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JABNEH (), or JAMNIA (Ιαμνία, Ιαμνεία):

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Philistine city; taken by Uzziah, who demolished its wall (II Chron. xxvi. 6). Jabneh is mentioned with Gath and Ashdod, two other cities of the Philistines, and is generally identified by Biblical students with Jabneel (), on the boundary of Judah, near Ekron, and not far from the coast (Josh. xv. 11). Neither Jabneh nor Jabneel is mentioned afterward among the cities of Judah, but the Septuagint renders , which follows Ekron in Josh. xv. 46, by Γεμνά. In post-Biblical history, in the books of the Maccabees, in Josephus and in other Greek authors, the name occurs as "Jamnia," and in Judith (ii. 28) as "Jemnaan." With Ashdod, Jamnia is described by Josephus sometimes as a maritime city ("Ant." xiii. 15, § 4) and sometimes as an inland city ("Ant." xiv. 4, § 4; "B. J." i. 7, § 7). This was due to the fact that, though removed from the coast, it had its own harbor; and it was considered by Pliny ("Historia Naturalis," v. 13, § 68) and Ptolemy (v. 16, 2) likewise as two distinct towns. According to Strabo (xvi. 759), Jabneh, or Jamnia, was so populous that, with the surrounding villages, it could furnish 40,000 able warriors. It is referred to in I Macc. iv. 15, v. 58, x. 69, xv. 40, and was apparently garrisoned by Gorgias; later it served other generals as a place of encampment. Judas Maccabeus took it by assault, and fired the shipping in the harbor as well as the town, so that the conflagration was seen from Jerusalem, 240 furlongs distant (II Macc. xii. 8-9, 40).

Jamnia was taken from the Syrians by Simon Maccabeus, but the Jews did not enter into possession of the city until the time of Alexander Jannæus. Pompey restored it to the Syrians, and about 57 B.C. it was rebuilt by Gabinius ("Ant." xiii. 6, § 7; 15, § 4; xiv. 4, § 4; "B. J." i. 2, § 2; 7, § 7; 8, § 4). Jamnia must have been given by Augustus to Herod, for the latter bequeathed it to his sister Salome, who in her turn gave it to Livia ("Ant." xvii. 8, § 1; 11, § 5; xviii. 2, § 2; "B. J." ii. 6, § 3; 9, § 1). The inhabitants of the city at that time were chiefly Jews (Philo, "Legatio ad Caium," § 30). Philo states further that a Roman officer raised at Jamnia an altar of mud for the deification of Caligula, but that the altar was thrown down by the Jews. Owing to the turbulence of its large population, Vespasian twice found it necessary to besiege the city ("B. J." iv. 3, § 2; 8, § 1).

Seat of the Great Sanhedrin.

Jabneh became the seat of Jewish scholarship even before the destruction of the Temple; for Johanan b. Zakkai, while predicting to Vespasian that he would become emperor of Rome, asked him as a special favor to spare Jabneh and its scholars (Giṭ. 66a). After the destruction of Jerusalem the Great Sanhedrin removed to Jabneh, where it was presided over by Johanan b. Zakkai (R. H. 31a). The Sanhedrin held its sittings in a "vineyard," which term, however, is explained as figurative (Eduy. ii. 4; Yer. Ber. iv. 1): "the Sanhedrin sat in rows similar to vines in a vineyard." Jabneh took the place of Jerusalem; it became the religious and national center of the Jews; and the most important functions of the Sanhedrin, such as determining the time of the new moon and of the festivals, were observed there. It even enjoyed some of the privileges of the Holy City, among others the right to blow the shofar when New-Year's Day fell on a Sabbath (R. H. iv. 1 [29b]). In the time of Gamaliel II. the Sanhedrin removed to Usha, but it met again in Jabneh from the time of Simeon b. Gamaliel to that of Bar Kokba (R. H. 31b).

Benjamin of Tudela identifies Jabneh with the Ibelin mentioned in the history of the Crusades. He places Jabneh at three parasangs from Jaffa and two from Ashdod (Azotus). He professes to have seen there traces of the academy, though in his time there were no Jews in the place (ed. Asher, i. 43, Hebr.; comp. ii. 98, note). Rapoport ("'Erek Millin," p. 4) places Jabneh the seat of the Sanhedrin in Galilee, identifying it with the Jabneel of Naphtali (Josh. xix. 33). The modern Yabna, a village situated on a hill south of the Wadi Rubin, is generally assumed to mark the site of the ancient Jabneh (comp. Robinson, "Researches," ii. 420, iii. 22).

Bibliography:
  • Grätz, in Monatsschrift, ii. 108-110;
  • idem, Gesch. 3d ed., iv. 13, 28, 95, 121;
  • Guérin, Judée, ii. 55 et seq., Paris, 1868;
  • Neubauer, G. T. pp. 73 et seq.;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., ii. 98, passim;
  • Büchler, Das Synedrion, passim, Vienna, 1902.
G. M. Sel.
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