By: Kaufmann Kohler
- 1. Older name of the city of Beth-el (Gen. xxviii. 19, xxxv. 6, xlviii. 3; Josh. xvi. 2, xviii. 13; Judges i. 23).
- 2. Name of a city in the land of the Hittites, built by an emigrant from Beth-el, who was spared and sent abroad by the Israelitish invaders because he showed them the entrance to the city (Judges i. 26). "Luz" being the Hebrew word for an almond-tree, it has been suggested that the city derived its name from such a tree or grove of trees. Winckler compares the Arabic "laudh" ("asylum"). Robinson ("Researches," iii. 389) identifies the city either with Luwaizah, near the city of Dan, or (ib. iii. 425) with Kamid al-Lauz, north of Heshbon (now Ḥasbiyyah); Talmudic references seem to point to its location as somewhere near the Phenician coast (Soṭah46b; Sanh. 12a; Gen. R. lxix. 7). Legend invested the place with miraculous qualities. "Luz, the city known for its blue dye, is the city which Sennacherib entered but could not harm; Nebuchadnezzar, but could not destroy; the city over which the angel of death has no power; outside the walls of which the aged who are tired of life are placed, where they meet death" (Soṭah 46b); wherefore it is said of Luz, "the name thereof is unto this day" (Judges i. 26, Hebr.). It is furthermore stated that an almond-tree with a hole in it stood before the entrance to a cave that was near Luz; through that hole persons entered the cave and found the way to the city, which was altogether hidden (Gen. R. l.c.).
- 3. Aramaic name for the os coccyx, the "nut" of the spinal column. The belief was that, being indestructible, it will form the nucleus for the resurrection of the body. The Talmud narrates that the emperor Hadrian, when told by R. Joshua that the revival of the body at the resurrection will take its start with the "almond," or the "nut," of the spinal column, had investigations made and found that water could not soften, nor fire burn, nor the pestle and mortar crush it (Lev. R. xviii.; Eccl. R. xii.). The legend of the "resurrection bone," connected with Ps. xxxiv. 21 (A. V. 20: "unum ex illis [ossibus] non confringetur") and identified with the cauda equina (see Eisenmenger, "Entdecktes Judenthum," ii. 931-933), was accepted as an axiomatic truth by the Christian and Mohammedan theologians and anatomists, and in the Middle Ages the bone received the name "Juden Knöchlein" (Jew-bone; see Hyrtl, "Das Arabische und Hebräische in der Anatomie," 1879, pp. 165-168; comp. p. 24). Averroes accepted the legend as true (see his "Religion und Philosophie," transl. by Müller, 1875, p. 117; see also Steinschneider, "Polemische Literatur," 1877, pp. 315, 421; idem, "Hebr. Bibl." xxi. 98; idem, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 319; Löw, "Aramäische Pflanzennamen," 1881, p. 320). Possibly the legend owes its origin to the Egyptian rite of burying "the spinal column of Osiris" in the holy city of Busiris, at the close of the days of mourning for Osiris, after which his resurrection was celebrated (Brugsch, "Religion und Mythologie," 1888, pp. 618, 634).
- Jastrow, Dict.;
- Levy, Neuhebr. Wörterb.