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APOSTOMOS , person mentioned in the Talmud, of uncertain identification. According to Ta'anit 6:6, on 17 Tammuz Apostomos (or Postemus) burned the Torah and set up ("vehe'emid") an idol in the sanctuary ("heikhal"). "He'emid" appears to be the preferable reading, not "hu'amad" ("was set up"), a variant suggested in the Jerusalem Talmud Ta'anit 4:5, 68d, but unknown to the Babylonian Talmud. (See, however, Epstein, Mishnah, 113–4.) The Jerusalem Talmud adds (ibid.) that this took place at the pass of Lydda or Tarlosa. Apostomos does not appear elsewhere in rabbinic literature. His identification has been the source of considerable controversy. The main opinions are as follows: (1) Josephus (Wars, 2:230) relates that in about 50 c.e., an unnamed Roman soldier burned a Torah near Beth-Horon and nearly incited a revolt. However, it seems unlikely that a common soldier would have had the authority to set up an idol in the Temple. (2) Hanina b. Teradyon was wrapped in a Torah scroll and burned, probably around 135 (Av. Zar. 18a). His executioner was a "philosophus" (Sif. Deut. 307). But he too is unlikely to have set up an idol in the Temple area. (3) Louis Ginzberg suggests on the basis of Ta'anit 28b that Apostomos refers to Antiochus iv Epiphanes, who set up a statue of Zeus Olympus in the Temple in 168 b.c.e. However, no source which describes the acts of Antiochus mentions a burning of the Torah. Moreover, the statue was set up in the month of Kislev, not Tammuz (i Macc. 1:54). (4) Gedaliah Allon identifies Apostomos with the Syrian procurator Posthumius (see Syria, 20 (1939), 53–61) and relates these events to the period of Quietus (c. 116–17 c.e.). According to ancient Christian tradition preserved in Bar-Saliba, at that time idols were set up in the Temple area. However, there are chronological difficulties here, as Posthumius seems to have ruled c. 102–3. There have been other suggestions, but none is wholly convincing.


S.J.L. Rapoport, Erekh Millin, 1 (1852), 181; Derenbourg, Hist. 1 (1867), 58–59, n. 2; Halberstam, in: rej, 2 (1881), 127–9; N. Bruell (ed.), in: Jahrbuecher fuer juedische Geschichte, 8 (1887), 9n.; Ginzberg, in: je, 2 (1907), 21–22; a.m. Luncz, in: Yerushalayim, 10 (1913), 151 ff.; Kohut, Arukh, 1 (19262), 222; Jastrow, Dict, 1 (1950), 101; Allon, Toledot, 1 (19583), 258, n. 163; Guttmann, Mafte'aḥ, 3, pt. 2 (1930), 30.

[Daniel Sperber]