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H E L L E N I S M I N J E W I S H P A L E S T I N E
TEXTS and STUDIES OF
T H E J E W I S H T H E O L O G I C A L S E M I N A R Y
O F A M E R I C A
V O L . X V I I I
HELLENISM IN JEWISH PALESTINE
THE STROOCK PUBLICATION FUND
Established in Memory of Sol M. and Hilda W. Stroock and Robert L. Stroock
H E L L E N I S M IN JEWISH PALESTINE
S T U D I E S I N T H E L I T E R A R Y T R A N S M I S S I O N
B E L I E F S A N D M A N N E R S OF P A L E S T I N E I N
THE I CENTURY B . C . E . IV CENTURY C.E.
N E W Y O R K
T H E J E W I S H T H E O L O G I C A L S E M I N A R Y OF A M E R I C A
5 7 2 2 - 1 9 6 2
Copyright, 1950, by
THE JEWISH THEOLOGICAL SEMTNARY OF AMERICA
Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 51-2776
Second Improved Edition1962
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES Or AMERICA
PRESS OF INC.
224 N. 15TH ST., PHILADELPHIA 2, PENNA.
To the sainted memory of
LOUIS S. B R U S H
IN G R A T I T U D E
LOUIS S. BRUSH*
By PROFESSOR ALEXANDER M A R X
One of the many persons who were attracted by the magnetic personality of Professor Schechter and the hospitable home presided over by Mrs. Schechter was Mr. Louis S. Brush.
Like many others, he also became a frequent visitor of the model services in the Seminary Synagogue, which offered a rare combination of beauty and dignity and in which Dr. Schechter took particular pride. It was there that I first met Mr. Brush, some forty-five years ago.
He was a quiet, unostentatious person, a tall man of dignified bearing, meticulously dressed and well-mannered who had endeared himself to the Schechters by the apparent reverence and devotion he felt for them. He was a deeply religious man. I remember how one day he brought to the Seminary his Sefer Torah with breastplate, headpieces and pointer in a special case. He had inherited it from his father and had taken it away from another synagogue where, he felt, it was not sufficiently cared for. Once a year he would send his chauffeur to fetch the fine silver ornaments and have them looked over and polished at Tiffany's.
In the early years after the reorganization of the Seminary (1907), one of our promising students, Alexander Cohen, underwent a minor operation which proved fatal. The physician ascribed the unexpected tragedy to apparent malnutrition.
We all were very deeply moved by the sad event, and Mrs. Schechter tried to prevent similar conditions by seeing that more care should be taken of the physical welfare of the stu-
* Address delivered on April 5, 1949, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Brush Lectures.
viii LOUIS S. BRUSH
dents. The establishment some years later of the Students' House was a consequence of this event.
At the time, Mrs. Schechter spoke to a number of friends urging the building of a dormitory. Mr. Brush promised her to do something some day and we expected that he would make some provision in his will for this purpose. He lived for many more years but never mentioned the subject again. After Dr. and Mrs. Schechter's death, he showed less and less interest in the Seminary; his visits to the Seminary Synagogue became rarer and rarer and finally ceased altogether. He kept up the care of his Torah ornaments and, as I heard later from Dr. Adler, made an anonymous gift of $1,000.00 every Hanukah. He was approached in vain for a contribution to the Students' House. When I happened to meet him two years before his death and asked him why he did not visit our Synagogue of late, he answered that he was not interested in the Seminary any longer.
To our greatest surprise, we learned on his death, that he had left the bulk of his fortune, one and a half million dollars, for the building of a dormitory. One half of the money should be devoted to the building, the other half to its upkeep expenses and to scholarships for the students. Nobody but his Christian lawyer had known anything of this will. What was the reason for so deep a secrecy we can only surmise.
His relatives were, naturally, very much disappointed and thought of fighting the will, but the lawyer declared that he was ready to swear that Mr. Brush was in full possession of his faculties when he made his will and they realized that they could do nothing about it.
The Seminary Board for a moment considered the building of some additional stories on top of the old Seminary on 123rd Street. However, there was a clause in the will that the dormitory had to be built in strict colonial style and the condition had to be adhered to. Fortunately, the large plot of ground on Broadway opposite the old building was available at that time. The picturesque high rocks on the vacant lot had been cleared away with the view of putting up here a high structure. That plan had been abandoned for various reasons. And thus, through
LOUIS S. BRUSH ix
Mr. Brush's grandiose gift, it was made possible to erect the imposing building.
The Brush gift came at a psychological moment. In the 1920's, the Library had outgrown its quarters, partly through the acquisition of the Adler Library and the other rich gifts of Mortimer L. Schiff. It had occupied rooms on the first and second floors and the building which had looked so spacious when it opened, had become quite inadequate. It was contemplated to remodel two neighboring houses when the Brush gift offered entirely new possibilities. There was room enough on the new plot for adequate accommodations to house the Library and the Teachers Institute, which had its equally insufficient quarters downtown. Mr. Schiff's family decided to erect the Jacob H. Schiff building for the Library, and Mr. Unterberg donated the one for the Teachers Institute.
The Rabbinical Department carried on for a year or two in the building on 123rd Street which Mr. Jacob H. Schiff had presented in 1902, but during the depression it turned out to be too expensive to keep up the two buildings and so the instruction of the Rabbinical department was transferred to the Teachers Institute building.
The Synagogue also, after some time, was transferred to the new buildings and only recently, after the removal of the Museum to the Warburg House, found room in the Library building.
And thus it is due to the generosity of Mr. Brush that our Seminary has the most magnificent building that has ever housed a Jewish institution of learning. We have every reason to feel a lasting debt of gratitude to him and to keep the memory of the noble, generous donor alive.
The Brush lectures will, we trust, fulfill this purpose and will connect his name permanently with the scholarly pursuits of this institution which owes so much of its growth to Mr. Brush's vision.
CONTENTS P A G E
Preface to the Second Edition xiii
The Texts of Scripture in the Early Rabbinic Period 20
Corrections of the Soferim 28
Critical Marks in the Hebrew Bible 38
The Ten Dotted Places in the Torah 43
Rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture 47
The Hermeneutic Rules of the Aggadah 68
The Publication of the Mishnah 83
The Alleged Ban on Greek Wisdom 100
Rabbinic Polemics Against Idolatry 115
Heathen Idolatrous Rites in Rabbinic Literature 128
The Three Abrogations of Johanan the High Priest 139
Heathen Pre-Sacrificial Rites in the Light of Rabbinic
The Consecration of a Victim in Heathen Rites 147
Blemishes in Sacrifices 153
The Temple: Its Lay-Out and Procedure 164
The Natural Science of the Rabbis 180
Appendix I ^np n a , Bath Kol 194
Appendix II The Publication of the Torah 200
Appendix III Jewish and Christian Codices 203
Additions and Corrections 209
Additions and Corrections to Greek in Jewish Palestine... 210
Key to Abbreviations 218
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
The first edition has been exhausted for a number of years, but I have had no opportunity to take time from my regular duties to revise it. The accumulation of new material in the field of archaeology and the publication of many important works relating to the subject dealt with in the present book justified a considerable revision of the book.
However, I have decided to content myself for the present with the most necessary additions and modifications, abstaining from a complete revision which would require many months of additional work.
The main purpose of the book remains what it was originally: the elucidation of difficult passages in rabbinic literature which were hitherto either unexplained or misinterpreted, and sometimes unknown altogether; the examination of certain customs and practices and the treatment of the literary methods used by the rabbis. This content is discussed against the background of Hellenism in Jewish Palestine. The well known facts are used only as a kind of cement to make the citations coherent. The rabbinic material which form the elementary knowledge of every serious student of rabbinics is given without any reference to scholars who have dealt with it.
S. L. March 8, 1962
The following chapters are the outgrowth of lectures delivered on various occasions. They include the first Louis S. Brush Lecture delivered on April 5, 1949; an academic address given on May 7, 1950, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on the occasion of its twenty-fifth anniversary; a lecture in the thiasos at the Hebr