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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Lydda

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(Λύδδα, Heb. Lôd, Ar. Ludd)

Lydda was a town about 10 miles S.E. of Joppa, on the line where the Maritime Plain of Palestine merges into the Shephçlah or Lowlands of Judaea . Its importance was largely due to its position at the intersection of two highways of intercourse and traffic-the road from Joppa up to Jerusalem by the Vale of Ajalon, and the caravan route from Egypt to Syria and Babylon. Re-occupied by the Jews after the Exile (Nehemiah 11:35), it was nevertheless governed by the Samaritans till the time of Jonathan Maccabaeus, when the Syrian king Demetrius II. made it over to Judaea (1 Maccabees 11:34). In the time of Christ it was the capital of one of the eleven toparchies ‘of which the royal city of Jerusalem was the supreme’ (Jos. Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) iii. iii. 5). During the civil strife of the Romans (circa, about 45 b.c.) Cassius sold the inhabitants of Lydda into slavery for refusing the sinews of war, but Antony gave them back their liberty (Ant. XIV. xi. 2, xii. 2-5). Lydda was visited by St. Peter, whose preaching, aided by the miraculous healing of aeneas, is said, ‘in a popular hyperbolical manner’ (Meyer on Acts 9:35), to have resulted in a general conversion of the Jewish population to Jesus as the Messiah. From this town the Apostle was called to Joppa on behalf of Dorcas (Acts 9:36). In the Jewish Wars Lydda was a centre of strong national feeling. It was captured and burned by the Syrian governor, Cestius Gallus, on his march to Jerusalem (a.d. 65), and it surrendered without a struggle to Vespasian in 68 (Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) ii. xix. 1, iv. viii. 1]). After the fall of the holy city it became one of the refuges of Rabbinical learning. Later, it was known as Diospolis, though its old name was never displaced, and it became the seat of a bishop. At the Council of Diospolis in a.d. 415 the heresiarch Pelagius was tried, but managed to procure his acquittal. By this time Lydda had begun to have a wide fame as the reputed burial-place of a Christian soldier named Georgios, who in Nicomedia had torn down Diocletian’s edict against Christianity and welcomed martyrdom. His relics were taken to Lydda, and round his name was gradually woven a tissue of legend, in which the Greek myth of Perseus and Andromeda (see Joppa), the Moslem idea of Elijah (or alternatively of Jesus) as the destined destroyer of the Impostor (al-dajjâl) or Antichrist, and the old Hebrew story of the fall of Dagon before the ark, were all inextricably intertwined, till Lydda became the shrine of St. George the Slayer of the Dragon, whom the English Crusaders made the patron-saint of their native land.

Lydda is now ‘a flourishing little town, embosomed in noble orchards of olive, fig, pomegranate, mulberry, sycamore, and other trees, and surrounded every way by a very fertile neighbourhood.’ The ruins of the Crusaders’ Church of St. George, have ‘a certain air of grandeur’ (W. M. Thomson, The Land and the Book, 1910, p. 523). The town has a station on the Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway.

Literature.-E. Robinson, Biblical Researches, 1841, iii. 49-55; C. Clermont-Ganneau, Horus et Saint Georges, 1877; G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (G. A. Smith) , 1897, p. 160f.

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Lydda'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/l/lydda.html. 1906-1918.

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