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It's hard to ask jealousy

After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the relationship between Jerusalem and Alexandria again deteriorated, which is expressed in a kind of erasure of the Jewish presence in this central city, and this, in my opinion, for the following reasons: the lack of any support and assistance for the Jewish rebellion against the Romans, as was also directed towards Babylonian Judaism

Remains of a Roman amphitheater in Alexandria. From Wikipedia
Remains of a Roman amphitheater in Alexandria. From Wikipedia

The relationship between Jewish Jerusalem in the Hellenistic period and the Jewish community in Alexandria was tenuous, if physically present at all. This can perhaps be understood against the background of the relatively accelerated Greekization process that befell the Jewish community in Hellenistic Alexandria. Relative to the one in Judea. And perhaps against the background of the Hellenistic-Ptolemaic (Ptolemaic) conquest of Judah and its final takeover from 312 BC to 200 BC. And lest against the background of the close ties of Joseph ben Tovia, the son of the sister of the high priest in Judah, with the Egyptian king Ptolemy III, as a result of which the latter won the appointment of the supreme tax collector of Syria and Phoenicia, and from that in Judah. He was equipped with a military guard of 2000 warriors to collect the taxes without resistance, and more than once his actions were associated with violence.

Moreover, the leadership in Judea could not pass over a certain event in silence, although there is no evidence at all of a response from Jerusalem, and it is about an attempt to build a temple in Egypt in the midst of Hellenistic, and in this case Syrian-Seleucid, control, and I published an article on this at the time in "Hidan" (His temple in Egypt is the result of political and personal struggles, Hidan, 13.1.2004) when the third (and perhaps the fourth) son of the High Priesthood in Jerusalem abandons Judah due to difficult struggles (perhaps in 162 BC), since the inheritance of the High Priesthood passed from the House of Zadok to the House of Yehoirib/Hashmon, and this is the revolution or rebellion The real one of Mattathias the Hasmonean, and he, his guardian, who assumes that Jerusalem is deteriorating into the abyss of femininity and it is necessary to establish a temple, even outside the borders of Judah, makes contact with the Hellenistic Egyptian ruler and receives permission to establish a temple for Egyptian Jews in Lionopolis (Tel-el-Yehudieh). The temple was physically built, probably in the image of the temple in Jerusalem, and its archaeological remains were uncovered. It is indeed amazing and raises the hypothesis that in Jerusalem this was not tolerated, although Josephus in his composition "The Wars of the Jews in the Romans" does not define the establishment of the temple in Egypt as the desecration of the temple in Jerusalem. And even the Jerusalem Talmud looks at the matter with strange disgust, as it says - "Forty years Shimon the righteous served Israel as a great priest and in the last year he said to them - this year I die. They said to him: Who is after you? He said to them, Nachonion my sons are before you. They went and appointed Nachonion, and Shimon his brother was jealous of him. And he went and dressed them in an uncla (leather garment) and put on a tzelzal (belt) ..., he said to them: When I serve in a high priesthood I will wear ... from there he fled to the king's mountain. From there he fled to Alexandria and stood and built an altar there, and recited this verse over him: 'In that day there will be an altar to God in the land of Egypt'..." (Talmud Yerushalmi Yoma chapter XNUMX, page Mag, pp. XNUMX-XNUMX).

During the period of the Roman rule in Judea, Tania and Talmudic evidence was found describing closer ties between Jerusalem and Alexandria. This was manifested in the raising of half the shekel to the temple, the sending of priestly gifts, and a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In this last context we find in Jerusalem the "Synagogue of Alexandrians" and in the wording of the sages of the Sanhedrin we often find the phrase "Alexandrian" meaning the people of Alexandria. Joseph ben Mattathias mentions the fact that Herod appointed Shimon ben Baytus ben Alexandria to be high priest and the copper doors at the front of the Jerusalem temple were made with the contribution of the Jew Nikanor from Alexandria and under the influence of Alexandrian architects and the gate was henceforth called "Nicanor Gate".

However, after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the relationship between Jerusalem and Alexandria once again deteriorated, which is manifested in a kind of erasure of the Jewish presence in this central city, and this, in my opinion, for the following reasons: the lack of any support and assistance for the Jewish rebellion against the Romans, as was also directed towards Babylonian Judaism, which Until the beginning of the third century CE, there is almost no mention of her in the Sage sources; A certain jealousy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem versus the continued existence and strengthening of the Jewish community in Alexandria; After the destruction, a forced reconciliation with the Roman authorities develops from a clear pragmatic position, and on the other hand, evidence is revealed of fanatical groups that fled the terror of Roman rule in Judea and made their way to the Egyptian province and the Kyrini province to the west, which raised suspicions that these could spoil the delicate and fragile fabric of relations between Judah and Rome; The development of the center in Yavneh under the leadership of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakai was more concerned with the restoration of society and did not spare time to develop relations with the two major diasporas - the one in Babylon and the one in Egypt; During the time of Ribaz Bivna's successor, i.e. Rabbi Gamliel, the ties between Judah and the Jewish Diaspora were strengthened and strengthened, but very little with Babylon and the connection with the Egyptian Alexandrian Jewry was reset.

And here the great diaspora revolt broke out during the time of the Roman emperor Trianus (117-114 CE), when behind the rebellious front were those fanatical groups that fled Judea at the end of the great revolt, and the question arises: What was the position of the leadership in Judea towards the Jewish community in Alexandria during this period?

This is evidenced by the sources of the Sages, which unfortunately were not interpreted correctly by all the researchers who dealt with the aforementioned Diaspora rebellion. The central source for our matter is the Jerusalem Talmud, which praises and glorifies the Jewish synagogue in Alexandria during this period. Praise and glorify? maybe not?!

Nitya Seferi and Nahzia: "Give me, said Rabbi Yoda (Yehuda bar Ilai, a member of the generation after the rebellion of Ben Kusaba): Anyone who has not seen the Dipli Istaba (double gate) of (the synagogue of) (which is like the Niknor gate in the temple) Alexandria, has not seen The honor of Israel from his time. As a kind of basilica (an elongated hall with a vaulted ceiling and it rests on columns) (here, too, the architectural affinity to the Herodian temple in Jerusalem is really amazing) and an Astio (stoa - an avenue of columns) in front of the Astio there were times twice as many as the Egyptians. And seventy gold cathedras (seats of honor) were there, set with precious stones and marbles, against seventy elders, and each one stood (valued) at twenty-five gold denarii. and a wooden platform in the middle, and the cantor of the Knesset stands on it. When one of them was standing to read the Torah, the supervisor (the person responsible for the order of the prayer and its uniformity) would wave the Suderin and they would follow him Amen, for every blessing he gave, the supervisor would wave the Suderin and they would follow him Amen. Even so, they would not have mixed them, but each art and craft by itself (in the Tosefta and the Babylonian Talmud there is an addition: "But goldsmiths by themselves and silver by themselves and blacksmiths by themselves and gardim (wool weavers) and tarsei (linen spinners) by themselves"), that if The arrival of an innkeeper (in the Babylonian Talmud - a poor man) will be a stickler (joiner) among the sons of his art and from there his livelihood would come" (Jerusalem Talmud Sukkah chapter XNUMX Na pp. XNUMX-XNUMX. In the supplement - Sukkah XNUMX XNUMX and in the Babylonian Talmud - Sukkah na p. B').

Before us is an interesting, unprecedented description of the Jewish synagogue in Alexandria in the second century AD, when its wealth reflects the wealth and well-being of the urban Jewish community under Roman rule. It is interesting to note the fact that in the organization of the Yeshiva Seder there were regulated and permanent places for the members of the Jewish professional associations (collegia in Latin) - a phenomenon that we find confirmed and even in greater detail such as in Philo of Alexandria and in the Jewish Synagogue in Sardis in Western Asia Minor.

And where will we notice a hidden, hidden sting towards the synagogue in Alexandria? In the economic-occupational context, it is as if the prayer and gathering in the Alexandrian structure serves as a cover for economic business. The mention of the economic wealth of the Alexandrian community also has the purpose of making a covert criticism of Judah towards the Jews of Egypt.

The architectural proximity to the temple structure in Jerusalem can only testify that in its image, perhaps, the Jewish synagogue in Alexandria was built. Whether the members of the Sanhedrin in Judah understood this or whether they ignored it, the whole description is full of somewhat exaggerated admiration emanating from the direction of the center of the Land of Israel.

But May? From Igra Rama to Bira Amikata - immediately afterwards the Talmud rules about the magnificent synagogue in question: "And who destroyed it? The evil Trogion." This Trogion is nothing more than a distortion of the name of the Roman emperor Trianus, during whose time anti-Roman revolts broke out throughout the empire, including organized, rebellious riots by Jews in two main centers: in Alexandria in Egypt and in the central city of Cyrene (the Roman province to the west of Egypt), when regarding the Jewish revolt in two The provinces have a rich infrastructure of interesting archaeological finds. The rebellion was organized by fanatical groups who at the time fled from Judea at the end of the great rebellion, when they and their descendants preached rebellion against the local Hellenistic population and from it towards the Roman rule and its signs. In this rebellion, which had enormous theological and messianic strengths, local Hellenistic temples were damaged, and no wonder the Jewish synagogue in Alexandria also suffered a fatal-terminal blow. Which reminds us, according to the dramatic and tragic testimonies of Joseph ben Mattathias regarding the second temple, when battles against the Romans took place right inside it, and those who defiled the temple were precisely the fanatical groups in Jerusalem, who waged bitter and difficult battles between them for the control of Jerusalem (what the Sages call "Free hate", Shabatia, according to the sages of the Sanhedrin, the sword of the temple).

We would perhaps be satisfied with that, but the continuation of the above sources is no less interesting and opens a special window for understanding the text in question. Please read: "Tani Rabbi Shimon ben Yochi (so in the original without A): In three places Israel was warned not to return to the land of Egypt (after the exodus of Moses and Aaron) ... and in three of them they returned and in three of them they fell. One in the days of Sennacherib, king of Assyria... and one in the days of Yohanan ben Korah. And the sword that you fear from me will overtake you, etc." (Yerushalmi Sukkah chapter XNUMX, p. XNUMX).

That is, here we begin to feel the tone of the accusation of the Sanhedrin in Judea about the settlement journeys of Jews in Egypt and their settlement - their establishment there, under the guise of remaining in Judea, when this is especially noticeable after the waves of the great rebellion subsided and the extent of the destruction that followed became clear. The Jewish Center in Yavneh felt that it lacked capacity and strength during the process of rebuilding the nation and society, and expected that the people of the diaspora would return to their country - their homeland. There was a feeling of disconnection between Judea and Egypt, between Yavne and Alexandria, as if the Jewish community in Alexandria showed indifference towards the center in Judea. And here the diaspora and center revolt unexpectedly lands in Judea as if looking for reasons for the loss of the Jewish community in Egypt.


This matter is opened in the following passage, right after the above text: "In the days of the wicked Trogion, a son was born to him on Tisha B'av and they (the Jews) were interested. His daughter died on Hanukkah and (the Jews) lit candles." That is, the Jews, apparently, were looking for a provocation, a kind of pretext to provoke the Romans, and the Roman reaction was harsh, and it is presented in a picturesque, somewhat pathetic way, by the emperor's wife as follows: "And the (emperor's) wife sent and said to him: until you conquer ( take control of) the barbarians, come and conquer the Jews who rebelled against you. (The emperor) thought when (to kill them within) ten days" (ibid.). The rest of the text alludes to the extent of the surprise that the rebels prepared for the Romans, as is clearly evident from the archaeological findings. And in the text there is indeed a Jewish hope that, according to a biblical verse, a Gentile who will come from the end of the earth will do the job for them - harming the Romans (an allusion to an anti-Roman awakening in the empire). And the result - the emperor's exasperation and his response: "And they surrounded (the Jews) with legions and slaughter... At that hour the horn of Israel was cut off and will not return to its place until the son of David comes" (ibid.).

Indeed, the human blow suffered by Egyptian Jewry in general, and especially Alexandrian Jewry, which is described here in a grave expression, is repeated in other sources and confirmed by the archaeological sources.

Now, examining the text for its authenticity and in its various contexts, it is difficult to escape the impression that this is a kind of joy for the Yavnei center mixed with a feeling of revenge, at the root of which is the release of the elements of jealousy and competitiveness between the two centers.

And in summary - the enrichment of the Jewish community in Alexandria and the extent of its Greekization during the Second Temple period; the disappointment of the non-assistance of this diaspora in the Great Rebellion; The creation of fanatical nests of sicarian groups who fled from Judea in the face of Dor Yavneh's ambition to reconcile, without choice, pragmatically, with the Roman rule; The severe devastation that Judah experienced after the great rebellion against the establishment and well-being of the Jewish community in Alexandria, as if nothing had happened, as if the break had not cried out to the heavens; Repeated attempts to build a temple in Egypt; the activity of the Great Synagogue in Alexandria which resembled to a certain extent the Temple in Jerusalem; The anti-Roman, anti-imperial provocation moves in Egypt, which encouraged, albeit in a dramatic-mythological way, a decisive Roman reaction. All of these led, so it seems, to a kind of cry of revenge mixed with joy for Eid, and mainly against the background of the myth of: "We told you...!", and in the Talmudic style - three times you were warned not to return to Egypt... your Sabbath... you were hurt and let's not complain or whine!

Envy of writers breeds wisdom. This is so in the sources, except that this jealousy, one-sided as it is, from the direction of Jerusalem towards Alexandria, revealed deep tensions, such that brought the Jerusalem center to rejoice at the defeat of the "competitor" in Alexandria.

(*) This article is an adaptation of a lecture I gave in Los Angeles in 1984 at the Congress held alongside the Olympic Games and on their behalf)

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