2,000-year-old youth organization was established in Roman-occupied Egypt

2,000-year-old youth organization was established in Roman-occupied Egypt

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In Roman Egypt, 14-year-old boys were enrolled in a youth organization in order to learn to be good citizens.

So says social historian and historian of ideas Ville Vuolanto, University of Oslo, who has joined forces with Dr April Pudsey of the University of Newcastle to dive deep into a mass of material of around 7,500 ancient documents written on papyrus. The texts comprise literary texts, personal letters and administrative documents. Never before has childhood been researched so systematically in this type of material.

Ancient Egyptian Education ( egyptking.info)

The research is part of the University of Oslo project 'Tiny Voices from the Past: New Perspectives on Childhood in Early Europe'.

The documents originate from Oxyrhynchos in Egypt, which in the first five hundred years CE was a large town of more than 25,000 inhabitants. Oxyrhynchos had Egypt's most important weaving industry, and was also the Roman administrative centre for the area. Researchers possess a great deal of documentation precisely from this area because archaeologists digging one hundred years ago discovered thousands of papyri in what had once been the town's rubbish dumps.

Free-born citizens only

Only boys born to free-born citizens were entitled to be members of the town's youth organization, which was called a 'gymnasium'. These boys were the children of local Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Their families would necessarily have been quite prosperous, and have had an income that placed them in the '12 drachma tax class'. It is uncertain how large a proportion of the population would have qualified, probably somewhere between 10 and 25 per cent, Vuolanto explains.

Fayum portrait of a boy during the Roman occupation of Egypt ( Wikimedia)

Girls were not enrolled as members of the 'gymnasium', but are often mentioned in the administrative documents as being the boys' siblings. This may have had to do with family status or tax class. Both girls and women could own property, but in principle they had to have a male guardian.

Some boys were apprenticed

For boys from well-off families of the free-born citizen class, the transition to adult life started with enrolment in the 'gymnasium'. Other boys started working before reaching their teens, and might serve an apprenticeship of two to four years. The researchers have found about 20 apprenticeship contracts in Oxyrhynchos, most of them relating to the weaving industry. Males were not reckoned to be fully adults until they married in their early twenties.

Most girls remained and worked at home, and learned what they needed to know there. They generally married in their late teens -- a little earlier than boys.

"We have found only one contract where the apprentice was a girl," Vuolanto remarks. "But her situation was a little unusual -- she was not only an orphan but also had her deceased father's debts to pay."

Different for slave children

Slave children could also become apprentices, and their contracts were of the same type as for the boys of free-born citizens. Slaves lived either with their owners or in the same house as their master, while free-born children generally lived with their parents.

But life was different for slave children nonetheless. Vuolanto says they have found documents to show that children as young as two were sold and separated from their parents.

In one letter, a man encourages his brother to sell the youngest slave children, and some wine -- whereas his nephews should be spoiled. He writes "…I am sending you some melon seeds and two bundles of old clothes, which you can share with your children."

Ancient Egyptian slave market ( Wikimedia)

Little is known about young children

Little is known about the lives of children until they turn up in official documents, which is usually not before they are in their early teens. It seems that children began doing light work between the ages of seven and nine. Typically, they might have been set to work as goatherds or to collect wood or dry animal dung for fuel.

There were probably a good number of children who did not live with their biological parents, because the mortality rate was high.

"It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. By examining papyri, pottery fragments with writing on, toys and other objects, we are trying to form a picture of how children lived in Roman Egypt," explains Vuolanto.


University of Oslo. "2,000-year-old youth organization." ScienceDaily, 5 November 2014.


The First Council of Nicaea was the first ecumenical council of the church. Most significantly, it resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed. With the creation of the creed, a precedent was established for subsequent local and regional councils of bishops (synods) to create statements of belief and canons of doctrinal orthodoxy—the intent being to define unity of beliefs for the whole of Christendom. [8]

Derived from Greek (Ancient Greek: οἰκουμένη , romanized: oikouménē, lit. 'the inhabited one'), "ecumenical" means "worldwide" but generally is assumed to be limited to the known inhabited Earth, [9] and at this time in history is synonymous with the Roman Empire the earliest extant uses of the term for a council are Eusebius' Life of Constantine 3.6 [10] around 338, which states "he convoked an ecumenical council" (Ancient Greek: σύνοδον οἰκουμενικὴν συνεκρότει , romanized: sýnodon oikoumenikḕn synekrótei) [11] and the Letter in 382 to Pope Damasus I and the Latin bishops from the First Council of Constantinople. [12]

One purpose of the Council was to resolve disagreements arising from within the Church of Alexandria over the nature of the Son in his relationship to the Father: in particular, whether the Son had been 'begotten' by the Father from his own being, and therefore having no beginning, or else created out of nothing, and therefore having a beginning. [13] St. Alexander of Alexandria and Athanasius took the first position the popular presbyter Arius, from whom the term Arianism comes, took the second. The Council decided against the Arians overwhelmingly (of the estimated 250–318 attendees, all but two agreed to sign the creed and these two, along with Arius, were banished to Illyria). [8] [14]

Another result of the Council was an agreement on when to celebrate Easter, the most important feast of the ecclesiastical calendar, decreed in an epistle to the Church of Alexandria in which is simply stated:

We also send you the good news of the settlement concerning the holy pasch, namely that in answer to your prayers this question also has been resolved. All the brethren in the East who have hitherto followed the Jewish practice will henceforth observe the custom of the Romans and of yourselves and of all of us who from ancient times have kept Easter together with you. [15]

Historically significant as the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, [16] the Council was the first occasion where the technical aspects of Christology were discussed. [16] Through it a precedent was set for subsequent general councils to adopt creeds and canons. This Council is generally considered the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils in the History of Christianity. [17]

The First Council of Nicaea, the first general council in the history of the Church, was convened by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great upon the recommendations of a synod led by the bishop Hosius of Corduba in the Eastertide of 325, or rather convened by Hosius and supported by Constantine. [18] This synod had been charged with investigation of the trouble brought about by the Arian controversy in the Greek-speaking east. [19] To most bishops, the teachings of Arius were heretical and dangerous to the salvation of souls. [20] In the summer of 325, the bishops of all provinces were summoned to Nicaea, a place reasonably accessible to many delegates, particularly those of Asia Minor, Georgia, Armenia, Syria, Egypt, Greece, and Thrace.

According to Warren H. Carroll, in the Council of Nicaea, "The Church had taken her first great step to define revealed doctrine more precisely in response to a challenge from a heretical theology." [21]

Constantine had invited all 1,800 bishops of the Christian church within the Roman Empire (about 1,000 in the east and 800 in the west), but a smaller and unknown number attended. Eusebius of Caesarea counted more than 250, [22] Athanasius of Alexandria counted 318, [11] and Eustathius of Antioch estimated "about 270" [23] (all three were present at the Council). Later, Socrates Scholasticus recorded more than 300, [24] and Evagrius, [25] Hilary of Poitiers, [26] Jerome, [27] Dionysius Exiguus, [28] and Rufinus [29] recorded 318. This number 318 is preserved in the liturgies of the Eastern Orthodox Church [30] and the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. [ citation needed ]

Delegates came from every region of the Roman Empire, including Britain, and from the Christian churches extant within the Sassanid Empire. [31] The participating bishops were given free travel to and from their episcopal sees to the Council, as well as lodging. These bishops did not travel alone each one had permission to bring with him two priests and three deacons, so the total number of attendees could have been above 1,800. Eusebius speaks of an almost innumerable host of accompanying priests, deacons, and acolytes. A Syriac manuscript lists the names of the eastern bishops which included twenty-two from Coele-Syria, nineteen from Palestine, ten from Phoenicia, six from Arabia, others from Assyria, Mesopotamia, Persia, etc., but the distinction of bishops from presbyters had not yet formed. [32] [33]

The Eastern bishops formed the great majority. Of these, the first rank was held by the patriarchs: Alexander of Alexandria and Eustathius of Antioch. Many of the assembled fathers—for instance, Paphnutius of Thebes, Potamon of Heraclea, and Paul of Neocaesarea—had stood forth as confessors of the faith and came to the Council with the marks of persecution on their faces. This position is supported by patristic scholar Timothy Barnes in his book Constantine and Eusebius. [34] Historically, the influence of these marred confessors has been seen as substantial, but recent scholarship has called this into question. [29]

Other remarkable attendees were Eusebius of Nicomedia Eusebius of Caesarea, the purported first church historian circumstances suggest that Nicholas of Myra attended (his life was the seed of the Santa Claus legends) Macarius of Jerusalem, later a staunch defender of Athanasius Aristaces of Armenia (son of Saint Gregory the Illuminator) Leontius of Caesarea Jacob of Nisibis, a former hermit Hypatius of Gangra Protogenes of Sardica Melitius of Sebastopolis Achilleus of Larissa (considered the Athanasius of Thessaly) [35] and Spyridion of Trimythous, who even while a bishop made his living as a shepherd. [36] From foreign places came John, bishop of Persia and India, [37] Theophilus, a Gothic bishop, and Stratophilus, bishop of Pitiunt in Georgia.

The Latin-speaking provinces sent at least five representatives: Marcus of Calabria from Italia, Cecilian of Carthage from Africa, Hosius of Córdoba from Hispania, Nicasius of Die from Gaul, [35] and Domnus of Sirmium from the province of the Danube.

Athanasius of Alexandria, a young deacon and companion of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, was among the assistants. Athanasius eventually spent most of his life battling against Arianism. Alexander of Constantinople, then a presbyter, was also present as representative of his aged bishop. [35]

"Resplendent in purple and gold, Constantine made a ceremonial entrance at the opening of the Council, probably in early June, but respectfully seated the bishops ahead of himself." [4] As Eusebius described, Constantine "himself proceeded through the midst of the assembly, like some heavenly messenger of God, clothed in raiment which glittered as it were with rays of light, reflecting the glowing radiance of a purple robe, and adorned with the brilliant splendor of gold and precious stones." [39] The emperor was present as an overseer and presider, but did not cast any official vote. Constantine organized the Council along the lines of the Roman Senate. Hosius of Cordoba may have presided over its deliberations he was probably one of the papal legates. [4] Eusebius of Nicomedia probably gave the welcoming address. [4] [40]

The agenda of the synod included the following issues:

  1. The Arian question regarding the relationship between God the Father and the Son (not only in his incarnate form as Jesus, but also in his nature before the creation of the world) i.e., are the Father and Son one in divine purpose only, or also one in being?
  2. The date of celebration of Pascha/Easter
  3. The Meletian schism
  4. Various matters of church discipline, which resulted in twenty canons
    1. Organizational structure of the Church: focused on the ordering of the episcopacy
    2. Dignity standards for the clergy: issues of ordination at all levels and of suitability of behavior and background for clergy
    3. Reconciliation of the lapsed: establishing norms for public repentance and penance
    4. Readmission to the Church of heretics and schismatics: including issues of when reordination and/or rebaptism were to be required
    5. Liturgical practice: including the place of deacons, and the practice of standing at prayer during liturgy [41]

    The Council was formally opened 20 May, in the central structure of the imperial palace at Nicaea, with preliminary discussions of the Arian question. Emperor Constantine arrived nearly a month later on 14 June. [42] In these discussions, some dominant figures were Arius, with several adherents. "Some 22 of the bishops at the Council, led by Eusebius of Nicomedia, came as supporters of Arius. But when some of the more shocking passages from his writings were read, they were almost universally seen as blasphemous." [4] Bishops Theognis of Nicaea and Maris of Chalcedon were among the initial supporters of Arius.

    Eusebius of Caesarea called to mind the baptismal creed of his own diocese at Caesarea at Palestine, as a form of reconciliation. The majority of the bishops agreed. For some time, scholars thought that the original Nicene Creed was based on this statement of Eusebius. Today, most scholars think that the Creed is derived from the baptismal creed of Jerusalem, as Hans Lietzmann proposed. [ citation needed ]

    The orthodox bishops won approval of every one of their proposals regarding the Creed. After being in session for an entire month, the Council promulgated on 19 June the original Nicene Creed. This profession of faith was adopted by all the bishops "but two from Libya who had been closely associated with Arius from the beginning". [21] No explicit historical record of their dissent actually exists the signatures of these bishops are simply absent from the Creed. The sessions continued to deal with minor matters until 25 August. [42]

    The Arian controversy arose in Alexandria when the newly reinstated presbyter Arius [43] began to spread doctrinal views that were contrary to those of his bishop, St. Alexander of Alexandria. The disputed issues centered on the natures and relationship of God (the Father) and the Son of God (Jesus). The disagreements sprang from different ideas about the Godhead and what it meant for Jesus to be God's Son. Alexander maintained that the Son was divine in just the same sense that the Father is, coeternal with the Father, else he could not be a true Son. [13] [44]

    Arius emphasized the supremacy and uniqueness of God the Father, meaning that the Father alone is almighty and infinite, and that therefore the Father's divinity must be greater than the Son's. Arius taught that the Son had a beginning, and that he possessed neither the eternity nor the true divinity of the Father, but was rather made "God" only by the Father's permission and power, and that the Son was rather the first and the most perfect of God's creatures. [13] [44]

    The Arian discussions and debates at the Council extended from about 20 May 325, through about 19 June. [44] According to legendary accounts, debate became so heated that at one point, Arius was struck in the face by Nicholas of Myra, who would later be canonized. [45] This account is almost certainly apocryphal, as Arius himself would not have been present in the council chamber due to the fact that he was not a bishop. [46]

    Much of the debate hinged on the difference between being "born" or "created" and being "begotten". Arians saw these as essentially the same followers of Alexander did not. The exact meaning of many of the words used in the debates at Nicaea were still unclear to speakers of other languages. Greek words like "essence" (ousia), "substance" (hypostasis), "nature" (physis), "person" (prosopon) bore a variety of meanings drawn from pre-Christian philosophers, which could not but entail misunderstandings until they were cleared up. The word homoousia, in particular, was initially disliked by many bishops because of its associations with Gnostic heretics (who used it in their theology), and because their heresies had been condemned at the 264–268 Synods of Antioch.

    Arguments for Arianism Edit

    According to surviving accounts, the presbyter Arius argued for the supremacy of God the Father, and maintained that the Son of God was created as an act of the Father's will, and therefore that the Son was a creature made by God, begotten directly of the infinite eternal God. Arius's argument was that the Son was God's first production, before all ages, the position being that the Son had a beginning, and that only the Father has no beginning. And Arius argued that everything else was created through the Son. Thus, said the Arians, only the Son was directly created and begotten of God and therefore there was a time that He had no existence. Arius believed that the Son of God was capable of His own free will of right and wrong, and that "were He in the truest sense a son, He must have come after the Father, therefore the time obviously was when He was not, and hence He was a finite being", [47] and that He was under God the Father. Therefore, Arius insisted that the Father's divinity was greater than the Son's. The Arians appealed to Scripture, quoting biblical statements such as "the Father is greater than I" ( John 14:28 ), and also that the Son is "firstborn of all creation" ( Colossians 1:15 ).

    Arguments against Arianism Edit

    The opposing view stemmed from the idea that begetting the Son is itself in the nature of the Father, which is eternal. Thus, the Father was always a Father, and both Father and Son existed always together, eternally, coequally and consubstantially. [48] The contra-Arian argument thus stated that the Logos was "eternally begotten", therefore with no beginning. Those in opposition to Arius believed that to follow the Arian view destroyed the unity of the Godhead, and made the Son unequal to the Father. They insisted that such a view was in contravention of such Scriptures as "I and the Father are one" ( John 10:30 ) and "the Word was God" ( John 1:1 ), as such verses were interpreted. They declared, as did Athanasius, [49] that the Son had no beginning, but had an "eternal derivation" from the Father, and therefore was coeternal with him, and equal to God in all aspects. [50]

    Result of the debate Edit

    The Council declared that the Son was true God, coeternal with the Father and begotten from His same substance, arguing that such a doctrine best codified the Scriptural presentation of the Son as well as traditional Christian belief about him handed down from the Apostles. This belief was expressed by the bishops in the Creed of Nicaea, which would form the basis of what has since been known as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. [51]

    One of the projects undertaken by the Council was the creation of a Creed, a declaration and summary of the Christian faith. Several creeds were already in existence many creeds were acceptable to the members of the Council, including Arius. From earliest times, various creeds served as a means of identification for Christians, as a means of inclusion and recognition, especially at baptism.

    In Rome, for example, the Apostles' Creed was popular, especially for use in Lent and the Easter season. In the Council of Nicaea, one specific creed was used to define the Church's faith clearly, to include those who professed it, and to exclude those who did not.

    Some distinctive elements in the Nicene Creed, perhaps from the hand of Hosius of Cordova, were added, some specifically to counter the Arian point of view. [13] [52]

    1. Jesus Christ is described as "Light from Light, true God from true God," proclaiming his divinity.
    2. Jesus Christ is said to be "begotten, not made," asserting that he was not a mere creature, brought into being out of nothing, but the true Son of God, brought into being "from the substance of the Father."
    3. He is said to be "of one being with the Father," proclaiming that although Jesus Christ is "true God" and God the Father is also "true God," they are "of one being," in accord to what is found in John 10:30: "I and the Father are one." The Greek term homoousios, or consubstantial (i.e., of the same substance) is ascribed by Eusebius to Constantine who, on this particular point, may have chosen to exercise his authority. The significance of this clause, however, is extremely ambiguous as to the extent in which Jesus Christ and God the Father are "of one being," and the issues it raised would be seriously controverted in the future.

    At the end of the creed came a list of anathemas, designed to repudiate explicitly the Arians' stated claims.

    1. The view that "there was once when he was not" was rejected to maintain the coeternity of the Son with the Father.
    2. The view that he was "mutable or subject to change" was rejected to maintain that the Son just like the Father was beyond any form of weakness or corruptibility, and most importantly that he could not fall away from absolute moral perfection.

    Thus, instead of a baptismal creed acceptable to both the Arians and their opponents, the Council promulgated one which was clearly opposed to Arianism and incompatible with the distinctive core of their beliefs. The text of this profession of faith is preserved in a letter of Eusebius to his congregation, in Athanasius, and elsewhere. Although the most vocal of anti-Arians, the Homoousians (from the Koine Greek word translated as "of same substance" which was condemned at the Council of Antioch in 264–268) were in the minority, the Creed was accepted by the Council as an expression of the bishops' common faith and the ancient faith of the whole Church. [ citation needed ]

    Bishop Hosius of Cordova, one of the firm Homoousians, may well have helped bring the Council to consensus. At the time of the Council, he was the confidant of the emperor in all Church matters. Hosius stands at the head of the lists of bishops, and Athanasius ascribes to him the actual formulation of the creed. Great leaders such as Eustathius of Antioch, Alexander of Alexandria, Athanasius, and Marcellus of Ancyra all adhered to the Homoousian position.

    In spite of his sympathy for Arius, Eusebius of Caesarea adhered to the decisions of the Council, accepting the entire creed. The initial number of bishops supporting Arius was small. After a month of discussion, on 19 June, there were only two left: Theonas of Marmarica in Libya, and Secundus of Ptolemais. Maris of Chalcedon, who initially supported Arianism, agreed to the whole creed. Similarly, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis of Nice also agreed, except for certain statements.

    The Emperor carried out his earlier statement: everybody who refused to endorse the Creed would be exiled. Arius, Theonas, and Secundus refused to adhere to the creed, and were thus exiled to Illyria, in addition to being excommunicated. The works of Arius were ordered to be confiscated and consigned to the flames, [8] while his supporters were considered as "enemies of Christianity." [53] Nevertheless, the controversy continued in various parts of the empire. [54]

    The Creed was amended to a new version by the First Council of Constantinople in 381.

    The feast of Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, as Christians believe that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus occurred at the time of those observances.

    As early as Pope Sixtus I, some Christians had set Easter to a Sunday in the lunar month of Nisan. To determine which lunar month was to be designated as Nisan, Christians relied on the Jewish community. By the later 3rd century some Christians began to express dissatisfaction with what they took to be the disorderly state of the Jewish calendar. They argued that contemporary Jews were identifying the wrong lunar month as the month of Nisan, choosing a month whose 14th day fell before the spring equinox. [55]

    Christians, these thinkers argued, should abandon the custom of relying on Jewish informants and instead do their own computations to determine which month should be styled Nisan, setting Easter within this independently computed, Christian Nisan, which would always locate the festival after the equinox. They justified this break with tradition by arguing that it was in fact the contemporary Jewish calendar that had broken with tradition by ignoring the equinox, and that in former times the 14th of Nisan had never preceded the equinox. [56] Others felt that the customary practice of reliance on the Jewish calendar should continue, even if the Jewish computations were in error from a Christian point of view. [57]

    The controversy between those who argued for independent computations and those who argued for continued reliance on the Jewish calendar was formally resolved by the Council, which endorsed the independent procedure that had been in use for some time at Rome and Alexandria. Easter was henceforward to be a Sunday in a lunar month chosen according to Christian criteria—in effect, a Christian Nisan—not in the month of Nisan as defined by Jews. [6] Those who argued for continued reliance on the Jewish calendar (called "protopaschites" by later historians) were urged to come around to the majority position. That they did not all immediately do so is revealed by the existence of sermons, [58] canons, [59] and tracts [60] written against the protopaschite practice in the later 4th century.

    These two rules, independence of the Jewish calendar and worldwide uniformity, were the only rules for Easter explicitly laid down by the Council. No details for the computation were specified these were worked out in practice, a process that took centuries and generated a number of controversies (see also Computus and Reform of the date of Easter). In particular, the Council did not seem to decree that Easter must fall on Sunday. [61]

    Nor did the Council decree that Easter must never coincide with Nisan 14 (the first Day of Unleavened Bread, now commonly called "Passover") in the Hebrew calendar. By endorsing the move to independent computations, the Council had separated the Easter computation from all dependence, positive or negative, on the Jewish calendar. The "Zonaras proviso", the claim that Easter must always follow Nisan 14 in the Hebrew calendar, was not formulated until after some centuries. By that time, the accumulation of errors in the Julian solar and lunar calendars had made it the de facto state of affairs that Julian Easter always followed Hebrew Nisan 14. [62]

    The suppression of the Melitian schism, an early breakaway sect, was another important matter that came before the Council of Nicaea. Melitius, it was decided, should remain in his own city of Lycopolis in Egypt, but without exercising authority or the power to ordain new clergy he was forbidden to go into the environs of the town or to enter another diocese for the purpose of ordaining its subjects. Melitius retained his episcopal title, but the ecclesiastics ordained by him were to receive again the laying on of hands, the ordinations performed by Melitius being therefore regarded as invalid. Clergy ordained by Melitius were ordered to yield precedence to those ordained by Alexander, and they were not to do anything without the consent of Bishop Alexander. [63]

    In the event of the death of a non-Melitian bishop or ecclesiastic, the vacant see might be given to a Melitian, provided he was worthy and the popular election were ratified by Alexander. As to Melitius himself, episcopal rights and prerogatives were taken from him. These mild measures, however, were in vain the Melitians joined the Arians and caused more dissension than ever, being among the worst enemies of Athanasius. The Melitians ultimately died out around the middle of the fifth century.

    The Council promulgated twenty new church laws, called canons, (though the exact number is subject to debate), that is, unchanging rules of discipline. The twenty as listed in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers [64] are as follows:

    1. prohibition of self-castration for clergy 2. establishment of a minimum term for catechumens (persons studying for baptism) 3. prohibition of the presence in the house of a cleric of a younger woman who might bring him under suspicion (the so called virgines subintroductae, who practiced Syneisaktism) 4. ordination of a bishop in the presence of at least three provincial bishops [8] and confirmation by the metropolitan bishop 5. provision for two provincial synods to be held annually 6. confirmation of ancient customs giving jurisdiction over large regions to the bishops of Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch 7. recognition of the honorary rights of the see of Jerusalem 8. provision for agreement with the Novatianists, an early sect 9–14. provision for mild procedure against the lapsed during the persecution under Licinius 15–16. prohibition of the removal of priests 17. prohibition of usury among the clergy 18. precedence of bishops and presbyters before deacons in receiving the Eucharist (Holy Communion) 19. declaration of the invalidity of baptism by Paulian heretics 20. prohibition of kneeling on Sundays and during the Pentecost (the fifty days commencing on Easter). Standing was the normative posture for prayer at this time, as it still is among the Eastern Christians. Kneeling was considered most appropriate to penitential prayer, as distinct from the festive nature of Eastertide and its remembrance every Sunday. The canon itself was designed only to ensure uniformity of practice at the designated times.

    On 25 July 325, in conclusion, the fathers of the Council celebrated the Emperor's twentieth anniversary. In his farewell address, Constantine informed the audience how averse he was to dogmatic controversy he wanted the Church to live in harmony and peace. In a circular letter, he announced the accomplished unity of practice by the whole Church in the date of the celebration of Christian Passover (Easter).

    The long-term effects of the Council of Nicaea were significant. For the first time, representatives of many of the bishops of the Church convened to agree on a doctrinal statement. Also for the first time the Emperor played a role, by calling together the bishops under his authority, and using the power of the state to give the Council's orders effect.

    In the short-term, however, the Council did not completely solve the problems it was convened to discuss and a period of conflict and upheaval continued for some time. Constantine himself was succeeded by two Arian Emperors in the Eastern Empire: his son, Constantius II, and Valens. Valens could not resolve the outstanding ecclesiastical issues, and unsuccessfully confronted St. Basil over the Nicene Creed. [65]

    Pagan powers within the Empire sought to maintain and at times re-establish paganism into the seat of the Emperor (see Arbogast and Julian the Apostate). Arians and Meletians soon regained nearly all of the rights they had lost, and consequently, Arianism continued to spread and be a subject of debate within the Church during the remainder of the fourth century. Almost immediately, Eusebius of Nicomedia, an Arian bishop and cousin to Constantine I, used his influence at court to sway Constantine's favor from the proto-orthodox Nicene bishops to the Arians. [66]

    Eustathius of Antioch was deposed and exiled in 330. Athanasius, who had succeeded Alexander as Bishop of Alexandria, was deposed by the First Synod of Tyre in 335 and Marcellus of Ancyra followed him in 336. Arius himself returned to Constantinople to be readmitted into the Church, but died shortly before he could be received. Constantine died the next year, after finally receiving baptism from Arian Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, and "with his passing the first round in the battle after the Council of Nicaea was ended". [66]

    Christianity had only recently been legalised in the empire, the Diocletianic Persecution having ended in 311 under Galerius. Although Galerius stopped the Persecution, Christianity was not legally protected until 313, when the emperors Constantine and Licinius agreed to what became known as the Edict of Milan, guaranteeing Christians legal protection and tolerance. However, Nicene Christianity did not become the state religion of the Roman Empire until the Edict of Thessalonica in 380. In the meantime, paganism remained legal and present in public affairs. Constantine's coinage and other official motifs, until the Council of Nicaea, had affiliated him with the pagan cult of Sol Invictus. At first, Constantine encouraged the construction of new temples [67] and tolerated traditional sacrifices. [68] Later in his reign, he gave orders for the pillaging and the tearing down of Roman temples. [69] [70] [71]

    Constantine's role regarding Nicaea was that of supreme civil leader and authority in the empire. As Emperor, the responsibility for maintaining civil order was his, and he sought that the Church be of one mind and at peace. When first informed of the unrest in Alexandria due to the Arian disputes, he was "greatly troubled" and, "rebuked" both Arius and Bishop Alexander for originating the disturbance and allowing it to become public. [72] Aware also of "the diversity of opinion" regarding the celebration of Easter and hoping to settle both issues, he sent the "honored" Bishop Hosius of Cordova (Hispania) to form a local church council and "reconcile those who were divided". [72] When that embassy failed, he turned to summoning a synod at Nicaea, inviting "the most eminent men of the churches in every country". [73]

    Constantine assisted in assembling the Council by arranging that travel expenses to and from the bishops' episcopal sees, as well as lodging at Nicaea, be covered out of public funds. [74] He also provided and furnished a "great hall . in the palace" as a place for discussion so that the attendees "should be treated with becoming dignity". [74] In addressing the opening of the Council, he "exhorted the Bishops to unanimity and concord" and called on them to follow the Holy Scriptures with: "Let, then, all contentious disputation be discarded and let us seek in the divinely-inspired word the solution of the questions at issue." [74]

    Thereupon, the debate about Arius and church doctrine began. "The emperor gave patient attention to the speeches of both parties" and "deferred" to the decision of the bishops. [75] The bishops first pronounced Arius' teachings to be anathema, formulating the creed as a statement of correct doctrine. When Arius and two followers refused to agree, the bishops pronounced clerical judgement by excommunicating them from the Church. Respecting the clerical decision, and seeing the threat of continued unrest, Constantine also pronounced civil judgement, banishing them into exile. This was the beginning of the practice of using secular power to establish doctrinal orthodoxy within Christianity, an example followed by all later Christian emperors, which led to a circle of Christian violence, and of Christian resistance couched in terms of martyrdom. [76]

    Biblical canon Edit

    There is no record of any discussion of the biblical canon at the Council. [77] The development of the biblical canon was nearly complete (with exceptions known as the Antilegomena, written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed) by the time the Muratorian fragment was written. [78]

    In 331, Constantine commissioned fifty Bibles for the Church of Constantinople, but little else is known (in fact, it is not even certain whether his request was for fifty copies of the entire Old and New Testaments, only the New Testament, or merely the Gospels). Some scholars believe that this request provided motivation for canon lists. In Jerome's Prologue to Judith, [79] he claims that the Book of Judith was "found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures", which some have suggested means the Nicene Council did discuss what documents would number among the sacred scriptures, but more likely simply means the Council used Judith in its deliberations on other matters and so it should be considered canonical. [ citation needed ]

    The main source of the idea that the canon was created at the Council of Nicaea seems to be Voltaire, who popularised a story that the canon was determined by placing all the competing books on an altar during the Council and then keeping the ones that did not fall off. The original source of this "fictitious anecdote" is the Synodicon Vetus, [80] a pseudo-historical account of early Church councils from AD 887: [81]

    The canonical and apocryphal books it distinguished in the following manner: in the house of God the books were placed down by the holy altar then the council asked the Lord in prayer that the inspired works be found on top and—as in fact happened—the spurious on the bottom. [82]

    Trinity Edit

    The Council of Nicaea dealt primarily with the issue of the deity of Christ. Over a century earlier the term "Trinity" ( Τριάς in Greek trinitas in Latin) was used in the writings of Origen (185–254) and Tertullian (160–220), and a general notion of a "divine three", in some sense, was expressed in the second-century writings of Polycarp, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr. In Nicaea, questions regarding the Holy Spirit were left largely unaddressed until after the relationship between the Father and the Son was settled around the year 362. [83] So the doctrine in a more full-fledged form was not formulated until the Council of Constantinople in 360 AD, [84] and a final form formulated in 381 AD, primarily crafted by Gregory of Nyssa. [85]

    Constantine Edit

    While Constantine had sought a unified church after the Council, he did not force the homoousian view of Christ's nature on the Council (see The role of Constantine).

    Constantine did not commission any Bibles at the Council itself. He did commission fifty Bibles in 331 for use in the churches of Constantinople, itself still a new city. No historical evidence points to involvement on his part in selecting or omitting books for inclusion in commissioned Bibles.

    Despite Constantine's sympathetic interest in the Church, he was not baptized until some 11 or 12 years after the Council, putting off baptism as long as he did so as to be absolved from as much sin as possible [86] in accordance with the belief that in baptism all sin is forgiven fully and completely. [87]

    Role of the Bishop of Rome Edit

    Roman Catholics assert that the idea of Christ's deity was ultimately confirmed by the Bishop of Rome, and that it was this confirmation that gave the Council its influence and authority. In support of this, they cite the position of early fathers and their expression of the need for all churches to agree with Rome (see Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses III:3:2). [ citation needed ]

    However, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox do not believe the Council viewed the Bishop of Rome as the jurisdictional head of Christendom, or someone having authority over other bishops attending the Council. In support of this, they cite Canon 6, where the Roman Bishop could be seen as simply one of several influential leaders, but not one who had jurisdiction over other bishops in other regions. [88]

    According to Protestant theologian Philip Schaff, "The Nicene fathers passed this canon not as introducing anything new, but merely as confirming an existing relation on the basis of church tradition and that, with special reference to Alexandria, on account of the troubles existing there. Rome was named only for illustration and Antioch and all the other eparchies or provinces were secured their admitted rights. The bishoprics of Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch were placed substantially on equal footing." Thus, according to Schaff, the Bishop of Alexandria was to have jurisdiction over the provinces of Egypt, Libya and the Pentapolis, just as the Bishop of Rome had authority "with reference to his own diocese." [89]

    But according to Fr. James F. Loughlin, there is an alternative Roman Catholic interpretation. It involves five different arguments "drawn respectively from the grammatical structure of the sentence, from the logical sequence of ideas, from Catholic analogy, from comparison with the process of formation of the Byzantine Patriarchate, and from the authority of the ancients" [90] in favor of an alternative understanding of the canon. According to this interpretation, the canon shows the role the Bishop of Rome had when he, by his authority, confirmed the jurisdiction of the other patriarchs—an interpretation which is in line with the Roman Catholic understanding of the Pope. Thus, the Bishop of Alexandria presided over Egypt, Libya and the Pentapolis, [8] while the Bishop of Antioch "enjoyed a similar authority throughout the great diocese of Oriens," and all by the authority of the Bishop of Rome. To Loughlin, that was the only possible reason to invoke the custom of a Roman Bishop in a matter related to the two metropolitan bishops in Alexandria and Antioch. [90]

    However, Protestant and Roman Catholic interpretations have historically assumed that some or all of the bishops identified in the canon were presiding over their own dioceses at the time of the Council—the Bishop of Rome over the Diocese of Italy, as Schaff suggested, the Bishop of Antioch over the Diocese of Oriens, as Loughlin suggested, and the Bishop of Alexandria over the Diocese of Egypt, as suggested by Karl Josef von Hefele. According to Hefele, the Council had assigned to Alexandria, "the whole (civil) Diocese of Egypt." [91] Yet those assumptions have since been proven false. At the time of the Council, the Diocese of Egypt did exist but was known as the Diocese of Alexandria (established by St Mark in the 1st Century), so the Council could have assigned it to Alexandria. Antioch and Alexandria were both located within the civil Diocese of Oriens, Antioch being the chief metropolis, but neither administered the whole. Likewise, Rome and Milan were both located within the civil Diocese of Italy, Milan being the chief metropolis, [92] [93] yet neither administered the whole.

    This geographic issue related to Canon 6 was highlighted by Protestant writer Timothy F. Kauffman, as a correction to the anachronism created by the assumption that each bishop was already presiding over a whole diocese at the time of the Council. [94] According to Kauffman, since Milan and Rome were both located within the Diocese of Italy, and Antioch and Alexandria were both located within the Diocese of Oriens, a relevant and "structural congruency" between Rome and Alexandria was readily apparent to the gathered bishops: both had been made to share a diocese of which neither was the chief metropolis. Rome's jurisdiction within Italy had been defined in terms of several of the city's adjacent provinces since Diocletian's reordering of the empire in 293, as the earliest Latin version of the canon indicates, [95] and the rest of the Italian provinces were under the jurisdiction of Milan. [ citation needed ]

    That provincial arrangement of Roman and Milanese jurisdiction within Italy therefore was a relevant precedent, and provided an administrative solution to the problem facing the Council—namely, how to define Alexandrian and Antiochian jurisdiction within the Diocese of Oriens. In canon 6, the Council left most of the diocese under Antioch's jurisdiction, and assigned a few provinces of the diocese to Alexandria, "since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also." [96]

    In that scenario, a relevant Roman precedent is invoked, answering Loughlin's argument as to why the custom of a bishop in Rome would have any bearing on a dispute regarding Alexandria in Oriens, and at the same time correcting Schaff's argument that the bishop of Rome was invoked by way of illustration "with reference to his own diocese." The custom of the bishop of Rome was invoked by way of illustration, not because he presided over the whole Church, or over the western Church or even over "his own diocese", but rather because he presided over a few provinces in a diocese that was otherwise administered from Milan. On the basis of that precedent, the Council recognized Alexandria's ancient jurisdiction over a few provinces in the Diocese of Oriens, a diocese that was otherwise administered from Antioch. [ citation needed ]

    The Churches of Byzantium celebrate the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council on the seventh Sunday of Pascha (the Sunday before Pentecost). [97] The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod celebrates the First Ecumenical Council on 12 June. The Coptic Church celebrates The Assembly of the First Ecumenical Council on 9 Hathor (usually 18 November). The Armenian Church celebrates the 318 Fathers of the Holy Council of Nicaea on 1 September.


    As Rome overtook the Ptolemaic system in place for areas of Egypt, they made many changes. The effect of the Roman conquest was at first to strengthen the position of the Greeks and of Hellenism against Egyptian influences. Some of the previous offices and names of offices under the Hellenistic Ptolemaic rule were kept, some were changed, and some names would have remained but the function and administration would have changed.

    The Romans introduced important changes in the administrative system, aimed at achieving a high level of efficiency and maximizing revenue. The duties of the prefect of Aegyptus combined responsibility for military security through command of the legions and cohorts, for the organization of finance and taxation, and for the administration of justice.

    The Egyptian provinces of the Ptolemaic Kingdom remained wholly under Roman rule until the administrative reforms of the augustus Diocletian ( r . 284–305 ). [7] : 57 In these first three centuries of Roman Egypt, the whole country came under the central Roman control of single governor, officially called in Latin: praefectus Alexandreae et Aegypti, lit. 'prefect of Alexandria and Egypt' and more usually referred to as the Latin: praefectus Aegypti, lit. 'prefect of Egypt' or the Koinē Greek: ἔπαρχος Αἰγύπτου , romanized: eparchos Aigyptou, lit. 'Eparch of Egypt'. [7] : 57 The double title of the governor as prefect "of Alexandria and Egypt" reflects the distinctions between Upper and Lower Egypt and Alexandria, since Alexandria, outside the Nile Delta, was not within the then-prevailing traditional geographic boundaries of Egypt. [7] : 57

    Roman Egypt was the only Roman province whose governor was of equestrian rank in the Roman social order all others were of the senatorial class and served as Roman senators, including former Roman consuls, but the prefect of Egypt had more or less equivalent civil and military powers (imperium) to a proconsul, since a Roman law (a lex) granted him "proconsular imperium" (Latin: imperium ad similitudinem proconsulis). [7] : 57 Unlike in senatorially-governed provinces, the prefect was responsible for the collection of certain taxes and for the organization of the all-important grain shipments from Egypt (including the annona). [7] : 58 Because of these financial responsibilities, the governor's administration had to be closely controlled and organized. [7] : 58 The governorship of Egypt was the second-highest office available to the equestrian class on the cursus honorum (after that of the praetorian prefect (Latin: praefectus praetorio), the commander of the imperial Praetorian Guard) and one of the highest-paid, receiving an annual salary of 200,000 sesterces (a "ducenarian" post). [7] : 58 The prefect was appointed at the emperor's discretion officially the governors' status and responsibilities mirrored those of the augustus himself: his fairness (aequitas, 'equality') and his foresight (providentia, 'providence'). [7] : 58 From the early 2nd century, service as the governor of Egypt was frequently the penultimate stage in the career of a praetorian prefect. [7] : 58

    The governor's powers as prefect, which included the rights to make edicts (ius edicendi) and, as the supreme judicial authority, to order capital punishment (ius gladii, 'right of swords'), expired as soon as his successor arrived in the provincial capital at Alexandria, who then also took up overall command of the Roman legions of the Egyptian garrison. [7] : 58 (Initially, three legions were stationed in Egypt, with only two from the reign of Tiberius ( r . 14–37 AD ).) [7] : 58 The official duties of the praefectus Aegypti are well known because enough records survive to reconstruct a mostly complete official calendar (fasti) of the governors' engagements. [7] : 57 Yearly in Lower Egypt, and once every two years in Upper Egypt, the praefectus Aegypti held a conventus (Koinē Greek: διαλογισμός , romanized: dialogismos, lit. 'dialogue'), during which legal trials were conducted and administrative officials' practices were examined, usually between January (Ianuarius) and April (Aprilis) in the Roman calendar. [7] : 58 Evidence exists of more than 60 edicts issued by the Roman governors of Egypt. [7] : 58

    To the government at Alexandria besides the prefect of Egypt, the Roman emperors appointed several other subordinate procurators for the province, all of equestrian rank and, at least from the reign of Commodus ( r . 176–192 ) of similar, "ducenarian" salary bracket. [7] : 58 The administrator of the Idios Logos, responsible for special revenues like the proceeds of bona caduca property, and the iuridicus (Koinē Greek: δικαιοδότης , romanized: dikaiodotes, lit. 'giver of laws'), the senior legal official, were both imperially appointed. [7] : 58 From the reign of Hadrian ( r . 117–138 ), the financial powers of the prefect and the control of the Egyptian temples and priesthoods was devolved to other procurators, a dioiketes ( διοικητής ), the chief financial officer, and an archiereus ( ἀρχιερεύς , 'archpriest'). [7] : 58 A procurator could deputize as the prefect's representative where necessary. [7] : 58

    Procurators were also appointed from among the freedmen (manumitted slaves) of the imperial household, including the powerful procurator usiacus, responsible for state property in the province. [7] : 58 Other procurators were responsible for revenue farming of state monopolies (the procurator ad Mercurium), oversight of farm lands (the procurator episkepseos), of the warehouses of Alexandria (the procurator Neaspoleos), and of exports and emigration (the procurator Phari, 'procurator of the Pharos'). [7] : 58 These roles are poorly attested, with often the only surviving information beyond the names of the offices is a few names of the incumbents. In general, the central provincial administration of Egypt is no better-known than the Roman governments of other provinces, since, unlike in the rest of Egypt, the conditions for the preservation of official papyri were very unfavourable at Alexandria. [7] : 58

    Local government in the hinterland (Koinē Greek: χώρα , romanized: khṓrā, lit. 'countryside') outside Alexandria was divided into traditional regions known as nomoi. [7] : 58 To each nome the prefect appointed a strategos (Koinē Greek: στρατηγός , romanized: stratēgós, lit. 'general') the strategoi were civilian administrators, without military functions, who performed much of the government of the country in the prefect's name and were themselves drawn from the Egyptian upper classes. [7] : 58 The strategoi in each of the mētropoleis were the senior local officials, served as intermediaries between the prefect and the villages, and were legally responsible for the administration and their own conduct while in office for several years. [7] : 58 Each strategos was supplemented by a royal scribe ( βασιλικός γραμματεύς , basilikós grammateús, 'royal secretary'). [7] : 58 These scribes were responsible for their nome's financial affairs, including administration of all property, land, land revenues, and temples, and what remains of their record-keeping is unparalleled in the ancient world for its completeness and complexity. [7] : 58 The royal scribes could act as proxy for the strategoi, but each reported directly to Alexandria, where dedicated financial secretaries – appointed for each individual nome – oversaw the accounts: an eklogistes and a graphon ton nomon. [7] : 58 The eklogistes was responsible for general financial affairs while the graphon ton nomon likely dealt with matters relating to the Idios Logos. [7] : 58–59

    The nomoi were grouped traditionally into those of Upper and Lower Egypt, the two divisions each being known as an "epistrategy" after the chief officer, the epistrategos ( ἐπιστράτηγος , epistratēgós, 'over-general'), each of whom was also a Roman procurator. Soon after the Roman annexation, a new epistrategy was formed, encompassing the area just south of Memphis and the Faiyum region and named "the Heptanomia and the Arsinoite nome". [7] : 58 In the Nile Delta however, power was wielded by two of the epistrategoi. [7] : 58 The epistrategos's role was mainly to mediate between the prefect in Alexandria and the strategoi in the mētropoleis, and they had few specific administrative duties, performing a more general function. [7] : 58 Their salary was sexagenarian – 60,000 sesterces annually. [7] : 58

    Each village or kome ( κώμη , kṓmē) was served by a village scribe ( κωμογραμματεύς , kōmogrammateús, 'secretary of the kome'), whose term, possibly paid, was usually held for three years. [7] : 59 Each, to avoid conflicts of interest, was appointed to a community away from their home village, as they were required to inform the strategoi and epistrategoi of the names of persons due to perform unpaid public service as part of the liturgy system. [7] : 59 They were required to be literate and had various duties as official clerks. [7] : 59 Other local officials drawn from the liturgy system served for a year in their home kome they included the practor ( πράκτωρ , práktōr, 'executor'), who collected certain taxes, as well as security officers, granary officials ( σιτολόγοι , sitologoi, 'grain collectors'), public cattle drivers ( δημόσιοι kτηνοτρόφοι , dēmósioi ktēnotróphoi, 'cattleherds of the demos'), and cargo supervisors ( ἐπίπλοοι , epiploöi). [7] : 59 Other liturgical officials were responsible for other specific aspects of the economy: a suite of officials was each responsible for arranging supplies of particular necessity in the course of the prefect's official tours. [7] : 59 The liturgy system extended to most aspects of Roman administration by the reign of Trajan ( r . 98–117 ), though constant efforts were made by people eligible for such duties to escape their imposition. [7] : 59

    The reforms of the early 4th century had established the basis for another 250 years of comparative prosperity in Aegyptus, at a cost of perhaps greater rigidity and more oppressive state control. Aegyptus was subdivided for administrative purposes into a number of smaller provinces, and separate civil and military officials were established the praeses and the dux. The province was under the supervision of the count of the Orient (i.e. the vicar) of the diocese headquartered in Antioch in Syria.

    Emperor Justinian abolished the Diocese of Egypt in 538 and re-combined civil and military power in the hands of the dux with a civil deputy (praeses) as a counterweight to the power of the church authorities. All pretense of local autonomy had by then vanished. The presence of the soldiery was more noticeable, its power and influence more pervasive in the routine of town and village life.

    The Roman army was among the most homogenous Roman structures, and the organization of the army in Egypt differed little from its organization elsewhere in the Roman Empire. The Roman legions were recruited from Roman citizens and the Roman auxilia recruited from the non-citizen subjects. [8] : 69

    Egypt was unique in that its garrison was commanded by the praefectus Aegypti, an official of the equestrian order, rather than, as in other provinces, a governor of the senatorial class. [8] : 75 This distinction was stipulated in a law promulgated by Augustus, and, because it was unthinkable that an equestrian should command a senator, the commanders of the legions in Egypt were themselves, uniquely, of equestrian rank. [8] : 75 As a result of these strictures, the governor was rendered unable to build up a rival power base (as Mark Antony had been able to do), while the military legati commanding the legions were career soldiers, formerly centurions with the senior rank of primus pilus, rather than politicians whose military experience was limited to youthful service as a military tribune. [8] : 75 Beneath the praefectus Aegypti, the overall commander of legions and auxilia stationed in Egypt was styled in Latin: praefectus stratopedarches, from the Greek: στρατοπεδάρχης , romanized: stratopedárchēs, lit. 'camp commander', or as Latin: praefectus exercitu qui est in Aegypto, lit. 'prefect of the army in Egypt'. [8] : 75–76 Collectively, these forces were known as the exercitus Aegyptiacus, 'Army of Egypt'. [8] : 76

    The Roman garrison was concentrated at Nicopolis, a district of Alexandria, rather than at the strategic heart of the country around Memphis and Egyptian Babylon. [9] : 37 Alexandria was the Mediterranean's second city in the early Roman empire, the cultural capital of the Greek East and rival to Rome under Antony and Cleopatra. [9] : 37 Because only a few papyri are preserved from the area, little more is known about the legionaries' everyday life than is known from other provinces of the empire, and little evidence exists of the military practices of the prefect and his officers. [8] : 75 Most papyri have been found in Middle Egypt's villages, and the texts are primarily concerned with local affairs, rarely giving space to high politics and military matters. [8] : 70 Not much is known about the military encampments of the Roman imperial period, since many are underwater or have been built over and because Egyptian archaeology has traditionally taken little interest in Roman sites. [8] : 70 Because they supply a record of soldiers' service history, six bronze Roman military diplomas dating between 83 and 206 are the main source of documentary evidence for the auxilia in Egypt these inscribed certificates rewarded 25 or 26 years of military service in the auxilia with Roman citizenship and the right of conubium. [8] : 70–71 That the army was more Greek-speaking than in other provinces is certain. [8] : 75

    The heart of the Army of Egypt was the Nicopolis garrison at Alexandria, with at least one legion permanently stationed there, along with a strong force of auxilia cavalry. [8] : 71 These troops would both guard the residence of the praefectus Aegypti against uprisings among the Alexandrians and were poised to march quickly to any point at the prefect's command. [8] : 71–72 At Alexandria too was the Classis Alexandrina, the provincial fleet of the Roman Navy in Egypt. [8] : 71 In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, there were around 8,000 soldiers at Alexandria, a fraction of the megalopolis's huge population. [8] : 72

    Initially, the legionary garrison of Roman Egypt consisted of three legions: the Legio III Cyrenaica, the Legio XXII Deiotariana, and one other legion. [8] : 70 The station and identity of this third legion is not known for sure, and it is not known precisely when it was withdrawn from Egypt, though it was certainly before 23 AD, during the reign of Tiberius ( r . 14–37 ). [8] : 70 In the reign of Tiberius's step-father and predecessor Augustus, the legions had been stationed at Nicopolis and at Egyptian Babylon, and perhaps at Thebes. [8] : 70 After August 119, the III Cyrenaica was ordered out of Egypt the XXII Deiotariana was transferred sometime afterwards, and before 127/8, the Legio II Traiana arrived, to remain as the main component of the Army of Egypt for two centuries. [8] : 70

    After some fluctuations in the size and positions of the auxilia garrison in the early decades of Roman Egypt, relating to the conquest and pacification of the country, the auxilia contingent was mostly stable during the Principate, increasing somewhat towards the end of the 2nd century, and with some individual formations remaining in Egypt for centuries at a time. [8] : 71 Three or four alae of cavalry were stationed in Egypt, each ala numbering around 500 horsemen. [8] : 71 There were between seven and ten cohortes of auxilia infantry, each cohors about 500 hundred strong, although some were cohortes equitatae – mixed units of 600 men, with infantry and cavalry in a roughly 4:1 ratio. [8] : 71 Besides the auxilia stationed at Alexandria, at least three detachments permanently garrisoned the southern border, on the Nile's First Cataract around Philae and Syene (Aswan), protecting Egypt from enemies to the south and guarding against rebellion in the Thebaid. [8] : 72

    Besides the main garrison at Alexandrian Nicopolis and the southern border force, the disposition of the rest of the Army of Egypt is not clear, though many soldiers are known to have been stationed at various outposts (praesidia), including those defending roads and remote natural resources from attack. [8] : 72 Roman detachments, centuriones, and beneficiarii maintained order in the Nile Valley, but about their duties little is known, as little evidence survives, though they were, in addition to the strategoi of the nomoi, the prime local representatives of the Roman state. [8] : 73 Archaeological work led by Hélène Cuvigny has revealed many ostraca (inscribed ceramic fragments) which give unprecedently detailed information on the lives of soldiers stationed in the Eastern Desert along the Coptos–Myos Hormos road and at the imperial granite quarry at Mons Claudianus. [8] : 72 Another Roman outpost, known from an inscription, existed on Farasan, the chief island of the Red Sea's Farasan Islands off the west coast of the Arabian Peninsula. [8] : 72

    As in other provinces, many of the Roman soldiers in Egypt were recruited locally, not only among the non-citizen auxilia, but among the legionaries as well, who were required to have Roman citizenship. [8] : 73 An increasing proportion of the Army of Egypt was of local origin in the reign of the Flavian dynasty, with an even higher proportion – as many as three quarters of legionaries – under the Severan dynasty. [8] : 73 Of these, around one third were themselves the offspring (Latin: castrenses, lit. 'camp-men') of soldiers, raised in the canabae settlements surrounding the army's base at Nicopolis, while only about one eighth were Alexandrian citizens. [8] : 73 Egyptians were given Roman-style Latin names on joining the army unlike in other provinces, indigenous names are nearly unknown among the local soldiers of the Army of Egypt. [8] : 74

    One of the surviving military diplomas lists the soldier's birthplace as Coptos, while others demonstrate that soldiers and centurions from elsewhere retired to Egypt: auxilia veterans from Chios and Hippo Regius (or Hippos) are named. [8] : 73–74 Evidence from the 2nd century suggests most auxilia came from Egypt, with others drawn from the provinces of Africa and Syria, and from Roman Asia Minor. [8] : 73–74 Auxilia from the Balkans, who served throughout the Roman army, also served in Egypt: many Dacian names are known from ostraca in the Trajanic period, perhaps connected with the recruitment of Dacians during and after Trajan's Dacian Wars they are predominantly cavalrymen's names, with some infantrymen's. [8] : 74 Thracians, common in the army in other Roman provinces, were also present, and an auxiliary diploma from the Egyptian garrison has been found in Thracia. [8] : 74 Two auxilia diplomas connect Army of Egypt veterans with Syria, including one naming Apamea. [8] : 74 Large numbers of recruits mustered in Asia Minor may have supplemented the garrison after the Kitos War against a Jewish uprising in Egypt and Syria. [8] : 74

    The social structure in Aegyptus under the Romans was both unique and complicated. On the one hand, the Romans continued to use many of the same organizational tactics that were in place under the leaders of the Ptolemaic period. At the same time, the Romans saw the Greeks in Aegyptus as “Egyptians”, an idea that both the native Egyptians and Greeks would have rejected. [10] To further compound the whole situation, Jews, who themselves were very Hellenized overall, had their own communities, separate from both Greeks and native Egyptians. [10]

    The Romans began a system of social hierarchy that revolved around ethnicity and place of residence. Other than Roman citizens, a Greek citizen of one of the Greek cities had the highest status, and a rural Egyptian would be in the lowest class. [11] In between those classes was the metropolite, who was almost certainly of Hellenic origin. Gaining citizenship and moving up in ranks was very difficult and there were not many available options for ascendancy. [12]

    One of the routes that many followed to ascend to another caste was through enlistment in the army. Although only Roman citizens could serve in the legions, many Greeks found their way in. The native Egyptians could join the auxiliary forces and attain citizenship upon discharge. [13] The different groups had different rates of taxation based on their social class. The Greeks were exempt from the poll tax, while Hellenized inhabitants of the nome capitals were taxed at a lower rate than the native Egyptians, who could not enter the army, and paid the full poll tax. [14]

    The social structure in Aegyptus is very closely linked to the governing administration. Elements of centralized rule that were derived from the Ptolemaic period lasted into the 4th century. One element in particular was the appointment of strategoi to govern the ‘nomes’, the traditional administrative divisions of Egypt. Boulai, or town councils, in Egypt were only formally constituted by Septimius Severus. It was only under Diocletian later in the 3rd century that these boulai and their officers acquired important administrative responsibilities for their nomes. The Augustan takeover introduced a system of compulsory public service, which was based on poros (property or income qualification), which was wholly based on social status and power. The Romans also introduced the poll tax which was similar to tax rates that the Ptolemies levied, but the Romans gave special low rates to citizens of mētropoleis. [15] The city of Oxyrhynchus had many papyri remains that contain much information on the subject of social structure in these cities. This city, along with Alexandria, shows the diverse set-up of various institutions that the Romans continued to use after their takeover of Egypt.

    Just as under the Ptolemies, Alexandria and its citizens had their own special designations. The capital city enjoyed a higher status and more privileges than the rest of Egypt. Just as it was under the Ptolemies, the primary way of becoming a citizen of Roman Alexandria was through showing when registering for a deme that both parents were Alexandrian citizens. Alexandrians were the only Egyptians that could obtain Roman citizenship. [16]

    If a common Egyptian wanted to become a Roman citizen he would first have to become an Alexandrian citizen. The Augustan period in Egypt saw the creation of urban communities with “Hellenic” landowning elites. These landowning elites were put in a position of privilege and power and had more self-administration than the Egyptian population. Within the citizenry, there were gymnasiums that Greek citizens could enter if they showed that both parents were members of the gymnasium based on a list that was compiled by the government in 4–5 AD. [17]

    The candidate for the gymnasium would then be let into the ephebus. There was also the council of elders known as the gerousia. This council of elders did not have a boulai to answer to. All of this Greek organization was a vital part of the metropolis and the Greek institutions provided an elite group of citizens. The Romans looked to these elites to provide municipal officers and well-educated administrators. [17] These elites also paid lower poll-taxes than the local native Egyptians, fellahin. It is well documented that Alexandrians in particular were able to enjoy lower tax-rates on land. [18]

    These privileges even extended to corporal punishments. Romans were protected from this type of punishment while native Egyptians were whipped. Alexandrians, on the other hand, had the privilege of merely being beaten with a rod. [19] Although Alexandria enjoyed the greatest status of the Greek cities in Egypt, it is clear that the other Greek cities, such as Antinoöpolis, enjoyed privileges very similar to the ones seen in Alexandria. [20] All of these changes amounted to the Greeks being treated as an ally in Egypt and the native Egyptians were treated as a conquered race. [ citation needed ]

    The Gnomon of the Idios Logos shows the connection between law and status. It lays out the revenues it deals with, mainly fines and confiscation of property, to which only a few groups were apt. The Gnomon also confirms that a freed slave takes his former master's social status. The Gnomon demonstrates the social controls that the Romans had in place through monetary means based on status and property.

    6e. Gladiators, Chariots, and the Roman Games

    Two men ready their weapons. An excited crowd of Romans cheer loudly in anticipation. Both combatants realize full well that this day might be their last. They are gladiators, men who fight to the death for the enjoyment of others.

    As the two gladiators circle each other, each knows that his objective is to maim or trap his opponent rather than to kill him quickly. What's more, the fight must last long enough to please the crowd.

    The gladiators jab swords and swing maces. They sweat in the hot sun. Sand and dirt fly. Suddenly, one gladiator traps the other with a net and poises to kill him with a three-pronged trident. The victor waits for a sign from the crowd. If the losing gladiator has put up a good fight, the crowd might choose to spare his life &mdash and the vanquished gladiator will live to fight another day. But if the crowd is dissatisfied with the losing fighter &mdash as was usually the case &mdash its dissatisfaction meant slaughter.

    In ancient Rome, death had become a form of entertainment.

    Let the Games Begin

    Before fighting, gladiators had to swear the following oath: "I will endure to be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, and to be killed by the sword."

    The Etruscans of northern Italy originally held public games, ( ludi ), which featured such events as gladiator battles and chariot races, as a sacrifice to the gods.

    The Romans continued the practice, holding games roughly 10 to 12 times in an average year. Paid for by the emperor, the games were used to keep the poor and unemployed entertained and occupied. The emperor hoped to distract the poor from their poverty in the hopes that they would not revolt.

    Over time, the games became more spectacular and elaborate as emperors felt compelled to outdo the previous year's competitons. The games involved more participants, occurred more frequently, and became more expensive and more outlandish.

    The Coliseum

    In Rome, the gladiatorial contests were held in the Coliseum, a huge stadium that first opened in 80 C.E. Located in the middle of the city, the Coliseum was circular in shape with three levels of arches around the outside. In height, the Coliseum was as tall as a modern 12-story building it held 50,000 spectators.

    Like many modern professional sports stadiums, the Coliseum had box seats for the wealthy and powerful. The upper level was reserved for the commoners. Under the floor of the Coliseum was a labyrinth of rooms, hallways, and cages where weapons were stored and animals and gladiators waited for their turn to perform.

    The Coliseum was also watertight and could be flooded to hold naval battles. Special drains allowed water to be pumped in and released. But, naval battles were rarely held there because the water caused serious damage to the basic structure of the Coliseum.

    The Coliseum wasn't the only amphitheater in ancient Rome there were several scattered throughout the entire empire. The amphitheater pictured above is in Tunisia, Africa.

    The gladiators themselves were usually slaves, criminals, or prisoners of war. Occasionally, the gladiators were able to fight for their freedom. Criminals who were sentenced to death were sometimes thrown into the arena unarmed to serve their sentence. Some people, including women, actually volunteered to be gladiators.

    They were willing to risk death for the possibility of fame and glory. Many gladiators went to special schools that trained them how to fight. A few gladiators boxed. They used metal gloves to increase cutting and bleeding.

    Some gladiatorial contests included animals such as bears, rhinos, tigers, elephants, and giraffes. Most often, hungry animals fought other hungry animals. But sometimes hungry animals fought against gladiators in contests called venationes ("wild beast hunts"). On rare occasions, the animals were allowed to maul and eat a live human who was tied to a stake.

    This relief sculpture from the 2nd century C.E. illustrates what a chariot race in the Circus Maximus might have looked like. The competitors completed seven intense laps in front of a crowd of 300,000.

    Bread and Circuses

    Roman games included other type of equestrian events. Some races with horses and riders resemble today's thoroughbred horseracing. In one type of race, riders began the competition on horseback but later dismounted and ran on foot to the finish.

    The PLO Is Born

    In 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formedਏor the purpose of establishing a Palestinian Arab state on the land previously administered under the British Mandate, and which the PLO considered to be occupied illegitimately by the State of Israel.

    Although the PLO was originally dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel as a means of attaining its goal of Palestinian statehood, in the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PLO accepted Israel&aposs right to exist in exchange for formal recognition of the PLO by Israel𠅊 high water mark in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

    In 1969, the well-known Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat became the Chairman of the PLO and held that title until he died in 2004.

    Assorted References

    The Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age) in Palestine was first fully examined by the British archaeologist Dorothy Garrod in her excavations of caves on the slopes of Mount Carmel in 1929–34. The finds showed that at…

    …large numbers of Jews to Palestine in the 20th century and the creation of the State of Israel (1948) in a formerly Arab region aroused new currents of hostility within the Arab world. Because the Arabs are Semites, their hostility to the State of Israel was primarily political (or anti-Zionist)…

    …battles in the history of Palestine. The Arabs, who under Khālid ibn al-Walīd had conquered Damascus in ad 635, were forced to leave the city when they were threatened by a large Byzantine army under Theodorus Trithurius. Khālid concentrated his forces south of the Yarmūk River, and on August 20,…

    …Israelite federation of tribes in Palestine. The treaty form in written texts was highly developed and flexible but usually exhibited the following structure: preamble, historical prologue, stipulations, provisions for deposit and public reading, witnesses, and curses and blessings formulas. (1) The preamble names the overlord who grants the treaty-covenant to…

    …ensured the Crusaders’ occupation of Palestine. Having fulfilled their vows of pilgrimage, most of the Crusaders departed for home, leaving the problem of governing the conquered territories to the few who remained. Initially, there was disagreement concerning the nature of the government to be established, and some held that the…

    …army at Ḥaṭṭīn in the Holy Land in July 1187 and the subsequent fall of Jerusalem sent a great shock through the West and inspired the Third Crusade. Frederick took the cross the kings of England and France followed suit. Frederick Barbarossa drowned in the Saleph River in Anatolia on…

    …successive waves of peoples from Palestine, who retained their own material culture. Starting with the Instruction for Merikare, Egyptian texts warn against the dangers of infiltration of this sort, and its occurrence shows a weakening of government. There may also have been a rival dynasty, called the 14th, at Xois…

    …to back the Arabs in Palestine. Negotiations with Britain, undertaken by al-Nuqrāshī and (after February 1946) by his successor, Ṣidqī, broke down over the British refusal to rule out eventual independence for the Sudan. Egypt referred the dispute to the United Nations (UN) in July 1947 but failed to win…

    …League of Nations mandate of Palestine under British rule. Before this mandate ended, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in November 1947 accepted a plan for the Arab-Jewish partition of Palestine under which the town of Gaza and an area of surrounding territory were to be allotted to…

    …independent Islamic state in historical Palestine. Founded in 1987, Hamas opposed the secular approach of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and rejected attempts to cede any part of Palestine.

    Palestine in Jesus’ day was part of the Roman Empire, which controlled its various territories in a number of ways. In the East (eastern Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt), territories were governed either by kings who were “friends and allies” of Rome (often called…

    …greater part of Syria and Palestine under Muslim rule.

    … and the future status of Palestinians in Jordan. About a year later, Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in which Hussein was recognized as the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem.

    …Arabs of Syria, he attacked Palestine at the end of 598. King Jehoiakim of Judah had rebelled, counting on help from Egypt. According to the chronicle, Jerusalem was taken on March 16, 597. Jehoiakim had died during the siege, and his son, King Johoiachin, together with at least 3,000 Jews,…

    …9th millennium bc , especially in Palestine, where more excavating has been done in early sites than in any other country of the Middle East. Many bone sickle handles and flint sickle edges dating from between c. 9000 and 7000 bc have been found in Palestinian sites.

    Palestine was to be placed under an international regime. In compensation, the Russian gains were extended (April–May 1916) to include the Ottoman provinces of Trabzon, Erzurum, Van, and Bitlis in eastern Asia Minor. By the London Agreement (April 26, 1915), Italy was promised the Dodecanese…

    …descendants, who lived in mandated Palestine before the creation there of the State of Israel in 1948. It was formed in 1964 to centralize the leadership of various Palestinian groups that previously had operated as clandestine resistance movements. It came into prominence only after the Six-Day War of June 1967,…

    …some 2,000,000 refugees from the Palestine mandate who were scattered around the Arab world and from 1968 led by Yāsir ʿArafāt, was also divided between old families of notables, whose authority dated back to Ottoman times, and young middle-class or fedayeen factions anxious to exert pressure on Israel and the…

    Discontent in Palestine intensified after 1920, when the Conference of San Remo awarded the British government a mandate to control Palestine. With its formal approval by the League of Nations in 1922, this mandate incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which provided for both the establishment of…

    …on the southern coast of Palestine in the 12th century bce , about the time of the arrival of the Israelites. According to biblical tradition (Deuteronomy 2:23 Jeremiah 47:4), the Philistines came from Caphtor (possibly Crete, although there is no archaeological evidence of a Philistine occupation of the island). The first…

    Lebanon, and Palestine into various French- and British-administered areas. Negotiations were begun in November 1915, and the final agreement took its name from the chief negotiators from Britain and France, Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot. Sergey Dimitriyevich Sazonov was also present to represent Russia, the third…

    …in 1948 the withdrawal from Palestine, which coincided with the proclamation of the State of Israel. It has been argued that the orderly and dignified ending of the British Empire, beginning in the 1940s and stretching into the 1960s, was Britain’s greatest international achievement. However, like the notion of national…

    …by the Jewish community in Palestine to be a legal basis for the establishment of Israel, and which was rejected by the Arab community—was succeeded almost immediately by violence.

    …Arab and Israeli aspirations in Palestine. Within its present boundaries, it represents the portion of the former mandate retained in 1948 by the Arab forces that entered Palestine after the departure of the British. The borders and status of the area were established by the Jordanian-Israeli armistice of April 3,…

    …Declaration promised “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” albeit without prejudice to “the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.” Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour was persuaded that this action was in British interest by the energetic appeals of Chaim Weizmann, but in the…

    Having assumed command in Egypt (see above The Egyptian frontiers, 1915–July 1917), Allenby transferred his headquarters from Cairo to the Palestinian front and devoted the summer of 1917 to preparing a serious offensive against the Turks. On the Turkish side, Falkenhayn, now…

    …troops be sent on into Palestine before any further landings. Iraqi troops were then concentrated around the British air base at Ḥabbānīyah, west of Baghdad and on May 2 the British commander there opened hostilities, lest the Iraqis should attack first. Having won the upper hand at Ḥabbānīyah and been…

    …emigrants in agricultural colonies in Palestine. After the Russian pogroms of 1881, Leo Pinsker had written a pamphlet, “Auto-Emanzipation,” an appeal to western European Jews to assist in the establishment of colonies in Palestine. When Herzl read it some years later, he commented in his diary that, if he had…

    …a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews (Hebrew: Eretz Yisraʾel, “the Land of Israel”). Though Zionism originated in eastern and central Europe in the latter part of the 19th century, it is in many ways a continuation of the ancient attachment of the Jews and…


    …conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Throughout his years as U.S. secretary of state, George Shultz had tried to promote the peace process in the Middle East by brokering direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Such talks would require the PLO to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel’s…

    …have been immigrating to this area since the late 19th century. Differing in ethnic origin and culture, they brought with them languages and customs from a variety of countries. The Jewish community today includes survivors of the Holocaust, offspring of those survivors, and émigrés escaping anti-Semitism. The revival of Hebrew…

    homeland for Jews in Palestine. When that former Ottoman province became a British mandate under the League of Nations in 1922, it contained about 700,000 people, of whom only 58,000 were Jews. By the end of the 1920s, however, the Jewish community had tripled, and, with the encouragement of…

    …High Command and elevated the Palestinian refugees (scattered among several Arab states since 1948) to a status approaching sovereignty, with their own army and headquarters in the Gaza Strip. Syria likewise sponsored a terrorist organization, al-Fatah, whose raids against Jewish settlements provoked Israeli military reprisals inside Jordan and Lebanon. Syria…

    …majority of the Jews in Palestine from 1920 to 1948. Organized to combat the revolts of Palestinian Arabs against the Jewish settlement of Palestine, it early came under the influence of the Histadrut (“General Federation of Labour”). Although it was outlawed by the British Mandatory authorities and was poorly armed,…

    …Jewish right-wing underground movement in Palestine, founded in 1931. At first supported by many nonsocialist Zionist parties, in opposition to the Haganah, it became in 1936 an instrument of the Revisionist Party, an extreme nationalist group that had seceded from the World Zionist Organization and whose policies called for the…

    …for peace negotiations with the Palestinians. In January 2011 Barak and four Labour members of the Knesset split away from Labour, forming a new party that remained in the ruling coalition. The remaining Labour members of the Knesset joined the opposition. In September 2011 Shelly Yachimovich was elected to lead…

    …major portions of land to Palestinian control and dismantling Israeli settlements in the territories that Israel had conquered in 1967. However, in subsequent years the party grew increasingly divided over its policies concerning a two-state solution. In the early 21st century it adopted a policy opposing the establishment of a…

    …the potential Arab state in Palestine according to the United Nations partition resolution of Nov. 29, 1947. When the resolution was rejected by the Arab states, Lod was occupied by the invading Arab Legion of Jordan. The Israel Defense Forces attacked and captured the city on July 12, 1948 since…

    …spawned three diplomatic tracks: Israeli–Palestinian discussions on an interim settlement bilateral talks between Israel, on the one hand, and Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, on the other and multilateral conferences designed to support the first two tracks. Syria’s President Assad signalled a new flexibility when he first used the word…

    …signed between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s with the exception of East Jerusalem, Shas has steadfastly opposed the building of Israeli settlements in areas conquered by Israel in 1967, and, though it supports autonomy for the Palestinians, Shas has opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state.

    …Israel”), Zionist extremist organization in Palestine, founded in 1940 by Avraham Stern (1907–42) after a split in the right-wing underground movement Irgun Zvai Leumi.

    Role of

    …armies occupied the region of Palestine due west of the Jordan River, which came to be called the West Bank, and captured east Jerusalem, including the Old City. Two years later he annexed the West Bank territory into the kingdom—thereupon changing the name of the country to Jordan. That annexation…

    …home for world Jewry in Palestine, gave great impetus to the establishment of the State of Israel.

    …support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It was made in a letter from Arthur James Balfour, the British foreign secretary, to Lionel Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild (of Tring), a leader of the Anglo-Jewish community. Though the precise meaning of the correspondence…

    …to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In June 1982 his government mounted an invasion of Lebanon in an effort to oust the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from its bases there. The PLO was driven from Lebanon, but the deaths of numerous Palestinian…

    …nation was to immigrate to Palestine and settle there as farmers. In 1906 the 20-year-old Gruen arrived in Palestine and for several years worked as a farmer in the Jewish agricultural settlements in the coastal plain and in Galilee, the northern region of Palestine. There he adopted the ancient Hebrew…

    Appointed mediator in Palestine by the UN Security Council on May 20, 1948, Bernadotte obtained the grudging acceptance by the Arab states and Israel of a UN cease-fire order, effective June 11. He soon made enemies by his proposal that Arab refugees be allowed to return to their…

    …Moses from Kadesh in southern Palestine to spy out the land of Canaan. Only Caleb and Joshua advised the Hebrews to proceed immediately to take the land for his faith Caleb was rewarded with the promise that he and his descendants should possess it (Numbers 13–14). Subsequently Caleb settled in…

    For Palestine, where he inherited conflicting pledges to Jews and Arabs, he produced in 1922 the White Paper that confirmed Palestine as a Jewish national home while recognizing continuing Arab rights. Churchill never had departmental responsibility for Ireland, but he progressed from an initial belief in…

    …establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He also served as the liaison officer with the United Nations (UN) Special Committee on Palestine in 1947 and as a member of the delegation to the General Assembly that played a critical role in the passage (1947) of the UN resolution to partition…

    …to Zionist political ambitions in Palestine.

    …and first chief rabbi of Palestine under the League of Nations mandate to Great Britain to administer Palestine.

    …and go to free the Holy Land, despite the lack of enthusiasm among his barons and his entourage. The situation in the Holy Land was critical. Jerusalem had fallen into Muslim hands on August 23, 1244, and the armies of the sultan of Egypt had seized Damascus. If aid from…

    …husband, Morris Myerson, immigrated to Palestine and joined the Merẖavya kibbutz. She became the kibbutz’s representative to the Histadrut (General Federation of Labour), the secretary of that organization’s Women’s Labour Council (1928–32), and a member of its executive committee (1934 until World War II). During the war, she emerged as…

    In post-World War I Palestine, it played an active role in the Jewish community, establishing religious schools and firmly backing the sole authority of the chief rabbinate over matters of personal status among Jews, particularly marriage and divorce.

    On expeditions in Syria and Palestine from June to December of 604, Nebuchadnezzar received the submission of local states, including Judah, and captured the city of Ashkelon. With Greek mercenaries in his armies, further campaigns to extend Babylonian control in Palestine followed in the three succeeding years. On the last…

    …expel them from Syria and Palestine. His forces recaptured Edessa shortly after his accession, invaded the important military district of Antioch in 1149, and took Damascus in 1154. Egypt was annexed by stages in 1169–71.

    …establish a Jewish state in Palestine—“fulfilling prophecy and bringing on the end of the world”—won wide support among both Jewish and Christian officials but was thought by some to be motivated either by commercial interests or by a desire to strengthen Britain’s position in the Near East.

    …was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (January 1964), highlighted by his historic meeting with the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, in Jerusalem. At the end of that same year, he went to India, becoming the first pope to visit Asia. The following year (October 4, 1965), in the…

    …Crusade against Saladin in the Holy Land (the Third Crusade), and Philip now did likewise. Before his departure, he made the so-called Testament of 1190 to provide for the government of his kingdom in his absence. On his way to Palestine, he met Richard in Sicily, where they promptly found…

    When Pompey (106–48 bce ) invaded Palestine in 63 bce , Antipater supported his campaign and began a long association with Rome, from which both he and Herod were to benefit. Six years later Herod met Mark Antony, whose lifelong friend he was to remain. Julius Caesar also favoured the family he…

    …first British high commissioner for Palestine (1920–25), carrying out that delicate assignment with varying but considerable success.

    Palestine was destined to be an important centre because of its strategic location for trade by land and sea. It alone connects Asia and Africa by land, and, along with Egypt, it is the only area with ports on the Atlantic-Mediterranean and Red Sea–Indian Ocean…

    What Did This Masterpiece Look Like?

    Early theologians like Origen and Augustine are believed to have a clearer idea of what Noah’s Ark may have looked like.

    Catholic Theologian, Alfonso Tostada wrote an account in the 15th century describing every single detail about the ark, and a century later, French mathematician, Johannes Buteo aimed to lay out the ark’s dimensions, which many contemporary scholars subscribed to.

    Egypt Virtual Jewish History Tour

    Egypt, centered along the banks of the River Nile from the Mediterranean coast southward, is a land rich in both biblical and contemporary Jewish history. A Jewish community continuously functioned in Egypt from the First Temple Period (1000-586 BCE) to the 20th century. In 1948, the Jewish population of Egypt reached as high as 75,000. Today, the Jewish community numbers approximately 16, ten in Alexandria and six in Cairo.

    The Hellenistic Period

    Ptolemic Period

    Egyptian Jewry traced its history back to the time of Jeremiah (Letter of Aristeas, 35), but it was not until the conquest of Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.E. that the second great wave of Jewish emigration to Egypt began. Alexander&rsquos successors in Egypt, the Ptolemid dynasty, attracted many Jews early in their reign to settle in Egypt as tradesmen, farmers, mercenaries, and government officials. During their reign Egyptian Jewry enjoyed both tolerance and prosperity. They became significant in culture and literature, and by the first century C.E., accounted for an eighth of the population of Egypt. The majority of the Jews of Egypt lived, as the Greeks, in Alexandria, but there were also very many in the ehora, the provincial districts outside Alexandria.

    Main Jewish communities in Egypt during the Hellenistic period

    Ptolemy I Soter (323&ndash283) took a large number of Jewish prisoners of war in Palestine and forcibly settled them as mercenaries in Egypt to hold down the native Egyptians (ibid., 36).

    On Ptolemy I&rsquos retreat from Palestine many Jews fled with him to Egypt, where they found a haven of tolerance. Ptolemy II Philadelphus (283&ndash44) emancipated the Jews taken captive by his father and settled them on the land as cleruchs or in &ldquoJew-Camps&rdquo as Jewish military units. He was remembered by the Jews of Egypt as having instigated the translation of the Septuagint (see Letter of Aristeas Bible : Greek translation). Since Manetho &lsquos antisemitic work was written in his reign there must have been a fair number of Jews already in Egypt.

    Ptolemy III Euergetes (246&ndash221) was said to have been favorably disposed toward the Jews and to have respected their religion. Two facts confirm this. One is the number of Jews who settled in the nome of Arsinoe ( Faiyum ) in his reign, and the other is the synagogue inscription dedicated to him, declaring that he granted the rights of asylum to the synagogues (Frey, Corpus 2 pp. 374&ndash6). There is also a synagogue inscription from Schedia, which was also probably dedicated to him (Reinach in REJ, 14 (1902), 161&ndash4).

    Ptolemy IV Philopator (221&ndash203) attempted to institute a massacre of the Jews of Alexandria in 217 B.C.E., but was later reconciled with them (III Macc. 5&ndash6). During the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (181&ndash145) a marked change took place. Ptolemy VI won Jewish favor by opening up the whole of Egypt to the Jews, on whom he relied, as well as by receiving Jewish exiles from Palestine such as Onias IV, to whom he granted land to build a temple at Leontopolis (c. 161 B.C.E. Jos., Wars 1:33). The Jewish philosopher Aristobulus of Paneas was said to have advised him on Jewish affairs, and he appointed two Jews, Onias and Dositheos, to high military posts (Jos., Apion, 2:49). During the struggles of Cleopatra III (116&ndash101) with her son Ptolemy IX Lathyros (116&ndash80) the Jews of Egypt sided with the Queen, thus earning her esteem but alienating the Greek population from them (Ant. 13:287). She appointed two Jewish brothers, Ananias and Helkias, as commanders of her army.

    Social & Economic Developments

    Most of the Jews who settled in the chora were either farmers or artisans. The Ptolemies did not generally trust the native Egyptians and encouraged the Jews to enter three professions:

    (a) the army, where, as other nationalities in Egypt, they were allowed to lease plots of land from the king (called cleruchies), and were granted tax reductions
    (b) the police force, in which Jews reached high ranks (cf. the Jewish district chief of police in Frey, Corpus, 2, p. 370) and,
    (c) tax collecting (a government executive job) and sometimes in the chora, tax farming (a government administrative post see Tcherikover, Corpus nos. 107, 109, 110).

    Others were managers in the royal banks or administrators (ibid., nos. 99&ndash103, from middle of second century B.C.E.). In Alexandria there was a greater diversity of occupations and some Jews prospered in trade and commerce.

    Early in the third century B.C.E. synagogues were founded in Egypt. They are known to have existed at Alexandria, Schedia (third century B.C.E.), Alexandrou Nesou (third century B.C.E.), Crocodilopolis-Arsinoe (three: third century B.C.E., second century B.C.E., and second century C.E.), Xenephyris (second century B.C.E.), Athribis (two: third or second century B.C.E.), and Nitriae (second century B.C.E.). They were usually called &pi&rho&omicron&sigma&epsilon&upsilon&chiή or &epsilonὐ&chi&epsilonῖ&omicron&nu (from the Greek euche = prayer), and tablets were often erected dedicating the synagogue to the king and the royal family.

    At first the Jewish immigrants spoke only Aramaic, and documents from the third century and the first half of the second century B.C.E. show a widespread knowledge of Aramaic and Hebrew (cf. Frey, Corpus 2, pp. 356, 365). But from the second century on there was a rapid Hellenization. Documents were written in Greek, the Pentateuch was read in the synagogue with the Septuagint translation, and even such a writer as Philo probably knew no or little Hebrew. At first the Egyptian Jews transliterated their names into Greek, or adopted Greek names that sounded like Hebrew ones (e.g., Alcimus for Eliakim, or Jason for Joshua), but later they often adopted Greek equivalents of Hebrew names (e.g., Dositheos for Jonathan, Theodoras for Jehonathan). Gradually Egyptian Jewry adopted any Greek name (even those of foreign gods), and among the Zeno Letters only 25% of the names are Hebrew.

    In the chora the Hellenization was not so strong, but there the Jews were influenced by the native Egyptians. Documents testify to Egyptian names among the Jews, and sometimes to an ignorance of Greek (presumably these Jews spoke Egyptian). However, the chora Jews were more observant of the Sabbath and dietary laws than those of Alexandria.

    The relations between Greek and Jew was on the whole good under the Ptolemies. The Jews often sought to explain Judaism to the Greeks (cf. Aristobulus of Paneas, Philo, and others). They tried to enter the Greek gymnasium which was a sign of the cultured Greek. Cases of actual apostasy were rare that of Dositheos, son of Drimylos, who renounced Judaism to enter court, was exceptional (III Macc. 1:3).


    It used to be thought that the Jews were given equal rights with the Greeks by Alexander the Great, and that they called themselves Macedonians (Wars, 2:487&ndash88). This has been disproved by papyri where it appears that only Jews or Jewish military units, who were incorporated into Macedonian units, were termed &ldquoMacedonians&rdquo (compare Tcherikover, Corpus nos. 142 line 3 with no. 143). Since the population registered its name and racial origin, each nationality in Egypt formed a separate group through the Ptolemid period. The Jews, unlike the Greeks, were not granted a politeia (rights of free citizenship), but received a politeuma (a constitution by which they had the right to observe their ancestral laws). Individual Jews were granted citizenship occasionally by the polis or the king, or by managing to register in a gymnasium. These, however, were exceptions. From the papyri of Faiyum and Oxyrhynchus it seems that the majority of Jews did not use the right of recourse to Jewish courts, but attended Greek ones even in cases of marriage or divorce. The head of the Jewish community in Alexandria was the ethnarch , while in the chora elders held sway.

    Toward the end of the Ptolemid period Jewish-Greek relations steadily worsened. The Greeks, supported by the Egyptians, were struggling to strengthen the power of the polis, while the Jews supported the Ptolemids, first Cleopatra III (see above), and then Ptolemy XIII and Gabinius in 55 B.C.E. Papyri of 58 B.C.E. recorded some unrest in Egypt of an antisemitic nature (e.g., Tcherikover, Corpus no. 141). Josephus records that Julius Caesar was aided by Jewish clerics in Egypt when Antipater brought reinforcements from Palestine. In return for this Caesar is said to have reaffirmed the citizenship of the Alexandrian Jews in 47 B.C.E. (Ant., 14:131, 188&ndash96).

    The Roman Period

    The new administration under Augustus at first was grateful to the Jews for their support (cf. the stele of their rights set up in Alexandria Jos., Ant. 14:188), but generally it relied on the Greeks of Alexandria for help, which fact caused a great rift between the Jews and the rest of the population early in their rule. Augustus disbanded the Ptolemaic army and abolished the tax-collection system about 30 B.C.E. Both of these acts caused great economic hardships for the Jews. Few of them joined or were permitted to join the Roman army in Egypt (an exception being a centurion of 116 C.E., in Tcherikover, Corpus no. 229). Jewish tax collectors were mostly replaced by Greek government officials. The cursus honorum was closed to Jews unless they renounced their religion, which most refused to do (an exception being Tiberius Julius Alexander, prefect of Egypt). Jewish civil rights (politeuma) were endangered by Augustus&rsquo revision of the constitution of Egypt. Three classes were created:

    (a) the upper class of Romans, priests, Greek citizens of Alexandria, Naucratis, and Ptolemais, and those who had registered in the gymnasium

    (b) Egyptians, the lowest class, who paid a burdensome poll tax and

    (c) the middle class metropolitae (i.e., half-Greeks who lived in the chora), who paid the poll tax at a reduced rate.

    Augustus placed the Jew in the lowest class, forced to pay the tax. This was a blow to Jewish pride, for besides those few individual Jewish families who had received the distinction of Greek citizenship, the vast majority of Jews could no longer register in the gymnasia and had to pay the poll tax.

    From that time began a long struggle by the Alexandrian Jews to confirm their rights. The works of writers such as Josephus (Contra Apionem) and Philo (Vita Moysis 1:34) contain a defense of Alexandrian Jews&rsquo rights. The Greeks in turn approached Augustus suggesting that they would keep all non-Greeks out of the gymnasia, if he, in turn, would abolish the privileges of the Jews. Augustus refused and confirmed the Jewish ancestral rights, to the intense anger of the Greeks. Augustus abolished the post of ethnarch of Alexandria in 10&ndash12 C.E., replacing it by a gerusia of elders.

    The Greeks of Alexandria seized their opportunity with the rise of the pro-Hellenic emperor, Caius Caligula in 37 C.E. The following year they stormed the synagogues, polluted them, and set up statues of the emperor within. The prefect, Valerius Flaccus , was embarrassed and dared not remove the images of Caesar. The Jews were shut up in a ghetto and their houses plundered. Philo, who wrote In Flaccum and De Legatione on the affair, headed a Jewish delegation to Caligula to complain, but was dismissed with derision. On the assassination of Caligula in 41 C.E. the Jews of Alexandria took vengeance by instigating a massacre of the Greeks.

    The new emperor, Claudius , issued an edict in favor of the Jews in 41 C.E., abolishing the restrictions imposed at the time of the pogrom of 38 C.E., but he banned the Jews from entering the gymnasia, and refused them Greek citizenship. Much antisemitic material was written at this period in Egypt, e.g., Apion &lsquos works, and the Acts of the Alexandrian Martyrs .

    Consequently the Jews closed their ranks and became more self-conscious of their Jewish heritage. Such works were written as III Maccabees and the Wisdom of Solomon . The Jews also tended to live closer together, though no ghettos were imposed.

    In 66 C.E. the Alexandrians, in debating about a delegation to be sent to Nero, presumably to complain about the Jews, discovered several Jewish spies among themselves. Three were caught and burnt alive. The Jews rose in revolt and tried to burn the Greeks in their amphitheater, and Tiberius Julius Alexander, the prefect, crushed them mercilessly, killing more than were slain in the pogrom of 38 C.E. After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E. Onias&rsquo Temple at Leontopolis was destroyed and the fiscus judaicus imposed. However, the Egyptian Jews had to pay more than other Jews, because the Egyptian calendar provided that they pay in the first year of the fiscus (71 C.E.), two years in arrears instead of one year, as other Jews. It is estimated that they paid that year 27 million Egyptian drachmae in taxes.

    In 115 the great revolt of the Jews of Egypt, Cyrene, and Cyprus occurred (see Trajan ). The revolt was immediately crushed in Alexandria, by Marcus Rutilius Lupus, but it continued in the chora with the help of the Jews of Cyrene (in centers as Thebes, Faiyum, and Athribis). Marcius Turbo was sent by the emperor to deal with the situation, and crushed the revolt in 117. Much of Alexandria was destroyed and the revolt resulted in the virtual annihilation of Egyptian Jewry. From that time on Jews almost vanish from the chora. In Alexandria the great synagogue was destroyed, large tracts of Jewish-owned land in Heracleapolis and Oxyrhynchus were confiscated, and Jewish courts were suspended. The causes of the revolt suggested are the antisemitism of the local Greeks, and the &ldquomessianic&rdquo movement centered around Lucuas of Cyrene. The revolt spelled the end of Jewish life in Egypt for a long time. From 117 to 300 only a few Jewish names occur among the peasants in the chora.

    Second Temple Period to Muslim Conquest

    The defeat suffered by the Jews, both in Ereẓ Israel under Bar Kokhba and in the quelling of the rebellion in Egypt during the years 116&ndash117 C.E. almost crushed the Jewish communities in Egypt, especially in Alexandria. The evidence from the papyri of the presence of a large, cohesive community in Egypt, found rather abundantly before 70 C.E, diminishes, until after the year 200 C.E. it becomes almost negligible. The territory of Egypt was still a marked battleground for imperial ambitions and rebellions during this later period of the Roman Empire. The revolt of the &Beta&omicron&upsilon&kappa&omicron&lambda&omicron&iota (herdsmen) and its aftermath, finally settled by the emperor Septimus Severus (194 C.E.), left the country with its agriculture almost ruined and burdened with heavy taxes. During the latter half of the third century Egypt was again racked with internal dispute. Finally, Diocletian brought a period of relative peace to the land, reorganizing the territory into three, and later four, provinces. The later history of Egypt under the Byzantine emperors is closely tied up with the growth and predominance there of hitherto persecuted Christianity.

    Centered as it was in Alexandria, Christianity in Egypt inherited some of the classical antisemitism of the city. Clement of Alexandria mentions (Stromata, 3:63 2:45.5) the fact that there existed in the primitive church there two &ldquoGospels,&rdquo an &ldquoEgyptian Gospel&rdquo and a &ldquoHebrew Gospel&rdquo &ndash evidence of the dichotomy in the early church between gentile and Jewish Christianity, the latter being characterized in Egypt by a Gnostic tendency. By 150 C.E., however, both Orthodox and Gnostic Christianity found themselves allied with regard to the Jews. Basilides, an Alexandrian Gnostic at the end of the second century, tried to stress in Gnostic terms that Christianity is to be completely dissociated from its Jewish ancestry. An early work called the Epistle of Barnabas (c. 135 C.E.) argued for the abrogation by God of the Old Covenant (Old Testament) and the preference for an allegorical and &ldquospiritual&rdquo interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures, a tendency later adopted by Clement of Alexandria and the exegetical school of the Alexandrian, Origen (d. 253 C.E.). Another early work, found only in citations, the Kerygma Petrou, accused the Jews of angel and star worship.

    Some of the knowledge of the Jews in these times is derived from Christian sources. The martyrologies of the time, as a matter of style, brought in the Jews as the accusers. Generally though, as Baron reports (Social2, 2 (1952), 188), the early Christians got along with their Jewish neighbors. Indeed, toward 300 C.E., Jewish names begin to appear more frequently in the papyri, giving witness to a renewal of activity. There are even some Hebrew fragments found at Oxyrhynchus which speak of rashei (&ldquoheads&rdquo), benei (&ldquomembers&rdquo), and ziknei (&ldquoelders&rdquo) of the keneset (&ldquothe community&rdquo Cowley, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 2 (1915), 209ff.). An interesting feature of the Greek papyri of this period is the appearance of the name &ldquoSambathion&rdquo among both Jews and non-Jews, giving testimony to the great respect given the Sabbath among the Egyptians (for a fuller discussion cf. Tcherikover, Corpus, 3 (1964), 43&ndash56). It is true that the Jews did support the Arians in their disputes with orthodox Christianity, and patristic literature placed the Jews together with the heretics and pagans as the hated enemies of the church. This attitude later became codified into law by the Codices of the emperors Theodosius and Justinian. A pogrom and expulsion of the Jews from Alexandria by the patriarch Cyril occurred in 415 C.E. Whether or not this expulsion was fully carried out is still a moot point, since later Christian literature points to the fact that Jews were still living there (M. Chaine, in Mélanges de la Faculté orientale de l&rsquoUniversité Saint-Joseph, Beyrouth, 6 (1913), 493ff.). The Persian conquest seemed to be especially helpful to the Jews in Egypt, since they were able to receive those Jews persecuted in Syria by the emperor Heraclius. The Arab conquest in 632 saw the beginning of a new regime.

    The Arab Period

    There is little information available concerning the condition of the Jews from the Arab conquest in 640 until the end of the tenth century. In Fostat, founded by the conqueror of Egypt, ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ, a relatively large community was established, while the Jewish population probably also grew in other Egyptian cities. Ahmad ibn Ṭūlūn (ninth century), the first independent ruler of Egypt under the Muslims, seems to have favored the Jews. The historian al-Masʿūdī relates that he had a Jewish physician. Documents found in the Cairo Genizah of Fostat give evidence of the commercial ties between the Jews of Egypt and those of Kairouan (Tunisia) during the second half of the tenth century.

    The Jews of Egypt also renewed their relations with the major academies of Babylonia. It is significant for the high standard of Jewish learning in Egypt itself that Saadiah Gaon (born in Faiyum in 882) acquired his widespread culture there. At that time many Babylonian Jews settled in the principal Egyptian cities and established communities with their own synagogue and bet din. They also maintained a close relationship with the academies in their country of origin. Students traveled there to study, and religious and judicial queries were addressed to the heads of the Babylonian academies. The Palestinian and Syrian Jews who settled in Egypt acted in the same manner. They established Palestinian communities and synagogues, and they recognized the heads of the Palestinian academies, to whom they gave their material support, as their spiritual leaders. The activities of Saadiah Gaon prove the presence of large numbers of Karaites in Egypt at the time. It seems that during the ninth and tenth centuries, there was still a variety of sects in Egypt. The work Kitāb al-Anwār wa-al-Marāqib ("The Book of Lights and Watch Towers") by al-Kirkisānī , in 936 (L. Nemoy (ed.), 1 (1939), 12), mentions a sect which observed Sunday as a day of rest instead of Saturday. Members of this sect lived on the bank of the Nile, some 20 miles from Fostat (Bacher, in: JQR, 7 (1894/95) 704).

    The Fatimids

    A change in the condition of the Jews occurred with the conquest of the country by the Fatimids in 969. After the conquest by this dynasty of Shiʿites which was in rivalry with the Abbasīd caliphs, Egypt became the center of a vast and powerful kingdom, which, at the end of the tenth century, included almost all of North Africa, Syria , and Palestine . The union of all these countries brought a period of prosperity in industry and commerce from which the Jews also benefited. Of even greater importance was the characteristically tolerant attitude adopted by the Fatimids toward non-Muslim communities. They did not insist on the observance of the decrees of discrimination, such as the wearing of a distinctive sign on the garments they permitted the construction and repair of non-Muslim houses of prayer, and they even accorded financial support to the academies in Palestine. In the court of al-Muʿizz (d. 975) and his son al-ʿAzīz (975&ndash996), a Jew converted to Islam, Yaʿqūb Ibn Killis , occupied an important position and was finally appointed vizier. He was the first to hold this post under the reign of the Fatimids in Egypt. There were also Jewish physicians in the service of al-Muʿizz. The third Fatimid caliph, al-Ḥākim (996&ndash1020), founder of the Druze sect and a controversial personality, departed from the policy of tolerance toward non-Muslims, which was characteristic of his dynasty, during the second half of his reign. At first, he ordered that the Christians and Jews mark their clothes with the ghiyār ("distinctive sign" see Jewish Badge ) later, he issued orders for the destruction of their houses of prayer. He also prohibited Christians and Jews from riding horses and purchasing slaves and maidservants. Many Christians and Jews converted to Islam in order to escape these degrading decrees, while others emigrated to different countries, such as Yemen and Byzantium . However, after some time, al-Ḥākim revoked his decrees and authorized the converts to return to their former religion.

    In 1036, the grandson of al-Ḥākim, al-Mustanṣir, ascended to the throne. A Jewish merchant, who had previously sold al-Mustanṣir's mother to the caliph al-Ẓāhir, then wielded much influence in the court. This merchant Abu Saʿd (in Hebrew, Abraham b. Yashar) was also named "al-Tustari" after his city of origin in Persia. He and his brother, Abu Naṣr Ḥesed, endeavored to protect their coreligionists by all available means. According to one opinion, Abu Saʿd and his brother were Rabbanites, while according to another they were Karaites . In 1047 Abu Saʿd was killed, as was his brother, Abu Naṣr, some time later. The economic stratification of Egyptian Jewry during the Fatimid period was very diversified. According to the lists of taxpayers and of charitable donators (such as the one published by E. Strauss in Zion, 7 (1941/42), 142ff.), the majority were engaged in various trades and a minority in commerce. At that time, the transit trade of products from India and the Far East became an important source of income in Egypt and the Jews played an active role in this commerce. The Fatimid government encouraged these commercial ties with India and protected the seaways and overland routes. The friendly attitude of the Fatimids was also expressed by the granting of a large degree of autonomy to the merchants.

    At the beginning of their rule, the office of nagid was established. The first nagid seems to have been a physician in the service of the caliph al-Muʿizz. In later generations, the office of nagid was also filled by men employed in the court, especially as court physicians. The Fatimid dynasty began to weaken at the end of the 11 th century, but the condition of the Jews did not worsen. A Jewish family which during several generations produced scholars and physicians held high positions at the royal court at that time. Judah b. Saadiah was probably court physician and from 1065 acted as nagid. He was followed by his younger brother Mevorakh , who was also court physician and nagid from 1079&ndash1110. During his period of office David b. Daniel b. Azariah, a scion of a family of Babylonian exilarchs, arrived in Egypt. David made an effort to secure the leadership of the Jewish population and succeeded in deposing Mevorakh for a short while. Moses, the elder son of Mevorakh, was nagid from 1110&ndash1140. At that period a Christian favorite of the regent al-Afḍal endeavored to remove the Jews from government service (see Neubauer, in JQR, 9 (1896/97), 29&ndash30). Fragments from the Genizah mention another enemy who plotted against the Jews until Yakhin b. Nethanel, who was influential in the royal court, succeeded in saving them. On the other hand, Abu al-Munajjā , one of the Jewish courtiers, was responsible for the administration of the "Eastern" province. In the middle of the 12 th century Samuel b. Hananiah was court physician. He was a distinguished scholar and also acted as nagid from 1142 to 1159. His poems in honor of his guest, Judah Halevi , are well known.

    During this period the Jews of Egypt prospered in every sphere. Benjamin of Tudela , who was in Egypt in c. 1171, gives much information concerning the prevailing conditions in the communities he visited. On the basis of his information and other relevant data, the number of Jews in Egypt at that time has been estimated at between 12,000 and 20,000 (see Neustadt-Ayalon in Zion, 2 (1937), 221 Ashtor, in JQR, 50 (1959/60), 60 and JJS, 18 (1967), 9&ndash42 19 (1968), 1&ndash22). After the death of Samuel b. Hananiah, there was a crisis within the Jewish community of Egypt. An ambitious individual named Zuta , who succeeded in being appointed nagid for a short while during the lifetime of Samuel b. Hananiah, exploited his connections to secure the office for a second time, after Samuel's death, and later a third time. As a result of Zuta's activities, the prestige attached to the office of nagid declined and for a long time there was no new appointment. At that time the heads of the Fostat academy became the leading authorities of Egyptian Jewry an academy had existed in Fostat from at least the end of the tenth century. During the reign of al-Ḥākim the academy in the Egyptian capital was headed by Shemariah b. Elhanan , who had studied in Babylonia in his youth. He was succeeded by his son, Elhanan b. Shemariah . During the first half of the 12 th century, Maẓli'aḥ b. Solomon Ha-Kohen , a member of the family of the Palestinian academy heads, arrived in Egypt. He founded an academy in Fostat, whose leaders were referred to as geonim. They appointed dayyanim and gave authority to their activities. The authority of these geonim was recognized even outside Egypt, especially in South Arabia and Aden . In the early 1150s Abu Saʿīd Joshua b. Dosa headed the academy in Fostat.

    With the end of the Fatimid dynasty, orthodox Islam again became the official religion in Egypt. Saladin (Salāḥal-Dīn) and his successors made their religiosity conspicuous and, among other actions, Saladin renewed the discriminatory decrees against the non-Muslim communities. However, both he and his successors were by no means fanatical and they did not persecute non-Muslims. His successors, the Ayyubids , who reigned in Egypt until 1250, followed the same policy. Communal life was well organized and cultural activities were maintained. During this period a number of scholars from Christian countries settled in Egypt and took an active part in the communal life. They included Anatoli b. Joseph and Joseph b. Gershon from France, who became dayyanim in Alexandria. Moses Maimonides spent most of his life in Cairo, where he played a leading role in the life of the community. His son, Abraham b. Moses , acted officially as nagid after the death of his father in 1205 until his own death in 1237. He had an independent mind and was also a halakhic authority, as can be seen from the numerous legal questions which were addressed to him.

    The Mamluks

    In the middle of the 13 th century the Mamluks came to power in Egypt. The entire political regime was changed and a decisive change in the condition of the Jews also took place. These rulers were the leaders of the foreign Turkish soldiery of which the army was exclusively composed, and they tried to enhance their position and to curry favor with the Muslim native population by emphasizing their piety and by introducing a series of measures directed against the non-Muslim communities. The first Mamluks declared total war against the Crusaders. They found it necessary to encourage religious fervor in order to succeed in their efforts. Thus, the Mamluk rule was accompanied by a series of decrees and persecutions against the Christians and Jews, which continued until the Mamluks were deposed by the Ottomans. The ancient discriminatory laws were brought back into prominence and new ones were also instituted. These activities were primarily directed against the Copts, the most powerful non-Muslim community in the Mamluk kingdom, but even so the Jews suffered considerably. On the other hand, Jewish communal organization in Egypt was not abolished and its autonomy was mostly maintained. The decrees against non-Muslims were introduced during the first generation of the Mamluk rule. In 1290 Sultan Qalāwūn issued an order which prohibited the employment of Jews and Christians in government and ministerial departments. This order was reissued during the reign of his son and successor, al-Malik al-Ashraf Khalīl (1290&ndash1293).

    In 1301, there was a large-scale persecution. The Christians were compelled to cover their turbans with a blue cloth, the Jews with a yellow one, and the Samaritans with a red one. The authorities renewed the prohibition of riding horses and also forbade the building of houses higher than those of the Muslims. On this occasion the Jewish and Christian houses of prayer in Cairo were closed down. In 1354 there was an even graver persecution. The cause for it was again attributed by Arab historians to the haughtiness of the Christian officials. There were attacks on non-Muslims in the streets of Cairo and the government instituted a severe control over the habits of Muslim converts. At that time the economic situation of the Jews took a turn for the worse under the Mamluks the system of monopolies was consolidated. Private industry was generally ruined and the commerce of spices, the most important part of Egypt's external trade, was taken over by the monopolized "Kārimī" merchant company in which only a few members were Jews. During this period the Jewish population was led by negidim of Maimonides' family. Maimonides' grandson, R. David b. Abraham , was nagid from 1238 to 1300. In various documents the negidim are referred to as heads of academies but the exact nature of the academy is in question. During the second half of the 13 th century, the literary activities of Egyptian Jewry continued to flourish, as in the Fatimid and Ayyubid periods. Tanḥum ha-Yerushalmi , the well-known Bible commentator, and his son Joseph , a competent Hebrew poet, lived in Egypt at this time.

    At the end of the 14 th century, a second dynasty of the Mamluks, the Cherkess, came to power. The Mamluk rule then increased in violence and the anti-Jewish and anti-Christian decrees grew in frequency. The oppression and extortions of the sultans were severer than in former times. There often were internal conflicts within this Mamluk faction, and as a result the soldiers, unrestrained, rioted in the streets and attacked the citizens. In order to appease the embittered people, the sultans issued a multitude of decrees against the non-Muslims. While the first sultan of the Cherkess Mamluks, Barqūq (1382&ndash1399), as well as his son and successor Faraj (1399&ndash1412), acted leniently toward the non-Muslims, the third sultan, al-Muʾayyad Sheikh, oppressed the non-Muslims by various means. The discriminatory decrees were renewed, and there were searches for wine in the non-Muslim quarters. During the reign of the Cherkess Mamluks the autonomous organization of the communities in Egypt remained unharmed and as previously, they were led as before by the negidim. The last of Maimonides' descendants to act as nagid was R. David b. Joshua . For reasons that are not known R. David was compelled to leave Egypt in the 1370s. He was replaced by a man named Amram . At the end of the Mamluk period, Egyptian Jewry was led by the negidim R. Nathan Sholal and his relative R. Isaac Sholal , who emigrated to Palestine after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottomans.

    The travelers Meshullam of Volterra, who arrived in Egypt in 1481, and R. Obadiah of Bertinoro , who came there seven years later, provided information about the size of the communities in the descriptions of their travels. The numbers which are found in their writings emphasize the decrease in the Jewish population, which was concomitant with the general depopulation and was partly a result of the oppression under Mamluk rule. According to Meshullam there were 650 families, as well as 150 Karaite and 50 Samaritan families, in Cairo, 50 families in Alexandria, 50 in Bilbeis, and 20 in al-Khānqā. Obadiah mentions 500 families in Cairo, besides 150 Karaite and 50 Samaritan families, 25 families in Alexandria, and 30 in Bilbeis. From this it can be deduced that there was probably a total of 5,000 persons in all the communities visited by the two travelers. By then the immigration of Spanish Jewry to the oriental countries had begun. Even before the expulsion, groups of forced converts arrived in Egypt. Immediately after the expulsion, the Jews who had not converted arrived and the Jewish population in Egypt increased. In those centers where an important number of newcomers settled separate communities were established. The arrival of the Spanish immigrants had a beneficial effect on the cultural life of Egyptian Jewry. Their numbers included scholars of renown who engaged in educational activities and who were appointed as dayyanim. Among the scholars who arrived in Egypt during the first generation after the Spanish expulsion were R. Samuel ibn Sid , who was a member of the bet din of the nagid in 1509, R. Jacob Berab , who is mentioned in a document of 1513 as a dayyan of this same bet din, and R. Samuel ha-Levi Ḥakim , who was a prominent halakhic authority and acted as dayyan at the beginning of the 16 th century in Cairo. The negidim welcomed the Spanish refugees.

    The Ottoman Turks

    When Egypt was conquered by the Ottomans in 1517, there was a decisive turn in the history of the country and the Jews living there. A wide choice of commercial possibilities was offered to the Jewish merchants, as well as an introduction to a variety of other trades. At the height of their power, the Ottomans were very tolerant and the Jews held key positions in the financial administration and in the collection of taxes and customs duties. Almost all the Turkish commissioners and governors who were sent to Egypt turned over the responsibility of the financial administration to Jewish agents, who were known as ṣarrāf-bashi ("chief treasurer"). It is evident that the agents greatly profited by holding these positions. After two generations of prosperity, the political and economic decline of the Ottoman empire manifested itself and affected the rank and file of the Jewish population who sank into poverty and ignorance. Thus, Ottoman rule caused a distinct polarization in the status of Egyptian Jewry. The corruption of the governors, who were often replaced and whose ambition was to enrich themselves or to rebel against the sultan in Constantinople, and their acts of violence, extortion, and cruelty brought suffering on the Jews. One of the first Turkish governors, Ahmad Pasha, who was appointed in 1523, extorted a large contribution from Abraham Castro , director of the mint. He then ordered him to mint coins carrying his name, as if he were an independent ruler. When the Jewish official fled to Constantinople, Ahmad imposed an enormous contribution on the Jews, who were fearful of his vengeance if they did not provide the sum by the appointed time. However, on the day of payment, Ahmad Pasha was killed by soldiers loyal to the sultan and the anniversary was thereafter celebrated as Purim Miẓrayim ("Purim of Egypt," i.e., Cairo).

    In 1545, the governor Dāʾud Pasha ordered the closure of the central synagogue of Cairo. All the efforts to obtain its reopening were in vain the synagogue remained closed until 1584. After the conquest of Egypt by the Turks, Jews of Constantinople were sent to Egypt to act as negidim. The first of them was R. Tājir, who was followed by R. Jacob b. Ḥayyim Talmid . When this nagid came to Egypt, a dispute broke out between him and R. Bezalel Ashkenazi, who was then the leading rabbi in Egypt. As a result of this dispute, the office of nagid came to an end in about 1560. From then onward the Jewish finance minister in the service of the governor was recognized as the leader of the Jewish community in Egypt. He was referred to by the Turkish title of chelebi (çelebi = "gentleman"). Many of these Jewish ministers were executed by despotic governors. Masiah Pasha, who was appointed in 1575, chose Solomon Alashkar , a well-known philanthropist whose efforts were directed toward the amelioration of Jewish education among the Jews of Egypt, as chelebi. His activities continued for many years, until Karīm Hussein Pasha executed him in 1603.

    The standard of Jewish learning improved with the arrival of the expelled Spanish Jews. During the first generation of the Turkish rule, the leading rabbi in Egypt was R. David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra. He instituted several regulations in the Jewish communal life, and, among others, he abolished the system of dating documents according to the Seleucid era, which was still in practice in Egypt. In the 1520s the renowned halakhic authority R. Moses b. Isaac Alashkar also lived in Egypt, where he acted as dayyan. However, he emigrated to Palestine and died in Jerusalem in 1542. Later David b. Solomon Abi Zimra also emigrated to Palestine and Bezalel Ashkenazi became the spiritual leader of Egypt's Jewish communities. During the second half of the 16 th century, R. Jacob Castro was the most prominent Egyptian rabbi. These rabbis acted as dayyanim, gave responsa, and educated distinguished pupils. R. Isaac Luria , the famous kabbalist, was one of Bezalel Ashkenazi's pupils.

    The Jews of Cairo and Alexandria were at that time divided into three communities &ndash the Mustaʿrabim (Arabic-speaking i.e., indigenous Jews), the Spanish (immigrants), and the Mograbim (settlers of North African, Maghreb origin). There were occasional disputes between the communities and the rabbis and communal leaders exerted themselves to restore peace.

    During the 17 th and 18 th centuries, the Ottoman government became harsher and the upper class of wealthy Jews, who were employed by the governors and ministers, suffered especially. About 1610 the position of chelebi was filled by Abba Iscandari, a physician and philanthropist. In 1620 with the arrival of a new governor, the Albanian ("Arnaut") Husain, the Muslim enemies of the chelebi, jealous of his wealth, slandered him before the governor and he was executed. Jacob Tivoli replaced him as chelebi until he was executed by Khalīl Pasha. In 1650, when Silihdar Ahmad Pasha was appointed governor of Egypt, he brought with him Ḥayyim Perez, a Jew, whom he appointed chelebi. In the same year natural catastrophes and a plague occurred in Egypt the sultan summoned the commissioner and the chelebi to Constantinople and had them both executed. A year later another governor, Muhammad Ghāzī Pasha, was sent to Egypt. He appointed Jacob Bibas as chelebi, but after a time became jealous of his wealth, killed him with his own hands and buried him in the garden of his palace. In 1661 the governor Ibrāhīm Pasha appointed the exceedingly wealthy Raphael b. Joseph Hin as his chelebi. The latter actively supported Shabbetai Ẓevi , the pseudo-messiah, who had visited Cairo twice. In 1669 Karākūsh Ali Pasha was appointed governor of Egypt, became jealous of Raphael Hin's wealth, accused him of various crimes, and had him publicly executed. The title of chelebi was then abolished and the Jewish agent of the Egyptian governor, who stood at the head of his community, was henceforth known as bazīrkān (from Persian bāzargān "merchant"). In 1734&ndash35, a serious popular riot killed many of Cairo's Jewish community which, as a result, became much less effective in Egypt's administration and economy. The severity of Ottoman rule and the economic decline lowered the cultural level of Egyptian Jewry. During this period the community ceased to be led by renowned rabbis, as in the 16 th century, even though some of them were excellent talmudic scholars such as Abraham Iscandari, Samuel Vital , the son of R. Ḥayyim Vital , Mordecai ha-Levi , and his son Abraham during the 17 th century, and Solomon Algazi during the 18 th century. Nevertheless, the Shabbatean movement brought some activity to the stagnant community. In 1703 the Shabbatean propagandist Abraham Michael Cardoso settled in Egypt, where he became physician to the Turkish governor Karā Ahmad Pasha. At times scholars and authors came to Egypt from other countries and acted as dayyanim and rabbis for a number of years. Such was the case of David Conforte , author of Kore ha-Dorot who came in 1671.

    The transition from an Ottoman province to a virtually independent unity was accompanied by a difficult struggle during which Jews also suffered considerably. In 1768 when Turkey became embroiled in war with Russia, Ali Bey, the governor of Cairo, proclaimed himself the independent governor of Egypt. He also made an effort to impose his authority on Palestine, Syria, and the Arabian Peninsula. In order to provide for the tremendous expenses of his wars, he levied a heavy contribution on the Jews, which they were compelled to pay within a short period (see Ben-Ze'ev in Zion (1939), 237&ndash49). The reforms of Muhammad (Mehmet) Ali (1805&ndash1848) and later the opening of the Suez Canal (1863) brought a new prosperity to commerce and the other branches of the Egyptian economy. As a result of the changes in all spheres of life, the Jewish population grew. Jews from European countries settled in Egypt and schools where education was dispensed along modern lines were introduced. Alexandria again became a commercial center and its Jewish community expanded until it was equal to that of Cairo. The census of 1897 showed that there were 25,200 Jews in the country. Of these, 8,819 (including approximately 1,000 Karaites) lived in Cairo, 9,831 in Alexandria, 2,883 in Tanta , 400 in Port Said, and 508 in al-Manṣūra . There were also small communities in other provincial towns, numbering a total of 4,600 Jews. The immigrants from European countries founded their own communities, even though they recognized the authority of the rabbis of the existing ones. Thus, in the middle of the 19 th century there were communities of Italian and Eastern European Jews in Alexandria, while in Cairo the immigrants from Italy and Turkey united in one community. The relations between Muslims and Jews were normal and there were only rare cases of disturbances resulting from religious hate. In 1844 there was a blood libel against the Jews of Cairo and this was repeated in 1881 and in 1901&ndash1902. In 1840, after the blood libel of Damascus , Moses Montefiore and Adolphe Crémieux came to Egypt and established Jewish schools in cooperation with R. Moses Algazi . In Alexandria, rabbis who distinguished themselves by their western education were appointed, and social activities were encouraged in the community. The numerical increase, the improvement of cultural standards, and the development of social activities continued throughout the first half of the 20 th century.

    After World War I Sephardi Jews from Salonika and other Ottoman towns, as well as Jews from other countries, settled in Egypt. According to the census of 1917 there were 59,581 Jews in Egypt, of which 29,207 lived in Cairo, and in 1937 their numbers reached 63,550, of which 34,103 lived in greater Cairo and 24,829 in Greater Alexandria. With the improvements in the economic and intellectual standards, the Jews took an active part in public life. Some financiers were appointed as members of Parliament and ministers. Joseph Cattaui was a member of parliament in 1915 and minister of finances and communications in 1923 (the year Egypt became officially independent), and Aslan Cattaui was a member of the Senate during the 1930s. Some, such as Yaʿqūb (James) Ṣanūʿ , had even been associated with the Egyptian nationalist movement. On the other hand, Zionist organizations were created at the end of the 19 th century in the larger towns such as Cairo, Alexandria, Manṣūra, Suez, Damanhūr , and al-Maḥalla al-Kubrā. As a result of the expulsion of large numbers of Palestinian Jews to Egypt during World War I, the attachment of Egyptian Jewry to the Palestinian population and to the national movement strengthened. The reinforcement of Jewish consciousness found expression in the publication of Jewish newspapers in various languages. In 1880, a Jewish weekly in Arabic, al-Ḥaqīqa ("The Truth"), began to appear in Alexandria. In 1903, a weekly in Ladino, Miẓrayim, was founded in Cairo. From 1908 to 1941 a French weekly, L'Aurore, appeared in Cairo, and in 1919 another weekly, Israël, was founded in Cairo. This newspaper was amalgamated in 1939 with the Alexandria weekly La Tribune Juive, which was first published in 1936. It appeared until 1948, as did the Arabic weekly al-Shams ("The Sun"), founded in 1934.

    Contemporary Period

    According to the Egyptian census of 1947, 65,600 Jews lived in Egypt, 64% of them in Cairo, 32% in Alexandria, and the rest in other towns. Egyptian Jewry was thus among the most urban of the Jewish communities of Asia and Africa. In 1947 most Egyptian Jews (59%) were merchants, and the rest were employed in industry (18%), administration, and public services (11%). The economic situation of Egyptian Jewry was relatively good there were several multi-millionaires, a phenomenon unusual in other Jewish communities of the Middle East.

    Most Egyptian Jews received some form of education, and there were fewer illiterates among them than in any other Oriental community in Egypt then. This was due to the fact that Jews were concentrated in the two great cities with all kinds of educational facilities. There were no restrictions on accepting Jews in government or foreign schools. In November 1945 riots, organized by the "Young Egypt" group led by Aḥmad Ḥusayn, ended in attacks on the Cairo Jewish quarter. A synagogue, a Jewish quarter hospital, and an old-age home were burned down and many Jews injured or killed. This was the first disturbance of its kind in the history of independent Egypt.

    The year 1947 was the beginning of the end of the Egyptian Jewish community, for in that year the Companies' Law was instituted, which required that not less than 75% of employees of companies in Egypt must be Egyptian citizens. The law affected Jews most of all, since only about 20% of them were Egyptian citizens. The rest, although in many cases born in Egypt and living there for generations, were aliens or stateless persons. After the State of Israel was established, persecution of Jews began became more severe. On May 15, 1948, emergency law was declared, and a royal decree forbade Egyptian citizens to leave the country without a special permit. This was applied to Jews. Hundreds of Jews were arrested and many had their property confiscated. In June through August 1948, bombs were planted in Jewish neighborhoods and Jewish businesses looted. About 250 Jews were killed or wounded by the bombs. In 1949, when the consular law courts which tried foreign citizens were abolished, many Jews were affected.

    The condition of the Jews gradually worsened until, in July 1949, the new government headed by Ḥusayn Sirrī Pasha began to release detainees and return some of the frozen Jewish assets which had been confiscated, also allowing some Jews to leave Egypt, In January 1950, when the Wafd government under Nuqrāshī Pasha was overthrown, all Jewish detainees were released and the rest of their property restored to them. The condition of the Jews slightly improved, although they were forced to donate large sums of money to the soldiers' fund, and leaders of the community were coerced into publishing a declaration against the State of Israel. During the anti-British riots on Black Saturday (January 26, 1952), many foreign citizens were injured, and the loss of Jewish property on that daywas estimated at EL9,000,000 ($25,000,000). About 25,000 Jews left Egypt between 1948 and 1950, some 14,000 of them settling in Israel. When persecution lessened, Jewish emigration decreased.

    After the deposition of King Farouk in July 1952, the new government headed by General Muhammad Naguib was favorably inclined toward Jews, but when Naguib was overthrown and Gamal Abdel Nasser seized power in February 1954 there was a change for the worse. Nasser immediately arrested many Jews who were tried on various charges, mainly for Zionist and communist activities.

    In 1954, about 100 Jews were arrested, but most attention was attracted by the trial of the 13 charged with being members of an Israel intelligence network. Two of those charged died, and Moses Leo Marzuk , a Karaite surgeon and Samuel Bekhor Azar, a teacher, were sentenced to death, while the rest were condemned to various terms of imprisonment (see. Cairo Trial ).

    Arrests of Jews continued. They were also forced to donate money to arm the military forces, Chief Rabbi Haim Nahoum explaining that it was a national duty. In addition, strict supervision of Jewish enterprises was introduced some were confiscated and others forcibly sold to the government.

    Immediately after the Sinai Campaign (November 1956), hundreds of Jews were arrested. About 3,000 were interned without charge in four detention camps. At the same time, the government served notice on thousands of Jews to leave the country within a few days, and they were not allowed to sell their property, nor to take any capital with them. The deportees were made to sign statements agreeing not to return to Egypt and transferring their property to the administration of the government.

    The International Red Cross helped about 8,000 stateless Jews to leave the country, taking most of them to Italy and Greece in chartered boats. Most of the Jews of Port Said (about 100) were smuggled to Israel by Israel agents. The system of deportation continued into 1957. Other Jews left voluntarily, after their livelihoods had been taken from them, until only 8,561 were registered in the 1957 census. Most of them lived in Cairo (65.3%) and Alexandria (32.2%). The Jewish exodus continued until there were about 3,000 in 1967 of whom only about 50 were Ashkenazim, since most members of this community had left or been deported.

    With the outbreak of the Six-Day War in June 1967 the few remaining Jewish officials holding public posts were discharged and hundreds of Jews were arrested. They were beaten, tortured, and abused. Some were released following intervention by foreign states, especially Spain, and were permitted to leave the country. Among the detainees were the chief rabbi of Egypt, R. Ḥayyim Duwayk, and the rabbi of Alexandria, who were held for seven months. Several dozen Jews were held in detention until July 1970.

    Fewer than 1,000 Jews still lived in Egypt in 1970, when they were given permission to leave Egypt but without their possessions. Subsequently, only some four hundred Jews (1971) remained in Egypt. Thirty-five thousand Egyptian Jews live in Israel and there are about 15,000 in Brazil, 10,000 in France, 9,000 in the United States, 9,000 in Argentina, and 4,000 in Great Britain.

    Egypt was the only Arab country in which the Zionist shekel was clandestinely distributed for the Zionist Congress of 1951 after the establishment of the State of Israel. There was a well-developed Zionist underground movement in Egypt, and some of its members were arrested. After the mass exodus from Egypt, most of the synagogues, social welfare organizations and Jewish schools were closed the Jewish newspaper, La Menora (published in French and edited by Jacques Maleh from February 1950 to May 1953), was closed down after Maleh had been deported. The Jewish representatives in the Senate and the House of Representatives (Aslan Cattaui and his brother René) lost their seats. The Cairo and Alexandrian communities had official committees, but there was no nationwide organization, the chief rabbi of Cairo simply being recognized as the chief rabbi of Egypt.

    The peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt brought some information and a certain renewed activity with regard to the small Jewish community remaining in Cairo. The total number of Jews in Egypt was approximately 400, and it was an aging community.

    There was only one synagogue in Cairo, the 70-year-old Shaarei Ha-Shamayim synagogue, normally attended by a handful of old men and women. There was no rabbi, the last having left in 1972. In December 1977, over 120 persons, Israeli citizens and Jewish journalists who had come to cover the peace talks in Cairo, attended the services. The members of the Israeli delegation were unable to attend, but they went to services the following Friday night. There was also a synagogue in Alexandria, the Eliyahu Ha-Navi synagogue. With only 150 Jews remaining in the city they succeeded with difficulty in holding services on Sabbaths and Festivals only.

    In May 1977, at the request of Lord Segal of Wytham, 11 scrolls of the Torah from the Great Synagogue of Alexandria &ndash of the 50 in the synagogue &ndash were sent to Great Britain through the good offices of President Anwar Sadat .

    Jewish rights were restored in 1979 after the Camp David Peace Accords. Only then was the community allowed to establish ties with Israel and world Jewry. However, these ties remained weak, despite Israeli tourism to Egypt, because the community is almost extinct.

    On November 4, 2018, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi stated that Egypt is willing to &ldquobuild houses of worship&rdquo for Jews just as it does for other religions. A month later he ordered the government to devote approximately $72 million to restoring Jewish heritage in the country. In January 2020, renovations were completed on the last surviving synagogue in Alexandria.

    According to Haisam Hassanein, &ldquoOn December 6, 2018, editor-in-chief Khaled Salah of al-Youm al-Sabaa&mdasha news outlet with close ties to Egypt&rsquos security services&mdashtweeted praise for Chanukah, calling it a victory for monotheism against &lsquopaganism&rsquo and advising his audience to read about the Jewish festival&rsquos central historical figure, Judas Maccabeus. This coincided with the first public Hanukkah celebration in decades at the Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue in Cairo, attended by members of Egypt&rsquos tiny Jewish community alongside an American delegation.&rdquo

    Recent Events

    As of 2013, the Jewish community in Egypt numbers only a few dozen and is quickly fading into extinction. In May 2013, the Egyptian government announced that it would be canceling its annual $14,000 stipend to the Jewish community which has been part of the state budget since 1988. The stipend had been used to pay for renovations to the Bassatine cemetery, the second-oldest Jewish cemetery in the world behind only The Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. The funds also helped to pay for security.

    Egyptian terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, after pledging their allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group in November 2014, posted a video on social media of their members vowing to eliminate Jerusalem and &ldquocleanse Egypt of Zionist collaborators.&rdquo On December 1, 2014, the group claimed responsibility for the carjacking and murder of American oil worker William &ldquoBill&rdquo Henderson in August.

    In December 2014 an Egyptian court placed a ban on a yearly festival that attracts hundreds of Jewish individuals from all over the Middle East. The annual festival celebrates the birth of Abu Hatzira, a legendary Moroccan Rabbi revered for his kindness and known for performing miracles. Abu Hatzira was also the grandfather of famous Kaballist known as &ldquothe Baba Sali&rdquo. The festival was banned by an Egyptian court because the celebration involves the consumption of alcoholic beverages, dancing, and casual intermingling of the sexes. The celebration takes place at Abu Hatzira&rsquos tomb and as part of the ruling the court also ordered that the tomb be taken off of Egypt&rsquos list of antiquities, cultural sites, and monuments lists. The festival was called off in 2012 due to security concerns surrounding the Arab Spring.

    In response to outstanding payments owed to them by a Palestinian utility company, on March 25, 2015, Egyptian authorities cut off the power supply to much of Southern Gaza. Residents of Khan Younis and Rafah took to the streets to protest these power outages, expressing anger at Egyptian President el-Sisi and his government. These protestors were the unintended victims of the ongoing fight between the Egyptian government and extremist groups such as Hamas.

    Stranded Palestinians returned to the Gaza Strip from Egypt when Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing for the first time in 80 days on May 26, 2015. Although Egypt opened the crossing to let people out from Egypt into Gaza, they did not allow anyone from Gaza to travel into Egypt, denying hundreds of Palestinian individuals medical attention. Egyptian officials said that the border crossing would stay open through May 27.

    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi appointed an ambassador to Israel in June 2015, following a significant three year lapse in diplomatic relations between the countries. Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi recalled the previous ambassador to Israel in 2012 in protest of Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.

    Militants affiliated with the Islamic State staged multiple simultaneous and coordinated attacks on June 30, 2015, in Egypt&rsquos Northern Sinai. The attacks killed more than 50 individuals, most of the victims being members of the Egyptian security forces. These attacks came the day after a prominent Egyptian prosecutor who had done work investigating the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization was killed by a car bomb in Cairo. Officials estimated that 300 Islamic State members were involved in the attack, armed with heavy weaponry and IED&rsquos. While attempting to fight off the militants during the attacks, the Egyptian army managed to kill approximately 40 Islamic State members. In response to these terrorist attacks the Egyptian government called in helicopters and war-planes to aid in the fight against the terrorists, and the IDF pledged to grant all Egyptian reinforcement and equipment requests. According to experts, this attack was the most well-coordinated and complex attack carried out by the ISIS affiliated group in the Sinai.

    The Egyptian government broke ground on a project aimed at stifling the construction of smuggling tunnels by Hamas militants in late August 2015. Bulldozers began digging fisheries along the Gaza border which will serve two purposes: providing fresh fish for the residents, and making tunneling from Gaza to Egypt an impossible task. In total the Egyptian government plans to dig 18 fisheries on the border, which will house mullet and shrimp. During the following week, four Americans and two international peacekeepers were severely injured by explosive devices in the Sinai Peninsula. In response to this attack, the United States sent at least 75 additional individuals to the Sinai Peninsula to assist the peace-keepers there. This group included a surgical team, an infantry platoon, and surveillance professionals.

    The Israeli embassy in Egypt was re-opened on September 9, 2015, after a closure due to security concerns during the Egyptian revolution that began in January 2011. On September 9, 2011, angry and violent protestors descended upon the Israeli embassy in Egypt, forcing the Diplomats and other officials inside to evacuate immediately. The embassy remained vacant for four years. Director-General of Israel&rsquos Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, stated at the re-opening ceremony on September 9, 2015, that, &ldquoEgypt will always be the biggest and most important state in the region. This event taking place in Cairo is also the beginning of something new.&rdquo

    The Egyptian&rsquos fight against militants in the Sinai claimed the lives of eight Mexican tourists during the weekend of September 13, 2015. A caravan of vehicles carrying 15 Mexican tourists and an unknown number of Egyptians was attacked by Egyptian security forces hunting militants. Twelve people including eight Mexicans and four Egyptians were killed in the attack, and six of the Mexican tourists were injured. Egyptian officials claimed that the convoy was driving through a restricted area that was being monitored by the security forces, but local residents rebuked these statements. A spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism stated that the tour company, &ldquodid not have permits and did not inform authorities,&rdquo before embarking on their journey into the Sinai.

    On September 20, 2015, Egypt began the process of flooding the smuggling tunnels between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. Water from the Mediterranean Sea was pumped in, as Palestinian tunnel workers tried desperately to remove it. The Egyptians flooded the smuggling tunnels while Palestinian workers were still inside, prompting outcry from the local community. The Egyptian government announced that they had uncovered 20 more smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt on December 7, 2015, and these tunnels were promptly destroyed.

    On October 28, 2015, Egyptian President al-Sisi extended the state of emergency for Rafah declared almost exactly one year ago to the day, due to continued violence.

    For the first time since the State of Israel&rsquos creation in 1948, Egyptian representatives at the United Nations voted in Israel&rsquos favor, in October 2015. Egypt was one of 117 countries who voted in favor of Israel joining the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Affairs. The Egyptian representative refused to comment before or after the vote.

    Israeli official Ayoub Kara met with Egyptian government representatives at a border-crossing on November 30, 2015, to discuss mutually defeating regional terrorism and increasing tourism between the two countries.

    During December 2015, Egyptian war planes flew through Israeli airspace, with permission, on their way to bomb targets of the Islamic State affiliate in Sinai. These flights took place in coordination with the IDF and IAF, and this is believed to be the first time that Egyptian war planes have entered Israeli airspace since the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The Egyptian military had previously flown unmanned drones over Israeli territory to fight terrorists in Sinai.

    Egypt appointed Hazem Khairat as Ambassador to Israel in June 2015, after they recalled their last Ambassador in 2012 in protest of Operation Pillar of Defense. Khairat is the former Egyptian ambassador to Chile, and was welcomed to Israel as Prime Minister Netanyahu&rsquos guest at his weekly cabinet meeting on January 3, 2016. Khairat presented his Diplomatic credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem on February 24, 2016, officially confirming him as Cairo&rsquos first ambassador to Israel since 2012.

    Gunmen affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood opened fire on a group of 45 Arab-Israeli tourists outside the Barcelo Three Pyramids Hotel in Cairo on December 7, 2015. No injuries were reported, and only one gunman out of an estimated 20 was arrested on the scene.

    Members of the Hamas militant group crossed the border to Egypt and began fighting alongside the Islamic State in Sinai during late 2015 and early 2016, according to Egyptian officials. The Hamas members arrived in small groups, via the last secretive tunnels connecting Gaza to the Sinai.

    Egyptian Parliament member Tawfik Okasha was removed from his position on March 1, 2016, by a 2/3 majority vote of his peers. Okasha had met with Israeli ambassador to Cairo, Haim Koren, in his home after extending a personal invitation via his television talk show. The meeting was met with disdain from Egyptian citizens as well as Okasha&rsquos colleagues, who contended that the meeting damaged Egyptian relations with neighboring countries and was contrary to Egyptian parliamentary policy which opposes normalizing relations with Israel.

    Egypt temporarily opened its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip on May 10, 2016, for the first time in three months. The Rafah crossing has for the most part remained closed since 2013.

    The al-Sisi government approved textbook The Geography of the Arab World and the History of Modern Egypt was introduced to Egyptian classrooms in May 2016, and features more inclusive and friendlier language towards Israel. The Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv reviewed the updated textbook and found more explicit support for peace with Israel, including an increased emphasis on the economic advantages of peace, than was found in the textbook&rsquos predecessor. While the previous Egyptian standard history textbook (published in 2002) dedicated 32 pages to conflict with Israel and only three to peace, the new one condenses the conflicts down to 12 pages and allots four pages to discussing peace. Egyptian 9 th grade students are now required to memorize the provisions of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, and write on the advantages of peace between the two groups. Another change is the inclusion of a photograph of the signing of the 1979 treaty.

    The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities&rsquo Projects Sector approved a restoration and development plan for the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in July 2017, allocating 40 million Egyptian Pounds for the project. The Synagogue, known as the Jewish Temple in Alexandria, was closed in early 2017 after a large part of the ceiling collapsed.

    Buffer Fence

    Egypt announced on October 29, 2014, that they would be instating a buffer zone in the North-East Sinai along the Gaza border, after months of small terrorist attacks culminating in a car bomb exploding after ramming into a Northern Sinai checkpoint, killing 33 Egyptian soldiers. Militant Islamic terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has taken responsibility for these attacks. The proposed buffer zone is intended to stop weapons and fighters from flowing into Egypt from Gaza, will include water-filled trenches, and will span the entire 13km length of the Egypt-Gaza border. On October 26 Egyptian President al-Sisi declared a national state of emergency: instituting a national curfew from 5pm-7am and closing the Rafah border crossing, violating the terms of the peace agreement that ended 2014&rsquos Gaza War. The Egyptian government told individuals who live along the border that they had 48 hours to evacuate their homes on October 30, so that they can be demolished to build the buffer zone. As of January 2015, at least 1200 homes had been demolished to make room for the installation of the buffer zone. After the building of the buffer zone, Egyptian President al-Sisi ordered that a &ldquonew Rafah&rdquo is to be built on the rubble of the old homes that were levelled. Al-Sisi ordered the Egyptian Specialized Council for Community Development to develop a plan for an &ldquointegrated urban community to achieve sustainable development for the people of Rafah,&rdquo and also to develop a compensation plan for those affected by the installation of the buffer zone. After the discovery of new smuggling tunnels that were longer and more advanced than previously discovered ones, on November 17 Egyptian officials announced that the buffer zone would be doubled in size.

    The second construction stage of the buffer zone began in early January 2015, with the aim of eventually expanding the buffer zone from the current width of 500 meters to 2,000 meters. According to the Egyptian army the buffer zone operation is becoming more effective over time, and is forcing more and more members of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis to flee to Libya. As of March 19, 2015, the Egyptian army had demolished 1,020 homes in the border town of Rafah to construct their buffer zone. The Egyptian government had paid out $19.7 million in compensation to the displaced families, including $209 each to rent apartments for three months, and $97 per square meter of their demolished home. In May 2015 it was revealed that during the construction of this buffer zone, the Egyptian government discovered and destroyed 521 tunnels running from the Gaza Strip into Egyptian territory.

    Buildings, homes, and facilities within the survey area for the third stage of the buffer zone began evacuation proceedings on August 14, 2015, following the completion of the first two phases. In total the three zones will form a 1,500 meter buffer zone from the Gaza border. The third portion of the zone construction involved the demolition of 1,215 homes and 40 government facilities and businesses, which the owners received compensation for.

    Egyptian authorities announced an additional 500 meter expansion of the buffer zone separating Egypt from the Gaza Strip in October 2017.


    ANCIENT EGYPT: A.H. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (1961) J.A. Wilson, The Burden of Egypt (1951 = The Culture of Ancient Egypt , 1958) J. Wilson (tr.), in: Pritchard, Texts, passim. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature , vol. 1 (1973) J. Baines and J. Malek, Atlas of Ancient Egypt (1980) D.B. Redford, "Egypt and Western Asia in the Old Kingdom," in: JARCE , 23 (1986), 125&ndash143 N. Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt (1992) K. Kitchen, "Egypt, History of (Chronology)," in: ABD , vol. 2 (1992), 321&ndash31 D.B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times (1992) D. Franke, "The Middle Kingdom in Egypt," in: J.M. Sasson (ed.), Civilizations of the Ancient Near East , vol. 2 (1995), 735&ndash38 W.J. Murnane, in: ibid ., 691ff J. Assman, The Mind of Egypt: History and Meaning in the Time of the Pharaohs , trans. Andrew Jenkins (1996) M. Bietak, "Hyksos," in: D.B. Redford (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt , vol. 2 (2001), 136&ndash43 W.J. Murnane, "New Kingdom: An Overview," in: ibid ., 519&ndash25. HELLENISTIC PERIOD : Frey, Corpus 2, 356&ndash445 Tcherikover, Corpus idem, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews (1961), index S.V. Egypt: E.R. Bevan, The Legacy of Israel (1953), 29&ndash67 idem, House of Ptolemy (1969) M. Radin, The Jews Among the Greeks and Romans (1915), index S.V. Egypt Baron, Social 2 , index S.V. Egypt, Alexandria J. Lindsay, Daily Life in Roman Egypt (1968). FROM END OF SECOND TEMPLE TO MUSLIM CONQUEST : Baron, Social 2 , 2 (1952), index Graetz, Gesch 3 (1905&ndash65), index, S.V. Alexandrien , 4 (1908), index, S.V. Alexandrien. JEWS IN EGYPT FROM ARAB AND OTTOMAN CONQUEST : Mann, Egypt Mann, Texts idem, in: HUCA , 3 (1926), 257&ndash308 Rosanes, Togarmah Zimmels, in: Bericht des juedisch-theologischen Seminars, Breslau (1932), 1&ndash60 Neustadt, in: Zion , 2 (1937), 216&ndash55 S. Assaf, ibid. , 121&ndash4 idem, Be-Oholei Ya'akov (1943), 81&ndash98 Noury Farhi, La Communauté juive d'Alexandrie (1946) Ashtor, Toledot idem, in: HUCA , 27 (1956), 305&ndash26 idem, in: Zion , 30 (1965), 61&ndash78, 128&ndash157 idem, in: JJS , 18 (1967), 9&ndash42 19 (1968), 1&ndash22 S.D. Goitein, in: JQR , 53 (1962/63), 93&ndash119 idem, Studies in Islamic History and Institutions (1966), 255&ndash95, 329&ndash60 idem, A Mediterranean Society , 1&ndash6 (1967&ndash1993), passim Lewis, in: Eretz Israel , 7 (1964), 70&ndash75 (Eng. pt.) idem, in: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies , 30 (1967), 177&ndash81 Abrahamson, Merkazim, passim J.M. Landau, Ha-Yehudim be-Miẓrayim (1967, Eng., Jews in Nineteenth Century Egypt , 1969) S. Shamir (ed.), The Jews of Egypt: a Mediterranean Society in Modern Times , (1987) N. Robinson, in: J. Fried (ed.), Jews in the Modern World , 1 (1962), 50&ndash90 J.M. Landau, "Abū Naḍḍāra an Egyptian Jewish Nationalist," in: JJS ,3 (1952), 30&ndash44 5 (1954), 179&ndash180 idem, "Ritual Murder Accusations in Nineteenth-Century Egypt," in: A. Dundes (ed.), The Blood Libel Legend , 197&ndash232 idem (ed.), Ha-Yehudim be-Miẓrayim ha- ʿ Othmanit 1517&ndash1914 (1988) CONTEMPORARY PERIOD : D. Peretz, Egyptian Jewry Today (1956). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Hassoun, Juifs du Nil (1981) idem, Juifs d'Egypte images et textes (1984) G. Kraemer, Minderheit, Millet Nation? Die Jueden in Aegypten, 1914&ndash1952 (1982) T. Mayer, Egypt and the Palestine Question, 1936&ndash1945 (1983) M.M. Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, 1920&ndash1970 (1992) V.D. Sanua, A Guide to Egyptian Jewry in the Mid-Twentieth Century (2005).

    Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved
    Omar Matta, "A Dying Community" Jerusalem Report, (July 1, 2013)
    Benny Avni. &ldquoPlans to rebuild Gaza keep getting undermined,&rdquo Newsweek, (November 4, 2014)
    Karim Fahim. &ldquoEgypt will expand it's security zone near Gaza Strip,&rdquo New York Times, (November 17 2014)
    &ldquoISIS aligned terrorists vow to 'liberate Jerusalem'&rdquo Times of Israel, (November 17 2014)
    Jane Onyanga-Omara/John Bacon. &ldquoMilitant group says it killed U.S. oil worker in Egypt,&rdquo USA Today, (December 1 2014)
    Avi Issacharoff. &ldquoEgypt to expand Gaza buffer zone to 2 kilometers,&rdquo Times of Israel, (January 6, 2015)
    &ldquoEgypt demolishes 1,020 Rafah homes for Gaza buffer zone,&rdquo Maan News, (March 18, 2015)
    Daniel Siryoti. &ldquoPalestinians demonstrate after Egypt cuts power supply,&rdquo Israel Hayom, (March 25, 2015)
    Jack Khoury. &ldquoEgypt reopens Rafah crossing with Gaza, after more than 2 months of closure,&rdquo Haaretz, (May 26, 2015)
    &ldquoIDF to okay bolstered Egyptian forces in Sinai after deadly attacks,&rdquo Jerusalem Post, (July 1, 2015)
    &ldquoSurvey for Sinai buffer zone&rsquos third phase completed for evacuation,&rdquo Daily News Egypt, (August 13, 2015)
    &ldquoEgypt destroys Gaza smuggling tunnels in crackdown on militants,&rdquo San Francisco Gate (August 31, 2015)
    &ldquoIsrael embassy in Egypt reopens after 4 year closure,&rdquo PressTV (September 9, 2015)
    &ldquoSix more Mexican citizens reported dead in Egypt desert attack,&rdquo Washington Post (September 15, 2015)
    Dan Lavie. &ldquoEgypt floods smuggling tunnels into Gaza,&rdquo Israel Hayom, (September 20, 2015)
    Ari Soffer. &ldquoFor the first time ever, Egypt votes for Israel at the UN,&rdquo Israel National News (November 2, 2015)
    Ariel Ben Solomon. &ldquoIsrael-Egypt look to increase tourism ties Jordan guest worker program progresses,&rdquo Jerusalem Post (December 1, 2015)
    Yoav Zitun. &ldquoEgyptian warplanes using Israeli airspace,&rdquo YNet News (December 17, 2015)
    &ldquoHazem Khairat is first Egyptian ambassador after Atef Salem was recalled in 2012 by former president Morsi,&rdquo I24 News, (January 3, 2016)
    Roy Kais/Itamar Eichner. &ldquoIsraeli Tour Bus Fired on Near Cairo, no Injuries,&rdquo YNet News, (January 7, 2016)
    &ldquoEgyptian MP removed from office after meeting with Israeli ambassador,&rdquo Jerusalem Post, (February 2, 2016)
    &ldquoEgypt temporarily reopens Gaza border crossing,&rdquo AP (May 11, 2016)
    Ben Lynfield. &ldquoNew textbook bodes well for Egypt-Israeli relations,&rdquo Jerusalem Post (May 19, 2016)
    Al-Masry Al-Youm. Jewish Temple in Alexandria to be restored at LE40 million, Egypt Independent (July 6, 2017)
    Al-Masry Al-Youm. Egypt to extend buffer zone with Gaza Strip, Egypt Independent (October 8, 2017)
    Haisam Hassanei, &ldquoSisi Restores Jewish Heritage in Egypt,&rdquo Washington Institute, (December 14, 2018)
    Marcy Oster, &ldquoDozens of Jews of Egyptian origin return for &lsquovery, very emotional&rsquo service at historic synagogue,&rdquo JTA, (February 18, 2020)
    Declan Walsh and Ronen Bergman, &ldquoA Bittersweet Homecoming for Egypt&rsquos Jews,&rdquo New York Times, (February 23, 2020).

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