By: Kaufmann Kohler
An abbreviation formed by the initial letters of ("worshiper of stars and constellations"). 'Akkum therefore came to be the Talmudical designation for heathen or idolater, and was originally applied to Chaldean star-worshipers. The term, however, plays quite a conspicuous rôle in the history of the calumniation of the Jews; for it has frequently been claimed that wherever harsh expressions or intolerant rules are given in the Talmud touching the 'Akkum, it is the non-Jew in general who is intended, and therefore the Christian as well. This, however, is erroneous, and every edition of the Talmud bears upon its front page the solemn declaration of contemporary rabbis that wherever either of the terms "'Akkum" or "Nokri" ("Stranger") was used, it referred only to the idolatrous nations of antiquity or of distant lands, but never to such as believe in divine revelation and worship the Lord who created heaven and earth, among whom the Jews would live at peace, recognizing their righteousness and praying for their welfare. Censors often substituted "'Akkum" for "Nokri" or "Goy," and thus the attacks were chiefly directed against the former word. But calumniators persisted in their malevolent misrepresentations of the Talmud. An instance of the extent of such misrepresentations was afforded by Professor Rohling of Prague, who, in his pamphlet "Meine Antwort an die Rabbinen" (1883), p. 18, had the effrontery to declare that 'Akkum in the "Shulḥan 'Aruk" is the abbreviation of 'Obed Christum u-Maria ("worshiper of Christ and Mary"). 'Akkum is, according to H. L. Strack in article "Talmud" in Herzog's "Encyclopedia," xviii. 320, note, and "Nathaniel," 1900, p. 128, note, not found in the oldest edition or manuscripts of the Mishnah, Talmud, "Yad ha-ḤazaḲah," and "Shulḥan 'Aruk," but has been put there by the censors in place of the words "Goy," "Nokri," and "Obed 'Abodah Zarah."
- Franz Delitzsch, Rohling's Talmudjude, 1881, 7th ed.;
- idem, Was Dr. August Rohling Beschworen Hat und Beschwören Will, 1883.