short time in 1899. Active in the debates of 
the inter-state conventions which led to the formation of the 
federal government of Australia, Isaacs was elected for the 
constituency of Indi, in Victoria, when the first federal parlia- 
ment was formed in 1900. In the federal parliament, he served 
with distinction as attorney general and in 1906 was appointed 
a justice of the federal High Court in which he served for 24 
years. In 1930, Isaacs became chief justice of Australia. He held 
strong views on the need for strengthening the power of the 
federal government as against that of the states and although 
he did not secure this in the framing of the constitution, his 
subsequent judgments did much to influence events in that 
direction. In 1931, after a lengthy public controversy, the Aus- 
tralian Labor government decided on the appointment of an 
Australian-born governor- general and Isaacs was chosen as 
the first Australian for this post, which he occupied with dig- 
nity, decision, and leadership. He became a privy councillor 
in 1921 and was knighted in 1928. 

Isaacs remained a conscious and practicing Jew but he 
saw his Jewishness as a religion, rejecting completely its na- 
tional and political side. Strongly opposed to political Zionism, 
he engaged in a vigorous public controversy at the age of 90 
in which he took a strong anti-Zionist line. He supported the 
official British government policy on Palestine in 1945-47 as 
laid down by Ernest *Bevin. Isaacs died a few months before 
Israeli independence, so that it is impossible to know whether, 
like many of his non-Zionist associates, he would have fun- 
damentally altered his views on the Jewish state; those who 
knew him are divided on this point. Even in the last years of 
his long life, Isaacs preserved his brilliant qualities as a politi- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


cal speaker. The man who, many years later, became Austra- 
lia's second Jewish governor- general, Zelman Cowen, wrote 
the authoritative biography, Isaac Isaacs (1967). 

bibliography: M. Gordon, Sir Isaac Isaacs (1963). add. 
bibliography: Australian Dictionary of Biography; H.L. Rubin- 
stein, Australia 1, index; W.D. Rubinstein, Australia 11, index. 

[Isidor Solomon] 

ISAACS, ISAIAH (1747-1806), U.S. merchant, communal 
leader, and public official. Isaacs, who was born in Germany, 
went to Richmond, Virginia, by 1769, and was Richmond's first 
permanent Jewish resident. A silversmith by trade, he entered 
into a prosperous partnership later with Jacob I. Cohen, as 
merchants and owners of land, houses, and slaves. A founder 
of Beth Shalome Congregation, he gave part of his land to 
the congregation for cemetery purposes in 1791. Active in po- 
litical affairs, Isaacs was appointed clerk of the market (1785), 
later became a tax assessor, and served as a member of the 
original Common Council of Richmond along with John 


[Saul Viener.] 

ISAACS, JACOB (c. 1730-1798), U.S. inventor. He lived in 
Newport, Rhode Island, and was listed as a member of the 
Jewish community. In 1758 he became involved in a law case 
against John Merritt of Providence and the king's council de- 
cided in his favor. In 1759 he was one of the ten signatories 
to a letter of thanks sent to the congregation of the Shearith 
Israel synagogue in New York for their help in the build- 
ing of the synagogue in Newport. Here the name appears as 
Jacob Isaacks. In 1760 his name (in the form of Isaacs) ap- 
peared in a list of Newport Jews made by Ezra Stiles. His 
family was listed as five souls and in 1762 he was registered 
as the owner of a brig. In 1783 he made an offer to build ships 
and in 1791 he invented a method of water desalination and 
petitioned the House of Representatives to take over the dis- 
covery for payment. He interested George Washington and 
though Thomas Jefferson recommended it, Congress set the 
matter aside. 

bibliography: Friedenwald, in: A.J. Karp (ed.), The Jewish 

Experience in America, 1 (1969), 222-8. 

[Samuel Aaron Miller] 

ISAACS, JACOB (1896-1973), literary scholar. Born in the 
East End of London, Isaacs was educated at Oxford and spe- 
cialized in Shakespearean studies. He was interested in the 
Hebrew Bible as a literary source, which was reflected in his 
contribution to H. Wheeler Robinson's The Bible in Its An- 
cient and English Versions (1940). He was the first professor 
of English at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1942-45) 
and from 1952-64 was professor of English at London Uni- 
versity. Isaacs became a well-known broadcaster on English 
literature on bbc radio and wrote The Background of Modern 
Poetry (1951). 


ISAACS, SIR JEREMY (1932- ), English producer and 
arts executive. Isaacs was educated at Oxford, where he was 
president of the Union in 1955. In television, his main in- 
terests were in documentaries and current affairs, and he 
was responsible for celebrated series and programs both for 
bbc (Panorama) and Independent Television as producer, 
controller, editor, and sometimes journalist. The 26-part se- 
ries The World at War about World War 11, which received 
worldwide praise, was initiated and produced by Isaacs in 
1974. As an independent, he produced "A Sense of Freedom" 
for Scottish tv and a series for bbc, Ireland - a Television 

He became founding chief executive of Channel 4 in 
1981, serving until 1987. Isaacs created a much envied model 
for cultural television. He was a major influence in the arts by 
attaching a high priority to opera and ballet as well as litera- 
ture and the visual arts. 

In 1988-96 Isaacs was general director of the Royal Opera 
House, Convent Garden, where he had served as a member 
of the board since 1985. Despite great financial difficulties in 
the arts and much media criticism of the Royal Opera House, 
Isaacs brought Covent Garden back to internationally ac- 
claimed artistic levels. 

A private and somewhat reserved personality, he is also 
a distinguished tv interviewer of singular discretion, allow- 
ing recognition for the personality being addressed (he rarely 
appears on the screen himself). He suffered a personal trag- 
edy when his brother was killed by a terrorist bomb in Jeru- 
salem in 1975. 

Isaacs has been the recipient of many honors and awards 
and was a governor of the British Film Institute from 1979. 
France made him a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et de 
Lettres in 1988. He also became chairman of Artsworld, a 
non-commercial cable television station. Isaacs was kighted 
in 1996 and is the author of Storm Over 4: A Personal Ac- 
count (1989). 

[Sally Whyte] 

ISAACS, JORGE (1837-1895). Colombian novelist and poet. 
The son of a converted English Jew and a Colombian mother, 
Isaacs was born in Cali and educated as a Catholic; in 1868 
he became a Freemason; he nevertheless assumed what he 
defined as his "racial" Jewish identity. After publishing a col- 
lection of poems (1864), he won instant fame with his novel 
Maria (1867), a tragic love story in which the partial Jewish- 
ness of the main characters plays an important role. The novel 
became a classic of Latin American literature; it was translated 
into many languages and an English version by Rollo Ogden 
appeared in 1890. Some of his poems, such as "La tierra de 
Cordoba" ("The land of Cordoba"), "A Cali" ("To Cali") and 
"Rio Moro" ("Moro River"), contain allusions to his Jewish 
origins. Isaacs subsequently entered politics and became a 
Colombian diplomat, but achieved no further distinction as 
a writer. 

bibliography: M. Carvajal, Vida y pasion de Jorge Isaacs 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



(1937). add. bibliography: F. Alegria, Breve historia de la novela 
hispano-americana (1959). G. Arciniegas, Genio yfigura de Jorge Isaacs 
(1967); J.S. Brushwood, Genteel Barbarism: Experiments in Analysis 
of 19 th Century Spanish American Novels (1981); F.F. Goldberg, Juda- 
ica Latino americana 3 (1997); I. Goldberg, "Jewish Writers in South 
America," in: The Menorah Journal, 11:5, 1925; P. Gomez Valderrama, 
Jorge Isaacs (1989); D.B. Lockhart, Jewish Writers of Latin America. 
A Dictionary (1997); D. Sommer, Foundational Fictions. The National 
Romances of Latin America (1991). 

[Kenneth R. Scholberg / Florinda F. Goldberg (2 nd ed.)] 

ISAACS, JOSEPH (1659-1737), New York pioneer. Colo- 
nial records afford only glimpses of Isaacs' career. It is known 
that he enlisted in the provincial militia in 1691 during King 
Williams War; that as a resident of the North and East Wards 
of New York City he was made a freeman of the city in 1698; 
that he was a merchant and a butcher, and that he unsuccess- 
fully petitioned the municipal authorities in 1702 for permis- 
sion to manufacture rum. In addition Isaacs was a party to 
numerous lawsuits, including one in which he was charged 
with possessing illegal weights. The assessment rolls of the 
city indicate that he was one of its less affluent businessmen, 
yet he contributed to the building of the Shearith Israel syna- 
gogue in 1729-30. 

[Leo Hershkowitz] 

ISAACS, NATHAN (1886-1941), U.S. lawyer, educator, and 

author. Isaacs taught law at the university of his native Cincin- 
nati (1912-18; interrupted by service in the U.S. Army during 
World War 1), at Harvard (1919-20 and from 1924) and at the 
University of Pittsburgh (1920-23). He also lectured at Yale Law 
School (1937-39). Isaacs was active in Jewish affairs and was an 
American delegate to the first World Jewish Congress in Ge- 
neva (1936). His books include The Law of Business Problems 
(1921, revised 1934), and Course in Business Law (1922). He co- 
edited the National Law Library with Roscoe Pound (1939). 

ISAACS, NATHANIEL (1808-1872), South African trader 
and explorer, regarded as one of the founders of Natal. He 
left a record of his visits to the kraal of the Zulu kings, Chaka 
and Dingaan, Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa, 1-2 
(1836), which is an important contemporary account of Zulu 
life and customs. Isaacs was a nephew of Saul Solomon, mer- 
chant of St. Helena, and was sent from England at the age 
of 14 to join his uncles countinghouse. In 1825, befriended 
by J.S. King, commander of the brig Mary, he accompanied 
him to Port Natal, and decided to explore the interior. His 
party reached the royal kraal of Chaka 130 miles inland, 
and was received by the monarch, who already knew King. 
Isaacs observed tribal life at close quarters and was later able 
to describe the tyrannical rule of Chaka with much horri- 
fying detail. He traded in ivory and accompanied the Zu- 
lus in an expedition against a Swazi tribe (in which he was 
wounded) and was given the name "Tamboosa" (Brave War- 
rior). He was granted a concession of land at what is now 
Durban, which he surrendered to H.E Fynn, another Na- 

tal pioneer. Much of our knowledge of Chaka Zulu derives 
from him. 

After Chaka's assassination by Dingaan, Isaacs vainly 
urged upon the Cape Government the advisability of coloniz- 
ing Natal. He was then only 20, and he spent two more years in 
Natal where he trained the Zulus in cultivation and cattle rais- 
ing. In 1831 he returned to England, still hoping Natal would 
be declared a colony, but received no encouragement. Natal 
was annexed by the British in 1843, but by then Isaacs was in 
West Africa, trading in Sierra Leone. 

bibliography: H.G. Mackeurton, The Cradle Days of Na- 
tal (1930), 1251!.; L. Hermann, A History of the Jews in South Africa 
(i935)> 79 _ 82. add. bibliography: M. Jolles, Samuel Isaac, Saul 
Isaac and Nathaniel Isaacs (1998). 

ISAACS, SUSAN (1943- ), U.S. author. Brooklyn-born 
Isaacs, a novelist, essayist, and screenwriter, was educated 
at Queens College. She left before she earned her degree to 
work as an editorial assistant at Seventeen magazine. She rose 
to senior editor but resigned to stay home with her children. 
At the same time, she freelanced, writing political speeches 
and magazine articles. She used her work background in her 
novels. While living on Long Island, a suburb of New York 
City, she published her first book, Compromising Positions, a 
comic novel, in 1978. It was a main selection of the Book-of- 
the-Month Club and was the first of 10 novels, all of which 
made the bestseller list. The whodunit told the tale of a sub- 
urban housewife who investigates, and solves, the murder of 
a philandering periodontist. In 1985, Isaacs adapted the book 
into a successful film, with Susan Sarandon playing the inves- 
tigator-housewife. She also wrote and co -produced a comedy, 
Hello Again, in 1987, with Shelley Long and Judith Ivey 

Isaacs s second novel, Close Relations, was a love story set 
against a background of ethnic, sexual, and New York Demo- 
cratic Party politics. It was published in 1980 and was a selec- 
tion of the Literary Guild. Her third, Almost Paradise, in 1984, 
was also a Literary Guild main selection. In this work Isaacs 
used the saga form to show how the people are molded not 
only by their histories but also by family fictions that supplant 
truth. Her fourth novel, Shining Through, published in 1988, 
was set during World War 11 and a film adaptation starred 
Michael *Douglas and Melanie Griffith. Her other books in- 
clude After All These Years, Lily White, Red White and Blue, 
Long Time No See, and Any Place I Hang My Hat. Her fiction 
has been translated into 30 languages. 

Isaacs served as chairman of the board of Poets & Writers 
and was a president of the Mystery Writers of America. She 
was also a member of the National Book Critics Circle, pen 
(Poets, Essayists and Novelists) and served on various educa- 
tional and family guidance organizations. 

[Stewart Kampel (2 nd ed.)] 

ISAACSOHN, SIEGFRIED (1845-1882), German historian. 
Isaacsohn wrote a three-volume work on Prussian history, Ge- 

schichte des preussischen Beamtenthums vom Anfang desfuenf- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


zehnten Jahrhunderts bis auf die Gegenwart (1874-84, reprint 
1962), and together with Harry Bresslau, Der Fall zweier preus- 
sischer Minister, des Oberpraesidenten Eberhard v. Danckelmann 
1697 u. des Grosskanzlers C.J.M. v. Fuerst 1779. Studien zur bran- 
denburgisch-preussischen Geschichte (1878). He was editor of 
the tenth volume of the series devoted to the documents of the 
Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg (1620-1688), Urkun- 
den und Actenstuecke zur Geschichte des Kurfuersten Friedrich 
Wilhelm von Brandenburg. Auf Veranlassung Sr. koeniglichen 
Hoheit des Kronprinzen v. Preussen (1880). 

add. bibliography: H. Bresslau, Preface to Geschichte des 
preussischen Beamtentums, 3:v-viii (biogr. and bibliogr. notes). 

The pseudepigraphical Ascension of *Isaiah relates that 
Isaiah was "sawn asunder" by the wicked ^Manasseh (5:111"., cf. 
also Heb. 11:37). A variation of this theme is found in the Ba- 
bylonian Talmud (Ye v. 49b), which relates that a genealogical 
record in Jerusalem reports the death of Isaiah by the hand of 
Manasseh: Isaiah was "swallowed by a cedar tree, and the tree 
was sawn asunder." Also in the Jerusalem Talmud (tj, Sanh. 
10:2, 28c), Isaiah is said to have hidden in a cedar tree which 
was then "sawn asunder." The tradition is therefore consistent 
that the prophet was martyred in the days of Manasseh. 

For other biblical figures with the name Isaiah see Ezra 
8:7; 8:19; Neh. 11:7; 1 Chron. 3:21; 25:3, 15; 26:25. 

ISAACSON, JOSE (1922- ). Argentinian writer, essayist, and 
lyric poet of Sephardic origin. Many of his works have received 
awards, including Amor y Amar ("Love and To love," i960), 
Elogio de lapoesia ("Praise of Poetry," 1963), Oda a la alegria 
("Ode to Joy," 1966), and his essay El poeta en la sociedad de 
masas ("The Poet in Mass Society," 1969). Other noteworthy 
works were Kafka: la imposibilidad como proyecto ("Kafka: 
Impossible as a Project," 1974) and Cuaderno Spinoza ("The 
Spinoza Notebook," 1977) a philosophical poem on the apogee 
of i8 th -century reason before the advent of the crisis of con- 
temporary thought and the alienation of 20 th century man. In 
1980 he received the Latin American Prize for Intellectual Jew- 
ish Merit, conferred by the Latin American Jewish Congress. 
From the Jewish perspective Isaacson writes about the post- 
emancipation period and from the perspective of Argentine 
history; his literary production belongs to the most pluralis- 
tic and humanist tradition generated by Liberalism. Thus he 
appealed both to Jewish intellectuals and to the non-Jewish 
cultural world which appreciated his human, universal, and 
abstract values. He was president of the Argentine branch of 
the International Pen Club. From 1953 to 1970 he was board 
secretary of the Jewish -Argentine quarterly Comentario. 

bibliography: N. Lindstrom, Jewish Issues in Argentine 
Literature (1989). D.B. Lockhart, Jewish Writers of Latin America. 
A Dictionary (1997). L. Senkman, La identidad judia en la literatura 
argentina (1983). A.E. Weinstein & M.G. Nasatsky (eds.), Escritores 
judeo-argentinos. Bibliografia 1900-1987 (1994). 

[Jose Luis Nachenson and Noemi Hervits de Najenson] 

ISAIAH (Heb. irryt^, rrytf * "Salvation of yh wh"), one of the 
eight books (as the Rabbis and the Masorah count them) of 
the Nevi'im, or Prophets, the second division of the Hebrew 
canon (see *Bible, Canon). 


Outside the Book of Isaiah itself, the prophet is mentioned in 
11 Kings 19-20 and 11 Chronicles 26:22; 32:20, 32. He is called 
the son of Amoz, who is otherwise unknown. According to a 
tradition in the Babylonian Talmud (Meg. 10b), Amoz was the 
brother of *Amaziah, king of Judah. A contemporary of *Mi- 
cah, Isaiah was preceded slightly by Hosea and Amos, both of 
whom preached in the Northern Kingdom. 


Sira attests that by 180 b.c.e. Isaiah had already reached its 
present form (Ecclus. 48:17-25). This is corroborated by the 
Isaiah scroll discovered in the area of the Dead Sea which 
contains all 66 chapters of Isaiah (but see W.H. Brownlee, The 
Meaning of the Qumran Scrolls for the Bible (1964), who be- 
lieves, on the basis of a gap following chapter 33 in the Isaiah 
scroll, that a literary division should be made at that point). 
On the basis of this evidence, it is highly unlikely that some 
portions of Isaiah date from the Maccabean period (see R.H. 
Kennett, The Composition of the Book of Isaiah in the Light of 
History and Archaeology (1910)). The New Testament speaks 
of the entire book as Isaianic: John 12:38 refers to Isaiah 53:7 
by the formula "spoken by the prophet Isaiah" while the next 
verse, 12:39, refers to Isaiah 6:9, 10 with the statement "For Isa- 
iah again said..." (see further E.J. Young, Who Wrote Isaiah 7 . 
(1958), nff.). According to Bava Batra 15a, Hezekiah and his 
colleagues "wrote" Isaiah. However, it was generally axiomatic 
among the rabbis that the Book of Isaiah was the work of one 
prophet, and they answered the apparent time discrepancy 
by attributing the latter chapters to the outcome of prophetic 
powers. Abraham ibn Ezra, anticipating modern criticism, 
hints that because chapters 40-66 of Isaiah contain histori- 
cal material subsequent to the time of Isaiah, it is likely that 
these chapters were not written by Isaiah ben Amoz (see M. 
Friedlaender, Commentary of Ibn Ezra on Isaiah (1873), 170). 
Modern criticism began with J.B. Koppes observation, in the 
German edition of Lowth's Commentary (1780), that chapter 
50 may not have come from the prophet. In 1789, J.C. Doed- 
erlein denied the Isaianic authorship of chapters 40-66. Tak- 
ing up the issue, J.G. Eichhorn and E.F.K. Rosenmueller de- 
fined the criteria for distinguishing between genuine Isaianic 
and non-Isaianic portions. By the middle of the 19 th century, 
these views had a very wide following, although they were 
challenged by C.P. Caspari, J. A. Alexander, and, in his early 
years, F. Delitzsch. More and more scholars began to write on 
the subject, refining and correcting previous positions. Among 
these were G.A. Smith (1889) and B. Duhm, who, in 1892, la- 
beled chapters 40-55 and 56-66 of the book Deutero -Isaiah 
and Trito-Isaiah, respectively. In 1914, H. Gressmann applied 
the method of Formgeschichte to the study of Isaiah (in: zawb, 
34 (1914), 254-97). This method, introduced by H. Gunkel and 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



H. Gressmann, is concerned with identifying the Gattungen 
(literary types) of a given book and placing them in their Sitz 
im Leben (life situation, historical context). C.C. Torrey main- 
tained that chapters 34-66, excluding 36-39, were the work 
of one author, writing that "the paring process, begun with a 
penknife, is continued with a hatchet, until the book has been 
chopped into hopeless chunks" (The Second Isaiah: A New In- 
terpretation (1928), 13). There has been a trend toward synthe- 
sizing the methods of literary criticism and the methods of 
Formgeschichte in the manner of Childs' Isaiah and the Assyr- 
ian Crisis, 1967. Y.T. Radday has attempted to utilize computers 
in determining the authorship of the work (Y.T. Radday, in: 
Tarbiz y 39 (1969/70), 323-41; idem, in: jbl, 89 (1970), 319-24; 
idem, in: Computers and the Humanities, 5 no. 2 (1970), 65 ff.). 
Radday s work concludes that there was at least one other au- 
thor for the second part of Isaiah. J.H. Hertz put the traditional 
Jewish viewpoint on this subject thus: "This question can be 
considered dispassionately. It touches no dogma, or any reli- 
gious principle in Judaism; and, moreover, does not materially 
affect the understanding of the prophecies, or of the human 
conditions of the Jewish people that they have in view" (The 
Pentateuch and Haftorahs (1956), 942). For a more recent sur- 
vey of Isaiah scholarship see J. Sawyer, dbi i, 549-54. 

The virtually unanimous opinion in modern times is that 
Isaiah is to be considered the work of two distinct authors: 
First Isaiah (chs. 1-39) whose prophetic career in Jerusalem 
covers the years c. 740-700 b.c.e., and that of an unknown 
prophet (Deutero-Isaiah, chs. 40-66; see below) whose proph- 
ecies reflect the experience and events of the Babylonian Ex- 
ile (c. 540 B.C.E.). 

The beginning of (First) Isaiah's prophetic career (6:1; 
"the year of the death of King Uzziah," c. 740 b.c.e.) coincided 
with the onset of a highly critical period in the fortunes of both 
the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the events of this period 
furnish the immediate background of Isaiahs prophecies. The 
march of conquest of both Babylonia and Syria, launched by 
Tiglath-Pileser in upon his accession to the Assyrian throne 
(745 b.c.e.), raised a looming threat to the future indepen- 
dence and, indeed, to the very existence of both kingdoms. The 
coming to power of the usurper Pekah (736 b.c.e.) in Israel 
marked a concerted effort, in which he was joined by Rezin, 
king of Damascus, and a few other neighboring principalities, 
to throw off the yoke of Assyrian domination. Upon King Ahaz 
of Judah's refusal to join the alliance, his kingdom was invaded 
by the leaders of the anti- Assyrian alliance who proposed to 
depose him and replace him with a pro- Aramean puppet, the 
"son of Tabeel" (11 Kings 15:37; 16:5; Isa. 7:1 ff.). In that critical 
hour, in a meeting with the panic-stricken monarch, Isaiah 
urged the king to be confident and calm. Ahaz spurned the 
prophet's quietistic counsel and, instead, sent an urgent appeal 
for help, accompanied by tribute, to Tiglath-Pileser (11 Kings 
16:7). Thus, the independence of Judah was surrendered. For 
Isaiah, the fateful act, while buying temporary security for 
Judah, ultimately invited disaster at the hands of its rescuer. 
King *Hezekiah (c. 715-687 b.c.e.), Ahaz's son and successor 

to the throne, cautiously stayed aloof, for a time, from abor- 
tive attempts initiated by Egypt to throw off the Assyrian yoke. 
Perhaps it was the insistence of the prophet on the futility of 
an alliance with Egypt that prompted this attitude; Isaiah dra- 
matized his insistence by going about barefoot and naked for 
three years as a symbol of the fate that would overtake Egypt 
and its ally Nubia at the hands of the Assyrians (ch. 20). Some 
years later, internal troubles in Assyria apparently persuaded 
Hezekiah that, despite the prophet's warnings and dire pre- 
dictions (39:5-7), the hour was ripe to break the yoke of vas- 
salage. Isaiah's warning that dependence upon Egyptian aid 
could only lead to disaster went unheeded (31:3). In 701 b.c.e. 
Sennacherib invaded Palestine, after defeating an opposing 
Egyptian and Nubian force at Eltekeh. The countryside was 
quickly overrun (22:7), and much of its population deported. 
Soon afterward Jerusalem was besieged. Isaiah, prompted by 
his faith in the inviolability of Jerusalem, encouraged Hezekiah 
to refuse to surrender the city to the invader despite the threats 
and demands of Sennacherib's high officer (36:4ff.; 11 Kings 
i8:i7ff.). The prophet predicted that Jerusalem would not be 
taken and that God would "turn back the invader the way by 
which he came" (37:22-29). The siege of Jerusalem was lifted, 
an event credited to a divine visitation (37:36; 11 Kings 19:36) 
that devastated the camp of Sennacherib. (For Sennacherib's 
account see Pritchard, Texts, 287-8; cos 11: 302-3; L.L. Honor, 
Sennacherib's Invasion of Palestine , 1926.) Though the politi- 
cal and military events of the prophet's time, briefly described 
above, help to illuminate a number of passages in Isaiah (es- 
sentially, those already cited), the major portion of the book 
is devoted not to Judah's foreign policy but to the inner state 
of the nation, its social order, and its religious situation. Isa- 
iah's career began at a time of growing prosperity that brought 
comfort and luxury. Material growth was accompanied by the 
territorial expansion of the Kingdom of Judah, achieved by 
military power cultivated by King Uzziah (11 Chron. 26:6-15). 
The economic and political situation never seemed brighter. A 
national sense of complacent self-satisfaction and pride could 
hardly be avoided. Isaiah, however, saw that wealth had been 
purchased at the price of oppression. Corruption was rife in 
high places (1:23); the guilty were acquitted for bribes and the 
innocent were denied justice (5:23); the fatherless went unde- 
fended (1:23); the mansions of the rich contained the spoils of 
the poor (3:14); the poor farmer was evicted from his land to 
make room for the estate of the plutocrat (5:8). The aristocratic 
women of Jerusalem, in their elaborate attire and jewelry, es- 
pecially served the prophet as target for his denunciations and 
predictions of doom (3:16-24). Foreign trade and imports ap- 
parently brought with them idolatrous religious practices and 
superstitions; at least, the prophet links the two (2:6-8) and 
he charges that "Everyone worshippeth the work of his own 
hands" (10:10 f). The prophet does not repudiate the sacrifi- 
cial cult carried out in the Temple; indeed, he seems to have 
been a frequent Temple visitor, for it is here that he receives 
the divine call to prophecy in a vision. However, sacrifice and 
oblations brought by hands "full of blood" are "vain" and an 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


"abomination" (1:11-15). If the divine demand "to seek jus- 
tice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the 
widow" (1:17) is heeded, "ye shall eat the good of the land"; if 
not, "ye shall be devoured by the sword" (1:19, 20). The coming 
of God in His fierce anger to punish Israel and the nations is a 
recurrent theme (5:15, 16, 24, 25; 9:14-19; 13:11-13; 30:27, 28; cf. 
9:20; 10:4). Yet, the divine anger is but an instrument where- 
with to humble the arrogant and punish the evildoers. Once 
it has accomplished its purpose, God will show His gracious- 
ness and mercy (10:25; 26:30; 30:18). The latter are presumably 
meant for the "holy seed" that will remain when the work of 
destructive purification has been fulfilled (6:13). Only a rem- 
nant of Israel shall return (8:18; 10:21, 22; Heb. Shear Yashuv y 
the symbolic name of the prophets son, 7:3). In addition to 
the concrete historical hope of the survival of a remnant, the 
prophet holds out an eschatological hope, one to be consum- 
mated at the end of days when the whole world will be trans- 
formed. Isaiahs eschatology is grounded in his faith in God's 
permanent attachment to Israel and to Zion (28:16). God's 
design for the history of the nations is to reach its fulfillment 
in Zion, to which the nations will repair to learn the ways of 
God and to walk in His paths (2:2-4, 55 33:20; 28:16; cf. Micah 
4:14). The denouement of history will see the abolition of war 
and the turning of the nations to peace. Closely linked to Isa- 
iah's eschatology are his visions of the messianic figure. Sprung 
from the root of Jesse (father of David), he will be endowed 
with the spirit of God in its fullness. With unblurred vision, 
he will intervene on behalf of the poor and deliver them from 
their persecutors, establishing thereby a reign of righteousness 
and truth. Under his reign, even the ferocity of the wild beasts 
will be transformed into gentleness (11:1-10). In a similar pas- 
sage, the prophet invests the messianic king with extraordi- 
nary traits, calling him "Wonderful in counsel. . . the everlast- 
ing father, the prince of peace" (9:5 ff.). In summary fashion, 
the essential doctrines of Isaiah may be described as 

(1) an emphasis on the holiness of God; 

(2) a rejection of human schemes and wisdom as the 
means of working out the destiny of Israel and, in their stead, 
a total reliance on God; 

(3 ) an ardent faith in Jerusalem as the inviolable city of 
God and its proclamation as the future site of universal ac- 
ceptance of the God of Israel by the nations; 

(4) the delineation of the messianic king under whose 
reign final justice and peace will be inaugurated; 

(5) the doctrine that only a remnant of Israel shall emerge 
out of the doom to be visited upon it; 

(6) the primacy of the moral dimension of the religious 
life without which ritual observance becomes an abomination 
in the sight of God. 

Chapters 40-66 of the Book of Isaiah constitute the 
prophecies of an unknown prophet of the Babylonian Ex- 
ile, commonly referred to as Deutero- (Second) Isaiah. Fairly 
widely accepted critical opinion (but with exceptions) attri- 
butes chapters 56-66 to a different prophet conveniently called 
Trito-Isaiah. (Since the essential ideas of these latter chapters 

form a consistent whole with chapters 40-55, for purposes 
of this article they will be considered in conjunction with 
them.) The dramatic turn of events of his time, the impend- 
ing conquest of Babylonia by Cyrus, the Persian king of An- 
shan (539 b.c.e.), to which the prophet alludes (45:1 ff.; 47:1), 
enables the prophet's utterances to be dated with approximate 
accuracy to 540 b.c.e. In the light of the predicted downfall of 
Babylonia, and hence presumably an end to exile, the proph- 
et's message to his people who are in despair over the ruin of 
Judah is, in the first instance, one of hope and consolation. 
He speaks in vivid terms of "the waste and desolate places, 
the land that has been destroyed" (49:19). Zion is a widow 
bereaved of her children (49:19 ff.) or a barren mother with- 
out offspring (54:1; cf. 51:18-20). It was not only the thought of 
Zion in ruins that weighed heavily on the mind and heart of 
the prophet; hardly less oppressive was the fact that thousands 
of his fellow countrymen, owing to a variety of circumstances, 
had been widely scattered and were to be found at all points 
of the compass (43:5; 49:12, 22). To judge from repeated ref- 
erences, the exiles in Babylonia were subject to contempt and 
hostility (41:11; 51:7, 13, 23; 54:15). A pervasive despair and fear, 
coupled with a sense of abandonment by God, had overcome 
the exiles (40:27; 49:14; 50:1). Here and there, some, despair- 
ing of the God of Israel's power to deliver them (40:28; 45:24; 
46:12; 50:2), had readily succumbed to the lure of Babylonian 
idolatry (44:17; 48:5). In the midst of the depressing situation, 
the anonymous prophet reaffirms with striking emphasis and 
clarity the ancient faith that the God of Israel is not only the 
creator of heaven and earth (40:26; 44:24; 45:7), but the ulti- 
mate arbiter of the destinies of the proud empires, to do with 
them as he would (40:15 ff.). It was the God of Israel who di- 
rected history (43:12) and who, even now, was guiding the 
course of events in bringing overwhelming victory to Cyrus 
(41:2 ff., 25). Incisively, he predicts the collapse of the idols of 
Babylon (46:16°.) and sets forth again and again the exclusive 
divinity of the God of Israel besides whom there is no re- 
deemer (43:10; cf. 44:24; 45:6, 18, 21; 46:9; 48:nf.). True, Israel 
had sinned (43:27°.; cf. 48:1 ff.), but divine wrath and punish- 
ment were things of the past, and God had freely pardoned 
Israel's sins (40:2; 44:22; cf. 48:9; 51:22; 54:66°.). As expres- 
sions of God's love and His assurance that they had not been 
abandoned, the prophet employs a whole series of endearing 
epithets for Israel (43:7; 44:1, 5, 21; 51:4, 16; 54:17). In precise 
terms, the exiles would be released from Babylonia when that 
empire had vengeance wreaked upon it for its oppression of 
Israel (45:16°.; 47:iff.). It is Cyrus, heir to Babylonia's throne, 
who would let the exiles go free (45:13; 52:116°.). The return 
to Zion would be led by God Himself (40:96°.). The Temple 
would then rise upon a new foundation, and Zion would gain 
a new, incomparable splendor (54:11 f.). There would also be 
a vast ingathering of Israelites out of the lands to which they 
had been scattered (43:5 f; cf. 49:12; 51:11; 53:12). Non- Israelites 
would join the House of Israel in allegiance to its God (44:5). 
The prophet speaks warmly of the aliens who associate them- 
selves with the faith of Israel and assures them that they will 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



receive an "everlasting memorial" (56:4-8). In a burst of ex- 
altation at the thought of Israel's forthcoming restoration, he 
sees Israel as supreme over the nations and the latter as sub- 
servient to it (43:3; 45:14; 49:22 f; 54:3). A group of passages in 
Second Isaiah (42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12) are known 
as songs of the Servant of the Lord. Around the question of 
the identity of the figure described in these passages, a vast 
literature has grown up. The preponderance of scholarly opin- 
ion inclines to the conclusion that the Suffering Servant is to 
be identified with the people of Israel and, at the same time, 
perhaps with an "individual who both represents the whole 
community and carries to its supreme point the mission of the 
nation" (H.H. Rowley, The Faith of Israel (1953), 122). The mis- 
sion of the servant is not only "to raise up the tribes of Jacob" 
but to be a "light to the nations" (49:6). His task is to set justice 
in the earth, bringing it forth in truth (42:3, 4), and to serve 
as liberator (42:7; see ^Servant of the Lord). 

[Theodore Friedman] 

Within this can be distinguished (1) the core, chapters 1-33, 
and (2) the historical appendix, chapters 36-39. The latter, a 
variant of 11 Kings 18:13, 17-20:19, does not purport to be by 
Isaiah, and was only copied from (a variant recension of) the 
Book of Kings and appended to Isaiah 1-33 because it tells 
about Isaiah. Even within chapters 1-33 there are some peri- 
copes which are about, rather than by, Isaiah (e.g., ch. 20) and 
some which are neither by Isaiah nor about him. For the au- 
thentic utterances of Isaiah, the dating by the (not Isaian, but 
editorial) superscription 1:1 "in the reigns of Kings Uzziah, 
Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah" is reliable, and the 
modern student of Isaiah does well to add: "and of Kings Ti- 
glath-Pileser (in, 745-727), Shalmaneser (v, 726-722), Sargon 
(n, 722-705), and Sennacherib (705-681) of Assyria." 

Divisions and Content of Chapters 1-33 

The block Isaiah 1-33 falls into two main divisions of unequal 
length: a. The Diary, chapters 1-12; b. The Archive, chapters 
13-33. Th e Diary has been so named by Ginsberg (1964) be- 
cause despite deviations (which can be accounted for) its ar- 
rangement is chronological (c. 740-715 b.c.e.) in principle, 
with the result that when read in light of the most up-to-date 
knowledge of the relevant history it resembles a diary. The 
Archive, on the other hand, is a repository of prophecies of 
which only a minority at the end seem to be arranged chron- 

the diary, chapters 1-12. The Diary, Chapters 1-12, may 
be likened to a triptych with a narrow inner panel, chapter 
6, and two broad outer panels, chapters 1-5 and 7-12, each 
of which is divided (horizontally or vertically, according to 
the readers preference) into two fields. Panel 1 dates basically 
from before the death of King Uzziah; Panel 2 - as 6:1 states - 
from "the year that King Uzziah died"; Panel 3 - as stated by 
7:1 - begins in the reign of Ahaz, whether it continues into 

the reign of Hezekiah depends on whether Ahaz s reign was 
short (some date his death as early as 727, see below) or long 
(some have him live till 715). The somewhat detailed discus- 
sion which follows will serve as an introduction to the per- 
son, background, style, and outlook of Isaiah and will make 
possible considerable economies of space in the treatment of 
the Archive. 

Panel 1, Field A, Chapter 1. *Ewald titled this chapter "The 
Great Arraignment." More apt would be "The Great Exhorta- 
tion" for it appeals for reform (w 16-18), and offers total re- 
mission of even grave past sins on condition of reform (18-20). 
S.D. Luzzatto pointed out that Lekhu na (note the precative 
particle na!) ve-nivvakhehah (we-niwwakhehah) can only 
mean "Come, let us reach an understanding," since that is the 
only meaning that fits both here and in the only other undam- 
aged passage in which the nifal of ykh occurs, Job. 23:7 (Gen. 
20:6b is obscure). And escape is offered to everyone in Zion 
who reforms: verse 27: "In the judgment, Zion shall be saved 
(as in Job 5:20); in the retribution (so zedakah (zedaqah) is 
also to be rendered in 5:16; 10:22; 28:17), those in her who turn 
back." Only the rebels and sinners will perish, verse 28. The 
implication is that they will be a minority. When it is noticed 
that nowhere else does Isaiah summon to repentance, but only 
expects it after an ever greater depopulation (even in 31:6, the 
continuation in the third person in the same verse and in the 
following one show that shuvu [imperative, "turn back!"] is 
to be emended to we-shavu y "The children of Israel will then 
turn back to him to whom they were so false"), it is clear that 
chapter 1 belongs exactly where it is, at the beginning of the 
book; only verses 5-9 (10?) have been added - by Isaiah - ei- 
ther after the extinction of the Kingdom of Ephraim in 722 or 
after Sennacherib's invasion of Judah, his transfer of some of 
its territory to the Philistines, and his imposition of a heavy 
tribute on Hezekiah in 701. The fact that 1:2-20 (apart from 
the verses just mentioned) is Isaiah's maiden composition may 
explain its heavy dependence on earlier models. The models in 
question are the Song of Moses and the message of Amos. Isa- 
iah 1:2 may be said to summarize the whole of Deuteronomy 
32:1-18. Isaiah 1:2a = Deuteronomy 32:1-4 minus the elabo- 
rate adornment: Let heaven and earth give respectful atten- 
tion, for these are the words of no other than the Lord. Isaiah 
1:2b = Deuteronomy 32:5-18 in a nutshell: children nurtured 
and reared (Deut. 32, less restrained, also uses five verbs of 
engendering, Deut. 32:6b, 18) by the Lord have defected from 
him. Isaiah 1:3 merely repeats the preceding thought: ox and 
ass acknowledge their master and feeder, Israel does not. In 
turning from heaven and earth to address Israel reproachfully, 
Isaiah 1:4 takes its cue from Deuteronomy 32:6, but two of its 
epithets are inspired by Deuteronomy 32:5: "corrupt children" 
(Heb. banim mashhitim) goes back to Deuteronomy 32:5a, 
which even in its mutilated condition has preserved the ele- 
ments banaw and shihet and which originally may have read 
very much like banim mashhitim yalad y "He gave birth to cor- 
rupt children," while zerd mere c im y "brood of evildoers," is 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


synonymous with Deuteronomy 32:5b, "a crooked and twisted 
generation." Here the echoes of Deuteronomy 32 in content 
and diction cease, but its form persists through Isaiah 1:20. For 
just as in Deuteronomy 32 the speaker alternately utters his 
own "discourse" (lekah, leqah, verse 2), verses 1-18, 36a, 43, and 
introduces and quotes yhwh, verses 19-35, 36a-42, so Isaiah 
1:2-20 gives the following alternation: Isaiah introduces and 
quotes yhwh, 2-3; Isaiah adds his own comment, 4-9 (but 
5-9 were added by him later); Isaiah introduces and quotes 
yhwh, 10-18; Isaiah adds his own interpretation, 19-20. The 
idea of disloyal children is repeated in 30:1, 9. The last cited 
verse is preceded (30:8) by an introduction remarkably remi- 
niscent of the introduction to the Song of Moses, Deuteron- 
omy 31:19, for as the Targum, among other versions, realized, 
Vd in the former is to be vocalized le- c ed, "for a witness"; but 
in this case it is hard to decide which passage is dependent 
on which. As for the message of Isaiah 1:10-17 ~ the protest 
against the topsy-turvy scale of values applied to cult and 
justice - its dependence on Amos 5:21-25 is obvious, and the 
identical or equivalent elements can be picked out. The themes 
of the oppression of the poor and the subversion of justice oc- 
cur again both in Isaiah and in Amos, and it is not difficult to 
recognize in Amos 2:6b~7a; 3:15; 5:11-12 the elements of Isa- 
iah 5:8-10 (cf. 1:29-30, which speak not of cult gardens but of 
luxury gardens in view of verse 31 he-hason... u-fdalo ("trea- 
sure... and he who amassed it"); 5:23, 10:1-2). Not dependent 
on either the Song of Moses or the words of Amos is the glo- 
rification of Jerusalem, Isaiah 1:21-27. Disappointed as he is in 
her present state, Isaiah firmly believes that she was a faithful 
city where justice dwelt in the past, and will be such again in 
the future. He may well have idealized the past unduly. Jerusa- 
lem's judges had probably been officials appointed by the king 
ever since David's conquest, and it seems that in the Ancient 
Near East it was understood that an official derived much of 
his income from the gifts of the private persons who needed 
his services. From the start, therefore, a judge was exposed 
to a powerful temptation (1) to be too busy to hear an action 
brought by a widow or an orphan, who could not afford to 
bring an adequate gift (Isa. 1:23), (2) not only to hear but also 
to favor a litigant who did bring such a gift. However, Isaiah 
is to be judged as a prophet, not as a historian. The initial im- 
pression of nobility of thought and language is confirmed by 
the following chapters. 

Panel 1, Field b, chapters 2-5. Furnished with a superscription 
of its own, 2:1, this collection dates from a slightly later period 
than Field a, as explained above, but the last pronouncement 
in it, 5:25 ff, dates still from the reign of Uzziah, since the lat- 
est misfortune it speaks of as having already occurred (though 
it is not destined to remain the last) is the famous earthquake 
of Uzziah's reign (Amos 1:1; Zech. 14:5). The pericope 9:7 [8] ff, 
which begins its survey further back in history, also knows of 
later calamities as having already been endured: it comes to the 
earthquake in 9:18 [19] a, and goes on in 9:i8b-2oa [i9b-2ia] 
to speak of Ephraim's savage civil wars - see 11 Kings 15:9-16, 

23-25 - and of its ensuing attack on Judah, for which see 
11 Kings 16:5-6; Isaiah 7:iff The date of this last event is 733, 
and if there were any merit to the argument that Isaiah 5:25 
(with or without 5:266°.) belongs in the context of 9:7 [8] ff. 
"because it has the same refrain" it would follow that Isaiah 
5:25(1!.) likewise dates from 733. However, the said argument 
begs the question; for a stich that occurs only once is not a re- 
frain, and in chapter 5 the stich "Yet his anger has not turned 
back, and his arm is outstretched still" (5:25b) occurs only 
once. No time need be wasted on R. Kittel's egregious sugges- 
tion (Biblia Hebraica, 1929 3 , which is not peculiar to him) that 
the statement at the beginning of 5:25 to the effect that God's 
anger has been roused against his people and that he has ex- 
tended his arm to strike it, presupposes four previous occur- 
rences of "Yet his anger has not turned back and his arm is 
outstretched still." But it is also the opposite of probable that 
Isaiah contemplated repeating "Yet his anger has not turned 
back, etc," and going on to depict still further slaughter either 
in Israel or in Judah at the time when he announced (5:26-29) 
the coming with uncanny speed "from the end of the earth" 
of a legendary nation of barbarians equipped with the fangs 
(for wsg [so the consonantal text] read wsnym, we-shinnayim), 
the voracity, and the irresistibleness of lions. (The description 
no more contemplates a specific, real, nation - like the Assyr- 
ians - here than in Deut. 28:49-51; Jer. 5:15-17.) What more 
was necessary for making the land desolate (Isa. 6:11-12)? See 
also Panel 3, Field a. 

Excursus: The Zion Vision, 2:2-4. This is one of the most re- 
markable pericopes in the entire Book of Isaiah. It reads as 
follows (verse 2): "In the days to come, the Mount of the Lord's 
House shall stand firm above the mountains and tower above 
the hills; and all the nations shall gaze on it with joy. (3) And 
the many peoples shall go and shall say: 'Come, // Let us go 
to the mount of The Lord,/to the House of the God of Jacob;// 
That he may direct us according to his ways,/ And that we may 
walk in his paths'//For direction shall be forthcoming from 
Zion,/And words of the Lord from Jerusalem.// (4) Thus he 
will judge among the nations/ And arbitrate for the many peo- 
ples,//And they shall beat their swords into plowtips/and their 
spears into pruning hooks://Nation shall not take up/Sword 
against nation;//They shall never again know war." //The use 
of the verb "to direct" (horah) of the issuing of messages by 
the Lord and of the delivering of such messages by prophets 
is characteristic of Isaiah (9:14; 28:9, 26; 30:20 [bis]), and the 
use of the noun "direction" (tor ah) of messages from super- 
human sources is even more characteristic of him (1:10; 5:24; 
8:16, 20; 30:9). This is true of ad hoc prophecy that is charac- 
teristic of Isaiah, though occasionally emulated by Habakkuk 
(2:19). Not merely characteristically Isaian but specifically Isa- 
ian is the parallelism "direction//word of the Lord" (or, once, 
"utterance of the Holy One of Israel"): 1:10; 5:24. In this as in 
other matters (see below), Isaiah's weaknesses lie in the field of 
practicality. Isaiah 2:2-4 is unmistakably Isaian not only in its 
diction but also in its ideology. For both its Zion-centeredness 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



and its concern that other nations beside Israel maybe spared 
the horrors of war (contrast Lev. 25:18; 26:5; Jer. 30:10; 46:27; 
Hos. 2:20) are in line with much else. Although the prophecy 
occurs again in Micah 4:1-4, its uniquely Isaian "Tor ah/ /word 
of the Lord," which has already been commented upon, makes 
it unlikely that it is the work of some anonymous genius who 
preceded both Isaiah and Micah; and both this feature and the 
ideological congruence with Isaiah and clash with Micah - 
who cancels the universalism of the passage in the very next 
verse (Micah 4:5) as well as in 5:7-8, and its Zionism (he was 
a provincial from Morashah, 1:1) in 3:12 - preclude the prior- 
ity of Micah (see Kaufmann on Micah). 

Panel 2, chapter 6. Both the rabbis and modern research re- 
gard this as Isaiahs earliest prophecy (his "inaugural vision"); 
but Kaplan and Kaufmann have dissented, as have Milgrom, 
Knierim, and Schmidt. There is a new harshness here. God 
tells Isaiah to go and harden the hearts of "that people" (ha- 
c am ha-zeh, verses 9, 10) - the first occurrence of this deprecat- 
ing designation; contrast "my people," 1:3 (though God is here 
reproaching Israel); 3:15 - in order that it may not (pen) "turn 
back and be healed" (cf. 19:22). To Isaiahs shocked question, 
"How long, O Lord?" - with which is to be compared Ezekiel's 
horrified exclamation (Ezek. 11:13b), "Oh, Lord yhwh, You 
are completely destroying the remnant of Israel!" - yhwh re- 
plies, just as He does to Ezekiel (Ezek. 11:14-21), that a small 
remnant shall turn back to the Lord and be spared. Unless 
we-hayetah levder is moved, for purely stylistic reasons, to the 
end of verse 11, Isaiah 6:13 is to be rendered thus: "But while a 
tenth part still remains in it, it shall turn back (cf. Shear-yas- 
huv (Shear- Jashub), "a remnant shall turn back," the name of 
the son with whom Isaiah appears, a year or two later, in 7:3; 
see also 10:21). For it shall be ravaged (we-hayetah levder) like 
the terebinth and the oak, of which stumps remain even when 
they are felled; its stump shall be a holy kindred." The only in- 
terpolation in Isaiah 6 is verse 12a, "The Lord will remove the 
population," which - referring to the Lord in the third person 
in the midst of a speech by the Lord - stems from a post-Exilic 
glossator who thought the prediction of devastation was a pre- 
diction of the exiling of the population to Babylonia (a century 
and a half later). In the inaugural visions Exodus 3:2-4:17; Jer- 
emiah 1:4-9 (verse 9 makes this a vision); and Ezekiel 1:1-3:13, 
there are no participants but God and prophet (in the last cited 
vision the Lord does not address the creatures that bear His 
throne), and there is no call for a volunteer: the prophet is as- 
signed his mission willy-nilly. The true analogue to Isaiah 6 is 
1 Kings 22:17 ff'l i n th e former, however, the prophet is purged 
by a peculiar visionary rite (Isa. 6:6-j) so that he, as well as 
the celestial creatures of the Lord's council, may participate 
(imitated in Zech. 3:4-7). No wonder he believes that not only 
he but also his unnamed wife (she is simply "the Prophetess," 
perhaps herself a prophet, 8:3) and his children (8:11 ff., 18) - 
the last word in 8:16 is probably also to be emended to ba-ye- 
ladim, "in the children" - are something set apart from "the 
masses" (rabbim, 8:15)! 

Panels, Field A, chapters 7-9. The Arameo-Ephraimite Attempt 
to Depose the House of David, 734-732. The Arameo-Ephraim- 
ite attack is the occasion for 9:7 [8]ff., whereas it is only the 
starting point of 7:1 - 9:6 [7] , which in 8:23 [9:1] alludes to the 
Assyrian annexation of Sharon (in 734) and of Gilead and 
Galilee (732) as having already taken place (cf. 11 Kings 15:29). 
But 7:1-9:6 [7] was attracted to the vicinity of chapter 6 by the 
similarity of the openings 6:1 and 7:1. To the attempt to de- 
throne the Davidic dynasty, Isaiah reacted with the fury of a 
devout "legitimist." For to him the divine election of the House 
of David was as axiomatic as the divine election of Zion (see 
above). Recalling Amos 4:6-12, in which his predecessor had 
traced a series of disasters which had failed to induce repen- 
tance in the Northern Kingdom, because of which he had 
threatened it with ominous vagueness (Amos 4:12), with some- 
thing much worse than anything that had preceded, Isaiah 
first repeated the last two of the disasters to which Amos had 
already looked back and then paraphrased Amos' threat for 
the future with appalling explicitness. For in Isaiah 9:7 [8] the 
Septuagint is unquestionably right in interpreting the conso- 
nants of the first two Hebrew words as dever shillah ("let [past 
tense] loose pestilence"), and Ehrlich in changing we-nafal to 
we-negef ("plague"). Isaiah 9:7(8] alludes to the same pesti- 
lence, and Isaiah 9:io-n[n-i2] to the same military disaster(s), 
as Amos 4:10. For the military disasters, this identity is con- 
firmed by Haran's observation that Amos 1:6 speaks of Gaza 
(i.e., Philistia generally) handing over Israelite captives to 
Aram (so read for "Edom"). Then in 9:12 [13], Isaiah para- 
phrases the final clause of Amos 4:10. Accordingly, Isaiah 9:13, 
i6a[i4,i7a] spells out the vague threat of Amos 4:12, and the 
beginning of it must be translated, "The Lord will exterminate 
from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed, in one day." 
After that, Isaiah 9:17-20 [18-21] traces the stages in the fulfill- 
ment of this threat that have been realized between the time 
that Amos uttered it (see Amos 1:1) and Israel's attack on 
Judah. Unlike Isaiah 5:25 ff., therefore, Isaiah 9:7(8] ff. resem- 
bles Amos 4:6 ff. in looking back on not one but a whole series 
of past blows, and so this passage (emphatically not Isa. 5:25 ff.) 
does, like Amos, employ a refrain. The roughly parallel block 
7:1-9:6(7] has preserved the reason for this implacable attitude 
of Isaiah toward the sister kingdom: the purpose of the attack 
on Judah was to put an end to the reign of the Davidic dynasty 
in Judah, 7:6. Isaiah is convinced that Aram and Ephraim have 
thereby dug their own graves. That Judah will be ravaged by 
a cruel foe is the gist of 5:266°., which has already been dealt 
with, and presently Isaiah will substitute for this legendary 
people the Assyrians (8:7-8a); but the Davidic dynasty is in- 
violable. That its subjects are greatly outnumbered by those 
of either one of the two attacking kings makes no difference. 
The entire world outside the Davidic polity is a world without 
God, whereas yhwh is an integral part of the Davidic polity; 
and what could even all the nations in the world do against 
God? (8:8b-io belongs between 7:9a and 7:9b; see Emman- 
uel.) But Judah - through its king Ahaz - must exhibit the 
same faith as Isaiah. If it solicits the aid of heathen Assyria, it 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


thereby implies that it does not credit the Lord with the abil- 
ity to dispose of Aram and Ephraim unaided. ("You treat my 
God as helpless," 7:13.) One obvious advantage of taking Isa- 
iah's own word for it, instead of imputing to him the astute 
diplomatic motive so dear to rationalists who like to believe 
that the prophets were rationalists like them, is that the same 
irrational reason explains why Isaiah later opposed enlisting 
the aid of Egypt in disposing of Assyria, whereas for this the 
rationalizers have to discover still another secret rational mo- 
tive. The fact is that only in the latter case can the course ad- 
vocated by Isaiah also be justified by practical considerations 
(though they were foreign to Isaiahs thinking). Of the three 
premises of those who justify on practical grounds the policy 
advocated by Isaiah in the face of the Arameo-Ephraimite at- 
tack, two are at least doubtful: the premise that Tiglath-Pileser 
had not already imposed his suzerainty on Judah either when 
he defeated the *Uzziah-led coalition in 738 or when he swept 
into Philistia in 734; and the premise that although he had not 
moved betimes against the same *Pekah - who had perhaps 
been aided by the same *Rezin - when he rebelled against 
*Pekahiah, the presumably loyal son and successor of Assyro- 
phile *Menahem, he would certainly, and without being so- 
licited, attack Pekah and Rezin in time to save the House of 
David. The third premise is nonsense: that stronger powers 
do not subjugate weaker ones which do not either attack them 
first or solicit their protection! By procuring the aid of Assyria, 
Ahaz probably saved his dynasty and possibly his nation. Isa- 
iah, however, bitterly confirmed his prediction of chapter 6, 
of an appalling devastation and added that the very power - 
Assyria - that Judah had hired to save her would be the in- 
strument of her devastation (7:20). The best farmland (7:23, 
corresponding to the most hairy parts of the body, verse 20) 
would be reduced to thornbrakes infested by dangerous beasts. 
Just the marginal farmland, which could only be tilled with 
the hoe because too rocky for the plow (corresponding to ar- 
eas of the body with scant hair), would escape infestation by 
dangerous beasts and would serve as pasture, the shrunken 
population being dependent on cows, sheep, and goats for its 
subsistence. (See also *Immanuel.) Chapter 8 begins, like 
chapter 7, with a piece of narrative; but unlike chapter 7 and 
like chapter 6, it is first person narrative. Isaiahs wife bears 
him a son whom the Lord instructs him to name Maher-(to 
be vocalized rather Mihar?) Shalal-Hash-Baz, "Pillage hastens, 
looting speeds," in token of the early plundering of two cities: 
"(4) For before the boy has learned to call 'Father!' and 
'Mother!' the wealth of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria 
(6b) and the delights of Rezin and the son of Remaliah (the 
respective kings) (4b) shall be carried off before the king of 
Assyria." Isaiah is also instructed to symbolize this fact by 
writing an "undertaking (Viivs, which in 33:8 is parallel to c edim 
[so manuscript iQisa a ] and berit; perhaps in both passages read 
'mwn [i.e., emun], since confusion of sh and m, which resem- 
ble each other in the Paleohebraic script [see ^Alphabet] is 
frequent in First Isaiah) to Maher Shalal Hash Baz," and hav- 
ing it formally witnessed. But as in chapter 7, Judah's want of 

faith must also be punished and through the same agent, As- 
syria. Unlike Aram and Israel, however, Judah would only be 
imperiled, not destroyed (8:5-8a). In this connection the op- 
probrious epithet "that people" is again applied to Judah (8:6), 
and twice more in 8:11, where Isaiah tells how, when the Lord 
singled him out (be-hezqat (be-hezkat) ha-yad, "when He 
grasped me by the hand"; cf. Isa. 45:1; Jer. 31:31(32]; Job 8:20), 
He warned him and his household not to walk in the path of 
"that people" (and here, as verse 14 makes clear, he means 
"both Houses of Israel," both Ephraim and Judah) so as not to 
stumble like the masses (verse 15; rabbim> as e.g., in Mai. 2:8, 
means "the many, hoipolloi"). On 8:16 ff, see Ginsberg 1956, 
except that verses 2ob-22 are to be arranged as follows: "(20b) 
For him who speaks thus there shall be no dawn. (2ibc) 
Whether he turns upward, (22b) or looks downward (el erez 
= Aram. ldard<lerd), behold, distress and darkness with no 
day-break (reading rae c z/ with iQisaa), straitness and gloom 
with no dawning (read mi-negoah). (2ia-bfr) He shall walk in 
it wretched and hungry, and when he is hungry he shall rage 
and revolt against his king (better "kings"; vocalize bi-mla- 
khaw) and his divine beings." The sense of 8:23(9:1] is "For if 
(read lu with iQisa a ) there were to be drawn for her that is in 
straits, only the former [king, i.e., Pekah] would have brought 
disgrace on the land of the Zebulunites and the land of the 
Naphtalites (read erez ha-zevuloni we-erez ha-naftali) but the 
latter [king, i.e., Hoshea] would have brought honor to the 
other side of the Jordan and Galilee of the nations." In other 
words, the failure of Hoshea to regain the provinces lost by 
Pekah shows that the decree of the sack of Samaria (8:4) has 
not been revoked; its execution has merely been postponed, 
which dates at least 8:19-23 in the reign of Hoshea (732-725). 
Verse 5:30 (But on that day there will resound over him (i.e., 
over the subject of 8:2ob-22, once he has learned to spurn his 
kings and his divine spirits) a roaring like that of the sea; and 
when he then looks down, behold, distressing darkness with 
light, darkness with dawn [be c efah]) belongs here and (in a 
manner analogous to 2^:^hb-6) it creates a transition from 
8:20b ff. to 9:1 ff. The latter's message is: Following the final liq- 
uidation of the Northern Kingdom, its people shall enjoy free- 
dom and happiness again - in a Davidic kingdom which shall 
again embrace them and be headed by a model king whose 
reign shall be blessed. Improved restoration and rendering of 
verses 5-6(6-7] are: "For a child has been born to us, a son 
has been given to us, and prosperity (?) has become the im- 
port of his name (read shemo). He has been named 'The 
Mighty God is planning grace, the Puissant One of Jacob in- 
tends well being' (avir ydaqov c oseh shalom), (6) in token of 
abundant prosperity and measureless well being, etc." (Expla- 
nations: Meaning of hmsrh unknown. iQisaa reads mittfttn, 
perhaps cf. ITVItPJp "liquid measure." Avir Ydaqov is synony- 
mous with and commoner than Avir Yisrdel [Isa. 1:24], which, 
however, is to be restored in 43:15. For the synonymous paral- 
lelism oiyz and c sy, cf. 5:19; 29:10. The root c sy also has this 
meaning in 5:12; 22:11; 32:6; 37:26. For pele ("grace" see 25:1, 
and Psalms 88:11, 13; 89:6 and Qumran Hebrew.) 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Panel 3, Field B, chapters 10-12. Isaiah io:i-4a is a social pro- 
test in the style of 5:3-10. 4b is not a conclusion of what pre- 
cedes - since i-4a is not a recollection of a past blow but a 
threat of a future one. It is rather a repetition of the last clause 
of chapter 9 intended to serve as a link between the latter and 
the former (since its key words af, "anger," and yad, "arm, 
hand," occur again in 10:5). Since 10:16-19 is a threat against 
Israel (note, among other things, the resemblance of 10:16 to 
17:4) and it originally followed directly on 9:16a [17a] (note, 
among other things, "in one day," 9:13 [14] and 10:17), what 
originally stood in its present position may very well have been 
14:24-27; note among other things the antithesis between the 
Lord's purpose (dimmiti, 14:24) and Assyria's purpose (yedam- 
mehy 10:7). Isaiah 10:5-15; 14:24-27 is a remarkable display of 
concern for the right of nations - not just Israel - to exist that 
is worthy of the man who authored 2:2-4; see above, panel 1, 
field B. The terminus post quern is given by the reference in 10:9 
to the Assyrian annexation of Carchemish, which took place 
in 717 b.c.e. At the same time, verses 27b ff. can best be under- 
stood against the background of Sargon's Arabian campaign 
of 715. The date of 10:5-15; 14:24-27 is therefore probably 716. 
Since the time when Isaiah assigned to Assyria the missions 
of liquidating the states of Aram and Ephraim and severely 
chastising Judah (see above), between ten and 15 years have 
elapsed, and he has been sickened by the ruthlessness (born, 
like every vice, of pride) of the Assyrian, who is not content to 
attack the nation he is commissioned to attack but conquers 
insatiably, and is not content to plunder (in accordance with 
8:4; 10:6) but needs must annihilate (10:7), namely by expa- 
triation (10:13 be; the Karatepe inscriptions confirm that ho- 
rid means "to exile [populations]"). Assyria has still to carry 
out its mission of chastising Judah (8:5~8a), but after that the 
"Lord... will punish the majestic pride, and overbearing ar- 
rogance of the king of Assyria" (10:12). And 14:24-27 tells us 
in what manner: (24) The Lord of Hosts has sworn this oath: 
"As I have designed, so shall it happen;/What I have planned, 
that shall come to pass:// (25a) To smash Assyria in my land,/ 
To trample him on my mountain (i.e., in my country; vocalize 
hari in view of Isa. 11:9; 25:6,7, 10; 65:25; Ex. 15:17; Ps. 78:54)."/ 
/(26) That is the plan that is planned/For all the earth;//That 
is what an arm is poised for/Over all the nation.// (25b) And 
off them his yoke shall drop,/ And his burden shall drop from 
their backs.//(27) For the Lord of Hosts has planned,/ And 
who can foil it?//It is His arm that is poised,/And who can 
stay it?//In 10:27b ff the prophet anticipates that the predicted 
impediment of Judah by Assyria will take place by Sargon 
marching up the road from the Jordan Valley to Ai but turn- 
ing southwestward before reaching Ai in order to advance 
on Jerusalem by way of Michmas and Geba. The only time 
when Sargon could be expected to march on Jerusalem by 
way of the Jordan Valley was when he was campaigning in, 
or returning from, North Arabia, in 716 or 715. The ravaged 
forest of verses 33-34 is, of course, no less than that in verses 
i7~i8aa, 19 and in 9:17(18], the local population, not the in- 
vading army. In this passage, however, the ravaging is done 

with the ax, not with fire, and stumps - including notably the 
stump of Jesse, 11:1 ff. - can produce new crowns of foliage, 
and so they shall, 11:1 ff. The stump of the tallest tree of all, 
"the stump of Jesse shall, in regenerating, produce a marvel- 
ous shoot; a prince with a charismatic gift of justice. For he 
shall be endowed with the charismas of wisdom, resourceful- 
ness and valor, and piety (da at being, as in Hos. 4:6; Prov 1:29, 
short for ddat elohim/YHWH y "devotion to, or mindfulness of, 
God/YHWH"). He shall know the rights and wrongs of a case 
by instinct, and destroy the wicked by his mere utterance. (For 
ruah (lit. "spirit"), "charisma," cf. e.g., 11 Kings 2:8-9, !4 -1 5> 
Hos. 9:7; Micah 3:8). Down to this point, the doctrine of the 
election of the House of David had merely asserted that his 
family would reign forever; here the attention is transferred 
from the perpetuity of the dynasty to the marvelous qualities 
of the individual ruler. One might therefore say that Isaiah's 
concern, which has already been noted, about the social ills 
of his time, particularly the judicial oppression of the poor, 
has led him (most strikingly here but also in 9:5-6 (1-6) and 
i6:4b-5) to combine the peculiarly Judahite - really peculiarly 
Jerusalemite - doctrine of the perpetuity of the Davidic line 
with the common West Asiatic ideal of kingship as expressed 
in Israel's wisdom literature (Prov. 16:21b; 20:28; 25:5b; 29:14). 
By taking this step Isaiah made possible the evolution of the 
post-biblical idea of "the ^Messiah." There followed visions of 
peace in the animal kingdom (at least within the borders of the 
Land of Israel, 11:9), the reconciliation of Judah and Ephraim 
under the Davidic dynasty (11:10, 13), and the reconquest of 
the dependencies of David (14); finally, the redemption of the 
Israelites exiled by the kings of Assyria. 

the archive, chapters 13— 33- This falls into three parts: 
1. The Book of Pronouncements (Massdot), 13-23, minus 
the two misplaced "a/i's" 17:12-14; 18:1-7 (place these after 
chapter 33); 11. "The Isaiah Apocalypse," chapters 24-27; in. 
The Book of AWs: 17:12-18:7, chapters 28-33. (3° ; 6-7 is not a 
misplaced "pronouncement"; the first three words are cor- 
rupt for bmsv/t (Job. 30:3; 38:27) hngb, "in the wasteland of 
the Negev"). 

The Book of Pronouncements. That there is no chronologi- 
cal arrangement here is easily demonstrated: 14:28 ff. is dated 
"in the year that King Ahaz died," for which the earliest pos- 
sible identification is 727 b.c.e.; yet i7:iff, which predicts 
a total and definitive destruction of Damascus, which was 
taken but not destroyed in 732, cannot date from later than 
732 b.c.e. (note that the depopulation of Israel is also still in 
the future, 17:4-6). The arrangement is actually geographi- 
cal, namely, in two arcs beginning at Babylon and ending in 
the West: (a) chapters 13-21 (Babylon, 13:1, 19; 14:4; Assyria, 
14:24-27; Philistia, 14:281!.; Moab, chapters 15-16; Damascus 
and Israel, 17: iff. [on the two "a/t's," 17:12 ff; 18:1-7, see above]; 
Egypt, chapter 19; Egypt and Nubia, chapter 20); (b) chapters 
21-23 (Babylon, 21:1-10; Dumah, 21:11-12; Northwest Arabia, 
21:13-17; Jerusalem, chapter 22; Tyre-Sidon, chapter 23). The 
material may be classified in four categories: 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


i. Definitely or probably Isaian. (i) 14:4^-21, a magnifi- 
cent ode composed in the summer of 705, when the Assyrian 
defeat and the ignominious death of King Sargon seemed, 
even though they took place hundreds of miles northeast of 
"my land//my mountain" (14:24-25, see above) to be the fulfill- 
ment of Isaiah's prediction of the crushing of Assyria and the 
liberation of "all the nations" (14:26, see above), (ii) 14:24-27 
(dealt with above, under The Diary, Panel 3, Field b). (hi) 
14:28-29, 3ob-3i (32, 30a [read be-kharo y "in His - yhwh's, 
referring to 32b - pasture"] belong after 16:5). It would seem 
that Ahaz died in the same year as Tiglath-Pileser; in any 
case, not Ahaz but the latter, who invaded Philistia both in 
734 and in 733, is the rod of him [i.e., Assyria] that beat Philis- 
tia. (iv) 17:1-11 clearly 733-732. (v) 19:1-15. In Isaiahs time the 
nomes (districts) of Lower Egypt were governed by hereditary 
princes, which is why his contemporary Sennacherib speaks 
of defeating "the kings (plural) of Egypt." In line with this is 
Isaiah's reference to the nomes of Egypt as kingdoms (19:2). In 
addition, the rhythm and diction of 19:1-15 are typically Isa- 
ian; for the presumable occasion see on chapter 22. On verses 
16 ff., see below, (vi) chapter 22. The background of this chap- 
ter is the situation after the fall of Azekah to the Assyrians in 
712 b.c.e., and the feverish preparations in Jerusalem for the 
eventuality of a siege (whose non- materialization is probably 
to be ascribed to timely submission). The main target of the 
Assyrians was Ashdod which headed a revolt of vassal states 
against Assyria in the years 713 and 712 until it was besieged 
and captured. As can be seen from Isaiah 20:4 ff., the rebels 
hoped for help from Nubia and Egypt. Isaiah opposed Judah's 
involvement for the same reason as he had 20 years earlier op- 
posed soliciting the aid of Assyria against Aram and Israel: it 
signified that Judah relied on the might of heathen Egypt and 
Ashdod because it had no faith in the Lord's ability to dispose 
of Assyria - as he surely would, in his own good time, (vii) 
23:1-14. The diction is Isaiah's, and the period is the Assyrian 
one. (The corrupt verse 13 is to be restored something like this: 
The land of Kittim itself, which [this is one of the instances 
of the use of zeh as a relative pronoun] Sidonians founded - 
whose turrets they raised, whose ramparts they erected - is a 
people no more; Assyria has turned it into a ruin.) On verses 
14 ff, see below. 

2. Not by but about Isaiah, chapter 20. The year of the 
Assyrian capture of Ashdod is 712 (see above on chapter 22). 
The account is in the third person, but it obviously contains a 
historical core. As already mentioned, Isaiah disapproved of 
his own people's attempting to throw off the Assyrian domina- 
tion with the help of Egypt and Nubia, and he was convinced 
that both Egypt and those who relied on her would come to 
grief. That he took off his clothes and sandals to dramatize - 
and thus quasi- magically effectuated - the ignominious end 
of Egypt that he predicted is entirely conceivable (cf. the Ma- 
her-Shalal-Hash-Baz sign, 8:3-4). That Isaiah's regular attire 
was a loincloth, and that he went entirely naked and barefoot 
for three years are not impossible data; but they may be a dis- 
torted recollection that so long as the rebellion lasted he went 

about in sack-cloth and sandals, and when Ashdod fell he took 
these off and went naked and barefoot for a while. 

3. Definitely neither by nor about Isaiah, (i) 13:1-14^, 
22-23. Both Isaiah 13 and Zephaniah 1:7, 14 ff. announce a day 
of divine wrath and stress that it is close at hand, but only the 
latter likens it explicitly to a day of a private sacrificial slaugh- 
ter, and feast of which one notifies one's guests in advance and 
"has them cleanse themselves (ritually)" (hikdish, hiqdish, 
Zeph. 1:7; cf. kiddesh, qiddesh. Job 1:5, of having persons on 
whose behalf burnt offerings are made cleanse themselves 
ritually). Consequently it is only Zephaniah 1 that enables us 
to understand why the armies summoned by the Lord to ex- 
ecute the carnage of the day of His wrath are styled by him 
in Isaiah 13:3 "My ritually cleansed ones." Moreover, the age 
of prophecies that Media would overthrow Babylon was the 
Babylonian age; Jeremiah 51 is an indication for Isaiah 13 and 
Isaiah 21:1-9; naturally, for it was the Median empire whose 
power balanced that of the neo- Babylonian until the year 550, 
when King Astyages of Media was defeated and captured by 
his vassal Cyrus of Anshan, the founder of the Persian em- 
pire. For 14:1-2, a comparison with Zechariah 1:12-16 is sug- 
gestive, and i4:3~4a, 22-23 are clearly an editorial framework 
from the Babylonian period to verses i4b-2i, representing it 
as an Isaian prediction of what the Jews will say on the death 
of the Babylonian tyrant rather than as the expression of Isa- 
iah's own satisfaction - on the ignominious death of the As- 
syrian king, Sargon 11, and the apparent collapse of Assyria, 
in 705 b.c.e - that it is (see above), (ii) chapter 21.21:1-10 is to 
be judged in light of what has just been said about predictions 
about the fall of Babylon to the Medes, and a presumption 
is thereby created against the enigmatic "pronouncements" 
21:11-12 and 21:13 ff- as well. 

4. Tantalizing in-betweens, (i) The Moab Pronounce- 
ment, chapters 15-16 (with 14:32, 30a restored to its original 
position after 16:5, as indicated under 1). It seems equally clear 
that on the one hand the bulk of this composition must be old, 
and on the other, that it cannot be an Isaian composition pure 
and simple. As regards the basic text, its dating must take ac- 
count of the fact that the Moabites are represented as fleeing 
southward from as far north as Heshbon and Elealeh. How- 
ever, it is known (from the Mesha inscription) that Moab re- 
covered (from the Israelites, who had dispossessed the Amor- 
ites) much of the anciently Moabite territory north of the 
Arnon; and when Israel was forced out of Transjordan, Moab 
may very well have emulated Ammon (Amos 1:13), so that the 
old suggestion, most recently defended by Rudolph, that the 
basic lament was composed on the occasion of Jeroboam son 
of Joash's reconquest of Transjordan "from Lebo of Hamath 
to the Sea of the Arabah (i.e., the Dead Sea)" (11 Kings 14:25) 
still has to be considered. For one has the impression that the 
old lament already had at 16:1 counsel to the Moabite refu- 
gees who have reached the southernmost point in Moab, Zoar 
(15:5), to cross over to Edom (Moab's southern neighbor) and 
send messengers from Sela in Edom to Jerusalem requesting 
asylum; only i6:4b-5; 14:32, 30a; 16:6 seem to have been added 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



by Isaiah. In 4D-5 the speaker explains to Moab why asylum 
in Judah would be particularly desirable; "For violence (read 
hamaz, equivalent to ham as) has vanished, rapine is ended, 
/and marauders have perished from this land: //and a throne 
shall be established in goodness/in the tent of David//and on 
it shall sit in faithfulness/a ruler devoted to justice/and zeal- 
ous (read we-shoher y Ginsberg 1950; mahir would require a 
different construction, see Prov 22:29; 7'-6) f° r equity" But 
then in 14:32, 30a; 16:6 he reveals how this ruler will react 
to the Moabite's petitions (14:32). "And what will he reply to 
a nations messenger?// That Zion has been established by 
yhwh; in it the needy of His people shall find shelter (14:30). 
In His pasture (read be-kharo y see 30:23b) such as are poor 
may graze/and such as are destitute may lie down secure."// 
The immediately preceding sentence seems to imply that non- 
Israelites who seek asylum will be welcomed, but only if they 
are poor and humble. Verse 5 then explains - and it makes 
no difference whether the speaker is still the Davidic king or 
the poet who reports the formers answer - why Moab is not 
welcome: "We have heard of Moab's pride-/most haughty is 
he-//of his pride and haughtiness and fury,/and of the iniq- 
uity in him" (16:6). There is no such word as bad "falsehood," 
or "prating." Baddaw is the suffixed form of the preposition 
bede (Jer. 51:58; Nah. 2:13; Hab. 2:13; Job 11:3, and what bdnm is 
in the Eshmunazor inscription (Phoenician), line 6). Now if 
one takes the above translations bit by bit, it is not difficult to 
find striking parallels to every bit. i6:4b-5 is insistently remi- 
niscent, in content and partly in diction, of 9:3-6 [4-7] and 
14:32, 30a, reminiscent of 3:15, of 5:17 (especially if we emend 
□""D 13 D , t^5? WT\> "and the lambs shall graze the pasture of 
the fat (rams), etc." - but even also as it stands), and of 11:4a, 
9a; while to 16:6 the closest single parallel is 10:7a, 12-15 (cf- 
37:23-25), but see also 2:10-17; 3:16-17; 5:15-16; 28:iff. Indeed, 
anyone who has not been struck by the importance in Isaiahs 
thought of the doctrine that pride is the root and essence of 
wickedness has never done more than skim his book; cf. fur- 
ther 16:5b (reading we-shoher as above) with 1:17a (reading 
shaharu zedeq for the insipid "guide the robbed"). 

(ii) and (hi) the prose, or mainly prose, appendices to 
the Egypt and Tyre Pronouncements, i.e., 19:16-25 and 23:15 ff. 
The latter does not sound like Isaiah either in diction or in 
sentiments, but the former is occasionally reminiscent of Isa- 
iah in its diction and is tantalizingly suggestive of events in 
Isaiahs time by which they could have been suggested to Isa- 
iah: 19:19-20 of the stele Tiglath-Pileser erected on the bor- 
der of Egypt in token of his sovereignty over it, and verse 23 
of Sargon's forcible opening of Egypt to trade with Assyria. 
And certainly the universalism of 19:24-25 ("my [yhwh's] 
people Egypt," "Israel... third to Egypt and Assyria") is wor- 
thy of Isaiah. 

"The Isaiah Apocalypse." (Isa. 24-27). It may be admitted that 
though the language and the ideas are often Isaian, frequent 
divergences from Isaiahs style, spirit, and outlook argue that 
the resemblances are due to imitation of Isaiah rather than 

Isaian authorship. On the other hand it is unwise to descend 
below the Babylonian exile, and at least the key passage 25:6-12 
sounds like nothing so much as an assurance by an early sev- 
enth-century writer that Isaiah's prediction 14:24-27 (trans- 
lated above in connection with The Diary, Panel 3, Field b) of 
the liberation of the nations as a result of the Lord's destroying 
Assyria by trampling it on "his mountains," i.e., in the Holy 
Land, will yet come true. For consider what 25:1-6 says: It says 
that the Lord's trampling of a certain entity "on this moun- 
tain" is going to result in a feast for "all the peoples" (verse 6) 
because of the destruction of "the shroud that is drawn over 
the faces of all the peoples and the covering that is spread over 
all the nations" (verse 7) and the "destruction of 'death' [i.e., 
the Assyrian killing of whole peoples, 10:7 (and 14:20, where 
"countries" and "peoples" should be read for your country' 
and your people' of mt)] forever and the wiping away of tears 
from all faces and the end of the reproach of peoples [so for 
mt's "his people"] over all the earth" (25:8). - Let who will 
try to escape the conclusion that first, "this mountain" here is 
identical with "my mountain" in 14:25 (which stands in parallel 
with "my country," - and means the Holy Land), and that, sec- 
ondly, the entity that is to be trampled to death by the Lord on 
the said mountain must be, here as in 14:25, Assyria. Moab was 
never of such international importance. The received reading 
"Moab" might be taken as a cryptogram for "Assyria," though 
atbash y the system by which ssk represents bbl in Jeremiah 
25:26; 51:41 and Ibqmy represents ksdym in Jeremiah 51:1, is of 
no use here. However, the better explanation of 2X1tt is simply 
that it was a misreading for Tlttf N (confusion of 2 and 1 was 
possible and occurred in all periods, and confusion of Itf and 
tt was possible in the Paleohebraic script in which it has oc- 
curred a number of times throughout chapters 1-33. A well- 
known instance is IITpX for HttfK ("Happy is"; 3:10), Kaufmann 
has very plausibly emended ?|J3y to tjffiU ("your Maker"; in 2:6); 
Another possibility is to read ]1ttX (with the surmised meaning 
"undertaking" [cf. amanah]) for ttfilX in 8:1; 33:8. Further NtSttl 
is to be emended to DJIX (read DJ1K D1P//KI ("and their idols 

T ■ V T • «... .... ... \ 

along with them")) in 2:9, D?fc to rfpTpttf ("clothing,) in 3:1, and 
the inapposite Tftf of 33:12 to Tttttf ("brambles"; the ft omitted 
by haplography after the W which it resembled in the Paleohe- 
braic script) so as to parallel D^ip, cf. 32:13. (The resemblance 
between m and s in the Protohebraic script also played a part 
in the loss of a m in mslwh) y 11:14, and in the double writing 
of the m in wmmsltk y 22:21, for wmsntk.) As has been shown, 
we must now add mvfb y 25:10, for *swr; but we must also add, 
in the same verse, khdws tbn for khdws mtbn (the m is a dit- 
togram of the preceding s and md(w)sh for mdmnh). For the 
sense required is not the remarkable "as ap/7e of straw chips 
[the meaning of matben in the Mishnah] is threshed to bits in 
a dunghill" (?; as a common noun madmenah is not otherwise 
attested) but "as straw chips are threshed to bits in threshing 
(21:10)." This confusing of m and s does not extend to Deutero- 
Isaiah. Consequently the incorporation of "the Isaiah Apoca- 
lypse" in the Book of Isaiah antedates that of Deutero- Isaiah. 
Consequently, though "Assyria" in our verse may conceivably 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


refer, as e.g., in 52:4, to the neo- Babylonian empire and date 
from after 605, it cannot refer to the Persian Empire and date 
from after 539. Finally, the meaning of 25:11 is, "Then he will 
spread out his hands in their (i.e., the Assyrians') homeland as 
a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim, and he will humble 
their pride along with their citadels (read armenotaw). Yea, the 
secure fortification of their walls (read homotaw) he will lay 
low and humble, will raze to the ground, to the very dust." Of 
course the same - Assyrian or Babylonian - cities are meant 
in 26:5-6; 27:10. 

The Book of"Ahs" chapters 28-33, 17:12-18:7. The back- 
ground of 30:1 ff. and 31:1 ff. is obviously Judah's negotiations 
with Egypt for aid in a contemplated or ongoing revolt against 
Assyria's suzerainty, and the only doubt is whether the revolt 
in question is that of 713-712 against Sargon or that of 705-701 
against Sennacherib. Skinner still favored the former because 
of 30:4 (which could be read immediately after verse 2) "For 
his [Pharaoh's] officers are present [read yihyu?] in Tanis [in 
the eastern Delta], and his monarchs [read melakhaw] reach 
as far as Heracleopolis magna [in Middle Egypt] ." That would 
be a fair description of the eastern and southern limits of 
the realm of Tefnakhte and Bocchoris, the Pharaohs of the 
24 th Dynasty, whose residence was Sais in the western Delta 
and whose rule was terminated in the year 710. If correct, 
this would mean (so Skinner) that there is no evidence that 
Isaiah again condemned the policy of attempting to win in- 
dependence from Assyria with the help of heathen allies 
during the revolt of 705-701, at the end of which he definitely 
encouraged Hezekiah, 37:5, 38:6. If chapters 30-31 are nev- 
ertheless dated, as with the majority of critics, to the revolt 
of 705-701, 30:4 must be regarded as formulaic. The Maso- 
retic Text's maVakhaw, "his messengers," cannot be made 
to refer, along with "his officers," to Hezekiah's delegation 
(where is Hezekiah mentioned?). That the displaced block 
of "Ah s" 17:12-18:7 belongs after chapter 33 is suggested by 
the similarity between 33:21-23 (we shall be as inaccessible 
to enemies as if surrounded by an impassable sea) and 17:12-14 
(the multitudes of our enemies may create a tumult like that 
of the seas, but they shall be terrified into flight by the roar 
of yhwh (like the primeval waters, Ps. 104:5-9)). Chapter 
33, for its part, seems to date from after the final subjugation 
of Judah in 701 (Judah's past and future situations (3-6 and 
10 ff. respectively) are enviable, but the present (7-9) deplor- 
able). There is thus no obstacle in the way of regarding the 
arrangement of the entire Book of "A/i's" as basically chrono- 


course nothing but a parallel version of n Kings 18:13-20:19, 
mostly shorter (the most important omission is Hezekiah's ab- 
ject surrender, 11 Kings 18:14-16) but with Hezekiah's Psalm, 
Isaiah 38:9-20, added. It relates three incidents in which Isaiah 
played a part: (1) the deliverance of Jerusalem, chapters 36-37; 
(2) Hezekiah's illness and recovery, chapter 38; and (3) the visit 
of the ambassadors from Babylon, chapter 39. 

(1) Within the first, two versions of the manner of Jeru- 
salem's deliverance have been combined: (a) 36:2-37^ (plus 
wa-yishmd 2 ), 37-38; (b) 37:9b (minus wa-yishmd 2 )-^6. The 
former is full of circumstantial details and virtually dispenses 
with miracles: Sennacherib, at Lachish, sends the *Rabshakeh 
(it is a title, not a proper name) with a force to Jerusalem to 
demand that its people surrender so that they can at least eat 
decent food and drink decent drink while awaiting Sennach- 
erib's inevitable return to carry them off into an exile which is 
also tolerable, instead of continuing to put up with the terrible 
conditions of siege that they are enduring. The Rabshakeh de- 
liberately shouts this, in the Judean language, to the men on 
the walls of Jerusalem and over the heads of the Judahite offi- 
cials - their names and offices are given - who were sent out 
to parley with him in Aramaic. Hezekiah then sends a delega- 
tion to Isaiah, who sends back an assurance that a disquieting 
report will compel Sennacherib to withdraw to his own coun- 
try, where he will fall by the sword. Returning to Sennacherib, 
the Rabshakeh finds that he has already moved northward to 
Libnah, which is to the north of Lachish, because of a report 
that King Tirhakah of Nubia is advancing upon him. Sen- 
nacherib, as a matter of fact, withdraws all the way to his cap- 
ital Nineveh, and there (some 20 years later but telescoped in 
the narrative; see *Adrammelech) two of his sons assassinate 
him; another son, Esarhaddon, succeeds him on the throne. 
The other version (37^-36), on the other hand, is short on 
details and long on the miraculous: Sennacherib sends anon- 
ymous messengers with a written demand of surrender, ad- 
dressed not to the people but to Hezekiah and supported by 
the argument not that yhwh Himself has sent the Assyr- 
ians because Hezekiah has offended Him but that the Lord is 
helpless to save him. Isaiah spontaneously sends Hezekiah a 
reassurance that Sennacherib will never even lay siege to the 
city but will return to his homeland, and that night an angel 
of the Lord kills 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. Although 
this second account is manifestly farther removed from actual 
history than the first, it contains in 37:22b-29 what sounds, 
in thought and in diction, like a genuine Isaian composition. 
As for the first account, either it refers to an (unlikely) sec- 
ond invasion of Judah by Sennacherib which, occurring after 
the year 697, the last one that is covered by his annals, is un- 
attested by any Assyrian source, or else its divergences from 
the course of events in 701 (Tirhakah was then not yet king of 
Nubia but only a boy who had never left Nubia; Sennacherib 
did not retreat from Lachish to avoid the advancing Nubian 
army but met and defeated the Nubian and Egyptian forces at 
Eltekeh-which is north of Lachish and even of Libnah-appar- 
ently before advancing further south and dispatching a force 
to Jerusalem. See *Hezekiah, ^Sennacherib. 

(2) Hezekiah's illness and recovery. The legendary sun 
miracle had an antecedent in the reign of Ahaz, as the rabbis 
guessed from 38:8; see Tmmanuel. 

(3) The visit of the ambassadors from Babylon, chap- 
ter 39. Since Merodach-Baladan, who had been driven out 
of Babylon by Sargon in 710, returned on the latter's death in 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



705 from the Chaldean country by the Persian Gulf to reign in 
Babylon again until expelled in 703 by Sennacherib, and then 
successfully eluded him in the southern marshes, the visit by 
a delegation from the leading anti- Assyrian of the east to the 
leading anti-Assyrian of the west is presumably historical, 
but hardly the conversation between Isaiah and Hezekiah re- 
ported in 39:3-8. 

[Harold Louis Ginsberg] 


Chapters 34-35 of Isaiah constitute an independent unit. 
Chapter 34 contains a prophecy of wrath and destruction of 
the nations in general and Edom in particular, and chapter 35 
deals with the Redemption of Israel and the Return to Zion. 
Since the beginning of modern biblical criticism scholars have 
held that chapters 34-35 do not relate to Isaiah son of Amoz, 
either in terms of content or style, and even certain conserva- 
tive critics do not attribute them to Isaiah son of Amoz. There 
is no consensus, however, regarding their inclusion within 
prophetic units, or their exact time. Some scholars suggested 
joining these chapters to Isaiah 13-14 and regarding them as 
the product of a single author (Gesenius); some suggested 
joining them to Jeremiah 50-51 and regarding them as the 
product of a single author (Ewald); but the majority tend to 
relate them to Isaiah 40-66 (but esp. Torrey, who not only 
related them to Isaiah 40-66 but maintained that originally 
34-35 were joined to, and served as, an introduction for 40-66; 
Steck regards 34-35 as a redactional bridge between First and 
Second Isaiah when the book was almost complete; the later 
account of Sennacherib's campaign against Judah, chapters 
36-39, was added to them). Most critics tended to attribute 
them to the time of Deutero- Isaiah, i.e., the second half of the 
sixth century B.C. e., but some date them later, to after the time 
of Malachi, i.e., the middle of the fifth century b.c.e. (M.H. 
Segal), while still others dated them even later, to the fourth 
century (Pfeiffer). The injunction to "search in the book of 
Yahweh, read! Not one of these failed" (Isa. 34:16) points to the 
existence of a collection of written prophecies of destruction 
that have now materialized (Cf. Blenkinsopp a.l. 454). 

Together with the question of the placing and dating of 
these chapters, scholars also began to doubt that these two 
chapters are a single unit, and some of them distinguished be- 
tween them. Graetz was the first (1891) who separated them, 
attributing chapter 35 to Deutero-Isaiah. He regarded it as an 
integral part of Deutero-Isaiah and even inserted it into chap- 
ter 51 between verses 3 and 4. As for chapter 34, he attributed 
it to Jeremiah. When a distinction began to be made between 
Deutero- and Trito-Isaiah (see below), some scholars joined 
chapter 35 to 40-55, which are seen as part of Deutero-Isaiah 
(see Olmstead), while some joined it to 56-66, which are seen 
as part of Trito-Isaiah (Scott). Actually only the dating of these 
chapters, but not their relation to any particular prophet, can 
be determined. These two chapters are only part of a multi- 
faceted literature which grew and flourished after the destruc- 

tion of the First Temple and before the Return of the Exiles, 
of which Isaiah 40-66 are but the most important part. It was 
concerned, on the one hand, with announcing the downfall 
of Babylon the destroyer of Judah and the downfall of Edom 
the ally of Babylon, and, on the other, with announcing the 
Redemption of Israel and the Return to Zion. The contents 
of Isaiah 34-35 bears witness to their time of origin, i.e., af- 
ter the destruction of Judah and on the eve of the Return to 
Zion (between c. 580 and 540 b.c.e.). The acts perpetrated 
by Edom against Judah during the period of the destruction, 
which were denounced by the prophets (Ezek. 35; Obad.) and 
poets (Ps. 137; Lam. 4:21-22), are still very much in the mind 
of the prophet and his audience and are expressed here with 
extreme wrath (cf. Isa. 63:1-6). Edom is the people whom God 
has doomed (34:5). The time is a "day of vengeance for the 
Lord, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion" (34:8), and 
perhaps there is also an allusion to the destruction of Edom 
(which also took place in the sixth century). The anticipated 
and desired destruction of Edom is total, in accordance with 
the literary tradition of maledictions against breakers of alli- 
ances (see esp. Hillers' work, but his attribution of the chapter 
to the time of Isaiah son of Amoz has been criticized in terms 
of historical background). Chapter 35 completes the picture 
and expresses the yearning for the Redemption of Israel and 
the Return to Zion which will follow the downfall of Israel's 
enemies. In light of its subject and content it is related in terms 
of content and style to Isaiah 40-66. 



Hints of a dichotomy between chapters 1-39 and chapters 
40-66 of Isaiah are to be found even in medieval Jewish Bible 
exegesis (see e.g., *Ibn Ezra, Ibn *Gikatilla, and others). The 
question of the dichotomy between these chapters was revived 
at the beginning of modern biblical research, in 1775, by the 
German scholar J.Ch. Doederlin, and since then the dichot- 
omy has been generally maintained as an incontrovertible 
fact. This differentiation between the two groups is based on 
a conclusive combination of historical, conceptual, stylistic, 
and linguistic evidence. One of the characteristics of chapters 
40-66 is the scarcity of historical data and the vagueness of the 
historical background. However, some distinctly historical in- 
formation (such as the two explicit references to Cyrus, 44:28; 
45:1), and the mention of Babylon and the Chaldeans (43:14; 
47:1; 48:20), and reflections of the historical background (the 
Exile and Redemption, the return to Zion and Jerusalem, the 
exiles and their "joiners"), attest another background which is 
more than 150 years later than the time of Isaiah son of Amoz. 
Similarly, there are conceptual differences between the two 
groups. For example, in the first part the idea of rebuke is pre- 
dominant, while in the second consolation is the major idea; 
in the first part there are central motifs such as the idea of the 
remnant, of the end of days, and of the future king, while in the 
second these are not mentioned; and, in contrast, the central 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


idea which dominates the second part, the "Servant of God," 
is neither mentioned nor hinted at in the first. Furthermore, 
despite important similarities of diction, there are clear and 
distinct differences between the two parts, which prove that 
not only were these two parts not written by the same person, 
but they are not even products of the same period. It appears 
that there were a number of reasons for joining chapters 40 ff 
to the group attributed to Isaiah son of Amoz. The first and 
decisive reason was apparently the intention of the editors of 
the Prophets to conclude them with chapters of comfort. An 
additional reason is that despite the differences between the 
two parts in language and style, there is some relationship 
between them. Another contributive factor was the paucity 
of historical data in chapters 40-66. Although they did sense 
that the two groups were from different periods, the editors' 
faith in the prophet s ability to envision the distant future al- 
lowed them to overcome this difficulty. This view is still held 
in certain circles, especially fundamentalists. Although the 
distinction between the two parts has been accepted in bibli- 
cal research as a fact, several writers in the 20 th century have 
maintained the unity of the book and have attempted to dis- 
prove most of the arguments of those who distinguish between 
the two parts (Zlotnick, Kaminka, et al.). 

Structure of 40-66 and its Composition. Critics of the Book of 
Isaiah have raised the question of whether chapters 40-66 all 
stem from a single prophet or are the products of two, three, or 
more prophets. B. Duhm was the first to divide these chapters 
into two blocs (40-55 and 56-66). According to him, the two 
blocs are distinct in historical background, conceptual content 
(attitude to ritual, polemic against the Samaritans), language 
and style, and place and time of authorship. The first bloc be- 
longs to "the Second (Deutero-) Isaiah," who lived during the 
time of Cyrus, while the second bloc, 56-66, belongs to an- 
other prophet whom he called "the Third (Trito-) Isaiah," who 
lived in Jerusalem close to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. 
This differentiation into two blocs and two prophets was ac- 
cepted, with various modifications, by many scholars - E.S. 
Sellin and Elliger held that the "Third Isaiah" was a disciple 
of the "Second" and edited his prophecies, that he lived at 
the end of the sixth century, the time of Haggai and Zecha- 
riah, and that the prophecies were written in Jerusalem. Some 
scholars follow Duhm in maintaining that the group is divided 
into two blocs, but they hold that it is impossible that chap- 
ters 56-66 were the work of one author and were produced 
during the lifetime of one prophet. Rather, they maintain that 
there are in this bloc prophecies from different periods, dif- 
fering, however, in the times they assign to the prophecies. 
Some limit the period of time reflected in these prophecies 
to that between Ezekiel and Ezra-Nehemiah (Cheyne, Smith, 
Kittel). Some expand it to the period from the seventh to the 
third centuries b.c.e. (Budde, Volz, Eissfeldt). Other scholars, 
such as Glahn, Klausner, Segal, Kaufmann, and Haran, defend 
the unity of chapters 40-66. Kaufmann made the greatest at- 
tempts to disprove the arguments of those who maintained 

division into blocs and into separate prophets or prophecies, 
by determining that the historical background of chapters 
40-66 is explicitly before the building of the Second Temple. 
He also emphasized that these prophecies contain no reflec- 
tion of what befell those who returned from the Babylonian 
Exile to Palestine. Kaufmann concluded that these prophe- 
cies date from before the building of the Second Temple and 
their location is in Babylon. Segal also supported the unity of 
the book and its author, but unlike Kaufmann he held that 
the background reflected is that of Palestine. M. Haran has 
argued for the unity of the book and the author, but not of 
the place, as did Segal and Kaufmann. It is Haran's opinion 
that chapters 40-48 originated in Babylon. In the return to 
Palestine, which the prophet had foretold, he too returned to 
Jerusalem with the exiles, and chapter 49 on reflects the Pales- 
tinian background. This is expressed especially in these chap- 
ters in which there is a direct address to Jerusalem (49:14-26; 
51:17-23; 54:1 ff; 60:1 ff; 62:1-9). More recent study has moved 
in the direction that chapters 56-66 do not come from one 
hand or one time period (Blenkinsopp (2003), 59). 

songs of the servant of the lord. In dividing chap- 
ters 40-66 into two blocs and two authors, Duhm also main- 
tained that there are additions and editing of other authors 
in both blocs. The word c eved, "slave," "servant," occurs 20 
times in chapters 40-55 (once in the plural in 54:17). In 13 of 
these instances the servant is Israel the people. From the first 
bloc, 40-55, Duhm first separated four poems which he called 
"Songs of the Servant of the Lord," maintaining that they are 
by a different prophetic personality, not by Deutero -Isaiah. 
The four songs according to Duhm, are (1) 42:1-4; (2) 49:1-6; 
(3) 50:4-9; and (4) 52:13-53:12. According to Duhm and his 
followers, the servant is not Israel, but an idealized figure who 
is predestined by God for a function on account of which he 
suffers greatly. (Although "Israel" is found in most versions 
of Isa. 49:3, it is inconsistent with the mission to Israel in 5-6, 
and is probably a gloss; see Blenkinsopp, a.l. 297-98.) Some 
scholars who agree with the isolation of the "Songs of the Ser- 
vant of the Lord" and their unity of content did not accept 
Duhm's method of dividing them and rightly added to what 
is called the first song, 42:1-4, verses 5-7 of the chapter, whose 
subject matter is similar to that of the preceding verses. Some 
scholars consider verses 1-9 as a unit, despite the differences 
in person and approach. Similarly, verse 7 is added to what is 
called the second song, 49:1-6, and there are some scholars 
who attribute to it even some of the following verses. There is 
also doubt about the inclusion of what is called the third song, 
50:4-9, among the other songs. It seems that there are verses 
outside these four songs which may be identified with verses 
of the four songs, both in terms of content and in terms of 
style (e.g., 41:8; 42:1-25; 44:1-2, 21-22, 26; 50:10; 51:16; 61:1-3). 
Furthermore, a detailed analysis of the language and style of 
what are called the "Songs of the Servant of the Lord" within 
the other chapters shows no differences among them (see 
Ch. North, The Suffering Servant in Deutero -Isaiah , 1956 2 ). In 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



consequence, it has been argued that any distinction between 
these units and their contexts is somewhat arbitrary (cf. also 
Haran). The "servant" of Duhm's fourth song (52:13-53:12) re- 
ceived special attention because of the New Testament's iden- 
tification of him with Jesus (directly in Acts 8 8:26-40 and 
implied elsewhere, e.g., Mark 10:45). 

literary units in 40-66. The analysis of the boundaries 
and scope of the literary and prophetic units that comprise 
chapters 40-66 has gone through several stages. The stage that 
preceded Gunkel and Gressmann recognized a prophetic unit 
of the length of a chapter or more. Skinner, for example, di- 
vided the first section, chapters 40-48, into six units, each of 
which was delivered at a different time, and whose order re- 
flects the prophets reactions to the events of his time. Budde 
regarded chapters 40-66 as a planned book which included 
four prophecies with a prologue and epilogue. This was fol- 
lowed by the approach associated with Gunkel, who originated 
the method of "form criticism." Gunkel maintained that the 
prophetic books are composed of small units of separate "or- 
acles," which were joined together by editors. He determined 
the limits of the units by the formal criteria of opening and 
conclusion. Gressmann applied this method of Gunkel to 
Deutero -Isaiah, and in his literary analysis (1914) attempted 
to prove that chapters 40-55 are composed of 49 small inde- 
pendent units. Gressmann also classified the prophecies into 
about 12 "types," comprising nine prophetic Gattungen and 
three non-prophetic ones. This method played a major role 
in German biblical criticism. Koehler distinguished 70 units 
in chapters 40-55, while Volz distinguished 50 units (apart 
from the "Songs of the Servant of the Lord"). Mowinckel di- 
vided these chapters into 41 units (excluding the "Songs of the 
Servant of the Lord"), while Begrich pointed to the existence 
of more than 70 units. The protagonists of the small unit at- 
tempted to discover the system according to which these units 
were arranged. Mowinckel stated that these small prophecies, 
which were at first separate, were later organized according to 
the principle of "key words" (Stichworter). Similar words or 
expressions appeared at the beginnings and ends of prophe- 
cies and served the editors as guides. Sometimes this principle 
of verbal associations was combined with, or varied by, con- 
ceptual associations. In the third stage there appeared a reac- 
tion to the method of Gattungen and small units, and several 
scholars attempted to show that the prophetic units are longer. 
Kaufmann strongly rejected the "form critical" method and 
maintained that "the error of this approach is the confusion of 
the formal or typological unit with the unit of composition." 
An author can fashion his creation out of many separate units 
formally joined together, which nevertheless combine into 
one composition. Kaufmann holds that Mowinckel's theory 
of "key words" is a mechanical approach which is unaccept- 
able. The verbal linkings are not a matter of technical arrange- 
ment, but rather a phenomenon of composition: it is the au- 
thor, not an editor, who is fond of such associations and more 
than once strains the meaning of a word in order to be able to 

repeat it. Kaufmann maintains that the prophecies in Isaiah 
40-66 - both the units of the books and the separate prophe- 
cies within each unit - are arranged chronologically. Accord- 
ing to him there are 14 prophecies in the first unit, 40-48; in 
the second unit, 49-57, he counts about 20 prophecies; while 
in the third unit, 58-66, he finds nine prophecies. According 
to him the traditional division into three sections is primary 
and reflects the stages in which these prophecies came into 
being. Similarly Muilenburg maintains that the literary units 
are large. According to him section 40-48 contains 14 proph- 
ecies (the same number as that of Kaufmann but with minor 
divergences). He maintains, however, that the prophecies of 
Deutero- Isaiah are made up of strophes which are joined in 
various ways by means of openings and conclusions, and, in 
this way, Muilenburg sought a formal structure in each and 
every prophecy. Haran affirmed the system of the long pro- 
phetic units, but according to him the criterion for the divi- 
sion of the prophecies has to be based not on formal mechan- 
ics but rather on the context of the individual cycles: formal 
linguistic considerations can be added subsequently by way 
of confirmation. The construction of the complete prophe- 
cies is accomplished by linking a concatenation of short sec- 
tions, each of which contains a new idea or a new poetic im- 
age. The combination of the separate parts results in a kind 
of sum total of ideas and images, subjects and motifs, which 
is repeated several times throughout the first division 40-48. 
Each consecutive set of strophes which approaches a sum total 
makes up a whole literary unit. Each image or motif serves as 
a typical component of a prophecy, while the total prophecy 
is made up of a set which includes most of the components. 
It is not necessary, according to Haran, that the internal or- 
der of the components be uniform. The prophet can combine 
the typical components in a different order every time. There 
is a certain consistency in the total content of the set but not 
within the arrangement of components within it. The number 
of prophetic units in division 40-48, according to Haran, is 
10, including the satirical lamentation for Babylon in chapter 
47. More recent work (see Sweeney 1993, Sawyer) has focused 
on redactional analysis that studies the connections between 
the prophetic speeches and the extant prophetic book at the 
literary level, with the goal of explicating independent liter- 
ary layers, the original foundation, and added-on layers not 
only in Deutero -Isaiah but in the entire canonical book (Kratz, 
Steck, Vermeylen). Other approaches are those of Baltzer, 
who views chapters 40-55 as liturgical drama, and Lau, who 
understands chapter 56-66 as a composite collection of texts 
brought together as "scribal prophecy" by scholars working 
within circles of transmitters of prophetic tradition. 

conceptual aspects. Exile and Redemption. The Book 
of Ezekiel attests the frame of mind of the exiles of Judah 
and Jerusalem. The depression and despair of the exiles are 
expressed in the words of the people in the vision of the dry 
bones: "Our bones are dried up and our hope is lost" (Ezek. 
37:11). This same pessimistic view of the relationship between 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


the people and its God and of the future of the people per- 
sisted among the exiles. Some time (about 20 years) later, 
when the prophet who is called Deutero- Isaiah appeared, he 
found that the people believed that God was "hiding His face" 
from them and that their case was hopeless: "Why do you say, 
O Jacob, and speak O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and 
my right is disregarded by my God" (40:27). Against the back- 
ground of this depression and despair, the prophet of comfort 
and encouragement arose and, like Ezekiel in his later years, 
he began at the outset of his career to comfort and encourage 
the exiles of Judah and Jerusalem and breathe new life into 
them. He brought the people tidings of the end of the time of 
wrath and the beginning of God's goodwill. The sin of Jeru- 
salem was expiated, since she had atoned doubly for all her 
transgressions. The prophet tirelessly wove into all his early 
prophecies (40-48) words of comfort and tidings of redemp- 
tion, describing God as the creator and director of history who 
has erased the guilt of His people and is about to redeem them 
from the captivity and exile, by both natural and supernatural 
means, according to His will and power. Despite the miracu- 
lous and eschatological nature of the described redemption, it 
is no mere consolation for the end of days but is rather based 
on, and connected with, current events. In the same way that 
God, the guide of history, created Babylon "to punish His obe- 
dient people, to destroy Jerusalem, and burn its Temple, so 
He has set up Cyrus" to promote the redemption of the Isra- 
elite people, to rebuild Jerusalem, and reestablish its Temple 
(44:28; 45:13). The prophet proclaims that the time has come 
for Babylon and Chaldea to be punished (43:14; 46:1; 47:1 ff.), 
and actual events serve as proof of the truth of his words. The 
defeat of Babylon by Cyrus is seen as evidence that just as God 
fulfilled the "first promises" (probably the fall of Babylon; see 
Haran, Bein Rishonot le-Hadashot y 1963), so he will fulfill the 
"new promises" - the tidings of redemption, of the revival 
of the people, and of their return to Zion. The description of 
the redemption is not limited to the redemption of the peo- 
ple but includes also the redemption of Judah and Jerusalem. 
The redemption of the forsaken Jerusalem, the forgotten and 
widowed, the "bereaved and barren" (49:14, 21), is described 
in poetic and hyperbolic terms. She will shake herself out 
of the dust of her mourning, she will put on her power and 
her glory, her justice and her salvation will be seen by the na- 
tions and the kings, she will draw exiles to her from all cor- 
ners of the land until there will not be room to contain them, 
and all the nations will stream to her to render her honor and 
glory (see 49:14-26; 51:17-23; 52:nff.; 54:iff.; 6o:iff.; 62:iff.). 
Actually, the dreams of redemption foretold by the prophet 
were not fulfilled and realized, and there is, in fact, a discrep- 
ancy between the redemption as envisioned by the prophet 
and the actual Return. Apparently the prophet was among 
the first returnees, fulfilling what he had foretold. From Jeru- 
salem he called on the people still in exile to forsake their ex- 
ile (52:11). Although Jerusalem, the holy city, did not become 
the mother city of all the lands and nations, the returnees did 
rebuild its ruins. 

Comfort and Rebuke. Prophecies of comfort and salvation 
predominate among the prophet s first prophecies, especially 
in the first section, chapters 40-48. The sin of the people was 
forgiven and the transgressions erased and pardoned, but even 
these first prophecies contain a tone of rebuke. Together with 
the notion that the sin was forgiven because they had paid 
"double for all their sins," there is the view that God pardoned 
the transgressions of Israel and would not bear their sins in 
mind not because of Israel's merit but for the sake of God's 
name (43:25). The words of comfort and tidings of redemp- 
tion apparently did not arouse within Israel the anticipated 
reaction, and for this they are rebuked by the prophet (see 
42:18-20; 43:8; 46:9-13). The wrathful rebuke, which is not 
merely implied but elaborated, is contained in the last chapter 
(48:1-11) of the first group, which is replete with prophecies of 
comfort, and which is also intended for those of little faith. Be- 
ginning with chapter 50, the prophet appears as an instrument 
of rebuke, and the rebuke overshadows the element of com- 
fort. The subjects of rebuke are many and varied: he repeats 
his rebuke against those of little faith (chapter 50), against the 
forsaking of God (51:12-13). Whether or not chapters 56-66 are 
the words of this prophet, rebukes continue against the wicked 
among the people (chapter 56), against giving priority to ritual 
over social morality (chapter 58), against social transgressions 
(chapter 59), and against idolatry (chapter 65). 

The Servant of the Lord. The biblical descriptions of the Ser- 
vant are not unequivocal - he is sometimes portrayed as an 
individual, either biographically or autobiographically, while 
at other times he appears as a collective figure, identified with 
the People of Israel. This lack of clarity gave rise to varied and 
ramified interpretations among both Jews and Christians in 
all generations. The methods of interpreting the image of the 
Servant of the Lord have varied. The Servant has been seen 
as an individual personality, as a collective, and as a figure of 
myth with associated ritual. The individual approach is based 
on the assumption that what is written about the Servant is 
a description of an individual figure. Those who adopt this 
method disagree about the identity of this figure. In attempt- 
ing to identify him, they identify him variously, as a figure 
from the past (the historical approach); as a contemporary of 
the prophet, including possibly the prophet himself; as one 
whom the prophet envisions as destined to appear in the fu- 
ture (the eschatological approach). These methods are inti- 
mated in early interpretations, and explicitly stated and argued 
in modern studies and commentaries. Numerous varied and 
strange proposals have been advanced concerning the iden- 
tification of the Servant of God with historical figures from 
the Bible. The Servant was identified with various kings of the 
House of David and their descendants, whose biographies in- 
clude some feature or features suggestive of the Servant, such 
as - among the Kings - Uzziah's leprosy, Hezekiah's danger- 
ous illness, Josiah's untimely death despite his righteousness, 
or Jehoiachin's captivity. Among the post- Exilic members of 
the House of David with whom he is identified are Zerubba- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



bel, the object of unfulfilled messianic hopes, Elioenai (a scion 
of the House of David, i Chron. 3:23), and Anani (last in the 
list of the Davidic line, 3:24). Other individuals with whom 
the Servant of the Lord has been identified were selected from 
among the prophets: e.g., Isaiah son of Amoz, who, accord- 
ing to the aggadahy was killed by Manasseh; the much- suf- 
fering Jeremiah; or Ezekiel, who bore the burden of the sin 
of the House of Israel (Ezek. 4:4-8). Still others are historical 
figures such as Moses or Job. According to the biographical 
approach, the prophet was describing a contemporary fig- 
ure, known to himself and his listeners. The figures proposed 
for identification were Cyrus, Zerubbabel, or an anonymous 
person. Some maintained that the prophet was describing 
himself, or that he was being described by a disciple. Accord- 
ing to the eschatological approach, the Servant of God is the 
destined redeemer, the Messiah. The approach is found at 
first in Targum Jonathan ("my servant the Messiah," at 52:13), 
but it has left few traces in Jewish exegesis, in contrast to its 
important role in Christianity, which identified the Servant 
of God with Jesus (beginning with the New Testament; see 
above). According to the collective method of interpretation, 
the Servant is Israel. If there are any personal elements in the 
description they are merely allegorical. It is explicitly stated 
in a number of places that the Servant is Israel (see e.g., 41:8; 
44:1, 2, 21; 45:4; 59:1). While there are some who maintain that 
this refers to all of Israel, the real Israel, this is difficult since 
the real Israel is sinful and the Servant, free of sin. Therefore 
the Servant is identified with an ideal Israel, not the Israel of 
the present but the Israel of the future. Some adherents of the 
collective method hold that it is not all of Israel which is be- 
ing referred to, but rather an elite within Israel, and there are 
varied opinions regarding the nature of this elite. Some main- 
tain that it refers to the prophets, while others maintain that 
it refers to the priests. Still others speak of an undefined mi- 
nority, "the righteous of Israel," and there are some who see 
the Servant as a visionary figure, the symbol of the righteous 
Israel. According to the mythological method, in portray- 
ing the figure of the Servant of God the prophet utilized a 
mythological figure, ignoring certain mythological traits and 
adopting several other characteristic traits. The image is that 
of a god who died and is resurrected, like the god Tammuz 
or Adonis (Baal). The central part of the Songs of the Servant 
of the Lord, 52:13-53:12, basically corresponds to the hymns 
sung during the Mesopotamian ritual of mourning the death 
of the god. According to this view there existed in Israel the 
ceremony of mourning for Tammuz and there was also the 
"bewailing of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo" (Zech. 
12:11) which is assumed to have originated in the tragic death 
of Josiah at Megiddo (11 Kings 23:29). These two wailing rites 
were combined into one ceremony and served as the basis for 
the description of the figure of the Servant of the Lord. Thus, 
the description of the Servant was influenced by a histori- 
cal figure (Josiah) and a mythological figure (Tammuz). This 
method was associated with the Scandinavian school of myth 
and ritual. The "individual approach" and the "collective ap- 

proach" are both plausible. It is, however, possible to interpret 
what is written about the Servant of the Lord in other ways. 
Some point to a lack of firm distinction in Hebraic thought be- 
tween the particular or the individual - the prophet - and the 
general or the many - the people. Such fluidity could give rise 
to prophecies having both an "individual" and a "collective" 
style, i.e., the prophet Deutero-Isaiah, like his predecessors 
Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, saw himself as a symbol 
of, and an "examplar" and model for, the people. His personal 
life was interwoven with the life of the people, the private do- 
main became commingled with the public, and events from 
his personal life were interpreted by him as allegories of the 
people. There was also an opposite process, i.e., the image of 
the Servant of the Lord refers both to the prophet and to the 
people. At times, the individual type of description predomi- 
nates, while at others, the collective style is prominent, refer- 
ring also to Jacob and Israel. In the same way that the preced- 
ing prophets had interpreted their private and family lives as 
a sign and model for the people, so biographical details of the 
prophet were interwoven with the description of the Servant. 
The above hypotheses are based on the assumption of a uni- 
fied conception of the Servant on the part of a writer or edi- 
tor, which is far from certain. 

Israel and the Nations. The relationship between Israel and 
the nations had political significance as well as religio- social 
significance. With the political victory of Babylon, Judah lost 
its political and territorial framework, and there was a dan- 
ger that, as in the case of other nations, Israel's loss of a state 
would lead to its loss of religious identity, and that the people 
would assimilate among the nations. In the face of this dan- 
ger, the prophet called Deutero-Isaiah played a decisive role in 
the crystallization of a well-informed national- religious group 
and the later crystallization of Judaism. Earlier biblical writ- 
ings stressed monolatry, the principle that Israelites must serve 
Yahweh alone, but left open the possibility that other gods 
existed and might be worshipped by gentiles (Ex. 20:3; Deut. 
4:19). It is in Deutero-Isaiah, followed by Trito-Isaiah, that we 
find for the first time a militant full-blown monotheism that 
denies the existence of all other gods but Yahweh, and calls 
gentiles to his service (Isa. 42:8; 43:10-11; 44:6-8; 45:5-7, 18-22; 
46:9; 49:6; 56:1-8; 66:21-3). Th e victorious, conquering gods, 
the advanced material culture, and the impressive idolatrous 
ceremonies of Babylon constituted a danger that the exiles in 
Babylon would be attracted to assimilation. This prophet de- 
scribed in harsh polemic and with mockery and loathing the 
practices of idolatry and its followers (e.g., 40:17, 26; 44:6-20). 
He placed Israel vis-a-vis the gods of the nations, emphasiz- 
ing the opposition between them. Israel and its God are lined 
up against the nations and their gods for "battle" and judg- 
ment. Opponents who strive and contend against Him rise 
up against Israel (41:11-12; 45:24). Some of the nations taunt 
and revile Israel (49:7; 51:7) and some of them blaspheme the 
name of the God of Israel (52:5). This religious -national bat- 
tle recurs a number of times. But this is only for the present. 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Chapters 40-66 are replete with the faith that the law of God 
will be disseminated by His Servant, Israel, among the nations 
which will be led from darkness to light. Israel will be "a light 
(or rather, a salvation') unto the nations" and Jerusalem will 
be the place of God's shining glory to which all the nations 
will stream with song and praise. They will emerge from spiri- 
tual darkness to the light which will shine for them in Zion. 
In Israel's redemption the world will also be redeemed and in 
the end of days all men will come to bow down before God 
(66:23). Traces of the envisioned end of days were already seen 
at this time. Israel's presence among the nations gave rise to the 
phenomenon of the "joiners" (chapter 66) who forsook idol- 
atry and joined the religion of Israel. Questions were raised 
with regard to their status within the people of Israel and its 
future. The prophecies found in Isaiah 40-66 confront these 
problems and provide a positive response. 

[Isaac Avishur] 

Amoz, the father of Isaiah, was also a prophet, for "when the 
name of the prophet's father is given, the father was likewise a 
prophet" (pdRE 118; Lev. R. 6:6). Isaiah came from Jerusalem, 
for "whenever the city of a prophet is not specified, he hailed 
from Jerusalem" (Lam. R., proem 24, beginning). An ancient 
aggadah reports that Amoz and Amaziah, king of Judah, were 
brothers (Meg. 10b.). "Because Isaiah was the king's nephew, 
he used to chastise Israel" (pdRK, 117). Isaiah uttered words 
of censure at the very outset of his prophecy. When the call 
came to him (Isa. 6:8), God said to him, "Isaiah! My children 
are obstinate and troublesome, are you ready to be beaten and 
degraded by them?" (pdRK, 125). As he stood bewildered he 
uttered words saying, "I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell 
in the midst of a people of unclean lips" (Isa. 6:5), whereupon 
the Holy One blessed be He said to him, "You are permitted 
to say T am a man of unclean lips,' since you are your own 
master, but are you the master of My children that you refer 
to them as a people of unclean lips?" He was punished on the 
spot; Isaiah 6:6-j are interpreted to mean that his mouth was 
scorched (pr 33:150), for having transgressed "Slander not a 
servant to his master" (Prov. 30:10). When Sennacherib be- 
sieged Jerusalem, Shebna and his companions wished to sub- 
mit and conclude peace with him: "King Hezekiah, afraid lest 
the Holy One blessed be He be with the majority, was told by 
Isaiah, 'It is a conspiracy of wicked men, and a conspiracy of 
wicked men is to be disregarded'" (Sanh. 26a; cf. Isa. 8:12). 
When Hezekiah fell ill and was told by Isaiah that he would 
die (11 Kings 20:1) because of his refusal to beget children, he 
attempted to justify himself by explaining that it had been 
foretold to him that he would beget a wicked son; where- 
upon Isaiah proposed to him that he marry his daughter in 
the hope that a worthy son would result from the union. In 
spite of this, however, only a wicked son was born to him (t j, 
Sanh. 10:2, 28b-c). Of that wicked son, Manasseh, it is writ- 
ten that he "filled Jerusalem (with blood) from one end to the 
other" (11 Kings 21:16). Scripture is silent as to the victims of 

Manasseh and the reason for his killing. According to Josephus 
(Ant., 10:38) "Manasseh killed all the righteous men among the 
Hebrews, nor did he spare even the prophets, everyday put- 
ting some to death." Many aggadists, however, see Manasseh's 
blood spilling as confined to Isaiah alone (tj, Sanh. 10:2, 28c). 
According to the aggadah Manasseh accused Isaiah of being 
a false prophet. Isaiah, knowing that whatever he said in his 
defense would not be accepted, said nothing, both to absolve 
Manasseh and his people from the responsibility for delib- 
erately murdering a prophet, and to prevent his blood from 
bubbling like that of the prophet Zechariah. Isaiah's silence 
was regarded as a confession and he was sentenced to death. 
When the sentence was about to be carried out, however, he 
uttered the ineffable name and was swallowed by a cedar tree. 
The tree was sawn, but the saw was powerless against Isaiah's 
body, which had become like a pillar of marble. One organ, 
alone, his mouth, was vulnerable, because of its having ut- 
tered the words, "And I dwell in the midst of a people of un- 
clean lips." As a result, when the saw reached Isaiah's lips, he 

died (Yev. 49b). 

[Elimelech Epstein Halevy] 

Christian View 

For discussion of the Christian use of Isaiah see * Immanuel, 
and Servant of the Lord (above). 


Slightly altering the version in 11 Kings 18:13-21 the authors 
Tabari and Thalabi, related that Sha c ya (Isaiah) ibn Amasya 
(Amaziah) (!) the prophet was sent during the reign of Zedi- 
kah (Zedekiah) to lead the king along the righteous path and 
to warn the people of Israel to repent. Allah sent the Assyr- 
ian king Sennacherib with a force of 600,000 soldiers against 
them. At the command of God, Sha c ya informed the king 
that his death was imminent and that he should make his 
will and appoint a successor. Zedikah prayed to Allah, who 
lengthened his life by 15 years and also delivered him from 
Sennacherib. Sennacherib's army was annihilated and only 
he and five dignitaries and scribes escaped to a cave, where 
they were found by the king of Judah. Sennacherib confessed 
that he had heard of God, even before he left his country, but 
weakness of his mind had prevented him from reaching the 
right conclusion. The king of Judah let Sennacherib and his 
scribes circle the Temple for 70 days, giving them two loaves 
of bread made of barley daily. He sent Sennacherib home, ac- 
cording to God's command, in order that he might serve as a 
sign of warning. However, Tabari (p. 381) also knew the cor- 
rect name of the king, which was Hezekiah. In their tales on 
Isaiah, Umara and Thalabi quote paraphrases of his prophe- 
cies (ch. 1, etc.). After Hezekiah, his son Manasseh ruled for 
55 years (11 Kings 20:21-21:1). Tabari also knew of Amon and 
Josiah, who reigned after Manasseh. Concerning Isaiah's end, 
Tabari and Tha c labi relate that the people of Israel persecuted 
him for his prophecies and rebukes and that he escaped into 
a tree. Satan however held the fringes of his garment, which 
thus could be seen from without. They then brought a saw and 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



cut through Isaiah. This tale was handed down by Wahb ibn 
Munabbih; its Jewish source is evident. 

[Ha'im Zew Hirschberg] 


The prophecies of Isaiah have found stronger echoes in art 
and music than in literature. In the i2 th -century Anglo-Nor- 
man Jeu d'Adam Isaiah is one of the Old Testament prophets 
consigned to Hell after submitting reluctant evidence to the 
truths of Christianity; and he also figures in the medieval Or do 
Prophetarum. Thereafter, Isaiah played only a minor part in 
literature until the 19 th century, when the French writer Vic- 
tor Hugo produced an appreciative sketch in his apocalyp- 
tic study William Shakespeare (1864; Eng. tr. 1864). The first 
Jewish writer to deal with the theme was Abraham *Mapu, 
the creator of the modern Hebrew novel; his Ahavat Ziyyon 
(1853, In the Days of Isaiah , 1902) was remarkable less for 
its characterization than for its Haskalah ideas and local color. 
Ahavat Ziyyon enjoyed amazing success and was translated 
into several languages, including no less than three English 
versions. Mapu later wrote another historical novel set in 
the times of Isaiah, Ashmat Shomeron (1865-66). In the 
20 th century, various plays were devoted to the subject. A 
modern Jewish treatment of the theme was Der Novi (1955; 
The Prophet, 1955), a novel about Deutero -Isaiah by Sholem 

Isaiah was represented by artists from early Christian 
times onward and owed his great popularity in the Middle 
Ages to three biblical passages thought to foretell the Incar- 
nation and Nativity. More than any other prophet, Isaiah ben- 
efited from the cult of the Virgin. The passage, "the young 
woman shall conceive and bear a son" (Isa. 7:14), was seen as 
a prediction of the birth of Jesus. Even in the oldest surviving 
representation of the prophet, a second-century mural from 
the catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, Isaiah is shown seated oppo- 
site the Virgin and Child. Another prophecy, that of the "twig" 
that "shall grow from the roots of Jesse" (Isa. 11:1), gave rise to 
genealogical trees purporting to trace the ancestry of Jesus to 
the house of David. The distinguishing symbols of Isaiah in 
art are these "Jesse Trees" or one of his prophecies inscribed 
on his phylactery. Scenes from the life of Isaiah are found in 
Byzantine and premedieval art. Figures of the prophet often 
appear among the sculptures of i2 th -century French Roman- 
esque churches such as Vezelay and Moissac. The most strik- 
ing example is the tempestuous swirling image from the ab- 
bey church at Souillac. There are also 13 th - century sculptures 
of Isaiah in the great Gothic cathedrals of Chartres, Amiens, 
Burgos, and Bramberg. At the same period, his image adorned 
the wing of a painted "life of Christ" by the Sienese artist Duc- 
cio (1282-1319). In the 15 th century, Isaiah appeared chiefly in 
painting and sculpture. Naturalistic sculpture by Claus Sluter 
adorns the fountain of the Chartreuse at Dijon. Renaissance 
treatments of the subject include a round painting by Peru- 
gino (Nantes Museum); and figures of Isaiah from the fresco 
by Raphael in Sant' Agostino, Rome, and from the Sistine Cha- 

pel ceiling by Michelangelo. A painting of the subject by Fra 
Bartolommeo is in the Uffizi Galleries, Florence. The German 
Renaissance artist Matthias Gruenewald included a figure of 
Isaiah in his painting of the Annunciation, which forms part of 
his Isenheim altarpiece in the Colmar Museum. Although the 
subject later lost favor, the i8 th -century artist Tiepolo painted 
a figure of Isaiah for the ceiling of the Archbishop s Palace in 
Udine. Artists have also illustrated a number of episodes from 
the Book of Isaiah. There is an amusing painting called Isa- 
iah Rebuking the Women of Jerusalem (on Isa. 3:16 ff.) by the 
i9 th -century English artist *Salaman. Isaiahs vision of God 
enthroned amid the Seraphim (Isa. 6:1-4) was quite a com- 
mon theme in Byzantine and medieval art (see *Cherubim 
and *Seraphim). The purification of the prophet's lips with 
a burning coal (Isa. 6:5-7) is illustrated in premedieval and 
medieval manuscripts, including the i5 th -century breviary of 
the Duke of Bedford (Bibliotheque Nationale); in murals; and 
in the i3 th -century stained glass of La Sainte Chapelle, Paris. 
The visits of the prophet to the dying Hezekiah and the mi- 
raculous prolongation of the monarch's life (Isa. 38:1-8) are 
treated in an eighth-century fresco at Santa Maria Antiqua, 
Rome, where Isaiah is shown standing by the bedside of the 
sick king. The rabbinic tradition that Isaiah met his death by 
being sawn asunder in the hollow of a cedar is illustrated in 
various murals, including a sixth-century Coptic fresco, and 
in medieval sculpture and manuscripts. 

In music, composers have dealt either with the "Triple 
Sanctus" or with the inspiring figure of the prophet him- 
self. The "Thrice Holy" acclamation of the angels in the vi- 
sion of Isaiah (Isa. 6:3) is the main text of the Sanctus section 
of the Roman Catholic mass; it is followed by the jubilant Ho- 
sanna in excelsis, the mystically interpreted Benedictus, and 
by a repetition of the Hosanna, the combination having been 
adapted from Matthew 21:9, Mark 11:9-10, and John 12:13. 
It has 21 traditional ("Gregorian") chant melodies dating 
from the tenth to the 13 th centuries. In some of these, the ini- 
tial "Sanctus" is rather florid and its reiterations are expressed 
in progressively rising phrases. This restrained attempt at 
word painting was carried much further in the Sanctus of the 
mass compositions, which date from the 14 th century onward. 
Although these works naturally reflect the varieties of individ- 
ual expression and the style of their era, certain conventions 
in the setting of the Sanctus can, nevertheless, be identified. 
The angelic acclamation is interpreted either as an outpour- 
ing of sweet sounds, often by two or three high solo voices (as 
in most of the i6 th -century works), or as a mighty thundering 
of massed praise (as in Bach's Mass in B Minor). The Sanctus in 
Beethoven's Missa Solemnis (1823) is an exception, since it be- 
gins with a whispered stammering of awe. All composers take 
advantage of the differences in mood suggested throughout 
the sequence of Sanctus, Hosanna, Benedictus, and Hosanna. 
For the Protestant liturgy Martin * Luther created the rhymed 
"German Sanctus" (Jesaia dem Propheten das geschah, 1526), 
the melody of which is also attributed to the reformer. There 
are two settings by Bach of simple chorale tunes, based on 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


the "Gregorian" melodies, with the Latin or German (Heilig, 
Heilig, Heilig) text. The many works for concert performance 
based on extended passages from the Book of Isaiah include 
Antonio Caldara's oratorio Leprofezie evangeliche d'Isaia (1729; 
text by A. Zeno); Granville Bantock's Seven Burdens of Isaiah 
for men's choir a cappella (1927); Willy Burkhards oratoria 
Das Gesichtjesaias (1933-36; premiere 1936); Alexandre *Tans- 
man's oratorio Isaie le prophete (1951); Bernard Rogers' can- 
tata The Prophet Isaiah (1954; published 1961); Robert *Star- 
er's Ariel, Visions of Isaiah (1959); Bohuslav Martinu's cantata 
The Prophecy of Isaiah (premiere in Jerusalem, 1963); and 
Ben Zion *Orgad's Isaiahs Vision. Another modern work was 
Jacob ^Weinberg's Isaiah (1947), an oratorio for solo voices 
and chorus with organ accompaniment and trumpet obbli- 
gato. The first part of Handel's oratorio The Messiah (premiere 
in Dublin, 1742), for which the text was compiled by Charles 
Jennens, contains so many passages from Isaiah (beginning 
with "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people") that it may almost 
be considered an Isaiah oratorio. Some of the most striking 
parts of Brahms' Deutsches Requiem (1857-68), for which the 
composer himself compiled the text from the Old and New 
Testaments, also originate in this biblical book. Settings of 
single verses or brief passages for liturgical or concert use are 
numerous. There are also traditional tunes from the various 
Jewish communities, hasidic melodies, and modern Israel 


[Bathja Bayer] 

bibliography: O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament, an Intro- 
duction (1965), 301-30, 754-56, contains copious bibliography on all 
aspects of Isaiah; (a) Medieval Jewish: Rashi; David Kimhi, ed. by L. 
Finkelstein (1926); Ibn Ezra, ed. by M. Friedlaender, 2 vols. (1873-77, 
reprint 1964); (b) Modern: S.D. Luzzatto (Italian translation and He- 
brew Commentary; 1855-67, reprint 1966); J. Skinner {The Cambridge 
Bible, rev. ed. 1915, reprint 1958-60); O. Procksch (Ger., 1930); E.J. 
Kissane (Eng., 1941). Other Works: M. Dyman (Haran), in: bjpes, 13 
(1947), 7-13; H.L. Ginsburg, in: Tarbiz, 20 (1949), 29-32 (also publ. 
in J.N. Epstein Jubilee Volume, 1950); idem, in: jbl, 69 (1950), 51-60; 
idem, in: Mordecai M. Kaplan Jubilee Volume (1953), 245-59 (Eng. 
sect.); idem, in: Eretz Israel, 5 (1956), 61-65 (Eng. sect.); idem, in: Oz 
le-David (Ben Gurion, 1964), 335-50; idem, in: Fourth World Con- 
gress of Jewish Studies, Papers 1 (1967), 91-93; idem, in: Conserva- 
tive Judaism, 22, no. 1 (1967), 1-18; idem, in: jaos, 88 (1968), 47-53, 
also publ. in Essays in Memory ofE.A. Speiser (1968); idem, in: vts, 
17 (1968), 103 n. 2; R. Knierim, in: vt, 18 (1968)^7-68; E.G. Krael- 
ing, in: jbl, 50 (1931), 277-97; J- Milgrom, in: vt, 14 (1964), 164-82; 
H.M. Orlinsky, in: Essays in Honor of Herbert Gordon May (1970), 
206-36; W. Rudolph, in: Hebrew and Semitic Studies Presented to 
Godfrey Rolles Driver (1963), 130-143; H.M. Schmidt, in: vt, 21 (1971), 
68-90; H. Tadmor, in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 12 (1958), 22-40, 
77-100; M.M. Kaplan, in: jbl. 45 (1926), 251-59; Kaufmann Y., To- 
ledot, 3 (1947), 147-256, 293-318; W. Rudolph, in: D.W. Thomas and 
W.D. McHardy (eds.), Hebrew and Semitic Studies Presented to G.R. 
Driver... (1963), 130-43; M. Haran, in: vt, 17 (1967), 266-97; idem, in: 
iej, 18 (1968), 201-12; B.S. Childs, Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis (1967); 
See also bibliography, Tmmanuel. chapters 34-35: H. Graetz, in: 
jqr, 4 (1891/92), 1-8; A.T. Olmstead, in: ajsll, 53 (1936/37), 251-3; 
C.C. Torrey, The Second Isaiah (1928), 103-4, 2 79 - 3°4; idem, in: jbl, 
57 (1938), 109-34; M. Pope, ibid., 71 (1952), 235-43; W. Caspari, in: 

zaw, 49 (1931), 67-86; P. Wernberg-Moeller, ibid., 69 (1957), 71-73; 
D.R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets (1964); 
deutero -isaiah: A.B. Ehrlich, Mikra ki-Feshuto (1901); S. Krauss, 
in: A. Kahana (ed). Sefer Yeshayahu (1904); B. Duhm, Das Buch Je- 
saya (19224); J. Skinner, The Book of the Prophet Isaiah, chs. xl-lxvi 
(1917); C. Torrey, The Second Isaiah (1922); K. Budde, Das Buch Jesaya 
(1922); E. Koenig, Das Buch Jesaya (1926); H. Odeberg, Trito-Isaiah 
(1931); P. Volz, Jesaya 11 Kapital 40-66 (1932); D. Yellin, Hikrei Mi- 
kra (1939); E.J. Kissane, The Book of Isaiah (1943); J. Muilenburg, The 
Book of Isaiah, chs. 40-66 (1956), 381-773; C.R. North, The Second 
Isaiah (1964); N.H. Tur-Sinai, Peshuto shel Mikra, 3 (1967); J.L. McK- 
enzie, Second Isaiah (1968); C. Westermann, Isaiah, 40-66 (1969). se- 
lected studies: Y. Zlotnick, Ahdut Yeshayahu (1928); A. Kaminka, 
Mehkarim, (1938), 1-89; N. Raban, in: Tarbiz, 14 (1943), 19-26; Ch. R. 
North The Suffering Servant in Deutero -Isaiah (1956 2 ), incl. bibl.; A. 
Neubauer and S.R. Driver, The Fifty-Third Chapter of Isaiah Accord- 
ing to the Jewish Interpretations (2 vols, 1970); P.A.H. De Boer, Second 
Isaiahs Message (1956); S. Mowinckel, He That Cometh (1956), 187-257; 
Kaufmann Y, Toledot, 4 (i960), 51-156; M. Haran, Beyn Rishonot le- 
Hadashot (1963); idem, in: vts, 9 (1963), 127-55; H.H. Rowley, The 
Servant of the Lord (1965 2 ); W. Zimmerly and J. Jeremias, The Servant 
of God (1965 rev. ed); H.M. Orlinsky and N.H. Snaith, Studies on the 
Second Part of the Book of Isaiah (1967). in the aggadah: Ginz- 
berg, Legends, index, in islam: Tabari, Tdrikh, 1 (01357H), 378-82; 
Tha c labi, Qisas (1356 4 ), 271-81; 'Umara ibn Wathima, Qisas, Vatican, 
Ms. Borgia 165, fols. io6v-nof. add. bibliography: P. Machin- 
ist, in: jaos, 103 (1983), 719-37; O. Steck,BereiteteHeimkehr... (1985; 
additional publications on Isaiah apud Blenkinsopp 2003, 117-18); J. 
Vermeylen (ed.), The Book of Isaiah (1989); C. Seitz, in: abd, 3:472-88 
(with bibliography); idem, in: jbl 115 (1996), 219-40; M. Sweeney, 
in: A. Hauser and P. Selow (eds.), Currents in Research: Biblical Stud- 
ies I (1993), 141-62; idem, in: Isaiah 1-2,9 (1996); R. Kratz, Kyros im 
Deuterojesaja-Buch. . .(1993); W. Lau, Schriftgelehrte Prophetie in Jes 
56-66... (1994); M. Goshen-Gottstein (ed.), The Book of Isaiah (criti- 
cal edition; 1995); J. Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39 (ab; 2000; bibliography 
115-67); Isaiah 40-55 (ab; 2000; bibliography, 127-74); Isaiah 56-66 
(ab; 2003; bibliography, 93-126); K. Baltzer, Deutero -Isaiah: A Com- 
mentary on Isaiah 40-55 (Hermeneia; 2001); R.G. Kratz, in: Review 
of Biblical Literature (; 03/2003), 1-8. in islam: B. 
Levine, in: Iraq 67 (2005), 411-27. 

ISAIAH, ASCENSION OF, early Christian apocalypse, con- 
taining the Jewish apocryphon the Martyrdom of*Isaiah. The 
aggadah about Isaiah's violent death was already known at the 
beginnings of Christianity (see Acts 8: 34). Thus the Jewish 
apocryphon was expounded by Christians as early as in the 
first century of Christianity. Of the Greek original only a papy- 
rus fragment is extant and parts of Latin, Slavonic, and Coptic 
translations have been preserved. The whole work exists only 
in an Ethiopic translation. The apocryphal description of Jesus' 
birth, life, and resurrection (11:1-21) is a later interpolation 
lacking in the Latin version and in the three Slavonic versions. 
In the Christian part of the book Isaiah is described as a seer 
according to the spirit of apocalyptic literature. His violent 
death is regarded as revealing the coming of Jesus and the early 
history of the Church (3:13-31). This passage and the follow- 
ing chapter (4) containing a description of the ^Antichrist are 
very important witnesses for the oldest Christian history and 
beliefs. The author sees inter alia the degeneration of contem- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



porary Christianity in the small number of Christian prophets, 
an institution which disappeared in the second century. He is 
the oldest witness to Peters martyrdom by Nero (4: 3). At the 
end of days Beliar (Belial), "the great prince, the king of this 
world," will descend from heaven in the shape of Nero; he will 
do many wonders and lead humanity astray, but he will finally 
be destroyed. This description reflects an Antichrist tradition 
more or less independent of the New Testament, whose main 
motifs are taken from Jewish sources. 

It is very probable that the description of Isaiah's ascent to 
the seven heavens was also written by the same Christian au- 
thor (chapters 6-11). The similarities between this vision and 
similar visions in Jewish apocalyptic literature and old Jewish 
mysticism are noteworthy. According to the book, Isaiah also 
saw the miraculous descent of Jesus from the seventh heaven 
and his future ascent after his resurrection. This description 
resembles the similar motifs of the Epistola Apostolorum ("Let- 
ter of the Apostles"), a Christian work of the beginning of the 
second century. The mystical theology of the Christian parts 
of the Ascension of Isaiah is imbued by Jewish mystical and 
apocalyptical material, and its opinion about the heavenly 
nature of Jesus is close to gnostic speculations, although the 
book is, compared with contemporary Christian products, 
not heterodox. Later, when orthodox Christian tenets were 
firmly established, the book was used by Christian sects with 
gnostic elements and even by Arians. 

bibliography: R.H. Charles, Ascension of Isaiah (1900; repr. 
with intr. by G.H. Box, 1917); B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt, Amherst 
Papyri (1902); E. Tisserant, Ascension d'lsai'e (1909); J. Flemming and 
H. Duensing, in: E. Hennecke and W. Schneemelcher (eds.), Neu- 
testamentliche Apocryphen, 2 (1964 3 ), 454-68; M. Meslin, Les Ariens 
d'Occident (1967), 242-3. 

[David Flusser] 

ISAIAH, MARTYRDOM OF, one of the source documents 
discerned by scholars in the Ascension of Isaiah (see Isa- 
iah, Ascension of), relating Isaiahs persecution and even- 
tual martyr's death at the hands of *Manasseh, king of Judah. 
From the first publication in 1819 of the Ethiopic version with 
Latin translation (the most important text) by R. Laurence, 
the martyrdom legend was recognized as of Jewish origin. 
Gesenius in 1821 first distinguished two parts (1-5, 6-11) and 
the two most important divisions of the material were those 
of A. Dillmann (Ascensio Isaiae, aethiopice et latine y 1877) 
and R.H. Charles (Ascension qflsaiah y 1900). Dillmann con- 
siders that the material falls into (1) a Jewish martyrdom 
of Isaiah (2:1-3:12 -1- 5:2-14); (2) a Christian ascension of Isaiah 
(6:1-11:1 + 23-40); (3) Christian editorial reworkings of these 
two (ch. 1, except 1, 3, 4 and 11:42-43); (4) a final Christian 
editing which added the apocalypse (3:13-5:1) and certain 
other passages. Charles concluded that the work is composed 
of three documents: (1) martyrdom of Isaiah (1:1, 2, 6-13; 
2:1-8, 10-3:12; 5:1-14 - substantially identical with Dillmann's 
first document); (2) testament of Hezekiah (3:13-4:18); and 
(3) vision of Isaiah (6:1-11:14). Both the latter are Chris- 

tian. Charles' hypothesis has been widely accepted, although 
C.C. Torrey, for example (The Apocryphal Literature (1945), 
!33 — 5) queries the existence of the martyrdom as a separate 

In view of the obviously composite nature of the Ascen- 
sion and the wide circulation of the story of the martyrdom in 
Jewish sources (e.g., Yev. 49b; Sanh. 103b; tj, Sanh. 10:2, 28c; 
pr 84:14, cf. Ginzberg, Legends (1928), 3731!.), it seems likely 
that the work is of Jewish origin. It is probably to be connected 
with the traditions about the deaths of prophets (Mart. Isa. 
5:12 and parallels; Jub. 1:12; cf. 11 Chron. 24:19, 1 En. 89:51-53, 
4Qp-Hosb 2:4-6; et al.) and with a type of hagiographic litera- 
ture of which the Vitae Prophetarum is an example. Eissfeldt 
relates it to the martyrdom legends of the period of Antiochus 
Epiphanes, such as those of Eleazar and of the mother and her 
seven sons (11 Mace. 6:18-7:42). Flusser (iej, 3 (1953), 30-47) 
interprets the work as a typological representation of the story 
of the Qumran Teacher of Righteousness. This interpretation 
is carried to great extremes by M. Philonenko (Pseudepig- 
raphes de VAncien Testament et manuscrits de la Mer Morte 
(1967), 1-10). Certainly notable is the use of the name Beliar 
(2:4 et al.) along with Satan (e.g., 2:2) and Sammael (1:8). The 
name Belchira (with variants) for the false prophet, Isaiah's 
opponent, remains without conclusive explanation. The book 
may supply important information about the life and mores 
of apocalyptic seers, and is an example of little- known Jewish 
hagiographic writing. The transmission of the work is complex 
and is dealt with by Charles, E. Tisserant (Ascension d'Isais, 
1909), and others. As well as the Ethiopic text, there are frag- 
ments or versions in Greek, Slavonic (Vaillant, in Revue des 
Etudes SlaveSy 42 (1963), 109-21), Latin, and Coptic (Lacau, in 
Le Museon, 59 (1946), 453-67)- 

bibliography: Beer, in: Apokryphen undPseudepigraphen..., 
ed. by E. Kautzsch, 2 (1900), 119-27; Charles, Apocrypha, 2 (1913), 
155-62; Rist, in: idb, 2 (1962), 744ff., s.v. Isaiah, Ascension 0/ (contains 
bibliography); E. Hennecke and W. Schneemelcher, Neutestamentli- 
che Apocryphen, 2 (1964 3 ), 454-65; O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament, 
an Introduction (1965), 609 f. (contains bibliography). 

[Michael E. Stone] 

ISAIAH BEN ABRAHAM (d. 1723), rabbi and kabbalist, 
grandson of *David b. Samuel ha-Levi. He wrote Baer Heitev y 
sl commentary on the Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim y which 
the title page describes as "a digest of the legal decisions of all 
the early and later halakhic authorities, and of all extant re- 
sponsa." The book, which contains many kabbalistic quota- 
tions, particularly from Isaac Luria, achieved immediate ac- 
claim, many editions appearing within a few years (first ed. 
in Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim> Amsterdam, 1708). In 1742, 
however, Judah *Ashkenazi, dayyan of Tiktin, published a 
book serving the same purpose, with the same form and con- 
tent and even the same name. Because the later book treated 
the material in greater detail, the earlier one lost its popular- 
ity, and whereas Ashkenazi's edition was published with the 
Shulhan Arukh, Isaiah's was forgotten. His work on the other 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


sections of the Shulhan Arukh was never published. Isaiah, 
his wife, and his daughter met their death in an inn fire in 
Mogilev, on their way to Erez Israel. 

bibliography: Azulai, 2 (1852), 12, no. 17; H.N. Maggid- 
Steinschneider, Ir-Vilna (1900), 139 n.2; Ch. Tchernowitz, Toledot 

ha-Posekim, 3 (1947), 306-8. 

[Abram Juda Goldrat] 

ISAIAH BEN ELIJAH DI TRANI (the Younger, "Riaz"; 

d. c. 1280), rabbinical scholar; grandson of Isaiah b. Mali di 
*Trani (the Elder). Little is known of his life, and even his 
works have remained mostly in manuscript. His novellae are 
known mainly from quotations in Joshua Boaz' Shiltei ha-Gib- 
borim on the Halakhot of *Alfasi. Isaiah's halakhic works on a 
few tractates (Berakhot and Shabbat (Jerusalem, 1964) and on 
Eruvin, Pesahim, Yoma, and Sukkah (ibid., 1966)) have been 
published and several fragments appear in the MeatDevash of 
D. Sassoon (1928). He frequently quotes his grandfather, and 
his own Kunteres ha-Reayot, apparently an extensive work in 
which he enlarged on his brief decisions. In his halakhic works 
Isaiah disputes philosophical interpretations while he deals 
with the aggadah. Isaiah adopted a less tolerant attitude toward 
philosophy and the general sciences than did his grandfather. 
The Perush Rabbenu Yeshayah, printed in Mikrabt Gedolot, as 
well as the commentaries on the Prophets and Hagiographa 
recently published as the work of his grandfather, should ap- 
parently be ascribed to him. 

bibliography: Guedemann, Gesch Erz, 2 (1884), i89ff. (= 
A.S. Friedberg, Ha-Torah ve-ha-Hayyim (1898), 165-8); Joel, in: ks, 
10 (1933/34), 545-52; A.I. Wertheimer, Perush Nevi'im u-Khetuvim le- 
Rabbenu Yeshayah ha-Rishon mi-Trani (1959), 11-56. 

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma] 

ISAIAH BEN MALL DI TRANI (the Elder; c. 1200-before 
1260), early Italian halakhist, scion of a well-known rabbinic 
and scholarly family. Born in Trani, he is mainly known as 
the author of extensive commentaries and pesakim ("deci- 
sions") on the Talmud. Isaiah was a pupil of Simhah of Speier 
and kept in contact with German scholars. His responsa are 
to be found in the Or Zarua of *Isaac b. Moses of Vienna, 
who greatly esteemed him. He traveled in the Mediterranean 
countries, spending some time in Greece and in Erez Israel. 
Among the scholars whom he quotes mention should be made 
of Baruch "of Greece" (see *Baruch b. Isaac of Aleppo) while 
Zedekiah b. Abraham *Anav, author of Shibbolei ha-Leket, 
quotes him extensively. 

Isaiahs works cover a wide range. They include (1) Pe- 
sakim on the Talmud, containing a summary of the subject 
under discussion, along the lines of *Alfasi, with additional 
comments on unresolved difficulties and a final decision on 
the conflicting views in the manner of * Hananel b. Hushiel. 
The following pesa k im have been published: on Berakhot and 
Shabbat (1964); on Eruvin, Pesahim, Yoma, and Sukkah (1966); 
on Sukkah alone in Sam Hayyim (Leghorn, 1801); on Bezah (in 
Mahaneh David, 1889, wrongly described as Tosafot Rid); on 

Rosh Ha-Shanah, Ta'anit and Hagigah (in Oholei Yizhak, Leg- 
horn, 1821); on Yevamot (called Tosafot Rid, 1931); on Ketubbot 
and Gittin (in margin of tb , Vilna edition, wrongly described 
as Tosafot Rid); on Kiddushin (1965); on Makkot (in: Talpioth, 
8, 1963); on Horayot (ibid., 9, 1965); on Hullin (first chapter, in 
Ha-Segullah, 1940), and on Niddah (1963). His pesakim on the 
Halakhot Ketannothave also been published (Leghorn, 1801). 
The remainder are still in manuscript. (2) Sefer ha-Makhria 
(Leghorn, 1779) deals principally with important halakhot in 
regard to which the codifiers were in dispute, and which Isaiah 
attempts to resolve. (3) Sefer ha-Leket (not extant) is similar 
in nature to ha-Makhria. (4) Tosafot Rid, novellae to the Tal- 
mud. Extant are his novellae to the tractates: Shabbat, Eruvin, 
Pesahim, Yoma, Sukkah, Bezah, Rosh Ha-Shanah, Megillah, 
Hagigah, Moed Katan, Nedarim, Nazir, Bava Kamma, Bava 
Mezia, Bava Batra, Avodah Zarah, and Niddah (Lemberg, 
1862-68; new edition in preparation partly printed); Kiddu- 
shin (Sabionetta, 1553, and subsequent editions, such as, New 
York, 1965); Ta'anit (at end of Sefer ha-Makhria). Tosafot Rid 
was compiled in several "editions" in the form of pamphlets 
in which Isaiah retracted or supplemented his previous state- 
ments. The exact relationship between this book and his pe- 
sakim has not been established, as much of the material is 
common to both and in addition the printers added to the 
confusion. (5) Responsa (1967). (6) Commentary on the Pen- 
tateuch. Extracts from this commentary were published by 
H.J.D. *Azulai in his Penei David (Leghorn, 1792). The com- 
mentaries on the other books of the Bible, published under 
his name in Jerusalem in 1959, are apparently to be ascribed 
to his grandson. (7) Piyyutim. 

Isaiah was an independent thinker with considerable 
originality of approach and with a critical attitude to the 
opinions of his predecessors. Occasionally he sharply rejects 
the teachings of geonim, such as *Hai Gaon and *Samuel b. 
Hophni, and of other distinguished predecessors. He even 
criticizes his own works, commenting, "All that I have writ- 
ten is valueless (hevel)? He is not awed by authority and is 
concerned only with examination of the source material. 
His books are distinguished by clarity of explanation, careful 
choice of correct readings, and methodological approach to 
talmudic principles and lines of reasoning. 

bibliography: Guedemann, Gesch Erz, 2 (1884), 184-9, 
320-6; Gross, in: zhb, 13 (1909), 46-58, 87-92, 118-23; Marx, ibid., 
i88f.; M. Higger, Halakhot ve-Aggadot (1933), 11-27; H. Tchernowitz, 
Toledot ha-Posekim, 2 (1947), 62-68; A.I. Wertheimer (ed.), Perush 
Nevi'im u-Khetuvim le-Rabbi Yeshayah ha-Rishon mi-Trani (1959), 
11-56 (introd.); idem (ed.), Teshuvot ha-Rid (1967), 17-66 (introd.); 
Rosenfeld, in: Sinai, 54 (1963/64), 290-301; S.K. Mirsky (ed.), Shib- 
bolei ha-Leket (1966), 29-34 (introd.); idem, in: Talpioth, 9 (1964), 
49-109; S. Abramson, in: Sinai, 65 (1969), 103-8. 

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma] 

scholar of uncertain date (i2 th -i5 th centuries). He was the au- 
thor of a work in Arabic known under the Hebrew title Siddur 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



or Sefer ha-Mitzvot, of which two different versions are known. 
The first part deals with prayer and ritual matters (fasts and 
feasts, Sabbath, circumcision, marriage, diet, etc.). The second 
part deals with dogmatic theology, Hebrew grammar, etc., as 
well as with some subjects already covered in the first part; 
this second part refers to Isaiah in the third person, and may 
therefore be by another hand. Isaiah is generally referred to 
in Karaite sources by the title al-Muallim al-Fadil ("the excel- 
lent preceptor"). 

bibliography: Steinschneider, Arab Lit, 242-3; L. Nemoy 

(ed.), Karaite Anthology (1952), 235. 

[Leon Nemoy] 

ISAIAH HASID FROM ZBARAZH (i7 th -i8 th centuries), 
Shabbatean scholar, the son-in-law of *Judah he-Hasid. In 
1700 Isaiah Hasid immigrated to Jerusalem with his father- 
in-law and his companions. When the kabbalist Abraham 
*Rovigo arrived in * Jerusalem in 1702 and founded there a 
bet midrash for ten select members, he took Isaiah Hasid's ad- 
vice as to who should be admitted to it. Isaiahs name occurs 
among the signatories of a letter sent from Jerusalem to Bre- 
slau seeking help for the Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem. 
As a result of falling under the influence of Shabbatean beliefs 
and performing "strange deeds," he was compelled, appar- 
ently before 1706, to leave Jerusalem. Settling in Mannheim, 
Germany, he installed himself in the Shabbatean bet midrash 
of the philanthropist Asher Lemmle Regenheim. From there, 
together with others of the sect, he spread Shabbatean pro- 
paganda in the communities of Germany and Poland. He be- 
came a follower of the Shabbatean leader Loebele *Prossnitz, 
who he believed to be the Messiah. In 1725, when Moses Meir 
Kamenker, the emissary of the Polish Shabbateans, came to 
Mannheim, he entered into a conspiracy with Isaiah. The two 
disseminated writings condemning the Talmud and hinting 
that adherents of the Talmud did not believe in the God of 
Israel. They even wanted to proclaim Jonathan * Eybeschuetz 
as the Messiah. When their activity became publicly known 
the rabbis of Frankfurt excommunicated them, a ban which 
was also proclaimed in Altona, Amsterdam, Mannheim, and 
other communities. 

bibliography: I. Rivkind, in: Reshumot, 4 (1926), 318-20; J. 

Mann, in: Meassef Ziyyon, 6 (1934), 67-68; G. Scholem, in: Zion, 9 

(1944), 32; M.A. Perlmutter, Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeschuetz ve-Yahaso el 

ha-Shabbetaut (1947), 29, 41-4; M. Benayahu, in: Sefunot, 3-4 (i960), 

141, 153, 158, 163-4, 166-7. 

[David Tamar] 

lending of money on interest), which was opposed by Morde- 
cai *Jaffe and Joshua * Falk. As a result, when he became rabbi 
of Cracow, he amended the formula. This amended formula, 
known as Shetar Hetter Iska ke-Tikkun Muram (Morenu Rav 
Mendel), was wrongly attributed to Moses *Isserles. In his 
Nahalat Shivah, *Samuel b. David ha-Levi defends the for- 
mula and highly praises Isaiah Menahem. Isaiah Menahem 
was among the signatories of the takkanah adopted by the 
Council of Four Lands at Lublin in 1587, prohibiting anyone 
from acquiring rabbinic office by payment or other unjust 
means. He is referred to in the responsa Bah of Joel *Sirkes 
(no. 77) and in the Matenat Kehunnah on the Midrash Rab- 
bah (Lev. R. 2) of Issacher Ashkenazi who acknowledges his 
indebtedness to him for the explanation of a certain passage. 
Together with his son Moses he wrote notes to the Ammudei 
ha-Golah of *Isaac of Corbeil which were published with the 
text (Cracow, 1596). He wrote a supercommentary on Rashi's 
commentary on the Pentateuch (Be'urim Kabbedu ha-Shem, 
Cracow, 1604). One of his piyyutim was published in the Hag 
ha-Pesah of J. Kitzingen (Cracow, c. 1597). 

bibliography: A. Walden, Shem ha-Gedolim he-Hadash, 
1 (1864), 486 no. 52; J.M. Zunz, Ir ha-Zedek (1874), 45-49; Azulai, 1 
(1905), 214 no. 118 (Pelelat Soferim); H.D. (B.) Friedberg, Luhot Zik- 
karon; Halpern, Pinkas, 6, 8, 63, 74. 

[Abram Juda Goldrat] 

rakh; 1904-1977), Russian writer and literary scholar. Isbakh 
was born in Daugavpils, Latvia, and graduated from the Liter- 
ary Department of Moscow University in 1924. He published 
poems and novels about the Red Army, including descriptions 
of Jewish soldiers. During World War 11 he was an army cor- 
respondent. He was also a member of the editorial staffof the 
journals Oktober and Znamia> and taught in the university. 
In 1949 he was arrested as a "cosmopolitan" and sentenced to 
10 years in forced labor camps. He was released in 1959, re- 
habilitated, and returned to writing. He published a number 
of autobiographical novels and a book about the French Re- 
sistance (i960), always using Jewish imagery and themes. He 
also published a personal account of the Nazi offensive, Front 
(1941). His literary studies include one on Louis Aragon (1957) 
and Na literatunykh barrikadakh ("On the Barricades of Lit- 
erature," 1964). He later wrote the fictional family chronicle 
Masterovoy ("The Artisan," 1966). 

[Shmuel Spector (2 nd ed.)] 

ISAIAH MENAHEM BEN ISAAC (d. 1599), rabbi in Poland. 
In accordance with the custom prevalent in his time, his fa- 
ther-in-law's name was added to his and he was referred to as 
"Mendel [Menahem] Avigdors." Isaiah Menahem was one of 
the chief spokesmen of the ^Council of Four Lands. He served 
as rabbi of Praga (a suburb of Warsaw), head of the yeshivah 
of Szczebrzeszyn, rabbi of Lodomeria, and in 1591 succeeded 
*Meir of Lublin as rabbi of Cracow. While rabbi of Lodomeria, 
he drew up a new formula for the hetter iska (permitting the 

ISCANDARI (originally Al-Iscandari, from al-Iscandria = 
* Alexandria, also written as Ascandarani, Scandarani, and 

Scandari), family of talmudists and authors, heads of the 
*Musta c rab (Arabic-speaking Jews) community who were in 
close touch with government circles in Erez Israel and Egypt 
in the 17 th and 18 th centuries. According to Joseph *Sambari, 
the family originated in *Spain, the first of the family to im- 
migrate to *Egypt being a certain Joseph who settled in Al- 
exandria and, on moving to * Cairo, was called Scandari. This 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


is, however, doubtful; it is almost certain that the Iscandaris 
were an ancient Musta e rab family. 


1507) lived in * Jerusalem. He studied together with Obadiah 
of *Bertinoro and according to Jacob *Berab was a most eru- 
dite scholar. He moved to *Safed, c. 1491, where he became 
the head of a Musta c rab yeshivah; he spent the rest of his life 
there. He wrote commentaries on the Yad of Maimonides and 
on the Tur of * Jacob b. Asher. The letter he sent in about 1507 
to the nagidy Isaac ha-Kohen *Sholal, in Egypt, is one of the 
most important documents about the Jewish community in 
Erez Israel after the expulsion from Spain. He described the 
yeshivah, and asked for Sholal's intervention in a dispute he 
had with Moses ha-Dayyan who was responsible for its ad- 

(2) Joseph scandari (after 1527), rabbi and physician. 
He is said to have lived first in Alexandria before moving to 
Cairo, where he became one of five appointed leaders of the 
Musta c rabim community. 

(3) Abraham the elder, son ofjoseph (2), was also a 
rabbi and physician, and succeeded to his fathers post in the 
community. Hayyim Joseph David Azulai possessed a manu- 
script of his halakhic rulings. 

(4) ELEAZAR B. ABRAHAM SCANDARI (d. 1620; Called 

Aba, after the initials of his name), son of Abraham, court 
physician of Sinan Pasha, the Turkish governor of Egypt. 
He healed Sinan of a severe illness, whereupon the latter ap- 
pointed him finance minister of his dominion. Eleazar was 
the head of the Musta c rabs. In 1591 when Sinan was appointed 
chief vizier, Scandari moved to Constantinople where he be- 
came the leader of the Jewish community. As a result of his 
participation in the formulation of Turkish policy in Molda- 
via and Transylvania, he became involved in a dispute with 
the Moldavian governor, Aron- Wodah, who did not fulfill the 
promises he had made to Scandari. On one occasion when 
Scandari accompanied Sinan Pasha to Jassy, he was arrested 
by the governor and held captive in Transylvania until 1596. 
On his release he returned to Cairo and in 1618 was awarded 
the Turkish title, chelebi. He was put to death on the orders 
of the Turkish governor of Egypt after he had been falsely ac- 
cused by the Muslims. According to Joseph * Sambari, he was 
the author of glosses on the Yad of Maimonides. 

(5) ABRAHAM B. ELEAZAR ISCANDARI (l565?-l650), One 

of the four sons of Eleazar, was one of the greatest Egyptian 
rabbis and halakhists. He was a pupil of Abraham *Monzon 1. 
He maintained a yeshivah in his own home and possessed 
a large and valuable library, containing many manuscripts. 
Through him an impressive collection of the responsa of 
Maimonides was copied. From his responsa, copies and di- 
gests were made, some of which were published in the books 
of the scholars in Egypt, Palestine, and Turkey. The histori- 
ans Joseph Sambari and David *Conforte resided with him 
and assisted with his library. He also engaged in the study of 
Kabbalah and copied the Sifra de-Zeniuta with the commen- 
tary of Isaac *Luria, adding his own glosses (Benayahu col- 

lection). Collections of his sermons are extant in manuscript 
(Ms. Guenzburg, Moscow, no. 1055). 

(6) Joseph ha-levi iscandari (d. 1768) was head 
both of the Musta'rabim and the general Egyptian community 
where he also served as a tax collector. Hayyim Joseph David 
Azulai was one of his friends. He was executed by Ali-Bey. 

bibliography: Conforte, Kore, 30b, 41, 49b, 51a; Neubauer, 
Chronicles, 1 (1887), 155-6, 158, 162; H.Y.D. Azulai, Magal Tov ha- 
Shalem, ed. by A. Freimann, 1 (1921), 51, 53; R.A. Ben-Shimon, Tuv 
Mizrayim (1908), 5a~7a, 9a, i3b-i4b; Rosanes, Togarmah, 3 (1938), 
316-8, 358-60; Ashtor, Toledot, 2 (1951), 487-9; Benayahu, in: Sefer 
Assaf (1953), 111-3; idem, Rabbi D. Azulai (Heb., 1959), 22, 549, 572-3; 
Ben-Ze'ev, in: Sefunot, 9 (1965), 272-6, 278, 292-3; Baer, Spain, in- 
dex, s.v. Ascandrani; Tamar, in: Rabbi Yoseph Cam, ed. by I. Raphael 
(Heb., 1969), 12 ff. 

ISENSTEIN, KURT HARALD (1898-1980), Danish sculp- 
tor, born in Hanover. Isenstein directed an art school in Ger- 
many, which he reestablished when he moved to Denmark. 
His works include portraits of Einstein, Hindenburg, and 
Pirandello. He carved a monument in memory of the Dan- 
ish refugees in Sweden (1943-45) and two memorials to the 
Norwegian Jews who perished at Auschwitz. The latter are 
found in the Jewish cemeteries in Oslo and Trondheim, Nor- 

ISER, JOSIF (1881-1958), Romanian artist and draftsman. 
Iser, who studied in Munich and then in Paris under Derain, 
began his career as a draftsman. However, after World War 1, 
he devoted himself entirely to painting, working until 1928 at 
Neuilly-sur-Seine. Iser s work is characterized by the almost 
linear manner in which he emphasizes the contours of people 
and objects. His style is a mixture of neoclassicism and im- 
pressionism, influenced by Cezanne. Some of his recurring 
themes are the Oriental landscapes of Romania (Doboudja), 
old Turks in cafes, and interiors with odalisques. 

bibliography: Jancou, in: Menorah Journal, 15 (1928). 340; 

Iser (1962). 

[Isac Bercovici] 

ISFAHAN, city in Iran on the route from Teheran to the 
Persian Gulf. The origin of the Jewish settlement in Isfahan, 
one of the oldest in Persia, has been ascribed by Pehlevi, Ar- 
menian, and Muslim sources to various early historical peri- 
ods. Though not mentioned in the Talmud, the city's Jewish 
community is first recorded in the time of the Sassanid ruler 
Firuz (472 c.e.) who, according to Hamza al- Isfahan!, put to 
death half the Jewish population in Isfahan on a charge of 
killing two Magian priests. When the Arabs conquered Per- 
sia (641), they found a strong Jewish community in Isfahan. 
The Arab chronicler Abu Nuaym reported that at that time 
the Jews were celebrating, dancing, and playing music in ex- 
pectation of a "Jewish king." Under the caliphate, the Jewish 
quarter in Isfahan, known as Jayy, had grown to such a degree 
in number and size that Arab and Persian geographers called 
it al-Yahudiyya, "the city of the Jews." Isfahan was the birth - 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



place of the first Jewish sectarian movement, led by *Abu c Isa 
of Isfahan, in the time of the Umayyad caliph c Abd al-Malik 
(685-705). Abu c Isa, claiming to be a messiah and a religious 
reformer, gained a considerable following among the Jews of 
Isfahan and other places and it is reported that his followers, 
known as "Isavis" or "Isfahanis," still existed in Isfahan in the 
tenth century 

*Maimonides mentioned the Jews in Isfahan in his Iggeret 
Teiman (Epistle to Yemen); the city was regarded as a center 
of Hebrew grammar and exegesis. About 1166 ^Benjamin of 
Tudela estimates their number at 15,000 and also mentions 
the chief rabbi Sar Shalom, who had been appointed by the 
exilarch of Baghdad, with authority over all the communities 
of Persia. When the Safavid dynasty made Isfahan its capital 
(1598), the Jews prospered economically and were engaged as 
craftsmen, artisans, and merchants in drugs, spices, antiqui- 
ties, jewelry, and textiles. They suffered greatly when the per- 
secution and forced conversion, initiated under Shah 'Ab- 
bas 1 and renewed under Shah 'Abbas 11, swept throughout 
the Jewish communities of Persia in the 17 th century. Their 
sufferings were described in the Judeo- Persian chronicles of 
*Babai ibn Lutf and *Babai ibn Farhad, and by Carmelite, Je- 
suit, and other eyewitnesses. 

Religious life in Isfahan had a rigid traditional rabbini- 
cal basis, with the Sabbath and dietary laws strictly enforced. 
There existed several synagogues, schools, and other com- 
munal institutions, and the community was well organized. 
A ^Karaite group also existed there. On the instructions of 
* Nadir Shah (d. 1747), the Isfahani Jew Baba ibn Nuriel trans- 
lated the Psalms and the Pentateuch into Persian in 1740. Bible 
manuscripts in Judeo-Persian were found in Isfahan at the be- 
ginning of the 17 th century by the Italian scholar and traveler 
G. Vechietti, who cooperated with Jewish scholars there in the 
transliteration of Judeo-Persian manuscripts. 

With the advent of the Qajar dynasty (1794-1925) and 
the transfer of the capital to * Teheran, Isfahan and its Jewish 
population lost much of its cultural and political prominence. 
European travelers of the 19 th century, such as *David d'Beth 
Hillel (1828), ^Benjamin 11 (1850), and E. *Neumark (1884), 
estimated the number of Jews in Isfahan at between 300 and 
400 families. Jewish cultural life in Isfahan was threatened by 
the activities of the *Bahai movement and the Christian mis- 
sionary societies, who, exploiting the plight of the Jews, began 
to work in the Jewish ghettos and established a missionary 
school in Isfahan in 1889. These inroads were counteracted 
in 1901 by the establishment of a Jewish school in Isfahan by 
the 'Alliance Israelite Universelle. Isfahan is the seat of some 
revered "holy places," especially the alleged burial place of Se- 
rah bat Asher b. Jacob (granddaughter of the patriarch men- 
tioned in Num. 26:46), situated in the vicinity of Pir Bakran, 
20 miles (30 km.) south of Isfahan and a popular place of pil- 
grimage for all Isfahan Jews, who bury their dead there, with 
an inscription dated 1133 c.e. 

[Walter Joseph Fischel / Amnon Netzer (2 nd ed.)] 

Contemporary Period 

Of the 10,000-12,000 Jews who lived in Isfahan in 1948, about 
2,500 remained in 1968. Many had settled in Israel, while oth- 
ers moved to Teheran. According to the census of 1956, Isfahan 
was the third-largest Jewish community in Iran, after Teheran 
and Shiraz. The number of synagogues had dropped from 18 
to 13 by 1961. Most Jews were poor peddlers; in 1952 it was es- 
timated that only 1% lived in reasonable circumstances, while 
80% were poverty-stricken, and the rest lived on the verge of 
poverty. Most of the poorest left for Israel. In 1968 the town 
had an Alliance Israelite Universelle school with high school 
classes, and schools run by *ort and *Ozar ha-Torah. In 1961, 
150 pupils attended Jewish high school; 897 attended elemen- 
tary school; other children attended government schools, 
while there were about 50 Jews at Isfahan University. How- 
ever, even in 1967 many Jewish children did not attend any 
educational institution. In 1968 Isfahan had a branch of the 
Iranian Jewish Women's Organization and of the Zionist youth 
organization He-Halutz, founded before 1948. At the begin- 
ning of the Islamic regime in Iran (1979) there were an esti- 
mated 3,000 Jews in Isfahan, reduced to 1,500 by the end of 
the 20 th century. 

bibliography: W. Bacher, "Un episode de l'histoire des 
Juifs de Perse," in: rej, 47 (1903), 262-82; idem, "Les Juifs de Perse 
aux xv ne et xvme siecles dapres les chroniques poetiques de Babai 
b. Loutf et de Babai b. Farhad," in: rej, 51 (1906), 121-36, 265-79; 5 2 
(1906), 77-97, 234-71; 53 (1907), 85-110; E Baer, "Eine juedische Mes- 
siasprophetie auf das Jahr 1186 und der 3. Kreuzzug," in: mgwj, 50 
(1926), 155 ff; W.J. Fischel, "Isfahan: The Story of a Jewish Commu- 
nity in Persia," in: Joshua Starr Memorial Volume (1953), 111-28; V.B. 
Moreen, Iranian Jewry's Hour of Peril and Heroism (1987), index; A. 
Netzer, "Redifot u-Shemadot be-Toledot Yehudei Iran be-Meah ha-17? 
in: Pe'amim, 6 (1980), 32-56; P. Schwarz, Iran im Mittelalter nach den 
arabischen Geographer (1969), 582!?, esp. p. 586; M. Seligsohn, "Qua- 
tre poesies judeo-persanes sur les persecutions des juifs dTspahan," 
in: Revue des etudes juives, 44 (1902), 87-103, 244-259; E. Spicehan- 
dler, "The Persecution of the Jews of Isfahan under Shah 'Abbas 11 
(1642-1666)," in: Hebrew Union College Annual, 46 (1975), 331-356; 
G. Widengren, "The Status of the Jews in the Sassanian Empire," in: 
Iranica Antiqua, 1 (1961), 117-162. 

[Hayyim J. Cohen / Amnon Netzer (2 nd ed.)] 

ISH-BOSHETH (Heb. )1Efa"t^K), son of *Saul; reigned over 
Israel for two years (11 Sam. 2:10), at the same time that David 
reigned over Judah in Hebron. The name Ish-Bosheth is a 
dysphemism (Baal = Boshet; see ^Euphemism and Dysphe- 
mism) for his true name, Eshbaal (Heb. VyattfN, 1 Chron. 8:33; 
9:39). The meaning of the syllable 'esh is unclear. It is possibly 
derived from the root BPK, whose meaning (as in Ugaritic) is 
"to give [a present]"; the name would then mean "given by 
Baal" (cf. the Phoenician name Matanbaal and the Hebrew 
names Mattaniah, Nethanel, et al.). Others explain the name 
as meaning "man of Baal" or see in the radical ttfN a form cor- 
responding to ffl. 

After Saul and his three sons (including his firstborn) 
died in the battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


(i Sam. 31), *Abner son of Ner, the uncle and general of Saul, 
took Eshbaal (Ish-Bosheth), the son of Saul, and proclaimed 
him king "over Gilead, and over the Ashurites [= Asherites], 
and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and 
over all Israel" (11 Sam. 2:8-9). Th e capital was fixed in Ma- 
hanaim on the eastern bank of the Jordan, at a distance from 
the Philistine garrisons, who controlled western Israel (1 Sam. 
31:7), and from the borders of Judah, where David reigned. By 
enthroning Ish-Bosheth, Abner intended, on the one hand, to 
prevent David from reigning over the whole of Israel and, on 
the other, to govern, in fact, the northern tribes; Ish-Bosheth, 
the legal successor of Saul, would be king in title but depen- 
dent on the will and mercy of Abner, the general of the army. 
Indeed, Abner concentrated the full authority of the govern- 
ment in his hands and led the war against David (11 Sam. 
2:12-17; 3 ; 6). It is a measure of Abner s power and Ish-Bosheth's 
impotence that Abner dared to cohabit with *Rizpah daughter 
of Aiah, the concubine of Saul. It is not surprising that Ish- 
Bosheth reproached him for it; for he might well regard it as 
not only an affront to the memory of Saul, but also reason 
for suspecting Abner of ambitions to the throne (cf. 16:21-22; 
1 Kings 2:17-22). Abner for his part regarded Ish-Bosheth's 
rebuke as an act of ingratitude for his efforts in preventing 
David from reigning over all Israel (11 Sam. 3:8). It is also 
possible that Abner, realizing that the military situation was 
in favor of David (3:1), welcomed Ish-Bosheth's rebuke as 
a pretext for coming to terms with David and thus assured 
his continuing in the position of army commander in Israel 
(3:12-21). The dispute sealed Ish-Bosheth's fate. He had lost 
his main supporter (4:1) and the hope of remaining in power. 
According to 11 Samuel 4, Ish-Bosheth was murdered by two 
officers, Rechab and Baanah. It can be assumed that the con- 
spirators, who came from the town of Beeroth, one of the 
four Hivite towns (Josh. 9:17), murdered Ish-Bosheth in or- 
der to avenge the execution of the Gibeonites by Saul (11 Sam. 

bibliography: Bright, Hist, 175-7; Tsevat, in: jss, 3 (1958), 
237ff.; de Vaux, Anc Isr, 45, 94-95, 116, 220; em, 1 (1965), 749-50, in- 
cludes bibliography, add. bibliography: D. Edelman, in: abd, 

3, 509-10; S. Bar-Efrat, 11 Samuel (1996), 17. 

[Bustanay Oded] 

ISH-KISHOR, EPHRAIM (1863-1945), one of the first fol- 
lowers of *Hibbat Zion and of political Zionism in England. 
Born in Ponjemon, Lithuania, he lived from the beginning of 
the 1880s in England, where he taught Hebrew. He was one of 
the first to promote Hibbat Zion in England through essays, 
stories, and poems in Yiddish newspapers that he published 
and edited at the end of the 1880s and the beginning of the 
189 os. Ish-Kishor adhered to Herzl upon his first appearance 
in England, and in his diary, on July 15, 1896, Herzl mentions 
that Ish-Kishor came to see him and proposed the establish- 
ment of an organization to be headed by Herzl: "A hundred 
persons will gather in the East End; they will enlist members 
in all the countries and they will create propaganda for a Jew- 

ish state." Ish-Kishor later participated in the First Zionist 
Congress and was active in the Zionist Federation of Great 
Britain. In 1907 he went to the United States, where he contin- 
ued his Zionist work. He was also among the founders of the 
Judea Insurance Company and worked for it when he settled 
in Palestine in 1933. His daughter, shulamith ish-kishor 
(1896-1977), who lived in New York, was a noted children's 
writer whose work included Our Eddie (1970). 

bibliography: Sefer ha-Congress, 2 (1950), 85-86, 361; T. 

Herzl Complete Diaries, ed. by R. Patai, 5 vols, (i960), index; Ha- 

olam (Oct. 4, 1945). 

[Getzel Kressel] 

ISHMAEL (Heb. ^xyttttf?; "God hears," wordplays on the 
name occur in Gen. 16:11-12; 17:20; 21:13, x 7)> the first son of 
Abraham, born to him when he was 86 years old. Ishmael's 
mother was the Egyptian * Hagar, the maidservant of Sarah 
(Gen. 16). After Hagar had conceived, she became insolent 
toward her barren mistress, and Sarah treated her harshly. She 
fled to the wilderness but eventually returned and submitted 
to Sarah's torments, as commanded by an angel of the Lord. 
However, after the birth of Isaac many years later, Abraham, 
with divine consent, acceded to Sarah's demand and expelled 
Hagar and Ishmael (Gen. 21). The relationships among Abra- 
ham, Sarah, and Hagar have analogs in ancient Near Eastern 
family law and practice. Ishmael is the eponymous ancestor 
of the *Ishmaelites. His circumcision at age 13 (Gen. 17:25) re- 
flects a practice among Arabs of circumcision as a rite of pu- 
berty. The reference to him as a bowman (Gen. 21:21) reflects 
the tradition that Arabs were marksmen (Isa. 21:17). Accord- 
ing to Gen. 25:9, Isaac and Ishmael together buried their fa- 
ther Abraham. 

In the New Testament (Gal. 4:21-31) Paul treats the ban- 
ishment of Hagar and Ishmael as an allegory for the replace- 
ment of God's old covenant with the Jews through law by God's 
new covenant with the Christians through promise. 

[Yehuda Elitzur / S. David Sperling (2 nd ed.)] 

In the Aggadah 

Abraham tried to train Ishmael in the right way (Gen. R. 
148:13), but failed, his excessive love for him causing him to 
"spare the rod and spoil the child" (Ex. R. 1:1). Abraham closed 
his eyes to Ishmael's evil ways and was reluctant to send him 
away (Gen. R. 53:12). Sarah, on the other hand, fully recog- 
nized the true character of Ishmael, for he dishonored women, 
worshiped idols, and attempted to kill Isaac (Gen. R. 53:11; 
Tosef. Sot. 6:6). He also mocked those who rejoiced at the 
birth of Isaac (Gen. R. 53:11). Ishmael is identified with one of 
the two lads who accompanied Abraham to the *Akedah. He 
was left behind with *Eliezer and the ass at the foot of Mount 
Moriah because he could not see the divine cloud which envel- 
oped the mountain (Lev. R. 26:7). When abandoned by Hagar, 
Ishmael prayed for a quick end rather than a slow torturous 
death from thirst (pdRE 30). The angels hastened to indict Ish- 
mael, exclaiming to God, "Wilt Thou bring up a well for one 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



whose descendants will one day slay Thy children with thirst?" 
Nevertheless, God provided the well that was created during 
the twilight of the Sabbath of Creation for Ishmael since he 
was at that time righteous, and God judges man "only as he is 
at the moment" (Gen. R. 53:14; PdRE 30). 

Ishmael's skill in archery was so great (Gen. 21:20) that 
he became the master of all the bowmen (Gen. R. 53:15). 
He married a Moabitess named Ayesha. When Abraham 
later visited them, Ishmael was away and his wife was inhos- 
pitable. Abraham thereupon left a message with her that Ish- 
mael should "change the peg of his tent." Ishmael understood 
the message, divorced his wife, and married a Canaanite 
woman, Fatima. Three years later, when Abraham next vis- 
ited, Fatima received him kindly and Abraham declared that 
the peg was good. Ishmael was so pleased with his father's 
approval that he moved his entire family to the land of the 
Philistines so that they could be near Abraham (pdRE 30; 
Sefer Yashar, Va-Yera, 4ia-b. Ayesha ( c Aisha) and Fatima 
are the names of Muhammad's wife and daughter respectively, 
and the Midrash is obviously a late one). Ishmael became 
a genuine penitent at the end of his fathers lifetime and he 
later stood aside out of deference for Isaac at his fathers fu- 
neral (bb 16b). A man who sees Ishmael in a dream will 
have his prayers answered by God (Ber. 56b; cf. Gen. 21:17). 
Gradually Ishmael became identified not only as the ances- 
tor of the Ishmaelites but also of the Arabs, who were often 
named Ishmael in the Middle Ages (see Ginzberg, Legends, 

In Islam 

Ismail was a prophet (Sura 19:55; 21:85; 38:48), but it was only 
in ^Medina that it became known to * Muhammad that he 
was the son of Abraham, one of the founders of the cult at 
the Kaaba in Mecca, one of the forefathers of the Arabs, and, 
like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, one of the worshipers of Al- 
lah, even though he was neither Jew nor Christian (Sura 2:119, 
127, 130; 3:78; 14:44; 19:55). In the tale of the binding (Sura 
37:99-110) Muhammad identified the son who was to be sacri- 
ficed as Ishmael and, indeed, the opinions of the traditionalists 
were also divided on this subject (cf. *Isaac). It is related that 
a renowned traditionalist of Jewish origin, from the *Qurayza 
tribe, and another Jewish scholar, who converted to Islam, 
told the caliph Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz (717-20) that the Jews 
were well informed that Ismail was the one who was bound, 
but that they concealed this out of jealousy (Tabari, Tarikh, 
1:189; idem, Tafsir y 23:54; Thalabi, Qisas, jj). Muslim legend 
also adds details on Hajar (Hagar), the mother of Ismail. Af- 
ter Abraham drove her and her son out, she wandered be- 
tween the hills of al-Safa and al-Marwa (in the vicinity of 
Mecca) in her search for water. At that time the waters of the 
spring Zemzem began to flow. Her acts became the basis for 
the hallowed customs of Muslims during the Hajj. According 
to Arab genealogists, Ismail was the progenitor of the north- 
ern Arabs, the *Musta c riba, i.e., Aramite tribes which were as- 
similated among the Arabs. 

[Ha'im Z'ew Hirschberg] 

bibliography: A. Musil, Arabia Deserta (1927), 477 If.; T. A. 
Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible (1934), 45 ff.; H.Z. Hirschberg, 
Yisrael be-Arav (1946), 2ff. in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, 
1 (1942), 237-40, 263-9; 5 (i947)» 230-3, 246-7. in islam: Heller, 
in: mgwj, 69 (1925), 47-50; J. Horovitz, Koranische Untersuchungen 
(1926), 91-92; H. Speyer, Biblische Erzahlungen . . . (1961), 171-4; R. 
Paret, "Ismail," in: eis 2 , 4 (1978), 184-5 (incl. bibl.). add. bibliog- 
raphy: N. Sarna, jps Torah Commentary Genesis (1989), 148. See 
also bibliography to *Isaac. 

ISHMAEL, son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, one of the 
military commanders in the period after the destruction of 
the First Temple (11 Kings 25:25; Jer. 41:1). Ishmael, a descen- 
dant of the Judahite royal family, assassinated *Gedaliah son 
of Ahikam (Jer. 40:13-14), who presided over the Judean pup- 
pet government set up by Nebuchadnezzar. It would appear 
that Ishmael's assassination of Gedaliah at Mizpah was both 
personally and politically motivated. Ishmael may have been 
jealous of Gedaliah, who had been appointed by the Babylo- 
nians as head of the remnant of the population in Judah, and 
therefore may have wished to kill him for that reason alone; 
but he could hardly have hoped that the Babylonians would 
reward him for the murder by appointing him in Gedaliah's 
stead. His only hope to gain a positive advantage lay in con- 
tinued resistance to Babylon, which would, if successful, re- 
sult in his succession to the throne of David. *Baalis, the king 
of Ammon, with whom Ishmael found refuge, apparently 
encouraged Ishmael, because Gedaliah was a collaborator 
whereas the Ammonites were in open revolt against Babylon 
(cf. Ezek. 21:24-27, and Zedekiah's attempt to flee across the 
Jordan, 11 Kings 25:4-5), and not, as some scholars maintain, 
because they hoped that after the murder of Gedaliah, the 
Babylonians would punish the Judahite remnant and attach 
what was left of the territory of Judah to Ammon. After kill- 
ing Gedaliah (and 70 other Israelites who had later come to 
Mizpah to worship), Ishmael attempted the forcible transfer 
to Ammon of the remnants of the Judean population left at 
Mizpah (Jer. 41:2-10). However, this plan was frustrated by 
* Johanan son of Kareah and the military commanders with 
him. They met Ishmael and his captives at Gibeon and took 
them back to Mizpah; only Ishmael and eight of his men es- 
caped to the Ammonite king (Jer. 41: 11-15). 

bibliography: Bright, Hist, 310; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 1 

(19635), 55 ff.; Ginsberg, in: A. Marx Jubilee Volume (1950), 366 ff.; 

Yeivin, in: Tarbiz, 12 (1940/41), 261-2, 265-6; W. Rudolph, Jeremia 

(Ger., 1947), 685ff. add. bibliography: M. Cogan and H. Tad- 

mor, 11 Kings (ab; 1988), 326-27. 

[Josef Segal] 

1811), Italian rabbi. Ishmael ha-Kohen, rabbi of Modena, en- 
joyed a high standing in the Jewish world generally and was 
the last Italian rabbi who was accepted throughout the rab- 
binic world as a halakhic authority. He was among those to 
whom Naphtali Hirsch *Wessely appealed in his Divrei Sha- 
lom ve-Emet (Berlin, 1782) to defend the introduction of secu- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


lar studies in Jewish schools. Though formally disassociating 
himself from the ideology of the maskilim y in practice he con- 
curred with it. It is of note that he occasionally wrote secular 
poems. Ishmael was among those invited by Napoleon to an- 
swer questions put to the ^Assembly of Jewish Notables which 
took place in Paris in 1806. From his replies on this occasion 
as well as from his other halakhic rulings, both published and 
in manuscript, he emerges as a rabbi alive to the needs of the 
times and inclined to narrow the gap between them and tradi- 
tions. His realistic and moderate approach is clearly revealed 
in his responsa published under the name Zera Emet (pt. 1, 
Leghorn, 1785; pt. 2, ibid., 1796; pt. 3, Reggio, n.d.), see espe- 
cially pt. 1, nos. 69, 74, and 89; pt. 2, no. 107; and pt. 3, nos. 32, 
33, and 42. Many responsa remain unpublished. 

bibliography: J. Rosenthal, Mehkarim, 2 (1966), 513-32; 
Shirmann, in: Zion, 29 (1964), 88; M. Benayahu (ed.), Sefer ha-Hida 
(1959), 36-38; idem, R. Hayyim Yosef David Azulai (1959), index. 

[Moshe Shraga Samet] 

ISHMAEL BEN ELISHA (first half of the second century 
c.e.), tanna, the Ishmael generally mentioned without patro- 
nymic. Ishmael was one of the sages the stamp of whose per- 
sonality and teachings had a permanent effect on tannaitic lit- 
erature and on Judaism as a whole. He was a kohen (Ket. 105b), 
and in a baraita (Tosef., Hal. 1:10) it is stated that he once took 
an oath "by the [priestly] garments worn by my father and by 
the miter which he set between his eyes"; this suggests that his 
father was a high priest, but since no high priest called Elisha 
is known during the relevant period, he may have had an an- 
cestor in mind. Still a child at the time of the destruction of the 
Second Temple, he was taken captive to Rome and ransomed 
by R. Joshua (Git. 58a), whose pupil he became (Tosef, Par. 
10:3). He also studied under Nehunyah b. ha-Kanah, who was 
his teacher in halakhic Midrash (Shev 26a). Ishmael lived at 
Kefar Aziz, south of Hebron near Idumea (Kil. 6:4; Ket. 5:8), 
and appears to have taken local tradition into account in his 
decisions (Ket. 5:8). One of the chief spokesmen among the 
sages of * Jabneh, he took part in and expressed his view at 
all its meetings and assemblies and was present, too, on the 
day when Eleazar b. Azariah was appointed in the yeshiva 
(Yad. 4:3). In the debate concerning the commandments for 
which one should suffer martyrdom rather than transgress, 
he was of the opinion that it was permissible to transgress the 
prohibition against idolatry in order to save one's life, as long 
as it was not done in public (Sifra, Aharei Mot. 13:14). 

His most intimate colleague was *Akiva, and he disputed 
with him on halakhahy aggadah> and in halakhic expositions 
of the Bible. Both of them laid down and evolved different 
systems of exposition and the derivation of the halakhahy and 
different schools were named after them: De-Vei ("the house 
(or school) of") R. Ishmael and De-Vei R. Akiva. Most of the 
extant halakhic Midrashim belong to one of those schools, 
the Mekhilta de-R. Ishmael on Exodus, and the Sifrei on Num- 
bers coming from IshmaePs school, the Sifra on Leviticus and 
the Sifrei on Deuteronomy coming from Akiva's school. For 

the fundamental differences between these two schools see 
*Midreshei Halakhahy section 11. 

Many of the actions and ethical sayings ascribed to Ish- 
mael testify to his love of mankind, and especially of every 
Jew. On one occasion, when mentioning "the children of 
Israel," he added: "May I be an atonement for them" (Neg. 2:1); 
on another he said: "All Israel are to be regarded as princes" 
(i.e., there can be no distinctions between Jews; bm 113b). He 
declared that mourning over the destruction of the Second 
Temple would demand abstinence from meat and wine, were 
it not for the principle that no restriction is imposed on the 
public unless the majority can endure it; similarly the prohi- 
bition instituted by the Roman authorities against the study 
of the To rah and the observance of the mitzvot would require 
that one should not marry or beget children, so "that the seed 
of Abraham might cease of itself. But let Israel go their way. 
Better that they err unwittingly than presumptuously" (bb 
60b, and parallels). The following story is told in the Mishnah 
(Ned. 9:10): "It once happened that a man vowed to have no 
benefit from his sisters daughter (i.e., not to marry her); and 
they brought her to the house of R. Ishmael and beautified 
her. R. Ishmael said to him, 'My son, didst thou vow to ab- 
stain from this one?' And he said, 'No!' And R. Ishmael re- 
leased him from his vow. In that same hour R. Ishmael wept 
and said, 'The daughters of Israel are comely but poverty de- 
stroys their comeliness.' When R. Ishmael died the daughters 
of Israel raised a lament saying, 'Ye daughters of Israel, weep 
over R. Ishmael!'" His very human approach is evidenced in 
his aphorism: "Receive all men joyfully" (Avot 3:12). From 
his school came the dictum, "One should always use deco- 
rous language" (Pes. 3a), as well as an ethical explanation of 
why the whole ear is hard and only the lobe is soft - "so that 
if one hears anything improper, one may stop up the ear with 
the lobe" (Ket. 5b). 

According to the Talmud he opposed the extreme view 
of Simeon b. Yohai, who encouraged men to refrain from 
mundane pursuits, such as plowing, sowing, reaping, thresh- 
ing, and winnowing, in order to fulfill the literal interpreta- 
tion of the verse, "This book of the law shall not depart out of 
thy mouth" (Josh. 1:8). For his part, Ishmael recalled that the 
Bible states, "Thou shalt gather in thy corn" (Deut. 9:14), thus 
teaching that the study of the To rah is to be combined with 
a worldly occupation (Ber. 35b). Yet the Talmud states that 
he prohibited Eleazar b. Dama, his sister's son, from learning 
Greek wisdom because this would be at the expense of study- 
ing the Torah (Men. 99b). He adopted an uncompromising 
attitude toward the Christian sectarians, then still within the 
Jewish fold, and several of his statements against them and 
their writings are couched in harsh terms (Shab. 116a, and 
see Av. Zar. 27b). 

It is doubtful whether Ishmael survived until the Bar 
Kokhba revolt. His name is apparently included among the 
first martyred sages killed in the persecutions which followed 
that revolt (Mekh. Nezikin 18; and parallels, but cf. Tosef, Sot. 
13:4). Later aggadot combined various traditions on the mar- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



tyrs into a single literary work, making their martyrdom take 
place simultaneously (see *Ten Martyrs) and dwelling in leg- 
endary terms on the personality of Ishmael. This legendary 
figure of the high priest's son (see Tosef, Hal. 1:10 above), who 
is said to have himself been a high priest, knew the Tetragram- 
maton, by means of which he was able, at the request of his 
companions, to ascend to heaven to learn whether the decree 
of death had indeed been issued from on high. While Akiva, 
the leading figure among the "four who entered the pardes" 
served as the protagonist of the early heikhalot text, Heikhalot 
Zutarti, it was R. Ishmael who took over this role in later works 
like Heikhalot Rabbati, and similar works relating to Maaseh 
Bereshity and Maaseh Merkavah (see * Kabbalah and *Mer- 
kabah Mysticism). Among his pupils were Illai, the father of 
R. Judah (Git. 6b), Meir (Er. 13a), Jonathan, and Josiah (Men. 
57b), who are most mentioned in the halakhic Midrashim of 
the school of Ishmael. 

bibliography: Hyman, Toledot, 3-29; I. Konowitz, Maare- 

khot Tanna'im, 2 (1968), 261-367; Frankel, Mishnah (i923 2 ), 112-8; 

J. Bruell, Mevo ha-Mishnah 1 (1876), 103-16; Graetz-Rabbinowitz, 2 

(1893), 191-4, 23if.; D. Hoffmann, in: Jahresbericht des Rabbiner-Semi- 

nars zu Berlin 564/ (1886/8/), 5 rT.; Bacher, Tann; M. Petuchowski, Der 

Tanna R. Ismael (1894); M. Auerbach, in: Jeschurum, 10 (1923), 60-66, 

81-88 (Heb. pt.); Allon, Toledot, 1 (1959 3 ) index; 2 (1961 2 ), nf.; Zeitlin, 

in: jqr, 36 (1945/46), 1-11. 

[Shmuel Safrai] 

second century), tanna. He was a contemporary of *Simeon 
b. Gamaliel 11, and he is often quoted as being in agreement 
or disagreement with him (Tosef., Er. 5 (4):2; Tosef., Yev. 
13:5). He is mentioned three times in the Mishnah (bk 10:2, 
San 11:1, Avot 4:5), about 30 times in the Tosefta, in all areas 
of halakhahy and about the same number of times in Baby- 
lonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud. He is mentioned 
several times in connection with the scholars of Jabneh 
(Tosef, Yev. 6:6, 10:3). His only aggadic teaching is included in 
Avot (4:5): "He who learns in order to teach, Heaven will 
grant him the opportunity both to learn and to teach; but he 
who learns in order to practice, Heaven will grant him the 
opportunity to learn and to teach, to observe and to prac- 


bibliography: Bacher, Tann; Frankel, Mishnah, 195 f.; Weiss, 

Dor, 2, 149 f. 

[Harry Freedman] 

ISHMAEL BEN PHIABI (Phabi) II, high priest, appointed 
by Agrippa 11 in 59 c.e. He is not to be confused with a high 
priest of the same name appointed by the procurator Valerius 
Gratus in 15 c.e. The Phiabi family was one of the few from 
whose ranks the high priests were chosen. The name suggests 
an Egyptian origin and the immigration of the family to Erez 
Israel seems to have taken place in the time of Herod, when 
Joshua b. Phiabi held office as high priest (Jos., Ant. 15:322). 
According to Josephus, Ishmael was a member of the delega- 
tion sent to Rome in connection with Agrippa us opposi- 

tion to the wall erected at the Temple by the priests (see Sa- 
bina *Poppaea). Though Nero upheld the appeal (Jos., Ant. 
20:194-6), Ishmael was detained in Rome as one of the hos- 
tages and Joseph b. Simeon was appointed to succeed him. He 
apparently held office for a period of two years only. An Ish- 
mael b. Phiabi is mentioned on various occasions in the Tal- 
mud as a righteous man, but it is not clear which of them is 
referred to. A well-known baraita (Pes. 57a; Ker. 28b; Tosef, 
Men. 13:21) states: "Woe is me because of the house of Ishmael 
b. Phiabi, woe is me because of their fists," etc., but it contin- 
ues that "the Temple court cried out, 'Lift up your heads, O 
ye gates, and let Ishmael the son of Phiabi, Phinehas' disci- 
ple, enter and serve as high priest.'" The Mishnah also states 
that with his death the glory of the high priesthood departed 
(Sot. 9:15). He was one of those who prepared the ashes of the 
*red heifer, of which only seven (or nine) were prepared in 
the whole history of the Second Temple (3:5). A slightly dif- 
ferent version is given in the Tosefta (Par. 3:6; cf. Num. R. 
19:10), which suggests that he prepared two, the first not in 
accordance with the Pharisaic requirements, whereupon he 
prepared the second. According to Buechler, this accounts for 
the favorable mention of a Sadducean priest by the Talmud. 
Derenbourg is of the opinion that this act is to be ascribed to 
the first Ishmael. 

bibliography: Derenbourg, Hist, 2371!., 250; Hyman, To- 
ledot, 838-9, s.v.; A. Buechler, Das Synedrion in Jerusalem (1902), 96; 
Schuerer, Gesch, 2 (1907 4 ), 269, 272; A. Zacut(o), Sefer Yuhasin ha- 
Shalem, ed. by H. Filipowski (1925 2 ), 24; Graetz, Hist, 2 (1949), 246; 
Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 5 (1951 2 ), 21-22, 24-26. 

[Lea Roth] 

ond century c.e.), tanna. He is not mentioned by name in 
the Mishnah (apart from Avot, see below), and most of the 
halakhic sayings transmitted by him in the Tosefta are in his 
father's name (Tosef. Ter. 4:2, Maas. 1:2, Kel. bk 5:16; Oho.i8:i4; 
Nid. 4:12. Toh. 10:12). He was mentioned as a member of a 
bet din (along with R. Eleazar Hakappar and R. Pinhas ben 
Yair) who discussed the establishment of halakhot and tak- 
kanot (Tosef, Oho. 18:18). According to the Talmud Ishmael 
was the eldest son of *Yose b. Halafta (Shab. 118b) and suc- 
ceeded him in the leadership of the town of Sepphoris (Er. 
86b). The sources note Ishmael's extensive knowledge of the 
whole of the Bible (tj, ibid.). He was greatly occupied with 
civil law and much is related of his exceptional care to main- 
tain his impartiality and not to allow any suspicion or hint of 
bribery to attach to him, so that to him was applied the verse 
(Isa. 33:15): "That shaketh his hands from holding of bribes" 
(Mak. 24a). His great experience as a judge made him say: "He 
who shuns the judicial office rids himself of hatred, robbery, 
and vain swearing; but he who presumptuously lays down 
decisions is foolish, wicked, and of an arrogant spirit." He 
used to say: "Judge not alone. For none may judge alone save 
God" (Avot 4:8). Ishmael was appointed by the government, 
against his will, to head the local police. He is criticized for 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


not fleeing abroad in order to avoid having to deliver Jews to 
the government (bm 83b). According to the Talmud he died 
prior to the death of Judah ha-Nasi (Pes. 118b). The great pu- 
pils of Judah, such as *Hanina b. Hama in Erez Israel and 
*Rav in Babylon, transmitted some of his teachings and cus- 
toms (Kid. 71a; Ber. 27b). One of his aggadic sayings is: "The 
older scholars grow, the more wisdom they acquire . . . but as 
for the ignorant, the older they become the more foolish they 
become" (Shab. 152a). 


bibliography: Hyman, Toledot, s.v.; Epstein, Tanna'im, 

[Shmuel Safrai] 

ISHMAELITES (Heb. D>VN3W?),agroup of nomadic tribes 
related according to the Bible to *Ishmael, son of Abraham 
and Hagar. In Genesis 25:13-15 and 1 Chronicles 1:29-31 there 
is a list of "the sons of Ishmael," which requires special con- 
sideration (see below). Apart from this list, the designation 
"Ishmaelite(s)" is found in Genesis 37:25-28; Judges 8:24; 
Psalms 83:3; 1 Chronicles 2:17 and 27:30. To date no mention 
of Ishmaelites as a designation of nomads has been found in 
other sources of the biblical period. The assumptions con- 
cerning the identification of the name Sumu(')ilu in the in- 
scriptions of Sennacherib and Ashurbanipal, kings of Assyria, 
with Ishmael (J. Lewy, R. Campbell Thompson) are based on 
incorrect interpretations of these texts. 

Knowledge of the area and the characteristics of the no- 
mads called Ishmaelites can be derived, therefore, only from 
the biblical references to the Ishmaelites (apart from the list of 
the "sons of Ishmael"), as well as from what is related in Genesis 
about Ishmael. The "father" of these nomads is definitely con- 
nected with the desert regions between Erez Israel and Egypt, 
and he is the son of Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant (Gen. 
16:1, 3). Hagar s meeting with the angel of God who brought her 
tidings of Ishmael's forthcoming birth and his destined great- 
ness is connected with the "spring of water in the wilderness, 
the spring on the road to Shur," which is later called Beer-la- 
hai-roi, and "is between Kadesh and Bered" (ibid. y 16:7, 14). 
After having been expelled by Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael 
are saved by an angel of God in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba 
(21:14-19). When he grew up and became a bowman, Ishmael 
lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother got a wife for 
him from Egypt (21:21). The Ishmaelites' area of habitation 
is defined in Genesis 25:18: "from Havilah, by Shur, which is 
close to Egypt . . ." This area includes the region in which Saul 
defeated Amalek: "from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east 
of Egypt" (1 Sam. 15:7). The exact location of the Havilah men- 
tioned in these passages is unknown, but according to the de- 
scription of Sauls battle with the Amalekites it can be estab- 
lished with certainty that this place is in southern Palestine. 

The Ishmaelites are described as Bedouin who live in 
the desert, raise camels (see especially the inclusion of Obil 
the Ishmaelite, who was "over the camels," among David s of- 
ficers, 1 Chron. 27:30), are desert robbers (cf. Gen. 16:12), and 
periodically overrun the permanent settlement and plunder it 

(Ps. 83:7; Judg. 8:24). In addition, the Ishmaelites engaged in 
caravan trade (Gen. 37:25). (For relations of kinship and in- 
termarriage between the Ishmaelite groups, who were close 
to the borders of settled areas, and the permanent inhabitants 
cf. Gen. 28:9, 36:3; 1 Chron 2:17.) 

At the time when the Midianites, Amalekites, and Bene 
Kedem had become a rare sight in the land of Israel a bibli- 
cal writer explained to his contemporaries that these were a 
species of Ishmaelites (cf. Judg. 6:3, 33; 7:12; 8:10, 22, 26 with 
8:24). The account of the sale of Joseph mentions an Ishma- 
elite caravan on its way from Gilead to Egypt (Gen. 37:25, 27; 
39:1). The same account also calls these traders Midianites 
(37:28) or Medanites (37:36). The identification of the Midian- 
ites, Medanites, and Amalekites with the Ishmaelites, as well 
as the inclusion of the latter s areas of habitation with that of 
the Amalekites, support the assumption that during a specific 
period the Ishmaelites were the principal group of nomads on 
the borders of Palestine (cf. Gen. 16:12: "He shall dwell along- 
side of all his kinsmen"; 25:18: "they camped alongside of all 
his kinsmen"; and 21:18: "... for I will make a great nation of 
him"). It is also possible that groups that were not directly re- 
lated to the Ishmaelites were sometimes called by their name 
(Midian and Medan are listed among the sons of Abraham 
and Keturah, Gen. 25:2; 1 Chron. 1:32; Amalek is listed among 
the descendants of Esau, i.e., Edom, Gen. 36: 12, 16; 1 Chron. 
1:36). It appears that this period ended no later than around 
the middle of the tenth century b.c.e., from which time on 
there is no mention of the Ishmaelites in the historiographic 
and literary sources in the Bible. 

Genesis 25:13-15 and 1 Chronicles 1:29-31 contain the list 
of "the sons of Ishmael," in which 12 groups are listed by name: 
Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 
Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, Kedmah (for the number of the 
12 sons of Ishmael cf. also Gen. 17:20). Of these, Kedar, Mib- 
sam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Jetur, and Naphish are men- 
tioned in other passages of the Bible. Assyrian and North- Ara- 
bian inscriptions mention Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Dumah, 
Massa, and Tema; while Greek sources from the second cen- 
tury b.c.e. on mention also the sons of Jetur. It should be noted 
that apart from the genealogical list, not one of these groups is 
mentioned in any source from the period preceding the tenth 
century b.c.e. In light of what is known about the peoples just 
mentioned, especially from Assyrian sources, it can be seen 
that they are not connected with the unified framework of the 
Ishmaelite tribes mentioned above: the scope of their wan- 
derings is much greater than that of the Ishmaelites and cov- 
ers an area from northern Sinai (Adbeel) to the edge of Wadi 
Sizhan (Duma) and the western border of Babylonia (Kedar, 
Nebaioth, and Massa). The collective name for these groups 
in all the sources is "Arabs" (Aribi, Arabu, Arbaia, etc.), and 
there is no doubt that this is the name by which they called 
themselves. On the other hand, the Assyrian sources make no 
mention of an ethnic framework called Ishmael; and there is 
no evidence that the nomads were called by this name. 

According to this view the list of "the sons of Ishmael" 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



is composed of nomadic peoples who dwelt on the borders 
of Palestine and in the wide desert area in North Arabia and 
the Syrian- Arabian desert from the eighth century B.C. e. on, 
and who were called the "Sons of Ishmael" although the an- 
cient Ishmaelites by this time - as a result of the battles of Saul 
and David with the nomads on the borders of their kingdom 
and the appearance of new nomadic groups who forcefully 
pushed them away from the areas adjacent to Palestine - no 
longer inhabited this area. 

bibliography: Ed. Meyer, Die Israeliten und ihre Nach- 
barstaemme (1906), 322-8; F. Hommel, Ethnologie und Geographie des 
alten Orients (1926), 591-7; A. Musil, Arabia Deserta (1927), 477-93; 
J.A. Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible (1934), 45-46; Y. Liver, in: em, 
3 (1958), 902-6; F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from 
North Arabia (1970), 29-31, 90-91, 95, 99-102. 

[Israel Ephal] 

ISHMAEL OF C UKBARA (Ar. Ismail al- c Ukbari; ninth 
century), sectarian teacher from c Ukbara, near ^Baghdad. 
*A1-Qirqisanl asserts that Ishmael dubbed *Anan b. David, 
the titular founder of *Karaism, an ass, yet some of his own 
teachings were so absurd as to cause ridicule. Nevertheless, 
when he felt his end approaching, he instructed his followers 
to inscribe upon his tombstone "The chariots of Israel and the 
horsemen thereof" (11 Kings, 2:12). Ishmael did not recognize 
the Masoretic emendations (keri) in the biblical text, and ruled 
that it should be read as written (ketiv) y yet at the same time 
he asserted that some passages reflect a corrupt reading. He 
permitted the consumption on the Sabbath of food cooked or 
gathered on that day by persons of other faiths. He permit- 
ted a person to use the income of a business operating seven 
days a week, such as a bathhouse or a shop, provided he de- 
voted the proceeds of each seventh and forty- ninth or fiftieth 
day for charity (on the analogy of the Sabbatical and Jubilee 
years for agricultural produce). He also prohibited the con- 
sumption of meat. 

His followers appear to have been comparatively few, 
and Al-Qirqisani states that in his day (tenth century) none 
was left. They were presumably absorbed in the slowly con- 
solidating Karaite sect. In c Ukbara, Ishmael was succeeded 
by Mishawayh al- c Ukbari, who organized a separate group 
of his own disciples. 

bibliography: L. Nemoy, in: huca, 7 (1930), 329, 388; idem 

(ed.), Karaite Anthology (1952), 52, 335. 

[Leon Nemoy] 

ISIDOR, LAZARE (1814-1888), French rabbi. Born in Lix- 
heim, Lorraine, he became rabbi of Pfalzburg in 1838, of Paris 
in 1847, and chief rabbi of France in 1867. While rabbi of Pfal- 
zburg, he refused to permit a member of the congregation of 
Saverne to pronounce the humiliating *oath more Judaico y in 
the synagogue of Saverne when requested by the tribunal of 
Sarrebourg. As rabbi in charge, Isidor closed the synagogue, 
and was consequently prosecuted (1839). A brilliant defense 
by Adolphe *Cremieux brought about Isidor s acquittal. This 

and similar cases contributed to the final abolition of the oath 
more Judaico in France (1846). 

bibliography: ai, 49 (1888), 310; Consistoire Central des 
Israelites de France, La mort de M. Lazare Isidor (funeral orations, 
1888); L. Berman, Histoire desjuifs de France (1937), 412. 

°ISIDORE OF SEVILLE (Isidorus Hispalensis; c. 560-636), 
archbishop of Seville, theologian, and encyclopedist; one of 
the last Church * Fathers. Isidore was probably born in Carta- 
gena, but when he was still a child his family moved to Seville. 
He was educated by his elder brother Leander, archbishop 
of Seville, and after his brothers death in 600, Isidore suc- 
ceeded him in the episcopate, which he held until his death. 
In his numerous writings Isidore encompassed all the sci- 
ences of his time; his great erudition was mainly expressed in 
his book Originum, sive etymologiarum. His most important 
historical work is Historia de Regibus Gothorum Vandalorum 
et Suevorum. 

During his episcopate, Isidore presided over several re- 
gional and national church councils in Visigothic Spain, most 
important of which was the fourth national council of Toledo 
in 633, which determined the authority of the Visigothic king- 
dom and the status of the Church. Though the council agreed 
with Isidore's fundamental views against forced conversion of 
Jews, it may be assumed that he prompted the numerous laws 
decreed by this council against converts of Jewish origin who 
had remained faithful to Judaism. While Isidore was strictly 
opposed to forced conversion, he believed that the political 
status of the Jews should be exploited to bring about their vol- 
untary conversion, an attitude he expressed in his polemical 
writings against Judaism. In the first of these, Isaiae testimo- 
nia de Christo Domino y he tries to prove that Isaiah's prophe- 
cies herald Jesus as Messiah. In his main apologetic book De 
fide catholica ex Veteri et Novo Testamento contra Iudaeos y he 
tries to find evidence for the truth of Christianity in all the 
biblical books. Despite its title, the book does not contain any 
dogmatic evidence against the Jews from the New Testament. 
In both these works Isidore does not refer to the original He- 
brew text of the Bible nor does he appear to have any knowl- 
edge of talmudic literature. His information in this field is 
based mainly on the writings of the Church Fathers, * Jerome 
in particular. Despite his missionary fervor, his writings are 
characterized by their moderate and restrained language, con- 
trary to the prevailing anti-Jewish polemics. 

In his exegetical works Isidore generally preferred mys- 
tical and allegorical interpretations, especially in Mysticorum 
expositiones sacrament or um seu quaestiones in Vetus Testamen- 
tum y where he tries to reconcile divergencies between the Old 
and New Testaments. This work was designed to support Chris- 
tian arguments in anti-Jewish disputations. His book Liber de 
variis quaestionibus adversus Iudaeos y attributed by some schol- 
ars to a later period, was aimed at bringing back into the fold of 
the Church those converts who had returned to Judaism. 

Isidore's works were widely read in the Middle Ages, as 
attested by the great number of manuscripts remaining as well 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


as the translation into German of De fide catholica... y made 
at a relatively early date. Up to the 12 th century all anti- Jewish 
apologetic writers in Western Europe were inspired by Isidore's 
writings and his influence on the anti- Jewish disputations in 
Spain lasted even longer. Isidores writings are collected in 
Migne's Patrologia Latina (vols. 81-84, 1850-62). 

bibliography: Baron, Social 2 , index; A. Lukyn Williams, Ad- 
versus Judaeos (1935), index; J. Fontaine, Isidore de Seville et la culture 
classique dans VEspagne wisigothique, 2 vols. (1959); M.C. Diaz y Diaz 
(ed.), Isidoriana (Sp., 1961), includes bibliography. 

ISIS, Egptian deity, at whose instigation, it was said, the Jews 
were forced to leave Egypt. Cheremon, the enemy of the Jews, 
asserted that the goddess Isis had appeared to the Egyptian 
king Amenophis, and had censured him because her sanc- 
tuary had been destroyed; whereupon the priest Phritiban- 
tes told the king that the terrible vision would not recur if he 
would purge Egypt of the "foul people." Then the departure of 
the Jews from Egypt took place (Jos., Apion 1, 32). Tacitus has 
a different version, according to which the Jews were natives 
of Egypt, and had emigrated during the reign of Isis (Hist, v, 
2-5). In the Epistle of Jeremiah (30-40) either the cult of Isis 
or that of Cybele is described. The violation of the chaste Pau- 
lina in the Temple of Isis at Rome was one of the reasons for 
the expulsion of the Jews from that city by Tiberius (Jos., Ant. 
xv 11 1, 3:4). After the destruction of Jerusalem, Vespasian and 
Titus celebrated their triumph in the Temple of Isis at Rome 
(Jos., Wars vii, 5:4). 

ISKENDERUN (formerly Alexandretta), harbor town on 
the Mediterranean coast of Turkey on the gulf of the same 
name; population (2004), 173,900. The town (along with its 
district), first attached to Syria under the French mandate, was 
annexed to Turkey in 1939. Jews settled in Iskenderun in the 
Middle Ages. They were expelled by the Crusaders in 1098, 
but returned during the 16 th century. During the 17 th century 
the Jews of Iskenderun were among the supporters of Shab- 
betai *Zevi. The community was small and numbered some 
tens of families. After World War 1 about 20 families remained 
in Iskenderun. Most of the Jews emigrated from Iskenderun 
to Israel with the establishment of the State. 

bibliography: A. Galante, Histoire des Juifs d' Istanbul 
(1941). add. bibliography: eis 2 , 4 (i960), 138. 

[David Kushner (2 nd ed.)] 

ISKOWITZ, GERSHON (1921-1988), Canadian painter. Is- 
kowitz was born in Kielce, Poland. He registered at the War- 
saw Academy of Art in 1939. With the German invasion of Po- 
land, he was put to forced labor. In 1942, his parents and sister 
were taken to Treblinka. A year later, he and his brother were 
transported to Auschwitz. In the fall of 1944, he was trans- 
ferred to Buchenwald. Liberated on April 11, 1945, he was the 
only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. In 1947 
he studied at the Munich Academy of Art and privately, for 
a short time, with Oskar Kokoschka. In September 1949 he 

emigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto. He held his first 
solo exhibition in Toronto in 1957. 

Only a few of Iskowitz s early sketches recording life in 
the ghetto and the camps survived. His memories and the 
horrors of the war, however, remained a principal focus of his 
drawings into the 1950s. In 1952 Iskowitz began taking sketch- 
ing trips into the countryside around Toronto. This work be- 
came the basis for the development of the dramatic, painterly 
abstract canvases for which he is best known, a direction that 
was confirmed on the first of several trips into the Canadian 
north; the first, by helicopter, was funded by a Canada Coun- 
cil grant. These large-scale abstractions, which begin with the 
perception of landscape, have been described as radiant and 
joyful expressions that transform the immediacy of vision 
into colored light. 

Iskowitz exhibited regularly in Toronto; after 1964, with 
the Gallery Moos. He was one of two artists selected to rep- 
resent Canada at the 1972 Venice Biennale. In 1982, the Art 
Gallery of Ontario held a major retrospective of his work. In 
1985, he established the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation that 
continues to award an annual prize to experienced, profes- 
sional Canadian artists. 

bibliography: A. Freeman,Gershon Iskowitz: Painter of Light 
(1982); D. Burnett, Iskowitz (1982). 

[Joyce Zemans (2 nd ed.)] 

ISLAM. The word conveys the sense of total and exclusive 
submission to Allah and is the name of the religion enunci- 
ated by the Prophet *Muhammad in the city of Mecca at the 
beginning of the seventh century c.e. An adherent of it is 
called a Muslim, a person who submits to Allah totally and 
exclusively. While the word is normally used in this sense, in 
traditional Muslim usage the word also denotes the ancient 
monotheistic faith associated with * Abraham. It is in this sense 
that Abraham is explicitly designated as Muslim in *Koran 
3:67; the same designation is implicit for the Old Testament 
prophets and for Jesus as well. Liberal-minded modern Mus- 
lims tend to interpret this as a reflection of Muslim tolerance 
and recognition of the prophets of Judaism and Christianity; 
viewed from a different perspective, the idea may also be con- 
strued as an appropriation of Jewish and Christian religious 
history by Muslims. 

In contradistinction to other religions whose names were 
frequently given to them by outsiders (cf. WC. Smith, The 
Meaning and End of Religion, (1963), 80-82), the name Islam 
is indigenous and appears in the Koran eight times; moreover, 
the Koran maintains that Allah himself approved of Islam 
(Koran 5:5) and it is "the religion in the eyes of Allah" (Koran 
3:19). Conversely, "whoever desires a religion other than Islam, 
it will not be accepted from him, and he will be in the hereaf- 
ter one of the losers" (Koran 3:85). Muslims use Islam as the 
only name for their religion; other names by which Islam has 
been known until recently in European languages - such as 
"Mohammedanism" or "Mahometanisme" - are totally unac- 
ceptable to them. Nevertheless, in medieval Muslim texts one 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



occasionally encounters expressions such as "Muhammadan 
way" (tariqa muhammadiyya) in a sense identical with Islam. 
In the literature of tradition, the terms Islam and Muslim are 
sometimes also given a more sublime significance; playing 
on the various meanings of the Arabic root s-l-m y a tradition 
says that "a Muslim is someone by whose hands and tongue 
the Muslims are not harmed" (al-Bukhari, Sahih, Kitdb oi- 
lman, 4; ed. Krehl, vol. 1, 11). Recent interpretations accord- 
ing to which Islam is related to saldm ("peace") seem to have 
no basis in traditional literature, though the linguistic root of 
the two words is identical. 

In the pre- Islamic period (called the era of barbarism 
and ignorance, al-Jdhiliyya), Arab inhabitants of the Penin- 
sula believed in a multiplicity of gods but were not unaware 
of Allah whom they believed to be the strongest among these. 
In the Muslim tradition, this is called "associationism" (shirk), 
the belief that Allah has associates (shuraka) in His divinity. 
These associates were believed to have an essential media- 
tory role between human beings and Allah. Muslim tradition 
maintains, nevertheless, that pre-Islamic Arabs understood 
that Allah was more powerful than all other gods and in times 
of extreme danger they placed their trust in Him alone, be- 
coming, in a manner of speaking, "temporary monotheists" 
(cf. Koran 29:65-66, 31:22; Izutsu, God and Man, 102-103). ln 
the Peninsula there were also Jewish and Christian commu- 
nities. The Jews lived in the northern city of *Khaybar and 
in ^Medina where the Prophet Muhammad was active from 
622 c.e. until his death ten years later. The Christians inhab- 
ited the town of Najran and also lived elsewhere: the Christian 
tribe of Taghlib lived first in the Najd region of the Peninsula 
and later on the lower Euphrates (M. Lecker, "Taghlib" eis 2 , 
s.v.). Small Zoroastrian communities probably existed in the 
eastern part of the Peninsula. Islam developed out of polem- 
ics with these religious communities and a substantial part 
of Muslim belief and ritual can only be understood against 
this background. 

"The Pillars of Islam" (arkan al-islam) 

In contradistinction to Judaism which speaks of 613 (taryag) 
commandments, the Muslim tradition does not keep count of 
the commandments incumbent on a Muslim. However, five 
of these have acquired a special standing in Islamic tradition. 
One of them is related to the manner in which an unbeliever 
embraces Islam, while the other four belong to the ritual as- 
pect of the religion. Each of these commandments is men- 
tioned several times in the Koran, but there they do not appear 
as a separate group. However, in the literature of prophetic 
tradition (*hadith), the five commandments are grouped and 
designed as the pillars on which Islam stands. In the collec- 
tion compiled by al-Bukhari (d. 870 c.e.), we read: "Islam is 
built on five (pillars): Witnessing that there is no god but Al- 
lah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and the 
performance of prayer, and giving of alms, and pilgrimage, 
and the fast of Ramadan" (al-Bukhari, Sahih, Kitdb al-imdn, 
2; ed. Krehl, 1, 10). 

1. The double formula saying that "there is no god but 
Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah" (called in 
Arabic shahdda ("witnessing"), kalima ("word"), or kalimat al- 
ikhlds ("the word of exclusive devotion") does not appear in 
the Koran as one unit. Its first part appears with slight modi- 
fications several times. Koran 3:18 reads: "Allah witnessed that 
there is no god except Him." (Cf. Koran 2:255, 37 : 35 an d else- 
where.) The second part appears only once, in Koran 48:29: 
"Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those who are 
with him are hard against the unbelievers, merciful one to 
another.. ." This formula is the most distinctive expression of 
Muslim monotheism and of the central position accorded in 
Islam to the Prophet Muhammad. It is an important part of 
worship, appearing in the call to prayer and in the prayer it- 
self. It is also the formal requirement for joining the Muslim 
community. Like other Muslim rituals, this formula seems 
also to have undergone certain developments before reach- 
ing its final form. The tradition maintains that the first part of 
the shahdda, affirming the oneness of Allah, was sufficient to 
indicate the conversion of Arab polytheists to Islam because 
it is unambiguous in the rejection of their former belief in 
multiple gods. When the call to Islam was directed at Chris- 
tians and Jews, this part of the shahdda was no longer suffi- 
cient: an affirmation of Allah's oneness by monotheist Jews 
or Christians does not indicate their conversion to Islam be- 
cause Christians and Jews may identify with the first part of 
the shahdda without changing their religious affiliation. For a 
Jew or a Christian, therefore, the acknowledgment of Muham- 
mad s prophethood was considered essential. And since some 
Jewish groups were willing to acknowledge Muhammad's 
prophethood but restricted its validity to Arabs alone (see Y. 
Erder, "The Doctrine of Abu Isa al- Isfahan! and Its Sources," 
in: Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 20 (1996), 162-99), 
Jews and Christians were obliged - according to some tradi- 
tions - not only to pronounce the double shahdda, but also 
unequivocally to renounce their former faiths. 

2. Prayer (saldt): Pre-Islamic Arabs did not observe an 
obligatory daily routine which could be seen as an inspiration 
for the Islamic prayer. It is therefore significant to observe 
that saldt ("prayer") is an Aramaic loan word which means 
bowing or prostration. Nevertheless, prayer is mentioned as 
an obligation of the believer already in the Meccan period 
of the Koran ( Koran 108:1-2; 107:4-5). It seems that in the 
first stage of the development, the Prophet spoke of two daily 
prayers: in the evening and at dawn. Koran 17:80 enjoins the 
Muslims to "perform the prayer at the sinking of the sun to 
the darkening of the night and the recital of dawn (Koran al- 
fajr)...! y Later developments in this field are not very clear, 
but it appears that after the hijra to ^Medina an additional 
prayer, called the "middle" one, was added when the Koran 
says: "Be watchful over the prayers and the middle prayer.. ." 
(Koran 2:239). The "middle prayer" is variously explained as 
the noon or the afternoon prayer. 

If we assume that the prayers mentioned in the first part 
of the verse are the two prayers which had been referred to in 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


the Meccan period, we reach the conclusion that after the hi- 
jra the number of prayers reached three. Though there is no 
hard evidence to substantiate this notion, some scholars tend 
to speculate that this happened under the influence of the Jews 
with whom the Prophet came into contact in Medina. The 
number of the Muslim prayers eventually reached five, but we 
do not know exactly when this development took place. There 
is some evidence to suggest that during the *Umayyad period 
in *Syria the number of the obligatory prayers was not gener- 
ally known, and at the time of the Umayyad caliph c Omar b. 
c Abd al- c Aziz (r. 717-720 c.e.) the proper time for prayer was 
not known either (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, 2, 39-40). As 
for the reasons why the Muslims eventually decided on the 
number of five daily prayers, these are not clear. Goldziher 
maintains that the number was influenced by the Zoroas- 
trian tradition which had five daily prayers. Islamic tradition 
connects the establishment of the five prayers with Muham- 
mad's miraculous nocturnal journey to heaven (isra, mi c rdj). 
According to this tradition, Allah intended to impose on the 
Muslim community 50 daily prayers, but after some negotia- 
tions (which Muhammad conducted with Allah in compli- 
ance with the advice of Moses), the number was reduced to 
five. The tradition maintains, however, that these five prayers 
have the value of fifty. 

In any case, post-Koranic Muslim tradition established 
five daily prayers: morning (fajr), noon (zuhr), afternoon 
(asr)y evening (maghrib), and night (isha). Before each prayer 
it is necessary to perform an ablution (wudu), which involves 
washing the hands up to the elbows, rinsing the mouth and 
nose, and washing the feet including the ankles. If water is 
not available, sand may be used; in this case the procedure is 
called tayammum (Koran 5:8-9). In preparation for the Fri- 
day prayer washing the entire body (ghusl) is required. The 
prayer itself consists of a prescribed sequence of bodily move- 
ments (rak c a) y including bending, standing, prostration, and 
half- kneeling, half sitting. The only texts which are essential 
for the prayer being valid are the formula Alldhu Akbar and 
the Fdtihciy the opening chapter of the Koran. 

Three elements associated with Muslim prayer will serve 
as an illustration of the idea that Islam developed out of po- 
lemics with, and attempts to differentiate itself from, Judaism 
and Christianity. As is well known, Muslims now pray bare- 
foot. However, there is evidence to suggest that in the early 
days of Islam, Muslims prayed with their shoes on. This was 
recommended, even enjoined, in order to distinguish between 
Muslims and Jews who are said to have prayed barefoot. The 
second element is the adhdn> the call preceding each prayer. 
The tradition maintains that in the beginning the Prophet 
used a horn "like the horn of the Jews" for this purpose. Later 
he disliked this and ordered the clapper (ndqus) to be used 
to summon the believers, in emulation of Eastern Christians. 
Eventually, c Omar b. al-Khattab, the second caliph, had a vi- 
sion in which he was told: "Do not use the clapper, rather call 
to prayer (with human voice)." In this way the characteristic 
Muslim call to prayer is said to have emerged. This call now 

consists of pronouncing the formula "Allahu Akbar" four 
times, the shahdda twice, the formula "come to prayer, come 
to success" twice, "Allahu Akbar" twice again, and, finally, 
the shahdda. 

The development of the Muslim direction of prayer (qi- 
bla) is the most famous reflection of the progressive dissocia- 
tion of Islam from Judaism. The Muslim direction of prayer 
underwent several changes. The relevant traditions are reason- 
ably clear, but there is no way to verify their historicity. Koran 
2:216, considered by some commentators to be abrogated, 
seems to belittle the importance of the direction of prayer, 
saying that "To God belong the East and the West; wherever 
you turn, there is the face of God." On the other hand, we have 
three traditions concerning the direction of prayer in Mecca 
before Muhammad's migration to Medina in 622. According 
to one of them, in Mecca the Prophet faced the Ka c ba while 
praying; according to another, he faced Jerusalem; according 
to a third, which constitutes an attempt to harmonize between 
the first two ones, he faced Jerusalem, but took care to have the 
Ka c ba on the straight line between himself and Jerusalem. In 
this way, the tradition maintains, he faced both sanctuaries. 

Regarding the period of the Prophet's sojourn in Medina 
(622-632 c.e.), the tradition is unanimous and maintains that 
for the first 16 or 18 months of his stay in Medina, the Prophet 
and the Muslims with him prayed toward Jerusalem; this is 
why Jerusalem came to be known in Islam as "the first qi- 
bla and the third sanctuary" (after Mecca and Medina) (uld 
al-qiblatayn wa thdlith al-haramayn). There is no record of 
a divine command to do this; nevertheless, some commen- 
tators think that such a command was issued, while others 
maintain that praying in the direction of Jerusalem was the 
Prophet's own decision. Some suggest that the Prophet was 
commanded to pray toward Jerusalem "in order to conciliate 
the Jews." Frequently we read that at some point in time the 
Prophet became averse to this direction of prayer, and Koran 
2:150, which commands the Muslims to pray in the direction 
of Mecca, was revealed in response to the Prophet's desire. The 
change of the qibla to Mecca introduced a crucial Arabian el- 
ement into Islam and was a major step in its disengagement 
from Judaism. 

The five daily prayers may be performed in public or in 
private, though according to the tradition public prayer is al- 
ways preferable. The only prayer which must always be per- 
formed in public is the noon prayer on Friday (jurna). 

Naturally, no congregational prayer was held before the 
hijra in Mecca because of the precarious position of the few 
Meccan Muslims in that period. Though there are some refer- 
ences to the jurna prayer in Medina before the hijra, it is clear 
that the jurna prayer acquired its central standing in Mus- 
lim ritual in the Medinan period of the Prophet's career. The 
choice of Friday as the Muslim day of congregational prayer 
was explained in various ways. Some thought that it was just 
to differentiate Islam from Judaism and Christianity; but this 
argument is good for any day except Saturday and Sunday. 
A classical tradition observes that although the Jews and the 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Christians were given their holy books before the Muslims, 
the Muslims precede them in their day of prayer, in order to 
do them justice. The most widely accepted scholarly explana- 
tion was given by S.D. Goitein ("The Origin and Nature of the 
Muslim Friday Worship," Studies in Islamic history and insti- 
tutions (1968), 111-25). Goitein suggests that Friday was cho- 
sen because on that day the Jews of Medina used to prepare 
provisions for the Sabbath; because of this Friday became a 
market day on which not only the inhabitants of Medina, but 
also the inhabitants of the adjacent areas assembled in the city 
and engaged in commerce. Since Koran 62:9-11 clearly says 
that commercial activity must cease when the call to prayer 
is sounded, this explanation sounds convincing. 

The Friday prayer is the only prayer during which a ser- 
mon (khutba) is delivered. The sermon normally includes 
praise of Allah, a prayer for the Prophet, exhortation to good 
deeds, and a chapter from the Koran. It is also customary to 
mention the ruler. This custom has great political importance: 
it is a symbol of the worshipers' allegiance to the government 
in power. Mentioning the ruler's name in the sermon is con- 
sidered indicative of the preacher's (and the congregation's) 
political loyalty, while its omission is considered a symbol of 
rebellion. Mutatis mutandis, sermons are at times used for 
political statements in the modern period as well. Religiously 
speaking, Friday is not a day of rest like the Jewish Sabbath. 
As is clear from Koran 62:9-11, work is prohibited only dur- 
ing the prayer itself; after the prayer is concluded, all activities 
may be resumed. Nevertheless, Friday has acquired in Islam 
the characteristics of a holiday and is the official day of rest 
in many Muslim states. 

3. Pilgrimage (hajj): In contradistinction to prayer, the 
Muslim pilgrimage has clear antecedents in the pre-Islamic 
period. Muslim tradition maintains that pre-Islamic Arabs 
performed pilgrimage to the Ka c ba in Mecca, which was then a 
pagan place of worship, with images of idols. The transforma- 
tion of the Ka c ba into a Muslim sanctuary and of the pilgrim- 
age into a Muslim ritual necessitated an infusion of monothe- 
istic elements into the history of both. This was achieved by 
describing the pilgrimage as a ritual which had begun long 
before Arabian idolatry came into being and was a part of the 
ancient monotheistic religion associated with Abraham "who 
was neither a Jew nor a Christian but a han if Muslim and was 
not of the idolaters" (Koran 3:67). According to the Koranic 
account, Abraham was the man who built the Ka c ba together 
with his son Ishmael and made it into a pure place of worship 

(Koran 2:125, 3-95-97)- 

Hence the Ka c ba, an idolatrous sanctuary in the pre-Is- 
lamic period, became the holiest place in Islam. The way was 
now open for the next step, transformimg the pilgrimage to 
Mecca into an Islamic commandment: "It is the duty of all 
people to come to the House as pilgrim, if he is able to make 
his way there" (Koran 3:97). Thus the pilgrimage is a case in 
which Islam did not abolish a pre-Islamic ritual, but rather 
filled it with new content and significance. The identity of the 
Muslim rituals with the pre-Islamic ones caused misgivings 

among some early believers and at least in one case a special 
revelation was needed to give legitimacy to such a ritual. 

The pilgrimage is held annually in the month of Dhu al- 
Hijja, the last month of the Islamic year. It is obligatory for 
every Muslim once in a lifetime, if he has the means to per- 
form it. At the outskirts of Mecca, the pilgrims enter into the 
state of sacredness (ihrdm), symbolized by the white, seamless 
garment worn during the pilgrimage. The uniform clothing is 
understood as symbolizing the equality of all believers. When 
the pilgrim reaches Mecca, he starts the ritual by circumam- 
bulating the Ka c ba seven times (taw of). Then he covers seven 
times the distance between the hills of al-Safa and al-Marwa 
(sa c y). This is understood as commemorating Hagar's search 
of water for her son Ishmael. The collective rituals, so charac- 
teristic of the annual Muslim pilgrimage, begin on the 8 th of 
Dhu al-Hijja, when the pilgrims set out for the plain of c Arafat, 
east of Mecca. On the 9 th of the month the pilgrims stand there 
and listen to a sermon at the time of the noon-prayer. This is 
the central ritual of the pilgrimage (wuquf). On the way back 
to Mecca, the pilgrims throw stones at Mina; this is meant to 
symbolize the stoning of the devil. On the 10 th , 11 th , and 12 th 
of the month the Feast of Sacrifice ( c id al-adha) is celebrated. 
The sacrifice of an animal is obligatory on every free Muslim 
who can afford it. After this, the pilgrims return to Mecca and 
can come out of their state of sacredness. 

The pilgrimage has acquired tremendous importance in 
Islam. It allows millions of Muslims from all parts of the world 
to meet, exchange ideas, and get acquainted with each other. 
The pilgrimage is therefore an extraordinary event: in recent 
years, about two million Muslims participate in it. It gives the 
Muslims a sense of belonging to a large, universal community 
and strengthens the feeling of unity in the Muslim world. 

4. Fasting (sawm): The development of the Muslim com- 
mandment of fasting began with the migration of the Prophet 
to Medina in 622, when the Prophet instructed the Muslims to 
fast the c dshura (cf. c asor, Lev. 16:29) on the 10 th of Muharram, 
the first month in the Muslim calendar. One version of this 
tradition maintains that this was in emulation of, or in compe- 
tition with, the Day of Atonement. Other traditions deny any 
Jewish connection and hold that the c dshura commemorates 
the saving of Noah during the flood, or a fast observed by the 
tribe of Quraysh in the pre-Islamic period. In 2 A.H./624 c.e., 
Koran 2:185 was revealed, instituting the month of Ramadan 
as the month of fasting, from sunrise to sunset. This is another 
example of the progressive dissociation of Islam from the Jew- 
ish tradition. Henceforth, c ashura was downgraded to a vol- 
untary fast, but there are indications for its persistence into 
the Muslim period. Later the fast oVashura merged with the 
Shi c i commemoration of the death of al-Husayn, the Prophet's 
grandson, in Karbala 5 in 680 c.e. 

Throughout Ramadan, the believer must refrain from 
food, drink, and sexual relations during the daytime. Imsak 
is the beginning of the fast at dawn, while if tar signifies the 
breaking of the fast after sunset. Unrelated to Ramadan is 
fasting of various durations as expiation for failing to fulfill 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


an oath (Koran 5:92), for repudiating a wife in a forbidden 
way (zihdr, Koran 58:4), for failing to perform the pilgrimage 
rituals properly (Koran 2:196), or for an accidental killing of 
a believer (Koran 4:91). 

5. Alms-giving (zaka). The pre-Islamic secular value of 
generosity was transformed into mandatory almsgiving in 
Islam. In the early Suras of the Koran, the commandment is 
phrased in very general terms (Koran 13:24-26). In the late 
Medinan period, the tone is much more specific and the pur- 
poses for which the collected money may be used are speci- 
fied: "The alms are for the poor and the needy, and those who 
collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and 
to free the captives, and the debtors, and for the sake of Allah 
and for the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah" (Koran 9:60). 
Those "whose hearts are to be reconciled" are understood to 
be people who needed economic incentive to join Islam, while 
"for the sake of Allah" is interpreted as the jihad (q.v.). This 
suggests that the Prophet used the alms money not only as 
help for the needy, but also for political purposes. According 
to some prophetic traditions, the payment of the alms "puri- 
fies" the property retained by the payer. The Qur an does not 
specify the amount to be paid as alms. Koran 2:219 seems to 
indicate that one should give as alms whatever is his surplus 
(for details on this in Islamic law, see A. Zysow, "Zakat," eis 2 , 
11, 406-22). 

The Expansion of Islam 

The first wave of conquests by Muslim Arabs, completed at 
the beginning of the eighth century c.e., included the Fer- 
tile Crescent, *Iran, *Egypt, North Africa, *Spain, the west- 
ern fringes of *India, and some parts of Central Asia. From 
the 10 th century Turkish people originating on the steppes 
between the Caspian Sea and the Altai mountains became 
increasingly important as political and military champions 
of Islam. The conquest of South Asia (comprising today In- 
dia, ^Pakistan, and Bangladesh) began with the Indian cam- 
paigns of Mahmud Ghaznawi in the early 11 th century, and 
was almost completed by the Delhi Sultanate in the 13 th . The 
conversion of the ^Mongols to Islam which began in the 13 th 
century significantly extended the boundaries of Islam. The 
manner in which Islam came to South East Asia has not been 
satisfactorily described so far, but it is clear that it was not by 
way of conquest. The presence of Muslims in the Indonesian 
archipelago has been attested since the late 13 th century. Mus- 
lim merchants and mystics are normally credited with bring- 
ing Islam to these areas. It is clear that Muslim conquests and 
the establishment of Muslim dynasties are not coterminous 
with the spread of Islam among the population and that the 
former aspects of Muslim history are known much better than 
the processes by which Islam became the religion of a substan- 
tial part of Asian and African populations. 

The number of Muslims was estimated in 2000 at 1,262 
million, 77% of these living in countries where the majority of 
the population is Muslim. The largest concentration of Muslim 
population is found in the three countries of South Asia (In- 

dia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) which are home to 384.3 mil- 
lion Muslims. Indonesia is the largest single Muslim political 
unit, with 212.1 million Muslims. The Arabic -speaking coun- 
tries of North Africa (including the Sudan) and the Middle 
East comprise 257 million Muslims. Turkey follows with 66.5 
million, Iran with 62.2 million, the five Muslim states of Cen- 
tral Asia (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kirgyzstan, 
and Kazakhstan) with 41.5 million, and Afghanistan with 22.5 
million. In Africa 58.9 million Muslims live in West Africa 
(south of the Sahara) and 47.1 in East Africa. The Muslim mi- 
nority of China is estimated at 19.2 million, of Russia at 14.7 
million, and of Europe (including the Balkans, France, and the 
U.K.) at 8.1 million. The number of Muslims in the U.S. and 
Canada is put at 2 million, although some Muslim organiza- 
tions in the U.S. speak of 6 million Muslims in the U.S. alone. 
Reference to religion in demographic statistics is not univer- 
sal, and these figures must therefore be viewed with caution. 
It is estimated that the number of Muslims will reach 1.8 bil- 
lion by 2025; the Muslims are then expected to form almost a 
quarter of the global population. 

General Characteristics 

The general character of Islam is determined by two main 
factors: its foundational literature and its global expansion. 
The foundational literature - including the Koran, the pro- 
phetic tradition (hadith), the jurisprudence (*fiqh) and mys- 
ticism (tasawwuf) - should be seen as unifying factors. The 
global expansion of Islam, the diverse conditions in the vari- 
ous areas, the different degrees to which the classical sources 
of Islam were internalized, the different degrees of modern- 
ization - all these explain the distinct characteristics of Islam 
in various areas of the world. 

In addition to its fierce monotheism, the universal, global 
appeal of Islam seems to be its most conspicuous general fea- 
ture. It is based on the firm belief that in contradistinction 
to all other prophets who had been sent to specific commu- 
nities, Muhammad was sent to all humanity. Furthermore, 
Muhammad is considered the last prophet to be sent to earth. 
Consequently, Islam and the Koran - the consummate em- 
bodiment of the divine will - will remain valid until the end 
of days: no prophet will ever be sent in order to bring another 
revelation or another sacred law. Therefore, Islam does not 
countenance the establishment of any new religion after the 
coming of Muhammad. Also, the Koran is considered to be 
the only scripture which was transmitted reliably and suffered 
no interpolation, while the To rah and the New Testament had 
allegedly been tampered willfully by the Jews and the Chris- 
tians (tahrif). As a result of these and similar considerations, 
Muslims are "the best community ever brought forth to man- 
kind" (Koran 3:110), and "Islam is exalted and nothing is ex- 
alted above it" (al-Isldm yalu wa layuld (al-Bukhari, Sahih y 
Kitdb al-janaiz 80; ed. Krehl, 1, 337-38). The idea of Islamic 
exaltedness has numerous ramifications for the relationship 
between Islam and other faiths (Friedmann, Tolerance and 
Coercion, 34"39)- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



The Muslim ideas relevant to this relationship have been 
subject to significant changes since the earliest period of Islam. 
Even the Koran includes divergent ideas about the relation- 
ship between Islam and other religions. On the one hand, it 
includes verses which seem to promise divine reward for the 
Jews and the Christians without mentioning their conver- 
sion to Islam as a precondition (Koran 2:62; cf. 5:69). On the 
other hand, it speaks about the humiliation inflicted upon 
them (Koran 2:61, 3:112), instructs the Muslims not to forge 
alliances with them (Koran 5:51), and calls upon the Muslims 
to fight them "until they pay the poll-tax (*jizya) out of hand 
while being humiliated (Koran 9:29). These and verses of simi- 
lar import have been extensively commented upon in Muslim 
tradition and jurisprudence. The Muslim attitude to the Jews 
and Christians gradually moved from an initial conciliatory 
approach in the direction of increased rigor. (See Friedmann, 
Tolerance and Coercion, 194-99.) 

The Koran and the prophetic tradition (hadith) (q.v) con- 
stitute the major unifying factors in Islam. The Koran is con- 
sidered to be the literal word of Allah. Muslim theologians de- 
bated whether it has existed since all eternity and is uncreated 
(ghayr makhluq), or was created (makhluq) at a certain point 
in time. Perceived as divine in origin, its style is considered in- 
imitable (mujiz) in the sense that no human being is capable 
of producing a book of so sublime a stylistic standard. This is 
the dogma known as i]az at- Koran , the idea that the Koran 
renders human beings unable to imitate it. The distinctive char- 
acter of Koranic style is unmistakable; from the secular vantage 
point it may derive from the fact that the Koran is the only ex- 
tant literary work from seventh-century Arabia. In any case, 
the Koran has always been the subject of boundless veneration 
by Muslims. Although the Koran considers itself as "a book in 
which there is no doubt" (Koran 2:2) and as a revelation in "clear 
Arabic language" (Koran 26:195), many verses are difficult to 
understand and the book has inspired a vast literary corpus of 
exegesis (tafsir). Once the meaning of a verse was agreed upon 
by mainstream exegetes, the accepted meaning acquired an un- 
contested normative value in Muslim law and piety. 

The prophetic tradition (hadith) has developed out of the 
conviction that a pious Muslim should emulate the Prophet 
in whatever he did, recall whatever he said, and even keep a 
record of things which gained his tacit approval. This attitude 
is based on the firm conviction that Muhammad possessed a 
perfect personality and should be treated with utmost respect. 
Any action which is judged incompatible with this basic idea 
is rejected with great severity. Therefore, one of the most meri- 
torious actions which a Muslim can do is to revive a custom 
of the Prophet (sunna) which for some reason fell into disuse. 
The customs of the Prophet were recorded in the hadith which 
has become a major part of Muslim religious literature, a ma- 
jor source of Muslim law and an important vehicle through 
which later generations could influence the development of 
Islam. The desire to emulate the Prophet brought about a tre- 
mendous proliferation of the hadith, which soon became an 
extensive branch of Muslim religious literature. 

According to the traditional Muslim view, a considerable 
part of the hadith, which has a reliable chain of transmitters 
and thus can pass the traditional test of authenticity, was actu- 
ally pronounced by the Prophet and has therefore a normative 
value second only to the Koran itself. Modern scholarship, on 
the other hand, maintains that the authenticity of this mate- 
rial is unverifiable: since we have no extant books of hadith 
from the lifetime of the Prophet, there is no reliable method 
which can establish whether a certain saying was pronounced 
by the Prophet, or originated in a later period and was attrib- 
uted to the Prophet in order to prove a point of law or an idea 
in the religious thought of a Muslim group. In some cases it 
is possible to discern the religious tendency or political inter- 
est embedded in a tradition; but in the countless traditions 
of general ethical content lacking a point of historical refer- 
ence this is frequently impossible. In the brilliant formulation 
of * Goldziher, whose study of the hadith, written in the late 
19 th century, is still an indispensable masterpiece, "the hadith 
will not serve as a document for the history of the infancy of 
Islam, but rather as a reflection of the tendencies which ap- 
peared in the community during the maturer stages of its 
development. It contains invaluable evidence for the evolu- 
tion of Islam during the years when it was forming itself into 
an organized whole from powerful mutually opposed forces. 
This makes the proper appreciation and study of the hadith 
so important for the understanding of Islam in the evolution 
of which the most notable phases are accompanied by succes- 
sive stages in the creation of the hadith" (Goldziher, Muslim 
Studies, vol. 2, 19). 

The third unifying factor is Islamic jurisprudence (*sha- 
rta, *fiqh). From the very beginning, Islam strove to control 
the life of the community in all fields. Like Judaism, Islam is 
not satisfied with regulating man's obligation toward God, 
but also aspires to regulate his daily behavior and legislates in 
matters which in other cultures belong to the field of civil or 
secular law. Legal matters do not constitute a major part of 
the Koran, though topics such as the law of marriage, divorce, 
inheritance, and penalties for a restricted number of trans- 
gressions (theft, highway robbery, wine drinking, unlawful 
sexual intercourse and false accusation thereof) are discussed 
in some detail. Beginning in the last decades of the 8 th cen- 
tury c.e., major compendia of Muslim jurisprudence began 
to emerge. Numerous schools of legal thinking (madhhab, 
pi. madhahib) came into being in the formative period of Is- 
lam. Four of them (Hanafis, Hanbalis, Malikis, and ShafVis) 
survived and are regarded as valid versions of the religious 
law of Islam. The Hanafi school, which originated in the 
Iraqi city of Kufa, is the most widespread. It was the domi- 
nant school in the *Abbasid empire, in the ^Ottoman em- 
pire, in the *Moghul empire in India and in Central Asia. 
The Malikis school was predominant in Muslim Spain, and 
still is in North Africa. The ShafVis school is deeply rooted in 
Egypt and has many adherents in the Fertile Crescent. The 
Hanbalis have official status in *Saudi Arabia and numerous 


adherents elsewhere. 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


While the division into schools of law may indicate some 
measure of diversity, the common denominator between the 
schools is more than sufficient to consider the law as a unify- 
ing factor in Islam. The law is administered by a judge (qddi), 
sometimes assisted by a legal specialist authorized to issue le- 
gal opinions (fatwd pl.fatdwd). 

The formative period of Islam was characterized by im- 
mense worldly success. The great conquests of the first cen- 
tury of Muslim history, in which Muslims took control of vast 
areas in the Middle East, in the western fringes of India, in 
Central Asia, in North Africa and in the Iberian peninsula, 
transformed the history of these regions and brought them 
under the aegis of Islam. Later expansion and conquests did 
the same for other areas of the world. The chronicles of the 
early conquests abound in descriptions of the wealth accu- 
mulated in the course of these events, and the conquerors 
do not seem to have had any qualms about the riches which 
they amassed. Mainstream Islam legitimized this and regu- 
lated the ways in which booty may be taken and used. This 
reflects a positive approach of Islam to worldly success (cf. 
Smith, Islam in Modern History, 22-23). Yet at the same time, 
one can discern in early Islam a completely different trend 
of thought: a trend which is contemplative, stresses the use- 
lessness of this world and sees it only as a corridor through 
which one must pass, but which has no real value when com- 
pared with the everlasting bliss promised to the believers in 
the hereafter. This was the attitude of early Muslim ascetics 
(zuhhdd, sg. zdhid) who spared no effort to revile this world, 
to describe it as "a corpse pursued by dogs," as a place of un- 
bearable stench, a place which is a prison for the believer and 
Paradise for the infidel. These were the precursors of the Sufi 
movement (see *Sufism) which developed into a major trend 
in Muslim religiosity. Since the 10 th century c.e., Sufi think- 
ers produced numerous manuals in which they described 
the path (tariqa) to God and which served as guides on the 
seekers (murid) way to spiritual perfection. These manuals, 
of which "The book of (mystical) flashes in Sufism" (Kitdb al- 
luma ft al-tasawwuf) by Abu Nasr al-Sarraj (d. 988 c.e.) is a 
prime example, surveys the practices and modes of thinking 
of the Sufis. The book speaks about the standing of the Sufis 
among the believers and reaches the conclusion that they are 
more assiduous than others in observance and do not try to 
avoid the inconvenient commandments by seeking allegori- 
cal explanations and legal evasions. Thus, they not only obey 
the letter of the law, but go beyond it and reach degrees of re- 
ligiosity which can not be attained by jurists and others. They 
leave aside all irrelevant matters and cut every connection 
which may interfere with attaining their objective, which is 
God alone. The book also describes in great detail the spiri- 
tual stages on the Sufi's way to God. 

In a later stage, from the 12 th century onward, the Sufis 
were not only individuals exploring divine mysteries, but also 
organized themselves into Sufi orders (turuq, sg. tariqa) which 
spread all over the Muslim world from the Maghrib in the 
West to Indonesia in the East. These orders developed around 

Sufi masters (shuyukh, sg. shaykh, or pir in the eastern part 
of the Muslim world). These orders were of considerable im- 
portance in the life of the Muslim communities everywhere. 
It stands to reason that participation in the Sufi ritual, such as 
the communal dhikr (the constant repetition of God's name), 
gave the common man a spiritual satisfaction unachievable 
by other means. Trimmingham (The Sufi Orders, 229) sees a 
similarity between the spiritual role of a Sufi order and that 
of a local church in Europe; another possible comparison is 
with the Hasidic movement in Judaism. 

While the orders developed numerous disparate char- 
acteristics in the various parts of the Muslim world, the simi- 
larities between them are sufficient to include Sufism among 
the unifying factors of Islam. The more unified picture of Is- 
lam can be found in Islamic literature, while its diversity can 
be most profitably studied in anthropological research. An- 
thropological fieldwork in various areas of the Muslim world 
has revealed numerous characteristics which show the extent 
to which Islam was influenced by local cultures, especially in 
rural areas. In almost every Muslim house in the Indian dis- 
trict of Purnea a little shrine existed in which prayers were 
offered both to Allah and to the Indian goddess Kali. In the 
same place, a part of the Muslim marriage ceremony was con- 
ducted in a shrine of the goddess Bhagvati (Mujeeb, The In- 
dian Muslims, 13-14). There is substantial literature about the 
existence of caste system among Indian Muslims, despite the 
classical Islamic principle of equality of all believers (Ahmad, 
Caste and Social Stratification...). Geertz (Islam observed, 66) 
maintains that in Indonesia, "the mass of the peasantry re- 
mained devoted to local spirits, domestic rituals and famil- 
iar charms. ... Christians and pagans apart, all these people, 
gentry and peasantry alike, conceived themselves to be Mus- 
lims." Muslims for whom the classical literature of Islam is the 
only guide as to what constitutes Islam will probably consider 
such phenomena as cases of incomplete Islamization; but, of 
course, there is no guarantee that the Muslims in question will 
ever be transformed into believers conforming to the ideal of 
Islam as embodied in the classical tradition. 

Modern Islam 

Barring a few exceptions, classical and medieval Muslim 
thought developed against the background of a dominant 
Muslim civilization. Both in the formative period of Islam 
and in the later pre-modern centuries, Muslim thinkers were 
active in areas which were part of secure and relatively stable 
political systems, headed by Muslim rulers. This situation be- 
gan to change with the first Western incursions into the Mus- 
lim world and with the gradually developing sense that Islam 
had lost its erstwhile primacy in its relationship with other 
civilizations. The reaction of Muslim thinkers to this evolv- 
ing situation was manifold. During the second half of the 19 th 
century, the Muslim modernist movement came into being. In 
Egypt, the prominent intellectual figure was that of Muham- 
mad c Abduh (1849-1905). At various times, he was teacher, 
journalist, and judge; his career culminated between 1899 and 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



1905, when he served as the mufti of Egypt. His leading ideas 
included the insistence on the compatibility of Islam with 
reason and modern science, since the Koran encouraged the 
study of the physical universe; the preference of reason when 
it conflicts with traditional knowledge; rejection of the blind 
following of the tradition (taqlid); and the revitalization of 
independent reasoning (ijtihdd). He also maintained that the 
restrictions placed in Islam on polygamy (the obligation to 
treat the wives with equality and justice; cf. Koran 4:3) are such 
that they amount to prohibition, and advocated the education 
of girls. Among his numerous followers, mention should be 
made of Qasim Amin (1865-1908), who became famous be- 
cause of his advocacy of women's rights, and c Ali c Abd al-Raziq 
(1888-1966), who maintained that Islam "is a religion, not a 
state" (din Id dawla). In other words, and in contradistinction 
to the prevalent view, he advocated the separation of religion 
and state in Islam. This idea aroused serious opposition and 
caused him to be expelled from the ranks of the c ulama and 
from his position as a religious judge. 

In the Indian subcontinent, the modernist movement 
was launched by Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898). Having 
been knighted for his loyal behavior during the Indian upris- 
ing of 1857, he devoted his life to the improvement of the In- 
dian Muslims' relationship with the British rulers and to the 
advancement of modern education among Indian Muslims. 
In 1875 he established (with British support) the Anglo-Mu- 
hammadan Oriental College, which came to be known since 
1920 as Aligarh Muslim University, and served as an impor- 
tant Muslim institution of higher learning in which modern 
science was taught alongside the humanities. He promoted 
the idea that there can be no contradiction between the word 
of God and laws of nature which are God's doing. Therefore, 
there can be no contradiction between the Koran, Islam, and 
the laws of nature, and there can be no objection in Islam to 
the study of modern Western sciences. Ahmad Khan also de- 
voted considerable effort to the demythologizing of Islam and 
interpreting its leading ideas as conforming to human intel- 
lect. In his attempt to improve the relationship between Islam 
and Christianity, he disagreed with the classical Muslim ac- 
cusation that Christians and Jews had falsified the Scriptures, 
maintained that the books of the Bible are to be considered 
genuine and denounced the Indian Muslim custom of refusal 
to dine with Christians. Like Muhammad c Abduh, he main- 
tained that Islam actually prohibited polygamy by insisting 
on the equal treatment of all wives, an attitude of which men 
are emotionally incapable. 

Sayyid Ahmad Khan's views found support among nu- 
merous Indian Muslim thinkers. Chiragh c Ali (1844-1895) de- 
voted much attention to the interpretation of jihad and argued 
that "all wars of Mohammad were defensive." He argued that 
"there are certain points in which the Mohammadan Com- 
mon Law is irreconcilable with the modern needs of Islam, 
whether in India or Turkey, and requires modification. The 
several chapters of the Common Law, as those on political 
institutes, slavery, concubinage, marriage, divorce, and dis- 

abilities of non-Moslem fellow- subjects are to be remodeled 
and rewritten in accordance with the strict interpretations of 
the Koran...." He also opposed the blind following (taqlid) 
of the Islamic schools of jurisprudence which were "never 
intended to be either divine or finite." It may be said that 
Chiragh c Ali was one of the most radical reformers in Indian 
Islam. His definition of the short a as "common law" which 
may be changed by human intervention is a major departure 
from traditional norms. 

The most famous among Indian Muslim modernists was 
Muhammad Iqbal (1875-1938). A poet, a philosopher and a 
political thinker - he is a towering figure among the Indian 
Muslims in the 20 th century. He enjoyed immense popular- 
ity among the Indian Muslims, mainly because of his power- 
ful and compelling poetry in Urdu and Persian, although his 
philosophical and political ideas also played a role in the de- 
velopment of his popularity. His Reconstruction of Religious 
Thought in Islam, which reflects his Islamic upbringing as well 
as his knowledge of European philosophy, is the most system- 
atic formulation of his thought, though some of the arguments 
proffered in it are not clear. A substantial part of this work is 
dedicated to the description of Islam as a dynamic force in hu- 
man history and to the analysis of the reasons which caused its 
stagnation in modern times. In Iqbal's view, the stagnation of 
Islam was caused by several reasons. One is the failure of the 
Mu c tazila which he considers a rationalist school of thought. 
Like other modernists, Iqbal is severely critical of Sufism 
which preferred other- worldliness and caused the Muslims to 
neglect the concrete world which had been, in his view, at the 
center of the Koran's attention. He maintains, however, that 
Islam is capable of renewal and maintains that the belief in the 
finality of Muhammad's prophethood is a powerful intellec- 
tual tool that can be used for this purpose. In contradistinc- 
tion to the classical interpretation, which used this belief as a 
proof of the eternal validity of the Koran and of Islamic law, 
Iqbal maintains that "in Islam prophecy reached its perfec- 
tion in discovering the need for its own abolition." Finality of 
prophethood means that after the completion of Muhammad's 
mission nobody can ever claim personal authority of super- 
natural origin. Man has reached a stage in which he can open 
new horizons without being hampered by any constraints. The 
ideal believer is, therefore characterized by creativity, vitality, 
abhorrence of stagnation, and love of perpetual movement. 
Together with the use of the reinterpretation of Islamic law 
(ijtihdd) , these are the qualities which can revitalize Islam and 
restore its original dynamic character. 

The modernist movement, which aimed at bringing Is- 
lam into conformity with the modern world and was charac- 
teristic of Islamic thought in the second half of the 19 th cen- 
tury and the first half of the 20 th , gradually lost its primacy 
and was replaced by radical trends of thought. Driven by 
the acute sense that modernity failed to deliver on its prom- 
ise and stands in sharp contrast with the traditional Islamic 
ideal, radical Muslim thinkers, such as Abu al-A c la Mawdudi 
(1903-1979) in India and Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) in Egypt, 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


initiated scathing attacks on the modernist approach. A cen- 
tral component of these attacks has been a categorical rejec- 
tion of modern Western civilization which is seen as corrupt, 
licentious, irreligious and dangerous for Islam. The leitmotif 
of Mawdudi's thought is that all sovereignty in the world be- 
longs to God alone; no other source of authority, such as the 
will of the people, or laws promulgated by elected legislative 
assemblies is legitimate. In 1941, Mawdudi juxtaposed obedi- 
ence to divine law - which is Islam - with obedience to man- 
made laws and customs; the latter he called Jahiliyya, a term 
traditionally used for the pre -Islamic, pagan period in Arab 
history. When Pakistan was established in 1947, Mawdudi (and 
the "Islamic Group," Jamat-i Islam! organization which he 
founded) immersed himself in a struggle to enhance as much 
as possible the Islamic characteristics of the newly established 
state. While he saw himself as the vanguard of opposition 
to things modern and desirous of implementing the classi- 
cal ideal of Islam, in many details modern ideas and modern 
conditions influenced his understanding of the ideal. Sayyid 
Qutb, the leader of the Muslim Brethren in Egypt (executed 
in 1966), gave much currency to the dichotomy between Is- 
lam and the Jahiliyya which is, in his as well as in Mawdudi s 
view, not only a specific historical period but also a state of 
affairs and a mentality which allows people to choose a way 
of life different from the one prescribed by God and by the 
Prophet Muhammad. Jahili society is not only that which de- 
nies the existence of God, but also that which does not deny 
it, but relegates God to the kingdom of heaven and does not 
apply His law on earth. Such societies, including those which 
are nominally Muslim, have to be replaced by societies liv- 
ing under the divine Muslim law. The radical Muslim trends 
which we exemplified by reference to Abu al-A c la Mawdudi 
and Sayyid Qutb have gained much currency since the mid- 
dle of the 20 th century. 

As a religion and a civilization, Islam has been in exis- 
tence since the seventh century. At the beginning of the 21 st 
century, Muslims live in dozens of countries in most areas of 
the world. These plain facts go a long way to explain the di- 
versity of the Islamic experience. Islam has always been many 
things. Muslims have been warriors, rulers, mystics, writers, 
poets, artisans, and scholars in various fields; they have been, 
and still are, engaged in the whole range of human activity in 
widely differing circumstances. Within one century of Muslim 
history, they conquered a substantial part of the then known 
world. During the first three centuries of that history, Mus- 
lim writers produced a rich historiography, extensive litera- 
ture in linguistics and lexicography, literary criticism, poetry, 
and jurisprudence. They stood for a long period at the cut- 
ting edge of scientific development. In its formative period, 
Muslim religious thought was characterized by a wide variety 
of views on numerous subjects. The variety of views and the 
nature of the arguments marshaled by their protagonists tes- 
tify to the vibrant intellectual life of Islam in the early period 
of its history. Muslims have differed on questions such as de- 
terminism versus free will; the existence of the Koran since 

all eternity versus its being created at a certain point in time, 
with the rest of creation; the equality of all prophets versus 
the unquestioned superiority of Muhammad; the validity of 
personal reasoning versus the irrefutable authority of the pro- 
phetic tradition in jurisprudential matters; the identity of un- 
believers who may be offered the status of protected communi- 
ties (*dhimmis) rather than being forced to embrace Islam; the 
extent of tolerance to non-Muslims living under Muslim rule 
and the measure of humiliation to be imposed on them. The 
list of these much debated issues could easily be augmented. 
This diversity of Muslim thought and experience has crucial 
significance. It means that all Muslims, in any place and his- 
torical period, must choose the type of Islamic thought and 
belief most appropriate to the circumstances of their lives and 
to their world view. It also means that the Muslim tradition 
includes material capable of substantiating almost any inter- 
pretation of Islam which a Muslim may want to develop. He 
may choose to be a fundamentalist or a modernist. He may 
choose to view Judaism and Christianity as basically illegiti- 
mate and corrupt versions of the divine will, or adopt a more 
pluralistic view of religious diversity. Professional men of re- 
ligion tend to promote the view that their interpretation is the 
only legitimate one, and they are frequently supported by the 
autocratic regimes in many Muslim states. Such attitudes are 
belied by the long history of intellectual controversy in Islam 
and by the various forms which Islam took on in various times 
and places. Since the middle of the 20 th century, radical inter- 
pretations of Islam have held sway in some of the most im- 
portant areas of the Muslim world, but there is no doubt that 
the building bricks for a different version of Islam are readily 
available in the Muslim tradition. 

[Yohanan Friedmann (2 nd ed.)] 

Polemics against Judaism 

Islamic polemics directed against Judaism and Jews are sub- 
stantial neither in quantity nor in quality. The great masses of 
Christian subjects within the Islamic domain and the Chris- 
tian powers outside caused Islamic polemics to focus on 
Christianity. On the whole, Arabic lore and literature reflect 
a negative attitude toward the Jews, one of distrust and sus- 
picion, contempt and animosity. It is argued that from the 
days of the Prophet the Jews were enemies of Islam, either in 
direct military confrontation with the Prophet, or in plots to 
undermine Islam through heresy, subversion, and cunning ill 
will. An n th -century admirer of *Samuel b. Joseph ha-Nagid or 
the i4 th -century mystic al-Jili (I. Goldziher in jzwl, 11 (1875), 
68 ff.) are exceptions in their positive attitude toward the Jews. 
The prevailing attitude may have come from Christian polem- 
ics which in turn were rooted to some extent in classical anti- 
Jewish lore. This holds true even concerning the Koran (T. 
Andrae, Ursprungdeslslams... (1923-25), 198 f.; cf. Waarden- 
burg in Liber Amicorum, Studies... C.J. Bleeker, 1969). It is not 
surprising that the ever-growing mass of Christian converts 
to Islam should have contributed to the anti- Jewish mood. As 
early as the ninth century, al-Jahiz stated that although Juda- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



ism may seem closer to Islam than Christianity, Muslims are 
more negative in their attitude toward Jews than toward Chris- 
tians (ed. and tr. by J. Finkel, in jaos, 47 (1927), 311-34). 

Polemic remarks appear in the Koran and the Hadith (G. 
Vajda in ja, 229 (1937), 57-127) and in numerous theological 
works. Systematic treatment appears in courses and manuals 
on theology, heresies, and comparative religion. Muslim schol- 
ars displayed a very limited knowledge of Judaism and were 
not acquainted with original Jewish sources, and only rarely 
with translations. For example, the historian Ibn Khaldun (14 th 
century) even quoted the Bible from the 10 th century historian 
al-Mas c udi. The judgments and references of the polemists 
were usually based on sets of passages, presumably supplied 
by Jews converted to Islam, and, in the critique of post-bibli- 
cal Judaism, possibly going back to some ^Karaite material. 
Sometimes polemics may have been geared to social-political 
public agitation and mob riots. For example, the enemies of 
the family of Samuel ha-Nagid accused Jewish dignitaries and 
officials of selling terefah meat to the believers. The Moroccan 
al-Maghribi (G. Vajda in Etude a la memoire de Levi-Proven- 
caly 2 (1962), 805-13) voiced a similar argument. 

content. The subject matter of polemics can be reduced to a 
few points. Islam claims to be the final dispensation, following 
the abrogation (Ar. naskh) of Judaism and Christianity, and 
regards the development of Judaism, after its abrogation, as 
abnormal and as a human invention (bid c a) contrary to divine 
dispensation (shar c ). This is demonstrated by a critique of the 
Bible. Jews are charged with tampering (tabdil) and distorting 
(tahrif) the texts, either in reading or in interpretation. Indeed, 
the Scriptures contain accounts unworthy of and senseless in 
a divine book (e.g., the stories of Lot, Judah and Tamar, kings 
of Edom, stations in the wilderness). Many of the numerical 
computations seem faulty; contradictions and anthropomor- 
phisms (tajsim) abound. Conversely, the Scriptures fail to elab- 
orate on reward and punishment in the hereafter. Disrupted by 
the Babylonian captivity, the transmission of events (tawdtur) 
is defective. Finally, if the Scriptures are authentic, they must 
contain annunciations (a lam) of the advent of Muhammad. 
The latter are gleaned from *gematria y the interpretation of 
the numerical value of significant words (Muhammad = 92 = 
bi-mebd mebd in Gen. 17:2; Paran wilderness = Mecca) etc. 
(cf. Strauss- Ashtor, in Sefer ha-Zikkaron le-Veit ha-Midrash 
le-Rabbanim be-Vinah (1946), 182-97). 

historical survey. A tenth-century compendium by 
the theologian Baqillani presents a discussion of Judaism 
(Brunschvig, in Homenaje a Millds Vallicrosa). Partly pro- 
voked by the high position attained by Samuel ha-Nagid, the 
philosopher and historian Ibn Hazm (11 th century) composed 
a substantial attack on Judaism in vitriolic language (M. Perl- 
mann, in paajr, 18 (1948/49), 269-90). In the 12 th century, a 
Jewish convert to Islam, *Samuel ibn Abbas al-Maghribi pro- 
duced the most important polemic work (idem, in paajr, 
32, 1964), which was often used and plagiarized by later po- 
lemists such as Qarafi (13 th century) and Ibn Qayyim ibn al- 

Jawziya (14 th century). The Egyptian Jew Sa c id b. Hasan of Al- 
exandria who converted to Islam in 1298 (I. Goldziher, in rej, 
30 (1895), 1-23; S.A. Weston, in jaos, 24 (1903), 312-83) and 
the Moroccan convert c Abd al-Haqq al Islam! (14 th century) 
wrote popular tracts. In about 1360, Abu Zakariyya Yahya 
al-Raqili, a Morisco in Christian Spain, wrote a manual of 
disputation against the Jews who "loosen their tongues... 
against our prophet" (as in Palacios, in Melanges Hartwig 
Derenbourg (1909), 343-66). As late as the 19 th century, the 
account of Tabataba'i s disputation and the pamphlet Risala 
SabHyya appeared in Egyptian editions of Samuel's aforesaid 
tract (1939, 1962 2 ). 

Jewish replies to the Islamic contentions began to appear 
in the tenth century and their authors include the philoso- 
phers *Saadiah Gaon, * Judah Halevi, Abraham ibn Daud, and 
*Maimonides. The former three were also outstanding pole- 
mists against the Karaites. Separate tracts against Islam were 
rare. Maamar c al Yishmael (13 th century), ascribed to Solomon 
b. Abraham Adret (J. Perles, 1863; M. Zikier, in Festschrift A. 
Kaminka, 1937), and Keshet u-Magen (M. Steinschneider, in 
mwj, 7 (1880), 1-48) of R. Simeon b. Zemah Duran (d. 1444) 
came from the Jewish milieu peculiar to Christian Spain. 
While Jewish polemists were bitter about oppression and hu- 
miliation under Islam, they were aware that Islam showed 
greater affinity to Judaism than did Christianity, despite the 
biblical background shared with the latter. 

[Moshe Perlmann] 

Judaism and Islam 

Centuries before the rise of Islam many Jewish communities 
were scattered over ^Arabia, so that Judaism, in its normative 
and also sectarian versions, was known to the sedentary popu- 
lation and even to the Bedouin tribes. It was especially wide- 
spread in South Arabia, where Judaized groups and proselytes 
were very common. The deciphering of the South Arabian in- 
scriptions, some of which were discovered only in the 1950s, 
confirm the many accounts and reports of early, pre-Islamic 
Christian writers about Jewish missionary activities and the 
persecutions of the Christians, especially in *Najran by *Yusuf 
Dhu Nuwas, the Jewish (proselyte) king of *Himyar. Rahman, 
the Merciful, as a name of God, without any other attribute, 
has been found many times in those inscriptions and indi- 
cates their Jewish origin. Arab historians and biographers of 
Muhammad's life describe the Jewish communities and tribes 
living in Hejaz generations before his rise. The years spent by 
Muhammad the Prophet and Messenger of God in the Jewish 
Yathrib- Medina gave him many opportunities (positive and 
negative) to come into close contact with the Jewish tribes liv- 
ing in that group of oases. This historical background explains 
the fact of the strict uncompromising monotheism preached 
by Muhammad (who objected to the Christian belief that Jesus 
was the son of God). Most of the *Bible tales to be found in 
the Koran and the normative form of Islam based on precepts 
are to be traced to the Bible and to the Oral Law. At the same 
time, some descriptions of the Last Judgment and of escha- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


tological events which preoccupied Muhammad in his early 
period in Mecca, and also some historical tales, stem from 
Christian sources and inspirations. But the main eschatologi- 
cal beliefs belong to the common Jewish- Christian heritage, 
even though they were transmitted by Christian monks. In 
a Hadith c Aisha, Muhammad's wife, is said to have heard the 
tradition about the punishment in the grave (hibbut ha-kever) 
from two old Jewish women in Medina. More Jewish elements 
can be found in those beliefs after Jerusalem was accepted as 
the location of the Last Judgment. 

Nonetheless, the Arabian character of the Koran must al- 
ways be stressed as it was Muhammad's genius which founded 
and established Islam. The fact that some of his contempo- 
raries, prophets, and hanifs tried unsuccessfully to spread 
monotheism in Arabia cannot lower Muhammad's stature. A 
large number of Jewish teachings, sayings, and normative and 
ethical precepts have been included in the *Hadith literature, 
sometimes in the name of Jews or Jewish converts to Islam al- 
though most were inserted anonymously. Much of the narra- 
tive material gathered in the Qisas al-Anbiya ("Legends of the 
Prophets") goes back to *Ka c b al-Ahbar, the Jewish convert to 
Islam who accompanied the caliph *Omar during his visit to 
Jerusalem, or to *Wahb b. Munabbih, also a convert or son of 
a Jewish convert. All of this Hadith literature (and the legends 
are also systematically arranged like the oral tradition) shows 
an astonishing knowledge of the *halakhah and *aggadah as 
laid down in talmudic and midrashic literature. As in Juda- 
ism, at first there was opposition in Islam to writing down the 
sayings and teachings which were transmitted, by isnad (lit., 
leaning, ascription of an oral religious tradition), a chain of 
traditioners (see below). The caliph Omar disapproved of the 
literary fixing of the sunna (the sayings and exemplary actions 
of Muhammad): "Would you like to have a [written] mathnat 
like the mathnat [Aramaic: mathnitha - Heb. Mishnah] of the 
Jews?" (Ibn Sa c d v, p. 140). 

It is not always possible to postulate a clear-cut depen- 
dence of Islamic teachings and methods on Judaism. The 
fundamental similarity of Judaism and Islam, both based on 
religious laws in principles, methods, and legislation, caused 
parallel developments in later centuries. It is a well-known 
fact that the *geonim, the heads of the two famous talmudic 
academies in *Sura and in *Pumbedita, received questions 
concerning legal and social matters; there are many tens of 
thousands of their responsa extant. This was also the practice 
of the Muslim muftis, a category of jurists from whom every 
Muslim could ask a. fatwa, a legal opinion based on the reli- 
gious law. The fatwa and the responsum both possessed legal 
power. It is difficult to decide if the development of this branch 
of literature in both religions was independent or whether this 
was an example of mutual influence. For example, at the end of 
the typical question one finds in the fatwa and in the respon- 
sum the formula: "May our rabbi (or mufti) give his instruc- 
tion [= decision] and his reward will be doubled by Heaven 
[= God]." Goldziher (zdmg 52, p. 645) sees an Islamic influ- 
ence in this formula of the responsum. 

In the first centuries of Islam the jurists were allowed to 
use their independent judgment (ijtihad) in their decisions, 
but had to base it on primary sources. Later they were re- 
stricted in their freedom of independent decision and were 
obliged to follow the taqlid (precedent) and to rely on for- 
mer judgments. One finds a parallel development in rabbinic 
Judaism, in which even the geonim were obliged to follow 
the authority of their predecessors. Nonetheless, social and 
economic transformations sometimes demanded departure 
from accepted laws and rules. Thus the geonim and the later 
generations of rabbis were obliged to establish ordinances 
adjusted to the new situation. A similar principle was cur- 
rent in the madhhab (legal school) of Malik b. Anas, i.e., the 
istislahy the adaptation (or correction) of laws, for the benefit 
of the community. 

The influence of *fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) is clear in 
the systematic dealings of the geonim with halakhic materi- 
als according to their contents, e.g., the laws of inheritance, 
gifts, deposits, oaths, usury, witness and writs, loans, and ob- 
ligations, as they were arranged by Saadiah, Hai, Samuel b. 
Hophni, who wrote their works in Arabic. This is especially 
clear in Maimonides' code, Mishneh Torah, written in He- 
brew and preceded by Sefer ha-Mizvot (Book of Precepts), 
the first exposition of the 613 precepts. Maimonides' arrange- 
ment of these works indicates knowledge of the methods and 
principles of the fiqh literature and of the Hadith collections 
of al-Bukhari, Muslims, and others. Maimonides applied the 
ijma (consensus), one of the four usul al-fiqh (roots of fiqh), 
in his code. In his introduction to this code he gives the chain 
of the teachers and rabbis who during 40 generations trans- 
mitted the Oral Law from Moses to R. Ashi. This is a classic 
illustration of how the isnad - the method of verification of 
the sayings of Muhammad and his companions - was taken 
over by early Islam from Judaism, which traced the chain 
of tradition from Moses to the Men of the Great Synagogue 
(Avot 1); and in turn was used by Maimonides as a principle 
to verify the halakhah. 

But Islamic influence was not restricted to methodology. 
Some Muslim customs concerning ablutions, prostrations, and 
general behavior during prayer were accepted by Maimonides 
and his son Abraham, and aroused disagreement among the 
majority of the Jewish society. Jewish apocalypses ascribed to 
R. Simeon b. *Yohai, and pseudepigraphic works such as Pirkei 
de Rabbi Eliezer and Targum Jonathan show traces of Islamic 
influence. Note should be made of the book of R. Nissim b. 
Jacob (Kairouan, first half of the 11 th century) called Hibbur 
Yafe me-ha-Yeshuah ("A Fine Treatise on Salvation"), which in 
its Hebrew translation was known for centuries and was often 
reprinted because of its popular religious contents. Its Arabic 
original (the exact title of which is unknown) was found in the 
last decade of the 19 th century (ed. by J. Obermann, 1933). In 
Jewish literature it is the only representative of a type known 
in Islamic literature asKutub al-Faraj bdda al-Shidda ("Books 
of Comfort after Disaster"). A detailed comparison between 
the Hibbur and the Muslim books shows that Nissim, who was 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



head of the talmudic academy in *Kairouan, knew the stories 
then current in his non- Jewish environment, whether in lit- 
erary form or as folktales. 

Islamic culture, which had absorbed the legacy of Greece 
and the Hellenistic world, made a tremendous impact on 
some aspects of Jewish thought and science. After centuries 
of complete disruption between that world and Judaism, the 
works of the Greek philosophers and scientists came back 
to the orbit of Jewish thinkers and scholars through Arabic 
translations (from earlier translations in the Syriac language). 
From the tenth century on, Aristotle, Plato, and Neoplatonism 
influenced Jewish philosophers of religion, theologians, po- 
ets, and scientists. The most famous include: Saadiah, Isaac 
Israeli (from Kairouan), *Ibn Gabirol, Bahya ibn *Paquda, 
Judah *Halevi, "Abraham ibn Daud, Maimonides, and his 
younger contemporary Joseph ibn Aknin (not to be mistaken 
for Maimonides' pupil of the same name). As S.D. *Goitein 
has shown, early *Sufism was also supplemented by Jewish 
sources. In its higher and later states, Sufism was inspired by 
Greek philosophy. Sufi influence is to be found in the poems 
of Ibn Gabirol, but the classic work which wholeheartedly ad- 
vocates asceticism is Bahya ibn *Paquda's Hovot ha-Levavot, 
which was written in Arabic. Although there is a great deal 
of eclecticism in this work, it is modeled mainly on Muslim 
sources. The most prominent representative of Sufism in Ju- 
daism is Abraham b. Moses b. *Maimon. In his book Kifdyat 
al- c Abidin Sufi traces are discernible, even more than in the 
work of Bahya. Abraham recommends study and contempla- 
tion in order to perfect the soul engaged in the service of God. 
He used the term "highways" as a means that lead to perfec- 
tion. In its highest degree, perfection culminates in ecstasy 
through the praise of God in love. Pure, humble, and sin- 
cere souls have access to the esoteric, inner mystical sense of 
the Torah. Bahya's Hovot ha-Levavot and Abrahams Kifdyat 
al- c Abidin especially influenced the Jewish communities in 
the East, and played an important role in some later mystic 
movements; sometimes these mystics found common ways 
with Muslim Sufis (cf. also *lsralliyat, *NadIr, *Qurayza, 

[Ha'im Z'ew Hirschberg] 

bibliography: I. Goldziher, Muhammedanische Studien, 2 
vols. (1889-90); N. Wieder, Islamic Influences on the Jewish Worship 
U947); S.D. Goitein, Jews and Arabs (1955); E.I.J. Rosenthal, Juda- 
ism and Islam (1961). polemics: Baron, Social 2 , 3 (1957), 76-85, 87, 
156 f.; 5 (1957), 82-105, 117-21, 136, 326-37; M. Steinschneider, Pole- 
mische und apologetische Literatur...(iSSy); I. Goldziher, in: jzwl, 
1-11 (1862-75); idem, in: rej, 30 (1895), 1-23; 43 (1901), 1-14; 60 (1910), 
32-8; idem, in: M. Brann and E Rosenthal (eds.), Gedenkbuch... David 
Kaufmann (1900), 86-102; M. Schreiner, Beitraege zur Geschichte der 
theologischen Bewegungen im Islam (1899, offprint from zdmg, vols. 
52-53, 1898-99); I. Friedlaender, in: za, 26 (1912), 93-110; A.S. Tritton, 
in: Islamic Studies, 1, no. 2 (1962), 60-4. add. bibliography: po- 
lemics: I.Y. al-Shahabl, Istrdtijiyyat al-Quran al-Karimft muwdjahat 
al-Yahudiyya al-alamiyya (1997); M.I. Khalaf, Qiyam al-Yahudfi al- 
qisas al-Quraniyya. . .(2001). Judaism and islam: M. Maas, Bi- 
bel und Koran (1893); A.I. Katsh, Judaism in Islam (1954); Abraham 

Geiger, Judaism and Islam (1969); R. Roberts, The Social Laws of the 
Qoran (1925, 1971 2 ); H. Schwarzbaum, Mi-Mekor Israel we Ishmdel: 
Yahadut we-Isldm be-aspaklariyyat ha-folklor (1975). 

ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE, L' (Heb. TtttW*?), town in the Vau- 
cluse department, S.E. France. The LTsle community, smallest 
of the four communities of *Comtat Venaissin, was formed 
at the latest at the close of the 13 th century. During the French 
Revolution, the carriere (Jewish quarter) of LTsle was all but 
abandoned. At the time of the Reign of Terror, when there was 
a controversy over the sale of the silver belonging to the syn- 
agogue, no Jew intervened; it can therefore be assumed that 
the community had ceased to exist. Known scholars of LTsle 
were the brothers Isaac and Jacob Gard (mid-i6 th century) and 
Hayyim Judah b. Jacob Segre, who died in LTsle in 1633. 

bibliography: Gross, Gal Jud, 310 f.; J. de Joannis, Le Federa- 
lisme ...a Lisle (1884), 240; I. Loeb, in: rej, 12 (1886), 170, and index 
volume; Z. Szajkowski, Franco-Judaica (1962), index. 

[Bernhard Blumenkranz] 

ISOU (Goldstein), ISIDORE (1925- ), poet. Isou immi- 
grated to France from Romania. He wrote verse and created 
Lettrisme, an ephemeral literary theory which advocated the 
dislocation of the word and a return to the original letter; in 
this some critics have seen an unconscious echo of the Kab- 
balah. In his essay, Lagregation dun Nom et dun Messie (1947), 
Isou pessimistically foretold a second Auschwitz that would 
engulf surviving Jewry. 

ISRAEL (Heb. 7*nfr?). 

(1) The name of honor given to * Jacob after his myste- 
rious struggle with the angel, "Thy name shall be called no 
more Jacob but Israel, for thou hast striven [sarita from the 
root sarah y mttf] with God [El, *7X] and with men and hast 
prevailed" (Gen. 32:28, 29). The explanation of the name is 
not etymological, and was probably not meant to be. More 
likely, the name literally means "El-is-Just/ Straight/ Upright." 
It may be noted that the name occurs in Ugaritic as a proper 
name, and is spelled with shin. Despite the apparent prohibi- 
tion contained in this verse against the subsequent use of the 
name Jacob, in the following scriptural narrative the names 
Jacob and Israel are both used indiscriminately with regard to 
the father and his sons (cf. Gen. 49:2 and 46:5): "and the sons 
of Israel carried Jacob their father." The discrepancy between 
Genesis 32:28-29 and the subsequent use of the name is due 
to different sources. The Talmud specifically states that both 
names may be employed; Israel, however, shall be of greater 
importance (Ber. 13a). 

(2) When the immediate descendants of Jacob, "the chil- 
dren [benei, "sons"] of Israel" (Ex. 1:1), grew into a people, 
they were called "the people of the children of Israel" (idem, 
1:9), and henceforth, until the division of the kingdom under 
*Rehoboam, "Israel" or "the children of Israel" were the only 
designations for what is now known as the Jewish people. If 
the "Israel" mentioned in the inscription of Merne-ptah (king 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


of Egypt, c. 1225 b.c.e.) is to be identified with Israel and not, 
as some have suggested, with Jezreel, it is the earliest known 
use of the name outside the Bible. 

(3 ) With the division of the kingdom during the reign 
of Rehoboam, the Southern Kingdom, consisting of the two 
tribes which remained loyal to the House of David, Judah, and 
Benjamin, took the name Judah; the Northern Kingdom, con- 
sisting of the 10 defecting tribes, was called the Kingdom of 
Israel (cf. 1 and 11 Kings with regard to the respective kings, 
and Amos 2:4, 2:6). 

(4) After the Kingdom of Israel fell in 721 b.c.e., only 
the southern Kingdom of Judah remained, the inhabitants of 
which were referred to as "J u dahites" (Yehudim), from which 
derives the alternative name "Jew." Thus Esther 2:5 reads 
"There was a certain Yehudi in Shushan, whose name was 
Mordecai ... a Benjamite," Yehudi being his people and Ben- 
jamin his tribe. The designation becomes reinforced by the 
fact that under Roman rule the land was designated as the 
province of Judea. Nevertheless, the name Israel continues to 
be used in the Bible in the books written after the end of the 
Northern Kingdom as well as in rabbinic literature, especially 
in the aggadah> to denote the Jewish people as a whole, and 
continues in the post-talmudic period. 

(5) The term "Erez Israel" ("Land of Israel") to denote the 
country of the people of Israel is first used in the Mishnah. 

(6) Although the name Israelites was revived in some 
Western countries in the 19 th century to designate the Jews, it 
is of little historical or theological significance, and is primar- 
ily due to the pejorative association which the word Jew had 
acquired in literature. 

(7) The word Israel is also used to designate a Jew who is 
neither a *kohen nor a *levite. 

(8) When the Jewish state was established, the decision 
was taken to call it the State of Israel. Since 1948, therefore, 
Israel has become a national connotation and Jew a religious 
one. The term Israeli applies to all citizens of the state, irre- 
spective of religion. 

(9) Mention should also be made of the native Indian 
Jews, who call themselves *Bene Israel, and of the Ethiopian 
Jews who call themselves *Beta Israel. 

bibliography: E. Sachsse, in: zaw, 34 (1914), 1-16; idem, 
in: Zeitschrift fiir Semitistik, 4 (1925), 63-9; W. Casperi, ibid., 3 (1924), 
194-211; W.F. Albright, in: jbl, 46 (1927), 156-68; S. Feist, in: mgwj, 
73 (1929), 317-20; M. Naor, in: zaw, 49 (1931), 317-21; R. Marcus, in: 
jbl, 60 (1941) 141-50; G.A. Dannel, Studies in the Name Israel in the 
Old Testament (1946); em, 3 (1958), 938-43. 

[Louis Isaac Rabinowitz] 

ISRAEL. This entry is arranged according to the outline be- 
low. Bibliography for a section is indicated by (f ). 



Boundaries t 

Physiography t 
Climate t 
Geology t 
Flora and Faunaf 


Destruction of the Second Temple until the Arab Conquest 
Arab Period 
Crusader Period 
Mamluk Period 
Ottoman Period t 




The Land of Israel in International Affairs, 1798-1923 



From Independence to the Six-Day War 

The Six-Day War and After 

From the Yom Kippur War to the First Intifada 

The Road to Oslo and After 

Foreign Policy and International Relations 

Arab Refugees 

Arab National Movement 

The Palestinian Arabs from 1948 t 


The Jewish Population 
Human Resources 
Jewish Communities (Edot) 
Intercommunal Problems 
The Non-Jewish Population t 


General Survey 



Planning: Urban and Rural Development 

Regional and Settlement Planning 

Land Ownership 

Land Reclamation t 


Ottoman and Mandatory Periods (1880-1948) 




State of Israel 











ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume w 




Under the Ottoman Empire (1876-1917) 
Under the British Mandate (1917-1948) 
In the State of Israel 


Ottoman and Mandatory Period (1878-1948) 

Israel Defense Forces 

The War Against Terrorism t 


Jewish Labor Organizations 

Ideology of Labor 

Labor Relations 


Developments in Employment and Labor, 1970-1980 

The 1980s and After f 



Baha'i Faith 
Druze t 



In the State of Israel t 





General Survey 
Popular Culture 
Arabic Literature 
Bedouin f 




The name Erez Israel (the Land of Israel) designates the land 
which, according to the Bible was promised as an inheritance 
to the Israelite tribes. In the course of time it came to be re- 
garded first by the Jews and then also by the Christian world 
as the national homeland of the Jews and the Holy Land. The 
concept of ha-Arez ("the land") had apparently become per- 
manently rooted in the consciousness of the Jewish people by 
the end of the Second Temple period, at which time the term 
Erez Israel also became fixed and its usage widespread. Prior 
to this there was no name in existence, or at any rate in gen- 
eral use, to denote the land in its entirety. At different periods 
there were names that designated parts of the country, either 
alone or together with an adjacent territory; in some periods 
it was regarded as part of a wider geographical unit. 

During the Egyptian Middle Empire and the beginning 
of the New Empire (up to the 19 th Dynasty), Erez Israel to- 

gether with part of Syria (and the Lebanon) was called Re- 
tune (Rtnw). In the New Empire period, especially from the 
19 th Dynasty (i4 th -i3 th centuries b.c.e.) onward, Erez Israel 
and (central-southern) Syria were referred to as Hurru (Hu- 
ru) chiefly as an ethnic term, after the Horites who inhabited 
the country, especially Syria. The term pa-Hurru ("[Land of] 
the Hori[tes]") is still found as late as 238 b.c.e. (Ptolemaic 
period) in the Greek text of the Canopus inscription as the 
synonym for "Syria." An additional name employed from the 
late 14 th to the 12 th century b.c.e. is P3-Kn n. For two impor- 
tant designations of pre-Israelite Erez Israel, Erez ha-Emori 
(Land of the Amorites) and Erez Kena an, see *Amorites, Ca- 
naan, and * Phoenicia. 

With the Israelite conquest began an entirely new period 
in the history of Erez Israel, as is expressed in its names. An 
early term with a widespread usage is Erezha-Ivrim ("land of 
the Hebrews" - Gen. 40:15). Even later writers, especially Jo- 
sephus and Pausanias (second century c.e.) sometimes em- 
ploy this term. After the Israelite conquest, the name Canaan 
became merely an historical concept but many generations 
passed before the term Erez Israel became standard usage. The 
expressions "erez bene Israel" ("land of the children of Israel") 
in Joshua 11:22 and Erez Israel in 1 Samuel 13:19 refer only to 
the area inhabited by the Israelites and not to the country as a 
single geographical entity within its natural boundaries. 

Saul, David, and Solomon reigned over the kingdom of 
Israel, but it is doubtful whether their dominions had an offi- 
cial designation. The biblical references to Erez Israel in the 
days of David (1 Chron. 22:2; 11 Chron. 2:16) apparently reflect 
the later period of their composition. After the first split of 
the united monarchy early in David's reign, "Judah and Israel" 
sometimes appear side by side to indicate the territory of all 
the Israelite tribes, but this expression is also considered an 
anticipation (Josh. 11:21; 11 Sam. 3:10; 5:5; 1 Kings 4:20; 5:5). 
With the final division of the kingdom the name Israel was 
restricted to the area of the kingdom of Ephraim while the 
kingdom of the Davidic dynasty was known as the land of 
Judah. The land of Israel mentioned in 11 Kings 5:2 refers to 
the kingdom of all the tribes. In Ezekiel, Gilead and Judah in 
one reference are explicitly excluded from the territory of Erez 
Israel; in another Jerusalem, though in Judah, is included in 
Erez Israel (27:17; 40:2; 47:18). 

The shortened form ha-Arez is already found in Leviticus 
19:23; Joshua 11:23; 12:r > Ezekiel 45:1; Ruth 1:1; but the Mishnah, 
which also uses it, is the first to employ the term Erez Israel 
to denote the "land of the children of Israel." After the As- 
syrian Exile, when the remnants of the people in the country 
centered in Judah, the name Jew (Yehudi) became a synonym 
for Israelite and Hebrew (Jer. 34:9). In the post-Exilic period, 
Judah (Yehud in Aramaic) was the official name of the auton- 
omous area of Jewish settlement and later of the Hasmonean 
and Herodian kingdoms, even though these extended over a 
much larger area than that of Judah in the First Temple pe- 
riod. The Persian authorities in their Aramaic documents 
used the name Yehud and it also appears on coins struck by 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


the province; the Greeks (Iouda, Ioudaia) and the Romans 
(Judaea) continued it. After the Bar Kokhba War (132-135), 
the Romans changed its name to Palaestina so as to empha- 
size that the rebellious Jewish nation had lost its right in its 
homeland. Coins from the Hasmonean period do not mention 
Israel but only *Hever ha-Yehudim ("Council of the Jews"), 
which perhaps designates the governing body of the nation 
and not the territory. On the other hand, coins issued during 
the Jewish and Bar Kokhba Wars bore the inscription Israel 
(e.g., "Shekel Yisrael," "Le-Her[ut] YisraeF) but whether this 
referred to the people or the country is unknown. The name 
Judah in its broader meaning disappeared almost entirely from 
Hebrew literature and the Aramaic language and in the end 
it was replaced by the terms Erez Israel and the Aramaic Ar a 
de- Yisrael and the name Erez Israel entered all the languages 
spoken by Jews throughout the Diaspora. 

The name "* Palestine" was originally an adjective de- 
rived from Philistia (Peleshet). It is first mentioned by Herodo- 
tus 1.105 i n th e form Zupia r\ ITaXaiaTivn, i.e., "the Philistine 
Syria"; it was subsequently shortened, the adjective "Palais - 
tinei" becoming a proper noun. The emperor Hadrian, who 
applied it to the whole country in order to eradicate the name 
Judea, revived it and from Byzantine times became the ac- 
cepted name of Erez Israel in non- Jewish languages. (For fuller 
details, see ^Palestine.) On May 14, 1948, the Jewish-held part 
of Western Palestine was given the name the "State of Israel" in 
the declaration of independence promulgated by the Peoples 
Council. Transjordan, together with Arab -inhabited parts of 
Western Palestine, the so-called "West Bank," later became 
the Hashemite Kingdom of * Jordan, and a strip on the south- 
western coast, occupied by Egypt, became known as the *Gaza 
Strip. The *Six-Day War brought the whole area, including 
the *Golan Heights, which were captured from Syria, under 
Israeli control, though only the formerly Jordanian-occupied 
part of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights were formally an- 
nexed by Israel. Internationally, all these areas were commonly 
referred to as the "occupied territories." On part of them the 
Palestinians established the ^Palestinian Authority, which 
embraced most of the Gaza Strip and certain areas, including 
the Arab towns, of the West Bank. The common Israeli terms 
for these areas are "Judea and Samaria" (Yehudah ve-Shom- 
ron) for the West Bank and Hevel Aza (the Gaza District) for 

the Gaza Strip. 

[Abraham J. Brawer] 


according to bible and talmud. Eretz Israel is an ab- 
stract geographical name. Its boundaries were never agreed 
upon and up today, there are lots of definitions concerning 
the dispersion of the area. Jewish sources distinguish between 
three borders of Erez Israel: 

(1) "the boundary of the Patriarchs," based on Genesis 
15:18-21: "from the river of Egypt (the Nile) unto the great river, 
the river Euphrates. . ."; (2) "the boundary of those coming out 
of Egypt," based on Deuteronomy 1:7-8; 11:24; Joshua 1:4; 13:2-5, 
which was interpreted as extending from the coastal Galilee 

(not including Acre-Akko) to the Brook of Egypt (Wadi el-Ar- 
ish; Tosef., Ter. 2:12; Tosef., Hal. 2:11; Git. 8a, et al.); and (3) "the 
boundary of those returning from Babylonia," within which 
the halakhic rules for Erez Israel applied, i.e., this is the actual 
area of Jewish settlement in talmudic times (Tosef., Shev. 4:11; 
Sif. Deut. 51; tj, Shev. 6:1, 36c). According to this definition, the 
border extended from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the 
western Galilee (south of Acre) to the Golan, continued to the 
Hauran in the east, followed the desert road down to Amman 
and Petra, returned to the coast along the Roman limes, exclud- 
ing the southern coastal cities up to, and excluding, Ashkelon. 
The biblical expression "from Dan even to Beer-Sheba" is 
used in 11 Samuel 24:2 and 1 Kings 5:5 to designate Erez Israel 
in its limited sense corresponding to the area "from the val- 
ley of Arnon unto mount Hermon" in the lands beyond the 
Jordan (Josh. 12:1). The term Holy Land (Terra Sancta) which 
is used in Christian sources also never defines the exact lim- 
its of this area. 

natural features in historical sources. The ancient 
texts do not mention all of the country's natural geographi- 
cal features. Those found include the principal rivers of the 
Coastal Plain, Litas (Egyptian Ntn, cf. Theophanes, Chronogra- 
phy, 6235), Belus (Jos., Wars, 2:189), Kishon (Judg. 5:21; 1 Kings 
18:40), Chorseus (Ptolemy, Geography, 5:14, 3), Shihor-Libnath 

Mt. Hor 






Zedad Ziphron 


















Shechem *j 

• § 

Jaffa • * i]| 


Gaza. Hebron. | 


Gerar# Ararl 

^— — _ 

Zoar / 

v Tamar*^ 

^Azmon ^^ 




Map 1. The borders of the Egyptian province of Canaan (early 13 th century 
b.c.e.). After Y. Aharoni, Cartas Atlas of the Bible, Jerusalem 1964. 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 




" ^Beth-Anath/ 1 ^ 
> # \ / 












Hepher # 



I SRamah 3/ 

r # - 

/ <^-i 


„ „ Taan^ch ^ ''^Z 
v — ^-J \ \ •Beth-Shean 



pMegiddo *J$ 
\ I Taanacl 


/ "—- 












Ashkelon A* 

I v / 

Gaza s 




E P 



H R A I M 



«| Jebus 




• Succoth /\^- 


) Rabbath- 
" / Ammon 

T •/ * 





















/ "4f 



^ Deer- • • 

VSheba Hormah • 


■• — s 


Kir of Moab 

I I Area of Israelite Control 


Map 2. The limits of Israelite control in the time of the Judges (12 th century 
b.c.e.). After Y. Aharoni, Cartas Atlas of the Bible. 

(Josh. 19:26), and Yarkon (Josh. 19:46). In the central moun- 
tain range, termed the "hill country of Naphtali" (Josh. 20:7), 
Mts. Tabor and Moreh are prominent landmarks (Josh. 19:22; 
Judg. 7:1). South of the Jezreel Valley (Judg. 6:33), also known 
as the "Great Plain" (1 Mace. 12:49), are Mt. Carmel, the rosh 
kadosh ("sacred promontory," as it is already called in inscrip- 
tions of Thutmosis in, c. 1469 b.c.e.) in the west, and Mt. Gil- 
boa in the east (1 Sam. 28:4). These mountains are outcrops 
of Mt. Ephraim (Josh. 17:15) whose most outstanding peaks 
are Mts. Gerizim and Ebal (Deut. 11:29). Baal-Hazor (11 Sam. 
13:23) marks the beginning of the Judean mountains, where 
the famous Mount of Olives stands (Zech. 14:4). The Sharon 
and the Shephelah extend to the west of the central mountain 
range which ends in the Negev (Isa. 65:10; Josh. 9:1; Deut. 1:7). 
The four main rivers of Erez Israel east of the Jordan are the 
Hieromices (Yarmuk; Pliny, Natural History, 5:16, 74), Yabbok 
(Josh. 212:2), Arnon (Deut. 2:24), and the Zered (Num. 21:12), 
of which the latter two empty into the Dead Sea. The Jordan it- 

self flows through Lake Semechonitis (Lake Huleh, Jos., Wars, 
4:3) and Lake Gennesareth or Chinnereth (Num. 34:11 - mod- 
ern Lake Kinneret) and completes its course in the Salt Sea 
(Num. 34:3, now known as the Dead Sea) which is also called 
Lake Asphaltitis (Pliny, Natural History, 5:12, 72; Jos., Wars, 
4:476). The term Aravah is applied to the whole of the Jordan 
Valley and the area south of the Dead Sea (Deut. 1:7; 34:1-3). 
The latter area is also called the Valley of Salt (11 Sam. 8:13). 
To the east beyond the Jordan are the mountains of Bashan 
(Ps. 68:16), Gilead (Gen. 31:25), Seir (Gen. 14:6), and the most 
prominent - Mt. Nebo (or Pisgah, Deut. 32:48-50; 34:1) from 
which Moses beheld the Promised Land. 

historical boundaries and subdivisions. The earli- 
est complete description of the boundaries of Erez Israel is 
contained in Numbers 34. Scholars regard this description as 


$! Beth- 
q* Anath 





Megiddo • 


♦ Jabesh-Gilead 






£q Gezer 

# Beth-El 

^Ekron" Gibeon * .GibeahofSaul 


Ashkelon ** Gath 

W N 

Gaza v 





Hebron • s. Q 

S) En-Gedi« 







*At Ai^ 

Kir of Moab 



The Kingdom of Saul 


Map 3. The limits of Saul's kingdom (end of 11 th century b.c.e.). After Y. 
Aharoni, Cartas Atlas of the Bible. 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


• • 


Carchemish Haran 

k Aleppo 

1 ^ X** V--""'^ 

K _ ' "* Tiphsah s - 

■ \ 

^ / 



c* / 




\ • Hamath 


Arvad « 

[ \ 




' • Tadmor ' 



/ / 

■< Gebal • 

/ y 
/ • Lebo-Hamath s 



• Damascus^"' 

a? / 

£-, Tyre • / 

I " 1 




• Rabbath-Ammon 



• Gaza 

1 • Karkor 






o % 


+ \ 


it \ / 

y* \ / 

* • 

%_ _ / 

Map 4. TTie limits of the kingdom of David and Solomon (10 th century 
b.c.e.). After Y Aharoni, Cartas Atlas of the Bible. 

a definition of the limits of the Egyptian province of Canaan 
as established in the peace treaty between Ramses 11 and the 
Hittites (c. 1270 b.c.e.)- The province of Canaan included the 
entire area west of the Jordan, Phoenicia up to Mt. Hor north 
of Byblos, and the Bashan, Hauran, and Hermon areas. No 
subdivisions of this area are known - the system of Canaanite 
city-states did not lend itself to any clear administrative orga- 
nization. The next detailed account of the borders appears in 
Joshua 13-19. Scholars dispute the date of this source and of 
the various fragments of lists from which it was compiled. It 
is nevertheless evident from the list of unconquered Canaan- 
ite cities in Judges 1:21-35 that the ideal and actual limits of 
Israelite power did not coincide. The theoretical boundaries 
extended from Sidon in the north and Lebo- Hamath in the 
northeast to the Brook of Egypt and the Negev in the south 
and included east of the Jordan the Bashan and Hauran, and 
Gilead and Moab down to the Arnon. In actual fact, however, 
the area occupied by the Israelite tribes before the time of 
David was limited to the mountains of Galilee and Ephraim, 
Judah to the southern end of the Dead Sea, and most of the 
area between the Yarmuk and the Arnon, excluding Ammon. 
In the Coastal Plain Israelite control was tenuous and Ca- 
naanite enclaves in the Jezreel Valley and around Jerusalem 
virtually cut Israelite territory into three separate parts. South 
of Jaffa the entire Coastal Plain remained the domain of the 

Philistines who threatened to encroach on the territory held 
by the Israelites. 

The lands of the tribes were divided as follows: the Bil- 
hah tribes, Dan and Naphtali, held eastern Galilee (Dan being 
a latecomer to the area after an unsuccessful attempt to take 
possession of part of the Shephelah west of Jerusalem); three 
tribes of the Leah-Zilpah group, Issachar, Asher, and Zebu- 
lun, settled western and southern Galilee; the central group 
of tribes, the House of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) to- 
gether with the allied Benjamite tribe - all three of the Ra- 
chel group - occupied the hill country from Jerusalem to 
the Jezreel Valley, with Manasseh overspilling into Issachar 
and east of the Jordan (Josh. 17:11; Judg. 1:27; Num. 32:33); the 







Sidon • 


t" Co/ -- Dan/ 

Tyre«,g/ ./ 





Acre •$! 

Hazor ^ N 







v ^ 

' Ashtaroth V 


**• Ramoth-Gilead 




® b 

\ Penuel 





\ Beth-El 
Gilbethon fiTGeze^ — \ ^ 

1 <S) ^ ^* 

Gath^/ Jerus ^ lem ^ 

• /Hebron* Q __ «Dibon 
Gaza; ^ ^ \ 

' t T»Arad q MOAB 


'® Rabbath-Ammon 




® Kir of Moab 

Tamar •/ 


\ Kadesh B arnea y *~ 












® Capital 

Map 5. The divided kingdom of Israel and Judah in the time of Jeroboam 
and Rehoboam (end of 10 th century b.c.e.). After Y. Aharoni, Cartas At- 
las of the Bible. 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



southern group included the Leah tribes of Judah, centered 
upon Hebron, and the weak tribe of Simeon on the borders 
of the Negev; Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh occupied 
the lands east of the Jordan with Reuben subject to Gad as 
was Simeon to Judah. 

From the time of King David onward, the ideal borders 
of Erez Israel came much closer to realization. According to 
the Bible, David closed the gaps dividing the tribes by con- 
quering Jerusalem, the Jezreel Valley, and the coastal area be- 
tween Jaffa and Acre. Jerusalem, originally within Benjamin, 
was made a royal domain outside the tribal system. David, 
moreover, subdued all the lands up to Lebo-Hamath, annexed 
Ammon, Moab, and Edom (thereby reaching the Arabah and 
the Red Sea) and dominated the kings of Hamath and the Phi- 
listines by means of vassal treaties. Davids kingdom thus ex- 
tended from the Brook of Egypt to Tiphsah on the Euphrates, 
although not all his entire domain was regarded as Erez Israel 
proper. He established a network of levitical cities to serve as 
administrative centers uniting the kingdom. Solomon reor- 
ganized the kingdom into 12 districts (excluding Judah), un- 
equal in size, but equal in economic importance. Each district 
was to supply his court with its needs during one month of 
the year. Some of these districts were identical with the old 
tribal areas while others were new units. According to 1 Kings 
4:7-19, the districts included: 

(1) Mount Ephraim; 

(2) Makaz (from Beth-Shemesh to the coast); 

(3) Hepher (the Sharon coast); 

(4) Dor and its region; 

(5) Jezreel Valley; 

(6) northern Gilead; 

(7) southern Gilead (Mahanaim); 

(8) Naphtali; 

(9) Asher; 

(10) Issachar; 

(11) Benjamin; 

(12) Gad. 

Judah's exclusion from this tax-paying area was one of 
the causes of the subsequent split of the monarchy. As to the 
external boundaries of the kingdom, Solomon gained Gezer, 
but gave Cabul to Hiram of Tyre as well as *Aram- Damascus, 
which deprived him of access to the Euphrates. 

With the division of the monarchy under Rehoboam, 
the northern kingdom of Israel consisted of Ephraim, Gali- 
lee, Gilead, and the rest of Israelite territory east of the Jor- 
dan. The southern kingdom of Judah retained Benjamin. The 
subject areas of Ammon, Moab, and Edom soon liberated 
themselves from the overlordship of weakened Israel and 
Judah. Apart from some futile attempts by Abijah of Judah to 
advance into Israel (c. 911 b.c.e.) and of Baasha of Israel to 
push the frontier closer to Jerusalem, the boundaries of the 
two kingdoms remained fairly stable. Their external borders, 
however, changed according to the vicissitudes of their power. 
On the northern front the house of Omri, and of Ahab in par- 
ticular, waged several wars with Aram-Damascus and in the 












v \ 
















Ashkelon • 






Ramoth- Gilead / 


( ® Rabbath-Ammon 

' N % AMMON 











Map 6. The borders of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the time of Je- 
roboam II and Uzziah (mid-eighth century b.c.e.). After Y. Aharoni, Car- 
tas Atlas of the Bible. 

end lost Ramoth-Gilead (c. 850 b.c.e.). With the weakening 
of Aram under Assyrian pressure, *Jehoash and Jeroboam 11 
(c. 790-770) advanced to Damascus and Lebo-Hamath, al- 
most restoring the boundaries of David. Moab was definitely 
lost to Mesha in approximately 855 b.c.e. In Judah, Asa or Je- 
hoshaphat (c. 860 b.c.e.) advanced to Elath, which, together 
with Edom, was later lost but reconquered in the days of Uz- 
ziah (c. 750 b.c.e.) who also extended the frontier of the Judah - 
ite monarchy in the direction of Philistia (11 Chron. 26:6). As 
to the internal administration of the two kingdoms, the capital 
of Israel was first at Shechem, then - perhaps already under 
Jeroboam in the tenth century b.c.e. - at Tirzah, and from 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


(§) Samaria 

• Shechem 



Beth-El • 

• Mizpah 


Q Jerusalem 












/ Mareshah ' >. 

/ ® X E n . 

/ Hebron N vGedi 



D U 


® Capital 


Map 7 The borders of the Persian province ofYehud in the days of the Return 
(mid-fifth century b.c.e.). After M. Avi-Yonah Cartas Atlas of the Period 
of the Second Temple, the Mishnah and the Talmud. 



& f • Antiochia 

£? / Seleucia\ 

4 v i • \ 





/ Hippus 


Gamala \ 









Jaffa • 

Jabneh • 

Scythopolis • 

^^ . 

G w Samaria 












• Gaza 

i V& Beth-Zur ^ 

\ Rabbath- 
Gedor \Ammon 
> • 


IDUMEA Masada 
• Beer-Sheba 


Medeba i 

• / 


* ! 


Zoar/ +& 


Map 8. The borders of the kingdom of Alexander Yannai (103-/6 b.c.e.). 
After M. Avi-Yonah Cartas Atlas of the Period of the Second Temple, the 
Mishnah and the Talmud. 

the time of Omri (882-871 b.c.e.) at Samaria. Ostraca found 
at Samaria provide information on the division of the king- 
dom into districts in the eighth century b.c.e. The division of 
the Judahite monarchy into 12 districts is preserved in Joshua 
15:21-62; 18:25-28. From the eighth century onward, the As- 
syrians began reducing the boundaries of Israel. In 732 b.c.e. 










\ # Geba 



Sepphoris / 


/ • \^ — / 

\ Beth-Shean 



\ AMUiW 


Samaria / f~~ 1 

t Antipatris 






V^— — ^V 









Map 9. 77ie borders of the kingdom of Herod (37-4 b.c.e.). After M. Avi- 
Yonah Cartas Atlas of the Period of the Second Temple, the Mishnah 
and the Talmud. 

Tiglath-Pileser 11 1 captured Galilee and Gilead, leaving only 
Samaria to Israel. In the conquered territory he established the 
Assyrian provinces of Megiddo, Dor, Karnaim, Hauran, and 
Gilead. Sargon 11 (722-705 b.c.e.) conquered the rest of the 
Northern Kingdom (721 b.c.e.) and Philistia and organized 
them into two additional provinces: Samaria and Ashdod. As- 
syria's decline in the seventh century enabled Josiah of Judah 
(639-609 b.c.e.) once again to extend the rule of the Davidic 
dynasty over most of Samaria and Galilee, but the Babylo- 
nian conquest in 587 b.c.e. brought about the final downfall 
of Judah. The Babylonians diminished its borders and estab- 
lished an additional province in Edom south of Judah. 

After the establishment of Persian rule (539 b.c.e.) all of 
Erez Israel was included in its fifth satrapy called c Abarnaharah 
("beyond the river," i.e., the Euphrates). Its satrap residing at 
Damascus had under his control the various provinces as in- 
herited from the Assyrians and Babylonians. The province 
of Judah (officially called Yehud) extended from Beth-El in 
the north to Beth-Zur in the south and from Emmaus and 
Keilah in the west to the Jordan in the east. The province 
was subdivided into six districts (called pelekh in Hebrew), 
each with a capital and subcapital. These included Jerusalem 
with Netophah as its subcapital in the center of Judah; Beth- 
Cherem (Ein Kerem) in the west Zanoah as its subcapital, 
Keilah with Adullam in the southwest; Beth-Zur with Tekoa 
in the south; Jericho with Hassenaah in the east; Mizpah (Tell 
en-Nasbeh) with Gibeon in the north. The Persians continued 
the Babylonian provinces but added the province of Ammon 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



which was administered by the Jewish Tobiad family (see *To- 
bias). The coastal area was divided between the Phoenician 
cities Tyre and Sidon. 

The Hellenistic conquest (332 b.c.e.) did not alter the 
country's internal subdivision for the time being. The Ptol- 
emies, kings of Egypt, who ruled the whole of Erez Israel 
from 301 to 198 b.c.e., granted autonomy to the coastal cit- 
ies and gave Greek names to various cities (e.g., Acre became 
Ptolemais, Rabbath-Ammon became Philadelphia, etc.). The 
Tobiads were restricted to the Western part of their district. 
All of Erez Israel was administered from Alexandria. When 
the Seleucid monarchy under Antiochus in conquered Erez 
Israel, larger units, eparchies, were established, each of which 
included several smaller districts or hyparchies. Thus Samaria 
now ruled over Judea and Galilee and Perea of the Tobiads. 
Idumea remained a separate district, the coastal cities were 
joined into one district, and Paralia and all the lands east of 
the Jordan were combined into Galaaditis, except for Perea. 
The Seleucids, who were energetic Hellenizers, particularly 
Antiochus iv (175-164 b.c.e.), founded many Greek poleis, 
such as Scythopolis (Beth-Shean), Pella, Gerasa, Gadara, and 
Hippus. Samaria had been a Macedonian colony since the 
time of Alexander. 

The main events in the period between the outbreak 
of the Hasmonean revolt (167 b.c.e.) and the death of Al- 
exander Yannai (j6 b.c.e.) were the expansion of the Jew- 
ish state, paralleled by the disintegration of Seleucid rule. In 
147 b.c.e. Jonathan, the first ruler of the Hasmonean dynasty, 
received Ekron and the three districts of Lydda, Arimathea, 
and Aphaerema. Some time before 144 b.c.e. he was also 
ceded Perea. His brother Simeon (142-135 b. c.e.) annexed 
Jaffa and Gezer, thus open the sea for his state. Simeons son 
John Hyrcanus 1 (135-104 b.c.e.) extended his sway over Idu- 
mea, Samaria, Scythopolis, and the inner Carmel, as well as 
Heshbon and Medeba east of the Jordan. Judah Aristobulus 1, 
the son of Hyrcanus, who barely reigned one year, added Gali- 
lee. The last of the conquering Hasmoneans, Alexander Yannai 
(103-76 b.c.e.), captured the whole coast from Rhinocorura 
(El-Arish) on the Brook of Egypt to the Carmel promontory, 
all of Western Gilead from Paneas (Banias) to Gerasa, and all 
the lands around the Dead Sea. Only Acre-Ptolemais, Phila- 
delphia, and Ascalon remained outside his rule, the last with 
Yannai's consent. In their internal organization of the state, the 
Hasmoneans preserved the basic subdivision - toparchy - of 
which there were 24, corresponding to the 24 maamadot (lit- 
erally, "place of standing") of the Temple service. They also 
followed Ptolemaic practice by establishing a larger adminis- 
trative unit called meris y and divided the country into five of 
them: Galilee, Samaria, Judea, Idumea, and Perea. 

Roman intervention under Pompey put an end to the ex- 
pansion of the Hasmonean State. Under Pompey s settlement 
of 63 b.c.e. the Jewish State was reduced to Judea, including 
Idumea and Perea, and to Galilee. The Greek cities conquered 
by the Hasmoneans were "freed." Those cities along the coast 
were placed under the supervision of the Roman governor of 

Syria and those east of the Jordan were united into a league of 
ten cities, known as the Decapolis. The Samaritans regained 
their independence, the Itureans obtained the Golan and Pa- 
neas, and the Nabateans, the Negev and the lands around the 
Dead Sea. Pompey s harsh arrangements were somewhat al- 
leviated by Julius Caesar, who in 47 b.c.e. restored Jaffa and 
the Plain of Jezreel to Judea. When Herod replaced the Has- 
monean dynasty in 40 b.c.e., he was given, in addition to 
the lands held by Mattathias Antigonus, the last Hasmonean 
ruler, the region of Marisa and the lands of the Samaritans. 
In 30 b.c.e. Augustus granted him the coastal area from Gaza 
to Caesarea (originally called Straton's Tower) as well as Sa- 
maria (renamed Sebaste), Gadara, and Hippus in the interior. 
In 23 b.c.e. Herod received Batanea (Bashan), Trachonitis, 
and the Hauran, and in 20 b.c.e. Augustus finally added Pa- 
neas and the Gaulan. Herod's kingdom was administered on 
a dual basis: the Greek cities were more or less autonomous, 
while the remainder, the "King's country," was ruled directly 
by royal officials. Herod retained the division into merides 
and toparchies. Two lists of his toparchies have been pre- 
served: one by Pliny (Natural History, 5:15, 70) who enumer- 
ates them as follows: 

(1) Jericho; 

(2) Emmaus; 

(3) Lydda; 

(4) Joppa (Jaffa); 

(5) Acrabitene; 

(6) Gophna; 

(7) Thamna; 

(8) Betholeptephene (Beit Nattif); 

(9) Orine (Jerusalem); 

(10) Herodium. 

To this list Josephus adds Idumea, En-Gedi, and Jamnia 
(Wars, 3: 54-55). After Herod's death (4 b.c.e.) his kingdom 
was divided among his three sons. Archelaus received Judea, 
Idumea, Samaria, and Caesarea; Herod Antipas received Gali- 
lee and Perea; Philip received Caesarea Philippi and the lands 
east of the Jordan. The Greek cities were placed under the gov- 
ernor of Syria. When Archelaus was deposed in 6 c.e., his 
lands were administered by a Roman procurator. This was the 
situation in Jesus' time. After the death of Philip, his nephew 
Agrippa 1 received his inheritance, to which were added the 
lands of Antipas in 39 c.e., and in 41 c.e. also those of Arche- 
laus. When Agrippa 1 died in 44 c.e., part of his kingdom was 
reserved for his son Agrippa 11 (Philip's share and eastern Gal- 
ilee) but most of it was administered by Roman procurators 
up to the Jewish War (66-73). 

After the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, the Provin- 
cia Judaea was under the rule of Roman governors. Urbaniza- 
tion progressed rapidly in the following centuries. Vespasian 
turned the lands of the Samaritans into the city of Neapolis; 
Hadrian set up Aelia Capitolina on the ruins of Jerusalem; 
Septimius Severus turned Lydda into Diospolis and Bet Gu- 
vrin into Eleutheropolis until finally only Upper Galilee, the 
Gaulan and, and the Jordan Valley remained non-urban ar- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


eas. Under Diocletian (284) the southern part of the Roman 
province of Arabia was attached to the province of Palaestina, 
which was partitioned in Byzantine times. In 358 the Negev 
and southern Transjordan were detached and formed into 
Palaestina Salutaris. In approximately 400 the remainder was 
subdivided into Palaestina Prima (with its capital at Caesarea) 
and Palaestina Secunda (with its capital at Scythopolis) and 
the third province, Palaestina Salutaris, was now called Pa- 
laestina Tertia; its governor resided in Petra. 

This threefold division continued under the Arabs who 
conquered the area in the 7 th century: Palaestina Prima be- 
came Jund Filastin, Palaestina Secunda, Jund al-Urdunn, and 
Palaestina Tertia was abandoned to the Bedouins. The prov- 
ince of Filastin was administered from the new city of Ram- 
leh and Urdunn from Tiberias. The Crusaders who came in 
1099 first established themselves on the coast and to the west 
of the Jordan; at the zenith of their power their kingdom (the 
Kingdom of Jerusalem) included all of Erez Israel west of the 
Jordan to Deir el-Balah, the Jordan Valley, and the Seir Moun- 
tains down to Elath. Their feudal administration was centered 
on a royal domain around Jerusalem with royal vassals in the 
rest of the country: the principality of Galilee, the seigniories 
of Jaffa and Ashkelon, Caesarea, St. Jean d'Acre (Acre), Naples 
(Nablus), St. Abraham (Hebron), Toron (northern Galilee), 
and Outre Jourdain. After the debacle at the hands of Sala- 
din in 1187, Richard the Lion-Hearted in 1192 reconstituted 
the Crusader kingdom along the coast from Jaffa to Tyre and 
included western Galilee. In 1228 Frederick 11 added a cor- 
ridor to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and Richard of Cornwall 
(1240/41) added the area southward to Ashkelon and Beit Gu- 
vrin and eastward to the Jordan near Jericho and in Galilee. 
From 1250 the kingdom gradually shrank under Mamluk at- 
tacks which finally led to the capture of Acre, the Crusader 
capital, in 1291. The Mamluks (1250-1516) divided Erez Israel 
into a number of "mamlakas": Ghazza (coast); Safed (Galilee); 
Dimashq (Damascus; Samaria, Judea, northern Transjordan); 
and el-Kerak (southern Transjordan). Under the Turks, who 
took over the country in 1517, a Wali (governor) at Acre ruled 
from the Carmel to Galilee, while his colleagues at Esh-Sham 
(Damascus) held the rest of Erez Israel, which was subdivided 
into the sanjaks of Nablus (including Al-Salt), Al-Quds (Jeru- 
salem), Gaza, Hauran, and Kerak. From 1874 Jerusalem with 
southern Judea was administered directly from Constanti- 
nople as a separate sanjak or mutessarifliq. The Turks reestab- 
lished their rule over the Negev, but in 1906 the British, who 
ruled Egypt from 1882, forced them to cede the Sinai Penin- 
sula to Egypt. The British, who took over Palestine in 1917, 
were the first to establish it as a modern political entity with 
clear boundaries. The Zionist Organization requested a more 
extensive area, including the lower Litani River and Mt. Her- 
mon in the north, a line just west of the Hejaz Railway in the 
east, and a line running from Aqaba to El Arish in the south- 
west. The British, in agreement with the French, established 
a boundary which ran from Ras el Naqura between Acre and 
Tyre on the Mediterranean shore to Metullah and then to El 

Hama, east of the Sea of Galilee. In the east the Jordan River, 
the Dead Sea, and the Arava Valley marked the boundary line, 
while in the south the British adopted the 1906 line between 
Egypt and the Ottoman Empire. Thus the Mandatory area of 
Palestine (from which Transjordan was detached in 1922) ex- 
tended from Dan (Metullah) to Umm Rashrash (today Eilat), 
and from the Mediterranean coast at Ras en- Naqura to the 
sources of the Jordan River. This area is seen today by most 
people dealing with the area as Palestine or Erez Israel. Dur- 
ing the 30 years of the British Mandate, the subdivision of the 
country varied from six districts to two (with a separate Jeru- 
salem division). In 1946, at the end of the Mandate, there were 
six: Galilee, Haifa, Samaria, Jerusalem, Gaza, and "Lydda," so 
called because, although it contained the largest city in Erez 
Israel - Tel Aviv - the Mandatory officials refused to honor it 
with the name of a district. 

From 1949 to 1967 the State of Israel was bounded by 
the lines of the Armistice Agreements (the "Green Line"). 
The Six- Day War established ceasefire lines on the Suez Ca- 
nal, along the Jordan River, and east of the Golan. These lines 
were partially changed after the *Yom Kippur War of 1973. As 
stipulated by the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt (1979), 
both countries accepted the Mandatory line (Rafah - Taba) as 
the international boundary between them. The peace treaty 
between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (1994) 
also adopted the Mandatory line, with some modifications, 
as the international boundary. (See also Israel, State of: His- 
torical Survey below.) 

ethnography. The earliest inhabitants of Erez Israel of 
whom there is historical documentation are the West Semitic 
tribes known as Amurru (Amorites). In the Bible they are sub- 
divided into a large number of groups, known collectively as 
Canaanites, a name properly belonging to the Phoenicians. In 
the Bronze Age, peoples of Indo-Aryan origin (Hittites and 
Mitanni) became the rulers of various cities in Erez Israel. 
The Israelite conquest and the Philistine entrenchment on the 
southern coast (c. 1200 b.c.e.) produced a change in the popu- 
lation balance. The Canaanites were gradually absorbed by the 
Semitic Israelites, while the Philistines retained their separate 
character. The Assyrian deportations created a new mixed ele- 
ment, the Samaritans, in Mt. Ephraim. Under Babylonian rule, 
the Edomites settled in southern Judea, the Nabateans occu- 
pied the Negev and southern Transjordan, and a remnant of 
Jews clung to Jerusalem. In Persian times Jews returned from 
captivity in Babylonia and the Phoenicians and some Greek 
settlers inhabited the coast. Hellenistic rule brought an influx 
of Greeks as officials, soldiers, merchants, and estate owners 
and the coastal areas and part of the inland cities became Hel- 
lenized. At that time there was an overspill of Jews northward 
into Samaria and eastward into Perea. The Hasmoneans made 
the Idumeans (Edomites) and the Galileans assimilate with 
the Jews. During Herod's rule Jewish settlements in northern 
Transjordan expanded, while a sprinkling of Romans and 
Greeks settled in Judea and Galilee. After the Bar Kokhba War, 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



the Jews were expelled from Judea and replaced by Syrian and 
Arab colonists; Galilee, however, remained Jewish up to the 
end of Byzantine times. 

Arabs gradually began to infiltrate into Erez Israel in the 
late Byzantine period, even before the Arab conquest. After 
their conquest the Christians in the country slowly became 
Islamized. The Crusader period brought an incursion of West 
Europeans, mainly French, Normans, and Italians, but they 
were unable to root themselves in the country and withdrew 
after the Crusader collapse. From the ninth century onward, 
Seljuk, Kurdish, and Turkish mercenaries settled in the coun- 
try, remaining its rulers until the World War i. The German 
Templars resumed European colonization on a small scale in 
the late 19 th century, and many other Europeans and Ameri- 
cans settled in the cities in that period for religious or com- 
mercial reasons. The Jews, who had clung to the "Four Holy 
Cities" (Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias, and Hebron) and were re- 
inforced from time to time by newcomers from Europe and 
the Ottoman Empire, began to expand their settlement from 
1878 onward, assisted first by the Rothschilds and later by the 
Zionist Organization. From a population of 55,000 in 1918 they 
increased to 5.5 million in 2003, mostly by immigration from 
Eastern and Central Europe, Asia, and North Africa. 

For natural boundaries, see Israel, Land of: Physiog- 

bibliography: Abel, Geog; Aharoni, Land; idem, Carta 
Atlas of the Bible (2004 4 ); Y. Aharoni and M. Avi-Yonah, Macmil- 
lan Bible Atlas (1992 3 ); Avi-Yonah, Land; Avi-Yonah, Geog; G. Le 
Strange, Palestine under the Moslems (1890); Neubauer, Geog; Press, 
Erez; G.A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1896 4 ); P. 
Thomsen, Loca Sancta (1907). 

[Michael Avi-Yonah / Gideon Biger (2 nd ed.)] 


introduction. (Official transliteration of place-names can 
be found in The New Israel Atlas; 1969.) Despite its historical 
origin and usage, the name Erez Israel (Land of Israel) may 
very appropriately be applied to designate a major regional 
entity within the Fertile Crescent, wedged between the Medi- 
terranean on the west and the Syrian and Arabian Deserts on 
the east and southeast. Throughout historical and very likely 
also prehistorical times, this area served as a bridge between 
adjacent African and Asian regions. It is adequately defined 
by "natural boundaries," i.e., major physiographical features 
beyond which relief configuration or climatic conditions and 
associated surface phenomena change markedly, as postulated 
by regional geography for the concept of a major unit of the 
earth's surface. The region is distinctively delimited on the west 
by the vast expanse of the Levantine Basin of the Mediterra- 
nean. Moreover, along this particular section of the coastline 
there are no islands, which could complicate proper delinea- 
tion. Similarly, the coast of Eilat, by which Erez Israel has ac- 
cess to the Indian Ocean, clearly demarcates the maximum 
extension toward the south. On the east, northeast, southeast, 
and southwest, Erez Israel is bounded by extensive tracts of the 

great global, subtropical desert belt (Syrian Desert, Arabian 
Desert, and Sinai Desert). The marginal areas of this desert 
belt, in which the climatic conditions undergo a change from 
semiarid to fully arid, form the historical border zone of Erez 
Israel as well. In the Sinai Peninsula, the Negev plains con- 
tinue without interruption up to the Wadi el- Arish, the Brook 
of Egypt according to the tradition. To the east, an adequate, 
though not continuous, delineation is afforded by a watershed 
zone between rivers west and east of it. Although it is not a 
prominent relief feature, this zone also denotes a sort of a bor- 
der between the semiarid and Mediterranean areas to the west 
and the arid ones to the east. The northern boundaries of Erez 


Israel are fairly well defined. There the valley of Qasimiye - the 
lower course of the Leontes (Litani) River - and, further east, 
the towering Hermon Massif form a marked natural boundary 
between Erez Israel and the Lebano- Syrian region. 

Erez Israel, however, is not considered a regional en- 
tity merely because of its natural confines. These are mainly 
concomitant consequences of the fact that the area is mor- 
phogenetically a very consistent surface unit in almost all its 
physiographical aspects. The area is decidedly influenced by 
a singular major phenomenon: the Jordan-Dead Sea- Arabah 
Rift Valley, which also forms the meridional axis of Erez Israel 
along its entire length. The morphogenetic impact of the Rift 
Valley is outwardly expressed by the main drainage pattern 
of the region. About 70% of Erez Israel's rivers (and far more 
of its overall runoff, if the quantities of the inflow are consid- 
ered) discharge into the Rift Valley, in relation to which the 
areas with river outlets into the Mediterranean form a sort of 
foreland. From the hydro graphical point of view alone, Erez 
Israel thus represents primarily the catchment area of the Rift 
Valley, which, within this region, is characterized by some 
unique topographical features. It is the deepest continental 
depression on the earth and contains an inland sea (the Dead 
Sea) whose level is about 1,300 ft. (400 m.) lower than that of 
the Mediterranean with one of the highest mineral contents of 
any body of water in the world. Its second large body of water 
is Lake Kinneret, which is the lowest freshwater body on the 
earth's surface, about 660 ft. (200 m.) below sea level. The two 
bodies of water are connected by a river (Jordan River) whose 
bed, accordingly, is the lowest in the world. This hydrographi- 
cal condition, namely the predominance of the endoreic area 
(i.e., an area without outlet into an ocean or a major body of 
water connected with it), is only one of the many influences 
exerted by the formation of the Rift Valley upon almost all of 
the surface configuration of Erez Israel. 

From the anthropogeographical point of view, however, 
the Rift Valley has proven a rather disuniting element. Due to 
its relative depth, and still more to the height and steepness 
of the mountain slopes ascending from it to highlands more 
than 3,300 ft. (1,000 m.) above its floor, enclosing it wall-like 
with a single wider breach giving access to it only from the 
west, the Rift Valley was throughout history one of the main 
factors for the division of the region into two parts, very infre- 
quently - and then only partially - united into a single state. 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


The Rift Valley is thus the prime cause of Erez Israel's subdivi- 
sion into two main parts: a western one - Mediterranean-ori- 
ented Cisjordan (referred to as western Palestine in political 
and historical geography) - and an eastern one - Transjor- 
dan (eastern Palestine). The first may be regarded from the 
geographic point of view as the mainland, the second as the 
backland of the entire region. 

Situated between the Mediterranean on the west and an 
almost continuous desert belt on the south and east, and be- 
ing long and relatively narrow - about 280 mi. (450 km.) in 
length and about 110 mi. (180 km.) at maximum width - Erez 
Israel also morphogenetically represents a transition zone. It 
contains almost all the major relief elements characteristic of 
the adjacent countries, although generally on a much smaller 
scale and in somewhat subdued form; coastal plains; moun- 
tain ranges, partly continuing the systems of folds fully devel- 
oped and culminating in Lebanon-Syria and Asia Minor; pla- 
teaus, much smaller and more discontinuous here than in the 
neighboring countries; and basins of all kinds, most of which 
are greatly affected by and subordinated to the dominant re- 
lief feature - the Rift Valley. The same is true of lithological 
conditions. Outcrops of most kinds of rocks, from basement 
(magmatic, metamorphic) to sedimentary ones of most re- 
cent ages, form its bedrock. Volcanic rocks (basalts, tuffs) are 
also widely distributed there, as are evaporites (i.e., sediments 
mainly generated by deposition in outletless inland seas given 
to intensive evaporation and thus to concentration and conse- 
quent consolidation of their solutional contents). 

Located between the Mediterranean and the deserts, 
Erez Israel exhibits complex climatic gradations and transi- 
tions ranging from conditions mainly influenced by the sea 
and manifested primarily by the amount of precipitation to 
those which already show all the characteristics of a fully des- 
ert region - manifested, inter alia, by the relatively extensive 
surfaces composed of evaporites. A most important character- 
istic of the region, and particularly of Cisjordan, is therefore 
the proximity of greatly differing landscapes within relatively 
small areas resulting mainly from the structural, lithological, 
and climatic conditions changing over very small distances. 
The regions very mosaic-like quality is also crucially impor- 
tant as physiographical background to its history, illuminat- 
ing, e.g., the tendency to regional particularism throughout 
the area. Notwithstanding the great number of small, highly 
different regions, it is customary to subdivide Erez Israel into 
only four major units: (1) the Coastal Plains, (2) the Western 
Mountain Zone, (3) the Rift Valley, and (4) the Transjordan 

the coastal plains. The Coastal Zone. Erez Israel is bor- 
dered on the west by the Mediterranean Sea. The length of its 
coastline is about 170 mi. (270 km.) from the mouth of Wadi 
el-Arish to that of the Qasimiye River. From the morphoge- 
netic and typological points of view, the coast of Erez Israel 
represents a transition between the coasts of Egypt and Sinai, 
which are mainly deltaic, and the Lebano-Syrian coast, whose 

configuration is primarily determined by faulting. The coast 
of Erez Israel is fairly smooth, without any islands represent- 
ing detached parts of the mainland. A shelf zone, relatively 
wide at the southern portion and progressively narrower to- 
ward the north, extends along the coast up to about 500 ft. 
(150 m.) in depth. The coastal zone (i.e., the areas adjacent to 
the coastline that are directly influenced by the sea) consists 
of two main parts: a rather uniform southern part, extending 
from the mouth of the Wadi el-Arish to Tel Aviv- Jaffa, and a 
northern one that extends up to the mouth of the Qasimiye 
River. The northern part is far more complex in its origin and 
consequently in its outline. The southern part of the coastline 
is almost straight, and its course accords with that of the series 
of anticlines that form the mountainous backbone of Cisjor- 
dan. Sandy beaches, attaining several hundreds of meters in 
width, extend along the coastline, broken only at the alluvia- 
filled valley-exits of the rivers discharging into the Mediter- 
ranean. Breaks also occur at four other spots: Deir al-Balah, 
a portion of the coast south of Gaza, Ashkelon, and Minat 
Rubin (south of the mouth of the valley of the River Sorek), 
where coastal cliffs border almost immediately on the sea. 
The beaches are covered almost exclusively by quartz sands 
brought from the Nile delta and from the coast of Sinai by 
currents running close to the shore. Inland, the beach zone 
is delimited mainly by low ridges composed of sand grains 
cemented by calcareous material - a rock type called kurkar 
in the vernacular - and passes into areas covered by shifting 
dunes. The sands of these dunes are mainly of marine origin, 
i.e., they were brought to the coast by shore currents and waves 
and then transported inland by winds. The width of the sand- 
dune belt varies considerably; it attains its maximum - about 
4.5 mi. (7 km.) - in the vicinity of Rishon le-Zion. 

The northern coastal zone is rather different, in some as- 
pects even opposite, in configuration. It is no longer straight 
throughout, but indented at some sections by small embay- 
ments, several of which form coves (e.g., at Dor and Athlit). 
Off-branchings of the inland mountains, the Carmel and the 
Hanitah Range (Rosh ha-Nikrah), border immediately upon 
the sea, forming high and steep headlands, north of which the 
coastline recesses to form wide embayments. Only the first 
of these, at Haifa, represents a true bay, extending southeast 
for about 4 mi. (6 km.) and even forming a small secondary 
bay at its northern extremity at Acre. The rest of the north- 
ern coastline is bordered along its entire length by cliffs of 
kurkar. These cliffs are high as far north as Athlit - attaining 
a maximum height of about 130 ft. (40 m.) in the vicinity of 
Netanyah - and then becoming progressively lower. A very 
discontinuous small abrasion platform, i.e., a rocky, narrow 
shore-plane generated by progressive down-and-back erosion 
of the cliff faces, extends along the greater part of the coast. 
Waves undercut the cliffs at their bases, and as the cliffs are 
worn back, their bases form a progressively widening plane. 
The seaward parts of the platform, subject to the continuous 
and generally very intensive impact of the waves, in turn grad- 
ually become destroyed, with only small isolated remains - 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



reefs - evidencing the earlier extension of the coast 1.2-1.8 mi. 
(2-3 km.) west of its present course. Beaches are very poorly 
developed along this northern portion of the coast zone. They 
exist mostly around coastal indentations or along the bases 
of cliffs, where they are somewhat protected against the on- 
slaught of waves by an outlying strip of reefs close to the shore 
or tiers of beachrock (i.e., coarse sands, pebbles, and shells 
cemented into rocks). Areas of sand dunes are small and can 
be found only where the valleys of rivers discharging into the 
Mediterranean breach the cliffs, creating sufficiently wide gaps 
for the landward intrusion of wind-borne sands accumulat- 
ing on the shore. Thus only at the bay of Haifa are beach and 
dune areas fully developed. 

The Coastal Plains. In the narrow sense, the Coastal Plains are 
lowlands covered mainly by alluvial soils that extend from the 
coastal dune areas and the coastal cliff zone, respectively, to 
the bases of the inland mountains. The plains exhibit a large 
number of minor relief features, particularly isolated hill- 
ocks or those forming small ridges composed of kurkar and 
a fairly well-developed drainage net, which is more dense 
toward the north and sometimes exhibits minute gorge-like 
valleys where traversing the kurkar ridges. The ridges extend 
without a major break from the mouth of Wadi el- Arish to 
the headland of the Carmel, and from there to the Rosh ha- 
Nikrah promontory, recurring on a very small scale as far as 
the valley of the Qasimiye River. From the earliest times the 
Coastal Plains were one of the most densely populated and 
intensively cultivated parts of the country, although second- 
ary in historical importance to the mountainous interior re- 
gions. They may be rather arbitrarily subdivided into seven 
units: the Southern Plains (frequently referred to as the Negev 
Plains); the Judean Plain (including the Philistine Plain as its 
southern part); the Sharon; the Carmel Coast Plain (usually 
referred to only as Carmel Coast); the Haifa (Zebulun) Plain; 
the Galilean Plain (Acre Plain); the Tyre Plain, north of the 
cape of Rosh ha-Nikrah. Each of the last three units is usually 
referred to in Hebrew as emek y i.e., valley or narrow lowland, 
because of their limited width. 

The Southern Coastal Plains. These plains are separated from 
the Mediterranean by a relatively narrow belt of sand dunes, 
2 mi. (3 km.) wide on the average. Their most important char- 
acteristics are determined by climatic conditions. They receive 
the smallest amount of precipitation in comparison with the 
other units of the Coastal Plains - El- Arish, approximately 
8 in. (200 mm.); Gaza, somewhat less than 16 in. (400 mm.). 
Due to its proximity to the desert areas, the soils of this plain 
are composed predominantly of wind-borne loess, probably 
redistributed by surface flow, and exhibit many intermixing 
gradations with sands in the southern parts of the plains and 
with the red-sand soils (called hamra in the vernacular) at its 
northern limits. Only two main ephemeral streams (Nahal 
Besor and Nahal Shikmah), about 12 mi. (20 km.) apart at 
their debouchures into the Mediterranean, traverse the region. 
Nahal Besor and its tributaries have turned part of the loess 

zone into spectacular "badlands," i.e., intensively dissected 
surfaces that form a micro relief landscape of miniature hill- 
ocks and gullies of the most variegated shapes. 

Three major topographical zones may be distinguished 
more or less parallel to the coast. East of the coastal sands, 
where some dunes attain heights of several tens of meters, 
a relatively low zone extends, delimited to some extent by 
discontinuous kurkar ridges. This zone forms a gradual as- 
cent to a hillock region in the east and to relatively large ar- 
eas covered by inland sands of eolian origin in the southeast. 
Because of its narrowness, elongated shape, and low topog- 
raphy (in comparison with the bordering zones), this area is 
frequently referred to in the regional geography of Erez Israel 
as the marzevah ("corridor"). This is also a major topographi- 
cal feature on the plains farther north and had a decisive in- 
fluence in the past on the sites of settlements and communi- 
cation lines (Via Maris). 

Judean Plain. Rather wide in its southern part - about 15 
mi. (25 km.) - the Judean Plain narrows progressively toward 
the north - about 10 mi. (17 km.), a characteristic common 
to all the plain regions described below. The plain is sepa- 
rated from the sea by a dune belt, which attains its maximum 
width - about 4 mi. (7 km.) - here. The "corridor" between 
the sand zone and the base of the hill country to the east of 
the plain (the "Shephelah") is more distinct and forms a fairly 
uniform surface with far fewer and smaller remains of kurkar 
ridges than are found in the Negev Plain. Climatic conditions 
are fully Mediterranean - 16-20 in. (400-500 mm.) annual 
average precipitation - and are reflected in the soil cover - 
loess in the southernmost part and hamra covering almost 
the whole remaining area with rather large enclaves of heavy 
soils of alluvial and swamp origin. The genesis of the latter 
types of soil is connected with the greater number of rivers 
draining the plain. Although only four of these rivers reach 
the sea, their courses are frequently deflected to run meridi- 
onally by the extension, width, and continuity of the dune 

Sharon Plain. Lengthwise, the Sharon Plain extends from 
the Yarkon, the largest river in Cisjordan discharging into the 
Mediterranean, up to the Zikhron Ya'akov spur of Mount Car- 
mel. Its width varies considerably, generally narrowing north- 
ward to a minimum of about 2 J /2 mi. (4 km.). It also exhibits a 
distinct meridional zonation, far more pronounced than that 
of the Judean Plain. Dune areas between the sea and the plain 
proper, as mentioned before, are rather sporadic there, narrow 
and short, and restricted to the cliffless parts of the coast, i.e., 
to the vicinity of the river exits into the sea. Elsewhere, the 
plain begins immediately behind the zone of the cliffs, which 
attain considerable height and are continuous, thus preventing 
the ingress and accumulation of sand further inland. More or 
less parallel to the sea cliffs appear two major, though discon- 
tinuous, closely spaced kurkar ridges which indicate the for- 
mer coastline. Between them are situated elongated and nar- 
row lowlands, of which only the eastern one attains a width 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


of about 2 mi. (3 km.), whereas the western one is much nar- 
rower. East from the kurkar ridge zone the "corridor" extends 
up to the outliers of the Samarian Highland. In contrast to the 
two above-mentioned intermediate areas between the kurkar 
ridges, with their prevailing hamra cover, the soil of the "cor- 
ridor" is mainly alluvial. The amount of precipitation is ap- 
proximately 4 in. (100 mm.) greater than in the Judean Plain, 
exceeding an annual average of 24 in. (600 mm.) in some 
places. This was one of the main preconditions for the large 
forested areas characteristic of the Sharon in the past. The river 
network is relatively dense, with far more rivers discharging 
into the sea than on the Judean Plain. The exits of the rivers 
here have also been largely blocked both by the dune areas 
and the kurkar ridges. Consequently, large tracts of the Sha- 
ron became swampy, particularly in the environs of Haderah 
and the Hefer Plain (the latter was drained by Jewish settlers 
only in the 1930s). 

Carmel Coast Plain. About 22 mi. (35 km.) long, 2-2.5 m i- 
(3-4 km.) wide at its southern end and a few hundred meters 
wide at its northern limit, the Carmel Coast Plain ends prom- 
inently at the Carmel Headland. The shape of this land unit 
would fully justify the omission of the term "plain" or even 
"valley" in its usual meaning. Like the Sharon, a considerable 
part of this plain consists of kurkar ridges, the westernmost of 
which is almost entirely transformed by marine erosion and 
ingression into reefs and abrasion platforms and is mainly 
characterized by several kinds of indentations, including some 
coves and minute headlands. The other two ranges of kurkar 
ridges are still preserved, particularly in the southern portion, 
and greatly impede the passage of the numerous streamlets 
descending from the Carmel, so that in the past artificial out- 
lets had to be cut into the ridges. Another characteristic of this 
plain is the relative scarcity of hamra in comparison with the 
alluvial soils that are derived mainly from Mount Carmel by 
erosion and river deposition. 

Haifa Bay Plain. Tectonically, this plain represents the west- 
ernmost component of the Beth-Shean-Harod-Jezreel Valley 
system that traverses the entire width of Cisjordan from the 
Jordan Rift Valley to the Mediterranean. Flanked on the south- 
east by the high and steep slopes of the Carmel, it exhibits sev- 
eral features absent from the adjacent parts of the coastal plain 
north and south of it. Along the coast a relatively wide and 
continuous beach reappears, followed by a belt of sand dunes 
about a mile wide; no cliff formations are interposed between 
the plain and the sea. Farther inland it borders the relatively 
low and gently sloping Yodefat Hills - outliers of the Lower 
Galilee Mountains. The eastern part of the plain is covered 
by heavy alluvial soils, partly in consequence of the extensive 
swamps that existed here in the past. The southern portion 
of the plain is drained by the sluggishly meandering Kishon 
River; the northern part is drained by the Na'aman River, fed 
by springs and extensive swamps behind the sand area. For 
several kilometers the Na'aman flows parallel to the coastline 
and along the inland margin of the dune belt. 

Acre-Tyre Plain (Galilean Coastal Plain). The coastal plain 
north of Acre terminates abruptly in the promontory of Rosh 
ha-Nikrah. It bears some resemblance to the Sharon and still 
more to the coastal plain of the Carmel. Here the coast is bor- 
dered by cliffs (albeit inconsiderable in height) accompanied 
by an extensive abrasion platform, disjointed parts of which 
can be discerned in the form of reefs at a distance of 1.2-1.8 mi. 
(2-3 km.) from the coastline. There are several very small in- 
dentations in the coast, which is subject to strong marine ero- 
sion. The paucity and smallness of beaches and their predomi- 
nant cover of coarse sands are also the result of wave erosion. 
No larger dune -sand accumulations intervene between the 
coast and the plain, and there are only few and small remnants 
of kurkar ridges. The narrow plain - 4 mi. (7 km.) maximum 
width - is bordered on the east by interfluves, i.e., mountain 
spurs created by the numerous rivers from the Upper Galilee 
Mountains discharging into the Mediterranean. These riv- 
ers also supply the bulk of the heavy soil material that forms 
the cover of the plain almost exclusively. The promontory of 
Rosh ha-Nikrah (the biblical "Tyrian Ladder"), the seaward 
scarp of an Upper Galilean mountain range along which the 
present-day border between the State of Israel and Lebanon 
runs, sharply delimits the Acre Plain. The headland, of a type 
frequently encountered along the Lebano -Syrian coast and 
bordering immediately on the sea for a length of about 7 mi. 
(12 km.), consists of calcareous rock, and its base contains 
deep sea caves cut in by wave erosion. Beyond the promon- 
tory the coastline curves gently in and out, and along it extend 
beaches and even a continuous, although very small, dune 
belt. Of specific interest here is Tyre, formerly situated on a 
reef island but now connected to the mainland as if by a tom- 
bolo. This transformation was caused by the accumulations 
of sand at the dam constructed during the siege of this harbor 
town by Alexander the Great, and it is one of the countless in- 
stances of major landscape transformations effected by man 
in the Middle East. The coastal plain east of the sand zone is 
narrower than the Acre Plain and irregularly confined by the 
east- west-oriented spurs of the Lebanese- Galilee Mountains. 
It is traversed by a relatively great number of ephemeral riv- 
ers which are the main suppliers of the predominantly alluvial 
soil cover of the plain. 

the western mountain zone. Often referred to meta- 
phorically as the backbone of Cisjordan, the Western Moun- 
tain Zone extends from Eilat to the Valley of Qasimiye along 
the entire length of the region. Within the Levant, it tectoni- 
cally represents the southernmost outliers of the great Alpine 
orogenic system and accordingly consists mainly of rather 
simple and short fold structures generally of medium height. 
The latter characteristic is also reflected in the term "Hills" 
(Judean Hills, Samarian Hills, etc.), which is frequently used 
in this region. In addition to folding, the formation of these 
mountains was strongly affected by faulting, particularly in the 
vicinity of the Rift Valley and in Galilee. Despite its moderate 
elevation above sea level and in relation to the lower sur round - 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



ings (valleys and basin floors), the relief of this mountainous 
region, which occupies more than two-thirds of the Cisjordan 
area, is very pronounced. Steep slopes often appear as major 
and minor scarp and cliff faces, and surface roughness even 
on moderate slopes is frequently accentuated, particularly in 
the southern part of the Mountain Zone, by the almost com- 
plete absence of soil and vegetation cover. In the central and 
northern parts, large tracts were once covered by forests (now 
largely reduced to sporadic maquis and garigue - brush-and- 
thorn vegetation), and the slopes were terraced, creating a 
main area of cultivation. These terraces, now largely disused 
and in disrepair, form one of the most conspicuous external 
features of the slopes. The slopes that were not terraced and the 
mostly flat or gently domed summit surfaces are covered by 
coarse detritus of different sizes or are pitted by mostly small 
and shallow depressions, as a result of strong weathering (es- 
pecially solutional) of the bare surfaces (which are composed 
mainly of limestone). 

The bold relief of the Cisjordan Mountains is mainly a 
result of deep incisions by the watercourses, which created 
valleys that frequently take the form of gorges or even can- 
yons. In the other types of valleys as well, most of the slopes 
are very steep, and often no valley floors developed along the 
river beds. The relatively high frequency of intramontane ba- 
sins of all sizes is another very important characteristic of the 
overall relief that contributes greatly to the multiformity and 
mosaic -like composition of the mountainous region. The ex- 
tremely variegated pattern of the mountainous zone, result- 
ing in a large number of small regions - and thus contributing 
to the particularist tendencies of its inhabitants throughout 
history - was brought about by the complexity of its tectonic, 
lithological, and climatic conditions. Tectonically, the most 
characteristic aspect of Cisjordan - in sharp contrast to Tran- 
sjordan - is the most intensive intermixing of major features 
originating through up- and downfolding, mostly with subse- 
quent forms produced by faulting. In the southern and central 
parts of the Mountain Zone the first group of processes deter- 
mined - mainly in the form of anti- and synclines - the build- 
up, extension, and course of the principal ranges, whereas the 
latter played a decisive role in their disruption. Particularly 
in the northern part, faulting and associated features virtu- 
ally obliterate the former structures, creating a relief mainly 
characterized by intramontane tectonic valleys and ranges, the 
extent and orientation of which is determined by these val- 
leys. The role of some major subsidence regions (Rift Valley, 
Beth-Shean-Harod-Jezreel Valley and Haifa Bay) in relation to 
general exterior configuration has already been pointed out. 
Fault zones and lines also exert decisive influence upon the 
drainage system of a greater part of Cisjordan. 

The lithology of the Cisjordan Mountain Zone is rather 
diversified, considering the small size of the area. Most of the 
mountains consist of calcareous rocks, with only small areas 
of outcropping sandstones, magmatic, metamorphic, and vol- 
canic rocks. Due to the great differences in their composition 
(limestone, dolomites, chalk, calcareous marls, etc.) and fre- 

quent intercalations - each responding rather dissimilarly to 
denudational processes - these calcareous formations greatly 
contribute to the diversification of the landscape, determining 
major and minor morphological features specific to the pre- 
dominant bedrock. The influence of climatic factors, mainly 
the amount and type of precipitation, is even greater. The 
southern part of the Cisjordan Mountain Zone, although con- 
sisting predominantly of the same types of rock as the cen- 
tral and northern parts, differs greatly from the latter in its 
morphological physiognomy. Weathering processes are dis- 
similar here in degree and even to some extent in kind. For 
example, farther north solutional processes exert the greatest 
influence upon the surface configuration by creating karstic 
features that dominate the landscape, particularly in Galilee. 
These processes are almost entirely lacking in the southern 
highlands. Runoff is much greater and consequently erosion 
is much more intensive here than in regions receiving much 
larger amounts of precipitation. The eastern flank of the cen- 
tral area is semiarid and arid (the Judean Desert), due to its 
location leeward of the Judean Mountains, with the precipi- 
tation caused by the moisture -bearing winds from the Medi- 
terranean consequently decreased. This area also exhibits a 
specific set of morphological features, in many respects simi- 
lar to those of the Negev, which is also mainly affected by cli- 
matic conditions. 

Mainly in accordance with the three criteria mentioned 
above (tectonic, lithological, and climatic conditions), the 
mountain region of Cisjordan can be subdivided into the fol- 
lowing major physiographical units: the Negev Highlands, 
the Central Mountain Massif, and the Galilean Mountains. 
Each of these units comprises several subregions determined 
by geological, tectonic, lithological, climatic, and consequently 
morphological conditions. Each is very different from the 
others in the overall character of its landscape. The width 
of the Mountain Zone varies proportionately with that of 
Cisjordan as a whole (i.e., the distance from the Mediterranean 
coast to the Rift Valley), decreasing from about 50 mi. (80 
km.) in the Negev Highlands to about 22 mi. (35 km.) in 

Negev Highlands. In many respects, the Negev Highlands 
represent a direct continuation of the plateau and mountain- 
ous regions of the Sinai Peninsula, exhibiting great similarity 
of tectonic, lithological, and climatic conditions and, conse- 
quently, relief. The similarities are most evident in the south- 
ern part of the Highlands, the Eilat Mountains, which extend 
from the Gulf of Eilat to Bikat Sayyarim and Bikat Uvdah in 
the north. Here, though confined to a comparatively small 
area, are found ranges and blocks composed of magmatic and 
metamorphic rocks that build up the larger part of the south- 
ern apex of the Sinai Peninsula and are not found in any other 
region of Cisjordan, with the exception of Makhtesh Ramon. 
Similarly, outcrops of Nubian Sandstone, exposed only on the 
floors and the foot of the slopes of the makhteshim (see below), 
are relatively widely distributed here as surface rocks. These 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


types of rock are in very close contact with calcareous ones, 
creating relief forms of singular diversity and even contrast. 
The extremely variegated composition of the crystalline rocks 
makes them particularly susceptible to granular weathering, 
exfoliation, and sheeting. These processes result in steep, ser- 
rated, and crenulated ridges (Jehoshafat, Shelomo, Roded, 
Shehoret), separated from one another by steep fault-condi- 
tioned valleys. Even more spectacular are the relief features 
that developed from Nubian Sandstone. Columnar joint- 
ing - of which the Solomon Pillars in the Timna region, about 
15 mi. (25 km.) north of Eilat, are but one outstanding example. 
Column relicts in the form of mushroom rocks, castellated 
rocks, rocking stones, and intensive alveolation, producing 
cave-like tafoni and canyons - deeply incised in the multi- 
colored sandstone by the extremely strong erosive action of 
the many river courses (the Red Canyon, Nahal Amran, etc.) 
carrying only flash floods once or twice within a year - give 
rise to landscapes even far more diversified in ever-changing 
micro -features than those which developed in the crystalline 
bedrock. In sharp contrast to these landforms are those which 
developed on other bedrock, limestone in particular. The re- 
lief in limestone is generally far more uniform and massive 
and is mainly characterized by flat -topped ranges and small 
plateau-like elevations covered by angular gravels. The latter 
are produced by weathering, which imparts to the surfaces 
covered by them the appearance of typical hamada (block- 
strewn desert surfaces). 

The Paran Plateau. This area comprises mainly the Cisjordan 
catchment area of the Paran River, a major tributary of the 
Arabah, which is the collecting stream of the Rift Valley south 
of the Dead Sea. The headrivers of the Paran drain the parts of 
the Sinai adjacent to the Eilat Mountains in a relatively dense 
network of wide channels filled with sand and pebbles. The 
highest elevations of the Paran Plateau - some of which form 
mountain blocks or ridges - are on its northeastern side - Har 
Nes, 3,329 ft. (1,015 m -)> Har Saggi, 3,229 ft. (1,006 m.). In the 
eastward direction, elevations become lower and surfaces gen- 
erally more uniform. In strong contrast to the variegated li- 
thology of the Eilat Mountains, the tableland here is built up 
almost exclusively of calcareous strata: limestones interbedded 
with chalk, marls, and thin layers of chert. The surface of the 
plateau features the widest areas of "desert pavement" found 
in Cisjordan, i.e., areas covered by angular gravels (hamada) 
or rounder pebble-like debris (a desert surface type morpho- 
logically known as "serir"). At the southern periphery of the 
plateau, Bikat Sayyarim and the far larger Bikat Uvdah repre- 
sent typical intramontane desert basins covered and filled by 
sands. They are subject to occasional flooding and drain - al- 
beit through very indistinct channel beds - into the Hiyyon 
River, a major tributary of the Arabah River, running about 
12 mi. (20 km.) south of the Paran. To the northeast the table- 
land is delimited by the gravel-covered Ha-Meshar Basin, 
which, from the hydrographical point of view, belongs to the 
Central Negev region. 

The Central Negev Highlands. The anticline of Ramon is es- 
sentially the only major structure of the Central Negev High- 
lands. This upfold extends approximately 43 mi. (70 km.) in 
length from the biblical Kadesh-Barnea in the Sinai almost 
to the very escarpments bordering the western side of the 
Arabah Rift. It is not only the highest portion of the Negev 
Highlands - Har Ramon, 3,395 ft. (1,035 m -) - but also struc- 
turally and morphologically the most complex. This is very 
evident in one of the most pronounced occurrences of relief 
inversion, i.e., the conversion of a major structural element 
into a morphologically "negative," i.e., reverse form. Here the 
anticline was transformed, chiefly by erosion, into a wide, 
elongated, valley-like basin, about 28 mi. (45 km.) in length, 
enclosed by almost perpendicular slopes, some of them about 
1,000 ft. (300 m.) high. This specific form, which also occurs 
in some anticlines of northern Sinai and in the northern part 
of the Negev Highlands, is referred to in Hebrew as makhtesh 
("mortar" or "mixing bowl"), which in the geomorphology 
of arid regions is now becoming a general term to denote af- 
finite landforms. The greatest influence upon the formation, 
lithology, and configuration of Makhtesh Ramon was exerted 
by faulting along its southern flank. Accordingly, magmatic- 
volcanic rocks are exposed here. Wherever the enclosure is 
composed of these rocks, it assumes the form of a serrated 
range, resembling those in the crystalline Eilat Mountains 
and strongly contrasting with the other enclosured portions 
of the makhteshy which consist of Nubian Sandstones in the 
lower and hard limestone in the upper parts of their slopes. 
The floor of Makhtesh Ramon, covered mainly by detritus of 
Nubian Sandstone, reveals many small elevations, preponder- 
antly in the form of flat-topped basalt-covered remains of for- 
mer surface levels. The makhtesh is drained by the multichan- 
neled Ramon River, which breaches the eastern enclosure in 
a narrow steep gorge to join the Arabah River system. To the 
northwest of the makhtesh, its foreland forms a rather level, 
or gently undulating, tableland up to its very rim; only at the 
periphery of the plateau does the relief become mountainous 
(Har Loz, Har Horshah, Rekhes-Nafha). 

The Northern Negev Highlands. On the northeast, the Cen- 
tral Negev Highlands are separated from the Northern High- 
lands by the wide, deeply incised Valley of the Zin River. This 
tectonically conditioned valley begins as a wide erosive cirque, 
the southwestern side of which forms precipitous, almost 
perpendicular, scarps. At a small distance from the northern 
side of the valley two makhteshim are situated: Ha- Makhtesh 
ha-Gadol (the "Big Makhtesh") and Ha-Makhtesh ha-Katan 
(the "Little Makhtesh"). They differ from Makhtesh Ramon 
not only by their smaller size and almost regular oval shape, 
but also in structure, lithology, and consequently morphology. 
Not affected by faulting, they represent up folds turned into 
deep valley-basins, on the floors of which older sedimentary 
strata became exposed through erosion by the watercourses 
draining them. Their almost perpendicularly sloping walls of 
Nubian Sandstone are overlaid by much more resistant lime- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



stones and dolomites. The Hatirah and Hazevah Rivers, run- 
ning parallel to the long axes of Ha-Makhtesh ha-Gadol and 
Ha-Makhtesh ha-Katan, respectively, breach their eastern 
walls in impressive gorges to join the Zin River. Toward the 
west and northwest elevations become progressively lower, 
although there are several upfolds rising above their sur- 
roundings as short ridges with moderate slopes, frequently 
worn down to isolated table-hills. In the west the plateau mar- 
gins are partly covered by relatively large areas of sand dunes 
(Haluzah, Agur), which form a transition zone to the Plain 
of the Negev. On the northern side, the highlands terminate 
in the wide Beersheba Basin and its much narrower eastern 
continuation, the Valley of Arad. Structurally, and in partic- 
ular climatically, these two intramontane depressions form a 
marked border zone between the arid Negev Highlands and 
the mountains north of it, where Mediterranean conditions 
prevail. In the Beersheba Basin, the mean annual precipitation 
is 10 in. (250 mm.), a quantity indicating the transition from 
semiarid to subhumid conditions. The thick loess cover and 
the amount of precipitation together give rise to the most con- 
venient conditions for agriculture within the Negev. The main 
drainage artery of this part of the Negev is the Beersheba River 
(a tributary of the Besor River), and several of its confluents 
originate in the Hebron Mountains, although its almost an- 
nually recurring floodings are mainly caused by the tributar- 
ies crossing the relatively impervious loess areas. 

The Central Mountain Massif. This range extends from the 
Beersheba Basin up to the Beth-Shean-Harod-Jezreel Valley 
sequence in the north. It represents the most compact and 
continuous mountain region of Cisjordan. Its basic struc- 
tures are relatively large, meridionally trending anticlinoria, 
i.e., systems usually composed of one major up fold flanked 
by downfolds and smaller anticlines. Faulting does not exert 
a great influence upon the configuration of the southern part 
of the area; its effect is far stronger in the northern portion, 
though not yet as decisive in determining the landscape as in 
Galilee. According to climatic, lithological, and hypsographi- 
cal conditions, this area can be subdivided into several major 
units. The most important difference exists between the west- 
ern part, which is fully exposed to the climatic influences of 
the Mediterranean, and the eastern flank descending into the 
Dead Sea and Jordan Valley. The landscape of the eastern por- 
tion, which is leeward of the precipitation-bearing winds, is 
consequently semi-desertic and desertic in character (Judean 
Desert). The difference is accentuated by lithological variance. 
The western flank is built predominantly of limestone and 
dolomite strata, whereas in the eastern one chalks and marls 
prevail. To the west a subregion or different lithology and el- 
evation is interposed between the southern part of the Central 
Mountain Massif and the Coastal Plains. Considerably lower 
and built mainly of chalky rock, it is a hill region gradually 
rising toward the massif but separated from it in a very pro- 
nounced manner by a series of valleys running parallel to the 
foot of the massif. Toward the north, two major protrusions 

of the massif can be regarded as distinct mountain regions: a 
smaller one - the Gilboa - separating the valleys of Harod and 
Jezreel, and another, much larger and more complex in struc- 
ture - the Carmel, in the broad sense - which, as already men- 
tioned, delimits the southern Coastal Plains. According to the 
criteria enumerated above, the Central Mountain Massif can 
be subdivided into the following regions: Judean Mountains, 
comprising the Mediterranean southern portion of the mas- 
sif; Judean Desert; Shephelah (the hill region to the west of the 
Judean Mountains); Samarian Highlands (the northern part of 
the massif) and its two subunits, Gilboa and Carmel. 

The Judean Mountains. The core region of Cisjordan, the 
Judean Mountains consist structurally of two consecutive 
large anticlinoria, whose axes - in contrast to the upfolds in 
the Negev, which trend mainly southwest-northeast - run al- 
most meridionally. Built up of limestone and dolomite strata 
with chalky and marly intercalations (the latter very important 
as groundwater horizons), the mountains' main topographical 
features are an almost continuous watershed zone (rather uni- 
form in height and delimiting them toward the Judean Desert) 
and the many interfluves (i.e., ridge-like mountainous spurs 
separated by deeply incised valleys) extending mainly west- 
ward. The watershed zone is generally flat and widens consid- 
erably in many places. Its topography thus provided suitable 
conditions for defense and the development of communica- 
tions by means of a highway between the cities that were built 
in this area from earliest times. 

Not far from this divide, watercourses begin to incise 
progressively deeper valleys, the steep slopes of which almost 
fully converge at the narrow rocky river beds; generally there 
are no accompanying floodplains. The slopes rising from the 
valley floors are, for the most part, intensively terraced and 
end in almost flat or only slightly domed tops separated by 
wide gentle saddles. Both the mountain tops and the slopes 
(where not terraced) are densely covered by block detritus, 
deeply corroded by solutional processes, which also produced 
the many rounded depressions, holes, and cavities in the slope 
surfaces as well as many caverns and caves. The prevalent 
terra rossa is mainly another product of this weathering pro- 
cess, here strongly effective due to the considerable amounts 
of precipitation - about 20 in. (500 mm.) on the annual av- 
erage. From the orographic point of view, three parts of the 
Judean Mountains, very unequal in size, are distinguished: 
Hebron Mountains, Jerusalem Mountains, Beth-El (Ramal- 
lah) Mountains. 

The Hebron Mountains extend from the Beersheba Ba- 
sin up to the Wadi Artas in the north (a valley belonging to 
the drainage area of the Dead Sea), the site of the Solomon 
Pools. They rise steeply from the Beersheba Basin (one of the 
southward protrusions of these mountains separates the latter 
from the Arad Basin) to heights of about 2,600 ft. (800 m.), 
culminating in summits near Halhul (north of Hebron) that 
rise to 3,300 ft. (1,000 m.). The Hebron Mountains are also 
the largest constituent of the Judean Mountains, with an area 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


greatly exceeding the total of the two other subunits. From 
the morphological point of view, the southern portion of the 
Hebron Mountains can be subdivided into two main parts, 
separated by the relatively wide, mostly flat -floored, and not 
very deeply incised valley of the Hebron River, a tributary of 
the Beersheba River, which runs for about 18 mi. (30 km.) al- 
most parallel to the meridional axis of the mountains. The 
mountains here thus consist of two main ridges. An eastern, 
higher one is called the Eshtemoa (Samu c ) Range after one of 
the villages, the name and site of which have remained virtu- 
ally unchanged since biblical times. Along this ridge extends 
the divide between the dry valleys (except at times of flood) 
descending into the Dead Sea Rift and the southern and west- 
ern ones that drain into the Mediterranean. The western ridge 
is named after the village of Adoraim (Dura), also mentioned 
in the Bible. The highway connecting Beersheba with the 
townships and villages of the watershed zone runs along this 
ridge. Also characteristic of the Hebron Mountains are several 
topographic depressions, the largest of which, the valley of Be- 
rachah, is distinguished by an abundant spring. The waters of 
this spring, together with those of others issuing in the vicin- 
ity, feed the Solomon Pools, which were the most important 
source of water for Jerusalem in the past. Near Hebron the 
two ridges merge to form a single watershed zone that con- 
tinues along the entire length of the Judean Mountains. Cli- 
matically, the Hebron Mountains represent a transition zone 
from semiarid to Mediterranean conditions. Whereas at al- 
Zahiriyya, the southernmost village along the main highway, 
the annual precipitation is only about 12 in. (300 mm.), it in- 
creases to 20 in. (500 mm.) in Hebron, and 28 in. (700 mm.) 
in the region of the highest elevations, where snowfall is fre- 
quent. Accordingly, the larger part of the soil cover (where 
preserved) in the Hebron Mountains is terra rossa. 

The Jerusalem Mountains are about 500 ft. (150 m.) 
lower on the average than the Hebron and Beth -El Moun- 
tains - highest elevation, al-Nabi Samwil, 2,870 ft. (875 m.) - 
and form a wide saddle-like region between these sections. 
This topographical feature somewhat facilitates the ascent 
from the Coastal Plains to the watershed region, with its set- 
tlements and highway, and the descent into the Rift Valley, 
in particular to Jericho, the most important township of the 
Valley region throughout history. The Jerusalem Mountains 
are also intensively dissected into interfluvial ridges. One of 
these, Mount of Olives - Mount Scopus, immediately east of 
Jerusalem, forms a conspicuous border with the Judean Des- 
ert. The Judean Mountains are drained mainly by the Sorek 
River, one of the major watercourses of the Central Mountain 
Massif. The Sorek River discharges into the Mediterranean, 
and its markedly meandering valley proved sufficiently wide 
for the construction of the railway connecting Jerusalem with 
the Coastal Plains. 

The Beth- El Mountains, covering an area similar in size 
to that of the Jerusalem Mountains - about 9 mi. (15 km.) in 
length - rise to summit heights exceeding 3,300 ft. (1,000 m.) - 
Baal-Hazor, 3,332 ft. (1,016 m.). One of their most important 

characteristics is that the watershed attains considerable width 
there. A road along one of the interfluves extending to the 
west (Beth-Horon Ridge) was formerly the main approach to 
Jerusalem from the Coastal Plains and consequently of par- 
ticular strategic importance. 

The Judean Desert. According to its appearance, the Judean 
Desert could be regarded as a northward extension of the arid 
Negev lands that border on it at the valley of the Hemar River. 
Genetically, however, it belongs to the orographic types of 
deserts, whose aridity - much less pronounced than in "true" 
deserts - is due mainly to the fact that the area is situated on 
the leeward side of the massive and high Judean Mountains, 
which intercept the rain- bearing winds. This effect is made 
more pronounced by the steepness of the eastern flank of the 
Judean anticlinoria toward the Dead Sea- Jordan Rift Valley, 
about 1,000-1,300 ft. (300-400 m.) below sea level. Actually, 
only the lower portions of this flank are arid. Even there, the 
larger part of the area receives more than 4 in. (100 mm.) of 
rain per annum - Jericho receives about 6 in. (150 mm.) - 
whereas on the upper portions the precipitation decreases 
gradually from about 16 in. (400 mm.) near the watershed 
region to the amounts mentioned above. The Judean Desert 
also comprises the eastern flank of the Samarian Mountains 
up to the wide valley of Wadi Fari c a and the spur of Qeren 
Sartaba protruding from the Samarian Mountains into the 
Jordan Rift Valley. It differs markedly from the Judean Moun- 
tains in lithology as well as in structure and is composed pre- 
dominantly of chalky formations younger in origin than those 
forming the bulk of the Judean Mountains. In contrast to 
the latter, faulting - syngenetical with that which created the 
Dead Sea- Jordan Rift Valley - exerted a great influence upon 
the configuration of this desert, particularly by creating the 
step -like descent toward the Rift Valley. The relative impend - 
ousness of the bedrock, the much lower resistance to erosion, 
and the steep overall declivity caused by a difference in eleva- 
tion of about 4,000 ft. (1,200 m.) from the watershed zone to 
the Dead Sea, over a distance of only 19 mi. (30 km.) result 
in most of the precipitation turning into highly erosive run- 
off. Consequently, the Judean Desert represents a "mountain 
wilderness," an apparently chaotic landscape of innumerable 
valleys of all kinds. Many of them are canyons cut in harder 
rock exposed along the flexures and fault lines (Ze'elim, Agu- 
rot, Mishmar), whereas the higher-lying portions form a maze 
of mostly flat-topped hills (some of which are famous as sites 
of ancient fortresses such as Herodium and Masada). In the 
Hatrurim area these hills impart to the landscape the appear- 
ance of badlands. It was mainly this type of relief, the absence 
of productive soils of the terra rossa type, and the very short 
duration and scantiness of the vegetation cover - almost ex- 
cluding trees and actually confined to a few weeks during the 
rainy season - that throughout historical times rendered it a 
region of "desolation" and a refuge for fugitives from the law 
and prevented any permanent settlement or the establishment 
of communication networks. 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Shephelah. Topographically, the Shephelah represents a tran- 
sition zone between the Coastal Plains and the Hebron and 
Jerusalem Mountains. It is relatively narrow - about 8 mi. 
(13 km.) - in proportion to its south-north extension - about 
35 mi. (60 km.). Though they form the foothills of the Judean 
Mountains, the Shephelah hills differ from the former in al- 
most all respects. Structurally, they form a major synclinal part 
of the south Judean anticlinorium, composed mainly of chalky 
formations of Senonian-Eocene origin. Hypsographically, 
the Shephelah consists of two parts: a western one (the "Low 
Shephelah"), rising to a height of about 600 ft. (200 m.) above 
the Coastal Plains, and an eastern one (the "High Shephelah") 
about 600 ft. (200 m.) higher than the former. On the north 
the Shephelah borders on the tectonically conditioned Ai- 
jalon Valley, one of the main natural approaches to the Judean 
Mountains. The Shephelah is a region of gently sloped hills 
separated by the confluents of the major rivers descending into 
the area from the Judean Mountains. At their entrance into 
the Shephelah, these rivers, and several of their tributaries, 
form relatively wide-floored valleys that run for a consider- 
able stretch along the border between the hill and the moun- 
tain region. Passage between these longitudinal valleys is rel- 
atively convenient, and this natural communication channel 
has been very important throughout history. 

The Samarian Mountains. Morphotectonically, the Samar- 
ian Mountains (less frequently referred to as the Ephraim 
Mountains) form a transitional link between the massive 
Judean Mountains, which are influenced little by faulting, 
and those of the Galilees, where faulting has all but obliter- 
ated the other tectonic elements. No topographic features 
form any pronounced boundary between the two parts of 
the Central Mountain Massif, and it is only by convention 
that the upper reaches of the Shiloh River - a tributary of the 
Yarkon - are used for this demarcation. Structurally, the Sa- 
marian Mountains consist of two main parts: an eastern an- 
ticlinal one, built up of Cretaceous formations, and a syncli- 
nal western one, consisting mainly of rocks of Eocene origin. 
Characteristically, the highest elevations are found in the lat- 
ter part. Here the twin mountains of Ebal and Gerizim attain 
heights of 3,083 ft. (940 m.) and 2,890 ft. (881 m.), respectively. 
Northward, approaching the valleys of Beth-Shean and Jez- 
reel, respectively, elevations become progressively smaller - 
about 1,300 ft. (400 m.) above sea level. The structure and its 
morphological expression are mainly influenced by faulting, 
which produced tectonic valleys and almost enclosed basins 
(the latter additionally affected and shaped by solution pro- 
cesses). Sequences of short ranges and mountain blocks thus 
rise steeply above their flat surroundings, which sometimes 
form relatively extensive intramontane plains. Thus, the wide 
tectonic valley of Shechem (Nablus) separates Ebal from Ger- 
izim and continues eastward as Wadi Fari c a, which separates 
the southern, higher part of the Samarian Mountains from 
the spurs of a much lower northern part. The broad, tectonic 
valley of Dothan delimits the Samarian Mountains, in the 

narrow sense, in the direction of the Carmel, whereas in the 
interior parts, several wide alluvia- filled basins (Emek Shi- 
loh, the Lubban Valley, Emek Hamikhmetat, and the largest 
of them, Marj Sanur) endow the region with some features 
characteristic of Lower Galilee. The shorter distance between 
the Samarian Mountains and the sea, with no intervening 
foothill region, the many and wide valley openings, and the 
smaller amount of depression in the Rift Valley bordering it 
to the east resulted in a Mediterranean climate for almost all 
of Samaria, except for a narrow belt adjacent to the Jordan 
Rift, where semiarid conditions still prevail. Samaria receives 
larger amounts of precipitation than the Judean Mountains - 
28-36 in. (700-800 mm.) annual average rainfall - and the soil 
cover (terra rossa and rendzina) is also much more continu- 
ous. There is a great deal of evidence that considerable parts 
of Samaria were once covered by woods. 

Mount Gilboa. According to its situation and structure, 
Mount Gilboa represents a direct continuation of the Samar- 
ian Mountains, although almost separated from the main 
body of these mountains by the Jenin Plain - an extension 
of the Jezreel Plain. It is bordered on the east and southeast 
by steep fault-scarps, which, together with some outcrops of 
volcanic rocks, indicate the complex tectonic processes that 
caused the separation of the Samarian from the Galilee Moun- 
tains, also resulting in the formation of the Harod-Jezreel Val- 
ley. Composed of Eocene strata, with outcrops of Senonian 
ones on the northeast side, the surface here is mostly barren, 
block-strewn, and covered by soil in patches only - probably 
as the result of intensive slope wash and consequent soil ero- 
sion, mainly caused by the difference in elevations of about 
1,600 ft. (500 m.) over a distance of only about a mile between 
the mountain crest and the floor of the surrounding valleys. 
Precipitation amounts to about 18 in. (450 mm.) on the annual 
average. The barrenness of the Gilboa, in such strong contrast 
to the once forested landscapes of Samaria, may serve as the 
factual background to the explanation of the well-known bib- 
lical curse laid upon this mountain. Nowhere in Cisjordan is 
there such a concentration of springs, some very abundant 
in discharge, as is found at the bases of the fault escarpments 
of the Gilboa (Ein Moda, Ein Humah, Ein Amal, En-Harod). 
These are now one of the most important sources of irrigation 
for the Harod and Beth-Shean Valleys. 

Carmel Mountain. To the northwest a highland body branches 
off from the Samarian Mountains, differing from the latter in 
many respects, particularly in structure. In the regional lit- 
erature of Cisjordan, this branch is usually referred to as the 
Carmel, although it consists of three very distinct parts of very 
different structure, lithology, topography, and consequent re- 
lief features. The Carmel, therefore, represents a triplet moun- 
tain body about 35 mi. (60 km.) long along its median axis and 
stretching southeast- northwest - a single major occurrence 
within Cisjordan, although recurring in some lesser ranges. 
Its general shape is that of an elongated triangle, the relatively 
short base of which is formed by the Dothan Valley, separat- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


ing it from Samaria, with the two long sides facing the north- 
ern Sharon Plain on the west and the Plain of Haifa and the 
Jezreel Valley on the northeast. The apex of this triangle - the 
Carmel headland - abuts almost immediately on the Medi- 
terranean; this is a feature that recurs only at Rosh ha-Nikrah. 
All the flanks of the mountain, as well as those of its parts, 
exhibit high and steep slopes, mainly created by faulting, ris- 
ing abruptly above the adjacent plains. The three subunits of 
the Carmel (from southeast to northwest) are the Umm al- 
Fahm Block, separated from Samaria by the wide Dothan 
Valley; the Manasseh region, disjointed from the former by 
the tectonically conditioned Iron Valley; and the Carmel, in 
the narrow sense, its largest component, separated from the 
Manasseh region by the Jokneam-Tut Valley sequence, also 
of tectonic origin. 

The Umm al-Fahm Block (lately also called the Amir 
Range) forms a quadrangle-shaped plateau, whose undulat- 
ing surface provides a gradual descent toward the southwest. 
Toward its northeast confines, the plateau becomes higher, 
with bolder relief, and ends in a scarp descent facing the Jez- 
reel Valley. Structurally, it represents an up warped and up- 
lifted part of the Carmel and accordingly consists of resistant 
Cenomanian limestone and dolomite formations framed at 
the periphery of the block by formations of Turonian age. 
Relatively large areas are covered by basalts and volcanic tuff, 
a lithological feature recurring in the two other subunits of 
the Carmel. It receives a mean annual precipitation of about 
20 in. (500 mm.) and the prevailing soils are of terra rossa 
type. There are very scanty remains of forests, and still larger 
areas covered by maquis, their degraded forms, indicate that 
in the past extensive areas here were wooded. With the ex- 
ception of its southernmost part, the area is drained almost 
exclusively by tributaries of the Kishon River. 

The region of Manasseh, similar in its quadrangular 
outline to that of Umm al-Fahm, contrasts with it in almost 
all other respects. Composed predominantly of soft Eocene 
chalks, which also accounts for the scantiness of terra rossa 
and the wide distribution of rendzina soils in this area, its 
originally tabular surface became intensively dissected. The 
dominant relief features of the region are thus hills with mod- 
erate slopes rising to relatively small heights above the valley 
floors. The overall height of the region above sea level is about 
600 ft. (200 m.) less than than Umm al-Fahm Block and still 
less than that of the Carmel. Its slopes to the Jezreel Valley are 
also far lower and less steep and continuous than those of the 
two adjacent units. Due to the relative impermeability of the 
surface rock, and consequently the considerable percentage 
of runoff and particularly the erodibility of the bedrock, the 
drainage net is rather dense, flowing to the Kishon River in 
the north and to Ha-Tanninim ("Crocodile") and Daliyyah 
Rivers in the south, both of which discharge directly into the 

The singularity of the Carmel within Cisjordan - used 
in the Scriptures, together with Mount Tabor, as a paradigm 
of beautiful mountainous scenery - is based on the following 

factors: it appears as a very regularly shaped mountain block, 
well defined on all its sides, and conspicuously elevated above 
the surrounding plain; it is the only major mountain - about 
22 mi. (35 km.) long along its central axis - in Cisjordan with 
an extended slope rising only a small distance from the Med- 
iterranean; its apex forms a most conspicuous headland, and 
beyond its northern flank the coastline recedes, forming the 
only true bay of the country; fully exposed on both its flanks 
to the Mediterranean, it receives large amounts of rain - about 
32 in. (800 mm.) per annum - and dew; arboreal vegetation 
persisted here, due to its great regenerative power, mainly as a 
result of favorable climatic conditions. Structurally the Carmel 
represents a sort of counterpart to the Umm al-Fahm Block. 
It, too, was upwarped and uplifted and is mainly composed 
of Cenomanian-Turonian limestones and dolomites. Volcanic 
outcrops, in particular tuff, are relatively widespread, and the 
latter greatly influence the form of valleys. Whereas the val- 
leys incised into the hard, intensively jointed calcareous rocks 
are deep, narrow, and have steep slopes - frequently actually 
minor canyons (Nahal Me'arot, Daliyyah, Oren), those which 
developed in the tuffs are conspicuously wide and flat-floored, 
and exhibit relatively gentle valley slopes (Kerem Maharal, 
Shefeyah Valley). The calcareous parts are strongly affected 
by solutional weathering. Thoroughly corroded blocks cover 
large portions of the surfaces, and many of the almost per- 
pendicular valley slopes contain caves, some of which are of 
considerable prehistoric importance. The Carmel is strongly 
affected by faulting, which not only gave rise to the almost 
uninterrupted slopes descending steeply to the Haifa Plain 
and to the Jezreel Valley and less pronounced ones along the 
Jokneam trough, which separates it from the Manasseh re- 
gion, but also strongly influenced the relief of its interior parts. 
Faulting here gave rise to several depressions and had a major 
influence upon the course of some of the valleys. The Carmel, 
like its adjacent mountain units, consists of two topographi- 
cally differentiated parts: a higher one, its summit region, 
along its northeast flank - from Rosh ha- Carmel, 1,790 ft. 
(546 m.), to the somewhat lower Keren ha- Carmel - referred 
to in regional literature as the "High Carmel," and a far larger 
part sloping down to the Carmel Coast, the "Low Carmel." 
The latter consists mainly of broad interfluves, created by the 
many valleys descending to the Coastal Plain. The drainage 
net is characteristically varied in catchment area and pattern, 
in close accordance with the relief differentiation described 
above. The divide between the watercourses descending on the 
northeastern slopes and tributary to the Kishon runs a very 
small distance from the scarp rim. The valleys of these water- 
courses are short and relatively straight and are joined by very 
few tributaries. The watercourses running west and draining 
more than three-quarters of the total area of the Carmel are 
more numerous and intensely ramified, particularly the Oren 
and Daliyyah Rivers. Toward the south the Carmel juts out 
into the Plain of Sharon and up to the valley of the Ha-Tan- 
ninim River in a large spur separated from the main body by 
the valley of the Daliyyah River. Called the Zikhron Ya'akov 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Mountains, after the principal settlement, the spur encloses 
the Carmel Coastal Plain to the west and separates it from the 
Plain of Binyaminah, a northward extension of the Sharon. 

the valley sequence. From the Jordan Rift Valley to 
the coast of the Mediterranean, Cisjordan is traversed by an 
east- west sequence of large, interconnected, elongated basins 
that are of preeminent physio- and anthropogeographical im- 
portance. These are the Harod Valley, named after its main 
water artery, the Harod River; the Jezreel Plain, the largest 
component of the sequence; and the Plain of Haifa, which, 
genetically, forms the continental terminal part of this tec- 
tonic trough and continues westward as the Bay of Haifa. The 
three basins form relatively wide plains, enclosed on their 
southern and northern sides by abruptly rising, steep moun- 
tains, and constitute a marked discontinuity within the Cis- 
jordan highlands north of the Beersheba Basin. The vale se- 
quence subdivides the highlands very conspicuously into two 
main mountain complexes: a larger, southern one (Judean 
Mountains, Samarian Mountains, and Carmel) and a north- 
ern one, approximately one-third the size of the former, the 

The Harod Valley. The Harod Valley - the easternmost com- 
ponent of the sequence - represents, hypsographically, topo- 
graphically, climatically, and lithologically, a westward salient 
of the Beth-Shean Valley. There is no major relief feature that 
could serve as demarcation between these two units; there- 
fore the travertine terraces, more correctly their remnants 
near Beth-Shean, are used by convention for this purpose. 
Their correlative characteristics are as follows: the surface 
of the eastern part of the funnel-shaped vale gradually de- 
scends to below sea level and merges imperceptibly with the 
depression of the Beth-Shean and Jordan Valleys; tempera- 
tures and precipitation (in both amount and distribution) are 
very similar to those of the Beth-Shean Valley; a close like- 
ness of the soil cover in two valleys, particularly in the types 
resulting from decomposition of basalts and travertine; the 
already mentioned abundance of springs, particularly at the 
foot of the Gilboa scarps. In the past the Harod Valley was 
partly covered by swamps due to the relative impermeability 
of some of its soil cover, heavy flooding by the many water- 
courses reaching it from the nearby high, steep mountain en- 
closure, and the incapacity of the bed of the Harod to contain 
the floodwaters. The many springs were an additional cause 
of swamp formation. 

The Jezreel Valley. The largest of all intramontane basins in 
Cisjordan is the Valley of Jezreel, formerly also known as the 
Plain of Armageddon (after the fortress of Megiddo, which 
was renowned in the annals of the Fertile Crescent). Roughly 
triangular in shape, it is bordered on the southwest by the Car- 
mel, Manasseh Plateau, and the Umm al-Fahm Block; on the 
north by the Lower Galilee Mountains; and on the east, dis- 
continuously, by Mount Tabor, Givat ha-Moreh, and the Gil- 
boa Mountains. The shape of this valley is straight only along 

the Carmel; at the other borders there are several embayment- 
like extensions of the plain into the surrounding mountains. 
The largest of these extensions is the Plain of Jenin, enclosed 
on the east by the Gilboa and joined on the southwest by the 
Dothan Valley. Eastward, the Jezreel Valley downgrades im- 
perceptibly in the vicinity of Afulah into the Harod Valley and 
intrudes deeply into the Lower Galilee Mountains, separat- 
ing their outliers, Mount Tabor and Givat ha-Moreh, by the 
wide Chesulloth Plain. The Jezreel Valley is connected at its 
apex with the Haifa Plain by a narrow passage 1,600 ft. (500 m.) 
wide created by the valley of the Kishon (at Kiryat Haroshet) 
near the site of Bet She'arim, between the Carmel and the 
Lower Galilee Mountains. The winding course of the Kis- 
hon River begins near Afulah, less than 230 ft. (70 m.) above 
sea level and at a distance of about 25 mi. (40 km.) from the 
Mediterranean, into which it discharges. In the past it was in- 
adequate to drain the valley, particularly in the rainy season. 
Its many affluents from the enclosing mountains, which re- 
ceive about 8 in. (200 mm.) more precipitation than the Jez- 
reel Valley, together with the many local topographic depres- 
sions and poorly permeable alluvial heavy soil cover, turned 
a large part of the valley into swamps. Consequently, it was 
sparsely populated and little utilized agriculturally. Only after 
the marshes were drained and malaria, once endemic in 
this area, eradicated, did the valley become the area of the 
most intensive and continuous cultivation within the moun- 
tain zone of Cisjordan. The physiognomy of the Jezreel Val- 
ley, and to some extent also of the Harod Valley, is largely 
determined by the two massive, high mountain blocks rising 
abruptly above the plain; Mount Tabor and Givat ha-Moreh. 
Pronouncedly isolated from each other and from the high- 
lands to the north and south, their summits attain heights 
of over 1,600 ft. (500 m.) above sea level and only slightly less 
above the surrounding plain. Because of the almost perfect 
dome shape of Mount Tabor, it was, together with the Car- 
mel, often used to exemplify the beauty of mountainous scen- 
ery. Differing as they do in lithological structure (limestones 
and dolomites in Mount Tabor, outcrops of volcanic rocks 
in Givat ha-Moreh), these two mountains probably repre- 
sent remnants of a highland zone connecting the Samarian 
Mountains with those of the Galilees that was shattered by 
the tectonic movements, which also formed the entire basin 

Haifa Plain. Despite its being a part of the Coastal Plains, ac- 
cording to its situation and surface configuration, the Haifa 
Plain (formerly referred to also as the Zebulun Plain) mor- 
photectonically represents the westernmost unit of the vale 
sequence. The plain continues in its submerged part as the 
Bay of Haifa. Accordingly, the interior part of the plain, east 
of the dune belt, is covered by heavy alluvial soils with very 
little hamra. Drainage here was also greatly impeded, mainly 
by the dune belt (as evidenced by the deferred debouchures of 
its two main streams, Kishon and Na'aman), and marsh areas 
persisted up to the time of Jewish colonization. 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


the galilee mountains. Occupying a smaller area than 
the Judean or the Samarian Highlands, the Galilee Mountains 
are nevertheless far more complex in lithology, structure, and 
consequently morphology. Basalts (there is even a remnant of 
a true volcano - Karnei Hittin, the "Horns" of Hittin) cover 
large tracts in the eastern parts, a feature recurring only in 
Transjordan. This cover imparts to several of its landscapes a 
peculiar plateau-like relief of great uniformity, in vivid con- 
trast to areas of much more variegated configuration in the 
west, where the surfaces consist of calcareous rocks. Fault- 
ing, however, has exerted a far more decisive influence. In 
the Negev and in the Central Highlands, fold structures are 
found almost everywhere and are visually recognizable as the 
most important tectonic element that determines the relief of 
the region even in its minor features. In the Galilees, however, 
the influence of fold structures upon the relief is largely up- 
set, permuted, and even inverted by faulting. Tectonic activity 
seems to be continuing at present, as evidenced by the rela- 
tively frequent, and sometimes strong, earthquakes affecting 
the region. Generally characteristic of the landscape of the 
Galilees as a whole are closely spaced sequences of basins or 
valleys and mountain ranges that are uplifted unequally and 
thus tilted, so that one slope is much steeper than the oppo- 
site. Here mountain blocks, separated from their surround- 
ings by faults and up thrusting, constitute some of the highest 
summit regions of Cisjordan. Since the prevailing direction of 
the major fault lines is west-east, the general trend of Galilean 
ranges follows this direction, in strong contrast to the Central 
Mountain Zone's prevailing meridional trend and particularly 
to the Judean Mountains, where a continuous watershed zone 
running south-north emphasizes the compactness of this 
body. Tectonic conditions, resulting in an increase of rock 
exposures, and the relatively large amounts of precipitation 
produced relatively abundant karst features in the Galilees. 
Among these there are simple and complex dolines (small so- 
lution basins), sinkholes, even a large polje, and caves several 
of which contain speleothems (stalactites, stalagmites, etc.) or, 
they are caves which are of prime importance as prehistoric 
sites. Thus, lithologically, and still more so morphologically, 
the Galilees form the most contrasted and variegated moun- 
tain province (excluding the Eilat Mountains) of Cisjordan. 
Although strongly disjointed by the numerous basins, tectonic 
valleys, and uplifted blocks, the Galilee may be clearly subdi- 
vided into two main regions: a southern one of comparatively 
moderate height, Lower Galilee, and a northern one, separated 
from the first by an extended tectonic valley (Valley of Beth- 
Cherem), and rising immediately behind it to maximum sum- 
mit heights in Cisjordan, Upper Galilee. 

Lower Galilee. The Lower Galilee Highlands, which rise 
abruptly and steeply from the vale sequence in an in- and 
outcurving front, are markedly subdivided into an eastern part 
and a western one. The first is characterized by a widespread 
basalt cover of considerable thickness that buried a former, 
probably intensively sculptured relief, turning the area into 

groups of plateau-topped mountain bodies. This landscape, 
which is geologically recent, is now subject to vigorous dis- 
section by rivers (many of them perennial) that discharge 
into Lake Kinneret or into the Jordan (Ammud, Zalmon, Ha- 
Yonim and Tabor Rivers). They flow through deeply incised 
gorges created by their great erosive power, resulting from 
very considerable height differences between their respective 
source regions and their places of debouchure, which are re- 
spectively about 700 ft. (200 m.) above and 800 ft. (250 m.) 
below sea level and are only 12 mi. (20 km.) apart. The rivers 
also subdivide eastern Lower Galilee into many units, several 
of which form small plateaus, rising steplike, one above the 
other (Kokhav - the site of the Crusader fortress of Belvoir - 
and the Jabneel-Kefar Tabor plateau are the largest of them). 
In the other two -thirds of Lower Galilee, the surface rock con- 
sists of limestone (subject to strong solutional processes and 
to the formation of karstic features, such as dolines, sinkholes, 
caverns), chalk and marl, generally intensively interbedded. 
In this part of Lower Galilee almost all of the landforms bear 
visible evidence of the decisive role played by faulting in de- 
termining the relief of the present landscape. 

Central Galilee consists of a series of basins, separated 
by generally narrower ranges, usually representing remnants, 
partially uplifted portions, of the former highland surface. 
The series begins with the Plain of Jezreel, which, from the 
general morphotectonic point of view, represents the fore- 
land of Lower Galilee. It is separated from the Tiran Basin 
by the abruptly rising, steeply sloping Nazareth Mountains. 
Beyond the Tiran Basin lies that of Beit Netofah (the larg- 
est one), separated from the Tiran Basin by the Tiran Range. 
The Tiran Basin now contains a large storage lake, part of the 
National Water Carrier System. It is bordered on the north 
by the Yodefat Range, which, in turn, separates it from the 
Sakhnin Basin. The Shezor (Sajur) Ridge extends north of the 
Sakhnin Basin, near the boundary valley of Beth-Cherem, be- 
yond which the first group of the Upper Galilee Mountains 
rises, wall-like to heights exceeding 3,280 ft. (1,000 m.). The 
interbasin ranges are not compact, but rather form series of 
rounded hills separated by wide saddles, being the short flu- 
viatile valleys of tributaries of the major rivers that drain the 
basins (Zippori and Hillazon Rivers). The rivers draining the 
basins, however, were inadequate to collect and carry off the 
waters flowing down to them from the enclosing ridges. Large 
areas of them were flooded during the rainy season and the 
thick cover of heavy soils, mainly a product of slope erosion, 
greatly impeded infiltration. In addition to the flatness of the 
basin floors, the sluggishness of the flow of waters in their 
main channels, due to the very small gradient, strongly en- 
hanced marshy conditions. 

Upper Galilee. Most of the essential differences between the 
Lower and the Upper Galilee are conspicuous at their bound- 
ary, Valley of Beth-Cherem, one of the most distinct morpho- 
tectonic border zones of Cisjordan. Here, without any tran- 
sition, the slopes of several mountain blocks rise abruptly to 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



the highest summit heights in Cisjordan - Mount ha-Ari, 
3,434 ft. (1,047 m -)> Mount Kefir, 3,221 ft. (982 m.) - culminat- 
ing slightly to the north in the three summits of the Meron 
Block with heights of 3,621, 3,745, and 3,962 ft. (1,104, i>i5i> and 
1,208 m.). Structurally these mountains, as well as the major- 
ity of the mountains throughout Upper Galilee, are horsts, 
i.e., blocks separated from their surroundings by faults and 
partially uplifted to very considerable heights. The relative 
abundance of the horsts, which predominate over other tec- 
tonic structures, seems to be a result of the variety of fault di- 
rections. Whereas in the Lower Galilee the major fault lines 
generally trend east-west, conditioning the pattern of basins 
and intervening ranges that follow the same directions in Up- 
per Galilee, faults running in these directions are intersected 
obliquely or even at right angles by other faults. This is one of 
the prime causes of the isolation of the individual blocks and 
their apparently random pattern. The difference in height be- 
tween the blocks is primarily the result of the amount of uplift 
rather than of different rates of denudation. The Upper Gali- 
lee Highlands, as a whole, slope down to the northwest, and 
their lowest parts, already within the boundaries of Lebanon 
(Lebanese Galilee), are adjacent to the Qasimiye Valley. Faults 
also strongly influence the pattern and the individual courses 
of the valleys, which form almost parallel gorges only several 
kilometers apart (Ga'aton, Chezib, Bezet Rivers within Israel; 
Shama c and c Arriya in the Lebanese Galilee). In contrast to 
Lower Galilee, Upper Galilee is predominantly built up of 
Cenomanian and Turonian limestone formations, framed in 
the west by a belt of less resistant Senonian ones, which also 
form the surface rock of the region's intramontane basins. Eo- 
cene formations, generally consisting of hard rock sequences, 
are more extensive in the eastern part of the region. Another 
important difference between the Lower and Upper Galilee 
is the much smaller surface covered by basalts in the latter, 
where they are virtually restricted to some small plateaus (Dal- 
ton, Ram Plateaus). 

Upper Galilee, being northernmost of all the mountain 
regions of Cisjordan, with only a narrow coastal plain inter- 
posed between it and the Mediterranean to "intercept" the 
early rains, in particular, and affect their amounts, as in the 
case of the Judean Mountains, is the region with compara- 
tively the highest precipitation within Cisjordan. Very few 
parts of the region receive less than 24 in. (600 mm.), while 
the amount of precipitation on its summit areas exceeds 40 in. 
(1,000 mm.) annually. Snowfall occurs almost yearly. The large 
amounts of precipitation combined with the hard, intensively 
jointed limestone bedrock and the abundance of exposed 
surfaces (the result of tectonic shattering and fracturing and 
of the erosive activity of the watercourses) have made Upper 
Galilee the region most strongly affected by solution processes. 
Accordingly, it contains almost a full inventory of subaerial 
and subsurface karstic features. This is the only area where a 
sort of "holokarst" has developed, i.e., landscapes whose sur- 
faces are primarily affected by solution and that display almost 
the whole gamut of specific features. Large surfaces are rilled 

and corroded into a maze of small, sharp-crested ridgelets 
separated by even narrower minute channels (lapies). Dolines 
are widespread (particularly in the vicinity of Sa'sa and Alma) 
as are sinkholes, many of which are tens of meters deep. This 
is also the site of the only large "true" polje within Cisjordan, 
i.e., a basin of considerable size (Kadesh Naphtali), mainly a 
product of solution. Upper Galilee is, in addition, the site of 
the most abundant and intricate caves in Erez Israel (some of 
which include a full inventory of speleothems - stalactites, 
stalagmites, stalagnates, dripstone-draperies, etc.). 

The same basic conditions - the large amounts of pre- 
cipitation and the prevalence of limestone-dolomite surface 
rock - produced a relatively continuous cover of terra rossa on 
most moderately sloping areas. These conditions also apply to 
the relatively large areas of forest, which have great regenera- 
tive ability, so that even in the past, when forests were utterly 
depleted through man's agency, considerable parts of Upper 
Galilee remained covered by high-grade maquis. 

Upper Galilee is an analogue of Lower Galilee in its phys- 
iographic subdivision, on the basis of lithological and mor- 
photectonic conditions. The eastern part of Upper Galilee was 
apparently affected by faulting to a smaller extent, imparting 
to the landscape a more uniform aspect than in the adjacent 
parts. Several areas form small plateaus, mainly due to their 
basalt cover. Basins of considerable size, as well as relatively 
long mountain ranges, running almost unbroken and not par- 
titioned into isolated blocks, are found here. One of these, the 
Naphtali Range, with summits over 2,900 ft. (900 m.) high, 
extends almost due north up to the Qasimiye River. Its east- 
ward slope is precipitous - 1,600 ft. (500 m.) difference in 
height over a distance of only about a mile - a marked fault- 
scarp facing the upper Jordan Valley, the Huleh Basin and 
the Marj c Ayyun Basin farther north. Plateau-like on its top 
surfaces, and strongly affected by karstification, the Naphtali 
Range forms a wall-like enclosure around the Huleh Basin, 
uninterrupted by major valleys, and a pronounced watershed 
zone between this basin and the rivers draining to the Medi- 
terranean. South of this range lies the Safed region, flanked 
on its east by Mount Canaan and on the west by the domi- 
nant Meron Block. Here the surface is divided into individual 
mountain groups, due largely to the numerous steeply incised 
valleys of the tributaries of the Ammud River. The central Up- 
per Galilee Highlands are separated from the eastern High- 
lands by the gorge of the Ammud River, running almost due 
north- south. Here, as in the portion extending southward to 
the Beth-Cherem Valley, typical Mediterranean mountain 
scenery reaches its climax within Cisjordan. Slopes, mostly 
terraced, rise from deep valley gorges to heights surpassing 
3,000 ft. (1,000 m.) above sea level. Covered by patches of trees 
or scrub growth, they culminate in the gently domed summits 
of large mountain bodies such as Mount ha-Ari, Mount Hil- 
lel, and Mount Addir, which are overshadowed by the sum- 
mit region of the massive Mount Meron. The western part of 
Upper Galilee, much lower in absolute and relative heights, 
is characterized primarily by a large number of valleys (origi- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


nating in the Central Highlands). As noted earlier, the valleys 
are very closely spaced, and form deep gorges in their upper 
and middle reaches (Chezib and Bezet in the Israeli part of 
the area and Samara, Shama c , and c Azziyya in the Lebanese). 
These intensively dissected highlands mainly form extended 
interfluve ranges, the widest of which, the Hanitah-Rosh ha- 
Nikrah Range, ends with a headland into the Mediterranean 
(Rosh ha-Nikrah). 

rift valley. The Rift Valley, within Erez Israel, is part of the 
approximately 3,700 mi. (6,000 km.) Rift Valley system that 
begins in Africa near the Zambezi Valley and peters out north 
of the Amanus Mountains. The Red Sea and its two gulfs, Ei- 
lat and Suez, are submerged parts of the system, whereas in 
Erez Israel, as mentioned earlier, the Rift Valley is the prime 
determining factor of a complex of morphotectonic features 
unique in the world. Some of the tectonic movements that 
generated the Rift Valley seem to be still active here, as proved 
by the frequent earthquakes affecting the valley and the ad- 
jacent regions. Other evidence is provided by the many hot 
springs along the boundaries of the Rift Valley, indicating the 
presence of near- surface magmatic bodies. Geologically recent 
volcanic activity also played a major role in forming the basic 
surface configuration of the valley and its adjacent regions. 
Streams of lava, extruding mainly in the Bashan (particu- 
larly in the Hauran and Golan), formed an almost continu- 
ous basalt cover extending as far as to the south of the Yar- 
muk Valley. The lava moved down into the northern part of 
the present Jordan Valley, consolidated, and dammed up the 
valley, thus differentiating it into the Huleh Valley - the head 
part of the Jordan River system - and a section lying about 
800 ft. (250 m.) lower, at present occupied by Lake Kinneret. 
A vast inland sea covered the Rift Valley floor in the Middle 
Pleistocene, extending from the present Lake Kinneret to far 
beyond the southern shores of the Dead Sea. It is termed the 
Lashon (Lisan) Lake after the wide peninsula, or "tongue" 
(Heb. lashon; Ar. lisan), that protrudes into the present Dead 
Sea and divides it into two basins connected by a narrow strait. 
The level of the Lashon Lake was once about 700 ft. (200 m.) 
higher than that of the Dead Sea. Sediments deposited on 
the floor of the Lashon Lake (accordingly called the Lashon 
formation) - overlying very thick sediment accumulations of 
former lake formations, which appeared and disappeared in 
accordance with climatic variations during the Pliocene and 
Lower Pleistocene eras, and other fill-in material - are of very 
specific character. They consist of thinly layered clastic mate- 
rial, particularly clays, and evaporites, i.e., sediments produced 
by chemical precipitation caused mainly by evaporation. With 
the gradual regression of the Lashon Lake (evidenced by the 
many terraces along the Dead Sea slope enclosures mark- 
ing the former coastlines), the Lashon formation sediments 
were bared. These sediments, covering the floor and the slope 
bases of the Rift Valley from Lake Kinneret in the north to Ein 
Hazevah about 20 mi. (30 km.) south of the Dead Sea, are eas- 
ily eroded and thus condition micro reliefing processes of the 

highest intensity. These processes create mazes of badlands 
containing almost the entire gamut of configuration features 
in miniature, due mainly to the innumerable gullies that dis- 
sect this former floor of the Lashon Lake. Another extremely 
important lithological characteristic of the Rift Valley is the 
abundance of rock salt and gypsum forming the bedrock of 
prominent features (e.g., Mount Sodom). 

The Rift Valley, sunk in, troughlike, in some places to 
considerable depths below the sea level, forms a unique cli- 
matic region with very distinct characteristics and exerting 
great influence upon its adjacent zones. Climatic conditions 
in the Rift Valley have a decisive influence on the surface relief 
of its southern and central parts, i.e., from the Gulf of Eilat to 
Lake Kinneret. The Rift Valley receives very small amounts of 
precipitation, as it is leeward of the moisture -bearing winds 
coming from the Mediterranean, due to the interposition 
of the highlands of Cisjordan. Precipitation averages 1 in. 
(25 mm.) annually at Eilat, 2 in. (50 mm.) at the southern end, 
and less than 4 in. (100 mm.) at the northern end of the Dead 
Sea and gradually increases to approximately 12 in. (300 mm.) 
annually at Lake Kinneret, the terminal area of the depression 
below sea level. North of Lake Kinneret, where the Rift Val- 
ley floor is well above the level of the Mediterranean, precipi- 
tation is 16 in. (400 mm.) annually, imparting to this section 
subhumid characteristics. The topographical conditions that 
influence the amounts of precipitation are also the major rea- 
son for the generally extreme temperatures and their varia- 
tions in the Rift Valley. Geomorphologically more important 
than the temperatures themselves, which frequently reach the 
highest values within Erez Israel, is the extreme evaporation 
potential they cause, which greatly influences the bedrock and 
the processes affecting it, particularly weathering. The above- 
mentioned climatic conditions, together with particular lith- 
ological conditions (the high proportion of evaporites), have 
resulted in large parts of the Rift Valley being devoid of proper 
soil and vegetational cover, and these develop here only under 
specific hydrographic or hydrological conditions. The Jordan, 
for instance, from its exit from Lake Kinneret almost up to its 
debouchure, is accompanied by a dense gallery forest cover- 
ing its floodplain. In the vicinity of springs and in areas where 
topographical conditions cause the formation of salt marshes 
a type of tree oasis is common. 

Hydrographically, the Rift Valley is a vast endoreic basin 
(i.e., without a discharge outlet to the sea), presently in a state 
of equilibrium between the amount of inflow from its catch- 
ment area - about 15,500 sq. mi. (40,000 sq. km.) in area - and 
the amount of loss caused by evaporation and infiltration. The 
level of the Dead Sea, its discharge terminal, does not change 
in height appreciably from year to year. From the physiograph- 
ical, and particularly morphotectonic, points of view, the por- 
tion of the Rift Valley within Erez Israel may be subdivided 
into the following major units (dealt with here according to 
their south- north sequence, which to some degree also follows 
their genetical order of succession): Arabah, Dead Sea Region, 
Huleh Basin, and the Jordan Sources Region. 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Arabah. North of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Eilat, the Great 
Rift Valley again becomes a continental feature. Its first por- 
tion here extends for about 100 mi. (160 km.) up to the Dead 
Sea, constituting the longest and largest Rift unit within Erez 
Israel. It is relatively narrow, as its maximum width is only 
about 12 mi. (20 km.), and, according to its topography (es- 
pecially its hydrographic conditions), it consists of two parts. 
The southern part, about 43 mi. (70 km.) long, ascends gradu- 
ally from the Eilat coast to a divide between the latter and the 
Dead Sea about 600 ft. (200 m.) above sea level. From here the 
valley floor slopes down to below sea level in its last third and 
merges with the large salt marsh at the southern shore of the 
Dead Sea. This northern area is drained by the Arabah River 
and its many tributaries, whereas the southern area lacks any 
organized drainage, particularly any distinct river channel 
discharging into the Gulf of Eilat. Another significant charac- 
teristic of the southern portion of the Arabah is several major 
topographical depressions that function as discharge termi- 
nals for various very short, sporadic watercourses flowing in 
shallow, indistinct, rill-like beds and for the sheet floods oc- 
curring after each heavy rain. 

Southern Arabah. The southern section of the Arabah is 
bordered by the coast of Eilat- Akaba, which is less than 6 mi. 
(10 km.) long and runs southwest- northeast. This coast dif- 
fers in several respects from that bordering the Mediterra- 
nean. It is covered by coarse sands and shingle, created by 
the disintegration of magmatic rocks and Nubian Sandstone, 
which compose the mountains framing the Gulf of Eilat and 
the Arabah and by fragments of corals and associated organ- 
isms that populate the Gulf. The widely distributed beachrock 
consists mainly of pebbly material deposited on the coast by 
the rivers descending from the crystalline Eilat Mountains 
and their Transjordanian counterpart, the Edom Mountains, 
in addition to the above-mentioned organogenic material. Af- 
ter somewhat protracted or concentrated rainfall, the coastal 
part of the Arabah is frequently flooded. In the absence of dis- 
charge channels it becomes a kind of playa (i.e., salty marsh) 
that, after its ensuing desiccation, exhibits wide areas of po- 
lygonal clay shards encrusted by salt crystals. Farther north 
the floor of the Arabah is covered by detritus of various sizes 
reaching a depth of more than 3,300 ft. (1,000 m.). This layer 
has been deposited by numerous streambeds that carry only 
floodwaters (from Roded, Shekhoret, Amram, Reham, and 
Timna on the western enclosure and Yitm, Mulghan, and 
Muhtadi on the eastern one). Another very important dep- 
ositional factor is slope wash and gravitational movements 
(rockfall, sliding, slumping, particle creep) that continuously 
take place on the mountain slopes flanking the Arabah, which 
lack stabilization by soil and vegetational cover. These slopes, 
as mentioned earlier, are lithologically heterogeneous. In the 
southern part of the Cisjordan Arabah, they are composed 
mainly of magmatic -metamorphic rocks and Nubian Sand- 
stone (Eilat and Timna Massifs); farther north limestones and 
dolomites prevail. The Transjordanian side of the mountain- 

ous enclosure consists predominantly of crystalline rocks and 
Nubian Sandstone. 

The floor of the southern part of the Arabah is not flat. It 
is differentiated by many rises and wide shallow depressions. 
The former originate in alluvial fans spreading out widely into 
the Arabah at the exits of all the valleys. The fans on the east 
side are generally more numerous, larger, and longer as a result 
of the larger supply of detritus. The abundance of this supply 
is conditioned by several factors. The mountains bordering 
the Arabah to the east are much higher than the Negev High- 
lands and receive far larger amounts of precipitation because 
of their westerly exposure. These two factors endow the wa- 
tercourses descending from the eastern side with considerably 
greater erosive power. In addition, the bedrock there, which 
consists of crystalline rock and sandstones almost along the 
entire extension of this flank, is subject to intensive disinte- 
gration under the prevailing arid conditions and supplies the 
watercourses with the bulk of the coarse material that is borne 
down and deposited at their exit into the Arabah. Thus, on 
the east side an almost continuous detritus apron of coalesced 
fans envelops the bases and the lower slopes. Where the fans 
extend farther into the Arabah or meet fans formed by wa- 
tercourses from the west side (generally smaller in size), rises 
or topographical swells originate. The floor between the rises 
is basin-like; runoff is deflected into these basins with conse- 
quent flooding and salt marshes of short duration are formed. 
In several of these basins (Avronah, Yotvatah, and Sa'idiyin 
are the largest), halophytic vegetation has developed and even 
trees are able to subsist on brackish subsurface water. Another 
characteristic of both the southern and northern Arabah is the 
relatively wide areas of dunes, particularly between the basins 
of Yotvatah and Sa'idiyin. 

Northern Arabah. The northern, larger part of the Arabah, 
which begins with a wide protrusion of the Paran Plateau into 
the trough valley, differs in several respects from the southern 
part. The latter is relatively narrow, limited on the east by the 
relatively straight and continuous fault scarps of the Edom 
Highlands and on the west by the irregular outline of the 
southern Negev Highlands with their many mountain outli- 
ers and riverhead cirques. The influence of faulting is less pro- 
nounced there. Conversely, the northern Arabah often widens 
into the mountains bordering it, which are in turn frequently 
interrupted by wide valleys intruding deeply into the confining 
mountain flanks. The most significant difference between the 
southern and the northern parts of the Arabah, however, is the 
presence of a river course almost throughout the length of the 
latter. It is very indistinct and erratic, functioning mainly as 
a collecting artery of the many tributaries joining it from the 
east and west. The existence of this relatively dense drainage 
net, although it carries flash-flood waters almost exclusively, 
precludes the existence of any major basins turning into a salt 
marsh or extensive dune areas. The bed of the Arabah River, 
several hundred meters wide, is not contained by any perma- 
nent or continuous banks and is defined mainly by the accu- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


mulation of pebbles and associated fluviatile material. It does 
not run along the median axis of this part of the Rift Valley, 
but consistently deviates westward due to the fans growing 
and spreading out from the eastern side of the valley These 
fans receive more alluvial material than those spreading out 
from the Negev, due to the greater height, larger amounts of 
precipitation, and consequently greater erosive and tractive 
capacities of the Transjordanian affluents. 

The northernmost part of the Arabah was covered in the 
Middle Pleistocene by the Lashon Lake. Its surface accord- 
ingly consists mostly of laminated, highly erodible marls. The 
Arabah River and several others (in particular the Amazyahu 
River, almost parallel in course to the former) have cut spec- 
tacular canyons into these sediments, accompanied by laby- 
rinthal badlands. The Arabah River does not reach the Dead 
Sea through a clearly denned bed channel, but disappears in 
the Sodom playa - the salt marshes south of the Dead Sea - 
which is flooded periodically by any considerable rise of the 
Dead Sea and/or by the rivers that discharge into the Dead Sea. 
Only one river in this area, however, the Zered (Hasa) - de- 
limiting Edom from Moab - has a direct debouchure into the 
Dead Sea. It drains an area in Transjordan that reaches heights 
of over 3,280 ft. (1,000 m.), receives over 10 in. (250 mm.) 
precipitation on the annual average, and is fed by numerous 
springs. Due to these factors, the Zered exhibits perennial 
flow up to its entrance into the Rift Valley, and after rains it 
discharges very large quantities of floodwater. A large spring 
is also located in that section of the valley through which the 
Zered flows, and this northeast corner of the Arabah (the 
region of Zoar) forms a sort of an enclave, characterized by 
plentiful, almost tropical vegetation. 

Dead Sea. The deepest part of the Rift Valley is covered by an 
inland sea about 50 mi. (80 km.) long, 10 mi. (17 km.) wide, 
and generally similar in shape to the rift lakes in East Africa. 
With no outlet to the sea and an inflow of river water bal- 
anced by evaporation from its surface area of over 380 sq. mi. 
(1,000 sq. km.), the salt contents of the sea (mainly magne- 
sium, sodium, and calcium chlorides), carried as solutions by 
the rivers and the other sources of discharge into it (such as 
springs with a high mineral content), became progressively 
concentrated. This salt content now amounts to about 28-33%, 
depending on the depth of the water layer. The Dead Sea con- 
sists of two widely differing parts: a southern, small, and very 
shallow basin - 20 ft. (6 m.) deep - with a higher percentage 
of salinity; and a northern basin, over three times the size of 
the southern one, and considerably deeper than it - about 
1,300 ft. (400 m.). The two basins are connected by a strait 
about 2 mi. (3 km.) wide, formed by the westward protrusion 
of the Lashon Peninsula into the sea. According to topographi- 
cal and historical indications, the strait was formerly shallower 
and probably narrower, and it is assumed that in the geologi- 
cally recent past the two basins were virtually separated. The 
Lashon Peninsula rises about 200 ft. (60 m.) above the Dead 
Sea and was probably formed by diapiric movements of un- 

derlying deep-seated salt masses (i.e., an upward thrust of salt 
deposits rendered plastic and mobile by the pressure exerted 
on them). Its tabloid surface consists of Lashon Marls, as do 
the steep sides of the peninsula, which are subject to strong 
wave abrasion. Except for its northern and southern coast 
and small stretches along its sides, the Dead Sea does not 
have any shore flats. It is almost immediately bordered along 
its entire length by steep slopes that sometimes protrude into 
the sea and form bold capes (Ras Fashkha, south of the site 
of Qumran, is the most pronounced). Conversely, many riv- 
ers, particularly those coming from the Judean Desert, create 
rather extensive deltas quite close to the exits of their canyons 
(Kidron, Daraja, the combined deltas of Mishmar, Ze'elim and 
Masada). These deltas impart to the western coast its sinuous 
outline, in contrast to the relatively straight coastline on the 
eastern side, where the deltas built out into the sea are fewer in 
number and generally far smaller in size. Thus, e.g., the delta 
of the Arnon River, second only to the Jordan in the amount 
of water it supplies to the Dead Sea, is small; when the sea is 
at its high-water stage, its waters even extend up to the river s 
canyon exit. Even less pronounced is the subaerial delta of 
the Zarqa Main River, the third most important contributor 
to the Dead Sea. This variance in delta size seems primarily 
to be the result of the greater depth of the sea floor near its 
eastern coast, probably a consequence of the major fault line 
running close to it. 

A singular relief feature found on the southeastern side 
of the sea is Mount Sodom. It rises over 600 ft. (200 m.) above 
the sea, with jagged, almost perpendicular slopes, close to the 
water line, and gradually slopes down on its western flank. 
About 6 mi. (10 km.) long, it is composed mainly of salt and 
gypsum layers capped by Lashon Marls. The mountain is of di- 
apiric origin, i.e., salt and other evaporites have been squeezed 
upward along an elongated fault, thus uplifting the overlying 
sediments and then spreading them out sideways. The great 
solubility and erodibility of the evaporites, augmented by their 
strong tendency to form cracks as a result of the enormous 
stresses exerted on the rock masses when they are thrust up 
and intensively contorted, resulted in the formation of this al- 
most unique mountain ridge. Closely spaced fissures (continu- 
ally widened and deepened by solution), washout, and corra- 
sion by gully waters created a multitude of pillar-like features 
("Lot's Wife"). Their surfaces are pitted by innumerable hol- 
lows, crisscrossed by rills ("salt-lapies"); in their flank facing 
the Dead Sea caverns developed, one of them an actual cave, 
connected with the upper mountain surface by a chimney-like 
conduit. The interior of this cave exhibits a rich inventory of 
speleothems (stalactites, etc.), somewhat more elaborate than 
those found in limestone caves. 

The Lower Jordan Valley. The Lower Jordan Valley morpho- 
genetically represents the floor of the Lashon Lake laid bare 
after its recession. The valley of the Jordan progressively de- 
veloped on this floor, as did the lowermost courses of its trib- 
utaries, which formerly discharged into the Lashon Lake. 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Hyp so graphical, lithological, and climatic conditions resulted 
in the formation of a unique riverscape, connected with and 
focused on the course of the Jordan River from its exit from 
Lake Kinneret to its debouchure into the Dead Sea. The Jor- 
dan and its tributaries are deeply entrenched in the layers of 
the Lashon formations, which thicken progressively south- 
ward. They did not succeed, although greatly aided by the in- 
numerable gullies that developed on the former Lashon Lake 
floor, in dissecting and reducing it considerably, so that two 
distinct surface levels exist along the Lower Jordan Valley. 
The higher one, generally flat, featureless, and only moder- 
ately affected by river dissection, is the remnant of the Lashon 
Lake floor and is referred to as the Ghor (Kikkar ha-Yarden 
in Hebrew). On both sides it borders high and steep moun- 
tainous slopes, formed mainly by scarps and composed pre- 
dominantly of hard limestones and dolomites. Near the Jor- 
dan course, however, the Ghor becomes intensively dissected 
by innumerable gullies that turn it into intensive and charac- 
teristic badlands. Tens of meters below the Ghor extends the 
alluvial valley of the Jordan formed by its vertical and lateral 
erosion and much narrower than the Ghor. The Jordan valley, 
in the narrow sense, consists of the riverbed, about 80-100 ft. 
(25-30 m.) wide when not in bankful or overflooding stage, 
and a discontinuous floodplain covered by a dense gallery for- 
est. Walled in by the steep, intensively gullied badland slopes, 
it contacts the bases of the mountain slopes enclosing the Rift 
Valley in only a few places. 

The length of the Rift Valley between Lake Kinneret and 
the Dead Sea is about 65 mi. (105 km.); the course of the Jordan 
along this part of the Rift Valley, however, is approximately 
125 mi. (205 km.). The near doubling in length is the result 
of the river s intricate meandering, despite the great drop in 
height between its exit from Lake Kinneret and its entrance 
into the Dead Sea. Despite its tortuous course, the river's gra- 
dient and the velocity of its current are still quite considerable, 
endowing it with great erosive power - factors which are gen- 
erally adverse to the full development of a meandering course. 
The intensive meandering of the Jordan - often cited as an ex- 
ample of the phenomenon - seems causally to be connected 
with the tributaries joining it, which built out progressively, 
growing fans into its valley, and thus deviate from its course. 
The rivers contributing the greatest amounts of discharge to 
the Lower Jordan are its affluents from the Transjordanian 
side: the Yarmuk contributes about 17 billion cu. ft. (480 mil- 
lion cu. m.) annual discharge, compared with about almost 
18 billion cu. ft. (500 million cu. m.) of the Jordan flowing at 
their confluence; the Jabbok provides approximately 2 billion 
cu. ft. (about 60 million cu. m.); the Arabah River, over 1 bil- 
lion cu. ft. (30 million cu. m.); and the other major tributar- 
ies contribute only 210-350 million cu. ft. (6-10 million cu. 
m.) Because the tributaries coming in from the western side 
of the valley discharge far less, the Jordan is permanently de- 
flected westward. Another factor in determining the river s 
course is the larger amounts of river-borne material supplied 
by the eastern affluents (particularly at the flood stages), due 

to the greater height at which these rivers originate, the larger 
amounts of precipitation their catchment areas receive, and 
consequently their far greater erosive and tractive capacities. 
In addition, exceedingly large amounts of material are de- 
livered to the river from the Rift floor, particularly from the 
badland zone. Since this material is deposited within the riv- 
erbed, where the current is extremely unequal, irregular, and 
frequently deviated in its course by the outbuilt fans, the large 
discharge injections are an additional major factor behind the 
meandering tendency. Finally, waste movements, activated by 
undermining the river erosion banks, or even - although far 
more rarely - by earthquakes, bring vast amounts of debris 
down into the riverbed. According to both historical and con- 
temporary eyewitnesses, this activity has even caused tempo- 
rary cessation of the river s flow for some time. 

The Lower Jordan Valley is fringed on its eastern side by 
the high scarp-slopes of the Transjordanian plateaus, which 
are only insignificantly punctuated by the canyon exits of the 
rivers descending into the Rift Valley. Less linear in outline 
is the western enclosure, in which the Jordan tributaries cre- 
ated wide valleys, extending far into the eastern flank of the 
Judean and particularly the Samarian Mountains ( c Awja and 
Fari c a Rivers). Some 18 mi. (30 km.) south of Lake Kinneret, 
the western mountain enclosure is broken by the tectonic val- 
ley of Beth-Shean, which begins the valley sequence traversing 
the width of Cisjordan. Hyp so graphic ally and climatically it 
represents a transition zone. The valleys level rises progres- 
sively from about 800 ft. (250 m.) below sea level at its east- 
ern limit - the Jordan River - to about 300 ft. (100 m.) above 
sea level at its conjunction with the Harod Valley. Two surface 
levels exist within this embayment of the Rift Valley: a higher 
one adjacent to Mount Gilboa and predominantly composed 
of travertine, precipitated mainly from the many fault-condi- 
tioned springs at the base of this mountain; and an eastern, 
lower one, separated from the former by a step slope (now in- 
distinct because of cultivation), merging imperceptibly with 
the Ghor. The Beth-Shean and Jordan valleys exhibit semiarid 
characteristics, mainly as a result of the amounts of precipi- 
tation (exceeding 12 in. (300 mm.) on the annual average). 
Conversely, the prevailing temperatures are still very similar 
to those in the southern part of the Lower Jordan Valley. 

Kinneret Region. The Kinneret Region comprises Lake Kin- 
neret (also called the Sea of Galilee or Lake Tiberias) and the 
narrow plains situated between it and the high, steep moun- 
tain slopes enclosing it to the west and east. To the south the 
plain into which the Jordan exits from the lake and in which 
the embouchure of the Yarmuk into the Kinneret is situated 
merges imperceptibly with the Beth-Shean Valley. The lake, 
however, covers a larger area - about 70 sq. mi. (170 sq. km.) - 
than all its surrounding plains combined. Lake Kinneret itself, 
whose maximum depth is only about 200 ft. (60 m.), was cre- 
ated by complex and protracted tectonic movements involv- 
ing faulting and volcanic activities (the mountains enclosing 
the lake are to a large extent covered by basalts). These move- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


ments, which seem to continue to this day, as may be inferred 
from the earthquakes of considerable strength that affect the 
region from time to time (the town of Tiberias was heavily 
damaged and about 700 people were killed in the earthquake 
of 1837) and from the presence of hot springs (Tiberias, al- 
Hamma, the ancient Hammath-Gader, in the Yarmuk Val- 
ley). Another indirect source of evidence is the many mineral 
springs issuing from the lake bottom and contributing consid- 
erably to the relatively high salinity of the waters - 300 mg./ 
liter. Fault lines are the main factor behind the pronounced 
asymmetry of the shoreline. Whereas the eastern shore, con- 
ditioned by a fairly meridional fault sequence, runs relatively 
straight, the western one curves out sharply due to crescent- 
shaped fault lines. Asymmetry is also characteristic of most 
of the other features of the lakescape. Steep, high slopes rising 
almost immediately from the eastern and western sides of the 
lake face littoral plains on the opposite shores. The northern 
and southern shores of the lake are also very different in con- 
figuration. At its northern tip the Jordan River enters the lake 
in a complex braided course; several branches of it split up and 
join alternatively, uniting into a single bed only a small dis- 
tance from the embouchure. The small river plain thus formed 
is the head of the al-Butayha (Bet Zayyada) Plain, which ex- 
tends farther southeast and is composed mainly of the allu- 
vial deposits of six small streams descending from the Golan 
Heights into the lake. South of this plain, and separated from 
it by a steep mountain spur, extends the shore plain of Ein 
Gev, dominated by Mount Susita and progressively widening 
and finally merging with the Yarmuk Plain. 

In bold contrast to the northern and eastern sides of the 
lake, where alluvial plains are prograded into the lake, the 
southern shore is subject to incessant, strong abrasion and 
thus to regrading by the wave activity caused by the prevailing 
north winds. The recession of the shore is strongly aided by 
the high erodibility of the Lashon formation materials fram- 
ing the lake. Into this bedrock, which also contains many ba- 
salt outcrops, the Jordan has cut its bed in a course that me- 
anders almost from its exit from the lake. The west side of 
Lake Kinneret is fringed from the exit of the Jordan up to the 
debouchure of the Arbel River by a steep slope rising in sev- 
eral steps to about 600-800 ft. (200-250 m.) above the level 
of the lake - 700 ft. (212 m.) below sea level. A large littoral 
plain - the plain of Ginnosar - developed only at its northwest 
corner. This plain was created by the coalescence of deposits 
brought down from Eastern Galilee by several rivers (Arbel, 
Zalmon, Ammud). 

Huleh Basin and Jordan Source Region. At least two subse- 
quent lava flows, descending from the Golan Heights into the 
Rift Valley north of the present Kinneret Lake and consolidat- 
ing there, formed a basalt sill that dammed up the flow of the 
Jordan southward. A result of this stoppage was the formation 
of a lake whose waters quickly reached a level higher than the 
sill and finally began to overflow it. This process resulted in 
the formation of a riverbed incised progressively deeper into 

the basalt block, and the lake eventually became greatly re- 
duced in surface area and depth. This reduction was probably 
accomplished in a relatively short time because of the consid- 
erable difference in height between the floor of the basin and 
the surface of Lake Kinneret that must have existed before the 
up -damming. At present the difference in height amounts to 
about 900 ft. (270 m.) over a distance of only 10 mi. (17 km.) - 
the steepest gradient in the Jordan's course, giving it great ero- 
sive power, despite the hardness of the basaltic bedrock (as 
evidenced also by the steepness of the banks along the bed cut 
into it). The Huleh Lake, which was small - about 5 sq. mi. 
(14 sq. km.) - and only about 20 ft. (6 m.) deep, and the ad- 
jacent Hulatah swamps, which occupied an area of about 12 
sq. mi. (30 sq. km.) covered by papyrus and kindred hydro- 
philic plants and populated by waterfowl, buffalo, etc., repre- 
sented the natural remnants of the former lakescape. Drained 
off by the lowering, widening, and straightening of the Jordan 
bed and by artificial channels dug through the marshy areas 
in the 1930s - uncovering soils extremely rich in organic mat- 
ter and thick layers of peat - the region underwent one of the 
most pronounced anthropogenous landscape transformations 
within Erez Israel. At present it is one of the most intensively 
cultivated areas in the country (with the exception of a small 
reservation where the former conditions are preserved); how- 
ever, it faces the problem of surface subsidence due to the pro- 
gressive shrinkage of its underground, caused by the draining 
off of its interstitial water contents into the channels. 

North of the former swamp area and lake, which occu- 
pied the lowest part of the basin, the land surface gradually 
rises to the Hills of Metullah, interposed between the Naph- 
tali Range in the west and the Golan Heights in the east. This 
region is characterized mainly by its many watercourses - the 
headrivers of the Jordan: namely, from west to east: the Senir 
(al-Hasbani), Dan, and Hermon (Banias) Rivers. All these riv- 
ers, as well as several brooks that discharged independently 
into the Hulatah swamps - like the Ijon ( c Ayyun), which 
drains the basin bearing the same name farther north - are 
fed mainly by spring waters. The springs are partly supplied 
by rainfall and snow melting on the Hermon and fed by sub- 
terranean conduits, created by solution. The three above-men- 
tioned headrivers, of which the Senir has the longest course, 
beginning at the northwest base of the Hermon, flow in deeply 
incised, precipitously sloped valleys in beds with very irregu- 
lar gradients, which at times become highly steep and form 
waterfalls. There are several waterfalls along the course of the 
Hermon River and some smaller ones along that of the Dan. 
The most impressive waterfall within Cisjordan, however, is 
the Tannur ("Chimney") of the Ijon River near Metullah. 

The Hermon River first joins the Dan, and only some 
distance from their confluence with the Senir does the Jordan 
River begin its course in a single bed. Before the swamps were 
drained, this united flow continued for only a small distance, 
after which the flatness of the basin bottom and the marshes 
covering it caused a division of the Jordan's course into several 
indistinct branches that discharged into the swamps and con- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



tributed to their existence. Thus the Jordan proper, in terms of 
the continuity of the river, and the singleness of its bed, began 
only at its exit from the Huleh Basin. All these conditions were 
essentially changed by the draining of the Hulatah swamps 
and the regulation of the river courses discharging into it. 
The numerous watercourses perennially flowing down from 
the Hermon foothills, the Golan Heights, and the Naphtali 
Range - totaling an average annual inflow of over 26 billion 
cu. ft. (about 740 million cu. m.) - and the abundant springs 
(among them the largest in Erez Israel) impart to the source 
region of the Jordan hydrographic characteristics infrequently 
encountered in the Levant. 

Ijon Region The 8.5 sq. mi. (22 sq. km.) basin of Ijon (Marj 
c Ayyun) which is situated within Lebanon, is separated from 
the Huleh Basin by the Metullah Hills. It represents the north- 
ernmost portion of the Rift Valley drained by the Jordan, and 
also of the endoreic part of the Great Rift Valley System. The 
basin is over 1,600 ft. (500 m.) above sea level and it also is a 
tectonically conditioned depression. It is much smaller than 
the Huleh Basin, with which it shares some properties, partic- 
ularly its considerable marsh areas and associated vegetation. 
On its north the Rift Valley continues in the Beqa, which di- 
vides the Lebano- Syrian region into two main physiographi- 
cal parts: a western one (Lebanon, Ansariye, Amanus Moun- 
tains) and an eastern one (Antilebanon, Syrian Plateau). In 
this area as well, both structure and hydrography are largely 
conditioned by the Rift, but drainage is essentially different 
from that of the Rift Valley within Erez Israel: the two collect- 
ing trunk rivers (Leontes and Orontes) flow in opposite direc- 
tions and discharge into the Mediterranean. 

transjordan. The other main part of Erez Israel, Trans- 
jordan, comprises the regions east of the Rift Valley from the 
Gulf of Eilat in the south up to the Hermon and the Damas- 
cus Basin in the north. The eastern confines of Transjordan 
are not marked by any distinct relief features, and most of it 
gradually merges with the Syrian Desert. Thus only the zone 
adjacent to the Rift Valley, where the climate is still Mediter- 
ranean to semiarid and the water-courses discharge into the 
Rift Valley, may actually be regarded as the eastern part of Erez 
Israel, according to its definition as a major natural unit. The 
zone averages only about 25 mi. (40 km.) in width and has al- 
ways been politically, culturally, and economically connected 
with and dependent upon Cisjordan. The Rift Valley is more 
than just an external disconnection between Cisjordan and 
Transjordan. In spite of their spatial juxtaposition and the 
relatively narrow Rift Valley separating them, several differ- 
ences, although not fundamental, do exist between these two 
areas. These differences pertain to lithology, tectonics, and 
consequently to surface features. Lithologically, almost all rock 
formations (except for the kurkar outcropping in Cisjordan) 
are present in Transjordan, although their areal distribution 
varies greatly. Formations that form the bedrock of relatively 
small surfaces in Cisjordan cover large areas in Transjordan, 
and vice versa. For example, basement rock of magmatic-met- 

amorphic origin, found almost exclusively in the southern- 
most tip of Cisjordan (the Eilat Mountains), constitutes the 
surface of a large section of southern Transjordan, extending 
about 60 mi. (100 km.) north of the Gulf of Eilat. The same is 
true of Nubian Sandstone and various massive sediments of 
Paleozoic origin. Similarly, volcanic formations, which are of 
major importance as surface rock in Cisjordan only in East- 
ern Galilee, cover much larger areas of Transjordan. North of 
the Yarmuk they form the almost exclusive surface rock and 
create in the Bashan a volcanic region, also in all the mor- 
phological aspects. Volcanic formations are also widely dis- 
tributed farther south in Transjordan, i.e., in regions whose 
counterparts in Cisjordan are almost entirely composed of 
calcareous rocks. Although the latter is also the most widely 
distributed type of rock in Transjordan, its predominance in 
Cisjordan is far more outstanding. These facts, together with 
studies of tectonic features (mainly the prominence and con- 
tinuity of the fault lines bordering the Rift Valley to the east), 
have recently led to the following hypothesis: the formation 
of the Rift Valley, which continued through several geologi- 
cal ages, involved horizontal displacement and a northward 
movement of about 60 mi. (100 km.) of the eastern flank of 
the Rift Valley, whereas the western flank was apparently not 
affected by a similar movement. 

The lithological conditions described above are indica- 
tive, albeit indirectly, of tectonic variances between Cisjordan 
and Transjordan. In Cisjordan, beginning with the Central 
Negev, folding played a decisive role in determining structure 
and relief; in Transjordan it appears to have been of subordi- 
nate importance, although large-scale up- and downwarping 
participated in the formation of the region. In the interior of 
Transjordan, faulting did not produce the basins and tectonic 
valleys so characteristic of Cisjordan, where it formed the most 
pronounced features, culminating in the valley sequence of 
Beth-Shean- Haifa Plain and a large number of small individ- 
ual regions. In no part of Transjordan did faulting, subsidence, 
and uplifting influence small-scale relief as strongly as it did 
in the Galilees. In a general morphological sense, Transjordan 
can be defined as a plateau, very uniform in surface configu- 
ration and elevations. As no large intramontane basins exist 
there, lowlands covered by alluvial soils can be found only in 
Ghor, east of the Jordan. The ascent from the valley to the pla- 
teau is extremely steep, almost wall-like, interrupted only by 
the gorges of rivers exiting into the Rift Valley. These gorges 
are so narrow and steep that nowhere do they provide conve- 
nient access to the surfaces of the plateaus. 

It is probable that together with the subsidence of the 
Rift Valley, its eastern flank was subject to strong uplifting, 
which particularly affected the immediately adjacent zone. 
This theory would explain why the eastern zone reaches great 
heights and gradually slopes down eastward at a small distance 
from Rift Valley. Only the western zone was transformed into 
a mountainous relief by numerous deeply incised rivers; east- 
ward, as the elevation gradually becomes smaller and the relief 
flatter, or only gently undulating, the plateau character of the 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


terrain becomes more marked. Further east, the surfaces gen- 
erally rise again, forming a sort of a broad rise where the ma- 
jor rivers that cut into the plateau and discharge into the Rift 
Valley originate. Only at Edom does the rise become a moun- 
tainous range, from which the plateau gradually slopes down 
eastward to the large desert basins at the border between Tran- 
sjordan and Arabian Desert and the riverine lowlands of the 
Euphrates. This configuration, which represents the general 
watershed zone between the Rift Valley and the Syro- Arabian 
Desert, extends only up to the Yarmuk River, beyond which 
the landforms are primarily volcanic in origin. 

The most significant topographical feature of almost all 
regions of Transjordan is thus the tablelands, which attain 
greater heights than those facing them on the west. This fea- 
ture is accentuated by summits several hundred meters higher 
than the highest ones in Cisjordan. As the highest parts of the 
plateau almost abut on the Rift Valley, only a relatively narrow 
zone is effectively exposed to the rain-bearing, mainly westerly 
winds. This zone is only 20-30 mi. (30-50 km.) wide (broad- 
ening considerably only in the Bashan) and its climate is Med- 
iterranean, although the amounts of precipitation it receives 
exceed those of the opposite regions in Cisjordan only in the 
highest areas of Edom - 16 in. (400 mm.) as against 2-4 in. 
(50-100 mm.) in the Negev Highlands. Another significant dif- 
ference between this part of Transjordan and the highlands of 
Cisjordan is that most of the main rivers of Transjordan carry 
flow throughout the year, mainly as a result of the deep val- 
leys reaching aquiferous strata and a large number of springs 
that feed the rivers. 

Climatic and topographic conditions strongly influence 
the prevalence and distribution of soil types. Due to the rela- 
tively smaller areas of limestones and the narrowness of the 
zone receiving at least 16 in. (400 mm.) mean annual precipi- 
tation, the cover of terra rossa is less extensive and continu- 
ous here than in Cisjordan. Rendzina soils, hamra soils, and 
loess are not found frequently here. In contrast, however, large 
areas, particularly north of the Yarmuk, are covered by heavy 
soils produced by the decomposition of volcanic rocks. Al- 
luvial soils form a rather continuous belt on the Rift Valley 
floor along the course of the Lower Jordan, whereas on the 
plateau, due to the narrowness of the fluviatile valleys and the 
absence of intramontane basins, the distribution of alluvial 
soils is rather patchy. Farther east and south, yellow and gray 
soils, peculiar to desert-like conditions, become more exten- 
sive. Topographic and more extreme climatic conditions pro- 
duced the natural vegetational cover in Transjordan, which is 
considerably different both in character and in spatial distri- 
bution from that in Cisjordan. Whereas in the latter, whole 
regions were covered in early historical times by forests, which 
persisted for many centuries, relatively small areas south of 
the Yarmuk, characteristically including the highest parts of 
Edom (Seir), seem to have been forested. 

Transjordan may be subdivided physiographically into 
four main regions and a transitional one. These are, from 
south to north: Edom, Moab-Ammon, Gilead, and Bashan. 

The Hermon Massif (which, because of its position, orogra- 
phy, and particularly hydrography, morphotectonically con- 
stitutes a part of the Antilebanon system) forms the terminal 
and transitional arch between the two flanks of the endoreic 
Rift Valley. 

Edom. Like its western counterpart, the Negev, Edom is the 
longest unit of Transjordan. No major natural feature distin- 
guishes Edom from the northern part of the Arabian Penin- 
sula (the biblical Midian), whereas, on the north the Zered 
(Hasa 3 ) River - one of the major watercourses traversing 
the entire width of Transjordan and draining into the Dead 
Sea - forms a marked border between Edom and Moab. No- 
where else in Erez Israel are basement rocks Paleozoic sedi- 
ments, and particularly Paleo-Mesozoic Nubian Sandstone 
so widespread or exert such influence upon the landscape as 
in this region. Even the name Edom (red) is thought by some 
to be derived from the prevalent color of the granite and the 
predominant reddish-brown hues of the Nubian Sandstone. 
Farther east the formations are younger (up to Eocene) and 
the topography is progressively lower, so that structurally 
the area bears resemblance to a pan. This description applies 
particularly to the Maon (Mabn, Ma c an) Basin in the central- 
eastern part of Edom, where this structure is strongly accen- 
tuated by a drainage pattern that converges centripetally to- 
ward its lowest part. 

As in southern Sinai and the Eilat Mountains, the areas 
of crystalline rocks in Edom have serrated crenulated ridges 
and bold dome-shaped summits. The slopes of these ridges 
are very steep and their bases are buried in debris, mainly pro- 
duced by weathering under arid conditions. The rock waste 
progressively fills up the valleys between the ridges and in- 
dividual mountain blocks. Conversely, the parts composed 
mostly of horizontally bedded Nubian Sandstones form broad 
flat-topped ridges, frequently dissected into isolated blocks, 
mesas, and buttes (i.e., larger and smaller table -mountains, the 
uppermost beds of which consist of resistant rock that pre- 
serves the flatness of the surface). Their steep slopes are pit- 
ted by alveoli of various sizes and are strongly subject to dis- 
jointing, giving rise to pillar-like columns, mushroom rocks, 
etc. In contrast, the forms developed by the calcareous forma- 
tions, which are far less subject to disintegration, usually ap- 
pear massive, and generally exhibit characteristics of plateaus, 
mountain-like only where dissection by rivers was more in- 
tensive. The climate of Edom is like that of the Negev - as a 
whole arid. Nevertheless, several regions within it are still ex- 
posed to Mediterranean influence, due to their considerable 
height above sea level and still more - over 1,000 ft. (300 m.) 
on the average - above the Negev Highlands, which inter- 
pose between Edom and the sea. The mean annual precipita- 
tion on these summits therefore amounts to more than 12 in. 
(300 mm.), and even snow is frequent. The precipitation also 
accounts for the relatively dense drainage net, the rivers of 
which (with the exception of Zered) carry water only imme- 
diately following rain and in the form of flash floods. The great 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



difference of elevation between the head areas of these rivers 
and the Arabah on the west and the topographical depressions 
(described later) into which the rivers discharge on the east 
endows them with very great erosive power, manifested in the 
deep, almost perpendicularly walled gorges and the very large 
debris fans at their mouths; these fans coalesce to form an al- 
most continuous waste apron at the foot of slopes along the 
Arabah. Edom can be subdivided physiographically into the 
following three parts: Southern Edom, including the al-Hisma 
depression; Central Edom, generally referred to as the Seir (al- 
Shara 3 ), and including the Maon (Ma an) Basin on the east; and 
Northern Edom, also called the Jebel (al-Jibal) region. 

Southern Edom The scarp slopes of the highland of South- 
ern Edom rise abruptly above the Arabah. There are no ma- 
jor breaks in their continuity except for the valley exit of the 
al-Yitm River discharging into the Gulf of Eilat, which facili- 
tated the construction of the only road (Akaba-Mabn) tra- 
versing the entire width of the Edom Mountains. The plateau 
reaches heights of more than 5,000 ft. (1,500 m.) at a distance 
of no more than 6 mi. (10 km.) from the Rift Valley: Jebel 
Baqir, 4,020 ft. (1,592 m.); Jebel al-Ahmar, 5,220 ft. (1,588 m.). 
In Southern Edom the belt of basement rocks is the widest 
in all of Erez Israel - about 12 mi. (20 km.) - as are the areas 
covered by sandstones. Within the latter zone lies the Hisma 
depression, an elongated, triangularly shaped, tectonically 
conditioned basin running northwest- southeast. It also con- 
tains the head-valley of the Yitm and merges gradually with 
the plateau of Midian. Considerably lower than the adjacent 
tableland, the floor of the basin contains a sequence of local 
depressions (sing, qa) that become saline marshes in the rainy 
season. Many plateaus bordered by steep slopes - the remains 
of a former continuous table -mountain surface - still stand 
high above the basin floor but are subject to incessant reduc- 
tion by weathering and fluviatile erosion. Notwithstanding 
its much higher elevation, climatic conditions in Southern 
Edom are generally similar to those of the southern Negev, 
as evidenced by the scarcity of soil and vegetational cover 
and the complete lack of permanent settlement throughout 
historical times. 

Central Edom. The central part of Edom, also referred to as 
the Seir Mountains (al-Shara 5 ), represents the area's largest re- 
gion in both meridional and east-west extension. It is, except 
for the Hermon, the highest land unit within Erez Israel, with 
large surface areas exceeding 3,500-5,000 ft. (1,200-1,500 m.) 
in height and several summits above 5,500 ft. (1,700 m.). In 
contrast to Southern Edom the Seir Mountains proper appear 
as a continuous range towering high above the Rift Valley, only 
12 mi. (20 km.) from their summit region, and sloping down 
far more gradually towards the east to the Basin of Maon. 
Relevant lithological differences also exist between Southern 
and Central Edom. Basement rocks in Central Edom are less 
widespread than Nubian Sandstones or Mesozoic calcareous 
rocks, and most significantly the belt of highest elevations ex- 

tends along the zone of sedimentary formations. Structurally 
the area differs from Southern Edom by its greater frequency 
of fault lines, which greatly contributed to the prevailing pat- 
tern in the magmatic zone of isolated mountains and to the 
frequent interspersing of areas composed of magmatic -met - 
amorphic rocks with those consisting of Nubian Sandstones 
and even of Mesozoic calcareous formations. The Seir Moun- 
tains form a very distinct watershed between the relatively 
short watercourses descending to the Arabah and those - far 
greater in number - discharging into the Maon Basin in a very 
pronounced concentric pattern. Due to the extremely steep 
gradient of the westward- flowing rivers and the prevalently 
hard bedrock into which they are incised, their valleys usually 
form very deep and narrow canyons, at times widening into 
small, intramontane, cirque-like basins (e.g., the Wadi Musa at 
Petra, accessible only through the spectacular al-Siq gorge). 
Central Edom rises about 1,900 ft. (600 m.) higher than 
the Negev Highlands and thus receives relatively large amounts 
of precipitation, rather frequently in the form of snow. Con- 
sequently areas covered, albeit patchwise, by productive soils 
and vegetation are abundant in comparison with Southern 
Edom, particularly in the vicinity of the relatively numerous 
springs. These conditions allowed for the existence of some 
permanent settlements in the area throughout most histori- 
cal times, the most important of which was Petra (near the 
Musa spring), the famous Nabatean center. A great deal of 
natural and historical evidence also leads to the conclusion 
that up to the first decade of the present century some parts of 
the Seir Mountains were forested. Toward the east the slopes 
of the Seir Mountains descend into the Maon Basin, which 
is enclosed on the north by large outcrops of volcanic rock. 
As most of the precipitation that falls on the Seir Mountains 
runs off into this basin, whose floor is wide and flat, the valleys 
descending into it become progressively wider and indistinct 
after forming vast fans at their entrance into the basin. The 
widespread deposits of large amounts of alluvia brought by 
the rivers created considerable tracts of cultivable soils, par- 
ticularly in the vicinity of Maon (Ma c an) the capital of Edom, 
throughout history. 

Northern Edom. Northern Edom, the Jebel (al-Jibal) region, 
differs in many regards from Central Edom. Its mean eleva- 
tion is considerably lower, although some summits still exceed 
3,300 ft. (1,000 m.). There is no range -like alignment such as 
the Seir Mountains, but individual, small mountain bodies 
are separated by valleys, many of which have wide floors. The 
significant difference in lithology between the two areas is a 
major cause of this configuration. Crystalline rocks, widely 
distributed in the other parts of Edom and constituting the 
backbone of its structure, and the bulk of the ramparts slop- 
ing down to the Arabah occupy far smaller areas in Northern 
Edom than do sedimentary rocks. The scarp-slopes facing the 
Arabah consist mainly of Nubian Sandstone and are thus less 
steep than those composed of crystalline rocks. The greater 
erodibility of the Nubian Sandstone and certain other sedi- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


mentary rocks is also an important explanation for the rela- 
tive prevalence of wide valleys in this area. The orientation 
of the valleys is largely determined by intensively developed 
and complex fault lines. Northern Edom also receives rela- 
tively considerable amounts of precipitation. Because of this 
factor, as well as the many springs, the wide valley floors, and 
the location, i.e., the relative proximity of the area to the core 
region of Trans Jordan (Gilead), Northern Edom became the 
most densely populated part of Edom. 

Moab-Ammon. The Edom Highlands descend gradually to 
the valley of the Zered River (Wadi al-Hasa 3 ), the first ma- 
jor river, deeply incised into aquiferous strata and drain- 
ing a large catchment area - 675 sq. mi. (1,750 sq. km.) - far 
larger than any catchment area in Cisjordan. The Zered flows 
throughout the year, discharging into the Sodom Sabkhah 
(salt marsh), and its course traverses the whole width of the 
Transjordanian plateau south of the Dead Sea, with head riv- 
ers beginning as far as 45 mi. (70 km.) from the Rift Valley. 
The Moab-Ammon region is delimited on the north by the 
Jabbok (Nahr al-Zarqa 5 ) Valley - one of the most pronounced 
canyons in Transjordan. Morphologically, this area represents 
the most compact and homogeneous part of Transjordan. This 
effect seems mainly to be the result of lithological conditions, 
namely the prevalence of almost horizontally bedded sedi- 
mentary rock formations (sandstones and calcareous rocks) 
and larger areas of volcanic extrusions (even a major extinct 
volcano). The elevation of the plateau is relatively high, averag- 
ing 3,300 ft. (1,000 m.) with some summits exceeding 4,000 ft. 
(1,200 m.). Moab is separated from Ammon by the Heshbon 
(Hisban) River and borders on the Dead Sea along its entire 
length. With the exception of the low, tabular Lashon Penin- 
sula - morphogenetically a part of the Rift Valley floor - the 
plateau rises abruptly from the sea, with almost no interven- 
ing shore flats, so that it attains a height of 3,300 ft. (1,000 m.) 
at a distance of only 6-9 mi. (10-15 km.) from the Dead Sea 
in the southern portion of Moab and of 2,300 ft. (700 m.) at a 
distance of 6 mi. (10 km.) in the northern one. The ascent to 
the Ammon Plateau from the Jordan Valley bordering it on 
the west is much more gradual, although the mean elevation 
of Ammon is about 600 ft. (200 m.) greater than Moab. 

The western parts of Moab and Edom - which are about 
18 mi. (30 km.) wide - exhibit the main, albeit marginal, 
characteristics of the Mediterranean zone. Not only do rel- 
atively large amounts of precipitation - more than 24 in. 
(600 mm.) - fall on their higher parts, but the variations in 
the amounts of precipitation from year to year, so character- 
istic of the Edom, are far smaller. Due to the topography and 
the prevalence of calcareous surface rock, terra rossa and 
rendzina soils are relatively widely distributed and utilized. 
Also quite a large number of springs contribute to the peren- 
nial flow of the Arnon River, which drains most of Moab - 
1,650 sq. mi. (4,460 sq. km.) - and subdivides the region into 
southern and northern Moab (almost equal in size). Similar 
hydrographical conditions are responsible for the perennial 

flow of the Zarqa, Main, and Heshbon rivers. Topographic 
and climatic conditions and the considerable areas of culti- 
vable soils, which in the past even produced grain surpluses, 
were reasons for the area being densely populated in com- 
parison with the southern regions, a large percentage of the 
population being concentrated in several townships. One of 
these Rabbath- Ammon (Amman), the capital of the present 
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is connected to Jerusalem by 
a highway via Jericho. Kerak (Kir Moab), the principal town 
of Moab, Madeba, and most of the nearby villages lie along 
the highway running almost straight and parallel to the Dead 
Sea coast at a small distance from the prevalently wide water- 
shed between the rivers draining into the Rift Valley and those 
discharging to the east. 

Gilead. The Jabbok (Zarqa ) River - after the Yarmuk the most 
important tributary of the Jordan - whose catchment area is 
about 1,100 sq. mi. (3,000 sq. km.), with about 2 million cu. 
ft. (70 million cu. m.) mean annual discharge, divides Gilead 
from Ammon. Gilead represents one of the largest regions 
of Transjordan south of the Yarmuk, not so much because 
of its length - which, between the Jabbok and Yarmuk riv- 
ers, is 46 mi. (75 km.) - as by its width, which averages 35 mi. 
(60 km.). It exhibits some morphotectonic similarities to the 
central mountains of Cisjordan due to the influence exerted 
upon its morphogenesis by fold structures and by its moun- 
tainous appearance, resulting from relatively intensive dis- 
section by rivers. The larger and higher southern part of the 
region is traversed by four major, perennially flowing tribu- 
taries of the Jordan: Rajib, Kafranji, Yabis (Jabesh), and Siqlab. 
In the northern part, which is only about 1,600 ft. (600 m.) 
high and is drained only by the Arab River, the relief is far less 
pronounced. The east-west oriented valleys of the rivers and 
of their many confluents - which are increasingly numerous 
farther east - give rise to a landscape of mainly short, inter- 
fluvial ranges composed of rounded hills whose slopes are 
terraced to a considerable extent. These ranges do not attain 
great heights; the highest summit in Gilead, Umm al-Daraj, 
is somewhat less than 4,100 ft. (1,250 m.). This configuration 
also reflects the prevalent lithological and climatic conditions. 
The southern part of Gilead is composed of mainly Cenoma- 
nian-Turonian calcareous formations, whereas in the north- 
ern one, younger (Senonian-Eocene), generally less resistant 
strata form the bedrock. Immediately south of the Yarmuk 
there are several outcrops of volcanic rocks - outliers of the 
Bashan basalt cover. 

Despite its considerably lower elevation (than more 
southerly regions of Transjordan), Gilead receives the rela- 
tively largest amounts of precipitation - more than 20 in. 
(500 mm.) annual mean on most of the area, whereas in the 
highest regions in the south precipitation amounts to about 
28 in. (700 mm.). Moreover, the 16 in. (400 mm.) isohyet, 
still the most useful means of delineating regions of Medi- 
terranean-type from those of semiarid climate, runs here at a 
distance of about 30 mi. (50 km.) from the Rift Valley. Conse- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



quently, soils (mainly of terra rossa type) are rather common 
and extensively cultivated here, which again accounts for the 
population throughout history being much more dense than 
in other parts of Transjordan. There is strong evidence that 
considerable parts of Gilead were forested in the past. The area 
is relatively easily accessible from the Rift Valley, particularly 
along the Siqlab Valley, where the gentle relief near the water- 
shed greatly facilitates communication along the entire length 
of the region. The divide conditioned the site of a relatively 
large number of townships ( c Ajlun in the south and Irbid in 
the north are the most important) and villages situated along 
or near the meridional highway and at the springs, particu- 
larly abundant in the plateau parts adjacent to the Rift Val- 
ley. In the past, Gilead was the region most closely connected 
with Cisjordan historically, particularly during the Roman era, 
when Geresh (Gerasha; Ar. Jarash), Arbel (Irbid), and Gadera 
(Umm Qays) formed part of the Dekapolis. 

Bashan. The deeply incised valley of the Yarmuk, the sec- 
ond largest river of Erez Israel - with a catchment area about 
2,670 sq. mi. (7,250 sq. km.) - forms a prominent natural 
border between central Transjordan and its northern region, 
Bashan. The latter covers about 4,600 sq. mi. (12,000 sq. km.) 
and differs in almost all physiographical aspects, primarily 
in morphotectonics and lithology, from the regions south of 
the Yarmuk. The landscapes of Bashan were formed mainly 
by volcanic activities that probably persisted from the Plio- 
cene up to prehistoric times. Consequently, almost the whole 
of the Bashan is covered by extrusive rocks, in many places 
attaining a thickness of several hundreds of meters. The re- 
lief is also determined by these activities, which resulted pri- 
marily in vast plains built of consolidated lava sheets that are 
overtopped by elevations of eruptive origin. Large parts of the 
terrain still exhibit the characteristics of block fields. Others 
are covered by heavy soils formed through the decomposi- 
tion of the basaltic bedrock or from the disintegration of the 
volcanic tuff. Since the Bashan is the northernmost region of 
Transjordan, and because its eastern most part is consider- 
ably high, the Mediterranean type of climate prevails over an 
area two to three times wider and extending far further east 
than the regions having a similar climate south of the Yarmuk. 
Topographically, Bashan can be subdivided into three major 
regions: Golan, Bashan Plain, and Hauran. 

Golan. The plateau of Golan, situated between the Hermon 
Massif and the Upper Jordan Valley on the west and the 
Ruqqad River (a tributary of the Yarmuk) on the east, is 
only about 15 mi. (25 km.) wide. Its continuous steep slopes 
rise abruptly above the Huleh Basin and are even steeper in 
the region of the sources of the Jordan, attaining heights of 
3,300 ft. (1,000 m.) at a distance of only about 9 mi. (15 km.) 
from the latter. Morphotectonically the Golan represents a 
plateau of lava sheets whose prevalent flatness is accentuated 
by a number of isolated cones rising without any transitional 
forms above the vast surrounding plain. These cones are com- 
posed mainly of volcanic cinder and extend in a more or less 

straight line from north to south. This orientation indicates 
their causal connection with a meridionally running fissure 
system, along which they originated at spots where lava ex- 
trusions and cinder ejections were more intensive, persistent, 
or recent. The most pronounced of these cones are Tell al- 
Sheikha, about 4,000 ft. (1,300 m.) high, in the northern part 
of Golan and Tell Abu Nida, which contains a crater with a 
circumference of about 2V2 mi. (4 km.), followed by lesser ones 
(Tell Abu Khanzir, Tell Yusuf, and Tell Faras) in the south. In 
the northern part of Golan a small shallow lake of almost per- 
fect oval shape, Birkat Ram, was in ancient times thought to 
be one of the sources of the Jordan connected with the Banias 
Spring by subterranean conduits. It is not, however, a crater 
lake - as was also formerly assumed, as a part of its enclosure 
consists of sedimentary rock - but is probably a depression 
produced by subsidence of pyroclastic material. 

According to topographic and surface-rock conditions, 
two main subregions can be distinguished in the Golan Pla- 
teau: a higher, northern one, adjacent to the Hermon, and a 
considerably lower, south part, consistently sloping down to 
the Yarmuk Valley. Volcanic cones and extensive block fields 
with intermittent soil and plant cover characterize the former, 
whereas most of the surface of the latter is covered by exten- 
sively utilized heavy basaltic and tuff soils. Golan receives 
comparatively large amounts of precipitation, exceeding 32 in. 
(800 mm.) annual mean in some areas; consequently, large 
tracts were once covered by forests. Because of the amount 
of precipitation and the relative impermeability of the bed- 
rock, it has a rather dense net of watercourses, although few 
of them flow perennially. The northern part of this net drains 
into the Jordan through a series of almost equidistant and 
parallel valleys. These are not yet incised deeply in the pla- 
teau proper and form gorges only at their entrance into the 
Rift Valley, where they can erode the far less resistant calcar- 
eous formations underlying the plateau basalts. A large part 
of the southern Golan belongs to the catchment area of the 
Yarmuk and is drained mainly by the deeply incised Ruqqad 
and its affluents. The western portion drains into Lake Kin- 
neret in a series of short watercourses, the most important of 
which is the Samak River. 

Bashan Plain. The largest and lowest regional unit of the 
Bashan - as indicated by its current Arabic name, al-Nuqra 
("The Hollow"), the Bashan Plain is situated between the 
Golan Highlands on the west and the still higher Hauran Mas- 
sif on the east. The plain is about 40 mi. (60 km.) wide and it 
is not uniform in elevation. Its slopes descend gradually both 
from north to south and from east to west where they abut 
on the Hauran. Unlike in the Golan, no volcanic cones were 
formed here, but the same difference exists between its north- 
ern and southern parts. The former contains large expanses 
of lava-block fields, whereas the latter exhibits an almost con- 
tinuous cover of volcanic soils, which rendered the region one 
of the granaries of the Mediterranean lands in ancient times. 
Although it is on the leeward side of the Golan Heights, the 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Bashan Plain still receives an annual mean precipitation ex- 
ceeding 16 in. (400 mm.) and its main rivers, Wadi 'Allan and 
Wadi al-Ihrayr, affluents of the Yarmuk, flow perennially. 

Hauran. In the eastern part of Bashan, Hauran (the ancient 
Auranitis, now usually referred to as Jebel al-Druze), relief 
forms originating in volcanic activities are the most pro- 
nounced within Erez Israel. This oval-shaped massif, about 
60 mi. (100 km.) long from south to north and 25-30 mi. 
(40-50 km.) wide, is mainly composed of extinct volcanoes, 
many of which contain craters and rise to heights above 
5,500 ft. (1,700 m.) - the highest summit is Tell al-Janyna, 
5,900 ft. (1,800 m.). The massif exhibits two main levels: a 
lower - up to 4,500 ft. (1500 m.) - comprising most of its 
southern portion; and a northern portion - 650 ft. (200 m.) 
higher, in which the relief forms are also much bolder. Due 
to its height, the Hauran still receives considerable quantities 
of precipitation, and snowfall is frequent in winter. On the 
north and east the Hauran Massif is surrounded by lava des- 
erts called al-harra in the vernacular. They consist of consoli- 
dated "ropy" lava, which forms labyrinth -like serrated ridges 
of blocks separated by oblong depressions. Only the north- 
western lava field, al-Lija 5 (the ancient Trachonitis), is at least 
historically connected with Erez Israel. 

Hermon. Morphotectonically, the Hermon Massif, the main 
source area of the Jordan and the northernmost element of the 
endoreic Rift Valley within Erez Israel, is the southernmost 
part of the Antilebanon up fold system, strongly affected by 
faulting, uplifted along their lines, and thus turned into a pro- 
nounced horst structure. It is separated from the Antilebanon 
proper by the Valley of Zabadani, where the source springs of 
the Barada River issue. This river irrigates the Ghuta (oasis) of 
Damascus. Composed predominantly of calcareous Jurassic 
strata, it forms an oblong dome-like mountain block whose 
three main summits rise to heights of 6,760 ft. (2,465 m.), 
7,720 ft. (2,810 m.), and 7,350 ft. (2,680 m.) respectively. It ex- 
hibits a rather subdued topography of rounded summits sep- 
arated by wide and flat saddles. Although the area receives a 
mean annual precipitation of more than 60 in. (1,500 mm.) 
and snow cover persists on its higher parts until August, its 
surfaces have not yet been affected by river erosion, with the 
consequent formation of deeply incised valleys and associated 
slopes, nor does it seem to have been glaciated in the Pleisto- 
cene as has been assumed. 

bibliography: Atlas of Israel (1970); E. Orni and E. Efrat, 
Geography of Israel (1980 4 ); D. Ashbel, Bio-Climatic Atlas of Israel 
(1948); C.R. Conder and H.H. Kitchener, Survey of Western Palestine 
(1881-83): K.O. Emery and D. Neev, in: Bulletin Geological Survey of 
Israel, 26 (i960), 1-13; M.G. Ionides, Report on the Water Resources 
ofTransjordan and their Development (1940); Y. Karmon, The North- 
ern Huleh Valley (1956); L. Picard, in: Bulletin Geological Department 
Hebrew University Jerusalem, 4 (1943), 1-134; A.M. Quennel in: Pro- 
ceedings of the Geological Society London (1954), 14-20; I. Schattner, 
in: Scripta Hierosolymitana, 11 (1962), 1-123; G.A. Smith, Historical 
Geography of the Holy Land (1931 25 ). 

[Isaac Schattner] 


introduction. Erez Israel is situated between subtropical 
arid (Egypt) and subtropical wet (Lebanon) zones. This loca- 
tion helps to explain the great climatic contrast between the 
light rainfall in the south and the heavy rainfall in the north 
in all three orographic belts: Coastal Plain, Western Moun- 
tain Ridge and Jordan Valley. In the rainy season the centers 
of the barometric depressions crossing the eastern Mediterra- 
nean from the west normally pass over Cyprus. Most of Egypt 
and southern Erez Israel lie in and partly outside this area of 
cloudiness and precipitation, whereas northern Erez Israel is 
nearer to the center of the vortex. The cyclonic depressions 
of the eastern Mediterranean are usually smaller, both in area 
and in axis length, than the Atlantic depressions. The differ- 
ence in pressure between the center and the periphery does 
not exceed 10-13 millibars, with differences between highs 
and lows not exceeding 17-20 mb. Pressure gradients in win- 
ter storms in Erez Israel, however, are just as steep as those in 
Europe or America. 

In the winter, depressions arrive in Erez Israel from the 
west along two trajectories. The first, of decisive influence on 
the climate of the country, comes from northern Italy along 
the Adriatic Sea to Greece and the Aegean Sea. There it di- 
vides into two sections, one leading to the Black Sea and the 
other to Syria. The second leads from southern Italy and Sic- 
ily to the central Mediterranean and thence to the southeast- 
ern corner of the Mediterranean and Erez Israel. A rare path 
extends along the North African coast through Egypt to Erez 
Israel. Depressions sometimes pass along a narrow belt from 
the Red Sea northward and cause sudden cloudbursts accom- 
panied by torrential floods in the normally dry Sinai Desert, 
Negev, Jordan Valley, and Syrian Desert. Mediterranean de- 
pressions are prevalent in the eight months from October un- 
til early June, when cold air penetrates from Eastern Europe 
through the Balkans to the Mediterranean, influencing the 
activity of the depressions. Rainfall in the eastern Mediterra- 
nean, including Erez Israel, is directly related to the intensity 
of cold airstreams over Eastern Europe in the winter. The lower 
the temperatures fall in Eastern Europe, the stronger the in- 
fluence of the cold airstreams on the depressions moving into 
the eastern Mediterranean. A narrow belt of high pressure de- 
scends from the Balkans and pushes depressions lying to the 
east. If, simultaneously, a second area of high pressure zones, 
connected to the great Siberian winter high-pressure system, 
extends over northern Iraq and Turkey, the activity of the 
eastern Mediterranean depression increases. Depressions are 
followed by high pressures, normally centered over northern 
Syria and Turkey, which are usually connected to the winter 
anticyclones of central Asia. In such cases, cold air descends 
from the high mountains of Armenia, which, though warm- 
ing in descent - sometimes through tens of degrees - is often 
cold enough upon reaching Israel to cause freezing and frost. 
Visibility is exceptional. Snowcapped Mt. Hermon and the 
mountains of Lebanon are then visible from Mt. Carmel - a 
distance of 60 mi. (100 km.) - and even from Tel Aviv and 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



high points west of Jerusalem - over 100 mi. (nearly 180 km.) 
away. Barometric pressures are higher in winter than in sum- 
mer, being low only on stormy days. The difference between 
winter and summer pressures is smaller in Erez Israel than 
in Turkey or Iraq. 

Lower summer pressures result from Erez Israel's loca- 
tion on the western periphery of the extensive low-pressure 
system of southern Asia, which causes the Indian monsoon. 
There is a summer monsoon in Erez Israel too, though it is 
not accompanied by the heavy precipitation typical of Indian 
monsoons. The latter, however, affect summer conditions 
in Erez Israel. Normal monsoons in India result in normal 
summers in Erez Israel; insufficient pressure gradients and 
abnormal Indian monsoons cause "abnormal summers" in 
Erez Israel and the entire eastern Mediterranean. In a nor- 
mal summer, strong, humid, westerly and northwesterly sea 
breezes prevail continuously for weeks or months, resulting 
in extensive dew formation. These are the "etesian winds" 
known to the ancient Greeks. Other airstreams arise only in 
the transition months of spring and fall, arriving chiefly from 
the hot and dry deserts in the east. These are the hamsin (or 
sharav) winds (see below). Sharav winds from July to Octo- 
ber are abnormal in summer, indicating undeveloped Indian 

cloudiness. The frequency of depressions between Octo- 
ber and May and their scarcity or total absence between June 
and September result in marked differences in cloud forms. 
Between October and May, or sometimes even June, all forms 
of high, medium, and low clouds occur. In summer only low 
clouds form through condensation of marine air currents as- 
cending the mountain slopes. Toward the end of September, 
high ice clouds, then medium, and finally water-laden low 
cumulus clouds form. Summer clouds are also of the cumu- 
lus type, but they are higher than winter clouds. In summer 
low clouds also approach from the west, carrying more hu- 
midity than in winter, but they do not cause rain, lacking ice 
crystals and the necessary conditions for rainfall. Over high 
mountains, such as Mt. Hermon and the Lebanon range to the 
north, these summer clouds reduce penetration of the sun's 
rays. An afternoon mist that rises from the sea mostly cov- 
ers the western, seaward slopes and valleys. Clouds over the 
mountains of Erez Israel at night are very low, while during the 
day they occur at altitudes of 6,500-10,000 ft. (2-3 km.). Mist 
clouds are found in mountain valleys on summer mornings 
and disappear after sunrise. In Upper Galilee summer cloudi- 
ness exceeds that in the south, and morning mists are more 
prevalent. In the winter, cloudiness in the mountains exceeds 
that in the coastal region; the opposite is true in summer. The 
Jordan Valley differs from the rest of the country in this re- 
spect as few clouds occur even in winter. 

There are no completely overcast days in summer: a quar- 
ter of the summer days are partly cloudy; the rest are com- 
pletely clear. Mist occurs in the Coastal Plain in winter and 
the transition months. In the inland valleys, such as the Jezreel 

Valley, mists occur mostly in summer. Heavy morning fogs 
cover the coast on sharav days, while morning mists in inland 
valleys are the result of temperature inversion. Low places in 
the Jezreel Valley have mist on clear winter mornings and on 
summer mornings with no easterly wind. Unique fogs rise in 
the winter from the Huleh Basin and the Dead Sea. The for- 
mer is covered by heavy mists on cold nights; over the latter, 
fogs form after sunrise in the wake of depressions, when cold 
air flows in pushing the local air up the slopes of the Judean 
Mountains in the west and the Moab Mountains in the east. 
After sunrise, these fogs ascend to the mountains tops, over 
altitude differences of 4,000-5,000 ft. (1,200-1,500 m.). They 
reach Jerusalem late in the morning, thicken toward noon, and 
scatter in the late afternoon, though they sometimes remain 
until evening or even throughout the night. Fogs do not cross 
the mountain crests to the west, but remain stationary in the 
strong westerly wind as a westward-pointed wedge hundreds 
of meters thick. 

radiation. Erez Israel is a sunny country because of its lo- 
cation in the subtropical zone, its low degree of cloudiness, 
and its extensive desert areas. In the long summer days the sun 
ascends to over 8o° above the horizon, and radiation reaches 
the ground in 98% of all potential hours of sunshine; in the 
winter the sky is cloudy, on the average, through half the day. 
The annual mean daily radiation is 5 million calories on each 
square meter. On a summer day it is about 7.5 million, on a 
clear winter day 3 million, and on a cloudy winter day 1 mil- 
lion. Few countries can compete with Erez Israel in abundance 
of sunshine. Horizontal surfaces receive illumination of some 
90 kilo-lux-hours at noon in summer, and an area perpendicu- 
lar to the sun's rays receives over 130 k.l.h., nearly the absolute 
maximum the sun can provide. These quantities are reduced 
by one-third in the winter. Southern slopes as well as south- 
ern-oriented walls and rooms receive the greatest amount of 
sunshine in the winter. In other directions, no marked differ- 
ences exist between the various seasons. 

rain. Rainfall normally begins in Erez Israel in Novem- 
ber, increases in intensity to about January- February, and 
decreases again to May, which is sometimes completely dry. 
First rains sometimes fall earlier and sometimes later. Like- 
wise, the rainy season may end before Purim (March), though 
small quantities of rain may fall until Shavuot (around the 
end of May). Most of the rainfall, some 72% of the seasonal 
total, occurs in December, January, and February. Five types 
of yearly rainfall can be discerned: (1) normal, with even dis- 
tribution; (2) rainy in early winter and dry in its second half; 
(3) dry in early winter and rainy later; (4) heavy rains in the 
middle of winter with relatively dry early and late seasons; 
(5) twin - (or even multiple) - peaked season, with dry in- 
tervals between peaks. The first type occurs in Jerusalem in 
about 33% and in Haifa in some 42% of the winters. The sec- 
ond type is found in Jerusalem and the Judean Mountains in 
about 20% of the winters and only in 6% in northern Israel. 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


The third type is more frequent in the north (31% in Haifa) 
than in the south (13% in Jerusalem). The fourth type is rare, 
occurring in 2-3% of all years. The fifth type is most frequent 
in the Judean Mountains (35%), with some 24% in Haifa. Re- 
gional differences in rainfall are much larger in Erez Israel 
than in other countries of comparable size. In Israel there is 
an absolute desert with under 1.2 in. (30 mm.) rain per an- 
num - the Arava: semi-desert areas with 2-3 in. (50-75 mm.) 
to 6-8 in. (150-200 mm.) - the Negev and Dead Sea Val- 
ley; agricultural regions with 12-18 in. (300-600 mm.): and 
mountain areas with 20-32 in. (500-800 mm.) in Judea and 
Samaria and up to 44 in. (1,100 mm.) in Upper Galilee. Moun- 
tains receive more rain than the Coastal Plain or the Jezreel 
Valley. Amounts of rainfall increase from south to north in all 
regions: the Coastal Plain, the western and eastern mountain 
ridges, and the Jordan Valley. Similarly, the number of rainy 
days in northern Erez Israel exceeds that in the south. In dry 
years both the amount of rain and the number of rainy days 
are reduced; in very wet years both may be doubled. Most cul- 
tivated areas are those with over 12 in. (300 mm.) rainfall per 
annum. Contrary to common belief, the amount of rainfall 
in agricultural areas in Erez Israel is no less than that in agri- 
cultural countries in the temperate zones. The difference lies 
not in the annual amount of rain, but in the number of rainy 
days and in the intensity of rain per hour or per day. In Erez 
Israel the entire annual amount falls in 40 to 60 days in a sea- 
son of seven to eight months. In temperate climates precipita- 
tion occurs on 180 days spread over 12 months. 

dew. The formation and amount of dew are dependent both 
on meteorological conditions - relative humidity and noctur- 
nal cooling - and on the properties of the cooling surfaces - 
soil and vegetation. The regional distribution of the num- 
ber of dew nights and the amount of dew is greatly diverse. 
Richest in dew are the northwestern Negev and the western 
and central Jezreel Valley, followed by the Coastal Plain from 
Gaza to Binyaminah. The central Huleh Basin and parts of the 
lower Beth-Shean Valley also have large amounts of dew. The 
Golan and the Naphtali Mountain slopes, which are dry on 
most nights of the year, surround them. Hilly coast regions 
(Mt. Carmel), regions near the mountains (Western Gali- 
lee), and the Jezreel Valley have smaller amounts of dew and 
fewer dew nights per month and per year. Still smaller is the 
amount of dew in the mountains of Jerusalem and Galilee. 
The eastern slopes of the mountain ridge descending into the 
Jordan Valley, as well as the western foothills, receive smaller 
and sometimes negligible amounts of dew. The Carmel foot- 
hills and those of western Galilee, Ephraim, and Judea have 
almost no dew at all. The mean annual number of dew nights 
exceeds 200 in the entire Coastal Plain and the Jezreel Valley 
and 250 in the northwestern Negev. The mountains have only 
150-180 dew (and fog) nights per year; the western foothills 
have 100, and the Jordan Valley (excluding lower Beth-Shean 
Valley and central Huleh Basin) has fewer than 50. An abun- 
dance of dew is important for agriculture and settlement. For 

example, as a result of the dew formation on most summer 
nights, the vicinity of Khan Yunis in the western Negev, which 
receives only scanty winter rainfall, is a center for growing wa- 
termelons, a typical summer crop. Unirrigated summer field 
crops (sorghum, corn, and sesame) can be grown only in ar- 
eas with sufficient dew. 

snow. In certain mountain areas snow is a normal occur- 
rence. Mountains of 2,500-4,000 ft. (800-1,000 m.), such as 
those of Hebron and the Upper Galilee - elevation 4,000- 
5,500 ft. (1,300-1,700 m.) - have snow nearly every year. Mt. 
Hermon, rising to some 10,000 ft. (3,000 m.) above sea level, 
receives most of its precipitation as snow, which feeds a rela- 
tively large number of perennial streams. Most snow falls in 
Erez Israel in January or February, but it has been known to 
occur in November and December and even in March and 
April. The heaviest snowfall recorded in Jerusalem in the last 
century was 38 in. (97 cm.) in February 1920. 

temperature. Air temperature depends on elevation and 
distance from the sea. Valleys have higher, mountains lower 
mean temperatures; the higher the location, the lower the air 
temperature. The highest temperatures are recorded in the 
Rift Valley, a few hundred meters below sea level, with peak 
temperatures in the Arava, south of the Dead Sea. The lowest 
mean temperature is found in Upper Galilee. The mean annual 
temperature in the coastal regions is 68°-70° f (20°-2i° c) with 
differences between coastal plains that are near mountains and 
coastal plains that are not. Haifa has lower temperatures than 
Acre, Netanyah or Tel Aviv. Coastal temperatures vary only 
slightly in summer, and even in winter their fluctuations are 
smaller than elsewhere. The Maximum temperatures in sum- 
mer are not high and winter minima not very low. Fluctua- 
tions increase with the distance from the sea; the maximum 
rises and the minimum decreases markedly. The annual mean 
temperature is 3 c lower in Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv - dif- 
ference in elevation 2,624 ft- (800 m.) - but in the winter the 
difference is larger. 

The annual means in the Jezreel Valley and the Coastal 
Plain are similar, but monthly fluctuations inland, as well as 
differences between maximums and minimums, are larger 
than on the coast. Temperatures are lower in the Huleh Ba- 
sin than around Lake Kinneret or the Dead Sea. The mean 
annual temperature at the southern end of the Dead Sea is 
78. 3 F (25. 7 c); at the northern end, 74.3°f (23.4°c); at Ti- 
rat Zevi 71. 6° f (22.o°c); and at Kinneret, 72.i°f (22.3°c). 
The annual mean in the Huleh Basin is similar to that on the 
coast - 67.8°f (i9.9°c) - though the extremes differ widely. 
Great climatic differences are hidden by a similarity of mean 
annual temperatures; evaluation of climatic conditions must 
also take into account the extremes of diurnal cycles and of 
hourly differences. 

diurnal cycle. Regional differences are most outstand- 
ing in the daily temperature cycle. On the coast temperatures 
reach their maximum values long before noon. The sea breeze 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



prevents any further increase and the temperature remains al- 
most constant until late afternoon. A flat ridge thus replaces 
the temperature peak. The same is true of the minimum at 
night, which lasts for several hours after midnight. But, with 
increasing distance from the sea, both maximal and minimal 
temperatures decrease in duration. In the Jordan Valley the 
diurnal cycle is different. Near the northern Dead Sea in the 
summer there are two peaks. There is an early morning and 
a late afternoon maximum near the Dead Sea. At Ein Gev on 
Lake Kinneret the two daily peaks are less developed but still 
quite prominent. Along the entire Jordan Valley the afternoon 
peak in temperature results from the adiabatic warming of 
the westerly wind that descends from the western mountain 
ridge into the deep Jordan depression. On the southern shore 
of the Dead Sea the cycle is similar to that near the Mediter- 
ranean coast, but the basis temperature values are entirely dif- 
ferent. The mountains to the west of this area are not as high 
and adiabatic heating of the descending air does not increase 
the temperature above that prevailing locally. The shallow 
water at the southern end of the Dead Sea has an equalizing 
effect on daytime temperatures and also maintains high val- 
ues at night. 

heat waves. A hamsin, or heat wave, occurs when depres- 
sion approaches Israel from the west, with easterly winds back- 
ing first to south and later to west. It is broken when cool and 
humid maritime air replaces the hot air; when this occurs tem- 
peratures may fall by 45 f (20 c) or more. During a hamsin 
the temperature always rises and the humidity decreases. In 
midwinter, clear days with temperatures rising by io° c or 
more in a day are a pleasant phenomenon. Such a tempera- 
ture rise in spring or fall, however, is far from pleasant, since 
air temperature may reach body temperature. Mountains are 
hit first by a heat wave and, although temperature rises are 
relatively small, it is felt strongly because it lasts longer than 
in the valleys near sea level. When a hamsin reaches the val- 
leys temperatures are always higher than in the mountains 
and reach the absolute maxima recorded in Erez Israel. In 
May and June and in October and November there are often 
such severe days with high temperatures. But they may occur 
in the rainy season, with its centers of low and high pressure 
arriving from the west. 

Another type of hamsin develops with rising barometric 
pressure under anticyc Ionic conditions. A northeasterly wind, 
turning easterly, blows toward the area from a center of high 
pressure over Iraq, Syria, and sometimes also Turkey. Such a 
strong east wind in winter is referred to in the Bible as kadim 
(e.g., Ex. 10:13; Ps. 48:8; Jonah 4:8). Owing to the very low hu- 
midity, the air is very clear. At first the temperature is low, but 
it rises daily while the air becomes both dry and hazy. When 
pressure begins to fall, the conditions are similar to those oc- 
curring in a depression hamsin, but an anticyclonic hamsin is 
not only as hard to bear, but it is often stationary and of lon- 
ger duration. The action of the sun's rays is weakened during 
such days, and there is only a slight wind. Humans and other 

warm-blooded creatures feel unwell because the normal func- 
tioning of the body's cooling processes are impaired. Delicate 
winter plants wither in a spring hamsin because high evapo- 
ration causes excessive loss of moisture and the winter green 
vanishes as if by magic. The hamsin is harder to bear near the 
coast than in the mountains, chiefly because of the high rela- 
tive humidity of the hot air, which prevents the evaporation 
of perspiration. 

cold waves Every barometric depression is followed by a 
high-pressure system generally centered over Syria or Turkey. 
Air flowing in from the northeast usually comes from Sibe- 
ria in winter, reaching Erez Israel after some warming over 
the mountains of Armenia, Iran, and Turkey, or, if coming 
from the north, northwest, or west, over the Black and Medi- 
terranean seas. Such cold waves bring air at a temperature 
of i4°-i9°F (-7 to -10 c) to the Euphrates Valley and 23°f 
(-5 c) in the Trans Jordanian Mountains. Each cold wave from 
the east penetrates first into the Jordan Valley before reach- 
ing the Western mountain ridge. In such cases, temperatures 
near the Dead Sea start to fall some 12 hours earlier than in 
Jerusalem. The danger of frost in winter is thus greater in 
the northern Jordan Valley than in the western valleys or the 
Coastal Plain. 

temperature extremes. The highest temperature ever re- 
corded in Israel was 131 f (54 c, Tirat Zevi, Beth-Shean Val- 
ley, June 1942). On the same day the temperature was 122 f 
(51. 5° c) at the Dead Sea, ii3°F (45°c) on the Coastal Plain, 
and 118 f (48 c) in the Jezreel Valley. In the mountains, tem- 
peratures exceeding 111 f (44 c) have not been recorded for 
the past 100 years. In most heat waves, temperatures rise to 
iio°-ii3°F (43°-45°c) in the Jordan Valley and 97°-ioo°f 
(36°-38°c) on the Coastal Plain; ioo°f (38°c) is considered 
very hot for the mountains. The lowest temperature recorded 
in Jerusalem in the past 100 years was i9.4°F (-y° c). Even 
in the Jordan Valley 28°-32°F (-2°to o°c) was repeatedly re- 
corded. The Coastal Plain, however, seems to be immune to 
frosts; only twice on record did temperatures fall below freez- 
ing. In early 1950, all of northern and central Erez Israel down 
to the Mediterranean was covered by snow. 

humidity. The relative humidity of the air is highest near 
the coast and higher at night in summer than in winter. Hu- 
midity reaches its daily minimum around noon. Mountain 
areas are drier, and the humidity there in winter exceeds that 
in summer, in spite of the dry easterly winds. Conditions in 
the Jezreel Valley are similar to those near the coast, with high 
nocturnal humidity in summer. Humidity is lowest in the 
Rift Valley, especially in the Arava, and around the Dead Sea. 
The Dead Sea has higher humidity at the northern end than 
at the southern end; but the diurnal cycle is different at each 
end. In all areas the daily cycle is simple, with a minimum at 
noon and a maximum late at night or throughout the night. 
At the northern end, however, the relative humidity rises to 
its maximum at noon in summer when the Dead Sea breeze 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


lowers the temperature. In the afternoon and near sunset, 
when temperatures reach a maximum, the humidity is mini- 
mal due to the western breeze that warms up while descend- 
ing into the valley. 

Absolute humidity in the valleys is higher than in the 
mountains. The Coastal Plain not only has a high relative but 
also a high absolute humidity, which causes physical discom- 
fort in summer. Absolute humidity near the Mediterranean is 
similar to that near the Dead Sea, or even exceeding the latter 
in summer, although temperatures near the coast are lower. 
In the Beth-Shean Basin the absolute humidity is also high 
because of the very high summer temperatures. Since a low 
humidity facilitates evaporation of perspiration, conditions in 
the mountains are more pleasant. 

winds. Simple wind conditions prevail on the Coastal Plain. 
In summer, a sea breeze blows all day and a land breeze blows 
at night. Wind conditions on clear winter days are similar to 
those in the summer, but when a barometric depression cov- 
ers the sea, easterly winds blow at first, slowly backing to the 
south and southwest. These winds bring clouds and sometimes 
rain from the sea, until northerly winds disperse the clouds 
and the sky clears. In summer northwesterly winds blow 
over the mountains for weeks and even months on end. The 
strength of the wind rises from near calm in the morning to 
a maximum in the late afternoon. Local winds are rare in the 
mountains, where mainly regional winds blow. These winds 
are dependent upon pressure distribution around centers of 
high or low pressure. Local winds occur in summer around the 
lakes of the Jordan Valley as well as near the Mediterranean. 
The latter receives the sea breeze throughout the day, while 
the inland lakes generate land breezes only at certain hours. 
This is a result of the Mediterranean breeze neutralizing all 
local activity on reaching the Jordan Valley, so that even the 
lakes become involved in the general climatic conditions. The 
landward breeze from the lakes is of biological importance in 
the hot season. The Mediterranean's sea breeze generally has a 
cooling effect; but upon descending into the valleys lying hun- 
dreds of meters below the surrounding mountains and even 
below sea level, the breeze undergoes such a rise in tempera- 
ture that, instead of cooling, it heats the area. In summer the 
westerly winds in the entire Jordan Valley are thus hot and 
dry. The biological cooling effect of the westerly winds in the 
Jordan Valley seems to vary. A moist and perspiring body is 
cooled by it; but upon drying, only the effect of moving air 
remains, imparting a false sensation of cooling. 

Weak winds prevail in the Coastal Plain, the Jezreel Val- 
ley, and the Negev. The mountains and the Rift Valley, espe- 
cially the southern Arava, experience strong winds. Average 
wind force is higher in summer than in winter throughout 
the country; but in a winter storm, velocities in January and 
February equal or surpass those in the summer. Isolated cases 
of high winds in winter often lead to a general impression of 
high winter averages. Wind speeds may reach 50 mph. (80 
kph.) and even more in winter, but between storms near calm 

may prevail. In summer, on the other hand, strong winds 
blow regularly at certain hours. While these are not as strong 
as the winter storms, summer averages are generally higher 
than winter ones. In the Manarah ridge in Upper Galilee, e.g., 
winds of "winter force" blow on summer days, especially at 
dusk. The diurnal cycle of wind strength in the mountains 
reaches its maximum in the afternoon, and on the coast and 
in the Jezreel Valley at noon. Mornings are usually calm in 
most areas of the country, as are nights, except in the moun- 
tains and the southern Arava. 

history of climate research in Israel. Scientific cli- 
mate research in Palestine started in the mid- 19 th century. The 
first instruments for weather observation were used at the 
English Hospital in Jerusalem in 1845, where regular observa- 
tions were taken until World War 1. The records of the first 14 
years have been lost, but those for 1860-1913 have been pre- 
served intact. The Scottish Mission also took observations at 
various places, which were supervised from i860 by the Pales- 
tine Exploration Fund and its meteorologist, G. Glaisher (until 
1903). M. Blanckenhorn took meteorological observations for 
the Deutscher Palaestina-Verein from the mid-189 os. 

The first results of these observations are assembled in 
EM. Exner's work Zum Klima von Palaestina (1910), includ- 
ing the first rainfall map of Erez Israel and the adjacent areas. 
French and American convents, schools, and scientific insti- 
tutions also set up meteorological stations in Palestine, Syria, 
and Lebanon. Jews entered the field of climatic research in 
Erez Israel only in the 20 th century. In 1910 the Palestine Of- 
fice of the World Zionist Organization set up rainfall sta- 
tions in several towns and villages. Soon after World War 1 
Dov Ashbel set up a network of meteorological stations in 
Jewish villages from Metullah to the Negev, and a number of 
stations were installed by the British Mandatory administra- 
tion. Meteorological research after 1937 was conducted at two 
centers. One was at the meteorological station maintained by 
the government Department of Civil Aviation at Lydda Air- 
port, where upper- air conditions were studied with advanced 
technical equipment. The other was run by the department 
of meteorology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which 
controlled the network of meteorological stations in Jewish 
settlements. The government set up stations in parts of the 
country populated by Arabs, formerly inaccessible to Jewish 
research. During World War 1, the opposing air forces stud- 
ied upper winds and upper- air meteorology in Palestine. In 
World War 11, the Allied air forces in the whole Middle East 
theater systematically collected a mass of meteorological data 
resulting in a revision of concepts of the conditions in the 
area. The network of Jewish stations was extended in the lat- 
ter years of the Mandate. 

After the establishment of the State of Israel, both the 
civil authorities and the Israeli Air Force developed meteo- 
rological operations on a national scale for both civilian and 
military needs. These operations include extensive upper-air 
observations with radio -sondes as well as meteorological sat- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



ellite research in collaboration with other countries. The uni- 
versities in Israel, especially departments of geography, earth 
science, and geophysics undertook extensive research on cli- 
matic conditions for human needs. Their research placed Israel 
in the front ranks of meteorological and climatic research in 
the academic world. 

bibliography: D. Ashbel, Aklim Erez Yisrael le-Ezoreha 

(1952); E. Orni and E. Efrat, Geography of Israel (1980 4 ), 105-25; EM. 

Exner, Zum Klima von Palaestina (1910); H. Klein, Das Klima Pa- 

laestinas aufGrund alter hebraeischer Quellen (1914); Atlas of Israel 


[Dov Ashbel] 


stratigraphic evolution. The Precambrian Basement. 
Upper Tertiary to Recent faulting and uplift led to many ex- 
posures of the basement rocks along the flanks of the Arabah 
graben, the southeastern corner of the Dead Sea, the Eilat area, 
and eastern Sinai. The morphology of the Precambrian base- 
ment rocks is characterized in Sinai and in the Hejaz, situated 
opposite Sinai, by a conspicuously barren and rugged relief 
(e.g., Mount Sinai, Wadi Yitm), contrasting remarkably with 
the tabular landscape of the Paleozoic -Mesozoic sedimentary 
cover. Varieties of granite and granite -porphyry, syenite, dio- 
rite, and gabbro, interchanging with gneiss and mica schists, 
constitute the principal plutonic and metamorphic basement 
rocks. Volcanic tuffs and lava sheets also occur, as well as 
abundant acid and basic dikes. Swarms of dikes invade the 
whole of the crystalline complex, as well as the unmetamor- 
phosed sediments of the Saramuj series. 

The Saramuj series consists principally of multicolored 
conglomerates analogous in rock character and deposition 
to the Molasse and Verucano of the Alps. Like these Alpine 
formations the Saramuj series are of simple fold structure, 
giving reason to assume strong mountain building during 
the late Precambrian. The Precambrian "Alps" were then lev- 
eled on a regional scale, only a few monadnocks remaining 
on the enormous erosion and abrasion surface of the Lipa- 
lian peneplain. Ore deposits of economic importance have 
not yet been discovered in the basement complex. The feld- 
spar-, barite-, and mica-bearing pegmatites are of very lim- 
ited economic value. 

Paleozoics. Above the Lipalian peneplain (principal uncon- 
formity) there is an extensive cover of continental and marine 
sediments of Paleozoic to Recent age. The sedimentary mate- 
rial is derived either from a landmass in the east, the "Arabo- 
Nubian" shield, or from the transgressive "Tethys" sea in the 
west. The few marine Lower Paleozoic outcrops known from 
Timna, Eilat, and Petra or from Wadi al-Hasa 3 and Zarqa 
Main at the Dead Sea all appear as thin beds of shallow epi- 
continental limestone- dolomite, shales, and littoral sands; 
these are intercalated between sandstones hundreds of meters 
thick. This continental, as well as littoral, sandy complex is in- 
cluded in the Nubian Sandstone. Reminiscent of the "Old Red" 
of Europe or the "continental intercalate" of Africa, the Nu- 

bian Sandstone has built the impressive colorful rock escarp- 
ments of Petra and the eastern cliffs of the Dead Sea. Erosion 
and corrosion have sculptured these sandstones to fantastic 
rock forms, especially well developed in the Hisma plains and 
in the Wadi al-Rum of the Hejaz province. It is also in this re- 
gion that the complete atmospheric disintegration of the Nu- 
bian Sandstone has supplied the sandy fillings of the present 
extensive valleys of the Hisma; in the region outside our map 
it has provided the material for the large belts of dunes of the 
Dahna and Nafud of inner Arabia. Copper of an average 1.5% 
is found as a cementing carbonate in the Paleozoic Nubian 
Sandstone and is mined at Timna. In the same area, manga- 
nese deposits have been mapped (mostly psilomelane) but 
their economic value is still under discussion. 

Mesozoics. Dating the Nubian Sandstone is a persistent diffi- 
culty, particularly where there are no marine intercalations. 
This is the case in the Arabah and Dead Sea graben. Thus in 
the north-south canyons and steep western slopes of Moab, 
Sodom, and Midian and in the area opposite, between Eilat 
and Timna, Triassic and Jurassic marine interbeds are re- 
markably absent. There the massive sandstone rests directly 
on the Precambrian or the marine Lower Paleozoic Cambro- 
Silurian beds and is overlaid by marine Cenomanian strata. 
In this part of the country the Nubian Sandstone may there- 
fore be of any age from Paleozoic to Mesozoic. Fossil plants 
found in the uppermost layers of sandstone (here somewhat 
clayey and shaly) are of continental Lower Cretaceous or 
Wealden character. Genuine marine Triassic in the Transjor- 
danian part of our map is known from the surroundings of 
the northeastern corner of the Dead Sea and from the deeper 
wadi-cuts of the Jabbok River. In the high Negev of Sinai and 
Israel, Triassic is exposed in the erosion windows of Mt. Arif 
and Ramon. The predominantly calcareous, occasionally 
marly beds display lithological affinities with the "Germanic" 
epicontinental Trias - the Muschelkalk - though their fauna 
also contain many "Mediterranean" elements. Quasi-conti- 
nental conditions during the Upper Triassic led to the depo- 
sition of gypsum evaporites and to faunistically sterile dolo- 
mite varves and Keuper-like variegated marls. The lowermost 
outcropping strata of the marine Triassic again appear in the 
"Nubian" facies. 

Marine Jurassic is recorded from the neighborhood of 
the Triassic outcrops of Transjordan and on the Cisjorda- 
nian side from the anticlinal cores in Makhtesh Ramon, Ha- 
Makhtesh ha-Gadol and Ha-Makhtesh ha-Katan; yet none 
of the calcareous and marly epicontinental formations of the 
Jurassic or Triassic in Transjordan and in the Negev are com- 
pletely devoid of sandy intercalations, demonstrating shallow 
sea conditions in the vicinity of a dune -framed continent. At 
Ramon, terrestrial influence is also marked by residual depos- 
its of bog-iron and flint clays (up to 55% Al 2 3 ) at the Juras- 
sic -Triassic boundary, as well as by a few hundred meters of 
continental Nubian Sandstone containing some thin interca- 
lations of marine Jurassic. Striking gravel formations recorded 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


from the Jurassic -Cretaceous transition beds of the Ramon in 
the Negev, as well as of the Lebanon, indicate uplift and wide- 
spread erosion at the end of the Jurassic. 

The Ramon outcrops are finally distinguished by numer- 
ous trachytic dikes and sills of possibly Upper Jurassic age, 
since they penetrate both Jurassic and Triassic sediments. The 
syenite-essexite plutonics of the anticlinal core have also been 
assigned to the Jurassic. The "intermediary" magmatics differ 
somewhat in rock type from the more basic volcanics, which 
are extensively represented in the Hermon- Lebanon moun- 
tains. In contrast to the continental and epicontinental Jurassic 
of the Negev and Transjordan, the Middle and Upper Jurassic 
of Lebanon and Hermon are developed as a 1,000-1,500-me- 
ter- thick marine complex prevalently of dolomite and lime- 
stone, suggesting deposition in an oceanic basin fairly remote 
from shore and land. 

The recent material obtained from oil-exploration drill- 
ing in Israel leads to the conclusion that the Mid- Upper- Ju- 
rassic marine sedimentary troughs of Lebanon- Hermon ex- 
tended south and southwest to Galilee, Carmel, Judea, the 
Coastal Plain, and the western Negev lowlands. The conti- 
nental sphere of influence during this period is restricted to 
the Negev proper and to Transjordan. This paleo geographic 
zoning of sedimentary conditions persists to a greater extent 
in the following epoch, during the Lower Cretaceous. Thus in 
Transjordan and in the Negev- Arabah, the principal represen- 
tative of the Lower Cretaceous is a uniform sandstone of con- 
tinental habitus assigned in the map to the "Nubian" complex. 
Mostly regarded as the time-equivalent of the Wealden, this 
Lower Cretaceous Nubian Sandstone (kaolinic at the base) 
is again well exposed in the erosion windows of Ramon, the 
Makhtesh ha-Gadol, and the Makhtesh ha-Katan. There are, 
howevever, a few thin marine intercalations. 

In the western regions, in the Coastal Plain as well as on 
Mount Carmel and in Galilee, evidence of the hegemony of 
the Tethys sea during the Lower Cretaceous is found in the 
cuttings and core samples from the recent wells at Helez, Tel 
Zafit, Moza, Zikhron Ya'akov, Caesarea, Haifa, Ein Na'aman 
(Kurdana), Mount Tabor, and Tiberias, as well as in the out- 
crops of central and northern Galilee (Sartaba-Tabor, Bet 
Netophah, Har Hazon, Har ha-Ari, Manarah) and of east- 
ern Samaria (Wadi Malih-Fana). The lithology of the Lower 
Cretaceous is predominantly marly and occasionally sandy. 
Limestones are less frequent and like the other formations are 
of shelf and littoral character. The presence of lignite in the 
sandy beds also indicates the proximity of the continent. The 
abundance of hydroxides and oxides of iron gives the Lower 
Cretaceous rocks of Galilee their dominant and characteristic 
brown colors. Enrichment in a shallow sea led to the deposi- 
tion of oolitic iron ores. The best ore (28% Fe) was found in 
the "minette" of the Aptian of Manarah in northernmost Israel 
(30,000,000 tons of minable ore have been evaluated). 

Cenomanian-Turonian. Whereas the Triassic, Jurassic, and 
Lower Cretaceous appear in restricted outcrops in the anti- 

clinal erosion cirques, Makhtesh Ramon, Ha-Makhtesh ha- 
Gadol, and Ha-Makhtesh ha-Katan, in the wadi-cuts at Ra- 
mallah and Wadi Malih-Farfa, and in the uplifted fault blocks 
of Galilee, more than half of the exposed mountain forma- 
tions of Israel belong to the marine Cenomanian-Turonian. 
Thus the prominent mountain bodies of the northern Negev, 
Judea- Samaria, Carmel, and Galilee are built of Cenomanian- 
Turonian rocks up to 2,500 ft. (800 m.) thick. The principal 
strata, hard limestone and dolomite, weather to a rough and 
rocky karstic landscape characteristic of Mediterranean cal- 
careous terrains. Subdivided by very thin marly (e.g., Moza 
Marl) or by thicker flint-bearing chalk beds (e.g., the Carmel 
promontory of Haifa), these dolomites and limestones have 
become the main groundwater aquifer exploited during the 
last few decades in Israel. 

In the central Transjordan section, in the Arabah -Dead 
Sea Rift Valley, and in the southernmost Negev (Timna), the 
Cenomanian limestone protrudes as a hard, vertical cliff over- 
lying the rim of Nubian Sandstone escarpments. In southern 
Transjordan, the lower stage of the Cenomanian is still in the 
Nubian Sandstone facies. The main Cretaceous transgression 
starts there only with the Upper Cenomanian, or even, in 
places, with the Turonian. In northern Transjordan, however, 
in the upwarped region of the Jabbok- c Ajlun, the marine devel- 
opment of the Cenomanian is again complete, of considerable 
thickness and surface distribution. The landscape here is very 
reminiscent of the Judean-Samarian uplands. In the Carmel 
and Umm al-Fahm mountains, submarine lavas and tuffs are 
interspersed in the Cenomanian-Turonian. 

Senonian (Including Paleocene). The Cenomanian upwarps 
and anticlines of the Israeli mountain bodies are everywhere 
framed on their flanks by narrow strips of Senonian, which 
continue in larger extension in the synclinal areas. Flint-bear- 
ing hogbacks and flat-irons are characteristic morphologic 
features of the asymmetrical slopes of the Negev and Judean 
anticlines. The greatest surface extension, however, is that of 
the synclinorial downwarps of the Judean Desert, the Desert 
of Zin, and the Paran (Jirafl) and Zenifim deserts in the south- 
ern Negev. The dominating Senonian of these regions is also 
distinguished in the landscape by a white to light gray color 
and badland dissection of its principal rock type, the chalk. 
Where unexposed to the atmosphere, the Senonian chalk is 
usually bituminous. Intercalated flints and the now exploited 
phosphatic limestones are other representative rock-types of 
the Senonian. In the Negev section of Sinai and of Edom, op- 
posite, the harder flints are the principal components of the 
pebble pavement of the large Hamada plains and plateaus. 

Eocene. The surface occurrence of the Eocene is similarly as- 
sociated with the downwarped regions. The anticlinal ridges 
of the Cenomanian-Turonian, including their asymmetrical 
flanks, are practically devoid of Eocene. Eocene is of great ex- 
tension west of the Ramon and Dimonah ranges in the struc- 
tural depressions which start from the Avedat plateau down 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



to Nizzanah, Revivim, and Beersheba. From Beersheba to the 
north it extends along the western foothills as far as Huldah. 
Eocene is likewise extensively represented in the downwarped 
fold region of Paran and c Aqof ( c Iqfi) in the southern Negev. 
The folds of these synclinorial regions (and this applies 
also to those of the north) are usually smaller, shallower, more 
symmetric, and frequently of the brachy- anticline type. Undu- 
lations of this kind are developed in the uplifted high plateaus 
of Trans Jordan. In Samaria the exposed Eocene is distributed 
between Ebal-Gerizim and the Umm al-Fahm range and in 
Ephraim proper between Umm al-Fahm and Mount Carmel. 
A large area of Eocene is analogously situated (though dis- 
turbed by faults of the Kishon Valley) between Carmel and 
southwestern Galilee (Shepharam to Nazareth). In spite of 
the strong block-faulting which dissected the Galilee in the 
Pleistocene and the extensive basalt and Neogene cover, it is 
nevertheless possible to trace the Eocene on the southeastern 
flanks of the Galilean upwarp. On the western flank of this up- 
warp, parallel to the Senonian-Paleocene sedimentary girdle, 
Eocene appears in sporadic outcrops, intimating that its major 
portion lies hidden below the Coastal Plain and the sea. The 
Eocene in the foothill region of the Negev and Judea, western 
Galilee, and Ephraim consists primarily of chalk interspersed 
with flint and chalky marl. Lithologically it frequently resem- 
bles the Senonian and is accordingly marked by a common 
egg-shaped smooth hill-morphology. Harder limestones in 
the higher Negev (Avedat plateau) and in Sinai produce an 
esplanade landscape with enormous regional plateaus and 
cuestas. In the Lower Eocene table landscape of Edom-Moab, 
there is much interstratification of phosphatic limestone. 
Harder limestone and marble limestone of uppermost Lower 
to Middle Eocene age are widely distributed in central and 
eastern Galilee, evolving a pronounced karstic rough-hewn 
landscape which differs sharply from the smoother relief 
forms found in the foothill regions of Israel. There, rare oc- 
currences of Upper Eocene are still developed in the chalky 
marly facies of the Middle to Lower Eocene foothills. Some 
of Galilee's largest springs derive from the Eocene karst, e.g., 
Gilboa, Migdal, Nahal Ammud, Kinnerot (al-Tabigha), Ke- 
far Giladi. 

Oligocene. The Oligocene Tethys sea never reached far in- 
land. The few limited outcrops in the foothills of Bet Guvrin, 
Ramleh, and Ephraim, as well as the drilling samples of the 
Coastal Plain, all point to shore deposits of chalky and detri- 
tic character. Marine Oligocene, therefore, plays no significant 
role in Israel's surface formations; continental Oligocene has 
not, so far, been discovered. Israel's emergence from the sea 
may have commenced in the Late Eocene from submarine 
ridges which already existed here and there in the Senonian; 
but the major elevation and hence the final anticlinal- syncli- 
nal fold pattern came about at the end of the Oligocene or 
earliest Miocene. 

Marine Neogene. The beginning of the Neogene coincides 
with the most widespread rising of the region above the sea 

since the end of the Precambrian, i.e., since before the first 
appearance of the Paleozoic Tethys (Lipalian interval). Emer- 
gences had taken place before, such as at the end of the Triassic 
and Jurassic and the end of the Lower Cenomanian, but the 
whole of the country was not affected then, as shown by the 
results of recent deep borings in the Coastal Plain. 

With the approach of the Miocene, the Tethys ceased to 
exist, its waters merging with and filling the Atlantic and In- 
dian Oceans. At a later time, this region became connected 
with these two oceans only by means of small sea branches. 
Europe and Africa-Arabia were then united by isthmuses or 
divided by inland seas and the Mediterranean originated. In 
place of the widespread Mesozoic and Eocene transgressions 
of the Tethys, marine ingressions are henceforth limited to 
local embayments of the Mediterranean. These occurred pri- 
marily during the two Neogene stages, the Miocene Vindobo- 
nian and the Pliocene Astian-Plaisancian. Surface outcrops of 
the marine Neogene are very small in Israel and restricted to 
the foothill area or to the Beersheba and Kishon plains. Ma- 
rine Neogene thus plays a very minor role in the morphol- 
ogy of the country. 

The littoral Miocene is found today from Haifa Bay and 
the Ephraim Hills (Ein ha-Shofet) in the north to Beersheba 
and Dimonah in the Negev, up to a height of 1,600 ft. (500 m.) 
above sea level. In all the known exposures, it appears with 
sharp erosional unconformity on folded Eocene and Creta- 
ceous rocks. The marine Miocene strata consist of lagoonal, 
sandy marls, beach sands, coarse-grained sands, and coral 
limestone. Both the facies and the fauna point to a connection 
with the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. After the retreat of the 
Miocene sea, due to uplift in the Pontian of some 700-1,000 ft. 
(200-300 m.), there followed a new subsidence, accompanied 
by the Pliocene ingression. 

The Pliocene sea in the north again occupied the Kishon 
Valley, the Jezreel Valley, and eastern Galilee as far as Tiberias. 
In the south it reached Nevatim, east of Beersheba, and again 
washed the foothills bounding the present Coastal Plain. The 
character of the Pliocene (Astian) littoral sediments is similar 
to the Miocene, except for the absence of coral reef limestone, 
indicating disconnection from the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. 
Uplift movements at the end of the Pliocene and during the 
Pleistocene brought the Pliocene littoral beds to their pres- 
ent height of 700-1,000 ft. (200-300 m.) and the Miocene to 
1,600 ft. (500 m.). Where subaerial erosion has removed the 
Neogene sediments, the ancient abrasion planes often appear 
as tilted "peneplains." 

The marine Miocene-Pliocene lying below the Quater- 
nary of the Coastal Plain has been studied in hundreds of 
water wells and in many petroleum-exploration drillings. As 
so-called Saqiyya beds, it consists of several hundred meters 
of plastic clays, silty marls, and marly sands; there are some 
local lumachelle layers and even basalt flows. In the deeper 
horizons it becomes markedly lagoonal, with several gypsum 
horizons, but this part of the section may be assigned to the 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Continental Neogene. The varying relief of Israel and neigh- 
boring Levant countries demonstrated by the Neogene irregu- 
lar gulf and headland coastal configuration is also expressed 
by the development of large intermontane depressions, with 
their fill of predominantly continental deposits. Limnic fresh- 
water and brackish sediments, evaporites (Menahemiyyah 
gypsum, Sodom salt), fluviatile gravel, red beds, and desert 
sands attaining hundreds of meters of thickness have been 
described under various formation names: Herod, Sodom, 
Hazevah (Hoseb), etc. They occur in the Jezreel Valley, the 
Jordan Valley, the Negev, and near the Dead Sea. Although of 
lesser thickness and geographical extension, these inland sedi- 
ments maybe compared in facies and age with the Bakhtiyari 
and Fars series of Iran, Iraq, and Syria. 

The continental Neogene, like its contemporaneous ma- 
rine Mio- Pliocene, rests discordantly upon all pre-Miocene 
formations, frequently starting with a basal conglomerate, 
e.g., Kefar Giladi, Har Hordos, al-Dhra c , Dimonah, etc. In 
the folded mountains of the Negev it is associated with syn- 
clinal basins (as in the Palmyra chains of Syria), e.g., Nahal 
Malhata (Wadi Milh) east of Beersheba, synclinal valleys be- 
tween Yeroham and the Ha-Makhtesh ha-Gadol (Hatirah) an- 
ticlines, the Hazevah- Sodom -al-Dhra basin, and the Upper 
Paran downwarp. In the Jezreel Valley and eastern Galilee the 
continental Neogene occurs as filling masses within the huge 
fault depressions that extend from the Kishon to the Tiberias 
area. This is the same region of tectonic tension in which Up- 
per Miocene and, more visibly, Upper Pliocene continental 
basalt eruptions took place and even continued during the 
Pleistocene. Pleistocene and Pliocene sheet lavas have built up 
the extensive volcanic plateaus of Hauran and eastern Galilee. 
They cover Neogene and pre-Neogene sediments, which, due 
to Pleistocene block and rift faulting, are exposed along the 
slopes of the Jordan graben and in the transversal fault valleys 
of Nahal Tabor (Wadi Bira), Harod, and eastern Dayshun. 

Quaternary. Uplift and desiccation of the inland lakes not 
only brought the marine and continental Pliocene into a 
higher topographic position, but was also accompanied by the 
complete retreat of the sea far to the west of the present Levant 
shores. Contemporary with this uplift, fault-dissection on a 
regional scale produced the graben-trough of Eilat-Arabah, 
the Dead Sea, and the Jordan Valley and accompanying step- 
fault blocks. The branching off of diagonal faults both in Cis- 
and Transjordan gave origin to transversal fault valleys and 
fault-block mountains, which are especially well developed in 
Samaria and the Galilee. The Negev, south Judea, Shephelah, 
and Sharon were far less affected by fault tectonics, and thus 
the mid-Tertiary fold pattern of anticlinal ridges and synclinal 
valleys, up warps and downwarp s, remained well preserved. In 
the synclinal valleys and on the hamada-plateaus of the Paran 
hinterland, continental deposition may have continued from 
Upper Tertiary to Recent. 

Along the western border of the Judean Mountains, 
gravel fans and terraces plunge below the Coastal Plain (as 

far west as the Mediterranean) and are found in groundwater 
exploration wells at depths of 330 ft. (100 m.) overlying the 
Neogene strata. These elastics are assigned to the Lower Pleis- 
tocene or Villafranchian, indicating the extremely high pre- 
cipitation of this Pluvial stage, synchronized with the Guenz- 
Mindel glacial time of Europe. Younger gravels of Mid-Upper 
Pleistocene age interfinger the fossil indurated dunes of the 
Coastal Plain, known as kurkar sandstone. The kurkar y which 
constitutes another important aquifer, is frequently subdivided 
by a terra- rossa-like, sandy, loamy soil, the hamra (Ar. hamra) 
or "red sands" of our citrus belt. The unconsolidated dunes are 
of Recent age. They run along the Coastal Plain and extend 
into the northern Negev, as far inland as the neighborhood 
of Beersheba. The undifferentiated Quaternary signifies the 
loamy, loess, and swampy soils, as well as recent gravels and 
silts blanketing the coastal and interior alluvial plains. Pleis- 
tocene marine sediments are found as foraminiferal limestone 
in the Haifa- Acre plain (e.g., Kurdaneh) and as marine kur- 
kar around the western Carmel border. The water boreholes 
in the Coastal Plain encountered marine Pleistocene only as 
far inland as Rishon le-Zion, but this is missing in the Jezreel 
Valley and the Shephelah foothills. The lower Pleistocene is 
thus the most insignificant of the ingressions of the Cenozoic 
Mediterranean Sea. During the Upper Pleistocene, Mouste- 
rian man already lived near the present shores. 

In the newly formed Quaternary Dead Sea- Jordan gra- 
ben, the Lower to Middle Pleistocene is distinguished by 
gravel and freshwater lake and swamp deposits. At the south- 
ern end of Lake Tiberias ( c Ubaydiyya), many extinct mam- 
mals, skeleton remains of primitive man, and implements 
both of pebble culture and of Abbevillian were discovered. 
Slightly younger, but not older than Middle Pleistocene, were 
the pro to- Acheulean tools and extinct fauna found at the Jor- 
dan, south of Lake Huleh. During this period volcanic activity 
was renewed and many basalt layers accumulated, derived in 
part from the Hauran district. They were partly responsible 
for separating the Huleh graben section from the Tiberias and 
southern Jordan graben and for the accumulation of thick peat 
deposits in the Huleh Valley. The Tiberias region, the middle 
and southern Jordan valley, the Dead Sea, and the northern- 
most Arabah valley were occupied during the Upper Pleis- 
tocene (some 60,000 years ago) by a large brackish inland 
lake in which were deposited fine-bedded clays, gypsum, and 
chalk, called the Lashon (lisan) formation. This formation is 
interfingered with large fluviatile deposits of gravel and silt. At 
the end of the Pleistocene (some 20,000 to 15,000 years ago), 
the ancient Lisan lake receded from its highest stand at the - 
720 ft. (-220 m.) level to about -1,300 ft. (-400 m.), the present 
level of the Dead Sea. Young rivers spread their gravels upon 
the dried-up Lisan lake and cut out the present floodplain of 
the Jordan River. The raising of the Sodom salt mountain also 
started in the Lower Pleistocene. 

structural pattern. The tectonic structures formed by 
the folding movements that modeled their final features dur- 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



ing the Mid-Tertiary are best preserved in the dry climate of 
the Negev. However, south of the Yotvatah area, the influence 
of the Plio-Pleistocene graben faulting with its step faults, par- 
allel and transversal to the Arabah graben depression, mark- 
edly disturbs the fold pattern that is still well observable at 
Zenifim. From Nahal Paran as far as Makhtesh Ramon the 
direction of the folds is close to east-west and this trend per- 
sists into Sinai. The folds then turn in a northeast- southwest 
direction and dominate the central and northern Negev. Their 
anticlines are mostly asymmetrical on the eastern flanks and 
frequently limited by reverse strike -faults. These folds are 
grouped into one unit forming the main anticlinorial uplift, 
with culminations in the Makhtesh Ramon and Ha- Makhtesh 
ha-Gadol. In the structurally low areas, such as the central 
Arabah Valley and the synclinorium of Haluzah, the folds are 
smaller and more symmetrical, representing small domes and 
brachy- anticlines. 

The mountainous region of Judea and Samaria is a broad 
arch, rising to a considerable height, that is subdivided into 
folds by the anticlines of Maon, Yatta, Zahiriyya, Modi'im, 
etc. and the synclines of Netivha-Lamed-He and Zorah. The 
arch and its folds, again with a northeast- southwest trend, are 
distinctly asymmetrical, descending unequally to the Coastal 
Plain in the west and to the Jordan-Dead Sea graben in the 
east. Thus the pronounced northwest asymmetry observed on 
the western slopes of the Judean arch contrasts with the south- 
east asymmetry of the dominant folds of the Judean Desert 
and the northern Negev. These asymmetrical anticlinal folds 
are difficult to relate to pressure exerted by the Arabo-Nubian 
massif, but are apparently connected with the mechanism of 
epeirogenic and taphro genie uplifts. 

As in most rift valleys of regional extent, it is not al- 
ways possible to define the exact location of the main border 
faults. In the case of the Pleistocene Jordan-Dead Sea graben, 
a throw of a thousand meters or more has been determined 
at a number of places. The western cliffs of the Dead Sea gra- 
ben and the graben slopes between Beth-Shean and Lake 
Kinneret are, moreover, divided by numerous step faults that 
run parallel to the main border fault. They are also hidden to 
some extent by en echelon faults that have their origin in the 
main graben. A number of transversal faults, such as those 
between Wadi Farfa and Jericho, as well as in the foothill 
region near Tulkarm, cut the anticlinorium of the Judean 

On the Coastal Plain, just as in the northern Negev and 
the southern part of the Judean Mountains, the structural lines 
are directed northeast- southwest. It is not yet clear whether 
this direction applies only to the folds or, as in the Helez area, 
to deep-seated faults as well. Petroleum wells of the Helez- 
Beror Hayil ridge indicate the presence of a wide and deep 
depression filled with Tertiary sediments, constituting the re- 
gional (Ashkelon) fault- conditioned trough. 

In the Sharon a number of small transversal faults have 
been observed. It is possible that these constitute the con- 
tinuation of faults exposed in the foothill area. There are no 

surface indications of a main, larger border fault, as found 
along the Jordan graben. Nevertheless one may assume that 
the great thickness of Tertiary sediments in the Sharon Plain 
is the outcome of a downfaulted coastal depression that be- 
gan during or at the end of the Mid-Tertiary, as presumed 
also for the Ashkelon trough. If the existence of main faults 
below the young fill on the Coastal Plain and the continen- 
tal slope area of the Mediterranean should be proved, then 
a general tectonic picture would evolve presenting Judea as 
a major horst limited on both sides by major grabens or by 
downfaulted depressions. 

Mount Carmel forms a structural unit by itself. It is an 
extensive faulted uplift. The direction of some of the smaller 
anticlines ( c Usifiyya, Oren) is northwest-southeast. That is 
to say, they are not in harmony with the strike of other fold 
structures in the country. The view has been expressed that 
the major faults that limit Mount Carmel to the north have 
been responsible for producing the small anticlinal bends of 
this exceptional direction. Although the folds in Upper Gali- 
lee are more or less obliterated by the predominance of fault- 
ing, a certain east- southeast asymmetry of the rudimentary 
folds, and especially of the central upwarp, is still notice- 
able. Whereas in eastern Galilee faults are primarily directed 
northwest-southeast and their fault escarpments face north, 
in western Galilee, i.e., west of the main watershed, the faults 
run principally east -west, and their tilted block escarpments 
usually face south. The region of the watershed thus serves 
as a structural backbone where both the western and eastern 
fault systems meet. It is here, at Mount Tabor, Hazon, Ha- 
Ari, Meron, and Addir, that the faults frame the horst blocks 
on all sides. 

In geological maps of Transjordan, many faults are indi- 
cated. Among the principal ones, there is the northeast-south- 
west Wadi Shu'eib fault, which turns into a north- south fault in 
the Dead Sea, thus becoming the eastern boundary fault of the 
graben. Between Wadi Hasa 5 and Petra, sets of faults in vari- 
ous directions build an extensive series of blocks in which the 
influence of the graben tectonics is heavily felt. The most out- 
standing of these faults extend southward from Petra, forming 
the eastern boundary fault of the southern Arabah graben and 
the western boundary of the Midian horst. 

bibliography: M.A. Avnimelech (comp.), Bibliography of 
Levant Geology, 2 vols. (1965-9); idem, Etudes geologiques dans la re- 
gion de la Shephelah (1936), includes illustrations; L. Lartet, Essai sur 
lageologie de la Palestine (1869); M. Blanckenhorn, in: Handbuch der 
regionalen Geologie, 5 no. 4 (1914), 1-159, includes illustrations; G.S. 
Blake, The Stratigraphy of Palestine and its Building Stones (1936); L. 
Picard, in: Bulletin of the Geological Department, Hebrew University, 
Jerusalem, 4 no. 2-4 (1943), 1-134; idem, in: Israel Economic Forum, 
6 no. 3 (1954), 8-38, 146-50: idem, in: brci, 8g (1959), 1-30: idem, in: 
American Geological Society, Special Paper, no. 84 (1965), 337-66, in- 
cludes illustrations; Y. Bentor, in: brci, iog (1961), 17-64; S.H. Shaw, 
Southern Palestine Geological Map (1947), with explanatory notes; 
M.W. and D. Ball, in: American Association of Petroleum Geology, 37 
no. 1 (1953), 1-113. See also Geological Survey of Israel Reports. 

[Leo Picard] 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Flora and Fauna 

flora. The flora of Erez Israel is among the richest and most 
varied of any country in the world. On both sides of the Jor- 
dan River there are close to 2,300 species belonging to about 
700 genera, which in turn belong to 115 families of flora. To 
these should be added scores of species found in Golan. No 
other place in the world has such floral wealth concentrated 
within such a comparatively small area. This density of species 
is due to several factors. Among them are the varied history of 
the regions landscape, the diversity of its topography and cli- 
mate, the lengthy period of its agriculture, and especially the 
fact that it is the meeting place of three phytogeographic areas: 
the Mediterranean, the Irano-Turanic, and the Saharo-Sindic, 
with enclaves here and there of the Sudano-Deccanic. 

The Flora of the Mediterranean Area. Of the three phyto- 
geographic areas, the most important is the Mediterranean, 
which includes agricultural land in the mountains and valleys. 
In it the amount of water precipitation varies from 14-40 in. 
(350-1,000 mm.). This precipitation, the result of winter rains 
(with a small additional amount of melted snow from the high 
mountains), makes the nonirrigated cultivation of plantations 
and of winter and summer crops possible. The area is subdi- 
vided into mountain and coastal subareas. 

The Mountain Subarea. This was once agriculturally the 
most developed area (having since been superseded in im- 
portance by farming lands in the valleys and the Coastal 
Plain). The intensive agricultural cultivation of mountain 
lands has curtailed or prevented the development of forests 
in this, their natural habitat, so that only remnants of forests 
and groves are left. In this subarea several types of forests 
are to be found containing the common *oak, the Palestine 
* terebinth, the mastic terebinth, the *carob, the arbutus, and 
the rhamnus, as well as many shrubs and wild grasses. The 
*Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) y thought to be native to the 
country, is mainly a newcomer, brought by human activities 
in the last 500 years. Most of the woods in Israel consist of 
the group of the common oak (Quercus calliprinos)> and the 
Palestine terebinth (Pistacia palaestina) y which can reach a 
considerable height but are usually shrubby as a result of hav- 
ing been cut or gnawed by sheep and particularly goats. This 
bush grows extensively on mountains of an altitude between 
1,000-4,000 ft. (300-1,200 m.) above sea level. There is also 
the gall oak (Quercus infectoria (boissieri)), a deciduous tree 
with a tall trunk, alongside which grows the hawthorn (Cra- 
taegus azarolus). Under favorable humid conditions there also 
grow in this subarea the sweet *bay (Laurus nobilis) and the 
Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum) y which in spring adorns the 
mountains with its lilac flowers. On the western ridges of the 
Carmel and Western Galilee and on the western slopes of the 
Judean mountains, there is maquis, where grow the group of 
the carob (ceratonia siliqua) and the mastic terebinth (Pistacia 
tentiscus) y along with many species of shrubs, climbers, an- 
nuals, and perennials. A third genus of oak - the Tabor oak 
(Quercus ithaburensis) - predominates on the western ranges 

of the Lower Galilean mountains, accompanied by the *storax 
tree (Styrax officinalis). In the northern Huleh Valley it grows 
alongside the Atlantic terebinth (Pistacia atlantica). These two 
species of trees are the largest in Israel, some in the neighbor- 
hood of Dan having trunks 20 ft. (6 m.) in circumference and 
reaching a height of c. 65 ft. (20 m.). 

All these are types of forest trees. Another genus of Medi- 
terranean plant comprises flora groups called garrigue, which 
in Israel consist predominantly of shrubs and dwarf shrubs 
no taller than a man. The characteristic plants of the garrigue 
are the calycotome thorn bush (Calycotome villosa) y the rock 
rose (Cistus villosus) y and the salvia (Salvia tribola). At times 
the garrigue flora groups are the developing stage of a forest, 
at others an indication of the former presence there of a for- 
est since destroyed. Characteristic of the unfo rested Mediter- 
ranean landscape are dwarf shrubs, of which the most wide- 
spread is the poterium thorn (Poterium spinosum). Reaching 
a height of less than half a meter, it grows densely and is one 
of the principal factors in preventing the erosion of mountain 
soil. Where being used either for firewood or for burning lime 
has destroyed these plants, the eroding effects of wind and rain 
have denuded the ground. 

The Coastal Subarea. The soil here is sandy or a mixture of 
sandy chalk and sandy clay, which, being poor in organic 
substances and in its capacity to retain rainwater, is unsuit- 
able for the growth of plants (unless irrigated). In this sub- 
area grows flora that strikes deep roots, and desert and Ara- 
vah plants that can exist on small amounts of water, as well 
as annuals which sprout and ripen during the rainy winter 
months. Here can be found flora of Israel's three phytogeo- 
graphic areas, as well as that of the Sudanoz-Deccanic, such 
as the * sycamore (Ficus sycomorus) and the wild *jujube (Zi- 
zyphus spina-Christi). Sand flora is in constant danger of be- 
ing covered by moving sands and of having the sand under its 
roots blown away by the wind. Yet many sand plants are able 
to survive under such conditions, either by striking deep roots 
or by developing new shoots above the branches covered by 
sand. Near the sea, where the winds carry sea spray onto the 
flora, plants grow which are insensitive to sea water, such as 
the Russian thistle (Salsola kali) and species of fig marigold 
(Mesembryanthemum). Most of the sandy-clay soil is planted 
with citrus groves. The flora group of the love grass (Eragrostis 
bipinnata) and of the thistle (Centaurea procurrens) grow ex- 
tensively here, as do the group of the cistus and of the caly- 
cotome on the brittle sandy- chalk hills in the Coastal Plain 
area, and the group of the carob and of the mastic in the hard 
sandy- chalk soil. 

The Flora of the Irano-Turanic Area. This is concentrated in 
the loess or arid soil of the northern Negev and the Judean 
Desert. Here the climate is dry, with a rainfall varying from 
8-14 in. (200-300 mm.), these being the limits for nonirri- 
gated plants which thrive in rainy years (cf. Gen. 26:12). In this 
area there are almost no forests, but only sparse trees, such as 
the plant association of the Atlantic terebinth and the lotus 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



jujube (Zizyphus lotus). Characteristic of the slopes bordering 
on the Jordan and Beth-Shean Valleys is the Retama duriaei 
association. Here the most important plant association is of 
a species of ^wormwood (Artemisia herba-alba) which grows 
extensively in the Negev and in the Judean Desert. 

The Flora of the Saharo-Sindic Area. This area, which extends 
over most of Israel but has the poorest flora, includes the 
southern Negev and the Aravah. Its rainfall, which is limited to 
a shorter period in winter, does not exceed c. 8 in. (200 mm.) 
and is usually much less, and there are even parts which in 
some years are almost completely rainless. The soil here is 
infertile and includes hammada, desert, gravel, and rocks. 
Trees grow only in wadi fissures. There are saline tracts bare 
of all flora, which is in any event very sparse here. The most 
typical plant in the hammada is the small shrub Zygophyl- 
lum dumosutriy which is capable of surviving in areas with a 
rainfall of less than 2 in. (50 mm.). Since desert plants have to 
contend with a severe shortage of water, only those with spe- 
cial properties are able to survive here. Most of them spring 
up and flower quickly after a shower of rain; some of them, 
only a few weeks after germinating, scatter their seeds, which 
are capable of preserving their power of germination for many 
years. Other species here are bulbous plants that hibernate 
in dry periods. Generally, desert flora has long roots so as 
to utilize the sparse amount of water over a wide area, and 
hence the infrequency of these plants. Many species of desert 
flora have a great ability to absorb groundwater; one species, 
the Reaumaria palaestina, developing an osmotic capacity of 
more than 200 atmospheres. Other desert plants shed their 
leaves in a dry season, thereby curtailing the area of evapo- 
ration. Still other species are succulents, which are equipped 
with cells that in the rainy season store water for the dry pe- 

In sandy desert regions the flora is usually more abun- 
dant, the predominant species here being the haloxylon and 
the broom (Retama roetam). In the Aravah and in the lower 
Jordan Valley, where there is widespread salinity, saline flora, 
including species of atriplex and salicornia, grows densely. 

In desert regions near sources of water there are oases, 
where tropical Sudano-Deccanic flora grows, the characteris- 
tic plants here being species of acacia, wild jujube, etc. These 
also grow in wadi fissures in desert regions. In places where 
the ground becomes sodden from winter floods, crops can be 
grown and plantations established. 

Hydrophylic flora grows near expanses of water in all 
the areas of Israel. Large numbers of the poplar (Populus eu- 
phratica)> as well as species of the *willow (Salix) and of the 
^tamarisk (Tamarix), grow on river banks, as do the *plane 
(Platanus orientalis) and the Syrian ash (Fraxinus syriaca) on 
the banks of streams in the north. Alongside these trees there 
usually grows the ^oleander (Nerium oleander), together with 
numerous species of annuals and perennials. The reed and the 
cattail are found near almost every expanse of water. The pa- 
pyrus once flourished extensively in the Huleh swamps, but 

since they were drained it grows in extremely limited areas. 
Due to the draining of swamps in Israel and the piping of river 
water, hydrophytic flora has progressively decreased. On the 
other hand, some species of riparian plants flourish near fish- 
ponds, the area of which has greatly increased. 

Cultivated Plants. Erez Israel has a long and varied history of 
* agriculture. In addition to the older plants cultivated in the 
country for centuries, many have been introduced from vari- 
ous parts of the world, especially from Australia (mainly many 
species of the eucalyptus and the acacia) and from America, 
among these being numerous ornamental plants. Together 
with these plants, their companion wild grasses have also 
come into Israel and have flourished alongside the older wild 
grasses, in particular the prickly species which are a charac- 
teristic feature of Israel's landscape, especially in the burning 
hot days of summer. 

fauna. History. The history of the fauna of Erez Israel is a 
long one, going back to the earliest geological periods. Of these 
the Pleistocene epoch was the most dynamic and decisive in 
this respect by reason of the considerable changes which took 
place in its zoological character, mainly as a result of the in- 
flux of animals from various regions. In this period, fauna at 
present characteristic of East African savannas predominated 
in the country. To this period belong the bones, uncovered 
in the country, of animals no longer extant in Israel, such as 
warthog, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and striped hyena, as 
well as various species of gazelle. The bones of elephants and 
of mastodons, brought to light in the Jordan Valley, belong 
to the Lower Pleistocene Age. In later periods animals pene- 
trated to the country from Western and Central Asia, among 
them the wild horse, the wild ass, gazelles, wolves, and bad- 
gers. From the north there was a limited influx of animals as 
a result of the Ice Age in Europe. 

During the Upper Pleistocene Age a tropical climate, 
warm and humid, predominated in Erez Israel. This was fol- 
lowed by a dry period, which led to the destruction of the 
tropical fauna. And indeed an examination of the bones of 
animals found in the caves of prehistoric man in the Carmel 
shows that the principal game hunted by him consisted of 
mammals still extant in Israel. This is true also of the bones 
of birds brought to light in Early Stone Age caves, although 
several mammals and birds are of species extinct in the coun- 
try in historical times. As early as the end of the Stone Age 
(4,000 b.c.e.) there was to be found in the country the fauna 
characteristic of it since biblical days. 

With the enlargement of the settled area in the biblical 
and later in the Byzantine period, changes took place in the 
distribution of animals, now forced into the uninhabited ar- 
eas (see *Animals of the Bible). The invention of rifles led to 
the extinction of the large carnivores as well as of the large 
ruminant game. 

The present-day Jewish agricultural settlements have al- 
tered the distribution of the various animals. Some of them 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


have disappeared, while others, finding favorable conditions 
in developed farming areas, have begun to multiply. Thus the 
increase in waterfowl is due directly to the increase of fish- 
ponds, in which aquatic mammals (such as the marsh lynx) 
have also begun to establish themselves. New species of birds 
have started to nest in plantations and citrus groves. The State 
of Israel's fauna preservation laws have saved several mam- 
mals from threatened extinction and some have begun to 
multiply greatly, such as the * gazelle, at present to be found 
in various parts of the country. The *ibex, too, has increased 
in number and herds of it may be seen in the mountains of 
En-Gedi and Eilat. On the other hand, toxic substances used 
to exterminate agricultural pests and jackals have led to the 
extinction of birds, particularly carrion-feeding ones. In this 
way the griffon * vultures, found in large numbers in the coun- 
try up to the 1930s, have become almost extinct, only a few 
surviving at present. 

The Zoogeography of Erez Israel. The fauna in the country is 
extremely varied, the reason for this being, as in the case of the 
flora, that Israel is the meeting place of three climatic and flo- 
ral regions. The regional distribution of the fauna corresponds 
almost exactly to that of the flora. To the Mediterranean fauna 
belong the *hare, chukar ^partridge, swallow, agama, and oth- 
ers; to the Saharo-Sindic, the desert mouse, desert lark, sand- 
grouse, * gecko, cobra, and many other species; to the Irano- 
Turanic, animals that inhabit the northern Negev and the 
Judean Desert, such as the tiger weasel (Vormela) y bustard, 
isolepis, and agama. 

The Sudano-Deccanic animals inhabit the Jordan Valley 
as far as the Aravah. Here are to be found representatives also 
of tropical fauna, such as the cheetah, honey badger, tropical 
cuckoo, and carpet viper. In contrast to these animals that 
love the warmth, there are also representatives of the Holarc- 
tic fauna, such as the shrew and meadow pipit. 

The catalogue of the names of animals thus far studied 
testifies to a wealth of fauna. At present approximately 100 spe- 
cies of mammals are known, nearly 400 of birds, more than 
70 of reptiles, more then 400 of sweet and salt water fish, and 
seven of Amphibia. Much larger is the number of inverte- 
brates. These are extensively represented among the insects, 
of which some 8,000 species are known in the country, their 
aggregate number being 22,000 according to Bodenheimer, 
who maintains that there are about 900 species of other Ar- 
thropoda. Of the invertebrates, other than the Arthropoda, 
some 300 species are known, their total number being esti- 
mated at about 2,750. 

bibliography: flora. A. Eig, et al., Magdir le-Zimhei Erez 

Yisrael (1948); M. Zohari, Olam ha-Zemahim (1954); idem, Geo- 

botanikah (1955); idem, Plant Life of Palestine (1962); J. Feliks, Olam 

ha-Zomeah ha-Mikra'i (1957); N. Feinbrun-Dothan, Wild Plants in 

the Land of Israel (i960), fauna. Lewysohn, Zool; F.S. Bodenheimer, 

Animal and Man in Bible Lands (i960); J. Feliks, The Animal World 

of the Bible (1962). add. bibliography: J. Feliks, Hai ve-Zomah 

ba-Torah (1984). 

[Jehuda Feliks] 


For Prehistory see 'Archaeology; for Biblical and Second Tem- 
ple periods, see ""History. 

Destruction of the Second Temple until the Arab 
Conquest (70-640 c.e.) 

the effects of the war of 66-70 c.e. The Jewish war 
against the Romans, which lasted more than four years and 
encompassed the entire country, the continuing siege of the 
fortresses of *Machaerus, *Herodium, and *Masada, the last 
falling only in 73, the capture of * Jerusalem and the destruc- 
tion of the Temple - all these gravely affected the Jewish peo- 
ple and the cities and villages of Erez Israel. Josephus (Wars, 
6:420) states that during the siege of Jerusalem alone more 
than a million Jews fell, while his contemporary Tacitus places 
the number at 600,000 (Historiae y 5:13). To these figures are 
to be added those killed at various stages of the war in Judea, 
Galilee, and Transjordan. Many fell in the battles fought and 
the massacres perpetrated by the inhabitants of the Greek cit- 
ies against the local Jews, such as in *Caesarea, *Beth-Shean, 
*Acre, and *Ashkelon. In addition to the slain, many were 
taken captive before the siege of Jerusalem; tens of thousands 
were sold into slavery, sent to toil in ships and mines, or pre- 
sented to the non- Jewish cities adjacent to Erez Israel to fight 
against wild animals in the theaters. While the figures given 
by the early historians are undoubtedly exaggerated, it is cer- 
tain that tens upon tens of thousands of Jews were killed or 
taken prisoner. Cities and villages were burnt and destroyed 
either in the course of the war or as an act of revenge and in- 
timidation. Agriculture in particular suffered. Fruit trees on 
the mountains and in the valleys were cut down by the army 
for use in the siege or by military detachments in order to 
cow the population. That they might not be utilized by the 
enemy, many fruit trees were uprooted by the Jewish fighters, 
as were also the groves of balsam trees in the vicinity of Jeri- 
cho which, of a quality unequaled in the world, were deliber- 
ately destroyed by the Jews, according to Pliny. Several cities 
and villages, which were demolished and of which Josephus 
tells that they were razed to the ground and burnt, were not 
actually destroyed but were damaged in one form or another. 
Some, like Jaffa, were already rebuilt during the war, others 
were completely destroyed or never restored. 

With the destruction of the Temple, Jerusalem, although 
continuing to be inhabited by impoverished Jews, completely 
lost not only its spiritual significance but also its importance 
as a populated and economic center. Contemporary sages give 
distressing accounts of the plight of the surviving members of 
wealthy Jerusalem families (Mekh., Ba-Hodesh, 1; tj, Ket. 5:13, 
30b; tb ibid., 67a). A considerable proportion of the inhabit- 
ants of Jerusalem and its immediate vicinity had derived their 
livelihood from the service and the supplies as also from other 
public duties associated with the Temple, as well as from the 
pilgrimages. With the destruction of the Temple and of Jeru- 
salem they lost their sole means of support. The protracted 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



war greatly increased the hostility of the soldiers and the au- 
thorities toward the Jews, undermining their position and 
bringing religious persecutions in its wake. The sources attest 
to the destruction of synagogues and the building of theaters 
on their sites or with their plunder, "so as to wound the feel- 
ings of the Jews." More grievous were the tortures inflicted on 
the Jews to compel them to transgress the commandments of 
their religion (Jos., Wars, 2:150 ff.; Apion, 1:43). For a time after 
the destruction of the Temple the Jews had the legal status of 
dediticiiy that is, of a people that had unconditionally surren- 
dered itself, its property, territory, and towns to the Roman 
state; they were deprived of their communal and religious 
rights by imperial edict; and were the arbitrary victims both 
in theory and in practice of unrestrained acts of lawlessness, 
as were also the Jewish communities in the immediate neigh- 
borhood of Erez Israel. The authorities searched out the Jewish 
families descended from the house of David in order to de- 
stroy them and thus eradicate the last remnant of the nations 
hope of the restoration of the Davidic kingdom. There was 
also * Vespasian's decree that, instead of the half shekel which 
each Jew contributed to the Temple in Jerusalem, a tax of two 
drachmas was to be imposed on every Jew in Erez Israel and 
the Diaspora, and given annually to the imperial treasury for 
Jupiter Capitolinus, the Roman god, whose temple was on the 
Capitol. More than being a serious financial burden, this tax, 
which was paid also by women and children, was humiliating 
and oppressive, in addition to indirectly enforcing idolatry on 
the Jews. Although levied until the days of Julian the Apostate 
in the middle of the fourth century, its connection with Jupi- 
ter was discontinued some years after the destruction of the 
Temple. The memory of the war against the Romans and of 
the subjugation of Judea, with all that these implied, was kept 
alive by the Flavian emperors who throughout that dynasty's 
reign struck coins commemorating the victory and empha- 
sizing the fact that Judea had been conquered. 


grave were the consequences in the spiritual and organiza- 
tional spheres. The destruction of the country, the capture of 
Jerusalem, the burning of the Temple, and in their wake the ab- 
olition of the leading institutions - the high priesthood and the 
Sanhedrin - brought stupefaction and confusion in spiritual 
and communal life. Associated with the Temple and its divine 
service were communal and judicial institutions that had their 
seat in the Temple. There was the Sanhedrin, which admin- 
istered justice, proclaimed the new months, and intercalated 
the year. There was the high priesthood, which had lost none 
of its commanding spiritual splendor despite its diminished 
prestige during the generations preceding the destruction of 
the Second Temple, its curtailed power, and the widespread 
criticism leveled at it. The destruction of the Temple brought 
an end to the sacrifices that atoned for Israel's sins and to the 
pilgrimages, and many categories of mitzvot connected with 
the Temple and its service fell into disuse, and so to some ex- 
tent did numerous other mitzvot associated with festivals, such 

as the blowing of the shofar on the New Year and the waving 
of the lulav on Tabernacles, which were mainly observed in 
the Temple and only partially outside it. The Temple was also 
the political, juridical basis of the Jewish communal struc- 
ture. Centering round it in the Persian and Hellenistic peri- 
ods, Judea derived its constitutional power from the Temple, 
the nation's glory as far as the outside world was concerned 
and the focal point of the Jewish people both in Erez Israel 
and in the Diaspora. In the Second Temple period Jerusalem 
was not only the capital of the state but also the theater of ev- 
ery spiritual creativity and political occasion. Coalescing as it 
were with the Temple, the city was intertwined in the practical 
life of the people and in the complex of the basic values of the 
nation's thought. The destruction of the city and of the Temple 
left a vacuum in the spiritual and practical life of the Jews. The 
crises that followed the revival and the fervent hopes aroused 
during the war against the Romans were calculated to under- 
mine the nation's faith both in its teachings and in its future. 
One senses in the tannaitic literature and in the apocryphal 
works, composed in the generation after the destruction of the 
Temple and Jerusalem, the somber sorrow and pain that af- 
flicted many contemporary circles. Some abstained from flesh 
and wine, for the altar had been destroyed on which flesh had 
been offered and wine poured out in libations. Many lived in 
caves and in fasting and self- mortification awaited the messi- 
anic era, which would soon dawn. There was no speedy tran- 
sition to the spiritual, religious reality necessary to rebuild the 
sole basis of a hope of redemption - the life of the nation, now 
deprived of its Temple and its political framework. 


destruction. With the destruction of Jerusalem and the 
Temple, Judea, except for those settlements (like Caesarea) 
which, within the confines of Jewish Erez Israel, enjoyed city 
status, passed under the direct control of the Roman admin- 
istration. At Motza a colony was set up consisting of 800 
Roman veterans, who received confiscated Jewish land. Jaffa 
and Flavia Neapolis, founded near Shechem, were granted city 
rights. No new cities were established within the limits of Jew- 
ish settlement, except *Tiberias and *Sepphoris which, hav- 
ing previously had city status, in the course of time regained 
their rights. The province of Judea, provincia Judaea> which 
was now founded, included all the coastal cities from Caesarea 
to Rafa, the whole of Idumea, Judea, Samaria, Perea in Trans- 
jordan, Galilee, and all the cities of the Decapolis, except Da- 
mascus and Canatha. After the death of *Agrippa 11 (92), the 
last ruler of the Herodian dynasty, a considerable part of his 
kingdom, comprising territories in Perea, Tiberias, Magdala, 
and Gaulanitis, was added to Judea. In contrast to the period 
preceding the destruction, the province was now subject to 
the authority of a Roman senator who had formerly served 
as & praetor and whose title was legatus Augusti pro praetor e 
provincia Judaea. 

Contrary to the prevailing Roman imperial practice of 
stationing legions only in the provinces bordering on the em- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


pire, *Vespasian stationed in Judea, an "internal" country, a 
permanent garrison, the tenth legion, legio decima Fretensis, 
that had taken part in the war against the Jews. During the 
entire period of the Roman imperial rule of Erez Israel this 
legion was permanently stationed in the country, and in- 
scriptions and seals of it have been uncovered at its various 
encampments. Its main camp, located on the city's ruins, was 
in Jerusalem; its commander was the governor, who resided 
in Caesarea. To facilitate contact between the military head- 
quarters in the center of the country and the administrative 
seat of government at Caesarea, a branch of the coastal road 
was built from Antipatris to Jerusalem. Encamped near the 
legion were other military units, auxiliary troops, etc., that had 
been brought from distant lands. The auxiliary forces which 
had been stationed in Erez Israel before the destruction and 


which, consisting of soldiers from Caesarea and from Sebaste, 
were distinguished for their hatred of the Jews whom they 
had provoked to acts of war, were transferred by Vespasian 
to other provinces. Assisting the governor was a procurator 
who was in charge of financial affairs. It is doubtful whether 
the province of Judea became independent after the destruc- 
tion and was not annexed to Syria, as it had been before the 
war, since civil, legal, and military issues of decisive impor- 
tance still required the decision of the Syrian governor who 
resided in Antioch. Josephus tells that Vespasian ordered that 
all Jewish territory was to be hired out, for he founded no city 
in it (Wars, 7:216). Since in point of fact many Jewish farmers 
remained on their land as owners, Josephus' statement refers 
to that land which was confiscated and which indeed consti- 
tuted a considerable proportion of Jewish territory. Contem- 
porary literature echoes a poignant cry against the Roman 
tax-collectors (conductores) who held land throughout Erez 
Israel. Some was actually transferred to non-Jews, such as to 
the 800 veterans, and its former owners were dispossessed. 
Other land was given to favorites and loyal friends of the Jew- 
ish and non- Jewish authorities or to large tenants, the conduc- 
tores. The former owners were not ejected from most of the 
confiscated land but cultivated their own as tenant farmers, for 
which they had to pay a high rental in kind, expecting never- 
theless to be evicted at any time on the pretext of not paying 
the rent or some other excuse. 

Taxes. On unconfiscated land a tax was levied which was in- 
creased after the destruction and from which only a few im- 
perial court favorites, such as Josephus in the days of Domi- 
tian, were exempted. But whereas some in the territories of 
the Roman Empire were liable to a land but not to a poll tax, 
the Jews in Erez Israel had to pay both. A Roman writer of a 
generation or two after the destruction states that, because of 
their rebelliousness, the tax imposed on the Jews of Erez Israel 
was more severe than that demanded of the inhabitants of the 
neighboring countries. After the destruction the tax for the 
provision and maintenance of the army and of the enlarged 
Roman officialdom in the country, levied in kind (annona) 
from dough, animals, and all locally produced or imported ag- 

ricultural and industrial products, was increased. There were 
bitter complaints against the excessive demands and the harsh- 
ness employed in collecting them, as also against the various 
forms of forced labor, whereby the authorities and especially 
the army compelled the population, both urban and rural, to 
perform work, such as haulage, or repairing and making roads, 
with their own persons and with the help of their temporary 
or permanently requisitioned draught animals. A short time 
after the destruction small watchtower stations were erected 
along the borders and along the main roads in many places in 
Erez Israel. In the years following the destruction, under the 
Flavian dynasty (until 96), a system of defense, known by its 
latter name of limes Palaestinae was established in southern 
Erez Israel. Extending from Menois, north of Rafa, to the Dead 
Sea, the limes consisted of a series of fortresses connected by 
a road, along which, on allotments of land, military colonists 
enjoying a special status were settled. In the rear of the limes 
were two military bases: * Carmel and * Hebron. While its es- 
tablishment brought security to the country's southern settle- 
ments, it further increased the already large non- Jewish pop- 
ulation in the country. 


in post-destruction Erez Israel of Jewish communal life - 
which also reconstructed Judaism in the Diaspora - without 
the framework of a state and without a Temple which was 
the foundation of Jewish religious and spiritual existence, is 
associated with the name of Rabban * Johanan b. Zakkai and 
with his activities in the semi- Greek city of * Jabneh. One of 
the greatest Pharisaic sages in Jerusalem before the destruc- 
tion, he vehemently opposed the Sadducees and the Saddu- 
cean high priesthood. He was deputy to the president of the 
Sanhedrin, Rabban *Simeon b. Gamaliel, who was the leader 
of the government set up after Cestius Gallus had been forced 
to retreat and with whom he signed the letters sent throughout 
Erez Israel and the Diaspora in connection with tithes and the 
intercalation of the year (Mid. Tan. 26:13). To him is ascribed 
the abolition of the ceremony of the bitter water in the exam- 
ination of a wife suspected of infidelity (Sot. 9:9). Although a 
priest, he is depicted as a scholar and teacher who in his state- 
ments and teachings protested and strove against the priests' 
haughtiness and aloofness. It is possible that he gave no sup- 
port to the revolt against Rome. At any rate, warning the rebels 
against fanaticism and impetuous acts, he called on them to 
display moderation in their relations with gentiles and toward 
their sacred objects: "Be not precipitate in tearing down the al- 
tars of gentiles that you do not have to rebuild them with your 
own hands, that you do not tear down those made of brick and 
be ordered: Make them of stone...." (arn 2 31, 66). He was in 
besieged Jerusalem, but left the city during the siege, appar- 
ently in the spring of 68 when Vespasian was closing in on the 
city. His departure then left a deep impression on talmudic 
tradition, and there are different versions of his appearance 
before Vespasian when he prophesied that the latter would 
become the emperor (which Josephus ascribes to himself, 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



and various sources to different persons in the east). Accord- 
ing to later traditions in the Babylonian Talmud, he obtained 
from the emperor "Jabneh with its sages" and "the dynasty of 
Rabban Gamaliel" (Git. 56b). But this tradition, which con- 
tains much taken from somewhat later circumstances, reflects 
the time when "Jabneh with its sages" was already established 
under the leadership of Rabban * Gamaliel, the son of Rabban 
Simeon b. Gamaliel, and the foundations had been laid for the 
succeeding dynasty of nesiim who presided over the Sanhe- 
drin and led the nation for more than 300 years. The earlier 
traditions embodied in the Erez Israel literature (Lam. R. 1:5, 
no. 31; arn 1 40, 22-23; arn 2 60, 19-20) indicate that Johanan 
b. Zakkai was first held in custody at Gophna and later trans- 
ferred, apparently under duress, to Jabneh, which was used 
together with other cities such as Ashdod, on account of their 
large non- Jewish population, as a place for concentrating and 
imprisoning the Jews, and especially the prominent ones, who 
had surrendered to the Romans. According to one source, he 
only requested of the emperor, who granted his request, that 
certain persons be saved; according to others he succeeded in 
obtaining Jabneh "to teach his pupils" or "to observe the mitz- 
vot and study the Torah" there. 

The general circumstances prevailing during the war 
against the Romans, as also the usual procedures adopted by 
Vespasian and his son *Titus, support these earlier versions 
of the origin of Jabneh. When requesting "Jabneh with its 
sages," Johanan b. Zakkai did not presumably ask of and re- 
ceive from Rome permission to establish a national or even 
merely a spiritual center. Although the official permission he 
received was extremely restricted, he in effect began, with or 
without the authorities' knowledge, to rehabilitate Jewish life 
theoretically and to fill in practice the vacuum created by the 
destruction. He reestablished the *Sanhedrin, and in Jabneh 
commenced to proclaim the new months and intercalate the 
years, on which the entire calendar of Jewish festivals de- 
pended. The proclamation of the new month, based on the 
testimony of witnesses, and the intercalation of the year, de- 
pendent on the decision of the bet din, which were previously 
done in the Temple in Jerusalem, were now transferred to Jab- 
neh, and the information was transmitted to all the cities of 
Erez Israel and the Diaspora. By this action alone Jabneh be- 
came the leading center and place of assembly for all Israel. 
To it was transferred some of the authority and activities that 
pertained to the Temple courtyards in Jerusalem. Several of 
Johanan b. Zakkai's regulations deal with the proclamation 
of the new month at Jabneh. He decreed that the shofar was 
to be blown at Jabneh also on a New Year that fell on a Sab- 
bath, which had previously only been done in the Temple and 
in Jerusalem. Another regulation lays down "that even if the 
head of the bet din is in some other place, the witnesses (who 
testify when the new moon appeared) should still go only to 
the place of the assembly" (rh 4:4). His other regulations were 
likewise intended to fill the void created by the destruction 
and to rebuild Jewish life while retaining a remembrance of 
the Temple, so as to rehabilitate the former without the lat- 

ter. He instituted that the lulav be waved all the seven days of 
Tabernacles, contrary to the situation that obtained during 
the existence of the Temple when it was waved seven days 
in the Temple and only one day in other parts of the country 
(ibid. 4:3). He ordained that the priests bless the people dur- 
ing prayers in the synagogue without their shoes on, as had 
been done at the end of the service in the Temple. According 
to the halakhah, a proselyte, on his conversion, had to bring 
a sacrifice to the Temple, but with its destruction he set aside 
a quarter shekel for a sacrifice to be offered when the Temple 
would be rebuilt, a regulation abolished by Johanan b. Zak- 
kai (ibid. 31b). To the people, shaken by the destruction of the 
Temple, "where the sins of Israel were expiated," he taught: 
"My son, be not grieved. We have another means of expiation 
like it. What is it? It is deeds of loving-kindness" (arn 1 4, 21). 
He laid the foundations for the structure of organized life by 
instituting or renewing the ordination of sages and the title 
of "rabbi" for ordained sages, a fact of great significance not 
only for the religious life, law, and leadership in Erez Israel, 
but also for the country's hegemony over the Diaspora, since 
the right of granting ordination was restricted to the lead- 
ing institutions in Erez Israel. The title of rabbi also indicated 
that its bearer was a member of the Sanhedrin and acted in 
its name. Furthermore, Johanan b. Zakkai began to work for 
the consolidation and unity of the nation amid the various 
trends and movements which appeared in all their destruc- 
tive virulence during the last days of the Temple's existence. 
Nevertheless Johanan b. Zakkai's activities are limited in com- 
parison with those that marked the days of Rabban Gamaliel. 
This is not to be ascribed only to the difficult external condi- 
tions then prevailing and the Roman Empire's nonrecognition 
of the leadership at Jabneh. It is also due to the fact that many 
sages dissociated themselves from Johanan b. Zakkai and his 
actions at Jabneh. Conspicuous by their absence were not only 
the priestly sages who ministered in the Temple and ranked 
among the influential members of Pharisaic circles, but also 
many others, some of whom went to Jabneh after the days of 
Johanan b. Zakkai. Of his five pupils, only two, *Eliezer b. Hyr- 
canus and * Joshua b. Hananiah, accompanied him to Jabneh. 
Apparently a considerable number of the sages were unable 
to reconcile themselves with him, with his leaving besieged 
Jerusalem, his surrender to the Romans, and his throwing 
himself on the emperor's mercy. These circles, however, co- 
operated with Rabban Gamaliel, his successor and a member 
of the dynasty of the nasi. 


the status of Judaism in Erez Israel took place when the Flavian 
dynasty came to an end with the murder of Domitian (96). 
The policy of encouraging informers in Rome against those 
suspected of Judaism was abolished, as was that of persecut- 
ing proselytes. To this period is to be assigned the accession 
of Rabban Gamaliel to the position of nasi after having previ- 
ously been compelled to go into hiding from the Romans. In 
contrast to Johanan b. Zakkai who according to the evidence 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


had no contact with the authorities during his tenure of the 
office of nasi, Rabban Gamaliel traveled to Antioch where he 
obtained authorization from "the governor in Syria" (Eduy. 
7:7). Roman imperial emissaries were sent to ascertain the 
nature of Hebrew civil law, then reintroduced and extensively 
in vogue. There were the journeys to Rome undertaken by 
Rabban Gamaliel together with the leading members of the 
Sanhedrin, Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, *Eleazar b. Azariah, Joshua, 
and * Akiva, their meeting with the authorities, and their visit 
to the Jews in the city Under Rabban Gamaliel the center in 
Jabneh assumed most of the functions fulfilled by the Sanhe- 
drin in Second Temple times. To it questions were addressed 
from all the cities of Erez Israel and the Diaspora. During 
this period missions were reintroduced on behalf of the nasi 
and the Sanhedrin to the communities of Erez Israel and the 
Diaspora, some of the most eminent sages, such as Eliezer b. 
Hyrcanus, Joshua b. Hananiah, Akiva, and *Ishmael, acting 
as emissaries and being sometimes accompanied by the nasi 
himself. These missions also had great economic importance, 
since the emissaries brought back with them the money col- 
lected in the Diaspora for the maintenance of the central au- 
thority in Erez Israel. The ties that the emissaries formed with 
the cities of Erez Israel and with the Diaspora had not only an 
organizational significance but also established a personal link 
between these places and the great teachers of the Torah acting 
in the name of the nasi. Wherever they went, they gave practi- 
cal decisions on the questions submitted to them, brought with 
them the innovations decided upon in the battel midrashot in 
Erez Israel, supervised the communal arrangements and insti- 
tutions, and established those essential for the life of a Jewish 
community, such as charitable, educational and other similar 
ones. The emissaries decisively influenced the appointment of 
leaders in the cities and villages of Erez Israel and the commu- 
nities of the Diaspora, and even had the power to depose them 
if their leadership was found to be defective. During this pe- 
riod the character of the Sanhedrin assumed definite form as a 
bet midrash, a legislature and a dominant executive body. 

Many discussions and actions that marked those years 
until the Bar Kokhba revolt (132) had not only then a decisive 
effect on the life of the Jews in Erez Israel and in the Diaspora 
but shaped and directed the existence of the nation throughout 
all subsequent generations. Amid much argument and con- 
flict the halakhah was decided according to Bet Hillel, a fact 
of great influence on the entire history of the halakhah. A fi- 
nal decision was taken on numerous problems concerned with 
proselytization, priestly dues, tithes, and other subjects. In this 
period the concept crystallized that study is greater than ac- 
tion, since "study leads to action" (Kid. 40b). At one assem- 
bly which took place at Lydda in keeping with the custom of 
meeting on occasion elsewhere than at the permanent center 
at Jabneh, it was decided that a Jew, if forced to transgress the 
mitzvot of the Torah, may do so to save his life except in the 
three instances of idolatry, murder, and incest. But at a time 
of open religious persecution intended to compel Jews to sin 
against their religion, a Jew should suffer death and not trans- 

gress even a minor custom (tj, Sanh. 3:6, 21a). At Jabneh the 
form of the festivals was laid down under the circumstances 
prevailing after the destruction, when there were now no pil- 
grimages, sacrifices, or Temple. The order was also fixed of the 
four fasts instituted after the destruction of the First Temple 
but either observed partially or totally disregarded in the Sec- 
ond Temple period. Under the direction of the sages of Jabneh, 
*Aquila the proselyte of Pontus translated the Bible anew into 
Greek. The earlier Septuagint did not mirror the later halakhic 
and aggadic interpretation of the Pentateuch and the Proph- 
ets, thereby creating a barrier between the Jews who used it 
and the halakhic and aggadic expositions they heard from the 
sages. That the Septuagint had been adopted and canonized 
by the Church and several of its passages were used as a basis 
for the Church Fathers' interpretations may have influenced 
the sages to produce a new translation. The Jews did not en- 
tirely discard the Septuagint but Aquila's version was adopted 
in synagogues and in Jewish life. On Rabban Gamaliel's ex- 
plicit instructions the order was fixed of the prayer of Eighteen 
Benedictions, known already in Second Temple times (see 
*Amidah). While it is not certain what precisely was done in 
the days of Gamaliel, at all events from this period the prayer 
was permanently instituted for private and public worship 
two or three times daily. 

In the days of Jabneh, too, the breach and separation be- 
tween Judaism and ^Christianity took place. Pharisaic Juda- 
ism had in the Second Temple period shown tolerance alike to 
Gentile and Judeo- Christians. But after the destruction came 
the separation. The Judeo -Christians dissociated themselves 
from the war against the Romans and from the tragedy that 
had come upon the nation. Nor did some share the hope of 
deliverance, which had, in their view, been fulfilled with the 
advent of their Messiah. Many of them saw in the destruc- 
tion of the Temple and of Jerusalem a proof of the truth of 
Christianity, in that Israel had been punished for killing their 
Messiah, and Jesus' prophecy regarding the destruction of the 
Temple had been fulfilled. Some even held that with its de- 
struction and the discontinuance of many commandments, all 
the mitzvot had been annulled and Judaism's hour had passed. 
Thus they used the destruction of the Temple for propagating 
Christianity. To this the sages of Jabneh answered with actions 
calculated to bring about a breach and a separation between 
the Jews and Judeo- Christianity and especially those trends 
in Judeo -Christianity that approximated to Gentile Christian- 
ity. A notable factor that had a decisive influence in the Jewish 
community's rejection of Judeo -Christianity was the introduc- 
tion in the Eighteen Benedictions of an additional blessing di- 
rected against its adherents: "To apostates let there be no hope 
if they return not to Thy Torah, and may the Nazarenes and the 
sectarians perish as in a moment" (such or something similar 
was the ancient Erez Israel version). This prayer in effect ex- 
cluded Judeo- Christianity from the Jewish people. 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



The sages of Jabneh succeeded not only in reconstructing the 
life of the nation but also in achieving the efflorescence of its 
spiritual and social existence. This was largely due to the ac- 
tivities of the leaders of the bet midrash and the Sanhedrin 
as also to the great personalities with whom that period was 
favored. Most of them were ordained rabbis and functioned 
officially as members of the Sanhedrin. But there were also 
those - and some of them represented the most outstand- 
ingly creative and constructive forces - who, unordained, 
continued as "disciples" and worked as itinerant teachers of 
the Torah in Erez Israel unhampered by any official obliga- 
tions. Almost none of the personalities who established and 
consolidated the institutions of the communal national leader- 
ship at Jabneh emanated from the circles that, during Second 
Temple times, had constituted the social elite, whether of the 
priestly or the social-economic aristocracy. Some of the sages 
were indeed priests and even well-to-do or rich, but many, and 
they included some of the most eminent figures, were poor 
and of undistinguished birth, their standing being determined 
only by their learning and their rich personalities. In addition 
to the bet midrash at Jabneh, others flourished in the towns 
and villages, being found in all parts of the country from the 
south to the north, at Kefar Aziz in the south, where Ishmael 
was active; at *Bene Berak, where Akiva lived; at Lydda, the 
seat of Eliezer b. Hyrcanus and of *Tarfon; at Pekfin, which 
was under the leadership of Joshua b. Hananiah; and in Gali- 
lean cities, such as at Sepphoris, where * Halafta was active, at 
*Sikhnin, the seat of *Hananiah b. Teradyon, and at Tiberias, 
where *Yose b. Kisma taught. The heads of the local battel 
midrashot came regularly to Jabneh which some made their 
main place of residence, paying only short visits to their own 
battel midrashot. 


considerable suffering endured as a consequence of the war, 
Jewish Erez Israel made a rapid recovery. Many captives, freed 
with the help of the local Jewish population or by other means, 
returned to their homes. As a result of the teachings of the 
contemporary sages, the significance of Erez Israel, its settle- 
ment, and the redemption of its land now assumed the char- 
acter of a basic principle in Jewish thought and action. Large 
tracts of land were redeemed from the non-Jews, plantations 
were restored, and new ones planted. Agricultural knowledge 
increased, and industry in Erez Israel, consisting of processed 
agricultural products, quickly recovered. Craftsmen's associa- 
tions plied their trades; farmers reaped bounteous harvests; 
agricultural and industrial products were exported. Already 
toward the end of the first century c.e. the economic position 
had improved considerably. In general, Jewish cities destroyed 
during the war were rebuilt and rehabilitated. All the Greek 
cities, whose Jewish settlement had been destroyed during the 
war, were repopulated by Jews. By the end of the first century 
c.e. there were flourishing Jewish communities in places like 
Caesarea, Ashkelon, Acre, Beth-Shean, and elsewhere. Great 
assistance in the speedy rehabilitation of the Jewish nation in 

Erez Israel was rendered by those cities which had not revolted 
against Rome or had at an early stage in the war stopped fight- 
ing, while the basis for the restoration of a normal economic 
life was provided by those cities and circles which had not 
participated in the war. By reason both of postwar military 
requirements and of the economic and commercial prosperity 
of the Roman Empire under the Antonines (96-180), the net- 
work of roads in Erez Israel was extended and many bridges 
were built. In 106 the *Nabatean kingdom was annexed to the 
Roman Empire, and in 111 a start was made with constructing 
a road linking Damascus and Akaba. A large part of the for- 
eign trade with the Arabian Peninsula and with India passed 
along this route, to the benefit of the cities, including the 
Jewish settlements, adjoining this road and of the Jews in the 
Greek cities in Transjordan. The Jewish population increased, 
too, in Akaba, that is, Ezion-Geber. 

the war of quietus. In 115-117 the Jews in the Diaspora 
rose in a widespread revolt which, embracing Libya, Cyrena- 
ica, Egypt, Cyprus, and Mesopotamia, was marked both by 
battles between the Jews and the Greeks and uprisings against 
Roman rule in the east. The focal point of the revolt was in 
the Diaspora and the early historical sources speak explicitly 
only of the revolt and the destruction of Diaspora Jewry and 
especially of North African countries. But epigraphic evi- 
dence about military missions sent at that time to Erez Israel 
and fragmentary literary information indicate that there were 
uprisings on a considerable scale in Erez Israel too. In Jewish 
tradition these uprisings are known as "the war of Quietus" 
(Sot. 9:14), after the Moorish commander Lusius Quietus, who, 
having ruthlessly suppressed the revolt of the Jews in Mesopo- 
tamia, was sent to stamp out the revolt in Judea and was then 
appointed its governor until recalled to Rome, where he was 
executed at the beginning of Hadrians rule (118). 

Talmudic traditions tell of meetings on the Temple 
Mount in Jerusalem, of the revolt spreading to * Galilee, the 
destruction of various cities in Erez Israel, and the execu- 
tion of its leaders, * Pappus and Lulianus, whose activities ex- 
tended also to the Diaspora (Sifra 8:9). With the suppression 
of the revolt religious persecutions were reinstituted. In an act 
of deliberate provocation, an idol was set up on the Temple 
Mount (Ta'an. 4:6). 

the bar kokhba revolt. The accession of *Hadrian (117) 
brought with it a trend to restore peace in the east and to re- 
habilitate and reconstruct the region on an extensive scale. 
Apparent in Hadrians actions was a regard for the national 
character, predilections, and needs of the provinces. Erez Israel 
and the Jews, too, benefited from this trend. In his efforts to 
restore devastated areas, the emperor promised the Jews that 
he would rebuild and return Jerusalem to them, and permit 
the rebuilding of the Temple. Jews began to flock to Jerusalem, 
and organizational and financial preparations were made for 
rebuilding the Temple (Or. Sibyll. 5:252-4; Epistle of Barnabas, 
16: 1-5; Epiphanius, Liber de Mensuris et Ponderibus, 170; Gen. 
R. 64:10). A few years after his accession Hadrian, changing 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


his mind, abandoned the plan of rebuilding Jerusalem as a 
Jewish city and instead decided to continue its construction 
as a pagan Roman city. Even the coins struck in Erez Israel in 
those days show a tendency to ignore the prevailing facts of 
Jewish existence. It is difficult to determine Hadrians motives 
for this change of mind. He may have been prompted to adopt 
this new course by the profound echo which his promise pro- 
duced among the Jews and by the political fears he entertained 
at restoring Jerusalem to the Jewish people. His attitude to Ju- 
daism may also have changed, for during his reign and already 
at the beginning of the twenties he displayed indubitable pan- 
Hellenistic tendencies, his policy being aimed at introducing 
in the empire and particularly in its eastern regions the later 
universal Hellenistic outlook and mode of life. This found ex- 
pression alike in the erection of buildings and monuments, 
the passing of laws against Oriental usages, and, inclusion in 
the ban against castration which was punishable with death, 
the prohibition of circumcision. 

This last was not specifically directed against Judaism, 
since its practice was also forbidden to others in the east who 
circumcised their sons. But for no other people did circumci- 
sion occupy so significant a place in its thought. Nor did any 
other people so scrupulously insist on circumcising every 
single boy. Hadrian, who before becoming emperor had been 
the governor of Syria and had come into contact with the Jews 
and their sages, was undoubtedly aware of what these arrange- 
ments of his meant for the Jews. But in his resolve to reshape 
and reconstitute life in Erez Israel, he deliberately ignored the 
Jewish nation and its past in the country. No wonder that one 
historian, *Dio Cassius, mentions this resolve of Hadrian as 
the cause of the revolt: "For it was terrible in the eyes of the 
Jews that non-Jews should dwell in their city and that gentile 
temples should be erected in it" (Historia Romana> 69:12-14), 
while another source gives the prohibition of circumcision 
as the reason for the revolt (Historia Augusta: Hadrian, 14). 
These actions, coming as they did after the spiritual elation 
engendered by the permission to rebuild Jerusalem and the 
Temple, led to a profound agitation among the Jews and to 
military preparations against Rome, to the surreptitious con- 
struction of various fortifications, and to the accumulation 
of arms. Dio Cassius tells that the Jews purposely damaged 
the weapons they made for the Romans, so that these should 
be rejected and remain in the possession of the Jews without 
their stockpiling arousing suspicion. While Hadrian was in 
Erez Israel and its neighborhood (128-132) the Jews did not 
openly rebel, but the grave terrorist acts then committed in the 
country found the permanent Roman forces there insufficient 
to cope with the situation. An additional legion, the Sexta Fer- 
rata, was brought to Erez Israel, and remained in the country 
after the revolt, being stationed in Kefar Otnai at the entrance 
to the Valley of Jezre el. The authorities were also compelled to 
reinforce the tenth legion by recruiting soldiers from nearby 
countries. When Hadrian left the east, the revolt broke out 
and assumed large proportions, since "the Jews throughout 
the entire world were in an uproar too, and joined them, in- 

flicting openly or by stealth great losses on the Romans. They 
were moreover helped by non-Jews" (Dio Cassius loc. cit.). The 
^Samaritans, or at least some of them, also joined. 

In contrast to the rebellion against the Romans in 66-70, 
the revolt was distinguished by national unity and centralized 
leadership. There are references to local heroes and to various 
messiahs and pretenders to the royal title who flourished in 
the first stages of the revolt, but conspicuous during its course 
and until its end were the leadership and the central figure of 
* Simeon bar Kokhba. It is he who is mentioned in the histori- 
cal sources, round whose personality are centered talmudic 
traditions and legends, and in whose name - Simeon, Nasi 
of Israel - coins were struck. Documents and letters, dating 
from the time of the war and found in the caves of the Judean 
Desert, were taken there by fugitives from En-Gedi and its vi- 
cinity. In them it is "Simeon bar Kosiba, Nasi of Israel," who 
issues instructions and commands; in his name public lands 
are leased out. Christian sources state that he was called Bar 
Kokhba by reason of the messianic traits ascribed to him. 
Akiva, too, acknowledged his messiahship and declared: "This 
is the King Messiah" (tj, Ta'an. 4:8, 68d). With Simeon the 
Nasi there also appears on some coins "Eleazar the priest," ap- 
parently *Eleazar of Modi'in, a sage of Jabneh, whom talmu- 
dic tradition associates with Bar Kokhba. The headquarters 
of Bar Kokhba and of the commanders of the Jewish fighters 
was at * Bethar situated at the extremity of a mountain ridge 
to the southwest of Jerusalem. In the intervening period be- 
tween the war against the Romans and the Bar Kokhba revolt, 
the town, having been rebuilt after its destruction, flourished 
as a commercial and inhabited center for the region in place 
of Jerusalem. Shortly before the revolt, the Sanhedrin and 
the household of the nasi moved to Bethar, in which not only 
schools for study of Torah were established but also one for 
Greek learning. It is not known what connection the house- 
hold of the nasi had with the revolt or with Bar Kokhba, or to 
what extent the Sanhedrin was associated with the revolt, but 
it is clear that the sages supported it. 

The revolt began with a great offensive. Bar Kokhba suc- 
ceeded in gaining control of the whole of Judea, including 
Jerusalem, as well as of a considerable part of the rest of Erez 
Israel, and in introducing in the territory under his rule an 
independent Jewish order. The rebels defeated Tinnius Rufus, 
the Roman governor, and Publius Marcellius, the governor of 
Syria, who arrived with the legions stationed in Syria and to 
whose assistance the legions stationed in Egypt and Arabia 
had been dispatched. The 22 nd Legion, which had come from 
Egypt, was annihilated. At this juncture the Jewish fighters 
invaded the coastal region and the Romans engaged in sea 
battles against the Jews. In those days Rome enjoyed complete 
security, peace prevailed on its borders, and hence it was able 
to mobilize large numbers of men and forces even from dis- 
tant places. Hadrian summoned Julius Severus, the governor 
of Britain, who arrived with his forces and with legions from 
Danubian countries. There were about 12 legions in all, com- 
posed of their full complement or of detachments of them. 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



Julius Severus, "refraining from engaging in open warfare," 
forced the Jewish fighters back step by step amid heavy losses 
to the Roman army, compelled them to retreat to fortresses 
which were taken one by one. "Fifty strongholds . . . and 985 of 
the most important settlements were destroyed"; hundreds of 
thousands were killed. In the first stage, Galilee, which was not 
seriously affected, was captured, and the main burden of war 
fell on Judea. Eventually, the Jewish fighters were thrust back 
to their last stronghold, Bethar, which fell after a protracted 
siege. Tradition records that Bethar was captured on Av 9 (the 
summer of 135), on the anniversary of the destruction of the 
First and Second Temples (Ta'an. 4:6). With its fall and the 
death of Simeon bar Kosiba there came an end to the struggle 
which had lasted three and a half years, although there were 
sieges and skirmishes in the region of the Judean Desert caves 
to which the fighters had escaped in the final stages of the re- 
volt, even as had been the case with the fortress at Masada af- 
ter the war against the Romans. In conformity with Roman 
custom, Jerusalem was now plowed up with a yoke of oxen, 
and thus the limits were fixed of the Roman colony, henceforth 
called Colonia *Aelia Capitolina in Roman sources. 

Consequences of the Revolt. In addition to the destruction of 
populated areas and the large-scale massacre, there were great 
numbers of Jewish captives who filled the slave markets in 
Erez Israel and in distant lands. Especially notorious was the 
market under the terebinth near Hebron where a Jewish slave 
was sold for the price of a horse's feed. Many settlements, es- 
pecially in Judea, were not rebuilt. The central Judean Moun- 
tains were largely depopulated of their Jewish inhabitants. 
In Galilee, which suffered less from the aftermath of the re- 
volt, the olive plantations were destroyed (tj, Pe'ah 7:1, 20a). 
Hadrian now resolved to launch a war of annihilation against 
the Torah and to expunge the name of Israel from the land. 
To this end decrees were issued against the observance of the 
mitzvoty gatherings in synagogues for the purposes of prayer 
or study were prohibited, battel din were forbidden to meet. In 
a description of those times a contemporary Babylonian sage 
commented: " 'Of them that love Me and keep My command- 
ments' (Ex. 19:6) - 'These are the Jews who live in Erez Israel 
and jeopardize their lives for the sake of the mitzvot! 'Why are 
you being led out to be decapitated?' 'Because I circumcised 
my son.' 'Why are you being led out to be burnt?' 'Because I 
read the Torah.' 'Why are you being led out to be crucified?' 
'Because I ate unleavened bread.' 'Why are you being whipped 
with the scourge?' 'Because I performed the mitzvah of the 
lulav" (Mekh., ba-Hodesh, 6). Jews were forbidden to stay in 
Jerusalem and only once a year, on Tishah be-Av (Av 9), were 
they permitted to enter the city to weep over the remains of 
their holy places. Desirous of blotting out, too, all reference 
to the Jews' association with Erez Israel, Hadrian changed the 
name of Judea to Syria Palaestina, by which it henceforth came 
to be known in non- Jewish literature. The authorities confis- 
cated land on an extensive scale on the strength of martial law 
or of offenses against the new decrees, such as the prohibition 

of circumcision. Large tracts of land lay waste, their owners 
having been taken captive or compelled to flee. The Jews in 
the country underwent a harsh period of persecution. Many, 
and they included the nation's most eminent men and sages 
such as Akiva, Ishmael, Hananiah b. Teradyon, Tarfon, and 
others, were killed in the persecutions, many went into hiding 
in Erez Israel, large numbers fled abroad and never returned 
or did so only after several years. There were numerous mar- 
tyrs, this being the generation that bequeathed to the Jewish 
people the tradition of martyrdom (see Kiddush ha-Shem). 
From the end of the revolt until the close of Hadrian's reign 
(i.e., from 135 to 138) the Jews of Erez Israel bore the full brunt 
of the anti- religious decrees. 

The repressive measures were somewhat relaxed only on 
the accession of *Antoninus Pius. He neither annulled them 
nor immediately restored to the Jews the status they had en- 
joyed before the revolt. Gradually, however, their situation im- 
proved. Apparently at the beginning of Antoninus Pius' reign, 
circumcision was permitted, a law enacted by him having al- 
lowed the Jews to circumcise their sons but not slaves or pros- 
elytes. For the Samaritans the prohibition remained in force, 
and for a long time they circumcised their sons at great risk. 
But alike in the days of the Antonines as in those of Hadrian, 
a harsh military regime prevailed in Erez Israel. 

Recovery After the Revolt: Usha. The first signs of the recovery 
of communal life appeared in Galilee, to which the center of 
Jewish life henceforth passed and where the main population 
as also the seat of the Sanhedrin and of the nasi remained until 
the end of the period. The Sanhedrin had first gone to *Usha, 
whence it moved for a short time to *Shepharam and from 
there to *Bet She'arim and Sepphoris. In the third century it 
finally settled at Tiberias, the capital of Galilee. But Judea still 
had its Jewish population, its battei midrashot y and sages - at 
Lydda there was a large bet midrash y which enjoyed indepen- 
dence in many spheres of Jewish life. But the central author- 
ity and the focal point of spiritual creativity were in Galilee, 
where the main work of collecting and of finally redacting the 
tannaitic and amoraic literature was done. 

The leaders who restored the religious and communal life 
comprised several of Akiva's younger pupils who survived the 
massacre and who had not yet gained renown in the genera- 
tion of Jabneh: *Meir, * Judah b. Ilai, * Jose b. Halafta, *Simeon 
b. Yohai, and *Nehemiah. The early meetings of the Sanhe- 
drin were still held in temporary quarters and under semi- 
underground conditions in the Valley of Bet Rimmon, and 
only after many years, at "the end of the religious persecu- 
tions," did it meet at Usha (Song R. 2:5 no. 3). Among its first 
decisions was to declare the levitical cleanness of Tiberias. 
From its foundation at the beginning of the first century c.e. 
many Jews and especially priests refrained from living there 
for fear that it had been built on a cemetery. Hadrian had 
wanted to give the city a pagan character but the temple which 
he had begun to build was not completed. After the revolt Ti- 
berias was almost entirely Jewish. Simeon b. Yohai sought to 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


declare it levitically clean and following protracted discussions 
it was recognized as such (tj, Shev. 9:1, 38d). This facilitated 
the city's growth and enabled it to serve during the years as 
the spiritual center. Simeon b. Gamaliel, the son of Rabban 
Gamaliel of Jabneh, did not take part in the Sanhedrin in the 
early stages of its reestablishment, for he, too, had been com- 
pelled to go into hiding for several years. After some time he 
is mentioned as the head of the Sanhedrin at Usha. 

The period not only of his tenure of the office of nasi 
(c. 140-170) but of the entire reign of the Antonines (until 
193) was a difficult one both politically and economically. 
The authorities showed a growing contempt and suspicion 
of the Jews, and when Marcus Aurelius passed through Erez 
Israel in 175 he expressed himself in opprobrious terms about 
them. They, for their part, displayed considerable rebellious- 
ness, hoping as they did for the downfall of Rome, a hope that 
grew with the latter s clashes and preparations for war with 
the Parthians. Simeon b. Yohai asserted: "If you see a Persian 
horse tied in the burial places of Erez Israel, expect the Mes- 
siah" (Song R. 8:9). This rebelliousness was responsible for 
the fact that the Jews of Erez Israel, like the other peoples 
of the east, supported Avidius Cassius who had proclaimed 
himself emperor and was assassinated shortly before Marcus 
Aurelius' arrival in the country. Brigandage, too, increased 
greatly at this time, and although this was due to economic 
difficulties, it also had overtones of political insurrection. In 
Erez Israel as a whole the economic situation was quite good 
during this period, although the country suffered in 166 from 
a plague which spread in the east. Like other provinces, Erez 
Israel profited from the expanded international trade. Roads 
were built and bridges constructed, public institutions were 
established, markets and grain exchanges were set up and wells 
dug, creating a sense of security and promoting commerce, so 
that many cities flourished at this time. There were Jews, too, 
who benefited from this prosperity. 

In Rome two inscriptions of Jews from Tiberias have 
been found that testify to commercial stations in the city, and 
some Jews, who were imperial court favorites, rose to positions 
of eminence. But the Jewish community as a whole lived in 
dire poverty. Thus reference is made to "the generation of R. 
Judah b. Illai ... six of whose pupils covered themselves with 
one garment and studied the Torah" (Sanh. 20a). The nonrec- 
ognition of the Jews' religious rights brought in its train eco- 
nomic difficulties. Up to the Bar Kokhba revolt the authorities 
had exempted the Jews from land taxes during the sabbatical 
year, when they had no income from agricultural produce. 
After the revolt they had to pay these taxes, and were hard 
put to find a way of meeting the burden of taxation while ob- 
serving, at least to some extent, the sabbatical year (Sanh. 3:3 
et al.). This circumstance is the background to the halakhah 
which lays down that "if at the present time a man wishes to 
become a proselyte, he is to be addressed as follows: 'What 
reason have you for wanting to become a proselyte? Do you 
not know that at present Jews are persecuted and oppressed, 
despised, harassed, and burdened with afflictions . . . and do 

not conduct themselves in public like other peoples?'" (Yev. 
47a; Tractate Gerim y beginning). As a result of the harsh con- 
ditions, there was an increasing emigration, either temporary 
or permanent, from Erez Israel. Seeking to stem it, the sages 
enacted halakhot to curtail this tendency. 

Despite the difficult political conditions and the impe- 
rial nonrecognition, the sages of the generation of Usha and 
Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel succeeded in consolidating the 
leadership of the central authority and in restoring to Erez 
Israel its hegemony over the Diaspora. During the persecu- 
tions, when the house of assembly ceased to function, one of 
the Erez Israel sages, *Hananiah, the nephew of Joshua, who 
had been sent to Babylonia, began to proclaim the new months 
and intercalate years there, and would not desist even when 
the central authority was reestablished in Erez Israel. Only by 
resolute persuasion, by appeasement, and with the support of 
the Babylonian sages was the nasi able to make the separatist 
circles in Babylonia cease their activities, whereupon the Jews 
there once again submitted to the authority of Erez Israel. In 
the days of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, the office of nasi as- 
sumed the form of a triumvirate, consisting of the nasi himself, 
the av bet din y and a sage, who was the authorized halakhist. 
For some time, *Nathan, the son of the exilarch in Babylonia, 
was the av bet din y thereby enabling the nasi to associate with 
his office also a representative of that large Diaspora com- 
munity. This set an example for future generations, the great 
majority of those occupying the position of av bet din in the 
tannaitic and amoraic period having been sages who immi- 
grated to Erez Israel from Babylonia. 

In the generation following the Bar Kokhba revolt the 
Samaritans began a large-scale expansion beyond the con- 
fines of "the land of the Cutheans." Their expansion to the 
north having been halted by the Beth-Shean and Jezreel Val- 
leys, they spread northwest along the coast and especially 
southwest along the southern coastal plain. The reasons for 
this may have been the Jews' diminished power as well as the 
plight in which the Samaritans found themselves on account 
of religious persecution. They therefore sought refuge among 
the Jewish population, perhaps because of the close contacts 
established between them during the Bar Kokhba revolt. The 
Samaritans' expansion into the Jewish areas led to consider- 
able friction, and there were assertions by sages that, since 
leaving their villages, they had become lax in the observance 
of mitzvot. In contrast to the earlier halakhah y they were now 
more and more adjudged as non-Jews. 


of political and economic efflorescence came to the Jews of 
Erez Israel under the Severan emperors (193-235), coinciding 
largely with the tenure of the office of nasi by Judah 1, the el- 
dest son of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel and known as Rabbi. 
After the murder of Commodus (192) an armed struggle broke 
out between Pescennius Niger and Septimius * Severus which 
divided the east, including Erez Israel and the legions sta- 
tioned there. Pescennius Niger had, as governor of Syria, been 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



ruthless in his attitude to the Jews. When they had asked him 
to lighten the burden of taxation, he had answered that were 
it possible he would tax the very air they breathed. He severely 
punished the cities which supported his rival. While the tenth 
legion sided with him, the house of the nasi and the Jews of 
Erez Israel supported Severus, whose victory was regarded as 
a deliverance. The good relations that existed between the Jews 
of Erez Israel and the Severans, which continued throughout 
that dynasty's reign, influenced several Severan emperors in 
their predilection and love for Judaism and for a syncretism 
in which it, too, was included. Alexander *Severus was deri- 
sively called archisynagogus (head of the synagogue). The po- 
litical position of the Jews in Erez Israel improved and they 
were able to occupy notable positions in the Greek and Roman 
cities. Their more influential status found expression mainly 
in an increased autonomy, both public and judicial. The nasi 
was permitted to levy taxes for the maintenance of the central 
authority, civil and criminal cases were tried, and judgment 
could be enforced against the guilty party. When necessary, 
the nasi could also try capital cases. While this right was not 
officially recognized by Roman law, it was not exercised sur- 
reptitiously (Origen, Epistola ad Africanum> 28:14). 

The relations between the Roman Empire and *Judah 
ha-Nasi were particularly good. Extensive areas of state land 
in the Valley of Jezreel, Golan, and elsewhere were given to 
him as a gift or on lease. The aggadah frequently mentions the 
close ties between him and the Roman emperor *Antoninus, 
but since several Severans bore this name, it is difficult to de- 
termine which of them is meant. From what is known of the 
stay of the emperors in the neighborhood of Erez Israel and 
their association with Judaism, this reference is probably to 
*Caracalla (198-217 c.e.) or Alexander Severus (222-235 c.e.). 
The Jews were grateful to the Severan dynasty and both in 
Erez Israel (at Kaisan in Upper Galilee) and in the Diaspora 
synagogues dedicated to the emperors of that dynasty have 
been found. In their days there was a great expansion of set- 
tlement. Thus at this time there were included within the hal- 
akhic limits of Erez Israel areas in the north and south, which 
halakhically had not belonged to Erez Israel since the major- 
ity of their inhabitants had been non-Jews and to which the 
commandments applicable to Erez Israel, such as those relat- 
ing to priestly dues and tithes, had not previously applied. At 
this time, too, there was established in Jerusalem a permanent 
Jewish settlement, known in talmudic tradition as the "the 
holy community in Jerusalem" (kehilla kadisha de-bi-Yrusha- 
layim). While presumably the prohibition against Jews' set- 
tling in Jerusalem was not officially rescinded, the authorities 
chose to ignore it. At this time, too, the economic position of 
the Jews of Erez Israel improved. The extensive urbanization 
initiated by the Severan emperors had favorable economic re- 
percussions. Septimius Severus bestowed city rights on *Bet 
Guvrin, now called Eleutheropolis, and granted it large areas 
which included the whole of Idumea. Land was even detached 
from Aelia Capitolina and the limes and given to it. Lydda, too, 
obtained city status, was named Diospolis, and granted con- 

siderable areas of land. In 220-221 c.e. the district of *Em- 
maus was made a city and named Nicopolis. This completed 
the urbanization of western Erez Israel. Except for the part of 
Upper Galilee known as Tetracomia (the four villages) and 
the imperial estates in the limes and in the Valley of Jericho, 
the whole of western Erez Israel became a city area enjoying 
special privileges. 

Emigration from Erez Israel was now replaced by im- 
migration from the Diaspora, among the immigrants being 
people with expert knowledge, initiative, and money, who 
developed new branches of the economy, such as flax-grow- 
ing, and of agricultural industry, such as the manufacture of 
clothes and dyeing. 

The improved economic and political position found ex- 
pression in splendid * synagogues which were built through- 
out the country and remains of which have been uncovered, 
chiefly in Galilee, such as at Kefar Nahum (* Capernaum), 
Korazim (*Chorazin), Baram, and elsewhere. 

The Jewish people in Erez Israel saw in the enlargement 
of their power and in the aggrandizement of the nasi the be- 
ginnings of the redemption. A messianic aura surrounded 
him. From the days of Judah ha-Nasi and onward the nasis 
court was distinguished by an outer splendor, great opulence, 
and regal pomp. He succeeded in attracting to his court and 
to a participation in public leadership the heads of the large 
cities and the financial aristocracy, whom he prevailed on to 
accept the responsibilities of public office and national disci- 
pline. This led to a protest on the part of the popular *Hasidean 
sages, the extremists among whom became estranged from 
Judah ha-Nasi. In internal affairs, too, Judah ha-Nasi's author- 
ity was extensive. The right to grant ordination and the con- 
trol of the Sanhedrin were concentrated in his hands. Under 
him the central authority exercised increased supervision over 
the cities and communities in the Diaspora. Under him, too, 
there was considerable legislation in the spheres of communal 
religion, of apportioning the burden of taxes, and the manner 
of levying them. While not charged with collecting the taxes, 
he, by virtue of the authority of his office and of being a rabbi, 
gave decisions on various financial problems, among them be- 
ing some which impressed their stamp on Jewish communal 
arrangements for generations, such as exempting scholars, 
who devote themselves wholly to the study of the To rah, from 
taxes and civic obligations. He also exempted areas in south- 
ern and northern Erez Israel from priestly dues, tithes, and 
from the laws of the sabbatical year, from which last-named 
he sought to grant a total exemption, but due to the opposi- 
tion of *Phinehas b. Jair, a Hasidean sage, the question was not 
brought up for discussion and a final decision. 

His activities included the final redaction of the *Mishnah, 
which constitutes the summary and crystallization of most of 
the halakhic material of the Oral Law. Judah ha-Nasi was not 
the first to undertake the task of committing the *Oral Law to 
writing and of summarizing it in an halakhic compilation. Al- 
ready in Second Temple times, and especially in the generation 
of Jabneh, this was done by tannaim y but their Mishnah col- 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


lections were incorporated, either wholly or in part, in that of 
Judah ha- Nasi, whose compilation is the more comprehensive 
and extensive. Assembling the teachings and collections of pre- 
ceding generations, he arranged them in sedarim and tractates 
according to subject matter, Shabbat, Pesahim, Gittin, Kiddu- 
shiriy etc., and subdivided these into chapters, generally set out 
in a logical development of the subject. The final redaction of 
the Mishnah constitutes a compilation of the Oral Law with- 
out deciding between the various views but including also the 
decisions arrived at and the laws enacted in Judah ha-Nasi's bet 
midrash. His humility in teaching the Torah and in halakhic 
judgments, his readiness to pay heed to and examine different 
opinions, his spiritual independence, his exalted status, and 
his lengthy tenure of the office of nasi - all these contributed 
to the compilation of the Mishnah and its acceptance as the 
basic work for the study of the Oral Law and as the principal 
foundation of Jewish jurisprudence. Within a short time his 
Mishnah, having superseded and consigned to oblivion ear- 
lier or contemporaneous collections, became the basis and the 
prototype of the continued creation of the Oral Law. The close 
of the Mishnah represents a turning point and a landmark in 
the history of the Oral Law, which was further elucidated and 
defined throughout the generations. The literature created up 
to the close of the Mishnah, even if redacted shortly afterward, 
is the tannaitic, that which followed it the amoraic, literature. 
All halakhot mentioned in the Mishnah and in the other tan- 
naitic productions are more authoritative than those in the 
amoraic works. Except for a number of Aramaic and Greek 
words and expressions, the language of the Mishnah is mish- 
naic Hebrew, reflecting the prevailing circumstances in Erez 
Israel from Second Temple times onward. The death of Judah 
ha-Nasi (c. 225) initiated a process that led to a separation be- 
tween the office of nasi and the Sanhedrin. The last testament 
ascribed to him states that Rabban ^Gamaliel, his eldest son, 
was to be the nasi and the sage *Hanina b. Hama the president 
of the Sanhedrin (tj, Ta'an. 4:2, 68a). 

In the following generation the separation was almost 
complete. Then the Sanhedrin, presided over by Johanan 
(from c. 240), had its seat at Tiberias, while the office of nasi 
occupied by * Judah ha-Nasi 11, had its seat for a considerable 
time at Sepphoris. Under normal circumstances a sage was the 
president of the Sanhedrin or the Great Bet Din, which was in- 
dependent, but not entirely so, of the nasi y since the latter was 
theoretically its president, and in certain areas, as also in par- 
ticular instances, its dependence on the nasi was maintained. 
Thus the ordination of sages was contingent on the sanction 
of the nasiy who continued to exercise the sole right to enact 
regulations. There was also cooperation between them in po- 
litical matters. Alongside the central bet midrash or the San- 
hedrin at Tiberias there were in amoraic times other battei 
midrashot which, as the centers of instruction and leadership 
for their immediate vicinity, taught the Torah and appointed 
dayyanim for the neighborhood. At Lydda there was the cen- 
ter, founded by * Joshua b. Levi, for the southern settlements; 
at Caesarea one established by *Hoshaiah; and a smaller one 

in Upper Galilee at Akbara, under the leadership of *Yannai, 
where a considerable nucleus of his companions lived a com- 
munal life for several generations. Each of these battei mi- 
drashot was distinct in its teachings and method of instruction, 
but in special instances their heads were invited to assemblies, 
the sages of the south (Lydda) in particular often meeting with 
the members of the Sanhedrin at Tiberias. 

the period of anarchy (235-289 c.E.) In this period 
of the frequent change of emperors, of chaos and collapse 
throughout the Roman Empire, Jewish Erez Israel in particu- 
lar suffered. There was indeed no religious persecution of the 
Jews, and even when the Christians and Samaritans were com- 
pelled to participate in emperor worship, the rights of the Jews 
were recognized and respected. The contemporary diatribes 
against the evil "Esau" who oppressed "Jacob" were mainly di- 
rected against Esau, the robber and plunderer, a circumstance 
conspicuous, too, in the non-Hebrew sources of the nations 
neighboring on Israel. The rural population suffered greatly 
from economic hardship, from taxation, and from oppres- 
sion at the hands of soldiers, and since the economy of Jew- 
ish Erez Israel was largely agricultural, the Jews were affected 
more than the non- Jewish population. During the period of 
anarchy there was a decline in agriculture, not because of the 
diminished fertility of the soil but because of the corrupt ad- 
ministrative arrangements that led to a neglect of the land and 
lack of interest in fostering the cultivation of the soil. During 
this period, too, the country suffered from privation and an 
extremely severe famine. Emigration increased, and although 
there was also a considerable immigration to Erez Israel, it 
was not large enough to balance the number of those leaving 
the country. Despite the upheavals and wars which occurred 
in the east with the accession and onslaught of the Sassanid 
kings, there were increasing contacts between Erez Israel and 
the Diaspora, especially that in Babylonia. In the days of the 
principal generations of the *amoraim the contacts between 
these two Jewish communities were considerable, numerous, 
and frequent. As a result of the situation created by the fact 
that the Roman Empire was in the process of disintegration 
and by the Persian attacks, the kingdom of Palmyra (Tadmor) 
enlarged its power. This buffer state, situated between Persia 
and Rome, and subordinate to the latter, first forged ahead 
from 260 c.E. under Odaenathus within the ambit of the 
Roman Empire. Later, under Queen Zenobia (267-272), hav- 
ing proclaimed its independence and freed itself from Roman 
suzerainty, it initiated a policy of conquest and expansion di- 
rected against the countries of the east, including Erez Israel. 
The Palmyrene regime was not only a continuation of Roman 
rule but also contained elements conducive to creating an in- 
dependent eastern state. Although wide circles in the east sup- 
ported it, at the decisive moment, when Rome reconquered 
the east from Zenobia, the great majority of them refrained 
from coming to its assistance and instead helped the Romans. 
When Odaenathus was a client king under Roman patronage, 
Jewish tradition charged him with being "a brother" (because 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



of the eastern elements in his regime) who had come to the aid 
of "Esau" (Rome) in the latter's hour of weakness. "Happy is 
he," declared R. Johanan, the leader of that generation of Jews, 
"who witnesses the downfall of Tadmor [Palmyra]" (tj, Ta'an. 
4:8, 69b). But with Zenobia, whose attitude toward them was 
one of protectiveness and esteem, the relations of the Jews 
were friendlier, the clash between her and Rome even raising 
messianic hopes in some circles. 


of the third century (284) Diocletian became emperor and 
succeeded in transforming the regime and the system of the 
Roman Empire into a despotic monarchy on the Byzantine 
pattern with its exaggerated hierarchy and extensive bureau- 
cracy. By dividing each of the provinces into two or three, 
their number was increased. Erez Israel, one of the small- 
est among them, was likewise subdivided into several parts, 
so that from 358 to the beginning of the fifth century (429) 
it comprised Palaestina Prima, which consisted of Judea, Sa- 
maria, the Coastal Plain, Idumea, and Perea (Jewish Trans- 
jordan), and whose capital remained Caesarea; Palaestina Se- 
cunda, which embraced Galilee, the *Decapolis, and *Golan, 
and whose capital was Scythopolis (Beth-Shean); and Palaes- 
tina Tertia, which comprised the Negev and whose capital was 
*Petra. As in other provinces, the civil ruler, the praeses, was 
distinct from the military head, the dux. Instead of reforming 
the corrupt government system, the new regime perpetuated 
it, increasing its sway over the population. Participation in all 
the associations became compulsory and was enforced, rang- 
ing from performing municipal duties to the organization of 
craftsmen's unions from which all workmen were excluded, 
and to the obligation of children to continue in their parents' 
occupation. All the associations were at the disposal of the 
empire for levying taxes and providing services. During this 
period land tenancy assumed such proportions that the petty 
independent farmer, typical of Jewish Erez Israel, all but disap- 
peared. The land passed into the possession of the proprietors 
of large estates and its former owners became tenant farmers. 
The imperial law of the colonatus was introduced, binding the 
farmer in perpetuity to the soil. This perpetual tenancy was he- 
reditary and was marked by several expressions of the tenant 
farmer's servitude to the landlord. The imperial tenant farm- 
ers were similarly bound in perpetuity to their tenancy and 
their holdings. Because land in Erez Israel was retained in the 
possession of petty farmers for a longer time, the lex colonatus 
was introduced in the country at a comparatively late period, 
383-388, about 50 years later than in the other provinces. At 
the beginning of the fourth century, the Jews were progres- 
sively becoming a minority in their ownership of land. 

With the stabilization of the imperial regime, a new force 
emerged in the world: Christianity was gaining a command- 
ing position, commencing with Constantine's recognition of 
the Christian religion (313). This was destined to have a deci- 
sive effect on the status of Erez Israel and of its Jews, hence- 
forth called upon to undertake a joint political self-defense. 

Hitherto the Jews had struggled culturally against a pagan 
world, which by its very nature acknowledged the existence 
of national religions. Even the Roman regime recognized in 
theory, and for most of the time in practice too, the Jewish re- 
ligious reality in Erez Israel. Christianity, which within a short 
period became the imperial religion, did not, as is the way of a 
monotheistic religion, recognize or tolerate other religions, and 
in this displayed a greater bigotry and inflexibility than Juda- 
ism. Although the Christian Church had a special interest in 
converting Jews, and particular those in Erez Israel, Judaism 
was not declared illegal either in that country or in the Roman 
Empire, which nevertheless fostered an enmity toward and a 
contempt for Judaism. In addition to the hostility originating 
in the separation between them the Roman Christians were the 
object of much of the contempt for Jews prevalent in circles of 
the pagan Roman aristocracy. The hostile attitude to Judaism 
was expressed in the emperors' anti-Jewish legislation with its 
insulting language, and in the attacks of fanatics on Jews and 
their institutions, such as the campaign of the bigoted monk Bar 
Sauma of Nisibis who, with his band, passed through Erez Israel 
in 419-422 c.e. destroying synagogues. Not only did Christi- 
anity have an interest in the *holy places, such as the site of the 
Crucifixion, the sepulcher of Jesus, and others, it also based its 
gospel on the destruction of Jerusalem and Gods rejection of 
the people of Israel, so that the whole of the patriarchal blessing, 
including Erez Israel, now belonged to it. Henceforward it was 
not the Jews alone who sought to have possession of Erez Israel. 
Many Christian congregations were established in the country. 
The inhabitants of villages and of the large cities, most of which 
remained faithful to ^Hellenism, had to fight for their continued 
pagan existence. Constantine and his mother Helena, who was 
devoted to Christianity and even immigrated to Erez Israel in 
her old age, set about building magnificent churches, one - the 
Church of the Nativity - at *Bethlehem, and two - those of the 
Holy Sepulcher and of the Ascension - in Jerusalem, as also at 
Abraham's Oak. The Church Father Epiphanius has preserved 
a detailed account of the manner in which the emperor helped 
the apostate Joseph to build churches in the Jewish centers, at 
Tiberias, Sepphoris, and other localities holy to Christianity, 
such as Kefar Nahum (Capernaum) and Nazareth, places in- 
habited exclusively by Jews. The Jews fought Joseph who con- 
sequently succeeded only in building a small church at Tibe- 
rias (Epiphanius, Panarion adversus Haereses, 1:2, xxx, 4). The 
Christian population increased by reason of the conversion of 
non-Jews in Erez Israel and of the arrival of Christians or pil- 
grims who settled in the country. The many monasteries which 
were first built in the fourth century and multiplied in the fifth 
and sixth also attracted devout Christians from abroad. There 
were instances of Jews who were converted to Christianity, as in 
the case of Joseph, but the number was not large either among 
them or among the Samaritans. 

the revolt against gallus. In June 351 a revolt of the 
Jews broke out at Sepphoris against Gallus, the Roman ruler 
in the east. The rebels had heard of various uprisings in the 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume w 


west and of Constantius' reverses in his campaign to suppress 
them. They also relied on obtaining assistance from the * Per- 
sians whose attacks, some of them successful, had increased 
at that time. Having appointed a leader named Patricius, of 
whom little is known, the Jews defeated the Roman army in 
the city. From there the revolt spread through Galilee and 
reached Lydda in the south. It bore no anti- Christian charac- 
ter, nor were Christians or their institutions attacked, the re- 
volt being directed solely against Gallus' corrupt rule. Ursici- 
nus, an experienced commander, was dispatched against the 
rebels. The decisive battle took place near Acre. From there 
the enemy advanced against centers in Galilee inhabited by 
Jews, and several Jewish settlements and cities were destroyed. 
Some of them, such as Tiberias, Sepphoris, and Lydda, were 
rebuilt shortly after the revolt, but there were places like Bet 
She arim which were now left with only a meager population. 
It is not known where the seat of the Sanhedrin and of the 
nasi was during the revolt, but not long after it they were once 
again engaged in their usual activities. During the years im- 
mediately following the revolt the authorities interfered with 
assemblies for the intercalation of the year and especially with 
emissaries sent to inform the Diaspora of it (Sanh. 12a). It was 
therefore apparently decided to draw up a permanent calen- 
dar (t j, Er. 3:11, 21c) which, according to a later tradition, was 
done by *Hillel 11 in 359 (Sefer ha-Ibbur, 97). Even after the 
calendar had been laid down and until it received its defini- 
tive form, questions were addressed to the sages of Erez Israel 
to elucidate various problems. In Erez Israel they continued 
even afterward to proclaim the new month and to celebrate 
the occasion as had formerly been done when its proclama- 
tion was made by the Great Bet Din. 

julian the apostate. Excitement mounted in Erez Israel 
and the Diaspora during the brief reign of * Julian (360-363) 
who endeavored to resuscitate Hellenism, to which he was 
devoted, by diminishing the image of Christianity in the em- 
pire. Wishing to reinstitute the sacrificial service of the Jews, 
which he regarded as more important than anything else in 
their Bible, he announced and promised in his letters to the 
"Community of the Jews" and to the nasi that he would rebuild 
"with great diligence the Temple of the supreme God" and "the 
holy Jerusalem which you have for many years longed to see 
rebuilt and which I shall restore." When he set out to fight the 
Persians, a special emissary, Alypius of Antioch, was appointed 
who filled important duties in connection with the rebuilding 
and to whom large sums of money were allocated. By this act 
the emperor may have sought, as he departed for war, to win 
over the Babylonian Jews, and assure their support, but all 
his letters are marked by friendship and sympathy toward the 
Jews. Moreover, he revoked the decrees relating to the special 
Jewish taxes, such as that of the two drachmas, and even asked 
the nasi to reduce the tax levied for the needs of his high of- 
fice from the Jews. Julians proclamations and actions created 
a ferment among the Jews, who flocked to Jerusalem and be- 
gan to collect money from Italy and as far afield as Babylonia 

and Persia. Jews settled in the city, started to expel Christians 
from certain parts of it, and set up a synagogue in one of the 
colonnades on the Temple Mount. The Christians were furi- 
ous, and their writers tell of a fire that broke out when the pa- 
gan shrines, abandoned with the rise of Christianity, were re- 
moved from the Temple site. It is possible that the Christians, 
desirous of interrupting the work of building, started the fire. 
When Julian was killed, apparently by a Christian Arab sol- 
dier, on the Persian front, the matter was ended. 

After Julians death, the Christians began to attack the 
Jewish settlements in the south where the Jews were greatly 
in the minority. Christian sources report the destruction "in 
the south of 21 cities of pagans, Jews, and Samaritans, who 
had had a share in Julian the Apostate's sin." Even after this the 
Jewish settlements in the south did not cease entirely but were 
reduced in number and impoverished. In the period between 
the death of Julian and the accession of *Theodosius 1 (379) 
there was no anti- Jewish legislation, and several laws were 
even enacted which enhanced their status and that of the nasi, 
one law exempting officials of the communities subject to "the 
illustrious nasi" from sitting on municipal councils, another 
of 368 prohibiting the billeting of soldiers in synagogues. This 
period was a congenial one for the Jews either because Julian's 
personality and activities had fostered a tolerant attitude to- 
ward other religions and arrested the Church's domination or 
because the emperor Valens (364-378) acted with moderation 
due to his not wishing to add to his enemies, since the adher- 
ents of Arianism, of which he was one, were already then in 
the minority. Under Theodosius 1 and his sons Honorius and 
Arcadius as also under Theodosius 11 until the abolition of 
the office of the nasi (i.e., from 379 to 428) there was intensi- 
fied anti- Jewish legislation which assigned an inferior status 
to Judaism and the Jews. 

LITION of the office of the nasi. In the second half of 
the fourth century c.e. the Jerusalem *Talmud was finalized 
and redacted in Erez Israel, for the most part at Tiberias. In 
it was summarized all that was said, initiated, and thought in 
the world of Erez Israel's sages in the century and a half that 
elapsed since the close of the Mishnah. No tradition is extant 
of the time taken to redact it or who its redactors were. The 
date of its redaction is fixed on the basis of the last sages and 
of the latest historical events - the revolt against Gallus and 
the emperor Julian's activities - mentioned in it (tj, Meg. 3:1, 
74a; tj, Ned. 3:2, 37d). Dating from the end of the fourth cen- 
tury are evidences which combine to portray the firm status 
of the office of nasi, his right to collect money and to appoint 
and depose the leaders of communities in the Diaspora. At the 
beginning of the fifth century the position of the last nasi, Rab- 
ban ^Gamaliel vi, was undermined. Accused of contravening 
the imperial laws by building synagogues, circumcising Chris- 
tian slaves, and acting as a judge in cases involving Christians, 
he was deposed from the rank of "Honorary praefectus? The 
existence of the office of nasi, who claimed descent from the 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



house of David, was not to the liking of the Church, which 
tried to diminish his image and spiritual stature. An order in 
the Codex Theodosianus of the year 429 mentions the death 
of the nasi and instructs the Sanhedrins in the two Palestines 
to transfer to the imperial treasury the money previously col- 
lected on behalf of the nasi. Taking advantage of the death of 
Rabban Gamaliel vi and of the "babes who died" (according 
to Jewish tradition), the authorities refrained from approving 
the appointment of another nasi. With the abolition of this of- 
fice, the nation lost its leading institution which had persisted 
for three and a half centuries after the destruction of Jerusalem 
and the Temple. The Sanhedrin continued to exist, money was 
sent to it even without official permission, and Jewry was obe- 
dient to it and its leaders who were called "the heads of the 
school" (rashei ha-perek), but it progressively lost its hegemony 
over the Diaspora. With the accession in 520 of Mar *Zutra, 
the son of the exilarch Mar Zutra, the title of Head of the San- 
hedrin was bestowed on him, and until the Arab conquest his 
descendants continued to occupy that position. 

byzantine rule in erez Israel. During this period the 
economic position of the country improved. Many Chris- 
tians, among them men of wealth and influence, immigrated 
to Erez Israel. The visits, too, of Christians, as also the exis- 
tence and export of the bones of patriarchs, prophets, and 
saints, whose graves were purported to have been discovered, 
brought much wealth to the land. In this period agricultural 
settlement, particularly in the Negev, was extended to areas 
never previously nor subsequently tilled, as evidenced by the 
remains not only of agricultural cultivation but also of cities 
in the Negev which flourished at this time. The period from 
the second half of the fifth century until the revival under 
*Justinian (527-565) of the aggressive Christian policy was a 
tranquil one for the Jews in Erez Israel. The Christians were 
absorbed in a theological controversy between the orthodox 
and the monophysites on the relation between the human and 
the divine nature of Jesus, a controversy which was associated 
with political, military, and communal clashes, so that they 
had no time to concern themselves with the Jews. The latter 
benefited from the economic prosperity that had come to the 
country, as attested by the building, extension, and renovation 
of synagogues whose remains have been found in the north 
(Bet Alfa, Hammath-Gader, and elsewhere) and in the south 
(Jericho, Naaran, Ashkelon, Gaza, and in other places). Al- 
though the erection and renovation of synagogues were pro- 
hibited, the Jews were able to circumvent various repressive 
laws. The difficult position of the Samaritans and their hopes 
of receiving help from the Persians emboldened them to or- 
ganize in 485 and in 529 two large revolts. At first successful, 
they set up their own brief government in a small area around 
Samaria, but the revolts were speedily suppressed with such 
ruthlessness that the Samaritans were considerably reduced 
in number. There followed a relentless religious persecution. 
Justinian's reign was the last glorious period of Roman- Byz- 
antine rule in Erez Israel. He fortified the borders, provided 

the cities with a water supply, and built magnificent churches 
in various places in the country. But his reign was marked by 
the beginning of a harsh legislative attack on Judaism and by 
the Church's growing obduracy in its policy toward the Jews. 
When the old laws were selected from the Codex Theodosia- 
nus for inclusion in Justinian's new legal compilation, several 
which confirmed the rights of the Jews were omitted, while 
others depriving them of rights were added. 

the Persian invasion. In 603 the Persians renewed their 
attempt to assail the Roman Empire. In 611 they arrived at 
Antioch, in 613 they entered Damascus, in 614 they reached 
Erez Israel. The approach of the Persians inspired messianic 
hopes. Contact was made with the conquerors and the Jews 
gave them effective help in capturing Galilee. From there the 
Persians marched on Caesarea; proceeding along the coast, ad- 
vanced against Lydda, and wound their way up to Jerusalem 
(May 614), in whose capture Jewish forces also took part. The 
Persians handed the city over to the Jews who, settling in it, 
began to remove from it the Christians and their churches. The 
leader in Jerusalem was one known only by the name of Nehe- 
miah b. Hushi'el b. Ephraim b. Joseph, his messianic designa- 
tion, and a beginning may even have been made to reintroduce 
sacrifices. His rule in Jerusalem lasted for three years. In 617 
the Persians retracted, perhaps in order to gain the support of 
the Christians for their rule. The Jews did not acquiesce in this 
and the Persian regime was compelled to fight against them. 
Nehemiah and some of his closest adherents were killed by the 
Persians (Sefer Zerubbabel). In the meantime *Heraclius, the 
*Byzantine emperor, having begun to grow powerful, set out 
in the spring of 622 on a campaign of conquest against Persia. 
In 627 the Persians, accepting their defeat, agreed to withdraw 
to their own country and the Byzantine army regained con- 
trol of Erez Israel. In 629 Heraclius appeared at the gateways 
of the country. The Jewish leaders made a vain attempt to en- 
ter into a compact with him. They presented him with many 
gifts, he promised to overlook their past actions, and even 
made an agreement with them, binding himself by oath to 
observe it. One of the Jewish leaders, ^Benjamin of Tiberias, 
who was extremely wealthy, lodged the emperor in his home 
there, maintained him and the army accompanying him, and 
even joined him on his journey to Jerusalem. On March 21, 
629, the emperor entered Jerusalem in a typically magnificent 
Byzantine procession and restored to their site the remnants 
of the cross given to him by the Persians. The emperor, who 
was not an antisemite, wished to keep his promises but under 
pressure from the Church revoked them. A decree was issued 
expelling the Jews from Jerusalem and its vicinity, and Jews 
were put on trial. Many were killed and many fled. In the pe- 
riod between Heraclius' return and the Arab conquest there 
were forced conversions and persecutions by the Byzantine 
Empire. The Arab conquest brought relief to the Jewish popu- 
lation, but in the Arab period the Jews of Erez Israel lost their 
central position in the leadership of Jewry. 

[Shmuel Safrai] 


ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 


Arab Period (634-1099) 

the arab conquest. The raids against Syria and Erez 
Israel carried out by Arab tribes from the Hejaz toward the 
end of *Muhammad s lifetime differed little from the attacks 
mounted by the inhabitants of the Arabian desert against the 
agricultural and trading settlements of the border lands from 
the ancient period on. The Byzantines, heirs of Roman power 
in the Near East, founded an Arab "state" embracing the ter- 
ritory that had formerly belonged to the Nabateans and Pal- 
myra. In reality, though, it was a drifting camp of nominally 
Christian (Monophysite) Bedouin of the Ghasn tribe that 
constituted a buffer between the settled lands and the desert. 
These semi- barbarians were hired to stand guard against the 
barbarians of the hinterland, but after defeating the Persians 
and expelling them from Erez Israel (628) and other lands 
they had conquered, Heraclius did not think it necessary to 
spend any more on his Bedouin mercenaries. The Byzantines 
did not grasp the impact of the rise of Islam in Arabia and did 
not regard the events seriously. The advance of Arabian bands 
probing their frontier and raids and incursions into Transjor- 
dan, and even into Erez Israel, seemed no more than the usual 
Bedouin border attacks. 

In 629 the Arabs suffered a defeat near Muta (east of 
the southern extremity of the Dead Sea). According to Arab 
historians, after the death of Muhammad (632) three com- 
manders were assigned the mission of occupying Syria and 
Erez Israel. c Amr ibn-al c As was given the task of conquering 
"Filastin," i.e., Judea and the southern Coastal Plain; Shurahbil 
ibn-Hasana was to take Galilee and the valleys of the upper 
Jordan and Jezreel, an area later called Jund Urdunn (the mili- 
tary district of the Jordan); and Yazid ibn Abi-Sufyan marched 
on Damascus. c Amr invaded Palestine byway of Elath, while 
the other two advanced along the caravan route from Tabk 
to the Balqa between the Jabbok and Arnon winter streams. 
The Byzantines suffered three serious defeats in 633-634, as 
the Arabs relentlessly pushed them back toward the sea from 
the east and south, and retreated to Beisan (Beth-Shean). For 
six months the Arabs raided towns and villages without cap- 
turing a single fortified city. When they marched on Beisan, 
the Byzantines withdrew to Fihl (or Fahl-Pella) in Transjor- 
dan after destroying the Jordan River dams to impede the 
enemy's progress. Defeated near Fihl, the Byzantine troops 
fled to Damascus, with the Arabs in pursuit. The Arabs then 
briefly occupied Damascus, which they abandoned - along 
with other cities taken in Syria - when they received news 
of a large Byzantine force gathering at Aleppo and Antioch. 
This army, however, composed of about 50,000 Armenian and 
Arab mercenaries, was crushed in a decisive engagement at 
the confluence of the Ruqqad and Yarmuk rivers (in Golan) 
on August 20, 636. By the end of the year, all of Syria as far 
north as Aleppo was in Arab hands. 

In Erez Israel, Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Ashkelon were 
still garrisoned by Byzantine troops. Jerusalem surrendered 
in 637 or 638, after the Byzantine commander deserted, end- 
ing a two-year siege. Patriarch Sophronius conducted the 



/ 'KOBanias 








Gush Halav^ Dalton DAMASCUS 

Ein Zeitim * „ A . 

f-s * Sared 
Acre® _ Kefar* Parodl^ 

KabulQHananyah t«,. v Naveh* 

Haife*Avelim* #Kefar y ™ ena \ 

Mandi ^ \, | 



* Nazareth 


Caesarea O 


O Umm Qeis "**" " 

BeitRa'sO Edrei ® 

^Beth-Shean q p e hel 

Jaffa® * 

O Nablus 

Bene Berak 

• Ono 


it Amtan 




O Gerasa 

— s\ 

V — . 

* Jabneh 


Ashkelon O 

® Gaza 

Al-Quds * 

O Bet Guvrin 

* Al-Khalel 


Juttah • 



• Ayn al-Yahudiyya 


O Ruwat 



Al-jarba . 

— Boundary of Jund (District) 
□ Capital of Jund 
O Capital of Kurah (Subdistrict) 
• Jewish Settlement 

Map 1. The Land of Israel under Arab rule (8 th century c.e.). After Atlas of 
Israel, Survey of Israel, 1970. 

negotiations with the Arabs, who promised not to harm the 
Christian churches there. Caesarea was apparently taken 
by Muawiya in 640, ending a seven-year siege, after a Jew 
showed the Arabs a secret passage into the city (According 
to an Arab historian, there were 700,000 "Roman" soldiers, 
200,000 Jews, and 300,000 Samaritans inside the city) The 

ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 10 



fall of Ashkelon followed soon after (641). The Arab conquest 
of Erez Israel was a major event in the history of the Western 
world. It opened a gateway to the West for the inhabitants of 
the desert and brought them into direct contact with a 2,000- 
year-old culture. Had they been satisfied with their conquest 
of the Persian Empire, it is doubtful whether their influence 
on civilization would have been any greater than that of the 
Sassanids or Zoroastrians. 

The conquerors did not change the administrative sys- 
tem in Erez Israel. Northern Erez Israel (the Byzantine Pa- 
laestina Secunda) became the military province (jund) of 
Urdunn (Jordan), with Tiberias as its capital, and southern 
Erez Israel (the Byzantine Palaestine Prima) became Jund 
FilastiHy with Lydda as its capital. The latter province com- 
prised Judea and Samaria and, according to the Arab geog- 
raphers of the tenth century, the Negev, as well as the south- 
ern districts of Transjordan, were annexed to it. The conquest 
was followed by the migration of Arabs into the area. When 
taking a town, the Arabs sometimes stipulated that half of its 
area be handed over to them. Arabic historians record that 
this was the case in Tiberias and Beisan. At first, most of the 
Arabs lived in great camps, e.g., al-Jabiya in Golan and Em- 
maus in the Judean plain, where they soon began to acquire 
estates and settle down. The number who became landlords 
and engaged in agriculture increased when Mu c awiya be- 
came governor of Syria and Erez Israel. Arabs bought estates, 
settled down and became peasants throughout the country. 
Mu'awiya also founded colonies of Arabs and other Muslims 
in the coastal towns as a military safeguard against Byzantine 
attacks on this vulnerable area. 

The Ummayyads also granted lands to Bedouin tribes. 
Whereas most of the Arabs living in Transjordan and regions 
to the north before the Muslim conquest belonged to south 
Arabian Kalb tribes, under Ummayyad rule the North Arabian 
Qays tribes became predominant. Many Qaysites moved into 
Galilee, Golan, Hauran, and al-Balqa. On the other hand, the 
Arabs who settled in Tiberias and Bet Guvrin were Kalbites. 
The major