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Corinth, Greece

Encyclopedia Judaica:
Corinth, Greece

Greece: Virtual Jewish World | Modern Greek Jewry | Sparta

CORINTH, Greek city. The earliest evidence of Jews in Corinth is contained in Agrippa I's letter to Caligula (Philo, De Legatione ad Caium, 281). The apostle Paul spent one and a half years in Corinth, preaching in the synagogue on Sabbaths (cf. the two Epistles to the Corinthians), and through his influence Crispus and his family were baptized. The Jews were embittered by Paul's activities; they brought him before Gallio, procurator of Achea, who, refusing to judge in a religious matter, said they would have to resolve their differences themselves (Acts 18:2ff.). Corinthian Jewry apparently belonged to the lower classes. Aquila and Priscilla, with whom Paul dwelt, were weavers, and he worked with them for his bread. These Jews went to Corinth from Rome when Claudius expelled the Jews from the city. There were no direct links between the Jews of Corinth and Ereẓ Israel, but Corinthian products were known in the Holy Land. Josephus (Wars, 5:201) mentions the Corinthian copper that coated one of the Temple gates, the Gate of Nicanor (whose special copper is also noted in talmudic sources, Tosef., Yoma 2:4; Yoma 38a), and he similarly mentions the Corinthian candelabra in Agrippa II's house (Life, 68). Vespasian, after his victory in Galilee, sent 6,000 captive youths to Nero to dig at the Isthmus of Corinth (Wars, 3: 540). Conceivably, some of them might have escaped and found haven in the nearby settlements including Corinth.

[Lea Roth]

When the Visigoths invaded Corinth in 395 the Jews moved to the neighboring island of Aegina. Jews suffered persecution by the Byzantine emperors during the 9th and 10th centuries. Roger II, the Norman king of Sicily, brought Jewish dyers from Corinth to Sicily in 1147, thereby founding the Sicilian silk industry. The 12th-century traveler Benjamin of Tudela found 300 Jews there; they were silk-weavers. The Corinth community existed during the 13th and 14th centuries, but it seems to have disappeared in later years. In 1923 the Jewish community of Corinth again consisted of 400 persons, but ended during World War II.

[Simon Marcus]


Schuerer, Gesch, 3 (1909), 55–56.

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