MERON or MIRON:
City of Galilee, situated on a mountain, three miles northwest of Safed and four miles south of Giscala, with which city it is almost always mentioned in the Talmud. One of the passages is: "One may eat olives [the product of the Sabbatical year] till the last ones disappear from the trees of Giscala and Meron" (Yer. Sheb. ix. 2). The ascent to Meron was so narrow that two persons could not walk abreast (R. H. 15a), and this description may well be applied to the Meroth fortified by Josephus ("Vita," § 37; "B. J." ii. 20, § 6). Meron is spoken of as a city inhabited by priests (Yer. Ta'an. iv. 5), a fact alluded to by Eleazar ha-Ḳalir in one of his piyyuṭim (comp. Rapoport in his preface to Shalom ha-Kohen's "Ḳore ha-Dorot," s.v. "Meron"). It is stated in the Midrash (Eccl. R. xi. 3) that a quarrel resulting in blows broke out between the people of Meron and those of Giscala on account of the remains of R. Eliezer b. Simeon, which each party desired to bury.
To-day Meron is represented by the village of Merun (called in Hebrew writings "Kefar Miron"), celebrated for its very ancient synagogue and for the tombs of some prominent tannaim. Benjamin of Tudela, who visited it, describes a cave there containing the tombs of Hillel and Shammai and many of their disciples; and he states that R. Benjamin b. Japheth and R. Judah b. Beterah also were buried there. But Benjamin does not mention the tombs of R. Simeon b. Yoḥai and his son Eleazar. Samuel b. Samson, who was at Meron in 1230, speaks of the school and tomb of Simeon b. Yoḥai which he saw there, as well as of the tomb of Eleazar. At the foot of the mountain, Samuel states, are 336 other tombs, and outside of the village are the tombs of Simeon Ḥaṭufah and of the prophet Obadiah (Carmoly, "Itinéraires," pp. 133-134). There is now a magnificent bet ha-midrash enclosing the supposed tombs of Simeon b. Yoḥai and Eleazar, which have become the place of an annual festival, held on Lag be'Omer, and called "Hillula de-R. Shim'on ben Yoḥai" in commemoration of the death of the supposed author of the Zohar.
Meron is not to be identified with Shimron-meron of Josh. xii. 20, as the latter is called by the Rabbis "Simonia" (Gen. R. lxxxi.; comp. LXX. ad loc.), and is the modern Simuniyyah, a village west of Nazareth (Robinson, "Researches," ii. 344). It may, however, be identical with Madon (Josh. xi. 1), which is rendered "Meron" in the Septuagint; and some scholars identify it with Meroz, mentioned in Judges v. 23.
- Benjamin of Tudela, Itinerary, ed. Asher, i. 45;
- Carmoly, Itinéraires, pp. 158 et seq.;
- Neubauer, G. T. pp. 228 et seq.;
- Robinson, Researches, ii. 444;
- Schwarz, Tebu'ot ha-Areẓ, pp. 223-224, Jerusalem, 1900.