HILLEL


HILLEL (II; 330–365 C.E.), nasi, the son of *Judah Nesi'ah and a grandson of *Gamaliel IV. After the crushing of the revolt of the Jews against the emperor Gallus and his commander Ursicinus in 351–52 C.E., which resulted in the destruction of many Jewish communities (Sepphoris, Tiberias, Lydda), new decrees were issued against the internal authority of the communities, and also against the observance of Judaism. The Roman government aspired to limit the privileges of the nasi and the freedom of action of the Sanhedrin in Tiberias. Because of the serious condition of the communities of Ereẓ Israel and the deterioration of the Galilean center, Hillel II agreed in principle to limit the authority of the nasi and his functions in connection with the proclamation of the New Moon, the fixing of the festivals, and the intercalation of the year. He thereupon published Sod ha-Ibbur ("The Secret of Intercalation") and Kevi'uta de-Yarha ("The Fixing of the New Month"). According to a tradition mentioned by Hai Gaon and quoted in the Sefer ha-Ibbur of Abraham bar Hiyya (ed. by H. Filipowski (1851), 97) this took place in 358 C.E. Important too is the testimony of Nahmanides in the Sefer ha-Zakkut (Git., ch. 4, Leghorn (1745), 43a): "From the time of Hillel… in the year 670 of the Seleucid era, 4118 A.M. [358 C.E.], the Sanhedrin in Erez Israel ceased and it ceased to have experts, and it was he who regulated the order of intercalation, reckoned the years, and fixed the months for generations to come." Some regard the year 344 as that in which the new *calendar was introduced, and it is possible that it was not immediately publicized to the same degree in all localities (Mahler). The opinion has been expressed that Hillel II was not the original creator of the fixed calendar but that it was the result of centuries of development which aimed at achieving a perfected system of fixing the calendar.

In the well-known letter of *Julian the Apostate to the Jews (written in Antioch in 362) the emperor addressed "the patriach Julius" (Hillel), calling him "brother Julos the patriarch" informing him of the rescinding of the taxes imposed on the Jews in the time of the emperor Constantine, and requesting him to withhold and abrogate the apostoli (the payment to the nasi) collected by him from the Jews through his emissaries in order to ease their financial position, and at the same time increase their prayers for the welfare of his realm (I. Bidez and F. Cumont (eds.), Imperatori Juliani epistolae, leges, etc. (1922), 281).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Hyman, Toledot, 374f.; Graetz-Rabbinowitz, 2 (1893), 395, 398, 403–5, 423, 488, 490; Halevy, Dorot, 2 (1901), 393–8; Weiss, Dor, 3 (19044), 98–101; A. Schwarz, Der juedische Kalendar (1872), 37, 39, 45; Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (190134), 754; L. Lucas, Zur Geschichte der Juden im 4. Jahrhundert (1910), 3, 79–81; 85; E. Mahler, Handbuch der juedischen Chronologie (1916), 544–79; Schwab, in: Tarbiz, 1 no. 2 (1930), 85–110; 1 no. 3 (1930), 107–21; H. Levy, in: Zion, 6 (1941), 1–32.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.