Copyright
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

. (page 80 of 160)
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 80 of 160)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


same book rescripts of this king are given only in

substance, without superscription or subscription.

The Book of Ezra gives also the contents of letters
written by some Samaritans to the Persian king,
but without showing where the names of the writers
were placed. Similarly, only the sul)stance is given
of the letter that was sent by the hand of Uriah to
Joab (II Sam. xi. 15), and of the Syrian king's letter
about Naaman (II Kings v. 6). Of the still existing
El-Amarna letters that were written in Palestine be-
fore its conquest by the Israelites, those addressed
to the King of Egypt begin, "To my Lord the King
says now . . . thy servant." Other letters begin
with the writer's name followed by "saith," and con-
tain no signature at the end. This is true likewise
of the epistles of the New Testament, written in a
much later age.



336



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



Sifre Zata
Silas



Contracts among the ancient Hebrews appear to
have been authenticated by a seal. The word "l^o-
tam" (seal) appears in Gen. xxxviii. 18; the patri-
arch Jiulah seems to have carried a seal suspended
as though from a watch-guard. The use of seals
points to written contracts, but it shows also that
the inability to write was common among the well-
to-do classes. The word appears elsewhere in the
Bible, and tiie use and purpose of the seal must
liave been well known. The word for seal-ring
("tabba'at") is found only in connection with the
edicts of foreign kings. But the Bible, in referring
to written contracts {e.g., .to the deed for land in
Jer. xxxii.), never speaks of the signature or the
seal of the grantor or obligor, though it speaks of
the attesting witnesses.

The Babylonian contract tablets throw much light
on the subject. Many of them bear the impress of
a seal, and the verb " to seal " is in some of them used
in the sense of " conveying " or " assuring." Simple
acknowledgments of debt are in some cases signed
at the end ; but nearly all tlie tablets are attested by
two or more witnesses, and this attestation seems to
have given force to the contract contained in the
body of the tablet. The Talmudic view is that the
privileged contract known as the "shetar" (see
Deed) draws all its force from its attestation by
two witnesses, which is called "sealing" (Git. i, 1).
A signature by the party to be bound is not needed ;
and there is no hint in regard to wax or any other
seal. An unsealed written contract (" ketab yad ")
may be proved against the maker by its handwri-
ting or otherwise; but his name sometimes appears
at the beginning or in the middle. Long after Tal-
mudic times it became the custom (at least in Chris-
tian countries) for the obligor (especially in a Ke-
tcbah) to sign his name before the attestation of
the witnesses; but this was not deemed essential.

w. B. L. N. D.

SIHIX : Large and populous city in the terri-
tory of the tribe of Zebulon, near Sepphoris. After
the destruction of Jerusalem it lost its importance,
and was thenceforth called merely Kefar Sihin.
Josephus refers once ("B. J." ii. 20, § 6) to Sogane,
near Sepphoris, and in another passage to the plain of
Asohis, likewise near Sepphoris (ib.i. 4, § 2), both of
which may be identical with the Talmudic Sihin.
In the Talmud the city is mentioned under different
names. In Shab. 120b the vessels made at Kefar
Sihin are said to be equal to metal vessels in dura-
bility, and Shab. 121a mentions a conflagration in
the house of Joseph b. Simai at Sihin. At the end
of the treatise Yebamot mention is made of Johanan
b. Jonah of Kefar Sihya. " Kefar Sihon " occurs in
Gen. H. xii.

Bibliography : Schwarz, Palestine, p. 176, Philadelphia, 1850;
Rosenmiiller, Morgenland, lii. 148 ; Neubauer, O. T. p. 20a.
J. S. O.

SIHON.— Biblical Data : Amoritic king of the
east-.lordan country, whose kingdom extended from
the Arnon in the south to the Jabbok in the north,
and from the Jordan in the west to the desert in
the east (Num. xxi. 24; Judges xi. 22). According
to Josh. xii. 3 and xiii. 27. the Desert of Arabah, be-
tween the Jabbok and the Sea of Galilee, was in-



cluded in Sihou's territory. His capital was Hesh-
bon, which he had captured from the King of Moab
(Num. xxi. 26). He was also the suzerain of Midian,
the Ave Midianitish kings, finally slain by the Israel-
ites (Num. xxxi. 8), being his vassals (Josh. xiii. 21).
When the Israelites asked Sihon for permission to
pass through his territory, lie refused them, and col-
lected an army at Jahaz, where he was defeated and
slain by the invaders (Num. xxi. 21-25; Josh. xiii.
21 ; Judges xi. 19-22), who took possession of his
kingdom. Sihon, like Og, King of Bashan, was con-
sidered a great and mighty monarch (Ps. cxxxvi.
17-19).
E. G. n. J. Z. L.

In Rabbinical Literature: Sihon was the



brother of (Jg, and both were grandsons of the fallen
angel Sh.\mh.\zai (Niddah Ola). He resembled Og
in stature and bravery (Midr. Agadah, Hukkat, ed.
Buber, p. 130a), and was identical with Arad the
Canaanite (Num. xxi. 1), being called "Sihon" be-
cause he was like the foals in the desert for swift-
ness. He was termed also " the Canaanite " after
his realm (B. H. 8a, Avhere {yj3 should be read
^3yj3 on the basis of Num. xxi. 1), which included
all Canaan ; as he w as monarch of the land he bad
vassal kings who paid him tribute. When the Israel-
ites asked permission to pass tiirough his territory
to enter Canaan, he said it was only to resist their at-
tacks upon the Canaanite kings that he was in the
land (Tan.. Hukkat, 52 (ed. Buber, p. 65a]).

If Sihon had retained his troops in the vari-
ous cities of his realm, the Israelites would have
been able to take them only witli difficulty ; but
God caused tlie king to collect his whole army in
his capital, and thus enabled the Israelites to con-
quer {ib.), although the city was so well fortified
that Sihon had not been able to capture it from the
King of Moab until he had called upon Balaam to
curse the beleaguered army (Midr. Agadah, I.e.).
Sihon could be vanquished only after God had sub-
jugated his guardian angel to Moses (Yelammedenu,
quoted in Yalk., Num. 764).

w. B. J- Z. L.

SILAS: 1. A Jew who made liimself tyrant of
Lysias, a district of the Lebanon. Pompey subju-
gated him, together with other petty rulers, on his
march to Palestine in 63 b.c. (.Josephus, " Ant." xiv.

3, § 2).

2. Friend of Agrippa I., whose early years of
misery he shared, and who showed his gratitude by
appointing his old comrade general of his troops
when he became king (Josephus, " Ant." xviii. 6, § 7 ;
xix.6, § 3). Silas then took many liberties, how-
ever, continually reminding the king of his past
sufferings that he might emphasize his own loyalty,
so that Agrippa was obliged to send him to bis ow n
country as a prisoner (ib. xix, 1,^1). In honor of
his birthday th(! king once more received Silas into
favor, and invited him to be his guest; but as Silas
continued to insult the king he was again impris-
oned {ib.). He was later murdered, as if at the
king's command, by Helkias, who was apparently
Silas' successor in office {ib. 8, § 3).

Bini.ioGRAPiiY : Gratz, Qesch. 4th ed., lil. 349; Schurer. Oesih.
3d ed., i. 555.



Silberman
Silesia



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



336



3. Babylonian soldier in the army of Agrippall.,
but who deserted to the Jews ou the outbreak of
the war. He fought side by side witli the kinsmen
of the princely house of Adiabeno, with Monobaz
and Cenedeus and with Niger, and, like them, dis-
tinguished himself by his bravery in the battles with
Cestius Callus (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 19, § 2). He
seems to have risen quickly from the ranks; for he
was one of the leaders of the Jews in tlie disastrous
attack upon Ashkelon, which was badly planned
and rashlv executed, and in which he himself met
his death"(«^. iii. 2, § 2).

4. Contidant of Josephus, by whom he was ap-
pointed commander of Tiberias. John of Giscala,
the avowed enemy of the historian, was about to
incite the citizens of Tiberias to revolt against Jose-
phus, when the latter was informed of the plot by
a messenger from Silas, and he immediately hurried
to the city (Josephus, "Vita," § 17; in this passage
Josephus speaks as if he had previously mentioned
Silas, but no further information is given, even in
"B. J." ii. 21, §6).

G. S. Kr.

SILBERMAN, ELIEZER LIPMAN : Ger-
man rabbi and Hebrew journalist; born in Konigs-
berg, Prussia, Sept. 7, 1819; died in Lyck, Prussia,
March 15, 1882. His parents were Russians who
■settled in Konigsborg wlien Jews were admitted to
that city during the Napoleonic wars. Upon the
death of his father (1823) Eliezer was brought up
by his mother's family in Crottingen, government
of Kovno, Russia, but upon attaining his majority
he returned to Prussia and settled as shohet and rabbi
in Lyck, where in 1856 he founded "Ha-Maggid,"
the first weekly newspaper in tiie Hebrew language.
He was instrumental also in organizing (1864) and
conducting the society known as Mekize Nirdamim,
In the editing of "Ha-Maggid "as Avell as in the
management of the affairs of the Mekize Nirda-
mim, Silberman was ably assisted by his associate
David Gordon, who at Silberman's death suc-
ceeded to the editorship.

Silberman, who was the actual founder of Hebrew
journalism, received the honorary degree of Ph.D.
from the University of Leipsic as a reward for his
activity in the field of Hebrew letters. Besides his
contributions to "Ha-Maggid," which include a
series of autobiographical sketches, he published
" Kadmut ha-Yehudim Neged Appion " (Lyck, 1858),
which contains Samuel Shullam's translation of Jo-
sephus' "Contra Apionem," with notes by Israel
Bohmer and E. L. Silberman; and Solomon ibn
Gabirol's " Goren Nakon " (ib. 1859), to which, also,
he added editorial notes.

BlBi.TOGHAPHY : Ha-Mnfjoid, v. 19, Nos. 1 et Keq. (autobi-
oaraphy): Fuenn, Kevraei Yinrael, p. 123, Wai-saw, 1886 ;
Zeitlin, BibL Pnat-Mendel^. p. ^62.

s. p. Wi.

SILBERSTEIN (6TV0S), ADOLF: Hun

gavian art critic and writer; born at Budapest July
1, 1845; died there Jan. 12, 1899. After graduating
from the gymnasium of his native city he studied
philosophy and medicine at the University of Leip-
sic, comparative philology at Berlin, and history
and political economy at Heidelberg (Ph.D. Leip-
sic, 1866). He then devoted himself to journalism,



and contributed to the "Leipziger Tagblatt," the
"Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung," and the"Fremd-
enblatt," also editing the weekly " Dramaturgische
Blatter "in collaboration with Strakoschand Taube.
Returning to Hungary in 1870, he became editor of
the "Temesvarcr Zeitung"; seven years later he
went to Budapest, where he contributed to the
"Pester Lloyd " and to the "Neue Pester Journal."
Silberstcin's philosophical work "Die Bibel der
Natur" (1877), which was translated into English
by Bradlaugh, created a sensation, and was sup-
pressed in Russia. His other works include: " Ka-
tharsis des Aristotcles," "Philosophische Briefe an
eine Frau," " Dichtkunst des Aristotcles," and
"Strategic der Liebe" (in verse). Tn addition he
translated from the Hungarian many Avorks by
Jokai, Mikszath, Bartok, and Beniczky-Bajza; and
also wrote a novel entitled "Egy Pesti Don Juan"
(1878). His collected works appeared (1894-96)
in six volumes: four in German, and two in Hun-
garian .

Bibliography : PaUns Lex.

s. L. V.

SILBERSTEIN, MICHAEL: German rabbi;
born at Witzenhausen, Hesse-Nassau, Nov. 21,
1834; educated in his native town, in Hanover, at
the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau (rabbi,
1859), and at the University of Berlin (Ph.D. 1860).
He was successively rabbi at Lyck, East Prussia
(1860-68); Buttenhausen, Wiirttemberg (1868-74);
and Miihringen (1874-84) ; since 1884 he has officiated
at Wiesbaden. He was a member of the Wiirttem-
berg assembly of delegates which met in 1869 for
the purpose of drafting a new law for the Jewish
communities of that kingdom. In 1882 he officiated
at the funeral of the poet Berthold Auerbach (see
" Worte am Grabe Berthold Auerbach's," Breslau,
1882).

Of Silberstcin's works the following may be men-
tioned: "Gelegenheitspredigten " (Breslau, 1870);
"Moses Mendelssohn" (Esslingen, 1872); "Die So-
ciale Frage imd die Mosaische Gesetzgebung " (ib.
1873); "Unsere Alliancen" (ib. 1883); "Gabriel
Riesser" (Wiesbaden, 1886); "Leitfaden fur den
Israelitischen Religionsunterricht " (zZ*. 1889); "Ein-
leitende Ideen zur Geschichte der Juden und des
Judentums" (iJ. 1891); "Die Israelitische Religions-
schule in Ihrer Geschichtlichen Entwickelung " (ib.
1891); and "Wolf Breidenbach und die Aufhebung
des Leibzolls in Deutschland " {ib. 1891). He has
written also several articles for the Jewish as well
as for the general press.

s. F. T. H.

SILBERSTEIN, SOLOMON : American philo-
sophical writer; born at Kovno, Russia, March 10,
1845. Educated privately, he received the rabbin-
ical diploma in 1864, and officiated from 1867 to
1868 as rabbi at Dershunisok, in the government of
Kovno. Later he emigrated to the United States
and settled in New York city.

Silberstein is the author of the following works:
"Geiui 'Enavim," 1881; "Ha-Dat weha-Torah,"
1887; "The "Universe and Its Evolution," 1891;
"Mezi'ut Yehowah weha-'Olam," 1893; "General
Laws of Nature," 1894; "The Disclosures of the



337



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



Silberman
Silesia



BlBtWfiRAPHY

(1904-5).
A.



Universal Mysteries," 1896; "The Jewish Problem
and Theology in General," 1904.

The Am€7-ican Jeuiah Year Bool;, ."VkiS

F. T. IT.

SILESIA : Province of Prussia, formerly of
Austria. Unreliable accounts date the first settle-
ment of Jews in Silesia as early as the eleventh
century, when, it is said, a synagogue in Altendorf,
near Ifatibor, was transformed into a church (1060).
Untrustworthy also are the rejiorts of Jewish perse-
cutions in Leobschutz and Glatz in 11G3, and of
contributions by the Jews of BunzUui in 1190 to-
ward the erection of the city walls, although the
date of the establishment of the first Jewish com-
munity in this province must be placed some time
in tlie tAvelfth century. The principal Jewish set-
tlements during this and tiie next century
were at Breslan, Lowenburg, Bunzlau, Schweid-
nitz, Beuthen, Glogau, Troppau, Miinsterburg, and
Nimptsch. Many of the first Jewish settlers were
very poor ; tlie Slavonic language was used by them,
and the offices of rabbi, teacher, and prayer-leader
were held by one man. They were either fugitives
from the Crusaders, or immigrants from Bohemia
and Poland. Their occupations were chiefly ped-
dling and agriculture; some among them, however,
owned estates, and the villages of Tynice and
Sokohrice were at that time owned by Jews.

Tlie Jews of Silesia suffered much during the
reign of Duke Plenry I., who undertook a cru-
sade against the Prussians. About the same time
(latter part of the 13th cent.) a con-
Early En- flagration destroyed part of Breslan ;
actments. the Jews were charged with origi-
nating it, and were again made to suf-
fer. Their condition became still worse wlien
Bishop Lorenz impo.sed upon them not only the
Leibzoll, but also tithes (1226). The general
spread of German civilization brought prosperity to
the country, and when this caused an increased de-
mand for money, the Jews monopolized the busi-
ness of mone3'-lending. The growth of the commu-
nities of Silesia consequent upon the constant influx
of German Jews aroused the displeasure of the ec-
clesiastical authorities. A provincial synod held
in Breslau Feb. 9, 1267, accordingly issued strict
enactments against the Jews, of which the follow-
ing are especially noteworthy : (1) Jews and Chris-
tians were forbidden to associate at the dance-halls,
in the inns, or at the baths; (2) Jews were enjoined
to wear a special cap when appearing in public ; (3)
a ditch or a fence was to separate the dwelling of a
Jew from that of Iiis Christian neighbor; (4) Chris-
tian nurses or day-laborers were forbidden to stay
at night with their Jewish employers; (5) Jews
were prohibited from dealing in provisions, espe-
cially in meat, "in order that they might not poison
their Christian customers " ; (6) Jews were ordered to
keep their doors and windows closed on the occa-
sion of every Christian procession ; (7) only one
Jewisli house of worship Avas allowed in each town.

These laws, liowever, were not long to remain

valid, for when Duke Henry IV. succeeded to

the rulership, he issued (1270) an order regulating

the status of the Jews which closely followed one

XL— 22



issued for Poland by Ladislatis — itself copied from
the Austrian privilege of 1244— and which contained
tlie following chief clauses: (1) in legal matters tlie
Jews shall be under the sole jurisdiction of the duke ;
(-) their vocations shall include only the trade
ill money, and the lending of money on pledges,
notes, deeds, and live stock; (3) they
The Privi- shall be assured of safety for their
lege persons, and their movable property

of 1270. shall be secure to them; (4) they shall
be accorded the same treatment as
other subjects; (5) they shall not be accused of
using human blood. These regulations were later
confirmed by Duke Bolko I. of Schweidnitz (1295),
and by Duke Henry III. of Glogau (1299).

Upon the division of Silesia into ten dukedoms
these privileges were not revoked ; but the different
cities and churches began to issue independent en-
actments controlling the Jews. Thus, in 1285, Glo-
gau was granted the right to pass judgment upon
Jews taken in the act of committing crimes. In 1315
the several cities laid claim to the Jewish poll- and
land-taxes; and their claims were granted. The be-
ginning of the fourteenth century was marked by
many acts of persecution against the Jews of Silesia;
and in 1315 autos da fe were held in Breslau,
Schweidnitz, and Neisse. In spite of the hatred
borne toward them, however, Jews in all tli£
larger towns acquired houses and real estate; and
as their property was generally situated in the same
quarter, ghettos were naturally formed, centering
about the chief synagogue, which in most cities
served as a school also. In Breslau there Avere three
synagogues, located in different parts of the city;
the oldest existing synagogue dates back to the
fourteenth century, and is situated in the present
L'rsalinerstra.sse ; another was located in the Kohr-
gasse, and was mentioned as early as
Synagogues 1349, when it was known as the Neue
of Judenschul. In 1351 the third syna-

Breslau. gogue is mentioned as being located
in the Gerbfffgasse. The rabbi was
known as' the "bishop of tb« Jews," and his salary
consisted of voluntary contributions; the first rabbi
in Silesia probably was R. Isaac, who held also the
title of "Morenu^" (Zunz, "Z. G." p. 205). Ceme-
teries existed only in Breslau, Glatz, Glogau, GOr-
litz, Liegnitz, Neisse, Schweidnitz, and Troppau;
the one in Breslau was in existence as early as 1246.
During the thirteenth century the Jews were al-
lowed to charge interest at the rate of from 10 to 12^
percent for loans on real estate; during the four-
teenth century the rate was from 14*^ to 18 per cent.

When John of Bohemia took over the government
of Silesia (1327) he confirmed the old privileges of
the Jews. On account of the enormous debts owed
by him and his son Charles IV., however, these
rulers found themselves compelled to sell to the
cities the right of bailiwick, whereby the Jews
came entirely under the power of the municipal
governments. There were eighteen Jewish com-
munities over which the cities exercised this right.
By the sacrifice of large sums of money these com-
munities succeeded in purchasing from the king
their liberty, and likewise exemption from all taxa-
tion, with the exception of a poll-tax, for a period



Silesia

Siloam Inscription



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



338



of tea years. After the lapse of one year, how-
ever, the cities were empowered to levy new
taxes on the Jews. In 1345 the king permitted the
Jewish cemeteries to be violated in order that the
tombstones might be used for building purposes. A
year before the appearance of the Black Death
(1347), which, however, spared Silesia, Charles IV.
placed the Jewish communities under the jurisdic-
tion of the municipal councils again; in the same
year the Flagellant movement caused Jewish perse-
cutions in Gorlitz, Glatz, and Ober-Giogau.

The Breslau community suiTered severely when a

conflagration which took place on May 28, 1349, was

laid at the door of the Jews. Sixty heads of families

were murdered, and their property

Breslau was divided between the city and the
Fires of king, the former securing the real es-
1349 and tate and the two synagogues, the lat-
1360. ter the cemetery and all outstanding
claims. The king issued an order on
Feb. 21, 1350, with regard to the punishment of the
murderers; but it was left to the option of the city
officials how they were to proceed against them.
In the same year the cities were given the right of
granting or refusing admission to the Jews within
their limits. This introduced an era of unrest for
the Silesian Jews, although incidentally it was the
cause of the growth of the commnnitiesin the larger
cities, especially in Breslau, where 100 families were
admitted. The only business which they were al-
lowed to follow was that of money-lending. On July
25, 1360, Breslau was again the scene of a conflagra-
tion, the result of which was that some of the Jews
were slain and the remainder expelled. Two years
later persecutions took place in Brieg, Guhrau, LOw-
enberg, and Neisse. Most of the fugitives from
these places sought refuge in Schweiduitz, where
Bolko II. was duke. This ruler renewed the old
privileges, and tJie community prospered, although
the fact that the Jews were excluded from the gilds
here also restricted them to money-lending.

The chief representatives of the Jews during the
reigns of Bolko II. and his widow Agnes were the
Jews' "bishop," Oser, his father-in-law Lazar, and
David Falken. The duchess later appointed a com-
mittee of four members, called "Die Viere," who
acted as the representatives of all the Jews in
the duchy. About this time Duke John of Upper
Lusitania, which also belonged to Silesia, expelled
the Jews from Gbrlitz, and the synagogue of that
town was transformed into the Chapel of the Holy
Body. Besides the places already mentioned, Jew-
ish communities were established during the four-
teenth century in the following towns: Goldberg,
Haynau, Namslau, Neumarkt, Strehlcn, Hirschberg,
Trebnitz, Striegau, Potschkau, Grollkau, Ohlau,
Jauer, Ratibor, Reichenbach, Kosel, Preisketscham,
and Oppeln.

The beginning of the fifteenth century again saw
the Jews overtaken by misfortune. In 1401 they
were accused of desecrating the host, and were ex-
pelled from Brieg, Glogau, and Striegau. During
the Hussite war, and the factional strifes which fol-
lowed, the)' could free themselves from danger
only by sacrificing large sums of money. In Bres-
lau the Jews had been readmitted by the end of the



fourteenth century, and in Ratibor they had suc-
ceeded in freeing themselves from the ceremony of
taking an oath while standing in bare feet on a pig's
hide. The Breslau Jews had also received the fol-
lowing privileges: (1) exemption from all taxation

with the exception of the yearly tax ;

The Jews' (2) religious liberty; (3) .security for

Oath. person and property ; (4) protection at

religious ceremonies; (5) exemption
from fire-duty, with the exception of the payment
of one mark in cases where the fire had been caused
by them. When, however. King Sigismund went
to Breslau, in 1420, preaching a crusade against
Hussites and heretics, a great number of Jews were
robbed and murdered.

Liegnitz was at that time the only duchy in which
the Jews were permitted to engage in other occu-
pations than money-lending, and even there the
duchess Elizabeth soon issued an order (1447) restrict-
ing them to the latter calling. The Jews of Breslau
had in the meantime prospered ; they were granted
anew the use of the Ohlau cemetery, and they had
reorganized their community after the pattern of
that of Schweidnitz. Then, in the year 1453, came
Capistrano, whose inflammatory speeches brought
much misfortune upon the Silesian communities. In
Breslau he incited the mob to such an extent that
there was brought against the Jews a charge of hav-
ing purchased nine hosts from a peasant and hav-
ing pierced them until blood flowed. In addition to



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 80 of 160)