Isidore Singer.

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Luristan. In the Hebrew Scriptures Media and the
Medes are mentioned more than a dozen times. The
antiquity of the name is believed to be shown by its
having been borne by Noah's grandson Madai, son of
Japheth (Gen. x. 3 [A. V. 2]), who is commonly re-
garded as the progenitor of the Median race, Mount
Ararat being within the ancient Median borders.
From the Bible, furthermore, it is known that Israel-
ites were placed in cities of the Medes by Shalman-
eser. King of Assyria, after his conquest of Samaria
(II Kings xvii. 6, xviii. 11); and Media is referred to
under the form "Amada" or "Madai" in the records
of this king and of Tiglath-pileser. Allusions to
Media in connection with Persia are not rare in cer-
tain books of the Scriptures; and the laws of the
Medes and Persians became a synonym for all that
was fixed and unalterable (Esth. i. 3, 14, 18, 19; x. 2;
Dan. V. 28, vi. 8, viii. 20). The part taken by Media
and Elam, meaning Persia, in the overthrow of
Babylon forms a portion of the prophecy of the
elder Isaiah (Isa. xiii. 17, xxi. 2; comp. also Jer. xxv.
25). At Ecbatana, in the province of the Medes,
moreover, was found the famous edict of Cyrus
granting a decree for the building of
In Bible, the Temple at Jerusalem (Ezra vi. 2;
I Esdras vi. 23). The same capital
is prominent likewise in the Book of Judith (Judith
i. 1 et seq.); and the ancient Median city Rhages
figures elsewhere in this book and strikingly in the
narrative of Tobit (Judith i. 5, l.'j; Tobit i. 14, v. 5,
vi. 10). On the identification of "Darius the Me-
dian " and on Daniel's position under his rule (Dan.
V. 28, vi. 8. viii. 20, ix. 1, xi. 1), see Daniel;

With regard to Media as a factor in tlie world's
history, the antiquity of the people as an Iranian
nation is conceded, even though tiie existence of a
so-called Median empire in very remote times may
be open to some doubt. According to the fragments
of Berosus of Babylon, however, the Median royal
line extended back almost two thousand years be-
fore the time of Alexander tlie Great;
Ctesias' and tlie historian Ctesias pretends to
Account, give a list of kings and their reigns
running back nearly to 1000 u.c. For
historic purposes, however, tlie story of Media begins
witii Dejoces (At/Ukti^), wiiom Herodotus ("Hist."
i. 16 et seq.) describes ns the founder of tlie empire.
This monarch is mentioned as *• Dayaukku " in the
inscriptions of Sargon : and he ruled over Media

from 709 to 656 B.C. or, more exactly, from 700 to
647. He was succeeded by Phraortes (Old Persian,
"Fravartish"), who extended the boundaries and
sway of Media and ruled from 647 to 625. Phra-
ortes in turn was followed by Cyaxares (Old Persian,
"[HJuvaxshatara"; Babylonian, " Uvakuishtar "),
whose reign (625-585 B.C.) formed the culmination
of the Median ascendency. It was under this ruler,
in alliance with Nabopalasar, King of Babylon, that
the destruction of Nineveh and the overthrow of the
Assyrian empire took place (c. 607-604 B.C.). His
successor was Astyages (Bab. " Ishtuvegu"), whom
Oriental tradition erroneously identifies with the
legendary Azh-Dahak of Babylon. With the rule
of Astyages (585-550 B.C.) came the decline and
final overthrow of Media by Persia under Cyrus.
The Median supremacy was lost sight of in the
greater glory of Persia. Thenceforth the two na-
tions came to be regarded as one, their names being
often united and used interchangeably, although
divisions were recognized. After the death of Alex-
ander the Great, for example, Media Minor, which
corresponds roughly to Azerbaijan, was distin-
guished from Media Major, which became a part of
the Syrian empire; and, again. Media Major was
later comprised in the Parthian domain and was
finally included in the great empire of the Sassa-

From the religious standpoint also Media is im-
portant because Zoroaster is believed to have arisen
in that country; and the similarities between Zoroas-
trianism and Judaism are many and striking. See
AvESTA ; Persia.

Bibliography: F. Justi, Qesth. Ivans von den Aelteaten
Zeitcn, in Geiger and Kuhn, Grundriss dcr Iranischen Phi-
lologie, pp. 406-415. Strasburg, 1897 ; Rawlinson, Fire Gieat
Motiarcliicff nf the Ancient Eaxtcrn iro?-id, vols. lii.-iT.,
London, 1865; M. Duncker, Gesc/i. dcs Alterthiims, heipsic,
1877 (= History nf Aiitiquitij, Eng. transl. by E. Abbott,
London, 1881) ; J. Oppert, Le Peuple et la Langxie des Medes,
Paris, 1879; Ed. Mever, Gesch. des Alterthums, Stuttgart,
1884 ; Idem, Die E7ii»tehung des Judeyithums, Halle, 1896.
G. A. V. W. J.

MEDIATOR (Greek, Mm/rw): An agent that
goes between; one who interposes between parties
at variance; in particular, an intercessor between
God and man. Judaism recognizes in principle no
mediatorship between God and man. "The Lord
alone did lead him [Israel], and there was no strange
god with him" (Deut. xxxii. 12). "See now that I,
even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill,
and I make alive ; I wound, and I heal " {ib. 39).
"In his love and in his pity he redeems them; and
he bare them and carrietl them" (Isa. Ixiii. 9).
"What nation is there so great, who bath God so
nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things
that we call upon him for?" (Deut. iv. 7). AVhen
told by God that Israel should henceforth be led by
an angel, ]\roses rejilied: "If thy presence go not
with me, carry us not up hence" (PJx. xxxiii. 15).
Still for the people the distance between the Deity
and frail humanity was too great to be overcome by
the spiritual elTort of the multitude or of the com-
mon individual. Hence the prophet, believed to
be in constant communion with God, is viewed in
Scripture as the fit person to intercede on behalf of
men in trouble. Thus Abraham is empowered by
God to pray for pardon and restored health for


































Abimelech (Gen. xx. 7, 17; comp. ib. xviii. 23-33).
Moses intercedes on behalf of Pharaoh and the
Egyptians (Ex. viii. 5-8, 24-26; ix. 28-33; x. 17-18)
and also on behalf of his own people (t6. xvii. 11,
xxxii. 11; Deut. ix. 18); likewise Samuel (I Sam.
vii. 5; xii. 19, 23; comp. Ps. xcix. 6), Jeremiah (Jer.
XV. 1), and Job (Job xlii. 7; comp. Ezek. xiv. 14-
20). Noah, Daniel, and Job save their generations
by their righteousness.

In the Apocryphal and Hellenistic literature the
idea of mediatorship is more pronounced. Jere-
miah is frequently mentioned as the one who "pray-

eth much for the people " (II Mace.

In Apocry- xv. 14); " whose Avorks are to this city

phal and [Jerusalem] as a firm pillar and whose

Hellenistic prayers as a strong wall " (Apoc. Ba-

Literature. ruch, ii. 2 ; " Rest of the Words of Ba-

ruch," i. 2, ii. 3; comp. Jer. vi. 27;
Pesik. 115b). According to Tobit (iii. 26), angels
bring the praj^ers of men before God's throne.
Enoch is asked by the fallen angels to intercede for
them (Enoch, xiii. 4-7). Abraham is described as
interceding for the sinners in a state of suspense
(Testament of Abraham, xiv. ; comp. Luke xvi. 24).
Moses was "the advocate of Israel who bent his
knees day and night in prayer to make intercession
for his people" (Assumptio Mosis, xi. 17, xii. 6).
The Patriarchs in heaven were believed to be inter-
cessors for the living (Philo, "De Execratiouibus,"
§9; Lam. R., Introduction, 25; comp. Josephus,
"Ant." i. 13, § 3); for all the righteous souls (Sibyl-
lines, ii. 331). Remarkable is the warning of Enoch
to his children : " Say not our father stands before
God and prays for us to be released from sin ; for
there is no person there to help any man that hath
sinned " (Slavonic Enoch, liii. 1 ; comp. Isa. Ixiii. 16).
In principle the Rabbis were against prayers to
angels for intercession. Says R. Judan: "A man

in trouble who has a great man for a

In Rab- patron stands at the door awaiting

binical the answer the servants will bring.

Literature, whether or not he will be permitted

to approach him for aid. He who
needs God's help ought not to ask the assistance of
either Michael or Gabriel or any other angel, but
should turn immediately to God; for whosoever
siiall call on the name of God shall be delivered "
(Yer. Ber. ix. 13a, after Joel iii. 5 [A. V. ii. 32]).
"However exalted the Mo'^t High is, let but a man
enter His liouse and whisper a prayer and the Al-
mighty listens as a friend to wliom a secret is con-
fided" (Yer. Ber. I.e.).

Nevertheless, to judge from the early Christian
writers (Col. ii. 19; Origen, "Contra Celsum," i. 26,
V. 6; Clement, "Stromata," vi. 5, 41; Aristides,
"Apologue," xiv.), angels were often invoked bj-
certain (Gnostic?) cla.sses of Jews. The passage in
Job x.xxiii. 23 (comp. v. 1) also led tiie Rabbis to
as.siime that angels plead for men at tiie throne of
God (Yer. Kid. i. 61d). Shab. 12b reads: "He who
prays in the Aramaic, language will lack the aid of
angels, whose language is Hebrew," while from
Tosef., Hul. ii. 18 (comp. Mek., Yitro, Ex. xx. 4) it
may be learned that angel-worship was not unknown
in certain Jewish circles. And this led eventually,
notwithstanding the opi)Osition of many rabbinical

authorities (see the pas.sages in Zunz, "G. V." pp.
147-149), to the introduction even into the liturgy
of prayers addressed to the angels and seeking their
mediation. The Ineffable Name, the divine attri-
bute of mercy, the thirteen attributes of God (see
Middot; Shelosh 'Esreii), the holy throne, the
gates of heaven, and the Torali were also appealed
to in the liturgy (see Zunz, I.e.). A great sinner
in the Talmud invokes the mountains and the stars
to pray for him ('Ab. Zarah 17a).

Especially was Michael invoked as intercessor for
the Jewish people (Dan. xii. 1; see Ltlcken, "Mi-
chael," 1898, pp. 11-25). Metatron (Mithra) also is
frequently mentioned in Gnostic circles together
with Michael as mediator of the Revelation (Sanh.
38b, with reference to Ex. xxiii. 21; Gen. R. v.;
comp. Tan., Mishpatim, ed. Buber, p. 12). Right-
eous souls also appear as intercessors (Tanna debe
Eliyahu R. iii.).

The Rabbis, however, insisted upon not allow-
ing God's absolute sovereignty and power to be in-
fringed through the interference of angels. "The
angels were created on the second day so that it
should not be believed that they had a share in the
creation of the world" (Gen. R. i., iii.). The Lord
Himself, and no angel, or seraph, or other mes-
senger of His, smote the Egyptians at the time of
Israel's redemption from Egypt (Passover Hagga-
dah; Mek., Bo, 7); though in the destruction of
Sodom, Gabriel assisted (Gen. R. Ii. 8).

That the Law was given to the people or to Moses

through angels is a belief ascribed to the Jews by

Josephus ("Ant." xv. 15, § 3), by

Moses the Paul (Gal. iii. 19; Heb. ii. 2), and by

Mediator Stephen (Acts vii. 38, 53; comp.
of the Apoc. Mosis, i. ; Book of Jubilees, i.
Law. 27; Hermas, "Similitude," viii. 3,3,

where Michael is mentioned as media-
tor of the Book of the Law). Rabbinical teach-
ing, on the other hand, con.sistently opposed the
idea of such a mediatorship. "When the Lord
spoke with Moses the angels who stood between them
(lid not hear a word" (Num. R. xiv., end; comp.
Sifre, Num. 58). Moses alone is viewed in rabbin-
ical literature as the mediator ("sirsur" = "go-be-
tween ") between God and Israel (Pesik. R. vi. ; Ex.
R. iii. 6, vi. 3: Num. Ii. xi. 5). In Hellenistic
literature also Moses is called " mediator," Mm/r^^c
(Philo, "De Vita Moysis," iii. 19; Assumjitio Mosis,
i. 14, iii. 12; Gal. iii. 19). The Samaritans call
Moses the "Mesites" (see Banetli, "Marqah," 1888,
]■). 48), and he is actually invoked as intercessor
by them (see "J. Q. R." viii. 604). At the same
time the Midrash (Lekah Tob on Deut. xxxiii. 4)
says: "No one knows the jtlacc where Moses is
buried, so that no one should ever sacrifice at his
grave, or worshiji him, or bring incense-offerings
to him." •■ Wherefore cricst thou to ine?" (E.\. xiv.
15) is thus explained by the Rabl)is: "There is no
need of asking God concerning His children, as He
Himself is in distress when His rliil<lien suffer."
"My children have already ])raye(l to j\Ie, and I
liave heard their prayer," said God to Moses (Ex.
R. xxi. ; Cant. R. i. 2"; Mek., Beshallah, 3).

Philo, however, speaks of "The Word " ("Logos")
as the mediator between two worlds. "The Father




•who created the universe has given to His arch-
angclic and most ancient Word a preeminent gift to
stand on the confines of both; while separating the
created things from the Creator he pleads before the
immortal God on behalf of the mor-

Philo's tal race which sins continually, and is

Logos. the ambassador sent by the Ruler to
the subject race. He exults in this
ofiice and boasts of it, sajing : ' I stood in the midst
between the Lord and you ' " (Num. xvi. 48). From
this it was but one step to claim for Jesus the same
cosmic mediatorship, as Paul and liis followers did
while presenting him as the mediator of the new
covenant and the restorer of the relations between
mar and God which had been broken through sin (I
Tim. ii. 5; Heb. viii. 6, ix. 15, xii. 24). Against
this teaching R. Akiba declares: "Happy are ye
Israelites! Before whom do ye cleanse yourselves,
and who cleanses you from sin? None but your
Father in Heaven; for Scripture says: 'I shall
sprinkle upon you clean waters, and ye shall be
clean ' (Ezek. xxxvi. 25), and 'Israel's hope ["mik-
•weh "] is the Lord ' (Jer. xvii. 13). Like the
mikweh, 'the Fountain of Water, 'so is the Lord
the source of purification for all impurities " (Yo-
ma viii. 9).

Regarding the function of the priests. Judaism is
also very outspoken in denying to any human being
the power of conferring any blessing upon the peo-
ple. The words "And they shall put my name
upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them"
(Num. vi. 27) are thus commbnted upon (Sifre,
Num. 43; Num. R. xi., end): "Israel is not to be-
lieve that its blessing depends upon the priests,
nor should the priests claim the power of blessing
for themselves ; but God alone is He who confers the

Maimonides in the fifth article of his creed lays
especial stress upon prayer being offered exclusively
to God and to no other being; and in his commen-
tary (Sanh. xi.)he points out particularly that the
angels should not be appealed to as mediators or in-
tercessors between God and man. In the same man-
ner Nahmanides declares it wrong to pray to angels
as intercessors (see his discourse "Torat Adonai,"
ed. Jellinek, pp. 30-31). Lipman of Miihlhausen in
his "Nizzahon," pp. 12, 132, writes: "Our rabbis
have rejected every kind of mediatorship, referring
to the Scripture: 'Him alone shalt thou worship,
and to him shalt thou cleave ' (Deut. x. 20). Every
appeal to intercessors leads to idolatry and to im-
purity." The remark of Abraham ibn Ezra (com-
mentary on the Pentateuch, Introduction), " The
angel that mediates between man and God is reason, "
is characteristic of the spirit of Judaism.

Bibliography: Hamburger, R. B. T. ii. 138-142, s.v. Mittel-
ocler Uitmittelbarheit Gottes.

i '^^■

I MEDICINE.— In Bible and Talmud : The

■ ancient Hebrew regarded health and disease as ema-

i nating from the same divine source. "I kill, and I

I make alive; I wound, and I heal" (Deut. xxxii. 39),

1 said the Lord through His servant Moses; and there-

1 fore they who minister to the health of their fellows

. are regarded as the messengers of God, as the execu-
tors of His will. Although Ynwii is the physician

of Israel (Ex. xv. 26), j'et the practise of medicine
is sanctioned by the Law : " If men strive together,
and one smite another . . . and . . . hekeepethhis
bed ... he shall pay for the loss of his time, and
shall cause him to be thoroughly healed " (?6. xxi.
18-19). Joseph employed house physicians (Gen.
1. 2); and Isaiah mentions especially a surgeon
or wound-dresser (Isa. iii. 7). Among the Jews,
unlike other primitive nations, the priests did not
monopolize the art and science of healing. Moses
assigned to them only the task of police supervision
in cases of contagious diseases. The Bible does not
mention a single instance of a priest having per-
formed the functions of a physician. The Prophets^
however, practised occasionally the art of healing.
Elijah brought to life a child apparently dead (I
Kings xvii. 17-22); and his disciple Elisha performed
a similar miraculous cure (II Kings iv. 18-20, 34-
35). A man of God restored the paralyzed hand of
King Jeroboam (I Kings xiii. 4-6). Isaiah cured
King Hezekiah of an inflammation by applying a
plaster made of figs (II Kings xx. 7).

At a later period physicians were held in high es-
teem by the people, as may be gatliered from Ben Si-
ra: " Honor a physician with the honor due unto him
for the uses which ye may have of him, for the
Lord hath created him. . . . The Lord has created
medicines out of the earth : and he that is wise will
not abhor them. . . . And He has given men skill
that He might be honored in His marvelous works.
. . . My son, in thy sickness be not negligent; . . .
give place to the physician ; ... let him not go from
thee, for thou hast need of him" (Ecclus. [Sirach]
xxxviii. 1-12). Afterward the status of the medical
profession became still more exalted. The court
of justice (" bet din ") employed in certain cases the
services of a physician ("rofe"), whose expert tes-
timony was decisive in criminal matters. In cases
of assault, for instance, it was his duty to give his
opinion ("umdena") as to the danger to the life of
the assaulted (Sanh. 78a; Git. 12b). Corporal pun-
ishment was inflicted under the supervision of a
physician (Mak. 22b). No physician was permitted
to practise Avithout a license froxn the local judicial
council (B. B. 21a; Mak. 20b). Every city was re-
quired to have at least one physician ; and to live
in a city that liad none was considered hazardous
(Sanh. 17b).

The medical knowledge of the Talmudists was
based upon tradition, the dissection of human bodies,
observation of diseases, and experiments upon ani-
mals (" 'issuk be-debarim " ; Hul. 57b).
Sources of When making their rounds phy-sicians

Medical used to take their apprentices with

Knowl- them (Deut. R. x.). In the majority
edge. of cases the art of healing was trans-
mitted from father to son (Yer. R. H.
i. 3, 57b). The numerous medical aphorisms pre-
served in the Talmudimaiid Midrashim, and the fact
that physicians took part in the discussion of many
important religious questions by the Rabbis, indi-
cate that the latter were not unacquainted with the
science of medicine (Naz. 52a; Nid. 22b). That the
demand upon the skill of physicians was considera-
ble may be adduced from the statute law prohibiting
the pai-t owner of a house from renting his part to




a physician on account of the noise and disturbance
caused by the visiting patients (B. B. '21a). Pliysi-
cians received for their services comparatively large
fees. A current saying was: "A physician who
takes nothing is worth nothing " (B. K. 85a).

What was the sum total of medical knowledge
possessed by the ancient Hebrews can not be stated
definitely, for the reason that neither the Bible nor
the Talmud contains medical treatises as such. The
Mislinah mentions a medical book, "Sefer Refu'ot,"
which was attributed to King Solomon and expur-
gated by King Hezekiah (Pes. iv. 9), and the Talmud
cites a treatise on pharmacology, "Megillat Samma-
nin " (Yoma 38a) ; but ueitlier of these has been pre-
served. Medicine was an integral part of the religion
of the Jews; and medical subjects are treated of or
alluded to only in so far as they concern or eluci-
date some point of law.

There are in the Bible but few direct references
to the internal organs. Biblical poetry, however,
abounds with expressions in which tlie
Anatomy, names of sucli organs are used meta-
phorically, e.g. : "His archers compass
me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and
doth not spare; he pouretli out my gall upon the
ground" (Job xvi. 13); "His vessels are full of
healthy fluid, and the marrow of his bones is well
moistened" (ib. xxi. 24, Hebr.); "lam weary; . . .
my tliroat is dried " (Ps. Ixix.). See Anatomy.

The laws concerning clean (" tohorah ") and un-
clean ("tum'ah ") afford means for ascertaining in
part the familiarity of the ancient Hebrews with
certain branches of anatomy. According to the
Mosaic law (Num. xix. 14), any one who comes in
contact with a dead body or any part thereof, or
who remains in a tent wherein a corpse is found, is
considered infected ("unclean") for seven days.
Tlie Mishnah teaches that this tent-infection
("tum'at ohel ") takes place in the presence either
of a complete corpse, or of an anatomical unit or
member ("eber"), i.e., a bone covered with its soft
parts. A bone .stripped of its soft parts does not
infect. Should, however, a collection of such bones,
by either their bulk or number, represent more than
half of the skeleton (" sheled "), their infecting power
is e(|ual to that of a complete corpse (Oh. i. et seq.).
This law made it imperative that the number of
bones in the human body should be ascertained.
Oh. i.-viii. gives tiie number as 248; and the fol
lowing bones are recognized and named: hand
("pissat ha-yad ") 30; forearm ("kaneh ") 2; elbow -
joint (" marpek ")2; arml ; shoulder-joint (" kataf "),
including shoulder-blade (" kanaf "), 4 ;
Ooteolog-y. foot (" pissat haregel ") 30 ; ankle-joint
("kar.sol") 10; leg 2; knee-joint (" 'ar-
kub"), including knee-cap (" pikah ") 5; tliigh 1 ;
liip joint (•• kotlit "), including head of femur (" buka
de-itma ") and innominate bone ("keliboset "), 3;
spinal column ("shedrah '") made up of vertebra'
("hulyot") 18; ribs 11; breast-bone ("mafteah .shei-
leb")C; sjicrum and coccyx ("'ukaz") 6; and liead
9, in wiiich were recognized the vertex ("kederaii "),
two condyloid processes, tin; foramen magnum, tlie
fontanels, maxillary bone, maxillary arch ("gabbot
ha-zakan "), and the nasal ])one(" 'ezem ha hotam ").
This enumeration jjave rise to numerous ilispules as

to the number of bones constituting a normal skele-
ton. The disciples of R. Ishmael, in order to settle
this question, obtained the body of a young harlot
who had been put to death, and, having subjected
it to prolonged boiling ("shelikah "), counted the
bones and found the number of them to be 253
(Bek. 45a). Neither of the numbers given agrees
with modern anatomical knowledge. The explana-
tion of the discrepancy is to be found in the youth-
ful age of the subject used, many of the bones not
having become completely ossified ; also the pro-
longed boiling caused them to be separated into
their original component parts, so that the Talmud-
ists counted the epiphysis and diaphysis as separate
bones. As an expert osteologist is mentioned Theo-
dos, a well-known physician (Naz. 52a).

The Bible speaks of muscles under the general

term "flesh" ("basar"). The abdominal muscles

are mentioned in Job xl. 16. The psoas muscle is

mentioned in the Talmud (Hul. 93a); and Rab His-

dai made the remarkable observation

Myology, that the psoas in all clean animals, i.e.,

those that chew the cud and whose

hoofs are cleft, has two accessory muscles whose

respective fibers run longitudinally and transversely

{ib. 59a). Tendons are frequently mentioned under

the term "giddim."

The salivary glands or "fountains" (Niddah 55b)
are situated in the cavity of the mouth (Ab. R. N.
xxxi.) and under the tongue (Lev. R. xvi.). The
capacity of the pharynx ("bet ha-beli'ah") was
found by experiment to be larger than it seems. A
hen's egg can easily be swallowed whole (Yoma
80a). The esophagus ("weshet ") and larynx ("ka-
neh ") have their respective origins in the pharynx.
The structure of the esophagus is composed of two
layers ("orot") — an outer, mu.scular one and aa
inner, serous one (Hul. 43a). The inner layer
has longitudinal folds throughout its length, ex-
cept at the upper part, which is called "tarbez
ha-weshet " {ib. 43b). The lower portion of the
inner layer is supplied with hair-like projections
{ib. 44a).

The larynx ("kaneh," "gargeret") is composed of
a large ring of cricoid cartilage ("tabba'at gedolah "),

Online LibraryIsidore SingerThe Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 8) → online text (page 99 of 169)