The abbreviation of words originated in antiquity, probably soon after the alphabet developed from ideographic pictures. While originally rare, their use increased with the general growth in the transmission of ideas by writing. They relieved the shortage of space and precious writing materials, served the convenience of the scribe, and preserved a certain degree of secrecy. An abbreviation also obviated the constant repetition of the full Divine Name. Various methods of abbreviating evolved in the course of time and, when extensively used, they economized in space and materials, although occasionally causing confusion and misunderstandings.


The expression notarikon (derived from the Greek term for stenography) occurs in the Mishnah (Shab. 12:5) and refers to the use of initial letters, dots, and dashes to indicate abbreviation.It is used in the Talmud to indicate memory devices and is one of the 32 *hermeneutics rules of the aggadah (H.G. Enelow (ed.), Mishnat R. Eliezer (1933), 39) and one of the most popular and frequently used. By the third century the terms siman (Heb. סִימָן ; Gr. sēmeion) and alef bet ( אָלֶף בֵּית ) were current and applied to mnemonics, as in “Torah can only be acquired with [the aid of] mnemonic signs” (Er. 54b), while the Talmud also refers to serugin ( סֵרוּגִין ; Yoma 38a, etc.), a system of abbreviation called trellis-writing, whereby only the initial word or letter is used when quoting a biblical verse.This system has been found in Bible fragments recovered from the Cairo *Genizah. The term rashei otiyyot is found only in Tanḥuma (B., Ex. 54); rashei tevot first in Tanḥuma Ha’azinu 5; while the expression sofei tevot occurs in the posttalmudic masorah. The grammarian Elijah Levita (1468–1549) speaks of “… abbreviated, broken words, expressions written in notarikon and initials….”


As the Hebrews wrote at an early stage of their history, the early invention of abbreviations could be assumed. They appear on sixth-century Semitic inscriptions, fifth-century Aramaic documents, and on Samarian jar handles. To mark ownership, for Temple and other sacred purposes, such abbreviations were used well into talmudic times. Although not usually found in official manuscripts of the Bible, abbreviations appear in masoretic writings, Midrash, Mishnah, and Talmud, and they abound in post-tannaitic literature. It has been suggested that the translators of the Septuagint used a Hebrew text with abbreviations. It became one of the main concerns of the masoretic scholars to eliminate ambiguities caused by abbreviations, so that in printed Bibles there are generally no abbreviations; modern Bible commentators, however, while seeking to explain obscure passages, offer emendations suggesting that certain words are actually abbreviations (e.g., J.H. Greenstone in his commentary on Num. 23:3).

Abbreviations appear on Jewish *coins of the Jewish War (66–70) and the Bar Kokhba War (132–135; e.g., , שָָׁנה ב’ – שב׳
לְחֵרוּת – לח  ); on documents recovered from the Dead Sea Caves and Masada; and on ossuaries of the talmudic period
(e.g., יְחֶזְקִָיּה – יחזק ). The Mishnah regularly uses them (e.g.,רבִּי – ר’ )ַ, as does the Talmud (see Pes. 102b–103a) in a discussionon the order of the blessings known as yaknehaz ( .(יַקְנְהַ״ז Rashi, commenting on Numbers 5:11 ff. in Gittin 60a and Yoma 37b–38a, discusses various forms of abbreviations mentioned in the Talmuds. The mnemonic simanim were used to group together different halakhot with a common denominator such as authorship (e.g., halakhot, all by Abbaye, known as ;יעל קג״ם bk 73a). Abbreviations were used extensively as formulas of the calendar system (e.g., לא אד״ו ראש , “Rosh Ha-Shanah cannot fall on Sundays, Wednesdays, or Fridays”). In the Middle Ages, the names of frequently quoted scholars and/or their works were abbreviated and made pronounceable, e.g., Rashi (R. Shelomo Yiẓḥaki), Rambam (R. Moses b. Maimon), Rosh (Rabbenu Asher). It was also the practice in the medieval and post-medieval periods to append eulogistic terms in abbreviated forms (e.g., נוֹחוֹ עֵֶדן – נ״ע , “he rests in paradise”) or for martyrs ( ה’ יקֹּום דָּמוֹ – הי״ד , “may God avenge his blood”); among Sephardim ס״ט was used meaning סוֹפוֹ טֹוב (“may his end be good”) and is applied to the living as well, standing for סְפַָרִדּי טָהֹור , “of pure Sephardi descent.” Current also were abbreviated eulogistic phrases in Spanish and Portuguese on tombstones, supplementing or replacing the traditional Hebrew. Abbreviations were also known in the communities of the Marrano Diaspora, e.g., Amsterdam, where there were transliterations into the Latin alphabet of accepted Hebrew abbreviations (e.g., k.k.t.t. – קָהָל קָדֹושׁ תַּלְמוּד תֹּוָרה , “Holy Congregation Talmud Torah–” as an abbreviation for the Amsterdam Sephardi congregation). The use of abbreviations has continued to grow, particularly in all fields of Jewish scholarship. It has been estimated, for example, that in the siddur of Jacob *Emden there are approximately 1,700 abbreviations.Famous personalities continued to be called by an abbreviation such as the Ba’al Shem Tov (Besht, בֶּעשְׁ״ט ) and Elijah of Vilna ( .(הַגָּאוֹן ר’ אֵלִיָּהוּ – הְַגרָ״א Since the 19t century some authors’ initials have almost superseded their actual names (e.g., the poet Judah Leib *Gordon is commonly known as יַלַ״ג ). The initials with which
the historian and journalist Shneur Zalman Rubashov (later president of the State of Israel) signed his articles eventually
became his Hebrew name ( שַׁזַ״ר , *Shazar).Many 19t- and 20t-century Jewish organizations and
institutions have become known by their abbreviated titles,e.g., *Alliance Israélite Universelle ( כָּל יִשְָׂראֵל חֲבֵרִים – כִּיַ״ח ); or the *Bilu pioneers ( בִּיל״וּ for בֵּית יעֲקֹב לְכוּ וְנֵלְכָה ). The Ḥasidic movement emanating from Lubavitch is known by the initials of their motto Ḥabad ( חָכְמָה, בִּינָה, דַּעת – חַבַּ״ד , “wisdom, understanding, knowledge”). Jewish organizations have also taken names from non-Hebrew initials, such as hias and *wizo. The habit of calling international bodies by their initials (e.g., un,unesco, unscop) has found an echo in the Hebrew אוּ״ם for
אמֹּות מְאֻחָדֹו  (United Nations). In Israel constant use is made of abbreviations (e.g., *Mapai, ,מִפְלֶֶגת פֹּועֲלֵי אֶֶרץ יִשְָׂראֵל – מַפַּא״י “the Israel Labor Party”; Ẓahal, צְָבא הֲגַָנּה לְיִשְָׂראֵל – צַהַ״ל , “Israel Defense Forces”). These groups have adopted abbreviations which have virtually become independent words. Military ranks, units, and equipment are expressed almost exclusively by abbreviations, and so are most public enterprises (e.g., *Tahal, תִּכְנוּן הַמִַּיּם לְיִשְָׂראֵל – תַּהַ״ל , “Water Planning for Israel”). A member of the Israeli parliament is abbreviated חֲבֵר כְּנֶֶסת – חַ״כּ ;  מוֹצִיא לָאֹור – מוֹ״ל ; Land of Israel,אֶֶרץ יִשְָׂראֵל – אי ; the rest of the world is .חוּץ לָאֶָרץ – חוּ״ל Cities with a compound name are often abbreviated (e.g.,תֵּל אָבִיב – ת״ , Tel Aviv). Various methods have been used to indicate abbreviations and several types are distinguishable.By the Middle Ages various systems of dots and strokes were known. The modern method uses a single stroke if one word is abbreviated (e.g., ‘ מַסֶֶּכת – מס ) and double strokes before the final letter of the abbreviation if there are more (e.g., הַקָּדושׁ.(בָּרוּךְ הוּא – הקב״ה

Types of Abbreviations

Two types of abbreviations are distinguishable. The first type is when one word is abbreviated: (1) tevot mogzarot: the end of the word is dropped (e.g., ‘ 2) ;(ׁשֶנֶּאֱמַר – שנ ) tevot nishbarot: the middle of the word is dropped (e.g., 3) ;(אֶלָּא – אא ) emẓa’ei tevot: the middle letter represents a word (e.g., ‘ ה for the Tetragrammaton); (4) sofei tevot: the beginning of the word is dropped (e.g., אֶבֶן – ‘ן ). The second type is when a group of words is abbreviated: (1) rashei tevot: the initial letters are used (e.g., 2) ;(ִאם יְרצֶה הׁשֵם – אי״ה ) two letters are used of one or several words (e.g., ;(שְׁאֵלֹות וְּתׁשוּבֹות – שו״ת; אָָדם הָרִאשׁוֹן – אדה״ר (3) when one of the words is very short, it is retained (e.g., 4) ;(שְָׁוא נח – שנ״ח ) when an abbreviation is formed of a group of words, it may itself be divided (e.g.,בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְהָעוֹלָם אׁשֶר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוׂתָיו וצִוָּנוּ – בא״י אמ״ה אקב״ו ).

Such groups with the addition of vowels have often been rendered pronounceable (e.g., ,קוֹלִי, רֹאשׁ, עָרוֹב, שָׂשׂ, טֹוב, נִדְבֹות – קְרַ״ע שָׂטָ״ן initial letters of verses recited before the shofar is blown); (5) such abbreviations are really *acrostics. In large groups, words may be left unrepresented (e.g., in the abbreviation for the Ten Plagues, דְּצַ״ךְ עֲדַ״שׁ בְּאַחַ״ב , the Passover Haggadah omits the word מַַכּת before the ב standing for 6) ;( בְּכֹורֹות ) sofei tevot: the abbreviation is formed by a combination of final letters (e.g., בָָּרא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשֹׂות – אמ״ת , see also no. 10); (7) serugin (trellis-writing): where only the initial word or letter is used when quoting a biblical verse; (8) ẓeruf: mystic combination of letters (see below); (9) combination of middle letters (e.g.,10 ) ;(תְּקִיָעה תְּרוָּעה תְּקִיָעה – קר״ק ) initial letters in reverse order (e.g., 11 ) ;(תְּהִלִּים מִׁשְלֵי אִיֹּוב – אמ״ת ) occasionally vernacular proper nouns and other words have been accepted and abbreviated in Hebrew (e.g., Yahrzeit,.(יאָהרצייט – י״צ

Abbreviation of the Name of God

The name of God is probably the most often abbreviated word,due to its frequent appearance in Jewish writing and the reverence which is accorded it. It was abbreviated in antiquity,mishnaic, and talmudic times as ‘ ה or ‘ י; in Targum Onkelos as ‘ ה and ‘ ד; and in the Middle Ages it was represented by ‘ ה and varying numbers of yod ’s, vav’s, strokes, and dots, from which developed the use of yod ’s. It has been estimated that there are over 80 substitutes for the Divine Name.

Abbreviation of Names

These are found in connection with euphemisms for the living and eulogies for the dead, in prayers, letters, etc. The Talmud (Git. 36a) reports that the amoraim Ḥisda and Hoshaya signed themselves ‘ ס and ‘ ע, respectively, and other names were abbreviated in talmudic times (e.g, Resh Lakish for R. Simeon b. Lakish). In medieval times the names of famous rabbis were abbreviated, vowels added, and the resultant abbreviation pronounced (e.g., רבִּי לִֵוי בֶּן גְֵּרשֹׁום – רַלְבַּ״ג )ַ, a practice also adopted by and for later scholars and their families (e.g.,בֶּן רַבִּי יְהוָּדה לִֵוי – בְּרִי״ל; רַבִּי מֹׁשֶה חַיִּים לוּצַטּוֹ – רַמְחַ״ל ). The general term for the talmudic sages was .חֲכָמֵינוּ זִכְרֹוָנם לִבְרָכָה – חז״ל In the emancipation period, when the Jews had to adopt surnames,Hebrew abbreviations often formed the basis of “secular” names (e.g., Baeck, בַּעל קֹוֵרא – ב״ק or בְּנֵי קֹדֶשׁ ). Ḥasidic leaders were referred to as אֲדוֹנֵנוּ מֹורֵנוּ ורַבֵּנוּ – אַדְמוֹ״ר . The name Katz ( כֹּהֵן צֶֶדק – כַּ״ץ ) stood for families of priestly descent,and Segal ( סְגַן לְִוָיּה – סֶגַ״ל ) for those of levite origin.On talmudic ossuaries the letters ‘ אָמֵן – א and ‘ שָׁלֹום – ש appear after the name of the deceased, while on later tombstones תְּהִי נְַפשׁוֹ צְרוָּרה בִּצְרֹור הַחַיִּים – תנצב״ה (see i Sam. 25:29),פֹּה נִקְבַּר – פ״נ , and פֹּה טָמוּן – פ״ט (meaning “here lies buried”)are common. When referring in letters to deceased persons, it is customary to attach eulogistic abbreviations, such as הֲרֵינִי כַּפַָּרת מִשְׁכָּבוֹ – הכ״מ , used by children during the year of mourning (Kid. 31b; Sh. Ar., yd 240:9); , זֵכֶר צַדִּיק לִבְרָכָה – זצ״ל
זכְִרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה – ז״ל (Prov. 10:7); עָלָיו השָׁלֹום – ע״ה ; in correspondence it became usual to prefix *letters and occasionally also printed matter and books with בּעְֶזַרת ה’ – בעז״ה, בע״ה, ב״ה (“With the help of God”) or שִוִּיתִי ה’ לְנְֶגִדּי תָּמִיד – שיל״ת (“I have set the Lord always before me”; Ps. 16:8). The addressee may be greeted with יׁשְמְרֵהוּ צוּרוֹ וְגואֲֹלוֹ – יצ״ו or נַטְרֵיה רַחֲמָָנא
וּפַרְקֵיה – נר״ו , both meaning “May God protect him.” The formula בְּחֵֶרם דְרַבֵּנוּ גְֵרשֹׁום – בְּחְַדרַ״ג  was used to affirm the secrecy of letters. The final greeting in the modern idiom is דּרִיׁשַת שָׁלֹום – ד״ש and כ״ט or כָּל טוּב – כט״ס or .כָּל טוּב סֶלָה

Names of Towns

The letters יבְֶנה עִיר אֱלֹהִים – יע״א (“May God’s city be rebuilt,”referring to Jerusalem) are appended after the name of any
city; after the name of a city in Israel ( ;(תִּבֶָּנה ותִכֹּונֵן – ת״ו and after mentioning Jerusalem ( עִיר קְָדשֵׁנוּ תִּבֶָּנה ותִכֹּונֵן בִּמְהֵָרה
בְּיָמֵינוּ אָמֵן – עיקת״ו בב״א or .(תִּבֶָּנה ותִּכֹּונֵן בִּמְהֵָרה בְּיָמֵינוּ – תובב״א The names of Diaspora towns mentioned in Hebrew writing are also abbreviated, e.g., שׁוּ״ם for Speyer, Worms, and Mainz;נַ״ש for Nikolsburg; פַּפַּדַ״ם for Frankfurt on the Main; and אַה״וֹ for the triple community of Altona-Hamburg-Wandsbeck.

Book Titles

The best-known abbreviations for *book titles are those for the Hebrew Bible, תַּנַ״ךְ , composed of the initial letters of
תֹּוָרה נְבִיאִים כְּתוּבִים , and שִׁשָה סְָדרִים – ש״ס for the Babylonian Talmud. Some Jewish classics have become known by the abbreviated form of their titles, thus almost completely obscuring the author’s name and book title; thus the שְׁנֵי
לוּחֹות הַבְּרִית of Isaiah b. Abraham *Horowitz is invariably referred to as the שְׁלָ״ה , as is its author. At the beginning
of books frequently appear abbreviations such as ה’ צְבָאֹות עמָּנוּ מִשְָׂגּב לָנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יעֲקֹב סֶלָה – הצעמלאי״ס or עְֶזִרי מִֵעם ה’ עוֹשֵׂה שָׁמִַים וָאֶָרץ – עמ״י עש״ו , while the Ashkenazi Jews often end with תַּם וְִנׁשְלַם שֶַׁבח לְאֵל בֹּוֵרא עוֹלָם – תושלב״ע . In the Middle
Ages manuscripts were often completed with בָּרוּךְ נֹותֵןלַָיֵּעף כחַֹּ – בנל״כ , derived from lsa. 40:29 (see *Hebrew Book Titles; *Manuscripts).

In Kabbalah

In medieval kabbalistic literature a combination of letters was termed ẓeruf otiyyot (cf. Ber. 55a, etc.), while the term gilgul was introduced later. Abbreviations were used for frequently recurring concepts (e.g., אשׁ רוּחַ מִַים עָפָר – ארמ״ע ,ֵ “fire, wind,water, earth”) and the notarikon פְּׁשַט רֶמֶז דְַּרשׁ סֹוד – פרד״ס (“plain, symbolic, homiletic, esoteric”), describing the four types of biblical hermeneutics. The spread of mysticism led to an increasing use of abbreviation similar to the talmudic simanim (e.g., בָָּרא רָקִיעַ שָׁמִַים ים תְּהוֹם – בְּרֵאשִׁית ); such terms are considered as possessing particularly profound and secret qualities (see *Magic). Abbreviations also appear on *amulets.

Misunderstandings and Misinterpretations

The increasing and inconsistent use of abbreviations has inevitably led to occasional confusion and made the study of
Hebrew texts more difficult, a fact recognized in the 16t century by Solomon Luria (Yam shel Shelomo, Hul. 6:6). Misinterpretations have occurred when ambiguous abbreviations were printed in full. In any case, difficulties arise when an abbreviation can be read in more than one way, so that, e.g., in a bibliographical context ד״ו could be read as דְּפוּס וִינִיצֵיאָה (“Printed in Venice”), or דְּפוּס וָוְרׁשָה (“Printed in Warsaw”), or דְּפוּס וִילְָנה(“Printed in Vilna”), or דְּפוּס וִיָנה (“Printed in Vienna”). Because of the risk of misrepresentation, no abbreviations may be used in a bill of divorce (Git. 36a and Sh. Ar., eh 126) or other religious documents. Misrepresentations have also occurred in the work of censors and Christian scholars (e.g., three yod ’s have been taken to denote the trinity). Hebrew abbreviations have been found on Christian amulets, and Christian writers have used kabbalistic methods, such as regarding a complete word as notarikon (e.g., בָָּרא as בֶּן רוּחַ אָב ). Because of the many obscurities in Hebrew writings, which Christian scholars were anxious to study, a guide to abbreviations was needed and it was a non-Jew, Johannes *Buxtorf the Elder, who produced the pioneer work De Abbreviaturis Hebraicis (1613). The first Jewish work of this kind, by Elijah *Levita, concentrated mainly on the masoretic ambiguities; lists of abbreviations were eventually added to Hebrew works and were followed by independent, comprehensive compilations. Of these, the following are the most important: J. Ezekiel, Kethonet Yoseph: A Handbook of Hebrew Abbreviations (Heb.–Eng., 1887); G.H. Haendler, Erkhei ha-Notarikon (1897); M. Heilprin, Ha-Notarikon … (1872, 1930); A. Stern, Sefer Rashei Tevot (1926); S.Chajes, Ozar Beduyei ha-Shem (pseudonyms; 1933); S. Ashkenazi
and D. Jarden, Oẓar Rashei Tevot … (1965; 1978); S. Ashkenazi,Mefa’ne’aḥ Ne’lamim (1969); A. Steinsalz, Rashei Tevot
ve-Kizzurim be-Sifrut ha-Hasidut ve-ha-Kabbalah (1968); U. Tadmor, Ha-Notarikin ba-Ivrit ha-Yisre’elit, Leshonenu La-Am
39, 225–57; Y. Ben-Tolila, Ha-Iivrit ha-Medubberet, Leshonenu L-Aam 40–41 (1990), 266–78.

Abbreviations in Jewish Folklore

Many abbreviations were misinterpreted (often quite intentionally) and caused misunderstandings which became part of the Jewish folklore. For example, the Yaknehaz abbreviation in the Passover Haggadah, denoting the order of the benedictions (yayin, kiddush, ner, havdalah, zeman), was understood as the German jag’n Has (“hunt the hare”) and pictures of a hare hunt accompany the relevant passage in the printed Haggadah. Many folk etymologies are based upon the notion that the obscure word is an abbreviation; so, e.g., the word afikoman is explained by the Yemenite Haggadah as an abbreviation of egozim (“nuts”), perot (“fruits”), yayin (“wine”), keli-yyot (“parched grain”), u-vasar (“and meat”), mayim (“water”), nerd (“spices”). The abbreviation of Akum for Oved Kokhavim u-Mazzalot (“worshiper of the stars and constellations”) was interpreted by antisemitic propaganda (Rohling) as Oved Christum u-Miryam (“Worshiper of Christ and Mary”).

Abbreviations in Learning

Many abbreviations were set up to help students memorize rules such as in Hebrew grammar or in Halakhah. Of this type are bg”d kf”t, lmn’r, in classifying Hebrew characters which show the same phonetic behavior, or shemelakhto bina to mark the group of 11 servile letters as against the other 11 letters that only appear as radicals. These are well known. Here and there can be found local acronyms, as in Tetouan (Morocco), where the word romah based on “wayiqqah romah beyado” (Num. 25:7) was adapted to summarize the halakhot that deal with the conditions under which a shofar’s hole can be repaired: rubbo (if the greater part of the shofar was kept untouched), mino (the hole can only be filled with a material of the shofar’s type), hazar (the original sound of the shofar did not change after the repair).


(end of 14th century), Jewish convert to Islam. ‘Abd al-H aqq was apparently a Moroccan Jew (the surname indicates a convert to Islam). We know next to nothing of his identity or his background. Towards the end of the 14th century, at the age of about 40, he converted to Islam. Sixteen years later he wrote a work in Arabic, The Sword Extended in Refutation of the Rabbis of the Jews, attacking the Jews and demonstrating the falsity of their beliefs. The text is an unsophisticated manual for disputations with Jews, and uses standard arguments of Islamic anti-Jewish polemic.

Abd al-Haqq claims that the *dhimma, or contract, between Islam and the Jews has been abrogated by the Jews themselves, as they are no longer genuine monotheists. Mistreatment of the prophets by Jews of biblical times shows this, as does the introduction of post-biblical feasts. The transmission of their Scriptures from early times cannot be trusted, and they have introduced falsifications into the texts, as can be seen from the presence of anthropomorphic passages in the Bible. The books of the Jews, in particular the biblical texts, he asserts, should thus be censored. Nonetheless, like other polemicists (e.g., *Samau’al al-Maghribi), Abd al-H aqq is able to claim authenticity for the biblical text when it agrees with his case, and, making use of knowledge from his Jewish background, he appeals to gematria to show that Muhammad and Mecca are referred to in the Bible – thus, in Genesis 12:9, where Abraham is said to have gone “towards the south,” ha-negbah in Hebrew, Abd al-H aqq points out that the numerical value of the letters in this word, 65, is the same as that of the letters in the name of the city of *Mecca. By similar means he shows that king Ahab (in I Kings 20:6 and 22:35) was a believer in Muhammad.


(late 19^-early 20th century), charlatan who revived messianic activity in Yemen in the 1890s. He began his activities no later than 1888 as the herald of the messiah. The leaders of the Jewish community in San’a, led by H ayyim *H ibshush, actively opposed him until they succeeded in persuading the police chief and the Turkish authorities in San’a to deport him from the city (1895) to the town of Shibam northwest of San’a, where he remained with little influence until his death. Abdallah struggled against his opponents by means of letters and poems. The latter-day discovery and publication of a three-page manuscript of his includes four poems which do not exhibit any extraordinary talent, being in fact trivial in comparison to run-of-the-mill Yemenite poetry. Surprisingly, its content is far from revealing messianic tendencies. It does not offer the slightest suggestion of his supposed status as a messiah, or as the messenger of the messiah. All that appears in the poetry in this respect is a plea for redemption and the hastening of the arrival of the messiah, motifs familiar in Hebrew poetry throughout the generations. What can be found there are complaints about his opponents in the Jewish community and the Turkish and Muslim authorities. As opposed to the negative picture described by Hibshush, Korah and most scholars (apart from Nini) find no deviation from the Jewish tradition of messianic expectations and observance of religious law in the poems.


(also called Ibn al-Sawda; seventh century), supposedly a Jew of south Arabian origin, and regarded as the founder of the Shi’ite sect (one of the two main branches of Islam) shortly after Muhammad’s death. The reports by Arab historians concerning his role are contradictory and perhaps reflect the tendency to charge a Jew with partial responsibility for the internal feuds of the Islamic community. Abdallah asserted that Muhammad is the Messiah, who will appear a second time. Meanwhile, Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, is his representative. After the assassination of Ali (661), Abdallah allegedly denied that Ali had died, asserting that the slain man was a demon who had taken on ‘All’s features; All himself was hiding among the clouds, and would return to earth later to establish the Kingdom of Justice. The doctrine that not All, but someone of similar appearance, had been murdered, has its precedent in the teachings of a Christian sect which denied the crucifixion of Jesus, a belief which persists in the Christology of the *Koran (Sura 4: 156). But the messianic concepts ascribed to Abdallah show traces of Jewish (two Messiahs) and Christian origin and differ from the messianic concepts which became generally recognized within the Shi’a. In these, the Messiah (who was identical not with All himself, but with one of his descendants) was hiding in a mountain in the vicinity of *Kufa (in Iraq).


(seventh century c.E.), one of Muhammad’s Jewish followers. The name of his father, Salam, was used only among Jews in the Arabia of that time. Ab-dallah’s family is usually regarded as belonging to the Banu *Qaynuqa’, one of the Jewish clans of Yathrib (Medina), although some associated it with the typically Arabic clan of the Zayd al-Lat, which implies that they were under the protection of the latter. Abdallah is said to have been converted by Muhammad soon after the latter’s arrival in Medina. When his former coreligionists told Muhammad “He [Abdallah] is our master and the son of our master” Muhammad invited them to follow Abdallah’s example. The Jews refused, and only his immediate family, notably his aunt Khalida, embraced Islam. According to other versions, Abdallah’s conversion occurred because of the strength of Muhammad’s answers to his questions. Another account, which places Abdallah’s conversion at a much later date, has more intrinsic plausibility. After Muhammad’s death Abdallah was in the entourage of Caliph ‘Uthman and made a vain attempt to prevent his assassination. A year later he warned Ali against leaving Medina. If all the obviously legendary and biased accounts about Abdallah are eliminated, not much concrete information remains. His relationship to Ahmad ibn Abdallah ibn Salam, a translator of biblical writings, is unclear. Originally the Jewish scholars of Medina were presented as the questioners of Muhammad, and only later did Abdallah figure. The three questions ascribed to him form the core of the volume entitled Questions of Abdallah ibn Salam, first mentioned in 963, which is known in a number of adaptations as A Thousand Questions. Outside the context of this work Abdallah is repeatedly mentioned as the source for tales from biblical times. Genizah fragments have recently yielded a Jewish version of the Abdallah legend in which he appears as *Absalom.


(ruled 685-705), *Uma-yyad caliph who restored the unity of the young Arab Empire after years of civil wars. Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque in the Temple area in Jerusalem. The building of the Dome was an act of propaganda for the Muslim faith, partly directed against the still strong Christian community, as is proved by the inscriptions inside the Dome. The restoration of the Temple site to a state of splendor impressed mystically inclined Jewish circles. There is no information about the general situation of the Jews under ‘Abd al-Malik’s rule. According to the majority of sources the armed rising of the Jewish pseudo-messiah Abu ‘Isa of Isfahan was suppressed during his reign. The Jew Sumayr was master of the mint in Iraq during the monetary reforms of ‘Abd al-Malik.


(Heb. 11133?), a name occurring in the Bible in several different contexts. (1) Abdon the son of Hillel, a minor judge, who came from a town in Ephraim, possibly to be identified with the village Fara’ata southwest of Shechem (Judg. 12:13-15). He “judged” Israel for eight years. The Bible states that “he had 40 sons and 30 grandsons, making 70 descendants who rode on 70 donkeys.” This statement may be intended to indicate that Abdon and his descendants had widespread influence and wealth. (2) Abdon the son of Micah (11 Chron. 34:20), probably corrupt for *Achbor the son of Micaiah (11 Kings 22:12-14). (3) A Benjamite family (1 Chron. 8:12, 30; 9:36).


(or Manstealing; Heb tmp2C-7_thumb genevat ne-fesh), stealing of a human being for capital gain. According to the Bible, abduction is a capital offense. “He who kidnaps a man – whether he has sold him or is still holding him – shall be put to death” (Ex. 21:16); and, “If a man is found to have kidnapped a fellow Israelite, enslaving him or selling him, that kidnapper shall die” (Deut. 24:7). The first passage appears to prohibit the abduction of any person, while the latter is confined to Israelites only; the first appears to outlaw any abduction, however motivated (cf. Codex Hammurapi, 14), while the latter requires either enslavement or sale as an essential element to constitute the offense. Talmudic law, in order to reconcile these conflicting scriptural texts or to render prosecution for this capital offense more difficult (or for both purposes), made the detention, the enslavement, and the sale of the abducted person all necessary elements of the offense, giving the Hebrew “and” (which in the translation quoted above is rendered as “or”) its cumulative meaning (Sanh. 85b, 86a). Thus, abduction without detention or enslavement or sale, like enslavement or sale or detention without abduction, however morally reprehensible, was not punishable (even by flogging), because none of these acts was in itself a completed offense. On the other hand, even the slightest, most harmless, and casual use of the abducted person would amount to “enslavement”; and as for the “sale,” it does not matter that the sale of any human being (other than a slave) is legally void (bk 68b). In this context, any attempt at selling the person, by delivering him or her into the hands of a purchaser, would suffice. However, the attempted sale has to be proved in addition to the purchaser’s custody, because giving away the abducted person as a gift would not be a “sale” even for this purpose (Rashba to bk 78b). The term rendered in the translation quoted above as “kidnap” is ganov (“steal”). The injunction of the Decalogue, “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex. 20:13), has been interpreted to refer to the stealing of persons rather than the stealing of chattels. The reason for this is both because the latter is proscribed elsewhere (Lev. 19:11), and because of the context of the command next to the interdictions of murder and adultery, both of which are capital offenses and offenses against the human person (Mekh. Mishpatim 5). It has been said that this interpretation reflects the abhorrence with which the talmudic jurists viewed this particular crime; alternatively, it has been maintained that the reliance on the general words “Thou shalt not steal” made the interdiction of manstealing applicable also to non-Jews and hence amounted to a repudiation of slave trading, which in other legal systems of the period was considered wholly legitimate.

There is no recorded instance of any prosecution for abduction - not, presumably, because no abductions occurred, but because it proved difficult, if not impossible, to find the required groups of ^witnesses. These would have been required not only for each of the constituent elements of the offense, but also for the prescribed warnings that first had to be administered to the accused in respect of the abduction, the detention, the enslavement, and the sale, separately. The classical instance of abduction reported in the Bible is Joseph’s sale into slavery (Gen. 37; cf. 40:15, “I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews”). In the Talmud there is a report from Alexandria that brides were abducted from under the canopy (bm 104a; Tosef. Ket. 4:9), not necessarily for enslavement or sale, but (as it appears from the context) for marriage to the abductors.

In Israeli Law trafficking in human beings to engage in prostitution. At the beginning of 2000, in the framework of Amendment 56 of the Penal Law, provisions were enacted that prohibited trafficking in human beings for engagement in prostitution. Pursuant to this amendment, section 203A of the Penal Law established a maximum punishment of 16 years’ imprisonment for anyone who “sells or purchases a person in order to engage him in prostitution or serving as a middleman in the selling or purchasing of a person for this purpose.”

Trafficking in human beings has been prohibited since the very dawn of the history of Jewish Law, in the framework of the commandment of “Thou shall not steal” (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16) and the prohibitions concerning abduction mentioned above. “Joseph’s sale by his brothers was an ignominious episode of Jewish history and was regarded as having sealed the fate of the Ten Martyrs” (see Rubinstein). The Knesset’s enactment of the aforementioned amendment was in accordance with Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, sec. 2 of which states: “There shall be no violation of the life, body, or dignity of any person as such,” while sec. 4 states that “All persons are entitled to protection of their life, body, and dignity.”

Jewish Law’s prohibition of abduction and the death penalty imposed on the abductor are only applicable upon the satisfaction of four cumulative conditions: an abduction of a human being; the abductee’s detention in the abductor’s premises; the abductee’s enslavement by the abductor; and the abductee’s subsequent sale to another (Maim., Yad, Genevah 9:2). Some of the geonim were lenient regarding the requirement that all four conditions be satisfied and convicted the abductor where he had abducted and sold, or abducted and enslaved (see in detail Halakhah Berurah, Sanh. 85b).

The Israeli legislator broadened the prohibition to include serving as a middleman, in addition to the elements of abduction, detention, and sale. Under Israeli Law both the abductor-seller and the buyer are equally culpable and share the same punishment, whereas under Jewish law the abductor is the sole offender. The need for deterrence led the Israeli legislator to broaden the circle of offenders, imposing criminal liability upon the seller, the middleman, and the buyer. With respect to punishment for trading in women, this facilitates punishment even if only some of those involved in the offense are actually caught, and even if the prime actor – the seller – is still at large (occasionally abroad) and hence difficult to capture. The Supreme Court stressed that the prohibition of trading in human beings is intended to prevent violations of human dignity, especially that of women sold for prostitution. Hence, section 203A of the Penal Law should be constructed broadly and applied to any transaction that results in a person being treated as property, be it by way of sale, day-hiring, borrowing, partnership, or any other creation of a proprietary connection to a person (Cr. a 11196/02 Prodental v. State of Israel, 57 (6) 40, per Justice Beinish).

Child abduction. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was signed in 1980. In 1991, Israel incorporated the Convention’s provisions into Knesset legislation and empowered the Family Courts to enforce them. The goal of the Convention was to secure the prompt return of illegally abducted children to their countries of residence prior to their abduction.

We already find a claim of child abduction in the Bible, where Laban complains about Jacob’s flight from Aram Na-haraim together with his wives and children (i.e., Laban’s daughters and grandchildren). Upon finding Jacob at Mt. Gil-ead, Laban cries: “What have you done, that you have cheated me, and carried away my daughters like captives of the sword. Why did you flee secretly, and cheat me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent thee away with mirth and songs, with timbrel and lyre? And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? Now you have done foolishly” (Gen. 31:26-28).

The Convention’s point of departure is the provision that abduction is a violation of one of the parent’s custodial rights, “under the law of the State in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or the retention” of the child (Article 3(a) of the Convention). Consequently, cardinal importance attaches to the determination of where the minor’s habitual place of residence was, prior to the abduction. In one of the judgments given in the Jerusalem District Court, an halakhic principle was invoked in order to determine the minor’s customary place of residence. The minor’s parents were observant Jews. The father – then resident with his family in Oxford while writing his doctoral thesis – did not observe the Second Day of Festivals ordinarily observed by Jews living outside Israel. His adherence to the Israeli custom in this respect led the Court to infer that the locus of his life had remained in Israel. Consequently, the child’s removal to Israel could not be regarded as abduction (f.a. 575/04 (Jer.) Anon. v. Anon.). In reaching this conclusion the Court adduced extensive halakhic material, from the Talmud (tb Pes. 51a, 52), Maimonides (Yad, Yom Tov 8:2), Shulhan Arukh (oh 493:3), and the responsa (Radbaz, 4:73).

The Convention provides that there may be a justification for not returning the child if “it finds that the child objects to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of its views” (Article 13 of Convention, concluding phrase). One of the judgments includes a comprehensive discussion of how to determine whether the child is of an age and level that justifies taking account of his views. The Court noted that “in the State of Israel, as a Jewish state, consideration is accorded to the Jewish heritage, where the matter concerns consideration for the children’s wishes and the age at which the law gives effect to the expression of their position” (f.a. (Jer) 621/04 Anon. v. Anon.). One of the sources upon which the decision was based was the mishnah in Niddah 5:6. This mishnah states that vows made by a girl aged 12 are considered efficacious, while between the ages of 11 and 12 the girl’s level of intellectual maturity and comprehension are “examined.” In the case of boys, his standing vis-a-vis vows is examined between the ages of 12 and 13, while after age 13 his vows too are fully efficacious, like those of a girl at age 12. The Babylonian Talmud ad loc. states that “the Holy One Blessed be He endowed woman with greater wisdom than the man,” in light of the fact that the girl reaches maturity before the boy (cf. Torah Temi-mah, Gen. 2:22, §48). The District Court concluded that in the case in question, two of the four daughters were capable of expressing their position – which was against returning to the United States and in favor of staying in Israel. This position was adopted in consideration of their age, which is the age at which an undertaking for a vow is binding under Jewish Law. As such it is also an age at which the Court can form its impression that their wishes are of a nature that ought to be respected, pursuant to Article 13 of the Convention

The very enactment of the Hague Convention Law in Israel may be viewed as the endorsement of a fundamental principle of Jewish Law, namely, that the child is not an object to be moved from country to country, and abducted by one parent against the wishes of the second parent; but an independent legal entity, vested with both standing and rights (see also *Parent and Child).


(1882-1951), first king of the Hashemite Kingdom of *Jordan. Abdullah was born in Mecca, the second son of the sharf Hussein ibn Ali, into the Hashemite family that traced its descent from the prophet Muhammad and had been rulers of Mecca from the 11th century c.E. He grew up in Constantinople, where he received the traditional education of a Muslim gentleman and became, in effect, his father’s political secretary. After Hussein had been installed as emir of Mecca in 1908, Abdullah was instrumental in the secret negotiations with the British that resulted in the “Arab Revolt” of 1916 and in the Allies’ recognition of Hussein as king of the Hejaz. Toward the end of 1920 Abdullah moved north with a Bedouin army with the avowed intent of restoring his brother Faisal, who had just been evicted by the French, to the throne of Syria. At a meeting in Jerusalem in March 1921, Winston *Churchill, then British colonial secretary, offered Abdullah the administration of Transjordan. Out of this tentative arrangement grew the emirate of Transjordan, with Abdullah as hereditary ruler, under the general terms of the British mandate over Palestine, which comprised Transjordan, but with the clauses pertaining to the Jewish National Home expressly deleted. The police of the emirate, soon styled the “Arab Legion,” developed into a field force during World War 11 under John B. Glubb and took on a Bedouin character more and more. In 1946 a treaty with Britain awarded Abdullah formal independence, and he assumed the royal title forthwith. In 1948 the Arab Legion, with British connivance, occupied the greater part of Samaria and Judea (designated by the un resolution of Nov. 29, 1947, as part of an independent Arab State). This was secured by Abdullah in the 1949 armistice with Israel, and he incorporated these territories into his kingdom, henceforth called Jordan. On July 20, 1951, Abdullah was assassinated as he left al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. His murder was generally ascribed to revenge for his readiness to negotiate with Israel for the partition of Palestine and the annexation of its Arab sections. It was also the culmination of his long-standing feud with the Husseini family and its head Hajj Amin, the former Mufti of Jerusalem.

Ever since he had arrived in Transjordan Abdullah had been dissatisfied with the barren, desolate piece of land allotted to him by the British and, from the outset, sought to expand his realm. His prime vision was of a multinational Hashemite Greater Syria, but as a pragmatist, he was ready to settle for Palestine or even for its Arab sections alone. Hence, even though Abdullah’s published views of the Palestine problem did not deviate from those of Arab nationalists in general, his moderate style when addressing Westerners made them, if anything, more effective. In the Israeli War of Independence, the Arab Legion proved the most dangerous enemy Israel faced in the field. However, for much of the 30-year period of his political activity, Abdullah maintained secret contacts with Jewish leaders, assuring them of his readiness to cooperate on his own terms. The highlights of these contacts were an agreement in 1933 with the *Jewish Agency (subsequently disavowed by Abdullah) to lease about 70,000 dunams of crown land in the Jordan Valley and intermittent talks between Abdullah and certain Jewish leaders (prominent among whom were Golda *Meir and Eliyahu *Sasson) during the War of Independence. All these contacts were without tangible result, with the exception of the modifications in the 1949 armistice line with Jordan. Yet he continued his negotiations with Israel for a peace treaty or for a non-aggression pact until 1950. Abdullah was a confirmed Arab nationalist, but, self-possessed and of an ancient ruling family, he lacked that admixture of frustration and hatred that became a characteristic of the next generation’s nationalism. Moreover, even before World War 1, Arab nationalism had been welded to his vision of Hashemite aggrandizement, and this twin concept never lost its hold on him. Abdullah is best understood as an opportunistic politician, short-range realist, and dynastic dreamer, also in his dealings with the Jews of Erez Israel. The 1950 annexation of Arab Palestine (the “West Bank”) not only led to his eventual murder but also completely changed the nature and the future of Jordan. He wrote Memoirs of King Abdullah of Transjordan (English tr., 1950) and My Memoirs Completed (English tr., 1954).


(1823-1861), 31st sultan of the Ottoman Empire; the elder son of Mahmud 11 and his favorite wife, Bezm-i ‘Alem. On November 3, 1839, four months after he ascended the throne, he proclaimed the Hatt-i Sherif of Gul-hane, which inaugurated the Tanzimat period and in which he pledged the security of life, honor, and property for all the subjects of the empire. Following this, many reforms were undertaken to implement the contents of the edict. During his reign the Crimean War broke out (1853-56). Under the pressure of England and France, his allies in the war, the Porte abolished the poll tax (1855), which had been levied upon Jews and Christians since the Arab conquest. Instead, a tax called Bedel-i Askeri (substitute for military service) was levied from non-Muslim conscripts in lieu of military service. The crisis which led to the war brought the rise of a new generation of statesmen at the Porte, led by Ali and Fu’ad Pashas, who were more open toward the west than their predecessors. In February 1856, just before the war ended, the sultan proclaimed a new reform edict (the Hatti-Humayun) in which he granted civil and political equality for his non-Muslim subjects in breach of the Muslim Law (the sharia), which aroused much resentment among the Muslim majority. During Abdul Mejid’s reign important reforms were undertaken in the army and in education (mainly to prepare government functionaries), in the currency, and above all in the administration of the provinces.


(1969- ), French writer. Born in Strasbourg to a Sephardi family of Moroccan origin, Eliette is the daughter of French thinker Armand Abecassis, author of La pensee juive. Deeply imbued with the religious atmosphere of her childhood, Eliette Abecassis, after completeing her studies in philosophy and literature at the prestigious Ecole Normale Superieure, published her first novel in 1996. Qum-ran, a metaphysical and archaeological thriller, whose hero is a young Orthodox Jew and whose plot revolves around the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, was an instant bestseller. Her next two books were centered on the theme of evil and its contagion: Lor et la cendre (1997), a novel, and “Petite metaphy-sique du meurtre” (1998), an essay. To write the screenplay for Amos Gitai’s Franco-Israeli film Kaddosh, Abecassis immersed herself for six months in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Me’ah She’arim, an experience which,


tmp2C-8_thumb the second son of Adam and Eve, murdered by Cain, his older brother (Gen. 4:1-9). According to the biblical story, Abel was a shepherd and Cain worked the soil. Each brought an offering to the Lord from fruits of his labor. Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by the Lord, but Cain’s offering was rejected. Cain, in his jealousy, killed his brother. Explanations of this story are usually sought in a traditional conflict between agriculture and nomadism. Thus the preferential treatment accorded Abel’s sacrifice is seen as reflecting a supposed pastoral ideal in Israel. The narrative, however, does not in any way support the existence of such an ideal, nor is there any denigration of farming. On the contrary, working the land seems to be considered man’s natural occupation (Gen. 2:15). The antithesis between the brothers is therefore less one of occupations than of qualities of offerings. Whereas Cain’s offering is described simply as “of the fruits of the soil,” Abel is recorded as having brought “of the choicest of the firstlings of his flock.” The story, however, seems to be abbreviated. It lacks any description of the initial motivation and the occasion for the sacrifices and it fails to give the reasons for the rejection of Cain’s offering. Neither does it explain how the Lord’s response became known to the brothers. The etymology of Abel’s name is not clear. There may be some intended connection with hevel (“breath, vapor, futility”), symbolizing the tragic brevity of his life (cf., e.g., Eccles. 1:2), though for some reason the derivation of the name is not given, as is the case with Cain. There may also be some relation to the Akkadian aplu or ablu (“son”), parallel to the usage of the names *Adam and *Enosh.

In addition to the screenplay, provided her with the plot of a novel, La repudiee (2000). She also directed a short film, La nuit de noces (2001).


(1920-2004), U.S. journalist. Born in Montreal, Canada, Abel received a bachelor’s degree from McGill University and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University (New York) in 1942. He began his career in jour



(1) Name, appearing either alone or with the addition of a further indicative place-name, of many places in Erez Israel and Syria. Four cities with this name are mentioned in the lists of Thutmose 111. Its meaning is apparently “place of abundant water” (cf. Dan. 8:2-6, “stream”). (2) Avel was a town in ancient Erez Israel which was situated at the origin of the aqueduct of Sepphoris in the mishnaic period (Er. 8:7; Tosef. Er. 9[6]:26). It is the present-day village of al-Rayna, about 3 mi. (5 km.) S.E. of *Sepphoris.

During World War 11 he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Abel was correspondent in Europe for the North American Newspaper Alliance and also worked for the Overseas News Agency. In 1949, he joined the New York Times and served for ten years in Washington, Detroit, Europe, and India. In 1961, he moved into broadcasting, becoming a regular correspondent on the nbc evening news program The Huntley-Brinkley Report. During the 1960s, he covered the State Department and served as the network’s London bureau chief and chief diplomatic correspondent. After working with the Detroit News and nbc, he was named dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia (1969-79). He then moved to Stanford University (1979-91), serving as chairman of the Communications Department from 1983 to 1986. He also served as Faculty Senate chair (1985-86) and directed the university’s program in Washington, D.c. (1993).

Among his many accolades, Abel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (1958), a Peabody Award (1967), and two Overseas Press Club awards (1969 and 1970). In 1998 he received the Grand Prize for Press Freedom of the Inter-American Press Association for his efforts to fight proposed regulation of journalists.

Abel wrote many books, articles, and reviews. His first book, Missile Crisis, appeared in 1966 and was considered the definitive text on the Cuban crisis for decades after its publication. Abel is quoted as saying, “How close we came to Armageddon I did not fully realize until I started researching this topic.” Roots of Involvement: The U.S. in Asia 1784-1971, which he wrote with Marvin *Kalb, was published in 1971. His book about Averell Harriman, Special Envoy to Churchill and Stalin, 1941-1946, which he co-authored with Harriman, was published in 1975. Abel’s last book, The Shattered Bloc: Behind the Upheaval in Eastern Europe, was published in 1990.


(1875-1958), Austrian physical chemist. He was born in Vienna, where in 1908 he became the first professor of physical chemistry at the Technische Hochschule and head of the Institute attached to the chair, and he established a large and vigorous school. In 1938 he was dismissed under the Nuremberg Laws and found refuge in England, where, until his retirement, he was in charge of the research laboratory of the Ever Ready Co. In an early series of brilliant papers on homogeneous catalysis, he insisted that “it is reactions which catalyse, not substances.” Later he contributed many publications on the reactions which occur in the lead chamber process for making sulfuric acid. In England he worked on the basic mechanism of the dry battery cell and wrote on mechanisms based on electron transfer reactions.


(1878-1953), French archaeologist. Abel was born in Saint-Uze (Drome), France, joined the Dominican Order in 1898, and served as professor at the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem from 1903 until his death. His principal work was Geographie de la Palestine, 2 vols. (1934), the first dealing with physical geography, and the second with political geography and topography. With L.H. *Vincent, he wrote Jerusalem ancienne et nouvelle (1912-14), regarded as one of the best monographs on Christian Jerusalem. He also collaborated with Vincent in monographs on Bethlehem, Em-maus, and Hebron. Toward the end of his life, Abel published his Histoire de la Palestine, 2 vols. (1952), covering the period from Alexander the Great to the Arab conquest. His other works include studies on the topography of the Hasmonean Wars, an account of travels in the Jordan Valley and in the Dead Sea area, as well as a grammar of the Septuagint and the New Testament.

°ABELARD (Abaelard), PETER

(1079-1142), French philosopher and theologian. Abelard composed the Dialogus inter Philosophum. Judaeum et Christianum (1141; published in pl, 178 (1855), 1611-82). In it a Jew and a Christian, who accept revelation as adequate justification of their creed, are challenged by a philosopher, an Arab by nationality, who accepts only reason and natural law as a basis for the discussion. The dialogue does not offer a final conclusion, but this might possibly reflect the author’s emphasis on the method of discussion rather than on its results. In the dialogue the Jew accepts belief in God’s revelation as the only norm for faith and conduct; he asks the philosopher, who leads the debate, to prove that such an attitude contradicts reason. In doing so he expresses his people’s confidence that God will finally fulfill the biblical promises of a blissful future and compensate them for their depressed position in contemporary society, which he describes in realistic detail. Being forced to pay for survival is an everyday experience for the Jews. In contemporary circumstances they were unable to earn a livelihood from agricultural property; they had to rely on profits from money lending, an occupation which made them more odious to their environment. In his reply the philosopher emphasizes the contrast between this situation and the promise of prosperity in this world, which the Bible holds out for loyal obedience. He concludes that either the Jews have not lived and acted in accordance with divine command or their Law is not the truth. The Christian, according to Abelard’s description, although a believer in the authority of revelation, explains his belief in spiritual values as the summun bonum in philosophical terms. Abelard used the apologetic writers of the patristic age as his source, wishing to prove that his own attitude as a philosophical interpreter of Christianity corresponded to the classical tradition of the church. The contemporary Jew in his Dialogus takes the place of the defender of particular traditions – Jewish or pagan – as depicted in the ancient ecclesiastical treatises adopting philosophical argument; this presentation precludes the possibility that Abelard intended to report a contemporary exchange of arguments. His work is an apology for his own life, and its fictional character is pointed out by the description of the narrative as a dream. On the other hand, the whole design indicates that such conversations with Jews were not unusual in his time. Abelard indeed had some personal contact with Jews and was present when one interpreted the Book of Kings. Abelard’s knowledge of Hebrew was restricted to the word lists contained in the biblical studies of St. Jerome. But the educational program of this church father inspired Abelard’s recommendation to his former wife Helo-ise that she and the nuns under her charge learn Hebrew for a genuine understanding of Scripture.


(Heb tmp2C-10_thumb also called Abel-Maim (11 Chron. 16: 4) or simply Abel (11 Sam. 20:18). It is the present Tell Abil (Abil al-Qamh) northeast of Kefar Giladi and south of Metullah. Pottery found on the surface of the tell dates to the Early Bronze Age and later periods. It may be one of the cities mentioned in the Egyptian Execration Texts (inscribed on figurines) from the early 18th century B.c.E. and is apparently also referred to in the list of cities (no. 92) captured by Thutmose 111 in Palestine and southern Syria in his first campaign (c. 1469 B.c.E.). In the 12th-uth centuries, it may have passed into the possession of the Danites when they settled in the north of the country, but it subsequently was considered part of (Beth-) Maacah, whose center comprised northern Golan and Bashan. In the days of David, it was a fortified place and “a city and a mother in Israel” (11 Sam. 20:19) in which the rebel Sheba, the son of Bichri, was besieged when he fled from Joab’s army. It was captured by the Arameans during the reign of Baasa, king of Israel (early ninth century) together with Ijon, Dan, and the rest of the northeastern part of the Israelite kingdom (1 Kings 15:20; 11 Chron. 16:4). In the days of Pekah the son of Rema-liah, Tiglath-Pileser 111, king of Assyria, conquered all the eastern and northern parts of Israel and the capture of Abel-Beth-Maacah is specifically mentioned (11 Kings 15:29). This event is also recorded in Assyrian inscriptions which describe this king’s campaign of 733/32 B.c.E. and the annexation of the conquered areas to Assyria (these contain a reference to Abil (m) akka). The city was apparently included in the province of Megiddo. No subsequent mention is made of Abel-Beth-Maacah in ancient sources.


(1879-1945), author and Zionist worker in Austria and Holland. Abeles, who was born in Bruen (Brno), Moravia, was a founder of the Jewish students’ organization Veritas. He was also a founder of the Zionist movement in Bohemia and Moravia. After completing his studies at the University of Vienna, he became legal advisor to the Austrian railways. Abeles contributed articles to the Zionist newspaper Die *Welt and other Zionist newspapers in German, and was an editor of the organ of the Zionist movement in Austria Juedische Zeitung. Together with Robert Stricker he founded the Zionist daily newspaper Wiener Morgenzeitung, working on its staff until 1926, when he became an emissary for *Keren Hayesod and traveled through Western Europe as a lecturer. From 1930 he was director of Keren Hayesod in Amsterdam. He was deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and died immediately after its liberation. Among his works are Besuch in Eretz Yisrael (1926), impressions of his first journey to Palestine; Die Genesung (1920), a book of poems; and Zehn Juedinnen (1931), a book about famous Jewish women. With L. Bato he edited the almanac Juedischer Nationalkalen-der (1915/16-1921/22).


(Simele; 1682-1694), alleged Christian martyr. The Jesuit chronicler John Eder relates that Simon, who was born into a Prague Jewish family, wanted to embrace Christianity at the age of 12. His father Lazar, a glover, was accused of having murdered him. During the investigation Lazar allegedly hanged himself in prison, and a fellow Jew, Loebel Kurtzhandel, was executed as his accomplice. Simon, although not baptized, was buried with honors in the Tyn (Thein) church where his grave may still be seen.

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