Isidore Singer.

The 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 11) online

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sumptuary law, it represents a tendency stronger
than law.

The change in burial customs in Mishnaic and
Talmudic times — from the elaborate processions and
costly scaffoldings and hangings, cerements, and
coffins which had been the custom since early Bib-
lical times — is treated in Jew. Encyc. iii. 436a, s.v.
Buiii.\L, where the most important reference is that
to Yer. M. K. 32b. Here may be added what is
said in a baraita (M. K. 27a): "Formerly they
brought the [bodies of the] rich to the liouse of
mourning in nettings of silver and gold, but those
of the poor in baskets of wickerwork; thus the poor
were put to shame. Accordingly the rule ["tak-
kanah "] was made that every one should bring [his
corpse?] in a basket of wickerwork." Again:
"Formerly [at. funerals], in .serving drink white glass
was used in the hou-ses of the rich, and colored
[dark] glass in the houses of the poor, which shamed
the poor. The rule was therefore made that drink
should be served everywhere in dark glass. For-
merly they were accustomed to lay bare the faces of
the rich, but cover the faces of the poor,
the latter looked blackish froniscautv nourishment;
so the rule was made to cover the faces of all
corpses." In other words, the customs were changed
in all cases to those which of necessity prevailed
among the poor.

In the later Middle Ages sumptuary laws were
often made by the Rabbis or by the communal au-
thorities of cities or districts ; and sometimes they were
imposed on the Jews of this or that country by the
king or other ruler, who begrudged them the pleas-
ure of seeing their wives and daughters in rich attire.
Israel Abraliams, in liis "Jewish Life in the Middle
Ages," gives examples of sumptuary laws proceeding
from the latter as well as from the former source;
e.g., on p. 144, a decree by the Jewish community
of Forli limiting the number of guests at a wedding
or a " berit milah " ; p. 145, a limitation of the weight
of silver goblets; p. 181, a limitation in Italy on the
number of finger-rings; p. 277, a reproof by the
King of Castile concerning the rich dresses of the
Jewesses; p. 291, reproofs by Italian rabbis relating
to the rich attire of the men, even on the Sabbath;
pp. 2-4 and 295, regulations, also in Italy, against
jewelry and pearls, worn both by men and by
women. Regulations like those of the baraita were
sometimes made to lessen the gulf between the rich
and the poor, but oftener to disarm the ill-will of
the Gentile oppressor.

w. B. L. N. D.




SUN (Hebrew, "sliemesh,"and, poetically, "ham-
mah" [=: "heat"] and "heres").— Biblical Data:
The conceptions of the Hebrews with regard to phys-
ical phenomena were those tiiat obtained among
their neighbors, tlie sun being considered as a
torch or light ("ma'or") suspended in the firma-
ment (Gen. i. 16). It was created on the fourth day
together with the moon, the two constituting the
great lights; and as the larger of them, the sun was
given dominion over the day (if). ; Ps. cxxxvi. 2).
The sun had a habitation (Hal), iii. [A. V. ii.] 11),
a tent (Ps. xix. 5), a bridal cliamber, as it were(Ps.
xix. 6), from which it came forth ("yaza," "zarah,"
Gen. xix. 23; Nah. iii. 17; Ex. xxii. 2; Eccl. i. 5)
and to which it returned ("bo," Gen. xv. 12, 17;
xxviii. 11; Ex. xxii. 25; Josh. x. 27; comp. Eccl. i.
5); hence the East is known as "Mizrah" (Josh.
xiii. 5; Judges xxi. 19: I Kings x. 33), and the West
as"Mabo" (Josh. i. 4, xxiii. 4), while the phrase

"from the rising [going forth] of the

Early Con- sun \mto the going down [coming

ceptions back] of the same," designates the

of It. whole extent of the earth (Ps. cxiii.

3; Mai. i., xi. ; Isa. xlv. 6, where the
term "ma'arab," which etymologically means "go-
ing back," is used to denote the "setting." "Un-
der the sun " is another idiomatic phrase to con-
note the earth: it is a favorite expression of the
author of Ecclesiastes (Eccl. i. 3, 9, 14; ii. 11, 17
et seq.).

As in the latitudes in which the Hebrews lived
the variations in the daily course of the sun are in-
significant for practical purposes, the phrase " the
time the sun is hot" (1 Sam. xi. 9; Neh. vii. 3) de-
notes a definite portion of the day, from noon to
four in the afternoon, after which, the heat decreas-
ing, the sun draws nearer the hour of its "coining
back" (A. V. "going down"), which it was sup-
posed to know (Ps. civ. 19). The sun is subject to
God's will: were He to so order, it would cease
to shine (Job ix. 7). God orders its course (Ps.
Ixxiv. 16). The sun is benevolent (II Sam. xxiii. 4):
it brings forth the fruits of the earth (Deut. xxxiii.
14). The light is sweet; and it is delightful for
the eyes to behold the sun (Eccl. xi. 7). But at
times the great luminary produces evil: it scorches
and consumes (Ps. cxxi. 6; Isa. xlix. 10; Jonah iv.
8; Ecclus. [Sirach] xliii. 3, 4); for from its heat
"there is nothing hid" (Ps. xix. 7). It has power
(Judges V. 31), which explains why the lovers of
Yhwh are likened to the sun rising in its might.
Sunstroke was dreaded (comp. Ps. cxxi. 6).

The sun is used as a simile of lasting fame (ib.
Ixxii. 17). The enduring nature of David's dynasty

is expressed by the statement that his

Used as a throne shall be b(;fore Yhwh as the

Simile. sun (ib. Ixxxix. 38 [A. V. 36]). The

sun is used also asa symbol of victory
and might (Yhwh is " a sun and a shield " ; ih. Ixxxiv.
12 [11]). Like the dawn, which has wings (ib.
cxxxix. 9) and eyelids (Job iii. 9, xli. 10), the sun is
credited with wings on which it, as the sun of rigiit-
eousness, shall carry healing (Mai. iii. 20 [A. V. iv.
2]). The sun is an emblem of beauty also (Cant. vi.
11); it typifies the progress of a good man towaid
perfection (Prov. iv. 18); and as the great luminary

(Ecclus. [Sirach] xvii. 31) it is the adornment of the
heavens {ib. xxvi. 16).

In the apocalyptic descriptions of the end of time,
tire sun's darkening at rising is accentuated as one
of the tokens of impending judgment (Isa. xiii. 10).
At noonday the sun will set (ib. Ix. 2; Jer. xv. 9;
Amos viii. 9; Mic. iii. 6). On the other hand, in the
D.w OF THE Loud the sun will shine seven times
more brightly than usual (l&i. xxx. 26); indeed,
Israel's sun will no more go down, as God Himself
will be an everlasting light [ib. Ix. 19-20).

The Bible records two occurrences in which the
regularity of the sun's daily progress was appar-
ently suspended. (1) It is reported that at Josliua's
command the sun stood still (Josh. x. 12-14; Ecclus.
[Sirach] xlvi. 5). This episode is based on an old
lay from the " Sefer ha-Yashar," the poetic fragment
quoted being, as in all similar cases, older than the
prose nariative. Some ob.scure myth-
Sun- ological reference underlies the in-
Miracles. cident, in which poetic-mythological
conceptions and descriptions are rep-
resented as actual happenings. The attempt to
read into the Hebrew some natural phenomenon — an
eclipse or an extraordinary degree and intensity of
solar refraction — is preposterous.

(2) In connection with the illness of Hezekiah
(II Kings XX. 8-11; Isa. xxxviii. 7; II Chron. xxxii.
24, 31) the sign of assured convalescence is the
retrogression of the shadow (the sun) ten steps on
the Di.\L. It has been suggested either that this
incident is based on a solar eclipse or that the move-
ment of the shadow was purely an optical illusion.
However, the whole episode may be one of the many
"miracles" serving to embellish the life of the
prophet Isaiah, in imitation of the method applied
in the biographies of Elijah and Elisha.

That the Hebrews worshiped the sun, in adap-
tation of non-Hebrew, Canaanitish, or Babylonian
custom, may be admitted on the evidence of such
ancient names of localities as Beth-shemesh, En-
shemesh, Mount Heres, and Kir-heres (but see
Cheyne, "Encyc. Bibl." s.v. "Sun"). A common
act of Adokation was throwing a kiss with the
hand (Job xxxi. 26-28). Idolatrous solar-worship
was prohibited (Deut. iv. 19), the penalty therefor
being lapldation at the city gates (ib. xvii. 2-5).
Disregard of this law (which, however, probably was
as yet non-existent; see Deuteuonomy) is reported
more especially of Manasseh, who had erected in
the Temple altars in honor of the heavenly hosts (II
Kings xxi. 3-5, xxiii. 12). Other altars, on roofs,
were removed by Josiah (ib. xxiii. 12; comp. Jer.
xix. 13; Zeph. i. 5), as were horses dedicated to the
sun by the kings of Judah, and sun-chariots sta-
tioned at the western entrance to the Temple.
These horses and chariots point to Assyro-Babylo-
nian prototypes (Schrader, "K. A. T." 3d ed., p. 370),
as the act of sun-worship described in Ezek. viii.
16, 17 (Gunkel, "Schopfung und Chaos in Urzeit
und Endzeit." p. 141), is generally held to be in imi-
tation of a Persian custom. In Enoch, Ixxii. 5, 37;
Ixxv. 4, and in the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch, vi.
(see Gunkel, I.e. p. 141), mention is made of the
solar chariot. With great plausibility Isa. xxiv.
27, where judgment is pronounced against the




sun, which will be "ashamed" {ib. xxiv. 23), is ex-
plained iis referring to idolatrous worship of the sun
(but see end of verse). E. G. H.

In Rabbinical Literature : The more usual

word for "sun" in rabbinical literature is "ham-
mah," though "shemesh " occurs also. The sun and
the moon were created on the 28th of Eiul (Pirke
R. El. viii. ; Midr. lia-Gadol, ed. Schechter, p. 37).
Originally the sun and the moon were of equal mag-
nitude; but jealousy induced liissensions between
them, each claiming to be greater

Sun and than the other. This necessitated the
Moon. reduction in size of one of them; and
the moon was assigned the inferior
rank (ib. vi.). The moon was thus degraded be-
cause it had unlawfully intruded iato the sun's do-
main. This account is based on the phenomenon
that the moon is sometimes visible while the sun is
still above the horizon (Gen. R. vi. 3, 7). God sub-
sequently regretted iiaving degraded the moon,
whose fault was virtually His, He having ordered
tlie world. He therefore pleaded that an expiatory
sacrifice be offered in His behalf to atone for His in-
justice to the moon (ib.). By way of compensation
the moon was given the splendid retinue of the
stars. Sun and moon are, as it were, the king's
two prefects, one choosing tiie administration of the
restricted city, the other that of the larger province.
To reward the modest choice of the former, the
king appoints for it an ofticial suite (ib. vi. 4).

Originally the sun was designated Jacob's tutelary
luminary ; but later God assigned it to Esau, the
moon being set over Jacob. This did not please tlie
latter (see "Yalkut Hadash," ed. Warsaw, 1879, p.
181), he failing to understand that the sun, though
the larger light, ruled over tlio day onlj-, while the
moon, though the smaller, exercised control over
both day and night. Esau's luminary indicated
that he liad a share in this world alone, while that
set over Jacob assured him of a part both in this
world and in the world to come. For this reason
Jacob reckons by the lunar calendar (Gen. R. vi. 8).

It was the intention in the beginning that the sun
alone should furnish light to the earth; but God,
foreseeing tlie idolatrous worship which would be
paid to the heavenly bodies, decided that it would
be better to have two large celestial lights, reason-
ing that if there was only one the danger of that
one being deified would be greatly increased (ib. vi.
1 ; see also the " yozer " for Sabbath, " He called the
sun, and it gave forth light," etc.).

God placed the sun in the second firmament be-
cause if He had placed it in the one nearest the eartli
"which is visible to terrestrial eyes, all would have
been consumed by its heat (Midr. Teh. xix. 13;
Pesik. xxix. 186a) Indeed, the sun was in a sort
of cover or bag (ib. 186b [see note by

Cover of Buber] ; Tan., Tezawweh [ed. Buber,

the Sun. p. 98 and note] ; Midr. Teh. I.e. [ed.
Buber, p. 168 and note]). In the
"future time" God will bring forth the sun from
this cover, and the wicked will be consumed by its
terrible heat; hence in that time there will be no
Gehenna (Ned. 8b; Midr. Teh. xix. 13). But while
utterly annihilating the evil-doers, the sun will lieal
the righteous of all ills, and be for them a glorious

ornament (ib.). According to R. Jonathan, the sun
moves like the sail of a ship, or like a ship with
365 ropes (equivalent to the number of days in the
solar year), or like a ship hailing from Alexandria,
which has 354 ropes (corresponding to the number
of days in the lunar year). The moon covers in two
and one-half days the distance made by the sun
in thirty days (Midr. Teh. I.e.). The sun and the
moon are loath to set out on their journeys. They
are compelled to cover their eyes before the upper
light. God, therefore, has to light up their paths
before them (see Ps. Ixxxix. 16). The same thing
happens at their setting, when God has to show them
the way by means of torches, arrows, and lightning
(ib.). They are ashamed to come forth on account
of the worship paid them by idolaters.

But the sun sings in honor of God while pursu-
ing its course. This appears from the verse Mai. i.
11 in connection with Josh. x. 12 (Midr. Teh. to Ps.
xix. 11; Tan., Ahare Mot, ed. Buber, p. 14). Con-
trary to the opinion that the sun hesitates to rise in
the morning and to run its course, the conclusion is
drawn from Ps. xix. 5-6 that the day-star performs
its joyous task voluntarily.

The sun ascends by means of 366 steps, and de-
scends by 183 in the east and 183 in the west. There
are 366 windows in the firmament, through which
the sun successively emerges and retires. These
windows are arranged so as to regulate the sun's
movements with a view to their con-
The Days cordance with the " tekufot," Nisan,
of the Sun. Taramuz, and Tt-'^J^'f. The sun bows
down before God and declares its obe-
dience to His conunands (Pirke H. El. vi.). Three
letters of God's name are written on the sun's heart;
and angels lead it — one set by day, and another
by night (ib.). The sun rides in a chariot (ib.).
When looking downward its face and liorns are of
fire; when turned upward, of hail. If the sun did
not periodically change its face, so that heat and
cold alternate, the earth would perish (ib.).

According to rabbinical interpretation, Joshua did
not really command the sun to "stand still " but to
"be still" (Josh. x. 12). At first the sun refused to
obey Joshua, urging that as it had been created on
the fourth day, while man had not been fashioned
till the sixth, it was the superior, and was not called
upon to take orders from an inferior. Thereupon
Joshua reminded the sun that it had acknowledged
its position as a slave by its obeisance paid to Jo-
seph, while even earlier Abraham had been hailed as
the owner of all that is in heaven (Gen. xiv. 19, the
word "possessor" being applied to Abraham, not to
God). Still the sun desired to be assured that even
after its silence God's praise would be sung; and it
was only when Joshua had promised that he him-
self would sing His praise that the sun acquiesced
(Gen. R. vi., end, Ixxxiv. 11). According to the
cabalists, the sun stood still also at the command of
Moses and of Nicodemus the son of Gorion (see
"Yalkut Hadash," p. 102, § 16).

The sun and the moon would not rise when Korah
was disputing with Moses. They would not con-
sent to give light to the earth until they were as-
sured that justice would be done to the son of Am-
ram (comp. Hab. iii. 11; Ned. 39b; Sanh. 110a).


Sun, Kisin^ and Setting:



The solar cycle (" mahzor") comprehended twenty-
eight years (as against the lunar cycle of nineteen
years). He who beheld the sun at the beginning
of the cycle pronounced the blessing
The Solar commemorating God's creative power
Cycle. (Ber. 59b; but it seems more likely
that the reference is to the sight of the
sun after cloudy days: see Yer. Ber. ix. 13d). The
sun is used in illustrations of the impossibility of
beholding God (Hul. 60a). The expression "seeing
the sun " is equivalent to "being seen by the sun " ;
i.e., "to exist" (Ned. 30b; B. B. 82a).

"Sheraesh " or "shimsha " is used in a particular
sense in such phrases as " shimsho shel zaddik "
(the sun of the righteous), meaning "life." "Tlie
Almighty never permits the sun of one righteous
man to set without cau.sing that of another equally
righteous to arise and shine forth " (Gen. R. Iviii. 1,
in reference to the birth of Rabbi on the day on
which R. Akiba died). "Shimsha" is used also to
denote the "righteous" (Gen. R. Ixviii. ).

E. G. H.

The rotation of the sun causes the emission of
beams and rays, as dust is produced by sawing
wood. Save for the noise of the multitudes in the
towns, the sound which the sun makes in its rota-
tion might be heard (Yoma 20b). The saying "A
cloudy day is all sun " is based on the fact that the
sun's rays pierce through the thickest cloud. The
humidity of the sun is worse than its heat; and the
dazzling sunlight breaking through openings in
the clouds is harder to bear than the uncovered
sun (Yoma 28b). There is a difference of opinion
in the Talmud as to the color of the sun. One
authority says its natural color is red, as is seen at
sunrise and sunset, yet it appears white during
the day on account of t.lie dazzle of its
Color and ra\'s. Another says the sun is actually

Efficacy, white, but that it appears red in the

morning, when it passes through and

reflects the red roses in the Garden of Eden, and also

toward evening, when it passes through and reflects

the fire of Gehinnoin (B. B. 84a).

The Talmud adduces tlie healing efficacy of the
sunlight from the verse "But unto you . . . sliall
the sun of righteousness arisR with healing in his
wings " (Mai. iii. 20 [A. V. iv. 2] ; Ned. 8b). Abra-
ham possessed a precious stone which healed the
sick; and when he died God set it in the sphere of
the sun (B. B. 16b; Yalk., Mai. 593). Sunsiiiue on
Sabbath is comfortable and welcome to the poor
(Ta'an. 8b). Sunshine helps the growth of plants.
A plant called " 'adane " or " 'arane," growing in the
marshes, turns its leaves toward the sun and closes
them at nightfall (Shah. 35b, and Raslii ad loc).

Adam when he first beheld the approach of eve-
ning thought the world was being destroyed for his
sin; and he sat up all night bewailing his misfor
tune. Eve sat opposite him, crying, till the dawn
appeared. When he realized that the night was a
law of nature he offered a sacrifice to God ('Ab.
Zarah 8a).

Each of the seven planets successively predomi-
nates during one hour of the day and one of the
night, and exercises an important influence upon
the person born in that hour. The one born during

the hour of the sun's ascendency will be of fair
complexion, independent, and frank ; and if he at-
tempts to steal he will nut succeed. Mercury is the
secretary of the sun ; consequently, one who is born
during its hour will be bright and wise (Shab. 156a).

An eclipse of the sun is an evil sign for the Gen-
tiles, and one of the moon augurs evil for the Jews;
for the Gentiles reckon by the cycle of the former
and the Jews by that of the latter. When the
eclipse occurs in the eastern horizon,

Eclipses, it forecasts the coming of evil to the
inhabitants of the East ; if in the west-
ern, it betokens ill to those of the West; while if it
occurs in the zenith it threatens the entire world.
When the color of the is red it betokens
war; when gray, famine; when changing from red
to gray, both war and famine. When the eclipse
occurs in the beginning of the day or of the night it
signifies that the evil will come soon; if late in the
day or night, that it will arrive tardily. In either
case the Jews who are true to their faith need not
worry about these premonitions, inasmuch as the
prophet lias said : " Be not dismayed at the signs of
heaven ; for the heathen are dismayed at them " (Jer.
X. 2; Suk. 29a).

The sun and the moon are employed as symbols
in the Cabala. Generally, the sun is masculine and
represents the principal or independent — technic-
ally it is the " giver " (" mashpia' ") ; Abraham is the
sun ; so is Samuel, because he was inde-

Symbols. pendent, accepting no gift or fee from
any one (I Sam. xii. 3). The moon is
feminine, and represents the secondary or dependent
— technically the "receiver" ("mekabbel "). Thus
the sun means the father; the moon, the mother.
Moses and Aaron ; the rich man and the poor man ;
the Torah and the Talmud ; Rabbi and Rabina (or
E. Ashi), are respectively the sun and the moon
(Heilprin, "'Erke ha-Kinnuyim," s.v. non). Sam-
son's name denotes "sun," as he, likewise, was in-
dependent. The initial letters of the names Samuel,
Moses, and Samson spell "shemesh" (="sun").
The Messiah is the sun : " And his throne as the sun
before me " (Ps. Ixxxix. 36).

J. J. D. E.

SUN, BLESSING OF THE: Formulaof ben-
ediction recited on the day when the sun enters upon
a new cycle, which occurs on the first Wednesday
of Nisan every twenty-eight years. The present
cycle commenced on the 5th of Nisan, 5657 =: April
7, 1897. According to Abaye, the cycle commences
with the vernal etjuinox at the expiration of Tues-
day (sunset) and the beginning of Wednesday eve
when the planet Saturn is in the ascendency (Ber.
59b). This is calculated by the calendar of Sauuiel
Yarhina'ah, which allots to the solar year 365^^ days,
and asserts that each of the seven planets rules over
one hour of the day in the following sequence: Sat-
urn, Jupiter, Mars, the sun, Venus, Mercury, and
the moon. Consequently the first planet, Saturn,
is 7i hours advanced at the beginning of the sum-
mer solstice, and 30 hours (IJ days) at the turn of
the year, or 5 days in 4 years, at the end of which
this planet again takes its place at the beginning of
the eve of tlie vernal (Nisan) equinox. This period
is called " mahzor katan " (short cycle). A space of




Sun, Kising- and Setting

five days follows every such cycle, so that the second
cycle begins on Monday, the third on Saturday, the
fourth on Thursday, the fifth on Tuesday, the sixth
on Sunday, and the seventh on Friday. Seven short
cycles complete a "mahzor gadol," or long cycle, of
twenty-eight years; then Saturn returns to its origi-
nal position at the first hour of Wednesday eve, and
a new cycle begins {ib. ; Hashi ad loc).

The ceremony of blessing the sun is held to com-
memorate the birth of that luminary on Wednesday
eve of the Creation, which it is claimed was the
exact time when the planets, including the sun and
the moon and beginning with Saturn, were for the
first time set in motion in the firmament by the Al-
mighty. This calculation became obsolete after the
adoption of R. Adda's calendar, which makes the
solar year about five minutes less (see Cai.endah),
thus upsetting the theory of the coincidence of
the Nisan equinox with Saturn at the beginning of
Wednesday eve every twenty-eight years. ^Jever-
tlieless the ritual was still maintained, the celebra-
tion being fixed for the first Wednesday in Nisan,
which necessarily rendered the date irregular, some-
times as many as sixteen days past the equinox.
The ceremony originally began after sunrise, al-
though most of the congregations in modern times
commence it after the morning prayer, when the sun
is about 90° above the eastern horizon.

The blessing begins with a few appropriate verses:
Ps. Ixxxiv. 12, Ixxii. 5, Ixxv. 2; Mai. iii. 20; Ps.
xcvii. 6; and Ps. cxlviii. in full. Then the benedic-
tion of the Talmud, "Praised be the Lord our God,
Maker of the genesis of Creation," is recited, being
followed by Ps. xix. and cxxi. Then are inserted
the reference of Abaye in Berakot and the baraita
of R. Hananiah b. 'Akashyah (end of Makkot),
"Kaddish di-Rabbanan." The blessing ends with
the following prayer:

" May it please Thee. O Lord our God and God of our fathers,
as Thou hast given us life and sustenance and hast permitted us
to reach and celebrate this event, so mayest Thou prolong our
life and sustenance and make us worthy again to render the
blessing on the return of this cycle, which may reach us in glad-
ness in the sight of Thy city rebuilt and in the enjoyment of
Thy service ; that we may be privileged to see the face of Thy
Messiah ; and that the prophecy may be f ulHlled [citing Isa.
XXX. 36]."

The blessing is concluded with " 'Alenu " and

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