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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. CONNECTION OF THE PROPHECY WITH ITS CONTEXT.—In the seventh chapter the prophet Isaias had predicted the fate of Syria, of Samaria, and of Juda, confirming his prophecy by the celebrated sign of the virgin-mother. In the eighth chapter the prophet first again confirms his prediction by a more immediate sign, and announces salvation as coming through the Emmanuel alone (8:1–10). In the second part of the same chapter Isaias shows the practical lessons to be learned from his prophecies for the immediate future: the God-fearing must place all their confidence and hope in God’s special protection and help; the wicked will meet with instant ruin and destruction (8:11–22). But after these dark times of punishment and affliction, there will come days of boundless joy and gladness; for Emmanuel, the Messianic king and ruler, will be born, and bring universal peace and happiness (9:1–7).

2. UNCHRISTIAN EXPLANATION OF THE PROPHECY.—The child of whom the prophet speaks is Ezechias. Though the Jewish writers who lived after the time of Christ and several modern Rationalists give this explanation (Gesenius, Hendewerk, Aben-Ezra, Sanhedrin, etc.), the reasons of the former are different from those of the latter: a. The former writers base their position on the peculiar rendering of Is. 9:6; instead of translating “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God, the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of peace,” they render, “and the Wonderful, the Counsellor, God, the Mighty, the Father of the world to come shall call his name Prince of peace.” b. The Rationalists assign the following reasons for their opinion: 1. The child is represented by the prophet as already born at the time of the prediction. Now, from what we know of Ezechias, he might well be called a child at that very time (cf. Gen. 4:23; 3 Kings 12:8; 2 Par. 10:8; Eccl. 4:13). 2. Oriental writers are accustomed to call their kings “gods” by way of hyperbole. Instances of this custom are found in Ps. 2 and in the letter of the Persian to the Armenian king. 3. The expression, “God, the Mighty,” does not necessarily imply true divinity; and, what is more, at the time of Isaias the Messianic idea was not yet sufficiently evolved to include divinity in its strict sense. 4. In a wider sense we find that at Isaias’ time men were frequently called gods (cf. Ps. 81 (82):1; Jo. 10:34). 5. The very name of Ezechias fully agrees with all the attributes applied to that king by Isaias; for Ezechias signifies “the strength of God.”

But, on the other hand, Ezechias cannot be intended by Isaias. For the child must be the cause of the joy for Galilee and the Northern Kingdom. Now, Galilee was never under Ezechias’ sway. Again, the peace and joy predicted as future under the child was never realized during the lifetime of Ezechias. Ezechias cannot even by way of hyperbole be called “Mighty God,” since he never did anything to justify that magnificent title. And what can be the meaning of the expression “Father of the world to come,” as applied to the king Ezechias?

When we come to examine the reasons advanced by the one and the other of the above opponents, we find that none of them is solid enough to necessitate the conclusion which our opponents draw from them. As to the rendering suggested by the first class of opponents, it is opposed by the Hebrew manner of speech, by the text and the context of the passage itself. When in Hebrew after a verb of “calling” several names are given, they apply not to the person naming, but to the person named (cf. Gen. 2:20; 4:25; 16:15; 21:3; Ruth 4:17; 1 Kings 1:20; Jer. 23:6). Then, it appears from the text that all the names are construed in the same manner; hence they must either all apply to the person who gives the name (Abarbanel), or to the person named. But in the former supposition the child would remain without name, and in the latter supposition the position of our opponents becomes untenable. Finally, the context shows that if all the names were applied to the person naming, they would form a series of attributes for which there is no warrant in what precedes and follows; the context does not even so much as suggest Jehovah. But, on the other hand, applied to the prophetic child, all these attributes fit admirably into the passage.

As to the arguments of the second class of our opponents, it suffices to point out: α. that in the prophetic language the perfect is often used instead of the future; β. that the divine attribute in Ps. 2 applies not to a mere man, but to the son of God, or the Messias; γ. that the Oriental writers are by no means accustomed to call eminent men “gods,” unless they are judges, and thus represent God’s own power and wisdom; δ. that even in this case they never call any one “God,” as Isaias does in the present passage ε. As to what is said concerning the evolution of the Messianic idea, no one, not even our opponents, has the right or the power to assign limits to the power or the will of the Holy Ghost, who speaks through the mouth of the prophets; and moreover, Ps. 71 (72):5, 17 and Is. 7:14 express ideas concerning the Messias that are in strict accord with Is. 9:6.

3. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. It appears from 2 Kings 7:11; Ps. 88, (89); 71, (72); 131 (132); Prov. 8; Is. 7:14; Ps. 44 (45), that the Messias is a mighty king, the liberator of his people, the son of David, the triumphant conqueror of his enemies, the bringer of peace and justice and goodness, that he is God and the son of God and Emmanuel. Hence it follows that he is most wonderful, gifted with divine wisdom, and holding the divine counsels. Now, the child whom Isaias describes accurately agrees with all these details, and is therefore identical with the Messias of the other prophets.

b. The New Testament confirms this conclusion. For in the New Testament Jesus Christ is so described as to fulfil all the particular details of Is. 9:6; Luke 2:10–14 exhibits Christ as a child recently born in the city of David, and, at the same time, as the source of great joy to all the people; Luke 2:23 announces the Messianic light to have come with the child Christ; Jo. 8:12 calls Jesus the light of the world; the same attribute is given to Jesus in Jo. 12:46; 1:9. Again, according to Isaias the child is to be the author of peace for the tribes of Zabulon and Nephtali, and Matt. 4:13–16 represents Jesus as being this Author of peace.

c. The patristic testimonies, or rather the proper references to them, explaining one and all the prophecy of the Messias, may be seen in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, ed. II. vol. i. pp. 357 ff.

d. Finally, the unbiassed testimony of the Synagogue too has always regarded the prophecy of Isaias as referring to the Messias. We read in Midrash on Deut. 2:4, sect. 1: “Rabbi Samuel, the son of Nachman, said: When Esau met Jacob, he said to him: My brother Jacob, let us walk together in this world. Jacob replied: Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant (Gen. 33:14). What is the meaning of, I pray thee, pass over? Jacob said to him: I have yet to supply the king Messias, of whom it is said: Unto us a child is born.” The Midrash on Numbers 6:22, sect. 11, has it: “Rabbi Nathan said, ‘and give thee peace’ (Num. 6:26) means the peace of the government of the house of David, as it is said, There shall be no end of peace.” The Talmudic treatise Sanhedrin (fol. 94, col. 1) has the following words on our prophetic passage: “Bar Kappara expounded at Sepphoris: Why is the word ‘lemarbeh’ (‘the increase,’ cf. ix. 7) written with a closed Mem (the final Mem, and not with the usual Mem)? The Holy One, blessed be he, wished to make Ezechias the Messias, and Sennacherib Gog and Magog. But the attribute of judgment pleaded against it, and said: David the king of Israel repeated so many songs and praises, and thou hast not made him the Messias; and yet thou art thinking of making Ezechias the Messias, for whose sake so many miracles have been performed, and who nevertheless has not repeated one song of praise! So that counsel was closed (and hence the closed Mem).”

Is. 9:1–7

At the first time the land of Zabulon and the land of Nephtali was lightly touched, and at the last the way of the sea beyond the Jordan of the Galilee of the Gentiles was heavily loaded. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death light is risen. Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils. For the yoke of their burden and the rod of their shoulder, and the sceptre of their oppressor thou hast overcome as in the day of Madian. For every violent taking of spoils, with tumult, and garment mingled with blood, shall be burnt, and be fuel for the fire. For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God, the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace; he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever; the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The present prophecy is a most powerful proof, showing that even in the Old Testament the mystery of the Incarnation was revealed to the Jews precisely under the concept of one person, who is both God and man. For in other prophecies where the manhood of the Messias is insisted on, we may doubt about his divinity; and, again, in those prophecies in which his divinity is foretold, Ps. 44 (45), e.g., the human predicates attributed to him may be understood as merely anthropomorphic expressions. But in the present prophecy both the Messias’ divinity is clearly indicated and his humanity is spoken of in such a manner that no figure of speech can explain the expressions: “Jesus Christ yesterday, and to-day, and the same for ever” (Heb. 13:8).

THROUGHOUT the course of this work we have been frequently obliged to refer to Rabbinic authors and works not generally known to the public. In order to avoid disagreeable interruptions and untimely descriptions of such writers and books, we have deemed it advisable to add a brief outline of the more important ones by way of appendix. Since an exhaustive treatment of this subject would fill a number of goodly volumes, we must content ourselves with a mere sketch of names and dates, without entering into any disputed points of chronology or authorship. Those who wish to study these questions more thoroughly must seek for information in such works as Bartolocci’s “Bibliotheca magna Rabbinica,” Basnage’s “Histoire des Juifs depuis Jésus-Christ jusqu’ à présent, Biographie Universelle, British Encyclopædia, Jost’s “Geschichte der Israeliten seit der Zeit der Maccabäer bis auf unsere Tage,” and Wolf’s “Bibliotheca Hebræa.” Since many of the Rabbinic works presuppose a knowledge of the existence and method of the Jewish traditional learning, we shall endeavor to describe also the latter in so far as the nature of the present work requires. Students who wish to give more attention to this matter will find references to books and writers on the subject in Myer’s “Qabbalah” (Philadelphia, 1888) and Edersheim’s “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,” vol. ii., pp. 683 ff.

Besides their written revelations, the Jews had a system of traditional doctrine, which is known in our days by the name Qabbalah (reception). But since the meaning of the term has become very comprehensive, we may divide it for convenience’ sake into an artificial and a doctrinal one. The artificial Qabbalah may be subdivided into the theoretic and the practical. The latter differs little from magic, and is said to have effected portentous miracles by its spells and charms (see Edzard’s edit. of chapter 2 of tract Abodah Zarah, pp. 346 f.). The principal kinds of the former are three: Gematria, Notaricon, and Temurah.

1. Gematria considers the letters of a word according to their numerical value, and infers from the identity of the numerical value of two expressions the identity of their meaning. Thus, e.g., Yabo’ Shiloh represents the value of 10 + 2 + 1+ 300 +10 + 30 + 5 = 358; Mashiach too is equivalent to 40 + 300 + 10 + 8 = 358. Consequently, the expression Yabo’ Shiloh (Gen. 49:10) is identical in meaning with Mashiach.

2. Notaricon takes every letter of a phrase to be the initial letter or the abbreviation of a word, or it forms the initials and final letters of several expressions into separate words. Thus, e.g., ’Adam is explained by ’Aphar (dust), Dam (blood), and Marah (gall); similarly, by reversing the process, the three words ’Aphar, Dam, and Marah may be ranged under Notaricon by being explained as meaning ’Adam. Two other methods of interpretation belong to this second class of doctrinal Qabbalah. The words of several verses in the Hebrew text are written one under the other, and the letters are formed into words by reading them vertically, or the words are ranged in squares, and then read either vertically or boustrophedon.

3. Temurah (permutation) is a mode by which a word is transformed into a different one by a transposition or a systematic change of consonants. Thus letters of the same word may be transposed, or several words may be joined together and their letters redivided into new words. “Name,” e.g., thus becomes “mane;” “Hebrew sport” may be read “he brews port.” The principal systematic changes of letters are known by the names “Albam” and “Athbash.” In “Albam” the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet are divided into two halves; one half is placed above the other, and the two consonants which thus become associated are interchanged. In this manner Aleph becomes Lamed, Beth becomes Mem, etc. If the last letter of the alphabet is interchanged with the first, the last but one with the second, and so forth, Aleph becomes Tav, Beth becomes Shin, so that we obtain the cipher-alphabet known as Athbash. This is applied in Jer. 25:26; 51:41, where “Sheshach” is written for Babel, and in Jer. 51:1 “Leb Qamay” stands for Kashdim.

But all this belongs to the artificial Qabbalah, and has been mentioned here only for the sake of completeness. It is the doctrinal Qabbalah that concerns our question directly. Its principal divisions are: a. the exegetical and b. the systematic Qabbalah.

A. The former dwells: 1. on letters (e.g., Is. 9:7, where Talmud Sanhedrin, fol. 94, col. 1, lengthily explains the closed Mem); 2. on words (e.g., zoth of Ps. 118:22; 27:3; Gen. 9:12, 17; Jer. 9:23; Gen. 29:27; 3:13; Lev. 16:3, etc., is explained in Tikkune Zohar c. xix. fol. 39, 1; c. xx. fol. 48, 2; c. xcviii. princ., etc., as meaning the Messias); 3. on whole verses and sections.

To understand the character of this exegesis better, it must be observed that the principal code of the Qabbalists is the Zohar, i.e., Light, so called from the words “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:4) with the explanation of which the book opens. The work is a commentary on the Pentateuch, according to its division into fifty-two hebdomadal lessons, and is written in Aramaic. Interspersed throughout the Zohar and bound together with it are the following dissertations: 1. Siphra d’Tzinuthah, or the Book of Secrets, containing discourses on cosmogony and demonology; 2. Idrah Rabbah, “the Great Assembly,” or discourses of Rabbi Simon to his numerous assembly of disciples on the form of the Deity and on Pneumatology; 3. Idrah Zutah, “the Small Assembly,” or discourses on the Sephiroth delivered by R. Simon to the small congregation of his six surviving disciples; 4. Saba d’ Mispatim, “the Aged One in Mispatim” (Ex. 21–24, incl.), a work in which the prophet Elias discourses with R. Simon on the doctrine of transmigration; 5. Midrash Ruth, a fragmentary commentary on the book of Ruth; 6. Sepher Habbahir, “Book of Brightness;” 7. Tosephtah, “Additions and Supplements;” 8. Rayah Mechemnah, “the Faithful Shepherd,” recording discussions between Moses the faithful shepherd, Elias, and R. Simon ben Yochai; 9. Haikhaloth, “the Mansions and Abodes,” describes the structure of paradise and hell; 10. Sithrai Torah, “the Mysteries of the Pentateuch,” describing the evolution of the Sephiroth; 11. Midrash Hannee’lam, “the Hidden Interpretation,” deducing esoteric doctrines from the narratives of the Pentateuch; 12. Raze d’Razin, “the Secret of Secrets,” treating of physiognomy and psychology; 13. Midrash ’Hazeeth, “Interpretation of the Song of Solomon;” 14. Maa’mar Tochazi, “Discourse (beginning with) Come and See;” 15. Yenukah, “the Discourse of the Youth,” gives discourses by young men of superhuman origin on the mysteries of ablutions; 16. Pekudah, “Explanation of the Pentateuch;” 17. Hibburah Kadma’a, “the Primary Assembly;” 18. Mathanithan, “We have learned,” or we have traditionally received the doctrines. All of these are found in the Sulzbach and Cremona editions of the Zohar; the Mantua edition wants nn. 3, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. The Cremona edition, published 1558–1560, is in folio and is called the Great Zohar. Most western Jews use it. The Mantua edition, published by R. Meir ben Ephraim da Padova (1558), is in quarto, in three volumes, and is called the Little Zohar. Italian and Oriental Jews use it.

B. The systematic Qabbalah contains under certain symbols a system of doctrine embracing the nature and the attributes of God, the cosmogony, the creation of angels and of man, the destiny, the atonement, the import of the law. The principal symbols are, according to Schöttgen, four: 1. the Qabbalistic Tree; 2. the Chariot-throne of Ezechiel; 3. the Work of Creation; 4. the Ancient of days.

A short notice on the manner in which the revealed truth has been preserved in the Synagogue will throw more light on this subject, and facilitate future reference. We shall name both the agents that have taken part in preserving the revealed truth, and also the principal books written for the same purpose:

1. a. The first series of Jewish receivers and transmitters of revelation may be called the prophetic school. All the prophets wrote their works under divine inspiration, and, besides, the later prophets collected those inspired books that had been written before their time. The Introduction to the Yad-Chazaka (a commentary on the Talmud) of Maimonides gives the following series of twenty-two prophets as the principal bearers of tradition:

1. Moses (about 1537–1457 B.C.); concerning the manner in which he taught Aaron, Eleazar, Itamar, the Ancients, and especially Josue, see Talmud, Erubin, fol. 54 verso.

2. Josue (about 1457–1400 B.C.; Jos. 24:29).

3. Phinees, the son of Eleazar and the grandson of Aaron, together with the then existing Ancients (about 1400–1210 B.C.; Jos. 24:33).

4. Heli the high-priest (about 1210–1170 B.C.; 1 Kings 4:18).

5. Samuel the prophet (about 1170–1080 B.C.; 1 Kings 3:20 f.; 25:1).

6. David the king (about 1080–1021 B.C.; 1 Kings 16:13; 2 Kings 23:1 ff.; 3 Kings 2:10 f.).

7. Ahias of Silo, the Levite, who had according to tradition been born in Egypt and instructed by Moses, so that at this period he was more than 500 years old (about 1021–970 B.C.; 3 Kings 11:29; 14:2 ff.).

8. Elias the prophet (about 970–902 B.C.; 3 Kings 17 ff.).

9. Eliseus the prophet (about 902–840 B.C.; 4 Kings 2:9 ff.),

10. Yoyada the highpriest (about 878–830 B.C.; 4 Kings 11:4 ff.; 2 Par. 23:1 ff.).

11. Zacharias the prophet, a son of Yoyada, probably slain between the temple and the altar (Matt. 23:35). This is not the prophet Zacharias whose prophecies are embodied in the Old Testament canon (about 830–800 B.C.; 2 Par. 24:20 f.).

12. Osee the prophet (about 800–770 B.C.; Os.).

13. Amos the prophet (about 770–730 B.C.; Amos).

14. Isaias the prophet (about 759–696 B.C.; Is.).

15. Micheas the prophet (about 759–700 B.C.; Mich.).

16. Joel the prophet (about 786–720 B.C.; Joel).

17. Nahum the prophet (about 759–700 B.C.; Nah.).

18. Habacuc the prophet (about 660–610 B.C.; Hab.).

19. Sophonias the prophet (about 641–610 B.C.; Soph.).

20. Jeremias the prophet (about 628–583 B.C.; Jer.).

21. Baruch (about 600–583 B.C.; Bar.).

22. Esdras (about 530–460 B.C.; Esdr.).

It must be remembered that each of these bearers of tradition was assisted by a “beth din,” a house of justice. The last named was president of the so-called “Great Synagogue,” composed of 120 members. The prophets Aggeus, Zacharias, Malachias, and probably also Daniel, Ananias, Misael, Azarias, Nehemias, Mardocheus, Belsan, and Zorobabel were of the number. The last surviving member was Simeon the Just; but Esdras having collected the inspired writings of the Old Testament, Simeon must be numbered among the Tannaim rather than among the prophets.

b. “Tannaim” is the plural of Tanna, Doctor. As the prophets are either the authors or the collectors of the Old Testament, so are the Tannaim either the authors or the collectors of the Mishna, i.e., of a series of commentaries on the inspired books and of those truths that were believed to have been revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai, and to the other patriarchs and prophets, without having ever been committed to writing. In enumerating the successive links of the bearers of tradition we shall again follow Maimonides.

23. Simeon the Just has already been mentioned as the last member of the Great Synagogue. He must have lived till about 400 B.C. It was he that originated the great Jewish council of the Sanhedrin.

24. Antigonus of Socho was Simeon’s successor. Drach (I’Église et la Synagogue, i. p. 143) is of opinion that Antigonus flourished about 300 B.C., but Buxtorf (Lexic. Chald., under the word “ ’Amora”) maintains that the period of the great Synagogue and of Simeon the Just is placed by some between 400 and 300 B.C., by others between 400 and 200 B.C.

25. After Antigonus begins a double series of Tannaim, each link of which is composed of the president and the vice-president of the Sanhedrin; the couples are called “Zogoth.” Joseph ben Joezer and Joseph ben Jochanan were the first couple. The former was Nasi, or president; the latter, “Ab-beth-din,” or vice-president.

26. Joshua ben Perachiah and Nitai of Arbela were the next Zoga. Joseph was persecuted by Alexander Jannæus and fled to Alexandria.

27. Judah ben Tabbai succeeded as president, and Simon ben Shetach as vice-president. According to Lightfoot, one of their many eminent actions consisted in burning eighty witches in one day.

28. These were followed by Shemaiah and Abtalion, both proselytes of justice and descendants of Sennacherib (4 Kings 19:22). They are probably identical with the Sameas and Pollio of Josephus.

29. The succeeding president was Hillel, the vice-president Shammai. Hillel is sometimes called the Babylonian, because he had been born in that city, though he belonged on his mother’s side to the family of David. When forty years old, he came to Jerusalem; forty years he studied the law, and forty years he was president of the Sanhedrin. Shammai and Hillel were theological antagonists, and their pupils adhered so zealously to their masters’ tenets that their wrangles sometimes ended in bloodshed and murder. Hillel always gave a mild interpretation of the Law, while Shammai was a legal rigorist. The influence of these two doctors on the Jewish mind was permanent.

30. The next couple of tradition-bearers consisted of Rabban Jochanan ben Zaccai and Rabban Simeon ben Hillel. Some writers have endeavored to identify this Simeon with the Simeon of St. Luke’s gospel, who took Jesus in his arms (Luke 2:25 f.). To this circumstance they attribute the ill-will against Simeon shown in the Talmud. For both the treatises Aboth and Halikhuth-‘Olam, though professedly discussing the Fathers of Tradition, omit the name of Simeon. Other Rabbinic writers enumerate Rabban Simeon among the descendants of Hillel, but give no further particulars of his person or his teaching. Still there are serious difficulties against the view that Rabban Simeon is identical with the old man Simeon; the chronology of the gospel and the exalted position of the Rabban furnish probably the most striking ones. It must here also be observed that the title Rabban was above that of Nasi, or president of the Sanhedrin. Simeon was therefore not a mere vice-president, but he had the same authority as Rabban Jochanan. A number of scholars omit the name of Jochanan ben Zaccai in connection with Rabban Simeon, and make him temporary president after Simeon ben Gamaliel. Thus Buxtorf (l. c.) and Milman (History of the Jews, ii. p. 411).

31. Gamaliel (ben Simeon) is the next link of tradition. He is well known as the teacher of St. Paul; St. Barnabas and the proto-martyr St. Stephen also were his pupils. Later he himself became a Christian; the martyrology for August 3 mentions his name together with that of his son Abibon. Clement of Alexandria, Bede, and other writers are of opinion that Gamaliel was a secret adherent of Christ even when he defended the apostles before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:34 f.). At his own desire he was buried in the sepulchre of St. Stephen, whose remains he had entombed in his own house; the relics of both were discovered in 415 A.D., a special revelation having directed the priest Lucian to the spot. See Martyrol. and Bollandists.

32. Rabban Simeon II. (ben Gamaliel) was the successor of his father.

According to Buxtorf, Rabban Jochanan ben Zaccai held Simeon’s place for a time. The purity and honor of the Law had failed, and Pharisaism had died with Gamaliel. Simeon II. is said to have flourished between the destruction of the temple and 80 A.D. Drach (l. c.) gives Rabbi Judah hakkadosh as the successor of Simeon II. But Maimonides, whom Drach follows, has evidently omitted several links, which we supply from Buxtorf and Milman without adding any number, so as to indicate by the numbered series that of Maimonides. Simeon’s successor was Gamaliel II. of Jabneh (ben Simeon II.); he was followed by Simeon III. (ben Gamaliel II.), who was the first patriarch of Tiberias.

Buxtorf maintains that the school of Jabneh had been founded by Rabban Jochanan ben Zaccai when Jerusalem and the temple were besieged. Jost (Judenthum, ii. 16 f.) gives the Rabbinic belief concerning the various transfers of the Sanhedrin: from Gazith (the temple chamber) to Khanoth (the shops in the outer court); from Khanoth to Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to Jabneh, from Jabneh to Osha, from Osha to Shepharaam, from Shepharaam to Beth-shaaraim, from Bethshaaraim to Sepphoris, from Sepphoris to Tiberias. At Osha, Shepharaam, Bethshaaraim, and Sepphoris the council cannot have stayed long, since Gamaliel II. was its president at Jabneh, and his successor, Simeon III., was president at Tiberias.

33. Simeon III. was followed by Judah (ben Simeon III.). Judah was born about 120 years after the destruction of Jerusalem at Zipporis or Sepphoris, an important and strongly fortified city of Galilee, contiguous to Mount Carmel and Cana, and six miles west of Nazareth. At a later period the town was called Diocæsarea. It is also reported to be the birth-place of St. Ann, the mother of the Blessed Virgin. Judah, called “hakkadosh” (the holy) or “hannasi” (the Nasi, or president by eminence), was by far the most renowned of all the later Tannaim. His adviser was Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair. Not to mention many other things he did or decided, we proceed at once to his principal work, the Mishna, which he collected and finished. The beginning of such a collection had been made by the preceding Rabbis, such as R. Akiba and R. Meir; but only single halachoth (laws of custom) had been committed to writing without system and order. R. Judah examined what had been written, completed the writing of the halachoth, and arranged all systematically. The language used is that found in the later Old Testament books, enriched by many Aramaic, Latin, and Greek words. Among the Jews of Babylon only the work of Judah was received as having authority, while in Palestine certain later additions enjoyed the authority of the Mishna.

The elements of which the Misha is composed have been stated above in general terms. Both Drach (op. cit. v. 1, pp. 151 f.) and Maimonides (General Preface to Comm. on the Mishna) reduce them to five: 1. Explanations and developments of the written law attributed to Moses; 2. unwritten ordinances which God gave to Moses on Sinai; 3. the precepts found by the conjectures and investigations of the doctors; 4. decrees issued by the prophets and the later doctors, in order to insure a more exact observance of the Law; 5. rules of conduct, which often refer to circumstances of the civil and social life, without adding to or detracting from the written Law. St. Epiphanius most probably understood the first four elements by his four “deuteroses” (Hær. 23, p. 224). For “deuterosis” is the Greek word for Mishna, both words meaning “repetition;” the Mishna is thus viewed as a repetition of the written Law. By this explanation one of Morin’s arguments for the late origin of the Mishna is answered; for Epiphanius expressly refers to it in the above passage.

A general outline of the plan of the Mishna is not out of place here. The book is divided into six “Sedarim” (orders, dispositions, divisions); each “Seder” is subdivided into “massikhtoth” (treatises), each “massekheth” into “perakim” (chapters), each “perek” into paragraphs, called Mishnas. The division into “sedarim” (orders) must have preceded the time of R. Judah, since the Targum of Jonathan ben Uziel (Ex. 26:9), and the Chaldee paraphrases (Cant. 1:2; 5:10) refer to it.

The following list gives the various divisions and subdivisions of the Mishna:

A. Seder zeraim (order of seeds) contains eleven massikhtoth:

1. Massekheth perakhoth (treatise of blessings) gives in nine chapters precepts concerning prayer and thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and other blessings of God.

2. Massekheth pe’ah (treatise of the corner) contains eight chapters on harvesting and leaving corners of the harvest-field for the poor.

3. Massekheth demai (treatise of the doubtful) settles in seven chapters doubts regarding the obligation of tithes for certain fruits.

4. Massekheth kilaim (treatise of the heterogeneous) regulates in nine chapters the mixing of certain kinds of seed.

5. Massekheth shebiith (treatise of the seventh) has ten chapters on the sabhath year.

6. Massekheth terumah (treatise on oblation) prescribes in eleven chapters various kinds of free-will gifts.

7. Massekheth ma‘asher rishon (treatise on the first tithe) regulates in five chapters the tithes belonging to the Levites.

8. Massekheth ma‘asher sheni (treatise on the second tithe) has five chapters on the tithes which the Levites had to pay to the priests.

9. Massekheth challah (treatise of the cake) describes in four chapters the cake which the women had to offer to the priests.

10. Massekheth ‘orlah (treatise on the prepuce) has three chapters on the fruits of young trees, called prepuce.

11. Massekheth bikkurim (treatise on the first-fruits) examines in four chapters what first-fruits should be brought into the temple. At the end of this seder is added a chapter entitled “Androgynos” (hermaphrodite), which constitutes one of the Beraitoth.

B. Seder Mo‘ed (order of festivals) contains twelve massikhtoth:

1. Massekheth shabbath (treatise on the Sabbath) has twenty-four chapters on the keeping of the Sabbath.

2. ‘Erubin (treatise on mixings) shows in ten chapters how many neighbors might be united into one legal household by placing, on the evening of the Sabbath, the food in certain positions.

3. Pesach (treatise on the Passover) gives ten chapters on the celebration of the feast of Passover.

4. Shekalim (treatise on shekels) regulates in eight chapters the individual contributions towards the sacrificial expenses.

5. Yoma (treatise on the day) contains eight chapters on the keeping of the day of Atonement.

6. Sukkah (treatise on the tent) gives in five chapters the ritual for the Feast of Tabernacles.

7. Betzah (treatise on the egg), so called because it begins with an investigation whether one may eat on a feast-day the egg which a hen has laid on the same day; then it gives in five chapters other works lawful or unlawful on feast-days, excepting the Sabbath.

8. Rosh hasshanah (treatise on the new year) contains four chapters on the regulations concerning the Feast of New Year, which falls on the new moon of the month of Tisri.

9. Ta‘anith (treatise on fasting) has four chapters on fasting.

10. Meghillah (treatise on the roll) gives four chapters on the feast of Purim, at which the roll-book of Esther had to be read.

11. Mo‘ed katon (treatise on the small feasts) regulates in three chapters the minor festivals.

12. Chaghigha treats in three chapters of the triple annual journey to Jerusalem prescribed by Ex. 23:17.

C. Seder nashim (order of women) has seven Massikhtoth:

1. Massekheth yebamoth (treatise on levirate affinities) has sixteen chapters on marrying a deceased brother’s wife, who has had no children by her husband.

2. Kethuboth (treatise on contracts) has thirteen chapters on matrimonial contracts, etc.

3. Nedarim (treatise on vows) contains eleven chapters on vows.

4. Neziroth (treatise on the Nazarites) gives nine chapters on the special vows, the life, etc., of the Nazarites.

5. Gittin (treatise on the bills of divorce) explains in nine chapters the laws concerning divorce.

6. Sotah (treatise on the declining one) has nine chapters on women convicted or suspected of adultery.

7. Kiddushim (treatise on betrothal) has four chapters on betrothment.

D. Seder Nezikim (order of damages) has ten Massikhtoth:

1. Massekheth baba kama (treatise on the first gate) considers in ten chapters the damages sustained by men and beasts from one another.

2. Baba metzi‘a (treatise on the middle gate) has ten chapters on things found and deposited, etc.

3. Baba bathra (treatise on the last gate) contains ten chapters on buying, selling, inheritances, etc.

4. Sanhedrin consists of eleven chapters on the Great Council, punishments, witnesses, judges, and the reward in the other life.

5. Makkoth (treatise on stripes) contains three chapters on the 40 stripes spoken of in Deut. 25:3.

6. Shebu‘oth (treatise on oaths) states in eight chapters the regulations concerning oaths.

7. ‘Edaioth (treatise on testimony) has eight chapters respecting witnesses.

8. ’Aboth (treatise on the Fathers) contains six chapters about the Jewish fathers.

9. Horaioth (treatise on statutes) contains three chapters on the laws according to which every one must judge in cases of trial.

10. ‘Abodah zarah (treatise on foreign service), also called ‘abodah elilim (service of idols) or ‘abodah kokhabim (service of the stars), consists of five chapters concerning idolatry and communion with the idolatrous Christians. This massekheth is omitted in the Basel edition of the Mishna.

E. Seder kodashim (order of holy things) contains eleven massikhtoth:

1. Massekheth zebachim (treatise on sacrifices) contains fourteen chapters regarding sacrifices.

2. Menachoth (treatise on oblations) gives thirteen chapters regarding the evening offerings.

3. Chollin (treatise on the unclean) distinguishes in twelve chapters clean and unclean animals.

4. Bekhoroth (treatise on the first-born) contains nine chapters regarding the first-born of animals.

5. Arakhin (treatise on valuation) values in nine chapters the things dedicated to God.

6. Temurah (treatise on permutation) has seven chapters on the substitution of one sacrifice for another.

7. Kerithuth (treatise on cutting off) contains six chapters on the exclusion of a soul from the future life.

8. Me‘ilah (treatise on prevarication) considers in six chapters the sins committed in sacrificing animals.

9. Tamid (treatise on the perpetual) has six chapters concerning the daily sacrifices.

10. Middoth (treatise on measures) relates in five chapters the measurements of the temple.

11. Kinnim (treatise on the nests) contains in three chapters a treatise on bird’s nests.

F. Seder taharoth (order of purifications) contains twelve massikhtoth:

1. Kelim (treatise on vessels) contains thirty chapters on the purification of furniture, clothes, etc.

2. Oholoth (treatise on tents) considers in eighteen chapters the uncleanness of houses, etc.

3. Nega‘im (treatise on leprosy) has fourteen chapters on lepers.

4. Parah (treatise on the heifer) contains twelve chapters respecting the red heifer. Num. 19.

5. Tahoroth (treatise on purifications) describes in ten chapters the purification of a person made unclean by touching anything unclean.

6. Mikva‘oth (treatise on baths) considers in ten chapters the basins of water in which the Jews washed in case of uncleanness.

7. Niddah (treatise on impurity) contains ten chapters on the uncleanness of women.

8. Makhshirin (treatise on purifiers) describes in six chapters the purifying fluids.

9. Zabim (treatise on the flow) speaks in five sections of nocturnal pollution.

10. Tebul Jom (treatise on the washing on the same day) has four chapters respecting purification on the same day.

11. Jadaim (treatise on hands) regulates in four chapters the washing of hands.

12. Uqtsin (treatise on stalks) has three chapters on the manner in which the stalks of fruit become unclean by touching other fruit.

In the later editions of the Talmud the Massekheth Makkoth in the fourth order is followed by six little massikhtoth of more recent origin. They are the following:

1. Aboth of Rabbi Nathan, containing forty-one chapters of moral sentences of the Jewish Fathers, collected by Rabbi Nathan.

2. Sopherim contains twenty-one chapters of instructions for the writers of the Synagogue-rolls.

3. ’Ebel Rabbathi has fourteen chapters on the mourning for the dead.

4. Kallah is a chapter on the way of marrying.

5. Derekh ’eretz rabbah contains ten chapters on politeness.

6. Derekh ’eretz suttah has six chapters on the same subject.

This whole additional part is closed by the Perek Shalom, or the chapter on peace.

After completing the Mishna R. Judah continued to explain the doctrine it contained, and a number of his disciples wrote the explanations in order to fill the gaps still left in the records of tradition. Among the Babylonian Jews these writings do not seem to have enjoyed great authority; in Palestine they were received with a reverence equal to that for the Mishna. The following list gives the principal additional works:

1. Tosephta (Supplement) written by R. Chiya with the assistance of Hoshaiya (Ushaya), Nechemia, Bar Kappara, Yanai, and Levi ben Sissi. Tosephta and its plural Tosephtoth must be well distinguished from the Tosephoth or marginal notes of the Talmud, the authors of which are the Ba‘ale Tosephoth, most of whom lived about the thirteenth century in the south of France.

2. Bereshith-Rabba, written by Rabbi Hoshaiya (Ushaya) and distinct from the Bereshith-Rabba, or Midrash-Rabba, by Rabba bar Nachmeni (see below, n. 8).

3. Beraitoth, plural of Beraita (Borayitoth, Boraytah), means “extraneous.” According to Buxtorf this name comprises the traditions of the Tannaim written outside of Jerusalem; Drach explains the name as indicating that these writings are outside of the Mishna proper. Some of these were composed by Hoshaiya and Bar Kappara; others by Chiya and Hoshaiya; others, again, by Simeon.

4. Mechiltoth, plural of Mechilta; one Mechilta, an explanation of Ex. 12:2–35:3, was written by Rabbi Ismael, and is preceded by the thirteen ways of Rabbinic reasoning. Another Mechilta, an explanation of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, was written by ben Azai, but is now lost.

5. Siphra, or Torath Cohanim (the book or law of priests), was written by Rabbi Judah, probably the second of that name. It is an explanation of Leviticus.

6. Siphré is a dogmatic exposition of the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy, by Rabbi Nehemias.

7. Zohar (Light) was composed, or at least begun, by Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai and R. Abba, the Babylonian. It is a commentary on the Pentateuch, and has been noticed above as the principal book of the systematic Kabbalah.

8. Midrash-Rabba is a commentary on the Pentateuch and the five Meghilloth (Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Eccles., Esther). Rabba bar Nachmeni is assigned as its author. The commentaries on the single books are often indicated by the first word of the respective book followed by Rabba; e.g., the commentary on Genesis by Bereshith-Rabba (cf. n. 2).

9. A number of Midrashim on separate books of the Old Testament, e.g., the Psalms, Samuel, etc.; also the Mishle on Samuel, Psalms, and Proverbs.

10. Midrash Yalkut, called also the Midrash Simeoni, is a modern compilation by a Jewish preacher for the use of his colleagues (cf. Drach, l’Église et la Synagogue, vol. i. pp. 152 ff.).

11. Schöttgen (Jesus der Messias, p. 58) adds Pirqé Rabbi Eliezer on Genesis and a part of Exodus, Pesikta Rabbetha on various texts, and Pesikta Sotarta, compiled, or “zusammengetragen,” as Schöttgen says, out of the lost Mechilta (n. 4), Siphra (n. 5), and Siphré (n. 6).

After the diverse elements of oral traditions had been committed to writing by the Tannaim, the succeeding Jewish Rabbis exerted themselves to explain these writings, especially the principal one of them, the Mishna. The doctors who first gave these explanations and collected them in writings are called ’Amoraim (speakers, commentators). There is a twofold collection of such explanations, the one made by the Palestinian ’Amoraim, the other by the Babylonian; the former is called the Gemara (Supplement) of Jerusalem, the latter the Gemara of Babylon. We have seen that Rabbi Judah hakkadosh, or hannasi, finished the Mishna between 190 and 220 A.D. He was followed by Gamaliel III. (ben Judah) as president of the school in Yamnia and, according to the Jews, as patriarch of Sepphoris. Gamaliel was as proud and overbearing as he was learned, and on that account was formally deposed, R. Eliezer being elected in his place. But by the influence of R. Joshua, R. Akiba, and R. Eliezer himself, Gamaliel was reinstated with the agreement that R. Eliezer should every third week preside over and moderate the scholastic discussions. Buxtorf and other scholars maintain that it was Gamaliel II. who was deposed, and who held after his reinstatement joint authority with R. Eliezer. This view avoids a number of serious chronological difficulties. Gamaliel III. was succeeded by R. Judah II., who transferred the patriarchal seat from Sepphoris to Tiberias. His authority was so great that he obtained the title of Rabbi by excellence, and of Rabbanu. Still Rabbi Yochanan ben Eliezer enjoyed an even greater authority, and is by Maimonides given among the three who had received the esoteric traditions from R. Judah hakkadosh. Yochanan is said to have finished the Jerusalem Gemara about 279 A.D. (cf. Drach, l. c., vol. 1, p. 161) after having been 24 years Rector of the Palestinian Academy. Hillel, the brother of Judah II., excelled in the Haggada, or the historical part of the Old Testament; Origen used his interpretations of difficult passages and highly lauded his learning. After the time of Judah II. the Palestinian schools became inferior to the Babylonian. The most renowned Palestinian Rabbi after this period is Rabbi Abbahu; R. Ami, R. Assi, R. Chiya ben Abba, and R. Seira hardly deserve mention. The succeeding western or Palestinian patriarchs are Rabbi Gamaliel IV., Rabbi Judah III., R. Hillel II.; during the latter’s time the patriarchal authority almost wholly perished, since he ceased to indicate even the feast-days and published the general rule of computing feasts. Hillel II. was followed by Gamaliel V., R. Judah IV., and R. Gamaliel VI. No president is known to have succeeded Gamaliel VI.

Ever since the Babylonian captivity, the Jewish schools had flourished in the provinces of Babylon. The foremost seats of learning were Nahardea, Firuz-Shabur, Pumbeditha, Sura, and Machuza. Here the exiled Jews held, up to the eleventh century B.C., their own civil authority. A line of reputed descendants of David wielded supreme civil power, and enjoyed externally much of the pomp of ancient royalty. This high official was called Resh-Glutha, prince of the captivity, and he enjoyed the honor of being the fourth highest dignitary in the realm. Still, in theological lore the Babylonian Jews confessed themselves inferior to their Palestinian brethren, and many a youth left the shores of the Euphrates in order to learn wisdom in the schools of Sepphoris, Jamnia, or Tiberias. At the time when Judah, the author of the Mishna, was president, his Babylonian pupils excelled so much that according to tradition the master communicated the esoteric traditions to two Babylonians, Abba Areka, commonly called Rab, and Samuel, while only one Palestinian pupil, the above-named Jochanan, shared this privilege. Here then we may resume the chain of the bearers of tradition, the 33d link of which was R. Judah, the author of the Mishna.

34. Rab, or Abba Areka, and Samuel; Abba Areka was immediately after his return from Palestine president of the school of Nahardea, the birth-place of Samuel, to whom he yielded this office. Rab founded the school of Sura, and was its first president from 219–247 A.D. (cf. Buxtorf under “ ’Amoraim”). Mar Samuel succeeded as president, who was not only well versed in the Law, but also skilled in medicine and astronomy.

35. R. Hunna (Rab Hanna) must have been one of the next presidents of Sura; he is named among the most renowned ’Amoraim. Soon after his accession there came troublous times for Babylon, which was then devastated by the troops of Odenath, husband of Queen Zenobia. Rabbi Nachman ben Jacob (and R. Chasda) fled to Pumbeditha, where now arose a new school of learning under Nachman as president. R. Judah ben Jecheskel gave this school great lustre by accepting its presidency after Nachman. Rabba ben Nachman succeeded (309 A.D.), and he was followed by Abayi.

36. Raba, the next president of Pumbeditha, must probably be identified with Rabba bar Chana, the 36th link of the tradition-bearers. He was followed by the presidents R. Nachman ben Isaac, R. Papa, and R. Chama, whose office-time falls within 356–377 A.D. There is a veil of obscurity thrown over the following presidents; we know, however, that R. Zebid, R. Dimi, Rafrem ben Papa, R. Kahana, Mar Sutra, R. Acha ben Rabba, and R. Gebiha were inferior to the above-named rectors. R. José became president of Pumbeditha about 485 A.D.

About the same time that the school of Pumbeditha was founded by R. Nachman ben Jacob, the school of Machuza was established by Rabba ben Abahu (and R. Sheshet), who had fled from Sura on account of the same inroad of Odenath into Babylon which had occasioned the flight of Nachman and R. Chasda. Rabba was succeeded by R. Joseph ben Chiya, and he by R. Abaya.

37. Rabba ben Joseph ben Chama succeeded Abaya, and is given by Maimonides as the 37th link in the chain of tradition. After Rabba’s death the school of Machuza sank below its former level; and the school of Sura, from which both the schools of Pumbeditha and of Machuza had sprung forth, resumed its former leadership.

38. This was especially the case under the presidency of R. Ashi ben R. Semai; he rebuilt the old Rabbinic edifices at Sura, and spent over fifty years in explaining the Mishna and collecting material referring to the same, so that he did for the Babylonian Gemara what Rabbi Judah hannasi had done for the Mishna. After Ashi’s death (427 A.D.), Mar Yemar (Maremar) became president, and after him Idi ben Abin (432 A.D.), Nachman ben Hunna (452 A.D.), and Acha (455).

39. R. Acha yielded his place to Mar, the returning son of the above-named R. Ashi, to whom and Mar Yemar the esoteric traditions had been confided. Mar ben Ashi faithfully continued the work of his father, but the troublous times which the Persian Jews had to endure in the reign of Firuz (458–485 A.D.) prevented the schools from exerting their full activity. Mar was succeeded by Rabba Tafsah, who became president of the Academy of Sura. He is the last member of the ’Amoraim, and to him belongs the lasting glory of having completed the Babylonian Gemara. Buxtorf places its official sanction in A.D. 499, the year of Rabina’s death.

According to Buxtorf, Gemara means completion or supplement, since it completes the Mishna; other writers derive the word from the Aramæan “to learn,” so that it is equivalent to Talmud (doctrine), from the Hebrew “lamad” (to learn). Both the Jerusalem and the Babylonian Gemara are written in Aramaic, with many Persian, Greek, and Latin words intermixed. Moreover, the Jerusalem Gemara approaches the Syriac in its style. But both are equally obscure and unpolished, though the Babylonian Gemara is more copious in its explanations than that of Jerusalem. The latter is preferred by Christians by reason of its brevity and freedom from absurdities and fables; the former is always used by the Jews, and is simply called the Talmud; in both Talmuds the Mishna and its respective Gemara are included.

The Jerusalem Gemara explains all the treatises of the first and third orders, none of the fifth, and only Niddah of the sixth; in the second order the last four chapters of Shabbath are not explained; in the fourth the treatises Eduyoth, Aboth, and the last three chapters of Makkoth are wanting. The Babylonian Gemara explains only Berakhoth of the first order; in the explanation of the second order it omits Shekalim; in that of the fourth the treatises Aboth and Eduyoth are lacking; in the fifth Middoth, Kinnim, and one half of Tamid are not explained; Niddah is the only treatise of the sixth order that has been considered in the Babylonian Gemara, while the whole of the third order has been explained.

It was probably owing to the obscurity and brevity of the Jerusalem Gemara that the eastern Jewish doctors composed the Babylonian. It is said that R. Ashi had four ends in view when he began his great work: 1. He intended to investigate the grounds of the contradictory opinions contained in the Mishna, in order to arrive by this process at the true or, at least, at the more probable one. 2. Cases of doubt were to be settled in conformity with the doctrine of the Tannaim and the ’Amoraim. 3. The decisions, the enactments, and the regulations that had been passed by the Rabbis after the termination of the Mishna were to be recorded. 4. A number of current allegorical commentaries, of parables, legends, and mystic instructions were to be committed to writing. It is especially this fourth element that has caused the insertion into the Gemara of many absurd and ludicrous stories and revolting blasphemies (cf. Drach, l’Église et la Synagogue, vol. i. pp. 163 f.).

After the ’Amoraim a series of Rabbis followed, called Seburaim, or “opinionists,” who discussed the Mishnayoth (paragraphs of the Mishna) by means of probable and disputable opinions, several of which have later been copied into the text of the Talmud. It seems to be commonly agreed that the Seburaim did not last longer than about sixty years. Hence, according to the chronology that we have followed in the preceding paragraphs, they cover the period from about 510 to 560 A.D. But Myer and others believe that the “opinionists” reached to about 650 A.D. The Talmud may be said to have been terminated for the second and last time with the Seburaim, and after this period Jewish lore necessarily differed from what it had been until then.

The Rabbis who followed the Seburaim are called Ge‘onim (plural of Ga‘on), i.e., illustrious ones. Some scholars are of opinion that the name Ga‘on was a mere symbol, its numerical value being sixty, by which number the Talmud was often indicated, since the treatises of the Mishna might be counted in such a manner as to amount to that number. Even if this conjecture is historically false, it indicates, at least, the real meaning of the title “Ga‘on.” He alone could claim this distinction who excelled in the knowledge of the Talmud. Formerly the knowledge of tradition (of both tenets and commentary) had been the requisite for an academic title; now the Talmud had supplanted tradition. The last Ga‘on seems to have been the renowned Rabbi Hai, who died about 1038 A.D. A little before this period (1036 A.D.) the Persian king had put to death the last Resh-Glutha, or prince of the captivity, who was Hezekiah, grandson of David-ben-Zaccai, of David’s royal blood. The Babylonian schools of Jewish learning were now closed forever, most of its Rabbis emigrating to the adjacent countries, and especially to Spain. The Jewish schools of Spain had even before this time enjoyed the privilege of having a Babylonian president. I. Myer, following the authority of Rabbi Abraham ben David Ha-Levi of Toledo, who wrote the Sepher Hakkabalah about 1160 A.D., tells us (Qabbalah, Phila., 1888, p. 5) that Rabbi Moses, a renowned member of the school of Sura, had been captured with three other distinguished Rabbis when sailing from Bari. Ibn Romahis, commander of the navy of Abd-er-Rahman an Nasr (912–961 A.D.), who had effected the capture, sold the four Rabbis as slaves. Moses was brought to Cordova in Spain, where he was ransomed as a supposed ignorant man. Rabbi Nathan, who taught in the Synagogue “Keneseth-ham-Midrash” at Cordova, soon discovered the attainments of Rabbi Moses, and yielded to him the leadership of the congregation. Moses’ son, R. Ha’noch, followed his father as leader of the Cordova school; it was this master who instructed Samuel hal-Levi ben Joseph Ibn Nagrela (han-Nagid), the illustrious prince-minister of Moorish Spain (from about 1027–1056 A.D.).

Samuel’s services to Jewish learning are too manifold to be described in this brief outline. He found time to compose several books on the Talmud, a Jewish history, books on proverbs, prayers, grammars, etc. He systematized a thorough correspondence with the most distinguished Jews of Syria, Egypt, Africa, Irak, and other parts of the civilized world. Numerous copies of the Talmud and the Old Testament were transcribed at his expense and presented to the poorer students. One of his most illustrious protégés was Solomon ben Jehudah Ibn Gebirol, or Avicebron, who was born at Malaga about 1021 A.D., educated at Saragossa, and died at Valencia about 1070. His poetry is written in Hebrew, his philosophy in Arabic. The Kether Malkuth (Crown of the Kingdom) holds, according to his own opinion, the first place among his numerous hymns. His treatise “On the Will” has been lost. In 1045 he wrote the Tikkun Middoth han-Nephesh (the correction of the manners or faculties of the soul). In consequence of several personal allusions found in this book, Ibn Gebirol had to leave Saragossa in 1046. Another celebrated philosophical treatise of the same author is Mekhor Chayyim, or the Source of Life, called in Latin De Materia Universali, or Fons Vitæ. Then followed, according to Myer (opus cit. p. 38), Jacob Nazir of Lunel, Abraham Ab-beth-din, Abraham ben David of Posquieres, Isaac the Blind of Beaucaire, Azriel and Ezra, Jehudah ben Yakar, Jacob ben Shesheth (about 1370 A.D.), Todros ben Joseph Hallevi Abulafia, Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia, Nachmanides, and others.

We must mention several other Rabbis of about the same period, who attained a greater name than these. Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, known also by the technical name Rashi and by his real or, as some think, fictitious family name, Yarchi. This latter name alludes to the French town Lunel. Yarchi was born at Troyes in France, about 1030 A.D.; he lived, according to some, to the age of 75, according to others to that of 64 years. Rabbi Jacob ben Yakar, and perhaps R. Gershom, were his teachers. Yarchi’s writings comprise commentaries on the entire Hebrew Bible, on the Talmud, and the Pirqé Aboth.

Another remarkable Rabbi, Judah ben Hallevi ben Samuel, was born about the end of the eleventh or the beginning of the twelfth century. He endeavored to spread learning, even the elementary knowledge of the Law, by means of poetry, in which he is said to have surpassed all the writers of his nation. At the age of fifty, after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he bewailed beneath the walls of Jerusalem the lamentable condition of his people, and was trampled to death under the hoofs of a mounted Arab’s horse. Judah ben Hallevi is probably the author of the Book Cosri, though this has been denied by several later writers on Jewish literature. The work is a defence of Rabbinical Judaism against Philosophy, Christianity, Mohammedanism, and Karaitism. Its form is almost a dialogue between King Chosar of the Chasars (probably Bulan) and R. Isaac Sangari, or Sanger.

R. Abraham ben Meir Ezra, or ben Meir ben Ezra, called Aben-Ezra (grandson of Ezra), was born about the beginning of the twelfth century. His mother was a sister of the above-mentioned Judah ben Hallevi, whose daughter he also married. Besides various other works he wrote commentaries on the entire Hebrew Bible; not only were the Arabic and Hebrew languages mastered by him, but the Rabbinical learning and the philosophy of his time were equally in his possession. Philosopher, astronomer, physician, poet, grammarian, Qabbalist and interpreter of Sacred Scripture as he was, he more than any Jewish Rabbi deserved the name “Hachakham” (the wise). He died at Rhodes, A.D. 1194.

The most illustrious contemporary of Aben-Ezra was R. Moses ben Maimon, generally called by the Jews Rambam, and by the learned in general “Maimonides.” Born A.D. 1139 at Cordova, he left his paternal home, while still a youth, because of some ill-usage that he had suffered from his father. He studied the Talmud in Lucena, and returned to Cordova only after attaining the age of manhood. Arabic, astronomy, mathematics, and medicine he learned in the school of Averroes, otherwise known as Abdallah Mohammed Ebn Omar Ebn Roshd. Maimonides wrote an explanation of the Mishna in Arabic; having followed in this work the dictates of philosophy rather than the principles of the Gemara, he was accused of heresy and had to seek refuge at Cairo, where he enjoyed the favor and protection of the illustrious Saladin. He spent eight years in composing his principal work, known by the names “Yad chazakah” (strong hand) and “Mishneh Torah” (repetition of the Law). A few years later Maimonides composed in Arabic his Delalith al Hairin; the Hebrew title of the work is “More hannebokhim” (guide of the perplexed). Here the difficulties of Sacred Scripture are solved, and its seeming contradictions explained, without the aid of Rabbinic tradition and fable. Hence a new cry of “heresy rose up against him in Spain; the book was publicly burned, its reading prohibited, and for forty years the Rabbinic world was split up in factions for and against Maimonides. The author, meanwhile, peacefully died at Cairo, at the age of 75 years, A.D. 1214.

Long before Rambam’s death was born R. David Kimchi, known by the abbreviated name Raddak. Several writers place his birth-place in Narbonne; Bartolocci asserts that his birth-place is entirely unknown; Wolf is of opinion that Raddak was a Spaniard by birth, and lived in France. The illustrious Joseph Kimchi was father, and the still more renowned Moses was brother, of David Kimchi. Whether David commented on the Pentateuch is doubtful; he wrote commentaries on the other parts of the Hebrew Bible, a Hebrew grammar, called Michlol, and a Lexicon, called Sepher Shorashim (book of roots). After several vain attempts to reconcile the friends and foes of Maimonides, whose valiant defender he was, David Kimchi died in Provence, A.D. 1240.

This line of doctors brings the Jewish tradition contained in the Zohar down to the time when even that book was made accessible to the public. For those scholars who deny its early authorship by the pupils of R. Simeon ben Yochai, especially R. Abba the Babylonian (see above), generally maintain that R. Mosheh Shem Tob de Leon (A.D. 1250–1305) composed the book with the intent of deceiving his readers concerning its real author. The whole discussion of the Zohar’s authenticity may be briefly read in Myer’s Qabbalah (Phila., 1888), chapters 1, 2, 3; see also Encyclopæd. Brit., edit. 9, vol. xvi. pp. 286 f., the Speaker’s Commentary, vol. iv. p. 388. If we, therefore, suppose even the most unfavorable view to be the true one, that the Zohar was not merely edited but forged by R. Mosheh de Leon, it still remains true that the book expresses the traditions received in all the Jewish schools of the time as the genuine teaching of their ancestors; how else can we account for the general veneration that was shown to the book from its first appearance? Concerning the authorities for and against the Zohar’s antiquity, see Myer’s Qabbalah, pp. 10 f.








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