Origins of Rabbinic Martyrology: Rabbi Akibah, the Song of Songs, and Hekhalot Mysticism
Publication Date: January 2009
Series: AJS Perspectives: The Newsletter of the Association for Jewish Studies, Spring 2009, pp.14-16.
Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive
Keywords: Literature; Religion; Judaic Studies; History
The author examines the origins of Jewish martyrological thought, as illustrated by the development (in both form and context )of the story of Rabbi Akibah and his rabbinic colleagues who were killed by the Roman Empire under Hadrian. He discusses differences in the tale's emphasis as presented in the Talmud in contrast to the presentations in the piyyut (hymn) "Eleh Ezkera" ("These I Remember") and the independent narrative "Aseret Harugey Malkhut" (Ten Who Were Martyred by the Empire"). He further examines Akibah's relationship with the idea of martyrdom, as illustrated by his attachment to a particular biblical verse in Song of Songs.