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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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City in Palestine, later named Diospolis situated one hour northeast of Ramleh, about three hours southeast of Jaffa, and, according to the Talmud (Ma' as. Sh. 5:2 Beẓ ah 5a), a day's journey west of Jerusalem. It seems to have been built originally by a descendant of Benjamin ( 1Chronicles 8:12 ), and to have been occupied again by Benjamites after the Exile (Ezra 2:33 Nehemiah 11:35 ). According to the Talmud (Yer. Meg. 1:1) it was a fortified city as early as the days of Joshua. At the time of the Syrian domination the city and district belonged to Samaria, and Demetrius II. (Nicator) apportioned it to Judea (I Macc. 11:34 Josephus, "Ant." 13:4, § 9). Cestius Gallus, Roman proconsul under Nero, burned Lydda when he advanced upon Jerusalem from Cæ sarea (Josephus, "B. J." 2:19, § 1), but soon afterward it is named as the capital of one of the toparchies into which Judea was later divided, surrendering as such to Vespasian (ib. 3:3, § 5 4:8, § 1). Josephus describes it as a "village" equal in size to a "city" ("Ant." 20:6, § 2).

At a time which can not definitely be fixed, but which was during the Roman period, the name of the place was changed to Diospolis, which name is found on coins struck under Septimius Severus and Caracalla. The city is frequently mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome. It became a bishopric at an early date, its bishops signing at the various councils either as bishops of Lydda or as bishops of Diospolis (comp. Reland, "Palestina ex Monumentis Veteribus Illustrata," p. 877 Robinson, "Palä stina," 3:263 et seq. ). At an early date Lydda was a center of the veneration of St. George, for both Antoninus Martyr (c. 600) and Benjamin of Tudela refer to it as the burial-place of the saint (comp. Reland, l.c. ). On the varying fortunes of the city see Robinson, "Palä stina" (l.c. ). The present village of Lidd still preserves traces of the historical Lydda, which is described in tradition as second only to Jerusalem (comp. Van de Velde, "Reise Durch Syrien und Palä stina," 1:332 Munk-Levy, "Palä stina," pp. 148 et seq. Schwarz, "Das Heilige Land," p. 104 Neubauer, "G. T." pp. 76 et seq. Socin, "Palä stina und Syrien," 2d ed., pp. 11 et seq. ).

After the Fall of Jerusalem.
After the destruction of Jerusalem, Lydda was famous as a seat of Jewish scholarship, and the academy which flourished there is frequently mentioned in the Talmud and other works of traditional literature. The term "scholars of the South" ("ziḳ ne Darom," Ḥ ul. 132b Zeb. 23a: "rabbanan di-Daroma," Lev. R. 20,163b "rabbanan di-Daroma," Yer. M. Ḳ . 3:82 and simply "Deromayya," Yer. Pes. 5:32) doubtless refers to the Lydda teachers of the Law, whose wisdom is recognized also in the sentence "Ha-roẓ eh she-yaḥ kim yadrim" = "Let him who wishes to attain to wisdom go to the South" (B. B. 25b comp. also Schü rer, "Gesch." 2:302).

Rabbi Eliezer lived at Lydda (Yad. 4:3 Sanh. 32b) R. Ṭ arfon taught there (B. M. 49b) and it was also the scene of R. Akiba's activity (R. H. 1:6). Responsa from Lydda are often mentioned (Tosef., Miḳ . vii. [viii.], end) but despite the reputation which the teachers at the academy enjoyed, there seems to have been a certain feeling of animosity against them in consequence of their arrogance, and it was therefore denied that they possessed any deep knowledge of the Law (comp. Pes. 62b Yer. Pes. 32a Yer. Sanh. 18c, d Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." 1:60, 3:16).At Lydda, in the garret of one Nitsa, during the Hadrianic persecutions, was adopted the historical resolution that where martyrdom was the only alternative, all the religious laws, excepting three, might be transgressed, the three exceptions being the laws concerning idolatry, incest, and murder (Yer. Sheb. 4:35 Sanh. 74a Yer. Sanh. 3:21 comp. Pesiḳ . xiii.). At another meeting held in Nitsa's garret the question whether the study of the Law is more important than the practise of the Law was unanimously decided in the affirmative (Ḳ id. 40b comp. Sifre to Deuteronomy 11:13 [ed. Friedmann, p. 79b] and parallels).

Bibliography : Grä tz, Gesch. 2d. ed., 4:170, especially note 17 Jost, Gesch. des Judenthums und Seiner Sekten , 2:80,107.J. E. N.
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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Lydda'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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