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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Lydda

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(Λύδδα, Acts 9:32; Acts 9:35; Acts 9:38; from the Heb. "Lod, לדֹ, strife; Sept. Λόδ v.r. Λώδ, 1 Chronicles 8:12; Λυδδών v.r. Λοδαδί and Λοδαδίδ, by union with the following name, Ezra 2:33; Nehemiah 7:37; Λύδδα, Nehemiah 11:35; 1 Maccabees 11:34; so also Josephus), a town within the limits of the tribe of Ephraim; according to Eusebius and Jerome, nine miles east of Joppa, on the road between that port and Jerusalem; according to the Antonine Itin., thirty-two miles from Jerusalem and ten from Antipatris. It bore in Hebrew the name of LOD, and appears to have been first built by the Benjamites, although it lay beyond the limits of their territory (1 Chronicles 8:12); and we find it again inhabited by Benjamites after the exile (Ezra 2:33; Nehemiah 11:35). In all these notices it is mentioned in connection with Ono. It likewise occurs in the Apocrypha (1 Maccabees 11:34) as having been taken from Samaria and annexed to Judaea by Demetrius Nicator; and at a later date its inhabitants are named among those who were sold into slavery by Cassius when he inflicted the calamity of his presence upon Palestine after the death of Julius Caesar (Josephus, Ant. 14:11, 2; 12:6). In the New Testament the place is only noticed under the name of Lydda, as the scene of Peter's miracle in healing AEneas (Acts 9:32; Acts 9:35). Some years later the town was reduced to ashes by Cestius. Gallus, in his march against Jerusalem (Josephus, War, 2:19, 1); but it must soon have revived, for not long after we find it at the head of one of the toparchies of the later Judaea, and as such it surrendered to Vespasian, who introduced fresh inhabitants from Galilee (Josephus, War, 3:3, 5; 4:8).

At that time it is described by Josephus (Ant. 20:6, 2) as a village equal to a city; and the Rabbins have much to say of it as a seat of Jewish learning, of which it was the most eminent in Judaea after Jabneh and Bether (Lightfoot, Parergon, § 8; Horae Heb. page 35 sq.; Otho, Lex. Rabb. page 399 sq.). About the time of the siege it was presided over by rabbi Gamaliel, second of the name (Lightfoot, Chor. Cent. 16). Some curious anecdotes and short notices from the Talmuds concerning it are preserved by Lightfoot. One of these states that "queen Helena celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles there!" In the general change of names which took place under the Roman dominion, Lydda became Diospolis (Ptolemy, 5:16, 6; Pliny, 5:15; see Reland, Palaest. page 877), and under this name it occurs in coins of Severus and Caracalla, and is often mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome. It was early the seat of a bishopric, and at the different councils the bishops are found to have subscribed their names variously, as of Lydda or Diospolis; but in the later ecclesiastical records the name of Lydda predominates.

Tradition reports that the first bishop was "Zenas the lawyer" (Titus 3:13), originally one of the seventy disciples (Dorotheus, in Reland, page 879); but the first historical mention of the see is the signature of "Atius Lyddensis" to the acts of the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325; Reland, page 878). The bishop of Lydda, originally subject to Caesarea, became at a later date suffragan to Jerusalem (see the two lists in Von Raumer, page 401); and this is still the case. In the latter end of 415 a council of fourteen bishops was held here, before which Pelagius appeared, and by whom, after much tumultuous debate, and in the absence of his two accusers, he was acquitted of heresy, and received as a Christian brother (Milner, Hist. of Ch. of Christ, cent. 5, chapter 3). The latest bishop distinctly mentioned is Apollonius, in A.D. 518. Lydda early became connected with the homage paid to the celebrated saint and martyr St. George, who was not less renowned in the East than afterwards in the West. He is said to have been born at Lydda, and to have suffered martyrdom at Nicomedia in the earliest persecution under Diocletian and Maximian, at the end of the 3d century. His remains were transferred to his native place, and a church erected in honor of him by the emperor Justinian. This church, which stood outside the town, had just been leveled to the ground by the Moslems when the Crusaders arrived at Lydda; but it was soon rebuilt by them, and they established a bishopric of Lydda and Ramneh. Great honors were paid by them to St. George, and they invested him with the dignity of their patron: from this time his renown spread more widely throughout Europe, and he became the patron saint of England and of several other states and kingdoms.

The church was destroyed by Saladin in 1191, and there is no evidence that it was ever rebuilt, although there was in later centuries an unfounded impression that the church, the ruins of which were then seen, and which still exist, had been built by the English king Richard. From that time there has been little notice of Lydda by travelers. It now exists, in a fruitful plain, one mile north of Rama, and three east of Jaffa, under its ancient name of Lud or Ludda (Lidd in Tobler, Dritte Wanderung, pages 69, 456). Within a circle of four miles still stand Ono (Kefr Auna), Hadid (el-Hadithehs, and Neballat (Beit-Neballah) associated with Lod in the ancient records. The water-course outside the town is said still to bear the name of Abi-Butrus (Peter), in memory of the apostle (Tobler, page 471). The town is, for a Mohammedan place, busy and prosperous (see Van de Velde, Syr. and Palest. 1:244). Buried in palms, and with a large well close to the entrance, it looks from a distance inviting enough, but its interior is very repulsive on account of the extraordinary number of persons, old and young, whom one encounters at every step, either totally blind, or afflicted with loathsome diseases of the eyes. It is a considerable village of small houses, with nothing to distinguish it from ordinary Moslem villages save the ruins of the celebrated church of St. George, which are situated in the eastern part of the town. The building must have been very large. The walls of the eastern end are standing only in the parts near the altar, including the arch over the latter; but the western end remains more perfect, and has been built into a large mosque, the lofty minaret of which forms the landmark of Lud. As the city of St. George, who is one with the famous personage El-Khudr, Lydda is held in much honor by the Moslems. In their traditions the gate of the city will be the scene of the final combat between Christ and Antichrist (Sale's Koran, note to chapter 43; and Prel. Disc. 4, § 4; also Jalal ad-n, Temple of Jerusalem, page 434). See Raumer, Palastina, page 208; Robinson, Bib. Researches, 2:55; Sandys, Travailes; Cotovicus, Itiner. pages 137, 138; D'Arvieux, Memoires, 2:28; Pococke, Description, 2:58; Volney, Voyage, 1:278; Thomson, Land and Book, 2:291 sq.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Lydda'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/l/lydda.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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