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Intercity Relations in Roman Palestine: The Case of Sepphoris and Tiberias

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2009

Stuart S Miller
University of Connecticut, Storrs Conn


Sepphoris and Tiberias were the most important administrative and rabbinic centers of Roman Galilee. The two cities had much in common: both were associated with Herod Antipas, who rebuilt Sepphoris sometime after a futile revolt in 4 B.C.E. and still later founded Tiberias; both had jurisdiction over the bank and archives of Galilee at various times during the first century; both had pro-Roman factions in the First Revolt, though that of Sepphoris was more influential; both maintained Hellenistic institutions and minted coins; both were connected by the major road built by Hadrian from Acco to the Sea of Galilee;5 both would eventually become home to the Sanhedrin and the patriarchal house; both maintained communities ofpriests associated with a particular mishmar (priestly course), and finally, both attracted many prominent tannaim and amoraim who establishednoted academies.

Copyright © Association for Jewish Studies 1987

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1. For Antipas' relationship with both cities, see Hoehner, H.W., Herod Antipas (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1972), pp.8487, 91–102.Google Scholar

2. Josephus notes this jurisdiction in Life 38, which is reproduced below and is discussed in Miller, S., Studies in the History and Traditions of Sepphoris (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1984), pp. 54 f.Google Scholar

3. On Tiberias' factions, see Freyne, S., Galilee from Alexander the Great to Hadrian 323 B.C.E. to 135 C.E.: A Study of Second Temple Judaism (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1980), pp. 130–132. On Sepphoris and the Romans, see Miller, Studies, pp. 2 fGoogle Scholar

4. See Hoehner, , Herod Antipas, pp. 97100;Google ScholarSchürer, E., The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ(175 B.C.-A. D.135), ed. Vermes, G. et al., 2 vols. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1973–79), 2:172–176, 178–183;Google Scholar and Miller, , Studies, pp. 159 (passim).Google Scholar The coins of Sepphoris are discussed in Meshorer, Y., “Sepphoris and Rome, ” Greek Numismatics and Archaeology: Essays in Honor of Margaret Thompson (Wetteren, 1979), pp. 159171;Google Scholaridem, , “Matbe'ot Zippori Ke-Maqor Histori, ” Zion 43 (1978): 185200;Google Scholar and idem, , Malbe'ot 'Arei 'Erez Yisra'el Ve-'Ever Ha-Yarden Bi-Tequfat Ha-Romit (Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1984), pp. 36 f.Google Scholar On the coins of Tiberias, see Kindler, A, The Coins of Tiberias (Tiberias, 1961);Google Scholar idem, “Matbe'ot Teveryah Bi-Yemei Romi,” in Sefer Teveryah: 'Ir Kinarot Ve-Yishuvah Bi-Rei Ha-Dorot, ed. Avissar, O (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1973), pp. 5059;Google Scholar and Meshorer, , Matbe'ot 'Arei 'Erez Yisra'el, pp. 34 f.Google Scholar

5. Avi-Yonah, M., The Holy Land: From the Persian to the Arab Conquest (536 B.C.-A.D. 640), An Historical Geography, 2d ed. rev. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977), p. 186Google Scholar. Also, Alt, A., “Romerstrasse Ptolemais-Tiberias, ” Palaestinajahrbuch des deutschen evangelischen Instituts fuer Altertumswissenschaft, Jerusalem 25 (1929): 4243.Google Scholar

6. B. Rosh Ha-Shanah 31a–b. See the secondary sources referred to in Cohen, Y., “Ha-'Im U-Matai 'Avrah Ha-Nesi'ut Li-Teveryah, ” Zion 39 (1974): 114, nn.Google Scholar 1 and 2. Also, Miller, , Studies, pp.116122.Google Scholar The existence of the Sanhedrin in the second and third centuries has recently been questioned by Levine, L. I. in his Ma'amad Ha-Hakhamim Be-'Ereẓ Yisra'el Bi-Tequfat Ha-Talmud: Hebetim Historiyim (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak ben Zvi, 1985), pp. 4752.Google Scholar

7. See the sources noted in Miller, Studies, p. 62 n. 1, and the discussion there, pp. 120–132

8. For Tiberias, see Avissar, , Sefer Teveryah, pp. 272278,Google Scholar and cf. Kliers, M., Tabor Ha-'Areẓ, reprint ed. (Jerusalem, 1965), pp. 3054.Google Scholar For Sepphoris, see Klein, S., “Ẓippori, ” in idem, Ma'amarim Shonim La-Ḥaqirat 'Ereẓ Yisra'el, Meḥqarim 'Ereẓ-Yisre'elim (Vienna, 1924), pp. 5760.Google Scholar

9. See the ensuing discussion for the views of specific writers.

10. Ed. Loeb: Unless otherwise stated, translations are the writer's. Biblical verses follow the rendering of Tanakh: A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1985).

11. Josephus may actually have been trying to refute Justus' accusation that it was he who forced Tiberias to revolt. Accordingly, Justus, in his own history, tried to convince the Romans some twenty or thirty years after the war that the Tiberians had really wanted to remain loyal and as a consequence their city deserved autonomy just as much as Sepphoris. Josephus' response was to portray Justus as the real scoundrel. See Cohen, S. J. D., Josephus in Galilee and Rome: His “Vita” and Development as a Historian (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1979), pp. 138141.Google Scholar

12. Goodman, M., State and Society in Roman Galilee A.D. 132–212 (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Allanheld, 1983), p. 134. Goodman refers to Life 37 as his source for the opposition with Sepphoris. See p. 253 n. 245.Google Scholar

13. Levine, L., “R. Simeon b. Yohai and the Purification of Tiberias: History and Tradition,” Hebrew Union College Annual 49 (1978): 176.Google Scholar

14. Ibid., pp. 177 f. See below, sec. “Some Hints of Rivalry?”

15. Kimelman, R., “Rabbi Yoḥanan of Tiberias: Aspects of the Social and Religious History of Third Century Palestine” (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1977), pp. 51, 54. Also see p. 84 n. 39, where Life 37 is referred to.Google Scholar

16. According to Baron, S., A Social and Religious History of the Jews, 19 vols. (New York and Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1937–), 2:108,Google Scholar Tiberias was “rapidly becoming the major center of Jewish life in the country” already during the Hadrianic period. This is an overstatement. Tiberias' emergence as the most important rabbinic center in Galilee seems to have been a gradual one which stemmed from developments in the mid-third century. About that time, the Sanhedrin relocated to Tiberias, and R. Yoḥanan, who had also recently arrived from Sepphoris, was beginning to achieve prominence as the head of an academy there. (On Yoḥanan and Tiberias, see Kimelman, “Rabbi Yoḥanan, ” p. 54.) It is even possible that the patriarchal house remained in Sepphoris until the end of the third century despite the earlier move of the Sanhedrin to Tiberias. See Miller, Studies, p. 118 n. 315, and S. Safrai, “Ha-Yishuv Ha-Yehudi Ba-Galil U-Va-Golan Ba-Me'ot Ha-Shelishit Ve-Ha-Revi'it, ” in Baras, A. et al., 'Ereẓ Yisra'el Me-Ẓurban Bayit Sheni Ve-'Ad Ha-Kibbush Ha-Muslemi: Historiyah Medinit, Ḥevratit Ve-Tarbutit (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak ben Zvi, 1982), p. 151. For the view that the patriarchal house and the Sanhedrin were inseparable, see Cohen, “Ha-'Im U-Matai,” pp. 117 f. Curiously, Cohen maintains that the patriarchal house moved to Tiberias in the mid-third century but assumes that Tiberias surpassed Sepphoris in importance already during the time of Rabbi Judah Ha-Nasi; thus he addresses the question of why the patriarch chose Sepphoris as his home in the first place. See Cohen, “Ha-'Im U-Matai, ” pp. 120–122.Google Scholar

17. Boundary disputes are discussed in Millar, F., The Emperor in the Roman World 31 BC-AD 337 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), pp. 435 f.Google Scholar For rivalry over rank and titles, see the sources referred to in the following note. These rivalries often found expression in the expensive building campaigns, games, and festivals in which cities indulged. See Abbott, F. and Johnson, A. C., Municipal Administration in the Roman Empire (New York: Russel … Russel, 1926), pp. 81, 142 f.,Google Scholar and 218. Also, Jones, A. H. M., The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1940), p. 249;Google ScholarMacmullen, R., Enemies of the Roman Order: Treason, Unrest and Alienation in the Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), pp. 185 f;CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Macro, A. D., “The Cities of Asia Minor under the Roman Imperium, “ Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II7.2 (1980): 682 f.Google Scholar The right to be regarded as a “temple warden” (neokoros) was also jealously guarded by the cities. See Magie, D., Roman Rule in Asia Minor, 2 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950), 1:637,Google Scholarand Broughton, T. R. S., “Roman Asia, ” in An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome, ed. Frank, T., 6 vols. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1933–40), 4:741743.Google Scholar

18. hē prōtē kai megistē mētropolis tēs Asias. For occurrences of this title, see Magie, , Roman Rule, 2:1496 n. 17.Google Scholar On the rivalry between Ephesus and Smyrna, see Dio Chrysostom, Or. 34:48; Broughton, “Roman Asia,” p. 742; Chapot, V., La Province romaine proconsulate D'Asie (Paris, 1904), pp. 144 f.;Google Scholar and Magie, Roman Rule, 1:636 f. On the use of prōtē as “capital city,” see Arndt, W. F and Gingrich, F. W, eds., A Greek-English Lexicon of lhe New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2d ed. (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1979), s.v. meris (p. 505).Google Scholar

19. The correspondence between the Ephesians and Antoninus is reproduced in Abbott and Johnson, Municipal Administration in the Roman Empire, p. 422.

20. See Aristides' address to the three cities (Or. 23), and cf., in addition to the secondary sources in n. 18, Jones, C. P., The Roman World of Dio Chrysostom (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1978), pp. 78, 86,CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Knibbe, D. and Alzinger, W., “Ephesos vom Beginn der rōmischen Herrschaft in Kleinasien bis zum Ende der Principatszeit,” Aufstieg und Niedergang der rōmischen Well II7.2 (1980): 787.Google Scholar

21. See Dio Chrysostom's thirty-eighth discourse (“To the Nicomedians on Concord with the Nicaeans”). Cf. Magie, Roman Rule 1:588 f. It seems that Nicaea continued along with Nicomedia to be regarded as “first” until it supported Pescennius Niger's war against Septimius Severus. After Niger's defeat, Nicomedia had the phrase “the first of the province” erased from Nicaea's monuments. The rivalry persisted, however, into late antiquity. See Jones, Roman World, pp. 84, 87. Some aspects of the friction between Nicaea and Nicomedia are considered below.

22. See the passage quoted above.

23. See Josephus, Ant., XVIII, 27. Sepphoris would have lost the distinction of being the capital when Antipas later moved to Tiberias but certainly regained it under Felix (Life 38). See Miller, Studies, pp. 2 f., 57.

24. See Meshorer, “Sepphoris and Rome, ” pp. 160–162; idem, “Matbe'ot Ẓippori,” pp. 185–187; Cohen, Josephus, pp. 245 f.; and Miller, Studies, p. 3.

25. Cf. Schürer, History 2:180, and Kindler, “Matbe'ot Teveryah,” p. 52. The title first appears on coins minted under Trajan and continues in various forms until the time of Elagabalus. The complete form: Tib(erieon) Kl(audiopolition) Sur(ias) Pal(aistines) is found on coins of Commodus from 189/190 C.E. and similarly in an inscription in Rome from after 135 C.E. designating an establishment (statio) of some sort belonging to the Tiberians. See Smallwood, E. M., The Jews Under Roman Rule (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976), p. 522; and cf. Schürer, History, 2:181, who defines statio as a “guild-hall.”Google Scholar

26. See Cohen, Josephus, p. 141, and cf. Rajak, T., “Justus of Tiberias, ” Classical Quarterly 23 (1973): 350. Cohen also suggests (n. 141) that both Sepphoris and Tiberias were permitted to mint coins in order “to avoid exacerbating tension between the two cities.”CrossRefGoogle Scholar

27. It could of course be maintained that Tiberias assumed the title “Claudiopolis” during the reign of Claudius (41–54 C.E.), but there is no evidence that such was the case. See, however, Avi-Yonah, M., “Teveryah Bi-Tequfah Ha-Roma'it,” in Kol 'Ereẓ Naftali, ed. Hirshberg, H. Z. (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1967), pp. 154 f. Avi-Yonah argues that the city received its new name after Claudius' death in 54 C.E.Google Scholar

28. Meshorer, “Sepphoris and Rome, ” p. 165, and idem, “Matbe'ot Ẓippori, ” p. 190.

29. Miller, Studies, p. 3 n. 13.

30. The images include Hera holding a patera and a temple of the Capitoline Triad. The coins from the period of Trajan, however, have distinctly Jewish symbols. See Meshorer, “Sepphoris and Rome, ” p. 165 and plate 18, #7; idem, “Matbe'ot Ẓippori, ” pp. 190 f.; idem, Matbe'ot ' Arei 'Ereẓ Yisra'el, pp. 36 f.; Hill, G. F., Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum: Palestine (1914), pp. xii–xiii and 3–4;Google Scholar and Rosenberger, M., City Coins of Palestine, The Rosenberger Israel Collection, III (Jerusalem, 1977), pp. 61 f.Google Scholar On the question of the extent of alien colonization and rule of Sepphoris, see Jones, A. H. M., The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1937), p. 279;Google Scholar and idem, , “The Urbanization of Palestine,” Journal of Roman Studies 21 (1931): 82. Cf. Jones's somewhat different view in his Greek City, p. 81. Also see Miller, Studies, pp. 31–59, where it is argued that the Romans maintained a castra at Sepphoris during the second century.Google Scholar

31. Meshorer, “Sepphoris and Rome, ” pp. 168 f.; idem, “Matbe'ot Ẓippori, ” pp. 194–197; and idem, Matbe'ot 'Arei 'Ereẓ Yisra'el, p. 37.

32. Meshorer suggests that the Holy Council of Sepphoris actually entered into “a treaty of friendship and alliance” with the Senate of the Roman people. He also calls attention to coins of Agrippa I which refer to a similar treaty made between the king and the Romans. For another view of the coins, seeKraay, C.M., “Jewish Friends and Allies of Rome, ” American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 25 (1980); 56f.Google Scholar

33. See Magie, Roman Rule, 1:637, and cf. Jones, Greek City, p. 324.

34. Meshorer may still be correct that Sepphoris and Rome enjoyed particularly good relations in the early third century, perhaps even officially acknowledged by some sort of treaty. The point made here is that the claim of Sepphoris for Rome's favor would have been based on the historical relationship of the cities. It should be noted that a papyrus from 359 C.E. also designates Ascalon as piste. See Schürer, History 2:107 n. 111.

35. The source has “Antoninus” (presumably Caracalla) reveal to Rabbi Judah Ha-Nasi his desire to make Tiberias a colony. For a full discussion, see Kimelman, “Rabbi Yohanan, ” pp. 48–51. The only other source referring to Tiberias as a colony is a marriage contract preserved in the Cairo Geniza and dated to 1034/35 C.E. See M. A. Friedman, Jewish Marriage in Palestine: A Cairo Geniza Study, 2 vols. (Tel Aviv and New York: Tel Aviv University/ Jewish Theological Seminary, 1980–81), 2:207 f., 211.

36. SeeJones, A. H. M., The Later Roman Empire 284–602: A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey, 2 vols. (Norman:University of Oklahoma Press, 1964), 2:882 f.Google Scholar

37. SeeBowersock, G.W., Greek Sophists in the Roman Empire (Oxford:At the Clarendon Press, 1969), pp. 90 f., and Jones, Roman World, p. 78Google Scholar

38. The assumption here is that the rabbis would have made direct reference to such tension or, at the very least, would have alluded (either consciously or unconsciously) to its existence, as Sepphoris and Tiberias were the major centers of Jewish life in Galilee. Recently, Neusner has argued that the city “lay beyond the social experience of the rabbis,” who were more familiar with life in the villages and towns. This observation does not affect the position taken here that talmudic literature should be used to address the question of urban rivalry, as Neusner characterizes both Sepphoris and Tiberias as “towns” rather than cities. The larger metropolises which Neusner regards as “cities” are the places which he contends most rabbis would not have been able to relate to. SeeNeusner, J, “The City as Useless Symbol in Late Antique Judaism, ” in idem, Major Trends in Formative Judaism: Society and Symbol in Political Crisis (Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1983), pp. 33, 38. Besides the discussion of the relations between Sepphoris and Tiberias found in Josephus, there really is no other Greek or Latin writing that sheds light on our topic, though both cities occasionally appear in classical literatureGoogle Scholar

39. The Palestinian Talmud contains considerably more traditions than the other sources mentioned. Most of the relevant material has been collected inKlein, S., ed., Sefer Ha-Yishuv, vol. I (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak ben Zvi, 1939), pp. 6062. Also see Klein, “Ẓippori,” pp. 63 f.Google Scholar

40. This typology should not be considered absolute, as several of the traditions can be included in more than one of the categories presented here (cf. below, n. 48). This in no way detracts from either the analysis of the traditions or the argument which follows. A further breakdown of the traditions by genres or periods (i.e., tannaitic, amoraic) reveals nothing concerning their content and usages and so has been avoided.

41. P. Shabbat 12, 13d, and B. Shabbat 104b.

42. B. Sukkah 27a.

43. B. Gittin 77b.

44. B. Baba' Meẓia 24b. Cf. P. Sanhedrin 5, 22c, where, with regard to the validation of witnesses in a murder case, Rabbi Yoḥanan explains that the witnesses are not required to identify the victim as a Jew or non-Jew if the killing took place between Tiberias and Sepphoris; it is assumed that the territory between the two cities is predominantly Jewish.

45. B. Sanhedrin 31b.

46. P. Ta'anit4, 69a.

47. B. Shabbal 118b.

48. For other examples of this type, see T. Ma'aser Sheni4:13; P. Berakhot9, 14d (cf. below, n. 95); P. Megillah1, 72d (with Caesarea); P. Sanhedrin 3, 21a (discussed below); P. Shabbal6, 8a (= P. Sanhedrin 10, 28a); Genesis Rabbah 18:23; and Leviticus Rabbah 18:1 (= Ecclesiastes Rabbah 12:6). Many of the traditions considered below can actually be included here as well. However, since they have other characteristics besides the use of Sepphoris and Tiberias as loci, they have been assigned to different groups. The traditions discussed here use Sepphoris and Tiberias exclusively as loci without noting differences, similarities, or traffic between the cities, as do the types now to be presented.

49. P. Berakhot8, 12b. Cf. B. Berakhot 53a.

50. See, for example, the comments of Rabbenu Yonah ad loc.

51. P. Shevi'it 5, 35c. Cf. P. Pesaḥim 4, 30d, where another difference between the cities pertaining to the sabbatical year is explained. There too a view of R. Yehudah in the Mishnah (Pesahim 4:2) is the subject.

52. B. Berakhot 53b.

53. P. Ta'anit 4, 69b. Other traditions which contrast Sepphoris and Tiberias or report different practices of their residents include: P. Baba' Qamma' 9, 6d and P. Pesaim 10, 37c (= P. Shabbat 8, lla; also cf. B. Pesa 109a).

54. T. Sotah 3:16 (ed. Vienna). The parallel in the printed editions of Numbers Rabbah 9:24 appears to be faulty. See Lieberman, S., Tosefta' Ki-Feshutah, 8 vols. (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1955–73), 8:643.Google Scholar

55. B. Sotah 10b.

56. P. Mo'ed Qatan 2, 81b (= P. Pesaḥim 4, 30d).

57. Genesis Rabbah 41:48.

58. See Buber, S., Midrash Tehillim (reprint ed., Jerusalem, 1977), 9b–10a.Google Scholar The word shatul (“planted”) is similarly used in reference to members of a bet midrash in Numbers Rabbah 1:3, where Psalm 92:14 (“Planted in the house of the Lord…”) is commented on. For other instances where shatul is used with regard to people, seeJastrow, , Sefer Millim (reprint ed., New York: Judaica Press, 1971), p. 1638.Google Scholar

59. Ecclesiastes Rabbah 11:3. For a midrashin which both cities appear to be facing a calamity, see Pesiqta Rabbati8:3.

60. This phenomenon may also reflect the final ascendancy of Tiberias as well as the editorial work done there. In this regard, it should also be noted that almost all of the Sepphoris/Tiberias traditions, not just those reporting trips between the two cities, mention Tiberias first. See Safrai, “Ha-Yishuv Ha-Yehudi, ” p. 167 n. 156. On the editing of the materials in the Yerushalmi, seeLieberman, S., “Talmudah Shel-Kisrin, ” Tarbiḥ 2 (1931),Google Scholar Supplement, 9 f. On Leviticus Rabbah, seeHeinemann, J., “Leviticus Rabbah,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971–72), 11:147Google Scholar

61. T. 'Eruvin 4:11 and P. 'Eruvin 5, 22b

62. Leviticus Rabbah 16:1. Some MSS omit the reference to Tiberias and have the incident occur in Sepphoris itself. Cf. the parallel at T. Kelubot 7:11 and the sources noted by Margulies, M., Midrash Va-Yiqra' Rabbah, 5 vols. in 3 (Jerusalem.: Wahrman Books, 1971–72), 1:348.Google Scholar

63. P. Ta'anit 4, 68a.

64. See Kimelman, “Rabbi Yohanan, ” pp. 11–13.

65. P. Baba Meẓia 2, 8d.

66. Leviticus Rabbah 30:1 and parallels. See Margulies, Va-Yiqra Rabbah,2:689.

67. P. Shevi'it9, 38c, and P. BeẒah 1, 60a.

68. P. Yoma' 6, 43d. Also see Sanhedrin 31b.

69. The fact that rabbinic literature does at times portray the Sepphoreans negatively (e.g., P. Ta'anit 3, 66c) does not detract from the argument presented here. First of all, it would have to be proven that all or most of these traditions emanate from Tiberian sources. Second, if the Sepphoreans were generally regarded as lacking character, and the Tiberians were responsible for conveying this impression, the Sepphoris/Tiberias traditions would almost certainly contain some overt reference to the Sepphoreans' faults. (Similar objections could be raised to the suggestion that the Sepphoreans were responsible for the traditions that cast aspersions on the purity of Tiberias. These traditions cannot be shown to have originated in Sepphoris, and some reference to the question of the purity of Tiberias would have been expected among the Sepphoris/Tiberias traditions. See the ensuing discussion.) For the passages dealing with the character of the Sepphoreans, seeBüchler, A., The Political and the Social Leaders of the Jewish Community of Sepphoris in the Second and Third Centurie (Oxford, 1909),Google Scholar passim; Frankel, Z., Mevo' Ha-Yerushalmi (Breslau, 1870), p. 4b;Google Scholar andLieberman, S., “Palestine in the Third and Fourth Centuries, ” reprinted in idem, Texts and Studies (New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1974), pp. 124, 146, 160. Elsewhere, Lieberman remarks, “Sepphoris was notorious in the age of the Palestinian Talmud for its boisterous and rebellious spirit and for its many criminals.” He derives this characterization from P. Ma'aser Sheni, 5, 55d. See his “Jewish Life in Eretz Yisra'el as Reflected in the Palestinian Talmud, ” reprinted in Texts and Studies,p. 186. On the perception of the priests of Sepphoris, see Miller, Studies,pp. 102, 130. I am planning to publish an analysis of the anti-Sepphoris/Sepphoreans traditions.Google Scholar

70. “R. Simeon b. Yoḥai and the Purification of Tiberias, ” (see n. 13), pp. 175–178.

71. Ed Vilna:The bracketed material is missing in MS Munich and has not been translated here. For variants and further discussion of the passage, see Miller, Studies, pp. 25–27.

72. The JPS translation offers alternatively: Zevulun is a people that “belittled its life to die.”

73. “R. Shimon b. Yoḥai”, p. 177.

74. B. Megillah 6a reports that the residents of Tiberias are full of religious observances, the city is the center of 'Ereẓ Yisra'el, and its appearance is good.

75. Cf. Levine, “R. Simeon b. Yoḥai”, p. 177 n. 138, who maintains that Sepphoris and Tiberias are “at the center of this exegesis.”

76. Assi, Zeira, and Rabbah bar bar Hannah were all originally Babylonians who emigrated and studied under Yohanan. Jeremiah was also a Babylonian by birth who eventually studied with Zeira.

77. Cf. the obvious tension between Caesarea and Jerusalem which appears in the material following our passage in B. Megillah 6a. See below, “Conclusion.”

78. See Levine, “R. Simeon b. Yoḥai”, p. 177 n. 138; Kimelman, “Rabbi Yoḥanan”, p. 84 n. 39; and Frankel, Mevo' Ha-Yerushalmi, p. 4a.

79. MS Leiden:

80. The assumption here that the first “from here to there” means “from maskanah to Tiberias”, and the second, “from maskanah to Sepphoris”, is based on the likelihood that “Maskanah” is the name of an actual place which indeed is closer to Tiberias than to Sepphoris. See the ensuing discussion. Also, as seen earlier (n. 60), almost all of the Sepphoris/Tiberias traditions mention Tiberias first. For an altogether different rendering, see Penei Mosheh, ad loc.

81. Mantel suggests that the Antiochean court may not have had ordained scholars or that the rabbanan referred to in the passage may mean “the Great Court” of Tiberias. See Mantel, H., Studies in the History of the Sanhedrin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961), p. 223 n. 342. Presumably, the courts of both Sepphoris and Tiberias were composed of ordained scholars, though Tiberias' court system may have been of a higher rank. See the discussion below.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

82. Two lines of text (between A and B) have been omitted from our discussion because they are really a digression on other themes suggested by the Mishnah. The omitted material includes such terms as mevi' (“brings“) and posel (“disqualifies”), which are reminiscent of the Mishnah, and shanu (“they taught”), which probably refers to the sages mentioned there. Cf. the remarks of Rabinowitz, Z. W., Sha'arei Torat 'Ereẓ Yisra'el (Jerusalem, 1940), p. 514.Google Scholar

83. See, for example, Hiddushei Ha-Ramban to B. Sanhedrin, chap. 3, and Nimmuqei Yosef on Alfasi at the beginning of the same chapter. Also, the commentaries referred to by Lieberman, S in his review of Klein, S., ed., Sefer Ha-Yishuv, Sinai 5 (1940): 463.Google Scholar Lieberman contends that the correct reading is nine miles, as P. Ta'anit 4, 69a, indicates that the distance between Tiberias and Sepphoris is eighteen miles (see above). He also refers to P. Berakhot, 9, 14d, as evidence that maskanah was located exactly between the two cities. On this source see below, n. 95.

84. Cf. Penei Mosheh on the passage.

85. Or. 38:25. (This and the following quotation are from the Loeb ed., H. L. Crosby, trans.)

86. Or. 38:24.

87. Or. 38:26.

88. See H. G. Robertson, “The Administration of Justice in the Athenian Empire”, University of Toronto Studies in History and Economics (1924), for a comprehensive discussion of Athenian jurisdiction and treaties among the Greek states.

89. Cities of the empire could only form alliances with Rome. See Jones, Roman World, p. 84. On the assizes, see Burton, G.P., “Proconsuls, Assizes and the Administration of Justice Under the Empire”, Journal of Roman Studies 65 (1975): 92106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

90. As both cities probably possessed assize rights. See Jones, Roman World, p. 86.

91. Or. 35:15–17. Cf. Jones, Roman World, pp. 67 f.

92. Or. 40:33. Cf. 35:17 and Jones, Roman World, p. 68.

93. So suggests Jones, Roman World, pp. 108 f.

94. At least three court systems flourished in 'Ereẓ Yisra'el at this time: Roman, village (Jewish), and rabbinic. See Goodman, State and Society, pp. 155–171. Cf. the functioning of the early church courts discussed in Jolowicz, H. F. and Nicholas, B., Historical Introduction to the Study of Roman Law, 3d ed. (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1973, ) pp. 448 f.Google Scholar

95. Apparently, the road between the cities branched off, forming two distinct routes to Tiberias, the shorter through Khirbet Meskene and the longer through the Wadi Fejjas. This would explain the discrepancy between P. Ta'anit 4, 69a, which puts the distance between the cities at eighteen miles (see n. 83), and the reading of MS Leiden, which suggests that the distance was only sixteen miles. See Avi-Yonah, M., Map of Roman Palestine (Jerusalem, 1939), pp. 37, 42;Google Scholar idem, Gazetteer of Roman Palestine (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1976), p. 79; idem, Holy Land, p. 137; Klein, , 'Ereẓ Ha-Galil (reprint ed., Jerusalem: Mosad Ha-Rav Kuk, 1967), pp. 93, 116;Google Scholar and Köhler's, L. review of Klein's Beiträge zur Geographie und Geschichte Galildas (Leipzig, 1909) in Theologische Literaturzeitung, 1910, no. 11, col. 327. The only other reference to maskanah in rabbinic literature occurs in P. Berakhot 9, 14d, which is taken by some as proof that this place (Avi-Yonah refers to it as a “road station”) was exactly midway between Sepphoris and Tiberias (see n. 83). This source, however, merely uses the location as a convenient point between the two cities to illustrate the meaning of a verse from Megillat Hasidim: “Should you abandon Me for one day, I will abandon you for [many] days.” Thus it is explained that two individuals, one from Tiberias, the other from Sepphoris, who take leave of one another at maskanah are not really thought of as having separated until they are two miles from each other. As each has gone a mile, they are now separated by two; so one who abandons God for one day is really separated from Him for longer. Khirbet Meskene need only have been regarded as approximately equidistant from Sepphoris and Tiberias, which indeed it was, for the passage to make sense. In any case, the distance from Khirbet Meskene to each of the cities is nowhere stated in the passage.Google Scholar

96. The discussion in B. Sanhedrin 31b would seem to corroborate that R. Eleazar's concern is distance. Though the discussion there clearly involves lesser and greater courts, R. Eleazar is said to have taken the position that a debtor could not force a creditor to have their case tried before a higher court, as this would mean that the latter would have “to spend an additional maneh”; i.e., he would have to allot money for travel expenses. On the types of courts referred to in this passage, see S. Albeck, Battei Ha-Din Bi-Yemei H a-Talmud (Ramal Gan: Bar Ilan University Press, 1980), pp. 117 f.

97. See the sources referred to above, n. 16. On the preference of the rabbis for “expert” (mumḥim) courts, see Schwartz, M. B., “Appeals in the Jewish Courts of Palestine in the Third Century, C.E.”, Hebrew Union College Annual 49 (1978): 196199.Google Scholar

98. Cf. Safrai, “Ha-Yishuv Ha-Yehudi”, pp. 148, 151.

99. P. Ta'anit 4, 69b. The context in which this report appears contains the views of several late-third- to early-fourth-century scholars. Cf. also the discussion in B. Ta'anit 29b–30a. The Sepphoris/Tiberias traditions really do not favor either city. Note T. Sotah 3:16 which preserves a rabbinic rebuke of both the Sepphoreans and the Tiberians. Also interesting is B. Sanhedrin 31b where R. Ammi, a Tiberian, declares that a yevamah has to go “even from Tiberias to Sepphoris” to be released from a levirate marriage. Though the statement is intended to indicate a particular distance, the usage of Sepphoris as the destination in Ammi's time (late-third century), when Tiberias had the superior court, again suggests acceptance of, rather than contention with, an equally respectable rabbinic center.

100. Ed. Buber: For parallels, see Leviticus Rabbah 23:5, Midrash Shemu'el 16:1, and Song of Songs Rabbah 2:2.

101. The circumstances of the passage fit either the late third or the fourth century. See Margulies, Va-Yiqrd Rabbah, 2:533; Avi-Yonah, M., Alias Carta' Li-Tequfat Bayit Sheni, Ha-Mishnah Ve-Ha-Talmud (Jerusalem: Carta, 1974), discussion of map 137;Google ScholarAllon, G., Toledot Ha-Yehudim Be-'Ere' Yisra'el Bi-Tequfat Ha-Mishnah ve-Ha-Talmud, 2 vols., 2d ed. (Tel Aviv: Ha-Kibbutẓ Ha-Meuḥad, 1961), 2:249 n. 29, 261; and Klein, Sefer Ha-Yishuv, 1:3 n. 9 (also see p. 144 n. 1 for the identification of Ẓalamish).Google Scholar

102. Ed. Vilna: On this passage, see Levine, L., Caesarea under Roman Rule (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975), p. 63.Google Scholar

103. Ed. Buber:

104. Flacc. 45–46. Actually, Philo indicates that Jerusalem was regarded as the metropolis of all the Jews of the world. See Amir, Y., “Ha-Aliyah le-Regel Nusah Philon”, in Peraqim Be-Toledot Yerushalayim Bi-Yemei Bayit Sheni: Sefer Zikaron Le-Avraham Shalit, ed. Oppenheimer, A., U. Rappaport, and M. Stern (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak ben Zvi, 1980), pp. 154165. Also, in the same volume, see M. Stern, “Yerushalayim, Ha-Mefursemet Le-'Ein Shi'ur bein 'Arei Ha-Mizraḥ”, pp. 269–270.Google Scholar

105. On the use of the term “metropolis”, see Jones, Roman World, pp. 74 f.

106. See Levine, Caesarea, pp. 29 f., on the conflict between Jews and Greeks in the city prior to the revolt. Also see chaps. 3, 4, 6, and 7 (passim) on the pagan, Samaritan, and Christian elements in the city.

107. The passages just quoted may not prove that the rabbis were interested in documenting rivalry between cities, but they do suggest that they were aware of its existence. As argued above, tension between Sepphoris and Tiberias would very likely have found expression in the traditions pertaining to both cities. Cf. n. 38. The fact that these traditions do not allude to difficulties between Sepphoris and Tiberias but instead emphasize their positive relations suggests that there was no rivalry to speak of.

108. See Rubin, Z., “The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Conflict between the Sees of Caesarea and Jerusalem”, in The Jerusalem Cathedra, ed. Levine, L. (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak ben Zvi, 1981—), vol. 2(1982), pp. 79105. To be sure, Lamentations Kabbah 1:5 and B. Megillah 6a were formulated long after Jerusalem had become a non-Jewish city. The rabbis probably use Jerusalem and Caesarea in these traditions as metaphors for Jews/Judaism and Rome/Romans respectively. Thus it could be maintained that these traditions have no bearing on the thirdand fourth-century rivalry reflected in the Christian sources. Still, it does seem significant that the rabbis contrast Jerusalem and Caesarea. True, both Lamentations 1:5 and Ezekiel 26:2 concern Jerusalem, so it is no wonder that the city appears in the exegesis of these passages in Lamentations Rabbah and B. Megillah. Caesarea, of course, serves as a fitting foil. At the very least, however, the existing tensions between Jerusalem and Caesarea must have enhanced the rabbis' metaphorical usage of these cities and made it more intelligible.Google Scholar

109. Several reasons could be offered for the discontinuance of the rivalry. First of all, Josephus' report may simply represent pre—First Revolt tensions and alliances that were no longer germane after the war and were soon forgotten. Alternatively, demographic changes, especially after the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, were bound to have an effect upon the attitudes and interests of the residents of both cities, who no longer could relate to the earlier squabbles. In any case, the silence of the rabbinic sources places the burden of proof upon those who would argue that the rivalry described by Josephus persisted.

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