Ursicinus and the sages in Antioch
360 CE to 400 CE
Title of work:
Berakhot 5:1, 9a
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Jerusalem Talmud Berakhot 5:1, 9a
Author(s) of this publication: Yael Wilfand
Publishing date: Tue, 12/04/2018 - 08:52
Visited: Tue, 03/28/2023 - 21:14
Ursicinus was a Roman general who served the empire in the mid-fourth century. In 351-352 CE, Gallus sent him to Palestine to subdue Jewish violence there. The severity of this outbreak is unclear. In this account, two sages travel to Antioch to meet with him (the reason for their journey is not mentioned). This story highlights the great honor that this general displays upon their arrival. His entourage is astonished to witness this welcome. However, the general explains that he recognizes them from a vision that he experienced during a battle, which accompanied or caused his victory. See a similar story about Alexander the Great and Shim‘on the Righteous appears in Leviticus Rabbah 13:5 [part two] (the parallel in Josephus is detailed in the commentary on that source). This also resembles a vision of the cross which Constantine saw during the decisive battle that brought him to rule the empire. A more detailed treatment of our passage is in the commentary on Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin 3:3, 21b (= Shevi’it 4:2, 35a).