As a Driven Leaf by Rabbi Milton Steinberg is one of the most successful Jewish historical novels ever published in English and certainly the most successful novel related to the Talmudic period. It has been a best-seller since 1940. For the past five years I have been editing a Hebrew translation entitled K’aleh Nidaf, which was co-published in May by the Schechter Institute and Yediot Sefarim and is now on sale at all major book stores in Israel. The Hebrew version contains a forty-page Appendix in which I tried to provide all of the sources quoted or hinted at in the book and explain the historical background.
The notes are now being published below in English for the first time in honor of the publication of the Hebrew edition and of the 75th anniversary of As a Driven Leaf. We are publishing them now shortly before Tisha B’av since the book transpires in the fateful period of Jewish history immediately after the Destruction of the Second Temple and a large portion of Part II is devoted to the Bar Kokhba Revolt which was finally crushed on Tisha B’av. I hope that the publication of these notes in English will help rabbis, teachers, professors and lay people better understand As a Driven Leaf and this crucial period of Jewish history and thought.
Rabbi Milton Steinberg’s classic work, As a Driven Leaf, contains numerous sources, many overt and many covert. The notes below have two objectives: to reveal the sources quoted or hinted at in the book, and to explain the historical background and the realia mentioned therein.
This is not an exhaustive effort to cite references on every subject; rather we have cited basic sources and a representative sampling of modern scholarship on the subject. We have referred primarily to literature in English in order to assist the average reader.
We hope that these notes will help the reader understand the book and delve into the subjects mentioned there. The sources below are divided by chapter with a catchword from the book. The page numbers in parentheses refer to the first edition –Bobbs-Merrill,New York, 1939 — which has been reprinted many times. The page numbers in square brackets refer to the Behrman House edition of 2015.
Alon – Gedaliah Alon, The Jews in Their Land in the Talmudic Age 70-640 CE, translated and edited by Gershon Levi, 2 volumes,Jerusalem, 1980-1984
Lieberman – Saul Lieberman, “Redifat Dat Yisrael” in: Meḥkarim B’torat Eretz Yisrael,Jerusalem, 1991, pp. 348-380
Finkelstein – Louis Finkelstein, Akiba: Scholar, Saint and Martyr,Philadelphia, 1936
Safrai – Shmuel Safrai, “The Jews in the Land of Israel (70-335 CE)” in: H.H. Ben-Sasson, editor, A History of the Jewish People, Cambridge, Mass., 1976, pp. 314-338
Stern – Menahem Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism, 3 volumes,Jerusalem, 1976-1984
EJ – Encyclopedia Judaica,Jerusalem, 1972
in a sweeping half-circle (p. 11) [p. 1]: Based on Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:3 –”The Sanhedrin was arranged like half of a round threshing floor”.
the town of Jamnia (p. 11) [p. 1]: Jamnia is Yavneh. Cf. the “vineyard in Yavneh” in Berakhot 63b and elsewhere.
Seventy members (p. 11) [p. 1]: According to Mishnah Sanhedrin 1:6, “The great Sanhedrin was made up of seventy one [judges]”.
On each forehead a phylactery gleamed (p. 11) [p. 1]: In the time of the Mishnah and Talmud, the Sages used to wear Tefillin throughout the day. See, for example, stories about Rabbi Eliezer (Sukkah 28a) and Rabbi Judah the Prince (Ketubot 104a, at top).
“Shall it be forbidden to a faithful Jew to study the tongue of the Greeks, to read their books… ?” (p. 11) [p. 1]: Based onYerushalmi Shabbat 6:1, fol. 7d; Yerushalmi Sotah 9:16, fol. 24c;Sotah 49b; and Tosefta Sotah 15:8, ed. Lieberman, p. 242; and cf. below, Part I, Chapter XIV, p. 136 [p. 122] and Part II, Chapter IV, p. 308 [p. 286].
No one knew the sum of his days (p. 12) [p. 2]: According toSifrei Devarim, Piska 357, ed. Finkelstein, p. 429, Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Zakkai lived to the age of 120, like Moses, Hillel and Rabbi Akiba.
coaxed from Vespasian permission to found an Academy in this place (p. 12) [p. 2]: Gittin 56b.
except for the bramble and briar through which jackals wailed of desolation to the moon (p. 12) [p. 2]: For the story about Rabbi Akiba and his friends who saw a fox on the destroyed Temple Mount, see Sifrei Devarim, Piska 43, ed. Finkelstein, p. 95 and Makkot 24b.
the vine leaves (p. 12): [p. 2] Based on the “vineyard in Yavneh” cited above.
in the spring of the last year of the reign of the Emperor Vespasian (p. 17) [p. 6]: i.e., in 79 CE.
in the Roman archives of the district of Galilee… on the outskirts of Migdal. (p. 17) [p. 6]: According to Yerushalmi Hagigah 2:1, fol. 77b, Elisha ben Abuya was born and circumcised in Jerusalem, not in Migdal. Cf. the Author’s Note below, p. 479 [p. 449].
Rabbi Eliezer… that is Rabbi Joshua (p. 18) [p. 7]: They were at Elisha b. Abuya’s circumcision according to Yerushalmi Hagigah, loc. cit. and parallels.
And now the other one, the ugly one… that is Rabbi Joshua, the wisest and kindliest of all the sages (p. 18) [p. 7]: On Rabbi Joshua’s ugliness, see Ta’anit 7a and Nedarim 50b: “Glorious wisdom in an ugly vessel” and cf. below, pp. 44 and 148 [pp. 32 and 134]. On his kindliness, see Mishnah Sotah 9:15: “When Rabbi Joshua died, goodness departed from the world”.
hills of Gilead (p. 24) [p. 12]: More correctly, theGolan Heights.
“Where do you come from?”… “And where are you going?” (p. 29) [p. 17]: This is probably an allusion to Avot 3:1.
there to break bread with the mourners (p. 37) [p. 25]: See II Samuel 3:35; Mishnah Mo’ed Kattan 3:7; Mishnah Sanhedrin 2:3.
of the barren mountains of Judea (p. 43) [p. 31] : Rabbi Joshua lived in Peki’in between Yavneh and Lod. See Tosefta Sotah 7:9, ed. Lieberman, p. 193 and Sanhedrin 32b.
because he is very poor… at his forge (p. 44) [p. 32] :According to Berakhot 28a, Rabbi Joshua was a “charcoal burner” and Rashi explains: “a maker of charcoal, and some say a smith”.
it is forbidden by the Law to accept compensation for instruction or for service in the Sanhedrin (p. 44) [p. 32]: See Nedarim 36b-37a and Maimonides, Hilkhot Talmud Torah 1:7;Ketubot 105a and Maimonides, Hilkhot Sanhedrin 23:5; and elsewhere.
He had never seen an uglier man. (p. 44) [p. 32]: This is based on Ta’anit 7a and Nedarim 50b. Cf. above, p. 18 [p. 7] and below, p. 148 [p. 134].
but also in pagan sciences and philosophy. (p. 45) [pp. 32-33] : According to Horayot 10a, at bottom, Rabbi Joshua was an expert in astronomy.
This is my pavilion of Solomon. (p. 45) [p. 33]: Song of Songs 1:5.
‘His mercies are over all His creatures.’ (p. 47) [pp. 34-35]:Psalms 145:9.
“Thou shalt not curse the deaf nor put a stumbling block before the blind.” (p. 48) [p. 36]: See Leviticus 19:14, and Sifraand Rashi ad loc.
In this courtyard a half-circle of chairs reserved for the sages (p. 50) [p. 38]: Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:3.
In the first three rows (p. 51) [p. 38]: ibid., 4:3-4.
styli and wax tablets (p. 51) [p. 38]: The Greeks and Romans used a stylus to etch notes on a wax tablet. In rabbinic literature, a wax tablet is called pinkas, which is a mispronunciation of the Greek word pinax. A wax table is mentioned, for example, inMishnah Kelim 17:17; 24:7 and Tosefta Shabbat 11:11, ed. Lieberman, p. 48. For an explanation and pictures, see Leila Avrin,Scribes, Script and Books, Chicago andLondon, 1991, pp. 143, 165-167 and plates 126-129, 135, 141.
Joshua took a position of distinction (p. 51) [p. 39] : On the rabbinic status of Rabbi Joshua, see Berakhot 27b-28a; MishnahRosh Hashanah 2:8-9; Bava Metzia 59b and elsewhere. According to Bava Kama 74b at bottom, Rabbi Joshua served as Av Bet Din(Head of Court) during the Patriarchate of Rabban Gamliel.
to invoke God’s blessing (p. 51) [p. 39]: For such a prayer in Aramaic in Babylon, about a century later, see Sanhedrin 7a, in the middle.
to minor angelic beings (p. 51) [p. 39]: See E. E. Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs,Jerusalem, 1975, pp. 159-163.
Was the Book of Ecclesiastes to be regarded as Sacred Writ… (p. 51) [p. 39]: See Shabbat 30b; Vayikra Rabbah 28:1, ed. Margaliyot, pp. 648-649.
Was the recitation of the vesper service to be treated as obligatory or as a voluntary religious expression? (p. 51) [p. 39]: In other words, is the Ma’ariv service obligatory or voluntary — see Berakhot 27b.
Was it an indirect violation of the law against usury… one sold to the other? (p. 51) [p. 39]: Maimonides, Hilkhot Malveh V’loveh 5:8 ff.
Might the restriction on labor on the Sabbath be waived in tending a sick person? (p. 51) [p. 39]: In other words, doesPikuah ̣Nefesh take precedence over Sabbath prohibitions — Yoma84b-85a.
even persecutors (p. 51) [p. 39]: Avot Derabi Natan, Version A, Chapter 16, ed. Schechter, p. 64.
may their light increase (p. 52) [p. 40]: Cf. שלומכן יסגא [May your peace increase] in Sanhedrin 11b.
Greetings of Peace and the Blessing of God. (p. 52) [p. 40]:Cf. תבוא עליכם ברכה in Eruvin 63b.
The man next to him was bald (p. 52) [p. 40]: Ben Azzai called Rabbi Akiba “this bald one” in Bekhorot 58a. Cf. below, p. 458 [p. 428].
I am a wood chopper by trade (p. 52) [p. 40]: According to Avot Derabi Natan, Version A, Chapter 6, ed. Schechter, p. 29, Akiba was wood seller; but according to Ketubot 62b-63a, he was a shepherd.
when I was thirty (p. 53) [p. 40]: It should say: forty. See Sifrei Devarim, Piska 357, ed. Finkelstein, p. 429; Avot Derabi Natancited in the previous note, p. 28.
being the one grown man in a class of children (p. 53) [p. 41]: See Avot Derabi Natan cited above, p. 29.
It would have been humiliating if both my wife and I had not desired it so much. (p. 53) [p. 41]: Regarding Rabbi Akiba’s wife, see Ketubot 62b-63a and Nedarim 50a.
“And I Akiba, the son of Joseph of Bnai Brak.” (p. 54) [p. 42]:Regarding Rabbi Akiba’s residence in Bnai Brak, see Sanhedrin32b.
Children, he told himself, must not be punished for the sins of their fathers. (p. 55) [p. 43]: Deuteronomy 24:16 and II Kings 14:6.
I have been to Rome before. (p. 56) [p. 44]: Gittin 58a and elsewhere.
with their intolerable taxes (p. 56) [p. 44]: Shabbat 33b and elsewhere.
Like our ancestor Jacob when he crossed the Jordan (p. 57) [p. 45]: Genesis 32:10.
to the left, Simeon ben Azzai, the right, Simeon ben Zoma. (p. 59) [p. 47]: Together with Elisha and Akiba, these are the “four [who] entered the orchard” – see the notes below, at the beginning of Chapter VIII, p. 80 [p. 68].
After all, you are two years past the time, which, the sages say, is proper for marriage. (p. 64) [p. 52]: Avot 5:21: “eighteen for marriage”.
you must have a wife who will be a helpmate. (p. 65) [p. 53]:See Genesis 2:18.
the playing of instruments at weddings had ceased (p. 71) [p. 59]: See Maimonides, Hilkhot Ta’anit 5:14.
“Virgin, chaste and fair,” they sang. (p. 71) [p. 59]: Based on “a bride, handsome and graceful” — Ketubot 17a.
With her crowned head (p. 71) [p. 59]: See Mishnah Sotah 9:14 – “the crowns of the brides”.
Disregarding the rice… which the guests showered upon her. (p. 72) [p. 59]: On throwing food at a wedding ceremony, seeBerakhot 50b; Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 171:4-5; Binyamin Adler, Hanisui’n Ke’hilkhatam, second edition, Jerusalem, 5745, pp. 370-371; Daniel Sperber, Minhagei Yisrael, Part 4,Jerusalem, 5755, pp. 150-156.
“Lo,” he pronounced, “thou art consecrated unto me… of Moses and Israel…” (p. 72) [p. 60]: Mishnah Kiddushin 3:1-2 and elsewhere.
the groomsmen, holding torches aloft (p. 72) [p. 60]: See Shmuel Glick, Or Nogah Aleihem, Efrat, 5757, pp. 97-106 for numerous sources related to this custom.
For a full week, … meals… in the banquet hall. (p. 72) [p. 60]:Ketubot 7b, at bottom, and elsewhere.
“By the sanctuary, Pappas,” (p. 73) [p. 61]: In antiquity, Jews used to swear by the Temple sanctuary – see Kiddushin 71a: היכלא! (in Aramaic). Cf. below, p. 399 [p. 373].
to hear the reading of the Scroll of Esther (p. 76) [p. 63]:“Everyone is obligated in the reading of the Megillah” – Arakhin 2b, at bottom, and Maimonides, Hilkhot Megillah 1:1.
the carnival. Costumes and masks… a play… (p. 76) [p. 63]:These customs did not exist in the time of the Mishnah; they were established during the Middle Ages. See, for example, Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 696:8.
Amram had just completed his death confessional. (p. 79) [p. 66]: See Shabbat 32a and Shulhan Arukh Yoreh De’ah, paragraph 338. Cf. below, p. 435 [p. 407].
“A fleeting dream…” (p. 79) [p. 66]: Job 20:8.
he turned his face to the wall (p. 79) [p. 67]: Based on II Kings 20:2.
… referring to them simply as “The Four.” (p. 80) [p. 68] :Based on the phrase “Four entered the orchard” – Tosefta Hagigah 2:3, ed. Lieberman, p. 381; Yerushalmi Hagigah 2:1, fol. 77b; and Hagigah 14b.
ben Azzai who had never married (p. 80) [p. 68]: Yevamot 63b. However, according to Ketubot 63a, Ben Azzai married the daughter of Rabbi Akiba. Cf. below, p. 197 [p. 179].
but I doubt that she will ever conceive again. (p. 81) [p. 69]:Rabbi Steinberg explains in the Author’s Note at the end of the book that he ignored the tradition that Elisha was survived by two daughters – see Yerushalmi Hagigah 2:1, fol. 77c.
Our host a woodcutter (p. 83) [p. 71]: According to Avot Derabi Natan, Version A, Chapter 6, ed. Schechter, p. 29.
theaters, arenas (p. 85) [p. 72]: See Megillah 6a and elsewhere. Cf. below, Chapter XIV, p. 136 [p. 122] and Part II, Chapter VII, p. 339 [p. 316].
‘Rejoice, young man… of thine eyes.’ (p. 85) [p. 73]:Ecclesiastes 11:9.
how such a Greek idea ever got into the head of a Palestinian Jew… (p. 85) [p. 73]: The author is hinting at the theory that the book of Ecclesiastes was written during the Hellenistic period.
prematurely gray hair. (p. 86) [p. 73]: See Berakhot 28a, at top.
Joshua, Akiba’s seventeen-year-old son (p. 86) [p. 74]: SeePesaḥim 112a and elsewhere.
he was the most highly reputed for the learning and ingenuity of his interpretations of Scripture. (p. 87) [p. 75]:See Mishnah Sotah 9:15 – “When Ben Azzai died, there were no more darshanim [creative interpreters of the Bible]”.
Rachel, Akiba’s wife (p. 87) [p. 75]: See Ketubot 62b-63a andNedarim 50a. Cf. Finkelstein, pp. 22-24.
the men reclining, the women seated upright (p. 87) [p. 75]:See Pesaḥim 108a. Indeed, this was the practice at the Hellenistic-Roman symposium. The men reclined in the main hall (triclinium), whereas the women and children sat upright in another room, except for professional escorts whom we will encounter in Part II of this book. See Rabbi Tuvia Friedman, Be’er Tuvia,Jerusalem, 5752, English section, pp. 52, 54.
Someone referred to the Patriarch… to take steps to limit his authority. (pp. 88-89) [p. 76] : On the tension between Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Joshua, see Mishnah Rosh Hashanah2:8-9 and Berakhot 27b-28a. On Rabbi Eliezer’s excommunication, see Bava Metzia 59b and Sanhedrin 68a.
that they had assigned him a seat on the first of the disciples’ benches (p. 90) [p. 78]: See Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:3-4 and Tosefta Sanhedrin 8:1-2, ed. Zuckermandel, p. 427.
he who converts an enemy into a friend… (p. 93) [p. 81]: Avot Derabi Natan, Version A, Chapter 23, ed. Schechter, p. 75.
like Gideon’s fleece (p. 96) [p. 84]: Judges 6:36-40.
still rested on the mountains of Gilead (p. 96) [p. 84]: More correctly: on theGolan Heights.
“Blessed are Thou … Who remembers Thy covenant with Noah.” (p. 96) [pp. 84-85]: This is the first version of the blessing which appears in Berakhot 59a.
Look at this paenula. (p. 97) [p. 85]: This is a rounded Roman garment with a covering for the head, similar to our contemporary poncho. See Daniel Sperber, Tarbut Ḥomrit B’eretz Yisrael Beyemei Hatalmud,Jerusalem, 1994, pp. 132-135.
but it is better-looking than your earlocks (p. 97) [p. 86]:Leviticus 19:27.
“A list of the points of disagreement… between the School of Hillel and that of Shammai…” (p. 98) [p. 86]: Mishnah Berakhot 8:1.
‘And when thou sendest him away…endow him…’ (p. 99) [p. 87]: Deuteronomy 15:13-14. According to these verses, the grant/quitclaims at the time of release is cattle, grain and wine.
why shouldn’t a man eat swine’s meat if he wants to? (p. 100) [p. 88]: The prohibition is found in Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8.
the corners of his field uncut for the poor? (p. 100) [p. 88]:Leviticus 19:9; 23: 22.
“selected by Meleager of Gadara.” (p. 102) [p. 90]: A Greek poet and philosopher born in Gadara, in Syria, who was a contemporary of Elisha ben Abuya. See The Oxford Classical Dictionary, second edition,Oxford, 1970, p. 667.
“Moses received the Law at Sinai…unto the men of the Great Synagogue…” (p. 103) [p. 91]: Avot 1:1. Cf. below, Part II, Chapter XVI, p. 433 [p. 405].
“In accordance with the will of God… establish Thou it.” (p. 104) [p. 91]: The ordination formula here is based on Sanhedrin5a and Bava Metzia 86a, at top. The verse at the end is from Psalms 90:17.
Elazar ben Azariah, the associate Patriarch (p. 104) [p. 92]:Based on the story in Berakhot 28a. Cf. below, Part II, Chapter III, pp. 288 and 307 [pp. 267 and 284].
to the seat which awaited him at the very end of the curving line. (p. 104) [p. 92]: Based on Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:3-4.
And then Elisha rose to deliver his ordination lecture. (p. 105) [p. 92]: Cf. Sanhedrin 7b for a story about a judge appointed for political reasons in the time of Resh Lakish (ca.250 C.E.), who did not know how to deliver such a lecture.
“Thou hast expounded well” (p. 105) [p. 93]: Cf. “he expounds well” in Ḥagigah 14b.
“It is like the locust plague of Joel.” (p. 107) [p. 94]: Joel 1:4. Cf. below, p. 405 [p. 379].
that he was descended from a noble pagan family (p. 107) [p. 95] : According to a legend found in Gittin 56a, Rabbi Meir came from a family of converts to Judaism descended from the Emperor Nero.
Meir, he had heard, was a scribe (p. 107) [p. 95]: Kohelet Rabbah 2:17, ed. Vilna, fol. 8c; Sotah 20a; Bereishit Rabbah 9:5, ed. Theodor-Albeck, p. 70; 20:12, p. 196; 94:9, pp. 1181-1182;Yerushalmi Ta’aniyot 1:1, fol. 64a, at top. Cf. below, p. 470 [p. 440].
The marshal, wand in hand (p. 108) [pp. 96-97]: According toSanhedrin 7b, a staff or wand is one of the judge’s tools, and Rashi explains: “to be used to mete out lashes”.
“Our God and God of our fathers… Amen.” (pp. 108-109) [pp. 96-97]: This prayer is based on Deuteronomy 16:20; Leviticus 19:15; Sanhedrin 7a, at bottom; and Isaiah 59:20. Cf. below, p. 427 [p. 399].
exhibiting an eye which had been blinded in a beating and asking for release from his covenanted years of service. (p. 109) [p. 97]: In keeping with Exodus 21:26.
on the grounds that their indebtedness was tainted with usury forbidden by Moses. (p. 109) [p. 97]: Exodus 22:24; Leviticus 25:36.
the Law of Bailments (p. 110) [p. 97]: Mishnah Bava Metzia 7:8 and many other sources.
over which the Sabbath angels hovered. (p. 111) [p. 98]: SeeShabbat 119b.
Meir’s wife… She was the daughter of the distinguished Rabbi Ḥanina ben Teradion… that her humor was fresh… (pp 111-112) [pp. 98-99]: On Beruriah’s knowledge, see Tosefta Kelim, Bava Kama 4:17 and Bava Metzia 1:6, ed. Zuckermandel, pp. 574 and 579. On her sense of humor, see Eruvin 53b, at bottom.
‘the beauty of Japheth in the tents of Shem.’ (p. 112) [p. 99]:Megillah 9b in a midrash on Genesis 9:27.
“It is Meir here with his blond hair who is a descendant of Japheth.” (p. 112) [p. 99]: According to Genesis 10:2, Yavan is the son of Japheth, and, as we have seen above (p. 107) [p. 95], Meir was descended from the Emperor Nero (Gittin 56a).
her two boys entering the room before her. (p. 113) [p. 100]:On the death of her two sons, see Midrash Mishlei, Chapter 31, which is cited below in Chapter XIII, p. 132 [p. 118].
that they did not yet attend school though they would begin the next year. (p. 113) [p. 100]: Based on Avot 5:21: “At five years — Bible”.
who, with his hands on their heads, blessed them. (p. 114) [p. 101]: This custom did not exist in the Mishnaic period. It is mentioned in Italy and in Ashkenaz in the 18th century. See Y.D. Eisenstein, Otzar Dinim U’Minhagim, New York, 1917, pp. 56-57, s.v. “Birkat habanim”.
Since the court was to be under lay auspices (p. 119) [p. 106]: See Maimonides, Hilkhot Sanhedrin 5:8.
if he cannot get justice here, he will go to the Roman courts for it. (p. 119) [p. 106]: According to the Sages, a Jew must seek redress in a Jewish court and he is prohibited from seeking judgment in a non-Jewish court – see Rabbi Tarfon in Gittin 88b; Maimonides, Hilkhot Sanhedrin 26:7; Shulḥan Arukh, Ḥoshen Mishpat 26:1.
That man must work to live was God’s ordinance to Adam. (p. 121) [p. 108]: See Genesis 3:19.
“Unto Me are the children of Israel servants” (p. 122) [p. 109]: Leviticus 25:55.
“The laborer shall be free to quit even at high noon.” (p. 122) [p. 109]: See Rav in Bava Metzia 10a (and parallels), as well as Maimonides, Hilkhot Sekhirut 9:4, at length.
“… the laborers are free of responsibility for any damages…” (p. 125) [p. 111]: The dispute between Elisha and Shraga in this chapter is based on halakhic literature. See the lengthy discussion by Maimonides, loc. cit.
“I shall appeal to the Sanhedrin” (p. 125) [p. 112]: On appeals in Jewish law, see Shalom Albeck, Batei Hadin Beeyemei Hatalmud, Ramat Gan, 1981, pp. 47-48, 117-122 and Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau,Yaḥel Yisrael, Part 3,Jerusalem, 2003, No. 22.
as in obedience to a formal ban. No one conversed or traded with him. (p. 128) [p. 115]: See Maimonides, Hilkhot Talmud Torah 7:4-5. Regarding the reasons for excommunication or banning, see ibid. 6:12-14.
blood lettings (p. 131) [p. 116]: This was a common medical procedure in the time of the Mishnah and Talmud. See Berakhot60a, at bottom, and Julius Preuss, Biblical and Talmudic Medicine,New York, 1978, pp. 248-257.
“God is just and merciful” (p. 131) [p. 117] : Psalms 116:5.
descended the three steps to a depression before the Ark (p. 131) [p. 117]: This is based on the Talmudic expression describing the shliaḥ tzibbur [leader of the prayer service] as one who ירד לפני התיבה — “descended before the ark”. See, for example,Rosh Hashanah 32a and Rashi ad loc., catchword ירד; and Ze’ev Weiss, Cathedra 55 (1990), pp. 8-21.
“Out of the depths have I called upon thee, O Lord.” (p. 131) [p. 117]: Psalms 130:1, and this is how the verse is expounded inBerakhot 10b.
he called forth the invitation to prayer. (p. 131) [p. 117] : This refers to Barekhu, which is recited at the beginning of Ma’ariv, the evening service.
when Beruriah began spinning out a parable. (p. 132) [p. 118] : Based on Midrash Mishlei, Chapter 31, ed. Visotzky, pp. 190-192.
“The Lord hath given… the Lord hath taken away.” (p. 133) [p. 119] : Job 1:21.
“Blessed be the righteous Judge.” (p. 133) [p. 119]: This is what is recited upon hearing “bad tidings” (Mishnah Berakhot 9:2), especially after hearing of the death of a relative.
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (p. 135) [p. 121]: Ezekiel 18:4, 20.
“Of things too wonderful for me… Wherefore I abhor my words and recant.” (p. 135) [p. 121]: Job 42:3, 6.
“It is not in our power… of the righteous.” (p. 135) [p. 121] :Avot 4:15.
“there is too little of faith among us.” (p. 135) [p. 121]: Cf.Mishnah Sotah 9:12 – “When the Temple was destroyed… people of faith ceased”. Cf. Shabbat 119b.
“The time has come to act on the Lord’s behalf.” (p. 136) [p. 122]: Psalms 119:126 and Mishnah Berakhot 9:5.
I insist that here and now we impose an interdict upon the study of the Greek tongue and upon the cultivation of pagan wisdom. (p. 136) [p. 122]: Based on Yerushalmi Shabbat6:1, fol. 7d; Yerushalmi Sotah 9:16, fol. 24c; Sotah 49b; andTosefta Sotah 15:8, ed. Lieberman, p. 242. Cf. above, in the Prologue, p. 11 [p. 1] and below, p. 308 [p. 286].
‘Peace, peace,’ when there was no peace? (p. 136) [p. 122] :Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11.
sitting in circuses: (p. 136) [p. 122] : See above, Chapter VIII, p. 85 [p. 72] and below Part II, Chapter VII, p. 339 [p. 316].
lounging all night in drunken symposiums (p. 136) [p. 122]:The Hellenistic symposium was a meal lasting late into the night where they drank a lot of wine and discussed philosophical and scientific questions. See descriptions below in Part II, Chapters I and V. Indeed, the Passover seder is based on the format of the Hellenistic symposium, but the content is completely different — see David Golinkin, Insight Israel, second series, Jerusalem, 2006, pp. 68-76.
that the day when Scripture was done into Greek was as grievous a day for Israel as that on which our ancestors erected the Golden Calf. (p. 137) [p. 122]: Massekhet Soferim1:7, ed. Higger, pp. 101-102.
‘Make a fence about the Law’ (p. 137) [p. 123] : Avot 1:1.
‘let the light go forth to the Gentiles.’ (p. 137) [p. 123]: Based on Isaiah 60:3: “And nations shall walk in your light”, and elsewhere.
truth is the seal of God. (p. 138) [p. 123] : Shabbat 55a and parallels.
We have been taught… the first, the middle and the last letters of the alphabet spell its name – Emeth. (p. 138) [pp. 123-124]: Shabbat 104a and Rashi ad loc., catchword אמת.
the scrip which fell from Heaven… Truth. (p. 138) [p. 124] :Yoma 69b.
They have plotted the movements of the stars (p. 138) [p. 124]: Regarding Rabbi Joshua’s argument here, that the Greek discoveries in the natural sciences should be accepted, cf. Maimonides Hilkhot Kiddush Haḥodesh 17:24.
‘In all thy ways know Him.’ (p. 139) [p. 124] : Proverbs 3:6.
Does Joshua forget that scene in the Forum at Rome… in the winter’s air? (pp. 139-140) [p. 125] : For stories about Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua in Rome, see Yerushalmi Sanhedrin7:19, fol. 25d and Bereishit Rabbah 13:9, ed. Theodor-Albeck, p. 118. But the story related here happened to the Amora Rabbi Joshua ben Levi – see ibid. 33:1, pp. 300-301 and the parallels to that story.
who, as the most recently elected among them, must vote first. (p. 141) [p. 126]: Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:2 states that when it comes to capital cases, “they begin from the side”, i.e., with the judges who are sitting on the side, so that the newer ones will not be influenced by the veterans.
Antipatris. (p. 141) [p. 127]: A city that Herod built and named after his father, Antipater; it is mentioned in Josephus and in Talmudic literature. Its remains are next to the town ofRosh Ha’ayin.
“As one was felling a beam… and the iron did swim…” (p. 144) [pp. 129-130] : II Kings 6:5-6.
what became of all the miracles of Scripture… with the breath of a prophet’s lips (p. 144) [p. 130] : Exodus 3:2; ibid. 15:28-29; I Kings 18:38; II Kings 4:35.
The Emperor Trajan… this war with the Parthians. (p. 145) [p. 131]: Emperor Trajan, born in Spain in 53 CE, ruled from 98-117 CE. In 116 he conquered Ctesiphon, the capital of Parthia. At the end of his life, the Jews in Egypt, Cyprus and elsewhere rebelled against him and he suppressed the rebellion – see Alon, Vol. II, pp. 325-429.
The victory over the Dacians… on a shaft of stone (p. 146) [p. 132]: In 101-102 and 105-106 CE. Trajan’s column was built in 113 CE and still stands inRome; it is35 meters high.
that ugly fellow over there”… that so much good sense could be deposited in so ugly a person. (p. 148) [p. 134]: This is based on Ta’anit 7a and Nedarim 50b. Cf. above, pp. 18 and 44 [pp. 7 and 32].
“Then you shall have it. It is so ordered.” (p. 149) [p. 134]:There are conflicting sources regarding which Emperor allowed the Jews to rebuild theTemple – see Finkelstein, pp. 218-219 and 313-316; Alon, Vol. II, pp. 435-460; and the notes below at the beginning of chapter XIX, p. 189 [p. 171].
Blessed be God who is good and doeth beneficently. (p. 150) [p. 136]: This is the blessing that is recited over good news – see Mishnah Berakhot 9:2.
to offset the influence of a group of Sadducees (p. 151) [p. 137]: According to Josephus, the Sadducees did not believe in the immortality of the soul – see The Jewish War II, 8, 14, paragraph 165, ed. Loeb, Vol. II, p. 387 and Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, 1, 4, paragraph 16, ed. Loeb, Vol. IX, p. 13.
with its kindling of lamps, increasing in number on each of eight nights (p. 152) [p. 137]: According to Bet Hillel’s opinion inShabbat 21b.
and the four men greeted one another in a flurry of conversation. (p. 159) [p. 144]: Regarding “four entered the orchard”, see the notes above at the beginning of Chapter VIII, p. 80 [p. 68].
as Moses did, face to face. (p. 161) [p. 146] : Deuteronomy 34:10.
who was to travel to Caesarea to purchase the Greek books they would require (p. 162) [p. 147]: Caesarea was the capital of Roman Palestine. A large percentage of the residents were pagans and they, as well as the Jews there, spoke mainly Greek. See Yerushalmi Sotah 7:1, fol. 21b, on the recitation of the Shemain Greek in Caesarea. Likewise, Tosefta Ohalot 18:16-17, ed. Zuckermandel, p. 617, cites a ruling that Caesarea is not part of the Land of Israel as far as the laws of shemitah and tithes, because most of the residents were pagans.
where a battered roadside Hermes stood amid the mound of stones thrown in his honor by pious travelers (p. 164) [p. 149]: The Roman name for Hermes was Mercury and the Sages referred to him as Merkulis. This practice of “he that throws a stone at a Merkulis” is mentioned in Mishnah Sanhedrin 7:6; Avodah Zarah 4:1 and elsewhere. Also cf. below, beginning of Chapter XXIV, p. 227 [p. 207].
or sow your mind with dragons’ teeth? (p. 169) [p. 154]: In the Greek myth of the Golden Fleece, Cadmus, the founder ofThebes, killed a dragon and sowed its teeth. They turned into armed soldiers who killed each other, except for five of them. “Sowing dragons’ teeth” means planting the seeds of destruction and conflict that will harm both the planter and others.
Meantime the Agathos Daimon go with these books (p. 169) [p. 154]: In ancient Greek religion, Agathos Daimon is a demon or spirit of the vineyards and wheat fields as well as a personal guardian spirit of sorts, comparable to the Roman “genius”. It ensures luck, health and wisdom. Cf. below, p. 337 [p. 313].
reciting mechanically with each act the blessing of thanksgiving prescribed by the Law. (p. 170) [p. 155]: This refers to Birkhot Hashaḥar, the early morning blessings, which were originally recited at home, with each blessing connected to a specific action – see Berakhot 60b.
The rabbis and their disciples were well-trained mathematicians (p. 171) [p. 156]: See for example, Avot 3:18 as well as Eruvin 14b; 41b; 43b; and 76b.
His movement dislodged the tablet in his bosom. (p. 172) [p. 157]: See Ḥagigah 16b, at bottom: “They said of Aḥer, while he was standing in the Bet Midrash, many heretical books would fall from his bosom”.
the report of Trajan’s edict (p. 174) [p. 158] : See above, Chapter XV.
reached the colonnaded synagogue of Alexandria… so that worshipers in the rear might know when to respond with the prescribed Amen. (p. 174) [p. 158]: Tosefta Sukkah 4:6, ed. Lieberman, p. 273; Yerushalmi Sukkah 5:1, fol. 55a; and Sukkah51b.
“I will give thanks unto Thee… I love the Lord… my supplication.” (p. 174) [p. 158]: Psalms 118:21; 116:1.
The house of Autemaus (p. 175) [p. 159]: In Hebrew: בית אבטינס. See Mishnah Shekalim 5:1; Yoma 1:5 and 3:11; and elsewhere. For more on their “esoteric formulae”, see Yoma 38a.
The family which had baked the show-bread (p. 175) [p. 159]:This refers to the House of Garmu – see Mishnah Shekalim 5:1.
days associated with its destruction (p. 175) [p. 159]: Mishnah Ta’anit 4:6.
That very night the tidings strode from hilltop to hilltop… in flaming beacons to the dispersions… (p. 176) [p. 160]: On this method of communicating between the Land of Israel and the Diaspora, see Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 2:2-4.
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.” (p. 176) [p. 160]: Isaiah 2:3 = Micah 4:2.
“I rejoiced when they said unto me, ‘Let us go up to the house of the Lord.’ ” (p. 178) [p. 162]: Psalms 122:1.
a land… which had vomited forth its inhabitants. (p. 179) [p. 162]: An allusion to Leviticus 18:25.
near Emmaus where once Judah the Maccabee had won a great victory (p. 179) [p. 162] : Emmaus was an important city at the foot of the Judean Hills, where the plain begins. OnJudah the Maccabee’s great victory there, see I Maccabees 3:38-4:25.
an ancient Song of Ascents. (p. 179) [p. 162] : Psalm 126.
recited the abbreviated morning service allowed for those engaged in travel (p. 179) [p. 163] : This refers to Havinenu(Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayyim 110:1) or to Tzorkhei amekha merubim (ibid. 110:3).
Across the valley and beyond the Sacred Mountain towered the Akra… (p. 179) [p. 163] : The Akra was built by Antiochus Epiphanes in 169 BCE and was destroyed by Simon ben Mattathias in 141 CE. Its location is still unknown. On the other hand, perhaps the author meant the Antonia Fortress, which was built by Herod in 35 BCE. Cf. below, pp. 189 and 192 [pp. 171 and 174].
“How doth she sit desolate… the Princess among kingdoms!…” (p. 180) [p. 164]: Lamentations 1:1.
“Weeping hath endured for the night. Joy hath come with the morning.” (p. 180) [p. 164]: Psalms 30:6. That chapter opens with the words: “A Psalm of David; a song for the dedication of the House”.
“Blessed art Thou… who is good and who doeth beneficently.” (p. 180) [p. 164]: This is the blessing recited over good news – see Mishnah Berakhot 9:2.
“Blessed art Thou… who buildeth Jerusalem anew. Amen.” (p. 180) [p. 164]: This resembles the 14th blessing in the weekdayAmidah and the third blessing in Birkat Hamazon [Grace after Meals].
At its crest they stopped, recalling the injunction which forbade Jews to walk upon the site of the ruined shrine… was permitted. (pp. 180-181) [p. 164]: The author may have been influenced here by the rulings of some 20th century rabbis. We know, however, from numerous sources that many Talmudic Sages and medieval rabbis entered and walked around the Temple Mount. See David Golinkin, Responsa in a Moment, Vol. II,Jerusalem, 2011, pp. 143-146.
the golden screen (p. 181) [p. 164] : See Mishnah Middot 2:3.
to the Stone of Foundation… bound Isaac (p. 181) [p. 165]:For similar, but not identical midrashim see Rabbi M.M. Kasher,Torah Shleimah to Bereishit 22, pp. 902-903.
and where once a year the High Priest had offered the sacrifice of atonement. (p. 181) [p. 165]: See Mishnah Yoma5:2-5.
who had begun the erection of a shrine to Capitoline Jupiter. (p. 181) [p. 165]: It was called Aelia Capitolina. See Alon, Vol. II, pp. 442-448, 582 ff., 588 ff.; EJ, Vol. 2, cols. 319-320; and Stern, Vol. II, pp. 392, 395.
“Can anything be too wonderful for God?” (p. 181) [p. 165]:Genesis 18:14.
he would never have entered upon his researches into Gnostic doctrines. (p. 184) [p. 167]: Gnostic doctrines are hinted at in rabbinic literature. See, for example, Mishnah Berakhot5:3 and Megillah 4:9 — “If one said… we give thanks, we give thanks, they silence him”, and the Talmud explains (Megillah 25a) that it sounds as if there are “two authorities”.
“And the spirit of God hovered” (p. 186) [p. 168]: Genesis 1:2.
“Let us make man in our image…” (p. 186) [p. 169]: Genesis 1:26.
“The four creatures… and their rims were full of eyes.” (p. 186) [p. 169]: Ezekiel 1:5, 6, 16, 18.
“… a firmament… in the day of rain…” (p. 186) [p. 169]:Ezekiel 1: 22, 26, 28.
‘The ox knoweth his master… my people doth not understand.’ (p. 187) [p. 170]: Isaiah 1:3.
Aquilas, the proselyte (p. 189) [p. 171]: According to Christian sources and one midrash, Aquilas of Pontus was a relative ofEmperor Hadrian; the latter appointed him to oversee the construction of the city of Aelia Capitolina on top of the ruins of the city of Jerusalem. On the other hand, numerous Talmudic sources relate that Aquilas the proselyte translated the Torah into Greek during the time of Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua – see Y.D. Eisenstein, Otzar Yisrael, Part 8, pp. 121-122. The author processed all this information and transformed Aquilas the proselyte into the supervisor of the construction of the Templeduring the reign of Emperor Trajan. See a thorough discussion in Alon, Vol. II, pp. 442-448.
Even David… because, as a warrior, he had spilled blood. (p. 189) [p. 171]: See I Chronicles 22:8; 28:3.
Withdrawing his gaze from distant Akra (p. 189) [p. 171]: See above in the notes to Chapter XVII, p. 179 [p. 163] and cf. p. 192 [p. 174].
Who appointed you ruler and judge in Israel? (p. 192) [p. 174]: Based on Exodus 2:14.
‘Behold I go forward… that I cannot see Him.’ (p. 197) [p. 179]: Job 23:8-9.
Wherefore I… denied myself the desire for woman (p. 197) [p. 179]: See Yevamot 63b and cf. above, p. 80 [p. 68].
‘Be fruitful and multiply’ (p. 197) [p. 179]: Genesis 1:28.
For I had mistaken the demiurgic world-soul for God. (p. 197) [p. 179]: The Gnostics used the term Demiurge to describe the creator of the physical world who is subordinate to the Supreme God. Cf. below, p. 317 [p. 295].
“The winter is going… my perfect one!” (p. 198) [p. 180]: See Song of Songs 2:11-12; 5:2.
‘And God saw all which He had made and behold, it was good.’ (p. 198) [p. 180]: Genesis 1:31.
for no man may see Thee and live. (p. 198) [p. 180]: Based on Exodus 33:20.
“He is dead” (p. 198) [p. 180]: According to Ḥagigah 14b: “Our rabbis taught: four entered the orchard… Ben Azzai peeked and died…”.
“Blessed be the Righteous Judge.” (p. 198) [p. 180]: The blessing recited over bad news (Mishnah Berakhot 9:2), especially when someone dies.
and that an army was gathering at Beth Rimmon. (p. 200) [pp. 181-182]: In the centralLower Galilee, northeast of Sepphoris. Kibbutz Beit Rimmon was established there in 1977. Cf. below, Chapter XXII, pp. 205-213 [pp. 186-194].
See how many Gentiles have been converted to your religion. (p. 200) [p. 182]: See Rabbi Tuvia Friedman, Be’er Tuvia,Jerusalem, 5752, Hebrew section, p. 34 and the references there.
One of the sages… and acts of mercy. (p. 200) [p. 182]: Avot1:18, 2.
‘Wherefore… hidest Thou Thyself from me? Wilt Thou harass a driven leaf?’ (p. 202) [p. 184]: Job 13:24-25. The book’s title is based on this verse.
From crest to crest… valley of Beth Rimmon (p. 205) [p. 186]:This chapter is based on a detailed story that appears in Galilean Aramaic in Bereishit Rabbah 64:10, ed. Theodor-Albeck, pp. 710-712. It features a decree by the rulers [=Rome] to rebuild the Temple; Pappus and Lulianus [=Julianus] who lead the effort to rebuild the Temple; a change made by the Romans to sabotage the plan; a large gathering in the valley of Beth Rimmon; and Rabbi Joshua who calms the people with the aid of a parable about an Egyptian Korei (a type of bird) and a lion. For an English translation of the story, see H. Freedman, Midrash Rabbah, Vol. II,London andNew York, 1983, pp. 579-580. For an historical analysis of the story, see Alon, Vol. II, pp. 436-441.
“I beat my ploughshare into a sword” (p. 205) [p. 186]: This is a reversal of the verse “and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares” – Isaiah 2:4 = Micah 4:3.
Julianus of Tarsus (p. 206) [p. 187]: This refers to Lulianus who appears with Pappus in the above-mentioned story in Bereishit Rabbah. See the notes of Theodor-Albeck, ibid., for a compendium of all the sources about Pappus and Lulianus. The author apparently decided that Julianus was an assimilated Jew on the basis of his Greek name. On Pappus and Lulianus, see Finkelstein, pp. 231-234, 313-316; Alon, Vol. II, pp. 420-423; EJ,Vol. 13, col. 69.
“It is not the Jews of Palestine alone who strike… in Asia Minor and Syria. (p. 208) [p. 189]: This is a description of the “Revolt against Trajan”, which erupted in the places mentioned in 115-117 CE – see the last note to this chapter, p. 213.
The Jew tax is no more. (p. 210) [p. 190]: This refers to thefiscus judaicus which Emperor Vespasian levied on the Jews after the Destruction of theSecondTemple. Emperor Nerva annulled the tax in 96 CE, but there are hints that it lasted until the early third century.
“Who has appointed them princes and judges in Israel?” (p. 210) [p. 191]: Based on Exodus 2:14.
“Once the lion fell ill of a bone… and that it is still on your neck.” (p. 211) [pp. 191-192]: This parable is taken fromBereishit Rabbah, loc.cit., pp. 711-712.
There is an old tradition… because they sought to anticipate the end. (p. 211) [p. 192]: See Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, Vol. III,Philadelphia, 1911, pp. 8-9 and Vol. VI, 1928, pp. 2-3.
to your tents, O Israel (p. 211) [p. 192]: Based on II Samuel 20:1.
So an insurrection was averted in Palestine. But in Egypt, Cyrenaica and Cyprus… the Jews weaker (p. 213) [pp. 193-194]: On the wars waged by the Jews in the Diaspora during the reign of Trajan, see Alon, Vol. II, pp. 382-430.
the reader omitted the passage recently inserted by the Sanhedrin against dissenters (p. 214) [p. 195]: This refers toBirkat Haminim, the 12th benediction in the Amidah prayer. In the Ashkenazi version it is known as velamalshinim, due to Christian censorship in the Middle Ages. According to Berakhot 28b, this benediction against heretics was formulated by Rabbi Gamliel in Yavneh and Shmuel Hakattan was the one chosen to institute the benediction. See EJ, Vol. 4, cols. 1035-1036 and Ruth Langer,Cursing the Christians?,Oxford, 2011.
he declaimed the Ten Commandments… only this need be observed. (p. 214) [p. 195]: According to Mishnah Tamid 5:1 this was a fixed part of the morning prayers in the Temple, but “they already abolished them due to the complaints of the heretics” (Berakhot 12a). The parallel passage in Yerushalmi Berakhot 1:4, fol. 3c states that it is not “read on account of the claims of the heretics, lest [they] say that only these [commandments] were given to Moses at Sinai”. See David Golinkin, Insight Israel, second series,Jerusalem, 2006, pp. 142-147.
the sages insist on confusing us with the followers of Paul who are mainly Gentiles (p. 216) [p. 197]: The author stresses here the difference between Jewish Christians who observed themitzvot and pagan Christians who did not observe most of themitzvot.
At one time Eliezer the son of Hyrcanus was very friendly to us. (p. 216) : [p. 197] See Avodah Zarah 16b: “Our Sages taught: when Rabbi Eliezer was arrested for minut [heresy]” etc.
the wine of the Gentiles. (p. 218) [p. 199]: Regarding idolatrous wine and Gentile wine which might have been dedicated to an idol, see Avodah Zarah 31a and Maimonides, Hilkhot Ma’akhalot Asurot, Chapter 11.
“it is not what goes into the mouth but what comes out of it that defiles the spirit.” (p. 218) [p. 199]: This is a paraphrase of Matthew 15:11.
But that is because… by a new dispensation of our Savior. (pp. 218-219) [p. 199]: See Epistle to the Hebrews 8: 8, 13.
“Let us make man in our image” (p. 219) [p. 200]: Genesis 1:26.
“behold a virgin” or “behold a young woman shall conceive and give birth to a son.” (p. 219) [p. 200]: Isaiah 7:14. These are two possible translations of the word almah.
I once argued these matters with Rabbi Tarfon (p. 219) [p. 200]: See Yerushalmi Berakhot 9:1, folio 12d for the debate between Rabbi Simlai and the heretics regarding the verse “Let usmake man”. Rabbi Tarfon said that if he were to come across heretical books, he would burn them – Tosefta Shabbat 13:5, ed. Lieberman, p. 58 and Shabbat 116a.
a stiff-necked people. (p. 219) [p. 200]: Exodus 32:9 and elsewhere.
on a marble pillar of Hermes (p. 227) [p. 207]: See above in the notes to Chapter XVI, p. 164 [p. 149].
“From the earth to the firmament is a distance of five hundred years’ journey. (p. 228) [p. 208]: Ḥagigah 13a and parallels.
And the upper firmament… of his fluttering wings. (p. 228) [p. 208]: This section is based on a conversation between Rabbi Joshua and Ben Zoma. See Bereishit Rabbah 2:4, ed. Theodor-Albeck, pp. 17-18: Tosefta Ḥagigah 2:6, ed. Lieberman, pp. 381-382; Yerushalmi Ḥagigah 2:1, fol. 77a, at bottom: and Ḥagigah15a.
‘The spirit of God hovered.’ (p. 228) [p. 208]: Genesis 1:2.
V’noshantem ba-aretz. ‘Ye shall grow old in the land.’ (p. 228) [p. 208]: Deuteronomy 4:25 together with Midrash Aggadah, ed. Buber, ad loc.
“surely Friendship… pomegranate… Who gives a thought to the rind?” (p. 231) [p. 211]: Based on Ḥagigah 15b. My thanks to Dr. Gila Vachman for this reference.
“That love… that love which is beyond circumstance abideth forever.” (p. 231) [p. 211]: Avot 5:16.
M. Lusius Quietus (p. 235) [p. 215]: Lusius Quietus who is referred to as Kitos in rabbinic literature (Mishnah Sotah 9:14, according to the manuscripts; Seder Olam Rabbah, Chapter 30, ed. Milikowsky, p. 323), was a Berber prince fromMauritania (modern-dayAlgeria). He was an outstanding general in Trajan’s wars inDacia andParthia. As a reward, he was appointed the Roman governor inJudea and there he fought against Jewish rebels in Lydda (Lod) during the Revolt against Trajan. He was killed by order of the Senate in 118 CE after Hadrian rose to power. See Finkelstein, pp. 232, 234; Alon, Vol. II, pp. 413-420; and Safrai, p. 330.
that fellow Julianus and the others. (p. 235) [p. 215]: See above, notes to Chapter XXII, p. 206 [p. 187].
to restore the bloody body of Julianus… torture of him. (p. 237) [p. 217]: On the deaths of Pappus and Lulianus for the sanctification of God’s name, see ibid.
to offer last ministrations to the condemned. (p. 237) [p. 217]: Cf. Mishnah Sanhedrin 6:2 and Sanhedrin 43a, where there is a discussion of the Viduy (confession of sins) recited by a Jew who was sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin.
Once the residence of the Herodian family (p. 238) [p. 218]:King Herod built the city of Caesarea from 25-13 BCE – see Josephus, Antiquities, XV, 9, 6, paragraph 331 ff., ed. Loeb, Vol. VIII, p. 159 and The Jewish War I, 21, 5-8, paragraphs 408-415, ed. Loeb, Vol. II, pp. 193-197.
Elisha rose and began to walk up and down the length of the columned porch (p. 240) [p. 220]: Aristotle’s school of philosophy was called the Peripatetic school after the colonnades of the Lyceum inAthens, but there is a legend that it was so called because Aristotle would lecture as he paced back and forth.
You may remember a lecture in which I asserted, ‘All is foreseen by God, yet man possesses freedom of will’. (pp. 241-242) [p. 221]: Rabbi Akiba said this in Avot 3:15.
a darkening of counsel (p. 243) [p. 223]: The phrase is taken from Job 38:2.
Turn back (p. 244) [p. 224]: Rabbi Meir said this to Aḥer, i.e., to Elisha ben Abuya, in Ḥagigah 15a. There is a similar story inYerushalmi Ḥagigah 2:1, fol. 77c, at top. Cf. below, pp. 468 and 474 [pp. 437 and 444].
“A father is obligated… a trade” (p. 245) [p. 225]: Kiddushin29a.
who assembled at the villa of Simeon, Gamliel’s son (p. 247) [p. 227]: Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel, the son of Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh, was the Patriarch in Usha after the Bar Kochba revolt — see Alon, Vol. II, pp. 666 ff. But cf. below, Part II, Chapter XIX, pp. 454-455 [pp. 424-425] where the author describes the death of Rabbi Simeon, following a medieval piyyut.
“Be careful to send the mother bird away.” (p. 248) [p. 228]:As per the commandment of shiluaḥ haken, to drive the mother bird away from the nest before taking her offspring – Deuteronomy 22:6-7.
“That boy will live long,”… and dangling head of the dead child. (pp. 248-249) [p. 228]: This story is based on Rabbi Ya’akov’s words in Kiddushin 39b = Ḥullin 142a. The verses that appear there as well are from Deuteronomy 5:15; 22:6-7. There is a similar story about Elisha ben Abuya in Yerushalmi Ḥagigah 2:1, fol. 77b, at bottom.
“Blessed be the Righteous Judge.” (p. 249) [p. 229]: This is the blessing recited upon hearing “bad tidings” (see Mishnah Berakhot 9:2), especially after someone dies.
but let us remember that there is a better world, in which it is all day, a day that stretches for eternity. (p. 250) [p. 229]:This too appears in Kiddushin 39b = Ḥullin 142a.
There is no Judge. There is no Judgment. (p. 250) [p. 230]:This is based on a common expression in Midrashic literature – “leit din veleit dayan” [there is no justice and no judge].
That very morning he had received the third in a series of letters (p. 251) [p. 231]: Regarding this tendency to avoid excommunicating a Sage who sinned, see Maimonides, Hilkhot Talmud Torah 7:1.
he would be tried by his colleagues as an infidel and rebellious elder. (p. 251) [p. 231]: “An infidel” is probably akofer, but what Elisha stated at the end of Chapter XXVI does not correspond to the various definitions of kofer that appear in the Maimonides, Hilkhot Teshuvah 3:8. “A rebellious elder” is a zaken mamre (Mishnah Sanhedrin 11:1-2), but that term also doesn’t fit Elisha’s heresy.
Go out and be shoemakers… merchants. (p. 252) [p. 232]:See Yerushalmi Ḥagigah 2:1, fol. 77b.
“How long could I live on my dower money? (p. 255) [p. 235]:The Sages enacted the ketubah [marriage contract] so that a wife would receive the sum stipulated there in the event that the husband divorced her – see Maimonides, Hilkhot Ishut 10:7 and many other sources.
and tried to write a bill of divorcement. (p. 256) [p. 236]: See Deuteronomy 24:1 for the Biblical source for a bill of divorce and Maimonides, Hilkhot Gerushin 4:12 for the wording of a bill of divorce in Maimonides’ time.
“Tobias, Uriel,”…“You will attest these documents… You will serve as witnesses of their delivery.” (p. 256) [p. 236]:See Maimonides, ibid. 1:1, 15, 18.
The sheet slipped… and fluttered to the floor. (p. 257) [p. 236]: See ibid., 5:12.
The author of the book of ben Sira… “I am hidden… in their great numbers?” (p. 261) [p. 240]: Ben Sira 16:21, ed. M.Z. Segal,Jerusalem, 5732, p. 96.
“THE TYCHE OF THE CITY OF ANTIOCH.” (p. 262) [p. 241]:Tyche is the goddess of luck in Greek mythology, and especially the goddess of luck who controlled the fate of a city. For a photo of the statue described here, see Wikipedia, s.v. Tyche. Cf. below, Chapter XIII, p. 399 [p. 373].
“do we cross the Rubicon?” (p. 265) [p. 244]: I.e., take a step from which there is no turning back from. In 49 BCE Julius Caesar and one legion crossed theRubiconRiver in northernItaly on his way to cease power inRome.
The couches for the guests… arranged to form three triangles. (p. 268) [p. 247]: This is a description of a Hellenistic-Roman symposium. For a Jewish description, see Tosefta Berakhot, Chapter 2, ed. Lieberman, pp. 26-27 and MishnahPesaḥim Chapter 10. The triangle here is a triclinium, three couches arranged in the shape of a U. This is the source of the Hebrew word traklin [parlor, salon]. For drawings of triclinia, see Dennis E. Smith, From Symposium to Eucharist, Minneapolis, 2003, p. 17, Figure 4 and Gil Klein, “Torah in Triclinia”, JQR 102/3 (Summer 2012), pp. 325-370.
poured a libation onto the floor. (p. 268) [p. 247]: See Smith, ibid., pp. 28-29.
“Still the incorrigible Cynic” (p. 269) [p. 248]: The author capitalized the word cynic to hint at the philosophical school founded in Greece in the 5th century BCE, which advocated a simple life and distanced itself from property and assets. However, the meaning here is the modern meaning of a cynical person who does not believe in the integrity and good will of human beings.
Marcus Tineius Rufus (p. 274) [p. 253]: Was the Governor of Judea in 132 CE when the Bar Kokhba Revolt broke out. He is mentioned quite a few times in the Babylonian Talmud and in midrashim as Turnusrufus the Wicked who had theological debates with Rabbi Akiba and also was the judge who condemned him to death. See Finkelstein, pp. 243-246; EJ, Vol. 15, col. 1148; Lieberman, p. 366, note 118; Stern, Vol. II, p. 404.
Sextus Erucius Clarus (p. 275) [p. 254]: Lived 80-146 CE. Served under Emperor Trajan in 116 and conquered the Syrian city,Seleucia. As a result, he was appointed Consul there in 117. He later served as Praefectus of the city and Consul a second time in 146.
‘A friend loveth at all times and a brother is born for adversity.’ (p. 282) [p. 261]: Proverbs 17:17.
Caius Julius Severus (p. 283) [p. 262]: Was the Roman Governor ofBritain. According to Dio Cassius, in 133 or 134CE, when Hadrian saw that he was unable to suppress the Bar Kokhba Revolt, he brought Severus toPalestine and the latter quashed the revolt – see Stern, Vol. II, pp. 393, 404-405. And cf. below, pp. 387, 408, 454 [pp. 361, 382, 424].
Even the marble Aphrodite (p. 284) [p. 263]: Cf. the story about Rabban Gamliel who was bathing in the bathhouse of Aphrodite in Acco – Mishnah Avodah Zarah 3:4.
the oration of Dion of Prusa (p. 285) [p. 264]: Also known as Dio Chrysostom (circa 40-115 CE); a Greek orator, historian and philosopher.
like that Egyptian practice described by Herodotus… a skeleton… too completely. (p. 286) [p. 265]: See Herodotus, Book 2, Chapter 78. For a similar custom among the Sages, seeBerakhot 31a, at top.
of its president, of the adjutant patriarch and of the vice-president. (p. 288) [p. 267]: The author listed three titles here, but usually, in that period, there were only two positions: Nasi(Patriarch) and Av Bet Din (Head of Court). Cf. above, Part I, beginning of Chapter X, p. 104 [p. 92] and below, Chapter IV, p. 307 [p. 284].
reached Seleucia, the port of Antioch (p. 290) [p. 269]:Seleucia was inSyria at the mouth of theOrontesRiver, some25 kilometers fromAntioch. See below, Chapter VII, p. 331 [p. 308].
it is considered improper for men to be alone with strange women. (p. 294) [p. 273]: This refers to the prohibition of yiḥud – see Sanhedrin 21b; Maimonides, Hilkhot Isurei Bi’ah, Chapter 22;Shulḥan Arukh Even Ha’ezer 22.
were the seals of Gamliel, of Tarfon and of Elazar ben Azariah (p. 307) [p. 284]: Cf. above Part I, Chapter X, p. 104 [p. 92] and Part II, Chapter III, p. 288 [p. 267].
to the home of Elazar ben Azariah who as adjutant patriarch (p. 307) [p. 285]: On Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah’s tenure as temporary Patriarch instead of Rabban Gamliel, see Berakhot 27b-28a.
‘It is forbidden… to cast a stone after one who has fallen.’ (p. 307) [p. 285]: See Kiddushin 20b and Arakhin 30b.
introduced a resolution putting an interdict on Greek studies. (p. 308) [p. 286]: See the notes to the Prologue, p. 11 [p. 1] and to Part I, Chapter XIV, p. 136 [p. 122].
he ripped the cloth (p. 308) [p. 286]: According to halakhah, a student rends his garments over the death of his teacher, just as he does for his father – see Maimonides, Hilkhot Eivel 9:5 andShulḥan Arukh Yoreh De’ah 242:26.
“To me it was the brutal power… an invisible guard stands watch over every person…” (p. 311) [p. 289]: Cf. the debate between Rabbi Simeon Bar Yoḥai and his colleagues in Shabbat33b. The last sentence hints at the Pax Romana, “the Roman peace”, which lasted from 27 BCE to 180 CE. Cf. below, pp. 355, 375, 380, 385 [pp. 330, 349, 354, 359].
Saturninus, leader of the Gnostics of Antioch. (p. 315) [p. 293]: Saturninus, or Saturnilus, was the founder of Gnosticism inSyria in the late first and early second centuries CE. He apparently taught inAntioch. He was known for his rigid asceticism; his followers abstained from marriage and all kinds of meat.
in a temple of Mithra (p. 315) [p. 293]: Mithra is the Zoroastrian god of covenant and oath. He is also the protector of justice, and the guardian of cattle, the harvest and of the waters. Cf. below, Chapter XII, p. 388 [p. 361] and Chapter XV, p. 422 [p. 395].
was born the demiurge (p. 317) [p. 295]: See above in the notes to Part I, Chapter XX, p. 197 [p. 179].
Among the guests was a teacher of gymnastics (p. 321) [p. 299]: Rabbi Steinberg explains in the Author’s Note, p. 478, that the description of this symposium was influenced by the Lapiths of Lucian, who lived in Samosata ca. 125-180 CE.
someone suggested a visit to Daphne… at the vale of Daphne… half-dressed women… (p. 324) [p. 301]: Daphne was an exclusive area in the city ofAntioch. Cf. below, Chapter XII, p. 388 [p. 362].
if she had the disposition of an Xanthippe (p. 329) [p. 306]:Xanthippe (Athens, fifth-fourth century BCE) was the wife of Socrates. Plato described her as a devoted wife and mother, but in Xenophon’s Symposium it says that she is “the hardest to get along with all of the women there are”. As a result, Xanthippe became a synonym for a nagging person, especially a shrewish wife.
“I’ll engage a freeman in addition to Libanius.” (p. 329) [p. 306]: Elisha’s approach here resembles that of the Sages: “Let the poor be members of your household” (Avot 1:5 and Bava Metzia60b). In other words, it is preferable to employ the poor than purchase slaves.
Seleucia, port of Antioch (p. 331) [p. 308]: See the notes to Part II, Chapter III, p. 290 [p. 269].
“Rufus must be coming back.” (p. 333) [p. 309]: i.e., Marcus Tineius Rufus – see above, Part II, end of Chapter I, p. 274.
from Ostia! (p. 334) [p. 311]: Ostia was the port city of Rome, around 30 kilometers to the northeast of Rome, on the banks of the Tiber River.
a pro-praetor. (p. 336) [p. 313]: A Roman provincial Governor who was sent to a province after he had served as a praetor inRome.
Legate (p. 336) [p. 313]: Another name for a Governor of a province.
Its horns were gilded and garlands trailed down its flanks. (pp. 336-337) [p. 313]: Cf. Mishnah Bikkurim 3:2.
it prayed for the genius of the Emperor. (p. 337) [p. 313]:Genius in Latin is the spirit or god that accompanies a man and watches over him. Cf. above, p. 169 [p. 154].
he remembered Rabbi Joshua identifying the theater and circus with the seat of the scornful of which the Psalms speak. (p. 339) [p. 316]: The author relied on rabbinic explanations of Psalms 1:1, which appear in Avot Derabi Natan, Version A, Chapter 21, ed. Schechter, p. 74 and Tosefta Avodah Zarah 2:6, ed. Zuckermandel, p. 462 = Avodah Zarah 18b. Thosederashot were not said by Rabbi Joshua. For a good survey of the Sages’ attitude toward Roman theaters, see Esti Dvorjetski’s Appendix to Arthur Segal’s book, Hate’atraot B’eretz Yisrael Ba’et Ha’atikah,Jerusalem, 5760, pp. 117-143. Cf. above, pp. 85 and 136 [pp. 72 and 122].
“Happy are we for we sit in houses of prayer… and they in vanity and emptiness.” (p. 339) [p. 316]: This was the prayer recited by Rabbi Neḥunyah ben Hakanah upon leaving the House of Study, according to Yerushalmi Berakhot 4:2 fol. 7d andBerakhot 28b.
by Isis our Mother (p. 340) [p. 317]: See an explanation below in the notes to Chapter XII, p. 388 [p. 361].
“Whosoever preserves one life… it is as though he had destroyed a world.” (p. 340) [p. 317]: Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5, according to the manuscripts.
the Musaeum (p. 340) [p. 317]: i.e., the place of the Muses. It was a common institution in the Hellenistic-Roman world, which contained a library and a group of scholars who received a stipend for research, meals and lectures. It is the source of the word “museum” in modern languages.
“The hero, the Agamemnon, glorying in battle,” (p. 343) [p. 319]: In Homer’s Iliad, Agamemnon was the Commander-in-Chief of the Greek assault onTroy.
“ ‘Thou art beautiful, my love… and terrible as an army with banners’ ” (p. 344) [p. 319]: Song of Songs 6:4.
He could decide that your services are needed for military purposes. (pp. 350-351) [p. 326]: This is called angaria [forced labor] in Greek and is a widespread concept in rabbinic literature. See, for example, Mishnah Bava Metzia 6:3.
the Pax Romana. (p. 355) [p. 330]: See the notes to Part II, Chapter IV, p. 311 [p. 289].
“Pray ye for the welfare of the Empire… men would long since have swallowed one another alive.” (p. 355) [p. 330]:This is a teaching of Rabbi Ḥananiah Segan Hakohanim in Avot3:2.
Apollonius of Perge (p. 358) [p. 332]: An important scholar of geometry and astronomy (262-190 BCE), who was a major influence on Ptolemy, Kepler,Newton and Descartes.
to the Musaeum (p. 358) [p. 333]: See the notes to Part II, end of Chapter VII, p. 340.
Then, in the forty-seventh year of his life (p. 359) [p. 333]:Elisha was born in 79 CE (see above, Part I, Chapter I, p. 17). Therefore, this chapter transpires in the year 126 CE.
Suggested by Aristotle in his Organon (p. 359) [p. 334]:Organon is the standard compilation of Aristotle’s six works on logic. Cf. below, p. 461.
You are going to publish it… Then I will arrange to have it copied and circulated. (p. 360) [p. 334]: On book publishing in the ancient world, see Saul Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine, New York, 1962, p. 85 and note 11.
the Musaeum of Alexandria (p. 360) [p. 335]: This refers to the famous Musaeum of Alexandria founded by Ptolemy Soter I in the fourth century BCE. It was an institution for music and poetry, and a philosophical academy, where the leading scholars studied. The Musaeum continued to influence Roman emperors and scholars until it was destroyed in 270 CE.
Demonax of Cyprus (p. 364) [p. 339]: Lived ca. 70-170 CE. He was born inCyprus and lived inAthens. Most of what is known about him was written by Lucian (125-180 CE).
Epictetus (p. 364) [p. 339]: A Stoic philosopher, 55-135 CE.
Apollonius of Tyana (p. 364) [p. 339]: A Neopythagorean philosopher, ca. 15-100 CE. Tyana was in Cappodacia in Asia Minor.
Herodes Atticus. (p. 364) [p. 339]: A Roman senator, a sophist, 101-177 CE.
and drank cold water tinged faintly pink by an admixture of wine (p. 365) [p. 340]: In the Hellenistic world, they mixed wine with water, but there was no fixed amount of water. See Michal Dayagi-Mendels, Drink and Be Merry: Wine and Beer in Ancient Times,Jerusalem, 1999, p. 60.
I revere Socrates, admire Diogenes and love Aristippus. (p. 366) [p. 341]: This is a quote from Lucian, Demonax, paragraph 62.
about a tower which would have been built… by a confusion of tongues. (p. 367) [p. 342]: This refers to theTower ofBabel – Genesis 11:1-9.
as in Plato’s dialogue (p. 368) [p. 343]: This is a reference to “The Allegory of the Cave” in Plato’s The Republic, beginning of Chapter 7, paragraphs 514-520.
“Aye, as Prometheus was presumptuous. (p. 369) [p. 344]: In Greek mythology, Prometheus was insolent to the gods and gave man fire. This is the presumptuousness referred to here.
“An ass laden with books.” (p. 371) [p. 345]: This phrase is perhaps borrowed from the Koran, Sura 62:5. It appears in the works of Rabbi Shmuel Hanagid (Spain, 933-1055) and Yehuda Al-Ḥarizi (Spain, 12th-13th century). See Abraham Even-Shoshan,Hamilon Heḥadash, s.v.חמור.
the Middle Academy (p. 371) [p. 345]: A reference to the academy founded by Plato, which functioned from 266-155 BCE.
The Emperor Hadrian visited Antioch (p. 372) [p. 345]: See Finkelstein, p. 262, and note 55.
the philosopher king of whom Plato had spoken (p. 372) [p. 346]: See Plato, The Republic, Chapter 5, paragraph 473.
One of his poems (p. 372) [p. 346]: See www.forumromanum.org, Hadrian’s poems, No. III.
He was face to face with Akiba. (p. 373) [p. 347]: Rabbi Akiba traveled to many countries, including Antioch – see Yerushalmi Horayot 3:7, fol. 48a and parallels. Heinrich Graetz and others maintained that his trips were connected to the preparations for the Bar Kokhba Revolt, but there is no proof of this. See Alon, Vol. I, pp. 236-237 and Vol. II, p. 611. Finkelstein, pp. 130-134, maintained that Rabbi Akiba traveled to many places to raise money for charity.
The rumor has spread… that Hadrian is planning to rebuild Jerusalem as a pagan city. (p. 374) [p. 348]: See below in the notes to this chapter.
a man from Koziba by the name of Simon… “Simon of Koziba?” (p. 374) [p. 348]: Bar Kokhba is called Ben Koziba inYerushalmi Ta’aniyot 4:7, fol. 68d. The author believed that Koziba is the name of a place, and not the name of Simon’s father; indeed there are opinions supporting both views. Regarding Simon ben Koziba/Bar Kokhba, see Safrai, p. 332, and EJ, Vol. 4, cols. 228-239.
“The Emperor Hadrian, having seen the ruins of Jerusalem on a visit to Palestine… Aelia Capitolina.” (p. 378) [p. 351]:See Finkelstein, p. 262ff; Alon, Vol. II, pp. 441-448, 582-583, 588-590; and Stern, Vol. II, pp. 392, 395-396.
two cohorts have been ordered into Palestine (p. 381) [p. 354]: On the many cohorts sent to suppress the revolt, see Alon, Vol. II, pp. 608-610; Stern, Vol. II, pp. 396-400.
The Roman army of occupation had been cut to pieces (p. 382) [p. 356]: On the success of the rebels and the Romans’ difficulties in suppressing the revolt, see Safrai, pp. 332-333; EJ, Vol. 4, col. 233; Stern, Vol. II, pp. 392-393, 400.
Nonetheless, bar Cochba has held out for three years (p. 385) [p. 359]: The revolt lasted three and a half years – see EJ, Vol. 4, cols. 234-236 and Stern, Vol. II, p. 400.
Or have you become blind to the motives with which Rome imposes peace on the peoples? (p. 385) [p. 359]: This refers to the Pax Romana. See above, pp. 311, 355, 375, 380.
cohorts from the Danube… Cilician mountaineer archers (pp. 386-387) [p. 360]: For a list of the cohorts sent to suppress the revolt, see the last note to Chapter XI, p. 381.
retaining Rufus as civil governor… Caius Julius Severus… in the direction of the campaign. (p. 387) [p. 361]: Regarding the commanders who fought against Bar Kokhba, see Alon, Vol. II, pp. 613-614 and Stern, Vol. II, pp. 404-405. Regarding Severus, cf. above, the notes to Part II, Chapter II, p. 283 [p. 262].
For the second time within one generation (p. 387) [p. 361]:For the first time, see above, Part I, Chapter XIII, pp. 130-133.
sprigs of hyssop (p. 387) [p. 361]: In ancient times, hyssop was used in order to prevent plagues and cleanse away illnesses. See Exodus 12:22; Leviticus 14; Numbers 19 and Yehuda Felix, Olam Hatzomeaḥ Hamikrai,Ramat Gan, 1968, pp. 177-179.
“Mithra the Unconquered.” (p. 388) [p. 361]: See Chapter V, p. 315 [p. 293] and Chapter XV, p. 422 [p. 395].
“Merciful Mother Isis, Have Mercy.” (p. 388) [p. 361]: See pp. 340 and 392 [pp. 317 and 366] for similar phrases. Egyptian goddess of health, marriage and wisdom, Isis was one of the most important goddesses inEgypt. She was a great witch with greater power than all the other gods. People turned to her in time of illness because she also ruled over Anubis, the god of death. The worship of Isis spread toGreece andRome.
So each man took refuge with his own god (p. 388) [p. 361]:Cf. Jonah 1:5.
in the Gardens of Daphne (p. 388) [p. 362]: A reference to brothels. See above, Part II, end of Chapter V, p. 324 [p. 301].
“Have you had a physician?” (p. 389) [p. 362]: This tragic story is reminiscent of that of Martha, daughter of Boethus in Gittin 56a.
what Plato says, that the soul is immortal? (p. 391) [p. 365]:So says Plato in a dialogue called Phaedo.
of the gentle Shepherd, Who leads men beside still waters… dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea. (p. 395) [p. 369]: Psalms 23:1-3; 139:7-9.
“My heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty… is my soul within me.” (p. 395) [p. 369]: Psalms 131:1-2.
And in December at the time of the solstice when the Romans celebrated their Saturnalia… and Jews kindled the eight lights of Dedication (p. 396) [p. 370]: Some scholars maintain that all of these ancient celebrations are related to the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. See Theodor Gaster,Purim and Hanukkah in Custom and Tradition,New York, 1950, pp. 111-113, 126.
against the Jewish army, broken at last and withdrawn to a fortress… Judea. (p. 396) [p. 370]: i.e., Betar,11 km southwest ofJerusalem.
in the Temple of Fortune (p. 399) [p. 373]: Fortuna is the Roman goddess of luck, equivalent to the Greek goddess Tyche – cf. above, Part II, Chapter I, p. 262 [p. 241].
“By the sanctuary,” (p. 399) [p. 373]: In antiquity, Jews used to swear by the Temple sanctuary — see Kiddushin 71a: היכלא! (in Aramaic). Cf. above, p. 73 [p. 61].
they forded the Jordan at the Springs of Panias (p. 402) [p. 375]: In the Hellenistic period, Panias was the site of a temple to the god Pan. Today it is known as the Banias, due to the influence of Arabic.
It was here in upper Galilee… the first devastation of warfare… lower Galilee… that they were aware of the completeness of the ruin. (p. 402) [p. 375]: Historically, the upper and lowerGalilee, including Tiberias, were not destroyed during the Bar Kokhba Revolt. See Alon, Vol. II, pp. 595-603 and Stern, Vol. II, pp. 402-403.
skirting the ice-fringed, sullen gray waters of the lake (p. 402) [p. 376]: It snowed in Tiberias in 1933, six years before the publication of this book.
I have heard that she is at Gerasa, beyond the Jordan now. (p. 405) [p. 379]: Gerasa, today called Jerash, was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BCE and became an important Roman city. Trajan improved the roads in the area and Hadrian visited there in the years 129-130 CE.
as by the locust plague of Joel. (p. 405) [p. 379]: Joel 1:4. Cf. above, p. 107 [p. 94].
from the Emperor on the throne to the lowliest sutler in the army. (p. 407) [p. 381]: Cf. Exodus 12:29.
Severus (p. 408) [p. 382]: Cf. above in the notes to Part II, Chapter II, p. 283 [p. 262].
Quadratus, the Questor of Syria. (p. 408) [p. 382]: Cf. above, Part II, toward the end of Chapter II, p. 283 [p. 262].
A man is traveling in the desert… to whom should the water be given? (pp. 412-413) [p. 386]: I did not find the Stoics’ riddle. It is possible that the author created the riddle based on two sources in rabbinic literature. See Bava Metzia 62a, at top, about two people walking in the desert with only one flask of water, as well as Mishnah Bava Metzia 2:11 “If his father and his teacher were each taken captive, he must first ransom his teacher and afterward ransom his father”. In other words, Elisha believes that the philosopher takes precedence over his father and therefore, his life takes precedence over the life of his people.
‘Our hope is perished’? (p. 413) [p. 387]: Ezekiel 37:11 in the prophecy of the Dry Bones.
May his bones waste! (p. 415) [p. 389]: This is a translation of the curse sheḥik tamaya or sheḥik atzamot, which the Sages used to refer to Hadrian – see, for example, Vayikra Rabbah 25:5, ed. Margaliyot, p. 576.
The Romans proceeded deliberately to formulate a series of decrees… So item by item their program of repression emerged. (p. 417) [p. 391]: Scholars disagree over whether Hadrian’s decrees against observance of the commandments were the cause of the Bar Kokhba Revolt or the result of it. See below in the notes to Chapter XVI, p. 428 [p. 400].
For some reason, the author based this entire chapter on the story of Masada. That story happened in the Judean Desert, the Romans suffered from the beating sun and lack of water and in the end, the people at Masada committed suicide. See Josephus, TheJewish War, Book VII, 8-9, paragraphs 252-406, ed. Loeb, Vol. III, pp. 577-619.
Someone stole a jug of sacred water from the shrine of Mithra, favorite god of the army. (p. 422) [p. 395]: See above, Chapter V, p. 315 [p. 293] and Chapter XII, p. 388 [p. 361].
Once, in mid-August (p. 423) [p. 396]: According to Mishnah Ta’anit 4:6, Beitar was captured on the Ninth of Av.
From the fortress came the sound of many voices chanting (p. 424) [p. 397]: It is possible that the author drew this motif from the blood libel against the Jews of Blois (France, 1171), when the Jews who were burned alive in sanctification of God’s name sang the Aleinu prayer as the flames engulfed them – see A.M. Haberman, Sefer Gezeirot Ashkenaz Vetzarfat, Jerusalem, 5706, pp. 125-126. For the known facts about the fall of Betar, see EJ,Vol. 4, cols. 235-236.
Nitza, in whose house they had gathered (p. 427) [p. 399]:This story took place in the garret of the home of Nitza or Natza in Lod – see Sanhedrin 74a.
briefly he invoked God’s blessing (p. 427) [p. 399]: Cf. above, Part I, end of Chapter X, pp. 108-109 [pp. 96-97], for the wording of this type of prayer.
he had once described himself as a fox, born of one lion, and… the sire of another (p. 427) [p. 399]: In Bava Metzia 84b, at bottom, Rabbi Simeon the son of Gamliel says to his son Rabbi Judah who succeeded him as Patriarch: “and you are a lion, son of a fox”.
Well may we bewail the conflagration which the Lord kindled. (p. 427) [p. 399]: Based on Leviticus 10:6.
Shall we continue teaching or not? (p. 428) [p. 400]: Indeed, Rabbi Akiba continued teaching Torah publically, despite the Roman decree – see Berakhot 61b and Finkelstein, pp. 272-273.
The edicts of Rufus have forbidden the observance of the commandments under the threat of a death penalty. (p. 428) [p. 400]: In Rabbinic literature, the Hadrianic persecutions are called Gezeirot Hashmad. See Alon, Vol. II, pp. 632-637; Safrai, pp. 334-335; Finkelstein, pp. 251-252, 270; and Lieberman, pp. 348-369.
better a live dog than a dead lion. (p. 429) [p. 401]:Ecclesiastes 9:4.
As soon as the edicts were issued I went to Rufus. (p. 429) [p. 401]: Talmudic literature contains several discussions between Rabbi Akiba and Tineius Rufus; there are no conversations between Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel and Tineius Rufus.
‘Thou shalt live by them’ – live by them, not die because of them. (p. 430) [p. 402]: Indeed, so said Rabbi Ishmael inSanhedrin 74a.
“But what becomes of the study of the Torah?” (p. 430) [p. 402]: This statement was made by Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai inBerakhot 35b in a different context.
He must, if the Romans so ordered, transgress any of the precepts of Scripture… as a public example. (p. 431) [p. 403]: Sanhedrin 74a-b.
They settled on five… (p. 431) [p. 403]: See Sanhedrin 14a and below, pp. 432-436 [pp. 404-407].
to find it rich with blood (p. 432) [p. 403]: Cf. Gittin 57a, at bottom – “who entered the city of Betar when it was captured and killed men, women and children until their blood ran into the great sea…”
on the outskirts of the wilderness of Judea. (p. 432) [p. 404]:In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 14a), this story transpired in theGalilee “between Usha and Shfaram”.
No community could be penalized should they be detected. (p. 433) [p. 405]: As Rashi explained in Sanhedrin 14a: “and not inside the city, so that if it should become known, they [i.e., the Romans] will not destroy the city”.
“Moses received the Law at Sinai… to Joshua…” (p. 433) [p. 405]: Avot 1:1. Cf. the ordination ceremony described above, Part I, Chapter X, p. 103 [p. 91].
In an undertone he recited his death confessional (p. 435) [p. 407]: Cf. Part I, end of Chapter VII, p. 79 [p. 66].
Judah felt the spear sink in, ripping his flesh. (p. 435) [p. 407]: The author rewrote the original story in Sanhedrin 14a. There it states: “They did not move from there until they pierced him with 300 iron lances and made his body like a sieve”.
standing on both sides of the fence. (p. 439) [p. 410]: Cf. I Kings 18:21.
“Pappas the son of Joseph… detained for treason (p. 439) [p. 410]: This section is based on the story of Pappus the son of Judah in Berakhot 61b.
because he was a bird in that flock of educated harpies that hovered over my Manto. (p. 441) [p. 412]: In Greek mythology, a Harpy is a creature that is half-woman and half bird of prey. It means a person who is a predator and looks for prey.
with a harlot by your side making love to you. (p. 442) [p. 413]: This is based on Ḥagigah 15a, in the middle.
Needles, threads, thimbles… (pp. 445-447) [pp. 416-417]: This lengthy passage about a peddler who asks Rabbi Akiba halakhic questions in jail is based on a brief story in Yerushalmi Yevamot12:5, fol. 12d. For sources about Rabbi Akiba in jail, see Finkelstein, pp. 273-276 and Lieberman, p. 365.
The Book known as the Psalms of Solomon … What is its exact status? (p. 446) [p. 417]: The Psalms of Solomon is a collection of 18 chapters of Psalms compiled ca. 50 BCE. They are extant in Greek and Syriac (Eastern Christian Aramaic), but scholars assume they were originally written in Hebrew.
The woman is not free to remarry until … arena (p. 446) [p. 417]: For similar, but not identical cases, see Maimonides, Hilkhot Gerushin, Chapter 13.
I met him near Sepphoris… greater life will be born.” (pp. 447-448) [p. 418]: This entire, lengthy passage is based on the story of Pappus the son of Judah and Rabbi Akiba in Berakhot61b.
“Years ago,” Elisha brooded, “we argued that in a deserted garden not far from here…” (p. 449) [pp. 419-420]: See above, Part I, Chapter XXV, pp. 238 ff. [pp. 218 ff.].
The Empire, he said, was conceived in the lust for power (p. 449) [p. 420]: Cf. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai’s comments in Shabbat33b, as well as Midrash Hagadol on Genesis 44:24, ed. Margaliyot, p. 759.
The Empire … must grow more rapacious (p. 449) [p. 420]: Cf.Bereishit Rabbah 65:1, ed. Theodor-Albeck, p. 713 = Vayikra Rabbah 13:5, ed. Margaliyot, p. 291: “So is this evil Kingdom [i.e.,Rome] overbearing and violent and robbing… “.
for ten executions (p. 452) [p. 422]: There are many versions of the story of the Ten Martyrs. The author based himself on the piyut[liturgical poem] Eileh Ezkerah, which is recited by Ashkenazim in the Yom Kippur Musaf service and by Sepharadim in the Tisha B’Av Shaḥarit service. Historically, these sages were not killed at the same time, as Rabbi Steinberg explains in the Author’s Note below, p. 479 [p. 449]. See Safrai, p. 334 and EJ, Vol. 15, cols. 1006-1008.
lictors (p. 453) [p. 422]: Lictors were Roman officials who served as personal assistants to magistrates.
the most notorious and expensive harlot in all Caesarea. (p. 453) [p. 423]: This is based on Ḥagigah 15a, in the middle. Cf. above, p. 442 [p. 413].
Rufus rose to his feet. (p. 454) [p. 424]: According toYerushalmi Sotah 5:7, fol. 20c = Yerushalmi Berakhot, end of chapter 9, fol. 14b, at bottom; Eikhah Rabbah, Chapter 3, verse 44, ed. Buber, p. 137; Kohelet Rabbah, Chapter 3, ed. Vilna, fol. 12b; and Midrash Mishlei, Chapter 9, ed. Visotsky, p. 67 (in the Venice 1546 edition, only), Rabbi Akiba was sentenced before “the wicked Tunus Trufus” or “Turnusrufus”.
Sextus Minicius Faustinus (p. 454) [p. 424]: This refers to Julius Severus who was sent by Emperor Hadrian from England to quash the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Cf. above pp. 283 (and the noteibid.), 387, 408 [pp. 262, 361, 382].
Ishmael started out of line… (p. 455) [p. 425]: According to theEileh Ezkerah poem, Rabbi Ishmael asked to die first, before Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel.
“How is the tongue that taught the Law … brought low to lick the dust.” (p. 455) [p. 425]: So says Rabbi Ishmael in Eileh Ezkerah.
“Let that one go,” (p. 456) [p. 425]: This too appears there.
Flay him! (p. 456) [p. 426]: This too appears there.
where for many years the headpiece of a phylactery had rested (p. 426) [p. 376]: This too appears there.
is this Thy Law and is this its reward? (p. 456) [p. 426]: This too appears there. The phrase is taken from Berakhot 61b, at bottom = Menaḥot 29b and also from Yerushalmi Ḥagigah 2:1, fol. 77b, at bottom.
“Put the next one on the stake with a wool pack around his chest.” (p. 457) [p. 427]: This story about Rabbi Ḥanina ben Teradion is taken from Avodah Zarah 18a. For another version, see Sifrei Devarim, Piska 317, ed. Finkelstein, p. 346.
he lowered his face and drank in the soaring fire through his open mouth (p. 458) [p. 428]: This sentence is in direct contradiction to the above story in Avodah Zarah, where his students suggested to him: “‘Open then your mouth so that the fire enter into you.’ He replied: ‘Let He who gave me [my soul] take it away, but he [= I] should not injure himself.’”
Iron combs dug into Akiba’s flesh (p. 458) [p. 428]: This story about Rabbi Akiba is taken from Berakhot 61b. at bottom. For parallel sources, see the notes above, p. 454 [p. 424], s.v. Rufus rose to his feet.
His bald head (p. 458) [p. 428]: See Bekhorot 58a and cf. above, p. 52 [p. 40].
‘Hear, O Israel… and with all thy soul’ (p. 459) [p. 429]:Deuteronomy 6:4-5.
he realized that the more it changed, the more it was the same (p. 460) [p. 376]: This is a translation of Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s French idiom from 1849: “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose”.
the approach outlined in the Organon of Aristotle (p. 461) [p. 431]: The Organon is a standard collection of Aristotle’s six works on logic. Cf. above, p. 359 [p. 334].
“All men are mortal… Therefore Socrates is mortal? (p. 462) [p. 432]: In Greek philosophy, such an argument is known as a syllogism. This example is, apparently, not from ancient times.
by the Epicurean, Zeno of Sidon (p. 464) [p. 434]: Zeno, 150-75 BCE.
I preached in Tiberias this morning. (p. 470) [p. 440]: SeeYerushalmi Sotah 1:4, fol.16d for a famous story about Rabbi Meir’s sermons in Ḥamat Tiberias.
A scribe can always make a living (p. 470) [p. 440]: Regarding Rabbi Meir as a scribe, see above, in the notes to Part I, Chapter X, p. 107 [p. 95].
The Sanhedrin is meeting again. (p. 470) [p. 440]: Regarding the Sanhedrin’s meeting in Usha after the Bar Kokhba Revolt, seeShir Hashirim Rabbah 2:5, ed.Vilna, fols. 15 b-c and Alon, Vol. II, pp. 664-666.
“I found vanity and a striving after wind.” (p. 471) [p. 441]: Ecclesiastes 2:26; 4:4; 6:9.
no society, no matter how great the achievements of its scholars, can be an instrument of human redemption if it despises justice and mercy. (p. 472) [p. 442]: This book was published in 1939; could this be a reference to the Germans?
the roadside marker set up to indicate to the observant Jew the farthest boundary beyond which he might not walk on the Sabbath. (p. 474) [pp. 443-444]: To the best of my knowledge, the Sabbath limit was not marked during the period of Mishnah. For details regarding the Sabbath limit, see Maimonides,Hilkhot Eruvin, Chapters 6-8.
“Here is the Sabbath limit… ̔All may repent, save only Elisha the son of Abuyah!̕ ” (p. 474) [p. 444]: This passage is based onḤagigah 15a, at bottom, and Yerushalmi Ḥagigah 2:1, fol. 77b, at bottom.
‘Turn back, turn back, ye wayward children.’ (p. 474) [p. 444]:Jeremiah 3:14. Cf. above, pp. 244 and 468 [pp. 224 and 437].
“Rabbi, Elisha’s grave has been struck by lightning.” (p. 476) [p. 446]: This chapter is based on a brief story in Yerushalmi Ḥagigah 2:1, fol. 77c, at top.
Meir came to the side of the grave and looked down… A piece of wood, either the marker or… (pp. 476-477) [p. 446]:This description does not correspond to burial practices in theLand ofIsrael in Mishnaic times. In that era, people were buried in burial caves and there were no wooden markers.
‘Sleep through the night’ (p. 477) [p. 447]: Ruth 3:13. So says Rabbi Meir in the Yerushalmi cited above, even though the Hebrew verse is in the feminine form. He also offers an entire exegesis of the verse.
He has disregarded the explicit statement in the Talmud which puts the year of Elisha’s birth as before 70 C.E. (p. 479) [p. 449]: See Yerushalmi Ḥagigah 2:1, fol. 77b, where it is reported that Elisha was circumcised in the presence of “all the great Sages of Jerusalem”. This could only have taken place before the Destruction of theSecondTemple.
by tradition Elisha was survived by two daughters. (p. 479) [p. 449]: See ibid., fol. 77c, at top: “After a while, his daughters went…”.
He has contracted the execution of various rabbis by Rufus to form a single incident. (p. 479) [p. 449]: See the notes to Part II, Chapter XIX, p. 452 [p. 422].
Pappas of the novel is not intended to represent the historical rabbi of that name. (p. 479) [p. 449]: That is, Pappus ben Judah, who appears in Berakhot 61b. See additional sources in EJ, Vol. 13, cols. 69-70.
David Golinkin is President of The Schechter Institutes, Inc. and President Emeritus of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. For twenty years he served as Chair of the Va’ad Halakhah (Law Committee) of the Rabbinical Assembly which gives halakhic guidance to the Masorti Movement in Israel. He is the founder and director of the Institute of Applied Halakhah at Schechter and also directs the Center for Women in Jewish Law. Rabbi Professor Golinkin made aliyah in 1972, earning a BA in Jewish History and two teaching certificates from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He received an MA in Rabbinics and a PhD in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he was also ordained as Rabbi. For a complete bio click here.