Though not mentioned as a special art in the Bible, dyeing was probably practised as in Egypt by the fuller andthe tanner. Dyed stuffs are mentioned among the vestments of the high priest and the appurtenances of the Tabernacle. Red, however, seems to have been the only dye manufactured. In fact, in several instances "adom" (red) is used as a synonym of "ẓeba'" (later Hebrew and Talmudic), "dye," from "ẓaba'," to dye, dip, immerse (see Ex. xxv. 5, xxvi. 14, xxxv. 7, xxxvi. 19, xxxix. 34); in Ezek. xxiii. 15 the word "ṭebulim" = dipped, is used; in Isa. lxiii. 1, "ḥamuẓ" = leavened; in Judges v. 30, "ẓeba'." Dyes, dyers, and dyeing, with occasional mention of manufactured colors, are referred to in the Talmud (Shab. vii. 2; Sheb. vii. 1-2; Pes. iii. 1; Tosef., Sheb. v. 1; Men. 42a-44a; Meg. 24b; Yer. Shab. i. 3b, vii. 10c; B.Ḳ. 100b; Yer. B. Ḳ. ix. 6d). Abba Hoshayah of Tarya, the saint, was a fuller who also practised dyeing (Yer. B. Ḳ. x. 7c). Amram, the dyer, is mentioned in Giṭ. 52b. Regarding the purple dyeing of the Phenicians see Delitzsch, "Iris," 1888, pp. 46 et seq.; and Purple. Especially was the tribe of Zebulon believed to have acquired this art, together with that of glass manufacture, from the Phenicians (see Sifre, Debarim, 354; Meg. 26a; Herzfeld, "Handelsgeschichte der Juden des Alterthums," 1879, p. 106). According to Shab. 26, the Jews in the vicinity of Tyre manufactured purple stuffs for the market (comp. Schürer, "Geschichte," 3d ed., ii. 56, notes, and Herzfeld, l.c. pp. 108, 307). A Jewish gild of purple dyers is mentioned on a tombstone inscription in Hierapolis (Schürer, l.c., 3d ed., iii. 14). In the twelfth century the Jews of Tyre were still purple dyers and manufacturers of glass (see Benjamin of Tudela, "Travels," ed. Asher, p. 30b). In St. George, the ancient Luz, Benjamin found one Jew to be a dyer (ib. 32b), and in Thebes, Greece, the Jews were the most eminent manufacturers of silk and purple cloth (ib. 16b). They were noted for being skilled dyers also in Italy, Sicily, and elsewhere (ib. 15a; see also Bedarride, "Les Juifs en France, Italie et Espagne," 1867, p. 179; Depping, "Die Juden im Mittelalter," German transl., 1834, pp. 136, 353, 401). Delitzsch ("Jewish Artisan Life," p. 27) speaks of "Migdal Ẓeboa'ya" ("the tower of the dyers"; Lam. R. ii. 2), and cites Yer. Shab. 3b to the effect that when walking abroad the dyers hung red and blue threads behind one ear, and green and pale-yellow threads behind the other. Purple was the most costly dye known to the ancient Hebrews. "The blood of the purple mollusk is used to dye wool purple" (Menaḥot 44a). Each shell secreting but one drop of the dye, and the work of preparation being tedious, such dyeing was costly. Akhissar, the ancient Thyatira, a Jewish, stronghold in Asia Minor, seems to have been connected with the dyeing trade in the early centuries, and even to-day the crimson fez usually worn in the East is generally manufactured and dyed in that locality (Brightwen, "Side-Lights on the Bible," p. 47). In antiquity the trade obtained some distinction, purple being the royal color. The almondtrees of Bethel and Luz ("luz" =almond-tree) produced a color used in dyeing.

Jews seem for a long time to have held the monopoly of the dyeing trade. In Asia they were especially noted as dyers, as they were also, according to Beckmann, in Italy and Sicily. The Jews' tax in southern Europe was sometimes called "tincta Judæorum," as it was levied on dyed goods (Abrahams, "Jewish Life in the Middle Ages," p. 219; Güdemann, "Geschichte des Erziehungswesens," ii. 312).

In the itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (c. 1170) it is noted that Brindisi contained ten Jews who were dyers (p. 45, Asher's ed.); that purple dye was found in the neighborhood of New Tyre (p. 63); that one Jew, a dyer, lived at St. George, the ancient Luz (p. 65); that the dye-house in Jerusalem was rented by the year; that the exclusive privilege of carrying on that business had been purchased by the Jews, two hundred of whom dwelt in one corner of the city under the tower of David (p. 69); and that but twelve Jews lived in Bethlehem, two in Bet Nuba, one in Jaffa, one in Ḳaryaten Binyamin, and one in Zer'in, the ancient Jezreel—all dyers (pp. 75, 78, 80, 87). Rabbi Pethahiah of Regensburg visited Jerusalem in the twelfth century, and found only one Jew there, Rabbi Abraham, the dyer ("Travels of R. Petachia," ed. Benisch, pp. 38, 60). Naḥmanides (c. 1250) also found in Jerusalem only one or two families of dyers (Graetz, "History of the Jews," iii. 606).

Dyeing was the occupation of the Jews in Aragon in the Middle Ages (Jacobs, "Sources," p. 16), and there were many dyers among the Jews of Prague in the seventeenth century (Abrahams, "Jewish Life in the Middle Ages," p. 248). Dr. Wolff ("Narrative of the Mission of Dr. Wolff to Bokhara," ii. 3) mentions that in 1844 there were in Bokhara 10,000 Jews, "mostly dyers and silk merchants"; and Franz von Schwarz ("Turkestan, die Wiege der Indogermanischen Völker," p. 441) says that "the Jews of Bokhara devote themselves to commerce and industry. . . . Nearly all the dyers, especially the dyers of silk, are Jews. . . . The Jews of Bokhara have in a way monopolized the commerce with dyed raw silk."

According to Errera ("The Russian Jews," p. 177), the Jews in Russia created the industries of dyeing and preparing furs. The manufacture of ẓiẓit, ṭallit, and arba' kanfot in Russia, and the dyeing which is incidental to the last two, have placed a considerable part of the dyeing business in the hands of the Jews of that country. See Artisans; Color.

  • Güdemann, Geschichte des Erziehungswesens in Italien, p. 312, note v.
A. H. C. K.
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