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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implied in the phrase "nafal ba-hereb," used of
those who commit suicide by this weapon (I Sam.
xxxi. 4 et seq.). The story of Ehud, who thrust his
sword, haft ("nizzab"), and all into Eglon's belly
(Judges iii. 16-22), shows that short, dagger-like
swords were used.

The blade ("lahab")of the double-edged sword
was probably straight, and this portion of the weapon
seems generally to have been made of iron, some-
times (but rarely) of bronze (comp. I Sam. xiii. 19;
Joel iii. 10; Micah iv. 3; Isa. ii. 4); this was also the
custom among the Egyptians, as the blue blades in
the paintings indicate. The hilt of the sword was
made probably of a different material, in accord-
ance with Egyptian and Assyrian usage; proJbably
the hilt afforded, sometimes, an opportunity for ar-
tistic workmanship. The word "mekerah " in Gen.
xlix. 5 has frequenth' been compared with /laxaipa
and rendered "sword," but this explanation is very
doubtful. Originally fihxaipa denoted the Lacede-
monian, slightly curved sword used for cutting,
having a knife-like blade, a blunt back, and a point
turning up towaril the latter. The same name was
given to any curved saber, in contradistinction to
^i(poq (the dagger-like sword).

In the Roman period the Jews adopted the short
dirk ("sica") used by the Romans, and especially
by the gladiators. This weapon, which was con-
cealed in the garments, and which was especially
affected by the Sicarii, who derived their name
from it (.Joscphus, "Ant." xx. 8, § 10; "B. J." ii.
13, § 3), was only a foot in length, and somewhat

K. G. II. W. N.

SYCAMORE (SYCOMORE [T\r:)\ii^: Fiais Syco-
mornH]): A medium-sized bushy tree of Syria and
Eg3'pt, allied to the common fig. It is often men-
tioned in the Bible (Amos vii. 14; I Kings x. 27;
Isa. ix.9, 11: Ps. Ixxviii. 47; I Chron. xxvii. 28; II
Chron. i. 15, ix. 27), and still grows plentifully in
the plain along the coast, the Sliefelah (comp. the
ancient name of the place Haifa, Sykaminon. after
the (Jreek ilesignation of the tree [avuafuvor'l in the
Septuagiiit and elsewhere). The trees grew freely
also in the valley of the Jordan, in the vicinity of
Jerusalem, and in Lower Galilee. It was one of the
most widely scattered trees of ancient Egypt (comp.
Ps. Ixxviii. 47; Wilkinson, "Manners and Customs




I of the Ancient Egyptians," iii. 419); it was more
valued there than in Palestine, where its fruit, a
small fig not particularly palatable, seems to have
been chiefly the food of the common i)eople. Even
to-day it is eaten by the poor only (Auderlind, in

I"Z. D. P. V." xi. 100; Hcnslow, "The Plants of
the Bible," p. 91). In order to make it palatable the
fruit must be slit when it is maturing, to let the tart
juice flow out (Amosvii. 14). The Hebrews valued
the tree chiefly on account of its wood, which is
light and very durable. In Palestine it was tlie
common timber (I Kings x. 27; II Chron. i. 15, ix.
27; Isa. ix. 10). In Egypt most of the domestic
utensils that have been preserved, as well as the sar-

I, cophagi, were carved from this wood.
E. G. II. I. Be.

i SYDNEY : Capital of New South Wales, Aus-
tralia. Its congregation dates from 1817, when
about a score of Jews formed a hebra kaddisha,
and they obtained permission to bury tlieir dead in
a special corner of the general cemetery. Eleven
years later prayer-meetings were held
Begin- in the house of P. J. Cohen. About
nings of 1830 the chief rabbi of London, Solo-
the Com- mon Herschell, sent Aaron Levi, mem-
munity. ber of the bet din, to assist in consoli-
dating the congregation ; and in 1832 a
synagogue was established in a rented room. J. B.
Montefiore, who had previously obtained a grant of
land from the government for a Jewish burial-place,
became the congregation's first president. The first
Jewish marriage in Australia, that of Moses Joseph,
took place in 1830; and in the following year a cer-
tain Rose was engaged as the first minister. He was
followed by Jacob Isaacs. The Jews of Sydney then
acquired a synagogue of their own in York street,
which was opened for divine worship on April 2,
1844. In 1862 A. B. Davis, born in London in 1828,
who had been minister at Portsmo\ith and Kingston
(Jamaica), became senior minister of the congre-
gation, serving for no less than forty-one years,
during Avhicli period he helped to create several
of the communal institutions, «?..'/., tlie Sabbatli-
school and the education board. During his in-
cumbency, also, the present synagogue, the hand-
somest building of its kind on the Australian conti-
nent, was built in Elizabeth and Castlereagh streets
and dedicated Jan. 26, 1875. In 1905, on Ins retire-
ment as rabbi emeritus, F. L. Cohen was selected
to succeed him.

Almost a plethora of charitable institutions has
arisen in Sydney. The oldest is the Hebresv Phil-
anthropic Society, which was founded iu 1833. In
1882 it was converted into a home and styled the
"Sir Moses Montefiore Home." Accommodations
are provided for about fifteen inmates; meals are
furnished to casuals; aid is granted monthly to old
men ; and general relief is afforded to the poor and
needy. The Dorcas Society, whose usefulness is con-
fined entirely to women, was founded in 1840. On
similar lines the Help in Need Society was formed
in 1898; its operations are more limited. A society
that is doing a great amount of good is the Jew-
ish Mutual Aid, founded in 1896 by A. Blashki,
Jr. It is purely a loan society, lending at interest
sums of not less than £25. The Baron de Hirsch

Memorial Aid Society, an institution for the general

relief of the poor, was founded in 1896. In 1894,

with a view to enlisting the sj'm-

Charitable pathy and help of the young, a so-

Insti- ciety, known as the Jewish Girls' Gild,

tutions. was formed by S. A. Joseph; and in
1897, through the instrumentality of
Henry Harris, another hebra kaddisha was formed.
A year later a ladies' section of the society came
into existence under the direction of a Mrs. Samuels.
As in most Australian congregations, Sydney pos-
sesses a branch of the Anglo- Jewish Association.
Since its foundation (1872) this branch has been pre-
sided over by A. B. Davis.

Many leading Jews of Sydney have displayed
an interest in communal matters, including S. A.
Joseph, L. W. Levy, and Charles Collins, M.L.H.
The first-named reached New Zealand on the first
ship to arrive at that colony from England in the
year 1842. Subsequently he settled in Sydney,
where he joined Jacob Montefiore and formed the
firm of Montefiore, Joseph «fc Co. For nearly a quar-
ter of a century he was a member of the synagogue
board of management. Charles Collins was for many
years the leading citizen of the district of Narrabri.
He was its first mayor, and lie held that position for
three successive years. In Parliament he sat as the
representative of Namoi from 1885 to 1887 and again
from 1890 till his death in 1898. L. W. Levy oc-
cupied various official positions, including that of
member of the legislative council in 1882. Of the
other leading Jews the name of J. G. Raphael must
be recorded. Several streets in Sydney perpetuate
his memory. From 1872 to 1878 he represented West
Sydney in the legislative assembly. In the same
body J. J. Cohen was elected a member for Peter-
sham in 1898.

In no city have the Jews borne a more praise-
worthy part in the development of commerce and
trade, in the growth of institutions, and in the ad-
ministration of public affairs than in
Jews Sydney. Tlie example set by the

in Public Montefiores was followed by other
Life. early settlers, including Louis Phillips,
P. J. Cohen, and Samuel Cohen, the
last of whom was the first Jewish member of the
Parliament of New South Wales. The election of
George J. Cohen, Richard Gotthelf, and other Jews
to the position of president of the chamber of com-
merce bears testimony to services rendered in the
sphere of commerce, while Sigismund Hoffnung
and David Cohen were prominent as merchants and

Three Jews of Sydney have attained distinc-
tion in the government service; namely. Sir Saul
Samuel, Bart., for several years agent-general of
the colony in England; Sir Julian Salomons, K.C.,
who was for a short time chief justice of tlie
colony, and who also held the of agent-gen-
eral in London; and II. E. Cohen, one of the
judges of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
At the present time (1905) three Sydney Jews are
members of the legislative assembly : namely, J. J.
Cohen, Daniel Levi, and A. E. Collins. The num-
ber of Jews living in Sydney and its suburbs, ac-
cording to the census of 1901, was 5.137 (2,665 males




and 2,472 females), in a total population of 488,382.
Intermarriages with members of otiier religions have
been very frequent among the Sydnej' Jews, about
one-fifth of the men having taken wives not of the
Jewish faith.

The " Hebrew vStandard " has been published for
several years in Sydney.

Bibliography : Si/dnetihi ISUH; P. J. Marks, Heln-ew Stnrid-
ard, Sept. 30, 19()4 ; March 10, 1905; Jewi»h Year Bixih, 1905.

D. I. F.— J.

SYENE: Ancient city of Egypt on the Ethi-
opian frontier in the Thebaid ; situated on the eastern
bank of the Nile, equidistant from Alexandria and
Meroe. In the Bible it is called " Sweneh " (njlD :
Egyptian, "Sun"; Coptic, "Suan," whence it may
be assumed that the Hebrew name was originally
31D, the n being a locative sufHx). Syene is men-
tioned as a frontier citv of Egypt (Ezek. xxix. 10,

Bibliography: Bitter, Erdkunde. i. 1, 694; Winer, B. It.
8.V.; Boettger, Tiipimraphi.scli-Hwtorittches Lexicon zu doi
Sell r if ten des Fiaviui< Josephun, p. 2;58, Sayce, Tlie Ari-
cient Empire of the Eaxt, 1883, p. 311 ; Baedeker, Egypt, 2d
ed., 1903, p. 327.
«. S. Ku.

mathematician and Saviliaii jjiofessor of geometry
in the University of Oxford; born in London Sept.
3, 1814; died there March 15, 1897. He was edu-
cated at Neumegen's school, at the Royal Institu-
tion. Liverpool, and at St. John's College, Cam-
bridge. In 1837 he passed the examination for the
mathematical tripos as second wrangler, but was
precluded by his Jewish origin from taking his de-
gree and from competing for either of the Smiths'
prizes. In 1872, after the passing of the Tests Act,
the complete degree of M.A. "propter merita" was
conferred upon him. He became professor of math-

TiiK Royal Society Mkdal Establisiikd in Honor of James Joseph Sylvester.

XXX. 6); but the combination "migdol Sweneh "
(A. V. "tower of Syene") is due to a corruption of
the text, as was seen by Jerome {ad lor.). The Sep-
tuagint accordingly has a place-name, "Magdo-
lon " ; so that the passage should read "from ]\Iag-
dolon [the northern frontier of Egypt] to Syene [the
southern boundary]." While' Jerome refers to a
tower still standing there In his time, this was
merely a Roman fort. Josephus also alludes to
Syene as a frontier city (" B. J." iv. 10, § 5). Neu-
baiier is wrong in asserting ("G. T." p. 419) that
coins from Syene are mentioned in the Talmud (Ket.
67b). The entire district is rich in deposits of pink
granite called syenitci (Pliny, "Ilistoria Nuturalis,"
xxxvi. 8, ^ 13). The Syrians termed the place " As-
wan," the name by which it is known to-day
(Assouan). The modern city, however, lies northeast
of the ancient Syene.

eniatics at University College, London (1837); Uni-
versity of Virginia, Charlottesville (1841); Military
Acadeni}', Woolwich (1855-70); Johns Hopkins Uni-
versity, Baltimore (1877-83); and at Oxford (1883).
where he founded a mathematical .society.

Sylvester was the founder and first editor of the
"American Journal of Mathematics." He received
the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1860, the
Copley JMedal in 1880. and the triennial De Morgan
Commemoration Medal from the London Mathemat-
ical Society in 1887. He was made an honor-
ary D.C.L. of Oxford and LL. 1). of Dublin and
Edinburgh; was a member of many scientific so-
cieties in Europe and the United States; and in
May, 1890, was created an officer of the Legion of
Honor by the President of the French Republic.

Sylvester was chiefly known as an algebraist, and
as the fellow worker of Professor Cay ley in the




foundation of the doctrine of " invariants." His first
printed paper was "On Fresnel's Optical Tlieory of
Wave Surfaces " (in " Philosophical Magazine, " 1837).
He discovered the proof and extension of Newton's
theorem on the imaginary roots of equations, this
proof, which was published in tlio Proceedings of
the London Mathematical Society, having been a de-
sideratum since the days of JSTewton. He also con-
tributed a paper on the reversion of series, solving in
its complete form a problem which had been l)ut
imperfectly solved by Jacobi. His first paper to at-
tract attention abroad was that in which he gave a
new form to Sturm's celebrated theorem on equa-
tions. His work on canonical forms is described by

i Cayley as containing crowds of ideas embodied in
the new words "cogredieut," "contragredienl,"
"concomitant," "covariaut," "contra variant," "in-
variant," etc., most of which have been adopted into
mathematical terminology.

In addition to the foregoing, Sylvester published
a theory of versification in a volume entitled tlie
"Laws of Verse" (1870), as well as poetical transla-
tions from the German and Latin, and various sou-

' nets and other original pieces in V(;rSe.

After his death there was established through
the Royal Society a triennial prize and medal in
Sylvester's honor. His position as leader in pure
mathematics in England in the nineteenth century
is challenged only by his colaborer Cayley.

Bibliography: Jeir. Chron. June 6, 1890, and March, 1897;
Diet. NatUmal Biouraphy ; Tfie TiincK (London), March 16,
1897; A'afwre, March 25, 1897 ; Science (New York), A prill 1,
1897; F. Franklin, Address Commemorat ive of J.J. Sylves-
ter, Baltimore, 1897.
J. G. L.

SYMBOL : A visible representation of an object
or an idea. In Hebrew the word denoting symbol
is "ot," which in early Judaism denoted not only a
sign, but also a visible religious token of the mystic
relation between Go(i and man. In the latter sense
ancient.Israel had two fundamental symbols, each re-
garded as representing tlie pledge of the covenant
made by God with His people. These were (1) the
Sabbath, "a sign for ever" (Ex. xxxi. 17), and (2)
circumcision, tlie token of the covenant made by
God with Abraham and his descendants (Gen. xvii.
11;' comp. Ex. xiii. 9 and Dent. vi. 8). All other
instances of syuibolism in the Jewish ritual and in
Hebrew poetry may be divided into the following
groups: (1) the Temple and its accessories; (2) the
sacrifices; (3) the ofliciating priests; (4) numbers;
(5) metals and colors; (6) the Chekubi.m; (7) festi-
vals and holy days: (8) the visions of the Prophets.

(1) The Temple ("ohel mo'ed," "mikdash,"
"mishkan"). The state of Israel became a theo-
cratic one as a result of the establishment in
its midst of the Temple, the dwelling-place and
throne of God and the place of mediation between
God and man. On the other hand, the "mishkan "
was also interpreted anthropomorphically, asa sym-
bol of man or of human nature, while Philo ex-
plained the Tabernacle cosmically ("Vita Mosis,"
ed. Schwickert, iii. 201-219, Leipsic, 1828; simi-
larly, "Cuzari," ii., §§ 26-28). The two cherubim,
the only images in the Temple, were intended to
symbolize the concentration of all natural life, and
as adjuncts to the throne of God they were the im-

mediate witnesses and representatives of His glory.
Philo regarded them as symbolizing the two hemi-
spheres, in contrast to the other cherubim mentioned
in the liible, which represented divine onuiipotencc
("Vita Mosis," iii. 206). Philippson drew a sharp
distinction between the cherubim in the vision of
Ezekiel and all others, holding that the former were
mere inventions of the imagination, while the latter
were known under a definite form and shape
("Israelitischer Bibel," i. 453).

As tlie Decalogue represented tlie heart and soul
of all the peojjle, so the Ark of the Covenant was
set in the Holy of Holies, while the mercy-seat
("kapporet ") and the two cherubim, the center of
the dwelling of Vhwh, formed the place where the
people were cleansed once a year from all their sins;
and as the Ark was kept in its particular place simply
as a token of God's covenant with Israel, so the
Ark, mercy -seat, and thecherubim together symbol-
ized both the place where the holiness of God was
revealed, and the place where the people's sins were
removed and where they renewed their fellowship
with God (Yalkut Re'ubeni, vi. 2; Maimonides,
"Moreh," i. 54, iii. 45; Abravanel on Ex. xl. 34).

The table with the showbread served as a symbol
of the acknowledgment of all the people that they
owed to God their bread, or, in other words, all
that they needed for their sustenance, and that they
must extol Him and glorify Him accordingly (Yarhi
and Abravanel «(/ ^oc). The candlestick, according
to Philo (I.e. iii. 207), typified the seven planets,
while later exegetes interpreted it as the symbol of
the congregation of the people of God (Hengsten-
berg, "Ikitriige," iii. 645). The altar of incense
was a symbol of prayer, since the perfume and
fragrance which it spread typified the outward mani-
festation of the inward excellence of some person or
thing. In like manner, the altar of sacrifice repre-
sented the place where the Godhead was revealed,
and accordingly its four horns were symbols of
power and dominion; so that he who grasped them
signified that he placed himself under the protection
of God (I Kings i. 50, ii. 28).

(2) The Sacrifices : The burnt offering (" 'olah " ;
Lev. xiv. 20) symbolized perfection and entirety,
typifying the general asdistinguished from the par-
ticular, and the complete as contrasted with the in-
complete. It therefore denoted the all-inclusive,
and was regarded by Philo as the emblem of absolute
dedication to God (" De Victimas OfTerentibu.«," pp.
324-326. Leipsic, 1828). Ibn Ezra, in his introduc-
tion to Leviticus, considered it the atonement of the
heart for sinful thoughts. The thank-ofFering ("to-
dali," "zebah," "shelamim "), together with the meal-
offering and the wave-offering, typified the relation
of fellowshij) and friendship between God and Israel ;
and since Yiiwii was also the Creator of the uni-
verse, the act of turning toward every side symbol-
ized the conviction that God held all the world and
the ends thereof. The sin-offering ("hattat") de-
noted complete atonement (i.e., covering and con-
cealment), and the mercy-seat was accordingly
sprinkled seven times. The guilt-offering (" asham ")
was brought to arouse and maintain a sense of sin;
it was divided by Maimonides (" Hilkot Zebahim,"
ix.) into sacrifices.for doubtful and for certain guilt,




while Philo (I.e.) asserted that the guilt-offering
could be brought only by one whose awakened con-
science and conviction of guilt had obliged him to
accuse liimself. The sacrilice for jjurification from
leprosy consisted of two sparrows (Lev. xiv. 3-7) ;
one of them was killed and its blood drained into
running water, into Avhicb the other bird was dipped,
being then liberated, while the leper was sprinkled
with the blood by means of a piece of hyssop
bound to a slick of cedar-wood by a scarlet cord.
This ceremony typified the sinful and unclean past
and the sinless future, while the puritication by
means of cedar-wood and hyssop was intended to
indicate tbat high and low alike must bow to
God in their sinfulness (Hul. 134b; Lev. R. xvi. 6).
The breaking of the calf's neck (" 'eglali arufah ")
was a judicial act symbolizing the punishment of
death justly meted out to the murderer, and the
washing of the hands typified the purification from
crime, while the requirement that the blood from
the carcass must be entirely washed away by the
brook llowing beneath indicated that guilt was alto-
gether removed. The laying on of hands (" samak ")
signified, according to Philo (I.e.), that the hands
performing this act had done no evil, but in the
view of BahrC'Christliche SymbolikdesMosaischen
Cultus," ii. 341) it symbolized the devotion of one's
self to Yhwh even unto death, and hence dedication
to death for Ilis sake, the burning of the sacrifice
representing the place and the goal of the sacrificial

(3) The Officiating Priests : The priests medi-
ated between God and man by offering sacrifices
and by other services in the Temple. The chief
representative among them was the high priest, who
wore eight vestments, twice as many as the others,
these garments being symbols of holiness and sanc-
tification from sin. Why, asks the Talmud, is the
high priest clothed in white on the Day of Atone-
ment? and it answers: Because the service in the
terrestrial Temple must equal that in the heavenly
Temple (Voma44b). The coat w'as woven in one
piece, in contrast to the idea of "kara'" (to rend),
the latter being the symbol of mourning; the miter
was a blossom, and the priest might not uncover
his head ("para'"; Lev. x. 6) lest thereby be
should suggest the dropping of blossoms. The
breeches symbolized the abolition of the distinction
between the heavenly and the mortal part of man,
as contrasted with the divine nature, which is abso-
lutely holy and living. The girdle was the emblem
of the priest as the servant of the Lord, and it was
made in the same four colors as the curtains of the
Holy of Holies; it is said to have been 32 ells long,
to indicate the windings of the heart (Yer. Yoma
44b; Lev. R. x.). The priests went barefoot to ex-
press their sense of the sanctity of the Temple.

The vestments of the high priest were interpreted
in three waj's. The explanation of Philo is us fol-
lows ("Vita Mosis," iii. 209): His upper garment
was the symbol of the ether, while the blossoms
represented the earth, the pomegranates typified
running water, and the bells denoted the music of
tlie water. Theephod corresponded to heaven, and
the stones on both shoulders to the two hemispheres,
one above and the other below the earth. 'The six

names on each of the stones were the six signs of
the zodiac, which were denoted also by the twelve
names on the breastplate. The miter was the sign
of the crown which exalted the high priest above
all earthly kings.

Josephus' explanation is this ("Ant." iii. 7, § 7):
The coat was the symbol of the earth, the upper
garment emblemized heaven, while the bells and
pomegranates represented thunder and lightning.
The ephod typified the four elements, and the inter-
woven gold denoted the glory of God. The breast-
plate was in the center of the ephod, as the earth
formed the center of the universe; the girdle sym-
bolized the ocean, the stones on the shoulders the
sun and moon, and the jewels in the breastplate the
twelve signs of the zodiac, while the miter was a
token of heaven.

Yerushalmi (Men. vii. 1) and Leviticus Kabbah
(x.) give the following interpretation: The coat
symbolized atonement for murder or for the sin
of wearing mixed garments, and the undergarment
typified atonement for unchastity. The miter de-
noted atonement for pride, and the belt for theft or
tricker}'. The breastplate represented atonement
for any perversion of the Law, the ephod for idola-
try, and the robe for slander.

(4) Numbers: The rules governing calculations,
of dimension and number were not merely ex-
ternal, but represented the divinity as the supreme
intelligence. The arrangement of the Tabernacle
especially was determined according to numbers.
The number three was the symbol of holiness,
so that the Holy of Holies occupied one-third and
the Holy Place two-thirds of the entire Temple; the
tapestries were ten times three ells in length, and
there were three vessels each for the altar of burnt
offering, the altar of incense, and the Ark. The
candlestick had twice three arms (besides the shaft,
which also held a lamp), and each arm had three
knobs. The blessing of the priest consisted of three
sections (Num. vi. 24, 2o), and in the invocation of
God the word " holy " (" kadosli ") was repeated thrice
(comp. Isa. vi. 3).

The symbolism of the number four was based on
the most simple contemplation of the quaternity as
found in the universe, which included both heaven

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 11) → online text (page 148 of 160)