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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Early Settlement of Jews.
Ancient capital of Syria, situated in the northern part of that country, fifty-seven miles west of Aleppo, on the left bank of the river Orontes, about fifteen miles above its mouth. Antioch was founded in 300 B.C. by Seleucus Nicator (Josephus, "Contra Ap." 2:4), who named it after his father, or, according to others, after his son (see Gen. R. § 23: "Antioch is called after Antiochus"). According to "Midr. Tehillim" (9:8), and "Seder 'Olam Zuṭṭa," Antiochus was the founder, but this is incorrect (Rapoport, "'Erek Millin," p. 148). From "Megillat Antiochus" it is evident that the Jews considered Antiochus Epiphanes the founder ("Rev. Ét. Juives," 30:218). Antioch, as the chief city of Syria, was the seat of the Roman governor, whose jurisdiction extended over Palestine also. A large number of Jews resided in Antioch from its foundation (Josephus, "B. J." 7:3, § 3), and received from Seleucus Nicator all the rights of citizenship (Josephus, "Ant." 12:3, § 1). Their privileges were inscribed upon tablets of brass and carefully guarded. Their communal head bore the title of archon; and the Syrian kings succeeding Antiochus Epiphanes gave many votive offerings to the Synagogue. When the heathen inhabitants of Antioch besieged Demetrius Nicator in the royal palace, they were put to flight by the Maccabean Jonathan (ib. 13:5, § 3). To the credit of the Antiochians be it said, that they lamented, no less sincerely than the Jews, the death of the upright high priest Onias, who was murdered by command of Menelaus, in Daphne, a beautiful suburb of Antioch (II Macc. 4:33; somewhat differently, "Ant." 12:5, § 1). Mark Antony commanded the Antiochians to return to the Jews everything of which they had deprived them ("Ant." 14:12, § 6).
When war broke out in 66, and Greeks and Jews were everywhere engaged in bloody strife, the Antiochians did no harm to their Jewish fellow-citizens ("B. J." 2:18, § 5). Perhaps they considered themselves under obligations to the Jews, because Herod the Great had adorned their city with a street twenty stadia in length and paved with marble ("B. J." 1:21, § 11). After the fall of Jerusalem and the subjugation of the Jews, however, bitter hatred arose between the Antiochians and the Jews. The chief of the Jewish community, a certain Antiochus, became the accuser of his own brethren, and the legate Cæsennius Petus was hardly able to protect them against the wrath of the people ("B. J." 7:3, § 3). The victorious Titus was received by the Antiochians with enthusiasm, but they could not induce him to expel the Jews from their city, nor even to destroy the brazen tablets upon which the franchises of the Jews were inscribed.
Vespasian maintained a powerful garrison in Antioch, and the city served henceforth as the stronghold over Judea ("claustrum quoddam Judææ," the expression of Hegesippus, 3:5,23, who is on this point independent of Josephus). The Jews in Antioch, as everywhere else in the Diaspora, made many converts, so that Christianity gained foothold there quickly. A Christian congregation, composed of Jews and Gentiles, was early organized (Acts, 11:19), and the name "Christian" first came into use in this city (Acts, 11:26). There was also a synagogue in Antiochia Pisidæ (Acts, 13:14).
In Rabbinic Literature.
Antioch now became a chief center of Christianity; but it also long retained its importance for the Jews. The Biblical "Hamath" is considered by the Jerusalem Targum (Genesis 10:18, Numbers 13:21) to be Antioch. In the Babylonian Talmud (Sanh. 96b) the Biblical Riblah is explained as Antioch, or, rather, Daphne near Antioch. The latter is also mentioned in other connections in the Midrash, the Targum, and the Talmud, both in the Haggadah and the Halakah. In the Halakah (Giṭ. 44b) the Antiochians are quoted as a type of non-Palestinians. Several teachers of the Law lived in Antioch or had occasion to be there; among others was Isaac Nappaḥa (Ket. 88a). Here R. Tanḥuma had a discussion on religion, probably with Christians (Gen. R. 19:4). Here, too, R. Aḥa, "the prince of the citadel" (see AḤA SAR HA-BIRAH), and R. Tanḥuma effected the ransom of Jewish captives taken by the Romans (Yeb. 45a; see the correct readings in Rashi) in the campaign of Gallus in 351. Judaism still attracted Christians to its rites in Antioch. In consequence, the first synod in Antioch (341) declared in its first canon that Easter should not be celebrated at the same time as the Jewish Passover (Mansi, "Synopsis," 1:51). The attachment of the Christian to Jewish customs may be particularly inferred from six sermons, delivered against the Jews in Antioch (about 366-387) by John Chrysostom, later patriarch of Constantinople. On Sabbaths and holidays, Christians, especially women, visited the synagogue in preference to the church. They also preferred to bring their disputes to Jewish judges and took their oaths in the synagogue.
The Jews felt so secure in their position that, in Inmestar, a small town situated between Chalcis and Antioch, they scoffed at Jesus and the Christians, but were severely punished (Socrates, "Historia Ecclesiastica," 7:16; compare "Codex Theodosianus," 16:8,18). The Antiochians revenged the wrong of Inmestar by depriving the Jews of their synagogue (423). The emperor Theodosius II. restored the synagogue to them; but on the protestations of the fanatical monk Simeon Stylites, he ceased to defend the cause of the Jews (Evagrius, "Hist. Eccl." 1:13). During the reign of the emperor Zeno, in brawls between the factions of the blue and the green, many Jews were murdered by the greens (Malalas, "Chron. Pasch." Bonn, p. 389). When Persia threatened the Eastern Empire, the emperor Phocas vainly endeavored to force the Jews to be baptized, and those of Antioch were driven to rebellion, in the course of which many Christians were killed and the patriarch Anastasius was condemned to a shameful death (610).
The newly appointed governor, Bonosus, suppressed the rebellion only by dint of great efforts. Heslew many Jews and banished the rest from the city (Malalas, "Theophanes" and "Chronicon Paschale" for the year 610). Antioch suffered much from earthquakes, and from incursions of the Persians, the Arabs, and the Crusaders. When Benjamin of Tudela visited it in the twelfth century, it contained only ten Jewish families, who supported themselves by the manufacture of glass. There are said to have been twenty-five families in 1839, all following the Sephardic ritual ("Isr. Annalen," 1:218). The British consul here in 1888 was a Jew (Pal. Explor. Fund, Statement, 1888, p. 67). In 1894 it contained between 300 and 400 Jews (Baedeker, "Palestine and Syria," 2d ed., p. 415). The modern name of the city is Antakieh.
- Neubauer, Géographic du Talmud, p. 311;
- Böttger, Topographisch-historisches Lexicon zu . . . Josephus, index. s. Antioch:
- Schürer, Gesch, 3d ed., 3:8;
- J. B. Bury, A History of the Later Roman Empire from Arcadius to Irene, 2:200, London, 1889;
- Weil, Gesch. der Chalifen, 3:165 et seq.;
- Le Strange, Pal. Explor. Fund, Quarterly Statement, 1888, pp.266 et seq.
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Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Bonosus'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/b/bonosus.html. 1901.