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the latter should distinguish himself in the war




with the Philistines. David did so, but Saul broke
his promise by giving Merab to Adriel the Mehola-
thite {lb. xviii. 19).
J. M. Sel.

chief rabbi of Venice iu the seventeenth century.
He was one of the rabbis who signed the decision in
regard to the stores in Ferrara. A Hebrew poem
(" Shir ") of his is found in the " Hanukkat ha-Bayit "
of Moses Hefez (Venice, 1696).

Bibliography: Furst, Bibl.JucJ. ii. 368; Mortara, Intlicf, p.
39 ; Nepi-Ghirondi, Toledot Gedole YiaraeU p. '■i^-
J. M. Sel.

MERCANTILE LAW. See Commercial

MERCY. See Compassion.

MERECH : Russian town in the government of
Wilna. The earliest mention of Jews there is dated
lo39, when a dispute was adjudicated (July 8) be-
tween a Jew named Konyuk and a Christian in re-
gard to a debt of the former. In 1551 the Jews of
Merech were named among those of fourteen other
towns to be exempted from the special tax ("Se-
rebshchizna ") levied upon all inhabitants, with the
exception of villagers and Jews, at the Polish diet
held in that year (Nov. 27) at Wilna. Merech pro-
duced in the nineteenth century some noted He-
brew scholars, as Mordecai Melzer, Isaac b. Elijah
Margolis (d. New York 1887), and his son Max Mar-
golis, of the University of California.

BiBi.iofiRAPHY : Regesti i Nadpisi, pp. 117, 303.

II. J!. A. S. W.

MERIBAH (nnno = " strife"): 1. A place in
Rephidim iu the wilderness; called also " Massah
and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children
of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord " (Ex.
xvii. 7). It is certainly this Meribah which is al-
luded to inPs. xcv. 8. 2. A place at Kadeshin the
wilderness, the name occurring either as "Me Meri-
bah " (= " the water of Meribah" ; Num. xx. 13, 24) or
as " Me Meribath-Kadesh" (=" the water of Meribah
inKadcsh"; Num. xxvii. 14; Deut. xxxii. 51). The
latter name appears as the southern limit of the land
of Canaan in Ezek. xlvii. 19, xlviii. 28 (=" the waters
of strife in Kadesh"). It must be said, however,
that the Septuagiut invariably translates the word
" Meribah " by }.oiS6pr/otc; and that the Targumim and
the later commentators regard it as a common noun.

It may be seen that the two narratives which
give the origin of the name differ only in that iu
Ex. xvii. 7 Moses is ordered by God to strike tlie
rock, while in Num. xxvii. 14 he is ordered to speak
to the rock, and for disobeying God's order is pun-
ished by not being allowed to enter into the promised
land. Otherwise they are similar. It is for this
reason that some critics regard the one narrative as
a duplicate of the other.

s. M. Sel.

MERIDIAN, DATE- : Imaginary line fixed upon
as the one along which the reckoning of the calen-
dar day changes. East of this line the day is dated
one day earlier than the west of it. The date-
meridian involves many Jewish questions, such as
fixing the Sabbath and the holy days in the Jewish
VIII.— 32

calendar, counting thedaysof mourning, and dating
documents. While in civil matters the Jews proba-
bly would be guided by the international date-liue
180' fromGreenwich, asagreed to by the geographers
of many civilized nations, in religious matters the
Jewish law can not recognize an imaginary date-
liue of recent origin which has not evt^n been adopted
by the majority of nations.

The question does not appear in the Talmud nor
in the early rabbinical literature. It is first men-
tioned in the twelfth century in the

In the "Cuzari" of Judah ha-Levi (ii. 20).
" Cuzari." Jerusalem is generally accepted as the
navel, or center, of the world, as ad-
duced from Ps. 1. 2 (Tosef., Yoma, iii. ; Yoma 564b).
According to the "'Cuzari," the Jewish date-line
is 6 hours, or 90 degrees, east of Jerusalem, and
18 hours, or 270 degrees, west of Jerusalem. Judah
ha-Levi's theory is based on the hypothesis that the
date was fixed at midday when the sun was at its
zenith, shedding light 90 degrees eastward and leav-
ing 270 degrees westward to finisli the day.

Jerusalem is in longitude 35° 13' 25' east of
Greenwich, and according to this Judah ha-Levi's
date-line would be in longitude 125° 13' 25" E.,
making China the Far East and separating it from
Japan, whicli would be the Far West. Corea would
be divided with Seoul (126° 35' E.) to the west.
Under the American date would come Kamchatka,
eastern Siberia, and the Avhole of Australia. On the
other hand, the Philippines, with Manila (120° 58'
3' E.), would come under the Asiatic date.

Phinehas Elijah, the author of " Sefer ha-Berit "
(article iv., cd. Briinn, 1797), raised the question also
regarding the latitudes near the north and south
poles, where night and day may each cover six
months. The author decided in that case to discard
the sunlight as a distinction between night and day,
and to figure 24 hours as a full day. As to the lon-
gitude he was aware that tlie Jews on the two hemi-
spheres did not observe exactly the same day as
Sabbath. He did not, however, attempt to locate
the date-line.

Hayyim Selig Slonimski (d. May 15, 1904) pub-
lished in "Ha-Zefirah," in 1874, an article addressed
to the rabbinate and entitled "What Sabbath Shall
the Jewish Traveler in the Far East Observe?"
Several prominent rabbis took part in the discus-
sion. R. Moses b. Zel)i Lapidus of Raseyn, Russia,
and R. Isaiah Meir Kahana Schapiro of Czortkov,
Galicia, accepted the meridian of Judah ha-Levi;
Schapiro, however, marks it as passing through the
Jordan instead of Jerusalem and thus moves the
meridian about 20 miles eastward.

R. Benjamin Zeeb Wolf Weller of Yaroslav, Ga-
licia, does not admit Judah ha-Levi's autliority to
establish a meridian and objects to any fixed date-
line. In his opinion the method of dating must de-
pend upon the order in which the countries were dis-
covered. Hence far eastern Siberia, Japan, and
Australia should retain the Asiatic or eastern date,
while the Philippine Islands that were discovered
from the American side should retain the American,
or western, date.

R. Weller thinks that one crossing from land dis-
covered from the Asiatic side to land discovered from




the American side, or vice versa, must observe both
his own Sabbath and that of his neighbors to make
sure of the right date. The "natural " meridian, as
R. Weller calls it, was criticized as impracticable,
since discoveries of islands in the Pacific might be
made from opposite coasts in such a way as to carry
the Asiatic date farther west and the American date
farther east. Slonimski, after reviewing the opin-
ions of the rabbis, accepts Judah lia-
Slonim- Levi's view as to the location of the
ski's Me- meridian at Jerusalem, which he ad-
ridian- vocates both from the Jewish-national
Line. and from the geographical standpoint.
But he divides the distance equally,
allowing 180 degrees on each side. According to his
view, the date-line would be in longitude 145° 13
25" west of Greenwich. Slonimski argues that by
allowing an equal portion on either side of the merid-

settler must follow the Jewish date-line 180 degrees
from Jerusalem. No change by the authorities
thereafter can affect the date. Thus
Halakic in the case of the Philippines, where
Points. the change of date occurred in the be-
ginning of the year 1845, if the Jews
living there prior to 1845 adopted the old date, they
must follow it and keep Sunday us the Sabbath-day.
This would apply also to Alaska, where the date
was changed in 1867, when the United States pur-
chased it from Russia. As to the Jewish traveler,
Mohilever decided that privately he must observe
his own Sabbath and in public he ought to observe
also the Sabbath of the place he visits. But if the
traveler intends to settle permanently in that place,
he must adopt its date.

BIBLIOGRAPHY : Lcvi, DWrc Hakamim, Warsaw, 1876.
J. J. D. E.

World on Mercator's Projection Showing Date-Meridians.

ian, tiie extreme difference from the meridian is but
12 hours, whereas Judah ha-Levi's division makes a
difference of 18 hours. Besides, the equal division
places the date-line in the most natural and conve-
nient place in tlie Pacific, and gives the whole Amer-
ican continent, except a small i)art of Alaska near the
Bering Strait, the same dating. This date-line, of
course, excludes the Philippines, and even the Ha-
waiian Islands, from the American date, and the
Jewish settlers on these islands ought to observe the
American Sunday as the sevenlh day, or Sabbath.

R. Samuel Mohilever of Byelostok coincides with
Slonimski, holding, however, that any new Jewisii
settlement must accept the date adopted iiy the au-
thorities of tliat place. But in case of dispute by
the authorities regarding the correct date the Jewish

MERKABAH (lit. "chariot"): The Heavenly
Throne; hence "Ma'aseh Merkabah," the lore con-
cerning the heavenly Throne-Chariot, with especial
reference to Ezek. i. and x. The conception of
Yhwii riding upon cherubim, or fiery cloud-birds,
upon the heavens or tiie clouds, is certainly genuine-
ly Hel)rew(see Ps. xviii. 11 [A. V. 10] ; Dent, xxxiii.
26; Ps. Ixviii. 5 [A. V. 4]; Isa. xix. 1); hence His
"war-chariot" (Ilab. iii. 8 and Isa. Ixvi. 15, Hebr.)
and the name "chariot" for the ark with the cher-
ubim (I Chron. xxviii. 18). Just as the Assyrian sun-
chariot with its horses is employed in the legend of
the ride of Elijah to heaven (II Kings ii. II ; conip.
Enoch Ixx. 2, Ixxii. 5, lxxiii.2), so did the prophet
Ezekiel in his vision, probably suggested by Baby-
lonian sculpture, see Ynwii riding on the Throne-




Chariot when leaviug llio dooint'tl Temple at Jeru-
salem (see Mailer, "Ezeehielstudieii," 1895, pp. 8-11 ;
Bertholet, " Das Buch Hezekiel," 1897, i>. 12). To a
later age Ezekiel's picture l)ecame a sacred mystery
known by tlie term •' Merkabah " as early as the time
of Ben Sira (Ecclus. xlix. 8). The ancient Mishnah
lays down the rule: "The Ma'aseh Merkabah should
not be taught to any one except he be wise and
able to deduce knowledge through wisdom (' gnosis ')
of his own " (Hag. ii. 1). Job beiield the throne of
God, and his daughters sang the doxology of the
Ma'aseh ]\Ierkabah (according to the Testament of
Job, ed. Kohler, vii. 39, xi. 25; see Kohut Memorial
Volume, pp. 282, 288). Quite characteristic is the
story given in Tosef., Hag. ii. 1; Hag. 14b; Yer.
Hag. ii. 77a:

" R. Eleazar ben 'Arak was ridinp on a mule behind R. Joha-
nan b. Zakkai, wben he askej for tlie privileffe of beinp initiated
into tlie secrets of the Merkabah. The preat master demanded
proof of his initiation into the f,Miosis. and wlien Eleazar began
to tell what he had learned thereof, R. Johanan immediately
descended from the mule and sat upon the rock. * Why, () mas-
ter, dost thou descend from the muleV asked the disciple.
'Can I remain mounted upon the mule when the telling of the
secrets of the Merkabah causes the Shekiiuih to dwell with us
and the angels to accompany us '! ' was the answer. Eleazar
continued, and, behold, tire descended from heaven and lit up
the trees of the Held, causing them to sing anthems, and an angel
cried out, ' Iruly these are the secrets of the Merkabah.' Where-
upon H. Johanan kissed Eleazar upon the forehead, saying,
' Rlessed be thou, () father Abraham, that hast a descendant like
Eleazar b. 'Arak I ' Subse(i\iently two other disciples of R. Jo-
hanan b. Zakkai walking together said to each other: 'Let us
also talk together about the Ma'aseh Merkabah ' ; and no sooner
did R. Joshua begin speaking than a rainbow-like appeaiance
[Ezek. i. 2s] was seen upon the thick clouds which covered the
sky, and angels came to listen as men do to liear wedding-music.
On hearing the things related by R. Jose, R. Johanan b. Zakkai
blessed his disciples and said : ' Eilessed the eyes that beheld
these things! Indeed I saw myself in a dream together with
you, seated like the select ones [comp. Ex. xxiv. 11] ujion Mount
Sinai ; and I heard a heavenly voice saying : " Enter the ban-
quet-hall and take your seats with your disciples and disciples'
disciples, among the elect, the highest ('third') class'""
(nreu/naTiKoi ; see Joel, " Blicke in die Religionsgesehichte,' '
1880, pp. ISi-iaS).

Obviously this is a description of an ecstatic state in
which the pictures t^iat the mind forms are beheld
as realities (comp. Tosef., Meg. iv. 28 and Meg. 24 —
"Blind ones saw them"). The study of the Merka-
bah was theosophy ; to the initiated the Hayyot and
the Ofannira around the Heavenly Throne became
beings that lived and moved before their ej'es (oee
Jotll, I.e. p. 152). It was in fact considered perilous

to penetrate into these mysteries. " A

Symbolic youth who studied the ' Hashmal '

Signifi- [Ezek. i. 27, Hebr.] was consumed by

cance. the lire whicli sprang forth from it "

(Hag. 13a; comp. Shab. 80a). Only
the older men dared to be initiated into those mys-
teries. "I am not old enough," said R. Eleazar
when R. Johanan b. Nappaha wished to instruct
him in them. They were to be imparted in sug-
gestions ("initial sentences," "rashe perakim ")
rather than in complete chapters (Hag. 13a). "The
bird that flew over the head of Jonathan b. Uzziel
as he studied them was consumed by the fire sur-
rounding him" (Suk. 28a; comp. Meg. 3a). "Ben
'Azzai was seated meditating on the Torah, when,
behold, a flame encircled him ; the people told R.
Akiba, and he went to Ben 'Azzai, saying, ' Art thou
studying the mysteries of the Merkabah? ' " (Cant.

R. i. 10; Lev. R. xvi.). "In the future Ezekiel wilt
come again ai'.d unlock for Israel the chambers of
the Merkabah " (Cant. R. i. 4).

Glimpses of the mysteries of the Merkabah may
be discerned in such rabbinical sayings as tlie fol-
lowing: "The angel Sandalfou towers above the
lest of the angels the length of a five hundied years'
journey ; his feet touch the earth wliile his Jiead
reaches the holy Hayyot. He stands behind the
Throne-Chariot binding wreaths for his Master"
(Hag. 13b). To R. Ishmael b. Elisha is ascribed the
saying that when olTering tiie incense in the Templa
as high priest he beheld the angel Akatriel (" the
wreath-binding one"; Sandalfon?) seated on the
Tluone and asked him for a blessing (Ber. 7a; comp.
Baeher, "Ag. Tan." i. 267). One of these great
arcliangels is said to equal in size a third part of the
world (Ex. R. iii.). Concerning the lion, the ox, the
eagle, and the man as the four faces of the Hay-
yot, see Hag. 13b; on account of these four, which
carry God's Throne-Chariot, the latter is called also
"Tetramoulon" = " Quadriga" (Ex. R. iii. 3; comp.
Jellinek, "B. II." iii. 92-95).

The Merkabah mysteries, which remained the ex-
clusive property of the initiated ones, the " Zenu'im "
or '' Hashsha'im " (see Essenes), have been preserved
chiefly in the Enoch literature of the pre-Christian
centuries, and in the " Hekalot " of
In the the geonic time, known also as the
Enoch. Lit- "Merkabah" and "Enoch Books" (see

erature. Jellinek, "B. H." ii. 40-47, 114-117,
and Introduction xiv.-xvii., xxx.,
xxxii. ; iii. 83-108, 161-163, and Introducti(m
XX. -XXV. ; V. 170-190 and Introduction xli.-xliii. ;
Wertheimer, "Batte Midrashot," ii. 15-28; see
Hekalot). Part of it has been embodied in the
"payyetan-kedushshah " literature and has found
its way also into other ancient apocrypha, such as
the Testament of Abraham, the Ascensio Isaiie,
etc. Besides the descriptions of the seven heav-
ens with their hosts of angels, and the various
storehouses of the world, and of the divine throne
above the highest heaven, the most remarkable
feature is that the mysteries rest on the belief in
the reality of the things seen in an ecstatic state
brought about by ablutions, fasts, fervent invoca-
tions, incantations, and by other means. This is
called "the Vision of the Merkabah" ("Zefiyat ha-
Merkabah"), and those under this strange hallucina-
tion, who imagine themselves entering the Heavenly
Chariot and floating through the air, are called
" Yorede Merkabah " ( = " those that go down into the
ship-like chariot"; Jellinek, "B. II." iii. 90, 94 et
seq.). In this chariot they are supposed to ascend
to the heavens, wheie in the dazzling light sur-
rounding them they behold the innermost secrets of
all persons and things, otherwise impenetrable and

Particularly significant is the warrior-nature of
the angels surrounding the Throne-Chariot ; fiames
dart forth from their eyes; they ride upon fieiy
horses (comp. Zech. vi. 1-8) and are armed with
weapons of fire (Jellinek, I.e.). In order to be al-
lowed to pass these terrible beings the Merkabah-
rider must provide himself with amulets or seals
containing mysterious names ("Hekalot," I.e.




xvii.-xxii., xxx.), aud in order to be able to step
before the Throne he must recite certain prayers un-
til God Himself addresses him, if he be worthy.
The " Hekalot " mention especially either R. Akiba
■or J{. Ishmael, and their associates of the Bar Kokba
time, as types of the " Yorede Merkabah."

The central figure and cliief actor in thetheophany,
however, is the -'Prince of the Face," ]Met.\tron,
the one next to tiie Throne, whose name, or whose
seventy names, are like God's, and who is none else
than Enoch translated to heaven and transformed
into the highest angel. He is the one who imparted
to man all the knowledge of heaven and of the past
and the future (see especially Jellinek, I.e. v. 170-
17<)), exactly as Enoch did in the Ethiopic and Sla-
vonic Books of Enoch.

Concerning the origin of the Merkabah-ride, Jelli-
nek (-'B. H."iii. p. xxii.) expressed the opinion that
Persian Sutism gave rise to its peculiar notions, and
Bloch C'Monatsschrift," 1893, pp. 18-25, 69-74, 257-
260, 305-311) endeavored to trace them all back to
Arabic mysticism. But recent re-
Origin of searches concerning the Mithra wor-
the Con- ship and the Mithra liturgy have cast
ception. altogether new light on the whole
Merkabah lore. Mithra, the heavenly
charioteer, witii his Quadriga, a chariot drawn by
four horses, who was worshiped in ancient Persia
as the god of light and regarded in early Roman
times as the prime mover of the world, formed of
the four elements (Dio Chrysostomus, "Oratio,"
xxxvi. ; see Cumont, "Die Mysterien des Mithra,"
1903. pp. 87-88; Windischmann, " Zoroastrische
Studien," 1863, pp. 309-312), was invoked under
mysterious rites as the mediator between the inac-
cessible and unknowable Deity, in the ethereal re-
gions of light, and man on earth (Cumont, I.e. \)\).
95, 122). These rites bear such a striking resem-
blance to those by means of which the Merka
bail-riders approached the Deity that there can
scarcely be any doubt as to the Mithraic origin of
the latter (see Dieterich, "Eine Mithrasliturgie,"
1903, pp. 7-15). The only difference between them
IS that while the Mithra-worshipers, at least those of
Roman times, had the coming forth of Mithra as
the highest god their aim, the Merkabah-riders have
the seeing of the Lord on high as their goal, Meta-
tron-Mithra, the archangel, being the divine char-
ioteer who ushers them into the presence of God.
Otherwise there is the same hallucination at work
which makes the ecstatic imagine that he is lifted
up from the earth to heaven to see the sun, stars,
and winds come forth from their places; to behold
the sun (or sun-god) and the entire celestial house-
hold, the seven rulers of the celestial poles, or the
archangels; and finally to gaze at the luminous
youthful Mithra in all his beauty— the youthful
Metatron of the Jewish mystics (see Cumont, I.e.
pp.' 117, 151, etal.).

Such spiritualistic experiences through mystic
rites had their origin in Egypt rather than in Persia,
Jamblichus (•' De Mysteriis," iii. 4, 5) describes the
optic and acoustic illusions under which tlie Egyp-
tian mystic labored as if they were realities, and at
the same time he states that in the ecstatic state
brought about l)y magic songs and proper environ-

ment the .soul is encompassed by a chariot of light
and ether {aiHii)io)(Ux jai nryoeK^tr bx'/fi(i), on which it
beholds tlie heavenly things in the light reflected
from above (iii. 14; see Von Harless, "Das Buch
von der Aegyptischen Mysterien," pj). 53-54, 65-66).
Neoplatouic ideas, accordingly, aided in rendering
the Mithra worship the center of the mystic belief
in which the world of antiquity sought relief during
the period when the gods of classical antiquity were
losing their authority and divinity ; and Jewish wis-
dom, following the tendency of the age, embodied
it, under the name of Enoch Metatron, as secret lore
in its system (see Metatkon).

Philo took the idea of the Merkabah with its char-
ioteer Metatron and applied it to his Logos ("De
Somniis," i. 25; " Quis Rerum Divinarum Meres
Sit," §§ 42, 48; " De Profugis," § 19; "De Confu-
sione Linguarum," § 28; "De Monarchia," i. 1;
comp. Plato, "Phajdrus," ii. 46). Maimonides
("Moreh Nebukim," iii. 1-7), in his antagonism to
mysticism, went so far as to dissolve the whole Mer-
kabah theophany of Ezekiel into mere physics, not-
withstanding the rabbinical warning against disclo-
sing these mysteries (see Pes. 119a). All the stronger,
therefore, grew the zeal of the mystics, as is
evidenced in the renewed form of the Cabala, which
lent to the Merkabah lore and all the ecstatic visions
and mystic operations connected therewith new life
and vigor; of this the Book of Raziel and the later
Cabala are ample proof. See Ma'aseh Bekeshit.


MEBNEPTAH (Greek, MEve(pdec): Egyptian
king, tlie fourth of the 19th dynasty ; a promi-
nent figure in the discussions concerning the his-
toricaluess and chronology of Israel's exodus from
Egypt. He was the son and successor of the famous
Rameses II. (Sesostris), who is known to have built
the cities enumerated in Ex. i. 11. Consequently,
no conclusion seemed more certain than this: Ram-
eses II. was the Pharaoh of the oppression ; Mernep-
tah, that of the Exodus, which thus would date
from the middle or end of the thirteenth century
B.C. The discovery of the famous Israel inscription
by Petrie ("Six Temples," plates 13-14) has now
made this conclusion very doubtful. Line 27 in this
inscription, a song of triumph over all foreign ene-
mies of Egypt (Libyans, Hittites, Canaan, Ashke-
lon, Gezer, Yenu'ama). closes with the words:
"Israel [" Y-s-ir(a)-'a-ra"] is annihilated [pulled
out], without any [further] growth; Palestine has
become like a widow [i.e., helpless] for Egypt."
These words, dating from the fifth year of Mernep-
tah, seem to point most naturally to Israel as settled
in Palestine ; though they have been construed as
an allusion to the twelve tribes still wandering in
the desert or still being held under bondage in

Merneptah reigned for at least twenty-five years,
the first five of which were filled with desperate at-
tacks on Egypt by Liliyan tribes and by pirates
from Europe and Asia Minor. Palestine and central
Syria remained tributary, however. The buildings
of the king (at Karnak, etc.) are not considerable.
His mummy has recently been found at Thebes, and
is now in the Museum at Cairo.

E. G. H. W. M. M.




MERODACH-BALADAN : King of Babylon
(712 B.C.), who sent letters and a present to Hezc-
kial), King of Jutlah, when the latter had recovered
from his sickness. Hezekiah, delighted with the
cf)urte3y, shows the messengers all his treasures,
withholding nothing from tiiem. Whereupon the
prophet Isaiah, hearing of the visit, comes to Heze-
kiah and reproves liim for the display he has made
of his riches. He foretells the destruction of Heze-
kiah's kingdom, and tlie Babylonian captivity (Isa.
xxxix.). In the parallel account in II Kings xx.
12-19 the name of this king is given as Berodach-

According to the Talmud, Baladan's face was
changed to that of a dog, he being thereby com-
pelled to abdicate the throne in favor of his sou
Merodach. Out of reverence, Merodach in all his
edicts and ordinances added his name to that of his
father in order to indicate that he really was only the
representative of the latter (Sanh. 96b).

8. 8. L. G.— A. Pe.

MEB.OM : " The waters of Merom " is given in
Josh. xi. 5 as the name of the place at which the
hosts of the peoples of northern Palestine assembled

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