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LYDDA or LOD ():

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City in Palestine, later named Diospolis; situated one hour northeast of Ramleh, about three hours southeast of Jaffa, and, according to the Talmud (Ma'as. Sh. v. 2; Beẓah 5a), a day's journey west of Jerusalem. It seems to have been built originally by a descendant of Benjamin (I Chron. viii. 12), and to have been occupied again by Benjamites after the Exile (Ezra ii. 33; Neh. xi. 35). According to the Talmud (Yer. Meg. i. 1) it was a fortified city as early as the days of Joshua. At the time of the Syrian domination the city and district belonged to Samaria, and Demetrius II. (Nicator) apportioned it to Judea (I Macc. xi. 34; Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 4, § 9). Cestius Gallus, Roman proconsul under Nero, burned Lydda when he advanced upon Jerusalem from Cæsarea (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 19, § 1), but soon afterward it is named as the capital of one of the toparchies into which Judea was later divided, surrendering as such to Vespasian (ib. iii. 3, § 5; iv. 8, § 1). Josephus describes it as a "village" equal in size to a "city" ("Ant." xx. 6, § 2).

At a time which can not definitely be fixed, but which was during the Roman period, the name of the place was changed to Diospolis, which name is found on coins struck under Septimius Severus and Caracalla. The city is frequently mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome. It became a bishopric at an early date, its bishops signing at the various councils either as bishops of Lydda or as bishops of Diospolis (comp. Reland, "Palestina ex Monumentis Veteribus Illustrata," p. 877; Robinson, "Palästina," iii. 263 et seq.). At an early date Lydda was a center of the veneration of St. George, for both Antoninus Martyr (c. 600) and Benjamin of Tudela refer to it as the burial-place of the saint (comp. Reland, l.c.). On the varying fortunes of the city see Robinson, "Palästina" (l.c.). The present village of Lidd still preserves traces of the historical Lydda, which is described in tradition as second only to Jerusalem (comp. Van de Velde, "Reise Durch Syrien und Palästina," i. 332; Munk-Levy, "Palästina," pp. 148 et seq.; Schwarz, "Das Heilige Land," p. 104; Neubauer, "G. T." pp. 76 et seq.; Socin, "Palästina und Syrien," 2d ed., pp. 11 et seq.).

After the Fall of Jerusalem.

After the destruction of Jerusalem, Lydda was famous as a seat of Jewish scholarship, and the academy which flourished there is frequently mentioned in the Talmud and other works of traditional literature. The term "scholars of the South" ("ziḳne Darom," Ḥul. 132b; Zeb. 23a: "rabbanan di-Daroma," Lev. R. 20, 163b; "rabbanan di-Daroma," Yer. M. Ḳ. iii. 82; and simply "Deromayya," Yer. Pes. v. 32) doubtless refers to the Lydda teachers of the Law, whose wisdom is recognized also in the sentence "Ha-roẓeh she-yaḥkim yadrim" = "Let him who wishes to attain to wisdom go to the South" (B. B. 25b; comp. also Schürer, "Gesch." ii. 302).

Rabbi Eliezer lived at Lydda (Yad. iv. 3; Sanh. 32b); R. Ṭarfon taught there (B. M. 49b); and it was also the scene of R. Akiba's activity (R. H. i. 6). Responsa from Lydda are often mentioned (Tosef., Miḳ. vii. [viii.], end); but despite the reputation which the teachers at the academy enjoyed, there seems to have been a certain feeling of animosity against them in consequence of their arrogance, and it was therefore denied that they possessed any deep knowledge of the Law (comp. Pes. 62b; Yer. Pes. 32a; Yer. Sanh. 18c, d; Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." i. 60, iii. 16).

At Lydda, in the garret of one Nitsa, during the Hadrianic persecutions, was adopted the historical resolution that where martyrdom was the only alternative, all the religious laws, excepting three, might be transgressed, the three exceptions being the laws concerning idolatry, incest, and murder (Yer. Sheb. iv. 35; Sanh. 74a; Yer. Sanh. iii. 21; comp. Pesiḳ. xiii.). At another meeting held in Nitsa's garret the question whether the study of the Law is more important than the practise of the Law was unanimously decided in the affirmative (Ḳid. 40b; comp. Sifre to Deut. xi. 13 [ed. Friedmann, p. 79b] and parallels).

Bibliography:
  • Grätz, Gesch. 2d. ed., iv. 170, especially note 17;
  • Jost, Gesch. des Judenthums und Seiner Sekten, ii. 80, 107.
J. E. N.
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