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ISIS:

Egyptian deity, at whose instigation, it was alleged, the Jews were forced to leave Egypt. Cheremon, the enemy of the Jews, asserted that the goddess Isis had appeared to the Egyptian king Amenophis, and had censured him because her sanctuary had been destroyed; whereupon the priest Phritibantes told the king that the terrible vision would not recur if he would purge Egypt of the "foul people." Then the departure of the Jews from Egypt took place (Josephus, "Contra Ap." i. 32). Tacitus has a different version, according to which the Jews were natives of Egypt, and had emigrated during the reign of Isis ("Hist." v. 2-5). In the Epistle of Jeremiah (30-40) either the cult of Isis or that of Cybele is described. The violation of the chaste Paulina in the Temple of Isis at Rome was one of the reasons for the expulsion of the Jews from that city by Tiberius (Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 3, § 4; Hegisippus, "De Excidio Hieros." ii. 4).

After the destruction of Jerusalem, Vespasian and Titus celebrated their triumph in the Temple of Isis at Rome (Josephus, "B. J." vii. 5, § 4). Tiberius Julius Alexander, a descendant of the apostate and procurator (of Judea) of the same name, erected a statue to Isis at Alexandria, in the 21st year of Antoninus Pius (Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., i. 568, note 9). The Greeks that lived in Palestine worshiped, among other gods, the goddess Isis (ib. ii. 35). Hence it is not surprising that the Rabbis also speak of the worship of Isis; they do not mention her name, but refer to her as the "suckling" ("meniḳah"; 'Ab. Zarah 43a; Tosef., 'Ab. Zarah, v. 1); she is often represented with the suckling Horus. This specific application of "the suckling" has not been recognized in the Talmudic dictionaries of Levy, Kohut, and Jastrow.

Bibliography:
  • Sachs, Beiträge zur Sprach- und Altertumskunde, ii. 99, Berlin, 1854;
  • S. Krauss, in Kohut Memorial Volume, p. 346, Berlin, 1897.
G. S. Kr.
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