Antiochus IV Epiphanes: King of Syria; policy of attaining political unity by propagating Greek
culture met with violent resistance from the Jews
Apocalyptic: all the various portions of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, whether canonical
or apocryphal, in which eschatological predictions are given in the form of a revelation
Ashera: Asherah, the Shekinah, consort and beloved of Yahweh. God-the-Mother. Her sacred
pillars or poles once stood right beside Yahweh's altar, embracing it. Moses and Aaron both
carried one of these Asherah "poles" as a sacred staff of power. The Children of Israel were
once dramatically healed simply by gazing at the staff with serpents suspended from it. This
symbol, the snakes and the staff, has become the modern universal symbol for doctors and
healers.* Asherah was also widely known in the Middle Eastern ancient world as a Goddess of
Ashkenazim: A member of the branch of European Jews, historically Yiddish-speaking, who
settled in central and northern Europe.
Assimilation: people of different backgrounds come to see themselves as part of a larger
Ba'al: storm-fertility god of the ancient Canaanites
Bar Kochba: died 135 AD Jewish leader who led an unsuccessful revolt against the Romans in
Bar/Bat Mitzvah: a coming of age ceremony for a boy/girl when they start to be seen as adults
within the Jewish community
Bereshit: the first of the Five Books of Moses. It deals with the Creation of the Universe by God
in Six "Days," and his "rest' on Shabbat, the Seventh Day. Adam, Original Man, is created;
Chava, Original Woman and Adam's wife, is created from him.
Canaan: Ancient city stretching over modern day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and parts of
Jordan. Abraham and Sarah moved here from Ur
Conservative Judaism: movement attempting to adapt Judaism to modern life by using
principles of change within the traditional laws; occupies middle ground between Reform and
Covenant: relationship between God and Israel, enacted on Mt. Sinai, based on Israel’s
acceptance of God’s Torah
Cultural Judaism: raised Jewish, but might not necessarily believe in God or follow religious
Cyrus: King of Persia. He was honoured as a Messiah in the Jewish texts for helping them
rebuild the Temple. He is the only non-Jew to receive this honour.
David/Davidic king: Most beloved king.
Dead Sea Scrolls: The papyrus scrolls and scroll fragments discovered between 1947 and
1960 at sites along the Dead Sea, mostly dating from the last two centuries B.C., containing
passages from books of the Hebrew Scriptures and from apocryphal biblical books, as well as
sectarian writings. They are of great importance for reconstructing the compilation of the
Hebrew Scriptures and for understanding Jewish culture in the era immediately preceding the
birth of Jesus.
Diaspora: the dispersion of Jews away from the Jewish homeland, to live as minorities in
Elijah: Hebrew prophet in the time of Jezebel who maintained the worship of Jehovah against that of Baal and other pagan gods.
Eschatology: doctrine about the last things; the end of the world, judgement day,
consummation of God’s plan
Essenes: frugal Jewish movement around the Dead Sea area from the second century BCE to
the first century CE
Exile: the Jewish captivity in Babylon, especially the period from the fall of Jerusalem in 586
BCE until the first return to Jerusalem in 538 BCE
Exodus: deliverance of Israelites from Egypt under Moses’ leadership
Gemara: the second part of the Talmud consisting primarily of commentary on the Mishna.
Ghetto: special Jewish quarter in certain European cites
Hagar: wife of Abraham, mother of Ishmael, and ancestress of the Muslims
Halakhah: Jewish legal tradition based on the Talmud
Hanukkah: Jewish festival of lights in December, celebrating rededication of the temple in the
Hasidim: popular mystical and devotional Jewish movement beginning in the 17 century in
Hebrews: ancestors of the Isrealites
Samson Raphael Hirsch:
Holocaust: ancient Israelite