Hillel the Elder

Hillel the Elder
(1st century BC–1st century AD)
   Sage and nasi (patriarch) from? 30 BC to AD 10. Hillel ha-Zaken (The Elder) was probably born in Babylonia and rose to eminence as a rabbi in Jerusalem during the reign of Herod the Great
   He belonged to the religious party of the Pharisees that extolled learning and piety and appealed to the common people. It was the work of Hillel and his colleagues in developing the Oral Law that paved the way for Judaism to survive as the faith of a dispersed people. About 30 BC, or somewhat later, Hillel succeeded to the high office of nasi, or patriarch, who presided over the Sanhedrin, the supreme religious council. His authority in matters of religion and law was shared with his great contemporary and co-president, SHAMMAI, and there were celebrated debates between them and their schools on disputed questions. In general, Hillel was more flexible in adapting the Law to the changing conditions of practical life. He expounded seven basic rules or principles of biblical interpretation. One of the major differences between the two schools lay in Hillel’s willingness to accept pagan converts to the Jewish faith. When a would-be convert challenged him to expound the basis of Judaism while standing on one leg, Hillel replied, ‘What is hateful to you, do not unto your neighbour; this is the entire Torah; all the rest is commentary.’
   Hillel’s influence as an exponent of the law continued to grow after his death, and he came to be regarded as the wisest sage of the Second Temple period. He is best remembered for his personal virtues. More than anyone else in Jewish history, he exemplifies gentleness of character, patience and humility of spirit, and goodwill towards his fellow men. His disciples cherished and passed on many of the pithy sayings and anecdotes of their beloved master. For instance, when questioned about the frequent baths he took, Hillel wryly pointed out that if the statues of Roman emperors in public places were washed regularly, how much more important it was to keep clean the human body created in the image of God.
   Hillel’s teachings were echoed a generation later in the life and sayings of Jesus.
   For several centuries after the destruction of the Temple, the patriarchs were direct descendants of Hillel, until the office was abolished by the Romans in the 4 century AD.
   The dialectic between the two schools, Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel, continued until the early 2nd century AD. Their accumulated opinions and rulings were eventually merged into the Mishnah.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hillel the Elder — Hillel (הלל) (born Babylon traditionally c.110BCE 10CE [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=730 letter=H Jewish Encyclopedia: Hillel] : His activity of forty years is perhaps historical; and since it began, according to a… …   Wikipedia

  • Gamaliel the Elder — (fl. 1st cent)    Palestinian elder, grandson of Hillel. He was president of the Sanhedrin and, according to Acts, Paul was one of his pupils. He maintained close contact with Jews in Palestine and the diaspora. He was responsible for many… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • HILLEL — (the Elder; end of first century B.C.E. and beginning of first century C.E.), considered one of the fathers of the world (Eduy. 1:4; Tosef. Eduy. 1:3) who laid the foundations for the spiritual and intellectual movement of the tannaitic period.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Hillel — is a Hebrew name of several prominent historical men and modern organizations. People named Hillel Biblical* Hillel was the father of Abdon, a minor character in the Book of Judges. * Hellel ben Shakhar is mentioned in means son of dawn , a… …   Wikipedia

  • Hillel II — Hillel II, (Hebrew: הלל נשיאה, Hillel the Nasi) also known simply as Hillel held the office of Nasi of the ancient Jewish Sanhedrin between 320 and 385 CE. He was the son and successor of Judah III. He was a Jewish communal and religious… …   Wikipedia

  • Hillel and Shammai — were two great rabbis of the early first century. They each founded a major school of Jewish thought, respectively known as the House of Hillel and House of Shammai , and they and their schools had ongoing debates on matters of ritual practice.… …   Wikipedia

  • Hillel House — is an establishment run by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) to allow any Jewish student to study across the UK without compromising his or her religion (kitchens will be kept kosher for instance). It is effectively a hall of residence.Hillel… …   Wikipedia

  • HILLEL OF ERFURT — (d. before 1426), talmudic scholar. Known also as Hillel the Elder, he was a pupil of Meir b. Baruch ha Levi of Vienna. From the fact that contemporary rabbis relied on the forms of gittin (bills of divorce) drawn up by him in Erfurt, it may be… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Hillel — /hil el, ayl, euhl, hi layl /; Seph. Heb. /hee lel /, n. ( ha Zaken ) c60 B.C. A.D. 9?, Palestinian rabbi, president of the Sanhedrin and interpreter of Biblical law: first to formulate definitive hermeneutic principles. Cf. Beth Hillel. * * *… …   Universalium

  • ELDER — (Heb. זָקֵן, zaken). In Israel, as among all other ancient peoples, the elder is not only a person of advanced age, but also a man of distinct social grade (cf. šībum in Akkadian, senator in Latin, geron in Greek, and sheikh in Arabic). The… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”